A Bloomberg story on “the Republican power grab in North Carolina” focuses on the city of Asheville’s fights with the state legislature over the water system, the airport, and more:
It’s not often that 250 people pack in to see the city council in Asheville, N.C., in the middle of a workday. Yet there they were on the afternoon of April 3, when the city’s elected officials met with citizens to discuss a plan by the Republican-led General Assembly in Raleigh to take control of the city’s water systems. The lawmakers want to hand it over to a new multi-county board that would be appointed largely by the state legislature. Asheville wouldn’t be compensated for lost revenue from water bills, leaving the city of 84,000 with a $3 million shortfall that would force cuts to city services.
The mostly Democratic voters in the audience vowed to stop the bill from becoming law. But that’s not likely to happen. For two years, Democrats who run the largest city in Western North Carolina have been losing to Republicans in the Capitol. In 2012, the legislature stripped the city’s control of Asheville Regional Airport and is currently in the process of appropriating the land. Lawmakers created an independent state agency to run the airport, saying it would provide better service. “We can’t find a valid reason for the taking,” says Asheville’s Democratic Mayor Terry Bellamy. “They have accused us of mismanaging money, but they have no data to back that up.” She points out that the city’s bond rating rose from AA to AA+ in 2010. “Every city in the state should be watching what’s happening in Asheville and supporting us,” she says, “because they could be next.”