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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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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wake School Board Ponders New Talks With Commissioners Over Funding

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 8:03 PM

Presented with the kinds of cuts Wake County schools face in the new budget year, school board members said Tuesday it was time to sit down with their counterparts on the county commission to once again present the system's “acute needs.” In a school board afternoon work session, financial officer Mark Winters presented a pared-down budget that still showed a roughly $13 million shortfall. The Board of Commissioners, which doles out a portion of county funding to the schools, refused the schools' request for $45 million in new funding this spring, instead offering $16 million in new money along with...

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Study: Women in Wake County See Wage Gap Worse Than in Austin or Boston

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 4:52 PM

A study released Monday shows major gender-based wage gaps among employees in Wake County, in many cases detailing larger gaps between men's and women's salaries than those seen in comparative markets in Boston and Austin, Texas. The Wake County Board of Commissioners received a report from a sixteen-member task force, a panel that resulted from a 2016 Wake County Women’s Commission study on women's employment issues. "We ended up with some really disturbing figures for the wage gap for women in Wake County," former Commissioner Carolina Sullivan said. The new study, by Meredith professors David McLennan and Whitney Ross Manzo,...

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

If Governor Cooper Wins His State Board of Elections Lawsuit, Will Wake Dems Lose?

Posted By and on Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 8:49 AM

On Thursday morning, Gerry Cohen, a former special counsel for the General Assembly, made an interesting observation on Facebook: both the Democratic and Republican parties of Wake County missed the statutory deadline to nominate candidates for the county Board of Elections this year. And that, he wrote, meant that if Governor Cooper was successful in his effort to overturn a law passed last year reconfiguring the structure of elections boards, the Wake board would consist of “two Libertarians and an unaffiliated voter.” (Cooper has so far been rejected by the courts, but he is appealing.) Here’s why: the old state...

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

McFarlane Plans to Run for Fourth Term on Her Record

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 4:16 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, officially filing to keep her job Thursday, says she’ll campaign on her record of leading a city where most residents are “pretty happy,” according to a survey. That doesn’t mean she’s brushing off the candidacy of banker-attorney Charles Francis, fifty-four, who became the first to file for mayor last week. October 10 municipal elections will include contested races for city council as well as for the mayor’s job. "I see every race as competitive," McFarlane said after signing up at the Wake County Board of Elections. She was accompanied by a passel of family, from husband...

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Primer: When Donny Met Vlad, How Wake Lost $600K, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Happy Friday, y’all. You know that relatively slow news week we’ve been having? Today found a way to make up for it. Before we jump in—and I’ll do my best to keep it snappy—I’d like to take one last chance to plug this week’s Primer sponsor, Inner Engineering, which will be hosting courses at the end of the month in Raleigh. Get more information here or by clicking on the ad below. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. TRUMP MEETS PUTIN. THE GIST: Today, at the G-20 summit in Germany, President Trump and President Putin, who American intelligence officials believed helped...

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Exclusive: Wake Missed a Chance to Conduct a Detailed Audit of the Register of Deeds Office, Which Is Now Missing $600K

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 4:03 PM

Annual county financial audits since 2008 failed to uncover at least $600,000 in losses involving loose handling of cash and other accounting failures at the Wake County Register of Deeds office, county officials say. The county apparently chose not to perform a more specific audit of the Register of Deeds office, even though officials could have: state law requires at least an annual audit for any county office that deals with money or taxes. The county Board of Commissioners will discuss the matter at a two p.m. work session Monday, with one question sure to emerge: Why did no one...

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Primer: While Trump Tweets, the EPA Chief Plots an Assault on Climate Science, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:33 AM

Hey, everyone. Given that this Monday is sandwiched between a weekend and a holiday and many of you are off, I’ll try to keep this roundup short and sweet. One caveat: for logistical reasons, I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, as opposed to early Monday morning, so if anything important breaks overnight and it’s not here, that’s why. Also, I wanted to give a quick shoutout to this week’s sponsor, Inner Engineering, a four-day course designed to give you the tools to create your life the way you want it. Classes are held in Raleigh on July 27–30. Click here...

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Friday, June 30, 2017

The $3 Million Question: Why Didn’t Wake Divert a Property Tax Surplus to Its School System?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 6:37 PM

Three million dollars equals only about 0.0023 percent of the annual allotment that Wake County schools receive from the Board of Commissioners. But when county coffers took in that much more in property taxes this spring than expected, it started a row about county governance that appears far from over. At the heart of the disagreement is the action by Wake financial staffers to incorporate into the overall budget more than $3 million in revenues without first consulting the elected commissioners. County staffers describe the folding in of the money as a routine part of the budgeting process, which was...

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Primer: North Carolina Might Be the Future of U.S. Politics and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 8:51 AM

Morning, folks. There’s a lot of ground to cover today. I’ll do so as expeditiously as possible. Let’s begin. 1. IN N.C., THE FUTURE OF POLITICS. THE GIST: Jason Zengerle is out with a piece in The New York Times Magazine this week that poses something of an unsettling question: “Is North Carolina the Future of American Politics?” It leads with the Air Horn Orchestra—the INDY’s former managing editor, Grayson Haver Currin, and partner-in-rabble-rousing Tina Haver Currin get a shoutout—shutting down and then reconvening to protest Governor Cooper’s HB 2 compromise. But the bulk of the story centers of the...

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Wake School Board Grapples with Getting Half of the Money It Asked For

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 6:27 AM

Wake County school board members had plenty to say and plentiful ground to make up Tuesday, the day after the Board of Commissioners provided less than half the new schools funding requested. For board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler, the lowered amount of money—$21 million instead of $44 million—meant the schools would have a tough time providing all the services that today's children may need. With financial pressure on human services, social work, law enforcement, and other government functions, schools have become the last hope for some marginalized children, Johnson-Hostler said. "Every part of what I would consider necessary to have a...

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Primer: The NCGA Has a Budget and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:20 AM

Greetings and salutations, readers. There’s a lot in the news today, but before we get started, a quick reminder, if you have any thoughts/questions/suggestions/tips as to how we can make Primer better—or if you’d like to get this blog delivered straight to your inbox every morning—email them to indyprimer@indyweek.com. Also, please support our sponsors. (This week’s Primer sponsor is the Raleigh Flyers, the Triangle’s professional Ultimate Disc team.) They keep the lights on. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. WE HAVE A BUDGET. THE GIST: Yesterday, the General Assembly unveiled its $23 billion compromise budget, which would boost teacher pay by 3.3...

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Wake Passes $1.26 Billion Budget; Schools Get $21 Million in New Funding

Posted By on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 at 7:20 PM

The annual fiscal wrangle between Wake County's governing bodies ground to a halt Monday as the Board of Commissioners approved a $1.26 billion budget on a 5–2 vote, bumping up the schools’ allocation by $5 million over the county manager’s recommendation to provide $430.9 million in local funding. Commissioner Matt Calabria, who moved to include the extra $5 million, acknowledged that Wake County schools would still lag beyond many other counties in the state even with the increase. Use of a recent $1.5 million rise in sales tax revenues and transfers from debt service and capital funds meant that the...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

City Staffers Pick York Properties to Manage Union Station

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 7:54 PM

A long-familiar Oak City company got the nod from city staff Tuesday for providing leasing and management duties at the under-construction Raleigh Union Station. York Properties, with roots as a construction company dating to 1910, submitted the best among three proposals, said David Eatman, transit administrator for the city. The other contenders were commercial real estate companies Cushman and Wakefield and NAI Carolantic. The transportation staff's choice will have to be signed off on by council members, likely at a July 5 meeting. "The firm has a vested interest in the community," Eatman said. "York Properties presented what I thought...

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Primer: Trump Is Thinking About Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 10:27 AM

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There’s a lot in the news, and we’ll get to it straightaway. But first, may I ask a favor? Our first Primer seemed to go well; the response was overwhelmingly positive. But if you are experiencing any problems or have any suggestions about how we can make this newsletter more readable—e.g., if the formatting looks wonky on your computer or device—please pass them along to jbillman@indyweek.com. This is a new venture, and we’re learning as we go. So with that said, let’s go. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. HE WOULDN’T DARE. (WOULD HE?) THE GIST: According to one of...

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Wake Commissioners Walk a Fine Line Between Being Fiscally Cautious and Fulfilling Campaign Promises

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 6:08 PM

There’s a thin line between being fiscally cautious and fulfilling campaign promises to support public schools to the hilt, members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners learned Monday. At issue at a commission work session was the gap between the $45 million in new money the school system originally proposed and the $16 million—plus the schools’ reserve fund—that county manager Jim Hartmann has proposed to fund the system in 2017–18. Wake County schools have no taxing authority, so there’s a yearly exchange of opinions on how much the Board of Commissioners should include for schools out of the county...

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wake Officials Wait for State Budget, Try to Sort Out Their Own

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 8:40 AM

It's a balancing act that doesn't get any easier from year to year: county school board members have to wait for local and state budgets to wrap up before they know how to complete their own. Wake County Board of Education members meeting Tuesday heard schools financial chief Mark Winters go through a litany of changes and mandates by the state legislature that will have an effect on Wake schools, amounting to tens of millions of dollars. "We look at our budget on a daily basis," Winters told the INDY after the meeting. Among the potential costs the school system...

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Monday, June 5, 2017

SBI Probe of Wake Register of Deeds Office Going Back a Decade, Officials Say

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 7:20 PM

State Bureau of Investigation detectives are going back ten years, examining many thousands of documents, in their probe of potential financial crimes in the Wake County Register of Deeds office, SBI officials and the county district attorney said Monday. This timeframe dramatically widens the scope of the investigation, which came to public attention when District Attorney Lorrin Freeman and county manager Jim Hartmann held a press conference March 31 to announce an SBI criminal probe into possible financial irregularities in the Register of Deeds office. “We’re trying to follow the trail back to see if we can find when this...

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