“A very unsubtle threat”


The North Fork Watershed

The North Fork Watershed

Buncombe County’s legislative delegation (new and old) and city council met at the Civic Center for a breakfast this week scheduled to discuss the city’s draft legislative agenda. Henderson County’s Rep. Chuck McGrady attended as well. Since his GOP colleagues, Nathan Rep. Ramsey (NC-115) and Rep. Tim Moffitt (NC-116) lost their reelection bids this fall, the dynamic between Buncombe and Raleigh has shifted, although Democrats will still find themselves outnumbered and powerless. Just less so thanks to John Ager and Brian Turner.

On Asheville FM’s Making Progress Monday, Asheville city councilman, Cecil Bothwell commented on the future of the city’s lawsuit over control of the Asheville water system. McGrady had joined Moffitt and Ramsey in passing the bill stripping the city of control of its water system and transferring control to a regional commission. McGrady delivered what Bothwell describes as “a very unsubtle threat” [timestamp 37:50] to the city and the county’s new, all-Democrat House delegation, essentially, to play ball if they expect to get anything from the GOP-controlled legislature [timestamp 37:50]:

Depending on how that lawsuit occurs will really determine what happens next. But I will tell you — I want to very clear, I’ve talked to again Senator Apodaka about this — if the lawsuit is decided adverse to the position the General Assembly took last time, he and I do anticipate filing legislation to correct whatever the mistake might be. … I’m quite prepared to come back with a different approach to the same issue.

That would appear to be an empty threat. The city won the first round in Wake Superior Court. The judge struck down the water bill as unconstitutional. The suit is now in the appellate court. The only way around the “local bill” constitutional issue would be to allow the state to appropriate control of water systems in Republican-held districts. Ask Greenville what it thinks about that.

I would urge you to continue to do things like what you did with the airport and with Henderson County and your neighbors. Because many of your neighbors are represented by colleagues in my caucus, and they’re gonna probably turn, in terms of their interest in solving some of Asheville’s problems, based on how they feel Asheville is working with their local governments.

So if Asheville, Buncombe County, and its Democratic legislators don’t play ball in a way acceptable to legislators from neighboring Republican districts — no matter that Republicans don’t need Democrats’ help in passing whatever they want through both houses and the governor’s mansion — well forget you, Buncombe voters!


  1. And if you look at Asheville’s Legislative Agenda, it’s a fairly empty threat too. All of the things on their draft wishlist for the legislative session involve statewide issues.

    For example:

    • Support legislation which restores lost revenue due to the repeal of Privilege License Tax authority.
    • Oppose sales tax distribution reform that would decrease sales tax revenue to Asheville.
    • Support legislation which enhances revenue for public education and transportation infrastructure without negatively impacting existing municipal revenues.
    • Oppose legislation that limits or removes local control over public utility systems.
    • Oppose legislation that limits municipal control of enterprise funds.
    • Support restoration of economic development incentives which maximize Asheville’s economic vitality, such as film and historic building credits.
    • Oppose legislation that removes or limits local control of the regulation of trees.
    • Oppose legislation that preempts municipal authority to regulate design and aesthetic controls in historic districts.
    • Oppose legislation that would limit municipal authority to regulate environmental standards such as erosion control or stormwater quality.

    And on and on. These are all things that affect cities and towns statewide, and the current General Assembly is all about screwing cities and towns without bias. It doesn’t matter if Asheville wants or doesn’t want any of these things – that will have no bearing on the NCGA. So Chuck’s threat is just a bluff to see how far he can cow Asheville City Council, and get them to lay down for whatever he and his fellow GOPers want, like they did on the airport.

    Oh, there was one thing that Council does want that is particular to Asheville:

    • Support legislation that clarifies laws related to public toplessness including, but not limited to, clarification of indecent exposure law, N.C.G.S. 14-190.9.

    They all had a good laugh at that one, but you can bet that no matter how much they kiss Chuck McGrady’s butt, it will be irresistible to the bubbas in Raleigh to go on letting Asheville be a laughing stock on that one.

  2. Joe Minicozzi says:

    Perhaps he means that the State will pay Asheville for the infrastructure that they are seizing? I’m sure he’s intending on delivering that check on the back of a unicorn, with Apodaca in a gnome’s outfit. Have a positive attitude about it Tom.