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.

Friday, April 08, 2016

The Partisan Deschutes Blame Game

The Pete Kaliner Show
Deschutes Blame Game, PART 1
April 7, 2016

The Pete Kaliner Show
Deschutes Blame Game, PART 2
April 11, 2016

Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Meeting (April 5, 2016)
Approval of the minutes for the closed meeting on March 15, 2015

Ben Teague to Wanda Greene 11/20/2015

Wanda Greene to Michael LaLonde (Deschutes) 10/07/2015

David Gantt public announcement 11/21/2015

Ellen Frost to Miranda Debruhl, cc:Michael Frue, March 29, 2016
--> Frue to Jon Ostendorff (WLOS), March 30, 2016

Barry Summers, Mountain Xpress, 4/2/2016

Accusations, blame follow Deschutes loss
Joel Burgess | Asheville Citizen-Times | April 7, 2016
County commissioners who voted for a deal, which included buying a $6.8 million parcel to lure Deschutes Brewery, said Republican Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl was partially or even largely to blame for the Oregon-based company choosing Roanoke instead of Asheville as the home for its new East Coast facility. "I am really concerned about the (135) people in our community that would have had a good job if we hadn’t of gone off half-cocked," said Commissioner Holly Jones, an Asheville Democrat representing District 1. "Those people are really short-changed by folks having their own agendas." The chairman said DeBruhl likely harmed the deal by publicly casting doubt on whether it would work, calling it "a fairy tale" and "a joke." "And in fact, called the president of the company and asked when they were going to make their mind up, right at a critical time … We were right in the middle of heavy negotiations."

@RavenRavinoff on Twitter
8:21pm · 6 Apr 2016
Apparently @electmirandanc is a loose cannon w/ ZERO business sense.
Thanks a bunch, Miranda!…
#avlnews #avlgov

Guest columnist: Did politics cost Buncombe County good jobs?
Holly Jones | Asheville Citizen-Times | April 8, 2016

Letter: A party that has become unrecognizable
Diane Amos, Weaverville | Asheville Citizen-Times | April 15, 2016
...In our Buncombe County commission, our three Republican commissioners hate everything the Democrats propose, even to (in the view of some) sabotage the deal with Deschutes, costing our county hundreds of jobs...

Barry Summers, Mountain Xpress, 4/14/2016

Comments to LTE: DeBruhl stood up for taxpayers in Deschutes Brewery case, April 22, 2016


Miranda DeBruhl (‏@electmirandanc) on Twitter
10:19 PM - 5 Oct 2015
I'm glad to know that @DeschutesBeer is officially interested in @buncombeGov via @asheville. Can Michael Lalonde talk tomorrow? #jobs

7:15 PM - 6 Oct 201
Got more done in 7 minutes this AM than was done in the last 7 months on not so "secret" Ferry Rd project. @wlos @asheville #jobs

7:26 PM - 6 Oct 2015
I confirmed this morning there was no company interested in closing a deal on Ferry Rd property when @buncombeGov bought it. #fairytale

8:27 PM - 6 Oct 2015
It’s time for the facts to come out about the secret meeting and the #fairytale

8:42 PM - 6 Oct 2015
@MarkBarrettACT @DeschutesBeer Just now figuring out how to collect the trash while we now engage in the real estate biz #fairytale #nuts

10:16 PM - 22 Oct 2015
See...I told you there was no deal this summer.
Deschutes announcement could come in 2016 via @citizen-times

Monday, March 14, 2016

Vote NO on Bond

From the Chris Millis website:

In October of 2015, Governor Pat McCrory signed into law the Connect NC Bond Act, giving voters across the state the opportunity to approve a $2 billion bond during the primary election. The bond referendum that will be on the March 15 primary ballot.

The bond has also received a good deal of popular support in the state. A High Point University poll conducted earlier this year found that two-thirds of those surveyed favored the bond. A recent Civitas Poll shows that a majority of likely Democratic voters and a plurality of likely Republican voters support the bond referendum: 66% of those surveyed said they would vote for the bond, with 14% saying they would vote against it and 19% saying they either didn’t know or needed more information.

Tomorrow, North Carolina voters will be asked to approve billions in debt — in the form of a bond — to pay for what amounts to a grab bag of expensive projects around the state — some of which have already jumped the gun and are under construction in anticipation of being rescued by the voters.

The $2 billion that will be secured with this bond indebtedness will go into a “Connect NC” fund overseen by a committee composed of politicians: 66% of this bond indebtedness will be doled out to the state’s university and community college facilities and hundreds of millions more will go to parks and zoo improvements, agricultural “research” and other political pet projects across the state.

What was originally sold to the public as $2.8 billion “infrastructure and education” bond (that’s why it was called “Connect NC”) was actually stripped of all the original funding earmarked for highways, roads, and bridges. In fact, in its current form, the bond will not pay for a single transportation project. Instead of the money actually connecting anything with roads, we are now told the bond “will connect North Carolina to the 21st century.” Confused voters may be left wondering: why the switch?

CLAIM: The bond will not require a tax increase

Let’s be clear: a bond is debt and it’s your debt and it’s long-term debt. And, as you may have noticed in your own home, debt does not pay for itself. There is no debt fairy that will suddenly wish it all away. This is massive debt that we, our friends, our families, our businesses and our future generations must pay in the form of taxes. The state has no money that it has not first extracted from its hard-working, property owning citizens.

The state will a take on a debt service obligation of over $100 million every year by adopting this bond proposal that must necessarily be repaid by future tax payments. Any repayment of this $2 billion in debt in the future is taxation deferred. The Connect NC Bond should really be referred to as a stealth tax and ought to be so stated on the ballot measure. It is a way to spend big now and kick the repayment responsibilities down the road to future generations.

Furthermore, we’ve all heard these “no new taxes” whoppers before. There is no guarantee in the bond proposal that a tax increase will not be imposed to pay off the debt incurred. In fact, history has proven otherwise. When politicians in the past have promised not to increase taxes to offset bond debt for similar purposes — namely for “higher education” — a tax increase is exactly what we got. That is what happened that last time North Carolina adopted a General Obligation Bond in 2000. What followed was a tax increase in 2001.

Liberal Democrats are already calling for a tax increase. “I will vote ‘no’ on the Connect NC bond issue in March,” said Ned Gardner of Apex, a retired Wake County public school teacher. “Do I support the higher education and state parks capital expenditures that the bond would fund? Most definitely. But I reject Gov. Pat McCrory’s ‘no tax increase’ shell-game bond financing. If we support new expenditures for education and parks, we should create a clear revenue stream to pay for it: increase taxes.”

If approved by the voters, the bond would be backed by the full faith and credit of the citizens of the State of North Carolina, which ensures there would be no default on the bond debt service. “Full faith and credit” is a phrase used to describe the unconditional guarantee or commitment by one entity to back the interest and principal of another entity’s debt. It expresses the commitment of the issuer (the State) to repay the bonds from all legally available funds, including a good faith commitment to use its legal powers to raise revenues to pay the bonds.

Bond proponents brag that on balance this is a good deal. Indeed. There is no thief that did not see his larceny as a good deal for someone.

CLAIM: The state is in the middle of a “Carolina Comeback”

Proponents says that North Carolina’s business and economic environment has improved and are declaring this evidence of a Carolina Comeback.

It’s true that the state’s economy is performing well enough to support additional debt. North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell said a statement released in January that the state’s General Fund has the capacity to absorb $210 million a year in new debt for the next 10 years. “Our findings,” she said, “demonstrate that North Carolina has maintained a conservative posture on debt and has the ability to responsibly invest in its future—and keep the ‘AAA’ bond ratings if the Connect NC bonds are approved.”

But the national trend could put the economic future of the state in jeopardy. The Triad Business Journal reports that North Carolina’s real gross domestic product increased at the fastest pace in the Southeast in the third quarter last year, making this state the fastest-growing large economy in the nation in the third quarter.

Though these figures reflect positively on the North Carolina economy, they are a trailing indicator, reports the Journal. More recent figures show a more anxious attitude of the future. A survey by the American Institute of CPAs reports that more than one-third of top financial executives at American businesses are pessimistic about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, the bleakest outlook in more than three years.

CLAIM: The bond will pay for critical infrastructure projects

The Connect NC Bond Act contains a section entitled “reallocation” [Section 1 (f)(3)] which will enable legislators to change the bond money allocations after the bond is passed. Placing such a provision in the Act means that voters are really given no guarantee that the so-called infrastructure projects targeted are an accurate reflection of the projects that will be funded. North Carolina’s history with the gas tax being diverted to purposes other than roads should remind us that we need better guarantees over allocation before signing off on a blank check.

In the end, this taxpayer-funded debt, plus interest over 25 years, amounts to little more than an open-ended slush fund that can be used by lawmakers in any way they can persuade others to reallocate it so future candidates can bring home the pork.

As ConnectNC campaign finance reports for the referendum committee begin to trickle out, the voting public is finding out, just days before the election, that a fair amount of monetary support for the bond seems to be coming from its direct financial beneficiaries. This includes not only recipients of the bond funding but also a chorus of consultants offering their service in exchange for a ticket on the gravy train. This has led some critics to dub the ballot measure “The Crony Bond.”

A high level breakdown of the spending designated for the Connect NC Bond can be found at the advocacy website

CLAIM: The bond will go to educating a professional workforce

True enough. The bond may very well go to train a professional workforce for the future. But whose workforce? There is no guarantee, nor can there be any, that the professional degree students educated and trained in expanded facilities paid for with long term taxpayer debt will stay in North Carolina. They may stay and contribute to a revitalized economy, they may not.

Spending taxpayer money to educate what would be a global and mobile workforce cannot reasonably be marketed to the North Carolina taxpayers as a sound return on investment. What happens in North Carolina doesn’t necessarily stay in North Carolina.

Vote No on Imprudent Bond Proposal

Although the Connect NC Bond Act passed with bipartisan support, legislators are split on the bond issue. And if it’s any indication, the left-wing Budget & Tax Center wholeheartedly favors the bond proposal.

“My disapproval is based upon sound principle,” writes Representative Chris Millis. “I was willing to consider short-term bonding (approved by the citizens) for essential state government functions…Unfortunately, that’s not what this referendum addresses. Instead, voters have been offered a menu of potentially unneeded university projects; unspecified community college projects; and millions of dollars for parks and the zoo, which are far from the state’s highest priorities at this time.”

The Connect NC Bond provides legislators with a way to spend enormous sums of money now on grandiose projects without honestly declaring the ‘de facto’ spending increases as part of the state’s operating budget. No harm, no foul.

Campaigning against a tax-and-spend culture is precisely what propelled conservatives into power after a long and damaging period of such a culture in the state house. Now that we have dug ourselves out of crippling debt, this is no time to invite disaster under new management. Now is the time to stay out of debt and reject those whose eyes are bigger than their wallets. North Carolina needs to be prudent with its spending dollars no less than any individual, family household or business.

Neither the state nor the nation can give us reason to believe that a golden age of perpetual prosperity lies just around the corner. Yes, as Governor McCrory has noted, North Carolina is experiencing a “Comeback.” But, for goodness’ sake, let’s get there first without sending the state bouncing back to where we came from.

As in any risky business transaction, may the buyer beware (caveat emptor). In March, North Carolina voters will be given the opportunity to avoid spending beyond their means on questionable big-ticket items.

To learn more about the Connect NC Bond and organized opposition to the bond proposal, visit the website

I opposed the bond proposal and I urge you to vote NO on the Connect NC Bond ballot measure on March 15th.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Asheville Brief

Asheville Brief filed before the North Carolina Supreme Court

Asheville Brief


References to Revenue Bonds in Original Complaint
Original Asheville Complaint

Monday, February 22, 2016

Voter ID Critics Attempt to Confuse People Before Primary

Carolina Journal Radio
February 22, 2016

The March 15 primary marks the first election for North Carolina’s new voter ID requirement. While the State Board of Elections is urging people to bring photo IDs to the polls, critics such as the state NAACP have been sending voters mixed messages about whether they actually need their photo IDs to cast a ballot. Carolina Journal Managing Editor Rick Henderson discusses the controversy.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Craft Brewery Limitations

Pete Kaliner discusses craft brewery limitations on their ability to distribute their products.
February 11, 2016

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

LTE: Finds mixture of politics and religion a bit confusing

Letter: Finds mixture of politics and religion a bit confusing
Erich Hoffmann, Asheville Citizen-Times, February 8, 2016

People in my office confuse me when it comes to religion and politics. I find many conservatives in this area talk about America as a “Christian nation,” but oppose most social programs and tax increases, because “why should we help people that are too lazy to work?” You can’t claim to be a devout Christian and demonize the needy at the same time. There is no passage in the Bible that says “help the poor, the meek, the needy, but only if they’ve completed the necessary paperwork...”


"conservatives talk about America as a 'Christian nation' but oppose most social programs and tax increases"

The writer attempts to confuse the reader by conflating individual religious action and coercive government action. Once this false premise is introduced, he can complain about the straw man he has created, where the writer mischaracterizes an argument in order to refute it.

The writer says, "You can’t claim to be a devout Christian and demonize the needy at the same time." This, of course, is the deliberate logical fallacy of No True Scotsman. It involves setting up a false standard that can be called into question.

It is true that some principled Christians may oppose government actions such as certain social programs and tax increases. Opposing those government actions in no way contradicts the impulse or the religious teaching to care for or help the poor.

In Christian teachings, helping the poor is considered an individual charitable action born of compassion, sometimes done in cooperation with others who share the urge to compassionate works. But this action is performed voluntarily as an act of will, not through the use of force. The opposition to government action usually stems from a moral objection of the use of force to achieve a goal, even a worthy one.

There can be no such thing as forced charity or compelled compassion. The very introduction of force in human relationships precludes an act of charity. If force is used to extract wealth from one person in order to give it to another to who it does not belong, it is properly considered thefta violation of the rights of the individual to dispose of his property according to the dictates of his heart. The notion that opposition to coercive redistribution is un-Christian becomes absurd when viewed in this light.

Therefore, the claim that Christian opposition to social programs and tax increases is necessarily a "demonization of the needy" or infidelity to faith is false.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Misleading the Voting Public

The Mountain Xpress cartoon of January 23, 2016 by Randy Moulton attempts to rather strongly imply that ID is no longer required when voting. This is FALSE. Voter ID is absolutely required to have your vote counted in future elections in North Carolina.

Reverend Barber, depicted in the cartoon, is on record attempting to mislead the voting public in the same way: "The state NAACP wants voters to know that there are ways to cast a ballot this year even without photo identification, but the State Board of Elections is worried that the group’s message is misleading."

The change to the law referenced in the cartoon, implemented under House Bill 836, does NOT relieve voters from their obligation to present valid state-issued ID when voting.

It does, however, accommodate certain hardship cases. House Bill 836, which passed unanimously (less a few votes) in both the House and Senate, allows a voter to declare (in a sworn affidavit, co-signed by a public official, and under penalty of perjury) that they have a “reasonable impediment” to possessing current and valid photo identification. They will then be given a provisional ballot to cast their vote. A provisional ballot allows a voter to cast a vote during the election period, but the ballot is not officially counted until the local Board of Elections can verify a person’s identity.

What happens if you have ID but forget it when you go to vote?

For more information on the state of the law, see the NC Board of Elections website:

It's time amateur partisan activists to stop misleading the public as a strategy to regain political power.


Video tries to clear up voter ID confusion in N.C.