David Cox Goes on a NIMBY Rampage

David Cox was furious.

A few weeks earlier, he and fellow Raleigh City Council member Russ Stephenson had a meeting with Robert Massengill, the city’s public utilities director, about the Brentwood Water Main project. Cox wanted Massengill to change course and not run sewer lines through the backyards of a dozen properties on Ingram Drive in Northeast Raleigh.

He’d heard from a constituent, Lorilyn Bailey, who owns two properties along Ingram Drive and who had complained to him about the city’s plans to tear down her trees and dig up her yard. Cox wanted to intercede on her behalf. He came away thinking Massengill had seen the light.

But then he learned that the city had sent the residents letters to begin easement negotiations. The project was proceeding against Cox’s wishes.

He was enraged, and he wanted something done about it.

“I consider this matter to be of the utmost importance and seriousness,” Cox thundered in a December 19 email to the city council, city manager Ruffin Hall, and city attorney Robin Tatum Currin. “We have received no report and no opportunity to consider options. Any communications to begin easement acquisition should not have been sent. Furthermore, I am concerned that I, as a Council member, have been seriously misled in this matter either accidentally or willfully. I consider this matter so serious that I am requesting that it be looked into independently by the City Attorney and that corrective action, including disciplinary action, be taken immediately.”

Word of this email circulated around City Hall. Several city sources saw it as Cox calling for Massengill’s head. If nothing else, it was a message, a shot across the bow: Don’t cross me.

This wasn’t the first time Cox had lashed out at staff, they say. Five City Hall sources say Cox has repeatedly berated and sought recriminations against staff members whom he perceived to have acted contrary to his desires. According to these staffers, many employees are afraid to push back for fear their jobs may be at risk.

“I’ve seen it from the inside, and I’ve seen the berating of staff over some of these issues,” says a high-ranking staffer. “It’s pretty embarrassing. David, he’s got his worldview, and if you don’t agree with his worldview, you’re wrong, and there’s no amount of evidence or information you can provide. He will dismiss it.” ...
— Leigh Tauss - INDY Week
Brent Woodcox