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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sig Hutchinson: If Wake Stops Investing in Schools and Transportation, It Will Slip Off Those Best-Places-to-Live Lists

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 6:33 AM

Riffing on the familiar gospel song "This Little Light of Mine," Board of Commissioners chairman Sig Hutchinson on Monday praised the bright side of life in Wake County—the rapid growth, increased transit choices, a wealth of educational opportunities, and the much-heralded quality of life. The occasion was the annual State of the County address, where the person in charge totes up the pluses and minuses of the year. Hutchinson went strong on the positives but didn't ignore the spots where the light doesn't always reach, such as jail cells, emergency-department hallways, and homeless shelters where people with mental illness routinely...

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wake Students Will Skip a Tobacco Survey for First Time Since 1999, Prompting a Pushback from County Commissioners

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 4:45 PM

Wake County public middle and high school students will skip a statewide tobacco-use survey this year for the first time since 1999. And county commissioners, irate over of the loss of data about an important health risk, are calling school board members to a special meeting on the matter. Wake County Board of Commissioners chairman Sig Hutchinson said Thursday that he intended to take the matter up at a work session Monday. However, Board of Education Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler and Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner, who were invited to attend, will be at a state school board association meeting in Greensboro, according to...

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Friday, October 13, 2017

How the Legislature Screwed Up Raleigh’s Runoff Elections

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:29 PM

Under state law, Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis has until noon Thursday, October 19, to decide whether to request a runoff against incumbent Nancy McFarlane. Under a different state law, however, early voting for the November 8 election is scheduled to start Thursday morning—before Francis has to actually make a decision—which would seem to make the balloting process somewhat difficult. (Francis says he’ll make an announcement Monday, so perhaps the Board of Elections will be off the hook.) The whole snafu originated with ongoing efforts by state legislators to make it more difficult for black people to vote, according to...

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 8:05 PM

OK, maybe it's a little strong, calling the new configuration of Raleigh's governing body the NIMBY City Council. But with business-friendly incumbent Bonner Gaylord and well-funded challenger Stacy Miller deciding against runoffs for City Council seats Thursday, Raleigh can look forward to a panel replete with neighborhood advocates. They will include newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell, as well as victorious incumbents Russ Stephenson, Kay Crowder and David Cox.  Mayoral challenger Charles Francis's decision on whether to seek a runoff against Mayor Nancy McFarlane will be closely watched for its effect on the council to be sworn in December. Gaylord...

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mayoral Challenger Charles Francis Among Three Raleigh Candidates Undecided About Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 7:08 PM

Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis said Wednesday that he wants to check with supporters and see final vote tallies before he makes a call on a runoff with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane. In addition, city council candidates Bonner Gaylord and Stacy Miller had not made decisions by Wednesday afternoon on whether to ask for runoffs in their races. Because of a quirk in state law, State Board of Elections officials were urging candidates across North Carolina to decide quickly on whether to request runoffs. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, outpolled Francis, a Democrat, by more than six thousand votes but would...

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Stefanie Mendell Outpolls Bonner Gaylord in Raleigh City Council District E; Result Leaves Room for Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 6:54 AM

In a surprising political development, District E incumbent Bonner Gaylord was outpolled in the North Hills district by challenger Stefanie Mendell, who promised voters she would bring a better balance between strong neighborhoods and development. Neither candidate got the majority of votes cast needed to avoid a runoff. Mendell, in her first run at electoral politics, had 49.67 percent of the vote with all precincts in and Gaylord had 44.93 percent. Raleigh native Gaylord has served four terms on the council, becoming a reliable presence and a frequent ally of Mayor Nancy McFarlane. He was criticized in some quarters for his...

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Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 12:04 AM

Nancy McFarlane needed to get 50 percent plus one of the sixty-thousand-plus voters in Tuesday's municipal elections to remain in the Raleigh mayor's office without the possibility of a runoff. However, a vigorous campaign by Democratic challenger Charles Francis won him enough votes to prevent an outright victory. Incumbent McFarlane bested Francis by more than six thousand votes but received 48.45 percent of the unofficial tally, with Francis earning nearly 37 percent, according to unofficial tallies. Francis told WRAL that he would live to fight another day, but at eleven thirty p.m. the McFarlane campaign had not heard directly from...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

David Cox Outpolls John Odom in Fight For District B seat on Raleigh City Council

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 8:43 PM

Raleigh's District B saw one of the city's closest races in 2015, with political newcomer David Cox defeating veteran Raleigh figure John Odom by 261 votes. This year was an entirely different story, with Cox retaining his seat by taking about 68 percent of the vote, to Odom's 31 percent, with all precincts reporting. Cox made his reputation before the 2015 election by leading neighbors in the northeast region in successfully opposing a planned Publix grocery store development in the district. He has continued to stand for slow-growth causes and a continued presence for the citizen advisory committees that represent...

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Candidates Wind Up Campaigning, Count War Chests

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 5:36 PM

With the Raleigh mayoral and city council elections less than a week away, the candidates' money is on the table—at least all the coin we'll see until well after the October 10 election is over. But the campaigning isn’t over. Both major candidates will be out on the scene this weekend, with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane making a stop from eleven a.m. until noon Saturday at Read With Me, a children’s bookstore and art shop at 111 East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. “This month we get to hear the true story of how our Mayor Nancy McFarlane traveled to the home of...

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Muslim Raleigh City Council Candidate Zainab Baloch Says Defacement of Her Sign Won't Stop Her Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Zainab Baloch, a candidate for a Raleigh City Council at-large post, says her campaign will stand firm against the hateful rhetoric with which vandals apparently defaced her campaign sign on Louisburg Road. Baloch, a Muslim, learned today that a large wooden sign had been painted over with a crude swastika, a racial reference, and the word "Trump." Baloch, a state employee and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student, is running along with six other candidates for two of the council's at-large seats in October 10 elections.  The candidate's parents immigrated from Pakistan and she grew up in Raleigh. "This will not stop...

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Raleigh Mayor's Race: McFarlane Lends Her Campaign $50K; Francis Discloses New Donations, Spending

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 7:55 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has lent $50,000 to her campaign to return to office, according to a campaign finance document filed Monday with the Wake County Board of Elections. Meanwhile, her opponent, Democratic lawyer Charles Francis, also made public beefed-up donations and spending. The loan to the Nancy McFarlane Committee was made on Sept. 19, according to the disclosure document. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, has raised $119,382.28 for this election as of Aug. 29 and had $61,955.27 on hand, according to document filings. Francis has raised $231,264.69 and has $67,805 on hand, having spent $163,458.80. He did not immediately return...

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Wake’s Troubled Register of Deeds Office Agrees to Audits Already Allowed under Existing Law

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 6:39 PM

Wake County commissioners and the Register of Deeds office, in an effort to resolve problems that resulted in a $2.3 million loss, signed a document Monday that changes nothing about the relationship between the two bodies. Under state law, a county finance director has the authority to audit any county agency that takes in cash. However, participants in a Monday board meeting said, county finance officials tended to lay off former Register of Deeds Laura Riddick's domain because she was an elected official. Meanwhile, during Riddick's tenure, from 1996 until March, at least $2.3 million went missing from money...

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Consultants: Solutions to Wake Affordable Housing Crisis Will Require Cooperation, Cash

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 8:11 PM

Solutions to Wake County's growing affordable housing crisis could require substantial new revenue and changes to county land-use policies, according to a draft presentation on the topic received Monday by the Board of Commissioners. A study by consultants HR&A Advisors found that the county experiences a net loss of between 800 and 1,300 affordable units a year, despite city and county efforts that produce about 1,000 units. A current affordable housing shortfall of 56,000 units is expected to increase to 140,000 during the next two decades. Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said after the presentation that the...

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Public Policy Polling Survey: Some Wake Commissioners' School Funding Vote Means They'd Lose to a Hypothetical Woman

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 7:10 PM

With the goal of focusing voters and the Wake County Board of Commissioners on the 2018 elections and school funding, Raleigh pollster Dean Debnam released a survey Monday that says 82 percent of likely Democratic primary voters think commissioners should have fully funded the Wake school board's budget request. Debnam owns the nationally recognized, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling company as well other business interests. The company received at B+ from the polling site FiveThirtyEight in 2016 but has also been questioned for partisanship and for asking off-the-wall questions. PPP spokesman Russ Swindell said Monday that Debnam commissioned the poll to remind...

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Friday, September 1, 2017

External Auditors Confirm $2.3M Missing at Wake Register of Deeds Office, Cite Neglectful Management

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 12:02 PM

External auditors hired by Wake County say that overrides or neglect by management could have been at fault as $2.3 million went missing from the Register of Deeds office between June 1, 2008, and March 31, 2017. The firm Elliott Davis Decosimo said that it is Wake County's responsibility to maintain internal controls over cash and other revenue taken in by the Register of Deeds office. The missing money has been the subject of a State Bureau of Investigation criminal probe announced in March by county manager Jim Hartmann and District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. Generally speaking, the auditors say, collusion...

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Last Residents Leave Forest Hills in Garner; Complex Readies for Business Under New Name

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 7:43 PM

The last departing residents of Forest Hills Apartments spent an angry, emotional final day at the Garner complex, which is taking on a new name and a new set of renters. When a reporter visited the Garner complex in the early afternoon, bleach was being sprayed against the complex, spreading into the open air, and puddling on the ground as people were still moving out. They complained of burning eyes and difficulty breathing. Complex owner Daniel Eller said in an email Thursday afternoon that the procedure was routine maintenance. Earlier in the day, a tow truck pursued vehicles that had arrived...

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wake Schools Officials Say Millions Still Needed in Current Funding; Commission Chair Rules Out Changes Outside Budget Cycle

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Wake County Board of Education members are making clear that they expect millions more in schools funding from the Board of Commissioners, with details spelled out in an email from school board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler to commission chairman Sig Hutchinson. According to the email, leaders of both boards have agreed to continuing discussions on funding. However, Hutchinson said in a Wednesday afternoon telephone interview that  no changes would occur until next year's budget cycle. Commissioners are always willing to listen to the school board's concerns, he said. "We stay in communication with our school board; we like our school board," Hutchinson...

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann Steps Down

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Jim Hartmann, Wake County manager during a period of rapid growth and achievement since 2014, said in a letter to the Board of Commissioners that he will step down today. Hartmann said he is proud of the work he has done in Wake County since arriving here from Florida. During most of this year, he has been involved, along with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, in an investigation of some $900,000 missing from the county's Register of Deeds office. The probe is not the reason for his departure, he said. "I know some will believe my resignation is connected with recent news...

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Candlelight Vigil Against Hate and Violence Scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Pullen Church

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 2:23 PM

The images and reminders of Saturday's hate-driven violence in Charlottesville remain imprinted on the nation's consciousness, and work continues in the Triangle to create something positive from those horrific memories. Colleen Sharp, a Raleigh resident who was at the Charlottesville demonstrations, expressed that sentiment at a protest Tuesday at the Federal Building on New Bern Avenue. "These traumas aren't just going to go away," Sharp said. A candlelight vigil in Raleigh at seven p.m. Wednesday has the goal of standing against hate and violence. It will take place at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough Street. Raleigh Mayor...

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crooked Creek Park Supporters Pack Wake Meeting; Proposal Still Faces Questions

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 6:52 AM

Supporters of turning the former Crooked Creek Golf Course into a county park packed a Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. The crowd of about three hundred left with a mix of assurances of support from some members and continued questions from others. The work session produced a request to Frank Cope, Wake County community services director, to return to commissioners in September with more information about several aspects of the deal, along with a recommendation on how to proceed.  Ron Nawojczyk, a chief proponent of putting a park on the closed golf course in Fuquay-Varina, made a detailed...

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Are Big-Shot Republicans Donating to Democratic Raleigh Mayoral Candidate Charles Francis?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 6:00 AM

In late July, the Wake County Democratic Party did something it hadn’t done before: endorse a challenger to Raleigh mayor Nance McFarlane. It backed challenger Charles Francis, a banker and lawyer—and, most important, the first viable Democrat to run against the unaffiliated McFarlane since she took office in 2011. It was less a rebuke to the mayor than an example of blind partisan loyalty. As party chairwoman Rebecca Llewelyn explained to The News & Observer, the party’s “mission should be to elect Democrats to office.” But before Francis received that endorsement, he raked in substantial campaign donations from high-profile North Carolina Republicans,...

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Monday, August 7, 2017

You Can Now Go Drink at RDU on Sunday Mornings

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 7:06 PM

The seven members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners don't seem like the kind of people who party early and late. But save one holdout, James West, they all voted Monday to allow restaurants, bars, and country clubs in unincorporated parts of the county to start pouring whiskey, beer, and wine at ten a.m. on Sundays, instead of at noon. The move only affected a handful of establishments, Commissioner Greg Ford said, but it also allowed the change at RDU eateries that serve alcohol. Raleigh and other Wake municipalities had already voted to take advantage of the opportunity created...

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Should Wake County Spend Up to $20 Million to Convert a Failed Fuquay-Varina Golf Course into a Park?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 7:26 AM

Wake County leaders are at odds over whether it’s a good deal for taxpayers to make a county park out of the failed Crooked Creek Golf Course in Fuquay-Varina. Proponents of converting the former course in booming south Wake feel so strongly that commissioners have received pro-park emails from as many as a thousand people. That’s more than the number who wrote in at the height of the recent school funding debate, commissioners say. The Board of Commissioners is set to hash out the matter at an August 14 work session. Depending on whom you ask, buying the golf course...

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

At-Large Candidates Abound as Filing for Raleigh City Elections Nears an End

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 5:25 PM

The crowd of candidates for Raleigh City Council's two at-large seats grew to eight Thursday, even as the hours remaining in the filing period dwindled down to a precious few. Filing ends at one p.m. Friday for candidates in the October 10 election, held at a time when residents are generally happy living in Raleigh but worry about traffic and growth, according to a recent poll. The number of Raleigh mayoral candidates held steady Thursday at two: incumbent Nancy McFarlane and banker-lawyer Charles Francis. In the Raleigh at-large council race, candidates who have filed in the past couple of days...

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Hundreds of North Carolina FC Fans Gather at City Market to Support the Team’s MLS Bid

Posted By on Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Yesterday evening, hundreds of Oak City soccer fans flooded downtown Raleigh in support of the North Carolina Football Club’s January bid for a Major League Soccer franchise. The night began around four thirty with a march from London Bridge Pub and ended with a rally in City Market, sponsored by Lonerider, which gave out free beer . The rally, held in conjunction with a visit from MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott, was part of an effort to make Raleigh stand out among the dozen other cities across the nation—including Charlotte—vying for a MLS franchise. North Carolina FC...

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