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One day after Governor Pat McCrory announced the state would sell the Dorothea Dix campus to Raleigh, at least two state Senators voiced reservations about the deal.

Mitchell County Senator Ralph Hise told WRAL-TV the $52 million transaction was “on the lower end” of what would be acceptable.

Senator Louis Pate told the Raleigh News & Observer he has his own concerns:

“I don’t know that the state is in a better position or not, the way this agreement reads,” said Pate, who represents parts of Lenoir, Pitt and Wayne counties. “I think we need to sit back and take a long look at it before we put our stamp on it.”

Legislators won’t need to put their stamp on the deal, that will be up to the NC Council of State. However Senators could intervene, as they did when then-Governor Beverly Perdue first sold the Dix property to Raleigh.

As the N&O reports:

…legislators could file a bill seeking to amend or revoke the deal, much as they did in 2013. Pate said he “can’t say” what legislative leaders might do, and it’s too soon to speculate on any action. Senate leader Phil Berger’s spokeswoman said he was still reviewing the deal Tuesday and had no comment.

Pate said his biggest concern is the price. While Gov. Pat McCrory said the $52 million will go toward mental health services, Pate says that amount “can be spent in a heartbeat around here .”

Sen. Hise says a decision to get involved in the deal really comes down to the Governor’s plans for relocating the state Health and Human Service workers, who are currently working on the Dix property.

For her part, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is optimistic this is a done deal, and the city can begin the planning process for the 308-acre “destination” park.

McFarlane is our guest this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. For a preview of that radio interview, click below:

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Dix campusNow that the legislature’s “crossover” deadline has passed, committees are beginning to schedule bills that have already passed one house. A case in point: the hyper-controversial bill to reverse the Dix Park land deal between the state and the city of Raleigh.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary committee 15 minutes after the House adjourns this Wednesday. Looks like the House isn’t expecting that vague bit of public notice to keep interested people away. The notice says that “This meeting may last up to 2 hours.”

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One of the most frustrating parts of the General Assembly’s ongoing move to renege on the Dix Park deal has been the out-of-the-blue concern that has materialized from conservatives for persons with mental illness. After working for years to underfund and privatize essential services (often, admittedly, in tandem with shortsighted Democrats), all of a sudden, these folks are desperate to sell off Dix for condos to get money to fund services for persons in need.

Conservative State Rep. Jim Fulghum of Raleigh wrote a letter to Raleigh’s News & Observer over the weekend, however, protesting that he was no Johnny-come-lately to the cause of helping people with mental illness and that he both supported the Dix park and somehow restructuring the lease to help persons with mental illness. Let’s hope he’s sincere.

The problem, of course, is that even sincerity of this kind isn’t gonna’ solve the state’s mental health challenge. As veteran lobbyist Paula Wolf noted in a “letter” to Fulghum on her “Paulatics” blog yesterday, Read More

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Dan BlueThere were many compelling arguments voiced this afternoon by opponents of the Senate bill to renege on the Dix Park contract. One expecially powerful moment, however, occurred at around the 40 minute mark of this video (you can fast-forward to it) in which Senator Dan Blue ticks off a list of just some of the local governments around North Carolina that are currently leasing large tracts of state land for $1 (i.e. $499,999 less than the City of Raleigh would pay annually for the Dix campus).

The include: Alamance County, Avery County, Carteret County, Guilford County, Hyde County, Morehead City and Yadkin County.

Watch Blue’s entire speech by clicking here — it commences at around the 23:30 mark.