CIBO panel explores Asheville City Council district elections

Former Asheville City Council member Joe Dunn explains why he's lobbying the state legislature to create district elections for seats on Asheville City Council. To Dunn's right is current Council member Cecil Bothwell. Photo by Virginia Daffron
Former Asheville City Council member Joe Dunn explains why he's lobbying the state legislature to create district elections for seats on Asheville City Council. To Dunn's right is current Council member Cecil Bothwell. Photo by Virginia Daffron

The Council of Independent Business Owners returned to the topic of district elections for seats on Asheville City Council at its monthly issues meeting on Feb. 10. The organization invited five panel members with different perspectives on the topic and moderator Buzzy Cannady allowed audience members to pose a number of questions to the panelists. The 45-minute discussion covered considerable territory, including the possible impact of district elections on representation, Council decision making, voter turnout and the cost of mounting a campaign. Participants also weighed in on the question of who should decide what electoral system the city should use.

CIBO met at UNCA's Sherrill Center, where it will be holding a series of upcoming issues meetings. Photo by Virginia Daffron
CIBO met at UNCA’s Sherrill Center, where it will be holding a series of upcoming issues meetings. Photo by Virginia Daffron

The six members of Asheville City Council and the city’s mayor are currently elected in at-large, nonpartisan contests. Last June, retiring state Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville, whose 48th district includes a small slice of South Asheville, filed a bill to institute district elections for City Council. Apodaca’s bill would have created six electoral districts, with each district electing one resident representative. The city’s mayor would continue to be elected by a city-wide vote.

Though Apodaca’s bill was defeated, Asheville City Council on Jan. 10 instructed city staff to gather public input on how Asheville residents would prefer to elect their city leaders.

Panelist and former City Council member from 2001 to 2005 Dr. Joe Dunn kicked off the discussion. Dunn is leading a petition campaign to urge state legislators to implement six electoral districts for seats on City Council, with the mayor continuing to be elected at-large. The current system, Dunn said, is not representative of residents of certain areas of the city. “The suburbs have no voice,” he said. “I’m tired of hearing about diversity and inclusiveness. It’s not there in the way that our City Council elections are run now.”

City Council member Cecil Bothwell explained Council’s recent decision to survey citizens about how the body is elected: “We … have decided to ask the citizens of Asheville whether they would prefer district representation instead of at-large representation. … we believe the citizens of Asheville should make the decision.” Bothwell said his personal opinion is that “it would be a mistake to split a city of our size into districts.” As Council operates today, he continued, “I just don’t see that we are favoring any one part of town against any other.”

Over time, Bothwell said, districts lead to gerrymandering.

Former city employee John Miall, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013 and for City Council in 2015, said he is “a bit of a convert” on the issue of district elections. While he previously opposed the idea of districts, he said, “I have completely changed my mind.” Far more problematic than the concern of gerrymandering, Miall said, is a system that favors certain types of candidates. “It has everything to do with a cabal that has a total lock on local government,” he said. “I’m not sure I know the answer, but I know the problem.”

Dusty Pless, a former member of the Buncombe County Board of Education, said he ran as an at-large candidate in the school board election. Combining at-large and district-specific seats in a single system was very confusing to voters, Pless recalled. It was also more expensive for candidates to run district-wide races, he said. “It all boils down to a small electoral college,” he said. “That’s the only fair way to go about it. I hope that the state legislature will take this up and force the Asheville city to do this.”

Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher said knowing the people in District 3 has been critical to his success in winning election in 2012 and re-election in 2016, as well as in serving his constituents. He emphasized the importance of answering constituents’ questions in person in the community. “Our neighbors know us and they feel comfortable approaching us. They don’t feel comfortable coming to a Commissioners’ meeting and standing up there for three minutes with that little red light going off. No. But in Ingles they will wear you out,” he said.

Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher (right) explains why district elections are important to him and his constituents. From left, John Miall and Dusty Pless. Photo by Virginia Daffron
Buncombe County Commissioner Joe Belcher (right) explains why district elections are important to him and his constituents. From left, John Miall and Dusty Pless. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Belcher agreed with Pless about the financial advantages of district elections, saying, “It would be very expensive for me to run county-wide, probably four times what I spent in 2016.”

South Asheville resident Vijay Kapoor, who announced his candidacy for City Council last week, said he’s heard a lot of concern from his neighbors about a lack of representation on Council for their part of the city. At the same time, he said, those residents are also concerned about the way in which districts would be structured. “I worry about the creation of turf wars,” Kapoor said. “At this point, I think that every voter in Asheville should have the ability to elect every member of City Council.”

Kapoor asked the panelists whether their concerns about districts have more to do with geographic representation or with providing a greater diversity of political views on the Council, saying he had heard both concerns cited. Bothwell responded that drawing geographic boundaries is inevitably influenced by political calculations. “If we do draw lines,” he said, “I think it should be the people of Asheville who decide and the not the legislature. Whichever party is in power, it always seems to gerrymander.”

Buncombe County Commissioner Mike Fryar pushed back against the idea that creating districts invariably leads to gerrymandering. “My district is not Republican,” he said, explaining that in 2012 he won District 2 by 87 votes, and in 2016 his margin of victory was 137 votes over challenger Nancy Nehls Nelson. “You have to get out and work hard for what you get,” he said.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer asked whether those in attendance would be in favor of putting the question of district elections on the ballot in 2017. “I’d put $100 on that failing right now,” responded Miall.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer asks attendees how they would go about putting the question of district elections to voters and drawing district lines. Photo by Virginia Daffron
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer asks attendees how they would go about putting the question of district elections to voters and drawing district lines. Photo by Virginia Daffron

If districts were drawn, continued Manheimer, who should draw them? “Should there be an independent panel selected, and who would select them?” she asked.

Miall suggested sitting down with the Western North Carolina legislative delegation to draw districts.

“How hard is it to draw North, South, East, West and Central?” asked Pless. Referring to her experience in working on districting at the state level, Manheimer said the challenge should not be underestimated.

Several participants predicted that moving to district elections would have the effect of increasing voter turnout in the city.

For more of the latest city and county news check out Xpress’ Buncombe Beat.

 

 

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About Virginia Daffron
Associate Editor and News Reporter. Lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

28 thoughts on “CIBO panel explores Asheville City Council district elections

  1. Peter Robbins

    Are the directions of the Council of Independent Business Owners elected by districts or do they run at large?

  2. luther blissett

    ‘“How hard is it to draw North, South, East, West and Central?” asked Pless.’

    Start by drawing what you think “Central” should look like, then count the population. Oh, downtown doesn’t have many people living there! And maybe the people who do live close to downtown have different concerns than those who work there or just want to go shopping or eat in town. So you expand outwards, but in which direction?

    Start by drawing what you think “South” should look like — which is where these discussions tend to begin — and you end up in a different place.

    I’ve been impressed with Vijay Kapoor so far: I think he’s done the work and tapped into sentiments that chime with more residents on the city’s new-growth periphery (not just SAvl) than some of the older guard. The fundamental problems south of I-40 won’t change unless the annexation question is exhumed, but I’m interested in what ideas he has for those “in the city / not in the city” areas.

  3. Peter Robbins

    Also, North, South, East, West and Central equal five. Where’s the sixth district? Apodacaville?

  4. bsummers

    Still wondering where this petition is, and is anyone checking to see that all signers are Asheville residents?

    • Lulz

      I’m sure your name will be on there right? Even though you live in Woodfin. Again, why is a non-taxed, non-city resident involved in matters that are none of his business?

      • bsummers

        Man, you really want me silenced, don’t you? I must be on the right track. Thanks again for the encouragement.

        Oh, BTW – Anonymous Sockpuppet signatures don’t count. IF you really live in Asheville, you’ll have to muster up all your courage, and sign a real name. I know that terrifies you…

      • bsummers

        Oh, and furthermore – why would my name be on there in the first place? I don’t support district elections. Jeez, little buddy, try to keep up!

  5. Peter Robbins

    I have a suggestion. Instead of going through all the fuss of drawing districts, why not just create a new council seat and award it to the person who gets the fewest votes? This would ensure that the cantankerous minority is permanently represented, but the sad sack fulfilling the role wouldn’t be tempted to get all above his raising.

  6. SpareChange

    Bothwell’s comment, “I just don’t see that we are favoring any one part of town against any other,” and that over time districts lead to gerrymandering is transparently self-serving. Bothwell’s divisive political style has been fueled by an at large system in which the same coalition that can elect one council member, can then be used to elect other council members. His “slate” of candidates in the last election — all seeking the same votes, and being elected by the same votes is a classic case in point.

    The point about ” gerrymandering” is also self-serving nonsense. There are valid political arguments to be made in favor of or opposed to both district and at large elections. However, when at large elections end up electing “slates” of candidates who usually march in political lock-step, and who are beholding to the same coalitions of voters/constituents, it is simply gerrymandering of a different kind. Bothwell, as usual, is all about power tripping and the politics of division, and this is just the latest manifestation of it. Bottomline — he knows at large elections presently serve his political power, therefore he favors at large elections. Plain & simple.

    • NFB

      “Bothwell’s divisive political style has been fueled by an at large system in which the same coalition that can elect one council member, can then be used to elect other council members. ”

      And yet, a district system would likely increase the chances of a third term for Councilman Bothwell who has lagged in third place in both of his election wins.

      Coalitions come and go. Back in the 90’s and into the mid 00’s CIBO backed many winning candidates and often had a majority on council and I don’t recall any of them complaining about the need for districts then.

      It should also be noted that the current system that encourages slates came about after City Council elections ceased to be partisan. Thus the slates have become the defacto parties. When this was pointed out a few years ago, and a decision was made by council to return to partisan elections a petition to overturn that decision via a referendum. That referendum passed overwhelmingly.

      Many Republicans and CIBO members supported that referendum which is sort of ironic. If City Council elections were partisan it would guarantee as many as three Republicans a place on the November ballot. It would still be uphill for them given the heavily Democratic nature of Asheville but as it is now under the nonpartisan system they seldom are able to make it out of the primary.

      I would also contend that Commissioner Fryar is mistaken when he says his district is not gerrymandered — maybe not very well, but the attempt to gerrymander was certainly made if bungled.

      Gerrymandering doesn’t just create safe districts for the party drawing the districts, it also creates safe districts for the opposing party by packing as many voters of that party into as few districts as possible, thus making surrounding districts more winnable for the party in power.

      As a result we got County Commission district 1 which is so safe for Democrats that Republicans don’t bother to run anyone for it (or the corresponding State House district.) Part of this process was an attempt to extend the district 1 lines east outside heavily Democratic Asheville to take in the campus of Warren Wilson so that concentration of overwhelmingly Democratic voters would not tip the balance of an otherwise competitive district in favor of Democrats. Of course Republicans in Raleigh bungled that job when they drew the line through campus to include the campus mail facility in district one but the dorms in district 2. Since state law dictates that “when one lays their head at night” is the official residence and not where one gets their mail, the college ended up being in district 2 leading to the confusion in the 2012 election that led to Ellen Frost’s narrow win on county commission thus preventing Republicans from winning control.

      • SpareChange

        Sorry – I meant to post my follow-up as a response, but failed to do so – so it got separated. Appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post. I learned from it.

  7. SpareChange

    Thanks. Your post helps make the main, overarching point. Namely, that political and electoral structures are not, and cannot be, politically neutral. Different political interests and different political groupings will be variously assisted or hindered depending on how elections are structured. At large vs. district. Partisan vs. non-partisan. Etc.

    Importantly, as you also at least suggest, the specific ways in which different electoral systems impact political interests can change as demographics and politics change over time. My point was simply that Bothwell’s interests are presently served by the at large system and that it was serviceable to him in the last election in getting his chosen candidates elected. If there were districts, depending on how they were drawn and who ran against him, it “could” make his a “safe seat.” Although I would argue that he is already safe in the context of the at large system, and further feels confident in his ability to use his brand of divisive politics to get more of his preferred candidates elected (thus my comment about his power tripping).

    I am not specifically advocating for or against one system over another at this juncture, but was primarily looking to make the point that Bothwell’s professed skepticism about districts simply reflects his calculation of his own political interests. This alone does not make him different from many if not most others who seek elected office (most of whom will calculate how any electoral changes will impact their political fortunes). But although once a Bothwell supporter, I have become increasingly alienated by his divisive and self-centered political style and I grow increasingly concerned about a system which enables him to run “slates” of candidates who once elected are then directly or indirectly beholden to him politically. My concerns are even greater given the likelihood of his running for Mayor. The thought of him as Mayor, with a majority or near majority of council members supporting him (all pretty much elected by the same coalition of voters in an at large system) is a political future I do not wish for Asheville. Bottom line — in an at large system, the same coalition of voters that elect one council member, are in a position to elect all of them , which, when that happens, as I suggested is just malapportionment (i.e., “gerrymanding”) by a different name.

    • luther blissett

      Cecil Bothwell has stated in another thread that “Anyone who suggests I might run for mayor is on some kind of drug that is probably illegal”, so let’s take him at his word there for now. (And in honesty, the mayor has mostly “ambassadorial” powers in Asheville’s council-manager system, not broader executive powers: something that’s often overlooked.)

      The PARC slate has served, as NFB said, a kind of counter to the CIBO slate for a short while. I think this year is going to be somewhat different, and that the election campaign will be a refreshingly blunt conversation about the broad needs of city residents. The slate system is not set in stone, if you pardon the pun: there is no inherent reason why candidates with a persuasive message that they believe in should need to seek out specific endorsements.

      My feeling on districts is that they create both artificial affiliations and artificial tensions. Consider the effect of having SAvl represented in the NC Senate by someone in Hendersonville, for a start. (Would voters in Henderson County elect a Republican from South Asheville to serve that district? I very much doubt it.) Drawing lines on the city lumps together neighborhoods that are geographically close but have very different concerns: looking eastward, Chunns Cove residents have different priorities than those in Haw Creek or Oakley or Oteen. Personally, I would like to see a council member who can speak to the interests of those living out towards to the city limits, whether north, south, east or west, and the preferred districting models won’t help that.

      Tangentially: Commissioner Fryar has a 50/50 county district that covers roughly the same population as the city proper. So the comparison he made on the cost of running at-large vs in a district doesn’t really hold.

    • Another View

      Your comments are very helpful to someone trying to understand what’s going on. Thank you.

    • NFB

      Thanks to SpareChange for your thoughtful reply. It is good to have that kind of discussion here.

      I thin there is indeed a lot of political self interest on both sides of this issue. I certainly don’t recall former Councilman Dunn crying out for a district system when he was able to get elected to council and/or when the CIBO pac had lots or representation (sometimes a majority) on council. Much of what you have seen on council over the past several years has been a result of a backlash against the actions taken by the CIBO controlled councils of the past.

      Back in the 90’s Chris Peterson, via a pac, was able to get a 4-3 majority on council. Their first action was to fire the city manager an action that had not been discussed at all in the campaign. The ensuing backlash (which resulted in a recall petition that came very close to forcing a new election) spilled over into the next few regular council elections. That the CIBO dominated councils ended up largely being a rubber stamp for developers riled neighborhoods and thus for several years councils with more neighborhood friendly majorities were the norm. (It was in this period that Leni Sitnick was elected mayor against the CIBO friendly Charles Worley in what was considered one of the biggest upsets in Ashevile history.)

      By 2001 CIBO was getting restless again and formed another PAC. With former councilmen Joe Dunn and Carl Mumpower and along with then Mayor Charles Worley CIBO had control (along with appointed member Jim Ellis) and controversial developments like the Wal-Mart in East Asheville were approved. During that time I don’t recall opponents of the CIBO majority calling for district elections

      So the pendulum swings, and it has swung without Raleigh having to fix the system to give Republicans a better chance at a seat at the table. If the CIBO crowd really wants to be competitive in city elections it would be advised to stop backing divisive ideologues like Dunn and Mumpower, or seemingly bitter and angry candidates like Mr. Miall (who, after hearing an interview with on a local radio station in the last campaign I almost voted for until his yard signs with the slogan “Take Asheville Back” stared showing up) and find more candidates like former councilman Jan Davis who was elected to 3 terms by representing the business interests of the community without the bluster and grandstanding so many of the CBIO candidates seem to have. (Former Councilman Bill Russell is another example of the type of candidate they should be looking for.) Although I do lean a bit left on most issues, I happily voted for Mr. Davis precisely because he brought a different viewpoint to council and without the aforementioned bluster and grandstanding and he could work well with his colleagues. I would have voted for him again had he run in 2015.

      I’ve no idea if Councilman Bothwell (who I did vote for in 2009 but not in 2013) has any intention of running for Mayor or not but for now I will take him at his word that he has no intention. Given, however, that in his two runs for council he has finished third, and both times with a sharp dropoff from the final tallies of the second place finisher, suggests that running one on one at larger is a bit riskier for him than running in a multiple candidate election. Regardless of what one thinks of Mayor Manheimer’s political philosophy she has represented Asheville well as the city’s ambassador to the state and nation and that I think is a factor a lot of people take into consideration when they cast their mayoral vote. I certainly will.

      • bsummers

        Their first action was to fire the city manager

        And then they gave the job of recruiting his replacement to a strapping young executive recruiter named… Tim Moffitt (who himself had run for City Council but didn’t make it through the primary). He delivered Jim Westbrook, who later delivered the Grove Park Inn condos-in-the-park controversy, which was how a whole lot of citizens (like myself) got turned into development-focused activists, and that’s how PARC came into existence. Westbrook then also played a big part in the hamhanded collapse of the water authority, which led us to the fight over the water system we’re still engaged in.

        Thanks, CIBO!

        • NFB

          Yes, thanks for the addition to how those chain of events went into play!

  8. What wasn’t included in this article is a point I made a couple of times during the discussion. Sen. Apodaca’s 6 district plan was blatantly political. I think we might all agree that if we go to districts, then West Asheville could be one of them. But Apodaca carefully lapped his Westville district across the river to grab Brian Haynes’ house—just, oh, coincidentally putting three sitting Council members in one district. As for the claims made above that I favor at-large as a way to bolster my “political power” – no. If I decide to run again I don’t see any problem with whatever system is in place (though as a practical matter, we will certainly have the current system through the November election—that kind of change isn’t going to be quick.)
    Anyone who doubts that districting opens the door to gerrymanders like Apodaca’s plan is ignoring recent (and ancient) political history. There is absolutely no rational reason that the City of Asheville is split between the 10th and 11th congressional districts. It was done purely to make the 11th safer for the GOP. The county districts are the same. They isolated Asheville, ceding it to the Dems and cut the resulting donut in half, hoping that Republicans could dominate “out in the county.” The mistake they made at Warren Wilson actually exposed their intent. Districting as practiced after the 2010 election is so precise that individual voters can be snatched from one to another. If you look at a fine grain map you see that the line between the 10th and 11th snakes block by block, a jigsaw at the edges.
    And again, as I stated at the outset of the CIBO discussion – I believe the question of districting should be decided by Asheville voters, not behind closed doors in Raleigh. Finally (for now) I can only laugh at the motives of Joe Dunn and John Miall who seem to feel they only lost their elections due to some sort of cabal. The only “cabal” is the people who care enough to show up and vote. I think it is quite illuminating that the “conservative” candidates in recent years have far outspent their “liberal” opponents. Joe Dunn said yesterday that he spent $50,000 on a council race, Mark Cates spent something like $60K, as did Bill Russell. Maybe if they had more popular support they wouldn’t need to spend so much money?

  9. Oh, I should also mention as germane to this discussion: Rep. Susan Fisher and others introduced a bill in Raleigh several years ago, attempting to create a non-partisan districting body (a model used in a couple of other states). It was defeated. The idea would have been that they would have used the rules and rules of thumb and come up with state districts. Rules include equal population (one person, one vote), geographical continuity, community relatedness, etc. (Reasons why Asheville ought not be in the 10th with the eastern continental divide and widely different communities between here and Gastonia.) The proposed map would go to the General Assembly for approval. If failed, redraw. Vote again. If failed, redraw. Vote again. But if failed three times, the map would still be implemented – with the reason being that continual refusal of a “neutral” map would only mean that politics was rearing its ugly head.

  10. Oh, and this: I am bemused by those who characterize my “style” as “divisive.” What I have consistently attempted to do during my terms in office is to fight for my constituents, representing their interests as best I understand them and as best I can. Was it divisive to vote against the Downtown Master Plan increase of Level III review to 175,000 square feet? Maybe, and I’ve continued to argue against that for six years. But this Tuesday it appears pretty certain that we will vote to drop that to 100,000. Has it been divisive to stand up for the people who operate Short Term Rentals (many or most of whom believed they were operating legally)? Maybe, but it appears we now have 5 votes in favor of reducing restrictions in the next month or so. Divisive to fight for a park across from the Civic Center? Not according to the thousands of people who have signed petitions to that effect over the past 12 years. No, I don’t mumble platitudes and try to make everyone feel all cozy, but IMHO it is only elected officials willing to fight for their goals who get anything useful accomplished. “Bipartisanship” in Congress is almost inevitably a cover for mischief, and if we didn’t have substantive differences of opinion that need to be debated and settled we probably wouldn’t need to elect leaders at all. To me being a representative of the people has nothing to do with “power” – it has to do with standing up for the folks who elected you and making your best attempt to shape a society that is just, fair, and responsive to both the majority and minority to as great a degree as possible.

    • Lulz

      LOL, an economic conservative lulz. During your tenure, taxes have skyrocketed, bogus fees tacked on, your friends on the river have had mega investments put in, make mucho bank while others are tasked to pay., You claim city taxes are low yet you don’t include the county taxes as well. In which the county does nothing for city residents. Instead of reigning in fraud and waste, you think the greenways will somehow amount to a new lifestyle of walking LOL. But how can that be when the city is based on a bunch of gluttons who scarf down alcohol and food lulz. You contend that the east Asheville Wal Mart was controversial but only to your ilk. Place is packed, serves a purpose that snob leftist won’t admit to and has led to other businesses in and around it. Yet didn’t you vote to fine them 16K for each tree cut down LOL. But the developers sure don’t mind cutting down trees to stuff houses in where they can lulz. You know, your friends in the “green” building industry who generate huge amounts of construction waste.

      If you had the taxpayer in mind, you wouldn’t steal their money, claim their taxes are low, pass fee after fee, and then take their money and build up areas around Biltmore and the RAD where the rich can make even more. Or claim that it’s an investment in some scheme to get people walking and lose their need for cars lulz. During your tenure, gentrification has happened everywhere and those you claim to represent are the one’s who are getting squeezed. Food poverty in a city that is food obsessed is shameful. City residents had better services 30 years ago but then again, their money wasn’t stolen by the likes of you to be given to the rich so they can have a place to walk, drink beer, and pretend to be progressive.

      • Lulz

        Here, let’s read some real journalism for a change instead of MX fluff:

        http://www.thetribunepapers.com/2017/02/08/living-beyond-means-city-expands-into-new-frontiers/

        The plans make no secret about leadership’s desire to move people out of automobiles. They speak of “promoting mode shift” with alternatives to streets and possibly creating auto-free zones. The planners observed that demand was highest for mass transit to serve neighborhoods, employment centers and institutions being less important destinations. Yet Councilman Gordon Smith told how city leaders had envisioned greenways as a future network of transportation corridors, connecting neighborhoods to schools, jobs, and groceries. They were not so much to be, as the plan suggested, parks or recreational amenities.

        Housing was a very large part of the plan. Pulling from the Bowen Report, it stated, “45 percent of renters cannot afford rent and 32 percent of homeowners cannot afford their mortgage payments. … Asheville has over 100,000 residents who cannot afford an efficiency apartment, as well as 509 homeless residents.” As for its track record, “The city has funded 433 affordable housing units since 2014 through the Housing Trust Fund and HOME, through a total of over $1.7 million in funding. These sources have also funded approximately 165 affordable units outside the city limits since 2014. The city has conditionally zoned 109 affordable housing units since 2014. … Only nine affordable housing units have been completed since 2014.”

        • Lulz

          Again Bothwell, why are the residents subsidizing the millionaires? Why are we funding the RAD merely to entice businesses to locate there that provide no real services. Only more tourist traps. Why are you constantly increasing taxes on residents who can’t afford it?

          “While the reports highlight many key issues, three of the most significant takeaways include (1) that the large reliance on municipal property owners to sustain services that benefit an entire region is not a sustainable path forward, (2) that the city’s recent reliance on declining municipal budgets as the only path for achieving fiscal health is also unsustainable, and (3) that the city’s current budget struggles are incompatible with the city’s grand aspirations as illustrated through recent planning efforts.” One gets the impression planning processes are merely to encourage the public to think big and for city fathers to take the visions as a mandate and raise taxes.

      • luther blissett

        “Place is packed, serves a purpose that snob leftist won’t admit to and has led to other businesses in and around it.”

        Lulzy whines about big local orgs that pay no property taxes, but celebrates WalMart, which pays very little in property tax. What’s that word, rhymes with “whip a crit”?

        $75.

        • luther blissett

          Lulzy also conveniently ignores how WalMart workers rely upon state and federal assistance to survive.

          Let’s see how many people buy that fake working-class hero schtick. $75.

  11. “nothing for City residents”? Lulz? Really? County taxes paid for two new schools lately (Asheville Middle and Dickson). The new Family Resource Center. EMS. Contribute to Pack Place and the WNC Nature Center. Fund the Detention Center. I could go on. You simply do not have a clue and referring to the FAUX news at the Trib as “real journalism” establishes the basis of your ignorance.

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