01/09/18 — Council at odds, once again

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Council at odds, once again

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on January 9, 2018 5:50 AM

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Councilman Bevan Foster speaks during Monday night's city council meeting. An earlier discussion during the council's work session turned heated when the subject of crime data came up.

The city's methods for reporting crime statistics were up for debate Monday evening, as city councilman Bevan Foster accused Mayor Chuck Allen and City Manager Scott Stevens of being lax in their assessment of those numbers in the mayor's "State of the Community" presentation in December.

The exchange, which at times grew heated, came during the council's work session before its regular meeting Monday night.

Foster said that in the presentation, Allen used data from a report issued by a website that specializes in home security systems, www.safehome.org, naming Goldsboro one of the 25 safest cities in the state. Allen used that report to discredit another report from a different source, a real estate website called "Neighborhood Scout," which ranked the city as one of the state's most dangerous, Foster said.

The issue, he said, was that the data Allen used was from 2015, while the Neighborhood Scout report was based on 2016 data. Thus, trying to counter the Neighborhood Scout report with the positive Safe Home report was misleading, Foster alleged, because the two were not pulling from the same pool of data.

Foster said that Stevens and Allen had not done their due diligence in making sure the data was applicable, and that any attempt to discredit the Neighborhood Scout data with the previous year's numbers was tantamount to trying to "sweep it under the rug."

"You're the mayor of this city, and you did not check this email for any kind of credibility," he said to Allen, referring to the email Allen received containing the Safe Home information. "We have staff, behind staff, behind staff, behind staff, and nobody checked the credibility of this company or the information that was given."

Allen said that Foster was misinterpreting the intent behind the presentation. He said that the comparison was not meant to discredit or support either report, but to demonstrate that data can be used to make whatever point one wishes. He denied trying to cover anything up, and said that Foster did not understand the point of the presentation.

"The only point was that people can take data and make anything they want to out of data, that was the point," Allen said. "We weren't saying the data was right or wrong, we were showing that two different people used the same amount of data and came up with two different outcomes."

Foster reiterated that the two studies did not in fact use the same data sets.

In other business, the council approved a $20,000 budget amendment to help fund the Regional Enforcement and Crime Targeting (REACT) team, a joint effort between Goldsboro police and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office to combat violent and drug-related crimes in the city.

The council also approved a rezoning request for a 4-acre property on the east side of North Berkeley Boulevard between Fallin Boulevard and Northwood Drive. The owners of the property were seeking to have the office and institutional zone rezoned into a shopping center conditional district, which the council approved.

The council tabled discussion on a proposed car wash on a half-acre property on North William Street, between Orange and 11th Street next to Greenleaf Grace Village. John Barnes, chief executive officer, of the nearby Rebuilding Broken Places, which also owns Greenleaf Grace Village, said that he had not had any time to learn about the car wash and give input, after which, Allen suggested the item be pulled to give Barnes and other nearby residents time to ask questions. The council vote unanimously to do so.