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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of April 5, 2011

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 4/5/2011 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

Invocation by Rev. Bob Thompson of Corinth Reformed Church

Special Presentations:
A. Presentation by Michael Barrick, Author of “Exceptional Care, a Century Strong” Detailing Frye Regional Medical Center’s Long History Along With Heather Deckelnick, Curator and Researcher of Frye’s 100th Anniversary History Project and Lerryn Crocker, Chief Nursing Officer

Mr. Barrick's book gives an account of the history of the City and Catawba County in relation to this book about the history of Glenn R. Frye Regional Hospital. The hospital was constructed in 1911 by Dr. Jacob Shuford as a tribute to his mentor, Dr. Richard Baker. Dr. Shuford's protégé, Dr. Glenn R. Frye purchased the hospital from the ailing Dr. Shuford during the midst of the Great Depression and served this area as a physician and an entrepreneur for 51 years.

B. Presentation of Proclamation to City of Hickory’s Public Safety Communications Personnel – Declaring the Week of April 10 – 16, 2011 as “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week” in the City of Hickory - Deputy Police Chief Clyde Deal accepted the proclamation which read:

Whereas emergencies can occur at any time, requiring police, fire, or emergency medical services; Whereas when an emergency occurs, the prompt response is critical to the protection of life and preservation of property; whereas the safety of our police officers and firefighters is dependent upon the quality and accuracy of information obtained from citizens who telephone The Hickory Police Department Communications Center; whereas public safety telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services: whereas public safety telecommunicators are the single vital link for our law enforcement and fire personnel by monitoring their activities by radio; whereas public safety telecommunications of the Hickory Police Department communications center have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires and treatment of patients; whereas each telecommunicator has exhibited compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job in the past year. Now, therefore on behalf of of the Hickory City Council, I hereby proclaim the week of April 10 to the 16th as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week in the City of Hickory.

The members of the telecommunications staff were recognized individually by the council. They are Mickey Lafone, Ferrin Davis, Shelly Davis, and Genie Davis.(Hope I got those names right)

Consent Agenda:
A. Proclamation Honoring Savannah Hodge Washburn for Her 70 Years of Service to the Community While Declaring March 26, 2011 as “Savannah Hodge Washburn Day” in the City of Hickory

B. Proclamation Declaring the Month of April, 2011 as “Fair Housing Month” in the City of Hickory

C. Proclamation Declaring the Month of April, 2011 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in the City of Hickory Requesting Participation in Preventing Child Abuse and Strengthening the Communities in Which We Live

D. Proclamation Supporting and Encouraging Participation in the “Pink Heals – Care Enough to Wear Pink Campaign” in the Fight Against Cancer in Women With It’s Inaugural Visit to Hickory on September 22 - 24, 2011

E. Approve Future Annexation Agreement From Roy Lindon Good and Patricia A. Good for Property Located in the Belle Meade Subdivision at 2011 27th Avenue Drive, NE - Roy and Patricia Good have requested to be connected to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed into the City limits and agree to be annexed in the future when the City finds it economically feasible. The Good property is located at 2011 27th Avenue Drive, NE, which is identified on the Catawba County tax maps by PIN 3714-20-91-3303. The current owners and their successors agree to be annexed into the City limits at a time of the City’s choosing. Staff recommends approval.

F. Amendment to Traffic Ordinance by Prohibiting Parking in the East Lot of Union Square to Facilitate The Farmer’s Market - Parking will be prohibited in the space to the north of the through lane 107 feet west of the entrance to Union Square from 2nd St NW. The parking prohibition will cease 220 feet from the entrance at 2nd St NW. Parking will be prohibited on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 6:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. during the Farmer’s Market Season. Towing will be enforced. The parking prohibition is necessary to set up tents and to allow for trucks in this area. Parking will only be prohibited in the designated area at the designated times.

G. Amendment to Traffic Ordinance by Reducing the Speed Limit From 35 mph to 25 mph Along 3rd St, NE From the Intersection With 3rd Ave, NE South Approximately 870 Feet to the Intersection With 1st Ave, NE and 2nd Ave, NE From the Intersection With 2nd St NE East Approximately 1,600 Feet to the Intersection With Main Ave NE - Under the City’s Traffic Calming Program an application was received for a speed limit reduction along 3rd St, NE as indicated above. Staff determined that a speed limit reduction from 35 mph to 25 mph would be acceptable, if the residents desired. The petition packages were received and were determined by Staff to be valid and met the 75% signature requirement.

H. Amendment to Traffic Ordinance by Prohibiting Parking on the North Margin of 1st Avenue, NW, Starting at the Intersection With 4th Street, NW Including a Distance ofApproximately 110 Feet East of the Intersection. - Parking will only be prohibited during the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will returnto regular parking at all other times. The parking prohibition is necessary to allow parents to pick up their children safely from preschool.

I. Approve Talbert & Bright, Inc. Work Authorization No. 09-07 For Preparation of Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan at the Hickory Regional Airport in the Amount of $28,323.00 - Both the SWPPP and SPCC Plans are mandated by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) and the NC Division of Aviation for the Hickory Regional Airport. The Work Authorization is for a total of $28,323.00. The NC Division of Aviation has issued a grant, part of which will fund the preparation of the SWPPP and SPCC Plans. The FAA’s share is 90% or $25,491.00 and the City’s local matching obligation is 10% or $2,832.00.

Budget Ordinance Amendment
1. To budget a $100 Library donation from George Smith to purchase fictions books.

2. To budget a total of $800 (Thomas Herfurth $50, Piedmont Obstetrics $500, Graystone Ophthamology $250) of International Council donations in the International Council expenditure line item. These donations will be used to conduct the annual 2011 International Springfest event.

3. To appropriate $23,250 of General Fund Balance Appropriated and budget in the Governing Body Other Professional Services line item. This appropriation is to necessary pay for lobbying services for the remainder of FY10-11.

4. To appropriate $12,180 of General Fund Balance to the Legal Services line item. This appropriation is necessary to pay Smith, Rodgers, and Strickland for legal services and support to the Hickory Police Department. $12,180 represents Police State Reimbursement balances from previous years (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) that have rolled into Fund Balance at year end, therefore an appropriation is necessary.

5. To appropriate $ 303.08 for the month of January 2011 and $ 190.56 for the month of February 2011 of Local Government revenue and budget in the Police Department Overtime line item. This revenue is payment from Catawba County Mental Health for a portion of an officer's time spent when accompanying involuntary commitment patients.

6. To budget a $66 insurance claim check from Grain Dealers Mutual Insurance Company in the Water and Sewer Pipes, Hydrants and Meters line item. This payment is for a fire hydrant repair.

7. To transfer $5,500 from Water and Sewer Contracted Services, $4,250 from the Fire Department Training Meals/Lodging, and $4,250 from Police Department M & R Computer Equipment to the Information Technology Maintenance and Repair of Computer Equipment line item. This transfer is needed to budget several departments share of the cost to purchase an Enterprise License Agreement from ESRI for unlimited GIS use.

8. To appropriate $55,067 of Capital Reserve Investment Earnings and transfer to the Information Technology Capital Outlay Software line item. This amendment is needed to pay for an upgrade to the mainframe computer software. The price includes a 60% discount off of the purchase price. The purchase will also result in a $13,696 savings annually in support cost therefore; total cost will be recouped in four years due to these savings.

9. To appropriate $21,503 of Capital Reserve Investment Earnings and to transfer $48,303 of General Fund Contingency to the Parks and Recreation Improvement to Facilities, M & R Grounds and M & R Buildings line items. This amendment is necessary to pay for roof, fencing, floor replacement, and parking lot resurfacing improvements to Parks and Recreation facilities.

10. To transfer $4,348 from the Police Department Training Meal and Lodging line item to the FY10 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Project Specialized Equipment line item. The Grant has $1,502 in remaining funds. The Hickory Police Department obtained permission from the Granting Agency to use the remaining funds towards the purchase of a camera system for the Lighthouse Room at the Police Department. The total cost of the purchase is $5,850.

11. To transfer $3,529 from the Police Department Training Meal and Lodging line item to the FY09 Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Project Specialized Equipment line item. The Grant has a total of $2,189.99 in remaining funds and $132.05 of investment earnings. The Hickory Police Department obtained permission from the Granting Agency to use the remaining funds towards the purchase of a
camera system for the Polygraph Interview Room and to purchase water for the Firing Range. The total cost of the purchase is $5,850.

Informational Items:
A. Report of City Manager Berry’s Travel to the 2011 ICMA Southeast Regional Summit in Asheville, NC from March 10 – 12, 2011; registration - $275.00; hotel - $160.55; per diem - $16.00

B. Report of Mayor Wright’s Travel to the 2011 NLC Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC from March 13 – 16, 2011; registration - $420.00; hotel - $831.27; per diem - $269.50; mileage - $53.04; airfare - $409.90; other expenses - $104.80

C. Report of Alderman Meisner’s Travel to the 2011 NLC Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC from March 11 – 16, 2011; registration - $420.00; hotel - $1385.45; per diem - $432.00; mileage - $53.04; airfare - $298.40; other expenses - $82.00

D. Report of Alderman Seaver’s Travel to the 2011 NLC Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC from March 11 – 16, 2011; registration - $420.00; hotel - $1385.45; per diem - $432.00; airfare - $318.40; other expenses - $132.00

E. Travel by Mayor Wright to Raleigh, NC on March 23, 2011 to Meet With Fellow Mayors, NCLM Representatives, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Others Regarding Pending Annexation Legislation; per diem - $17.00; mileage - $180.54

Public Hearings:

1. Approval to Enter into an Economic Development Incentive Agreement With Fairmont Designs - Fairmont Designs is relocating from Buena Park, California to 207 20th Street, SE, Hickory and has requested to receive economic incentives from the City of Hickory in the form of a grant totaling approximately $25,000.00 for the creation of 200 jobs over a four (4) year period. Catawba County is also giving the same type of grant to Fairmont Designs with Catawba Valley Community College assisting with job training. Fairmont Designs will be investing over $1,500,000.00 in improvements and equipment at the Hickory location, which will increase the City’s tax base along with the creation of at least 200 new jobs. Total average wage is to be $30,189.00 per year with sixty (60) of those jobs paying above the county average wage of $34,000.00. Employment will also include a benefits package. This project meets and exceeds the minimum requirements of the City’s Economic Development Assistance Guidelines. Julie Pruett of the Economic Development Corporation made the presentation.

This business will be located in the old Thomasville building next to the Engineering Center on Tate Boulevard. Ms. Pruett stated that this is a perfect marriage between the needs of a new furniture company and an existing building that was built for furniture. It is very difficult to reposition these types of buildings for other uses. Fairmont plans to create 200 jobs over the next four years. That consists of 60 jobs this year, another 60 by the end of next year, another 45 by the end of 2013, and another 35 by the end of 2014. They have already received 500 applications and they have not even advertised. It speaks to the need of those people in our community with furniture skill sets.

The average wage for these positions, exceed $30,000. A minimum of 60 of these jobs will pay above the county average of $34,000. The company will also provide health and dental benefits, 401(k), and profit sharing for full-time employees. They plan to invest $1.5 million over the first two years on top of the purchase the building. The total investment in the community is $2.8 million. This is a new location for Fairmont designs, not a relocation. This building will provide furnishings for customers East of the Mississippi divide. Fairmont designs is a California based company. The company has four manufacturing operations worldwide and currently employee over 4,500 people. They are a member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, and they are committed to eco-friendly business practices and plan to institute lean manufacturing in this facility here in Hickory.

The proposed incentive is for $25,000, which is a grant that will be payable to Fairmont Designs after they have created all 200 jobs and invested the minimum $1.5 million. They must maintain the jobs for a minimum of 36 months after they receive the grant or it must be repaid. As with all of the incentives there will be claw backs in the agreement, unless they meet the minimum thresholds.

The Mayor stated that he was excited about these 200 jobs. He wishes it would be 2,000 jobs, but he is excited about 200. He and some others from this community had lunch with the management of Fairmont Designs and they are very excited to be in this area. The Mayor stated that he believes that as they grow, that a lot of their growth will come to Hickory. Council unanimously consented.

The Mayor added that he believes that this is a great event for 600 to 800 people (The family of those hired, plus all of the ancillary jobs that are created when money is being made. And we're moving in the right direction.

The Hound says awesome and hopefully we can land more deals like this. We can't give up on Manufacturing. We have too many people in our area that are skilled craftsman and manufacturing is in our blood. Let's hope we can move towards good paying high tech manufacturing jobs and that the people in our area will work on their skills and improve their individual capabilities. Then we can move our area forward.

2. Approve FY 2010 – 2014 Consolidated Plan and FY 2011 Action Plan for Submission to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - The FY 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan and FY 2011 Action Plan is the City of Hickory’s five (5) year strategy for addressing the housing and community development needs within the City. The Annual Action Plan is required as a yearly update to the five (5) year Consolidated Plan. The five (5) year Consolidated Plan contains three (3) principle sections; an assessment of housing and community development needs, a five-year strategic plan addressing those housing and community development needs and the second of five annual Action Plans that describes the intended use of FY 2011 Community Development Block Grant funds received. Staff recommends approval. Todd Hefner made the presentation.

City Manager Berry stated that the plan that is being submitted this evening is the plan that must be submitted for deadline purposes, but the total amount of money could change. And if necessary they will come back before Council to amend the budgeted amount. Mr. Hefner addressed the Council about the proposed 2011 CDBG budget that was recommended by the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Housing rehab purchase program $147,584 that provides low-interest loans to provide low interest loans for moderate and low income families. Exodus Residential Services funds for employment and transportation coordinator. They requested $11,000 and will be provided $9080. The City of Refuge to help with providing staffing needs for a youth program, the target is 25 boys and girls ages 5 to 16 years of age. They requested $10,800 and will be provided $8,080. The Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministries to purchase medicine and supplies used in their Healthcare Center pharmacy. They provide diabetic supplies to 1,400 diabetic patients monthly. They requested $20,000 and the Citizens Advisory Committee agreed to provide $9,080. ALFA provides services for local residents with AIDS. They're looking to provide services for 150 clients, including transportation and medical appointments. They requested $12,000 and would be provided $9,080. Community Ridge Daycare provides services for infant care and currently they have room for 10 babies. The new room will be able to accommodate 10 more babies. This group requested and will be provided. $1,900. The Soup Kitchen of Hickory provided 51,432 meals in 2010. They requested $12,000 and will be provided $9,080. Curb guttering and sidewalks. The city will make necessary infrastructure improvements in low to moderate income neighborhoods. $15,000 is being budgeted. Habitat for Humanity will be provided with $65,000 to provide low interest loans, which will be repaid back each year. Safe Harbor Rescue Mission which provides help for women who have been abused, will be provided money for the acquisition and expansion of property and its shelter. The property is adjacent to the facility located at 210 2nd Ave. SE. The loan will be for $60,000 at 3% interest over 20 years. Fair Housing Activities to provide fair housing practices $1,000. The program contingency fund to address unanticipated costs associated with these proposed projects and activities that may occur during the fiscal year 2011-2012 $5000. Program administration and general administrative costs $91,470. The total CDBG funds will be $462,354.

Reverend Susan Smith spoke for the proposal, representing Exodus homes and she thanked the city for the partnership and she stated that she believes that they (Exodus Homes) have turned the corner. People were laid off sue to the bad economy last year, but 4 were re-hired after agreeing to a 40% pay reduction, but she stated that it is a step in the right direction. She went into details about the employment that is provided by Exodus. And these funds will be used to help pay a coordinator. This $9,000 will help to fund the $17,000 paid to the person who coordinates employment for the attendees of the program. The goal of Exodus is for the attendees of the program to work in Exodus Enterprises until they can be found employment in the community.

Angela Hurd of the City of Refuge, next addressed the Council and stated that the CDBG funds have been a lifeline for the program. They have 19 children in the afterschool program, and they are trying to work and make a difference. They have impacted over 250 children with the program. They try and partner with parents, and try and make a difference in childrens' lives and are trying to move families from welfare to faring well. She stated that they are very grateful for the funds and grateful for the partnership, and they could not do it without the city's help. They utilize the Brown-Penn Senior Citizen's Building. Thee after school program is a free program. Lenoir-Rhyne University has joined in to help this year as well. These are at risk children. This is the eighth year of doing the program.

The Council unanimously consented to approval of the consolidated plan.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Presentation by Deborah Stagner of Tharrington Smith Regarding Redistricting and 2010 Federal Census Results - In accordance with NC General Statute 160A-23.1 municipalities are required to analyze the population changes in their wards upon completion of a Federal Census. Tharrington Smith has been retained by the City of Hickory to prepare a redistricting plan based on the 2010 Census results. Deborah Stagner an attorney with Tharrington Smith will present to City Council her report to include a general overview of the redistricting process, an analysis of the impact of the 2010 Census data results on the City’s wards and a discussion on the next stages of the redistricting process.

Mrs. Stagner addressed the Council and stated that her law firm assisted the city in redistricting a decade ago. She gave a quick overview of the process of redistricting. There is a constitutional requirement for one person one vote. Each electoral district (ward) must be substantially equal in population, so that each person's vote counts the same and therefore every 10 years after the official Federal census, governments are required to look at their districts and determine whether or not the lines need to be adjusted. The controlling North Carolina law, is NCGS 168 - 23.1. It provides that this should happen as soon as possible after the receipt of the census. Mrs. Stagner had provided a handout to the City Council and other city officials at this meeting.

The City Council must look at whether the process can be completed before the third business day before the filing deadline for the upcoming election. Each district does not have to be identical in size. Courts allow a reasonable variation amongst jurisdictions. The overall deviation between the smallest and largest districts should not be more than 10%. When looking at the current districts, the ideal number can be found by dividing the population of the city into the total number of districts. The population of the city of Hickory after the last census is 40,010 divided by six districts, which means that the ideal population for each district would be 6,668. In looking at the largest and the smallest districts in the city of Hickory, you see that there is more than 10% difference between the largest and smallest district. There's been a significant amount of growth in Ward 2 and a significant decrease in Ward 5. Ward 2 is 21% over the average and Ward 5 is 14% below the average. And adding this together, you see that there is a 35% deviation, which is far above 10% desired deviation.

Ms. Stagner showed a proposed hypothetical drawing of a reconfigured map after analyzing the data. She showed maps of the current wards and what the proposed Wards would look like. The goal would be to try and maintain the current districts in geographic areas to the greatest extent possible. The City Council may determine that keeping current Council members and the Mayor in their present districts is a priority for consideration. Areas that logically belong together, should be maintained together. Areas that should expect to have more significant growth in the future should be kept a little smaller. So that there won't be a significant deviation 10 years from now. She is looking for feedback and input on this issue.

Redistricting must be completed before the third day before filing of the next election. If the City Council determines that it is most likely not able to be complete that process there is a provision. She is looking to adopt a resolution sometime in June. That would give people a little bit of time to get used to the new wards. And you get the information out there before the election. She believes it is certainly possible to do that. There is no specific process that must be followed step by step. The statute does say that the Council must take into consideration a time that will be required to afford ample opportunity for public input. Public input is certainly something that the Council will want to take into account. There are no provisions for requiring a public notice. Everything is done in an open community so that the public can get information about the alternatives.

The filing opens on July 25 this year in the City of Hickory, and the wards must be drawn up three business days before that filing date begins. That means that this plan has to be in place by July 19, 2011. The Mayor stated that he had never been through this process and looked towards Ald. Meisner, who has been through several of these processes. Ald. Meisner stated that they had previously used a subcommittee in dealing with the process. It was determined that the Mayor, Ald. Meisner, and Alder Fox would serve on the subcommittee to work with Ms. Stagner. Ms. Stagner stated that it would be good for her to come back sometime in May. And this would give enough time to consider all of this carefully and have a resolution in place by the end of June. The end of June should be the target.

The Hound wants you to realize that the St. Stephens area, which is Ward 2, is growing because of annexation and West Hickory is losing population, because it is economically blighted and imploding. Hickory is not growing. The increase in the population from 37,200 to 40,000 correlates perfectly with the annexation of much of the St. Stephens area, which has been by vast majority created by voluntary annexation of neighborhood properties in that area. It is not because we have had an influx of people into Hickory and even with this annexed growth of 7%, Hickory has seen the least growth it has experienced in several decades.

As far as the redrawing of these Ward maps, the public should have input. The process demands transparency. And it should happen well before any elections take place, because it could effect elections. With all of that said, good luck?

General Comments
Mandy Pitts presented awards that were given to the City of Hickory. One of the awards was a second-place award for excellence in communications -- most creative for lease dollars spent. The award is was about the partnership with whky radio and television. For the third year a the city is one. First place in the city's annual report. She states that is everyone associated with the city to help to earn this reward. The Mayor stated that it is not every city the house. The luxury of having a highly trained, communications officer with a Masters degree in public administration and serves as the public information officer. In their own hometown.

The Mayor had a couple of comments made about the publication of the North Carolina league of municipalities. He recognized the Mandy pets for her role in the neighborhood college program. That was recognized in this publication. On Thursday. The Mayor, Hank Guess, an assistant city manager Andrea Surratt will be going to Washington to meet with with our lobbyists could representatives and they have a number of specific things that they are going to ask for any stated that his cell phone number is 238-1465. If you want to call him about something you want mentioned that let him know. Ald. Seaver pointed out that there was an article in the Hickory daily record of Hickory High School Key Club. Being the number one key club in North and South Carolina.

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard

Larry Pope requested to be heard and stated that he had called the law firm (Tharrington Smith) that is working on the redrawing of the wards. They never returned his call. They asked him if he was a citizen or if he was a city employee and he stated that he was a citizen. Under the Americans with Disabilities Section 504, he is asking for reasonable accommodations and what he is asking for is a sample of the map that was presented to City Council tonight. What he will say to the City Council is that 10 years ago, when they redrew the ward lines, they chopped those wards to no end, because they were ordered by City Council to keep Danny Seaver in his Ward.

They took the majority-minority ward and made it a minority-minority ward. We're asking that in any of your planning that you go back and give back to Ward 4 a majority-minority Ward. Mr. Pope stated that he also asked Mr. Berry the other day, what is the process, and he wants an answer... not tonight... but he wants an answer and he wants it in the minutes of tonight's meeting. What is it going to take to get to strictly Ward elections, because when wards choose who they want to represent them everybody else in the city can (vote) against the individual and Larry states that he is a good example. He has won his Ward 4 times, but Northeast and Northwest Hickory citizens did not want him to represent Ward 4 so they voted against him. He states that is okay. He does not have a problem with that, because just like he told a lot of folks who wanted to know if he was going to run again. He said no, because standing here at the podium I can say what I want to say. He doesn't have to say anything nice, correct, or courteous. He can say whatever is on his mind and in his heart. So he asked the City Council, as you are looking at redrawing those ward lines with whatever instructions you give the law firm that is drawing those ward line maps. Did you let them know that we want to go back to the way it used to be before 1970, when there were Ward elections only in the city, then they decided that they wanted to change that to a modified at large election system so that folks in their own Ward cannot choose who they want to represent them and sit on City Council.

Larry stated that he would like to have that as part of tonight's minutes and you know me and you know me well enough to know that I will fight for what the community wants and I am willing to go to jail again for what the community wants, because we are entitled to a voice. And as it stands now, we have no voice on City Council, and we have no voice on commissions. So we'll do what we need to do to change that. Thank you.

The Mayor interjected to Mr. Pope that he would like to answer one thing. We have not taken up Ward representation at this meeting at all. So there is not going to be anything in the minutes about what he said. Mr. Pope answered back that the attorney that they hired to redraw all those ward lines... and then they appointed a three member committee to work on that to recommend back to the the law firm what they wanted to see happen. If that is not talking about ward lines, then I must not only be visually impaired. I must be hard of hearing. And I think I have a very good hearing.

Then the Mayor added that they did not talk about Ward representation. Attorney John Crone interjected that there were two things with Mr. Pope, that he told him on the phone one time that he would give him his word that when they got something from the law firm, he would let him know and they have done that. This is the first time that anybody, including City Council has seen any proposed map. The first time is at this meeting. The only thing the City Council has had access to is what they have given Mr. Pope and that was the census figures. Tonight at this presentation is the first time the Council has seen or heard anything about maps or process or anything else. The second thing that he would like to advise you(Mr. Pope), with regard to redistricting or trying to change how Council does things. If you or your attorney will look at NCGS 168 - 101 through 160a - 112 that will give you the law as far as what the second issue that you raised is that you want some clarification on.

Mr. Pope answered okay, but he will say at the same time, that tomorrow he expects a phone call from somebody providing him with what the law firm gave to the City Council as a city map. Tonight. Mr. Crone stated that he would give it to him at this meeting. And he told Mr. Pope that as soon as he got the map that he would give it to him. Mr. Pope stated he understands that, but sometimes they need to be reminded, because they write the rules and they play the game that they will play. I play the game by what I know the law says , and it becomes public information when it was heard by City Council tonight. It becomes public information, so I am telling you as part of the minutes. I want a copy of it tomorrow and no later. Mr. Crone asked, how about tonight. Mr. Pope stated, if you got it, I'll take it. Attorney Crone stated, I will give you exactly what we've got. Just like I told you over the phone that I would do.

Then the Mayor furthered the discussion by stating that Mr. Pope had made the comment that he is able to say what ever he pleases here (in Council Chambers). And certainly everything he said tonight is fine, but he does want Mr. Pope to know that whether you are a Council member are not. There are limits. Mr. Pope retorted, Well you know Mayor, I am not going to argue with you about what I can or cannot say, but what I know is that I have a constitutional right of freedom of speech. And no one can tell me what I can or cannot say. And if you think you can then you better change your name to William Pope, because that was my father and you are not my father and he was the only person that could tell me what I could and could not say , the other is that I am a free individual. Slavery time is over and you are not going to try, and no Council member is going to try, and govern what I say or don't say to the city, because I know what my constitutional rights are. And you should know me well enough to know, that I am enforce my constitutional rights any way that I have to, whether it's here or in the courts, because there are two places I am not afraid of.

Attorney Crone interjected that he was going to afford to Mr. Pope some portions of North Carolina law with regard to how you address Council and with a copy of our ordinance as to addressing Council and a copy of procedure enacted back in 2005 just so he will have those were his records so that he knows what the rules are. Mr. Pope stated that he make his own rules. And thank you because your rules don't count in my book. The Mayor made a motion in the Council went into closed session.

The Hound could see some disconnect in this discussion. The people of the Ridgeview Community do not trust the city. I really don't think that City officials get the fact that there are a lot of people in this community that do not believe much of what they tell us. Much of this has built up over the years. And there is no better example than the pools. From the beginning to the present it has been uncouth. I mean, look at what we found out last week. City employees selling off the copper from those pools. And where is the explanation about what happened there? Why were only two fired? This was another slap in the face towards the Ridgeview community and City Officials not understanding that is even more amazing.

I believe that actions have shown that certain elements of people in this community believe that it is okay to suppress others in the community. And folks, you are suppressing a pressure cooker and it is starting to whistle. Can you hear it?

I have been to City Council meetings consecutively for nearly three years and time and time again we are told that there will be no debate, but why is it that sometimes we get a debate. Why was there a debate on this night? I didn't mind seeing it, what disturbs me more is when people ask simple questions and the council won't answer them... because "This isn't a debate."

I realize that all of this is ceremonial pageantry and the real decisions are made behind the scenes. What bothers some of us is that some people amongst us seem to think they are royalty. It is time to end all of this gamesmanship and tomfoolery. It is time that we start respecting the citizens of this community. It is time that some people realize that we are in this thing together and end this "Us versus Them" mentality that pervades this community. The Mayor always states that our governance is non-partisan. Nothing could be further from the truth.


harryhipps said...

God Bless Larry Pope. I don't always agree with Larry but he is one of the very few who keeps up with what goes on and is not afraid to speak his mind. Most of the City is either ignorant or apathetic. Worse, many don't like what they see and hear but follow like sheep and don't exercise their democratic rights. If nothing else Larry exercises his rights.

Silence DoGood said...

I have been to City Council meetings consecutively for nearly three years and time and time again we are told that there will be no debate, but why is it that sometimes we get a debate. Why was there a debate on this night? I didn't mind seeing it, what disturbs me more is when people ask simple questions and the council won't answer them... because "This isn't a debate."

Not my place, but if I may. Roberts' Rules of Order typically are the means by which meetings of this type proceed. Typically, you may even find reference to that fact in the City or Town charter of the respective entity. So in that regard, items which are not generally on the agenda are typically not items slated nor entertained for discussion. There is a means to amend the slated agenda to add or even delete items from the agenda. Too, there is a place on the agenda for Citizen and Public Comment. That is a statutory requirement in the first instance and in the second, typically on the advice of legal counsel, Council, Manager, and Mayor are encouraged to refrain from open dialogue on matters that may be brought forth. It is not generally a good idea to engage in open debate on off the cuff items that may have erroneous or misguided answers provided in response to the citizen, however well intentioned they might be. However, elected officials being what they are, oft times ignore the advice they voraciously seek and pay for. The logic is, thanks to Benjamin Franklin, "It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

harryhipps said...

But this is Rudyville. And Mr. Rudy don't like anyone who questions him or won't go along to get along.

Julie Burns said...

I second your comment - God bless Larry Pope. He tells the truth and works for justice in spite of repeated attempts to stonewall or silence him.