Wednesday, June 29, 2016

LTE: Asheville District Elections

Letter: District elections offer chance to spread leadership

Dear Editor,

A common complaint from the establishment left is that district elections is a matter that should be left to the people of Asheville to decide in a referendum. (Although this could have been done before under §160A, Article 5.)

But it seems the progressive ruling elite has only lately come to the idea of popular consent prior to taking actions. This was certainly the case in its attempt to annex Biltmore Lake to the benefit of its General Fund.

The self-sufficient residents of Biltmore Lake were resolutely opposed being forcibly annexed. They needed none of the city's services. Asheville took no vote on the matter yet the annexation proceeded—against the wishes of "the people". The residents then sued Asheville, at their own expense, and it took legislation from Raleigh to de-annex the properties of Biltmore Lake.

With district elections, we have an opportunity to spread leadership across the expanding reaches of a growing city. Asheville has exhibited a recalcitrant frame of mind in sharing power and this is offensive to justice. It will once again take legislation from Raleigh to give "the people" what they deserve. This time in the form of greater representative democracy in electing its leaders.

Tim Peck, Asheville


Asheville District Elections Map

Asheville District Elections Timeline

Asheville District Elections in Committee

Pete Kaliner on Asheville District Elections

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Asheville District Elections Map


Asheville District Elections Timeline

Asheville District Elections in Committee

Pete Kaliner on Asheville District Elections

District Elections in Committee

Senate Redistricting Committee
June 24, 2016
SB897: Asheville District Elections

Audio: Sen. Ralph Hise on Asheville District Elections.

Senator Hise: "I thank the chairman. Just a quick comment. I thank Senator Apodaca on his work on this. Being near the area, I also heard a lot of complaints about the Asheville council and its failure to represent many of the people that live in that community...and I just wanted comment on the fact that when individuals are currently serving and have a tremendous advantage in being elected, as is obvious in this case, I hate to make them the arbiters of whether or not we should make any changes when they've developed a system that obviously benefits them in that process, so...I thank Senator Apodaca all these years, and I will tell you that it is your voice that I trust [regarding] the city of Asheville."

Full audio:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pete Kaliner on District Elections

The Pete Kaliner Show
Asheville District Elections


Senate Bill 897: Asheville City Council Districts

City Council Discusses District Elections:

Asheville District Elections Map

Asheville District Elections Timeline

Asheville District Elections in Committee

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pete Kaliner Interviews Governor McCrory

The Pete Kaliner Show, 6/9/2016

Pat McCrory Joined Pete Kaliner to discuss campaign, economy, teacher pay, Cooper's boycotts & more.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Return Justice Edmunds to the State Supreme Court


The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the highest court in the state. Disputes that cannot be resolved in lower courts are settled here. The primary function of our Supreme Court is to consider possible errors in legal procedures or judicial interpretations of the law coming from lower courts. It has no jury and makes no determination of fact.

One seat on the court will come open this year and must be filled through an election in November. But first, a primary election is required to select two candidates for the general election. The voters in the state will then determine which of the two remaining candidates will fill take a seat on the court for the next eight years.

The primary election is scheduled for June 7, 2016. On the primary ballot will be four candidates. One of them is the conservative incumbent: Justice Robert H. (Bob) Edmunds, Jr.

Justice Edmunds was first elected to the high court in 2000 and is now serving his second term on the bench as a Senior Associate Justice. He is widely regarded as a sharp lawyer who is well-versed in the law and who brings with him a strong resume. Edmunds began his service to his country as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy. Besides his distinguished career of 16 years on the state Supreme Court, he has also served on the Court of Appeals; he has had the honor of being appointed U.S. Attorney in 1986 by President Reagan; and in his early career, he worked as a district attorney.

His continued presence on the court will be important in protecting our rights, our values, and our freedoms. His vote as a Supreme Court justice could well mean the deciding factor on many important issues facing the state in the coming years, from school vouchers to voter ID to redistricting and others.

What sets Edmunds apart from the other candidates is not only his experience. He also has a solid reputation as a man of superior character. In a recent decision from which he could potentially have benefited, Justice Edmunds chose to recuse himself from the controversial retention elections issue.

Edmunds has expressed his support for retention elections saying, “across the country, retention election systems have been enacted in many states as a means of insulating judicial officials from political pressures that can distract them from their duties.”

Under retention elections—a method used by many states—the incumbent justice appears alone on a ballot for an up-or-down approval vote by the people to determine whether he will retain his seat. A low approval vote would require the governor to appoint a replacement until the next election cycle.

A recusal by Justice Edmunds from the seven-member court would leave an even number of justices to decide whether Edmunds, and other justices in the future, would run unopposed in a retention election or face challengers for the incumbency.

This could mean a possible stalemate with no ruling being handed down one way or another. And that’s exactly what happened. The remaining six-justice panel rendered a split decision which left a lower court decision in place that had previously struck down a law allowing retention elections. The lower court’s ruling said that Supreme Court justices must continue to undergo the contested election process competing directly with other candidates running for the seat.

The decision by Edmunds to stay out of a case from which he could have benefited in his re-election bid was the right decision, even though he would be the loser for it. His was the ethical decision and I think it is one factor demonstrating his fitness for the job.

I feel that Justice Edmunds compares favorably the other candidates and in fact is the superior candidate in this race. Justice Edmunds has the knowledge, experience and personal integrity that makes him the best choice to sit on our state’s highest court.

I am not the only one. If it’s any indication, Justice Edmunds has received overwhelming bipartisan endorsements from 95 of 100 county Sheriffs from around the state, including Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood, and Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald.

I leave you with Justice Edmunds’ own perspective on the contest to fill ‘the Edmunds Seat’: “Most folks naturally understand that being a justice is not an entry level position. We need justices who have established records demonstrating that they respect the Constitution and understand the limited role of the court. North Carolina deserves justices who have never distorted the law to satisfy their own prejudices. At the same time, we want justices who understand the real world outside the courthouse and the law books.”

God bless you, Justice Edmunds—and may you continue to serve the great state of North Carolina with distinction.

Campaign Web Site:

UPDATE: 6/7/2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson speaks at Asheville city council meeting on May 17, 2016. The mayor slams gavel, cuts his time short, and calls to police to have him ejected.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

HB2 and Big Government Claims

I've noted some misunderstanding in the debate over House Bill 2 (HB2) about how government in North Carolina works.

The North Carolina General Assembly approved HB2 after the city of Charlotte passed an ordinance that allowed individuals to choose public accommodations citywide that corresponded to their gender identity rather than their biological sex. HB2 preempted the Charlotte ordinance, prohibited local governments from enacting such ordinances, and set a statewide non-discrimination policy for the first time, omitting LGBT as protected classes.
"§ 143-422.2. Legislative declaration. It is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgement on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees."
HB2 does not affect private businesses, which are still free to set their own restroom policies, and includes a provision that allows public agencies to supply special accommodations, such as single-occupancy restrooms, to people who are uncomfortable using the facility that corresponds to their biological sex, as would be the case with transgender people.

The omission of LGBT protection in the law is in line with federal standards. But this omission triggered an organized partisan political agitation effort in a swing state during an election year that has been joined by the local and national news media, entertainment and sports celebrities, businesses, and even the Obama Administration.

Some say that HB2 is an example of the kind of big government overreach that conservatives decry and that this action does not accord with the conservative political philosophy of small government, nor does it accord with the conservative objection to the encroachment of the federal government into state, local or private affairs, or its heavy-handed interference in the economy, healthcare, and social relations.

The suggestion that HB2 is an example of big government is false. In fact, the case is quite the opposite. These claims also betrays some confusion about how federalism works in America. The individual is, or should be, the supreme authority and locus of political power. Individuals created the states, and states, in turn, created both the federal government and local governments (cities and counties).

But back to a proper understanding of the relationship between the state legislature and local government. As stated by the North Carolina League of Municipalities, "North Carolina municipalities - cities, towns, and villages - operate under charters granted by the General Assembly and have powers and authorities granted to them by state statutes and the state constitution. In this state, municipalities do not have home rule, which means that the state legislature must grant the powers and authority to municipalities and authorize them to perform certain functions."

As stated by the University of North Carolina’s non-partisan School of Government, local governments in North Carolina are creatures of the state legislature. That is, the North Carolina constitution grants the General Assembly broad authority to establish and deal with local governments essentially whenever and however it sees fit. The North Carolina Constitution states in Article VII, Section 1 that, “the General Assembly shall provide for the organization and government and the fixing of boundaries of counties, cities and towns, and other governmental subdivisions, and, except as otherwise prohibited by [the]Constitution, may give such powers and duties to counties, cities and towns, and other governmental subdivisions as it may deem advisable.”

Thus, if the General Assembly wants to create a city, county, or other local governmental unit, it is free to do so. If it wishes to abolish a local government, or to merge it with another, or to impose particular obligations on it, it has almost unlimited power to do as it chooses. North Carolina is not a “home rule” state, as that term is commonly understood. Its local governments exist by legislative benevolence, not by constitutional mandate.

Under North Carolina’s system, the extent of the power of local governing boards to adopt rules to govern the city’s or county’s affairs or the life of the community depends on what the General Assembly authorizes. As creatures of the state legislature, local governments may act only if they have legislative permission to do so.

North Carolina is a Dillon's Rule state. Cities only have the authority granted to them by the state legislature. There is even some question as to whether North Carolina is even a purely Dillon's Rule state:

Is North Carolina a Dillon’s Rule State? by Frayda Bluestein

Frayda Bluestein offers the pros and cons of Home Rule here:

Do North Carolina Local Governments Need Home Rule? by Frayda S. Bluestein

A city's delegated rule-making authority is contained in N.C.G.S. 160A.
"§ 160A-4. Broad construction. It is the policy of the General Assembly that the cities of this State should have adequate authority to execute the powers, duties, privileges, and immunities conferred upon them by law. To this end, the provisions of this Chapter and of city charters shall be broadly construed and grants of power shall be construed to include any additional and supplementary powers that are reasonably necessary or expedient to carry them into execution and effect: Provided, that the exercise of such additional or supplementary powers shall not be contrary to State or federal law or to the public policy of this State."

Sometimes the state legislature's grant of authority to a city contains vague or open-ended permission and cities abuse that fact by pushing beyond the intent of the law prompting the General Assembly to step in and clarify the law. The Charlotte ordinance was such a case.

One other example was the clarification concerning the regulation of aesthetics and design features for single-family homes: The General Assembly grants these local governments limited authority to enact and implement local zoning ordinances for specific purposes. The governing statute (N.C.G.S. 160A-381) says that “a zoning ordinance may regulate and restrict the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lots that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts and other open spaces, the density of population, the location and use of buildings, structures and land.” But some of our city and county governments in North Carolina have broadly interpreted the law so they can regulate aesthetic elements not at all associated with safety and construction standards or the general character of a neighborhood.

The City of Charlotte passed a local ordinance that, if it had been allowed to take effect, would have applied to all public accommodation in the city, privately-owned and publicly-owned, and that was so broadly written that it would have allowed deviant heterosexual men uncontestable legal access to women's facilities.

HB2 prevented all of that and it prevented other cities from repeating Charlotte's folly. HB2 reduces the size and scope of government by preempting the illegal Charlotte ordinance that would have forced private businesses and non-profits to eliminate sex-segregated public accommodations.


ACLU Lawsuit

Department of Justice Demand Letter to NC Governor

Governor McCrory Lawsuit

Department of Justice Lawsuit

NC General Assembly Lawsuit

University of NC Student’s and Parent's Lawsuit

Grimm 'amicus' brief (joined by NC Governor McCrory)

U.S. House of Representatives v Burwell (Obamacare)

Jeffreys, Sheila. "The Politics of the Toilet: A Feminist Response to the Campaign to ‘degender’ a Women's Space." Women's Studies International Forum 45 (2014) 42–51. June 7, 2014.