Triangle Politics

Wake County commissioner borrows a prop from Geico

March 28, 2009 

Taking his cue from an insurance company ad, Wake Commissioner Tony Gurley on Monday engaged in a little political theater to accentuate his opposition to the county granting $25,932 in seed money for a new African-American Cultural Festival.

Shortly before he cast the lone vote against the proposal, Gurley placed a bound stack of cash on the ledge in front of his commissioners' desk and then added a pair of eyes and quizzical brows. The prop borrows from television ads for Geico, where the stack of bills follows around potential customers to represent the "money you could be saving with Geico."

With the county facing deep budget cuts triggered by the national recession, Gurley said it was the wrong time to be giving money for a new street festival that probably would require additional government support in the future.

"I think we're wasting taxpayer money to plan a party," said Gurley, a Republican. "Our responsibility is to meet the needs of our community first, not a party."

Gurley, who makes his living as a pharmacist and lawyer, appeared to use a $500 bundle of real $20 bills to make his point.

The proposed festival has been backed by board Chairman Harold Webb and Vice Chairwoman Lindy Brown following the departure of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference basketball tournament from the RBC Center to Winston-Salem two years ago.

The pair won the support of a majority of commissioners for the festival by getting Artsplosure, the nonprofit organizer of Raleigh's annual arts festival, to sign on as the new festival's professional organizer. The Raleigh City Council will match the county's expenditure to provide an initial $51,864 to plan a framework for the cultural festival.

Atwitter over tethers

Chapel Hill's Town Council banned dog-tethering Monday without debate.

Then, thanks to Facebook Mobile, members were able to discuss their action after they had taken it but while the meeting was still going on. It was like members of Congress Tweeting their thoughts on President Barack Obama's speech to Congress last month while the president was still speaking.

"Mark Kleinschmidt just banned tethering dogs in Chapel Hill ," the council member posted on his Facebook status about 9:30 p.m., hours before the meeting would end.

"Ha! as if you did it by yourself!" his colleague Sally Greene posted 10 minutes later.

"Oh that's right. Sally was there too," Kleinschmidt wrote at 9:53 p.m.

"Way to go, Mark. Thx," wrote WCHL host Ron Stutts.

"I was there, too," Laurin Easthom wrote the next morning, "and nearly cried seeing the video of the 'tethered' dogs all wound up with the chains. Glad we went all-out on a ban and not three hours max, etc."

Durham election forum

With Durham's City Council considering a change in how it gets elected, the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham, and Chatham Counties will hold a forum on election methods at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the main Durham County Library.

The council plans its own hearing April 6 on changing from a primary-general election system to a single plurality election. The county Board of Elections estimates that, by eliminating the primary, Durham taxpayers would save between $170,000 and $180,000 each municipal election year.

The change would not affect elections for county and school board positions.

Citizens who wish to speak at the council's April 6 hearing may call the city clerk at 560-4166 to be put on the list.

No news is good news?

Once again, it's former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer vs. the newspapers.

Fetzer announced two new initiatives this week as part of his campaign to win the chairmanship of the state Republican Party. Both efforts are aimed at raising money at the local level for the party. One asks people to pledge a dollar a day to the local party, and in the process maybe contribute to the ongoing decline of the newspaper industry.

"I know that sounds like a lot, but not if you break it down this way," Fetzer said in a news release. "1) just drink one less cup of coffee or one less Coke a day, or, 2) better yet, read the newspaper online and give the money to the party rather than giving it to the newspaper so they can spend your money to beat Republicans."

You have to wonder: Do Jim Black, Meg Scott Phipps, Frank Ballance and Kevin Geddings -- all Democrats imprisoned after newspaper investigations -- get Fetzer's joke?

Or the paper?

Compiled by staff writers Jim Wise, Mark Schultz, T. Keung Hui, David Bracken, Jesse DeConto and Michael Biesecker.

Triangle Politics is a weekly look at the local political scene. Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 829-4529 or send e-mail to david.bracken@newsobserver.com or Copyright 2014 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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