Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Wake schools chairman’s plea for civility goes unheeded

May 19, 2012 

Wake County school board chairman Kevin Hill’s call for his colleagues to show proper decorum didn’t get heeded this week.

At recent meetings, board members have traded personal barbs and questioned each other’s motives and sincerity. At this week’s meeting, Hill said he’s “been embarrassed” by the behavior and comments made by board members to each other and at times to staff

Hill said that “sarcastic and disparaging comments, along with pointed criticisms based on predetermined assumptions, will not be acceptable.” He called on board members to be “professionals” and “to serve as role models for our students and citizenry.”

Later in the meeting, board member Deborah Prickett said she felt that “it was not genuine” when board member Jim Martin contended that there will be unexpected costs in implementing the new student assignment plan.

Board member Debra Goldman later said that Martin “has talked over everyone.” Prickett charged that board member Susan Evans, an ally of Martin, had told Goldman that she should “just hush.”

Durham County seat open

The Board of County Commissioners in Durham needs a replacement for resigned member Joe Bowser, and Durham County Democrats are taking names of those interested in the job until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Bowser resigned after losing a re-election bid in the May 8 primary, though his term does not expire until December. Since Bowser is a Democrat, the local party is entitled to recommend a candidate to serve out the remaining term, though commissioners are not required to follow the recommendation.

To apply for consideration, send a one-page letter, including biography and qualifications, to durhamcountychair@gmail.com. The party has scheduled a selection meeting for 6:30 p.m. May 31 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 1007 Roxboro St. All registered Democrats in Durham County are welcome.

Bowser was elected to the county board in 1996 and lost re-election in 2004 but regained a seat in 2008. He is the second commissioner to leave office since the last election, following Becky Heron, who resigned for health reasons in July.

Wake budget to be unveiled

Set your Google alerts. At 2 p.m. Monday, Wake County manager David Cooke will present his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, and all will be streamed live at www.WakeGOV.com.

Will rivers of new revenue flow into the county school system’s coffers? Will commissioners Chairman Paul Coble have to hold the line against any increase in the property tax rate? Only Cooke knows.

But Wake is seeing the first few signs of extra revenue since the recession began. That means commissioners, who have final say, are getting the push to give the schools a lift, pay employees a little more and meet human services needs.

After the drama subsides, citizens can see the proposed budget and comment at www.WakeGOV.com/budget.

Kinnaird opposes store

Former Carrboro mayor and now State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird and about 80 others who packed Carrboro’s Board of Adjustment meeting this week will have to wait until Wednesday to see whether a Family Dollar gets built off Alabama Avenue.

Stronach Properties of Raleigh has a contract on the land, but the company needs a variance to pave over an intermittent stream there and then a permit to build the 8,100-square-foot store.

Neighbors say the discount store would harm the 13-home, largely black community where many families have lived for decades. Kinnaird, who served four terms as mayor and was the only member of the public allowed to speak because of the late hour, urged the board to reject the store, saying it would bring heavy trucks, noise, lights, odors and “outsider foot traffic.”

“The neighborhood of Alabama Avenue, Davie Road and Neville Drive is one of oldest and most stable African-American neighborhoods in Carrboro,” Kinnaird said. The proposed store “would be highly disruptive to that quiet residential neighborhood.”

Kinnaird received a standing ovation. At least four town advisory boards have recommended denial.

Political Trails

• N.C. Policy Watch Director Chris Fitzsimon and Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen will analyze the results of the May 8 primary election at the Democratic Women of Wake County meeting May 31 at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. Buffet opens at 11:30 a.m., followed by the program at noon. The cost, payable at the door, is $18 for members, $20 for nonmembers and $5 for anyone wishing to attend and not eat. For reservations, email democraticwomenwakecounty@gmail.com or call 919-467-0151 by 10 a.m. May 29.

Compiled by T. Keung Hui, Jim Wise, Thomas Goldsmith and correspondent Tammy Grubb

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

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