Archive for Action
The Campaign for Southern Equality is marching across the south, calling for full federal equality for LGBT citizens. Watch the new video. All of us have a responsibility to be as brave as the couples who are requesting marriage licenses and standing up for a more perfect union. With all of the unjust laws being considered here in North Carolina against the poor, the middle class, minorities, college students, the elderly, pregnant women, etc. – understand that our LGBT compatriots are fighting to speed the day when they will be allowed recognition under the law.
After you watch the video, here’s a link that may help you know what to do next.
This hit my inbox yesterday, and I thought I’d share it here:
Despite the sincere appeals from many of you, and the principled arguments made by representatives of the City of Asheville, the NC General Assembly has passed House Bill 488, the “Regionalization of Public Utilities”.
The main intent of this bill is to forcibly remove control of the Asheville water system and pristine 22,000 acre watershed from Asheville’s elected officials, and put it in the hands of an unelected Board controlled by the State. The studies have all been finalized: there will be no economic benefit to ratepayers from transferring control of Asheville’s water, there will be no “efficiencies” gained – this is about wrenching control of water from the people into the hands of the State.
The threat of privatization of this vital resource still exists, and the threat to make this the first of many such seizures across the State still exists. We need to take a stand now just as was done last November when 86% of Asheville voters expressed opposition to the sale or lease of the water system. To date, over 50 municipalities in North Carolina have passed resolutions opposing the forced transfer of local government infrastructure.
Our best hope to derail this ill-advised juggernaut lies with NC Governor Pat McCrory. As a former Mayor himself, he has to see that the State seizure of municipal assets is a terrible idea. What City or Town will make investments and improvements in their infrastructure (the kind that Asheville has recently made in their water system), once the precedent has been set that if one greedy neighbor wants your assets, the State may step in and take them? This is what is happening to Asheville.
Please take the time to send an email to Governor Pat McCrory.
Or give his office a call (919) 733-5811. As always: be polite, don’t attack the bill sponsors, be persuasive. Mention “Asheville Water” or the “Regionalization of Public Utilities” bill. Should the bill reach his desk, ask him to please Veto!
For more info & other ways you can help, you can always visit SaveOurWaterWNC.com
Thanks for speaking up for safe, publicly-controlled drinking water!
Barry & the whole crew at Save Our Water WNC
Back in 2010, I introduced same-sex domestic partner benefits policy for employees of the City of Asheville. Recognizing the relationships and health needs of our LGBT employees was a big step forward. As city officials it’s important that demonstrate leadership to ensure the values of our community are reflected in government. A year after passing same-sex domestic partner benefits, I worked with over 50 clergy from the area to introduce and pass the City’s Equality Resolution, which included a Domestic Partner Registry, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy, taking a stand against bullying, and endorsing same-sex marriage. I’m grateful to the Council members who supported providing increased safety, opportunity, and acceptance for those citizens marginalized by unjust laws and policies.
Since that time we’ve seen Mission Hospital and Care Partners, two of Buncombe County’s largest employers adopt same-sex domestic partner benefits. Most recently, leaders in the Buncombe County Commission have taken similar steps to protect and recognize their LGBT employees. Their wise decisions mean that thousands of area workers are treated with respect.
We can do more. It’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT citizens when offering housing, and that’s something we have a responsibility to address. When offering economic incentives to business partners, we can guarantee that they include sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination policies.
Anything short of full equality for our LGBT citizens is unjust, and I will work to continue our march toward a city that demonstrates its values in all of its policies.
If you believe that these steps are the right ones, then please take the time to visit my campaign website and volunteer or donate. It’s critical that we have leaders on City Council who have demonstrated ability to get things done, and I’m asking for your help to continue this important work.
Organizations Representing Tens of Millions of Americans to Deliver Over 2 Million Petition Signatures Directly to the White House Rejecting Cuts to Social Security Benefits
Will Be Joined By U.S. Senator Who Vows to Block Benefit Cuts
Coalition Includes AFL-CIO, MoveOn.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO, National Organization for Women, Social Security Works, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Democracy For America, Campaign for America’s Future, The Other 98%, Progressives United, Blue America, Rebuild the Dream, Center for Community Change, Health Care for America Now and Others
(Washington, DC) – Senator Bernie Sanders and Reps. Mark Takano and Rick Nolan will join organizations representing tens of millions of Americans to deliver more than two million petition signatures opposing cuts to Social Security benefits to the White House on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Thanks to all of you who have written your legislators as part of a broad action letting them know the facts about the forced water/sewer merger. More shoes have dropped, and we’ve learned that the water takeover coupled with other bills will hobble our city budget to the tune of over four million dollars. During a town hall budget meeting today, the representative from NC116 introduced legislation to de-annex the airport from the city. Insult to injuy, and Asheville’s residents are the ones left to pay the price of this hostile, irresponsible attack on our city.
You have already written to your legislators, and today I’m asking you to take another step. Take that email you wrote, and turn it into a letter to the editor for publication across the state. Below you’ll find links to newspapers’ LTE pages. 200 words or less is an appropriate length. To reference the facts for your letters, check this post. Choose your favorite, or send letter to them all. This is a statewide issue, as setting precedent for seizing assets will have a chilling effect on infrastructure investment and economic development across North Carolina.
Email letters to the Charlotte Observer to email@example.com
Raleigh News and Observer
Email letters to Hendersonville Times-News to firstname.lastname@example.org
Email letters to The Herald-Sun to email@example.com
Email letters to Watauga Democrat to firstname.lastname@example.org
Email letters to Chapel Hill News at email@example.com
Email letters to Greensboro News & Record to firstname.lastname@example.org
Email letters to Jacksonville Daily News to email@example.com
Statesville Record and Landmark
Winston Salem Journal
If none of these suit your fancy, then have a look at this list of newspapers across the state. Your voice will make a difference as we make our case to all of NC’s legislators. If you don’t do it, who will? We are all we’ve got, and it’s time to rally to defend our public water system.
It began well over a year ago when the representative from NC’s 116th district filed a bill that would forcibly merge the City of Asheville’s public water utility with the Metropolitan Sewerage District. He didn’t bother to tell Asheville’s elected officials about it, even though they were in his office the day before. Quickly backpedaling, the representative reformatted the seizure into a “Study Committee” process. The “Study Committee” went through the motions, ignored the opposition, and came up with a recommendation that mirrored the original seizure bill. The bill itself was filed this past Thursday, HB488. It is an outright taking, offering no compensation for loss of the asset.
Asheville’s legal team is looking the bill over, and we’ll get more interpretation from them in coming days, but there are many truths that are painfully clear and that have been effectively ignored by those supporting this attack on Asheville.
- The legislation was not requested by the people of Buncombe County. 86% of Asheville’s voters opposed the merger in a recent referendum. Major business interests, including our Asheville Brewers’ Alliance and Downtown Association, oppose the merger. The NC League of Municipalites opposes it. Cities across North Carolina have passed Resolutions against it. The legislation solves no problems, but it creates a host of them.
- No compensation is offered for the seizure of this municipal asset. Various estimates value the asset between $57 million (lowball MSD estimate) and $1.3 billion. Only by taking the system without compensation can they demonstrate a cost savings to customers.
- Asheville is offered only a tiny minority of MSD Board representation despite the fact that the majority of water customers live in the city.
- The instability and unpredictability of the status of municipal assets will undermine future infrastructure investments and could also impact bond ratings. This means higher interest rates, paid by taxpayers, when it’s time to invest in infrastructure. And what city’s going to make big investments knowing that the state legislature may just swoop in and seize their assets?
- Asheville stands to lose $1.9 million/year from the water utility’s portion of shared central services.
- As it is proposed now, other legislation surrounding revenue reform does not promise to hold cities harmless. That is, we’re being told to expect deep drops in revenue, revenue that funds everything from firefighters to parks to street repair.
- In Asheville, we have no access to other sources of regional revenue (occupancy tax, food and beverage tax, etc.). In addition, Asheville is unique in its position in NC as a regional hub. Asheville has the highest daytime to resident population ratio among all cities in North Carolina with populations of 50,000 or greater. The daytime population, which includes people who commute into Asheville for work, is approximately 43,000 people higher than the resident population. That’s without counting people who travel in for shopping, services or tourism. With over 50% of Asheville’s budget directed to Public Safety (Police and Fire), a significant portion of city services are provided to non-residents yet paid for by city residents.
· The economic interdependency between Asheville, Buncombe County and the surrounding region has an impact on the lives of more than 1.3 million citizens living in 23 counties. Strengthening this type of urban-rural network requires partnerships to support regional economic relationships. Legislation that impacts Asheville impacts almost a quarter of counties in the State.
· The repeal of Asheville’s ability to access water revenues for regional infrastructure only adds to the financial stress of the current economy. Cities will be faced with two decisions – to raise taxes or to forego regional investments that support jobs and business growth – both of which are negative for North Carolina’s economy.
Tomorrow, your Buncombe County Commission will deliberate regarding equality in their health benefits and non-discrimination policy. On the agenda: Same-sex domestic partner benefits. Also likely to be discussed is whether to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the County’s employment non-discrimination policy. The latter is not on the printed agenda, and in order to consider it according to their rules, all seven Commissioners must agree to do so.
You’re encouraged to attend the meeting on Tuesday, March 19 at 4:30pm in the Commissioners’ Chambers at 200 College Street, Suite 326 in downtown Asheville. If you’d like to email the Commissioners to let them know your position, you can use this handy list:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
After the jump you can read the email I sent earlier today. I’m excited to see our Commissioners have this opportunity to join the march of history toward full equality for all of our citizens.
They will not know your position unless you show up at the meeting or take a moment to write your representatives.
Opponents of a state measure to take over the Asheville city water system and forcibly merge it with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County met in Durham Saturday with members of the State Executive Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party. State, city, and county legislators from every corner of the state were among the hundreds of delegates at the meeting to elect new state party officers.
The merger bill cosponsored by Reps. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) and Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) is expected to force a merger of the Asheville city water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County. It will be introduced within days and likely fast-tracked through the committee process. The House Standing Committee on Regulatory Reform, chaired by Moffitt, could review the bill.
Jake Quinn, a DNC member from Buncombe County, went to the microphone to address the assembly about the legislation.
May all people celebrate this day with peace, love, understanding, and service.
I had the distinct honor of being invited to speak at the 32nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn this morning. If you’ve never attended, I urge you to get a ticket next year. You’ll be inspired by the legends in the room, people like Oralene Simmons and other founding members of ASCORE. People who integrated our city by putting themselves on the front lines and standing up for racial justice.
I had three minutes, here’s the text of my prepared remarks:
I’m Asheville City Council Member Gordon Smith, and I want to thank Ms. Oralene Simmons and the Martin Luther King Jr. Association.
Mayor Bellamy sends her regards. She’s in Washington, D.C. representing Asheville at the National Conference of Mayors and inauguration, the reinauguration, of President Barack Obama.
I’m very honored to be here to celebrate Dr. King’s vision and our place in bringing it alive in Asheville. Dr. King famously said, “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day, education and culture for their minds, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
Three meals a day. Three meals a day.
Today, as we come together over this fine meal there are families going hungry. And let me tell you what – you don’t have to look half a world away to find them. Right now, here in our community, there are children going without their breakfast. Others have food, but they lack the nutrition necessary for a healthy, developing mind. Too many in our community either do not have the means or the knowledge to meet their most basic of needs.
Is this acceptable? Is this acceptable??
No. This is unacceptable. We all know it’s unacceptable. Dr. King teaches us that when injustice presents itself, it is our responsibility not to turn away from it, but to address it.
We can address the issue of hunger in our community. We can do so with an audacious faith that, together, we can make a better world, right wrongs, and recognize that we are one human family – In my family, we don’t let other people go hungry.
For the last year and a half sometimes it feels like all I work on for City Council is food, water, and shelter. We’ll leave housing policy for another day, and I’d rather not talk about water…
But on food? I come today with good news and a call to action! On Tuesday, your Asheville City Council will take a historic step to reduce hunger, improve the health of our community, and strengthen our local food systems with the City of Asheville Food Action Plan.
This plan, with its five goals and fourteen initiatives will create the conditions for increased food production, processing, distribution, and education.
It will mean more people growing more food. You are going to see more gardens, more farms, more markets, more grocery stores, even food growing in our parks!
And this is the part where I ask for your help.
Folks, if we are truly committed to taking audacious steps to end hunger in Asheville and Buncombe County, then it’s time we Stop Mowing and Start Growing. Stop Mowing and Start Growing.
We can convert lawns to gardens, church fields to farms. By joining together in this mission we can come together – across generations, across cultures and across faiths to turn to lives of greater independence and better health.
We can come together to feed our community, our city, our county, our spirits.
We can ensure that every child has the nutrition they need to succeed in school and in life.
This will be justice, and it’s going to take all of us to make it a reality.
We will not shrug our shoulders at the injustice of hunger. We will aspire to justice through an audacious faith in our potential to make a better world.
Please join together in supporting the City’s Food Action Plan and in ending hunger in our community.