Scrutiny Hooligans Year In Review


Scrutiny Hooligans had a great year in 2008, averaging over 12,000 unique visitors per month and with a roof-blowing 26,000+ in October. The commenter community is consistently witty, thoughtful, and informative. This blog has helped to educate, advocate, and empower Ashevillains of all political stripes while providing a forum unavailable anywhere else.

Before we cross Father Time’s threshold into ought-nine, it seems right and virtuous to have a look back at the posts and themes that helped to make 2008 a banner year for Scrutiny Hooligans.

In January, we were watching the Eleventh District Republicans vie for the honor of being well and truly trounced by Congressman Heath Shuler. We found out that our favorite Republican, NC Rep. Charles Thomas, would not seek reelection.  The 11th District and Buncombe County GOP, left lurching for leadership in the wake of Lumpy’s Congressional loss in 2006, gave us fun looks at their complete disarray. We took a prescient view of the I-26 Connector debate, which is about to come to a head in the chambers of the Buncombe County Commission.  I was covering the Lt. Governor’s race.  We watched Barack Obama win South Carolina through the eyes of the most excellent Paul Choi.  

It was time to Rethink Your Precinct in February, encouraging everyone to find a way to get involved in the politics of their neighborhoods and their city.  In their continuing effort to make realtors look bad, two of the Board of Realtors’ members got all nasty and public.  Don Yelton called me a wiccan.  This post about Asheville City Council fundraising got a lot of attention. Parkside Condominiums got their first mention of the year. Huckabee ran out of gas.  Heath Shuler decided that spying on Americans was no big deal.  Hot Carl started running the ad that would be among the worst in the nation.  The State of Black Asheville I, II, III.  Bothwell declared his candidacy for Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.  So did Don Yelton.  So did a lot of other folks.

Buncombe Republicans chose a new Party Chair in March, and he declared war.  Then he invited me to act as a panelist in a Republican Congressional Candidate Debate at URTV.  Scrutiny Hooligans was the only media outlet in the County to cover the candidate forums – I made it to four out of five.  Bothwell asserted Commissioner Bill Stanley “certainly knew he was selling the park”.  Arratik noticed Ferraro has some color issues.  My commentary on open government made the Xpress.  Shuler went on teevee.  Questions about the Parkside deal bubbled up.  The Republican Congressional race heated up. Bill Clinton said he was coming to town.  Arratik went and recorded every moment.

The Parkside controversy blew up with an April public records request that rattled cages theretofore placid, and Stewart Coleman was dealt his first defeat.  Republican candidates for County Commission dodged the voters.  Mumpower created a tempest over a Flat Rock Forum.  The first whispers of a parkland buyback hit the news.  Scrutiny Hooligans primary voter guide got a lot of attention.  Hot on Bill’s heels, Hillary came to Asheville.  Chelsea showed up too.  Stinkerpoo.  Hooligans made the New York Times.  

While May would be dominated by Parkside news here at ScruHoo, Michelle Obama’s visit was big too.  Patty McHenry was caught cavorting.  The cicadas came.  Bill Stanley said Parkside was “a good business deal”. The primary came and went.  Mumpower continued writing his How To Lose handbook.  ScruHoo switched servers from the sluggish Dreamhost to the excellent Purplecat.  The Parkside Files Hit The Internet.  Medford was found guilty.  Our first Scrutiny Hooligans fundraiser went swimmingly (Thanks!).  Coleman shrunk Parkside to avoid oversight then insulted anyone who opposed him.

If you thought May had a lot of Parkside coverage, you were positively swamped by the news and controversy flying from all corners of the controversy in June (and here’s a parenthetical add-on to hold the rest of the links!).  After Obama sewed up the presidential nomination – Carol Peterson decided to vote for him, then she lost her DNC seat.  Shuler capitulated to the Republicans and George W. Bush.  We lost George Carlin.  

I took some time off in July, but the Parkside story just kept on going and going and going and going and going and going.  To the delight of Tim Peck and a few others, Bob Barr got on the NC ballot.  Mumpower’s disintegration puttered along.  They put our humble blog on the BBC.  Doug Gibson picked up on pesticides.  NC became a bona fide swing state.  The banks began to fail.  Mumpower suspended his so-called campaign, then started up again with Tony Montana in charge.  Senator Tubes got tagged.  I offered to take Joe Dunn’s place on the Republican ballot for County Commission.

Doug kept on the Steve Troxler/pesticide story in August, and the County Commissioners race started getting hot.  Nathan Ramsey suddenly discovered the idea of district elections.  Meanwhile, the Parkside controversy continued taking turns and twists, pitting the arrogant Coleman against everyone else in the city.  Then Judge Marlene Hyatt ruled in favor of the Pack Family!  ScruHoo’s eminent domain primer took on special significance.  Mumpower endeavored to swirl all the way into the poop chute, and Jason Bugg wanted to go along for the ride.  We updated our Honorary Scrutiny Hooligans roll.  

September took us into the heat of the general election campaigns for the Senate, Presidency, House, and County Commission.  Stewart Coleman decided to appeal Judge Hyatt’s ruling against his Parkside project. Gantt and Ramsey sparred over the judge’s decision.  We looked closely at John Carroll’s ties to the NC Association of Realtors.  Extravablogiversapaloozathon 2008 was a roaring success, and we raised $1,000 for AHOPE, a local homelessness program.  The debate over how Holly Jones’ City Council would be filled began.  We told Shuler to man up and debate Mumpower.  The meltdown and bailouts hit like a tsunami. We ran out of gas.  The blog was suspended.

October was a giant month for the blog.  Barack Obama kicked it off by rolling into town for a long weekend.  I grabbed video at the Grove Park, Arratik got more at the ginormous rally at Asheville High School.  Shuler tried ducking Mumpower, but got shamed into a radio debate.  This BlogAsheville Production made its internet debut.  Republicans set about vilifying democracy.  Early voting was a big hit across Buncombe County, and we had a lot of new voters.  Gantt and Ramsey debated on the radio, and the whole gang of Commission candidates held a forum at Randolph Learning Center.  James Taylor gave a free concert, giving Republicans something wholly unproductive to bray about.  The Scrutiny Hooligans 2008 Voter Guide hit the web.  And then an amazing confluence of Sarah Palin and a brain-hungry army of zombies descended on Asheville.  Things got so weird that I ended up in Nathan Ramsey’s arms with a McCain sticker on my head.

Early November was such a time of celebration here and across the nation as Obama was swept into the presidency, partly on the back of North Carolina’s satisfying shift from red to blue.  It was fun even before that because GOP Chair, Dr. Tim Johnson explained to everyone that “perception is reality”.  Dole lost to Hagan.  Kissell beat Hayes in the 8th.  Gordon Smith was defeated.  Asheville City Council decided to let anyone apply for the open seat.  And yes I did.  Jerry Meek and Howard Dean let folks know they’d step down.

This month began with trying to handicap the City Council applicants, and continued into a Kelly Miller bang.  He’s got some work to do.  Doug got us involved in protecting farm workers then took a good look at the NC Homebuilders shenanigans.  Stewart Coleman resurrected the Parkside zombie, bringing Doug to propose the Coleman Tax.  Shuler told the Big Three to take a hike.  Terry Bellamy stood up against the mileage tax.  Three County Commissioners suddenly got into a big rush to pass an I-26 Connector alternative.  I made a guess as to why.

And here we are.  Another year ahead of us and so much to look forward to.  There’s a City Council race ahead in November.  The Commissioners will be considering I-26 next week.  The economic meltdown is hitting Asheville in waves.  ScruHoo 4.0 will roll out soon…

Thanks to all of you who’ve read these virtual pages.  We appreciate every last one of you.


  1. Low Key says:

    And remember when that group of SH commenters banded together to form a League of Justice?

    Oh wait … that was before my thioridazine kicked in.

  2. Jenny Bowen says:

    Indeed, this League of Justice shall prevail!

    That was a fantastic wrap up of 2008, it was certainly a historic and action packed year. The election swept up a lot of our time, but as we can see there was much going on underneath the constant campaigning. The campaign trail’s fear and loathing directly touched Asheville in the form of Sarah Palin and the zombies – which was definitely my most enjoyable moment from the 2008 elections.

    And then there was the left over zombie of Parkside, which we all hope will come to a swift and just conclusion the first half of 2009. I’m sure many of us are looking forward to the City Council elections, and we all hope the best candidates will find their way to serving our community. What else does 2009 hold in store? Who can say! My first adventure will come with attending the presidential inauguration in three weeks time, where I will be photo documenting and live twitter reporting on the event & DC atmosphere.
    I expect nothing less than a freaky time. 🙂

    To sum it all up, I jumped onto SH this summer and I’ve been on board ever since. Politics is the art of controlling your environment, and a super thank you to all of you at SruHoo for allowing the means for individuals to participate in [mostly] thoughtful discourse. 😉

    A toast and three cheers to you all as we start this equally historic and action packed 2009!

    <3 – JBo

  3. Andrew H. says:

    Nice writeup, Gordon. With all of those embedded links to relevant archives that post must have taken forever and a day.

    Happy New Year.

  4. Tom Buckner says:

    Parkside: why even bother at this point? Will the units even sell?

    This reminds me, I was saying to somebody before: Grove had to stop the Arcade at four stories because of the Depression. Finally, after almost eighty years, a developer wanted to build that tower (well, a near-copy). Again a market crash has doomed the plan, or so I gather. Will the Grove Arcade tower be like Halley’s Comet, appearing and disappearing at intervals of roughly a lifetime, presaging a new depression? If so, look for it to happen again by about the year 2087 or soon after.

  5. Bob Falls says:

    And “Amen” to all of the above. Scrutiny Hooligans has been consistent about providing updated information and discussion about the issues facing Asheville throughout the year. And it’s also been a lot of fun.

    Happy New Year to all. In 2008, we all bought our tickets and now we are getting ready to ride the 2009 Express-fasten those seat belts!

  6. Tom Buckner says:

    Correction: Grove died, his successor stopped the tower construction because of the Crash.

    But still.

  7. barry says:

    Gordon – Excellent year for SH. Thanks for what you & all the other SH’ers do for this town.

    I like Steve Rasmussen’s (happy 50th!) idea for Hayes & Hopson – now that the conservancy can’t build their pagoda or whatever, have them purchase or lease H&H! Can that building support a rooftop cafe?

    What? Tickets? You have to have tickets to get into 2009? I’m just hearing that now? What happens if you don’

  8. Asheville JJ says:

    I am giving thanks to Asheville on my blog for a wonderful year.
    To Gordon and all other Asheville bloggers:
    Thank you for keeping me up on current events and happenings in Asheville. I look forward to each and every post.

  9. Gordon Smith says:

    Thanks y’all.

    FYI, hovering your cursor over any of the links will give you even more information…

    I’ve got some fun stuff in the can for the new year. I hope you’ll all be sharing tonight with people you love.

  10. Jason Bugg says:

    I am a fucking legend!

  11. bobaloo says:

    I hope you’ll all be sharing tonight with people you love.

    I am. His name is Jameson.

    Happy New Year Hooligans.

  12. shadmarsh says:

    Bob we have a friend in common.

    Happy New Year Douche Bags!
    Remember: 2009 is a year without Bush(well, 345.5 days without).

  13. randallt says:

    Happy 09 Hooligans!

  14. Arratik says:

    2009 is going to be a very interesting year! 🙂

  15. Michael Muller says:

    Thanks for the memories. I think.

    Happy New Year, everyone.


    P.S. Arratik, I have a gift for you, so we need to arrange some beer time.

  16. Tom Sullivan says:

    Did I miss the ball drop?

  17. Jason Bugg says:

    No, my puppy is only 4 weeks old.

  18. Great wrap-up. You certainly keep the bar high for local political bloggers.

    (the Medford link in May goes to the Parkside files, by the way)

    Happy New Year, friends!