City proclamations aren’t typically a point of controversy, but the Asheville City Council meeting tomorrow, Sept. 27, will see an exception. A proclamation recognizing the Blue Ridge Pride festival is on the New Business portion of the agenda, as Mayor Terry Bellamy refused to endorse it.
The reading of proclamations recognizing individuals or events are a common sight in City Hall’s Council chambers — the vast majority of meetings see Council, usually represented by Bellamy, read off several before proceeding on to the city’s other business. The agenda for the Sept. 27 meeting, for example, includes proclamations for Food Day, Fire Prevention Month and a Salute to Families celebration.
However, this proclamation is instead farther down in the agenda, because Bellamy refused to grant a request for the typical mayoral proclamation. Instead, Council member Bill Russell put the issue on the agenda, according to the city clerk’s office.
Bellamy has routinely voted against measures advocated by the LGBT community. She voted against domestic partner benefits in 2010 and the city’s equality resolution in February. Both times, Bellamy angrily denounced the respective measures, claiming she was being singled out for her personal beliefs.
As for other Council members, Russell was absent from both votes, while Council member Jan Davis initially voted against domestic partner benefits, but later shifted to support the policy, also voting in favor of the equality resolution.. All other current Council members supported both measures.
While Bellamy did accept a proclamation recognizing LGBT history month on June 14, she did so in the midst of the month, not before, a move that caused some controversy given her voting history.
Given that history, expect some fireworks.
At the meeting, Council will also consider measures expanding the role and powers of the Public Art Board, including a name change to the Public Art and Cultural Commission; starting a process to recommend possible changes to the city’s noise ordinance and a request from the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council, still in the midst of tax troubles, for funding.
The meeting begins at 5 p.m., Sept. 27 in Council’s chambers on the second floor of City Hall.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter