Thursday, July 18, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

State grant dollars are Graham’s, not its mayor’s

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We don’t seem to be conveying very well to Graham mayor Jennifer Talley what it is that we find objectionable about her insistence on using a $600,000 state grant to put “stamped pavers” along six intersections in downtown Graham while simultaneously rejecting out of hand using any of the money for fixing, or shoring up, the foundation of the Sesquicentennial Park, also in downtown Graham.

We could commend the mayor’s initiative and creativity in “going to Raleigh,” as she repeatedly described it, to get a grant for the city. Probably a dozen or more times at last week’s meeting, everyone got to hear Talley congratulate herself for her self-described heroic efforts to get the grant.

But the grant was awarded to the city, not mayor Talley, and its use for any purpose generally benefitting the downtown area of the city complies with the terms of the grant.

State senator Amy Galey is apparently the primary legislative benefactor for the $600,000, but Galey doesn’t put the same restrictions on the use of the money that Talley does.

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First, Talley makes it sound as though she very recently requested this grant funding.  Instead, Galey says it was two years ago, in 2022.

Wheels in government – both in Raleigh and Graham – sometimes turn slowly.

In Galey’s explanation, which is quite reasonable, the request from Graham was made before Graham had even identified the Sesquicentennial Park as needing any repairs.

During last week’s meeting, when councilman Joey Parsons raised the question of whether any of the $600,000 could be used for the park’s repairs, Talley was quick to shut him down. “No, that’s not the purpose for which I got the grant,” she said.

She gave a similarly dismissive response to this newspaper’s publisher both last month and this month when the same question was posed.

We continue to believe that Talley and other council members are looking a gift horse in the mouth by not even entertaining the possibility of using some of the windfall grant money for this purpose.

Earlier this year, Talley and other council members were continually bemoaning the state of the park, with Talley even suggesting that it ought to be torn down, removed to another location, and constructing a building similar to the previous Soda Shop structure, built around 1901, to replace it.

We continue to believe the mayor is very misguided in this   obsession.

But at a minimum, she needs to learn the lesson that her individual solicitation for a grant from the state, or any other source, does not give her the right to dictate the grant’s use to the remainder of the council or the city and to insist that the money be used in a way she may prefer.

After all, it all becomes the city’s money, not Talley’s personally.  And it should be spent in a manner benefitting the entire city.

Talley’s suggestion that others could go “get their own grant” in Raleigh and then urge how the money should be spent presupposes that the grant Galey obtained is somehow Talley’s to direct.

It is not.

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