As a candidate for City Council, David Knight campaigned on opposition to the RDU Quarry. He made his position clear in statements to both INDYWeek and the News & Observer.
To INDYWeek he said: INDYWeek Candidate Questionnaire – David Knight
INDYWeek’s Quarry Question and Candidate Knight’s Answer
To the News & Observer he said: N&O Candidate Questions – District E
N&O’s Quarry Question and Candidate Knight’s Answer
Note that in both position statements he says:
“given the chance on council I would vote for a park and against the quarry”.
Unfortunately he has been given at least two chances to make good on his campaign promises and has failed his constituents and his own convictions both times.
1 First Chance: On Tuesday evening, May 5th, during the Council’s public comment session, three citizens called in (it was a virtual meeting) to ask that the Council take a position in opposition to the Wake Stone mining permit and request that the state Department of Environmental Quality conduct a public hearing to take testimony pro and con. Councilman David Cox made a motion that Council do what the citizens asked: Oppose the permit, and request a hearing. Cox, of course, is an outspoken opponent of the quarry. Councilor Knight refused to support this motion. City Council Finds New and Novel Ways to Do Nothing About the RDU Quarry
2 Second Chance: On June 16, after the NCDEQ had already decided to conduct a public hearing, Councilor Stewart brought forth a formal statement for consideration by the council. Nowhere in this statement was there any mention of opposition to the quarry by the council. It simply asked the DEQ to do what they were already scheduled to do.
We, as a Council, therefore urge the Department of Environmental Quality and the Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources to hear and seriously consider the comments and concerns of these residents.
Note that Stewart’s statement only mentions the concerns of residents and not any concerns of the City Council. Councilor Knight, who now says he is actually opposed to the quarry, seconded Stewart’s motion noting that to him, it was important for the council to speak “as a body”. Of course, that meant speaking with no conviction and simply asking NCDEQ, NC Department of Environmental Quality, to do what they had already committed to doing. Councilor Cox stated he would NOT support the statement because of its lack of actual opposition to the quarry and voted against it. Knight could have also voted, like Cox, with the courage of his convictions. He declined to do so. The council speaks “as a body” not only with a unanimous vote, which they didn’t get here anyway, but with a majority vote. Speaking “as a body” should not mean watering your policies and resolutions down to a point where they say nothing of consequence so that everyone can feel comfortable getting on board.
When Knight ran out of chances to take official action as a City Councilor and thought it looked like he was going to be on the wrong side of history, he decided to be bold. He wrote a “sternly worded” letter in his capacity as a citizen. Of course this carries none of the weight that a resolution in opposition from the City Of Raleigh would carry since Raleigh is one of the four named owners on the deed to the land. The other three being Wake County, the City of Durham and Durham County.
On July 17, 2020, David Knight submitted that letter to NCDEQ, NC Department of Environmental Quality, voicing his opposition, as a citizen and not as a member of Raleigh City Council, to the RDU Quarry. In this letter he notes that he shares:
“the concern of thousands of Triangle citizens who have publicly voiced their opposition to the project”. Knight’s letter to NCDEQ
David Knight should be ashamed of himself. If this letter reflects his actual convictions on the quarry, then why did he vote against his own convictions and in favor of the “weak tea” statement approved by the Raleigh City Council? A statement that NEVER once mentioned opposition to the quarry by the council.
Is Knight’s job as the District E representative on City Council to vote to represent the desires of his constituents? Especially when he now claims in this letter that he agrees with his constituents?
Or, does he believe his job on City Council is to provide cover for Mayor Baldwin and Councilor Melton?
Six of the eight members of council (while Saige Martin was still a councilor) campaigned on their opposition to the quarry. The City Council had enough votes, based on those published campaign positions, to approve a strong statement in opposition to the quarry. As Knight says, to speak “as a body”. But, it would not have been a unanimous position and would have forced both Baldwin and Melton to vote against the statement since both of them favor the quarry.
In order to stop any embarrassment to Baldwin and Melton, Knight set his own convictions and the desires of his constituents aside and voted for the weak, non-opposition statement written by Nicole Stewart as a CYA (cover your ass) gift to Mayor Baldwin and Councilor Melton.
When asked why he was running for City Council, Knight’s response was because he wanted to get into politics. Not that he wanted to represent his constituents. Not that he wanted to help Raleigh move into the future. He just wanted to become a politician. Well, he has certainly attained his goal with this most political of moves, speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
Now Knight’s constituents have many questions to ask themselves:
- Just how many of his other votes were taken against his own convictions simply to keep harmony with Baldwin on the council?
- What is Knight’s actual position? The one he cast in his official capacity as a City Councilor? Or, the one he claims in his personal letter?
- And, how much of this is related to the fact that Knight’s campaign was funded almost entirely by the development community? To the tune of 79% of his total.
Click on Chart for Developer Money Details
This blog post was submitted by Hwa Huang. Though he is a long-time member of the local Sierra Club Chapter and is actively working with the Umstead Coalition, the comments below are solely his, and not those of the Sierra Club or the Umstead Coalition.
Now is your chance to help save Umstead Park from a private quarry on public lands.
By now you must have heard about Wake Stone’s proposed quarry next to the Umstead State Park.
Despite the many overwhelming problems facing the city and nation today – the pandemic and the righteous protests against police violence among them – Wake Stone continues to keep pushing forward with their desire to have their quarry next to the state park. Frustrating as it is to have to spend time on this issue with so many others raging, Wake Stone remains relentless. Once again, this highlights Wake Stone’s lack of care for public well-being as they attempt to avoid public scrutiny.
We want them to know that we are still watching, but we still need your help, now more than ever! There are so many reasons why the proposed quarry will be awful for the state park because of the following impacts (but not limited to them):
- Polluted water, wetlands, and Neuse River Buffer
- Wake Stone is trying to avoid getting new industrial stormwater and air quality permits, incorrectly claiming they will not have new sources from their new proposed quarry
- Blasting noise and vibration in Umstead Park and nearby homes
- Impaired air quality, dust and non-road truck emissions
- Reduced safety at Umstead Park entrance to park due to conflicts with mining and logging trucks
- Inadequate reclamation plan concerning post-mining uses, especially in areas closest to the park
Here is how you can help us:
- Take a minute to take this survey, so that we can establish important data for the DEQ to understand just who they will be affecting if this quarry is to take place: https://forms.gle/tsk3HvZPxbPT2YpC6
- Take 10 seconds to register to speak at the public hearing on June 23, 2020, 6 PM. You should expect to have 2 minutes to talk about why the DEQ must reject Wake Stone’s permit application: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=3IF2etC5mkSFw-zCbNftGeTQwlSeD1RIhOMcQI6ad6VUQjVROFJNNE9BMVlJM0I0RjdEVUtWUzRSQi4u&fbclid=IwAR0bKViHIqh4R8fTYTdCEdX53OqMDphrzq_-zzmyylECSKdWH7mLkIgVoTI Please register before noon on June 23 – the sooner, the better.
Do not worry about coming up with a script. Email email@example.com to let the Umstead Coalition know you’ve signed up to speak, and they will reach out to you before the hearing date to work with you on what you will be saying on the big day.
This is likely the LAST chance for public comments to stop the quarry. The public will have little opportunity to comment if this permit is granted. State law gives mines and quarries “life of site” permits, meaning that in most cases, they are automatically renewed – without further public comment.1
[The Umstead Coalition’s lawsuit against the RDUAA “lease” with Wake Stone is still in the courts. Which means it’s in the hands of the lawyers and is NOT subject to any public comment.]
If you have any questions, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all for your attention, and we hope that Umstead State Park will continue to have your support.
- Sorg, L. 2019. RDU officials side with mining interests in clash over Umstead quarry. NC Policy Watch. [Website]. Retrieved from: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2019/03/09/rdu-officials-side-with-mining-interests-in-clash-over-umstead-quarry/
Have His Promises been Trumped by Pro-Development Forces?
Why focus on Saige Martin when he’s just one of 7 Raleigh Council members* who’ve managed to dodge the RDU quarry issue since being elected last October?
The reason we single out Saige, the District D Councilor, is that he made BOLD campaign promises to environmentalists and others, pledging to work against the quarry. Saige stressed his MORAL opposition to the quarry. The issue was so important that Saige promised “DEEP ORGANIZING” to stop the quarry. SO far – He has done nothing.
Just the Facts
During the campaign, the Indy published a Q&A with Martin, including this:
Q. Four council members have called for the city to join a lawsuit over the RDU Airport Authority’s quarry lease with Wake Stone. Do you support RDU’s quarry lease? Do you believe this case is something the city should involve itself in? Why or why not?
A. The proposed lease (or sale) of the quarry by the RDUAA is detrimental to our community and our environment. If the City Attorney does believe that there is legal standing to challenge the lease then I will work to build relationships amongst the other three municipalities who also have a stake in the lease and the land. Any litigation would be far more compelling with all interested parties participating.
I am committed to doing the deep organizing to ensure that your advocacy on the front lines is as effective as possible when it comes to your proposed outcomes. I’m interested in ensuring that we use all of our available channels to be successful.
Since his election, has Councilor Martin done anything on this issue?
He promised “deep organizing” to bring the 4 property owners of the RDU Airport land together in opposition to the quarry. (Raleigh, Durham, Wake County and Durham County own the Airport, which is managed by the RDU Airport Authority.)
We see no organizing, deep or otherwise.
- Oct 8, 2019: Councilor Martin wins his election to City Council.
- Dec. 2, 2019: Martin is sworn into office.
- Dec 3, 2019: Martin votes to reappoint Sepideh Saidi to the RDU Airport Authority. Saidi failed to keep Council apprised of the quarry situation and supported the deal. Councilor Cox is the only council member to vote against reappointment.
- Jan 7, 2020: When members of the Umstead Coalition begin to speak before Council to ask that the city file an Amicus Brief in support of their lawsuit against the quarry, Councilor Martin gets up and walks out to meet with another group outside the chamber.
- Jan 21, 2020: Martin votes for Dickie Thompson’s reappointment to the RDU Airport Authority despite Thompson’s previous shenanigans in not keeping his fellow Council members apprised of the quarry situation when he both served on Council and on the RDU Airport Authority. Only Cox and Knight vote for another candidate.
- May 5, 2020: Three citizens ask Council to submit a formal letter to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality opposing a mining permit for the quarry, and also asking DEQ to hold a public hearing on whether a quarry there would violate state environmental laws. Councilor David Cox makes a motion to do so, and Martin seconds it. Thereafter, however, Martin fails to speak, and the motion is quickly replaced by a substitute motion from Councilor Corey Branch, which asks for the hearing but takes no position on the permit. Even this weak effort fails, however, by a 5-3 vote, with only Cox, Branch and the still-silent Martin voting in favor.
- May 14, 2020: Despite the City of Raleigh taking no action, NC DEQ announces a public hearing will be held on the RDU Quarry on July 7, 2020.
- May 22, 2020: NC DEQ announces revised public hearing date of June 23, 2020.
With the upcoming June 23 Mining Permit Public Hearing, Saige Martin now has one more opportunity to take action as he promised during his campaign. Will he now begin his DEEP ORGANIZING to build a majority on Raleigh’s City Council and build a consensus among the other landowners to finally take a public position opposing the RDU Quarry?
After 7 months of sitting by idly, Martin’s time is running short.
* Councilor Cox has been alone in working to stop the quarry, putting him at a 7-1 disadvantage.
Council Won’t Support Public Comment
Before the week is over, we should take note that the issue of the RDU Quarry was once again brought to the Raleigh City Council at its meeting Tuesday. And once again, the Council took no action, in the process missing yesterday’s deadline for public comment on the question of whether the proposed quarry should be granted a mining permit by the State.
If Wake Stone, the company seeking the permit, is denied, the controversial quarry will be dead.
Well, most of us know all this, and if we don’t, it’s easy enough to find out where the quarry stands — just click the link above, for example — and why the permit may not be issued. (Hint: Major Environmental Damage.)
Easy enough for us, maybe, but for a majority of this Council, apparently, an almost surmountable task.
The Council is Baffled
So Tuesday evening, during the Council’s public comment session, three citizens called in (it was a virtual meeting) to ask again that the Council take a position in opposition to the permit and request that the state Department of Environmental Quality conduct a public hearing to take testimony pro and con.
(A public hearing is not automatic, but DEQ can call one at its discretion.)
Following this, Councilman David Cox made a motion that Council do what the citizens asked: Oppose the permit, and request a hearing. Cox, of course, is an outspoken opponent of the quarry.
Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, who supports the quarry, tried to slap Cox down, but to her surprise Councilman Saige Martin seconded Cox’s motion.
There followed the most convoluted discussion imaginable, as one by one the three other members of the Council who supposedly also oppose the quarry found myriad reasons for NOT taking a position on the permit and NOT asking for public hearing. This trio: Council members Nicole Stewart, Patrick Buffkin, and David Knight.
Councilman Corey Branch, another alleged quarry opponent, said he’d need more information to oppose the permit (!) but he did make a different motion to simply ask DEQ for the hearing. Cox quickly supported Branch’s motion and withdrew his own.
Uh, oh. Baldwin was fuming.
The Fat Enters the Fire
Branch’s motion should’ve provided an easy out for Stewart, Buffkin and Knight — just vote for it along with Cox and Martin, and it would’ve passed either 7-1 or 6-2 with Baldwin voting no and Councilman Jonathan Melton a maybe yes, maybe no. (It’s not clear what Melton thinks of the quarry.)
But Baldwin wasn’t having it. She was “not comfortable” voting on anything. She was insistent. “This is the first time I’ve heard it,” she kept saying, as if the quarry issue hasn’t been front and center in Raleigh for more than a year. Soon, Buffkin and Knight, too, needed “more information,” and if you’re thinking that the whole point of a public hearing would be to get more information, well then … Knight and Buffkin also decided that more information was needed about the process of asking for a hearing. (City Attorney Robin Currin said, without irony, that the way to ask for a hearing was to have her write a letter and ask.)
For her part, Stewart expressed frustration that Cox hadn’t given her forewarning that he would bring the quarry up, though of course he didn’t bring the quarry up, three citizens brought it up — and tried to remind the Council that if they were going to do anything, even just ask for a hearing, they had only until Friday (yesterday) to do it.
The upshot of this was that Branch’s motion to request that DEQ hold a public hearing failed 5-3, with only Branch, Cox and Martin in support. Kudos to them, anyway, for trying.
And for Stewart, Buffkin and Knight, that information is easy to get if you want it.