Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Triangle Politics: McFarlane isn’t fond of the idea of 4-year terms

July 6, 2012 

Running for office every two years? Sure, it’s a pain, Nancy McFarlane said this week. But it also makes us more accountable to the voters, the Raleigh mayor told her City Council colleagues.

McFarlane spoke out against a proposed switch to four-year terms, saying the current two-year turnaround reduces the likelihood of “career politicians” (she didn’t name any names) and allows Raleigh to function more effectively than other elected bodies (again, no names). “If they don’t like what we do, they can kick us out in two years,” McFarlane said. “It’s the surest way to keep us doing what we’re supposed to do.”

The City Council chose to schedule a public hearing for this fall, if only to keep the discussion alive a little longer. Thomas Crowder and Russ Stephenson joined McFarlane in opposing a switch.

City employees get annual job reviews, Crowder noted. “This is the citizens’ way of giving a review to their councilors.”

Stagner berates GOP leaders

Randy Stagner comes off as a no-nonsense kind of guy. Since he won North Raleigh’s District A seat last year, the retired U.S. Army colonel has brought a blunt, straightforward style to the City Council.

Tuesday’s meeting was a good example. Stagner said he was bothered by the GOP legislative leadership’s handling of a mistaken vote that allowed the House to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a controversial fracking bill.

OK, maybe bothered isn’t a strong enough word. Stagner called the case “despicable, damnable and shameful.” He lamented that the “current culture of the General Assembly” doesn’t allow for mistakes to be corrected.

The City Council got a chance to show it does things differently. After Bonner Gaylord inadvertently voted in favor of a rezoning that he meant to oppose, his colleagues graciously allowed him to change his vote.

Town talks tough with county

Chapel Hill Town Council member Gene Pease has had some choice words when it comes to working with the Orange County Board of Commissioners this year.

During the council’s last meeting in June, Pease said he would support sending some of the town’s trash to Durham’s transfer station instead of continuing to pay Orange County to accept its trash. The county landfill is scheduled to close in 2013, prompting Chapel Hill to consider its options.

“I don’t give a damn about what Orange County thinks about where we put our trash,” Pease said. “They made a decision to close (the landfill).”

Earlier this year, when commenting on whom to appoint to a committee to negotiate more county money for the Chapel Hill Public Library, which serves many Orange County residents outside Chapel Hill, he said: “Well, I want two tough sons of bitches on it."

Pease did not want to be on the committee himself. He wanted those appointed to make sure the county didn’t make big financial decisions without input from Chapel Hill.

Durham curbs food trucks

Durham City Council members are reassuring food truck lovers that proposed new rules aren’t meant to quash the Bull City’s mobile eateries.

The rules go to a public meeting 5:30 p.m. Monday in Durham City Hall. Among other things, trucks would be banned within 100 feet of a restaurant entrance without the restaurant owner’s permission. Second, trucks could be banned around Durham Central Park, including when the Durham Farmers Market meets Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In an email, City Councilman Mike Woodard reassured one constituent “the intent of the proposed ordinance is not to ‘overregulate’ food trucks.” Rather, the city has received some complaints about street vendors, not just food trucks. “This ordinance is our staff’s first attempt to address these concerns while not destroying the unique business opportunities and culture that have come about as a result of food trucks,” he said.

City Councilman Steve Schewel agreed. Last Saturday he bought tomatoes and peaches at the Farmers Market and enjoyed a fried green tomato burger from the Only Burger truck.

“None of us on the council wants to do anything that will be detrimental to Durham’s food truck culture,” Schewel wrote on a local listserv. “I feel certain that a reasonable accommodation can be worked out that will be fair and beneficial to everyone.”

Staff Writers Katelyn Ferral, Matt Garfield and Mark Schultz

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