Mayor Murphy appears on NCSPIN

This week we have a special edition of NC SPIN featuring four Mayors from North Carolina. They include:

Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh
Mayor Bill Bell, Durham
Mayor Jill Swain, Huntersville
Mayor B.J. Murphy, Kinston

Carolina Journal: Kinston Mayoral Veto

Referendum on Nov. 8 ballot would make mayor ‘more than a figurehead’

By Karen Welsh

Nov. 2nd, 2011

KINSTON — If the “yea” votes have it, Kinston could be one of the only towns in North Carolina to give its mayor veto power. Local voters will decide the matter in a referendum scheduled for the Nov. 8 ballot.

Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, introduced House Bill 310, also known as the Mayoral Veto Bill, in the General Assembly last spring after Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy requested the action. The bill passed unanimously, making way for the proposition to be brought before the people.

If passed, the mayor will have seven days to veto any action taken by the council. The vetoed item would be placed immediately on the next agenda for consideration, and four of the five council members would have to vote for the measure to override the mayor’s veto. 

Charlotte is the only city in North Carolina that gives its mayor veto powers. The General Assembly controls the charters of all cities, towns, and villages in the state, so legislative action was required to give Kinston voters the opportunity to decide it they wanted a mayoral veto.

Murphy, 30, was the youngest mayor on record in the state when he was sworn in Dec. 7, 2009. He battled with city council members over House Bill 5, a measure that would have repealed forced annexation in Kinston. The mayor favored H.B. 5 and let constituents know by sending them a message on official letterhead detailing his position on the matter. (The bill passed the House and is pending in the Senate.)

During a Feb. 12 council meeting, Murphy said he was both chastised and marginalized. He said the council voted 4-1 to remove him from the Highway 70 Corridor Commission and 3-2 to remove the mayor’s signature from documents and ordinances unless he received the council’s express permission.

“It was a personal vendetta,” he said. “It was all in the same breath as forced annexation, and they were trying to send a message to me.”

After the confrontation, Murphy decided the mayor should be more than a figurehead and should have the right to veto council decisions.

“The mayor is the chief elected official, as duly elected as the council, but has no formal say in the budget, hiring, or day-to-day items,” he said. “Yet the mayor is still held accountable for those decisions by the people. The mayor having veto power would be in the citizens’ best interest. It would provide a series of checks and balances.”

LaRoque said he responded with H.B. 310 after Murphy inquired about securing veto power. LaRoque said it made sense for the mayor to have a veto because it not only allows more deliberation before final council actions are taken, but also adds a needed cooling-off period when hotly contested issues arise.

“Right now, the position is more ceremonial and has no real authority,” LaRoque said. “The mayor should have some ability to direct policy instead of a bully pulpit. I know the mayor of Kinston would appreciate having it.”

Councilwoman Alice Tingle disagrees with both Murphy and LaRoque. She said Kinston’s mayor has a distinct, clear, and “very powerful role” as a spokesman for the city and a meeting manager, and that shouldn’t change.

Tingle said H.B 310 should have a broader scope.

“I look at it this way,” she said. “If Steven LaRoque pushed this for Lenoir County, then why didn’t he push it for the other counties he represents, or for the entire state? Why is he picking on Kinston?”

LaRoque said he would be willing to introduce a new bill before the House of Representatives allowing any mayor in his district who wants to change his role from passive to active. “I think all the mayors are going to want to have veto power if it passes in Kinston,” he said. “I would run legislation for any mayor if it was requested.”

LaRoque said he isn’t surprised that most council members are opposed to the mayor having veto power.

“Certain people don’t like other people to have extra authority,” he said. “But we’ll let the voters decide for themselves in the upcoming election.” 

Karen Welsh is a contributor to Carolina Journal.


Podcast Interview with the KFP

by Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson 

Free Press Radio Program Seven:

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy joins Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson on this week’s Free Press Radio Program to talk about everything going on in the city, including the mayoral veto, the proposed Kinston Bypass and many other things. Hanks and Dawson also lament the break-up of R.E.M. and the expansion of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

  To listen:Click on the link below to download this episode. Depending on the speed of your internet connection the podcast may be accessed by clicking on the link once with the left side of your mouse, or by clicking on each link with the right side of your mouse and choosing the “save target as” option:

Free Press Radio Program Seven – Interview  starts at 8:05

Topics Covered:
Facebook changes
2009 campaign for mayor
2011 voter turnout
Outgoing City Council members
Nonpartisan elections and USDOJ
Mayoral veto
Hwy 70 bypass
Forced annexation
City Manager vacancy
Electric and water rates
My future
GOP Presidential race
I’ll be a new daddy again!

“Everyone has an ego to an extent and it’s a matter of how you control it.”

“Even during all my wins [I try to] be humble about it.  And, during my losses it reminds me about why I’m humble about my wins.”

“Wherever the Lord leads me I will certainly go.”

KFP: City Council makes mayor’s signature superfluous on 3-2 vote

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

Kinston City Council members at odds with Mayor B.J. Murphy over involuntary annexation and other issues can’t make him irrelevant, but they have taken a step to marginalize him.

As of Monday, Murphy’s signature on any council-approved document is unnecessary.

In a motion that passed 3-2, Councilman Joe Tyson proposed having City Manager Scott Stevens sign any document the council has approved by “a majority, plurality or unanimous vote.”

City Attorney Jim Cauley advised there is no policy requiring the mayor to sign all council resolutions and ordinances, except in certain cases, such as cemetery documents.

Mayor B.J. Murphy irked the council twice in recent months by declining to sign council-approved measures that he did not support.

“Coming from a constructive dialogue, the mayor is not elected by the council members but by the people,” Murphy said Tuesday. “My positions on forced annexation and many others have been widely known for many years. It is unfortunate that expressing a particular point of view has turned into not just political but personal attacks.”

Read Full Story…

KFP Blog: Ready to get back in the saddle

by Bryan Hanks
Kinston Free Press

While I’ve been away from Kinston, I’ve still been keeping up with everything going on, thanks to reporters David Anderson, Wesley Brown, Justin Hill, Jon Dawson and Jane Moon. Some quick-hit observations from afar:

  • Kudos to Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy for not rubber-stamping the City Council’s correspondence to the N.C. legislature regarding N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque’s anti-annexation bill. It would’ve been incredibly easy for Murphy to just sign off on it – but he took the harder (and more honorable) road by refusing to put his name on something he simply doesn’t believe in.
  • Anyone who thinks the City Council’s petulant act in taking Murphy off the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission wasn’t “payback” is either incredibly naïve or stupid. As I said about this matter on my blog, it’s the council’s prerogative and right to do whatever they want … but at least admit that’s what it was instead of being mealy-mouthed and claiming that being vengeful had nothing to do with your decision.

Read Full Story…

KFP Blog: Murphy Drops His Gloves

by Bryan Hanks
Kinston Free Press

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy sent a letter to the state legislature expressing his support of N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque’s House Bill 5, which would stop the city’s un-American annexing of new portions of Lenoir County into the city’s folds.

As a result, the Kinston City Council — a 4-1 vote (the “no” vote came from Will Barker) — voted to take Murphy off the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission.

My take: Incredibly childish by the city council, but well within their rights.

I’ll say this about Mr. Murphy….

Read More…

KFP: Mayor, council spar over annexation

by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press

Although Mayor B.J. Murphy has made his views against annexation very clear, a letter he wrote expressing those views recently has raised the hackles of the members of the Kinston City Council.

Council members expressed their displeasure at the letter during the opening of the recent city budget and planning retreat, mainly because they did not know Murphy had sent it.

The council had voted unanimously last Monday to have Murphy represent the city on the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission in place of city Streets Superintendent Brian Lucas, who has been on the commission for about two years.

But, following the discussion at the retreat on Murphy’s letter, Tingle made a motion to remove Murphy from the commission and reinstate Lucas.

Councilman Joe Tyson seconded the motion and the council voted 4-1 in favor; Councilman Will Barker voted against.

Read More…