Local News

Durham Council Approves Budget, Receives Petition Asking For Conner To Resign

Posted June 22, 2004 8:32 a.m. EDT

— Durham City Council members passed a $279 million budget Monday night. But, will City Manager Marcia Conner be around to see it put to use?

The massive budget proposal -- which includes a 5-cent tax increase -- was wheeled into council chambers earlier Monday, shortly before a group presented more than 7,000 signatures to the council calling for Conner to resign.

Concerned Citizens for Accountable Government is the latest group calling for Conner to be replaced. Last year, incoming councilman Eugene Brown wanted to fire Conner.

Now that Brown's in office, he's taking a more diplomatic approach.

"We need four votes, and we'll see what happens," Brown said. "But I will continue to work with Marcia if we don't have the four votes, or work with a new person if we end up with a new city manager."

Conner's controversy started two years ago, when she accepted responsibility for mishandling city contracts. Conner also came under fire for the prolonged search for a police chief. As a result, the council cut her pay and began conducting monthly reviews of her performance.

This month's review is Tuesday afternoon. Councilman Thomas Stith said he will consider the group's request at that review.

"We'll take their input under advisement," Stith said. "We're here to serve the community, and the ultimate responsibility is the council's."

In the end, the council gave the group one minute to speak, and they did not even talk about Conner. Instead, they focused on the independent audit -- a practice that already is required by state law, and one that city council members say is done in Durham.

As for Conner, a WRAL reporter waited outside her office before Monday's meeting but was told she used a back stairway to the council chambers.

In the past, Conner has not commented on calls for her resignation.