January saw attention to city issues to be reviewed by the upcoming state legislative session.
State legislative advocacy: I represented the City of Winston-Salem at the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM) 2013 advocacy goals conference in Raleigh on January 24, drawing on a formal city council resolution on priority issues and incorporating the input of other participating council members. After a day-long discussion and debate among more than 100 participating municipalities' representatives, the conference adopted 25 legislative priorities for the 2013-14 state legislative biennium. The approved priorities included the following goals sought by Winston-Salem:
--Protect local control over municipal water and sewer systems.
--If internet sweepstakes operations are legalized, protect local authority to tax their operations and to use zoning to regulate their location.
--Seek legislation authorizing local government to seek a court order to abate the nuisance use of property which is the source of regular criminal activity.
--Restore appropriations to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
--Reduce costs of greenway construction by requiring the state Department of Transportation to set design standards for greenways that reflect their actual use by pedestrians and cyclists, instead of the design standards needed for roads carrying regular motorized traffic.
Goals adopted for the NCLM will be pursued with the assistance of the league's expert staff and the lobbying influence of that statewide organization, which represents hundreds of cities and towns across North Carolina.
Police chief selection process input invited: Winston-Salem has kicked off the process of finding a replacement for Police Chief Scott Cunningham, who has announced that he will retire at the end of June. As part of that process, the executive search firm assisting in the search will hold a public input meeting to gather comments on the desired experience, qualifications, and characteristics important in the next chief. That public input meeting will be held Tuesday, February 5, 6 p.m., at Hanes Hosiery Recreation Center, 501 Reynolds Blvd. Citizen input will also be taken via an online survey, due by February 13, found here: http://www.empliant.com/survey/FDE88EC23-144F-2090-6C27/
Ardmore neighborhood public safety discussion: The planned meeting on crime and neighborhood safety issues in the Ardmore neighborhood has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, 7 p.m., at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Miller Street. The Ardmore Neighborhood Association will host the discussion, which will include presentations by police department representatives on crime trends and police responses (including auto and home break-ins), how residents can work with police to help reduce incidents, and how Winston-Salem compares with other communities.
As always, I am interested in working with any other neighborhood associations in the Southwest Ward who would like to put together similar programs.
Hillcrest neighborhood meeting: I was pleased to have the chance to meet in January with the board of the Hillcrest Town Center Association. We discussed stormwater control maintenance and street issues, and I've been able to work with city departments since then to get answers to the association's questions.
I'm always interested in opportunities to meet with neighborhood groups in the Southwest Ward.
Healy Towers dinner: Speaking of Southwest Ward neighborhood meetings, I've been invited back to the annual Healy Towers Residents Council soul food dinner on Friday, February 22. The dinner raises money to fund residents council activities throughout the year. Tickets are just $6--let me know if you would like to take part!
Westbrook neighborhood issues: The Westbrook Neighborhood Association reports experiencing problems with Duke Energy's tree trimming contractor in December. The association met with a Duke representative in January to express concern regarding the standards used, and to resolve problems with leftover brush and branch debris.
Gun safety regulations: Last month I asked for feedback on my positions on gun regulations, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond. I'm pleased to be able to report that the response from Southwest Ward residents was nearly unanimous in support of what I consider the "middle ground" approach. The right to own guns for hunting or home defense is part of our Constitutional tradition, and it should stay that way. However, that does not include unlimited ownership of quasi-military weapons with no legitimate civilian use that offsets their potential for mass destruction. We also don't want weapons, concealed or otherwise, in our city parks and recreation centers, and I will work for that goal locally to the extent the N.C. state legislature will allow.
That's my report for January. As always, you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions. Thanks!