State, cities battle for power

Posted March 15, 2013

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— Legislation to void Raleigh's lease of the Dorothea Dix property is the latest example of what some say is a war on North Carolina cities by the General Assembly.

Republicans in the state Senate passed a bill this week that would take authority for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport away from the Democratic Charlotte City Council and put it under an appointed regional board.

House leaders likewise want to shift control of Asheville's water system to an appointed board instead of that city's Democratic city council.

Paul Meyer, director of government affairs for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, said more than a dozen bills have been filed this session to restrict cities' power over inspections, infrastructure and zoning. Cities don't like what they're seeing, he said, and it will hurt the economy.

"Strong, good local government has brought economic development to the state," Meyer said. "As you weaken cities in these ways, it's going to hurt our ability to do that in the future."

Republican lawmakers vowed in December to undo Raleigh's 99-year lease of the 325-acre Dix site, which was brokered by Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue. The city has tried for years to obtain the property, which once housed a mental hospital and still includes some state Department of Health and Human Services offices, for an urban park.

North Carolina Legislature Building (4x3) Cities say lawmakers exerting too much control

Still, Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said the moves are not partisan politics. Cities just have too much power, he said.

"I think the growth of our cities is pushing out all the other residents surrounding those cities, and they lose a voice," Apodaca said. "We're just trying to help them have a voice."

Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt said the flurry of legislation is nothing but partisan politics.

"What they want to do is give everything to appointed boards, and I guess they figure that way they can control the appointments and thereby control the assets," said Nesbitt, D-Bumcombe, whose district includes the Asheville water system.

Republicans were in favor of local control, he said, until they took power in state government. Now, he said, they're out for payback.

"This is just an outright theft of property, of an asset that is a life," he said. "It's like taking your kidney this year and your heart next year and your arms the next year."


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  • tracmister Mar 18, 2013

    People have complained about the federal governments expansion of power. The state Republicans are doing the same thing with the expansion of state government power.

  • Luv2Camp Mar 17, 2013

    As a conservative, I thought we all wanted more local control. These moves seem contrary to the intent of Repub conservatives.

  • pedsrndad Mar 16, 2013

    Finally elected representatives are in a position to correct years of abuse Democratically controlled boards, panels and the like have perpetrated in awarding contracts and leases with terms unfavorable to the general citizenry of NC, and the media howls with outrage? Some group should look in to who would financially benefit from a long term lease of the Dix property. Not the actual payment of course but behind the scenes,no doubt a stooge of the Democratic party. For the whining Democrat posters to this story, why didn't you complain when your side ran things? The Dix property belongs to the citizen taxpayers that paid for it. If the intention is to turn it into a park for the benefit of all, go for it without cost to the city. But of course that would not benefit the Democrat selected recipient. Why do you think the previous governor did not run again? She realized the tide had turned to Republicans, that and the fact many of her administration were under indictment.

  • Scottie Mar 16, 2013

    Power corrupts. When you go out of your way to settle old scores, its a good sign of disdain for the law. Phil Berger, Tom Apodaca and Neal Hunt need to be investigated. We have a crew that is qualified to manage a high school student council, but not much else.

  • Run4orest Mar 15, 2013

    These newly elected Republicans are simply drunk with power, and that will be their undoing. Besides, they will never have more power than they have now. Come 2014, their gerrymandered majorities will begin to recede as demographic changes continue to work against them!!

  • sixnitepkg Mar 15, 2013

    3 words "breach of contract" - why doesn't the GOP just go ahead and pass a law legalizing breach of contract as long as it benefits them and their wealthy allies?? or better yet, go ahead and make it legal for the rich to take anything they want from anyone that's not... that would make them happy

  • dfmlythr Mar 15, 2013

    This is what the people wanted. Why everybody mad now? SMH.

  • thayerguy Mar 15, 2013

    "The people of NC have spoken and the results were a landslide of epic proportion."

    That's a complete lie. The democrats received more votes that then the GOP in the legislative races statewide, but because of the GOP gerrymandering, the representation is completely lop-sided from that. Check your facts before you spout off such silliness.

  • dirtydozen431 Mar 15, 2013

    The people of
    NC have spoken and the results were a landslide of epic proportion.

  • dirtydozen431 Mar 15, 2013

    Thanks to 'Landslide' McCrory the adults are in charge.