Triangle Politics: A weekly look at the local political scene

TriPol: Raleigh councilman wants evening downtown parking fee

From staff reportsJune 6, 2014 

Raleigh City Councilman Wayne Maiorano says downtown needs to be cleaner and safer – and he’s willing to consider eliminating free parking to pay for it.

Maiorano highlighted what he sees as downtown’s shortcomings in a May 30 email to fellow council members. “I am growing increasingly concerned we are not doing enough for safety and appearance,” he wrote, pointing to litter problems, vomit on the sidewalk and a limited police presence.

“More troubling is a growing concern over certain behavior being encountered – including a growing volume of intoxicated, rowdy or confrontational individuals. Our residents and businesses deserve better.”

To pay for additional security and cleanings, Maiorano asked city staff to estimate how much the city could earn by charging a $5 flat rate at downtown parking decks on evenings and weekends. Most city-owned decks currently offer free parking after 7 p.m. and on weekends.

City parking officials report that based on how many people currently use the deck, a $5 fee could raise about $1 million each year. But when they presented the findings at a budget meeting Monday, some council members weren’t convinced.

“The not-charging on nights and weekends is a big piece of why we’re successful downtown,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said.

Capps wrong, Wake says

The Wake County school system says former state Rep. Russell Capps greatly overstated the number of school district employees who receive salaries of at least $90,000 a year.

“There are a tremendous number of employees – not teachers – that are making well-paid salaries,” Capps said at Monday’s Wake County Board of Commissioners’ budget public hearing. “The information that I got, and I think it’s correct, is that they have 1,776 staff – not teachers but staff – with salaries of $90,000 or above.”

But Renee McCoy, a Wake schools’ spokeswoman, said there are only 127 employees with salaries of $90,000 or higher. She said the number drops to 86 employees – half of them principals – with salaries of $100,000 or higher.

School officials say Capps, the president emeritus of the Wake County Taxpayers Association, was also wrong when he said at the budget hearing that Superintendent Jim Merrill was asking for a 13 percent pay raise for himself. School officials say that Merrill is not asking for a raise and that the 13 percent increase reflects how the superintendent’s position was vacant for part of this school year.

Apex hires new assistant

The newly hired assistant town manager in Apex has been a police officer, a volunteer firefighter, a real-estate appraiser and an elected official.

Andrew Havens, 52, who most recently was town manager of River Bend near New Bern, will begin his new job July 7. As assistant town manager, Havens will help handle Apex’s finances, planning services and more.

Havens replaces J. Michael Wilson, who retired in February after he was charged with driving while impaired. He had worked for the town for 35 years.

The town received 272 applications for the position.

Havens has 13 years of experience working with municipal government. He previously worked as the town manager in Glasgow, Va., before he took the manager job in River Bend, a town of about 3,100 people.

He also worked 12 years in law enforcement and served 30 years as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.

“Apex is a high-growth community with a small-town feel,” Havens said. “I want to help maintain that type of community that people want, while dealing with the growth.”

Political events

•  Congressional candidates Clay Aiken and Brenda Cleary will speak to the Wake Democratic Men on Monday at the Holiday Inn Downtown (formerly the Clarion) in Raleigh. Doors open at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m. Dinner is $20 for club members and first-time visitors and $23 for non-members. The club will also be installing its first woman president. RSVP to wakedmc@mail.com.

• Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison will speak to the Apex Peak Republican Club on Tuesday at the Loft at Anna's Pizzeria in downtown Apex. Social begins at 6 p.m., followed by the meeting at 7 p.m. For more information, email apexprc@gmail.com.

• Immigration reform will be the subject of a forum at Perimeter Park Studios Conference Center in Morrsiville on Monday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Speakers include Dan Wallace of the Partnership for a New American Economy, Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO Institute, Morrisville Town Council member Steve Rao and Giles Shih, CEO of BioResource International.

• Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht will present a State of the Town address on Tuesday, June 17, at 5 p.m. in the Winston Clubhouse at SearStone, a continuing care retirement community at 17001 SearStone Drive in Cary. To RSVP, call 866-261-1814. Information: www.searstone.com/events-cary-north-carolina.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Taylor Wanbaugh

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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