Erin Salmon and the City – Part One

On Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 4:40 PM, Nick Sadler  wrote:

Ms. [Erin] Salmon

My name is Nick Sadler and I work as a Policy Analyst in the City Council Office.

We understand that you have been contacting various departments throughout the City in an effort to gather information about the Lorimer Drive Street and Sidewalk Improvements that was approved by council in September. To better serve this effort I have been asked to  be the point of contact for you moving forward. Any request for information should be sent to me. Once I receive the request I will ensure that it gets to the correct staff  and ensure that you get the information you request.

I appreciate your understanding of this. If you have any questions please let me know.

Nick

Nick Sadler, Policy Analyst

City of Raleigh | City Manager’s Office

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On Sep 29, 2015, at 12:09 AM, Erin Salmon wrote:

Hello Nick,

Thank you for your email.  I am curious who asked you to be the point person for directing my questions.  Prior to your email, I spoke at length with Chris Johnson, and he asked that I direct my questions to himself and to Jimmy Upchurch.  To oblige you all, I will copy the three of you on future emails.

In any case, I believe your assistance will be invaluable for my neighborhood’s future.  This project has created a huge divide within our quiet streets, and I have been working hard since September 1 to bridge this divide, to find common ground where neighbors can work together to address concerns and issues.  The petition process itself has generated much of the contention that residents feel.  I believe that this could have been avoided had the city been more involved during that time before the petition was submitted and before the resolution went before the Council.  I know that many residents did email and call the appropriate city staff to ask questions and voice concerns, myself included. However, not all calls and emails were answered, and the information that was given to various residents was contradictory to some of the information I have gathered from the city’s website as well as from direct conversations with the departments and divisions pertinent to this project.  There continue to be unanswered questions from residents, and as a neighborhood, we have been meeting frequently over the past four weeks to sort through the information that has been gathered since September 1.

We have another meeting scheduled on Monday October 5 from 7-9 pm at the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall.  I invite you to attend, as your knowledge of city policy and council procedures is exactly what residents need at this time.

Chris Johnson is unable to attend due to his class schedule, and Jimmy Upchurch is currently out of the office.  I had planned to call Jimmy on Wednesday, but if you are able to reach him and inform him of this meeting, I would greatly appreciate your help.  In addition, Scott Bryant or anyone from Stormwater Management would also be invaluable to our discussion.  Stormwater issues are a huge problem for many residents in our neighborhood and have been for many years, yet many property owners are unaware of the Drainage Assistance Program that our city offers.  I was informed today, however, that someone from Stormwater Management would attend if Chris Johnson or Jimmy Upchurch thought it important, as the Lorimer Road project is theirs.  I do not understand this, as Stormwater Management has already been involved in a cursory evaluation for this project according to public records.  In addition, residents on Onslow Road, who deal with some of the worst flooding and erosion problems in our neighborhood, are not on this project.  Therefore, it is puzzling to me why there needs to be approval from the Design/Construction Division to have a representative from Stormwater available to answer these residents’ questions.  Is there any light you can shed on this reasoning?

Thank you again for reaching out to me, and I look forward to your help.

Sincerely,

Erin Salmon

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From: Erin Salmon
Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:32 AM
To: Sadler, Nick
Subject: Re: Lorimer Road Improvements

Hi Nick,

One more comment, perhaps Sharon Banks, the Community Relations Administrator would be helpful at our meeting. According to the city’s website, she “resolves issues raised by citizens regarding City services and processes.”

I would like to work with you, as you have requested. In order to serve my community, however, I will contact staff relevant to our inquiries, if our requests are unanswered through this channel. Particularly with our meeting coming up in less than a week, as we would like help reestablishing trust and connection within our neighborhood and with the city.

Thanks again,

Erin

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From: “Sadler, Nick”
Date: September 29, 2015 at 11:06:16 AM EDT
To: Erin Salmon
Cc: “Buonpane, Louis”
Subject: RE: Lorimer Road Improvements

Erin

I was instructed to ask that you funnel all information requests through me from the Chief of Staff Louis Buonpane, who is included on this email. Given the information that you shared in your email I believe that it would be best for me to schedule a meeting with you, Mr. Buonpane and myself. I would request that you call me, at the number below, so that I can determine a time that works for all three of us.

Any inquires for Public Information should go directly to the Public Affairs Office….

Thanks,

Nick Sadler

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From: Erin Salmon
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2015 1:20 AM
To: Upchurch, Jimmy
Cc: Powell, Donetta; Sadler, Nick
Subject: Lorimer Road Bushy Branch Creek Neighborhood Meeting

This Monday, October 5, from 7-9 pm, our neighborhood is meeting at the Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. One of the items on the agenda is the Lorimer Road Improvements Petition/Resolution.

Many residents are hoping to receive answers to questions regarding the petition process and the design and construction processes. If you are able to attend, I believe your presence would be very valuable to our neighborhood.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Erin Salmon

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From: “Sadler, Nick”
Date: October 1, 2015 at 10:17:48 AM EDT
To: Erin Salmon , “Upchurch, Jimmy”
Cc: “Powell, Donetta” , “Buonpane, Louis”
Subject: RE: Lorimer Road Bushy Branch Creek Neighborhood Meeting
Ms. Salmon

I hoped to have a phone conversation with you about this but I have not heard from you to date.

City Council approved this public right-of-way improvement project and staff will proceed with the project as directed. Administration has asked that staff not attend any meetings regarding this project. Below are some alternatives to consider.

You can petition to appear before City Council. In order to appear before council you must complete the attached form and return it to the Clerk’s Office. Your Council Member, Kay Crowder is happy to meet with your group as well. She has a previous commitment on October 5, 2015 and will not be able to attend on that date. Please work with me and I can find a time that fits with her schedule and those of your group.

You could also obtain a court order to stop the city in moving forward with this project. Not being a lawyer, I am unsure of that process.

Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance.

Nick

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From; Erin Salmon
Date: October 1, 2015
To: Nick Sadler
CC: Louis Buonpane
Subject: Re: Lorimer Road Improvements
Hello Nick and Louis,
I apologize for not responding to your request for a meeting sooner, but I hope getting back to you in approximately 48 hours is acceptable.
I am a homeschooling mom, and I am with my children all day attending groups, classes, and other programs during your office hours. It is not easy for me to meet during weekday hours without them. In order to find appropriate child care, I need some ideas about your availability to meet. That would help my planning immensely.  I am unfortunately headed out of town tonight through Sunday. Monday through Wednesday are quite full, so Thursday is the earliest I could consider meeting.
In order to eliminate extra emails, I would like to respond to your most recent email to me, Nick.
There were many unanswered questions from my original response to your initial email, as you can see below. I asked about contacting Jimmy Upchurch directly due to Chris Jonhson’s request to direct my questions to himself and Jimmy. I also included Donetta Powell, as she was the staff appointed to answering resident questions regarding the petition, design and construction processes.
Some of the contradictory information I alluded to previously involve the design process. There are four different versions of when and how residents will be able to have input into the process. Donna Burford, the petitioner, in conversations with residents is roughly quoted as saying, “sign now, we can work out the details later.” And even, “this is a preliminary petition.” Donetta Powell told Ryan Barnum before he signed that there would be three meetings during the design process for resident input. Kay Crowder told Jane Fenn that residents have two opportunities to do so. Jimmy Upchurch told me that one public viewing occurs when the project is around 60% complete. Adjustments are potentially made based on direct conversations between individual property owners and individual engineers, at that time.
 
This is just one example of the lacking clarity around the processes that residents desperately want answers to. When you say that administrative staff has ordered no one to meet with us around this improvement project, are you saying that questions around the next phase of the project are also to not be answered at a neighborhood meeting?
Additionally, are the questions I posed with regards to residents not on Lorimer Road who have erosion and stormwater issues also not to be addressed at neighborhood meetings by appropriate city staff?
Who exactly in the administration “has asked that staff not attend any meetings regarding this project?” I think neighbors will ask me for specific details, as they surely know that not all City of Raleigh staff refuses to meet with them. We would like to continue having good relations as citizens, residents and neighbors of the city at large.
Thank you for the specific information about recourse the neighborhood has with regards to the unhappiness surrounding the Council’s decision. Again, this was something we had not been able to find clear answers to.
One last thing, and I apologize for this lengthy email, but do I need to forward these emails to Chris Johnson as he requested? And do I need to personally invite Kay Crowder, Russ Stephenson, and Mary Ann Baldwin to neighborhood meetings since they all represent us, or will you do that on my behalf? If going through you is the administration’s preference, could you please copy me on any emails on which you are speaking on my behalf?
Thank you both for enduring this lengthy email. It is such a complicated issue, I know.
Sincerely,
Erin Salmon