Statement on Raleigh’s Code of Conduct

Raleigh recently adopted a new Code of Conduct to regulate the behavior of City Council Members.

I voted against the Code of Conduct. In fact, I was the lone dissenting vote.

In general I agree with much of what is in the document. There is language about treating others with respect and using the manners that most of us learn from an early age – like not interrupting when another person is speaking. In general, the parts of the Code of Conduct that address “how” we behave are fine.

Where I disagree are with parts of the Code of Conduct that discourage or prohibit “what” we can say in public and “with whom” we can associate with in public.

There is language in the code of conduct that discourages even the mere attendance at public meetings. For example, if constituents that I represent have a concern about a rezoning case, I am discouraged from attending a meeting of the Planning Commission to hear the arguments of the case – even if I were to simply sit quietly in the back of the auditorium only to listen.

When a Councilor does speak in public, the Code of Conduct admonishes, “Keep your political support and opinions away from public forums.”

However, it is OK to talk privately with people and express one’s views. For example, the practice of privately meeting with developers and their lobbyists about rezoning cases can continue unimpeded. In fact, some Councilors will call developers to advise them that they can or cannot vote for a rezoning. Sometimes you will hear that a developer has withdrawn a rezoning case. Very often that is because a Councilor has told the developer that he or she doesn’t have the votes.

Fundamentally, the parts of the Code of Conduct that limit with whom one can associate with and what one can say in public are the parts that I disagree with. They are fundamentally in conflict with the First Amendment that prevents government from abridging the right of free speech and the right to assemble in public.

In my opinion, these limitations should be removed from the Code of Conduct.

This is particularly true about rezoning cases. Developers have deep pockets and often the backing of third parties such as large corporations that want to build the next hotel, grocery store, or shopping center. They hire expensive attorneys to represent them and protect their interests. I have seen cases where developers have hired professional public relations firms and professional lobbyists. And these small armies come to the offices of the City Council to meet with Councilors and the Mayor to wage campaigns that can last for a year or more.

In contrast, you the homeowner, cannot afford to compete. Often, the only resource you have is me, your District Councilor, that you voted for to represent you.

And now, by the City’s Code of Conduct, representing you is the one thing I cannot do in public. I fundamentally disagree with these restrictions and that is largely why I voted against the Code of Conduct.

And, now for the disclaimer (as required by the Code of Conduct): “This is the opinion of the individual and not the opinion of the City of Raleigh.”

City Should Provide Treatment for Autism

At Tuesday’s Council meeting I asked the City Manager to look into providing health insurance coverage for the treatment Autism for the children of City employees (such coverage is not now provided):

Mr. Manager,

One of the key focus areas of the City’s strategic plan is a safe, vibrant, and healthy community.

It has come to my attention that the City’s health insurance does not provide coverage for a treatment known as Applied Behavioral Analysis (or ABA) for children of City employees who have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

ABA is recognized as an effective treatment of Autism. In October 2015 Governor McCrory signed into law Senate Bill 676, “An Act to Provide Coverage for the Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder” to provide coverage for ABA. This law went into effect July 1, 2016.

A number of organizations supported SB 676. These include:

• The Autism Society of North Carolina
• The Arc of North Carolina
• TEACCH Autism Program
• Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development
• North Carolina Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
• North Carolina Pediatric Society
• North Carolina Psychiatric Association
• North Carolina Psychological Association
• Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

By passing Senate Bill 676 North Carolina joined more than 40 states in the Country to provide coverage for ABA.

As a consequence of wide spread recognition and support for Applied Behavioral Analysis as a treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, I ask that staff consider adding coverage for ABA to the City’s health insurance plan in conformance with SB 676. Doing so will provide much needed support for the children and families of the City’s employees and will help us move towards our goal of a safe, vibrant, and healthy community for all – especially those of our community who are most vulnerable.

Citizens Think Raleigh is Great – And Raleigh is Great Because of its Citizens


This past week Raleigh City Council held its annual retreat.  During the retreat we learned the results of a formally conducted Citizens survey.  More than 90% of Raleigh’s citizens rated the City as a good or excellent place to live.  And citizens view Raleigh as one of the safest communities in the Country.

Now that the retreat is over, I would like to reflect on some of what makes Raleigh such a great City.  To begin are Raleigh’s Citizen Advisory Councils.

Raleigh has a unique, long standing institution known as the Citizens Advisory Councils (or CACs).  There are nineteen CACs in Raleigh serving nineteen different geographic regions of the City.  They meet regularly at locations convenient to their region.  All citizens are invited to attend and participate in those meetings to discuss matters of the day and matters affecting the lives of those who live in the area served by the CAC.

The vision of the Citizen Advisory Councils is “A better City through citizen participation.”  Two key actions of the CACs are:

  • Advise the Raleigh City Council on matters affecting the well-being of the citizens
  •  Communicate its views on relevant matters to the City Council and other governing boards, agencies, institutions and officials

Communication is not a one-way street.  Communication is a dialog between Citizens and their elected officials.  I attend numerous CAC meetings to hear the concerns of citizens, to ask questions, to answer questions, and to share my own thoughts and opinions about those matters that are important to my fellow citizens.

I  ran for City Council because at the time I felt that some on Council were veering away from Citizen participation.  I ran on the promise to not make decisions in a vacuum.  That is why I attend Citizen Advisory Council meetings and that is why plan to continue to attend during my tenure on City Council.

I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


I sent the following email to the City Manager just now and copied the Mayor and the rest of Council:

Mr. Hall,

Last night I was informed by one of my neighbors that Z-15-16 was updated to PD on the City’s current development webpage. According to the date on the website, the update was available or posted to the website January 26. I received no notification that I am aware of about this update.

One thing that I would like to add for our retreat agenda is how council members can be notified and informed of activity that is of interest to them. As a district Councilor, I like to know when activities happen in District B. For example, when zoning requests are added or changed in District B, I would like to receive notification. Similarly, when capital improvement projects in District B are started or reach milestones, I would like to be notified. Another example is the sidewalks being installed on New Hope Church Rd. I only learned about their construction because I happened to drive by that location and noticed it.

Regarding Z-15-16, I took a look at it and I find no significant differences. It continues to allow a 50,000 square foot grocery anchor store, allows extensive other retail, continues to have a huge traffic impact, and does not address – intentionally ignores – the 40% forestation requirement. In short, the proposal changes the character of the area too much. Furthermore, this update was submitted without any interaction whatsoever with the community.

I am seriously considering making a motion at our next Council meeting to deny this case.

David Cox

Raleigh City Council Member, District B

Raleigh City Council Retreat – 2017

This year’s City Council retreat will be held February 8,9, and 10 at the NC Museum of Art. All meetings are open to the public.

Agenda, Day One (1:00 to 5:00 pm, Feb 8)

1) Welcome/Introduction
2) Governing Role
3) Legislative Relations

Agenda, Day Two (9:00 to 5:00 pm, Feb 9)

1) Citizen Survey Results
2) Strategic Plan Organizational Update
3) Review of Strategic Plan by Key Focus Areas

Agenda, Day Three (9:00 to 2:00 pm, Feb 10)

1) Continue Review of Strategic Plan
2) Budget and Finance Update
3) Closing / Next Steps

Regarding Day One, the Legislative Relations session might be of interest. Did you know that the City has its own lobbyist? The City’s lobbyist is Mr. Phillip Isley, former City Councilor.

Regarding Day Two, the Citizen Survey Results might be also be of interest. Did you complete the survey? We on Council have not been provided a copy of the survey results. If you happen to have completed the survey, I’d be interested in hearing your opinion.

Regarding Day Three, the budget will be of obvious interest. So far, Council has received no information regarding the pay study. Whether this update addresses the pay study and what we need to do to address deficiencies in pay remains to be seen.

Abbotts Creek Trail – Blue Heron Haven

It’s that time of year folks.  The Blue Heron have begun nesting again along one of District B’s gems – the Abbotts Creek Trail.  The trail is a spur off of the Neuse River Greenway in North Raleigh.

There is a convenient parking lot at the very end of Bedfordtown Drive.  After parking your car, follow the path to the T.  Take a right and you are now on the Neuse River Greenway.  Follow the greenway a short distance (you will cross one bridge) and you will come upon Abbotts Creek Trail on the right.  It is well marked with a trail sign.  Follow Abbotts Creek until you reach a long bridge that spans a wide swampy area.  The herons will be in the trees to your left.  If at first you don’t see them, simply wait.  One will soon fly in for a landing.  And you can’t help but hear them.

Be sure to bring binoculars for the best view.  The photos below were taken with a 250mm zoom lens.