by Jane Porter
Nearly 600 members of the state party executive committee are scheduled to meet in Raleigh Saturday to vote on the removal of chairman Hasan Harnett. Harnett, from Harrisburg, faces a litany of accusations involving what critics say has been poor and incompetent leadership.3. On the local tip, an anti-abortion group wants to open up shop right next door to an abortion clinic on Jones Franklin Road in West Raleigh. They swear, it's just a coincidence! Either way the Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center will have to get approval for land rezoning first, which means local CAC to Raleigh Planning Commission to City Council. They went to the CAC last night:
This week seven former chairs, including Pope, Hayes and Hastings, wrote executive committee members saying they are “disappointed and even appalled” at Harnett’s actions.
Harnett was elected last year with the help of tea party and grassroots activists. He upset a candidate backed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the state’s two U.S. senators and the party establishment.
“The situation that the party’s in now is not altogether different from when I was elected chairman,” said Hayes, a former congressman who led the party from 2011-2013. “The most effective and best way to deal with this situation is to be a good listener. When people realize they’re being heard, and have a seat at the table, things seem to work out.”
Pope said although he’s been approached, he doesn’t want the job.
“I would do if compelled to (but) I don’t want to do it,” he said. “I do think we need somebody who has been in that job before or who can command the respect of the broadest base of the party we can.…
“Whoever fills that job is going to have their hands full with the grassroots activists, but they’re going to immediately have to go into election mode.”
Hand of Hope owns the property next to Preferred Women’s Health Center and wants it rezoned from residential to commercial, in order to relocate from leased space it occupies on Jones Franklin further away from Preferred. Its supporters say Hand of Hope would save money and get it closer to potential clients.The CAC voted 30-17 in favor of the rezoning. Call me cynical but this sounds like a tactic to
People opposed to the rezoning told the neighborhood advisory group that they fear Hand of Hope, or its allies, would harass women seeking services at Preferred Women’s Health Center if allowed to locate next door.
“Those are the kinds of things they do,” said Leigh Sanders, who lives on Octavia Street. Sanders said she hopes that if the rezoning is granted, the city requires Hand of Hope to erect a fence on its border with the abortion clinic.
“Neighborhood conflict is something that we should all be concerned with,” said Darcy Downs, an opponent of the rezoning who lives on Melbourne Road.
Tonya Baker Nelson, founder and executive director of Hand of Hope, said they have nothing to worry about. Anti-abortion activists sometimes protest at the abortion clinic, but those protesters aren’t affiliated with Hand of Hope, she said.
“We do not protest and we will not allow people to protest on our property,” Nelson said. “And we don’t need to stand on the corner to try to get people to come see us.”
Other speakers supported the rezoning.
“You have one who is, let’s call it pro-choice, and the other is pro-life. Let the woman decide,” said Dennis Hulick, who lives on Wade Park Boulevard. “They’re both right there, and they’re both about health care. So why not have them there?”
Representatives of the Preferred Women’s Health Center didn’t respond to a request for comment.