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Bill Kirby Jr.: When you have questions, we’ll try to find answers


There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing from our CityViewTODAY subscribers. Our hope is that you are being kept abreast of people, places, things, happenings and the news of the day in your community. We appreciate your comments - pro and con - and when you have questions, we’ll do our best to find the answers.

Your turn: “Bill, this article does not discuss qualifications of the candidates that are running,” Efrain “Freddie” Delacruz writes about a March 2 CityView TODAY column. The column got  George Breece’s take on four candidates challenging Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. Delacruz in one of them. “Or the fact that the race will come down to only two candidates for the general election. Seems like this article is bias to Mitch and as to discourage your readers from voting … This article is disappointing and seems to be about money and discouragement as opposed to addressing why the qualification of the candidates running will be a factor. Bottomline: It comes down to two candidates.”

My turn: To the contrary, Mr. Delacruz. The focus was to look at whether four mayoral challengers are an advantage or disadvantage for the incumbent mayor. It’s a reasonable political question as the city prepares for the May 17 primary, and no one better to hear from than Breece, a longtime observer of city politics. CityView TODAY will be doing stories and columns on the mayoral race and the City Council races, too. And no one is discouraging residents from voting. There are 208,501 city residents, according to the latest Census data. Of those, 124,545 are registered to vote, according to Angie Amaro, interim director for the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Our hope is that every resident will vote in the May 17 primary, in the additional primaries if needed, and in the general election in July.

Your turn: “You might want to ask the question why the Fayetteville City staff and City Council have not released new dates for their annual Strategic Retreat in 2022,” former City Councilman Ted Mohn writes in a Feb. 14 email. “On 8 November 2021, city council approved their calendar year 2022 meeting dates. They approved their 2022 strategic retreat to be January 21 and 22. Because of potential negative winter weather those two days, the city went to reduced services for safety reasons, and that makes sense. On Friday, Feb. 11, 2022, I reached out to several council members about a potential new date for the annual strategic retreat because of the weather delay. None of them were able to provide me new dates for their 2022 annual strategic retreat. I was informed that there is no planning for a strategic retreat this year (2022). Anyone that has served on Fayetteville City Council or tracked their budget process over the past decades know and understand the annual strategic retreat is paramount to forming the upcoming budget. No strategic retreat this year to me means the current City Council is fine with the abdication of their statutory authority to guide and shape the Fayetteville's 2022-2023 FY budget to their subordinate city manager. No wonder a $20 Solid Waste fee increase is included on the recent agenda under ‘Administrative Reports.’ Administrative Reports are not typically addressed/talked about during council meetings. They are part of the agenda for council's future consideration… During my 10 years on city council I never remember not having a strategic retreat with city staff and outside moderators/consultants.”

My turn: I asked the mayor pro tem, Kathy Keefe Jensen, about a date for a strategic planning session. She said it is being planned. Then I followed up with City Manager Doug Hewett. “Given scheduling, City Council likely won't have a dedicated retreat,” Hewett says. “Instead, we are bringing elements of the SP to Council by using our regular meetings and administrative reports. Likewise, we have a robust SP that has weighty issues for which we are still engaged in achieving.” I have to agree with Mr. Mohn on this one. City Council should schedule a Strategic Planning retreat.

Your turn: “Thanks for your series on the potential sale of PWC by the mayor,” Coleman Smith, a retired Air Force captain, writes in an email about CityView TODAY stories published in January about former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell’s allegations of how Colvin and other council members were not transparent in negotiations with a private equity firm that wanted to take over the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. “This isn’t the first time that it has been discussed, but with the ‘Big Bang’ still hanging financially over our heads, it is a much bigger threat. I worry that a short-sighted mayor or council will decide that the time to reap the political rewards by selling the cash cow will cost us our stable, effective and efficient public utility in return for a few dollars that will make politicians look good for another cycle or two. Few people accept that the ‘Big Bang’ was a valiant attempt by the city to correct an error created by local developers, county zoning and the legislature that allowed quarter-acre developments to be granted permits for sewage disposal using methods which were intended for rural settings, not city-style suburban housing. Keep up the good work.”

My turn: All the credit, Capt. Smith, goes to Greg Barnes, our investigative reporter. Barnes spent more than a month digging into the behind-the-scenes maneuvering regarding the City Council and Bernhard Capital Partners of Baton Rouge, Louisana. Barnes didn’t find anything criminal on the part of the mayor or others on the council, but he did find a failure to be transparent. Not to worry, however. Hopefully, selling our city-owned utility is in the rear-view mirror.

Your turn: “C'mon Bill, the Market House didn’t burn, and it wasn’t ablaze (your words),’’ Jeff Thompson writes in an email about our Feb. 20 column regarding Tanesha Hendley, the 38-year-old Fayetteville woman who is working on a video documentary of May 30, 2020, during a protest that saw the Market House stairwell set on fire by at least two protesters and resulted in downtown property damage to nearby businesses. “There was a small fire inside that never got out of control. I was taught a long time ago that words have meaning. Sometimes we get carried away, don't we!”

My turn: Fair enough, Mr. Thompson. Surely, the fire in the stairwell was not a towering inferno, and I won’t argue the point with a news icon in this city. But for those who ignited the fire, they weren’t there for a marshmallow roast, either.

Your turn: “I want to run to the Little Theater right this minute to see Willie Wright,” Carol Quigg writes about our Feb. 13 column on Wright, who you will find volunteering everywhere, including at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. “I recall seeing him there several times. He was always so friendly and nice to everyone. You did a great job portraying him to all of your readers. Also loved the column on Leonard Black. I love the daily column from CityView. You people keep me up to date on the happenings of my community.”

My turn: Wright is 85 and a whirlwind of volunteerism in this community, Mrs. Quigg. You’ll find him volunteering everywhere – from the Cumberland County Council on Older Adults, the Mid-Carolina Area Agency on Aging, the Cumberland County Veterans Council, the Braxton Bragg Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, the Arts Council of Fayetteville-Cumberland County and the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. He is a treasure to this community.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Market House, City Council, municipal elections, Fayetteville Public Works Commission, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Willie Wright