Charlie Reece is based out of Carrboro, North Carolina, United States and works at Rho as General Counsel. He holds a law degree from North Carolina School of Law, and prior to his current position, he was a city council member with Durham City, and before that, Assistant Attorney General with the North Carolina Department of Justice. You can connect with or learn more about Charlie’s work through his Twitter feed, @charliereece or through Linkedin.
Key points include:
Charlie Reece, Will Bachman
Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the 92 report conversations with members of the Harvard and Radcliffe class of 1992. I’m your host will Bachman and I’m here today with Charlie Reese. Charlie, welcome to the show.
Charlie Reece 00:16
Hey, well, thanks for having me. I’m really looking forward to it.
Will Bachman 00:19
So Charlie, tell me about your journey since graduating from college.
Charlie Reece 00:26
Wow, yeah. It’s amazing. It’s been 30 years. And first of all, before I get into all that, let me just say how much I’ve appreciated listening to this podcast. You’ve definitely connected me with memories and folks that I haven’t talked to a lot since then. And it’s a great idea during our 30th reunion year. So Well, thank you so much for doing this. And I’ve really been looking forward to talk to you about this for quite some time.
Will Bachman 00:51
Well, thank you. Thanks.
Charlie Reece 00:53
So absolutely. So after I graduated from law school, from from college, ended up coming back home to North Carolina, and went to law school at Chapel Hill. And after that ended up working in New York and Los Angeles in the financial consulting arena for big six accounting firms. And I did that for about six years, and had sort of an early life crisis. Upon turning 30 and ended up quitting my job moving back home to Winston Salem to live with my dad, and started took the bar exam for the first time. And then went on to become assistant DA in my hometown of Winston Salem prosecuting domestic violence and sexual assault cases. And eventually, I moved to Raleigh, which is our State Capitol in North Carolina, and went to work for our Attorney General doing criminal appellate work in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court. During that time, I met my wife, my future wife, we got married, and we ended up moving to Durham, while my wife was pregnant shortly after we got married. And we’ve been in Durham ever since. After working at the AGs office, I went to work for our family business, my wife’s family started a contract research organization that does clinical trials research here in Durham, back in 1984, in her parents basement, believe it or not, and Lauren, my wife currently serves as our CEO. And I worked for a while for about six years as our company’s general counsel, which as you may know, is very different legal work from being a prosecutor or an appellate attorney, a lot of on the job training, but work in the industry, it was a really fascinating time to be in that in that in that work. And so we ended up working together for about six years, which was fantastic. And then, in the spring of 2015, I had been working in a number on the boards of a number of nonprofits here locally in North Carolina at been an officer of the statewide Park, statewide Democratic Party here in North Carolina. And the our city council here in Durham had two upcoming retirements. And I ended up deciding to run for city council in 2015. And got elected, and then got reelected in 2019. And recently, about two months ago, I resigned. Because my wife and I are going to take our kids and spend a year living in Paris while my wife does work there. So we’re just trying to get our visa applications together and figure out what we’re taking. And what we’re leaving behind. And figuring out are the next year
Will Bachman 03:49
is gonna Wow, that is amazing.
Charlie Reece 03:52
That’s the two-minute version. That’s a lot to unpack in there. But it’s been it’s the last couple of months had been a little bit crazy. And the next 16 months are going to be just as wild as we try to figure out how to move across the Atlantic and get our kids set up in school and whatnot.
Will Bachman 04:11
Wow, that’s very exciting. So a lot different areas of your career there to jump into. Let’s talk about recently your your public service on the city council. So you had been involved in politics for a while you said you were on the statewide democratic committee. What does someone who has served on a city council understand about how cities work that an ordinary educated person maybe even attorney does not select? What did you learn during that experience about how cities work?
Charlie Reece 04:48
I’ll tell you what was really neat about listening to your podcast is you’ve interviewed former mayor angels of Arizona providence and to hear him talk about it. Our jobs were very are very different. And that’s because cities in in the United States can run on a number of different models and Angel was the mayor of a city that has a strong mayor system. And that the mayor acts essentially as the city manager, hires key department heads, runs the day to day operations of the city is a manager in that respect. And that was reflected but because Angel talked about on the podcast talked about the managerial challenges of of managing an organization with that many employees how we had to bring in some talent, who had had experience managing large organizations in North Carolina. Cities and towns are run in a council manager form of government, which means that the city council essentially acts as the board of directors for the organization, the city of Durham, we hire only three employees, the city manager, the city attorney, and the city clerk and the city manager, hires and manages the entire operations of the city. And so we don’t get into kind of checking with the public works department to make sure all the all the streets are plowed in the right way, which I know occupies about a ton of Angel time when he was the mayor, that we were mostly focused on large policy directed issues, the budget is probably the most important thing that we do every year as a council. And so one of the one of the things i i All that is to say that we just have, there are very different ways for cities to organize themselves. And most folks think of elected official says doing what Angel talked about. But I think, in many, many cities in the United States, including here in Durham, North Carolina, we have a very different role. You know, the other thing I will say is that angel was talking about, I heard Angel talk about hiring staff and having staff to support him. In cities and towns across North Carolina, we don’t really have that. I shared one administrator, administrative staff person with two other council members, and they were mostly responsible for helping schedule a few appointments a week, but that’s pretty much it. So we don’t have you know, staff support for policy work for any of the other kinds of things that you see larger city councils, having staff support for all of which is to say that the job of being a city council member, Durham is very much self directed, you know, we have four meetings a month that we’re required to go to, but so the job can take as little or as much time as you want to put into it. I ended up working maybe 50 or 60 hours a week. But a lot of my work was very constituent directed. And so I answered more constituent emails than all my colleagues put together and ended up going around the cities to check out, you know, water quality problems, erosion problems, potholes, broken utility poles, all that kind of stuff. So the, I guess the first thing I would say is that cities can run very, very differently. And I don’t think most folks know that I think most folks think that, that elected officials and local governments, you know, hire the police chief, for example, are responsible for street clearing. But that’s just not the case. The other thing, I would say, and it’s probably a little more of a profound insight is how very limited local governments are and how we can actually respond to policy challenges. And that’s especially true here in North Carolina, where local governments are the creation of the state. And so we’re not supposed to be doing things that the state hasn’t explicitly authorized us to do. One great example is a thing that most other good sized cities across the country have just called inclusionary. Zoning. This is a concept that allows local governments to require that developers who are building, say 60 unit apartment building, set aside a certain percentage of those apartments, for folks who don’t have a lot of money in it’s a way to ensure that as a city grows, the housing stock will continue to have some portion of it set aside for low income and working class folks. And so you have these programs in every major city in America, but in North Carolina, we’re not allowed to do that. And so you get a ton of folks who move here from other places who see that we don’t have that program, and think, Oh, well, the local city council must be in the pockets of big developers, when actually, we would love to set up some kind of program like that. But we’re the state of North Carolina is for business to do that. And there’s 100 Different things like that. And so, all of which is to say that the learning the limitations of the row It is one of the things that I think most folks don’t really think about. And in fact, we just had a local election here in Durham, in the fall of 2021. And our two new members said repeatedly in their first couple of months of office, it, I never knew how limited the response was, could be from local government. And so a lot of the work, the policy work that we do as a council is trying to figure out how to get around them doing what we call with called Dirham workarounds, to try to address some of these larger social problems in creative ways that are still allowed by the limitations we’re supposed to operate under.
Will Bachman 10:42
That’s interesting, tell me about some of the degrees of freedom that you do have. You know, I imagine with a budget, there’s probably some things that are somewhat baked, and you don’t have a whole lot of flexibility on it. But there might be other areas that are more discretionary. Talk to me about that, or talk to me about other sorts of policy degrees of freedom, where, you know, there were things that you debated and could have gone different directions.
Charlie Reece 11:09
No, absolutely. I think, you know, one of the one of the things we did in 2019, was we put on the on the ballot for referendum, an affordable housing bond, that raised $95 million to support the creation and preservation of affordable housing across Durham. That’s a that’s a thing that local governments can do in Durham, I mean, in North Carolina. And, you know, it’s, it’s the it’s one of the ways that we can work around these prohibitions that don’t allow us to require developers to add affordable housing, but by raising $95 million, we can create incentives and part and partnerships with nonprofit affordable housing developers to come in to Durham and build more units of affordable housing, to try to support our low income working class neighbors, who just want to stay in the city that they have helped to build and define for generations. You know, that’s, that’s the kind of policy response that local governments in North Carolina have to do more of, because we don’t have those easy levers that some other cities had. And all that is to say, these other cities also have affordable housing problems. rent control is not the end all be all or silver bullet. And neither is inclusionary zoning you have to be you have to push through a whole basket of policy answers to these kinds of vexing social problems. You know, the other piece that we do a ton of work on in local government is Land Use and Planning issues, and trying to manage the zoning process, such that we allow developers to build more housing, which can help kind of rebalance the supply and demand problem we’re having across the country right now, but especially here in Durham, where housing production hasn’t caught hasn’t kept up with population growth for any of the last 10 years. And so, but we also have to try to do that in a way that is environmentally sustainable, that is not, you know, bulldozing greenfield development that bulldozers, trees and flattens Earth to build single family homes and locks in the kind of car centric development pattern that really makes it impossible for us to hit our other types of goals around environmental sustainability, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. So this stuff is all related. It’s all hard. And the job itself requires you to try to be creative. At the same time you keep in mind the values that took you into office in the first place. And that can be hard.
Will Bachman 13:53
You mentioned the bond, other than the bond what, what other accomplishments? Have you had an office that you’re particularly proud of?
Charlie Reece 14:04
Well, I think, you know, one of the things that I have done as a council member is tried to be involved in the kind of the nuts and bolts of the delivery of city services. So about a year ago, I decided I was going to visit every city park in the city of Durham, and provided notes to our parks and rec staff about problems that I saw at each of the parks. I also did some social media around that. I’ve written every bus route in the city of Durham. For the last several years, I have walked the length and breadth of every piece of property that I have that’s come to the Durham City Council for rezoning or annexation, that just because I think those cases are so important as because they defined the built environment of our community and who we are as a city. And I don’t think you can make I guess I can’t make the best decision about those cases. Unless I know that piece of property is more than just lines on a map. So those are the things I’m actually really proud of are the kind of the that in the end, the way that I built up a reputation is being responsive on email and social media. For a number of years, I did a session on Facebook, Facebook Live, where I walked through the agenda of upcoming city council meetings and answered questions live about different agenda items. So I think those are the kinds of things I’m most proud of, I don’t know, the I think the nature of local government in North Carolina is such that it makes it difficult to have the kind of sweeping policy changes that you see in other cities like Angel was talking about the establishment of a couple of charter schools, while North Carolina cities don’t deal with our public schools as a run by the counties. But I think, for me, it matched those kind of limitations and my own disposition really aligned to make me more of a constituent focused council member. And you know, the other thing is, it’s easier to get some personal satisfaction out of that kind of work. You know, I can go and, and report, a pothole that needs to be fixed to the appropriate city staffer chase a utility, a bunch of utility companies around the block trying to get them to replace a broken utility pole. Or, as happened a couple of years ago, it was a community that was suffering first from some streambank bank erosion on they’re in their backyards, and some of their fencing and outbuildings were about to fall into a creek and we were able to get a federal grant together to do some stream bank remediation that just got completed, right before I resigned and was able to go out and meet with those neighbors in here, how excited they were about the great work that our city did to stabilize the stream bed. So I think bottom line, I’ve never been the kind of the big idea. Type. elected official, I was always the trying to do a lot of little things that impact ordinary folks as they go about their day to day lives. And those are the kinds of things I’m most proud of.
Will Bachman 17:12
Tell me about something that you learned or tell me some story from your experience visiting all these pieces of property that were up for zoning or you said annexation? Tell me about that a little bit about some things that you brought back to council meetings were actually I walked a walk that property? And here’s what I learned?
Charlie Reece 17:32
Well, yeah, I mean, a couple of times, he would have found abandoned cemeteries that weren’t on maps that the developers didn’t know about. And, of course, then they had to take a bunch of additional remediation steps. You know, finding abandoned houses in the middle of nowhere is very, very common, more common than I think people realize. But the biggest thing has to do with kind of the the contours and shapes of the land, whether or not there were streams running through these properties. And did the developer have plans for addressing that water flow? Because those are really critical issues when you’re talking about especially redeveloping, for example, wooded or forested land.
Will Bachman 18:19
I got asked about this. So I got asked about this cemetery thing. So were there cases where, you know, you walk the property, like, oh, there’s cemetery here. So then it comes, like the developer comes to like the zoning board meeting, and you ask, well, what are you gonna do about the cemetery? And they say, What cemetery?
Charlie Reece 18:39
Well, usually, I would call the developer in advance and say, I think there’s a problem here, I didn’t see that I didn’t see anything about this on your application. And so they’ll delay it for a while. There has to be some genealogical research done to track down the descendants of the folks that are at rest there. And there’s generally a plan to relocate these folks to another local cemetery with the consent of their descendants. Is that how it worked? Very tricky, if not handled correctly, yes.
Will Bachman 19:07
How it works. So wait, so if you want to move, these are things or what’s that? So if you want to move as I’ve always wanted about that, so if you want to move a cemetery, you have to get the consent of like one of the descendants?
Charlie Reece 19:22
Yes, especially where it has to do with the weather. It’s one of these kinds of countries cemeteries, that is not on any kind of map or registry, you’re just wandering in the woods and you find some headstones. And so yeah, they have to, they have to take care of it. They can’t just kind of pave over it and put them elsewhere. That would be awful.
Will Bachman 19:42
But you could never like find like every descendant right with me Do they take a vote is has to be unanimous or you just have to get one descendant to sign off or how does that work?
Charlie Reece 19:53
That’s a great question. I’m not sure. But I think we that we asked him to do the best I can
Will Bachman 19:59
do Look, what if someone says no, I want them right where they are, then the whole project gets cancelled?
Charlie Reece 20:06
That’s a great question. I don’t know, we’ve never had that situation. Okay. Kind of the bigger problem, though, is there’s a there’s a project in Durham right now, where next in the property directly adjacent to this project has an old cemetery. And, you know, another one of these small cemeteries that’s not on a on any kind of registry, but it was, it’s been there for a long time, obviously, since the 1800s. And the the folks who are trying to preserve it are upset because the city doesn’t have rules about sort of stormwater runoff on to an adjacent property like cemetery and taking those effects into account. And so that’s one of the things that the city and the county of Durham are currently rewriting their comprehensive plan for Land Use and Planning issues. And that’s what’s going to be one of the things that the new plan takes into account is kind of the the impact of development on one piece of property on adjacent properties, especially in the situation of a kind of a vulnerable historic site, like, like a cemetery like that.
Will Bachman 21:22
That’s something I’ve always wondered about actually is sort of cemeteries and it’s, you know, it’s one thing when it’s currently being run by the city or by a church or something, but like, forever and ever. 100 years from now, two years from now, I’ve always wondered about that. Okay, so what did you learn from riding the bus? Every single bus route? What did you learn about your city? That’s an amazing I, in college, I actually tried to ride the T two most every stop and take pictures, and every set was a project ahead. But what did you learn by riding the bus to every bus route in Durham.
Charlie Reece 21:59
I learned so much every local elected official should do this. You know, the first thing I learned first, most important thing is the people of our city are amazing people. They’re just such, there’s they have such good hearts. And so, you know, I never felt I never felt that in danger on a bus. I never, even though I got lost a couple times, people were so willing to talk about how to how to get where you’re supposed to be, and very kind of the most important thing. The second thing I learned is our bus operators are amazing people they put up with so much they are so patient and helpful. And especially during the COVID 19 pandemic, our bus system here in Durham, had the least drop off in ridership of any system our size in the country. And we were only able to do that because our operators kept working. And so those folks are real heroes, because our bus system is generally not for people who have other options. Most folks who ride the bus in Durham, or have are cut from zero or one car households are low income folks, and huge and mostly, they are black and brown neighbors. And so our bus system is a real engine for economic opportunity, and racial equity. And our operators made that happen. The third thing you see when you ride every bus, in Durham, and along every bus route, is the really sorry conditions of most of our bus stops. Our bus stops, can be can require riders to wait stay into the ditch waiting for the bus. Many of them don’t have good sidewalk connectivity. Very few of them have an actual shelter. But that’s reserved for the most for the busiest bus stops. But we need a ton more shelters, benches, and the kind of pedestrian infrastructure around the stops to make it safe for folks to get to and get off the bus. And so I think that’s kind of the next. That’s the most salient policy outcome of those of that work is to is identifying the areas where the city and our regional transit partners can try to put a ton more time energy and money into making that infrastructure more robust.
Will Bachman 24:27
When you were riding the bus, did you kind of say hello to people and say, Hey, I’m on the city council on here’s the project I’m doing Do you have any feedback? I mean, it was that Imagine you’re sitting quietly right? You’re like meeting you’re meeting your neighbors, your your constituents?
Charlie Reece 24:44
I did not. I don’t I don’t think I ever identified myself as a council member. Although I would occasionally get recognized. Mostly I struck up just conversations with folks. One of the things I’ve found as an elected official is that it’s hard to get people Sometimes to talk openly about problems. If they know that you’re an elected official that sometimes it’s easier. It depends on the personality the person, actually. But for the most part, no, I didn’t. I didn’t advertise myself as a council member while I was riding the bus. I just talked to folks as a labor.
Will Bachman 25:19
Interesting. Okay. That sounds like such a cool project, how long does it take, by the way to ride every bus route in Durham?
Charlie Reece 25:29
See, I think I got it done in about a year. Okay. So obviously, I didn’t, I didn’t like set out everyday and pick a new bus route. One of the you have to be an elected official is is very time consuming. So I had to find time when I could actually do that, and that was, so I took me about a year.
Will Bachman 25:53
Wow, okay. There’s a competition in New York City for people to visit every single subway stop. And
Charlie Reece 26:01
you can actually get off the train,
Will Bachman 26:03
I think you have to get maybe get off the train to put your foot on the ground. I’m not sure the exact rules. I haven’t competed in it. But people plot out all the subway stops, and figured out the most efficient way to transfer from one train to another and hit every end stop. I think people do it in something 27 hours or something, but they stay up obviously, continuously doing it. So that’s amazing. A lot of writing. So when incredible time and then just to kind of round out this trilogy. In terms of visiting parks, like, what did you learn about your city by visiting every park in the city.
Charlie Reece 26:40
So we there’s a our parks department website that lists somewhere in the neighborhood of 71 different parks, their facilities, but that includes things like our lake Nikki reservoir up in the northern part of Durham County that’s outside the city limits, but has recreational opportunities and run by the parks department. And so I’ve visited all of those. And the amazing thing is it was extremely rare. I think it happened twice, that I would go to one of our parks and not see someone there using it. It was pretty astonishing. This was during the sort of the middle part of the pandemic in 2020. And so folks, we’re definitely needing to get outdoors. But I think generally speaking, our parks here in Durham are incredibly well used. And I came away from the entire experience really was such gratitude to previous generations of Durham residents who built and really kind of protected this incredible resource for us right now, the folks who live here, to that front to benefit from, it’s just the breadth of things that you can do in our parks, the geographic distribution, and the way that our staff so lovingly cares for these amazing places. It’s just such a real tribute to the vision of generations of Durham residents and leaders who have created this incredible park system. And that was my main reaction was just one of amazement at how well use they are and gratitude for the decisions of past Durham residents and leaders to create this. The other the other thing you can’t help but notice are some of the disparities of parks in different parts of the city, and the age of, of play structures, and equipment and benches. And so that was one of the kind of the main, one of the main outcomes of my time doing this is to try to work with our park staff to get some of the equipment updated. So that’s a process that’s, that’s ongoing right now. And so, those were the things that I learned the most and the fact that that, you know, it’s it was great to get out of the house a little bit during the pandemic, that’s for sure.
Will Bachman 29:11
Can you tell me about some issue where constituents who were your supporters, were maybe lobbying you on different sides of a given issue? We’d love to hear about that of what it’s like being a public official where it’s not like your side wants something and then you know, the opposing party wants something else but your own side is on is on different sides of a given issue to talk to me about a some example of that.
Charlie Reece 29:41
Oh, yeah, well, absolutely. So indirectly, as is the case of many cities in America. Every local elected officials, a Democrat on the city council races are nonpartisan, but every elected official in Durham is a Democrat. So our disagreements are family affair. Here’s sort of inside our liberal progressive tent. You know, one of the issues, that that kind of cuts across a lot of those lines, it are the kind of land use planning issues. We develop. We, over the last several years, Durham has seen a wave of developers asking us to annex pieces of property into the city from the county for development purposes. And the particular area in the city where this is happening a ton is in the southwest corner, or the southeast corner of the city, or the county, between the ED, the eastern most city limit of Durham and the line between wake Durham County. And there’s that part of of Durham County has traditionally been very rural. And developers have been developing that, that area for single family developments and townhouse developments. And the people, I’ve had supporters reach out to me on both sides of those issues. And it’s really complicated, as I mentioned before, Durham, like most other cities has a real imbalance between supply and demand and the housing market. And one of the ways that you try to break that imbalance is by allowing developers to build more housing. But obviously, this is a kind of a far flung part of our community, not currently in the city not served by public transit. And the the idea that we are building single family, neighborhoods and townhouse neighborhoods in this part of the city, that can’t be that where folks have to have cars is a tough pill to swallow. And so you’ve got folks who want to see more housing built to alleviate the supply demand problem, which theoretically will bring the cost of housing down, which is a good thing, pitted against the folks who believe that that yes, we need more housing, but this is an awful place to do it. Because you’re not going to be able to catch up us there anytime in the foreseeable future. And so you’re going to have to have a car, which locks in that kind of car centric development pattern for at least a generation. So those are that’s the kind of issue that we get a ton of in the Land Use and Planning, area of city government. And, you know, I think for the most part, our council has leaned towards building the housing. And in deciding we’re going to figure out the transit questions later. Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself more and more at odds with that position. Just because it’s not clear to me that folks moving to our area who want to live in Durham, quote, unquote, Durham, are that interested in buying single family homes in the far southeastern corner of the city. I think most folks who want to move to Durham want to live in one of our income neighborhoods. And it’s not clear to me that building supply in that far flung corner of the city actually addresses the gentrification and displacement issues. But that’s the so that’s one issue, where folks who are traditionally allies can kind of be at odds, that kind of tension between increasing housing supply and the environmental and sustainability impact of building those kinds of homes and that kind of place.
Will Bachman 33:45
Let’s talk about college a little bit. Were there any courses or professors that you had that have impacted you? Well, after you left, Cambridge, Massachusetts, whether professionally or not just, you know, either maybe personal interests that you gain from some core course or professors that have impacted your public service.
Charlie Reece 34:14
So yeah, I think I had two professors who, who I still think about and rely on the things that I learned in their classes. One was Michael Sandel and the justice class that was, I guess, still is kind of popular on campus. And that was the real my first real exposure to a lot of political theory. And so I still think back on on that course a lot. As a local elected official to try to balance some of these very tricky interests. The other the other professor was at Harvard for time and now he’s now at UT Austin law HW Perry. He taught a course on called constitutional interpretation that really dug more deeply into the trade offs and balancing of interests inherent in our federal Constitution. That class was really cool because it was, it was a two semester class. Anybody can take the first semester, but then you had to apply. The second semester was more like a seminar. And that second semester, our class had folks like Bo Rutledge, who’s now law professor, Rhonda Dershowitz, Christopher Steele Silverberg, who went on to be diplomat in the Bush administration, was our ambassador to the European Union. Just it was an amazing collection of people and the really spanning the ideological spectrum. And we had the kind of conversations that you think of people having in college, and it was just that class, made a huge impact on me in the way that I think about things. And so those are the two professors of courses that I think I still think about 30 years later,
Will Bachman 36:11
what some insight or conversation from that class that that state has stayed with you?
Charlie Reece 36:18
Well, I think one of the things I learned. So you know, Kristen, and Bo are more on the conservative side of the political spectrum, one of the things I’ve learned is that folks on that side of the spectrum can actually have good faith ideas about how to improve the lives of people. And I think that’s something that that folks on the left can tend to forget sometimes. And you know, Kristin nimbo, were two people who were passionate about service and government. And I’ve continued to be in, in various fields in the law and public service throughout their careers, and just getting to know them. And having those examples was super helpful. But also just, you know, around the issues of balancing the various interests that exist in a constitutional system. I guess the the main thing that HW Perry likes to talk about was was in free speech areas, just how careful we have to be in in balancing those interests. I’ve always been fascinated by and really tried to keep in mind on the complicated policy issues that we have faced in local government.
Will Bachman 37:37
Tell me about we turn to the Department of Culture now or ask, are there any, any books or movies or magazines or newsletter subscriptions? theater or art that you particularly recommend?
Charlie Reece 38:00
That’s a great question. So during the pandemic, I’ve helped start a science fiction and fantasy book club that we’ve done over zoom for the last year ish. And two of the things that I’ve read for that, that group have been really, really amazing and would recommend to everyone the first is in K Gemma sins, Broken Earth trilogy. It is an extraordinary piece of fiction, it’s three books. The first book has the kind of plot twist that you that you just love to see from a from a book. And the other two books are also equally good. So I recommend that without reservation, it is some of the best written fiction I’ve written a long time. The other the other piece. The other thing that I read recently that had a really impact on me was a book called Amazon by Neil Stevenson. It’s kind of a alternate history, deep history. book about US society that is developed in a different way than ours. And essentially, the the scientific and knowledge has been sequestered in monasteries around around the world. And an event happens that requires this knowledge to come out into the world to be useful. And so there’s some there’s an interesting kind of cultural clash, but also a lot of great commentary about what it means to have science and development and pursue knowledge. What is it for? I those are the two things that I would recommend to folks because it’s pretty amazing.
Will Bachman 39:54
Fantastic. What? Just tell us a minute about what you’re doing lands are for for Paris coming up. I know you’ve been living there for years. You said earlier in the show.
Charlie Reece 40:07
Yeah, so it’s been kind of a, this is a big deal for us. So about a year ago, my wife, and our company started exploring the possibility of buying a European company that does what we do to expand our business opportunities in that part of the world. And at the end of December, we closed on an acquisition of a company in Riga, Latvia. And about, within the first month after that, acquisition, it became clear to all of us that our CEO was going to have to spend a ton of time both in Latvia trying to integrate their operations into our broader company. But also now that we have this European presence selling our services in Europe, and also recruiting medical centers to serve as clinical trial sites for our for our clinical trials. And so we sat down with our kids, and said, so there are two options. Under option one. Laura can go to Europe and spend a ton of time there over the next year and a half. And you’ll the three of us, me and me, and my two kids will be here in Europe. Option number two is we all go together after the school year and have a great adventure for a year. And perhaps it’s no surprise that they chose not to be stranded in the United States with their dad. And so we’re going to Europe for a year. That is awesome that we’re we are we’re going to wait to the end of the school year in June, and we’ve got a an apartment lined up in Paris. Starting in July, we’ve enrolled the girls in the American School of Paris, which is great because it has English language instruction, but every student must take French. And so within a couple of months, our kids going to be speaking better French than we are. My wife is going to be working a lot because she’ll be Latvia is birth head, just get up early and work with them for about half a day. And then in mid afternoon, Durham, which will be six hours behind us, they will be up and working. And so she’ll pick up a half day with them. And so she’s gonna be working at a time when she’s not traveling. I’m going to be doing a ton of errands and grocery shopping and cooking, getting the kids to and from school. It’s a big change sort of in, in my lifestyle, and all of our lifestyles really. But I think, you know, as we thought about this change, one of the things I told my wife is that, you know, for the last six and a half years since I’ve been on the city council, we’d like every other couple, we talk a good game about balancing the needs of our respective careers. But the truth is that mostly my job came first. And, you know, after six and a half years, it was time to put the focus on Laura, my wife is going to be in business for another little while. She’s got ambitions and goals she wants to achieve. And I just, it made a lot of sense for us to support her aspirations and her ambitions. And so we’re moving to Paris.
Will Bachman 43:42
That’s fantastic. Let’s let’s name check the name of the company. What’s What’s the name of your wife’s company?
Charlie Reece 43:48
Oh, sorry. So our the name of our company is ro incorporated RH Oh, it’s named after the Greek letter. That means something in statistics that I don’t understand. But my wife is the scientist in the family. I’m just a country lawyer. But, you know, serving on the city council was the best job I’ve ever had. I love that job. But after six and a half years, it’s time to show our kids that Laura’s career matters, too. So I resigned. The city council is hard at work appointing a successor for me, who will serve out the remainder of my term. And we are moving to Paris Angela.
Will Bachman 44:30
Very cool. And right. What is ro do is they run clinical trials. Is it a specific type of clinical
Charlie Reece 44:37
work? So we’re a contract research organization. We work for pharmaceutical companies, designing and implementing clinical trials and then analyzing the results and we can also work with clients to shepherd drugs and devices through the FDA approval process. That’s kind of one side of our business the other side of the business This is running coordinating centers for the federal government through some of the National Institutes of Health. And so it’s a company that was started almost 40 years ago, in my wife’s basement by her parents. And my wife and her brother kind of came up working in the business. And our and my wife has been our CEO for about 10 or 11 years now.
Will Bachman 45:23
Congratulations, that is fantastic. Sounds like an exciting move. Great for kids. How old are your kids now?
Charlie Reece 45:32
So we have our younger child is 10. And our older child was 13. She turns 14 In two days. Wow. She would she would not want me to let let that fly with.
Will Bachman 45:41
All right. What a great opportunity. They’ll be in a year and you’re in New France. That’s awesome.
Charlie Reece 45:47
Yeah, and, um, I think I think they’ll be in fifth and eighth grade. And if things go according to plan, we’ll be back here for each of them start middle school and high school with the same cohort of folks. They’re in School of Math. So it’ll be I think that’s the right timing. It’s going to be a great adventure. But we’re definitely coming home to him as our home.
Will Bachman 46:06
All right. What is the best way for listeners to follow up with you for any of the listeners, classmates who wanted to catch up with you? If you want to give out a you know, website? Instagram, whatever you want to give? How should people follow
Charlie Reece 46:24
up? Absolutely, I can I can be found on almost every social network at at Charlie Reese. It’s our EEC. That’s especially on Twitter and Instagram. Folks can also check out Charlie reese.com, which will have kind of a photograph of our adventure in Paris, I might do a little bit of light blogging, depending on how Twitter turns out under the ownership of Elon Musk. But mostly my social media outlet right now is Twitter. And folks can find me tweeting there about the word old local politics and, and the failure of the French left to create meaningful alliances in the area of Emmanuel Macron.
Will Bachman 47:10
All right, and we look forward to some notes on the French parks and bus routes as well. So we’ll include those.
Charlie Reece 47:20
What I plan to do is convert my Twitter handle my Twitter content into photographs of impactful pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in the city of Paris. Most can see what we’re not doing well here.
Will Bachman 47:35
Fantastic. So Charlie reese.com will include those links in the show notes. Charlie, it has been great speaking with you.
Charlie Reece 47:44
Hey, well, thank you so much for your time. And are you going to be at the reunion?
Will Bachman 47:47
I will be there. I’ll be at the 30 So see you there.
Charlie Reece 47:50
Awesome. Can’t wait to meet you in person.
Will Bachman 47:52
Thank you and listeners. You can sign up for the weekly 92 report newsletter at 92 report.com. That’s nine to report.com and five star reviews on iTunes help other listeners discover the show. Thanks for listening