Durham County

Bull City Politics: All those bikes, 'shared prosperity' and 'awesome bathrooms'

Spin is one of three dockless bike share programs that have started in Durham since November. LimeBike and Ofo also operate in the city.
Spin is one of three dockless bike share programs that have started in Durham since November. LimeBike and Ofo also operate in the city. Courtesy of Threw the Lens

Welcome to Bull City Politics, where I tell you what's going on in Durham and what your elected leaders are doing. Follow me on Twitter at @dawnbvaughan and #BullCitypol.

'Shared prosperity'

As Andre Pettigrew told the City Council this week: "I think you all know we’re growing and the economy is strong."

Pettigrew runs the Durham Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

So what does 'shared prosperity for all' — the city's stated goal — actually mean? The City Council and staff are working on it. Every time a project or report comes up, one them, usually DeDreana Freeman, asks if a racial equity lens was used. She'll ask exactly how a contractor recruited employees. And council member Javiera Caballero usually asks if a survey or other paperwork was also provided in Spanish.

Pettigrew said Wednesday that far too many people are finding Durham's jobs and business opportunities elusive.

Their worst fears, he said, are that they're not part of the city's future.

Here a bike, there a bike, everywhere a bike bike

Bike shares descended on Durham last year, with companies crowding into downtown with LimeBike, Ofo and Spin, and their green, yellow and orange bikes, respectively.

But sometimes those bikes are left on sidewalks, in the way of people trying to get by them. The transportation department suggested it would be helpful if passersby just moved them, but not everyone likes that idea, according to City Council member Charlie Reece.

"The vendor knows who leaves that bicycle in that location," said Transportation Director Terry Bellamy.

Reece wants to require vendors to respond to complaints about bikes. He'd also like to see marked-off bike share parking on CCB Plaza and elsewhere downtown.

"A big part of my time walking downtown is spent moving these bikes," Reece said.

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'Bathroom capital of awesome bathrooms'

The city has a lot of public art, from sculptures downtown and in Durham Central Park, to well ... even bathrooms soon.

The next round of public art projects will be five murals in city parks and two murals on parking signal boxes.

Here are the artists and where the murals will be:

Sarahlaine Calva of Raleigh, mural on the renovated bathroom facility at East End Park.

Cornelio Campos of Durham, mural at Solite Park.

Dare Coulter of Fuquay-Varina, mural on renovated bathrooms at Whippoorwill Park.

Will Dove of Durham, mural on renovated bathrooms at Sherwood Park.

Jermaine Powell of Fuquay-Varina, mural on renovated bathrooms at Garrett Road Park.

Bethany Bash of Durham, mural on the traffic control box at the intersection of Anderson, Main and 15th streets.

Candy Carver of Durham, mural on the traffic control box at the intersection of Chapel Hill, Morris and Main streets downtown.

Their artwork should be finished this summer.

Thomas Dawson, Parks and Recreation assistant director, told the City Council that Durham could become the "bathroom capital of awesome bathrooms in Durham."

Outtakes

City budgets are serious business. But you can still make jokes. Especially after two long days of council budget work sessions.

Take Director of Water Management Don Greeley, talking about sewer blockages.

"I was going to say the root cause is roots — that’s silly — but it is," Greeley said, smiling.

During the second day of budget talks, the Durham Parks and Recreation Department was one of many presenting their budgets.

Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton asked them if they watch "Parks and Recreation," the fictional version of life in a city parks department. Everyone's face lit up and smiled.

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From left, Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, Retta as Donna, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins, Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt, Jim O'Heir as Jerry, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford in "Parks and Recreation." Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Dawson, the assistant director, quipped: "It's much weirder."

Leslie Knope would be so pleased, she'd probably make a binder about it.

There will be a public hearing about the proposed city budget on June 4; then the council will vote to adopt it on June 18.

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563; @dawnbvaughan
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