INDY Week published a story about the recent City Council decision allowing CACs access to meeting space in 5 specific city community centers. You can read their piece here: CACs are Coming Back and Raleigh’s Council Finally Has a Plan for Community Engagement

We respond with a few points of clarification. The highlighted statements are quotes from the INDY Week article.

1 — “…many continue to criticize the three-minute time limit for all public comments.”

Speakers don’t have a problem with the three-minute time limit. The problem is when the Mayor cuts the time back to two minutes, or even one minute, as she has repeatedly done over the past three years.

2 — “…hosting regular meet and greets between residents and city departments that offer services…”

The best way to accomplish that goal was, as was past custom, to have those groups present at CAC meetings. That way residents can go to one meeting a month and get all the updates and information they need instead of filling up calendars with multiple meetings with each of these departments.

3 — “The community engagement department is asking for enough funding…”

The City was getting a real bargain through the previous CAC model, but now the Community Engagement Department is requesting a lot of resource to do essentially the same job. This in a time when there are other pressing priorities (housing, first responder and other City staff pay, stormwater issues, road repairs, etc).

If the City had only been responsive to the previous requests from CACs for some minimal additional support to improve outreach, this wouldn’t be necessary.

Bottom line

1 — The CACs stood in the way of Baldwin’s pro-growth, backroom power and influence money machine, fueled by big developer donors who didn’t want to have to deal with CAC neighbors. Under the false pretense of offering a revolutionary new CAC alternative that never materialized, Baldwin’s Council eliminated CAC-developer negotiations that had mitigated development impacts and provided community benefits like affordable housing. Instead, neighborhoods have gotten stuck with highrise development impacts, while Baldwin’s Council has routinely rubber stamped developers’ hugely increased upzoned land values – no strings attached … except the next election’s payola.

Read more here: The Best City Council Money Can Buy   and   Follow the Money.

2 — It’s important to note that CAC votes were NOT binding on Council, just as Planning Commission recommendations are NOT binding.

3 — It’s also important to note that, while one of the pretenses for defunding CACs was that they were not diverse enough, about half of the 18 CACs were in minority neighborhoods and led by people of color.  The CACs that continued to function after February 4, 2020, were largely in white neighborhoods. With their action three years ago, the Council disenfranchised the very population they allegedly were advocating for.

Read more here: Council Abused its White privilege to Suppress All Black CAC Voices   and   The Truth About Raleigh’s CACs.

Livable Raleigh Editorial Team

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