Triangle Politics: A weekly look at the local political scene

TriPol: Raleigh Mayor McFarlane snubs Art Pope's ribbon-cutting

From staff reportsApril 26, 2014 

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane won’t be participating in a ribbon-cutting next week for a store owned by State Budget Director Art Pope’s company.

Pope’s Variety Wholesalers is opening a new Roses Express store Thursday on Western Boulevard. McFarlane’s assistant declined Variety’s invitation, citing a scheduling conflict.

The public relations representative then asked the mayor to approve a supportive quote to include in a news release.

The company wanted to attribute this comment to McFarlane: “When a city like Raleigh is dedicated to keeping it all local, what could make more sense than to welcome a discount store that is authentically local.”

Four days later, no one had responded to the request from McFarlane’s official email account. The news release went out Thursday without any mention of the mayor.

Pope, a Republican, has taken heat for his extensive contributions to GOP campaigns. McFarlane is an independent who is closely allied with local Democrats.

NAACP’s Chavis to headline Durham rally

Former NAACP national executive director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is keynote speaker for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People’s Get Out the Vote rally at 5 p.m. Sunday, according to committee chairman Ralph Hunt.

The committee, one of Durham’s major political-action groups, invited Chavis because of his past work with young people, according to political committee chairman Walter Jackson. Chavis is expected to talk about the importance of voting in this year’s elections.

The rally, which is open and free to the public, is at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 2620 E. Weaver St.

Wake officials visit Indiana to learn from Hoosiers

More than 100 Wake County elected and government officials and business and community leaders are heading to Indianapolis this weekend to see what they can learn from Indiana’s capital.

This year’s Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Inter-City Visit and Leadership Conference will include presentations on economic development, public-private partnerships, transit and transportation and quality of life. A big source of interest is how Indianapolis has worked to improve public transportation in the nation’s 13th-largest city.

The chamber of commerce will cover the costs for some elected officials making the trip, providing scholarships for two people from each elected body, Wake County Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill, Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann and Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall. Others are being charged a $999-per-person government rate, half what others have to pay.

All but two Raleigh City Council members are attending. Mayor Nancy McFarlane is paying her own way; the chamber is footing the bill for John Odom and Eugene Weeks; and the city will cover $3,000 in costs for Mary-Ann Baldwin, Russ Stephenson and Bonner Gaylord.

Even though David Cooke retired as Wake County manager last year, he’s listed as being an attendee representing his new employer, Mulkey Engineers & Consultants. He is the company’s director of business development.

State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, who organizers said was paying for the trip out of his own pocket, was scheduled to attend before canceling. He would have been joined by Wake school board members Christine Kushner and Jim Martin, who were among the group that fired Tata as superintendent in 2012.

Durham has voters guide, mock election for students

Kids Voting Durham has opened a site where K-12 students can vote online for Durham Public Schools Board candidates: http://svy.mk/1hvxxfd.

The mock election is an annual production for the nonprofit, which teaches children about government and the democratic process. Kids Voting, an affiliate of Durham County Extension, also has a Youth Candidate Guide for School Board available online at http://bit.ly/1k1TgcY .

Kids Voting Durham can provide “I Voted” stickers and other election-related material for youth groups and school classes. Contact carolyn@kidsvotingdurham.org .

Political events

• The Democrats running in the 2nd and 13th Congressional districts will appear at a candidate forum from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Cary High School auditorium. The forum will include 2nd District candidates Clay Aiken, Keith Crisco and Toni Morris and 13th District candidates Brenda Cleary, Virginia Conlon and Ron Sanyal. The forum is sponsored by Western Wake Dems, Wake County Democratic Men and the Wake County Democratic Party.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Jim Wise.

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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