A week after losing the District A race to challenger Wayne Maiorano, Councilor Randy Stagner went on the record to denounce reporting by the News & Observer.
Stagner said that the News & Observer reported, “first as innuendo and then as fact,” that former City Manager Russell Allen was fired, in part, over a disagreement about reserved parking spaces.
The comments came at the end of Tuesday’s 4-hour City Council meeting during a time in which councilors are free to bring anything to the table for discussion, observation or review.
Allen was terminated in April, when the City Council voted 6 to 2 against renewing his contract. Allen had been with the city for more than a decade; his unexpected ouster caused confusion and speculation throughout Raleigh.
Councilors recently hired Charlotte Assistant City Manager Ruffin Hall as the next city manager.
Reading from a prepared statement, Stagner said that Councilors are legally prohibited from revealing what was said during personnel discussions, but said that during talks with the full Council, “No issue of parking was ever discussed with regard to the city manager’s contract,” he said.
“If any member of this Council believes that the City Manager was dismissed over a parking issue, let them speak now,” Stagner said.
His request was met with silence.
The original story was picked up by Governing magazine, which charged that Raleigh City Councilors are too involved in the day-to-day operations of the city.
Raleigh’s charter dictates that while the City Council is in charge of law- and policy-making, the city manager is responsible for everyday operations.
Maiorano used the reporting as part of his campaign against the one-term councilor. The News & Observer used the debacle as a reason to endorse Maiorano.
Maiorano took Stagner’s Council seat in last week’s election by 250 votes.
Stagner said the newspaper spread misinformation and owed the citizens of Raleigh an apology.
In response to the Record’s request for comment, N&O Senior Editor Dan Barkin said, “We think our reporter, Colin Campbell, fairly and accurately covered the dismissal of the former city manager.”