Thursday, March 15, 2007


From: Elaine Lite: "When Mountain Voices Alliance began advocating for policy changes about 7-months ago, they became irate. This is actually the 2nd commercial they did. The first fear-mongering ad was in January and they featured myself and Julie Brandt as "radical extremists" for requesting a legal development moratorium at a County Commissioners meeting."

The tactic that CIBO is using is an interesting one and one that could be favorably exploited.

The first advertisement featured constructions workers toiling away to make a living, a very young girl fearing for her hard-working daddy's future, and a soft-spoken man (Rusty Hunter) hiking serenely through undisturbed woods (who could presumably be her father) with his hound dog at his side while gentle guitar chords are strummed in the background. Closing Tag Line: "Extremism vs. Responsible Growth."

Striking images, all.

However, in the course of building an argument against a moratorium, the narrator claims that, 1) the people who make up the organized resistance to uncontrolled development are a "small group of radical activists demanding extreme development policies," and, 2) that a temporary moratorium will "impede our local economy" and have a "devastating impact on our local economy."


The charge of extremism in itself is not entirely negative. It can be argued that uncontrolled and reckless development practices coupled with ineffective legal remedies against property harms could even make my country granny extreme. In other words, even mild-mannered disinterested common folk can be DRIVEN to extremes by unreasonable disregard for environmental and property concerns. Yes, advocating for a moratorium IS extreme. But whose fault is that? Urgently calling for reasonable policy measures to mounting development pressures can be a rational reaction to the real potential for future harms.

But in this case, the charge of extremism in the ad is meant to imply irrationality. It is meant to suggest that those who advocate for a moratorium are a small band of disgruntled environmentalists who are disconnected to the larger community and who would mechanically and thoughtlessly oppose progress, jobs, housing, and prosperity. CIBO would paint MVA as the out-group whose concerns are unworthy of serious attention.

This claim is thin, fallacious, and can be easily refuted with testimonials from a diversity of individuals who are emerging from the background of anonymity and apathy to the foreground of concern and activism.


The claim that a temporary and limited development moratorium would devastate the local economy has been severely weakened by precedent. Neighboring Jackson County has moved forward with just such a moratorium. Jackson County commissioners agree with the extremists of Mountain Voices Alliance and do not see the problem the way CIBO sees it. They responded to citizen concerns swiftly and have by contrast placed the Buncombe County commissioner's negligence and dereliction of duty in to high relief.

THIRD, the very fact that CIBO is spending the time and money to counter a "small group of radical activists" contradicts the key message of the ad that these people are insignificant and inconsequential. CIBO must certainly think that MVA is a formidable force that must be reckoned with at the earliest opportunity.

I agree with CIBO: MVA is a problem. Ordinary men and women in this region are being driven to wake up and demand extreme public policy measures in the face of reckless abandon and cascading development complexities which expose the area's bioregion, private property, and local infrastructure and economy to long-term and irreparable harm.