Friday, June 1, 2007

From the North Raleigh News

Most residents in Central Raleigh never see this supplement to the News & Observer.

This story is taken from today's edition and repeated here in its entirety.
Published: Jun 01, 2007 12:30 AM
Modified: Jun 01, 2007 03:24 AM

City ponders CACs
David Bracken, Staff Writer

Is it time to revisit the role of Raleigh's Citizen Advisory Council?

That appeared to be the consensus last month when the City Council began debating a proposed marketing plan and funding request put forward by members of the Raleigh CAC, the overall body made up of the officers of each of the 18 community CACs.

The seemingly innocuous proposal quickly led to a prolonged debate about the core mission of the RCAC, which continued the following week in the Budget and Economic Development Committee.

Some council members were concerned that the RCAC was proposing to have its own Web site and logo, a strange complaint given the city's myriad of offshoot committees that already have those things.

Others raised concerns about whether the marketing plan -- which relied heavily on e-mail and the Internet -- failed to take into account the digital divide that exists in some of the city's poorer neighborhoods.

There was even talk about trying to redraw the CAC boundaries (redistricting!), some of which haven't been touched since they were created in the 1970s.

What doesn't seem to be in dispute is that CACs play an invaluable role in solving the city's problems. Among the many beneficiaries of the work done by CACs are City Council members, who use them to stay on top of local issues.

In picking apart the RCAC proposal, the City Council is running the risk of biting the hand that feeds it. The proposal is an earnest attempt to encourage more participation in CACs, which has been in decline in recent years.

Granted, the proposal is not perfect, and a certain amount of scrutiny is warranted since it involves public money. But too much meddling on the part of the City Council will likely just frustrate the dedicated volunteers who make CACs successful.

Fashioning a citywide CAC marketing campaign that appeals to all neighborhoods is unrealistic. If the City Council has concerns about how the money's being spent, divide it up evenly among the various CACs and let them decide how to use it.

If the City Council has any other concerns, it should state them clearly and then get out the way and let the volunteers run things.

Staff writer David Bracken can be reached at 829-4548 or

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