Raleigh councilwoman's dog sends message to GOP
RALEIGH — As Republican lawmakers move to kill a land deal for a new Raleigh park, City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin turned to social media on Friday, with the help of her lapdog, Jack Bauer, to express her frustration.
Baldwin posted a photo on Facebook of her Maltese-Yorkie mix, named for the anti-terror agent from the TV show "24," relieving himself on a marble column outside the North Carolina General Assembly.
The Democratic councilwoman concedes the image is undiplomatic, but suggests it is emblematic of the Republican-dominated body's treatment of the state's citizens. The photo has triggered numerous comments online and been re-shared by others.
"It shows a little outrage, and I think a little outrage is appropriate right now," Baldwin said Friday. "I think it's time for the gloves to come off."
Bills introduced Thursday in both the House and Senate would essentially tear up a contract signed in December by outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue that allows Raleigh to lease the 325-acre grounds of the closed Dorothea Dix mental hospital for a regional park.
The legislation directs state officials to use condemnation powers to end the 75-year agreement and give the city first dibs on a renegotiated lease — but only on part of the 325-acre property and at a fair market rate. Proceeds from the redrawn lease would be earmarked for mental health programs.
"I was hoping for the best, but I think I'm seeing the worst," Baldwin said of the GOP legislative agenda. "When I think about some of the legislation that has moved forward lately, whether it's telling local governments what design standards they should have, or getting rid of renewable energy tax credits, and then you through Dix on top of that, you just sit there and say, 'What are we doing?'"
Republican lawmakers say then-Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration rushed through the 75-year agreement, and that the $68 million the state could receive over the decades from the city were too low.
Amy Auth, spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger, said Raleigh's city leaders should "take a step back, look at this issue from the perspective of taxpayers from across our state, and then calmly review the bill."
"Once they read it, they will see it allows them to continue to move forward with a world-class park while helping our state's mentally ill population and being mindful of our taxpayers," she said.