The doobie and the damage done: Mumpower to attend Widespread Panic

He’s baaaaaack.

“He” would be Asheville City Council member Carl Mumpower. And the anti-drug crusader, fresh from a recent performance of the Grateful Dead spin-off band, RatDog, has announced he will buy a ticket and grace the confines of the Asheville Civic Center once again for the upcoming Widespread Panic show on Friday, April 13. “That will afford a more comprehensive effort to observe drug enforcement efforts at the facility during this concert,” Mumpower explained in a recent e-mail.

And while you’re free to noodle dance to your hippie heart’s content, be discreet with your stash (or maybe just leave it at home).

Snarkiness aside, Mumpower is sincere in his efforts to rid the city of the scourge of drugs (a campaign many Asheville residents have indicated they are grateful for), though many were quite nonplussed that the dapper city official showed up at the recent show to observe and drop dime on concertgoers imbibing illicit substances such as marijuana and LSD — for which several arrests were made by city police. Lest anyone forget, however, Mumpower did confess he enjoyed the band.

To get a better sense of what concertgoers can expect and a taste of the behind-the-scenes prelude, we include yet another chain of e-mail messages, supplied to the local media by Mumpower himself and arranged in the order they were received. The first message offers details on a “Civic Center Concert Action Plan” presented at Mumpower’s request to City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

— Hal L. Millard, staff writer


From: Carl Mumpower
To: local media
Date: April 2

Note – Item 6 will be moved to first on the agenda. Council members will be clarifying policy on drug use at the Civic Center and discussing with staff our operational policies for upcoming events. The “Wide Spread Panic” event coming up soon is of special interest.

Asheville City Council
Public Safety Committee
7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Tuesday ~ April 3, 2007
Municipal Building ~ 4th Floor Training Room

“Operationally Aware – Policy Focused”
1)    ___ Approval of the March Committee Minutes
2)    ___ 911 PSAP Joint Communications Center Discussion – Group
3)    ___ Public Safety Vehicle Replacement Analysis
4)    ___ DSU Scheduling/Coverage Patterns – William Hogan
5)    ___ Update on Computer Forensic Detective – William Hogan
6)    ___ Civic Center Event Management Issues
7)    ___ Public Comment

Mr. [Mike] Hopping,

The Civic Center Concert Action Plan appears to be just what it’s title represents—a responsive beginning grounded in the reality that change is a process more often than an event.

How drug use at the Civic Center is addressed is not really my issue – that is in the hands of City Manager, Police Chief, Civic Center Manager, staff, and, most importantly, those who attend the concerts. My concern is with why the rules of the house and laws of the city have been ignored and what needs to be done to make sure such is not the case going forward.

Carl Mumpower


In a message dated 4/5/2007 3:39:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Dr. Mumpower,
Thanks for attending to this. The question again was, does this new plan, if implemented as stated, adequately address the concerns you raised in the concert drug use email to Mr. Jackson?

Here’s what I received:

Civic Center Concert Action Plan
Objective: The purpose of this action plan is to implement a “best practices” strategy to promote a secure, orderly and drug free environment inside and outside the Asheville Civic Center during large events. The Action Plan is a collaborative effort of the city management team incorporating enhancements from the collective creativity of the Civic Center, the Asheville Police Department, and the sanitation, parking services and traffic engineering divisions  

Action Items for Improvement
Bags & Backpacks
Prohibit bags and backpacks at all large concerts.
Post signage in parking decks and outside Civic Center communicating ban on bags.
Include notice on tickets and marquis.
Check all small purses upon entrance. 

Train ushers on standards for performance related to warning and removing patrons who smoke in the center:
– Issue one warning if you suspect someone is smoking.
– On second offense, call event staff to escort patron out of the facility.

T-Shirt Security
Clarify role of t-shirt security for warning and removing patrons who smoke in the center: 
– Issue one warning if you suspect someone is smoking.
– On second offense, call event staff to escort patron out of the facility.
Work with promoter to assess security needs and hire additional support when necessary. 

Uniformed Security
Increase the number of off-duty police officers working inside the facility; require off-duty personnel to wear uniform; maintain presence in arena for assistance with removing patrons when necessary. 

ALE Officers
Coordinate with ALE officers to provide supplemental alcohol and drug enforcement during large concerts. 

Event Supervision Staffing
Increase event supervision staffing to assist with patron removals and other security issues. 

Outreach/Public Relations
Implement public relations campaign to emphasize the facility’s to a smoke-free, drug-free environment.
– Utilize such tools as the front marquis, ticket stubs, press releases, etc. 

Law Enforcement & Security
APD to work undercover detail to catch persons selling illegal drugs and a uniformed detail for general security, traffic control, and for policing the parking garages and surrounding areas; enhanced communications across departments will improve this effort. 

Coordinate with Civic Center staff and provide staff and equipment as necessary for trash collection, area cleanup and street sweeping. 

Work with APD to ensure coordination of parking deck access with drug suppression strategies.
Prohibit tailgating and informal “markets” in Handi-park; limit size of vehicles allowed to park in Handi-Park; place signage prohibiting tailgating, vending and cooking in all parking facilities. 

Traffic Engineering
For sold out events, manually operate and/or place traffic signals in the immediate area into flashing operation (work closely with APD and Civic Center staff to coordinate this traffic management plan). 

Cross-Department Communications
Establish a Civic Center Concert Team with cross-department participation to enhance communications and pre-planning for large events.


Mr. [Gary] Jackson, [City Manager]

If memory serves from prior policy discussion, Civic Center Commission members and Council Members have open access to observe civic center operations on request through the center director. I’m sure that Mr. Pisha and the former chair of the commission can verify such.

Nonetheless, to avoid further discomfort or conflict around my request, please allow let me withdraw it. Council may deliberate this issue at their leisure.

I will purchase at ticket for Widespread Panic and make an effort to attend the event in its entirety next Friday evening. That will afford a more comprehensive effort to observe drug enforcement efforts at the facility during this concert.

Thank you,

Carl Mumpower
Asheville City Council

In a message dated 4/5/2007 6:44:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Mayor Bellamy and City Council:
The purpose of this message is to respond to the following Council request to gain access to the Civic Center on April 13.

If you as a board want to discuss policy for enabling Council observation of service delivery, I would really appreciate any guidelines you would be willing to adopt.  Until that time, I will continue to exercise my best judgment on a case by case basis. Basically, my approach will be to consider each request based on the ability of our staff to introduce Council members to their area of interest without negatively impacting service delivery or compromising charter defined roles. This means some requests (drug interdiction) may be denied and others (patrol and civic center observation) may be granted under certain conditions. With regard to Civic Center events, there is already an accepted practice of allowing Council appointed commissioners to make 15 minute observations of events. So we plan on applying this standard, unless otherwise directed by Council, and thereby allow Dr. Mumpower and any other members to briefly observe the concert on April 13.  Any Council member planning on observing the Widespread Panic concert should contact David Pisha directly at 259-5744 to confirm your participation in the escorted tour of the facility. David will confirm the arrangements with those who rsvp to him, but the plan is to meet in the admin offices at 8:30 and begin the tour at promptly 8:45 p.m.



From: []
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2007 12:09 PM
To: Gary Jackson
Cc: William Hogan; David Pisha
Subject: Widespread Panic

The group Widespread Panic is coming to Civic Center next Friday (April 13th).  Per continuing concerns with drug activity during some concert events, I would appreciate the option of observing for a brief period that evening.
Thank you,
Carl Mumpower


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9 thoughts on “The doobie and the damage done: Mumpower to attend Widespread Panic

  1. Working Native

    Asheville beware you are creating “anywhere USA” right here in the mountains. Having been born and raised in Asheville for 50 years and actually make a living outside the tourism, real estate or hospital communities, it’s becoming clear that city council and new money (Controlling Powers) can be very short sighted. Our journey to a new revitalized downtown (2 million dollar condo city) looks like this: The cunning real estate gang put pressure on city council to clean it up – let’s get rid of the “fringe element” and all that unnecessary diversity. The real estate brilliance also starts raising storefront rent and leases on that unsightly Lexington Avenue “have you seen those tangle heads”. Controlling Powers start to drive out the music scene – people don’t’ come to town to hear “WideSpread Panic” they come for our 2 million condos. The city powers build fear of “urban terrorism” by cracking down on non-gang related graffiti and dispersing social clusters of non-designer label visitors “can’t get 2mil when there’s drumming outside the window”. Meanwhile the artists leave town taking their art, the musicians leave town taking their music, the wonderful restaurants follow because they need the tourist coming to town to see the art and music and that weird “ fringe element” on Lexington “did you see that twisty head dear”. So Asheville city planners you are left with a pale retired community in 2 million condos literally dying for a good restaurant. They leave too because there is nothing to do except walk the dog. “Honey we should have never left Boca this place looks just like Charlotte or for that matter anywhere USA and what happened to the beautiful mountains?” The real estate people don’t care because they made their short term money.

    City planners there is a lot more to quality of life than money. Quality of life is a balance, you let one group take over and you destroy the balance and diversity. I have a friend with a business downtown who said that one of her newly transplanted female clients actually said “I don’t like living downtown because it’s too diverse”. Is this really the type of people we want?? Is diversity and quality of life what we want or not, it can quickly fade. Like it or not Asheville has attracted a tolerant crowd for a while (review the history from the 1890’s , 1920’s and 30’s) that history and those liberated thinkers are what makes Asheville a place to live and visit. When you make decisions for the city think hard, no think harder, think about cause and effect, think about the story “The goose and the golden egg”. I have a young acquaintance, who just moved to Asheville, she said that she always wanted to LIVE in Asheville. She is sorry she missed it. Anytown here we come!

    Just in case you missed the gist of this friendly rant — if we clean the city up too much there will not be anything special about it. Nothing special – why come? Maybe that is what we want? Downtown folk the time has come to make a conscious decision. What do YOU really want to happen?

  2. corapeake81

    We’re Good People! Don’t let the actions of a few reflect negatively on our group as a whole. As a Panic fan I have been coming to Asheville for many years for concerts, Widespread, Christmas Jam, ect. and we all think highly of the city. I am a little confused by the focus of our scene as a drug scene, because although there are drugs present, there are drugs present at most concerts, and I don’t think the use is any more open at a Panic show than at a Heavy Metal show or any one that attracts a younger crowd. This thing seems to me to be a bit of a publicity ploy on this guy Mumpower’s part. I always thought of Asheville as one of the places that sprung from the new progressive South. I am from NC currently living in Va and I can’t think of any city in Nc or Va that is as great as Asheville. Be careful what policy yall follow or before you know it stereotyping of people like me with long hair and that “hippy” look will be right behind it, and guess what? We have money too! Not alot but still we love your city as much as yall do and want to treat it with respect. So like I said…don’t allow a few busts to reflect negatively on the rest. Most of us are there for the beautiful mountains, the wonderful city, and to see our favorite band. Not for what yall think we are. Please Remember that.

  3. UNCA-Knoxville

    Sounds like the beginning of the end for concerts at the Asheville Civic Center. All it takes is for a facility to get the reputation of giving concert-goers a hard time and ticket sales — and revenue to the city — will start to drop off. Don’t believe it? A conversation with the owners of the now-defunct 17,000 seat Starwood Amphitheater in Nashville is all it will take. Whether justified or not, Starwood had a reputation of a bad place to go have a fun evening out between the head-to-toe door security, the T-shirted security in the parking lots yelling at people not to loiter, the phalanxes of uniformed police inside the venue and the roadblocks at all parking lot exits after the concerts all in the name of “drug interdiction”. After not long, there certainly wasn’t any drug activity at Starwood — and not too long after that there wasn’t any business there either.

  4. seastar

    Working Native you are so right on. Gentrification is a dirty word.

    Personally, I think Mumpower went to the Panic show for the free ticket the city bought him and the free contact buzz.

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