Archive for Gordon Smith



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This post will remain at the top until this coming Saturday. New material will be found below.

by Gordon Smith

Are you excited about the victories we celebrated in November? Brian Turner defeated Tim Moffitt. John Ager defeated Nathan Ramsey. Todd Williams is our new District Attorney. Buncombe Democrats won every local race we ran, and now it’s time to gear up for next year’s big elections for President, County Commission, and more. That’s where you come in. Are you a Buncombe County resident? Are you a registered Democrat? We want you and need you!

When we know that the Koch Brothers intend to spend nearly a billion dollars in 2016 to elect people who want to make the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us, then it’s clear we need to begin organizing now. The battle for North Carolina will be front and center next year, and Democrats will have to organize like never before in order to combat conservative efforts to buy our democracy.

The county is made up of voting precincts. You know which one you’re in? If not, check here:

On the morning of February 28th, Democrats from across the county will come together to lay the foundation for victory in 2016. You’re invited. We need your energy, ideas, and effort. Glenda Overbeck is a volunteer who’s marshaling Buncombe Dems’ precinct organizing this year, and I asked her “what’s this all about?”

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A Good Decade

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Screenshot 2014-03-24 at 12.46.04 PMJune 4, 2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of this group blog we call Scrutiny Hooligans. That’s 110 years in internet time. That’s older than this gentleman. The decade has seen bloggers come and go. It’s seen periods of raucousness and ennui.

For me, Scrutiny Hooligans began as a place for friends to swap stories and vent frustrations. I found community here and later found more through BlogAsheville. The local political scene largely opened its arms, and where it didn’t I went ahead and awkwardly embraced it anyway.

To all you Hooligans- front-pagers, commenters, lurkers and trolls -I’m grateful for the lessons and the opportunities. This blog has always been an experiment. Every blogger with complete editorial license, and every commenter given latitude with the patience of Job’s therapist. There are other little miracles that only the gentlemen behind the curtain can know.

My participation here has dwindled over the years since I was elected. Turns out there’s only so many hours in the day, and turns out there’s a lot to accomplish outside of this virtual realm. I’ve been honored with election and re-election to Asheville’s City Council, and I relish the opportunity to serve. On the flip side, I’m of the opinion that it’s time for this ScruHoo co-founder to take a bow and exit stage left. It’s time for wilder heads than mine to populate these digital environs. It’s time to call it a decade and a good one at that.

Scrutiny Hooligans has been a springboard and sounding board. I’m grateful for all of you who have been a part of the journey. You may see an occassional guest post from me if the Hooligans at the helm deem it worthy, or this may be that last. Thanks, all. The animating contest of freedom and the bending arc of history require different exertions from each of us. This one for me is finished.

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Equality and Leadership

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Screenshot 2013-04-18 at 9.04.18 AMBack 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.

Screenshot 2013-04-17 at 8.45.38 AMGood morning, Hooligans. I’m happy to announce that I’m running for re-election to Asheville’s City Council. Click here to find the website.

Thank you for all of your support through my first term on Asheville’s City Council. We’ve accomplished a lot together. These steps have taken us closer and closer to being an affordable, sustainable community with a strong middle class. We’re not there yet, and policy decisions forced upon us from Raleigh aren’t making things easier for anybody.

I’m running for re-election to City Council because I believe we can grow Asheville’s middle Class. We can continue to support the creation of living wage jobs and accelerate our medium and small businesses in new ways. We can have more affordable housing, a more comprehensive multimodal transportation network, and stronger food systems. We can invest in our city, creating conditions for a healthy economic future.

Asheville is an aspirational city. We aspire to sustainability in our economy, our environment, and our society. We are people who work hard to make a living and to make a difference. Together we can continue on a path to prosperity that gives everyone the opportunity for a great life.


Nobody Sucks More

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A couple of days ago, someone showed me a glossy mailing from the North Carolina Democratic Party in Raleigh depicting Nathan Ramsey dressed as a vampire who sucks taxes or something. (Sorry, but I don’t have an image.) The tagline is, “Nobody Sucks More.” As Buncombe Republicans would say, Happy Halloween.

I’m surprised NCDP had the garlics for a mail piece like this. My guess is that Ramsey & friends are rolling over in their graves about it. But after Republican attacks featuring Holly Jones as an evil queen, Gordon Smith as a zombie, and worse against Susan Wilson, if you hear cries of foul over Count Nathan, treat them as as phony as plastic fangs.

Ramsey as vampire is just the sort of Coulter-esque humor conservatives have been devouring at bookstores and cheering for at CPAC for decades. When “demonic” liberals complain, Coulter shifts around in her black cocktail dress, tosses her blonde hair, rolls her eyes, releases an exasperated sigh and blurts, “It’s just a joke.”

And a pretty tame one by the Karl Rove standards that dominate Republican politics. He once boasted about the (figurative) arm twisting he’d used to get a reluctant legislator to change his vote on a trade bill. “That sombitch was cryin!” Rove laughed. What a kidder.

The thing is, conservatives can throw these kinds of punches all day, but have glass jaws when the left hits back. If they expect once more to guilt-trip liberals into backing down by crying about how mean and unfair they are, conservatives had better wake up and smell the politics. And look themselves in the mirror.

If there is any reflection.


Shall Means Shall

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Carolina Public Press:

Asheville City Council member Gordon Smith has mounted a push to release the city-commissioned audit of the Asheville Police Department’s troubled evidence room. In recent e-mails obtained by Carolina Public Press, he cited the city’s contractual right and obligation to obtain the document, even if portions are redacted.
Smith responded: “We signed a legal contract with the company that calls for the release of a redacted copy in the event that the entire audit could not be released. It’s my opinion that we ought to execute the contract as we agreed. Otherwise we are abandoning the level of transparency available to us per the terms.”

Smith went on to quote this passage from the contract, which can be viewed in its entirety here: “Contractor, in consultation with the District Attorney, shall redact or remove from the final report such confidential information and provide the City with a copy of the remaining information contained in the final report.”

“Per the terms of the contract everyone agreed to, the redacted version shall be made available,” Smith wrote. “That looks pretty straightforward to me.”

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Sunday Morning Music

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And now, for your Sunday Morning Music pleasure… here’s Councilman Gordon Smith (and the Barry Summers Trio) with that delightful Bossa Nova standard, Água de Beber.

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Meanwhile, out in the county…

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We Do

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I had the honor today of escorting committed couples to the Register of Deeds office, where they applied for marriage licenses. They were denied these licenses because their relationships are not recognized by the State of North Carolina. From Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE):

At 12 PM on October 3, 2011, Reverend Kathryn Cartledge and Elizabeth Eve, her partner of thirty years, requested a marriage license at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office in Asheville, NC. They were joined by two other couples – Autumn Trama and Amanda McKenzie, and Loraine Allen and Amanda Hilty – as well as a group of sixteen supporters including Representative Susan Fisher, Representative Patsy Keever, Asheville City Council Member Gordon Smith, Asheville City Council Member Brownie Newman, and Reverend Joe Hoffman.

Each of the three couples was denied a license because current North Carolina law forbids issuing a license to same-sex couples. They were prepared for this response, and will be back again to request a license on another day as part of the WE DO Campaign, which calls for full equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Organized by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the campaign involves over a dozen couples’ requesting licenses between October 3 and 14, 2011 in Asheville, NC.

“The issue here is that North Carolina laws do not treat people equally, even though we are all equal children of God. The couples taking part in the WE DO Campaign are doing so as an act of conscience, an act of faith, saying these laws are immoral and unjust and they must change,” says Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality and a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ.

The We Do campaign will last through October 14th, culminating in an interfaith blessing for committed couples on the steps of the Buncombe County Courthouse and a march to the Register’s office to call once more for equal rights. If you are in a committed queer relationship and want to get involved, just click here to get started.

Coverage from WLOS
Asheville Citizen-Times


Dogs and Cats Living Together

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At the privately run group blog known as “Scrutiny Hooligans”, a controversy has erupted, spilling over into a Congressional campaign, Asheville City politics, a political community, the local twittersphere, and the lives of the bloggers.


The brouhaha began when the Administrator of the site, deemed “sovereign” by the other front-page writers, including City Councilman Gordon Smith, chose to disallow a frequent commenter, community activist Barry Summers, from posting to the site. The administrator, who chooses to remain anonymous, took this action after Mr. Summers made frequent attacks on one particular writer, Michael Muller, former campaign manager for Carl Mumpower and Bill Russell, after Muller’s comments about Joe Minicozzi and Mayor Terry Bellamy.

Congressional candidate Cecil Bothwell leapt into the fray to admonish the site’s Administrator and everyone else involved. The Administrator retorted with some harsh words for Mr. Bothwell, who is also an Asheville City Council member. The hullaballoo has exploded into a full-on display of Blogdrama.

The Administrator, according to Smith, has, “released the reins”, leaving the site adrift on the waters of the Asheville blogosphere. The site has always operated without editorial control, but this is the first time it has been absent an administrator.

Scrutiny Hooligans has operated for over seven years and has become the Asheville home for off-color political commentary regarding area goings-on. Frequent commenters’ reactions have ranged from outrage to confusion to mild annoyance to apathy.

We will have to await the next chapter in this cyberruckus to determine whether it will have lasting political impacts on the Asheville blogosphere, inter-Council relations, congressional politics, and the well-being of the Scrutiny Hooligans community.

Scrutiny Hooligans invite everyone with an opinion to fire away.