Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Raleigh council: Cut war spending

January 18, 2013 

The Raleigh City Council voted this week to approve a resolution urging the federal government to cut military spending.

The group Return Our War Dollars brought nearly 100 people to a recent council meeting in support of the resolution, which the council approved 5-3. The group’s leaders said $1.75 billion in tax revenues should be spent on domestic projects rather than military efforts.

The council didn’t debate the war in Afghanistan, discussing instead whether the issue merits city leaders’ two cents’. Return Our War Dollars members said such resolutions offer a stronger message to federal officials, and that city councils in Durham and Burlington already have approved the document.

“I’d rather focus on the things we actually have a say in – how we develop the city,” said Councilman Bonner Gaylord, who voted against the resolution. “Not that I’m against bringing war dollars home – I’m against the principle of voting for foreign policy suggestions from this board.”

The original resolution asks the federal government to “end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops and war dollars home and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs” and other domestic priorities.

The City Council took out the phrase “our troops” because several military veterans on the board objected to the wording.

“Where I do have an issue is where you bring it on the backs of the guys that are downrange,” Councilman Randy Stagner said. “Do not involve the soldiers.”

But Councilman John Odom said he was against the revised text. “Leaving the troops there and taking the money out creates a problem for me,” he said.

Bonds on Garner ballot

The Garner Town Council has put four bond referendums on a March 12 ballot, asking voters to decide whether to borrow as much as $37.5 million for a variety of capital projects, including a recreation center, sidewalks and improvements to U.S. 70.

The town has produced a website, www.garnerbonds.com, with details about each of the four bond questions, and over the next few week the town council will make its case to voters through a variety of forums, including social media and public meetings.

Garner would not borrow all of the $37.5 million at once. The votes would merely authorize the town to borrow the money at some point over the next seven years.

The last day to register to vote on Election Day is Feb. 15. Early and one-stop voting will be available from Feb. 21 to March 8. It will take place Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wake County Board of Elections office at 337 S. Salisbury St. in downtown Raleigh.

Charter vision statement

With a possible doubling of charter schools in its district, the Durham school board is calling for cooperation, asking local charters to sign on to a vision statement calling for “quality schools for all children.” Several existing charters already have.

“Our Vision incorporates a culture of cooperation, transparency, accountabilityand collegiality in the management of public education rather than one of competition and division,” the statement reads in part.

School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter called the statement “a pretty big deal” and said it’s important that charters share in educating students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

The state Department of Public Instruction has received 11 letters showing interest in new Durham charter schools. At a meeting with N&O editors this week, Superintendent Eric Becoats was asked what the continuing charter push says about public perception of his school system.

Becoats noted that Durham has a high per-pupil expenditure. “Obviously that makes it very lucrative for someone to open a charter school” in Durham, he said.

Ward 2 hopefuls emerge

Omar Beasley, a bail bondsman who ran unsuccessfully for Durham County commissioner last year, said this week he plans to run for the Ward 2 City Council seat occupied by Howard Clement.

Beasley said he decided to run for the council soon after the November election. His campaign committee still has $1,320, according to a report filed Wednesday with the county Board of Elections.

Victoria Peterson, a citizen activist who has made unsuccessful bids for several offices, also said she is “looking at” a run for Ward 2.

“I have not made a final decision, but I have been thinking about it and I will be praying about it,” Peterson said.

Clement has been on the City Council since 1982, the longest tenure of any council member in Durham history. Health issues have caused him to miss all but a few council meetings for more than a year.

Compiled by staff writers Colin Campbell, Jim Wise, Mark Schultz and correspondent Matt Goad.

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