Monday, January 23, 2006

Citizen Kulba

As many know, long-time Asheville resident and political activist Leslee Kulba has become the heart and soul of pro-individualist politics in Asheville. You can find her anywhere the voice of liberty needs to have a say. And in Asheville, that is a lot of places.

She regularly attends City Council meetings and reports on the proceedings to a select mailing list. The report she produces emerges from copious notes furiously scribbled on notepad sheets as she strains to hear every comment uttered at hours-long meetings and worksessions. Those lucky enough to receive her finished product by email find it indispensable and the key to staying informed about public policy in the City.

Leslee is no mere stenographer or news reporter. First, Leslee does her homework long before attending these public meetings. She carefully reviews the Council agenda and picks through staff reports and supporting documents. While reading through dry text, tables, charts and drawings, Leslee sees beyond the surface print to discern the underlying context. Aspects that other observers can overlook emerge in high relief in her mind. And she is quick to pounce on suspicious incongruities or reckless fast-track proposals that might risk compromising Constitutional principles, the corruption of ethics, or the circumvention of due process and precedent.

Immediately on the heels of adjournment, Leslee dashes home to transcribe her chicken-scratches into a coherent chronological record; often working well into the late night. The final version of her City Council Report contains more than a factual re-reading of a stuffy meeting. It is throughout peppered with incisive commentary, hard-nosed libertarian perspective, coveted insider knowledge, and biting wit and sarcasm. All the while, the report maintains an informal, conversational feel that makes for a friendly, comfortable read.

I am proud to be able to take Leslee's report, with her permission, and format her text for the web on the Asheville City Council weblog. I will also, on occasion, add some of my own commentary--again, with her permission--that I think will enhance the overall quality of Leslee's product. With the addition of a few photos from the event, this version of Leslee's report provides the best presentation of what she has to offer: an informative, compelling and accessible re-telling of a story about public policy-making in progress wrapped in a slick and pleasing package online. This, I believe, is the treatment Leslee's brilliant and tireless reporting deserves.

Besides composing her own privately-distributed Council reports, Leslee is often called on to write columns for several local newspapers. She is a regular contributor to the Mountain Guardian which happily prints her every un-edited word no matter the length. She is also published in the conservative Asheville Tribune. And her letters-to-the-editor are often found elevating the common discourse in papers such as the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Mountain Xpress.

Beyond the printed pages of these publications, Leslee's abundant and insighful opinions spill over into the hit-and-run emails she sends to the many email lists she belongs to, enriching the conversations there and giving passive readers evidence that ideals, passion and an indomitable urge to action are not withering on the her vine.

Leslee can also be found sitting at table with our local Libertarian Party members for their social gatherings. In fact, Leslee is the Secretary and publishes the meeting minutes as organizational matters come up in conversation. She has been a member of the Libertarian Party locally for many years, until forced into the Unaffiliated Party by North Carolina law.

Leslee can be found regularly attending any number of local gatherings, such as the Buncombe GOP or the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhood meetings, to keep up with the several hot-topic community issues bubbling to the surface as Asheville feels its growing pains.

During election season, Leslee wears herself out vigorously campaigning for her favored pols. If a candidate is Constitutionally-principled, consistently pro-liberty, and of high moral character, Leslee will throw them her support with the greatest of energy and commitment. Whether the campaign needs signs painted, leaflets distributed or neighborhoods canvassed, Leslee is ready to devote boundless energy to the cause and sweeps many others into her tailwind as she moves forward to realize her objective of turning this city in the hills into a "City on a Hill."

Finally, I have to confess that I am proud to know Leslee Kulba and to be able to work with her on any project she deems worthy of her attention and effort. Anything I do in the political arena in Asheville is from the perspective of standing on her shoulders. Any time I add to her output or activity, it is done only to enhance the value of what she already brings to the table. Not only to I like Leslee personally, I deeply admire Leslee's talent and professionalism, her uncompromising devotion to her principles, her unflagging commitment to focus herself and her fellows on the essentials, and her drive to achieve what is best for our city and our country and place us all on the side of the angels.

Thank you Leslee. You're the best.