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Triangle Politics: Durham sheriff says gun control not enough

FROM STAFF REPORTSFebruary 8, 2013 

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews felt compelled to issue a statement about the Obama administration’s executive orders on gun control this week.

Andrews said he took a pledge to uphold the state and U.S. constitutions, noting in particular the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. He said Obama’s orders don’t require him or other sheriffs to do anything without an act of Congress and said people who don’t like the orders should contact their representatives.

He went on to say that gun control alone won’t solve the problem of gun violence.

“A comprehensive approach addressing the mental health system, gun safety initiatives, prosecution of those who commit gun-related crimes, and much more, is required in order to affect change and prevent future gun violence,” he said.

Andrews closed with a plea to help prevent gun-related crime and accidents by securing weapons with trigger locks, storing them in a safe, keeping ammunition in a different place than firearms, teaching children about gun safety, and reporting suspicious people or activity to law enforcement.

The talk of gun control in Washington has put a spotlight on the potential enforcement role of sheriffs. Three other area sheriffs – Donnie Harrison in Wake, Jerry Jones in Franklin and Carey Winders in Wayne – found themselves in a room in Zebulon last month repeatedly being asked the same question: Will they, under any circumstance, ever enforce federal laws that required them to seize certain firearms?

Read Sheriff Andrews’ full statement on the Bull’s Eye blog at http://bit.ly/11v2sSA

Animal control rules scrutinized

Raleigh City Attorney Tom McCormick will recommend “slight modifications” to animal control rules in response to complaints that ordinances aren’t tough enough on dangerous dogs.

The recommendations will be presented Tuesday to the Raleigh City Council’s law and public safety committee. They come eight months after a neighborhood off North Raleigh Boulevard complained of a series of dog attacks that left pets and people injured.

Neighbors say the city’s current rules – less specific and punitive than the county’s ordinances in some respects – leave them vulnerable to vicious dogs. The East Citizens Advisory Council has formed a committee to review the recommendations once they’re presented.

Councilman Thomas Crowder said he’d like the city to also look at how it handles aggressive wild animals such as foxes and raccoons, pointing to several recent complaints about such creatures.

Meeting minutes delayed

Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley will have to wait awhile to see the minutes of the Jan. 22 closed-session meeting during which the school board agreed to purchase the former YWCA building in Raleigh.

Commissioners rejected a prior YWCA contract on Jan. 7, leading the school board to approve a revised deal on Jan. 22. Gurley said Monday he wants to review the minutes because he thinks the closed session was illegal because members were talking about political issues.

School board chairman Keith Sutton and school board attorney Jonathan Blumberg said the closed session was valid. But Blumberg said the minutes can’t be released yet because they haven’t been approved by the board.

Blumberg said board members must first review the accuracy of the minutes. He said he wouldn’t recommend releasing draft minutes.

Even after they are approved, Blumberg said he’d also need to review them before they’re made public. State law says minutes don’t have to be released if “public inspection would frustrate the purpose of a closed session.”

Gurley, who is a lawyer, said he thinks the minutes should be public now because the school board already agreed to purchase the property. He says he wants the minutes before commissioners vote on the purchase, which would could be as soon as Feb. 18.

No vote for board member

Wake County school board members trust retired educator Tom Benton to be their newest colleague to help govern the 150,000-student district.

But board members didn’t trust Benton, or any of the prospective applicants for the District 1 vacancy, to take part in votes on Tuesday. The board deliberately waited until the end of the meeting to fill the vacancy because the appointee would have been able to assume his or her duties immediately.

Board members were concerned about their newest member voting Tuesday on issues that the person hadn’t been briefed on yet.

Benton will get an official swearing-in ceremony at the start of the Feb. 19 meeting.

Mayor gets re-election cash

With a national endorsement and his first campaign contribution in hand, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt filed this week to create a 2013 campaign committee.

Candidates are required to file with the local Board of Elections when they receive a campaign contribution. Kleinschmidt received $250 from the LGBT Democrats of NC.

The mayor also is one of nearly 20 candidates nationwide endorsed by the Victory Fund, an advocacy group dedicated to putting more openly gay and lesbian citizens into office.

Kleinschmidt is Chapel Hill’s first openly gay mayor and was first elected to the office in 2009. He joined the town council in 2001.

He said he plans to file for re-election in July.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Tammy Grubb, T. Keung Hui and Mark Schultz

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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