Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Campaign Trail This Week

"a controversial blog post by her opponent, Republican Rep. Tim Moffitt.."

Here's the ACTUAL link to the so-called "controversial blog post":

Specifically in what way it is controversial has yet to be discovered. The post occurred hours prior to a vote by city council to hold a meaningless and purely political nonbinding referendum on the irrelevant question of selling or leasing a public enterprise to which the city cannot properly claim exclusive ownership.

[@TimMoffitt post on local gov timestamp: "3:33 PM - 14 Aug 12" | City council meetings start at 5p. #avlgov #avlh2o]

And, as accurately reported above, Rep. Moffitt has no quarrel with the referendum. The referendum has absolutely no bearing on the matter at hand. The city might as well hold a referendum on selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

A question asked on the Pete Kaliner show was, "The Legislative Research Commission’s Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System Committee has recommended that the General Assembly consolidate the Public Utility Water System with the MSD of Buncombe County. What effect would a City of Asheville referendum on selling or leasing the water system have on the General Assembly's actions?"

Answer: "None."

From: The Campaign Trail: A look at what happened this week in local politics | Mountain Xpress | By Jake Frankel on 08/25/2012 06:32 AM

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Op-Ed: Business Improvement District

To BID or not to BID
Government coercion no solution to downtown issues
by Tim Peck | Mountain Xpress | 8/21/2012

The basic idea behind the business-improvement district proposed for downtown Asheville is a good one: people working together to solve shared problems that tend to hamper or impede the conduct of business and peaceful living. Graffiti, vandalism, snow, trash, debris, crimes and misdemeanors are real issues — but solutions to these and other problems can be effected individually or cooperatively.

Individuals can re-paint exteriors, sweep and shovel sidewalks, install cameras and escort friends to their cars at a cost only to themselves. When a lot of people need to do many of the same things, however, cooperation is often the most effective approach. They can form associations, prioritize concerns, pool resources and take action at a lower cost, thereby freeing individuals from tasks extraneous to the primary focus of conducting business and living well.

But cooperative action should be voluntary. Instead, the current BID proposal calls for local government to use police power to lay a special tax on select stakeholders. The money would fund a nonprofit responsible for overseeing the delivery of special services within the central business district.

This proposal is legally authorized by the state constitution and the General Assembly. City Council, the law says, may implement a special tax in a designated area by majority vote. And if it does, it can either provide the specified services itself or contract with some other entity — whether governmental, nonprofit or for-profit — to do so.

This organization’s continued funding would be contingent upon its fulfilling the stated mission, as determined by some as-yet-unspecified measure. The current proposal includes a role for a corps of so-called “ambassadors” whose function appears vague, dubious and a stretch of the definition of “improvement.”

My reading of the legal authority for a BID tells me that it is entirely a creature of government. Accordingly, it should be subject to North Carolina’s transparency laws (open meetings, public comment and local-government oversight) similar to how the mismanaged, now-defunct public-access group URTV was treated.

The alternative, coercive method is, of course, to expand local government, hire dedicated staff and increase taxes citywide to benefit a minority interest. This solution would likely meet with even greater resistance than the smaller-scale proposal now on the table.

In a free society, voluntary association and freedom of contract are the proper means for supplying a public good. For a community of people seeking harmonious resolution of commonly identified issues, involuntary association and coercive taxation should be adopted only as a last resort, if ever.

Critics of this kind of voluntary approach often cite two principal concerns: 1) the risk of an ongoing funding shortfall; and 2) the problem of the "free rider" syndrome.

A funding shortfall emerges when some stakeholders fail to see the benefit and decline to contribute, thereby frustrating success. This could be due to the typical problems that attend the use of persuasion. Or it could simply be an accurate perception of an unfavorable cost-benefit ratio: Those who opt out are voicing their skepticism.

The "free rider" objection is a flawed and ultimately unsupportable argument. The fact that an unsolicited benefit accrues to some nonparticipants is insufficient justification for resorting to wholesale coercion to supply a public good. If we wish to live in a free society, we must contribute to the existence of such a society by avoiding the use of force against our neighbors. This is a non-issue, because: 1) free riders don’t prevent participants from gaining the intended benefit; 2) free riders haven’t asked for the alleged benefits; 3) free riders’ nonparticipation doesn’t violate others’ rights; and 4) a nonparticipating beneficiary risks condemnation, isolation and potential material losses. For example, if free riders do reap any unearned benefits, they could quickly lose them due precisely to their nonparticipation. And informed, activist consumers could stop patronizing those businesses, thereby precipitating a loss of both profitability and social acceptance.

Do our central planners really expect residents and entrepreneurs to stick around for a tax increase when they can scarcely lay a finger on any advantage in it for them? And when advantages are evident, there’s no shortage of people working together voluntarily to do what is actually in their shared interest. The Asheville Grown Business Alliance, Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods are just a few examples.

I am confident that Asheville has the wherewithal to develop working models for filling service gaps without government mandates. Let's find out if the downtown business-improvement idea is indeed a good one by advocating voluntary solutions before rushing to impose mandatory ones — and risk driving out some of the very people who give our city its special character.


Libertarian activist, blogger and former City Council candidate Tim Peck has lived in the Asheville area for 10 years.


“If we wish to live in a free society, we must contribute to the existence of such a society by avoiding the use of force against our neighbors.”

Repealing Annexation

Did you know that the General Assembly can repeal existing annexations?

That authority is granted by the North Carolina State Constitution.

SECTION 1. General Assembly to provide for local government.
"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 this Constitution, may give such powers and duties to counties, cities and towns, and other governmental subdivisions as it may deem advisable."
In fact, a neighborhood recently annexed into the City of Asheville, Biltmore Lake, was repealed by legislative fiat. Here's the local bill that made that possible:

And that's how local government works.


The Process of Annexation
City of Asheville
Annexation by a city or town must follow a specific procedure and must insure that urban services are provided to the areas to be annexed in a timely fashion and at a level substantially similar to that provided to other areas within the city or town.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Asheville, the Teenager

Gordon Smith: "Whether it was unilaterally changing the way we vote and restricting our choices on County Commission, disallowing a vote of the people on the district proposal, forcefully taking the airport, or seeking to seize the water system, Rep. Moffitt hasn’t chosen a path of good governance."

Tim Peck: As some of us may know, it is Buncombe County Chairman David Gantt who refused to allow the people a vote on district elections, knowing, of course, what the outcome would be. It is also Chairman Gantt who ignored an actual referendum held on county-wide zoning that showed overwhelming majority opposition. Gantt and the board went ahead with zoning anyway against the wishes of the actual voting public.

Some of us know who the bullies are. And some others have it all wrong.

Asheville is like the teenager living in his parent’s house. The parents acquire a house and give the teenager a room of his own where he can keep all of his stuff. The teenager slowly becomes arrogant and pushy. He puts up a sign that reads “Keep Out.” He become possessive and demanding. He takes the car keys whenever he wants to joyride with his buddies and turns his room into a virtual frat house. At some point, the teenager pushes too far and the parent is compelled to remind him that he is living his lifestyle through the benevolence of the parent and shouts things like, “As long as you’re living under my roof, you’ll obey my rules” and “I brought you into this world and I can damn sure take you out of it.”

By reorganizing county elections and regional water and airport management, Rep. Moffitt is properly decentralizing and distributing political power. These and other steps are intended to broaden the democratic process contrary to a concentration of power in the hands of an ideological partisan cabal. Rep. Moffitt is bringing government to the people. And for that we should be thankful. Instead, some of us choose to demonize, personalize, insult, ridicule and generally operate in bad faith.

Rep. Moffitt is doing a great service to our community. He is standing between the petulant and capricious little Asheville and an increasingly dismayed and hostile General Assembly. He is protecting our community from the smoldering wrath of the legislature. In fact, the election of Jane Whilden could quite possibly enrage the stink-eyed General Assembly to the point of the shouting parent who, by then, would be quite happy to see the teenager hit the road and wander in the wilderness.

From: "Often Disappointed," Scrutiny Hooligan

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jeopardizing the Referendum

"However, the vote won't legally bind the North Carolina General Assembly from taking action on the matter."

That's rich.

The referendum option is a gift given by the General Assembly to NC municipalities that modifies the Dillon Rule to allow cities to govern themselves somewhat more autonomously. If the City of Asheville insists on abusing that gift, the General Assembly can very well take it away.

Will they take it away from all municipalities or narrowly craft a definition to only include Asheville? Who knows. The best case would be to only deny Asheville. A statewide reversal would bode ill for this unruly "creature of the legislature."

And that's how local government works.

"The campaign trail: A look at what happened this week in local politics"
Mountain Xpress | By Jake Frankel | 08/18/2012 06:32 AM

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Radio: Business Improvement District

Pete Kaliner Show
570AM WWNC Radio
8/9/2012 3:00 PM

Guests: Tim Peck and Libertie Valance
Topic: Asheville BID

Podcast (45 min)


Business Improvement District
Tim Peck
a summary of the provenance and development of the Asheville Business Improvement District proposal