Raleigh, N.C. — Republican leaders are beginning to grumble about the deal Gov. Bev Perdue is pursuing to turn the Dorothea Dix campus into a park under a lease arrangement with the city.
“Having failed for four long years to advance her agenda, Gov. Perdue is desperately trying to create a last-minute legacy at the expense of North Carolina taxpayers,” Berger said in a news release. “I urge the Council of State to be the ‘adults in the room’ and reject her hasty plan to hand over a valuable state asset with little in return. The decisions about the future of the Dorothea Dix campus and the location of DHHS should be made by our new governor and legislature after thoughtful consideration.”
The Council of State is made up of the 10 officials elected statewide. It includes the Governor, lieutenant governor and eight others, including the Attorney General and Commissioner of Agriculture. Eight of the current ten members are Democrats.
Update: House Speaker Thom Tillis has weighed in on the Dix deal as well.
“The Dorothea Dix campus is a historically valuable state asset, and the future of the property should be thoroughly vetted through the legislative process. Rather than rush this decision through the Council of State, we should work together to determine if this is the best path forward. If this proves to be a good idea today, then it will be a good idea weeks from now," Tillis said in an e-mail.
"The North Carolina House of Representatives made its position clear by unanimously passing HB 981, stating that any disposition of the Dix property should have General Assembly approval. This has been further highlighted by well-documented fiscal problems in the mental health budget. It appears that Gov. Perdue is pursuing a legacy for herself instead of protecting the interests of taxpayers and the thousands of individuals who desperately need better-funded mental health services. I look forward to working diligently with future state leaders and the city of Raleigh to make the best possible use of the property.”
Update: Perdue says she's not rushing but rather trying to save the taxpayers some dough. In a news release, she says:
"The Dorothea Dix property and the consolidation of DHHS would save taxpayers nearly $100 million, move employees from 60 separate facilities into five buildings on one campus, and it would preserve green space in a metropolitan area that is expected to grow by more than 1 million people in the next 10 years.
"It is a shame that in the first few weeks after a very heated campaign season, that some of North Carolina’s leaders continue to try to divide people by political party and not bring people together.”
Update: WRAL's Cullen Browder has been asking members of the Council of State how they feel about the potential Dix deal. Most have been careful not to tip their hand, but Attorney General Roy Cooper's spokeswoman said the state's chief law enforcement officer hopes and accommodation can be reached.
"The Attorney General has long supported a park at Dix because of its positive effect on economic recruitment and quality of life for North Carolinians, and would like to see a consensus plan reached with state and local leaders that includes a fair price and a commitment to improved mental health services," Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley said in an e-mail.
Update: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton says he has been briefed on the deal and approves of the concept.
“I have been briefed on the proposed plans for the Dix campus and as I’ve said in the past, I support preserving the green space of the park as long as the state gets fair compensation for the property. I will carefully review the details of any final plan before it comes to a vote," Dalton said in an e-mail.