Rainey brings concerns to council

Council member Mike Rainey brought several concerns to the Henderson City Council at its meeting Monday night.

Rainey began his remarks by reminding the council of the proposed consolidation of the city government in the current Operations and Service Center. He noted that the issue has been put “on the back burner.” He further reminded members that the idea was first raised because of the lack of money in the city.

He expressed the hope that the new council, to be sworn in Dec. 5, will see the move to the Operations Center through.

Rainey then raised the topic of the Clean Up Henderson Committee, which he said is an asset to the community. He told the council that he supports the committee and wants it to continue.

As he went on, however, he cautioned the council: “Don’t let citizens rely on the city to provide services.” He said citizens should be encouraged to do their own cleanup.

Rainey questioned the $100,000 state grant received, as he put it, “by Harper,” a reference to council member-elect Lynn Harper, who chairs the Clean Up Henderson Committee and who defeated him in the municipal election this month.

Rainey asked, “Is this going to the city or the Clean Up Henderson Committee? What will it be used for? Do they [cleanup committee members] oversee code enforcement, or does the city?”

He went on to ask questions about the functioning of the committee as it relates to the city government. He wondered if the city will receive reimbursement for work the committee wants to be done. He also wondered if the Code Compliance Department, the council or the committee ultimately decides what work will be done.

Rainey advised council members that they should remove themselves from committees that are apart from the council. He told them that it is a conflict of interest.

Mayor Clem Seifert clarified the matter of the $100,000 grant. The grant is a direct appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly to the nonprofit 501(c)3 Friends of Clean Up Henderson. Seifert told Rainey and the council that he does not know how the funds will be spent, but he did remark that the nonprofit organization could do what the city cannot easily do regarding the disposition of private property.

Rainey said that he did not know if the committee could legally demolish a house.

Seifert replied that the object is for the nonprofit group to buy structures in question and dispose of them.

Rainey asked what would stop council members from making motions within the Clean Up Henderson Committee.

In reply, Seifert said the committee needs some “formalizing” regarding powers that are not specifically designated. Rainey said he does not want the council in “a position where it gets railroaded.”

Council member Bernard Alston said the potential exists “for the tail to wag the dog.”

Council member Harriette Butler, an original member of the cleanup committee, said she stepped down from the committee because it was a conflict of interest.

Another original committee member, council member Ranger Wilkerson, told Rainey: “I don’t see how you can say you support the committee.”

He asked Rainey whether his comments were motivated by the results of the recent election.

“I did not lose the election,” Rainey said. “I was replaced.”