It says a lot about these folks that they are now flying under the flag of ‘Smart Growth Democrats’ and not Deaniacs (rhymes with maniacs) anymore.
Who are these folks? They are the Democrat equivalent of ‘flat-earthers.’ They are so far left they’ve fallen off the edge of the map and what’s frightening is they have two of their own – Russell Stephenson and Thomas Crowder – on the City Council.
What’s their agenda?
Well, they’re attacking fellow Democrat Jessie Taliaferro because she supported putting a swimming pool for underprivileged kids in a city park. The Deaniacs seem to think those kids will just sit in that park and contemplate the beauty of nature if that pool is not built.
These folks are also for bigger sidewalks and narrower streets and one suspects their idea of traffic control is to create total gridlock to force everyone to ride buses or light rail.
They’re big on ‘pedestrian friendly neighborhoods’ which sounds nice but what they mean is walking to the bus stop instead of taking your car.
They hate ‘sprawl’ – which means if you want a house with a lawn forget it. Everyone should be crammed into the littlest space possible, preferably around the two light rail stops downtown.
They speak of Atlanta – when they talk about unsmart growth – as if it were Sodom. I wonder what they think of Manhattan?
And now they’ve got their sights set on The Planning Commission.
Why does that matter? I had never heard of The Planning Commission until two months ago. It turns out this august entity controls what buildings and neighborhoods get approved and much of the growth in Raleigh. So the Deaniacs want to get their hands on the throat of much of Raleigh’s economic and cultural life; then they can tell the rest of us – who don’t have enough sense to appreciate the virtues of ‘Smart Growth’ – how to live.
The politics of this is pretty interesting. There are eight members of the City Council.
As I mentioned, two of them – Councilman Thomas Crowder and Russell Stephenson – are blood brothers of the Deaniacs.
Mayor Meeker is adroitly trying to keep a foot in several camps. He’s a ‘fellow traveler’ of the Deaniacs on a lot of issues like the TTA but he also is trying to keep his fences mended with the Democrat establishment. The Mayor’s basic philosophy seems to be he’s for more: more taxes, more government. He also has an establishment Democrats interest in the subtleties of making government work for him and his political cronies. He’s for more of anything he can get taxpayer’s to pay for or subsidize downtown: Convention Centers, hotels, ritzy supermarkets. And it’s just a coincidence that his law firm’s clients include doing work related to the Convention Center and the Triangle Transit Authority, none of which generally conflicts with the Deaniacs. Instead, one suspects the Mayor’s real concern about these folks is like Gary’s – he’s figured out they may just be crazy enough to help elect a Republican Mayor.
Next there are Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro and Joyce Kekas. The Deaniacs are the radical left. Mayor Meeker is the traditional left, Council members Taliaferro and Kekas are moderate Democrats and they have parted ways with the Deaniacs on the appointments to the Planning Commission. That took real political courage. For their efforts they have been subjected to attacks from the left in their own party – no small matter of concern if you are a Democrat. And they probably can’t expect a lot of cozening from the Republicans – to their right – either. These ladies have planted their flag on the middle ground. That may sound reasonable and they’re certainly performing a public service to Raleigh by not cow-towing to the Deaniacs but now they have to watch both flanks.
There are also two Republican voices crying out in the Wilderness on the Council, Phillip Isley and Thomas Craven. The eighth member is Councilman James West and since it takes five votes to elect a Planning Commission member his vote in the race between Charles Walker and Rev. Renee Bethea is crucial when the Council meets in January.
The Deaniacs want Rev. Bethea. They say Walker is disqualified because he is, god forbid, a Republican, and because he builds things. He is pro-growth and I guess he must not be politically correct on wider sidewalks and narrower streets.
They are for Rev. Bethea (who was recruited to run by Deaniac Councilman Thomas Crowder), they say, because she is an African-American and a woman. But one suspects she may also be politically correct on wider sidewalks and narrower streets.
This is the Deaniacs first attempt to flex their political muscles since last falls elections. It is going to be interesting to see how they fare. And I do agree with Gary on that point: The better they do the more chance there will be of electing a Republican Mayor in two years.