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Raleigh City Council

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lightner: It's a loser. Plan B?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 4:16 PM

That was one unhappy Mayor Charles Meeker today when he called for a vote on the proposed Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center ... knowing it would lose. And lose it did, 4-4, as Councilor John Odom joined the trio (Thomas Crowder, Bonner Gaylord, Russ Stephenson) who've questioned it for weeks. So the Lightner plan stalls. But Meeker refused to call it dead; it goes on the shelf, he said, until one of the opponents changes his mind or there's a new Council. And just to be sure no one puts a stake in it, Meeker blocked any consideration of...

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lightner: Council trio says it's not smart, secure or affordable

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 6:28 PM

City Councilors Russ Stephenson, Bonner Gaylord and Thomas Crowder today came out strongly and, it would seem, irrevocably against the proposed Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center on Nash Square. It would not be in the best interests of the city nor of the public safety officials involved, they said, to put all of them, and all the emergency equipment, into a single high-rise building. The trio once again said the Council should look at splitting the project into two phases, the first of which would be a new low-rise building for Emergency Operations. The location: somewhere downtown, but in...

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lightner: The 7 good questions that haven't been answered

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 5:26 PM

At first, it was just the timing, and the fact that it was attached to a property tax increase when people could least afford it. But the longer the plan for the proposed Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center in Raleigh lays on the table, the more questions are being asked about it by a trio of City Council members—and they’re not getting good answers from the project’s proponents, including Mayor Charles Meeker. The questions are: One, does it make sense, in an age of backpack bombs and crazy people flying their planes into government buildings, to put all...

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Council trio: Two pegs (one is round) a bad fit for tall, square Lightner building

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Updating the debate over the proposed Clarence E. Lighner Public Safety Center since our Indy story 12 days ago. That the proposal's rollout was bungled is now a given; but the question remains, who bungled it? Was it City Manager Russell Allen's fault? Or Mayor Charles Meeker's? Or both? It was Allen's job to shepherd the Lightner plan through the bureaucracy. But it was Meeker, along with Allen, who decided the plan ready for the City Council's rubber stamp of approval when clearly it wasn't. Since the rollout, a trio of City Council members has pushed back against the Meeker-Allen...

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hillsborough Street bike lanes are looking good. (!)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

The City Council's public works committee held its long-awaited meeting on the issue last night. The verdict, by unanimous decision: There should be bike lanes on all of Hillsborough Street from downtown to the Fairgrounds. No exception for the Hillsborough Street Project (Phase 1, remember) in front of N.C. State. For a city trying to move from car-dominated sprawldom to walkable-bikeable metro, it's a huge step forward -- assuming it holds. Hillsborough Street has great symbolic importance for Raleigh. It's also a place where bikes could one day be the dominant form of transportation if given a chance....

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Friday, January 8, 2010

There it is: Wake GOP wants public vote on 17-story Raleigh police tower

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM

What took them so long? But today, the Wake Republican Party chairman, Claude Pope, called on the Raleigh City Council to hold a referendum on the proposed $205 million, 17-story public safety center. (There's a nice gallery of the architect's renderings up on the N&O's website.) Bonner Gaylord and John Odom, the two new (or in Odom's case, renewed) Council members, have questioned the project since taking office in December. Odom's a Republican; Gaylord, officially unaffiliated, came in with a lot of Republican backing. There are a bunch of issues surrounding the plan -- the cost, the location, the wisdom...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tiered water rates put off again -- this time until mid-summer 2010

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Raleigh City Council just voted 5-3 to increase water rates by 13.5 percent while also postponing the effective date of tiered water rates -- a major conservation initiative that would've resulted in a rate cut for low-usage residential customers -- by another seven months. (Update: Raleigh's rules require that a second vote be held in November since the rate hike did not pass by a super-majority of 6-2 or better. A city press release is copied below the fold with some additional information.) Councilors Russ Stephenson, Thomas Crowder and Rodger Koopman -- a lame duck since he was defeated for...

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Raleigh Council: Crowder crushes Van Dyk in "D"; Odom ousts Koopman in "B"

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 2:55 AM

The "Meeker Majority" is no more. Mayor Charles Meeker was re-elected, as expected, but if goes looking for four progressive City Council members to make a 5-3 majority, he'll have trouble finding them now that District B Councilor Rodger Koopman's not on hand. Koopman was beaten rather easily by former Councilor John Odom. The Republican-over-Democrat result was helped by a big turnout in the District 9 (North Raleigh) school board election, won by the GOP-backed Deborah Prickett. (Complete results here.) Koopman's loss means the progressive majority that came together around such issues as higher impact fees on development -- a...

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mary-Ann Baldwin takes China tour with campaign cash; McFarlane pays own way

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 8:47 AM

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and a tour company named Citslinc International have put together one sweet sightseeing deal this fall -- a 9-day trip "to experience the wonders of China" for just $1,999. (Non-chamber members pay $100 more.) Among the 300 folks signed up so far: Raleigh City Councilors Mary-Ann Baldwin and Nancy McFarlane. McFarlane says she's paying her own way because it's sightseeing. Baldwin, though, says it's an economic development trip, and she's paying for it with contributors' money from her campaign account, including a $1,799 check to the Chamber reported on her most recent campaign...

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Monday, September 28, 2009

There he goes again: "Positive voice" Van Dyk attacks Crowder

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 10:04 AM

District D challenger Ted Van Dyk, running as "A Positive Voice for Raleigh," went the negative route again over the weekend with an attack postcard aimed at, of all things, incumbent Councilor Thomas Crowder's good work with neighborhood leaders on the comprehensive plan. Think of it as a kind of minor-league Swift Boating, where you try to undermine your opponent's strength (John Kerry's Vietnam service) by hinting darkly that if we only knew more about it, it woudn't be a strength. So Crowder meets once a month with neighborhood folks, mostly (but not exclusively) neighborhood association and CAC leaders? This...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top 10 list at the Raleigh election forums: No. 10 --

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 3:37 PM

WakeUP Wake County and the League of Women Voters combined to put on a candidates forum Thursday -- City Council candidates only. Last night, the four mayoral candidates joined in at the University Park Homeowner Association's forum.  Goodness, these were genteel events. Everyone there was so nice. (No Joe Wilsons.) But not everyone was there. Top 10 things said and heard:...

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brother, can you spare a dime for my Raleigh City Council campaign?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Updated Friday, September 4 and again Tuesday, September 8. Times are tough, I know. And yes, we all deplore the sway of big money in politics. But c'mon, if you can't raise any money from anybody, isn't that kind of an indication that you, uh, don't have any supporters? Either that or you're not very good at asking people for help -- which, money aside, is a bad trait in a public official. And on that score, the early returns from our Raleigh City Council candidates, when I perused them yesterday, were pretty punk. Doesn't John Odom have any friends?...

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sierra Club backs Meeker, Stephenson, Crowder, Koopman in Raleigh; also, Robison, Smith in Cary

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 5:34 PM

The Sierra Club's endorsements are out in the Raleigh and Cary elections. In Raleigh, no surprise that the environmental group is backing Charles Meeker for mayor, Thomas Crowder in District D and Rodger Koopman in District B -- all incumbents. (It also endorsed Nancy McFarlane, an incumbent, who is running unopposed in District A.) In the at-large Council race in Raleigh, where the top two finishers will win seats, the SC's Capital Group  -- 3,000 members strong -- endorsed only incumbent Russ Stephenson. In other words, the enviros kept their second vote in their pockets rather than endorse the other...

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Council elections: Isley not running for mayor (I think); Sartain targets Baldwin

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 10:43 AM

One week down, one week to go in candidate filings for City Council. The race for the two at-large Council seats is shaping up. Mayor? Not so much. In the at-large race, Lee Sartain's been making it clear that if he wins a seat, he'd like it to be the one held by incumbent Mary-Ann Baldwin. In other words, Sartain's cool with incumbent Russ Stephenson and is running against Baldwin. Champ Claris (Robert Champion Claris to his friends), on the other hand, is gunning for Stephenson, not Baldwin. No surprise in any of this: Stephenson, a Democrat, is the progressive...

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lee Sartain: "Just a candidate" for City Council at-large

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 1:17 PM

From Q-Notes: “I’m not particularly keen on being called the ‘gay candidate,’” Lee Sartain, a 2009 city council candidate in Raleigh, told Q-Notes. In today’s time, Sartain said, gay and lesbian people actually have a chance to run for office and make a difference on a range of issues other than those pertaining to the LGBT community. “One of the things that strikes me in 2009, is that if you look back over history and you look back to Harvey Milk — that was 30 years ago and he was the gay candidate,” Sartain said. “In 2009, you are not...

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wake GOP calls out Allen's $10k raise, other Raleigh budget blunders

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 4:38 PM

When the Raleigh City Council adopted its '09-10 budget Tuesday, Wake County's new Republican chair saw his opening. Today, speaking to the Wake Republican Women's Club, he ran through it. Claude Pope Jr. chided the Council, with its 7-1 Democratic majority, for failing to cut City Manager Russell Allen's proposed spending plan -- to the contrary, Pope noted with distaste, they added almost $2 million to it. The adopted budget leaves the city's property tax rate unchanged. In these parlous times, however, the Council should've cut it, Pope argued. The budget offers pay raises of up to 4 percent to...

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

City Council takes affordable housing idea, inserts in round container

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Fans of affordable housing may recall the recommendations of the City Council-appointed task force on the issue. (See the full report here.) A key recommendation: Adopt inclusionary zoning policies. Another: Turn the temporary Affordable Housing Task Force into a permanent advisory commission -- along the lines of the Arts Commission and the Convention Center Commission -- so that affordable housing doesn't disappear from the city's radar screen with the expiration of the task force. Here's an update. Inclusionary zoning's going nowhere. And just to make sure it doesn't, the Council voted last week to take no action either on the...

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Meet Lee Sartain, City Council aspirant

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 2:57 PM

He's running for Raleigh City Council at-large. Good-looking website. He'll tweet you if you let him. The mayor and two council seats are elected at-large; the other five council members are elected from districts. The at-large incumbents are Russ Stephenson and Mary-Ann Baldwin, both Democrats. They're both running for re-election. A Republican, Champ Claris, announced his candidacy recently. Sartain didn't list a party affiliation (city elections are officially nonpartisan); I'm looking for his voter affiliation on the State Board of Elections website. (Update: Just talked with him; Sartain is a registered voter -- actual first name Ricky, but goes by Lee...

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's wrong with Moore Square?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 5:16 PM

The unanimous City Council vote today in favor of having a public competition to redesign Moore Square put me in mind of the last time city officials wanted to mess with Moore -- back in '01 -- and how that came to naught. A big issue then was that citizens weren't consulted before the Parks Department rolled out a redesign of its own, and a dreadful redesign at that. This time, the planning department's in charge, and it's all about citizens' input, with "an open call for design ideas," etcetera, etcetera. (See below for the city's press release.) But a...

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Councilor Crowder facing a likely challenge in District D

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 4:42 PM

The announcement by Mayor Charles Meeker a week ago that he will seek a fifth two-year term in October shut down any possibility that the other seven seats on the City Council would be shuffled. No Philip Isley versus one of the Democrats for Meeker's job, in other words. Thus, it seems the at-large councilors, Russ Stephenson and Mary-Ann Baldwin, will run for re-election and face nominal or no opposition, as will most of the council's district representatives. Or that's how it looks with the election less than six months off. The one exception so far is in District D...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Meeker to go for 5th term as mayor

Posted By on Fri, Apr 10, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Earlier this year, Charles Meeker was giving off an "I'm out of here soon" vibe that indicated his current, fourth term as mayor would be his last. He certainly thought about it, telling friends that he'd like to concentrate more time on his law practice and be done with -- though Hizzoner's not a complainer -- the incessant demands of mayoral politics and public relations. (For which our city of nearly 400,000 folk pays the princely sum of $15K a year.) But on Monday, Meeker will announce his decision about running again in October, and several excellent sources say he...

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comp plan hearing tonight; what's next?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 2:42 PM

      The official public hearing on the draft comprehensive plan (revised) is tonight --  Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. It's previewed in the Indy this week, mainly on the question of whether the plan is too promiscuous with its "growth centers" to actually produce any that will amount to the "walkable urban places" everybody says we need. Mitch Silver, Raleigh's planning director, says it's not -- too promiscuous, that is -- and that the metastasizing Brier Creeks and North Hills's of the world will not undermine Raleigh's urban future. Silver recognizes, though, that creating "walkable urban" locales...

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hillsborough, street of dreams

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 12:38 PM

The City Council yesterday approved a $9.9 million contract for the reconstruction of Hillsborough Street (Phase I) between Oberlin Road and Gardner Street. It only took ... how many years? (A: Here's a story from 2002, three years after the first plan was hatched and the Hillsborough Street Partnership created.) The big idea has always been to preserve the street's historic place and purpose while modernizing its function so businesses there can thrive and some new housing can be introduced -- no easy task. Hillsborough Street connects just about everything that's important in Raleigh's history, from the State Capitol to...

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Greatest comp plan ever? Next Wednesday, Feb 11, the floor is open

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 3:35 PM

What was it that Mayor Meeker said about Raleigh's new comprehensive plan? It's only a first draft, of course, and the Planning Department staff is busy considering the comments on it that came in by the Jan. 31 deadline ... a revised draft will go to public hearing in March, with the goal -- well, Meeker's goal anyway -- of speeding it through the planning commission to final City Council adoption in June. Whew. But the mayor said last week, in his State of the City speech, that it's already "a great plan" -- in fact, it's "the best plan...

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