Archive for I-26 Connector
The following guest post courtesy of Joe Minicozzi.
Over the next several weeks, there will be votes at the City, the County and the MPO to endorse Alternative 3 for the purposes of prioritization of funding. This is key for several reasons. For one, our State is setting up a scoring system that weighs “cost” at a greater amount than anything else. As a taxpayer, I do admire being fiscally prudent, but as a resident of Buncombe and Asheville, it gives me pause. Primarily because this is a Federal project, of which, the majority of funds will come from the Federal Government. As such, the Feds have certain laws in place to protect us from how their projects impact our community, and they don’t just weigh the cost of concrete in their projects. This deal with NCDOT may end up to be a Faustian way to get us to subjugate our Federal rights to have the project that best fits our community.
The Asheville Design Center, the city’s non-profit community-based urban design agency, has launched a monthly series of presentations/discussions dealing with community and the built environment.
This monthâ€™s event (Neighborhood Planning: Burton Street + Holding Ground) will highlight the recent community planning work of the ADCâ€™s Burton Street Task Force and feature the documentary filmÂ Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street.
The ADC is proud to be working with the Burton Street Neighborhood on a Small Area Plan that will foster community resiliency, empowerment, and sustainable development. Representatives from the Task Force will report on its ongoing planning process, including the outcomes of its recent community workshop.
The filmÂ Holding Ground: The Rebirth of Dudley Street tells the story of a racially mixed neighborhood in South Boston, tired of failed government programs, which worked together to rebuild their neighborhood.
With all these Top Ten lists floating around the internets, I thought I’d toss another reflective log on the fire.Â Add your own top stories in the comments, and you get bonus points if you put together a Top Ten Local Political Stories of the Decade.
Buncombe County Commissioners and Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce come out in support of I-26 Alternative 3. After the strong design work from the Asheville Design Center and unanimous support from the City Council, it looked like our community might move the mighty DOT to create something that actually works for Asheville.Â When the CoC and 3 of 5 County Commissioners swung in the direction of Alternative 3, further delay was guaranteed.
See the rest in ReadMoreLand…Â Â Â Read More→
I’m in favor of expanding organized labor’s ability to fight for higher wages, workplace safety, and family-friendly benefits. The Asheville Chamber of Commerce? Not so much.
The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has new website dedicated to legislative action. It’s a good looking site, and progressives could really use something similar. You can experience Act For Asheville‘s user-friendly utility at their top legislative agenda item:
“The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a.k.a. “Card Check” poses a huge threat for business.”
For years the US Chamber of Commerce has been hammering Heath Shuler for his support of EFCA. They’ve put millions of dollars into fighting against this legislation. The Chamber is known for spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis.Â On the other side of the coin, the AFL-CIO has been pouring millions into seeing EFCA pass. Stewart Acuff at Huffington Post writes:
The Labor Movement is determined to pass the Employee Free Choice Act to restore the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain collectively, to end 30 years of stagnant and declining wages, to strengthen and deepen the middle class and to end the corporate assault on workers when they try to form unions.
Corporations and their right wing allies want to preserve an increasingly untenable status quo: union busting, rampant retaliation against workers trying to organize, the greatest inequity in the U.S. since 1929, a declining and shrinking middle class, an economic crisis created in part by a severe lack of consumer demand, growing poverty, and a severe health care crisis
Business PACs not only gave nearly five times more in campaign contributions than labor PACs did in the last election cycle ($365.1 million versus $77.9 million, including contributions to leadership PACs) they are backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $144.4 million on lobbying efforts in the 2007-2008 election cycle, or more than $400,000 for every day Congress was in session.
Given all the blowback from the Asheville Chamber’s endorsement of I-26 Connector Alternative 3, it’s somewhat surprising to see them putting their public face on this issue. Chamber members who pay their dues are subsidizing the fight against workers’ rights whether they like it or not.
To contact your legislators in support of EFCA copy and paste these emails:
Senator_Hagan@hagan.senate.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org (Shuler’s office)
Senator Burr doesn’t have a direct email addy listed, so use his contact form instead.
Ashvegas posted the I-26 Schedule:
Jun 2009 Concurrence point meeting to solidify Alternate 4B as a viable alternate and to bring it up to the same level of review as the other alternates.
Aug 2009 The supplemental draft environmental impact statement including Alternate 4B should be completed and released for public review and comment.
Sep 2009 The corridor public hearing meeting should be held to discuss the supplemental draft environmental impact statement.
Oct 2009 The post public hearing meeting should be held.
Dec 2009 Concurrence point meetings to select the preferred alternate and to optimize the design and benefits of the project while reducing the environmental impacts should be held.
Oct 2010 The record of decision (ROD) and the design public hearing should occur.
FY 2011 Right-of-way acquisition should begin.
FY 2013 Construction should begin.
I just got back from the I-26 Forum at St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Burton Street Community.Â What an amazing collection of people.Â I’m going to give you the thumbnail sketch here, but Mountain X and WLOS covered it as well.Â Those links will be in the comments as they arrive.
Miss Vivian led the walking tour.Â She had stories about every home and person on Fayetteville St., and we all got to see the families who would be displaced if the I-26 Connector cuts through this neighborhood, a neighborhood that fell down and got back up.Â About a hundred people from every walk of life took the tour.
At 6:30 the church pews filled, and Dewayne Barton introduced the program.Â Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Design Center ran through the facts and, once again, plainly demonstrated that Alternative 4B’s design is superior in every way.Â Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Alt. 4B uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, connects west Asheville to downtown, separates local traffic from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development corridor in downtown Asheville.
The questions from forum-goers fell generally into one of two categories:Â process or action.Â Minicozzi and (Person Who’s Name I Ought To Remember) from the Southern Poverty Law Center fielded the questions very well.Â Former Mayor Leni Sitnick spoke from the pews about the history of the project and about how to work to make change.Â Reverend Hardaway, an undeclared candidate for City Council, got his question about effective action answered.Â Another speaker announced a petition drive to have Buncombe County Commissioners vote again on the I-26 Connector.
Chairman David Gantt continued the Q&A session, urging attendees to focus on the Governor’s office and on whomever she appoints to the DOT Board. He was followed by Mayor Bellamy.Â I missed the last part because I was out front talking to folks.
What’s next?Â A multi-pronged strategy to influence the DOT.Â At a community level, we need to continue to shine a light on Burton St. Community and on Asheville’s intention to be an alternative transportation friendly city.Â At an petition level we can get our names on the lists to support 4B and to ask the County for a revote.Â At an organizational level, we can contact the Governor, DOT, and Alt. 3-friendly County Commissioners, and we can plan to attend this summer’s DOT public comment sessions en masse.Â At an individual level, we can tell our friends and families about what’s going on and what they can do.
The Asheville Design Center, the Burton Street Neighborhood Association, and the Western North Carolina Alliance will be hosting an information forum to discuss the timeline, next steps, and potential impacts of the I-26 Project. This forum is free and open to the public.
Monday, March 9, 5:30 p.m. (Neighborhood tour); 6:30 (Forum)
St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist
170 Fayetteville St
Asheville, NC 28806
Charles Elmer of Wu Media created this condensed version of the Jan. 6, 2009 County Commission meeting during which the I-26 Connector alternatives were debated and public comment was heard.
This Monday, March 9th, at 5:30pm there will be a tour and informational forum to update the public on where we are in the process.Â You can check out the details of that forum here.Â Please come out to support Burton St. neighborhood and to let the decision makers know that Asheville wants a connector that uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, links west Asheville to downtown, separates local from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development district that complies with Asheville’s 2025 Plan.
I suppose you loyal readers have been sufficiently solicited regarding your Democratic Party precinct meetings tomorrow morning at 10am, so I won’t again be urging you to show up and turn this Party into the infrastructure we need to keep fielding better Democrats.
Rootshock is taking place all weekend. For all of you who have been concerned over the I-26 Connector’s impact on our community, this weekend of lectures and activities will help everyone understand how “urban renewal” has injured African-American neighborhoods again and again. Please carve out time to attend one of the many events.
Tomorrow from 3-6pm there’s a party at the Burton St. Community Center. No political agenda, just raising community with food, entertainment, and a whole lot of good people. Find out more here.
Sunday from 2-5 there’s an opportunity to become involved in something that’s going to get a lot of virtual ink at this site after March 14. If you want to know more, please shoot me an email using the ScruHoo contact form.
Aside from those things, I’ll be playing some disc golf, having dinner with friends, writing a big blog post for a big blog, and taking care of responsibilities around the house.
What do you have going on?