Raleigh Leaders Say Recent Turmoil Part Of Growth Process
Posted October 4, 2006 9:49 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh leaders have had to confront many problems in recent weeks that have brought unprecedented controversy to the city. However, many city leaders said they believe Raleigh is working through the issues to become a better city.
Just two weeks ago, sanitation workers were picketing in front of Raleigh City Hall, demanding better working conditions. Around the same time, a $2 million gift to the city was pulled off the table after the donor said the scope of the project had changed.
Raleigh residents were forced to comply with mandatory water restrictions for weeks, and there were also concerns about diversity within the Raleigh Fire Department. An investigation into police officers doing off-duty work on city time continues.
"It hasn't been quiet. We have a lot to deal with, and unfortunately, we have systems that we need to fix, but I'm confident we are doing the right things to fix them," said Raleigh council member Philip Isley.
It's a string of controversy Raleigh is not used to. Many council members say the issues can partly be blamed on growing pains.
"I think it's part of city government. We are a changing city, a growing city," said Mayor Charles Meeker.
Meeker said he doesn't believe each item is related.
"Part is a coincidence, part is people feeling more inclined to make requests and demands from the city they may not have made five to 10 years ago," Meeker said.
Some council members are watching the events closely, making sure they don't see problems repeating.
"I think at the end of the day with our form of government, we have a city manager who is responsible and we'll hold him accountable for everything that happens in the city," said council member Jessie Taliaferro. "We don't want to see a pattern of things. That's what the council will be looking at -- are we seeing a pattern or are these things that are just typical business of a large city?"
City Manager Russell Allen said the city's staff is solving problems everyday and learning from them.
"I do think it's not a blame issue," Allen said. "It's how we handle issues when they come up. Any business is going to have things that are unexpected. We are proactive in everything that we do. We try to learn a lesson from anything that doesn't go quite right."
Allen said he believes the controversial stories get a lot of media coverage because there are so many different outlets looking for different angles to report it.
Even with the recent controversy, leaders said there are positive things happening in the city every day that don't get nearly as much attention. There's a healthy housing market, new water quality initiatives, new greenways and more.