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    Wake Forest Mayor Keeps Pressure On

    BY Dinky Kearney
    06/17/2000

    Wake Forest Mayor George Mackie is heeding a time-honored political credo: When in doubt, appoint a committee.

    The mayor has long claimed Town Hall is rife with corruption. A month ago, he gave town commissioners a list of nine former employees who he said would confirm his allegations of poor management and illegal activity in the police and water departments.

    Commissioners refused to call the former workers and instead launched attacks on the mayor, accusing him of sabotaging town government. And the former employees, when contacted by reporters, said they didn't want their names made public.

    It was a setback, but Mackie is determined. He now says he will appoint a citizens' committee to speak with the former employees and report to the board. Commissioners said they won't accept the committee's report and referred to the mayor's latest action as a "witch hunt."

    But Mackie is unfazed.

    "I'm just keeping the pressure on," he said, "to show how malignant the whole deal is."

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    Political Scorecard:

    Easing out: Wake County Manager Richard Stevens came late to Wednesday's budget work session. When he arrived, he took a seat behind the board table, away from all the action, and said little. Toward the end of the meeting, he let the commissioners in on a secret.

    "This is a little test to see how you got along without me," said Stevens, who is retiring June 30 after 16 years as county manager. "You did very well."

    His arrival was delayed because he was at the dentist. "I'm not sure which is better - a dental appointment or a budget meeting," he said.

    "Dental!" cried out commissioner Yevonne Brannon.

    "It's the same thing, isn't it?" mused commissioner Herb Council.

    Not backing down: Durham City Council member Floyd McKissick Jr., who lost last fall's mayoral election by an overwhelming margin, is sparring more and more with Mayor Nick Tennyson and other council members.

    This week, McKissick was cut off while trying to press Biogen officials to make formal commitments to preserve land the company has asked to be a part of Research Triangle Park. He wanted the city to remove speed bumps on the only detour route for the planned closing of Hope Valley Road but was shot down. And he was one of the main targets of earlier efforts to limit debate in council meetings.

    In committee meetings, council members sometimes roll their eyes as McKissick, a lawyer, launches into certain lines of questioning, most dealing with traffic and land use.

    McKissick says he'll press on. He says he has been one of a handful of council members in the past month to look openly at shaving off the proposed 1-cent tax rate increase in the city budget - although the record shows that he wanted to add as many programs as were cut.

    "What I see right now is a lot of rubber-stamping going on," McKissick said. "This council hasn't been one to really want to even deal with the details. It's just do whatever the city manager and city staff say to do. That's not why we are here. We should be examining the details closely."

    He said it should be no problem to find the $ 980,000-plus needed in the budget to get rid of the proposed tax increase, which amounts to less than one-half of 1 percent of the city's $ 232 million budget.

    But he acknowledges a tougher problem: He simply doesn't have the votes to get it done.

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    Political Trail:

    - People for Parks, a nonprofit Raleigh group, sponsors a workshop on Wake County parks, greenways and open space at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Eyebeam Inc./Signature Publishing Inc. building, 512 Brickhaven Drive in Raleigh. Raleigh City Council member Benson Kirkman and Cary Town Council member Marla Dorrel are sponsoring "Finding Common Ground." For more information, call Kirkman at 859-1187 or 890-3050.

    - North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy will sponsor a lobbying day at the General Assembly on Tuesday. More than 250 volunteer activists are scheduled to push the "People's Agenda," which advocates free-market solutions to issues including taxes, health care, annexation rights and cable TV competition. For more information, call the group at (888) 446-5273 or send e-mail to hmolaro@@cse.org

    - Gerry Bowles, a Raleigh Democrat running for the state House in District 92, holds a "first day of summer" pizza and yard-sign-making party from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Stonebridge Clubhouse, 400 Emerywood Drive in Raleigh. For more information, call Bowles at 847-9901.

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    Triangle Politics is a weekly look at the local political scene. Got a tip, story idea or an upcoming political event? Fax Triangle Politics at 829-4529, or send e-mail to frhee@@nando.com or dholly@@nando.com.

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    Politically Speaking:

    'We don't allow our children to see the blood and guts of an emergency room, so why should we let them see the graphic details of the courtroom?'

    Marty Martin, chairman and president of KidsCenter Inc., which had the grand opening this week for a first-in-the-state day care for parents who go to the Wake County Courthouse

    by Dinky Kearney on 6/17/00.