Asheville Watchdog contributor John Boyle explains his decision to join the nonprofit news startup after 27 years with Asheville’s daily newspaper.
“Crime is a serious issue and one that I hear about as a top concern for our community,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “Is our community unsafe as the picture is painted by Fox News? No, absolutely not.”
On top of the $1.3 million Asheville paid to sponsor the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the public tourism board spent more than $70,000 in expenses that included catering and travel for their staff, board members and guests, nearly $25,000 on Asheville-branded beer coozies, and more than $1,000 on floral arrangements.
The U.S. Open winds to a close this weekend in New York, and among those attending in the luxury suites at the tennis Grand Slam event will be more than two dozen Buncombe County VIPs – courtesy of the public tourism board and $1.3 million in local tax money.
The application for what was the site of the highly contentious Bluffs proposal, submitted to Woodfin Aug. 5 by Concept Companies of Gainesville, Fla., proposes a smaller development of 672 multi-family apartments with three clubhouses called “Mountain Village.”
HCA declined repeated requests for the number of doctors who have left the Mission system since it took over in February 2019 and refuses to say how many doctors are on staff today, other than that the number is “relatively the same.” But Asheville Watchdog identified 223 doctors who appear to be no longer practicing there.
A 2018 memo, obtained via a public records request from the N.C. Attorney General’s office, says the “deck had been stacked” in favor of selling Mission Health to HCA by then-CEO Dr. Ronald A. Paulus.
HCA Healthcare, which owns and operates Mission Hospital in Asheville, reported this month that it made $1.4 billion in profits for the first three months of 2021, more than double the amount for the same period last year.
Asheville could prosper, believes Mack Pearsall, by monetizing a unique yet little-known asset: Its federal archive of climate and weather data — the largest such collection among all the nations on Earth — curated by a local talent bank that includes several Nobel laureates and scores of climate scientists.
A year has passed since Buncombe County recorded its first Covid-19 death on March 28, 2020. Since then, another 293 people have died. In the official government record, they’ll be remembered as statistics of a pandemic that killed swiftly and indiscriminately, but to their families, friends and neighbors, they were so much more.
Six months ago, as part of a reckoning on racial injustice, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County both passed resolutions to consider reparations to the Black community as a way to begin making amends for slavery and generations of systemic discrimination. Since then, local officials concede, little has been done.
Tax records examined by Asheville Watchdog reveal that in the decade leading up to the $1.5 billion sale of Asheville’s community-owned hospital system, a steadily increasing amount of Mission’s revenue went to salaries and bonuses for an increasingly crowded suite of non-clinical executives.
The evangelist’s grandchildren say his son’s pro-Trump politics brings “shame.”
Years from now, the decision in 2018 by the directors of Mission Health to sell to HCA Healthcare might be seen as a brilliant strategic maneuver, one that guaranteed affordable, high-quality healthcare for future generations of western North Carolinians. This was, and still is, the position of the directors and executives who pushed the deal.
The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare.
Kimberlee Archie, the city’s first equity and inclusion manager, and Libby Kyles, CEO of the YWCA of Asheville, have left high-profile jobs with a mission of improving racial equity in the city within a month of each other.
In their first public face-off, the candidates vying for the increasingly competitive 11th District congressional seat, Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis, touted their differences on just about all issues and hurled accusations, with each calling the other “fast and loose” with the facts. Who was telling the truth?
Buncombe County’s Tourist Development Authority began advertising for tourists to visit Asheville again — on the same day that the county’s top public health official said coronavirus cases were “rising at an alarming rate.”
Of 911 calls and requests for assistance to the Asheville Police Department, less than 1% involve a violent crime, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police dispatch data shows. Much of the time, police are summoned to routine calls such as traffic accidents, domestic disputes and loud parties or non-violent crimes like shoplifting, trespassing and prostitution.
A bill that would have changed the distribution of Buncombe County’s controversial hotel tax to better benefit local government is likely dead until at least next year. The change would have reduced the share of room tax money to market and advertise Asheville as a tourist destination.
Vance, Patton, Woodfin, Henderson, Weaver, Chunn, Baird — their names are familiar to anyone living in Asheville and Buncombe County today. All were wealthy and influential civic leaders. They were also major slaveholders or slave traders and white supremacists.