Questions Surround Raleigh Council 'Meeting'
Posted January 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — A former Raleigh City Council member filed a lawsuit against five current members Monday afternoon, charging that they held what constitutes a secret meeting to discuss the proposed multi-use Raleigh arena.
Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer and four other members of city council met privately at the home of Mayor Pro Tempore Paul Coble to watch the Wake Forest University vs. University of Maryland basketball game on January 19. While they were there, a comment on Wake Forest's new arena spurred some conversation about the proposed multi-use arena in Raleigh.
All five council members at Councilman Paul Coble's house admit that. What they take issue with is a charge that the gathering constituted an illegal meeting.
North Carolina law states that a majority of Council cannot gather outside of official meetings for the purpose of conducting hearings, deliberations, voting or otherwise transacting public business, but that an "informal assembly" for social reasons is not considered a meeting.
Councilman Marc Scruggs (pictured at right) was at the gathering and says the group did not violate any law.
Scruggs admitted there was some conversation about the arena.
In addition to Scruggs, Coble and Fetzer, John Odom and Kieran Shanahan were also in attendance. While the five often vote as a bloc, Fetzer says they have continued to disagree on the arena issue since the gathering at Coble's house.
Councilman Brad Thompson was not invited to the January 19 gathering. He says he thinks discussion of the arena would be best confined to official meetings where the public knows what's going on.
Thompson and some others are concerned about the future impact of the January 19 meeting on the controversial debates over the arena.
The former council member who filed the lawsuit says he did so to prevent this sort of informal meeting in the future.