Bothwell: decriminalizing drugs, publicly financed elections goals for 2010 “and beyond”

While Asheville City Council meets in retreat to discuss its procedures and goals for the coming year, new Council member Cecil Bothwell has announced 11 goals he’ll pursue in 2010, ranging from the sweeping (decriminalizing drugs, ceasing immigration enforcement) to the local (ceasing to build downtown parking spaces, simplifying the city’s development ordinance).

In an e-mail newsletter, Bothwell announced a list of 11 goals “for 2010 and beyond.” At the beginning of the list, he declares his overarching aim to be “reducing carbon emissions to address the global warming crisis.” The following 11 specific goals include everything from law enforcement (decriminalize drugs, rethink enforcement of prostitution laws) to political matters (publicly financed elections with instant-runoff voting) to the environment (reducing fuel budgets for city departments, halting the building of more downtown parking spaces). Some of the proposals — such as making Asheville a “sanctuary city” where local police would not help to enforce immigration laws — might prove to be controversial, though they have precedent in other cities throughout the country.

In a brief note on the Scrutiny Hooligans blog, fellow freshman Council member Gordon Smith also noted his priorities and said he hoped the retreat would bode well for making progress on them in the coming year.

“Finding our collective will on issues like affordable housing, sustainability, and transportation in light of the expected budget shortfalls will make for some creative problem-solving,” Smith wrote. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with the other members of Council, all of whom are faithful public servants with brains in their heads.”

Bothwell’s full list is below.

— David Forbes, staff writer

———————————————————————————————

My priority list
Cecil Bothwell
City Council Goals for 2010 and beyond

My overarching goal is reduction of carbon emissions to address the global warming crisis.

It is apparent that we should double the target savings in the city’s energy conservation plan (or halve the time frame) because we need to catch up with the reports of climate scientists who have established that global warming is occurring at a far faster rate than predicted just a few years ago. In 2006 it was believed that summer Arctic sea ice would disappear by the end of the century. It is now predicted that it will disappear as soon as 2015. Global warming must be addressed everywhere immediately. The good news is that this effort can result in savings, jobs and a healthier population.

Specific goals:
1. Publicly financed elections in the city (modeled on Chapel Hill’s recent success) coupled with an instant run-off voting system. This will require permission from the General Assembly – the House passed a law in 2009, we need the Senate to approve it in 2010. I think we should schedule a referendum on the plan in November 2010, add a check-off donation to tax bills, and implement the plan, if approved, in time for the 2011 City election. [Energy and dollar savings, and getting big money out of politics.]

2. Implement differential water rates to encourage conservation. Water is the new oil in the global economy and it will be our most valuable local economic resource in coming years. Deliver the first 100 gallons per day per household for free, with increased rates above that level to maintain revenue neutrality. We should instruct the water department to conduct a water bill audit to identify households and businesses that have significant undetected leaks. [Energy and dollar savings.]

3. Create a robust regional transportation plan so NCDOT will reduce the proposed I-26 connector to no more than 6 lanes. Jay Swain from the NCDOT has said that if we want the highway to be less than 8 lanes and shift investment to alternative transportation, we first need to put a regional transportation initiative in place in order to demonstrate that this actually takes cars off the road. [Energy and dollar savings. Neighborhood preservation. Reduced exhaust emissions.]

4. Refrain from building any more downtown parking spaces. Focus on freeing up existing spaces and building satellite parking at appropriate transit stops. City employees should be incentivized to utilize the transit system whenever possible and the city should provide GEM cars or other Low Emission Vehicles for employee use for special needs. (Examples: a sick child who needs a ride from school, medical or legal appointments, etc.) We can model this for the County government, Memorial Mission and other large employers. Eventually this will spin off into an urban ZipCar type operation which will help reduce automobile ownership and use in the metropolitan area. [Energy and dollar savings. Reduced exhaust emissions.]

5. Reduce the amount of money available for fuel for each city department over time. Let vehicle-dependent departments figure out how to reduce their needs. Replace standard vehicles with GEM or LEV-type vehicles as quickly as possible and where appropriate. [Energy and dollar savings. Reduced exhaust emissions.]

6. Simplify the UDO. Immediately implement publication of a grid system reportedly already in use by City Planners (on an informal basis) which greatly simplifies application of the Unified Development Ordinance. Follow up with application of the same logistic to the entire document. Contract with the Asheville Design Group to complete the re-visioning and then use that re-visioning to further simplify the code. [City and developer cost savings; more clarity for the general public.]

7. Create a PACE credit system to fund energy retrofit loans to home- and business-owners. Create a revolving loan system to enable property owners to do energy saving retrofits. This will reduce energy use and energy bills throughout the city. [Energy and dollar savings.]

8. Make Asheville a “Sanctuary City.” The Police Foundation published a report in April, 2009, titled “The Role of Local Police: Striking a Balance Between Immigration Enforcement and Civil Liberties.” The report confirms that when local police enforce immigration laws, it undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, increases their exposure to liability and litigation, and exacerbates fear in communities that are already distrustful of police. I would like to see Asheville become a Sanctuary City, joining over 125 other cities across the United States, including our nation’s capitol, which do not participate in immigration enforcement.
[Save lives, money.]

9. Rethink enforcement of prostitution law. When police enforce prostitution laws, it undermines their core public safety mission, diverts scarce resources, and exacerbates fear in communities that are already distrustful of police. We have never succeeded, and probably will never succeed, in eliminating prostitution, enforcement just moves it around. [Save lives, money.]

10. Decriminalize drugs. A generation or two back there were drug dealers in poor communities all through these mountains who either corrupted our sheriffs or shot at them. We called them moonshiners and we put them out of business by legalizing alcohol sales. We can move today’s so-called “open-air” drug markets out of housing projects and other neighborhoods and into the farmers’ markets and ABC stores where they belong.
  Council should urge our legislative delegation to legalize production and use of natural plant-type drugs and legalize, regulate and tax plant-derivatives. Prohibition has failed for a century while the hard-drug addiction rate has remained constant at 1.5 percent of the population since 1905. The Obama administration has called for an end to the war on drugs and we should call on the General Assembly to act on that idea. Prohibition is the principle cause of a large percentage of property crime, violent crime and gang activity. It piles up public bills for law enforcement, courts and prisons. [We can save lives, money, energy and more. Local marijuana and industrial hemp production will be a boon for farmers and provide fiber and oil for local industry. Local pot has a much lower carbon footprint than the imported kind.]

11. Empower public housing residents. To the extent that individuals have nothing to lose they are free to engage in high-risk activities such as drug dealing (which is the main reason why young men comprise the largest proportion of the criminal population.) Recognizing that legalization of drugs may be a slow process (and not in the purview of the city), we can search for ways to help residents of housing projects gain an ownership stake in their communities. We should consider the possibility of creating condominium or cooperative ownership and governance of those communities.

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176 thoughts on “Bothwell: decriminalizing drugs, publicly financed elections goals for 2010 “and beyond”

  1. Asheville Dweller

    A Sanctuary city thats all we need, more reasons to waste our local Tax dollars.

  2. GoodGrief

    Asheville Dweller, you don’t have a clue about how to do thing properly in Asheville or how to spend tax dollars. Not one clue. Cecil knows exactly what needs to be done and instead of pushing us back into the dark ages like past leadership has done, we might actually progress and improve. You help nothing.

  3. futura

    What a joy, to see goals, that would make a society more tolerant for all its members. Of course, just these were developed some 40 years ago and have found implementation in many societies, working well for all the reasons, Cecil states. Though we Ashevillians may still be a long way from catching up with time, I’m happy to see someone brave enough, to make a start.

  4. R.Bernier opinions

    Unreal….

    The City of Asheville now deserves the hard road that is in front of them no matter the cost of property owners in the City limit who pay taxes.

    If your taxes are to high now then sit back & allow Cecil’s goals to be policy which I expect will happen with the members of the progressive members now on city council.

    This is your new Buncombe County Democratic Party.

    RB

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xQJMHcN1YQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB90Boel3GA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Uw2Z3Mk3zg

  5. Don Yelton

    This is not a Bothwell agenda, this is straight out of the “Progressive DEMOCRATIC” play book and could be called the “Obama Agenda”

    Telling us what we can drive, where to park it and how much water to us and then let the illegals, druggies and whores run wild and live for free in public housing. How will you folks like that, especially those that live in public housing.

  6. Chris Telesca

    Public campaign financing works – IRV does not. Most progressive Dems don’t like IRV because it’s a waste of money, complicates the voting process for voters and for election administrators. It also does not ensure majority winners in a single election. If you really want majority winners, you need to hold traditional elections and runoffs if needed.

    Check out my blog at http://noirvnc.blogspot.com/ and check out the other sites for information on why IRV doesn’t work as advertised!

  7. shadmarsh

    After that he will learn ya good on the usage of the English language…Socialism!

  8. futura

    Cecil is bringing ideas to Asheville, that were new some 40 years ago. Meanwhile, many societies have implemented them and improved and benefited, deveoping into a society more tolerant of the human nature. Welcome, Asheville, in the 21st century, thanks Cecil, for daring to mention it again.

  9. Jack L. Nunn

    I haven’t spoken publicly for quite a few years, but this needs serious thought. We have LOST the drug war , which costs billions , and only breeds ” Gestapo ” type policemen that have given up the ” Yard work ” jobs or ” Taxi driver ” jobs to get a chance to beat people around, live above the law themselves and ” Kill at Will ” . It’s NOT GONNA STOP no matter how many laws you make. Decriminalize it , TAX it and PAY for the things we need. Send it to a side of town where no one in a sane mind would go at night anyways and ignore it like you do ” Vietnam Veterans ” . WAKE UP !!!! You live in your multimillion dollar homes and THINK you know whats best for us “Poor white trash”. We gonna EAT , one way or the other, so make it easy on yourselves .

  10. Drug prohibition has created the same cycle of crime that alcohol prohibition created in the early 1900s. Gangs, guns, violence, a drain on police resources, increased prison population, and a nation of scofflaws who don’t respect government. The reason people steal to support drug habits is because of the cost of illegal drugs. People don’t shoot each other over cigarettes, which are highly addicting – that is, addiction doesn’t cause violent behavior – the fighting is over money. And dealers are armed because they carry a lot of cash and can’t count on police protection or the banking system.

    We have spent billions of dollars, ruined families, ruined lives, and yet the addiction rate is the same now as it was 100 years ago – about 1.5 percent of the population is addicted to hard drugs according to the Naional Institutes of Health.

    The “cure” rate for addiction is unchanged too – about 10 percent of addicts permanently kick their habits, whether they go through intensive medical treatment, methadone clinics, 12-step programs … OR NO TREATMENT AT ALL.

    So our system is terribly messed up and I agree with the Obama administration and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) that we need to end the war on drugs.

    I think we would probably be best off if we legalized plant product sales and regulated manufactured substances with sale through ABC or similar stores.(This would have the collateral benefit of legalizing industrial hemp, which is a separate but related subject.) Taxes could be used for education and treatment models that seemed to help the most. The savings on prisons, law enforcement, and courts would be enormous.

    It would also affect the U.S. dollar on international currency markets – we currently send vast amounts of currency overseas via the black market. Those are the tax-free dollars that support drug cartels, the Taliban, al Qaeda and others. Our drug laws are impoverishing this nation at every turn and the money is being used to fund the opposition in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That seems incredibly stupid to me.

    It would seem to me that the burden of proof is on supporters of a system of drug prohibition that has failed for a century. You had your chance. It failed. Can we try something that might work?

    As for prostitution, I don’t advocate any particular view, which is why I suggested we rethink enforcement. Few women would choose prostitution absent other factors—frequently they are supporting an expensive drug habit. Currently we tend to move it around, a game of whack-a-mole that suppresses in in one place while it pops up where enforcement is less rigid. Are designated red-light districts an answer? I don’t know. But I’m not afraid to raise the question.

    The other fear-mongering I’ll address is that concerning undocumented workers. The Police Foundation, a law enforcement think tank, has shown that cities where local law officers DO NOT enforce federal immigration law are safer. Read the study yourself.

    For my part, if non-citizens are going to be employed with my money, I would rather they be working here than in Mexico or China. This is not to say we should have an unregulated immigration flow (and that’s a separate, thorny, federal issue). But, traditionally, undocumented workers seem to be employed in jobs that citizens are less likely to take- farm work, for example. So the competition for other jobs is much lower than the fearmongers like to pretend.

    Next, those workers pay sales taxes, patronize local businesses, pay fuel taxes, and otherwise recycle money into the local economy. Workers in China and Mexico do not. Employers here make profits and pay taxes HERE, employers overseas do not. When undocumented workers lie about their Social Security numbers, they pay into a system that they will never benefit from, and when taxes are withheld, they rarely recoup them.

    That means they are helping to fund YOUR Social Security and Medicare, Don.

    All of this is why I think Wal Mart and other companies that primarily source outside the U.S. are a more serious threat to American workers than a relatively small pool of undocumented workers.

  11. demirogue

    Why Cecil, legalizing prostitution is going to make the women in this town flip out. Especially once they realize that more men would rather just pay for sex and get their needs met rather than pay to woo them and have put up with the insanity called the modern dating game. Hell, you might even set people straight. Don’t be too surprised though when they do come down hard on you for your stance. But if your going to push for it, push for mandatory STD testing and a district that caters to this as well.

  12. Tigerswede

    Also, just because someone is not a citizen, it is not illegal for them to work here. There are hundreds of thousands of non-naturalized Legal Aliens with green cards who are employed here legally and pay all taxes.

    “non-citizen” ? Everyone is a citizen, of some country.

  13. J

    It’s sad to see that Gordon and Cecil completely failed to not only bring up their transparency plans they co-authored together (http://tinyurl.com/yhlxrrn), and introduced to the county commissioners, but failed to mention any increase in transparency at all.

    It seems as if the pigs have already moved into the farmhouse.

  14. shadmarsh

    Cecil I admire your effort (and patience) but Don doesn’t care about ideas, facts or typos…For some reason this passage comes to mind:

    “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.”

  15. Bruce Mulkey

    I’m with you all the way, Cecil. A guy named Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” I applaud you for your innovative solutions to the challenges confronting our community and pledge to take action to help get them implemented.

  16. John C. Smith

    “where to park it and how much water to us”

    Well said.

    Hey Don, why don’t you move to Somalia? The government lets you do whatever you want there!
    No taxes, no regulations; I wonder why all Tea-Party folk don’t relocate since Asheville has been ruined.

    In 2008, U.S. retail hemp sales were right at $300 Million. In 2005, contracts were $0.45/lb for conventional, and $0.85/lb for certified organic hemp seed. Production costs per acre were estimated at $200 per acre and profits average between $434-600/acre. Canadian farmers make pretty good money farming industrial hemp, but I guess it’s not worth it since Canada is a reckless wasteland of crime and drug use.

    Know any North Carolina farmers who used to grow tobacco, who can’t make money farming anymore? Know any hard-working people who need jobs?

    Don, why do you hate the founder’s of our country?

    “Hemp is of first necessity….to the wealth and protection of the country.” Thomas Jefferson (1791)

    “Make the most of the hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” George Washington (1794)

  17. J

    (Don’t mean to submit twice, but computer went out on me)
    Cecil’s agenda is anti-family and anti-common sense, here’s why.

    1) Publicly financed elections are one more cost for the taxpayer to have to bear. While it may limit Bill Russell to using $10,000, what stops Bill’s neighbor from creating “The Committee to Elect Bill Russell” which is free to raise as much money as it pleases, and engage in any activity it pleases.

    What stops a person from running and using the public money to have a series of nice dinners at the Grove Park Inn as “voter outreach”. How do we police the usage of the money?

    On the national level, when campaign finance reform took effect, we saw the increase of 527’s.

    2) Lowering the water delivered to 100 gallons delivered for free and charing increased rates for revenue neutrality hurts larger families. A single person (aka, Cecil) is going to fare much better on such a proposal than a family of five. Larger families shouldn’t have to choose between cleanliness and costs savings. Plus, this may increase the costs of home agriculture.

    3) Working with the state has done wonders on making headway with the Sullivan Acts. The state will build what they want to build.

    4) The tax payer is going subsidize expensive cars for the City employees? There’s a reason Boston Consulting Group predicts that GEM cars will be 2.7% of the market in 2010: apparently Asheville is going to buy up that 2.7% after reading Cecil’s proposals. Now we’re paying for the costs of city employees to ride to work as well as paying for new battery technology car for them to us at work.

    5)Buy all means, let’s reduce the incentive for city staffers to leave their desks and interact with the people of the city, or observe the city. Will buying new, expensive, battery technology cars really offset any savings from reduced fuel use? No.

    7)On some level, this makes sense. But I can tell you now that savvy investors will take advantage of this and use the easy credit and low interest loans to flip houses, and contractors may be able to find a way to use these funds to subsidize their work. While homes in Asheville will be more energy efficient, the tax payer will be subsidizing the profits of these investors. Another example of the corporatist party at work.

    8&9) This is ridiculous. Arguing that police officers who do not enforce the law are safer may be true, but a police officer who sits at his/her desk all day is safer than a police officer who simply walks outside. These are trumped up arguments to hide a political agenda.

    While police may not remove prostitution entirely, I imagine the presence of police suppresses such activity. Not enforcing such laws will likely lead to increased presence and activity. Is Cecil saying he wants more prostitutes in the city?

    And yeah, I can see how police presence would strike fear into illegal immigrants and prostitutes. They are doing something illegal.

    10) This is a fantasy and a waste of breath. I hope we don’t spend the ink of one City bought pen trying to actually pursue this. I can see the letter now “Dear Gov Perdue, do you like hemp necklaces…”

    11)Potentially interesting. Reminiscent of George W. Bush’s ownership society, but potentially interesting.

  18. Dionysis

    Marijuana prohibition funds drug cartel activity while criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens. We’ve squandered countless billions on a losing proposition that, as the late icon of conservatism William F. Buckley noted:

    “Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

    It’s not a matter of being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the plant, it’s a matter of common sense and practicality.

    Consider Los Angeles; marijuana has been de facto legalized, yet street crime has dropped dramatically, according to the L.A. Police Department.

    http://yourbrainonbliss.com/Blog/?p=536

  19. efenhel

    How about that? Rational thought from a politician… Somebody forgot to rig the last election.

  20. Mysterylogger

    Ummmm Cecil people that are not citizens don’t pay taxes for the first year that they are here, its not required. But they can partake in any of our great tax benifits they pay nothing into, and what about jobs taken by illegals that could have gone to LEGAL citizens.

    And before I get blasted I don’t care who comes here as long as its done LEGALY. What all that is about is votes, well its going to be hard to get voted in again when the town/state has no money, see California for an example.

  21. Jerry Rice

    Norman Matton Thomas(November 20 1884-December 19 1968)Was a leading America socialist,pacifist,and six-time presidential candidate for the socialist party of America. The Socialist party candidate for president of the US,Norman Thomas,said this in a 1944 speech: The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism.But,under the name of “liberalism” they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program,until one day America will be a socialist nation,without knowing how it happened.” He went on to say: “I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party.THE DEMOCRAT PARTY HAS ADOPTED OUR PLATFORM.

  22. bobaloo

    Implement differential water rates to encourage conservation.

    Does this mean that you advocate metering private wells?

  23. Hard to carry on too many discussions at once, but here goes, from the bottom up:

    Bobaloo:I would support a strictly voluntary well metering system if it would help us get a handle on how much water is being withdrawn from the water table. This is really a county issue, more than city. It would probably have to include a tax benefit as enticement for participation, and absolute language that it was not to be used for billing. (I’ve heard all the paranoid fantasies about this being a scheme to start charging for well water, so save your pixels.)

    Jerry: I don’t see any of my proposals that are socialist. The drug and prostitution rethinking is Libertarian. The reduction in need for downtown parking and voluntary reduced use of water is conservative. My opinion about a domestic versus foreign work force is pro business (and arguable anti-Labor – though I don’t think of myself as anti-Labor). My proposals concerning transit are green and conservative. Please let me know why you and others seem to consider me, a small business owner for thirty years, a socialist?

    J .2- I greatly prefer a plan that would accord the free portion of water on a per capita basis. At present the city doesn’t have that data. (And I’m sure that many right wing folks would think that was an unnecessary intrusion into personal information.) My 100 gallon proposal is based on the city average of 150 gallons per household per day. If I were creating the policy I would try to adapt the rates so that an average household had the same water rate as before the change. Then, those who conserve would save money, and those who chose not to would pay more. We are one of few cities in the state which do not have a scaled rate (and that’s because we think of ourselves as water-rich.)

    Water is the new oil, globally. It will be a driver of economic prosperity here in the future as businesses which need water relocate to places with ample supplies. (Oh, damn, I sound like a capitalist again. Sorry.) We are entering a period of permanent global drought due to climate change and rising human numbers. Conserving our wealth seems like good business to me, and installing water conservation measures is best done over time, as each toilet is replaced, as garden sprinkling systems are installed, etc.

    J 7.- developers won’t be able to flip houses to take advantage of the PACE program. The current model, which we’ll be discussing this Tuesday in Council, lets people VOLUNTARILY accept loans for specific energy retrofits that lower their energy costs below the repayment cost, and attaches repayment as a special assessment on the tax bill for a set number of years. Total monthly/annual bills are lowered, and when a new owner buys the house, the assessment goes along.

    J .8/9: read the Police Foundation report.
    http://www.policefoundation.org/strikingabalance/strikingabalance.html

    J. You don’t have a wrinkled clue about the value of hemp for our farmers and industry. If you think it’s about hemp necklaces you are living in the last century.

    I think I or others here have answered most of the other questions in this thread. Thanks for listening! (Or is it “thanks for sharing?”)

  24. Thank you Cecil. What a breath of fresh air to see an elected official using facts and reality to steer us towards solutions to the problems that face us.

  25. Aaron Sarver

    Very cool Cecil is willing to be open and transparent about his goals and answer his supporters and critics in a forum like this.

    One thing that makes no sense to me is why the first hour of parking in downtown decks is free. Charge a buck for the first hour and put the extra money into the bus system and bike lanes.

  26. Chris Telesca

    Re the comments from J about public campaign financing. They do this in other countries quite well – just like they do with single-payer/universal health care. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

    Yes public campaigns would cost the taxpayers money, but would be cheaper in the long run than our elected officials selling us out and spending too much taxpayer money to enrich their biggest contributors.

    How to keep someone from getting a weekend at the Grove Park Inn? Two things…one, a weekend at the Grove Park Inn won’t get them elected if that is what they are really in the race to do. And two – you can only spend the money on certain things, otherwise you gotta pay it back out of your own pocket. Our SBOE is pretty good at checking up on those things, as Ty Harrell and FGov. Sleasley can tell you.

    And no one commenting about IRV?

  27. Go Cecil, Go! I greatly admire your independent spirit and your critical thinking and I greatly appreciate the way you take the time to expound upon your sound ideas here on the Xpress Blog. It is very refreshing. You have my continuing support. (I am ready to volunteer for your mayoral campaign, should you decide to run.)

  28. Piffy!

    [b]Local marijuana and industrial hemp production will be a boon for farmers and provide fiber and oil for local industry. [/b]

    YES! This would allow a return to an agricultural economy and give landowners a valuable cash crop alternative to selling their land to golfers.

    Northern California would have gone bankrupt decades ago without the marijuana industry. The similarities between N. Cl and WNC are actually quite striking.

  29. Piffy!

    [b]Please let me know why you and others seem to consider me, a small business owner for thirty years, a socialist?[/b]

    Because that is all their tiny little brains can come up with when presented very specific plans for our region that dont come from the party-line they have always followed.

  30. In re “rethinking” prostitution enforcement.

    One correspondent has suggested we bust the johns but not the hookers. This would still suppress prostitution but would encourage prostitutes to be more trusting of police – which would increase their safety and inclination to report other crimes. Just tossing this out for discussion.

    Per IRV, another correspondent has informed me that IRV has not worked very well in NC, because 1. there was no requirement to add votes (as I understand it, that ballots for losing candidates were not retabulated – which seems to ignore the whole idea of IRV), and 2. because it requires ballot counting be done in a central location, increasing the possibility of vote fraud. I’m still trying to get up to speed on these ideas, but have been told that Fusion voting and Range voting are better ways to increase third party participation. Again, open for discussion.

  31. J

    It is pretty admirable of Cecil to be so open and available for discussion.

    Charging more for the water may work to conserve, and with increasing populations, it is important to conserve water. However, Asheville has lots of retirees, and several apartments. I would argue this people would drag the per capita water consumption below what a family of four of five with a yard may actually use. Maybe not by much.

    I still think people can flip houses. If you have a doctor couple living in Montford, they buy the old house across the street from them for $400k, voluntarily accept the loans, retrofit the house, then advertise it for sale with lower energy costs and modernization, they can turn around and sell it for $550,000. Take away some costs, and essentially the tax payer subsidized a $75,000 profit. There may be no way to prevent this from happening, but it’s still tax payer subsidization of profit.

    I haven’t gotten around to reading the police report, but I take issue with the safety argument. Police are safer not doing road side stops, one got killed not too long ago. And the police being on the road certainly isn’t eradicating speeders. Since the police are in danger, and their presence isn’t having an effect on road behavior, should we pull them off the highway? By the nature of their job, the police take risks. It’s why they should be as well equipped and prepared as we can make them. You can find other reasons to not use local police for enforcement of immigration issues, but I’m just not sure the safety issue is the best reason.

    You’re right I don’t have a wrinkled clue about the value of hemp and it’s meaning for farmers in the area. Asheville, the city, is in many ways an extension of the General Assembly in Raleigh. Does anyone really think the General Assembly or the governor is anywhere close to decriminalizing herbal drugs? I find it hard to believe.

    To bower an argument from Superfreakonomics, the decriminalization of drugs would only boost the drug the trade in Mexico. It’s current illegality suppresses demand somewhat, but as the penalties for consumption are removed, demand for an illegal product sky rockets, thus increasing the shipments from Mexico, etc. Nonetheless, the overwhelming factor is going to be Raleigh’s unwillingness to act on such a matter.

    Again, I also think the purchase of battery powered cars is not necessarily a great step forward for the city. They’re expensive. While they eliminate fuel costs, they only shift their power consumption from gas to electric. Considering companies like Duke power are getting exemptions from using clean coal technology in the House Warming Bill (http://tinyurl.com/dgftac), is coal power really any better?

  32. j

    Chris T.,

    I like the blog, you’ve gone out of your way to do some pretty good analysis.

    Re: the Grove Park Inn. That’s what I’m afraid of, that people will jump in the race just for the chance to use the money and not be serious about being elected. Whether it be hosting a bbq at their house, the Grove Park Inn, there’s a wealth of ways to do “out reach” events where people essentially get a free party. Maybe it’s an unfounded fear, but it is one I have nonetheless.

    Also, what prevents the rise of 527’s and similar organizations? 527’s are much less accountable because 1)they are not directly attached to the candidate (think Swift Boat Veterans for Truth), and 2)they can be opened and dissolved rapidly, making it difficult to find all those involved, sometimes not until the election is over. I think transparency and accountability are the most effective measures to police money in politics.

  33. I really appreciate the interactive-ness going on here.Hopefully folks can see the benefit of this type of dialog amongst disparate points of view.

  34. annica2

    though carbon emissions reduction plans makes me cringe every time i hear them, there is a lot of common ground here.

    i absolutely agree with him on the drug war. this quote is right on:

    “We can move today’s so-called “open-air” drug markets out of housing projects and other neighborhoods and into the farmers’ markets and ABC stores where they belong.”

    and this one as well.

    “Prohibition has failed for a century while the hard-drug addiction rate has remained constant at 1.5 percent of the population since 1905.”

    maybe the water conservation idea could also involve finally realizing it is the 21st century by removing fluoride from the water supply. it’s gross the corporatists are still defended on that issue. campaign finance reform is a must for those reasons.

  35. annica2

    though carbon emissions reduction plans makes me cringe every time i hear them, there is a lot of common ground here.

    i absolutely agree with him on the drug war. this quote is right on:

    “We can move today’s so-called “open-air” drug markets out of housing projects and other neighborhoods and into the farmers’ markets and ABC stores where they belong.”

    and this one as well.

    “Prohibition has failed for a century while the hard-drug addiction rate has remained constant at 1.5 percent of the population since 1905.”

    maybe the water conservation idea could also involve finally realizing it is the 21st century by removing fluoride from the water supply. it’s gross the corporatists are still defended on that issue. campaign finance reform is a must for those reasons.

  36. HKUSP

    Seriously Cecil? You can’t selectively enforce the law against only one segment of the violators. And what “other crimes” are you speaking of?

  37. J- you’re dead on per 527s, and I’ll be interested to explore how that’s been worked around in other jurisdictions. (I haven’t heard of them being active in our publicly funded judicial and council of state elections, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been active). And we still don’t know who provided the most funding for the smear letters run against me (that report due by the end of this month).

    Per qualifying – the Chapel Hill model requires a minimum number of donors to begin with – don’t have it in front of me, but something like $10 from 100 people to become a qualified candidate.

    Per drug legalization, a reader in the U.K just tweeted me this site:
    http://www.fead.org.uk/

  38. HKUSP – other crimes: physical violence, for one. For example, a man who beats up one hooker may be violent toward others, and toward other women generally – perhaps some who have murdered women would be caught sooner, before they harm others.
    property crimes, hookers may be aware of peripheral crimes in their neighborhoods, or crimes against them.

    And the crimes are easily separated, one person is paying the other is vending. I’ve learned that there was a study done and that this kind of enforcement is used in Sweden and is considered the most effective model in the world.

  39. Chris Telesca

    J: The way to deal with the problem as you describe it is to have some sort of hurdle that a candidate has to overcome. Have you looked at the paperwork someone has to file in order to run for office? Combined with the other fundraising that is part of the public campaign financing pilot, no one would go through that if they weren’t serious about running for office.

    Re the 527s – ban them from engaging in certain activities – like naming a candidate or an elected official by name. If they want to educate voters on an issue – that might be fine. But too often 527s are used to skirt the whole campaign financing issue. Everyone does it – but it doesn’t make it right.

    Money does not equal speech. And even if it does, free speech is not an absolute right – just as there are limitations on what I can say, print, paint, etc – there ought to be limits on the insidious influence of money on the political process. The problem with outside money is that it makes the politicians work for the folks that paid the biggest campaign contributions – not be the public servants that we elected them to be. If I can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, or yell hate speech at someone to incite a riot – why is money speech that can’t be regulated?

  40. Chris Telesca

    Oh – and you could decriminalize pot, and you wouldn’t have the problems you are having now with the drug trade in Mexico. Using your logic, once we did away with Prohibition on booze, the bootleggers would have made even more illegal and unsafe hooch. They did not.

    Overturning Prohibition and regulating the sale of alcohol regulated the quality of the product – meaning that people could buy safe alcohol that wouldn’t make them go blind. But only in places that you could legally buy the stuff. In places like NC and other states that kept unreasonable restrictions, you still sold illegal hooch.

    Raising the drinking age to 21 was a mistake. If you make someone legal for the purposes of getting credit, voting, being executed for a capital offense – how can you then claim they are not old enough to drink? That is why you have so much binge drinking at college campuses.

    Decriminalize – but regulate the hell out of it. Have an FDA stamp be required for all pot sold in in the country – to make sure it’s not got illegal chemicals applied to it. Then make it illegal for someone to operate a car, school bus, heavy equipment, etc under the influence – and make the penalties so heavy that it will deter people from using under the influence. Let them use drugs responsibly and allow them to purchase legally and you will rip the guts out of the Mexican and other drug lords.

  41. And, yo, Annica,

    I hear you per carbon. The model could be entirely wrong. But saving energy and money and importation of fuel is all good, no matter why we do it.

  42. Chris Telesca

    Cecil:

    In Cary, we really can’t be sure how the ballots were tabulated, because the county and state won’t release the raw ballot data. I can tell you that from what I saw of the mad sort/stack and tally, second place votes for candidates who lost in the 1st round were tabulated. It’s just that there weren’t enough votes by the time the ballots were exhausted to bring anyone over the legal threshold for the 1st round. 1401 votes is not 1512 – which was the total votes needed to give a winner 50% plus one vote of the 1st round totals.

    IRV elections have that “majority failure” the great majority of times. And typically the person who leads in the 1st round wins the IRV race with only a slightly larger plurality win. In traditional runoff elections, there can be more voters for the runoff than for the general (something that can’t EVER happen with IRV) and the 2nd place finisher in the general comes back to beat the 1st place winner in the general 33% of the time. Which seems more democratic?

  43. Jonathan Barnard

    From a conservation standpoint, there’s something to be said for progressive rates on water consumption. But note that this rate structure does punish larger households. And environmentalists should be pushing for larger households, with multiple generations and even multiple nuclear families living together under the same roof (like you see in most other countries), rather than single people living alone in 1500-square-foot houses (as is too often the case in the United States).

  44. Piffy!

    [b]You can’t selectively enforce the law against only one segment of the violators. [/b]

    Sure you can. You decriminalize the victim, and punish the perpetrator. Canada has a similar system which punishes pimps and johns instead of prostitutes that works far better than ours in the states.

  45. “like you see in most other countries), rather than single people living alone in 1500-square-foot houses (as is too often the case in the United States”. Jonathan Barnard

    Having lived in Europe for several years, it was very obvious that owning a house there, was only for the wealthy. Everyone else lived in apartments. The large tracts of land we are so used to are almost unheard of in Europe…..unless you’re a part of the landed gentry. All small patches of land held vegetable gardens….not bare spaces of grass that needed mowing.

    Since I lived there, I saw the handwriting on the wall….eventually that reality will come to America. Home ownership will be only for the wealthy here, too.

  46. John B

    Cecil:
    I’m libertarian-leaning and I support you on 80% of what you‘re trying to do. I knew there was a reason I voted for you and you’re proving it now. Good job and hang in there!

    Chris- What you’re describing here and on your blog isn’t IRV. There is no “win threshold” in IRV until there are two candidates remaining.

    Hendersonville has what appears to be a two-round run-off. This isn’t IRV either. In fact, I’m not convinced what Hendersonville is doing is legal as they don‘t count all votes if someone hits 50% plus one. Not familiar with Cary.

  47. JWTJr

    Seeing as how Europe’s real estate market has at least a 1500 year head start on us, I’m not going to freak out right now about home ownership.

  48. Don Yelton

    well frankly all of this discussion is good but what does it prove. It proves one thing and that is that the government can run your life better than you. The government decides where to park, how much water to use and we model everything. Models depend upon averages and averages is the best of the worst and the worst of the best.

    Davyne one thing is true and that is we are fixing it til land ownership is going by the way side. Why do we need to own land, we will have government food, government housing, government transportation and all we will have to pay for is sex and drugs. Where when the government give us that money too.

    Just read these posts and tell me it is about open, transparent, honest elections where the candidates tell exactly what they want to do…

    Tax payer funded elections needs to be added to the list too. Frankly I want some freedom and some choice and I do not see it here in these threads.

  49. Don Yelton

    just got a real wise post back and it said that they hated to break it to me but the government already told him where to park, he had the tickets to prove it. Well let me ask you why you are driving a car. You should be green and be walking or riding a bicycle, or using the bus. We do not want cars down town –read the proposals would you….

  50. And, Jonathan, good point per household size.
    Which is why the conservation plan I proposed (and first discussed with the city water department two years ago) would be better implemented on a per capita basis.

  51. J

    Chris T,

    Re: the drug issue. Undoing prohibition was dramatically different than the current situation. Drinking is legal throughout the world, thus, it’s a practice people can offer out in the open, and the regulated product is better than the white lighting grown indoors.

    If you decriminalize pot, which I take to mean removing the criminally prosecutable aspect of it but leaving fines in place, you still have an illegal product. Even if NC does decriminalize it, which won’t happen anytime soon, VA, TN, SC, GA are all very unlikely to decriminalize it, or legalize it. Thus, you still have a profit rich black market. With the penalties way down, demand is likely to increase. The only way this is like prohibition is if pot becomes legal worldwide, then it can be regulated.

    I’m just going to have to disagree with you on restricting speech. While no one should have the ability to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, all restrictions on speech are chilling.

    I understand all the frustrations with politics and money, and see why people want to take their frustrations out on 527’s, and deservingly so. The problem with money in politics is that it’s like water flowing downhill, it’s going to find a way. We enacted campaign finance reform, 527’s popped up. We start restricting 527’s, something else will happen. Look at democratic Rep Heath Shuler’s recent fundraiser. He had a bbq in D.C. where the attendees (read: lobbyists) paid an entrance fee to an organizer, and the organizer later made a contribution to Shuler’s campaign. All legal, no 527’s involved, and it throws off all of the watchdog reporting as well.

    Furthermore, suppose we do restrict 527 activity. What’s to stop a millionaire from going around town an erecting billboards and signs to elect his candidates? You’ve essentially forfeited group power (the ability to raise money collectively) and ceded it to the independently wealthy. If we want to restrict that activity, then we get into the easily ridiculed level of paranoid laws. Are we going to start telling millionaires that they can’t have dinners at their own house if it’s political activity?

    I would argue that the public could pay better attention to who they elect. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich don’t seem to be beholden to corporate masters.

    From what I’ve gathered of local filings, it’s not effort intensive to file. Some work is required, but for an hour or two of work, you could potentially have access to tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a worrisome prospect.

  52. Chris Telesca

    J – I didn’t say leave the fines in place for possession I said remove all the fines for possession, but have fines and jail sentences for operating cars, buses, heavy equipment under the influence.

    Not every freedom is absolute. With freedom comes responsibility, and not everyone is responsible. So government performs a very valuable function protecting citizens from irresponsible people. But money is not speech. Do you believe that corporations are “people” and ought to have the same rights as people? Then shouldn’t they have the same responsibilities as people also?

    The problem with the situation as it is now – we still have private money in the political system. We need to remove it. If you ban all private money from campaigns, then there will be no purpose for lobbyists other than to educate our leaders. If you banned all private money from campaigns, Shuler’s organizer couldn’t bundle the entrance fees into a contribution. Shuler – and the rest – would only be able to spend a certain amount of money and not one penny more. You ban the 527s from mentioning the name of any political candidates and you remove them from influencing the election. Meaning you can’t even mention the name of an elected leader to call and tell them how you feel. You can say: “call your elected leaders and tell them to vote YES (or NO) on something”, and you won’t have that money going behind Candidate A because the 527 is attacking Candidate B.

    You simply restrict all political spending – that means no billboards (which are advertisements). No direct mailers – no private money on political speech PERIOD!

    There is nothing that would prevent me or anyone – even a rich person – from having a dinner at their house and talking politics. We talk politics at my house and other parties I go to all the time. But there is a difference between talking politics over a beer or a glass of wine where no money is being raised to the booze and the chat is mere pretext for legalized bribery.

    I say ban all private money from politics. If you want to donate money to a political party for the purposes of organizing precincts and getting out the vote for ALL the party candidates on the ballot – that is something I can support. But the parties should not be bundling soft money and then providing services for one candidate that they don’t provide for all candidates.

    But because there is too much private money in politics, Kucinich and Paul won’t ever get enough $$ to run and be serious candidates. If everyone who wanted to run had to get a minimum number of signatures in a certain number of states, then every legitimate candidate would have exactly the same amount of money to run for office and they would have to run on their ideas and not how much money they have.

    I favor a one-day national presidential primary – a 6 month primary is nonsense when there is nationwide coverage of the lead up to the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. I don’t like living in NC and not being able to vote for the same candidates as they do in Iowa and NH. And rotating the primaries won’t work either – just make them all on one day.

    No – it’s not just filing – you have to show that you have a minimum level of support with signatures collected or a certain amount of bare bones money donated. So it’s not as easy as you think it is.

    And even if it were, the positives of public financing outweigh the negatives you suggest. When the politicians aren’t beholden to the big money interests to get elected, they won’t be turning over so much of our tax dollars to the big money interests. The waste and the pork barrel spending will drop to next to nothing.

  53. Chris Telesca

    Scrutiny Stomper:

    There is no such thing as a one-size fits all IRV election. That’s why what IRV supporters claim works well in one location won’t necessarily work well anywhere else. Irish IRV is different than Scottish IRV, which is different than San Francisco IRV is different than Cambridge IRV, which is different than Peirce County WA IRV, which is different than Aspen CO IRV, which is different than Burlington VT IRV, which is different than Cary IRV – which was different than Hendersonville IRV. Which is also why you can’t honestly say that IRV is as easy as 1-2-3.

    And I must disagree with you that there is no win threshold with IRV. If you are going to claim that IRV ensures majority wins, then you must define what you mean by a “majority”. If a “majority” means 50% plus one vote of the total number of votes in the 1st round of counting, then either you win in the first round or you don’t. If you keep that same threshold target for the IRV determined rounds, there is a very good chance that you won’t ever reach or cross that threshold after you have exhausted all your ballots (meaning there are no more votes to count). That vast majority (over 90%) of single-member IRV races of all sorts get a winner who never reached the 50% plus one majority. All IRV does is give you a larger “plurality” win.

    Some places – like NC – do a “top-two IRV” because of the limitations of the voting equipment. You only get three votes in single-member races because we have 3 columns on our paper ballots because all 100 counties use paper for Absentee By Mail voting (even the DRE counties). Top-Two IRV is the simplest to do, but I have personally watched a hand count of some 3000 ballots and saw the Wake BOE (one of the best in the state) screw it up. IRV is just too complicated to administer from start to finish and it’s too hard for people to observe AND understand. I defy you to find someone who lives in one of our less literate counties in NC who would understand and trust an IRV voting and counting process. Why should they just “trust” the way someone else tell them the vote turned out?

    And in NC – all votes are supposed to be counted in every round. The problem is that you don’t know if the count is accurate because while the 1st column count is posted at every polling place, the SBOE isn’t releasing the raw ballot data – meaning the ranking of all the ballots. On a single IRV race in Cary NC, both myself and Don Hyatt noticed that our figures didn’t match the figures that the County BOE announced. We pointed that out to the Board members, and they promised to look into it. The next day – after a non-public recounting of all the votes – the BOE issued a statement saying there was a “calculator error” and also some other votes that were missed in the initial count. The totals were announced – but the whole thing was not transparent.

    Imagine trying to observe the IRV counting process when it’s done mostly with DRE touchscreen machines? How would you look over the shoulder of the BOE counting those votes? What happens if there is more than one IRV race? Are you going to trust the “black box” (whether it’s an ES&S proprietary program or MS Excel) to count the votes and accurately deliver a total?

  54. Asheville Dweller

    Its funny that the model of California is bieng thrown around here, and you see where they stand, bankrupt.

  55. John B

    We are not talking about anywhere else in NC or the rest of the world. We are talking about city elections in Asheville, NC. In Asheville, NC, IRV is as simple as one, two, three.

    Why? We are not the simpletons that your condescending post suggests. The fact that Cary, NC – or anywhere else for that matter – decides to employ incompetent poll workers or utilize limited equipment has very little to do with the way Asheville, NC does business. I apologize for not sharing your paranoia.

  56. ashevillelokel

    It is a shame you weren’t spouting this crazy sh!t during the election you would not have the seat you do now!

  57. Chris Telesca

    Scrutiny:

    You can’t say it was incompetent poll workers – the problem was the counting of the votes in the IRV round (beyond the 1st column votes) which was done by our county BOE.

    You also can’t say IRV was simple for the plain and simple fact that ALL your races in 2007 and 2009 were decided by the first column totals – meaning that:

    A) you wasted time and money on IRV when it wasn’t needed; and

    B) you never actually counted the 2nd and 3rd column votes to determine a winner.

    Meaning that you have no idea just now complex IRV elections are to administer on the back end. And DRE elections are a lot more complex to administer on the back end because you can only do a hand to eye count of the DRE votes from the thermal paper trails. And I defy you to try and do an IRV handcount using thermal paper trails – especially from an early voting center where both IRV and non-IRV races will be done.

    Why is that impossible? Because the only way to do a hand to eye recount of IRV races involved sorting/stacking and counting. How do you take IRV ballots out of the serial paper trail to count for IRV and preserve the record of the votes on the paper trail?

    If you take a look at the IRV elections around the country and also in NC (and that means Cary and Asheville) you will find out that a great many people show up to the polls not knowing that they are expected to rank their choices. In Cary in 2007 it was 25% (and this is in the town with the highest % of college grad in the state) and in Hendersonville it was 33%. So if you don’t know you have to rank your choices, you won’t be able to cast as meaningful a ballot as someone who does know you have to rank choices. And that increases the chance that you won’t have a true majority winner with IRV.

    If you do an honest assessment of all the costs of elections – including increased costs for voter education and election administration – IRV always costs more than rarely used runoff elections. That is why so many states have not considered IRV, and so many places that have used IRV are dumping it.

    The only reason why these costs are not considered here in NC is because certain pro-IRV groups are making sure that these costs are off the books and under the table. If you take a look at the surveys done in both 2007 and 2009, it shows problems that the pro-IRV folks don’t want to talk about.

    One thing that all the exit polling trade groups talk about is the need to show methodology when you issue an exit polling report. There was no methodology issued for either of the 2007 IRV exit polls, and there still is not methodology for the 2009 Hendersonville exit poll. So one wonders why we should take this exit poll as seriously as exit polls that do issue methodology reports.

  58. J

    Chris T,

    Banning all private money from politics is pretty draconian. What if the owner of a billboard wants to put up a sign that says “Bev Perdue is good for NC”? Is that politics? Are they not allowed to exercise free speech? Telling an organized group they can’t use names is a big step back on free speech.

    This also affects protests and rallies. Essentially, tea party protesters wouldn’t be allowed to have signs that use Sarah Palin’s name or Obama’s name, because it could be construed as politicking. And if they made the sign with Tea Party funds, well, there’s private money.

    What stops millionaires form hosting dinners that just happen to have a candidate at them? Is that private money politics?

    Besides, people enjoy supporting their candidates. Bothwell was the top money earner in the last city council race, in one of the most expensive city council races in history. And he had the most small dollar donors. Obama won with small dollar donors.

    Money flows as well as water does. Every restriction only forces the money to other, darker, parts of the system.

    If you look at the State Board of Elections, to file for state House or state Senate, you file two pieces of paper and pay a fine. Not that hard. I think the influence of money is overstated as it is.

  59. JWTJr

    Trying to regulate spending by making election funding a public concern will have the unintended consequence of limiting free speech on political issues during election time and maybe all other time. Just watch.

  60. ThePhan

    The two proposals I have a serious concern with are the only two of these that has a decent chance of being enacted on a local level–refraining from adding new parking spaces downtown, and the regional transportation plan.

    There have been relatively few new parking places added during the last 15 years of growth downtown. We risk killing the golden goose without at least some additional capacity.

    And I’m like most area residents–we don’t care whether I-26 is 6 lanes or 8 lanes, but we don’t want to see it delayed any longer.

  61. ThePhan – um, not sure which “most” area residents you talk to, but they are apparently not the same “most” I talk to. Maybe we need a plebiscite on this?

    The huge need for parking downtown is created by commuters. Gas prices are about to go through the $3.50 ceiling where people (reportedly) seek new options (smaller cars, carpools, transit). Seems to me we should create new parking opportunities at the distal ends of our transit system to accommodate commuters who can’t afford daily commutes (soon) but who don’t live on transit routes. That helps the commuters and frees up downtown parking space, at far less cost than building more downtown parking spaces.

  62. ThePhan

    Cecil, no, perhaps we’re not talking to the same people. Please note I’m not even taking a stand on which I-26 design alternative I favor. For those of us who regularly use the Smoky Park Bridge and see its dangers first-hand, waiting even longer to see it fixed is just not an appealing option. I’ve lived here more than 15 years and we’ve spent at least that long discussing the alternatives. What we truly need now is leadership that sees the current hazards of the interchange and is not only committed to doing it the right way, but doing it with appropriate due haste.

    I appreciate the clarification about parking and commuters. What I and downtown business owners don’t want to see is parking made even more difficult for our customers and visitors.

  63. Bill Crandall

    Downtown Asheville failed in the 70s and 80s because of parking scarcity downtown. The malls took over.

    For downtown Asheville to ever succeed again, it needs that same things that makes malls successful – anchor stores and LOTS of free parking.

  64. Asheville Dweller

    So the key is more bus stops not less, to prevent big evil cars from entering the downtown area. Well when are we getting more bus stops and decent times for pick up? Ive rode the bus for a good part of my life and it is in no way as it stands now Convenient.

  65. Asheville Dweller

    No no, don’t say Anchor stores down town don’t like chains unless its Mellow Mushroom, Doc Chey’s and other chains that look local but really aren’t, because chains are evil . . .. .

  66. JWTJr

    “Downtown Asheville failed in the 70s and 80s because of parking scarcity downtown. The malls took over.”

    Every small town downtown was crushed by the malls back then. It was new and cool. Parking wasn’t so much the issue. You walk forever once you get to the mall. No different than parking downtown.

  67. @JWTJr:

    Unless you plan on putting a dome over Asheville, it ain’t like the Mall. I choose the Mall over downtown everyday of the week unless I want to see the freaks in the streets or the kamikaze bicyclists trying to hit bottles with their face. Ha ha ha ha!!!

  68. JWTJr

    TP – You choose downtown over the mall now. I hate going to the mall too. However, everybody went back then because it was new.

    Every small town where a mall popped up back then took the same beating. Now the pendulum is swinging and downtown is coming back.

  69. Chris Telesca

    J:

    The insidious influence that money has on politics is very bad. It might just take draconian measures to level the playing field between every-day middle Americans and rich/corporate interests.

    It depends on who is putting up the sign and how close to the election it is. If the sign is put up now – no big deal. It the sign is put up the week before the election – it’s electioneering. And if a person puts up a billboard, it will probably cost more than $2000 – putting them over the limit for individual spending anyway.

    There is a difference between running an ad and sending our flyers vs. holding up a sign you made at home with all your Tea Party-typos and bad grammar. And Tea Party money is “Party” money. And party money can’t be spent building up or tearing down an individual candidate right around the election time.

    If you run a campaign with public money – you can certainly use it to run negative ads or hold a rally where you build up your candidate and tear down the opponent – you just can’t do that with any other private money. Got it?

    As I said, there is nothing wrong with hosting a dinner and inviting a candidate to stop buy. You aren’t giving the candidate any money when you do this. You are just feeding them. And I doubt that Congressman Smith or Jones will sell out his vote for prime rib – but they seem to be doing that just now for the chance to get a little more campaign money than his challenger.

    I support my candidates – with my volunteer work. I also support my party with volunteer work. And to be honest – it’s a damn sight more efficient to support a party that supports all the candidates than to support just a candidate alone. It’s a myth that Obama won with small money donors. Why else do you think he’s selling out to the big pharma and other health care interests? Because he wants that big money in 2012!

    There is water-resistant, and then there is waterproof. Nope – if you say to someone you can only spend $2000 on your campaign – and no one else can campaign for you other than volunteers who can go door to door with party fliers for every candidate of that party who is on the ballot – that is not dark – that is the way the system was intended to work. The system we have now is legalized bribery.

    Sorry – it’s not just like filling out two simple forms. You have to fill out a lot of paperwork and pay a fee. The paperwork is very invasive – you have to list all your stock holdings, and when you make your campaign report, you have to list what you spent the money on. Would you tell me how much you are worth? NO – but you have to do that when you run for office. And you have to tell people what you spend your money on.

    And if you lie on the form – it’s not a pleasant fate to comprehend. Why would you think that taking public money to run for office and then blowing it on a beach trip should be any different than taking any public money and spending it on something other than what you were supposed to spend it on? You wrongly assume there will be no oversight.

  70. Piffy!

    [b]Downtown Asheville failed in the 70s and 80s because of parking scarcity downtown. The malls took over.[/b]

    Was it lack of parking, or people being drawn to the mall for other reasons?

    [b]For downtown Asheville to ever succeed again, it needs that same things that makes malls successful – anchor stores and LOTS of free parking. [/b]

    It has done pretty good for itself for the past decade with the parking it has and fewer stores than now.

  71. Downtown Asheville failed in the 70s and 80s because of parking scarcity downtown. The malls took over.

    Was it lack of parking, or people being drawn to the mall for other reasons?

    It was lack of convenient parking and hours of operation. Malls closed at 9:00 downtown closed at 5:00.

    I think the satelite parking downtown is a good idea, and why don’t we get smaller electric buses in the downtown core running more frequent schedules. The full size buses are loud, stink,haul ass through downtown and seem underpopulated.

  72. @JMAC:

    You’re right, when I’ve been to Asheville and ridden the buses they’ve been virtually empty…save for the buses going through the PVA or the UNCA areas.

  73. Pitchforks & Torches

    OH, and one more thing. Did you NOT get the memo regardign the state of Asheville’s Finance Situation? Maybe you should read the post from your friends at the MountainX in the following post? I will place the most important part of it if you work off of ‘little details for big issues’. “structural weaknesses in the city’s financial foundation” . I encourage you to read the whole thing and re-think your agenda. Please stop looking for ways to drive this city to financial ruin. Go start a commune and raise chickens and take your own risks for your half-baked ideology. WHO IS JOHN GALT

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/managers_to_asheville_city_council_citys_at_financial_crossroads1

  74. j

    Chris T,

    I sort of fell behind here, so maybe you’ll see this, maybe you won’t.

    Do you really think your proposals are feasible? Democrats have overwhelming majorities in Congress in both houses, and it took the blunt force of an iceberg to get where they are now, and passage is still not 100% certain. With something as far reaching as banning private money, I’m not sure it has the wherewithal to pass any legislature, anywhere.

    Secondly, if you get into regulating minutia of who can make signs, when they can make them, and limiting what they can say depending on who made them and where, you really turn campaigning over to the professionals and take it away from the people. The every day person isn’t going to know what the restrictions are. You’ll have to hire a consultant to see if you can put a sign in your yard.

    This doesn’t even begin to cover the “in kind” donations. If you’re a staffer for a congressman, you can’t buy gas for the campaign vehicle if the candidate is in the vehicle, because it’s considered a staffer contribution, which is barred. But, if you’re a staffer, and the congressman is doing official business, the federal government can pick up the gas tab. Same people, same car, sometimes you can buy gas, sometimes you can’t. And that’s just the system we have today. More restrictions lead to more silly situations like that, and obviously, more loopholes.

    The State Board of Elections requirements list the fee, and the two certificates for running for state office. That’s not “a lot” of paperwork. I think the financial disclosure comparison is not a fair one. Many civil service employees are required to fill out financial disclosure forms as well, and they aren’t even running for office.

    I don’t think people will lie on the form. There’s many legal ways to spend money. It h

  75. Chris Telesca

    Do I think it’s feasible? Yes – it’s been done in Europe. But I believe this is something that would best be started at the grassroots level in both major parties. Neither the grassroots Dems or Republicans like the idea that their party candidates need to sell out to the big money donors. My Republican friends don’t like the graft and the big pork barrel spending anymore than I do. But those donations buy access which buys favors which buy pork.

    Campaigning is already in the hands of the professionals. Who do you think is running both parties now – the paid consultants pick the party leaders so they can make the money laundering of the big donor contributions more smooth and efficient. In fact if you have a limit on spending, the candidates will have to rely on party volunteers to do GOTV work for all the candidates on their party’s ballot. They will need to make sure that the grassroots is happy – otherwise they won’t work to get out the vote. I’d rather see more volunteer work than contributions from rich people.

    I don’t see how your example makes any sense. You just simply say that you can only spend $xx,xxx (or whatever) amount of money on your campaign. Clearly if you deduct mileage on a vehicle claiming it’s for government work and you are also on a campaign trip – you’ll get caught. For Pete’s sake – they are doing this in other countries now and they don’t have all the problems that you claim this would cause. Sort of like the people over here who say that Single Payer won’t work – even though it works quite well over in other countries.

    You need to do something other than go over to the SBOE website to do your research. Go check out the notebooks at your county BOE office that hold the documentation all the candidates have to file. Then go check out all the paperwork they have to file AFTER they have run. Do you know why Easley got his with a $100,000 fine? It’s because he didn’t keep track of what was going on with his campaign.

    I believe that 100% voter-owned elections will hold down the graft and corruption since people won’t have to sell their souls to get the donations they need to run for office. If candidates qualify for office by getting a certain number of small contributions from donors and get signatures, they will qualify for public funding. If you don’t do that homework – you don’t get the funding.

    You seem to be missing the point – it’s not going to be as simple as filling out two forms and getting thousands of dollars for doing nothing. You first have to get the support and the initial donations, then you get the money to run for the primary or for the election itself.

  76. Piffy!

    [b]and why don’t we get smaller electric buses in the downtown core running more frequent schedules. [/b]

    And how do you propose to pay for those? they apparently cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  77. Alan Ditmore

    By far Bothwell’s best priority above is #9, mostly because getting sex out of the closet desensitizes the municipal contraception issue, which is the ONLY way a city can help the environment. Same sex partner benefits help the environment too due to low fertility rates, far more than green building or bike lanes, and it is a major dissapointment that this did not make the list.
    Number two also looks very good, however the free water ration could be lower, maybe 75 gallons as many people use less than 100 gallons per day including me. Note the current monthly fees are exactly the opposite of this.
    We need to add to priority 4 that we must also refrain from REQUIRING private builders to provide car parking as well as the city not doing it itself. Downtown parking problems have been by far the biggest motivator in getting me to use public transport as I have rarely done it without that factor. Continuing to require parking while not building any would only add self contradiction. Ending parking requirements helps property rights IN ADDITION to the environment, which creates important new coalition potentials and multiple arguements. Same for unit density limits and single family zoning. Perhaps Mannheimer can help here.
    I strongly oppose #8 due to illegal Alien’s high fertility rate, as do many others. I also oppose the application of #10 to cocaine, opiates, PCP and methamphetamine.
    Though I’m not specifically against it, Bothwell’s “overarching goal” makes me angry because carbon emmissions simply cannot be reduced without fighting for municipal contraception, thus any mention of carbon emmisions without mention of municipal contraception is diversionary and ultimately destructive and polluting. Technology won’t save us.
    It is far easier for a city to fund environmental contraception than it is for a city to decriminalize hard drugs. The city is already funding contraception through city contributions to both the YWCA and the County Health Center. All it needs to do is add larger, line item, environmental funds to the existing two programs, thereby establishing municipal perview.
    I strongly suspect that GEM and LEV vehicles, whatever they are, cost more and therefore pollute more if you properly take into account pollution from the commuting of the factory workers who make them etc. Expensive, high tech solutions in general do more to displace pollution than to reduce it, which is absolutely pointless with global climate change. Using conventional cars with smaller engines can actually save money and pollution with it, however neither is any excuse to accellerate vehicle replacement as the second principle of consevation is “Reuse”. A better priority would be to stop purchasing new cars with internal combution engines displacing more than 1.5 liters or producing more than 80 HP. Many Chevettes and diesel Rabbits are now 30 years old, so not all old cars are gas hogs. Plus Asheville has no local car factories from which to buy local, but it does have local repair shops which can maintain older cars locally.
    As for priority #3, The de facto strategy of delay of I-26 until the fuel runs out and the traffic with it has been far more effective than any announced plan.

  78. Alan Ditmore

    “J” commented that Cecil’s water rates would tax large families in favor of the childless and that is EXACTLY what makes it an important way to save the environment. Go Cecil! Tax the polluting breeders!
    Don, Parking requirements in Asheville are a big infringement on property rights, so we need to back Cecil on this. Landowners have the right to build homes and offices without parking. Cecil is right about several of his proposals being libertarian.

  79. Alan Ditmore

    Is this article in the paper copy? I didn’t see it and it clearly should be judging by the interest.

  80. Piffy!

    [b]“J” commented that Cecil’s water rates would tax large families in favor of the childless and that is EXACTLY what makes it an important way to save the environment. Go Cecil! Tax the polluting breeders![/b]

    So you are saying that all these non-breeding people should all live by themselves in a trailer on some land in the county? That people living together are somehow, inherently, breeding?

  81. travelah

    Please consider free bus service for all people in Asheville.

    What would make it free?

  82. travelah

    Well, I hope the city of Asheville implements absolutely everything Cecil dreams up. In fact, maybe you could rename the city … Cecilville .. Cecil City … Shantytown is already taken of course.

  83. drivle-ha!

    I’m sure you were the first to decide it should be called “Mumsville” just a year ago, right?

  84. Alan Ditmore

    Most people living together in groups over 4 per housing unit are breeding and most is enough for water rates. Besides, those who are not are usually violating your precious ZONING.

  85. Alan Ditmore

    Not all heterosexuals are breeders either, including me, but that shouldn’t keep Asheville from hiring gays preferentially to save on childcare benefits because most is enough.
    Not all immigrants are brreders either, but most is enough until an exemption can be carved out specifically for sterile immigrants.

  86. travelah

    pfftitschtppt’ new sock puppet has arrived ….

    Freaky, … come on now … even rainsins have a lil juice left over … How do you propose to make it free? I suppose in an odd Ashevillian #$@#$#@ manner of speaking, everything is free if you don’t have to pay for it. Unfortunately, somebody else does.

  87. Breeders?!?

    That’s the problem with some people, and some bankrupt philosophies. They don’t recognize new lives as new potential, as gifts from God…only as burdens on society.

    That’s how genocides start. The 20th century was full of them and that kind of thinking. We should leave that dark way of dehumanizing people.

    The earth is capable of supporting many times our present population, and the universe is quite a big place, you know. There is plenty of room to expand.

  88. I think the oil market will begin to change ridership patterns in the very near future. See stories in todays newspapers about the rapid rise of fuel costs. That will only continue as the world economy recovers from recession and we begin to bid against China and India once more for dwindling oil supplies.
    ***
    Of course we already offer free bus rides anywhere in the downtown area, but that’s on the currently running buses. One way to consider expanding downtown service (perhaps electric trolleys, small buses, jitneys, … whatever) is to compare the cost to building more parking decks.

    Our federal transit money is pegged for capital investment (almost certainly due to the special interest of manufacturers) so we constantly hear that we can get buses but not pay for drivers with that money. Drivers are paid locally. However, to the degree that we generate local debt for parking slots, it would be worth comparing that debt service to provision of local shuttles.

  89. Thunderpig, you have really lost touch with reality.

    We are experiencing global drought, caused by overpopulation. In this next year we can expect to see famine in many parts of the world due to fresh water shortages – entirely caused by overpopulation.

    Historically, genocide doesn’t start with recognition of an excess of population, it starts with vilification of some part of a population – blaming some group, usually a minority, for the problems of the majority.

    As for room for expansion: good luck. So far we’ve managed to launch a few hundred people into near-earth orbit for limited stays. The prospect of moving meaningful numbers of humans to other planets lies far beyond this century when our burgeoning numbers will beggar most nations on earth.

  90. Cecil:

    Apparently you are unaware that people have been crying that we are overpopulated for over two centuries. I think we’ve proven them wrong each and every time.

    I was referring to Alan Ditmore’s vilification of people as “breeders” as EXACTLY the kind of thing that leads to genocide. I believe Hitler called the Jews breeders, and certain racist groups called (still call) certain ethnic groups breeders. Work on your reading comprehension, you’ll be going through a lot of paperwork and briefs while you are on the City Council. I can help you with the big words and concepts if you want.

    The earth is mostly empty and chock full of resources, if the Luddite Lefties will only let us at them.

    We could fit 9 billion people in Texas at 34,000 some people per square mile and the rest of the earth would have no one in it. Manhattan has over 66,000 people per square mile.

    I’m tired of Lefties trying to create the illusion that there are too many people and not enough resources. And I’ve not even addressed the potential of the oceans for colonization and food production.

    Just as scientific advances have kept pace and fed us (the major problem with feeding people has always been and will always be…greedy local governments and tyrants who try to get rich off the food being moved into their nations), ingenious people will come up with cheaper ways to orbit the same way the colonists came to the New World via ships over several decades.

  91. Sorry to double-dip, but the whole space thing…

    I’m glad to see Obama turn space over to the private corporations. I think that if that is allowed to continue…these private concerns will far outstrip anything NASA has done over the past few decades.

    You lefties should be furious with Obama for letting that genie out of the bottle. In almost every circumstance, private companies do things better, and with less cost than any government bureaucracy can.

  92. JWTJr

    “We are experiencing global drought, caused by overpopulation. In this next year we can expect to see famine in many parts of the world due to fresh water shortages – entirely caused by overpopulation.”

    How does this apply to being a city councilman in Western NC? Does the council person job description contain saving the world or just Asheville?

  93. Oh, Thunder, would love to see what 9 billion people in Texas would find to drink.

    Apparently you’ve never been to Texas.

  94. They’d drink they same way the people in Manhattan…it would be brought in from elsewhere…probably from the ocean…you didn’t forget that Texas borders the Gulf of Mexico, did you?

    That was just an example meant to show you just how few people there are in the world compared to the land surface area.

    I’ll repeat the paragraph that followed that example…to help you get the point of it:

    “I’m tired of Lefties trying to create the illusion that there are too many people and not enough resources. And I’ve not even addressed the potential of the oceans for colonization and food production.”

  95. But more substantively, Thunder, your comment “That was just an example meant to show you just how few people there are in the world compared to the land surface area” exactly reveals the idiocy of your argument.

    Heck, if we all stood on each others’ shoulders we could fit 6 billion people on one square foot of land. There’s lots of room for more!!

    You’re evading the necessary support structure. Each person requires a vast network of plants and animals to maintain the ecosystem that sustains the whole. Our petro-chemical dependent lives are an illusion of sustainability. We’re living on the capital, not the income (or even the income plus interest). We have vastly exceeded the earth’s carrying capacity for a technological, mineral- and energy-intensive civilization. The planet will certainly survive long after the riff-raff have exited the scene.

  96. It’s working in Israel.
    http://www.water-technology.net/projects/israel/

    Recently, another unit that will add 50 million cubic meters per year will be added that will cost 500 million NIS (~$137 million)

    Wikipedia puts the cost of the Israeli desalination program at 53 cents per cubic meter and Singapore is doing it at 49 cents per cubic meter.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desalination#Economics

    That’s cheaper than what you can buy it for in the supermarket, isn’t it?

    Next objection, please.

  97. It is sustainable, Cecil.

    We have enough oil, natural gas, coal and shale that we know about currently to do us more than 300 years. We have enough fissionable fuels sources to last centuries beyond that. This will give us enough time to construct solar power satellites, mine H3 from the moon.

    What is your solution? Kill the excess people? “Organic” methods require even more space than modern techniques. That is not a solution…that is a recipe for disaster and mass starvation.

  98. Alan Ditmore

    Also thunderpig, let’s hear about your support for sancuary cities and unlimited immigration. After all there’s plenty of room. Right thunderpig?

  99. efenhel

    Cecil, as a frequent rider of the transit system AND a downtown resident I can tell you that the “Free Ride” is useless. Here is how it works. The bus comes every 30 minutes (if it’s on time…) and will take you 3 blocks to the transit center were you will wait for your transfer bus to take you another three blocks. Nothing runs across town. I walk it quicker.

    And I hate to admit it but I agree with Thunder Pig about (anything) in this case the so called over population problem. The real problem is that Americans make up 4% while hogging 25% of the worlds resources, including oil. We have found the enemy, and it is us. Cecil good thread here, keep it up.

  100. Alan Ditmore

    I only call breeders breeders and nonbreeders nonbreeders. Of course thuderpig is well known for being all sweetness and light. Also, overpopulation is far older than a few hundered years as it destroyed both the Mayans and the neanderthal.
    And nothing could be worse than colonizing space as that would eventually overpopulate and thus destroy the whole universe. Good thing it’s impossible as it would be a universal disaster.

  101. Piffy!

    [b]I’ll volunteer to start a blog called BothVegas!!! [/b]

    Will it be as poorly constructed (without even getting into the quality of the content) as your current one?

  102. Piffy!

    [b]Next objection, please. [/b]

    yes; it can cost over $1,000 per acre-foot to desalinate seawater as compared to about $200 per acre-foot for water from normal supply sources.

    http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/drinkseawater.html

    Not to mention that much of the water in the gulf of mexico is incredibly toxic.

    [b]We have enough oil, natural gas, coal and shale that we know about currently to do us more than 300 years. [/b]

    Source?

    [b]What is your solution? Kill the excess people? “Organic” methods require even more space than modern techniques. [/b]

    Organic methods for killing people? Or for growing food? Because if you think Chemical Agriculture is sustainable, you are very, very misinformed. And Organic agriculture does not take more land. That is utter nonsense. You sound like Stewart David with your random, sourceless assertions.

  103. Piffy!

    [b]Next objection, please. [/b]

    yes; it can cost over $1,000 per acre-foot to desalinate seawater as compared to about $200 per acre-foot for water from normal supply sources.

    http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/drinkseawater.html

    Not to mention that much of the water in the gulf of mexico is incredibly toxic.

    [b]We have enough oil, natural gas, coal and shale that we know about currently to do us more than 300 years. [/b]

    Source?

    [b]What is your solution? Kill the excess people? “Organic” methods require even more space than modern techniques. [/b]

    Organic methods for killing people? Or for growing food? Because if you think Chemical Agriculture is sustainable, you are very, very misinformed. And Organic agriculture does not take more land. That is utter nonsense. You sound like Stewart David with your random, sourceless assertions.

  104. PatD

    They don’t recognize new lives as new potential, as gifts from God…only as burdens on society.
    Ah, the G word. Not to worry Cecil, God is watching and will fix all problems.
    Hmmm … always wondered why he never fixed stupidity? Unless, of course, it is a requirement to believe in such crap in the first place.

    Interesting conversation though and, with a simpleton like Thunderpig, even funny at times.
    ‘9 billion people in Texas, no problem’ … funny pig.

  105. “And how do you propose to pay for those? they apparently cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

    Chattanooga, Tennessee seems to have pulled it off
    http://www.carta-bus.org/routes/elec_shuttle.asp

    This link shows a 14 Passenger model for $22,000
    http://www.gatormotouv.com/low-speed-vehicles/index.cfm

    It is limited to 25 MPH and It looks as if there is a 22 Passenger model, but I could not find the info.

    you are correct as a city we would need to do a cost vs benefit analysis to make sure that it is effective over a set period of years. This study would likely suggest that we make a slow incremental change to the smaller buses, it may show that small diesel buses make more sense.

    The cost of any infra structure improvement is limited right now, so this might have to go on the wish list until the economy picks up.

  106. “You lefties should be furious with Obama for letting that genie out of the bottle. In almost every circumstance, private companies do things better, and with less cost than any government bureaucracy can. ”

    Private industry does things more cost efficient than government bureaucracy. The problem is when large private companies get so big that they start operating as poorly as government.

    Example GM has been trying to develop the Volt for how long? and can’t launch until 2011. While Tesla motors a comparably minute company can deliver a sports car that goes 0-60 in less than 4 seconds at a price that is in line with a chevy corvett ZR1

  107. JWTJr

    JMAC – good point on small vs large corps.

    Additionally, one thing that large corps face that small ones don’t is loads of Gov’t intervention and regulation.

    Nobody is better at grinding things down to a snail’s pace than the Government.

  108. J

    Chris T,

    I didn’t explain my point about the car very well. The point is, you can have a staffer, a candidate/elected official, and a car. The scenario on paper determines who can pay for gas and who can’t. It is overly complicated.

    Putting similar restrictions on everyone for everything creates absurd technicalities that make it difficult for everyday people to participate. And there’s nothing that stops a candidate’s rich friend from making signs, fliers, and posters, and handing them out. That is free speech, and it should be protected. Encroaching on communication creates a dangerous precedent.

    Say you ban all private money. What stops a lobbyist from donating a car and a driver to a campaign? It’s not money. What stops a lobbyist from donating 5,000 sheets of paper and a copier to a campaign? If you ban money, people will find ways to contribute to campaigns. It’s inevitable.

    You argue that people freeloading off the system won’t be a widespread phenomenon because of the complexity of the forms and work required. I don’t think abuses will be widespread, but I think once is one too many abuses. I could blow $10k on a pool party, call it voter outreach, and itemize my expenses. Sure, there may be some paperwork, some forms, but I just got to throw a $10k pool party. Is everyone going to do it? No, but the taxpayers just paid for a $10k pool party.

    Furthermore, if we’re doing public financing, and banning private money, you simplify the forms. They won’t have to report all of their donors. You cut down on half the work.

    Mike Easley got a $100,000 fine because he’s a criminal. He’ll be in jail before Obama closes Gitmo.

  109. J

    I feel comparing the costs of building parking decks to the costs of new shuttles isn’t exactly fair for one reason: there aren’t any new parking decks in the plans (as far as I know). Frankly, I don’t see where one could be built currently.

    If the city were making a choice between the two, then it would be fair. Otherwise, it’s a poor justification.

    I don’t think oil is about to go by the wayside. Rural people and farms still need it obviously. Let’s not forget that a democratic congress overturned a ban on offshore drilling, Obama has yet to reinstate an executive ban on offshore drilling, and the Obama administration is helping subsidize Brazil’s recently large oil discovery (coincidentally, it’s offshore). Clearly, it remains a vital interest by the actions of the government. Don’t look for those cars to go away anytime soon.

  110. travelah

    Travelah, you are a piece of work. Calling people names make you look very stupid. I pay city and county taxes and will galdly pay more if we can get free bus service for all. I doubt you pay, you just critize everyone here.

    Freaky …. er duh … if you gots to pay fer yer free ride, it aint free yer see.

  111. efenhel

    Hey Freaky, free bus fare is better then free. If we get more people riding on the bus we won’t need new roads or wider roads and tax payers would save a lot of money. Of course Detroit would be upset…

    And no piggy, cars DON’T pay their way with gas taxes. Roads are subsidized with income tax and property taxes of non-car drivers and car drivers alike, so why not give everyone options? Instead we give drivers “free roads”.

    And yeah, why are you so mean? Most people here seem more interested in discussing real issues, not ideological positions.

  112. efenhel

    Hey Tavelah,

    Lets put dogma aside for a minute. I am in a position where me and my business pay thousands of dollars in City property taxes every year and I choose not to drive. I live on a city street that used to have a sidewalk and then the City removed the brick sidewalk for parts to repair the sidewalks in Montford… The City has told me my street is unsafe to walk on, now what? Should me and my children just stay inside?

    Also, this street was built before cars, it was designed for people but the cars have taken it over. We used to have a trolley line come to my street, but no more…

    Why do the car drivers think these street were built only for cars?

  113. T100C-1970

    Don’t just decriminalize drugs. They should be NATIONALLY legalized and sales regulated at ABC type stores at WAY CHEAP prices that would put dealers out of business… only with ONE small catch. Purchasers would be disqualified from food stamps, publicly supported housing, AFDC etc.

  114. J

    Efenhel,

    I have to disagree with your assertion. Per NC law: § 105?449.38: A road tax for the privilege of using the streets and highways of this State is imposed upon every motor carrier on the amount of motor fuel or alternative fuel used by the carrier in its operations within this State, and that’s just the state.

    I take that to mean that the gas tax is for the roads. Property taxes help pay for other services like garbage pick up. Even a quick glance at Wikipedia (http://tinyurl.com/yz4nqou) suggests that 60% of the federal gas tax is used for roads and bridges. Combine that 60% with what the state collects, and roads are well covered. There may be some shortfall in the revenue (or an excess), but there certainly are no “free roads”. And let’s not forget that a property tax is assessed on cars as well, as well as a sales tax on the purchase of car, a sales tax for the purchase of car parts…point is, cars generate money.

    A bus, on the other hand, has a lot of costs. A driver, gas, general maintenance, and storage facilities. You have to have a lot of riders to make that break even. There’s a reason routes are cut or shifted (Asheville – Weaverville)instead of grown.

  115. Piffy!

    [b]I could blow $10k on a pool party, call it voter outreach, and itemize my expenses. Sure, there may be some paperwork, some forms, but I just got to throw a $10k pool party. Is everyone going to do it? No, but the taxpayers just paid for a $10k pool party. [/b]

    You dont seem very familiar with how these things actually work.

    Let me guess, you think a tax write-off is free money?

  116. J

    P’kippy,

    Please, enlighten me. I was thinking of the Al Sharpton 2004 Presidential Campaign where he took public matching funds and spent it on himself.

    Sure, he got caught, but only because he exceeded personal expenditures and he was running a campaign at a high level. Someone using tax payer money to fund a campaign that’s more aimed to self serve instead of really being elected is a concern for me.

    So, instead of casting ego inflating barbs, why don’t you try and explain to me why I’m wrong on this? When governments offer money, people take it.

  117. BTW, there is a parking deck in the works. The city has signed on to a public/private partnership for the hotel/parking deck project in the pit across from Barley’s.

    Because of the economy the project hasn’t found the private funding required and so the City is making large, regular payments to Public Interest Projects to keep the deal alive until such time as they find the money. So we are very actively funding a new parking project with not a single parking place in sight.

  118. Piffy!

    [b]P’kippy,

    Please, enlighten me. I was thinking of the Al Sharpton 2004 Presidential Campaign where he took public matching funds and spent it on himself. [/b]

    But that isnt the example you gave. Your point about taxpayer funds being abused is valid, but your example is not. IF you truly think it is, please have said pool party and bill it to the taxpayers. Send me the proof and I will concede the point on this very message board.

    [b]Sure, he got caught,[/b]

    And you don’t think that invalidates your example just a teensy bit?

  119. Piffy!

    [b]Why do the car drivers think these street were built only for cars?[/b]

    Because Americans are some of the most entitled, amnesiac people alive today, and they have been very carefully groomed to believe everything in this world has been made especially for them, which often makes people think that is is for no one but them.

  120. efenhel

    J, I did not claim that car drivers don’t pay towards the upkeep of the streets, it’s a fact they do. They just don’t pay for it full. A study done several years ago showed the car gas taxes and registration fees covered about 20% of the cost to support car usage and that did not include the associated health costs or environmental costs associated with having such an auto dependent society. It has been a while since I saw that study and if I can find it I will post a link.

    Not only was my street built long before cars ruled the roads but most of the streets in the downtown center predate the auto. I don’t recall ever hearing about the car drivers buying the streets from the walkers or cyclist, just them rolling through…

    Sure some routes get cut and some expanded, that very natural and the way it should be. But there is a number societal goods created by encourage the use of mass transportation; Less gas consumption, less parking deck construction, less pollution, less road construction to a name a few… There is not much of a societal good from unfettered auto use though.

  121. J

    P’kippy,

    The pool party is an abstract example. As our system is donation based for local elections around here, one couldn’t bill a pool party to the tax payer.

    A better example is the Gordon Smith model. He had several events at The Flood Gallery and at the Wedge. Though Gordon was a sincere candidate, someone could abuse his model. What stops a candidate from claiming public money, hosting an event at the Wedge, at LAB, at Craggy Brewing, and not being serious about getting elected?

    City Council elections always have several people that file, and seem to just hope that people will vote for them in the primary. As a taxpayer, I’d prefer to not give any of those people any money at all; it would just be wasted.

    Sharpton got caught because he was at the federal level. The FEC staff has many resources, and a nation of partisans watches their every move. The Buncombe County Board of Elections is still uploading PDF’s. At least they’re there, but I doubt they have the time and resources to check and police every entry.

    Look at page 6 of Gordon’s campaign expenses (http://tinyurl.com/yee7x8z), he gave over $2,000 to David Roat and identified the expenditure as “various reimbursements”. What the hell is that?

    Under current disclosure rules where “various reimbursements” fly, I’m against handing out any public money to candidates.

  122. Alan Ditmore

    Free (property tax subsidized) buses do run the risk of subsidizing bus travel over even more efficient things like walking and non-travel, such as internet activism like I’m doing right now. I’m saving more energy at my computer than I would if I took a bus to a political discussion, but if buses were free then I might as well take the bus.
    Asheville could also auction off existing downtown parking garages and the private buyers would have a choice as to whether they want to make money renting parking or build (remodel?) condominiums and rent apartments.
    Theres no reason why parking garages, and airports and golf courses and auditoriums too, shouldn’t pay for themselves and if they are paying for themselves then there’s no reason not to privatize them, except perhaps to hire gays.
    None of these things are human needs and several of them are quite wasteful, fairly elitist, and very ungreen.
    So Cecil is right except he needs to take it farther.

  123. Piffy!

    So, by your own words, your point about the pool party was inaccurate, and you cant find any local examples, but only fear there is a possibility?

    [b]Under current disclosure rules where “various reimbursements” fly, I’m against handing out any public money to candidates. [/b]

    Honestly i am far more concerned with the very real problem of large amounts private money in campaigns than i am about a theoretical abuse of public funds at the local level.

    [b]Look at page 6 of Gordon’s campaign expenses (http://tinyurl.com/yee7x8z), he gave over $2,000 to David Roat and identified the expenditure as “various reimbursements”. What the hell is that?[/b]

    Interesting. i’d like to see that, but i’m not downloading a pdf. Is there a specific governing body you could bring that question to?

  124. J

    P’kippy. It wasn’t inaccurate, I made it up for an example for a theoretical discussion. You’ve never actually told me what’s going to prevent the pool party scenario or bar campaign scenario, just say’n.

    Why should I have to report “various reimbursements” to any government body? Isn’t that kind of the idea behind the board of elections? Someone’s supposed to be watching? Oops.

    If it’s easy to slide one by now, why is it going to be any different in a public finance system?

  125. Pitchforks & Torches

    Hey Cecil, please go ahead and open yourself up a rickshaw business and give everyone free transportation. Do not force me to pay you for it either like you want to do with my tax dollars. Please people, stop the madness. Please give up everything that consumes energy, go off the grid,use the Gilligans Island bike powered radio, start a commune, call it CecilVille or something, get Tatoos of cecil that looks like the Obabma posters. Please Please save all the gas you can. You make me want to go out and buy a Hummer and do doughnuts in front of your hobble, commune, cardboard boxes, or whatever you people live in. The City of Asheville is BROKE, and unsure of it’s fiscal future and where the money needed for CRUCIAL services will come from. This is a real rodeo here Cecil, hurry back in the barrel, the bull is coming. Please go out and read some basic accounting books so you can realize YOU HAVE NO MONEY which means you can’t save the earth with NO MONEY.. Your knee-jerk reaction is to “raise property taxes” as you recently stated to council. The president said it pretty clear ” we are here to serve the people, not our ambitions”. Daddy is speaking to you Cecil. Yeah for tattoos!

  126. Barry Summers

    Maybe he’s suggesting that he’ll do doughnuts in his Hummer as Kathy Bates breaks your ankles with a sledgehammer…

  127. Piffy!

    Clearly.

    Obviously, anyone with the name “Pitchforks and Torches” is speaking with reason for ALL the people.

  128. Barry Summers

    I wish I had chosen a screen name that suggested that I was a mob & therefore my opinion counted for more… Is it too late to change it to ‘Barry Summerses’? You know, a whole mob of angry Barrys?

    Bend to our will or we’ll snark and annoy you incessantly?…in shifts, ’cause there’s a lot of us…

  129. Piffy!

    The thing is, I’m not sure what “P & T’s” point is exactly. He’s against tatoos and rickshaws and public transportation?

    Mr Torches and I might actually have some common ground, but since his/her rhetoric is so blusterous and random, it’s quite difficult to discern any real cohesion.

  130. Barry Summers

    I think the angry mob is simply taking the opportunity to take a jab at Cecil over his comment that he wouldn’t be averse to raising property taxes to maintain city services. The mob posted this anti-Cecil comment over on another thread an hour before posting here:

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/012710asheville_city_council

    Except that in the discussion where Cecil made this comment, it was clear they were talking about the general budget shortfall of $5 million, not funding for any of Cecil’s wacky “save the earth” schemes. They were talking about tapping into a huge range of revenue sources, in order to keep the lights on with City services. Cecil was the only one who spoke in favor of considering raising property taxes, knowing that nobody else would follow suit, so relax, mob. The revenuers aren’t coming over the mountain trying to take Pappy’s still just yet. Get a massage. I’m sure you can find someplace that gives group discounts.

  131. Pitchforks & Torches

    My previous post was taking bits and pieces of the 130+ comments here (tatoos, cecilville, etc). The Hummer doing donuts (doughnuts?) came from the infamous Hummer bumper sticker “Please drive a hybrid, I need the gas”. My concern about the state of our city is a SIMPLE one. The ONLY discussions council should be having right now, or the ideas being floated, should be clear and concise on how to gain control over it’s fiscal security (insecurity). Another term that may be more familiar with some council members is to inject the word “sustainability” but used with the words “fiscal”. A general reminder of what a government (local, state or federal) is REQUIRED to do is provide critical infrastrucutre services and for the protection of its citizenry. Please do not go off and say prostitutes are citizens too, when you have hungry childre, homeless verterans (national disgrace), etc. etc. If you read over Cecil’s stuff, it does not seem like there too much related to that concept. I chose Pitchforks and Torches because I think people are very tired of the ideological ambitions that we have been seeing and hearing. I am ALL ABOUT saving Mother Earth, but if we can’t get the basic requirements accomplished we are not going to save even ourselves. I do not care how good the air is, while I watch my house burn to the ground because the fire hydrant outside my house could not provide enough pressure to fight the fire. YES, I am angry, and the I am not alone. I am not a mob, nor should anyone be scared of me, and I *try* to inject some humor, but I am also not a great writer. I thought about using the name “Common Sense” but not sure anyone would pay attention. BTW- Thanks for clarifying my mispelling of hovel. Thanks for your time.

  132. travelah

    P&T, you are hitting the nail right on the head. We do not elect local reps to go out and save the world. We elect them to ensure our communities are functioning with the services we need and require. Fix the water mains, fill the potholes, fund the police and fire departments, keep the schools functioning yada yada yada … We do not need to focus any attention on butterfly powered ragtag transit systems. We need to fuel the buses and have them run on time. We don’t need to fucus much attention on somebody elses idea of green sustainablity. We need working black and white reality.

  133. Keep AVL Freaky

    I do not see anything wrong with decriminalizing weed and legalizing prostitution … they are both local matters.

  134. Barry Summers

    You just stepped out of the movie ‘Pleasantville’, didn’t you, T-Puppet?

  135. Does anyone remember when Jimmy Carter legalized home brewing? Wonder if there was a huge brouhaha over that???
    Were there all sorts of foreboding (going to hell in a handbasket) argument?

    Just wondering.

  136. Barry Summers

    Please do not go off and say prostitutes are citizens too, when you have hungry childre, homeless verterans (national disgrace), etc. etc.

    Oddly enough, it turns out that prostitutes are, in fact, citizens too. I know, it’s crazy.

  137. Pitchforks & Torches

    I knew that might cause a ruckus, but did not intend on the ‘literal’ meaning of them being second class citizens, they are just law breakers imprisoned by criminals (pimps). After all, most likely they ARE legal and did not come to our country illegally, so theorectically deserve more rights than those who jump the fence. Shall we take up the conversation of becoming a “sanctuary city” cause I REALLY have been soaking the torch and sharpeneing the points in hopes we could discuss that one. Ya know, lets put all his ideas up for hearty debate and discussion. Where has Cecil been in trying to defend some of our negative commentary? BTW- you should legalize and tax the crap out of green leaves. And spend the money cracking down on everything else, HARD. Dope smokers can’t run fast, and generate lots of extra sales tax on munchies. Ya see I am not “all uptight and right-leaning” as many would think.

  138. Piffy!

    [b]Except that in the discussion where Cecil made this comment, it was clear they were talking about the general budget shortfall of $5 million, not funding for any of Cecil’s wacky “save the earth” schemes.[/b]

    Damn you, specifics that completely deflate bluster!

    travelah and the mob, From where i sit, it sounds like you two may be drawing a false dichotomy between certain city services. Can you provide evidence that anything Cecil is proposing here will take away from other essential services?

  139. Pitchforks & Torches

    PK – Yes, why would he bring up dismantling parking garages (I know, too literal), making transit free, and adding park-n-ride type lots is endearing but off base. Well-meaning, I agree, but should not be part of any dream for the near future. Why is he wastng the precious time presenting it as one of his “2010 goals” or shall we state “Ambitions”. Clear and concise discussion of the major issues at hand.

    Let’s talk public transit then: Frankly, I (along with my family in our family rickshaw [attempted humor]) have been *almost* hit by busese traveling waaaaay to fast, runnng over the center lines, running yellow lights in hopes of making their schedules. Usually with FEW people onboard the buses. Ya see, now I always look at the folks riding to see if they are holding on for dear life. I would be.

    Please people, do not think I am after the bus drivers now…

    Hey Cecil, what about these rational concepts: Maybe we should extend the times between stops, slow down a bit, and WOW, that might save some $$ on fuel, reduce pollution, get larger ridership PER busload (economy of scale), better on time performance, reduce the need for new buses. There, isn’t that a better discussion. However, I am not sure if public transit is a government requirement so I may be off-base. HeeHeeHee

  140. JWTJr

    PGuppy – Everything new costs money. Where does it come from unless you cut something?

  141. Mister Blister

    Genesis 1:29
    Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours to use.”

    They just got enough signatures in California to put a measure on the November ballot to legalize adult sales (21+) of marijuana. They still need to certify the signatures but if passed (polls show a majority of Californians are for it), it would allow state and local agencies to levy taxes on the product. They’ve had medical marijuana sales since around 1998 with the passage of prop 215. Plenty of places to buy it in the state with a doctor’s recommendation, over the counter. I guess North Carolina doesn’t have voter sponsored initiatives, does it? Too much like democracy I guess!

    If marijuana was legal in the United States I can assure you the Mexican drug cartels would no longer be able to profit from it, any more than they could from bathtub gin.

  142. @Mister Blister:

    If you want something natural, God-given to smoke, try hemp.

    Marijuana is a bio-engineered plant. The people who grow it have developed the potency of the plant to deliver hundreds and thousands of times the THC that the natural plants deliver when ingested into the human body.

    Cherry picking Scripture to support drug use is like that is blasphemous.

  143. Barry Summers

    Cherry Picking Scripture

    Guy tried to sell me an ounce of that at a Dead show once, but it was schwag.

  144. Barry Summers

    Pig actually makes a good point – the increased THC levels are worrying, at least for me. I don’t smoke dope anymore, but when I did, (mumble-mumble) years ago, passing a joint around was a social ritual like two friends sharing a bottle of wine. Take that bottle of wine & turn it into a bottle of Everclear, and you’ve got two people drunk to the point of death. Take that same joint only at today’s THC levels, and you’ve got people stoned into oblivion. Not so much anymore about being fun and social, but getting high to the point of passing out.

    I don’t know where this fits into policy, because I do believe that marijuana should at least be decriminalized, if not legalized & taxed. But the potency issue should be looked at, IMO.

  145. Piffy!

    Yes, marijuana, like basically every food plant our there is ‘bio-engeneered’. Like apples, like kale, like rice, like oranges, and not limited to plants, either, like pigs, and chickens and ducks and cows, etc etc etc. Are those things no longer ‘natural’ either?

    Yes, pot is more potent today than in the past, but people have been smoking cultivated (as in, cultivated for a higher THC content) marijuana for thousands of years, and they weren’t getting high on “hemp”.

    Also, i am curious what figure he draws his “hundreds of thousands of times” comment from. Compared to hemp?

    I wont hold my breath, tho. TP doesnt seem to respond to things he posts.

  146. @piffy:

    I don’t respond because I don’t usually see the responses. (I’ve more to do than hang around the Mtn X threads…although they are fun to read)

    THC typically contains around 0.01 to 0.03% THC and Marijuana can contain more than 23% THC. It takes around 3% THC levels to get high [http://www.helium.com/items/833112-the-difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana]

    Using the most potent figure for hemp, we can already see nearly a hundred fold increase in THC content for just getting high. It becomes hundreds and thousands when you talk about the ‘high-quality’ stuff.

  147. The 2nd paragraph should begin “Hemp typically contains around…” instead of “THC typically contains around…”

    I swear I’ve not been partaking of THC or other mind-altering substances in the composition of the above response… ;-)

  148. Ashevegasjoe

    It should also be noted that people in the seventies bought and smoked “lids” (pounds) of weed, whereas the average smoker today buys a couple of grams. The increased potency leads people to smoke less– or so I’m told

  149. Barry Summers

    Actually, a ‘lid’ was only an ounce, or even less, depending on who you ask. Some people thought a lid had to be 3/4 of an ounce, to avoid the one ounce felony charge if you were caught. I’ve heard others say that in the 60’s a lid was actually around 1/8th an ounce, following the custom of storing pot in a tobacco tin, and the amount you could fit in the lid (approx. 1/8th oz.), was called a ‘lid’.

  150. Pitchforks & Torches

    Are you people more concerned with dope than REAL issues here. We could go on all day about grain alcohol, moonshine, and absynth, and other high octance beers, etc. If this is all you care to think about, my goodness we are done for. Ask a paharmacist how many people in your community are driving around compeletely WHACKED OUT on very potent prescription drugs, also prescribed by doctors or shrinks like Gordy the blogger. The Simpson’s had the best name for these drugs, “Ignoratol”. Wake up. Rome is burning… And you expect Cecil, and the clowns to lead the way out? Heck, they would rather watch it burn unless you told them that the side effect of Rome Burning is increasing the carbon footprint…. Then you might get their attention.

  151. Barry Summers

    Not sure what you’re going on about, Mob. What issue & what solution are you focused on here? ‘Cause so far, all I’m getting is that you want to call Cecil and Gordon clowns, etc. for trying to think outside the box a little on complicated and intractable issues.

  152. Pitchforks & Torches

    Gee Barry, you seemed to be focused on DRUG RELATED issues. I merely tried to point out the discussion has turned from serious issues like ” Fiscally Important and pressing issues such as the city of Asheville does not know where money is going to come from” to one about buying drugs. And please, if you are allowed to call me “the MOB” I am allowed to call people clowns. I am merely pointing out they MUST be clowns because they are not taking serious issue with critical discussions. Instead Cecil the clown is worried about becoming a sanctuary city, legalizing prostitution, drugs, and saving the planet while Rome burns. And now, Gordy the clown is injecting his motives of giving benefits to same sex arrangements into council’s already overburdened agenda. The last 10 posts were drug related alone. I merely pointed out that the prescription drug thing is a LARGER problem than the discussion of legalizing dope. If I am the MOB, then you are nothing more than an antagonist who is doing the work of the clowns trying to debunk common sense.

  153. @Pitchforks & Torches:

    The people of Asheville are having to suffer the likes of Gordon and Cecil precisely because people like you didn’t get involved in the GOTV efforts of the conservative candidates for City Council. No, wait…there were no GOTV efforts made by the conservative candidates were there? I seem to remember that everyone of them also took some ignorant pledge not to raise more than $3,000 for their election campaign.

    In my opinion, the people of Asheville and Buncombe County are getting PRECISELY what they deserve.

  154. Barry Summers

    So sorry, I just have a hard time keeping a straight face calling someone “Pitchforks & Torches”, but OK.

    Gee Barry, you seemed to be focused on DRUG RELATED issues.

    Actually, if you look at the name of this thread, the first item is “decriminalizing drugs”, and I have been responding to posts from others, including ThunderPig, that well-known Cecil supporter/antagonist.

    I merely pointed out that the prescription drug thing is a LARGER problem than the discussion of legalizing dope.

    The over-consumption of legal prescription drugs is a huge national problem, and nowhere within the purview of City Council, whereas local enforcement of drug laws is. You call Cecil and Gordon clowns, and attack them for not spending all of their time on the issue you think is most important: fiscal responsibility. But then you turn around & suggest they should be spending their time dealing with the issue of prescription drugs? Pick one, please.

    I merely tried to point out the discussion has turned from serious issues like ” Fiscally Important and pressing issues such as the city of Asheville does not know where money is going to come from” to one about buying drugs.

    Relax, & realize that this thread has been going for almost a month, & most people have gone on to other topics. Things get silly when the serious discussion has petered out.

    I’ve gone back through this thread, & I’ll just point out that it was you, P&T, who first went after Cecil & Gordon, calling them clowns etc., and turning a reasonably civil discussion into name-calling.

    I’m gone.

  155. Pitchforks & Torches

    HaHa, Run from the discussion. Maybe it will all just be swept under the rug without healthy discussion. Only a clown would support such wastes of time in an economic climate such as ours. All of my comments which you try an debunk revolve around how people ignore incidental items, yet claim to be tackling the bigger issue. Example (even though it is outside the dribble Cecil speaks of in this article). If you want to address global warming, fix the traffic lights and thereby reduce pollution. Simple task, yet compeltely ignored. Instead we get dribble from these people. Yes, I too am gone, and moving away from Asheville as quick as I can, will be firing my well paid employees, eliminating the 50+ people that visited us here in Asheville per year, and reducing your tax base in NC by a few hundred thousand dollars, and maybe I will sell my house to people who are not fully qualifed who will eventually foreclose and lower your prop tax base. But I guess, people like Cecil will welcome me to leave because it will reduce your carbon footprint. That’s a clown mentality. Face it, you people elected clowns with ZERO business or accounting sense. Good luck with that.

  156. Piffy!

    [b]THC typically contains around 0.01 to 0.03% THC and Marijuana can contain more than 23% THC. It takes around 3% THC levels to get high [http://www.helium.com/items/833112-the-difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana]

    Using the most potent figure for hemp, we can already see nearly a hundred fold increase in THC content for just getting high. It becomes hundreds and thousands when you talk about the ‘high-quality’ stuff. [/b]

    Thats all fine and dandy. I just pointed out that ‘bio-engeneered’ marijuana, or whatever you called it, has been around for thousands of years. Growing pot with a higher THC content is hardly a new technology. You seem to be implying that it is. And your wrong.

    Yes, today’s high-quality pot is very high in THC. Much like the apples you buy in at Ingles are much more robust than the apples your grandparents ate. it’s called innovation.

    your implication that this makes it un-natural is absurd. Unless all the food you consume is the wild variety (mmm, wild lettuce, stringy game, tiny, bitter apples, chickweed) you are enjoying the product of this ‘un-natural process.

    But way to totally not address my points whatsoever, and merely restate what we both agree upon. No wonder you never respond to most of your hilariously inaccurate assertions.

  157. @piffy:

    My entry into this part of the thread was in response to Mister Blister who was quoting Scripture in an attempt to make it look as though marijuana were part of the natural scheme of things. I made the point that marijuana is not the plant it once was, thousands of years ago. It is not even the same plant it was a mere century ago.

    Intensive breeding programs that include cloning to preserve and propagate desirable characteristics are employed by growers seeking ways to maximize their crop yield and profits.

    The marijuana plants used today, if left alone in the wild, would very quickly lose their ability to produce high levels of THC…many strains would entirely die out because they have become so completely dependent upon the humans who use them…as would many, if not most, of the foodcrops produced today. That seems to fit the definition of un-natural, doesn’t it? Without man in the equation to propagate and alter characteristics, it quickly (over the course of a few generations) reverts to a more natural form. It is not as natural as Mister Blister was trying to imply by the use of Scripture.

    Some of the same techniques are used with the plants you pointed out. Did you know that natural, non-hybridized corn cobs are only little bigger than your thumb?

    I wonder sometimes if the people who scream about Franken foods are the same people who accept the same kind of alteration to the plants they love to get high off of. It is a very dichotomous self-serving world view.

    My personal view heralds the improvement of science upon the wild plants of nature, to bring them under domestication and improve upon them. Without this kind of advancement, the population of the world would not be sustainable for much over 2 billion people. As things stand now, we may be able to support many times that figure with bio-engineered food crops, medicines and potentially even fuel harvested and processed from plants that are better than those found in the wild.

  158. Piffy!

    [b]I wonder sometimes if the people who scream about Franken foods are the same people who accept the same kind of alteration to the plants they love to get high off of. It is a very dichotomous self-serving world view.[/b]

    But see, that’s the thing i’ve already mentioned twice now. There is an enormous difference between genetic modification and selective breeding. The two are incomparable. and yet you keep trying to imply that today’s marijuana is ‘unnatural’ because it is cultivated. that’s absurd. Yes, it is highly hybridized (NPI), but that doesnt make it un-natural. Now, if it was genetically modified like 90% of the worlds soy supply, then i might agree with your assessment.

    And, yes, marijuana has been selectively bread for thousands of years for a higher THC content. a fact you seem to keep glossing over. People werent just smoking hemp in Egypt, or India, or the even Jerusalem.

    Making marijuana more potent for the specific purpose of utilizing the effects of THC is not a new thing, although you keep trying to imply it is. Yes, today’s market pushes people to create far more potent marijuana than probably every before. But your claim that people used to just smoke hemp is silly.

    Now, if your argument was that they WAY it’s raised, (ie-with massive chemical inputs, often hydroponically, under artificial lights, etc), then I might agree that it is far removed from an outdoor variety.

    [b]After all, the genetic alterations to your beloved marijuana plant aren’t being supervised by responsible authorities in the FDA or Department of Agriculture, are they? [/b]

    considering their track record with keeping us “safe”, i find that to not be a concern of mine. Find me a study connecting moderate marijuana use to ANY disease that isnt bogus. Perhaps people who smoke an excessive amount of hydro pumped up with petroleum fertilizers may in the future show to have health problems, but no study exists yet.

    In the meantime, those who consume a moderate amount should be as safe as those who consume other highly cultivated plants, like fermented grapes and hops-infused beer (and dont get me started on that horribly-bastardized corn and barley in that beer! Oh, heavens. you must be on a strictly wild diet yourself, eh?)

  159. @piffy:

    Your reading comprehension sucks.

    I’ll quote my personal view again, perhaps if you read it again, it’ll stick:

    “My personal view heralds the improvement of science upon the wild plants of nature, to bring them under domestication and improve upon them. Without this kind of advancement, the population of the world would not be sustainable for much over 2 billion people. As things stand now, we may be able to support many times that figure with bio-engineered food crops, medicines and potentially even fuel harvested and processed from plants that are better than those found in the wild.”

  160. Piffy!

    Nope. I read it right. you have repeatedly implied if not outright claimed that cultivated marijuana isn’t ‘natural’ and that cultivating it for a higher THC content is somehow a new thing.

  161. PAPELIAN

    You wrote: “Let your dog become your teacher. ” Luckily, that is what my mother taught me in the early 1950s. My mother actually understood dogs and she adored them. We’d Boxers, and thanks to among those deals that your dog needed to be bred and a puppy returned to the breeder, my mother experienced breeding and showing Boxers. And we had lots of Boxers. My mom taught me how exactly to read the dogs, how to let them be my teacher, and she in no way worried when I was out somewhere with among our dogs. Among those Boxers liked to check out me to college, and I could watch out the window and my pet was there watching (no matter which window on which side of the building I looked out of).

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