Local News

Ask Anything: 10 questions with Raleigh Mayor Meeker

Posted May 13, 2008
Updated March 19, 2009


What are you doing to stay ahead of the curve to remove and/or prevent the influx of illegal/undocumented workers that have flooded our state? – Debbie Lepper, Raleigh

Undocumented workers are a national issue, which needs to be addressed by Congress and the president of the United States. No state or city can prevent this problem or remove all illegal workers. When an arrest is made here of an undocumented person, the Wake County Sheriff's Office reviews whether deportation should be requested.


Which other mayors do you emulate, and why? – Keith Herrmann, Durham

I do not have a single mayor in mind in terms of following anyone's lead. My sense is that successful mayors listen closely to their citizens, pay attention to management costs and, on occasion, take significant steps to strengthen the identities and economies of their cities.


With the recent uproar over the now-reversed garbage disposal ban, it was clear to many of the citizens that that particular decision was not researched to any degree, neither technically nor politically. Many citizens of Raleigh are now concerned that many other decisions are similarly being created in a perceptive vacuum, and the level of trust between the citizenry and its government is at a very low level. What do the mayor and the city council plan to do to restore trust from the citizens and to enlighten the decision-making process? – Yontz Sucre, Raleigh

The City Council considers 40-50 matter every two weeks, approximately one-half of which are on a consent agenda. I understand your point about disposals. On the other hand, it is also notable that many controversial issues are discussed and decided with a large degree of acceptance by our citizens. Impact fees, infill development and water conservation are three of these issues discussed in the past few months where our citizens have different opinions. Right now, Raleigh is highly rated as a place to live and work, which, in part, reflects on how our government is functioning. From time to time, the council does get out of step with the public and, fortunately, is willing to correct its course when it does so.


Knowing that the capacity of the lake is not able to sustain the amount of people currently on it, why does the Raleigh City Council continue to hand out building permits like candy? It is understood that there is responsible growth. However, after last year, the conclusion would be that the City Council has been irresponsible with infrastructure and growth over the last 15 years. – Marcus, Raleigh

With the current conservation measures in place, the City of Raleigh and other municipalities on the system are using about as much as water as we did 10 years ago. Except in times of severe drought, such as last summer and fall, the City has had adequate water even without the conservation we are now undertaking. In addition, a new water treatment plant of approximately 18 million gallons a day is being built at Lake Benson and should be finished the first quarter of 2010. The River Little Reservoir in East Wake will have a similar capacity when it is completed. Finally, we are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to manage Falls Lake seasonally so that there is approximately 20 percent more drinking water available in the late spring or early summer.


When you initially campaigned for mayor, you stated that you were in favor of completing the entire I-540 loop. Once elected, you changed your mind and said that the southern half should not be built. Why, under your leadership does Raleigh concentrate its road developments in the northern half of the city and leave the southern part of the city and Wake County with their needs unmet but still left holding the tax bill? – Charles Boyer, Raleigh

The premise of your question is not correct. I have supported building the entire I-540 loop, both at the Council table in requesting funds from the state and at the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, making the same request. What has changed is that while the North Carolina Department of Transportation funded the northern half of the loop, it is now declining to fund the western and southern half. This is a state issue. There are no city funds in any part of the loop, including the northern part of I-540.


Why is it that Raleigh is more concerned with attracting outside attention than focusing on the needs of its citizens? For example, the parking situation downtown. The city wants to build a man-made river but can't make more places to park on Fayetteville Street. – Afton Mosley, Raleigh

The idea of a river was mentioned in the newspaper, but the City Council has not discussed such a proposal. While the number of parking places on our streets is inherently limited by the number of streets, the City is building approximately 2,500 additional spaces in decks in the center city to accommodate future growth. These spaces are paid for by parking fees, not general fund revenues.


Months ago, you issued a bid of $10 million dollars for the Dorothea Dix property and its potential use as a world-class park. With mental health issues being documented statewide lately, would you be open to keeping the hospital completely operational until the continuum of community services promised can reach the patients? – Steve Church, Willow Spring

I, and just about everyone else involved, agree that mental health treatment is the top priority of the Dorothea Dix property as long as it is being used for that purpose. However, should the state close some or all of that facility and no longer use the land for mental health treatment, the city has taken the view that a large public park would be more beneficial than office buildings or commercial development.


What do you anticipate the "range adjustment" (formerly known as a cost of living raise) to be for the coming year? With inflation increasing at 4 percent plus or minus each year, it's getting tougher to keep up with living expenses when our range adjustments are 1 to 2 percent year after year. Can we expect an increase, outside of merit increases, that will actually keep pace with the cost of living in the Raleigh area? – Jeff G., Garner

The city manager will make a recommendation on the range adjustment as part of his budget on May 20. This is an issue since inflation, including the recent run-up in gas prices, is more than the range adjustment has been in years past. My understanding is that the manager is also looking at adjusting the salaries of certain categories of employees to make their compensation more competitive.


With the City of Raleigh growing so fast, what plans are in place to incorporate more sustainable designs into buildings, storm water cisterns, downtown transportation and alternative energies? – Dan Porter, Raleigh

The Convention Center and new police headquarters are incorporating a number of sustainable design features. The Convention Center itself is expected to receive Silver LEED certification. The City is also increasing bus service and has encouraged citizens to install rain barrels to conserve drinking water. Finally, the city is acquiring more fuel-efficient vehicles to attempt to reduce consumption of fuel. There are, however, many more steps to be taken on these environmental issues.


My question is this: How do you and other Raleigh City leaders plan on tackling the shortage of police officers at RPD? Their turnover rate is terrible, with almost 30 officers leaving so far this year. There is already a shortage of officers, and Raleigh officers are leaving for other area departments that pay better, and RPD just can't compete. RPD is one of the lowest paid in the area, and with the most crime per capita that just doesn’t make sense. They are way overworked, understaffed, and underpaid. Why has this issue not been addressed? Why have their salaries not been raised to become competitive with other departments? – Concerned Citizen, Raleigh

While there has been some turnover, much of that relates to officers who are retiring or who decide not to complete the police academy. The council has authorized a lateral entry program, and I anticipate that the city manager's budget will include a upward adjustment in salary for younger officers.

ask anything - dmi



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  • Garnerwolf1 May 13, 2008

    I live near that new water treatment plant he mentions. My question is where is the water coming from that it's supposed to treat? Lake Benson is not that large nor deep.

  • ifcdirector May 13, 2008

    Illegal immigration will only become a problem when these elitists like Meeker and their families suffer from the same victimization by illegals as the tax paying citizens they refuse to protect.

  • Shadow213 May 13, 2008

    Actually, to me-- it sounds like Meeker really knows what he is talking about. I think that a lot of the dissatisfaction of him as mayor is because we make too many assumptions and just simply don't know the issues through and through. Considering it IS his job to resolve these things, I figure he's had more time than all of us to spend figuring out the best course of action. (The garbage disposal ban, though, that was just a hasty decision that the city council made a boo boo on. At least it was reversed.)

  • TomLynda May 13, 2008

    aceeli: He did what politicians do best. You phrased it real well.
    just continue to bob, weave, and do the politico shuffle?

    Got to give him an A for that.

  • TomLynda May 13, 2008

    ncwebguy: Where do you get the idea that we in North Raleigh paid for our part of I-540. The only way we paid is through the regular taxes that everyone pays. I live in North Raleigh and we had no extra tax or anything for I-540. If you like Meeker that much, then go work for him. The other 99% of us do not like the way he performs his job and want to see him replaced, and the sooner the better.

    Also, illegal immigration within the city of Raleigh is a city of Raleigh problem and should be dealt with by the city of Raleigh. Meeker is a thoroughbred Democrat through and through. And not all Democrats are like that. I know some Republicans that don't understand the definition of illegal either.

  • aceeli May 13, 2008

    I need some help here. Did he answer any question, or just continue to bob, weave, and do the politico

  • Rodney F May 13, 2008

    ncwebguy wow the citzens of north raliegh paid for 540, let see Mayor Meeker said What has changed is that while the North Carolina Department of Transportation funded the northern half of the loop, it is now declining to fund the western and southern half. This is a state issue. There are no city funds in any part of the loop, including the northern part of I-540.
    check your definition of alternate reality.

  • ifcdirector May 13, 2008

    "Raleigh officers enforce Raleigh's laws. The Wake County sherrif's department enforces the county's laws. INS, FBI, DEA, NSA, etc. enforce federal laws." What an incredibly uninformed synopsis of law enforcement powers..... The reality is that the City of Raleigh could easily take part in programs to work with Immigration Enforcement actively but refuses to do so. Oh and why don't you go try counterfeiting, bank robbery, or any other host of federal crimes, other than being an illegal alien, around a Raleigh cop and see what happens to you. Bet your opinion will change then.

  • DrJ May 13, 2008

    I'm also floored by his response to the water question. I'm glad he admitted that we have sufficient water to meet demand. I'm just sickened by the idea that depriving ourselves of water usage somehow "conserves" that water, when in fact, all we can do is run the extra down the river to the ocean. It's time to remove the current restrictions.

  • ncwebguy May 13, 2008

    Raleigh officers enforce Raleigh's laws. The Wake County sherrif's department enforces the county's laws. INS, FBI, DEA, NSA, etc. enforce federal laws.

    It is obvious from the "unsatisfied" comments on here that the part-time mayor should be held accountable for everything wrong while the president, senators dole and burr, etc. should not be. Wow.

    Why should Raleigh build roads in Garner, Apex, Fuqua, Johnston County, etc. that NC DOT won't? Those cities and their citizens should get a free ride? North Raleigh paid for its part of 540, so it should pay for all of it? Amazing.

    When people don't get the answer they want to hear, they make false claims of lying or ignoring the question. It must be nice to live in an alternate reality where everything revolves around you.

    Do Raleigh citizens get to ask the mayors of Durham, Willow Spring, and Durham anythign? No, but our chance to ask our mayor questions are ursupred by their citizens. Which seems to be "fair" here.