GOP leader: Perdue officials stifle dissent

Staff WriterFebruary 4, 2011 

The head of the Wake County Republican party accused the Perdue administration Thursday of stifling free speech when the state's chief traffic engineer accused a North Raleigh resident of practicing engineering without a license.

"I think Gov. Perdue needs to investigate the chief engineer for his actions, not the citizens for theirs," saidSusan Bryant, chairwoman of the Wake GOP.

The N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, a professional licensing agency, is investigating an allegation in December against David N. Cox by Kevin Lacy, the Department of Transportation's state traffic engineer.

Lacy said an eight-page traffic analysis submitted by Cox on behalf of a North Raleigh neighborhood group appeared to contain "engineering-level work" done by someone not licensed as an engineer.

Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations offered the study in a failed effort to win state approval for new traffic signals at two intersections on Falls of Neuse Road. The city of Raleigh will start work this spring to widen a 1.3-mile stretch of Falls of Neuse.

Bryant said Lacy was trying to intimidate Cox and his neighbors and suppress their rights to petition government officials.

"No one signed it as an engineer," Bryant said. "They simply put together their feelings and their information. When we can't do that without fear of potential criminal prosecution, that takes away our rights."

A spokesman for Perdue said the governor, a Democrat, had pledged to take politics out of transportation planning.

"Now the Wake County Republican Party wants to put it back in," said Mark Johnson, the spokesman. He said engineers, not politicians, should evaluate and decide traffic safety issues.

Transportation Secretary Gene Conti, a Perdue appointee, said the DOT has used residents' feedback to change the Falls of Neuse project. He endorsed Lacy's request for an investigation.

bruce.siceloff@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4527

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