Sunday, November 20, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

LTE: New Tribune Editor

As a long-time local libertarian activist, I was happy to hear about the changes in the editorial staff at the Asheville Tribune (“Who is Clint Parker,” November 10, 2011). I remember, not so long ago, when the paper's editor was Bill Fishburne, a religious conservative who took every opportunity to deride libertarians and their political principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets. Then the Tribune installed John North, an outspoken Austrian-school economist, with his articles on the Federal Reserve central banking cartel, fiat currency debasement and Constitutional politician Ron Paul. Now, the new editor is a self-described “Constitutional libertarian," who promises us a series on individual rights. My, how times have changed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LTE: Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street protests are misguided
Asheville Mountain Xpress
October 26, 2011

Dear Editor,

Capitalism is morally good. It also happens to work remarkably well, raising millions around the world out of poverty and providing the marketplace with a myriad of life-enhancing material goods. This social system of economic and political freedom is the only one that fully recognizes, respect and protects individual rights. It is a system that we do not have in this country and have never had. We have had only greater or lesser degrees of economic freedom. We were the closest to capitalism during the inventive period of the late 19th Century, when most of the great innovations and conveniences we live with today were invented (phones, cameras, lighting, cars, appliances, etc.). Today, entreprenuers, like tech visionary Steve Jobs struggle, to provide society with innovations that give individuals more power over their lives.

Our current crisis is the result of government intervention in the marketplace through regulation, taxation, welfare, economic incentives, bailouts, central banking, fiat currency and rank cronyism. We live in a mixed economy. It is a mix of some capitalism and some socialism; some freedom and some political control. Half good and half bad equates to bad. And what we have today is bad. Businessmen, lobbyists and special interest groups are buying politicians because politicians are for sale. When you first hang up a shingle, buyers soon appear and compete for favors, handouts and bailouts, all at the expense of the rest of society.

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are misguided by focusing on only one half of the equation. You cannot cure a disease with a misdiagnosis. Those angry protestors in New York and Asheville have misdiagnosed the problems they accurately perceive and would be better served by properly identifying the true source of their grievances: Government.

For an entertaining video on these points, visit

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Makes Me Want To Holler

Money. We make it
'Fore we see it, you take it
Oh, make you wanna holler
The way they do my life.

Friday, September 02, 2011

LTE: Food Trucks

Asheville Tribune Executive Editor David Morgan argues ("Downtown Asheville without restaurants?," 9/1/2011) against the operation of food trucks downtown because they might provide some competition to restaurants and this, in turn, he speculates, would lead to a ghost town.

He first states that it is the government's role to "make the rules for free market competition reasonably equal and fair." He is right. To wit: government should not interfere in economic activity and should allow the greatest possible economic freedom between entrepreneurs and consumers, trading value for value to mutual benefit. But then Mr. Morgan puzzles us when he states that in allowing food trucks to operate downtown, local government is, by doing so, "picking one kind of business that they like or favor;” namely, food trucks.

Yet, Mr. Morgan would have government actively shield restauranteurs from food truck competition. As if Mr. Morgan is advocating that government ought to pick one kind of business that they like or favor; namely, restaurants. This is a contradiction. Mr. Morgan establishes a sound principle and then proceeds to violate it.

It would appear that Mr. Morgan is confused about the proper role of government as well as the rights of business people and their customers. One, food truck operators have a right to conduct a business that does not violate the rights of others. Two, consumers have a right to select from an array of food offerings without the interference of government or newspaper editors. Also, it is not the government's proper role to protect businesses from competition. On the contrary, it is the government's proper role to allow for maximum competition in a free market.

In using the force of government to protect one business over another – restaurants -- it is Mr. Morgan who would use government to violate individual rights and, therefore, turn Asheville into a ghost town by dictating economic activity to free adults.


David Morgan's lame-ass response:
Asheville Tribune LTE

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Candidate Questionnaire: Step Right Up

1. Are you planning to attend “The Step Right Up” on Sept. 22nd?


2. Tell us something about your transportation habits. How do you get around Asheville?

I always drive an automobile wherever I go.

3. What recent advancement in Asheville’s transportation infrastructure do you think has had the greatest impact on our community? Why?

All of the parking decks going up downtown are a great improvement. They help automobile drivers. I'm also happy to hear that city council voted unamimously to approve the lease of 62 new parking spaces from AT&T near Grove Arcade.

4. Even if you haven’t held elected office, you’ve likely been an active member of Asheville’s community. Please describe one thing you’ve done to make our city friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and/or bus riders.

I've done nothing to make our city friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and/or bus riders.

5a) As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan? If so, in what specific ways? If not, why not?

I would not advocate the implementation of the city's Bicycle Master Plan. It's not a priority and we can't afford it. People prefer cars. The city’s current resurfacing schedule is 81 years. The priority is paving streets.

5b) If you are a current council member, have you advocated for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan? In what specific ways?


6a) As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of theTransit Master Plan? If you’d advocate for the plan, how would you encourage increasing ridership? If you wouldn’t advocate for the plan, why not?

I do not support implementation of the Transit Master Plan. Transit services should support actual transportation needs and not the development schemes of central planners. The government should get out of the transit business and eliminate regulatory controls that hamper the development of private sector transportation services. The city should immediately develop and publish a Request for Proposals to private contractors to provide transit functions.

6b) If you are a current council member, in what specific ways have you advocated for the passage and/or implementation of the Transit Master Plan? What are some of the challenges with the implementation of the transit plan?


7. What role do you think greenways play in Asheville’s future?

Greenways play a valuable role in Asheville's future but we can't afford them.

8. Past City Councils invested in planning efforts. Our city has a Sustainability Management Plan, a Greenway Master Plan, a Bicycle Master Plan, a Transit Master Plan, and a Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan. The next step is to fund the implementation of these plans. In these hard economic times, how would you propose to fund these plans? Or, do these plans need to be cut? If you think the plans need to be trimmed, what plans or pieces of plans should be cut?

The cost for implementing all current community plans is $200M. Revenue options are either maxed out, declining or no longer available. The only way to fund any of these programs is to cut spending. The only way to cut spending is to convert the City of Asheville to a contract city that outsources all basic services, other than police and fire, to private industry.

9. What is the most compelling reason to improve transportation options in Asheville?

Actual demonstrated need.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food Truck Public Comment

These are my comments at the city council public hearing on mobile food vending regulations:

"There has been some concern about enforcement expressed and I'd like to review the status of this issue. Enforcement was cited as the ONLY concern coming out of the Planning and Zoning Commission. It was the reason the commission gave these regulations a negative recommendation as a consequence of a three to three tie on the vote. The regulations then went to the Public Safety Committee for a review specifically of enforcement issues and received a unanimous vote in support of the regulations and the enforcement capabilities on the part of city staff and police. This should, in effect, nullify the three negative votes from P&Z, resulting essentially in a unaminous positive recommendation from Planning and Zoning.

Also, we should not look only to city staff and police to address the issue of enforcement. Vendors have an interest in not only following the rules themselves but in pointing out violations of those rules by others. There is a local mobile food vending coalition that can perform a watchdog function in cooperation with proper authorities. Also, the general public is integral in making these regulations work for everyone. Many instances of code violation in Asheville are complaint-driven and I don't doubt that there are plenty of local citizens who would be happy to help keep an eye out for violations and document and report them. With the public sector and the private sector partnering in a comprehensive enforcement solution, it would seem to me that this is more than adequate to address enforcement concerns."

Candidate Questionnaire: Asheville Tribune

1. Describe your leadership style.

I prefer the project management style of leadership that distributes leadership across a measurable sequence of specific activities aimed at achieving a concrete goal on a defined schedule.

2. Name three famous people with governance philosophies similar to yours.

1) Margaret Thatcher. 2) Gary Johnson. 3) Ron Paul. In that order.

3. What do you want to change in city government?

I want to change the very structure of local government. I would like to see Asheville move toward becoming a contract city in the way that dozens of other cities in the country have, such as the very successful Sandy Springs, Georgia. A contract city outsources all city services except police and fire.

4. What does the oath of office mean to you?

It means making a public and explicit personal committment to exercise policy-making power in the protection of individual rights, including property rights.

5. Where do you draw the line between property rights and community rights?

There are no community rights. Only individuals have rights. Property rights are paramount and should be protected under the rule of objective law. Communities have a strong interest in the protection of property rights. The strong protection of property rights resolves conflicts and preserves peace in a community.

6. How would you use your office to create jobs? Increase affordable housing stock? Reduce our carbon footprint?

1) It is not the proper role of government to create jobs. That is the role of the private sector. Government interference in the economy can only violate rights, destroy wealth and force capital from where it belongs to where it does not belong. The only positive influence government can have in the economy is to circumscribe its action to protecting the right of individuals to engage in productive economic activity without interference so long as that activity does not violate the rights of others. 2) Housing is unaffordable because of zoning, taxation and the high cost of construction and business-creation. We can increase affordable housing stock by reducing government-created barriers. 3) There is no need to reduce our carbon footprint.

7. What are the pros and cons of public/private partnerships?

The pros of public/private partnerships are better services, increased responsiveness and reduced costs. There are no cons.

8. What additional revenue streams would you pursue for the city?

None. The city needs to reduce costs by adopting the public/private partnership model of governance.

9. Should the economic downturn continue, what municipal expenditures would you be willing to cut?

I would be willing to cut all of them except police and fire and contract with private industry to provide basic city services in return for reduced costs and greater efficiency. Absent that, we could start with money-losers like the golf course, the civic center and street festivals.

10. If the federal government offered another round of stimulus, what would you want to procure for the city?

A stamped return envelope. Stimulus money is borrowed, stolen and counterfeited at the expense of every American, young, old and yet to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

City Council: Food Truck Regulation

My comments on food truck regulations at city council: #avlgov

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Candidate Questionnaire: WNC For Change

1. What do you think the Asheville Police Department should do to improve community policing that would enhance the safety of communities vulnerable to hate crimes (including race, gender and sexual orientation)?

I do not support entertaining a special category of rights for groups of similar individuals. I only support the protection of individual rights. It is the proper role of government to protect individual rights, including property rights, and the safety of all citizens of Asheville without regard to their membership in any special elevated group. However, local law enforcement must be trained to fully understand what this means in the daily discharge of their duty. It means a dispassionate and vigilant pursuit of peacekeeping and equal treatment and protection against harm regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other differentiated segment of society.

2. Would you support eliminating automobile traffic from one of Asheville’s major downtown streets and converting this street into a pedestrian mall (similar to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO)?

This is something I would support but we don’t have the money. We would need to accommodate parking in surrounding areas and pay for construction, signage, traffic studies and staff time. The schedule just for repaving streets extends 81 years. New sidewalk construction is being entirely financed by debt.People prefer driving automobiles over other modes of transportation and paving streets would be my priority in the near term. If Asheville could outsource a majority of basic city services through a public/private partnership form of government, the efficiencies and savings gained would then allow us to move to second tier priorities. And I would favor the use of any surplus funds for a pedestrian mall only upon consensus from the whole community through a referendum process.

3. If elected, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish during your four year term on City Council?

1) To maintain consistent and vigorous control of over-regulation; 2) to reduce the size and scope of local government to its essentials; and 3) to encourage city government to move toward the use of private industry in providing services, leading to better services, greater responsiveness and lower costs.

4. Who are the five largest contributors to your campaign thus far, and how much did each contribute?

I have filed with the Board of Election as a campaign that will not spend over $1,000 and the contributions I receive are not subject to campaign finance disclosure or public review.

5. Do you support President Obama’s initiative to build the foundation for a green energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment? Explain why or why not.

The theory of global warming has been proven false and, either way, I would not support any initiative by the any government to interfere in the economy. So-called “green energy” has not been proven viable, cannot drive the energy marketplace and is not demanded by consumers. We live in a modern global industrial society and our current energy needs demand the use of oil, which is plentiful and cheap for the long term. Until an alternative can be developed by the private sector without forcible taxpayer subsidies, we must and should rely on oil. Environmental protections under prevailing conditions will require maximum economic freedom and continued technological advancement and this will only be achieved by free minds and free markets, not by government mandates, redistribution of wealth and special interest lobbying.

Green Jobs, Red Faces
The fact that President Obama's "green jobs" campaign has been an enormously expensive failure is now so glaringly obvious even the New York Times can't ignore it any longer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food Truck Latest

Mobile Food Vending Ordinance (Proposed) -Ed Glines, Planner II

Enforcement of Mobile Food Vending -Shannon Tuch, Assistant Planning Director

Enforcement of Mobile Food Vending -Shannon Tuch, Assistant Planning Director

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mountain Xpress: City Council Candidates

The Unedited Interview


I'm running for city council mainly to give the citizens of Asheville a choice. I would represent balance in city hall. Secondly, it's difficult to keep up with all of the complexities of local government. It's practically a full time job. So I've decided to make it my full time job by running for a seat on council.


I'm running primarily on the issues of over-regulation and the growth of government. Over-regulation hampers economic activity and job-creation and we need to liberalize our rules and regulations. Also, current trends in the growth of government are unsustainable. According to our city manager, the cost of implementing current community plans is $200M. Road resurfacing is on an 81 year schedule. Raising taxes is not an option because it will further drive job creators and residents out of the city. Forced annexation is not an option due to recent legislation in Raleigh. Cutting down government to a bare-bones operation indefinitely is highly undesirable and a reversal of progress. I propose restructuring local government to take advantage of the proven efficiencies of private industry through the Public/Private Partnership model of governance that has been successfully implemented in many less progressive cities around the country.


Detail of the phony ban from Scrutiny Hooligan
Tim Peck | September 25, 2010
I am currently banned from the Scrutiny Hooligans community weblog, created by now-council member Gordon Smith, on the pretext that I violated commenting rules.

Monday, August 15, 2011

City Council Campaign

P&Z: Food Truck Regulation


Mobile Food Vending Proposed Ordinance Changes 7/8/11 Review

  1. New definitions:
Mobile food site means an individual parcel where mobile food vending is permitted to occur on a permanent basis

Mobile food vending means commercial food service sales by a mobile food vendor on a parcel of land outside of right-of-way areas. Sites approved for permanent mobile food vending are classified as a mobile food site.

Mobile food vendor means an individual who owns and operates a vehicle (truck or trailer with a maximum of two axles that includes a mobile kitchen that supports the sale and/or preparation of food and non-alcoholic beverages which is licensed and approved to walk-up customers.  

  1. Temporary uses (already exist in the UDO) - minor changes proposed here:
Temporary mobile food sales.  Temporary mobile food vendors, pushcarts or stands may be allowed in all non-residential districts outside of the downtown area Central Business District, corresponding to the Downtown Design Review Overlay District, provided that uses/structures for mobile food sales are compliant with the following standards.

  1. Hours of operation.  Temporary food vendors and stands shall be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. with specific hours of operation indicated on the temporary use permit. Locations within 200’ of a residential use will have reduced hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight.

  1. Proximity to public right-of-way. All sales shall be conducted at least ten feet from all public rights-of-way.

  1. Health department approval. Any food service operation that sells, prepares or serves food must obtain an approved mobile food service permit from the Buncombe County Health Department and is subject to inspection.

  1. Display of permit.  A copy of the valid, approved permit must be attached to the exterior of the truck or mobile kitchen, in clear view of all patrons.

  1. Proposed wording amendment to make mobile vending a permanent use on a site. In order to establish this use the following regulations must be followed:

a.   Use Districts: Office, Office II, Office Business, Community Business I, Community Business II, Institutional, Highway Business, Regional Business, Central Business, River, Commercial Industrial, Light Industrial, Industrial, Urban Village, Neighborhood Corridor, Urban Place

b. Permitting: Permitting to establish mobile food vending as a permanent use will incorporate the following permits:
1. Permitting the mobile food site: Mobile food vending will only be allowed on parcels with an approved development permit with the actual number of vendors permitted dependent on site conditions and the ability to comply with spacing requirements outlined in section ‘c.’ below.
2. Permitting the mobile food vendor: A mobile food vendor is required to obtain a permit for each separately approved mobile food site where vending will occur, according to the following regulations and also meeting regulations outlined in ‘d.’ below:
a. A mobile food vendor is permitted to vend at more than a single site but each location must be approved by individual permit.  
b. The Mobile Food Vendor permits will be renewed annually along with requirements for the Buncombe County Health Department.
c. The number of permits issued to individual mobile food vendors for the downtown Central Business District will be limited to 10.  Vendors may vend from multiple locations subject to the ability to meet other requirements.
d. Mobile food vendor permits will run with the calendar year and existing vendors will have the option to renew.
e.    Mobile food vendor permits shall include the addresses and hours of operation for the business.  Hours may be changed with 48 hours notice to the Development Services Center.  
f. Permits from Buncombe County and the City of Asheville shall be visually displayed on the mobile kitchen.
g. Copies of other required permits will be submitted with the mobile food vendor permit application.
h.    Operating without a valid permit will be considered a criminal misdemeanor and enforceable as such.  Violations of the approved permit for the mobile food vendor shall be considered a violation of this chapter and subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions of article XVIII of this chapter

c. Site Improvements:  The permit to establish a mobile food site will require approval of a site plan illustrating the proposed placement of the mobile food vendor(s) and the following items:
1. Access into the site and parking for vendor patrons at the rate of one parking space per mobile food vendor (applicable only if off-street parking is required in the zoning district).
2. Landscaping- The site will be improved to meet the standard for street trees.  In addition the affected area of the site will provide a minimum eight-foot wide property line buffer* when directly adjacent to residentially zoned and used parcels.  This buffer should be planted to include a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs to result in a vegetative screen that is 75% opaque year-round.  As an alternative, the buffer may be reduced by 50% with the installation of an opaque fence. Existing buildings that screen the impacts of the mobile food vendor(s) will be considered a substitute for the property line buffer or portions thereof.
3. Sidewalks: Sidewalks will be required along the frontage lines of the parcel if the road is designated on the City’s needed linkages sidewalk list.
4. Site maneuvering: Each mobile food vendor will need sufficient space for maneuvering onto the lot, for safe access by pedestrians, and for emergency response.
5. Setbacks: Setbacks for individual mobile food vendors will be ten feet from side and rear property lines and other parked vehicles (if any). There is not a required setback from the frontage line except that no portion of the mobile food vendor will be permitted to encroach into the right-of-way.
6. Other site features: Permitting for the mobile food site will take into consideration the ability for the primary site user to maintain compliance with minimum parking standards (if there is one) referencing the specific zoning district standards as described in the UDO.
7. Permanent electric power infrastructure is the preferred method for supplying power at the mobile food site.  If this is pursued, then the proper applicable permits must be obtained.

d. Other requirements for mobile food vendors:
        1. No mobile food vendors will be permitted to vend in a public street, sidewalk or right-of-way.
        2. All mobile food vendors are required to maintain permits issued by the Buncombe County Health Department and the City of Asheville will defer to Buncombe County for health and food safety regulations.
        3. All mobile food vendors shall leave the mobile food site when they are not in operation.
        4. Aside from festivals or special events that are permitted under separate event permits, the mobile food vendor will be required to maintain a list of the location(s) for operating the vending unit.
        5. Mobile food vendors will be limited to the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks.  The sale of other merchandise or services will not be permitted.
        6. Mobile food vendors are encouraged to use recyclable and/ or compostable containers, cups and utensils.
        7. Hours of operation: (a) Mobile food vendors will be limited to the hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight if they are within 200 feet of a residential use (locations in the downtown Central Business District excluded); (b.) Mobile food vendors who are not located within 200 feet of a residential use or are located in the downtown Central Business District may not operate between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.    
        8. The mobile food vendor(s) will be required to remove trash and litter from the mobile food site each day and to maintain the cleanliness of the site during hours of operation.  The vendor must provide a minimum of one receptacle for use by patrons.
        9. The mobile food site will be subject to the outdoor lighting and noise ordinance standards established by the City of Asheville.
        10. Outside power for the mobile food vendors may be provided by electric power pedestals as a preferred method or by a generator(s) operating at 65 decibels*2 or  less and which are properly attached per manufacturer’s standards to the mobile food vehicle.  Mobile food vendors utilizing a generator may not operate closer than 100 feet to a residential use, unless the generator operates at less than 50 decibels in which case distance will not be restricted except by other setbacks.
        11. Vendors may not bring tables and chairs to the mobile food site except that a single chair may be brought by the vendor for use by staff. In addition stand-alone tents, shade clothes, steps, etc. may not be brought to the site by vendors.
        12. Mobile food vendors shall maintain 20 feet between other mobile food vendors based on fire code separation.  
        13. Vendors will be subject to random inspections to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements.
        14. Signage: Mobile food vendors may have signage on their vehicle, not to exceed 32 square feet total per vehicle including letters and/or logo advertising the business. Square footage may be divided between a maximum of two faces. No roof signs will be allowed.  A single attached menu board totaling 6 square feet is also allowed for each truck.  

Items considered but not included in the proposed ordinance:
  • Should we (or can we) restrict permits to Buncombe County residents only? If not, should there be a higher fee for non-City or non-Buncombe County residents? Not recommended at this time
  • Should there be a food truck review board of some type? Wait one year and see if there is a need.
  • Should the temporary use applicability be extended to the CBD? Not recommended at this time because this other alternative is being proposed
  • Who will be enforcing this during non-Planning Department hours? Same entity during the day? Staff is working to resolve enforcement questions and will be meeting with the Public Safety Committee
  • Need/funding/justification for an economic impact study? There are not funds to conduct an economic impact study
  • Are bathrooms required for employees or patrons? The building code does not require bathrooms for either
  • For the downtown Central Business District, there may need to be a minimum amount of time vendors must operate to keep the permit ‘active’ since the total number of permits is proposed to be limited

Additional items of concern discussed by the Downtown Commission and included in their motion to approve:
    • Enforcement of specific regulations in the ordinance and also enforcement for vendors operating without permits (addressed through ordinance amendments proposed by APD)
    • There are questions about permit fees and whether fees would be enough to cover staff expenses for enforcement (fees for full cost recovery are not typical, particularly with zoning fees.  Need for additional fees may not be necessary with assistance from APD)
    • The ordinance will need to be reviewed after a period of time to see how it is working; this period may be about 12 months or after a full operational season, or at any point in time if a public safety/welfare issue is identified

** UPDATE -- August 16, 2011 **

The regulation was reviewed by the Public Safety Committee. They were satisfied with the enforcement solutions and approved of the regulation with the addition that unpermitted vending will be considered a Class III criminal misdemeanor. Fines could amount to $500. Third violation could result in 3 months jail time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Candidate Questionnaire: Sierra Club



1) Would you like your candidacy to be endorsed by the Sierra Club and why?

I’m happy to receive endorsements from any group interested in my candidacy.

2) Are you a member of the Sierra Club or any other environmental group?

No, I am not a member of the Sierra Club or any other environmental group.

3) What environmental issues have you been involved with? Did you achieve any success?

I have not been involved with any environmental issues.

4) What do you anticipate will be the most important environmental issues you will face if elected? What actions do you plan to take to address these issues?

The most important environmental issue I anticipate facing if elected is the pervasive but false notion that the city needs to reduce its carbon footprint. I will use facts, evidence and logic to educated the public and my colleagues regarding this falsehood and vote against any measure that seeks to satisfy a purely faith-based interference in the economy.

5) Do you consider urban sprawl to be an issue in Asheville, and if so, what would you do to minimize it? Would you support the continuation of the current “density bonus” for new development in the city?

Yes, suburban sprawl is an issue in Asheville. It is caused by zoning, property taxes, over-regulation and ideological policy-making. I do not support the concept of the density bonus, which entices developers to build larger housing complexes so long as they agree to lose money on 20% of their property. The best way to curtail suburban sprawl is to roll back its causes.

6) How would you protect open space in Asheville & Buncombe County?

The protection of private property is the best way to protect open space. Biltmore Estates, Grove Park Inn and Beaver Lake Park are good examples.

7) Given the rapid rate of development in the Asheville area, how would you deal with the problems of building on steep slopes? Would you support making the city’s steep slope ordinances at least as strong as the county’s?

I would advocate for the repeal of the steep slope ordinance and instead advocate for a differential tax on developing environmentally sensitive areas. I would advocate for increased penalties for fraud and failed slope development. I would demand that state legislators strengthen enforcement of the protection of private property in claims of harm from bad development practices.

8) Asheville City Council has done a great deal regarding public transportation. What do you think we need to do to make it more effective? What are your ideas on alternative transportation, e.g. bike paths?

To make public transportation more effective, we need sell our fleet of busses, outsource transit services to a private company and eliminate taxicab licenses and fare mandates. Bike paths are desirable but unaffordable under our present form of government. We need to convert to a public-private partnership form of government to achieve the kind of efficiency that would allow for the enormous expense a system of bike paths would require.

9) Do you think Asheville's storm water and erosion regulations function well and are adequately enforced? Are there enough personnel to adequately monitor environmental regulations?

Asheville’s storm water and erosion regulations function well and are adequately enforced and there are enough personnel to adequately monitor environmental regulations.

10) Given that Global Climate Change is with us, Asheville City council has adopted a number of energy policies including: Cities for Climate Protection, reduction of Asheville’s carbon emissions by 80%, and adoption of LEED Gold Standard for green building.

-Are you familiar with these programs and what other measures would you proposed to reduce our carbon footprint?

-Do you support the continuation of these programs? Are you willing to reinvest all or part of the savings from these programs to continue to increase energy efficiency?

-Would you support putting Solar Panels on city buildings?

The theory of global warming has been proven to be false and there is no need to reduce our carbon footprint. The only practical reason for converting to solar power is cost saving and this form of power production is not cost effective. The LEED certification is a valuable private-sector set of standards that can be adopted voluntarily as individual property owners so choose and for their own reasons.

11) City Council recently voted to reduce water rates for residential users and increase them over the next 5 years for businesses and other larger users to reduce the amount that residents subsidize business users. Some would like to repeal or delay this effort. Do you support or oppose efforts to change this recent decision?

I oppose efforts to unfairly treat businesses differently and charge them more for water. Charges for water should be based on actual usage and market rates.

12) The Planning and Zoning Commission has increased authority to approve new building construction in Asheville rather than city council. Would you support the appointment of more neighborhood leaders and other citizens who do not have ties to the development industry to this commission?

I support appointing members to the Planning and Zoning Commission who have knowledge, experience and expertise in matters that come before that advisory body, including those with ties to the development industry.

13) Would you be willing to further restrict Electronic Billboards in the city?

I would not be willing to further restrict electronic billboards in the city. Restricting speech is an improper exercise of police power. Citizens can voluntarily choose to patronize businesses who advertise on electronic billboards if they find them unpleasant.

14) Would you be willing to lobby the Tourism Development Authority to help fund Greenways and Parks in Asheville?

I would not be willing to lobby the Tourism Development Authority to help fund greenways and parks in Asheville. Buncombe County government should not be in the business of developing tourism or interfering in the economy in any way and Asheville should fund its own parks and greenways. Under a public-private form of government, Asheville would achieve a substantial savings that would allow for these types of expenditures through a referendum process and only after fundamental core services, such as police and fire, have been adequately addresses.

After filling out this questionnaire please return it by email to: Ken Brame or mail it to 15 Morning Star Dr., Leicester, NC by August 1, 2011. Interviews will follow.

Thank you for your interest in public service.

Ken Brame
Local Sierra Club Political Chair


Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 11:31 PM, Ken Brame wrote:
Since you were the first person to return your questionnaire, we would like to offer you the first interview slot for our interviews. Would you be available for an interview this Friday afternoon, August 5th, at 4 PM? We would expect the interview to last no more than one hour.

Thu, Aug 4, 2011 at 11:30 PM: Ken Brame of the Sierra Club called to cancel the candidate interview. Why? They just read my answers to their questionnaire.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Candidate Questionnaire: Scrutiny Hooligan

How long have you been a ScruHoo reader? Tell us how much you love this blog.

I started reading Scrutiny Hooligan way back when it was just run by Gordon Smith himself and he was making those over-the-top "Chainsaw Charlie" parody videos (now scrubbed from the internet). That must have been around 2006. Three years ago I was banned from the site because I offered challenging opinions which his administrator found irksome. I was banned under the phony pretext of breaking a rule. Now the site is quite awful and the worst example of ideological echo-chamber nonsense in the Asheville cyber-community.

So why are you running for City Council?

Following all the workings of city government is daunting for the ordinary citizen. And that's what I am: an ordinary citizen of Asheville. It's not enough to attend weekly city council meetings. You have to attend regular committee meetings, commission meetings and community meetings. And you have to research and understand the issues and the backgrounds of a wide range of public policy matters. Then comes analysis and policy recommendations to communicate to lawmakers. It's really a full time job. So, I've decided to do just that: to make it my full time job by running for a seat on city council.

What’s your skill set?

I'm trained as a technology consultant, data analyst and project manager, but I also have a background in economic theory and political philosophy. Also, I am the only candidate that understands the proper role of government; which is to protect individual rights, including property rights and economic liberty.

Any recent Council decisions that you’d like to comment about?

I'm happy that city council finally came around to see that URTV was a disaster and had been for years and pulled funding. Although, the RFP for a new venture is so overloaded with requirements, I don't see how anyone could possibly take it up. Also, I'm still curious as to how the new Ingles Super Market on Smoky Park Highway avoided the two-year-long protests, criticisms and resistance that greeted Walmart when they proposed a Super Center on the same site several years ago. The new Ingles will be almost twice as large when finished. (Of course, the woeful trailer park residents are long gone now, and so is the $7,500/per unit displacement money that Walmart offered them.) However, I'm glad that the project was approved with little fanfare, virtually no public outcry and was able to avoid the politicized harassment, over-regulation and extortion that Walmart was subjected to which caused them to relocate just outside the city limits, taking the sales and property taxes with them.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I do research and drink alcohol.

Who’s your favorite Beatle?

George Martin. He took an extraordinary talent set, added his own to it with little credit and multiplied the overall value. I like that. [Real answer: George Harrison]

Challenge: In twenty-five words or less, sum up your goals for a term on City Council.

To move toward the Public/Private Partnership model that has successfully transformed cities like Sandy Springs, Georgia, into an efficient, effective and proper local government.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Radio: Food Truck Regulation

Tim Peck on 880AM Local Edge Radio on July 9, 2011, to talk about the current state of #avlfoodtruck regulation in #Asheville.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Food Truck Regulation


For the past twenty-five years, mobile food trucks have been prohibited from operating in the downtown Asheville area (although, they are not prohibited from operating in other areas inside the city). The popularity and prudence of the mobile food truck operation nationwide during tough economic times has prompted the city to reconsider the wisdom of this ban. The City of Asheville is presently considering removing the ban and is drafting new regulations for governing the operation of mobile food trucks in the downtown area on private property. This task has been outsourced to the Downtown Commission which, in turn, has delegated the task to a subcommittee dedicated to this specific issue.

In the course of identifying issues and concerns and developing an initial set of regulatory guidelines, the subcommittee has defined some rules that seem to fit within the proper scope of government oversight and some that seem not to fit within that scope.

The new regulations, if adopted in their present form, would allow the operation of food trucks downtown under certain conditions. They must allow ample space for the ingress and egress of pedestrians, automobiles and emergency vehicles. That is right and proper. It ensures that food trucks do not interfere with the free movement of individuals, police cars, fire trucks and ambulances. This helps to protect the rights of others.

Some rules included in the draft regulation are simply redundant; such as compliance with health and safety laws, noise ordinances and permitting processes. These should be more properly included in a manual for vendors and not a new set of regulations. These types of rules apply to all businesses and do not need to be repeated in regulations only governing food trucks.

Other rules, in fact, the bulk of them, seem to be an attempt to control factors that do not serve the purpose of protecting individual rights, which is government's sole legitimate purpose. For example, there is a rule limiting hours of operation. No explanation is given. Some restaurants are open 24 hours a day or at least late into the night and early morning. Why this limitation on food trucks? If there is no street business at 4:30AM, then business-people will have the sense to determine that it is not profitable to operate at this hour. However, if it is indeed profitable, then by what justification does the city shut them down?

Another rule would restrict the distance of a food truck to a restaurant to no less than 200 feet. Again, no explanation is given. Some restaurants are located side-by-side. Why this proximity restriction on food trucks? If this is for the purpose of protecting restaurants from competition, then I would remind the regulators that it is not the government's proper role to protect businesses from competition, but rather to ensure that the rights of all parties are protected from violation. No business owner has the right to be protected from competition through the use of force.

A rule establishing a limit to the total number of food trucks is included in the draft regulation. The reason given is that this would protect downtown from “too many” vendors. How does a government agent determine what constitutes “too many” over against the consuming marketplace? In a free market, if there is greater supply than demand, that is, if the market is saturated, only then are there objectively “too many” food trucks. By what other criteria can someone conclude that there are either too many or too few food trucks other than the arbitrary opinion of the regulator? The same would apply to any desire on the part of the regulators to limit permits to locals or prohibit permits to chains. These are matters best decided by business-people and the consuming public. If consumers have a distaste for Taco Bell or McDonald's selling street food, they can voluntarily make their displeasure known by avoiding these vendors. If a vendor from another county finds it profitable to drive for miles and set up a food truck every day in downtown Asheville for happy customers, then who is the government functionary to tell them they are not welcome? And by what right do regulators limit my food choices? If I want to eat a falafel downtown, who, at present, stands in my way? Local government.

One rule states that the permitting of a vending site on private property should “take into consideration the availability of sufficient parking for the primary site user.” Once again, how is this the business of government? If the property owner has determined that a food truck operation does not substantially hamper the ability of his primary customers from accessing his business, that should be the property owner's decision.

There is another rule that would mandate food truck vendors only offer recyclable containers, cups and utensils to customers. While this may be a laudable gesture, there is no justification for forcing vendors to make it. Besides increasing the cost of doing business for the vendor and the customer, it is morally repugnant for government to impose a set of values as a requirement for operating. Again, propriety of this measure is best left to the consuming public. If customers value recyclable containers, then they can vote with their dollars. They can also use persuasion to convince others to their point of view rather than use the coercive force of government to do so. If they cannot persuade, then perhaps they have a weak case to make.

Another standard being established is called “no roaming.” Again, I find no legitimate reason for this standard. When asked at a recent presentation on this issue, Warren Hansen, the Street Food Czar of Madison, Wisconsin, stated that disallowing roaming makes it easier for inspectors to find the vendors, it establishes a “sense of order” and helps repeat customers find vendors in fixed locations. On the first point, why can't they pick up a phone? Inspectors should have a list of vendors and their contact numbers. Or why not a GPS tracking system? Inspectors could easily locate all vendors on their iPhones and map an inspection route to satisfy their convenience. Why burden the vendor to satisfy the inspector? On the second point, it is not the government's job to create senses of order. And by whose standard? This is never explained. Third, if a vendor finds it important to stay in one place for the benefit of repeat customers, then they will choose this option. If it is more profitable to roam, then they should be free to do so to their own maximum benefit.

The worst provision in the draft regulation is the explicit requirement that vendors purchase a specific type of technology to mitigate the noise that now comes from conventional gas-powered electric generators. The regulation, as of this writing, would only permit either plug-in power or generators that employ inverter technology. It's true that typical generators make lots of noise. And it's true that inverter generators are whisper-quiet. Thank goodness for innovative technology. But demanding that vendors make use of a prescribed technology to achieve the mitigation of a nuisance is wholly unreasonable. We don't know what technologies will be available next year or what creative solutions vendors can imagine. Inverter generators are so expensive that requiring them on mobile food trucks would be effectively prohibitive. Any regulations allowing food trucks downtown would be completely subverted under this provision, which would price poor entrepreneurs out of the market. For some, a mobile food truck operation is the entry point into the food delivery marketplace. Instead, the regulation should establish a reasonable set of noise standards and let the vendors determine the method of compliance. Some may buy the expensive equipment as the best solution. Others may opt, for example, to build a cheap wooden container lined with sound reduction materials in order to come into compliance with the spirit of the law; which is to mitigate noise.

The bottom line for me is this: When I see mobile food vendors, I see poor people making a living and pleasing the community. I see creative entrepreneurs risking their own capital and precious time fulfilling their dreams in a welcoming marketplace. Reasonable regulation geared toward protecting the public health and safety is the proper purview of local government. But regulation that is redundant, controlling, prescriptive and prohibitive does not serve the interest of protecting rights, but instead serves to violate them. I hope that the city can develop a set of regulations governing mobile food trucks downtown that consciously errs, if at all, on the side of economic freedom, job creation and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens.

The Mobile Food Vending Subcommittee will now submit its findings to the Downtown Commission, who will then submit their recommendations to the city for reviews, a public hearing and, finally, a vote by city council to become law. I wish the City of Asheville godspeed in lifting the ban on mobile food trucks in downtown Asheville.


The Mobile Food Truck Subcommittee has sent a revised version of their recommended regulatory language to the Downtown Commission and the commission has voted to approve with modification. The vote was 7-2. The modifications include extending hours of operation to 3:00am, striking the restaurant proximity clause, striking the 50-gallon trash can mandate, striking the inverter technology generator mandate and striking the recyclable container mandate.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Radio: Food Trucks

Tim Peck calls in to Local Edge Radio on 880AM to discuss allowing mobile food vendors in downtown Asheville. 6/21/2011, hour 2.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Food Trucks = Competition

Suzy Salwa Phillips, Gypsy Queen Cuisine Lebanese Street Food Truck

Feels food trucks would be harmful to Asheville
Anne Fitzgerald Smith | Asheville Citizen-Times | June 8, 2011

The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association board of directors, in an AC-T article, said: ‎"Food trucks will threaten the livelihood of some of our already existing 200-plus restaurants"

There you have it. A full admission that the ban of food trucks is solely motivated by an interest in eliminating competition in local food delivery services. The writer seems to ignore that fact that restrictions on food trucks threaten the livelihood of the dozens of entrepreneurs who add value to our community. Who the hell is this writer to tell me what food choices I can have in my own city?

1. Food truck entrepreneurs have a right to earn a living in any way that does not harm others.

2. Asheville consumers have a right to make dining choices without the interference of special interests or government restrictions.

3. Ensuring safety is a proper function of government; however, political interference in the marketplace violates individual rights and mostly hurts poor people.


On a roll
by Mackensy Lunsford in Vol. 17 / Iss. 14 on 10/26/2010
Food trucks want a piece of the Asheville restaurant pie

Small Bites
by Anonymous in Vol. 17 / Iss. 43 on 05/17/2011
Food trucks abound — and vegetarian food does too

Lebanese Street Food Truck
Suzy Salwa Phillips |
My vision is quite simple, I want to serve my Asheville community and folks that come and visit from out of town a true authentic experience of Lebanese street food served from a vintage step up van that would run on spent peanut oil from its fryers and powered by solar panels and biodiesel fuel.

The Cancer of Regulation
John Stossel | 6/8/2011
Politicians care about poor people. I know because they always say that. But then why do they make it so hard for the poor to escape poverty?