by Bob Geary
The good news out of yesterday's Wake Commissioners meeting: The Athens Drive community library, unique for its location in Athens Drive High School, will survive as the county's only shared community-school library. Amazing that this good idea, which I extolled in the Indy last week, has never been replicated.
The bad news: The 4-3 vote in favor of restoring the county's contribution to the library (it would've reverted to a traditional high school library otherwise) came instead of Commissioner Stan Norwalk's effort to add the library funds ($212,000 for Athens Drive) plus an extra $5.6 million for social services programs and $3.3 million for the Wake Board of Education's budget. These small numbers in a budget totaling some $950 million.
Norwalk, a Democrat, was backed by two of his three Democratic mates, Commissioners Harold Webb and Betty Lou Ward, on the supposed Democrat-majority board. But the fourth Democrat, Lindy Brown, aligned with the three Republicans to defeat Norwalk's plan. The Republicans, and Brown, argued that spending the extra money -- and taking it from reserves -- might force a future tax hike. Yes, Norwalk said, if the economy doesn't improve. But that's a maybe, whereas the damage to current programs for kids and the poor is a certainty. The News & Observer, conveying its view that Norwalk's position was was much ado about nothing, covered it under the headline "Crotchety Wake Board Settles."