Time to Huddle


Good morning, Hooligans. Buncombe County was almost perfect last night in its election of candidates who care about progressive values like the environment, labor, and education. Heath Shuler, Martin Nesbitt, Patsy Keever, Susan Fisher, Marvin Pope, Patricia Young, Van Duncan, and the others won through cooperation and the help of a mighty county Democratic Party GOTV effort. Elaine Marshall even won in Buncombe County!

Buncombe results here
NC results here
National results here

However, with the ascendancy of the GOP in the House and Senate in Raleigh and in the House of Representatives in Washington, it’s time to reflect on our progressive goals and strategies for the near term and long term. Where Republican leaders want to work together and come to common solutions, we ought to greet them with open arms while stifling our surprise. Where they want to steamroll, we ought to provide a spirited opposition.

It was going to be a tough budget year no matter who was in charge. Now it’s going to be a tough budget year led by folks who’ve promised to reduce revenue and cut services from our state government. It’s also time to redraw the lines of our electoral districts, and a monopoly on power during this process does not bode well.

I will huddle with folks at the municipal level to determine our legislative agenda going forward and to figure out what to do if legislators restrict Asheville’s revenue choices even further. I’ll huddle with social justice leaders to determine what to do if anti-marriage forces determine that bigotry ought to be enshrined in a constitutional amendment. I’ll huddle with Democratic Party leaders to plan a strengthening of our organization in the 11th Congressional District. I’ll huddle with political leaders to determine how to cope with the possibility of a decimation of our public education system, mental health services, and homelessness services.

Republican leaders in North Carolina may choose to govern by recognizing the needs of the most vulnerable among us. They may recognize the need to loosen the legislative shackles placed on Asheville. They may decide not to openly discriminate against LGBT North Carolinians. Here’s hoping. And while we wait and hope, it’s vital that we also get to work. This election is not a call for progressives to fall back, it is a call to redouble our efforts and refocus our politics.

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. It’s time to put ideas on the table. Criticism and gloating are acceptable, though I’ll urge you to be as constructive as you can.


  1. D.Dial says:

    Democrats did well in Buncombe because there were too few serious contenders. Had the Republicans done their job and gave us some real choice, instead of bizarre attention getting shenanigans, things might have been quite different in our neck of the woods.

    BCGOP failed the community.

  2. shadmarsh says:

    I am a bit skeptical that the Republicans on the state and national level are looking to “work together.” If their rhetoric is to be believed, then I wouldn’t count on it. But who knows, perhaps they were just whoring after teabagger votes with all that Take the Country Back (from the black guy) nonsense. But from where I sit they are seeking to destroy the middle class, public education, social safety nets, environmental improvements, and civil rights.

  3. Diogenes says:

    The best thing for Democrats would be for Obama to immediately announce he will not run for re-election in 2012. It would deprive the gloating Republicunts from their focal point and give a candidate with some balls, Hillary Clinton, a chance to unplug and reset the malfunction we’ve endured. Democrats need new leadership willing to stand up for “the middle class, public education, social safety nets, environmental improvements, and civil rights.” [Thank you Shad for the convenient cut & paste.] Obama is not going to do it, he had demonstrated that he has neither the temperament, ability, or interest in doing it. It’s time for Democrats to start fighting back, defining & framing issues, articulating purpose, action and results, and using legislative muscle to get things done. Wimps no more!

  4. designation says:

    Here’s a progressive strategy:

    Stop calling people like Heath Shuler a progressive.

    The Blue Dog caucus was decimated last night — thank goddess!

    I’m sure the professional politico set will relearn that Democrats don’t win running as GOP-lite.

    If only “progressive” bloggers would get it too.

  5. Lizzy B. says:

    From an identity politics perspective, it continues to break my heart to witness progressive, pro-choice, pro-equality people, not just vote for Shuler, but donate (or sell) their time, energy and brilliance to help him win, only to surely be thrown under the bus by him the next chance he gets to vote on a social issue so that he can represent his district/get reelected/[enter other bogus excuse to not vote with the democrats here].

  6. nathan ramsey says:

    In response to D. Dial’s comments, Senator Burr lost buncombe to someone who for the entire fall has been written off and it was a snoozer of a race. Statewide Burr won by over 12 points and was the first Senator to win re-election to this seat in over 40 years. No question the dems have a far better ground game in almost every NC county and the gop better catch up. However its difficult to match campaigns where many of their workers fear if they don’t volunteer to support the ticket, they’ll be out of a job.

    In my opinion, there were many good and capable gop candidates in buncombe this year, the challenge has always been to win as a gop candidate you have to work harder, run a smarter campaign, and be stronger on policy. If the candidates are close, the gop candidate will always come up short. That was true twenty years ago and its even more true today.

    I would disagree that all these bad things are going to happen because of gop control of the General Assembly and the US House. Voters statewide and across the nation believe enough bad stuff has happened over the past two years and America needs a change of course. Apparently, the voters in buncombe weren’t as motivated as those across the state and nation to make a change. Having said that, many gop candidates who lost in buncombe ran very respectable races and the margin was relatively close. A flip of just a couple of thousand votes in several of the races would have changed the outcome in the other state house races and a couple of the countywide races.

  7. Big Ivy says:

    I am in deep mourning for Elaine Marshall’s loss.

    I actually believed Marshall would win. Why not? She is a candidate with deep experience, she is articulate, and she addressed the serious problems of the people in a specific manner.

  8. At this point, the best course of action is for progressives is to surrender. Simply walk out to the street and hold your hands above your heads. Chad Nesbitt will be along shortly in his street sweeper truck to formalize it.

  9. Sanuk D says:

    It does seem to me that the Republican Party in Buncombe County has been let down by its Chair. I agree with Nathan that Republicans fare better, and better serve our political process, when they run focused, articulate campaigns that are clear on policy. That’s the kind of campaign that lead me, a registered Democrat, to vote for a Republican for Chair of the County Commission. Twice.

    The Buncombe County Democratic Party’s ability to limit its losses in the face of strong national pressure and weak local participation is a credit to the continued strong organizing of a group of dedicated individuals. This group, our city and county leaders, and our state delegation could advance the common good of our area not by indiscriminately “removing the shackles” as Gordon puts it and by which I understand him to mean changing the Sullivan Acts (although I might be dead wrong about that) but by working toward creative, cooperative solutions that guide the growth which is bound to return to our county while equitably sharing both the costs and benefits our governments provide.

  10. Agnes Cheek says:

    Anyone who still thinks this is about D vs R …doesn’t get it. There is a disconnect between those who are elected and the people who put them there. For historical perspective on D/R majority, NC legislature was being seated by troops right after the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was still warm in his grave. Alabama-136 years since the last R shift.
    This was a repudiation of the system ignoring the People. The republicans have been granted a very short leash and probation. This isn’t 1994, its 1774. A certain Chinese curse/blessing comes to mind…

    btw-I like the edit comment feature added. cheers.

  11. shadmarsh says:

    I think you have it backwards. It’s the people who have been ignoring the system.

  12. Agnes Cheek says:

    The system IS the People.

  13. RHS says:

    Everyone can sleep well tonight. The voters of Oklahoma have passed a measure that will prohibit courts from imposing Islamic law!

    Seriously. They did. I’m not making this up. See for yourself:

  14. RHS says:

    Elaine Marshall was simply the right candidate in the wrong year. Polls had long shown that Burr’s approval was poor during his entire term. But her difficulty in raising the money she needed, plus the DSCC taking a pass on her after she won her primary in a runoff (in part because they knew they would be playing defense this cycle) and it being a poor year to be running as a Democrat all cut against her. Had it been a better year for Democrats and she had the money it would have been a very different race.

    But I’m proud of her race and that she carried Buncombe county.

  15. shadmarsh says:

    The system IS the People.

    You missed my point, but perhaps I was being too subtle.

    Shad, you gotta drop the racism crutch. Republicans elected a LOT of minorities on Nov 2.

    It’s not about who they elect, it’s about the policies that they put forth. Are you suggesting that racism no longer exists?

    When you see real racism, call it out– but stop assuming everyone who doesn’t like Obama/Democrats is a racist. It’s a very lazy approach.

    I don’t assume that, but I do believe that there is (implicit and explicit) racism involved. Hence the sudden urge to “take the country back” If they had been saying the same things ten years ago (and no doubt some were) then I might not doubt their motives so much. Because the reality doesn’t match their profess motives. So I am left to connect the dots, and in the parlance of our times (as you say) I “called it out.” You can disagree with my conclusion, but don’t call me lazy.

  16. randallt says:

    Dr Thompson put it well today on Local Edge Radio and it took me back. Remember two summers ago when the big money kicked in and the Tea Baggers cranked up their noise machine? This was all being coordinated through Fox and the rest of the right wing media. It grew at an alarming rate and the President was caught flat footed. The administration’s strategy assumed that Republicans had the good will of the nation in their hearts first, not the goodwill of their corporate masters. This was naive as well as foolishly played through the delivery of his Chief of Staff at the time.

    With this inaction, the right ring propaganda apparatus was able to steam roll, creating fear and loathing. The administration just seemed to watch the train wreck in the development of the Health Care Bill while outside the gates, there was a real movement building, one filled with hate, ideological purity, fear and…..all the money they needed. The Administration seemed to watch all this as if it were a harmless exercise in political flag football. Guess what kids, it was tackle.

    The President said this today: “”We were in such a hurry to get things done, we didn’t change how things get done.”” Well good. Now fire Timothy Geithner for crying out loud and re tool your thinking to a little pre-Presidential inspiration. Fight.

    I’m super happy Heath won.

  17. Gordon Smith says:

    There are zero African-Americans of any party in the United States Senate after yesterday’s election.

  18. Gordon Smith says:

    This is an interesting development:

    Due to extensive losses by conservative and moderate Democrats, another shift in power occurred in the House last night besides Republicans taking the majority. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has replaced the Blue Dogs and the New Democrats as the plurality ideological caucus among House Democrats. For the first time ever, the CPC is larger than Blue Dogs and New Dems combined.

  19. Management says:

    I’ve been trying to stay in the background re: the midterm elections for various reasons, but I will say one thing about Sen. Burr – he never went negative.

    He probably didn’t need to go negative in the first place. As Nathan mentioned above, it was kind of a snoozer of a race. (But I’d be willing to bet that it wouldn’t have been that much of a snoozer if Cal Cunningham won the primary. The DNC/DSCC would have supported the race in that case, and they would have gone after Burr with everything they had.)

    I’m not saying that I enjoyed Burr’s advertising, but it was refreshing not to see any mudslinging from his camp.

  20. Croatoan says:

    Let’s not fool ourselves with any vague feel-good notions of reconciliation and cooperation on the part of Republicorp Inc; these SOBs are out for blood. If Obama has any balls whatsoever, he’d better start playin’ for keeps…. teabagger style.

    First up: a DOJ investigation into the U.S Chamber of Commerce and it’s “anonymous” multinational campaign contributors.

    Second: take advantage of the lame duck congressional session to empower the FCC to shut down foreign controlled corporate media propagandists.

  21. Jessica B. says:

    Agnes Cheek says: “The system IS the People.”

    Sorry Agnes, but you’ve got it reversed. The people ARE the system, but they’re too busy being partisan to realize that if the gears don’t work together properly, the system no longer works.

  22. Doug Gibson says:

    Nathan, I was in the state in 1995, the last time Republicans controlled either house of the General Assembly. Susan Fisher just managed to pull the state out of one of the holes the GOP dug for us then – abstinence-only education – and there are plenty of holes still left from that time for us to fill.

    I don’t care if this year’s crop of Republicans is marginally better than the ones we had 15 years ago – I think I can safely predict that they’re going to have absolutely no interest in fixing the messes that they left from the last time. Or the messes that conservative Democrats have left us from all their time in charge. They will cut taxes, slash services, and redistrict themselves into a solid majority, and that’s about the most we can expect.

    Also, though, Nathan, help me out – “its difficult to match campaigns where many of their workers fear if they don’t volunteer to support the ticket, they’ll be out of a job.” – what does that even mean?

    Some general thoughts:

    If Republicans lost this year in Buncombe, don’t blame the Chad. I’m not even sure you can blame the Buncombe Democratic Party (though they certainly helped Elaine Marshall). First blame demographics – Buncombe is a blue county that’s trending bluer, and that’s unlikely to change. Also, when it comes to the state legislature, having safe districts helps incumbents enormously (and you can thank Wilma Sherrill and Tom Apodaca for that as much as anyone else).

    Finally, though, blame the Democratic candidates. Susan Fisher, Martin Nesbitt, and Van Duncan* – all of whom, I’m guessing, outpolled Elaine Marshall (with Van outpolling even Heath Shuler countywide) – are stellar public officials. They work hard, and they’ve made it clear again and again that they care about ordinary people. In addition to having a great campaign, I think people get that Patsy Keever falls into the same category, and I’m sure we’ll see the proof over the next two years.

    My guess is that everyone else on the ticket benefited from their reputations. Issues and “strong candidates” only work when voters think the other side doesn’t have their best interests at heart. Ultimately, too, the strength of the local Democratic Party stems from the strength of the local Democratic elected officials.

    One last thing – if I had Barack Obama’s ear, I’d tell him to spin off OFA. Just let it become its own organization, set its own goals, support whomever it wants to. Because I’ve seen very little evidence that he knows what to do with a grassroots organization except get himself elected. And the “movement” – if there is one – is waaaaay bigger than him.


    *A note about Van Duncan – he outpolled Shuler by 1,000 votes, despite the fact that 7,000 people who received ballots couldn’t be bothered to mark enough ovals to actually cast a vote in the sheriff’s race.

  23. Omama’s visit to India:

    here’s the latest addition, 34 warships including an aircraft carrier.

    counties have been invaded with a lot less force.

    why are we spending two billion dollars for a three day visit?

  24. shadmarsh says:

    Why have we dropped a couple trillion in Iraq? Why are we spending 500 million on a new embassy in Kabul? questions questions

  25. Tom Buckner says:

    Ralph, the show of force was to assure India that Sri Lanka could not invade India with impunity.

  26. Agnes Cheek says:

    It is amazing to me how many people are so lazy that they call sincere policy disagreements “racism.” Grow up.

  27. shadmarsh says:

    It’s amazing to me how many people have no idea what they are talking about.

  28. It’s amazing to me how many people talk.

  29. Aaron Sarver says:

    Any thoughts on why Shuler won with a decent margin in a very Republican year, but Joe Sam Queen and John Snow lost their state Senate seats? Seems like a lot of complicated split-ticket voting this year: Burr wins big, Dems at Congressional in NC level buck national trends, Dems get killed in NCGA races. Just seems weird.

    And Burr did go negative in one ad. Don’t know why he felt compelled to do so, given that he was up big in the polls at the time.

  30. Tom Sullivan says:

    I too took note of the fact that the Progressive Caucus is now about three times(?) the size of the Blue Dogs.

    This of course makes it all the more imperative that the DNC, DSCC and DCCC publicly punch hippies on a regular basis to prove their centrist bona fides. Good luck with that, “old boys.”

  31. nathan ramsey says:

    Doug- To clarify I stood out in front of several polling places on election day from 6:30 am until the polls closed. There were precinct campaign workers on Tuesday who said they feared for their job if the dem didn’t win and it was an expectation of the job that they “volunteer” to work on the campaign.

    As far as what the General Assembly will do in the upcoming session, I don’t know. They’ve got to deal with a $3.5 billion deficit and it will be interesting to see the Governor’s plans as well as others on how to deal with the mess.

    Also, to clarify in 1994 the reps only controlled the NC House, therefore go back to civics class to know that any bill passed must also have passed the NC Senate. That legislative session passed a bill that gave the Governor the right to veto (who at the time was Jim Hunt).

    Hopefully, on redistricting reps. will not do what they’ve criticized the dems of in the past and the General Assembly will create a fair plan. I agree that demographics in Buncombe are changing but Buncombe has always favored dems. For reps to win a race in the county, they just have to do a much better job on funding, message, and policy and that’s never easy. Also, the demographics of the Buncombe dems are changing so it will be interesting how those trends intersect.

    I never realized that all the alleged problems created in NC by the gop was the result of abstinence only sex ed in our schools.

  32. Diogenes says:


    Re: India

    Why don’t you publish a book about it? Or make one of your snappy action-packed tightly-edited videos?

  33. a) I’ve already been published in India (several of my computer books)

    b) of course I make snappy snappy action-packed tightly-edited videos — thanks you for noticing.

    c) what is your problem, dude?

  34. Doug Gibson says:


    Some good points. Thanks.

    But I didn’t attribute all of our problems to abstinence-only sex education. I said that was one lovely little landmine that was laid. And yes, it’s taken us this long to do the right thing because Democrats weren’t that eager to help (and not that eager to stop it at the time, either), but that doesn’t change the fact that it took GOP leadership to sell a bad idea. Kind of like Iraq. Plenty of Democrats voted to authorize military force. Would Al Gore have actually gone to war? I don’t think so.

    On the “out of the job” bit. Actually, some people might very well have been out of a job. Shuler’s staff, for one. A few sheriff’s deputies, maybe. And so the question is – were they expected to volunteer in spite of their differences with the candidate they were volunteering for? Or were they expected to volunteer because they’ve got jobs in politics, and they work for someone who has to campaign to keep his own job? Or are you saying these folks would have been fired from the private sector because their boss demanded they work for a candidate they didn’t agree with? There’s a big difference, it seems to me.

    As always, though Nathan, I’m curious about your positions on the issues. There’s been some talk about slashing Head Start and More at Four in order to make up the budget shortfall. And of course quite a few of the folks now in office have made a “no new taxes” pledge. In light of this, where do you think cuts should come, and do you think it’s a good idea to raise taxes to cover at least some of the shortfall?

  35. Yeah, about those 34 Navy ships going to India for the Obama visit:

    Ralph, Michele Bachman cited a $200 million per day figure from “the press”. If you are now saying it is $2 billion over three days, that’s $666 million per day. And if you extend that by the ten days of the trip across Asia, that’s $7 billion for the whole trip. I’m convinced that the WH is low balling here and we’re really talking in the range of $150 to $180 billion for just this one trip.

  36. I’m not saying anything, I just mentioned it.

    The story is now being discounted … but whatever it is really costing, it’s neither cheap nor necessary.

  37. Gordon Smith says:


    It’s unnecessary for the President of the United States to do foreign visits, or just this foreign visit? Nixon shouldn’t have gone to China? How about Reagan to Reykjavik? Clinton to Belfast?

    Yes to foreign policy visits that might result in nuclear non-proliferation, better trade agreements, etc. No to nickel and dimers who’d rather try to score points than address some of the big problems – Trade, Underinvestment in Green Tech, Overspending on Defense.

  38. Gee, Gordon, paint with a broad brush will ya. We’re talking about the India/Indonesia trip.

    Why is it every time someone states a simple opinion, progressives immediately try to discredit their thought processes back to the first grade and through six generations.

    By the way, Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

    Remember remember the fifth of November…

  39. Deus Ex Machina says:

    Yes, Ralph. Remember remember the day when a bunch of white men planned to replace their mildly oppressive government with a rabidly oppressive Catholic theocracy by means of property destruction, kidnapping and other acts of violence, all in the name of religion.

    Remember remember history or be doomed to repeat it. Gingko might help.

  40. Gordon Smith says:

    So, Ralph. (sigh)

    What’s your thinking about this particular trip?

  41. Jason Bugg says:

    Ralph Roberts is a fucking moron.

    Seriously, why even bother with the big, waddly front-assed hick. He’s a buffoon and I’d trust a three year old covered in their own shit before I’d believe a word out of Ralph’s slack-jawed pie hole.

    No wonder all the Dem’s lost, you people around here are a bunch of limp wristed retards that are afraid to call a big bigoted hick a big fucking bigoted hick.

  42. So Gordon (sigh) … this trip has been put off twice already so it can’t be all that high priority. He’s got much bigger problems to handle here at home. I think it’s a waste of money and that he could perform the Festival of Lights just as well at home.

    Deus Ex Machina, which time are you talking about — there are quite a few throughout history?

    Back to Gordon (sigh) … why are we sighing? (sigh)

  43. Big Ivy says:

    Odd and coincidental but I had reason to review Oliver Cromwell’s adventures this morning. SIGH.

  44. dude was like many of our former Congresscritturs — he had a round head, eh?

  45. nathan ramsey says:

    Doug – The folks I was referring to who were working for candidates on Tuesday were state and local government workers. One person employed by state government told me that they were too close to retiring and didn’t need to get fired if another candidate were elected. At another precinct two men employed by local government mentioned that it wasn’t too bad to work a poll once or twice every four years to keep their jobs. These folks are front line workers, not in top administrative positions. That’s not right whether they were working for a Democrat or Republican. But in this case, many of the volunteers for your party are fearful they will lose their job if someone else is elected.

    I don’t have the details of the specific cuts to be made to address our state’s $3.5 billion deficit. But there are many places that state government can be more efficient. Right now we have over sixty workforce development programs in NC. There perhaps may be better ways to organize our community colleges and university systems which will reduce turf wars, program overlaps, and redundant administrative systems. Our Medicaid system is exploding and everyone knows there is much fraud and perverse incentives which doesn’t improve the health of our lower income citizens. The prison and court systems could be significantly more efficient and focus on repeat offenders and those who are truly a threat to our state’s citizens and property. Our public schools have administrative bloat at DPI and out of touch decisions from local school boards. Eliminating the cap on charter schools will save local districts hundreds of millions in funding for new capital projects. All of the fight between NC Schools Supt. June Atkinson and our Governor is not improving our schoolds and results in lots of wasted resources. These examples are just the beginning. Many people, including lots of Democrats, believe for NC to raise taxes in these economic times when we are already one of the highest taxed states in the Southeast will not improve jobs and opportunities for our people.

  46. D.Dial says:

    @ JasonBugg ….word!

  47. Tom Buckner says:

    O, by the way… Nixon should not have gone to China. We’d be better off now.

  48. Ralph Roberts says:

    off the meds again, Bugger?

  49. shadmarsh says:

    O, by the way… Nixon should not have gone to China. We’d be better off now.

    But we’d be short one opera!

  50. Deus Ex Machina says:

    But we’d be short one opera!

    I see what you did there.

  51. Doug Gibson says:


    It’s way late in the thread, so I wouldn’t regard your lack of a response at this point as evidence you had no response to make.

    At the same time, though – I think it’s entirely appropriate for public sector employees to work the polls, especially since they may have well-grounded fears that they might lose their jobs through budget cuts if one party or the other gets a majority in the legislature. I would assume, for example, that teachers believe in the importance of education, and support education funding as much for that reason as for personal gain.

    And thanks for the rundown on cuts you think need to be made (or efficiencies you think need to be promoted). Food for thought.

  52. nathan ramsey says:

    Doug – I did respond or at least attempted to, its comment #49. Everyone has the right to express their political desires including those who work for the government. The distinction is if their employer basically demands political work as part of their job or dictates their own political activity during their personal time, then that shouldn’t be allowed. From the comments I heard on Tuesday, that was the impression from their comments. If so, that’s like a Tammany Hall machine.

    Teachers, firefighters, court workers, etc. should be hired based on their skill/talent instead of any particular political allegiance and they shouldn’t have to fear for their job depending on who may be elected. I didn’t hear any candidadtes of either party saying they were going to start mass firings of government workers.

  53. Doug Gibson says:

    Gosh, Nathan, I did read #49, and based on what you wrote there, I thought I had responded appropriately. (If you thought I had overlooked #49, my comment must have seemed especially snarky, which is unfortunate, because I was honestly trying to be conciliatory.)

    Anyway, you’ve made three statements about what you heard re: campaign volunteers. Here they are, in the order you’ve made them:

    a. “There were precinct campaign workers on Tuesday who said they feared for their job if the dem didn’t win and it was an expectation of the job that they “volunteer” to work on the campaign.”

    b. “One person employed by state government told me that they were too close to retiring and didn’t need to get fired if another candidate were elected. At another precinct two men employed by local government mentioned that it wasn’t too bad to work a poll once or twice every four years to keep their jobs.”

    c. “if their employer basically demands political work as part of their job or dictates their own political activity during their personal time, then that shouldn’t be allowed. From the comments I heard on Tuesday, that was the impression from their comments.”

    So – this is how I read your statements.

    1. You spoke to an employee of state government who thought he might get fired if a particular candidate won.

    2. You spoke to (or overheard) two local government employees who felt an obligation to work the polls a couple of times every four-year cycle in order to keep their jobs.

    3. You’re saying, too – though you cite no specific examples – that these three people, or perhaps some others you didn’t mention, said they had been implicitly or explicitly threatened with reprisals on the job if they didn’t volunteer for Democratic candidates. And that it is your understanding that they would not otherwise have volunteered. Do I have that right?

    Finally, I’ll mention something I could be wrong about, and that I’m sure you understand better than I do – that it’s my understanding that the deputies of the register of deeds (an office not on the ballot this year) basically work on patronage. They understand they’re probably out of a job if their candidate loses, and that’s just the way things are. Four years ago it was newsworthy that Van Duncan only fired a few sheriff’s deputies when he defeated Bobby Medford. So “mass firings of government workers” are indeed sometimes on the agenda if a particular candidate wins.

    Beyond that, it seems to me that when you talk about “administrative bloat” and “redundant administrative systems,” you’re talking almost entirely about jobs. When conservative think-tanks talk about eliminating Head Start and More at Four, they’re also talking chiefly about eliminating jobs. I believe you when you say you don’t hear “mass firings of government workers” in such talk, but surely it’s possible that actual government workers might.

  54. nathan ramsey says:

    Doug – I’m only relating what I heard on Tuesday. The comment was that working for a campaign was something they “only had to do once or twice every four years.” Since I don’t work for any of these elected officials, I don’t have firsthand knowledge if employees refused to “volunteer” whether they would be terminated. Clearly there is a high level of fear instilled in the employee ranks which just happens to be an assistance in the political campaign of their boss.

    Regardless of whether the public office is held by a dem, rep or some other political affiliation, I would hope we have gone passed the day of rampant political patronage and political coercion. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case. In the case of Sheriff Duncan, there were probably certain instances of political revenge but I don’t believe the turnover in employees was outside of the norm. The cases I cited earlier did not involve the Sheriff’s Department.

    Government’s role is not to provide a job to everyone, the role of government is to provide the best quality public services in the most efficient mannter. So if federal, state, or local government can provide quality services in a more efficient way, they should be obligated to do so even if some positions are eliminated.

    To give just two examples that I am familiar with, the county goverment and our commissioners should be applauded for 1.) moving primary care over to WNCHHS which is seeing many more patients and saving county tax dollars 2.) transitioning the west buncombe child care facility to Irene Wortham Center which is providing services to more children with developmental disabilities and saving county dollars.

    To cite your specific example, I think you are talking about Smart Start and More at Four. When More at Four was developed, there were many in the community, including some in our schools, who believed instead of adding a new program we needed to focus on doing a better job with the existing programs. I am not an early childhood development expert but I believe if we focus on the programs that have shown empirical data of long term improvement, we will help more kids and use limited resources more efficiently.

  55. Doug Gibson says:


    First, I’ve heard from another source that something like what you suspect did in fact occur. Like you, I find that reprehensible, and I hope that explains why I grilled you on the subject.

    And, yes, thanks. I was referring to Smart Start. That’s the last time I comment after 11pm.