Sayonara AVLH2O?


The “Study Committee” findings and recommendations are in, and, unsurprisingly, they harmonize with the original bill Rep. Moffitt filed before the Study Committee went through the motions.

“…the Committee recommends merging the Public Utility Water System with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County.”

You can read the document here. Let’s all take some time to absorb it. For further reference you can see facts about the water system here.


  1. trifecta says:

    Well, after studying the issue, Moffitt realized he was right all along. It’s a shame we had to pay for a study and Tim didn’t just go with his gut from the get go.

  2. Gordon Smith says:

    Fun flashbacks:

    John Boyle:

    It’s a slap in the face. Forget about partisan politics. What ever happened to plain old common decency and professional courtesy?

    Consensus building? Listening to the will of the people?

    Out the window.
    It’s like Moffitt thinks he was elected king.

    But what he’s forgetting is those Democrats represent actual people in the city of Asheville and Buncombe County, and the way he’s legislating, Republicans aren’t being represented, either. All voters want a say in the future of their water system, whether they vote by districts for their own commissioners and if the city’s control over the airport is handed off to an independent authority.

    No matter their political party, voters want a say in their own destiny.”

    AC-T Editorial Board:

    Voters sent Republicans to Raleigh in control of the General Assembly for the first time in a century to find solutions to a serious shortfall in a state budget, but we’ve not heard during or after the campaign any great public outcries to micromanage local government as well. If he wanted to change local governance, perhaps Moffitt should have run for Asheville City Council or Buncombe County commissioner.

    We don’t believe Moffitt won a mandate to single-handedly solve everything he thinks is a problem. There’s a big difference between driving a discussion and driving a bulldozer. That’s what representative democracy should be all about.

  3. Tom Sullivan says:

    Bow to Timmeh, you worms!

  4. Ascend of Asheville says:

    So far what sticks out for me is the reference in the findings to the annexation law, and its effect on Asheville’s revenue stream.
    He seems to be acknowledging that recent legislation has limited Asheville’s ability to raise money, so instead of leaving Asheville with control over their one remaining major asset, he’s just gonna pile on and take that away too.
    One problem though is that his findings reference a bill that was just last month found to be unconstitutional and is heading for a whole new round of re-write and litigation. Which tells me that this entire document is more about justification for a foregone conclusion than support for a process that involved any semblance of fairness, or even serious consideration.
    I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve hired a few, and I think there is room here for a litigation strategy. If they want to dissolve Asheville, let them dissolve Asheville. They have that power. But to merely starve it to death to make sure that Hendersonville succeeds, or the salt of the earth out in the freaking Hinterlands don’t perceive an imbalance in their utility budget is just ludicrous.
    Which reminds me. The specter of Asheville raising rates on their country cousins out in the county has been laid to rest by yet other legislation, so why is this referenced in the findings at all?
    I’ve got to go read the rest. This is the most useless excuse for governance I have ever witnessed.

  5. Don’t you know how to use Carriage Returns, Ascend?

    We gave you this job with the understanding that you’d come with some basic clerical skills.

  6. Ascend of Asheville says:

    What’s a carriage return? Is that a Cinderella reference?
    Hey, and did you know that the story of the water system troubles started at the beginning of the nineteenth century? Yep, as of 1800, we were already hosed. Of course all the dates they reference in the document are from the twentieth century, but hey, who cares about the details, it’s just government, give it a fucking break, huh?
    No, seriously, whats a fucking carriage return?

  7. Tom Sullivan says:

    This report reads like a southern “heritage” screed about a virtuous and noble people’s victimization at the hands of yankees in the War of City Aggression.

    Were Moffitt et. al. born with those large chips on their shoulders or is it just some cultural thing?

  8. Andrew Dahm says:

    The County Courthouse was supposed to be a bookend-twin to City Hall, but it’s not. Design changes were made.

    Asheville is uppity. Just plain uppity. Building those reservoirs and that City Hall and that Tunnel. City folks.

    Anybody seen “Deliverance”?

  9. Ascend of Asheville says:

    I agree. This would be acceptable fiction were we only so lucky. In the actual reading of it, there is very little attempt to hide the disdain, no attempt to link the conclusions with the evidential material. We are given the high-handed and hyperbolic assertions, but we are not told anything of substance, save that it is the will of the King.
    It is Shakespearean, truly.

  10. Ascend of Asheville says:

    The link to contribute to the Whilden campaign:

  11. Andrew Dahm says:

    No. The city’s Shakespeare and Blake. The rest of it’s Faulkner. Without the self-awareness. Or the alcohol.

  12. Ascend of Asheville says:

    “for the man, as you all know, hath a contemptible spirit.”
    -Much ado about nothing

  13. Grant Millin says:

    Asheville is the only city manager of scale in Buncombe County. Buncombe County controlling the water system means a lot of outlying private gated communities running the water system. Of course there’s Black Mountain, Weaverville and smaller communities. It’s giving private gated communities a democratic say when these are private corporations.

    How does the rest of this bizarre new water system influence the private corporations? Citizens are being given fewer and few options and when we look at things this way, water privatization is already law with the North Carolina Sullivan Acts that are unprecedentedly unique to the Asheville-Buncombe relationship: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Sullivan_Acts .

    Really understanding these issues is a full-time job for average and low income citizens and that’s part of the way power works in support of those who have the resources to create these byzantine strategies.

  14. Andrew Dahm says:

    Is this a public asset I see before me?

  15. Ascend of Asheville says:

    The report goes to pains to declare that the city of Asheville not profit from the water system.
    The city of Asheville is, of course, a not for profit incorporated entity.
    As corporations are people, and profit is not a motive here, it is clear that there is a justifiable claim against Bills of Pains and Penalties, in which, to quote:
    “The clause thus prohibits all legislative acts, “no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial….”
    So, it appears that the singling out of Asheville conflicts with both corporate personhood and the prohibition against the enactment of laws designed to punish one singular individual.
    the city needs to lawyer up and go at this with a vengeance.

  16. Tom Sullivan says:

    I think “to profit” in this context means the city using the confiscatory revenues it bleeds from the county ratepayers to fund city infrastructure.

    Here’s some creative writing (emphasis mine):

    Admittedly, at the beginning of the 19th Century, and progressing over many years thereafter, the City of Asheville established a waterworks system to provide the citizens of the City of Asheville with an adequate water supply. Even today, the sources for that water supply remain located outside the contiguous boundaries of the City of Asheville.

    Now buying up land for reservoirs outside city limits clearly looks like a power grab. Don’t tell the residents of Orange County, CA. Hell, don’t tell the Republicans down in Greenville, SC who bring their water down from the NC border.

  17. Davyne Dial says:

    The draft made mention of the Asheville Buncombe League of Women Voters opinion on this matter but left out an important part of our position.

    To clarify the LWV’s position;

    “The LWV did support the Regional Water Agreement in the past, but that agreement was made between the entities involved. So ABLWV was not supporting state legislation. ABLWV did support a regional approach to water management.

  18. Gordon Smith says:

    AC-T reporter, Joel Burgess:

    But committee Chairman Rep. Tim Moffitt said in the report and during a Friday interview that handing over control of the system to the Buncombe County Metropolitan Sewerage District would protect noncity residents. The water system serves about 125,000 people in Asheville and nearby.

    “The noncity of Asheville ratepayers should not continually face the threat of double, triple and possibly quadruple increases in their water rates,” the Buncombe County Republican said.

    This is, of course, absurd. Since we’re bound by Sullivan Acts i,ii, and iii, the argument appears to be that Asheville can’t be trusted not to break the law. Further, it ignores the facts about MSD and CoA rates.

    The other part of the argument is that, since things happened in the past, things are broken now. This is not what was told to the “Study Committee” by the governments of Asheville and Buncombe. In fact, our intergovernmental relations are better than at any time in memory.

    The arguments are flimsy. The logic is weak.

    I’ll look forward to seeing our area media thoroughly dissect it.

  19. Gordon Smith says:

    If you’d like, feel free to caption this photo of Rep. Moffitt drinking water (taken by Bill Rhodes) at Meme Generator!


    Here’s an example.

  20. Ascend of Asheville says:

    Early Republican responses to the draft report are available here:

  21. Gordon,

    Hasn’t the repeal of the Sullivan Acts consistently been among the top legislative priorities submitted to the General Assembly each session by the City of Asheville? And by the way, wasn’t it Senator Martin Nesbitt and Representative Susan Fisher (both Democrats) who “stole” Asheville’s water by championing the Sullivan Acts in the first place? Why is your ire reserved for Tim Moffitt? Because he’s a Republican?

    And in the unlikely event the Sullivan Acts were repealed, wouldn’t that free up Asheville to unilaterally raise water rates for people who happen to live outside the city? And wouldn’t you most likely do so given the track record?

    Just an honest question. I’m still plowing through this report to make sense of the issue. It’s so complex.

    It’s my understanding that the City of Asheville reneged on its promises a few years back to the Gerber Company over water, causing them to close the plant (and, as a result, the Ball Glass Manufacturing Company located next door) — which resulted in both the companies’ relocation and the loss of hundreds and hundreds of jobs here in Buncombe County. Do you know anything about that?

    It does seem to me that having all the regional stakeholders at the table to find equitable solutions makes some sense, doesn’t it? Water is a public resource that belongs to everyone, after all. In fact, isn’t it true that Asheville doesn’t even “own” the water system at all, but merely manages it and collects the revenue from it? So nobody is really “stealing” anything from anyone, are they…despite how you and other strident voices like to spin it.

    Besides, letting the city (and a City Council that changes every two years) hold everyone else’s water hostage for their own shifting political purposes doesn’t really create the most stable environment for business, I wouldn’t think. And by the way, I hear tell that the city has actually used the money it’s made on the water system (revenue that legally must be only used to fund infrastructure improvements) to fund other pet projects over the years. Can you imagine such a thing? Do you know anything about that?

    Seems to me that there’s much more to the story. Oh — you and others calling Moffitt names accomplishes nothing. Makes you look mean and childish.

    But back to the issue. The elimination of any unnecessary duplication of effort — which this consolidation would promote — seems prudent to me as well: everyone’s rates would actually go down, saving taxpayers and businesses money. And that’s a good thing for Buncombe County and the regional economy, isn’t it?

    At the very least, I think a rational case can be made for what Moffitt’s bill would actually do — and largely it looks to me like this legislation just codifies much of what Asheville and other local city and town governments already agreed to over 20 years ago. So I’m not sure why you and Barry Summers are so upset. Are you worried about losing a cash cow? Would it force you into the honest position of having to raise taxes to pay for things like bike lanes and greenways? Do you have some other hidden agenda perhaps? So many questions.

    Anyhoo, what do I know about water? I never touch the stuff — I drink beer and bourbon.

  22. Davyne Dial says:

    ” City of Asheville reneged on its promises a few years back to the Gerber Company over water, causing them to close the plant (and, as a result, the Ball Glass Manufacturing Company located next door) — which resulted in both the companies’ relocation and the loss of hundreds and hundreds of jobs here in Buncombe County. “

    If this is a fact, then it’s obvious Asheville City Management has yet again played fast and loose with a valuable community asset….to the detriment of the community.

  23. Dixiegirlz says:

    Oh my, what’s that about an “audit”? Who would be responsible for repaying if it is found that funds that were supposed to only be used for infrastructure maintenance and improvements?

  24. Gordon Smith says:


    That’s a pile of stuff you bring up, almost none of which is correct. I’m glad to see you’re in full campaign mode – very exciting. Rather than asking me to refute these various things, it might be helpful if you’d just prove them. Looks from here like you just splashed a lot of innuendo around without supporting it.

    The bottom line is that an excellent water system, whose management is supported by Asheville and Buncombe County governments as well as by business leaders like the Asheville Brewers Association and the Asheville Downtown Association among others, is being unnecessarily and scurrilously dragged through a process that, by all impressions, had a predetermined hostile outcome.

    Yes, Asheville does own the water system. I recommend reading the posts I’ve put up at this blog to learn more about that. Just use the search bar.

    No, we’re not seeking legislation to overturn Sullivan. Sullivan Acts have been consistently supported by Republicans and Democrats in the NCGA. It’s illogical to suggest that Sullivan is endangered. Kind of like saying that saying gays will get married in NC without an amendment to the Constitution.

    Please read the rate studies I reference in my earlier comment, you’ll see that MSD has had many more and more drastic rate hikes than CoA and that our rates are very middle of the road when compared to others cities in NC. Further, you’ll see there is absolutely no rate increase this year for CoA. Not so with MSD.

    The General Assembly allows the City to use 5% of water revenue to make infrastructure improvements associated with water projects. In practice, this means that if we tear up a road and sidewalk to put a water line in, we replace the road and sidewalk. Prior to that, we weren’t allowed to use water funds for that purpose.

    The current systems are working very well. The cost to the taxpayer of the transition to Moffitt’s mix of sewage and water is as yet undetermined. Compensation to the city for the loss of assets is as yet undetermined. This thing could very well end up costing a LOT more if the Sewer/Water blend goes forward.

    Thanks for throwing all that ‘perspective’ up here, Michael, and I hope you’ll circle back around to actually back the ideas up with facts. Rep. Moffitt is, so far as I can tell, acting out a vendetta against the city of Asheville to the detriment of all the people of Buncombe County.

  25. Andrew Dahm says:

    Michael, you’re advancing a “prospective harm” argument: Though the city is legally prohibited from charging differential water rates, it certainly acts like it wants to.

    The legislative territory included in this “logical” argument strongly favors gun control: Murder is illegal, but we need to take guns away from people, because they sure act like they like murdering people.

    I certainly hope Mr. Moffitt’s party is returning those NRA dollars even as we speak.

    As to the misappropriation of water revenues, it’s plain there’s been plenty of that. The City used water revenues for a variety of purposes post-depression-of-29, because property tax millages were essentially fixed as part of the debt restructuring program the City undertook at that time. Given the fact that “enlightened bookkeeping” handed down the resource that’s being fought over today, it seems a tad churlish to squawk about a few sidewalks.

    As to the “who owns it” canard, I’ll just say that the line of argument beginning with City residents who endured 50+ years of Chapter 11-like restructuring having no ownership interest in the reservoirs will, inevitably, end with somebody, probably some company, owning the reservoirs.

    I agree, it’s very complicated. At least the part where you start making changes and expropriating resources is very complicated. The status quo ante, however, is much simpler: The city cannot charge differential water rates without violating state law, and no Council that wants to get re-elected and walk out their front doors without stepping in something is going to breathe a word about privatization.

  26. Gordon Smith says:

    Here’s a nice reference page for the system if you’d like to learn more: http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/Water.aspx

  27. Doug Gibson says:


    So – inquiring minds want to know – did the City of Asheville renege on its promises a few years back to the Gerber Company over water rates? (How many years?) Did that cause them to close the plant? (Or were they planning to relocate anyway?) Did Ball Glass Manufacturing Company close as a result? (Or did they close for other reasons?) Did that lead to the loss of hundreds and hundreds of jobs, or just hundreds? (Or something less than hundreds?) Were all those jobs lost in Buncombe County?

    Got a link, anyway? Or do those few years take us back before the Internet got so darn popular?

  28. Wiley says:

    Councilman Smith,

    Could you please clarify your stance, I’m a little confused. When you were running for City Council, one of your policy issues was to: “Make repeal of the Sullivan Acts our top legislative priority.” http://gordonforasheville.com/environmental-sustainability.html

    Now you’re saying that no one wants to repeal the Sullivan Acts, and they’re widely popular? If that’s the case, why did you advocate for it’s repeal? And then that doesn’t jive with Mr. Minicozzi and Rep. Fisher saying we don’t need the Sullivan Acts anymore: http://www.mountainx.com/article/40671/Public-gives-legislators-an-earful-on-water-system

    Also, you previously posted that the City of Asheville is not advocating the repeal of the Sullivan Acts. It turns out, they were advocating its repeal since 2006: http://ftp.ashevillenc.gov/assets/2F65D32C-1C78-433F-BD6E-814F9F99C41A.pdf

    So, if the City Council in 2006 (which includes Bellamy and Davis) wanted to seek the repeal of the Sullivan Acts, are you saying subsequent elections (including yours) have represented an active turn away from those previous positions? Even though you ran on the platform advocating the Sullivan Act’s repeal?

    As your constituent, I appreciate you taking a stand on these issues. Thanks.

  29. Davyne Dial says:

    Thanks for that link Wiley. Gordon’s web page ends with this campaign promise. “By partnering with Buncombe County and other surrounding governmental bodies, we can create a long-term strategy for managing this most precious resource.”

    Which kinda sound like what the committee recommends should happen “It does not provide legislation that would force the change because Moffitt said he would like the sewerage district and city work out a transfer.

    If they don’t, the General Assembly could act next year, he said. There would be no guarantee of its passage.

    “The next logical step is to put turf battles aside, develop a plan that is acceptable for everyone and move forward with it. But if they don’t, we will work it out for them,” he said.

  30. Gordon Smith says:

    Thanks, y’all. With some experience on Council, it’s become clear to me that Sullivan repeal isn’t anywhere on the political horizon, so my sense is that Council has moved on. Further, if future legislators want to repeal Sullivan, they can – no matter who’s running the system. City government, quite obviously, can’t snap their fingers and make Raleigh do anything.

    I’ve been pleased to help bring City and County governments into a better working relationship, and we’ve heard from County Commissioners who have stood up for the current management system. This effort is reaching into the past to remedy problems that do not exist in the present.

  31. Doug Gibson says:

    Michael, comment #21:

    It’s my understanding that the City of Asheville reneged on its promises a few years back to the Gerber Company over water, causing them to close the plant (and, as a result, the Ball Glass Manufacturing Company located next door) — which resulted in both the companies’ relocation and the loss of hundreds and hundreds of jobs here in Buncombe County.

    Davyne, comment #22:

    If this is a fact, then it’s obvious Asheville City Management has yet again played fast and loose with a valuable community asset….to the detriment of the community.

    Somehow this link landed in my inbox – an AP article about Gerber. It includes this nugget:

    The company struggled financially through the 1980s then began cutting back. [Gerber President and Chief Executive] Piergallini said more efficient equipment made it possible to close one of Gerber’s three domestic plants, in Asheville, N.C., leaving the Michigan facility and an Arkansas plant.

    One gets the impression, sometimes, that some of the problems in the past didn’t exist in the past, either.

  32. Dixiegirlz says:

    “One gets the impression, sometimes, that some of the problems in the past didn’t exist in the past, either.

    Maybe so, maybe not. I’m under the impression that there is much more to be revealed.

  33. Doug Gibson says:


    Okay, so my last line is debatable. It was meant to be snark. And the snark was directed at Michael for what appears to be an unsubstantiated rumor. And a little at Davyne for what strikes me as an almost irresponsible credulity.

    So can we cut the innuendo? If Michael has any more to “reveal” about the Gerber plant, now would be a good time to tell us what his “understanding” is based on.

    Oh, and Dixiegirlz, feel free to join in. How did you gather your impression? What evidence do you have that things were so screwed up in the past that, regardless of how things are working now, we need to change things?

  34. Dixiegirlz says:

    I did say if. As for my experience…I’ve seen a certain lack of accountability, as many here are well aware. Which made me exquisitly aware of a lack of oversight on many levels in our community. If you are really interested, feel free to Google my name.

  35. Chris Dixon says:

    The legislature has decided that Asheville should be punished in perpetuity for sins committed nearly a century ago. This punishment takes the form of never being able to use water as an enticement to annexation. Cities in NC grow by pushing out water. Water rates should do no more than sustain the system. The city benefits by acquiring the property taxes of annexed areas. Since Asheville cannot annex, it would only make sense to replace low density manufacturing within the city limits with higher density residential and retail sites that generate higher property values and sales taxes. (No one likes to live right next to factories.) So, the loss of Gerber and Ball are unintended consequences of Raleigh’s continued meddling of Asheville’s water, not of some grand design by the city council. I’d think that a conservative such as Mr. Muller would advocate against such intervention by a more removed locus of power against one closer to the people to prevent such unintended consequences.

  36. TJ says:

    “Oh, and Dixiegirlz, feel free to join in”

    Okay, class, let’s make sure everyone gets to join in this discussion. We don’t want anyone feeling left out. 😉

  37. Doug Gibson says:

    Wait. So are Dixiegirlz and Davyne Dial the same person? So how does that work, exactly?

  38. TJ says:

    You got me…. I’m still trying to figure out the whole Trinity thing at church. Now, I gotta figure out how a person IRL does that? 😉

    One of those internet mysteries, I guess…or, the flying spaghetti monster…

  39. Davyne Dial says:

    It has to do with which computer or iPad I am using to comment from.

  40. TJ says:

    Sorry Davyne,

    I couldn’t resist…it was just too funny 😉

    Hope all is well with you. And you. 😉

  41. Davyne Dial says:

    Doing well. Stayin’ outta trouble. <;-\

    No offense taken. Half the time I never notice how ScrooHoo has me signed on. I suspect it is also affected by the browser I'm using. Then there are three computers I use regularly and an iPad and iPhone…I cannot keep up with which I used to get signed on a certain way. A flying spaghetti monster could also be at work here…splatterin the place up with gremlins.

  42. TJ says:

    “Then there are three computers I use regularly and an iPad and iPhone”

    I didn’t think it was some level 6 security issue. I AM a bit envious of all the Apples you have. I have 3 iPods (my kids inherited my old 2), an iPhone, an old iBook, a G4 (with a REALLY cool large screen. I’d trade all but one to get a MacBook.

    I have to use one name and password, or I forget ;-).

    You’re so busy, I’m not surprised you don’t keep up with your logins ;-). But, I know you’re all about transparency…so, no need for me to get Occupy to occupy your space…besides, we’re too busy with Tue…Tax Day, and the May 9 BoA shareholder’s meeting in Charlotte.

    If I get arrested, I’ll Skype you on the iPhone.

    Steve Jobs would love you ;-).

    So, Dixiegirlz…Davyne Dial….whoever you are,

  43. Keith Thomson says:

    It did seem somewhat like a sock puppet account, so it is good to have the disclosure made for transparency purposes.

  44. Dixiegirlz says:

    Computers become obsolete in just a few short years, but I cannot find the cruel resolve to get rid of the older ones with early OSX operating systems. So I have a collection dating back to 2003.

  45. Dixiegirlz says:

    Even with my avatar being the same pic. I don’t think so. Besides all the regulars here know Davyne and I are one and the same? I’ve never been one to go the sock puppet route.

    Since being questioned about this all important point..I’ve been paying closer attention. It appears to be an iPad issue. As I’m now signed on automatically as Dixiegirlz, whereas an our,ago I was commenting via my MacBookPro and automatically signed on by ScrooHoo’s “management” as Davyne.

    Now we can get back to the important stuff..this thread is not about me.

  46. Dixiegirlz says:

    Dam-u-autocorrect !

  47. TJ says:

    “Now we can get back to the important stuff..{this thread is not about me}.”

    ;-)…Tim Peck could take a few lessons from you, D.

    I stand by you with NO hesitation…you are definitely NOT a sock puppet! Too much spitfire, and honesty in your bones. ;-).

    “It appears to be an iPad issue”

    Let me know if it becomes too distressing for you. I will be glad to lift your burden with the autocorrect (although, I have that on ALL my Apples). That’s the least I can do as a therapist and a humanitarian.

    Now – back to Tim P. >8-\ [oops, I mean the “important stuff.”]. Damn autocorrect! It didn’t work when it was supposed to 😉

  48. Jason Bugg says:

    This has to be some sort of karma for the whole “y’all” thing.

  49. Doug Gibson says:


    It’s not a problem. Sorry it took me so long to figure it out. I think I had always gone by the gravatar, and assumed you were the same person, but then I realized I was talking to Dixiegirlz about Davyne, and started to have some doubts.

    And to my mind it’s not sock-puppetry unless the other account is set up specifically in order to deceive.

  50. Mark Cates says:

    Michael Muller says:

    Hasn’t the repeal of the Sullivan Acts consistently been among the top legislative priorities submitted to the General Assembly each session by the City of Asheville?

    Councilman Smith says:

    That’s a pile of stuff you bring up, almost none of which is correct… Rather than asking me to refute these various things, it might be helpful if you’d just prove them.

    Wiley says:

    [When you were running for City Council, one of your policy issues was to: “Make repeal of the Sullivan Acts our top legislative priority.” ]

    Doesn’t look like it took much effort to prove the point. Nor does it help that in your response to Wiley you validate Moffit’s concerns about the Asheville City Council!

    “With some experience on Council, it’s become clear to me”

    You acknowledge that you didn’t have the experience and are making a 180 degree turn on an issue that was important to you in your campaign. That’s fine, I appreciate your growth. However it begs the question… if Democrats take control of Raliegh will more “experience” find you doing another big flip-flop?

    You are now the poster child for the concern expressed in Moffit’s report. Let’s hope he has better things to do than read Scru Hoo.

  51. TJ says:

    “You are now the poster child for the concern expressed in Moffit’s report. Let’s hope he has better things to do than read Scru Hoo.”

    Actually, it would probably be a good thing if he did. However, I think HE thinks he has better things to do than read ScruHoo. HE seems to think he has better things to do than REALLY listen or respond to the concerns of the folks directly impacted by it.

    I’m sure we(or, you – altho’ I would guess you have better things to do with YOUR time 😉 )can find a way to forward the info to him, though, eh? We wouldn’t want him to feel left out, now, would we?

    When do you want to get lunch again? REALLY. I like learning about other people and considering other points of view.

  52. Andrew Dahm said:

    Michael, you’re advancing a “prospective harm” argument: Though the city is legally prohibited from charging differential water rates, it certainly acts like it wants to.

    The legislative territory included in this “logical” argument strongly favors gun control: Murder is illegal, but we need to take guns away from people, because they sure act like they like murdering people.

    Thanks for your comment, Andrew — I’d really like to meet you some day. I hear great things about you and you’re obviously a well-informed and thoughtful person.

    With all due respect, however, I disagree with you here. It’s pretty clear that certain influential members of our community, some on city council, would like to see the Sullivan Acts repealed and are working the backchannels to that end (despite how they might like to deny it or like to spin it). I understand that it’s a cause especially close to Vice Mayor Manheimer‘s heart, in fact.

    We all know that the political winds change from time to time and a few people elected here and there with the right committee assignments can alter the landscape entirely. From what I can figure out, Moffitt’s legislation would be a check on that eventuality — protecting county rate payers down the road from unilateral control of the water system (by the politicians in the city) should the Sullivan Acts ever be thrown out.

    A better analogy (to use your example) would be why we need the Second Amendment to the Federal constitution to protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms — so that state governments can’t take take those rights away by legislative caprice. And when it comes to the “prospective harm” argument I think it’s healthy (and warranted) to be a little suspicious of politicians and their motives, don’t you?

    I’m glad you acknowledge the misappropriation of water revenues by the city. I don’t mean to be churlish and I don’t know much, which is why it’ll be interesting to see what this audit turns up. A little transparency is a good thing so we have all the facts. I’m still learning things, and I apologize to Doug Gibson for not getting back to him on the Gerber stuff. Still learning and asking questions.

    As for the privatization boogeyman, I see no evidence of that, honestly. That’s being thrown out there to scare people.

    And when politicians squawk at this decibel level it usually means they’re trying to distort the truth, cover something up, or feel that their turf is being threatened. There are lots of entrenched interests in this drama, that I do know. And I suspect there are lots of old closet doors that certain people would rather not see opened — protecting the status quo and all that.

    Did you see this hilarious video?

  53. Dixiegirlz says:

    Michael, I am in total agreement with your last paragraph….in spades.

  54. Doug Gibson says:

    The reason the Sullivan Acts seemed un-repeal-able (is that a word?) is that for decades Buncombe’s legislative delegation sought consensus in passing local issue bills. Until now, like a lot of people, I thought a repeal couldn’t happen because in order to get one, you’d have to get Tom Apodaca (and Republicans like Wilma Sherrill or Charles Thomas) to sign off on it.

    All you folks worrying about repeal are right to do so now, however. Rep. Moffitt has established a new precedent. Just get approval from the representative in district 114 and the senator in district 49, and hey presto the Sullivan Acts are gone. The rest of the county can complain all it wants, and it won’t make any difference.

    After all, isn’t that how it should be?

  55. That’s how the Democrats set it up, Doug. They’ve been in control of the state for a hundred years.

  56. Andrew Dahm says:

    I wouldn’t characterize myself as thoughtful, Michael, but it’s thoughtful of you to say.

    I think the jumping-off point for me is the notion that, somehow, transferring control of a utility from an elected body to an unelected body is a good thing.

    Sullivan is not a very good deal for the City. If you’d care to argue that point, go ahead on. If representatives of the City work “behind the scenes” to overturn the Sullivan regime, there’s nothing nefarious about that. It’s called representation.

    And, I think you would agree that – absent Sullivan – the City’s interest viz. differential rates would likely be sprawl-and-traffic-centric. By which I mean big developers who want to run 3″ mains halfways up a mountain scalped off for a golf course down a road that’ll need improvement at somebody’s expense would likely have a problem in a non-Sullivan Buncombe. A rate schedule can include charges for new lines, with differential rates based on the size of the lines. With other upcharges that make voluntary annexation look pretty attractive. This kind of horsetrading happens, I’m told, in every city of this state, except Asheville.

    It’s unlikely, however, that current ratepayers – who one legislator actually claims to be speaking for – would see any difference. I really think the interest in repealing Sullivan has to do with who pays the costs of sprawl and unchecked development, not the War-of-Asheville-Aggression scenario that’s made its way into a report produced by a committee in Raleigh, supposedly by grownups I am reliably informed.

    And, of course, rates will go up as soon as MSD gets ahold of the thing.

  57. This stuff is so complicated.

    Andrew, why do you believe that transferring control of a utility from an elected body to an unelected body is a good thing? I’m not saying I necessarily disagree but unelected bodies are, if anything, more political and prone to engage in all kinds of shenanigans. We’ve seen that with some of these “independent” redistricting committees, for instance. Good intentions don’t necessarily produce good results.

    I don’t know if Sullivan is a good deal for the city or not, but I do know that sticking it to county folks to pay for improvements downtown isn’t necessarily the fairest thing to do. There are also some problems with that politically — problems I don’t think some of these good ole boys and girls in Montford and West Asheville fully appreciate. I do know that Gordon is madder than a Wet Hen over this, which is always fun to watch.

    The ABA and ADA both advocate repealing the Sullivan Acts. When the discussion goes down the road of the Sullivan Acts, they readily deny that they are seeking repeal. That sounds like a fib. Even Gordon campaigned on that issue — and Gordon never really changes his mind about anything because he’s never wrong.

    Secondly, when you talk about differential water rates, different rate structures, etc. that can only be accomplished by the repeal of Sullivan. And the MSD is a much newer system (circa late 60’s to early 70’s I think) so comparing their rate history to City of Asheville’s is inaccurate (not to mention the simple fact that sewer is more technical and complicated to deal with than water).

    As to the sprawl argument, that’s one I tend to agree with. I’m a big fan of urban density. It’s interesting that you bring up annexation too, as I think that’s maybe an underlying motivation here. Coerced Annexation rather than Forced Annexation, if you will.

    It’s my understanding that according to settled law, Asheville does not actually own the water system, despite the assurances of Councilman Smith. From what I gather, it’s actually a public water utility constituted for the purposes of providing water to City of Asheville water customers and Buncombe County water customers (more recently Henderson County customers) that is operated by the City of Asheville. And the bonds are backed by water bill payments — not city taxes — which is a very important distinction and one that tends to get lost in all the strident hyperbole.

    Consequently, There would be no cost to the taxpayers for any of this — as the taxpayers, strictly speaking, have no interest in the system, just the rate payers. In order for the taxpayers to have put money into the system, a vote of the people is required.

    Maybe we should hold a county-wide referendum on the issue next time there’s a municipal election. We could do lots of advertising and limit the number of polling places to just inside the city — that’d be fun!

  58. Doug Gibson says:


    While you’re poking around, researching, waiting for stuff to come to light, can you look to find of an example of a local issue bill dealing with Buncombe that didn’t have the support of the entire Buncombe delegation? Pre-Moffitt, I mean.

    Without that, your “Democrats set things up that way” response means absolutely nothing in this context. Less than nothing, since it’s obviously an attempt to change the subject.

  59. I’ll get right on that, Doug 😉

    My point is that it’s your party — which has been in control of the state for 100 years — that’s consistently tied the hands of municipal and county governments in North Carolina.

    Y’all made the big government bed — and now you’re all whining that you have to lie in it. That’s a little disingenuous, wouldn’t you say?

  60. shadmarsh says:

    So is “the demi-crats (say it like Bugs bunny, it’s funny)have been in control of the state for a hundred years” the new political trope we are tossing around to obfuscate issues?

  61. Gordon Smith says:

    It’s fun having Muller, Cates, and Hoagland defend Rep. Moffitt’s position here at ScruHoo. Makes things lively. What a team!

    The argument is essentially the same one made for Amendment One – that their has to be another layer of legal barrier on top of the current legal barriers that have effectively prohibited the behavior. It’s a solution in search of a problem, and it’s unnecessarily divisive. The AC-T Editorial Board said it well, “We don’t believe Moffitt won a mandate to single-handedly solve everything he thinks is a problem. There’s a big difference between driving a discussion and driving a bulldozer.”

    I think the City will take its time to review the final report when it comes out and try to determine ways forward. There’s no rush. With the release of the final report, we’ll all have time to slowly digest the material. I’m confident that a sober, deliberate, apolitical approach will reveal the most reasonable path forward.

  62. Doug Gibson says:


    I have never complained about having so much control vested in state government. Quite the contrary. So many of the problems our state has faced during its recent history – problems of race, poverty, and development – have been easy enough to ignore at the local level that it has required state government to properly address them.

    From the formation of the state educational system to the passage of the Racial Justice Act, state government has been used as a means of fostering equality among all residents of the state and allowing communities of interest to form alliances across county lines.

    And when state power has been abused, some of the most egregious examples have been those championed by Republicans. Pre-empting local gun laws, for example, meant that the policy needs of urban centers got ignored in favor of the ideology of rural counties. That happened in 1995, when Republicans controlled the House and split control of the Senate with Democrats. Similarly, the restrictions on sexual education curricula meant that communities could not adopt their own standards in the teaching of their own kids – another policy adopted in 1995.

    Remember, too, that local autonomy has absolutely nothing to do with what we’re talking about. The use of local issue legislation (which the water bill is in all but name) augments local autonomy by streamlining the process by which bills dealing with local issues can be considered. That works great when there’s a consensus on local policy.

    But that’s changed now: even if a “local” issue gets defined as such by a single representative and senator, it can apparently get railroaded through despite what other affected communities might think. That’s how the county commission issue got settled; that’s how Tim Moffitt has (as I understand it) taken away the right of referendum from Buncombe voters.

    And that’s how, ten or twenty years from now, some enterprising Asheville Democrat could scrape off the county and environs and reclaim the water system for Asheville. Because all it takes is one legislator in each house.

    So all those folks in the county worrying about the repeal of Sullivan II have a right to worry. Just because they’re projecting doesn’t mean they’re wrong.

  63. Andrew Dahm says:

    Just to clarify, “jumping off point” in para 1 of my caffeine-induced screed was meant in the sense of, “I’m jumping off the bandwagon if you’re talking about transferring control from elected to unelected &c.”

    I don’t think transferring elected to unelected is a good idea is what I said 1 gallon of coffee ago. That is to say.

    The whole “sticking it to [fill in the blank]” argument hardly qualifies as aspirational politics, but I’ll play.

    What percentage of Buncombe County sales tax revenues are generated and collected within the city limits of Asheville? Please express that as a percentage of countywide receipts. Is the percentage of receipts remitted from county to city after receipt from state a greater or lesser percentage than the percentage generated? Explain any discrepancies, and please show your work.

    Please summarize costs of emergency services (police, fire) funded by the city but extended to county residents. Please express the total cost of such calls as a percentage of total city funding for these services. Please compare this derived percentage to county transfer payments to city for extrajurisdictional service. Explain any discrepancies with your payment.

    There’s more, but lunch is finished and I have to file my taxes (i.e., send my money to government-hating Republicans in Wymoaning).

  64. Mark Cates says:


    [It’s fun having Muller, Cates, and Hoagland defend Rep. Moffitt’s position here at ScruHoo.]

    Do you read your own blog? I’m starting to think there’s too much water on the brain….

    Mark Cates (March 14th, 2012 at 11:14 am)
    [My biggest criticism of this process so far is that too many of our local officials are downplaying the challenges we face with the water system.]

    I’m not defending Moffitt. I am upset that our elected officials are doing such a poor job of representing the interests of Asheville.

    Mark Cates (January 28th, 2012 at 12:00 am)
    [I have not advocated at all for taking the water system away from Asheville, but quite the opposite.]

    The progressive and Democrat leadership is doing a miserable job at making the case for Asheville to keep its water system or even be well compensated. All the money lost in lawsuits quickly comes to mind.

    Your attacks on Moffitt are a case study in failed leadership! You guys are so busy discounting the huge challenges we face and trying to make issues out of non-issues that you have lost sight of the big picture. It’s incumbent on our city council to actually work with Raleigh, not fight.

    Mark Cates (January 28th, 2012 at 12:58 pm)
    [I will say this… my preference is to have Asheville solve the water infrastructure problem by working with Buncombe and Raleigh.]

    The Asheville City Council was all about repealing the Sullivan Acts, but now have flip-flopped. Then we have our legislative officials who actually voted and burdened Asheville with the Sullivan Acts, but are now concerned with the sanctity of home rule.

    Let’s take a trip in the way back machine:

    John (July 8th, 2011 at 11:08 pm)
    [Cates is definitely talking about something important. Asheville does need to have conversation about its water system. It’s something we’ve put off and put off and put off. And then we all said: “Screw it, let’s put in bike lanes.”]

    Our credibility in Raleigh is diminished by the current level of hypocrisy at a time when we need it and leadership most of all.

  65. shadmarsh says:

    html tags are your friends.

  66. TJ says:

    “that their has to be another layer of legal barrier on top of the current legal barriers that have effectively prohibited the behavior”

    Well, Gordon, that is something the city council did recently, as well. Re: ‘camping’ ordinance…

    Naming that section of land a public park, and it having the same curfew was sufficient to close the Occupy tents (altho’ the folks left were also among the homeless). I’m not saying the tents should still stand now, anyway, but, adding the last ordinance just criminalized homelessness and took away that “safety valve” that Cecil mentioned. And, altho’ the APD kindly say it is NOT their policy to cut up tents, there have been increasing arrests and confiscation of those peoples’ limited assets, i.e., tents.

    The last ordinance was overkill.

    So, while I have faith that that the council and others CAN have reasoned discussions, I hope it fares better than the aftereffects of the decision regarding the tents.

    BTW, are they ever going to put up the sign stating the area is a free speech zone where council agreed it is? And, did they know that the “free speech zone” is within a close distance(someone said in the same proximaty-a crossover) as the entrance to the courthouse where it states a city code dissallowing assemblies or such things a free speech zone might entail.

    I hope a better outcome comes out of the water issue, but, I guess both sides have room to grow and learn.

    Good thing you’re the resident therapist ;-).

  67. Tom Sullivan says:

    T.J., If you haven’t seen this, check out the 2000 U.S. District Court ruling that Occupy is using in NYC to protect sleeping on the sidewalk as a protest:

    Wall Street: #Occupied

  68. Andrew Dahm says:

    By the way, a recent trip to Georgia provided some interesting reading, and Rep Don Balfour (guess which party) is making Mr. Moffitt look pretty good. Perhaps a new client for local Republican campaign consultants, no?

    Mr. Cates is insulted and Mr. Muller is confused by complicated stuff. It’s good to know most of their party has a clear idea of what legislation should do. As that guy said, “l’Etat et moi.”

  69. Ascend of Asheville says:

    I don’t have the time I need to jump into this cluster fuck, but some of this is just stupid.

    First, MC: If you quote some random piece of shit from a comment thread from a year ago, it proves nothing, except that you have a talent for making non-arguments seem like actual thought. Which is your only trick, besides painting yourself the offended victim. Quoting yourself to accomplish that is even more tiresome. I expected better.

    MM: Differential rates are not, as such, used to make improvements downtown at the expense of the real people out in the hinterland where you have to act straight and change your accent. Differential rates are necessary to offset the cost of some good Gentry wanting to build the ultimate gun club housing project way the hell over yonder instead of up against “Little Harlem” downtown.

    It ties into the annexation issue though too. The Biltmore Park project did not turn up right at that spot by accident; they get city services for county tax rates and who wouldn’t love that? The best part is that starving the city for revenue that way keeps little Harlem from turning itself into anything successful.

    Taking advantage is human nature. That is part of why government matters. A government that actively helps people take advantage of others is not my idea of good government, but in both these cases that is exactly what the Republican state Government has upheld by allowing the outlying areas to have access to services and infrastructure they haven’t adequately paid for while preventing the City providing the services and infrastructure any recourse to collect, except by raising taxes on the citizens inside the city.

    Which I should not have to point out is the exact scenario, in reverse, that Moffitt is so afraid of that it takes several layers of legislative redundancy to protect against.

    And look, a carriage return.

    Same thing with that crap about ownership of the water system. I own stock in Coca-cola, but to say I own Coke is pretty laughable. Me and all the other small investors in the world put together still don’t functionally come close to “owning” Coca-cola. I think several people have basically argued this point.

    By your logic, whoever has the largest water bill then owns the most of the water system, so we should let them make the rules. That would turn out pretty great I’ll bet. Delta uses the most jet fuel, but I don’t recommend letting them set prices for everybody.

    Still, it is good to see that even Republicans will seize upon some good old Socialist rhetoric when it suits their purpose. What I don’t get is how the “Representatives” constitute valid representation of a constituency but the City Council does not.

  70. TJ says:

    Thanks, Tom, I had not.

    That is what they did at the Fed building, and, I think that got lost with the uproar and controversy of the tents. I think it would be great to get back to that, especially with the 99% Spring and upcoming shareholders meeting in Charlotte.

  71. Michael Muller says:

    “Sober, deliberate, and apolitical” are just the words that leap to mind when I think of you, Gordon 😉