Archive for Buncombe County
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.
A judge has told parties involved that he will not grant Republican Christina Merrill’s request that election officials be temporarily barred from certifying Democrat Ellen Frost as a Buncombe County commissioner.
Merrill had asked for a stay preventing Frost from being certified while she pursued her legal challenge to results which showed Frost beating Merrill by 18 votes for the second seat representing District 2 on the Board of Commissioners.
Frost and her attorney, Bob Deutsch, said this afternoon that Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway contacted parties involved to tell them he will rule in Frost’s favor.
You may have heard Councilman Bothwell’s pronouncement on New Years’ Day, but in case you didn’t:
City officials will consider whether a ban on firearms on city property could bar gun shows like one planned at the WNC Agricultural Center this weekend.
Councilman Cecil Bothwell made the call Tuesday for enforcement of the gun ordinance in the wake a shooting that killed 26 people at a Connecticut school.
Asheville for years has had an ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms on city-owned property, while gun shows have regularly been held at the city-owned Agricultural Center on Airport Road and U.S. Cellular Center downtown.
“I don’t understand why that law is not being enforced,” Bothwell said.
This conversation comes just after the city government announced that we’ll be installing a metal detector and other security protocols at Asheville City Hall, a decision that was made in advance of the Sandy Hook Massacre but which is indicative of a shift to defend innocent people from the growing specter of gun violence. The ordinance that restricts guns on city property can be read here. It seems very clear.
More information is held within NCGS 14-409.40 (Thanks to Matt Mittan for locating this):
§ 14?409.40. Statewide uniformity of local regulation.
Skipping around the internets, I found these delectables:
Turns out gerrymandering did the GOP a lot of favors nationwide this year, and the coup de grace was what they pulled off in North Carolina. The top line in the graphic below represents the popular vote, and the bottom line represents number of seats won. Read all about it at Mother Jones.
Missed this a few days ago. The Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina dislikes how the local and state Board of Elections resolved the Warren Wilson voter registration confusion. Their executive director does not seem to recognize that Warren Wilson students had no need for (and the school did not furnish) dorm-specific addresses prior to Republicans drawing a new district line through the middle of campus. (Have I got that right?)
An unpopular but prudent solution would either have been to let the students vote by absentee ballot from their home of record or for the Buncombe County Board of Elections to count their ballots as “partials,” only applying their votes for the bigger races but not the problematic district ones. Some would scoff at that, but let’s never forget how many college students don’t even qualify for in-state tuition. They can vote in local races without consequence and rarely pay local property taxes.
Election officials blew the call. Hopefully, the courts will appreciate this peril along with a few related issues involving the entire student-voting franchise: First, do college students living at temporary addresses really have standing in local races? Second, are those young adults being politically manipulated by their college professors who can shape values with a bully pulpit and a grade book?
Fox News using the public airwaves to manipulate voters is one thing, but parents paying to send kids to the private school of their choice? The horror.
Plus, we can’t have students “voting with their feelings,” I guess.
When a phrase like “without consequence” makes you cock your head and go “baroo?“, you’ve just heard another right-wing dog whistle. Or when they consider it “emancipating” (later in the piece) to require students to pay property tax before they can vote. This is how self-appointed VIPs ensure that “no voters are disenfranchised.”
Courtesy of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce:
2013 Homecoming Job Fair
Date: Thursday, January 3rd 2013
Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm
Location: Biltmore Square Mall
The 7th Annual Homecoming Job Fair presented by SunTrust Bank will host Asheville regional employers to promote employment opportunities in advanced manufacturing, health care, and other growth industries in Western North Carolina. Residents, students, graduates, former residents, and friends and family visiting over the holidays are encouraged to attend this one-stop opportunity to meet directly with representatives from companies that are hiring, will be hiring in 2013, or companies promoting awareness of their organization to potential future employees.
More information at the link.
These fairs are a handy indicator of the health of the local job market. I have attended most of them, usually held between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This time, sadly, I’ll be out of town when the fair takes place. Hope it’s a fruitful opportunity for local people needing work.
Tonight at 7pm Asheville will come together to hold a candlelight vigil for the victims and families of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Please join us at the Asheville Jewish Community Center.
As the darkest night of the year approaches, we will gather as a community – to mourn, to pray, to sing, to offer our support, and to further our resolve to send our light into the world that needs it now more than ever.
WTVD: “The Tea Party in Asheville is being criticized for a fundraising raffle for two guns, including one similar to one used in the school shootings in Connecticut.”
“Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper says he’s surprised by the tea party’s timing, when the National Rifle Association took down its Facebook and Twitter accounts after the shooting.
Jane Bilello with the Asheville Tea Party says the fundraiser was planned before the shooting. But she stands by the group’s position that gun control does not work.
The raffle includes an AR15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a .22 Magnum pistol.”
Asheville Tea Party and Asheville Tea PAC Board Members’ email addresses:
The bipartisan NC Board of Elections voted unanimously against the protest of Christina Kelley G. Merrill. Ms. Merrill, having lost her protest at the local level as well, plans to take her protest to court. The SBoE decision would clear the way for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to seat Mike Fryar and Ellen Frost, making the new board whole and ensuring representation for newly formed District 2, but Ms. Merrill wants a court to look at whether to dismiss the votes of 44 Warren Wilson College students. AC-T:
Utility Governance Study (.pdf)