Tim Niles, a founding member of Livable Raleigh, delivered the following remarks to City Council during Public Comments on January 4, 2022:
210 days ago, in a secret plot, with no public notice, no public input and no public vote, you moved your election by eight months more than necessary and eliminated the requirement to earn a majority of votes to win the election by eliminating the possibility of runoffs.
696 days ago, almost two years, you eliminated support for the city’s 50 year community engagement process, the CACs, in another secret plot with no public notice and no public input.
Now, your hand-picked Study Group has recommended changes to City Council.
Since you eliminated the CACs and your newly created Community Engagement Department has not replaced them with any functioning way for neighbors to meet regularly in-person or virtually to exchange ideas with each other and with the city, the only method you have to gather input from the community about these recommendations is with an online survey and a few specially scheduled in-person meetings.
Now, even this has caused a problem. The online survey results don’t agree with the Study Group recommendations.
74% of the nearly 1,100 respondents disagree with changing to four year terms.
The chair of that Study Group, in violation of the city Code of Conduct, has been arguing with citizens on social media that the survey is not a scientific, representative sample of Raleigh and is not valid.
The chair of the Study Group should not be engaging in debate with citizens regarding his opinion of the validity of the city’s online survey.
Quoting the Code of Conduct:
The policy of the city of Raleigh is to uphold the highest standard of ethics and professional conduct from all of its officials, whether elected to City Council or appointed to advisory boards, commissions or committees.
In regards to conduct with the public, you are directed to avoid debate and argument with the public.
This survey is the only method the city has provided for engagement along with a few in-person meetings, all of which had similar results opposing the Study Group’s recommendations.
Ironically, the Study Group itself was self-selected and not a representative sample of Raleigh. It is made up of a group of lawyers, politicians and large-dollar campaign donors, not a cross-section of Raleigh’s residents.
So, this council has a choice to make. Will you listen to the opinions you solicited from the public?
Or will you once again decide that the wrong people are speaking up and their voices need to be right-sized as Councilor Stewart likes to say, because they don’t agree with your position and the recommendation of your hand-picked Study Group?
Lastly, in reply to your response to a previous speaker, you don’t need to legalize inclusionary zoning in order to utilize density bonuses to negotiate affordable housing as Charlotte does.
Tim Niles is a founding member of Livable Raleigh and has been a resident of Raleigh for over 30 years.