Triangle Politics: A weekly look at the local political scene

Triangle Politics: Maiorano joins Baldwin in questioning Raleigh council retreat

Staff writersDecember 13, 2013 

Wayne Maiorano

Raleigh’s new city councilman, Wayne Maiorano, says he’s not sure January’s out-of-town council retreat is the best use of tax dollars.

Maiorano didn’t voice opposition to the three-day Wilmington meeting during a planning meeting Tuesday – the mayor didn’t take a vote on the plan – but he expressed skepticism Wednesday.

“The City Council has the responsibility to scrutinize every tax dollar we spend,” he said. “I’m not yet convinced we need to do it outside of our own city.”

Maiorano said he supports holding lengthy meetings to develop a strategic plan for Raleigh’s future, but he thinks the council should consider a cheaper retreat in town.

“For me, it comes down to what’s the cost benefit,” he said. “Learning from others can be very helpful. If there is a meaningful learning opportunity in traveling out of town, maybe it’s worth some expense to do so.”

New city manager Ruffin Hall suggested the out-of-town retreat, expected to cost more than $11,000, to minimize distractions. The Jan. 29-31 event will be the Raleigh’s council first trip out of the county in 23 years.

Maiorano joins Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin in criticizing the plan; other council members voiced support during Tuesday’s meeting.

School board catching up

Summaries of this year’s Wake County school board meetings will finally be released, albeit months after they were supposed to be posted.

School board policy says that meeting minutes should be submitted for board approval at the next regularly scheduled meeting but no later than the second one. But the board’s website, which can be reached from the school system’s homepage, www.wcpss.net, has minutes for only a handful of 2013 meetings. Instead links are provided to WRAL-TV’s videos of the meetings.

Superintendent Jim Merrill said the remaining minutes “are rapidly being compiled and worked on now, and we expect to have all posted by the end of January 2014.” School administrators blame understaffing in the superintendent’s office for the delay.

The Wake County Taxpayers Association has been submitting public records requests pressing for the minutes.

Opening in Morrisville

The Morrisville Town Council is looking for someone to fill the seat left vacant by Mark Stohlman, who was sworn in as mayor on Tuesday.

The council will appoint Stohlman’s replacement. Interested applicants must submit a resume and statement of interest to the town clerk’s office by Jan. 17.

As part of the process, applicants will be asked to include reasons they want to serve on the council.

Vicki Scroggins-Johnson, who was elected to the council’s District 2 seat last month, successfully pushed to also require applicants to include information about their community involvement and ways they are connected to the community.

“We anticipate a large number of (people) are going to apply,” Scroggins-Johnson said. “Their community involvement, it’s a necessity. It will help us assess their strengths.”

All applicants must live in Morrisville and be registered to vote in town elections.

The appointee will be paid $9,400 a year, along with travel and training benefits, electronic equipment if needed and the option for medical and dental benefits.

Political events

• Durham County Republicans are holding an “Evening of Christmas Cheer,” 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at Charlie’s Pub and Grille, 758 Ninth St. State Supreme Court candidate Ola Lewis is expected to attend. Bring unwrapped toys, clothing and canned goods for donation to the Durham Rescue Mission. The event is free; food and refreshments are on your own. RSVP to bit.ly/1kGa2xN.

• Wake County Senior Democrats will have their annual holiday lunch on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue. Dutch-treat lunch will be at 11 a.m. Contributions to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina will be accepted. The meeting is open to the public.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Aliana Ramos.

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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