Archive for Local

Another day in Wake County Superior Court yesterday in the case of “Moffitt v. Asheville,” Judge Howard Manning Jr. presiding. Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson were on hand for the hearing in the lawsuit challenging Moffitt’s “Regionalization of Public Utilities” law that forcibly transfers control of Asheville’s water system to a new regional authority.

Much hinges on whether or not Moffitt’s bill was deliberately written to evade the state’s constitutional ban in Article 2, Sec. 24 on enacting local legislation “relating to health, sanitation, and the abatement of nuisances.” Asheville activist Barry Summers was there to remind attendees — graphically — not of the water system’s history, but of the legislation’s.

While both McGrady and Moffitt watched the proceedings in court, Asheville’s attorney Dan Clodfelter disagreed with the state’s assertion that the bill was not local in nature. An attorney with the Charlotte-based law firm Moore and Van Allen, Clodfelter himself served as a state senator until last month, when he was named the mayor of Charlotte.

The bill does not specifically name the city of Asheville. But Clodfelter said it was clear that was lawmakers’ intent, rather than creating a statewide bill with a general set of principles to administer.

“Our constitution says what it says,” Manning said, indicating that the constitutional question was the crux of the case. Expect an appeal, however Manning rules.

Moffitt v. Asheville is a style of legal shenanigans we have seen emerge over the last decade from Wall Street to Jones Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. That is, to push the limits of the law to the breaking point and beyond, to knowingly step over the line and — using the law itself for cover — to arrogantly dare anyone to push back. If no one does, or if they do and fail, those who twist the law to their own ends succeed, and the boundary between the legal and the criminal moves again, and not in the direction of the public good. Rinse, repeat. Thus, torture becomes “enhanced interrogation,” fraudulent securities become top-rated investments, and public investments in schools, water systems, highways and airports slowly become the private wealth of oligarchs. Like watching an accident in which everything goes into slow motion, it is happening before our very eyes. Because it transpires in remote meeting rooms under color of law, we the people are not supposed to notice.

(Original post has been corrected. Rep. Nathan Ramsey was not in attendance Friday, but was cited in reporting as an original sponsor of the water bill.)

At a Democratic campaign rally back in 2008, an established Buncombe politician began a halfhearted stump speech with, “Well, y’all know me.”

Looking at all the new North Carolinians in the crowd both young and old who had lived in the area only a few years, it was clear many did not.

Decades of marketing efforts inviting Ausländers to vacation and retire in western North Carolina had succeeded beyond local officials’ wildest dreams — and in spite of some of their efforts. Asheville landed on top ten list after top ten list. Now, for local power brokers that dream was becoming a nightmare. Their marketing success had shifted the political landscape under their feet.

Mr. “Ya’ll know me” was going to have to do more to win votes than have a D behind his name or hope voters had known him since childhood. Luckily, that year several local officials rode Barack Obama’s coattails.

Not so for District Attorney Ron Moore in 2014. John Boyle’s Asheville Citizen-Times commentary on Sunday chalked up Moore’s May 6 primary loss to Todd Williams to running into a progressive “machine.” What he ran into was the 21st century.

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May
07

Attention! Your presence is requested:

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Asheville Free Media Holds Garden Party at Christopher’s Garden

Asheville Free Media is raising funds to get on the airwaves at 103.3FM, and in order to provide this service to the Asheville community, we need Asheville to help us Power the Tower!

On Saturday, May 10th, we are hosting a social & benefit at Christopher’s Garden from 1-6pm at 307 Waynesville Avenue in West Asheville. That’s right, it’s the colorful garden behind The Walk, where Westwood and Waynesville Avenues intersect!

Asheville Free Media volunteers will be on site to talk about what we’re broadcasting now, and to hear what you’re interested in listening to on the radio! We’re hosting a silent auction featuring pieces by local artists, there will be artisan coffee by Aesthetic Coffee, and Sow True Seed has donated seed packets for our party favors!

Our friends at The Mothlight are continuing the party on Saturday night! Starting May 10th at 5pm, the entire sale of the New Belgium Brewing Ranger IPA draft sales at The Mothlight will go towards getting Asheville Free Media on the airwaves!

Stop by our Garden Party at Christopher’s Garden on Saturday afternoon between 1-6pm, then swing by The Mothlight to refresh!

For more information, email info@ashevillefm.org.

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May
06

Election day Open Thread

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Does Ron Moore finally get the heave-ho?

Here’s some thinking music:

YouTube Preview Image

Buncombe County, North Carolina residents who filed suit after finding their well water contaminated by chemicals from a CTS Corp. facility shuttered in 1986 will argue their case before the Supreme Court on April 23 (video clip from March 18). The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of 23 local citizens last year. CTS appealed.

At issue is whether the suit should be dismissed because of the lateness in filing the case. The pollution dates back decades. Community activist, Tate MacQueen, is among those leading the fight.

Because of the way North Carolina law is written, the Asheville residents may have no legal recourse. CTS shut down that plant and sold the property in 1987. A state statute cuts off a company’s liability 10 years after its last contaminating act, meaning the deadline for filing claims came and went in 1997. MacQueen’s heads-up letter arrived in 2008.

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It’s been years since I last posted to this blog. Decided to do so today because there’s an important issue that needs to be discussed within the Buncombe Democratic Party … and I don’t have another vehicle to start the conversation.

As you may know, I support Todd Williams in the current District Attorney race.  But what y’all may not know is why.

What I didn’t write in the LTTE, because I didn’t want to be confrontational before more information became publicly available, is that Ron Moore had possession of evidence that would have cleared the names of 5 people for murder – and didn’t turn it over to their defense attorneys.

This is upsetting enough. What’s salt-in-the-wound is that this serious miscarriage of justice is not being discussed intelligently within the establishment of the local Buncombe Democratic Party during this year’s DA primary race. “Moore’s a good man” is the common mantra when faced with facts around this issue, or pretty much every other scandal concerning Moore.

Ron Moore may very well be a good man. Fine. It really depends on which side of the prison-bars you’re sitting on – I guess.

The Asheville Citizen times has full coverage of the story here. But the highlights are:

1) Ron Moore ignored DNA evidence.

2) Another person admitted to the crime in 2003, but Moore didn’t re-open the case for investigation.

3) Videotape evidence corroborating the 2003 confession was ignored.

I know Moore is a Democrat. He might even be a great guy in-person. But 5 people spent years in jail because Moore didn’t want to do his job properly. Frankly, if it had been 5 white middle-class kids – it is my humble option he would have been disbarred over this by now. In the coming years this issue is going to develop into a major scandal, putting the already tarnished credibility of the DA’s office in serious jeopardy.

The local Democratic party has a choice this year: During the primary y’all can put forth a 24-year incumbent with a history of opaqueness, sweeping serious issues such as the evidence-room scandal under the rug, and preventing justice; or you can submit someone who will focus on doing the right thing.

ON EDIT: Grammar & spelling

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Mar
27

Names of Future Cats

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The following post is a guest post from Devin Walsh. Read his blog here

Added to the list of Names of our Future Cats (Sports, Action, Snakebite), let’s put “Peeves”.

Couple weekends ago we were sprawling throughout the parents-in-law’s living room, Arielle and I plus her sister and sister’s husband in various stages of recovery, raining out and the kids installed at the neighbors’ (“We want to play with Nedgie!” “We want to go to Nedgie’s!”) and Arielle asked everyone kindly to list their pet peeves.

I was surprised: for the first time in my life most of my pet peeves were aimed at myself. I didn’t say this, of course. I hinted at a mountain of grammatical issues that bug me. But really I was thinking: I swallow too loud, especially in the middle of the night, half sitting-up in bed to slug some water; and I’m prone to sloth; I pretty much suck at self control; I postpone the inevitable to the detriment of my health; and I do this horrible thing when asking someone a question. I’ll go, “What’s the capital of Virginia?” And they’ll say, “Richmond.” And I’ll say back to them what they just said: “Is it Richmond?” while nodding knowingly, as if it had been on the tip of  my tongue and all I needed was a hint. “What’s the atomic weight of a helium molecule?” “It’s blobbety blah.” “Is is blobbety blah? Of course. That’s what I thought.” I hate when I do that.

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Categories : Breather, Local
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Mar
27

Voter Registration Challenge Tonight

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Voter Integrity Project: Sitting in a darkened kitchen wearing night-vision goggles to protect their crackers from Bigfoot. ——->

The Voter Integrity Project and the Asheville Tea Party are coming to the Buncombe County Board of Elections on Woodfin St. in Asheville for a hearing set for 5:30 p.m. tonight in Room 330 in the William H. Stanley Building, 35 Woodfin St. The preliminary hearing will consider the 182 voter registration challenges filed earlier this month. The PBS program Frontline was there to cover the story according to accounts.

Perhaps tonight there will be fireworks of the sort VIP-NC director Jay Delancy is known for. After a set of his Wake County challenges was rejected by the local board in 2012, DeLancy “snatched his microphone off the board’s table mid-meeting, kicking glass doors open in front of him as he stormed out of the meeting room in the Public Safety Center. He slowed down once he realized news cameras were chasing him.”

When VIP-NC held a “boot camp” in Asheville last fall, they emphasized the need for getting dead and inactive voters off the rolls because of the possibility of widespread voter fraud — or was it a widespread possibility? — for which they never seem to produce evidence. Basically, T-partiers are convinced that if they lose an election it must be because their opponents cheated. What else could it be? Zombies? Bigfoot?!

VIP-NC also warned the Asheville T-party to avoid vote caging, which they had to have defined. It’s illegal. The T-party sent letters to suspect voters that got returned; they knocked on those doors to see if voters still lived where five or more voters were registered.

So, where would they look for the fraudulently dead in Asheville? Well, here’s a list of the precincts (out of 80) in which they looked, ranked by approximate number of challenges:

11.1- ASHEVILLE SENIOR OPPORTUNITY CTR – Grove St- includes Aston Park Towers and South French Broad
3.1 ST MARKS LUTHERAN CH – Montford
2.1 ISAAC DICKSON ELEMENTARY – includes Klondyke Apts and Hillcrest, Montford
10.1 DR WESLEY GRANT SR-SOUTHSIDE CENTER – includes South French Broad, Lee Walker Heights and Livingston
14.3 ELIADA HOME – Compton Dr
15.1 VANCE ELEMENTARY
12.1 HALL FLETCHER SCHOOL
62.1 GRASSY BRANCH BAPTIST
17.1 BETH ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE
14.2 ASHEVILLE CITY PRE-SCHOOL – Haywood Rd- Burton Street Community
8.2 SHILOH COMMUNITY CENTER

As with promoting voter identity cards, much time and effort expended to prevent ineligible people from voting. At the VIP-NC training last fall, not once (in seven hours?) did anyone suggest opening up the franchise to greater participation, registering new voters and encouraging them to exercise their right to vote.

Be there tonight by 5:30.

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Mar
24

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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Mar
24

Sound Familiar?

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Kennewick, WA cable bridge and Vietnam Memorial (Wiki Commons)

What’s the matter with eastern Washington state? asks Danny Westneat in his Sunday column at the Seattle Times. It seems that out east of Seattle people really hate their government. Even though the region received far more stimulus money than any other in the country — eight times more per person than the national average.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA 4th District) has spilled a lot of ink railing against the “reckless spending” that benefited his voters. He wrote, “Central Washingtonians know that the way to grow the economy is not to grow the federal government.”

Westneat asks,

Do they? Because of the top 10 employers in the Tri-Cities, six are the federal government, while the other four rely heavily on federal grants or subsidies. The stimulus meant more than 3,000 jobs at the Hanford nuclear reservation alone and, during the darkest days of 2009, propped up the economy there. When the Tri-Cities finally took a hit from the recession, it was because the stimulus ended.

Hastings’ district is basically a company town — with that company being Uncle Sam.

Dave Neiwert from Seattle-based Orcinus blog comments on Facebook,

I think there is a simple answer to Danny’s question: People on the east side of the mountains have such a deep-seated animus toward all things Seattle (excepting, of course, the Seahawks) and anything associated with its liberalism that they would be willing to cut their own throats to defy it. They don’t understand, or don’t care, that they thrive when Seattle does.

With a little help from Uncle Sam, of course.

Hey Dave, you should visit Asheville. You’d feel right at home.

Categories : Economy, Local, Stimulus
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