Magazine zings Raleigh City Council

July 4, 2013 2:21:30 PM PDT
Members of the Raleigh City Council have been called out in a national publication for what it calls "overdoing hands-on government." It's new fallout from the firing of City Manager Russell Allen.

Usually, when you see Raleigh's name in a magazine, it seems it's on a "best of" list or something, but not this time. The most recent issue of Governing Magazine slams Raleigh for showing Allen the door back in April.

The magazine accuses the council of "confusing governing with administering." Sources say all the city councilors were sent the article. Mayor Nancy McFarlane told ABC11 she's none too happy about it.

"They cited some specific emails that were pulled out, but that was really not indicative of what went into a very complicated decision," she explained.

McFarlane wouldn't say what - if anything - Allen did wrong and she doesn't have to. The city manager serves at the pleasure of the council. Their decision to fire him - mid-contract - was made behind closed doors and is considered a personnel matter.  

Three months later, all the mayor would say about it is: "We as a council understand that Raleigh is changing and growing and the city manager that was here did a great job, but we're going to need a different skill set going forward."

Not everyone agreed. The vote to fire Allen was six to two. Mary Ann Baldwin voted to keep him on.

"I thought the timing was bad and I didn't think he did anything to warrant being fired," she told ABC11.

Asked if she felt firing the city manager was overreaching, Baldwin said: "I think there was some overreaching."

McFarlane had a different take.

"No. We do what we are supposed to do and that is to make decisions for the good of the city," she said.

The two city leaders found common ground in criticizing the Governing Magazine article itself.

"I just want to find the best possible person, I think an article like that hurts our chances and I think through our actions we have to demonstrate that we're not here to micromanage, we're here to find the best possible person," said Baldwin.

The search could take more than six months. In the meantime, city taxpayers will foot the bill for the rest of Allen's more than $230,000 salary. The council - not to confuse governing with administering, as the article suggests - will turn to Acting City Manager Perry James to keep Raleigh running.

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