The arrests of eight people Thursday at an Occupy Raleigh protest did not sit well with Mayor Charles Meeker.
Meeker said it was his understanding that Raleigh police would get involved only "if there were an assault on a Capitol Police Officer or other similar disturbance."
But a different scenario played out. City officers aided Capitol Police in arresting eight people, including a disabled woman sitting on a chair, after the demonstrators refused to leave a sidewalk in front of the Capitol.
"The City Council needs to provide guidance" to city brass on how to balance the rights to assembly and free speech with the need for orderly conduct, Meeker wrote in a memo to his colleagues Friday. "I am concerned that the constitutional rights are not being given adequate weight."
A protest leader said Occupy Raleigh had contacted City Manager Russell Allen for help but found that Allen's hands were tied because the sidewalk falls under the jurisdiction of Capitol Police.
Meeker said he wants to know more about what the state police have asked Raleigh officers to do. The mayor will bring the issue up for discussion at Tuesday's City Council meeting at 1 p.m.
Steve Toler, co-chairman of the committee pushing a quarter-cent sales tax for schools in Durham, said the campaign's biggest challenge is "the language on the ballot."
When county commissioners agreed to put the tax up for a referendum Nov. 8, they agreed that the revenue would go to Durham Public Schools, Durham Technical Community College and pre-kindergarten programs.
But the ballot asks voters to approve a "local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes," without specifying how the proceeds will be used. That wording was set by the state legislature's act authorizing the referendum.
Some groups and citizens oppose the schools tax because there is no guarantee it will go to schools, but the measure has won support from several organizations and even, Toler said, from much of Durham's business community.
Soliciting business for a tax increase, he said, "is like asking the temperance league to support a kegger."
Wake County school board Vice Chairman John Tedesco has become an election boogeyman for Democrats hoping to regain the majority on the board.
In an email message to party members this week, Wake County Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul pitched the merits of Democratic school board member Kevin Hill in the Nov. 8 runoff election for North Raleigh's District 3. But Paul said Hill's lengthy career as an educator isn't the only reason to vote for him over Republican challenger Heather Losurdo.
"There is another incentive to drive voters to the polls on November 8," Paul wrote. "If Heather Losurdo wins, it means John Tedesco ascends to the chairmanship of the Wake County School Board."
There's going to be a new chairman in December because Ron Margiotta lost his re-election bid. The runoff will determine which party has the majority on the officially nonpartisan board.
In an interview this week, Tedesco charged that Democrats are talking about him because they don't want to talk about the real issues. He said Democrats are deflecting talk away from how re-electing Hill will lead to "forced busing," while a victory by Losurdo would promote neighborhood schools.
A good voice for golf
At last week's annual Raleigh Hall of Fame dinner, Mayor Charles Meeker addressed the audience of several hundred at the Convention Center in his usual soft voice. That prompted WRAL's David Crabtree, who followed Meeker to the microphone, to suggest a new occupation for the retiring five-term mayor.
"I've always thought you could work for the Golf Channel," Crabtree said, referring to the hushed tones often used by golf announcers.
On a visit to The News & Observer later in the week, Meeker said he wasn't sure how he would use his time in coming months, other than practicing law. But he said he would not be joining the Golf Channel.
"I don't watch much television," Meeker said with a smile. "And I don't play golf."
N.C. Central University radio station WNCU 90.7 FM will host a candidates forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Michaux School of Education Auditorium. Durham mayor and City Council candidates will take questions from the audience. The event also will be broadcast live on the WNCU website, www .wncu .org . The forum is free and open to the public.
N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby will speak to the Republican Women of Cary and Southwestern Wake on Thursday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. The social begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the luncheon/ program at noon. The buffet is $15. RSVP to Victoria at 363-9574. Information: www .rwcsw .org .
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