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.