Is the Wake County Board of Commissioner serving the public by blocking transit?

Is the Wake County Board of Commissioner serving the public by blocking transit?

July, 03, 2012

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Despite more than 20 Wake citizens speaking in favor of transit referendum, including WakeUP's Executive Director shown here, Commission GOP blocks public hearing with no discussion.

Article by Tappan Vickery

The GOP of the Wake County Board of Commissioners have haulted progress on the proposed Wake County transit plan.  What’s worse, they are preventing Wake voters from having our say – our vote -- on funding this important transportation system.  Commissioner Erv Portman recently asked other commissioners to hold a public hearing, and place a funding referendum on the November 2012 ballot, but the GOP of the commission voted down Portman’s motion without even discussing the matter.  The question is why?

The Wake transit plan is key to the regional vision to connect Wake, Orange and Durham by bus and rail.  State legislation requires each county’s voters pass a referendum for a half-cent sales tax to fund a regional transit plan – a must if we hope to build this system and if it’s ever to receive federal support.  Durham passed their referendum by 60% last fall, Orange is moving forward with its referendum this November, and in Wake, well, we’re stuck. 

Where is the leadership in the county where transit is needed most?  Raleigh’s population is soon to double, and other Wake towns like Cary, Garner, and Morrisville are growing fast.  Wake County is going to be left behind in important growth and transportation planning if we don’t act soon. 

We do have a larger county – made up of more small towns, extended suburbs and rural communities than Durham or Orange.  For some, the benefit of transit is harder to understand. For others, the commute to RTP on I-40 alone demonstrates the need for transit. 

Wake has already invested two years of time from county staff (paid for by Wake county taxpayers) dedicated to developing this plan.  The Wake Commissioners have had the plan since last November.  But they are stalling its progress.  

The Board of Commissioners is the governing body for the county – they’re elected through county wide election and represent all of us.  It is a hard job with a diverse landscape like Wake County.  With this is in mind, why is the majority working so hard to prevent a public hearing on transit plan?  Isn’t their job to serve the public’s needs?  To allow comments and questions from all citizens? 

The answer is disturbingly simple: If they block the public hearing, they’re blocking a step that is required, by law, before putting the transit referendum on the ballot. 

I am certain it is not their role to take away the public’s right to speak about the plan we taxpayers paid for.  I am certain is it NOT their role to take away citizens’ right to vote on funding public infrastructure that provides infrastructure and jobs in our community.  The simple fact is that these commissioners are playing politics; they are not considering the good of all Wake County citizens.  This is bad governance at its peak.  If we can’t trust local government officials, those individuals who are closest to their constituents, who can we trust to do what is right for our future?

We deserve to be heard.  Polling shows 60% of Wake voters support the plan and are willing to pay for it, and 78% of voters want a referendum this fall.  Yet the Commissioners are stalling.  They are not serving the public, and should be held accountable.

See more about the Transit Plan over at the CAFT website and Wake Up's website.

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Wake County Board of CommissionersWakeUPTransit Plan


  • Rob E.
    07/03 03:57 PM

    During the recent constitutional amendment, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to endorse the amendment in spite of what sounded like (I wasn’t there) a large majority of the public in attendance who voiced opposition to the amendment. Personally, I feel that the Board had no business even weighing in on an issue that the individual citizens were allowed to vote on, but if you’re going to do it, you should at least make sure you are representing your constituents. They failed in that because Wake County had a majority of votes opposed to the amendment. Now here we are again with an issue most of the county is in favor of, and even more are in favor of at least being able to vote on. Even if you are politically aligned with the views of the board, if you believe in representational government, you should be able to see that the Wake County Board of Commissioners ain’t it. Whoever they are representing, it does not appear to be the people of Wake County.

  • RaleighRob
    07/03 05:49 PM

    We have a commission run by radical right-wing ideologues, plain and simple. 

    They think it’s a great idea to give the public the opportunity to vote whether or not someone has equal rights, or is treated as third class citizens.  They think that makes perfect sense. 

    But give the public the right to vote on whether or not to work towards funding an improved system of transportation?  Oh goodness no, we can’t have that!  It wouldn’t fit the agenda of their big-money interests or reactionary & provincial base. 

    Paul Coble, Tony Gurley, Phil Matthews and Joe Bryan do NOT have the best interests of the people of this county in mind.  They are embracing the past, not the future. If it’s not on the Tea Party Agenda, they won’t do it.  And until we get rid of these frauds of democracy via the voting booth, we will continue to have their backwards agenda shoved down our throats.

  • Kt May
    07/03 05:52 PM

    @smitty Public Policy Polling did a poll and got good numbers for transit support, and even more people saying they should be given the chance to vote on the issue.

  • Stargazer
    07/03 09:58 PM

    I’m not convinced of the wisdom or fairness of extending the rail service to Garner rather than into North Raleigh, which is much more in densely populated. But wouldn’t having the service in Garner—in addition to allocating inappropriately large share of tax dollars to residents who aren’t paying as much into the revenue stream—simply spur more decentralized development? And a Garner stop would make it very attractive for non-paying Johnston County residents to use the service—which means in effect that Wake County/Raleigh taxpayers would be making it more attractive to live in Johnston County by subsidizing their cheap transportation. Spurring development in southern Wake and especially Johnston County makes little sense. Thoughts on why these are not legitimate concerns?

  • Bill
    07/04 10:59 AM

    i completely agree with the above commenter:  Last Photos of Layne Staley, Amateur Vagina Photos & Snapes Wand Replica.  The Wake Commissioners are filled with nonsense.


  • ct
    07/04 04:07 PM

    For better or worse, the Wake County electorate put those 4 Republicans on the county commission… the entire Wake County electorate, not just the 40% of the county that lives inside the city limits of Raleigh and certainly not the 20% that lives ITB. If people don’t like what the commission does, then vote them out—if you can. But don’t be naive about widespread opposition to transit funding from the majority of the county that lives outside the Raleigh city limits. The tax would be deeply unpopular in Apex/Holly Springs/F-V and Rolesville/W-F/Zebulon. They figure that they’ll pay taxes for an eternity before they get any benefit. Problem is, these happen to be the fastest growing parts of the county. The strategy of the current Republican majority is to stall and let demographics strengthen their position. If you favor mass transit, time is not on your side. Everybody knows it. Win the next county commission election and you’ll have an opportunity to get a mass transit tax on the ballot while it still has a chance to pass.

    This isn’t Durham or Orange (>80% Democrat), nor is it Mecklenburg which is center-city focused.

  • Reesian
    07/04 05:38 PM

    Blame everything on Paul Coble.

    He’s not STUPID; however, like his uncle and other nazi-like bureaucrats, he is possessed by the worst kind of EVIL—a desire for power over others. 

    Paul was one of the WORST mayors (next to his self-hating, uber-homophobic predecessor, Thom Fetzer) that the City of Raleigh has been victim to.  His one-time tenure is remembered as do-nothing, mean-spirited and divisive—and specifically, anti-urban, anti-cultural and anti-environment.

    Paul has used his ‘lesser-than’ conspirators on the Wake County Commission as expendable patsies in his ultimate plan for political control and world domination.  So far, during his leadership on the Commission, Paul has successfully shoved his socially engineered agenda to wage war against families and the Commission’s own environmental sustainability report.  Had he been successful in his republican bid for the US House, his campaign slogan could have been, “I want government off MY property and in YOUR bedroom.”

    During the last Commissioner Election, residents of Wake County either forgot or chose to ignore Paul Coble’s political record and personal character.  And, until we vote him out (and learn from our mistake) there is no hope for our future—transit or otherwise.

  • RaleighRob
    07/04 10:36 PM

    @ct- Good point that this isn’t Durham, Orange or Mecklenburg but then again I’m not convinced everyone outside of Raleigh in Wake County is a hardcore right-winger against transit. 
    That Republican majority were mostly seats under the election of 2010, where the GOP had an advantage on all levels.  The Dems were elected in 2008.  It’s all about voter turn-out. 
    It’s not about Raleigh vs the rest of the county, when 10 of the 12 Wake Municipalities are on record as supporting this.  This is simply partisan politics.  And unfortunately it’ll be 2014 before we can change the commission makeup enough to do any good. 

    @stargazer - Accorting to Triangle Transit’s map, a North Raleigh line (all the way to Wake Forest) is included: 

  • JZ
    07/05 10:34 AM

    I second Reesian’s comment about P. Coble.  He’s evil incarnate.

    If there truly is a divide between the urbanizing sides of the county and the communities that do not benefit from that urbanizing, why cannot a program acknowledge this division/distinction and plan transit routing accordingly?  Raleigh city buses certainly do not go on EVERY street in town…they have routes based on demand and connectivity. In this day and age, polling can certainly identify where the “yea’s and the nea’s” are coming from.  In a complex county structure with +/- 14 municipalities, why not create a way of sub-dividing and allocating based on majority-rule voting?  As all these towns grow, you will then see a distinct shift in investment and settlement based on the desires of citizens residing in those towns.

  • smitty
    07/05 01:47 PM

    Ok, I read the poll results.  The poll, while clearly biased and misleading, states that 49% percent of respondents would vote for a tax increase, not 60%.

  • Karen Rindge
    07/05 04:14 PM

    The recent poll commissioned by WakeUP Wake County asked Wake voters if they would support a half cent sales tax to fund an expanded transit system that would double bus service, create commuter rail between Durham and Wake, and would initiate light rail.  60% said yes, they would support that.

  • john b
    07/05 09:36 PM

    This debate has merits on both sides. My main problem with the regional transit/ rail is that TTA( a private company) wants their hands on nmillions of tax payer dollars to artificially create something the market has not yet supported. Also the poll question that combines increased bus service with new rail system is misleading. I bet 95% support more buses. How many actually want a new rail system? Frank and ct’s comments are right on.

  • smitty
    07/06 01:58 PM

    Read it again Karen.  Read very carefully.

  • wiseone
    07/07 01:20 PM

    Big city public transportation won’t happen here anytime soon. Look our super mayor Meeker ran with a pro transportation platform 12 years ago and then spent ten years in office and got us what? Half a bike lane on Hillsborough Street and paid parking downtown. Get a bike or a cheap small car and quit believing…

  • dlw
    07/09 11:09 AM

    Without it, Raleigh will NEVER be able to run with the big dogs (Philly, Charlotte, Chicago, etc.)  Unless something drastic happens in the very near future, I’m afraid what you see is what you get with Raleigh.

  • rob
    07/13 03:49 PM

    agree with dlw ^^^

    Raleigh simply wont invest in infrastructure to become a boom town

    we need light rail in the Triangle

    and high speed rail to CLT ATL and RCH and DC

    all the stupid racists and xenophobes around here don’t realize China, Japan, and Europe all have great rail systems.
    yes better than we do,  “BETTER than the USA”

    get with the program people!!

    where is the spirit of innovation
    Wright Bros
    Tesla + Edison
    Neil Armstrong
    Steve Jobs + Bill Gates



  • JohnJ
    07/13 06:09 PM

    What insight, Rob.  I’m guessing your point is those who oppose high speed rail are “stupid racists and xenophobes”?  You do realize that high speed rail isn’t a precursor to urban growth, it’s the other way around.  Also the list or innovators at the end of your bloviation aren’t governments, they’re people.  The spirit of innovation doesn’t typically soar through the government’s help, despite what Obama may say.

  • rob
    07/25 02:41 PM

    I didnt mention obama dimwit

    and I dont see anyone in the private sector standing up for high speed rail

    I only see do nothing NC republicans supporting farmers that receive millions in federal tax grants and subsidies blocking our fair cities from competing with major metropolitan areas around the world

    keep your head in the sand, it will probably be beach front soon anyway….

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