Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Rolesville mayor disputes Malone’s claims that he got the town a high school

September 21, 2012 

A fight is brewing over who should get credit for the new Rolesville High School opening next August.

The Republican majority that took control of the Wake County school board in 2009 scrapped plans to build what would have been Forest Ridge High School in northeast Raleigh in favor of the new site in Rolesville. Among those who backed the change was school board member Chris Malone, who is pointing to that vote in this year’s campaign as Republican nominee for the state House 35 seat.

“He goes around telling folks that he’s the reason Rolesville got a high school,” Mayor Frank Eagles said in an interview this week “That’s not true.”

Eagles, also a Republican, said credit should go to school board member Debra Goldman, former school board Chairman Ron Margiotta and former County Commissioner Lindy Brown, a Democrat. Eagles says he’s so upset about Malone taking credit that it’s one of the reasons he’s backing former Democratic school board member Lori Millberg in her run against Malone for the House seat.

In a release this week, Eagles said people should ask him about the “real truth” about who is responsible for getting Rolesville High. Eagles says also that “unlike her opponent, Chris Malone, Lori has served our community with integrity and honesty.”

Malone declined comment on most of Eagles’ criticisms, but did say he deserves credit for getting the high school relocated to Rolesville. ”Do an investigation and tell me what happened,” Malone said. “I’ll let the people decide.”

The irony of Eagles’ endorsement is that Millberg backed Forest Ridge instead of Rolesville High.

Sustainability challenge

Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord, known for his love of technology and affection for his Nissan Leaf electric car, challenged council colleagues this week to a friendly contest.

Gaylord wants to see who can earn the most points, pins and badges on the new JouleBug mobile app, which allows users to track their progress in living more sustainably.

Council members accepted after some initial reluctance, perhaps figuring Gaylord would be tough to beat.

The free app, developed in Raleigh by a team working from DesignBox, premiered during the city’s annual SPARKcon creative festival.

The idea is to earn badges, such as a green arrow badge for recycling or a light saver badge for switching to eco-friendly light bulbs. Creators say the app can help people save $200 on annual utility bills.

Sure enough, Gaylord had already earned 278 points as of Friday, good enough to rank No. 71 on the overall leader board. Among his feats, Gaylord rode his bike to work and switched to using a water bottle instead of plastic.

Tata endangered?

Is Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata in danger of losing his job?

“It was brought to my attention this afternoon by reliable sources that Wake County School Board members, (Jim) Martin, (Susan) Evans, and (Christine) Kushner were making plans to remove Superintendent Tony Tata from his position,” Phil Matthews, vice chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, wrote on his Facebook page Sept. 11. “This is very concerning to me as a County Commissioner because Mr Tata has done an outstanding job for our school system.”

The school board has been conducting its closed-session annual review of Tata’s performance. The next discussion will likely take place Monday afternoon at a closed session to discuss “personnel issues.”

Tata has had public run-ins with Evans, Kushner and Martin – all three of whom were elected last fall and helped put Democrats back in the board majority.

Kushner said Friday that she doesn’t discuss personnel matters. She said she’s been trying to work with Tata on the various issues that the school system is facing.

Republican school board member Chris Malone, who says he’s not one of the sources mentioned by Matthews, said it would be a mistake to get rid of Tata. He declined comment on whether there’s a plot to fire the superintendent.

“If it comes to pass, it will be very bad,” Malone said. “We would look like a dysfunctional, leaderless rabble as far as a school board is concerned.”

Political Trails

• WakeUP Wake County and the League of Women Voters of Wake County are holding a forum Thursday for candidates for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. It starts at 7 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001. E. Martin St. in Raleigh. A voter registration drive begins at 6 p.m.

• The North Raleigh Democrats are holding a “get to the polls potluck and phone bank” starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 1. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. with state Rep. Grier Martin at 2609 Atlantic Ave., Suite 113. RSVP: neuseriverdemocrats@gmail.com.

Compiled by T. Keung Hui 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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