N&O Editorial (2/26/2017)

Raleigh wisely limits council members from meddling in staff work

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Staff members of the city of Raleigh need to consider issues such as zoning or the organization of festivals or establishing bike lanes without interference from City Council members. And let’s give credit to the history of councils, most members of which respect the city staff and recognize that political interference is harmful at worst and inappropriate at best.

Council members insist new code of conduct rules prohibiting direct contact from council members with city staff and advisory boards aren’t aimed at one incident or one member, but rather are intended to minimize political influence.

Raleigh’s form of government puts much trust in staff, and on issues large and small that trust has been proven well-placed. This will ensure that staff will be able to operate with the independence that’s needed on sometimes contentious issues.

This is a good rule to install before a problem arises. And it’s not as if council members don’t wield plenty of influence whether they’re talking directly to city staff or not. Council member Bonner Gaylor made a salient point in saying that all bucks stop in one place.

“We have a seat at the table,” he said. “which is where we’re sitting right now.”

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