Archive for Local
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.
Your Asheville City Council reconvenes on Tuesday to deliberate and decision-make. Have a look at the agenda below the fold, or click here to see it with all supporting documentation at the City of Asheville website. Lots of important and interesting things on the agenda this week. I’m particularly excited and proud about the City of Asheville Food Action Plan. It’s the result of a unique process led by the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council (A/B FPC). The A/B FPC recommendations came through a process involving over 350 volunteers from across sectors. Those recommendations were fleshed out and vetted by the City of Asheville’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment (SACEE). The resulting plan is a historic document that will provide goals and principles upon which all of our future food security efforts will be based. So check it out!
Check out everything else as well. Harris Teeter, New Belgium Brewing, multimodal transportation, and more. Please leave me your questions, comments, suggestions, and non sequitors in the comments!
From North Carolina’s The Answer to Annexation is Confiscation Department.
The Independent Weekly of Raleigh asks whether the bill being drafted by NC state Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, to strip Asheville of its $170 million water system might have statewide implications.
Several towns in North Carolina, including Butner, have passed resolutions opposing the legislation because it “sets a dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on any local government investing in infrastructure.”
“It is pretty clear state government has that power,” says Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. “They have the ultimate say over what we do. This is obviously highly concerning.”
At press time Tuesday night, the town was considering a resolution opposing the bill.
For his part, McGrady says his confiscation bill cosponsored by Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, has “no statewide implications,” but that “somebody could decide it’s what they want anywhere.” The Independent replies, “That sounds like a statewide implication to us.”
The Independent Weekly quotes somebody named Barry Waters as a source on this story. Anybody know the guy?
Read more here.
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.
In case you missed the AC-T yesterday, I thought I would share this rather interesting tid-bit concerning the email habits of Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell (Bothwell emails create tension).
“You make me want to puke,” Bothwell wrote to his fellow Asheville City Council member following a vote on a controversial downtown hotel proposal.
“I am so totally embarrassed that I endorsed you. What a total loser on matters that concern Asheville citizens,” Bothwell wrote. “Are your ears totally plugged with developmental money?”
While I might not be a fancy big-city public servant, I have in my time had to work with other people with whom I didn’t always see eye to eye on, and in my experience insulting and belittling your colleagues rarely goes over very well– or leads to anything productive. Or course, most of you being above the age of 8, know this already.
Anyhow…what say you?
(Cross-posted from BlueNC.)
A dozen North Carolina cities and towns within the last few weeks have passed, considered or scheduled votes to approve the nonpartisan NC League of Municipalities resolution against “forced taking” of municipal infrastructure by the state.
The resolutions are in response to a N.C. House bill proposed by Rep Tim Moffitt (R, Buncombe) forcing a state takeover of the Asheville water system, transferring it to a regional water authority created and ultimately controlled by the legislature. Asheville passed its resolution December 11, after 86 percent of voters rejected the takeover in a November referendum. An online petition opposing the move has collected 1,500 signatures in under a week. All other communities listed but Concord are a fraction of Asheville’s size. You wonder why they feel vulnerable? The NC League of Municipalities resolution states, in part,
… forced taking of any local government infrastructure because such taking sets a dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on any local government investing in needed infrastructure in the future, thereby endangering business opportunities and economic stability in the State and resulting in job losses for our citizens here and across the State.
Hendersonville’s city council postponed its resolution vote on January 3 after Rep. Chuck McGrady (R, Henderson, author of the “takings” bill) warned that a passing resolution would “not be helpful for Hendersonville.”
Not all cities post the results of their votes, but here are the links to cities that have or will consider opposing the “forced taking” legislation.
UPDATE: ISSUE TABLED JAN 10
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 3
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 7
PASSED JAN 7
PASSED JAN 8
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 8
PASSED THIS WEEK
UPDATE: PASSED JAN 11
Scheduled JAN 15
saveourwaterwnc.com Monday hit the airwaves with a radio ad attacking the “cattle barons” behind the threatened city water system merger as Pat McCrory made his first visit to Asheville as governor. Signatures to an online petition condemning the water system seizure accelerated in number, approaching a thousand Monday night.
The AC-T reports on the McCrory visit: McCrory discusses water merger
The new governor promised to act as facilitator in the water merger dispute:
McCrory said he has not made up his mind about what should happen with the water system, though he said, “We’ve got to develop a long-term fix, and it can’t be just the state involved in discussion or your local leadership.”
McCrory neither explained who else he believes deserves a place at the table nor what water system problem needs fixing.
In other McCrory news, he made an announcement:
Press Release from the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council:
For the first time in its history, Asheville’s City Council will consider a plan to improve the city’s food security. The Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council (A/B FPC) collaborated with the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment (SACEE) to create the first City of Asheville Food Action Plan. The plan will go before Asheville City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The Asheville MSA has been identified as one of the most food insecure in the nation. Food Security is defined as “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Many organizations are working to alleviate the challenges of food insecurity, and one-year ago an Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council was convened to address the strengthening of our local food systems and serve as a forum for action-oriented food policy discussions. Throughout the past year, over 350 volunteers have worked together to identify and propose innovative solutions to spur local economic development and create environmentally sustainable and socially just food systems.
The proposed City of Asheville Food Action Plan includes goals including: removing barriers to local food production and distribution, creation of a citywide curbside composting program, and the use of edible landscaping as a priority for public property.
“Dedication to this cause is going to reduce poverty, improve public health, strengthen local commerce, and create a more sustainable land-use future for Asheville and Buncombe County,” says City Council Member and A/B FPC participant Gordon Smith.
Community members are invited to attend the first A/B FPC meeting of the new year. It’s 4 – 6 pm on Friday, Feb. 1 at the Mountain View Room in the UNCA Sherrill Center.
Because Friday night’s not too bad for fighting, either.
NC Legislators & Governor: We Oppose the Forced Taking of Municipal Water Systems!
By Kathie Kline (Contact)
To be delivered to: The North Carolina State House, The North Carolina State Senate, and Governor Beverly Perdue
2) I am opposed to any mandated takeover as it sets a bad precedent for the future of all cities owning and operating municipal assets and undermines the confidence of municipalities to move forward to invest in their systems.
3) I am opposed to any mandated takeover as it calls into question the authority of state legislatures to arbitrarily transfer assets from one local government entity to another.
North Carolina’s General Assembly is about to take the unprecedented step of seizing a municipal-run water system from a City, which in this case has owned & operated it for over 100 years. Members of the NCGA have signaled their intention to introduce legislation in early 2013 that would force the City of Asheville to turn over not only its water distribution system, but control of its pristine 20,000 acre watershed, to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County (MSD). Indications are that the City of Asheville will likely receive no compensation for the taking of these assets.
Your Asheville City Council comes together Tuesday for its first meeting of 2013. Skip into ReadMoreLand to have a look. You can see the agenda with all supporting documentation at the city’s website by clicking here. Please offer your questions and suggestions in the comments.