The big news in Durham today is, no surprise, the release of the audit report on excessive overtime paid to a DPD officer.
Deputy chief B.J. Council is out of the force, wrapping up items this week and taking leave through December, at which time she will retire. City manager Tom Bonfield cited privacy laws in not discussing the status of Alesha Robinson-Taylor, who received the OT pay -- pay that was signed off by deputy chief Council directly after Robinson-Taylor's supervisor raised red flags over the pay. (Council in the audit reports defends the allowed OT, saying that it was equitable since Robinson-Taylor wasn't allowed to work the kinds of secondary jobs she oversaw herself -- a curious stance for the use of City money, and one we expect helped cost her her job.)
Chief Jose Lopez still has his job, although the audit revealed that the matter escalated to him this summer, at which time he didn't take the position that the situation was unreasonable. Bonfield noted Lopez's presence at yesterday's press conference and said he has full confidence in the chief -- but we at BCR would be shocked if Lopez isn't on a much shorter leash than he had been.
City Council members have been supportive of Bonfield's swift and decisive action on the matter, including both the speed and thoroughness of the audit as well as the actions taken, including the call for restitution of the funds.
That supportiveness has extended to most of this year's slate of Council candidates, too.
Donald Hughes wants to make sure the City's audit oversight committee is scrutinizing figures closely, though Mayor Bell notes that that committee reviewed the last audit of DPD overtime and found few issues. (The Robinson-Taylor affair happened since that audit.) Sylvester Williams tells the H-S that DPD officers are underpaid and that Council -- whose departure he seemed to characterize as a loss for the City -- seemed to be "trying to compensate for underpayment" of an officer.
Other candidates pressed for improvements here and there, but the general sense seems to be that the issue was handled well.
In other news:
Broad St. Cafe Quiet After 10: We reported here earlier this year on complaints from a neighbor of Broad Street Cafe over their music performances, and that complaint has come to roost in the form of a finding by zoning inspectors that music performances after 10 pm at the popular Broad St. establishment are in violation of their permit as a restaurant. The Cafe promises to get the necessary minor special use permit, which will require a visit to the Board of Adjustment; the neighbor, Waldo Fenner, wants a better fence -- or to have the city and the business buy him out. (Herald-Sun)
Duke Nets $75 in Stimulus Bucks: David Price's district here in the Triangle got 80% of the 521 federal stimulus money grants for science; Duke brought home almost half of those for $75 million plus in funding, with UNC getting most of the rest. (N&O)
WSJ Says Region a Youth Magnet: The Wall St. Journal ranked the Triangle region as eighth in the country as a "youth magnet" region for young professionals looking to the recession's end -- even if they got the name of the region wrong in their online view, calling it "Raleigh-" in a graphic will subtitling the photo "Durham," as fellow blogger Steve noted. (N&O)