“Was Council’s Dereliction of Responsibility to Procure a Binding Contract for the Clarence E. Lightner Center with KlingStubbins a Naive Mistake, One In Which Cost the Taxpayers a Whopping $23 Million Dollars or Was It Downright Illegal?”
“The Building To No Where”
Lent Carr- Free-lance Journalist/Writer
Raleigh–The hotly contested Clarence E. Lightner Center project, a project that some has coined as “The Building To No Where” and introduced by the Raleigh City Council well over a year now is gearing up to be a problematic campaign issue for those Council Members contemplating re-running in the 2011 Election Year for Raleigh City Council. This is especially so for those Council members who squanderingly ratified disbursements of taxpayers dollars for a building plan that seemingly has stalled indefinitely; a building plan that has not produced one single brick, but rather a 23-million dollar price tag charged to the citizens they represent. Indeed, one thing is quite axiomatic–there are major questions lodged deeply into the crevices of the minds of the voters this Election Year; what happened and who’s to blame?
Talking with voters all over the City of Oaks regarding this psychedelic quagmire has (more than any other question) produced one pshaw question of unison… “why would a competent panel of Councilors vote to move forward on such an enormous project i.e. that of the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center without ensuring that a legally binding contract had been procured and put into place beforehand, especially where State law requires it!” (“All contracts made by or on behalf of a city shall be in writing”)
To his credit, the Honorable Councilor Thomas Crowder following the ensuing melee caused by City Manager Russel Allen motioned the Council to have City Staff and the Raleigh City Council to adhere to State Law by entering into a written and otherwise binding contract with the other party when initiating future projects like that of the botched Lightner Center, amendments and change orders therefor.
Though Mayor Charles Meeker and City Manager Russell Allen was not in the least bit happy about such a motion being put forward, it was not lossed on the voters ear of disbelief that the newly seated Council Member selected, Raleigh City Councilman, Eugene Weeks dared to suggest that City Manager Russell Allen be held to an arbitrarily different standard than that of other Municipal City Managers of North Carolina with respect to following the strictures of State Law governing contracts made by or on the behalf of a city being put into writing.
As dubious as this contractual mess sounds, Eugene Weeks went on to state that by requiring the City Manager to obey the law is “micromanaging!” Surely Weeks couldn’t have been serious; but he was! To the untainted ear it would appear that Weeks in his new political successor role as the fresh kid on the block representing District C has already shown that it is not beyond his ethical stature to circumvent the letter of the law.
True to his micromanaging stance, Eugene Weeks, Mayor Meeker and At-Large Councilor, Mary-Ann Baldwin voted NAY to requiring City Staff to follow the law with regard to NC General Statute requiring the City to enter into a written contract before divvying out taxpayers dollars for projects like the one in question that cost Raleigh’s taxpayers a wopping 23-million dollars at a time when the City has been forced to cut programs from the budget as a result of economical shortfalls. Was this mere naivety or a blatant act to circumvent the law by those who make the laws for the rest of Raleigh’s citizenry?
As the voters of the 2011 Election Cycle, you’ll be taxed in being the judge of this 23-million dollar inquiry. Was Council’s egregious decision to bypass NC General Statutes an illegal act to circumvent the Law? And, was Councilman Eugene Weeks’ misguided rantings of “micromanaging” in contravention to well established Law, thus suggestively violable in nature with his and two other council members affirmative NAY votes disallowing contractual placement prior to project commencement a dereliction of his representative duties to protect the taxpayers/citizens of Raleigh and District C?
This my fellow citizen is the question; “TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD.”