The city of Raleigh pulled a video with Mayor Nancy McFarlane and her most recent predecessor, Charles Meeker, for being too “political.”
They’re two of the topics you have to hit to get “Raleigh City Council controversy” bingo. And Meeker was able to do just that in under a minute.
“After closer review of the video, it was determined that some of the comments could be considered political in nature,” said Damien Graham, the city’s communication director. “It was removed and will be replaced with a new episode soon.”
The videos, called “A Few Minutes with the Mayor,” normally feature Graham and McFarlane discussing current events and don’t wade into political topics that are before council. The October video was focused on long-term planning, including the struggle that Meeker had in getting a majority of the council to vote to re-open Fayetteville Street to vehicles.
Long-term planning includes adapting to things that are unexpected, like the electric scooters, Meeker said. Council shouldn’t over regulate them “like they’ve appeared to have done” with backyard cottages, he said. (The City Council hasn’t made a formal decision on those two items yet.)
“Council has got to accept change (and) make it work for the city,” Meeker said. “Instead of just saying ‘no, no. We’re not doing that.’”
He added that people who vote “no all the time” aren’t helping the city.
McFarlane didn’t ask for the video to be taken down, but said she “could see how the comments could be perceived as political though that wasn’t the intent.”
In a follow-up conversation, Meeker said he didn’t think the comments were political and that they weren’t directed toward any anyone in particular.
“I was talking in general, and it certainly wasn’t aimed at any particular counselor,” he said. “I think it was discussing where this council is and its trouble to adapting to changes.”
While it’s true he didn’t mention any council member by name, he seemed to be pointing to the five-person majority that gained control of the board in 2017. Those members — David Cox, Kay Crowder, Stef Mendell, Russ Stephenson and Dickie Thompson — have been dubbed as “slow growth” by some of their critics. Some of those same members prefer the moniker “smart growth” or “pro-neighborhood.”
Thankfully for you, dear readers, your local government reporter is paranoid and saved the video before it was taken down. You can watch it at newsobserver.com in all its controversial glory.
The rest of the video is pretty mundane, highlighting the city’s recent award from the American Planning Association and the importance of long-ranging planning for projects such as Dix Park and the Raleigh Convention Center.
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This is the second report of a semi-regular column about Raleigh and Wake County politics. Email me your thoughts on what to call it at email@example.com. And follow me on Twitter at @anna_m_johnson. I often live tweet city and county meetings using #ralpol for Raleigh and #wakepol for Wake County.