Triangle Politics

School board member apologizes to Tata

March 31, 2012 

Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata and supporters say they’re offended by Democratic board member Susan Evans’ indirect use of vulgarity to refer to him, in what Evans says was meant as a joking email between friends.

The tiff shows that tensions can continue to flare up between Tata – appointed by the previous, Republican-majority board – and the new Democratic majority that swept into office last fall. The email was sent March 7, after a dispute in which Tata accused Evans and Christine Kushner of ethical violations for their links to the organization Great Schools in Wake. Tata apologized Feb. 24.

This week’s fuss arose from a jokey mass email called “Children Writing About the Ocean” sent to Evans and several others. Among maritime “facts” supposedly written by children was one that read, “A dolphin breaths through an a--hole on the top of its head.”

Using her personal email, Evans replied to the group, “I think TT may be a dolphin.”

On Friday, Evans said that the email, while not intended for mass consumption, was inappropriate. Evans said she apologized to Tata by phone Thursday night and that he had accepted. She said she sent the email at a time when she felt resentment over Tata’s accusations about her ethics.

“Since then, he and I have taken strides to improve our relationship,” Evans said.

Tata emphasized that his first concern is to provide the best educational experience for students and parents in Wake County.

But, he added, “I do think it’s unacceptable for a board member to use profanity to describe the superintendent. It’s not helpful, but I’m not losing sleep over it.”

Tax revenue assured

Chapel Hill Town Council member Matt Czajkowski keeps his eye on the taxpayer’s dollar.

Czajkowski voted against this week’s town ban on cell phone use while driving, in part because the town doesn’t know how much it will cost to enforce and to educate the public.

Later in the same meeting, he asked about UNC Health Care’s plans to turn the old Borders bookstore into a new physical and occupational therapy building. The building, at Fordham Boulevard and Sage Road, has been vacant since the bookstore chain went out of business last year.

Czajkowski asked whether the town could still depend on property tax revenue from the building.

Mel Hurston, UNC Health Care’s senior vice president for operations, said the university is leasing the building from a private owner, so, yes, the town will continue to collect property taxes.

Farewell to Rosselli

Kristen Rosselli, Raleigh’s community services director, is leaving for a new job in Durham, and the nine-year City Hall veteran got a warm send-off from Mayor Nancy McFarlane this week during a City Council meeting.

Rosselli spent the past three years leading the community services department, which oversees neighborhood programs, youth and senior activities, and Hispanic and Latino outreach. Her last day is Monday.

With its focus on newcomers and families, the department “helped people grow deeper roots in Raleigh,” Rosselli often said.

Rosselli will take the new position of chief strategy officer for Triangle Options for Substance Abusers. The residential recovery program provides treatment, job training and continuing care.

Dwayne Patterson, supervisor of the Neighborhood Services Division, will serve as acting community services director.

Political Trails

• The League of Women Voters will hold a Durham County candidates forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Durham County Library, 300 N. Roxboro St. The forum will provide an opportunity for citizens to learn about the positions of the 14 candidates for county commissioner, as well as candidates in contested races for the state legislature and the Durham County school board. Sylvia Kerckhoff, former mayor, will moderate, with questions from the audience.

• Becki Gray of The John Locke Foundation will speak to the Republican Women of Cary and Southwestern Wake on Thursday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. Social begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by the luncheon/program at noon. The cost is $15 for the buffet. RSVP to Lisa at 919-303-8870. Information: www.rwcsw.org.

• Gubernatorial candidates Bob Etheridge and Bill Faison will speak to the Wake Democratic Men’s Club on April 9 at the Clarion Hotel in Raleigh. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner served at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program at 7 p.m. RSVP to wakedemmen@wakedems.org by 10 a.m. the day of the meeting. Cost: $17 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

Compiled by staff writers Thomas Goldsmith, Katelyn Ferral and Matt Garfield

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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