Over the weekend, residents in Raleigh’s District B—home to a contentious city council race between incumbent David Cox and Brian Fitzsimmons—received a mailer from a group called the Triangle Government Alliance

It looked like this. 

Hoo boy. 

Here’s the back. 

The mailer links to a story the INDY’s Leigh Tauss wrote in June

The Raleigh City Council will no longer allow residents to address individual council members during public comment periods.

That’s probably unconstitutional, according to a local attorney who specializes in First Amendment issues. 

The rule was changed after former Eric Braun, the former chairman of the city’s planning commission, used his allotted time during the public comment period at today’s council meeting to ask why council member David Cox forwarded a series of Braun’s tweets to the city attorney in May. 

After the public comment period ended, council member Dickie Thompson made a motion to change the city’s rules of decorum to prohibit citizens from addressing individual council members, rather than the council as a whole. The vote passed unanimously with no discussion, with Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Nicole Stewart absent.

The Triangle Government Alliance is an offshoot of the Triangle Apartment Association, which does not like David Cox because Cox is a leader of the council’s development-skeptic coalition. 

Since the mailer invoked our story, we’ll point out that the rapey imagery is gross and we object to being affiliated with it in any way. And we’d guess this particular mailer didn’t help the TAA’s cause. 

Certainly, Fitzsimmons didn’t think so. He denounced it in a Twitter thread, pointing out that, as it was an independent expenditure, he had no prior knowledge of its content and saying that he had already reached out to the TGA to condemn it.

“We can disagree on issues and do our best to hold folks accountable, even regarding the issue that is referenced in the mailer,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “But rhetoric like this does nothing to make any sort of positive change, and it needs to stop.”

Some residents in District B received a mailer today that was put together by a group called the Triangle Government Alliance. It used language and a picture that we’re both, frankly, abhorrent.— Dear Raleigh, Vote. Love, Brian. (@brianfitznc) September 28, 2019

Cox responded on Facebook: 

Yesterday, the TGA sent out a new round of mailers—this time, it seems, without the offensive images. This mailer references another INDY story, about how Cox cast the only vote against the city council’s Code of Conduct in 2017, which quoted former council member and now-mayoral candidate Mary-Ann Baldwin saying that the council updated the Code of Conduct to try to rein Cox in: 

“It was really about managing this kind of behavior,” says Baldwin, who left the council at the end of 2017. “There have been instances where Mr. Cox had attacked staff on Twitter and on social media, and those are reasons why we felt we needed some guidance with the creation of the code.”

In a statement, Triangle Apartment Association government affairs director Dustin S. Engelken told the INDY: “It’s unfortunate that some have reacted negatively to the image. We obviously in no way intended to promote violence against anyone and we deeply regret that the image we used has detracted from the underlying message that David Cox is a bully who has tried to silence citizens’ voices at City Council with whom he disagrees.”

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at jbillman@indyweek.com. 

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3 replies on “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?”

  1. Where so many liberals see a victim of violence, I see an empowered woman who is using tape over her mouth as a symbol of her struggle for free speech. This is implicit bias, implicit sexism against women. If a man were pictured, this wouldn’t have turned heads. Why is that? Because women are viewed as weak creatures who need to be protected by men like David Cox and Brian Fitzsimmons, and now by Jeffrey Billman and the patriarchal Indy. Women will never achieve equality as long as people view them as weak creatures waiting to become victims.

  2. So Councilman Cox’s official response is that while he does wish that his constituents would shut up, he would never use duct tape?

  3. Maybe some background on the Triangle Apartment Association would have been helpful, but I see you couldn’t resist spinning this in favor of your and the TAA’s shared favored candidate in Raleigh’s District B. You are hypocrites of the first degree. Bullies!

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