Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Is Obama making life easier for terrorists?

Tammy Bruce
Washington Times
Monday, December 21, 2015

Online-only Edition

Experts and amateurs are endlessly telling us what we ought to be doing in our war against Islamic jihadism. But we know what needs to be done: eliminate the threat. The trouble is finding a president who is interested in defending this country.

Some people continue to insist that Obama is stupid, incompetent or weak, as a way to explain his otherwise inexplicable actions. None of which explains everything. The only thing that explains everything is: malevolence.


Hagel: The White House Tried to ‘Destroy’ Me
In an exclusive interview, Chuck Hagel said the Obama administration micromanaged the Pentagon, stabbed him in the back on the way out -- and still has no strategy for fixing Syria.

Administration nixed probe into Southern California jihadists
There are terrorists in our midst and they arrived here using legal means right under the noses of the federal law enforcement agencies whose mission is to stop them. That is not due to malfeasance or lack of effort on the part of these officers; it is due to the restrictions placed on them by the Obama administration.

Whistleblower Says He Could Have Prevented CA Attack If Gov't Didn't Cut Funding

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Confusion at City Hall

Don't these people talk to each other?


Jade Dundas, Water Resources Director, City of Asheville:"Issues that would need to be resolved include:
    -Transferring the contracts of the department’s 148 employees.
    -Nontransferrable federal and state health-and-safety certifications.
    -Transferring the financial, accounting and information technology systems.
    -Training new employees.
    -The city’s water-related bond debt, which is financed by system revenues."


Esther Manheimer, Mayor, City of Asheville: “To me a corporate transfer doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the experience our city will have with this company. It may just mean a change in ownership. It may not mean a change in the employees or the number of employees they plan to hire or their agreements. It may have no implications in terms of their agreements with the city.”


Blogpost: Asheville's Continued Misinformation Campaign

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Who Owns WNC's Water

Carolina Public Press
October 22, 2015
Town Hall, Fletcher, NC

At its Newsmakers forum held on Oct. 22, 2015, Carolina Public Press held a panel discussion on the ownership and management of public and private drinking water systems in Western North Carolina. Panelists were Kim Colson, director, N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure; Katie Hicks, assistant director, Clean Water for North Carolina; Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson; and Lee Smith, utilities director, Hendersonville Water and Sewer. The event was moderated by Carolina Public Press’s Investigations and Open Government Editor Jon Elliston and its lead environmental contributing reporter, Jack Igelman.

Subtopic: The Asheville Water System
Speaker: Chuck McGrady

Full Video:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Friends of WPVM

Controversy at WPVM
Saturday, December 12, 3:00 p.m.
Pack Library, Lord Auditorium, Asheville

Before you attend the meeting today, here's a little background on WPVM:

Participants in the drama, and the author of the Mountain Xpress article (“Lost in Transmission: Amid Heated Controversy, WPVM Charts a New Course,” Nov. 4), choose to remain uncomprehending of parliamentary procedure or laws governing non-profits in North Carolina.

Chris Lawing thought he had a position on the official Friends of WPVM Board of Directors, but Lawing simply did not, and when informed of that reality,  chose (with others) to take the route of fueling a smear campaign.

When Friends of WPVM  was in the planning and start up phase in September 2014, an interim Board of Directors formed just to get the process rolling and Lawing, Byron Ballard, and others were placed on a interim Board. This was done to satisfy MAIN's requirement that the group demonstrate a commitment to doing the necessary steps to acquire the FCC license.

Once MAIN voted to transfer the license, the group began the formal proceedings of filing Articles of Incorporation with NC Secretary of State, and then the group was instructed to hold a formal organization meeting. An official Board was formed on Oct 8th to comply with NC State Incorporation law.  (Signed documents verifying who was voted on to  the official Board of Directors in October 8, 2014, for Friends of WPVM are below.)

MAIN Director Pat Battle inserted himself into Friends of WPVM, in a highly inappropriate manner, since he was in blatant conflict of interest at demanding to be on both Boards, and was against the FCC license transfer and had voted on MAIN as being opposed to the transfer ((A Director must act in the best interest of the organization of which are Director, as a first priority, and cannot be opposed to the business at hand, which was the transfer of the FCC license. One cannot be loyal to two different negotiating entities).

When it became obvious he had a clear conflict of interest (being both boards and opposed to the transfer) he was required to remove himself from Friends of WPVM dealings in any way, and thereafter he began an aggressive campaign to sabotage the license transfer process.

Sitting elected officials Gordon Smith and Cecil Bothwell have also participated in fueling the flames of controversy or have made attempts at sabotaging the license transfer. Smith commented on the Asheville Politics Facebook page and councilmember Bothwell used his bully pulpit to discredit the new management with some of the show hosts.  Bothwell and his associate Barry Summers have engaged in fear-mongering and have suggested that people send letters to the FCC opposing the license transfer.

Also fueling the controversy are show host's from Asheville FM, Barry Sanders, Shad Marsh, Steve Shields, Adam Strange, John Spears, TJ Amos.  Sadly, Carmon Ramos Kennedy of WRES has also participated. Wally Bowen's son Connar Elliott has participated. Some have collected screen shots of all the comments made in regards to this ongoing smear campaign so there is a paper trail to back up points made here, and those screenshots are available for anyone to view at the station.

Rusty Silvis, who is calling for the meeting is a member of a group that had a show on WPVM (Vets for Peace). When the show Vets for Peace lost their main point person Ellie Halsey due to internal conflict in the group (composed of Ellie Halsey, Rusty Silvis and Don McCeachan), untrained show hosts McCheachan and Silvis took over and clearly did not know, or chose to ignore, basic rules such as using the dump button when guests used profanities, or not having food over the broadcast mixer, endangering a major piece of equipment that runs the station.

Vets for Peace were informed that when a show loses it's main point person, the replacements must go through the complete orientation procedure to insure that they know how to operate the equipment to do their show.  Additionally they must be computer savvy enough to receive emails and know how to archive their shows.

The programming committee reviewed the shows and sent suggestions on improving the show delivery. The improvements have not been attained (because they have not come in to do any more shows), nor have Rusty or Don done the required show orientation follow up. Meetings were held with Rusty, Don and the VETS for Peace President and where it was discussed what they needed to do to be in compliance.  They were unhappy at needing to go through the orientation and that all participants needed to know how to operate the equipment.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Asheville's Continued Misinformation Campaign

The Mountain Xpress weekly newspaper has finally broken the extended news black-out of the failing Asheville water lawsuit. But there is a lot of misinformation and a lot is missing, like quotes from MSD.

The article entitled "Under Pressure" states that the water system has an uncertain future. The future of the water system is far from uncertain. No matter what happens in court, the city is certain to lose the water system. (

The article cites Water Department head Jade Dundas saying that the transfer would take "at least a year."That is not true. The transfer would take approximately 24 hours, give or take a few minutes. The inevitability of the system transfer has made it incumbent on MSD to plan for the transfer and those plans are in place and will be activated immediately upon the Supreme Court's dismissal of the City's appeal.

State's Motion to Dismiss & Response to PDR:

Jade continues misinforming the public saying that the issues that need to be resolved include:

-- "Transferring the contracts of the department's 148 employees."

There are no contracts to transfer. Water department staff are not contractors, they are employees. The only difference will be a different logo on their paychecks, and a different signature.

-- "Non-tranferrable federal and state health-and-safety certifications."

Certifications are for people and they are not void in the event of a transfer of the employee.

-- "Transferring the financial, accounting and information technology systems."

MSD is ready to take over these systems as is on day one, to be operated in parallel with the current sewerage operational systems. Data migration will take place over time and under MSD's purview.

-- "Training new employees."

What new employees? Water department employees will do the same job in the same capacity, only under new management. If anything, there will be staff reductions due to consolidation.

-- "The City's water-related bond debt, which is financed by system revenues."

Here we have an admission that Asheville does not own the water system. If it did, the bonds would have been financed by the taxpayers, not water customers. Instead, the are Revenue Bonds. Also note that there is no explanation why this would be an issue. Perhaps that is because it is NOT an issue. The state has an office dedicated to resolving bond transfer issues and this has already been addressed well in advance of the coming transfer. In fact, the bonds themselves anticipate this eventuality and provides for a smooth transference to another political subdivision of the state.

The trial court raised the matter of the issuance of revenue bonds and states that the bonds are “secured by the net revenues of the Water System” and that there is “no provision made anywhere in the Act for obtaining the consent of the bondholder” for any transfer to an “unrated successor.”

The new Metropolitan Water and Sewerage District (MWSD), created by the Act, extends the existing Metropolitan Sewerage District (MSD) by merging the Metropolitan Water District with the currently operating MSD. MSD has as sturdy a bond rating as the City, and the rating would not suffer a loss of strength as a consequence of the Act. Note that MSD possesses the authority to operate a water utility, granted to it by the state in Session Law 2012-103. (See Article 5 - Metropolitan Sewerage Districts. § 162A-69. (13c) “To exercise any power of a Metropolitan Water District under Article 4 of this Chapter not set forth in this section.”)

Debt service on the Revenue Bonds is guaranteed with the continued operation of the water system, which the Water Act ensures. Debt service is further guaranteed by the State in the event of default by the obligor (See State's Motion to Dismiss).

There is no provision in the Act for transfer of debt precisely due to the existence of a longstanding process for handling the inter-governmental transfer of debt obligations as established by the state Department of Treasury’s Division of State and Local Government.

Furthermore, the City's lackluster defense of its claims of the risk to bondholders demonstrates a lack of genuine concern.

The NC Appeals Court, Page 25-26, states in its ruling: "We do not reach any conclusion regarding Asheville’s fourth and fifth claims for relief, in which Asheville contends that the enforcement of the Transfer Provision would impermissibly impair obligations of contract in violation of our state and federal constitutions and in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 159-93. The trial court made no rulings on these claims, and Asheville did not take advantage of Rule 10(c) of our Rules of Appellate Procedure, which allows an appellee to propose issues which form 'an alternate basis in law for supporting the order[.]' Therefore, any argument by Asheville based on these claims for relief are waived."

In other words, the City neglected to raise the issue in Appeals and thus forfeited its right to appeal the ruling on that point. As stated in the State's whip-smart Motion to Dismiss, Page 15, note 3:

Indeed, so great is the City's error, the court's can no longer respond to its late-coming complaint. Citing a controlling precedent going back to 1968, the State's Motion to Dismiss (Page 21) courteously reminds the Supreme Court that it may not consider any matter extraneous to the Appeals Court ruling; to wit, the bond issue.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Friday, December 04, 2015

404 Error

Page Not Found

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Dissecting Holly Jones

The balls out hypocrisy of leftist politician Holly Jones

Background by Pete Kaliner: "Jones wrote a post that appears at the Politics NC blog (more on that in a bit) regarding the Syrian refugee issue. Specifically, whether NC should accept more of them. In keeping with her newfound moderate approach to politics, Jones offers a reasonable opening salvo. She says that while she disagrees with the opposition to accepting more refugees, she understands the concerns.."

Friday, November 20, 2015

City Council's Malfeasance

The City of Asheville is proceeding with its litigation over the water system with the foreknowledge that it will not and cannot ultimately win.

Interview with Rep. Brian Turner
WCQS | November 12, 2015

TURNER: "Well, I think that, you know, my priority is that the people in my district have access to clean and reliable water. The city and the county and the state have been at odds on this for decades, um, you know, probably close to a hundred years now. We have two options at this point. The city has said they're going to appeal it to the Supreme Court. And, if the city is unsuccessful, then we know what's going to happen with the Regional Authority. If the city is successful, Senators Apodaca and Representative McGrady have already said that they will file new legislation to fix the problem that was with the old legislation that caused it to be overturned, but that the Asheville system will become a regional system. That's their goal. And, so, I think, if the city is successful in their suit and new legislation comes forth, then my job is to sit down with Senators Apodaca and McGrady and other stakeholders and say, "OK, how do we create a system that is going to best serve the larger community? If you're hell bent on making this happen, how do we do it in such a way that's beneficial for everybody?" So, you know, hopefully, you know, we'll know soon and we can work to that end."

by Molton


Who Owns WNC's Water
Oct. 22, 2015
John Ellison: "Chuck, I wanted you to look into your legislative crystal ball for us and ponder...if by some chance the State Supreme Court decides this law is a 'no go', what might be the next step in the General Assembly a proposed transfer?"
Chuck McGrady: "There are other ways to skin a cat. There are other ways to draft that legislation, depending on what the NC Supreme Court says, to make sure we do things constitutionally."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Critique of LTE on Water System


1. November 19, 2015: Comments go missing.

2. November 20, 2015: Comments return, with explanation.


Letter: Expresses worries about water system’s future
Peter Gentling | AC-T | November 17, 2015

Our legislature’s contempt for Asheville knows few bounds. Political punishment at its best. Soon the Court of Appeals will consider our feeble attempts to save our precious water system. Transfer to the Metropolitan Sewerage District may seem minor, but it is not. The MSD’s board is appointed, not elected, and is therefore political. Watch to see Tim Moffitt appointed and somewhere down the line, our water deaccessioned and sold to a private company. Since the court is made up of Republicans, we can anticipate our loss. Republican ambitions are to privatize. Asheville’s water is the purest anywhere. As the world population explodes water’s value will, too. Our taxpayers should benefit, not a private company that will raise our rates. Those who hate or envy Asheville should pay attention. They will lose, too, in the long run.



(Posted in the comments section on November 17, 2015)

LTE: "Our legislature’s contempt for Asheville knows few bounds. Political punishment at its best."

The letter writer has obviously accepted the mayor's false narrative and the AC-T's biased reporting on this subject and has, sadly, swallowed it whole. Once again, the clueless need correcting.

LTE: "Soon the Court of Appeals will consider our feeble attempts to save our precious water system."

Feeble?! The city mounted a valiant attempt to resist implementing the Water Act with as much of other people's money as they can lay their greedy little hands on. They even won a favorable decision from the North Carolina Superior Court, Judge Manning presiding.

1. House Bill 488/Session Law 2013-50, Regionalization of Public Utilities (the “Water Act”)

2. The City of Asheville Complaint Against the State

3. North Carolina Superior Court Ruling on the Water Lawsuit

And, I understand that the timing is unfortunate for the writer, but the North Carolina Court of Appeals has already decided this case. Twice. And Asheville lost. Twice. That's not to mention the time the city lost a water lawsuit in the case City of Asheville v. State, 192 N.C. App 1, 665 S.E.2d 103 (2008), appeal dismissed, disc. rev. denied, 672 S.E.2d 685 (2009).

1. Appeals Court Ruling on the Water Lawsuit

2. Appeals court declines to reconsider city water ruling

3. Appeal Court's Order Denying Petition for Rehearing of Water Lawsuit

4. City of Asheville v. State

LTE: "Transfer to the Metropolitan Sewerage District may seem minor, but it is not. The MSD’s board is appointed, not elected, and is therefore political."

This notion that an appointed board somehow suddenly politicizes the representation is absurd. I would ask, what is more political? Denying non-voting stakeholders outside the city any representation? — or allowing them to be represented by seated members who are in turn appointed by officials who are elected by the people from across the region served by the water system?

The new Regional Water Authority will have local representatives from all the areas served by the water system who will be appointed by elected officials from those areas, not by Raleigh. Everyone served by the water system will be represented, not just the City of Asheville, as it is now. Roughly 50% of the people served by the water system live outside the city and currently they have NO representation on the water board.

Additionally, most members of the MSD Board are elected officials who appointed themselves to that board.

On top of all that, the city has promised to charge water customers in the county, who cannot vote in the city, for their legal bills in their stubborn attempt to resist the law.

1. Time To End Frivolous Lawsuits and Create a Regional Authority

2. Asheville legal bills in water case top $550,000 (note: this was before the appeal)

LTE: "Watch to see Tim Moffitt appointed and somewhere down the line, our water deaccessioned and sold to a private company... Republican ambitions are to privatize."

OK. This is where the letter becomes downright wacky. G.S. 162A-85.29, created by the Water Act, specifically prohibits the water system from being privatized (which, by the way, is currently not the case). The water system used to be governed by an Asheville-Buncombe Water Authority, established in 1981, but Asheville reneged on the bargain and withdrew in May 2004 in disagreement over the differential rates issue. The Water Act merely reinstates the authority as state law.

1. § 162A-85.29. No privatization. The district board may not in any way privatize the provision of water or sewer to the customers of the district unless related to administrative matters only. (2013-50, s. 2.)

2. The Whole Story on the Water Agreement Controversy

LTE: "Since the court is made up of Republicans, we can anticipate our loss."

Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr., who ruled in favor of Asheville in Superior Court, is a Republican. Judge Elmore was endorsed by a number of progressive groups, like the ACLU. The 2007 Court of Appeals was composed of two Democrats and one Republican and they ruled unanimously against the city at that time.

1. Voter Registration of Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Zamfir's Lament

In response to the City of Asheville's Petition for Rehearing being denied by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Save Our Water WNC will be holding a concert on Thursday to raise funds for its ongoing legal battle with the state.

Headlining the musical extravaganza is community activist Barry Summers, who will play the flute and perform an interpretive dance to “My Heart Will Go On,” a song that has become the group’s unofficial anthem and which was featured in the 1997 beloved film classic “Titanic.” An apt choice. The Titanic, you'll remember, sank like a bloody rock after a blind encounter with a massive immovable impediment.

Tickets are $10 and guests are encouraged to bring their own homemade protest signs.

"This song, and the way I perform it, has become emblematic of our case against the state and that mean old Tim Moffitt,” said Mr. Summers. “No matter what happens — no matter how much all this litigation costs taxpayers, no matter how much Asheville loses in court, no matter how much of a loser I am, my heart will go on.”

For a preview of the event, which starts at 6:00pm and will be held at Pack Square Park, take a wistful journey through Barry's pain. Here’s a video of Barry Summers performing his signature song:

(As much as it pains him, former Representative Moffitt could not be reached for comment.)

Denial of Petition for Rehearing

Appeals Court Denial of Petition for Rehearing
City of Asheville v. State

Denial of Petition for Rehearing

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Barry on the Jeff Messer Show

Jeff Messer Show on 880FM
October 6, 2015
Barry Summers

Upon hearing that the NC Court of Appeals ruled against Asheville:

MESSER: There are a lot of words I can think of that I want to say to Raleigh right now and most of them the FCC object to.
SUMMERS: Today’s my birthday, too, Jeff. Happy birthday to me.
MESSER: They wanted to make sure you remembered this very specifically, I think, because you’ve been a thorn in their sides.
SUMMERS: [whispers] [laughs]
MESSER: You can say that word, that’s fine.
SUMMERS: The City is...according to Mayor Manheimer...and she called me at home and told me this specifically so I wouldn’t start...I think...presumably, so we wouldn’t start jumping up and down saying, “You have to appeal. You have to appeal” She immediately said...I mean, she was pissed. I mean, she was definitely pissed...“We’re definitely going to appeal this and apply for a stay of the ruling.” So, this will go on for another couple of years, in all likelihood, unless there is more legislative shenanigans to shorten the appeals time or move it to the front of the line. That’s the sort of the thing they tried to do in the last session...Well, we’re also...I think...I know that people really misjudged how badly certain parties want this.
MESSER: Well, if the courts are stacked at the higher end of the court system in the state, maybe [prevailing] is not such a no-brainer.
SUMMERS: In the 2012 elections the Republicans took over the State Supreme Court. I was at the event where Esther Manheimer, who was then just a council member, was shaking her head saying, “Oh, this is very bad news.” [laugh].
MESSER: They can get power. They can pass illegal laws that they then can be sued over, which takes a number of years. So they get away with these illegal laws for x-number of years, and during those years, while the case is being built, if they win the next election, they can change the courts, they can shift this, they can put somebody on the court of appeals who, by the time you get there, it takes longer to get the court case through then it takes to get through an election cycle, in some instances, and, boom, they own it. And, yeah, Esther was right to sit there and go, "Oh, this is bad."
MESSER: Maybe that should be a talking point early in the election process as to why people should get off their asses and go out and vote, because this is where it leads.
SUMMERS: And I will also point out to the people who are currently going and voting for the primary for city council candidates, this is now got to be front and center, and my recommendation is to vote for candidates who have made it very clear what their attitude toward the state is on issues like control of Asheville’s water.
MESSER: Is this fight...has it just gotten harder because of this, do you think? I mean, the water fight. Now we have the Supreme your view, it that a good thing or a bad thing, that we now have to take it to the State Supreme Court?
SUMMERS: Yeah, well, it’s definitely a bad thing. [laughs] We were all hoping and expecting that the Court of Appeals would support it.
MESSER: The Supreme Court in this state is much more stacked. Overtly.
SUMMERS: Yeah, as we said earlier. I don’t know if I’d call it stacked. It’s just that Republican judges are in control.
MESSER: They’re part of the agenda-driven system...A lot of pressure going to come to bear, though, I would imagine, as it heads in that direction. Is there anything beyond that?
SUMMERS: I’ve heard talk of a federal lawsuit. In fact, read the decision...the Court of Appeals actually refers to...sort of swats down the notion of 14th Amendment protections for the City. So, they’re actually, sort of, anticipating that the City might file a federal lawsuit. But I don’t have any information as to whether they’re considering that.


Appeals court declines to reconsider city water ruling
Mark Barrett | Asheville Citizen-Times | November 11, 2015

Appeal Denied

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Growth and Development Forum

What: Growing Asheville For All Forum
Where: Diana Wortham Theater, 2 South Pack Square, Asheville
When: 6 - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10
Cost: Free and open to the public

Livetweeting: Asheville Citizen-Times
Hashtags: #avlgrowth, #avlforum
Dates: 11/10 to 11/11

Friday, October 30, 2015

Transfer of Waterlines

Buncombe County transfers their waterlines to the City of Asheville under duress

Buncombe County Board of Commissioners

David Gantt, Chairman
K. Ray Bailey, Commissioner
Bill Stanley, Commissioner
Carol Peterson, Commissioner
Holly Jones, Commissioner

Regular Meeting
May 15, 2012
Consent Agenda: inclusive of

Resolution 12-05-06. Resolution Granting the Chairman Authority to Deed Any Remaining Interests in the Properties Known as Municipal Gold Course, Recreation Park/WNC Nature Center, McCormick Field, South Pumping Station and All County Owned Water Assets to the City of Asheville

Carol Peterson moved to approve the Consent Agenda. Holly Jones seconded the motion. Motion passed 5-0.

Source: Buncombe County Clerk to the Board Archives

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kaliner Interviews Joe Dunn

Pete Kaliner interviews former city council member Dr. Joe Dunn about the water system.
October 26, 2015


Water Lawsuit Press Conference

Monday, October 26, 2015

Kaliner Interviews Janet Cowell

Pete Kaliner interviews NC Treasury Secretary Janet Cowell


KALINER: Your office has had a little bit of a role in our local debate over the water system. I guess you did a report or you gave an opinion to the effect of how a transfer, how this merger would or could impact the city's finances.

COWELL: So, yeah, to clarify, the Treasurer's Office...we are also very unique nationally in that out of the Depression came a system of oversight of local government. We had one hundred and sixty defaults during the Depression. Not good.

KALINER: Not all from here, though. Most of them, probably.

COWELL: Well, all over the state.

KALINER: There were...but...yeah, but there were a bunch from Asheville.

COWELL: All over the state.


COWELL: And so we put in an oversight system, called the Local Government Commission run through the Treasurer's Office and we look at the finances for every single unit of government. We help them issue debt and just make sure that everything stand between the guard rails. In the situation with Asheville, we are sort of the technical adviser to the situation and all of this gets complicated because, actually, the bill is drafted strangely, so it was not clear: does this need to go through the Local Government Commission? But we're goal is to make sure that everything is smooth-functioning, that there's no disruption to the bond market in North Carolina, you know, that the operations continue and try to work with everyone to make sure that that is what happens.

KALINER: So, well, because Asheville city leadership has been saying that your office gave this report that basically supports their position that this could disrupt their credit rating.

COWELL: I think the piece that we spoke to is that there was some conception that: oh, this won't impact the...the, um, you know, the budget of the city and in fact, you know, there are city administrative services, like technology or the city manager, and you allocate portions of that, so there's a two million hit to their budget with this transfer and so we wrote a note explaining that, and showing... saying why that's legitimate, that's not a problem. But you just need to understand...

KALINER: That doesn't undermine their triple-A. That would not...a two million dollar hit.

COWELL: No, not in and of itself. And their documents have been much more clearly written. We have weighed in more on the Charlotte Airport because it is a...their documents on that bond transfer did not foresee a transfer. Asheville's did foresee a transfer. There are still complications, um, but in Charlotte it's also eight million dollars of outstanding bonds. That is a very big issuance and it is very unclear how that would all roll out.

KALINER: And I'm just...and you've also've got the Feds involved on that side of it because you've got FAA stuff, I'm sure.

COWELL: Exactly. So...once...anything with airports, I think it's even more complicated than local. But we are also running a bill trying to clarify for water/ know, Asheville is a great system. You guys are solid, you're a very well-run unit. But that is the biggest problem with local government. I said it is not the Randy Parton Theaters or these, you know, crazy kind of entertainment complexes. Water/sewer is a huge problem. We're just trying to make a predictable path so that everybody can have a good system. If there is a change, or you do go regional, that there are clear guidelines and there are no surprises.

KALINER: Because the MSD, the Metropolitan Sewerage District that runs the sewer side of things, the regionalized, sort of, sewer system, they...they've got good bond...they've got a good bond rating as well.


KALINER: So...and if these are Revenue Bonds versus G.O. Bonds, I would assume that the ownership follows...or the, you know, because it's supported by the revenue stream.

COWELL: Yeah, and I think...I think folks sometime overly fixated on the bond rating's going to be the issue. I think, sometimes it's an ancillary issue. Like, the City of Raleigh called me when Dick's...the Dicksly's...would that effect their bond rating? It's, like, no, it's not going to effect your bond rating. It doesn't mean that it's a good idea or bad idea. But it's not going to effect your bond rating. It takes a lot, you know, impact that. But that's not the only issue. There's obviously continuity of operations, those kinds of issues are probably the bigger...the bigger issues.

KALINER: So, how much guidance are you your office able to offer and what does that sort of look like on a...on a merger deal if this thing does get through the courts at some point? And it's going to be a while.

COWELL: Yeah. We're working hard. We have a public counsel, where we've been trying to understand the bill, because, again...and having been a state senator...sometimes things are not well-drafted. I know it's hard to believe.

KALINER: Shocking.

COWELL: Yeah. And this one been...the drafting was a little unclear. So, we are working both on that aspect as well as with the financial markets, the lawyers, to make sure that, you know, everything goes as smoothly as possible.

KALINER: North Carolina's treasurer Janet Cowell. We appreciate you stopping by today. Thank you very much. Are you heading back to Raleigh today or are you spending any time...?

COWELL: We are, if you have restaurant recommendations, we will be out on the town tonight...uh, yeah, we've got some more meetings tomorrow, so...

KALINER: All right. We appreciate you stopping by. Thanks so very much. Enjoy the rest of your stay here in the mountains.

COWELL: Thank you.

KALINER: Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Interview: Susan Fisher

WCQS has been sitting down with area lawmakers in the weeks since the legislature wrapped up its long session.  Today, WCQS talked with Democratic Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County:


WCQS: Sort of switching gears away from the budget for just a Asheville water ruling that just came down...


WCQS: ...what did you think about that?

FISHER: I was extremely disappointed. I will tell you that I was there in the court room for the hearing before the state appeals court and I thought that our folks did a superb job. I am not an attorney, I don't play one on TV, but from what I could observe, our representation was clear and cogent and really stated the case very well, um, but you have to, again, look at the panel of judges that we had there listening to that case, a Republican panel, and certainly not favorable toward cities as, um, that ruling sort of says. Judge Manning had ruled in our favor, this court did not. And the fact that it was unanimous is a disappointing factor, too, because often you cannot get the Supreme Court to take these cases if they've been ruled unanimously at a lower level. But we, I hold out hope that they will they will be able to take it further because we made a really good case, I thought.

WCQS: Why is that, do you think? Was it, um, I know one of the issues was compensation..


WCQS: ...which Asheville was not given any compensation.

FISHER: That's right.

WCQS: Do you think that's one of the key issues.

FISHER: It is one of the key issues. I think that, um, the City of Asheville has invested a great deal of money and policy effort toward protecting a watershed that is very important to this area and especially in a time where water is kind of beginning to be more and more at a premium. The city invested a lot, they're going to see very little return on that investment if this ruling stands.


Fisher implies that the ruling is suspect because the Appeals Court panel consisted of Republicans. She has nothing to say about the panel of 2 Democrats and 1 Republican that ruled against them in 2008. Court of Appeals of North Carolina. CITY OF ASHEVILLE, a municipal corporation, Plaintiff, v. Wake County STATE of North Carolina, and County of Buncombe, et al., Defendants. No. COA07-516. Decided: August 19, 2008. MARTIN, Chief Judge. Judges STEELMAN and STEPHENS concur:

Fisher says "the City of Asheville has invested a great deal of money [in the water system]."Accurate but false. Actually, they merely managed loans on behalf of the ratepayers called Revenue Bonds. System ratepayers are on the hook for repayment. Water customers are the obligors. No city taxpayer money was invested. Asheville’s Revenue Bonds:


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CIBO Candidate Forum 10.21.15

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the water merger by all six candidates for Asheville city council.

(candidate answers below taken from livetweeting by @DavidForbes )

First question: The latest Court of Appeals ruling was unanimous in transferring the water system from the City of Asheville to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. If this ultimately happens, how will you make up the loss of revenues and cash flow produced by the service?
Tim Peck: The City of Asheville would not experience any loss of revenue or cash flow produced by operating the public enterprise. It is illegal for the city to gain revenue or profit from the water system.

Haynes: hope we'll win, if not will deal closely w county and fight to prevent system being privatized.
Tim Peck: By law, the water system cannot be privatized.

Hunt: water $ goes to help fund gen services it uses (legal, payroll), making that up will be tough. State rule big negative.
Tim Peck: Water revenues can only go to water system support services.

Lee: amt from water loss would come out to about $2 million, weigh heavily. One thing wouldn't do so soon is prop tax/fee hike.
Tim Peck: There will be no loss. Water system revenues have to go toward operation and maintenance of the water system. The city makes no money from the public enterprise.

Mayfield: should use every resource to stop taking of system. Won't back down on city needs in face of Raleigh.
Tim Peck: Every resource?! Like unlimited taxpayer money?

Simerly: need to keep fighting, water system driven Asheville industry like brewing, coming here because of clean, pure water.
Tim Peck: The Water Act reorganizes management of the water system and changes nothing about the supply.

Young: should take every legal recourse. Tough times ahead if lose. Ideal wld be tda funds, but if not, may need cuts.
Tim Peck: Water system revenues do not go to the General Fund and do not fund services or special projects. Those revenues must stay within the system.


Water question clip:
Full Video: (Water question at 34:04)

Mountain Xpress report:

After brief opening statements from each candidate, CIBO President Rod Hudgins, who acted as moderator, asked: “The latest Court of Appeals ruling was unanimous in transferring the water system from the City of Asheville to the MSD (Metropolitan Sewerage District). If this ultimately happens, how will you make up the loss of revenues and cash flow produced by the service?”

Brian Haynes expressed his hope that the city will win in its fight to retain control of the system. If it does not, then the city should work with the county to ensure that the water system does not become privatized. That would be “the worst thing that could happen,” Haynes concluded.

Current council member and Vice Mayor Marc Hunt reported that revenue from the water system currently accounts for a little less than a third of all city revenue, and that those system-related revenues defray some of the overhead costs shared among city departments. City Manager Gary Jackson began contingency planning for the possible transfer of the system two years ago, said Hunt, but if it happens, “it is going to be tough.” There are some tentative thoughts around how that would happen.

Rich Lee said the city would take a financial hit of about $2 million in the event of a transfer. Coming on the heels of last year’s state-mandated discontinuation of the business privilege license tax (which resulted in a loss of $1.5 million), a water system transfer would be another blow to the city’s ability to generate revenue. However, Lee “won’t contemplate another tax increase” immediately after last year’s increase in the property tax rate, and said the city will have to find other places to make up the difference.

“The city must continue to invest in doing whatever we can to save the water system,” Julie Mayfield contributed. If the transfer occurs, the city will have to look for opportunities for savings. Mayfield offered a caveat: “I am not interested in backing up the city or stopping progress on the many needs we have around affordable housing and transportation infrastructure.”

Lindsey Simerly pointed out that control of Asheville’s water system affects much more than just city revenues. Employers and the jobs they create are attracted to the city by its plentiful supply of high quality water, she said.

Keith Young agreed that every legal avenue for fighting the transfer must be exhausted. If, despite those efforts, control of the system goes to the MSD, Young suggested looking to funds from the hotel occupancy tax administered by the Tourism Development Authority. Young acknowledged that recent efforts to spark conversations about funneling some of those funds (which are mandated by the state government to be used for travel and tourism-related advertising) toward infrastructure and public safety costs have not yielded results.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Water System Civil War

Asheville Politics Facebook thread
Letters to the Editor

Facebook thread, Oct 15-18, 2015

BARRY SUMMERS: Julie - I've held my tongue this long (for the most part), but this is too much. Where was this "whatever is necessary" talk when we were meeting on the water issue two - three years ago? A number of our group, SaveOurWaterWNC, met with you and others to try to craft a defense against this act of piracy, and I'd have to say you were the most conservative of us by far. In fact, anything that might ruffle feathers - you were against. And I have a certain group of feathers in mind: anything that would make Chuck McGrady mad, you were against.

Mountain Voices Alliance proposed a forum that would pit McGrady & Moffitt against Council members, Clean Water advocates, the Downtown Association, and our group... and you tried to talk us into cancelling it.

Asheville City Council voted unanimously to urge Gov. Perdue to veto the pre-seizure bill, H1009, that set the stage for the seizure to come. Our group lobbied hard to get the Gov. to veto... you urged her NOT to veto the bill. Your principal reason? We don't want to make the Republicans mad (read: Chuck won't like it.)

And the things you said in our meetings: 'What provisions do we want Chuck to put in the bill? I know, we're still against the bill, but Chuck says he'll put in things like environmental protections etc. if we ask.' Julie, it still amazes me that we had to ASK YOU to stop meeting with Chuck and acting as if you were negotiating for us.

'Chuck will keep Moffitt from making the bill any worse than it already is.' Julie, CHUCK was the one driving this (and still is), not Moffitt. I met with Chuck McGrady very early on, Julie, and he told me flatly that it was HIS idea to take Moffitt's ridiculous one-page bill and turn it into a study committee instead, and that's where it was honed into something that might pass constitutional muster.

'At the end of the day, I think we'll be glad that Chuck is working on this bill'. No words come to express my outrage over the fact that you thought we were that stupid.

Julie, I know that you lied to me on at least one occasion about something that I had tried to set in motion,that might have changed the game. But it would have been horribly politically damaging to Chuck, so I should have known better.

We proposed staging protests at McGrady/Moffitt/Ramsey offices or homes, and you were against that. This was the point where the other statewide groups like Sierra Club, American Rivers, League of Conservation Voters, etc. all started dropping out of working with us, with one saying explicitly that they couldn't afford to anger the one "good" Republican on the environment, Chuck McGrady. It isn't a coincidence that YOU were the Chair of their umbrella group, the NC Conservation Network that year, and that you all thought that Chuck would be your guy on fracking (he wasn't) and offshore drilling (he didn't) and coal ash (he wouldn't)? We got the sense that who controls Asheville's water system was small potatoes compared to those, and Chuck was the one dangling them in front of you.

Everyone should read the 'legislator profile' of Chuck McGrady on Julie's MountainTrue website. Other than that one sentence buried halfway down the second page about how much she disagrees on the water issue, the rest reads like a love letter.

We received tepid support from Julie on some of the things we tried to do - the petition, the rallies, the referendum, etc. It would have been conspicuous had she not. As long as it wasn't really in Chuck's face, she wasn't opposed. WNC Alliance members were great - several of our group are also WNCA members, of course. But Julie was a different story.

Julie has known that I and others in our group felt this way for a long time ("Barry - let's get together to talk about our differing recollections on how we worked together"). But the pressure to not form a circular firing squad is strong, and so I've resisted. But lord, Julie. The "whatever is necessary" talk you're waving around now that you're running for office is just too insulting for those of us who HAVE been fighting.

You were fighting back then alright - fighting to protect your political currency, your relationship with Chuck. What happens the next time he comes to bully the City over something, as we all know he will? Do we want someone on Council who will be trying to decide which master she is supposed to serve every time this happens? This is a critical time for Asheville, and I'd like to see people on Council who we KNOW will be fighting for the City.

BETH JEZEK: My memory of what took place closely matches Barry's. At the time I thought Julie was politically naive. I now believe her actions had more to do with her political ambitions than with her desire to save the water. It is politically expedient to oppose Chuck McGrady's legislation now that City Council has voted unanimously to appeal the court's decision. I respect Julie's intelligence and her ability to articulate the issues. I do not trust her.

ELAINE LITE: Barry didn't say Julie was working for the enemy, but that she was working for herself. It was important to her to stay on Chuck's good side for her to retain her clout in the environmental work she does, so she tried to keep us from making him mad. Unfortunately, that was going to be an unavoidable side effect of actually prevailing on the water issue, so she put herself in the position of weakening our unified response.

JULIE MAYFIELD: Ah, at last Barry emerges from the shadows. We do have different opinions of what happened back then, so let me be clear for the folks watching from home. You and I stood completely aligned on the goal of Asheville keeping its water system. There is, and never has been, any daylight between us on that. What we differed on was strategy and tactics - MVA took a more aggressive approach, but WNCA was fully engaged: I testified at the legislative hearing in opposition to the bill, we hired phone bankers who called thousands of people to ask them to vote No on the referendum; we took out a full page add in the AC-T (which MVA signed on to), I drafted a resolution that other local governments adopted in opposition to the takeover, I secured not one but two of the full-time environmental lobbyists in Raleigh to be our eyes and ears on the ground every day (American Rivers and NC League of Conservation Voters). Our group meetings happened at our office and I took the minutes. We have never disagreed that Asheville should keep its water system.

Did I meet with Chuck McGrady to talk about the bill? Yes, along with the Sierra Club. Did we have anything to offer or give Chuck to do what we wanted, which was for him to stand down? No. Absent that, did we hope that Chuck would improve the bill and make it not so punishing? Yes. Did that happen? Only slightly.

Do I disagree with Chuck on this? You bet. Does he know that? Absolutely. Does he know that if I’m elected, he and I will fight about it? Yep - I made that perfectly earlier this year. Do I also work with him on a range of other issues where he is incredibly helpful? Yes. Did he prevent some terrible provisions from becoming law this year and last year and the year before that? Yes and you would be happy he was there on those issues.

The bottom line is this: Asheville was not going to win the legislative fight on the water bill. All we could hope for was this the bill wouldn’t be the worst possible. The full-time lobbyists working with us knew that too and pulled out when MVA took what they viewed to be an unconstructive approach (I chaired NCCN’s board, not NCLCV’s board, so I had no influence in that decision). No amount of grassroots lobbying or calling for vetoes was going to change any of that. The fight needed to happen, and WNCA and MVA played different roles. We didn’t – and didn’t have to - agree on everything.

We’re on a different playing field now. No amount of lobbying or discussion will change the outcome now since it’s in the court’s hands. You can ask anyone else involved in working on the water bills back then – city staff and elected officials, the city’s lobbyist, environmental lobbyists, business leaders - where I stood and they will tell you: firmly in the court of Asheville keeping its water system.

BARRY SUMMERS: "The bottom line is..."

There it is. All of us who thought it was important to fight with all means necessary, were deluding ourselves, according to Julie. She determined that it was already a lost cause, and then set out to work on the bill with Chuck. WNCs leading environmentalist sent the signal that in her estimation, those of us who were still fighting were wasting our time. The fact that this is precisely what Chuck wanted, well... And she kept telling US that she was committed to fighting the bill, while in OTHER meetings, it was officially unwinnable already. Julie, did you tell City Council that you were lobbying against the veto that they were lobbying FOR?

After a meeting in Hendersonville mid-2013, a former DENR official said to me, "People around the state know that I know Asheville water issues, and they ask me: Why is Asheville being so passive?" I didn't know what to tell him, other than that there were some who thought that the fight was unwinnable. Here's the confirmation from Julie.

The Goethe quote, "Act boldly and mighty forces will come to your aid," has a corollary: "Signal your surrender, and mighty forces will stand back and watch you get the tar kicked out of you".

We'll never know what might have happened had Julie not been working against us and the City. I just know that the situation now is as bad as if we hadn't lifted a finger. I want to see people on City Council who haven't thrown in the towel before the next round starts.

From the "shadows"? Really Julie?

CECIL BOTHWELL: Cave first, negotiate later?

JULIE MAYFIELD: To be clear, I was not working against anything or anyone. I simply did not do everything you wanted to do and did. I never undercut or made what you or City Council or anyone else did less effective. I did not ask City Council not to request a veto and I certainly never urged Perdue not to veto the first bill. That would have been ridiculous. There are many forms of partnership and teamwork - in our case, we were singing from the same song book but off of different pages. I accept, and even embrace, that groups work in different ways and have different strengths - it takes groups of all kinds to mount effective campaigns. I never, ever undercut my partners - even when I don't agree with everything they do. I may not join them or I may distance myself from them, but I never undercut. Even though we didn't agree on everything, we still shared a common enemy and a common goal of Asheville keeping its water system. That was far more important than any differences you and I might have had. I am sorry we continue to see it differently.

CECIL BOTHWELL: And so, distance yourself from Marc Hunt?

JULIE MAYFIELD: Not sure what you mean Cecil Bothwell. Marc was working hard on the watershed protection piece of the puzzle. My communications were directly with Esther on the legislation.

BARRY SUMMERS: Julie Mayfield gives him a glowing review (below):


Mayfield failed to fight hard for city water system
Barry Summers | MX | October 28, 2015

As we fought the oncoming state seizure of Asheville’s water system, members of our group, SaveOurWaterWNC, met over a number of months with WNC Alliance Director Julie Mayfield and other environmental leaders to try to craft a unified response.

We eventually quit working with Julie after it became clear to us that it was more important to her to protect her relationship with the “good” Republican on the environment, Rep. Chuck McGrady, than to fight really hard for the city of Asheville. This impression came from her attempts to get us to “work’” with Chuck to make the bill less bad, if it happened to pass. It came from Julie’s opposition to Gov. [Bev] Perdue vetoing the precursor Metropolitan Sewerage District bill, which we and a unanimous City Council were lobbying her to do.

It came from her opposition to actions we proposed, like the Mountain Voices Alliance forum, which put Reps. McGrady and [Tim] Moffitt face-to-face with angry Asheville opponents to the seizure. Julie tried to get us to cancel it. And, it came out of the other environmental representatives dropping out of the fight, one stating explicitly that he “can’t afford to make McGrady mad.” This was a common refrain from Julie that we should avoid doing anything that would anger the Republicans, especially Chuck McGrady.

And we found it significant that that year, she was the chair of the NC Conservation Network, the umbrella group for all the environmental groups in the state. There was much more, and all this was documented in emails to our working group.

It’s well known that McGrady (one of the sponsors of the seizure bill), currently holds the keys to moving any environmental legislation forward. This is Julie’s professional bread and butter – her access to Chuck McGrady. It’s also well-known that McGrady is going to be the chief enforcer of Raleigh’s will over the city for the foreseeable future.

City Council will have tough decisions to make, over the water and many other issues, and confrontations with McGrady are all but assured.

Do we want someone on City Council during this critical time that has such a serious conflict of interest? I want Julie to succeed in her environmental work — but Asheville residents shouldn’t have to wonder if she’s sacrificing one to succeed at the other.

Mayfield says experience with legislators makes her more effective
Julie Mayfield | MX | October 28, 2015 by Letters

Barry Summers would have you believe that I was not sufficiently committed to fighting the legislative takeover of the Asheville water system, led by former Rep. Tim Moffitt and current Rep. Chuck McGrady. Here is just some of what the WNC Alliance and I did during that fight:

  • I testified in opposition to the bill at a legislative hearing.
  • We took out a full-page ad in Mountain Xpress calling on people to vote “No” on the 2012 referendum.
  • We hired phone bankers who called and asked thousands of Asheville residents to vote no.
  • I drafted a resolution that other local governments adopted in opposition to the takeover.
  • I secured the help of two full-time environmental lobbyists in Raleigh.
  • We promoted the forum Barry references, and we hosted an Asheville Green Drinks on the topic.
  • We worked closely with the city and its lobbyists, making sure our local grassroots strategy supported their efforts.

We stood completely aligned with SaveOurWaterNC on the goal of protecting Asheville’s water system. We differed only on strategy and tactics and, therefore, sometimes did different things. Everyone else involved in the water fight knew where I stood, including Rep. McGrady, and I have disagreed with him on this publicly. I have also told him that, if elected, I will fight him on the issue again if need be.

Asheville voters do not need to question my willingness or ability to fight for Asheville and its water system in Raleigh. Indeed, rather than creating a conflict of interest as suggested, my experience with the legislature and my relationships with our entire WNC delegation only make me more effective.

Mayfield didn’t represent in water system negotiations
Beth Jezek | MX | November 1, 2015

Many of us fought long and hard to keep Raleigh from taking Asheville’s water [system]. Julie Mayfield was there fighting with us.

Or that’s what we thought. We learned that Julie had been meeting with one of the authors of the bill, Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), in an effort to gain minor concessions on the bill in return for us softening our opposition.

Mayfield was not authorized to represent our group, and it’s common knowledge that the water bill that was passed couldn’t be much worse. (If you are interested in the details, see SaveOurWaterWNC)

Julie cannot be trusted to represent us on City Council. What devil would she secretly attempt to cut her next deal with?

Friday, October 09, 2015

LTE: Water Lawsuit

Time for city to end frivolous lawsuits
Asheville Citizen-Times | October 8, 2015

The City of Asheville has lost its lawsuit over management of the water system.

Asheville City Council’s expensive and unnecessary lawsuit has cost taxpayers close to a million dollars and taxpayers are paying for both sides of the dispute. The mayor has promised the city will appeal. Enough.

The law is clear. It is time for City Council to stop wasting taxpayer money on frivolous lawsuits. It is time for City Council to obey the law and loosen its grip on the people’s water system.

It’s time for all water system customers to be represented on a regional water authority.

Tim Peck, Asheville


Asheville legal bills in water case top $550,000. That's how much was spent BEFORE the appeal. It's closer to $1M at this point. That's not counting the $57 million lost by rejecting the compensation offer by MSD.

Yes, the city was offered $57M for the water system by MSD. That was a discounted value taking into account the money the city had already stolen from the system. They turned down the offer of compensation because they thought it wasn't enough. Now they have lost the water system AND the $57 million.

The mayor is already promising to spend gobs of taxpayer money to continue fighting a losing battle.

An appeal by the City of a unanimous decision, citing SCOTUS, will only delay the inevitable by perhaps a few months. There was no dissent and, therefore, no basis for the state Supreme Court to hear an appeal. If the city does file cert as promised, it is likely to be summarily thrown out. I'd like to have a little chat with the mayor right about then.In the end, the city will turn over the water system to the people who use and depend on it.

This is the THIRD time the City of Asheville has lost in court over the water system.
1. Candler v. Asheville (1958). Status: Lost
2. Asheville v. State (2007). Status: Lost
3. Asheville v. State (2013). Status: Lost

In 2012, Senator Nesbitt (D) commented on the futility of the water fight:

The Water System in Blog Posts:

The Regionalization of Public Utilities: An idea whose time has come . . . again.

MSD Merger Study, March 20, 2013

Friday, August 14, 2015

Buncombe County Schools

2013 Total Compensation per year by Primary Job Code



1 Superintendent: $183,717.21

1 Associate Superintendent: $127,905.37

17 Directors/Supervisors:
Top Salary $112,968.42, Median Salary $90,030.68

1 Finance Officer: $115,523.56

49 Principals/Headmasters:
Top Salary $96,746.00, Median Salary $73,322.44

60 Assistant Principals:
Top Salary $93,777.65, Median Salary $58,198.25

1,915 Total Teachers:
Top Salary $97,081.54, Median Salary $41,214.67

1,543 FTE Teachers:
Top Salary $97,081.54, Median Salary $45,176.30

974 Teacher Assistants & Aides:
Top Salary $71,434.40, Median Salary $16,024.81

275 Instructional Support:
Top Salary $86,437.80, Median Salary $48,326.40

115 Non-instructional Support Specialists:
Top Salary $81,023.04, Median Salary $21,661.10

179 Clerical Personnel:
Top Salary: $64,729.43, Median Salary $29,428.67

NOTE: Does not include health and other benefits or lifetime pensions. Figures do not reflect any bonuses or raises given after 2013. Figures include local supplements, longevity pay, annual leave, overtime, mentor pay, annual leave pay, disability, and other extra duty pay. Most positions are paid from multiple sources and many individuals draw from multiple job codes.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just what N.C. needed: More partisanship

Just what N.C. needed: More partisanship
Editor | Asheville Citizen-Times

EDITOR: "Backers say it gives voters more information and increases voter participation and that local elections are already partisan. First, let’s dispense with the 'information' argument."

The writer did NOT dispense with the information argument, nor any of the other backers' arguments. He merely asserted that he did.

The truth is that these are elections. Party affiliation matters in elections. A person's political philosophy matters in electing legislators, local government officials, judges and school board members.

In each case, the conduct of public affairs is guided by certain principles. In certain mundane affairs, like getting off a school bus, it make little difference. But in the really important things, a person's political philosophy can determine the moral landscape for a generation. It serves no honest purpose to have those guiding principles suspended in mystery in the crucial moment of exercising voting rights.

In nonpartisan races, the candidates are often unknown to the voter, leaving them with the choice of marking the ballot based on solely on name recognition, for good or for ill, or of skipping that race altogether and not participating in the moment of truth when it matters most. The only information voters have to go on, in those cases, is affiliation. But that is the one piece of vital information that is missing.

Indeed, activists go to great lengths to inform voters of this missing information in nonpartisan elections. They scramble to print "cheat sheets" and hand them out of street corners at election time so that voters will be informed. And all because this information is not included on the ballot handed them.

We can lower the political temperature at no cost by simply informing voters at the point of sale.

If we accept the writer's premise, that elections should be less partisan, then we would advocate for nonpartisan elections statewide. And yet we do not.

Recall that Asheville city council elections are nonpartisan and you will get a sense of how helpful that has been.

The question asked by an unbiased newspaper editor should be, why would anyone running for elective office want to conceal their party affiliation from those voting for them? I suspect it is because voters, regardless of their own affiliation, tend to favor the morally serious conservative mindset in matters of education and jurisprudence. (Judicial and school board elections are the only nonpartisan elections left to us.)

We've already seen what this concealment has given us in education. Let us now try the fully informed path.