The Beat: News roundup

Jobs, not cuts: Motivated by the recently passed national debt deal, about 100 people gathered in Pack Square Aug. 10 to rally for jobs and protest the plan they said will force cuts to important programs. Photo by Jerry Nelson

There’s more news than what Xpress can fit in print each week: Here are some excerpts from, where you’ll find the full stories.

Rally for jobs: Local progressive leaders tout “Contract for the American Dream”

About 100 people gathered in Pack Square Aug. 10 to rally for jobs.

Inspired by the recently passed national debt deal, local members of the progressive MoveOn coalition organized the event to protest the plan they say, in a press release, “will do nothing to create jobs, forces deep cuts to important programs that protect the middle class [and] asks nothing of big corporations and millionaires.”

Elected representatives, labor leaders and other speakers echoed that sentiment as they led the crowd in chants of “jobs, not cuts!”

Local radio host Lesley Groetsch emceed the event, telling attendees that “the tea-partyers and Republicans were sent to office to focus on jobs, and they’ve done nothing. We need to focus on jobs.”

Alluding to recent actions by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to change Buncombe County’s election laws and draw most of Asheville out of the 11th Congressional District, Groetsch charged that “if you’re a town of progressives, you have a target on your backs.”

Buncombe Democratic Rep. Patsy Keever echoed that sentiment in her remarks, asserting that “the tea party has devastated our country and community.” To fund government programs and lower the debt, Keever garnered applause when she declared that she supports “raising taxes for people who can afford to pay higher taxes.” 

And he’s off: Republican David King starts commissioners race

Even though the election is more than 14 months away, the first Republican challenger officially started the race for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners last week. Candler resident David King filed with the Board of Elections Aug. 10 to open a campaign committee.

Under a new election system engineered by Republicans in Raleigh, King plans to run for one of two open seats in the 116th District, which encompasses much of the western part of the county, including Leicester and Enka. Voter demographics in the district seem to heavily favor Republicans.

All four incumbent commissioners and the board chair are up for reelection Nov. 6; all are Democrats. However, none of the incumbents live in the 116 District, so they will not be directly targeted by King or others running there. The new law mandates that the board expands to seven members.

Noting that the change to district elections “presents a new opportunity to get elected,” King says he’s running to “make sure the taxpayers’ voice is heard.”

Gift of light: Local campaign aims to deliver solar bulbs to Haiti

America Green International is mounting a local campaign to deliver 1,000 solar light bulbs to Haitian refugees.

The effort began after a trip to Haiti last January to explore the benefits of introducing green technologies there, says Program Coordinator Leah Quintal. Her and other aid workers gave a man who operates a food stand a pair of small solar lights.

“Then he pointed at all of the nearby tents and said ‘this is wonderful, when are you bringing them back for everyone here?’” explains Quintal. “That spurred the whole conversation around this program. … Even one light bulb can be so transformative. It changes that person’s life. When you get a solar light, it’s renewable energy, so you cut the cost of kerosene, a dramatic cost, so you can spend the money to improve your life in other ways.”

The program has already delivered 250 solar lights to Haitians in need.

And Quintal has been a familiar face at local festivals this summer, operating out of booths to sell more of the lights and raise money for the program (they cost $20 a piece). The lights can also be purchased for use here at home, where they’re becoming increasingly popular among hikers and campers. All the proceeds from the American Green booths go to fund the Haitian effort.

— Jake Frankel

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