What were the top local issues of 2014?

"Asheville News Cycle" image courtesy of James Harrison.

What do you think were the most interesting or important local issues, events and stories that shaped 2014? From changes in local arts and entertainment to business, politics and government, we want to know what struck your fancy or struck you the wrong way.

Please share any ideas and thoughts on what constitutes the most important local news of the year in the comment field below. We may incorporate them in to an upcoming story.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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34 thoughts on “What were the top local issues of 2014?

  1. Grant Millin

    I’ve got a commentary on human-caused climate change and another on turning off the Duke Energy Progress Asheville coal-fired electricity units on the way. I know MX likes to focus on the local space, but one of the top stories is that the Lima climate talks at least did not collapse in total failure. Asheville citizens should be very interested in the Paris talks, or what’s officially called the “21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Nations_Climate_Change_Conference

    Next, I encourage MX to dig into the Asheville Community Energy Plan process the COA Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment started this year. There’s no draft plan as of today, but there should be enough detail for an initial MX story. I can comment further and have made recommendations for an organization allied to COA but is independent to support the Asheville Community Energy Plan and related topics.

    • Mark Cates

      “I’ve got a commentary on human-caused climate change …”

      They did at the AGU Fall Meeting also:

      “…we perform such a comparison on a collection of 108 model runs comprising the ensemble used in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and find that the observed global average temperature evolution for all trend lengths (with one exception) since 1986 is less than 97.5% of the model distribution, meaning that the observed trends are significantly different from the average trend simulated by climate models. For periods approaching 40 years in length, the observed trend lies outside of (below) the range that includes 95% of all climate model simulations.”

      Here’s the paper:

      Quantifying the Lack of Consistency between Climate Model Projections and Observations of the Evolution of the Earth’s Average Surface Temperature since the Mid-20th Century

      https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm14/meetingapp.cgi#Paper/20121

    • Grant Millin

      Climate change: the Readers’ Choice winner

      By Lauren Carroll on Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 at 9:52 a.m.
      Tampa Bay Times, PolitiFact

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2014/dec/17/climate-change-year-fact-checking/

      Pew Research poll showing only Republicans form climate change denier pool. Let’s all avoid using the term skeptic as skeptic involves studying diverse information sources and then forming critique.

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/168620/one-four-solidly-skeptical-global-warming.aspx

      • Mark Cates

        “Pew Research poll showing only Republicans form climate change denier pool.”

        From Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia (UEA),

        “The ‘97% consensus’ article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country [UK] that the energy minister should cite it.“

        • Grant Millin

          “Pew Research poll showing only Republicans form climate change denier pool.” …in the majority, in the USA. Be as literal as possible next time why don’t you?

          Contact someone at NCDC who worked on the recent National Climate Assessment before adding anything else, Mark. The blanket response to climate change denial ‘evidence’ is always one concept:

          Anecdotal

          We don’t have time to say more. So sorry.

      • Grant Millin

        Because I identified the Lima and consequently Paris climate change talks as as a ‘Top Ten’ issue for Asheville too, Mark Cates is sharing anecdotal data attempting to disprove now conventional risk analysis. He is basically claiming a tiny, tiny little ity-bity minority of climate change deniers inside the population of humans who know what is meant by anthropogenic climate change should override conventional risk management prescriptions and the underlying science.

        Mark Cates is claiming if I and everyone who has this knowledge that civilization is generating GHGs which are now, have been, and will continue to increasingly radically shift climate homeostasis in ever more dangerous ways were to look at the “new information” willingly that he’s hawking with more ‘open-minds’… then X positive events will come about.

        No one can afford strategy formed by that type of flaky risk management, because it’s not risk management. It’s an attempt to deny anthropogenic climate change to get people focused on issues like a national flat tax or some other libertarian dream.

        What I use for reference materials come from sources like the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and Oxford University think tanks… but also the will of 190 nations that had to agree on next steps to Paris during the Lima talks.

        I just wrote about reality and suggested it’s a reality Asheville needs to get in touch with in terms of deeper strategy than what we’ve got now.

        Fight that momentum, Mark.

        Mark, which political party is most ‘closed-minded’ on the subject of anthropogenic climate change. It’s not easily shown to be false that this is other than a GOP/libertarian freakout subject… and no, it is not easily shown to be false that we’re dealing with anything other than very, very serious anthropogenic climate change risks even as we all attempt civilization as is.

        Why there is no liberal equivalent to climate change denial

        http://grist.org/politics/why-there-is-no-liberal-equivalent-to-climate-change-denial/

        “I call on my fellow Republicans to open their minds to rethinking what has largely become our party’s line: denying that climate change and global warming are occurring and that they are largely due to human activities. …

        “Why do so many Republican senators and representatives think they are right and the world’s top scientific academies and scientists are wrong? I would like to chalk that up to lack of information or misinformation.

        “I can understand arguments over proposed policy approaches to climate change,” he wrote. “What I find incomprehensible is the dogged determination by some to discredit distinguished scientists and their findings.” – Former Republican Member of Congress Sherwood Boehlert, 2010

        http://www.thedailystar.com/news/local_news/boehlert-republicans-need-to-open-minds/article_bd0b9a34-afc9-56e3-a2a9-81e38e542abe.html

    • Grant Millin

      Here’s how The Oregonian cut it on climate change and energy issues. Different opinions do exist. It’s just, what’s the ethical move at this point given the limited time scale?

      I simply urge MX to advance very concrete, yet systems level information and voices on these matters. I would say MX WOULD NOT follow The Oregonian’s lead on these matters since the state, Federal, and international levels connect to Asheville outcomes on climate change and energy issues.

      http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/12/why_climate_change_will_not_be.html

  2. I would say the story of the year was the Asheville unit density increase in commercial zones just won last week. Second might be the new DA and possible relevance to the Ferguson DA. Then Anderson vs the 44.

    • Big Al

      The downfall of nepotistic, criminally corrupt Chief Anderson should be story #1. Thank you, brave 44 officers for taking it in the chin to rid us of this embarrassment.

      I am curious about the new DA. What is the story? And since he is JUST NOW taking office, isn’t whatever story arises about him really a 2015 story?

      As for the discussion that has overrun this comments section so far, all I can say is that for MOST of us, we hear “Climate Change…blah, blah, blah…evil corporations…blah, blah, blah….republicans baaad…blah, blah, blah,…democrats guuuud…blah, blah, blah…(by now most eyes have glazed over, time for a nap)” If this makes the top 10, then MtnX loses all credibility and should just change its’ name back to Green Line.

      • Mark Cates

        “The downfall of nepotistic, criminally corrupt Chief Anderson should be story #1”

        I would suggest the bigger issue is that no one in #avlgov “googled” Chief Anderson before hiring him.

        It’s not like his record was unknown. The process is the source of the problem.

        • Big Al

          I have no doubt that the equally incompetent Asheville City Council were fully aware of Anderson’s baggage and hired him anyway. He was a token minority hire by BoBos whose limited common sense was overwhelmed by their need to be seen as “progressive”.

          • Rob formerly know as "guest"

            It is time to get rid of this city council and start all over again. Causing injury to a vital branch of our city in the name of diversity is a horrible mistake. I think they need to stop the search outside the city and promote a guy from within the department. And yes, I put the Anderson story at the top of my list AND I think MountainX should send an investigative reporter into the city gov and uncover the corruption that is hurting our city.

  3. Media Watcher

    It’s disconcerting that MX lets Mark Cates and Grant Millin hijack its comments section on Jake Frankel’s story, which was intended to solicit thoughts about important local issues. Could antagonists like Cates and Millin (and other opponents on other issues) have what turn out to be extended personal disputes moved to a special Point-Counterpoint section? Or maybe limit the number of recurring comments from the same poster, especially whey they essentially have gone off-topic from the original news story.
    This media watcher would like to know the answer to Mr. Frankel’s question: What are the important truly local issues?

    • Media Watcher

      And thanks to Mr. Ditmore for reminding readers that the situation with the Asheville police department is an important local story.

    • Grant Millin

      I don’t know why MX allows anonymous opinions to appear, “Media Watcher”. You seem more like a comments thread politeness coach, which isn’t a needed service in this case. I’ve come into contact with Mark on other comment threads and see no “extended personal dispute” in this case. Especially true since I do not know Mark personally.

      But I know his human-caused climate change denial (HCCCD). I see it in conservative Members of Congress campaigning on HCCCD and other notions damaging to the American people. Strangely, Ashevillians are American people. Indeed, we are part of the global people and so I still say the following are major-global local challenges and solutions that should be listed, Unknown Media Watcher.

      Also, there was very little way in the way of going “off-topic” in the above thread. I proved why understanding the outcomes of the Lima/Paris climate talks is something a small group of conservatives would rather the American people not focus on. Why is that?

      Certainly the Lima/Paris climate talks and the Asheville Community Energy Plan tie together and form two of the top ten 2014-2015 issues. Debate backed by evidence and informative argumentation may seem like “disconcerting First Amendment hijacking” for some. But for others it’s how liberal democracy stays alive and how we can identify decent leaders who can deal with these increasingly tough challenges facing Asheville, WNC, and the earth.

      “I’ve got a commentary on human-caused climate change and another on turning off the Duke Energy Progress Asheville coal-fired electricity units on the way. I know MX likes to focus on the local space, but one of the top stories is that the Lima climate talks at least did not collapse in total failure. Asheville citizens should be very interested in the Paris talks, or what’s officially called the “21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Nations_Climate_Change_Conference

      Next, I encourage MX to dig into the Asheville Community Energy Plan process the COA Sustainable Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment started this year. There’s no draft plan as of today, but there should be enough detail for an initial MX story. I can comment further and have made recommendations for an organization allied to COA but is independent to support the Asheville Community Energy Plan and related topics.” – Grant Millin

      Ref. The Trillionth Ton of airborne carbon is too expensive

      http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/19/trillionth-ton-airborne-carbon-expensive/20650491/

      • Mark Cates

        Grant,

        “I’ve come into contact with Mark on other comment threads and see no “extended personal dispute” in this case. Especially true since I do not know Mark personally.”

        Agreed. I thought we were exchanging thoughts on a subject that you think Jake should add to the list.

        Here’s what Jake asked for… “Please share any ideas and thoughts on what constitutes the most important local news of the year in the comment field below. ”

        He can read your thoughts and mine, make his own decisions about what is newsworthy.

        “But I know his human-caused climate change denial (HCCCD)”

        Of course Grant, you do need to get your facts straight. ; – )

        I don’t doubt humans have an impact, I just don’t think it’s a significant issue or threat when compared to things like poverty or large objects from space. I also think there has been a great deal of horrible science done in the name of “man-Made Global Warming “.

        Many see this issue as black and white, Grant, but I don’t know anyone that denies climate changes or that denies humans don’t have “some” kind of an impact.

        Show me someone you label as a “Climate Denier” and there’s about a 99.9% chance I’ll show you someone whose position you have misinterpreted due to your black and white perspective on the issue.

        • Grant Millin

          Mark, fine.

          You’ve established your position is anthropogenic climate change is a low risk issue… lower scale than a Deep Impact Hollywood scenario. I guess HCCCD comes in different flavors and intensities, if that’s useful.

          The point is anthropogenic climate change exists, and 99.9% of those who understand the situation understand civilization carbon cuts are part of the answer. That is the stark difference to your strategy. It’s clear. So equivocations and going to the ad hominem about your personal opinion about where I may or may not have rigidity of perspicacity on X, Y, or Z nuance is meaningless. The Lima talks happened, they were successful enough to launch the Paris climate talks.

          Therefore such historical activities cannot be degraded by your innuendo as to my credibility about simply being willing to share such facts and further suggest Asheville be on board with supporting the Paris action, namely by pursuing a Asheville Community Energy plan that cuts our carbon emissions. I’m sorry you want people to believe as you do that climate change deserves no civilization adjustments. I think that’s a .01% minority opinion among those who have read up on anthropogenic climate change… whether or not they are climatologists. I’d go further by recommending Asheville and the people of North Carolina be very vigilant as to 114th congress responsibilities on these matters.

          There is no debate in any serious venue on your terms about anthropogenic climate change, Mark. The only debate is the level of response. That’s where all these comments boil down… I’ve just outlined a couple of serious responses: 1) the Lima/Paris talks 2) the Asheville Community Energy Plan to cut our city wide carbon emissions.

          By the way, I in no way lower poverty innovation below climate change risk management in scale of importance if you are saying I’m not serious about solving poverty too.

          • Don

            You are completely full of crap and a true believer in the Religion of Global warming …… This 4.5 BILLION year old planet always has and always will have significant variations in average climate data within “short” time spans…
            ie: LESS THAN 10,000 YEARS ….. Worry about the next ICE AGE idiot….
            or a minor cooling period …. Last recorded was the “dark ages in Europe

  4. karen cragnolin

    My biggest question is are we ready for the growth and development that is coming. Do we all know what the RULES are and where the decisions are made. We have been named the best of. Fill in the blank. EVERYTHING. EVEN BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Hotels, second homes, retirees, young and old are coming for the quality of life we all love. What is being done to preserve that. And do we agree as a community about how to absorb and benefit by the attention of the rest of the world not loose what we all love?

    • Grant Millin

      Karen, these are excellent insights and your RiverLink/law and other experience make you a subject matter expert on civilization ‘rules of the road’ around here… both in terms of tacit policy issues and then the implicit realms of power.

      GroWNC. GroWNC terminating earlier this year is another top issue. It’s important because we didn’t take that opportunity to be part of the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities further down the road. I suggested City of Asheville support something I call Open Strategic Innovation for Communities and specifically tied OSIC to GroWNC in the form of a ‘GroWNC II’ strategy theme. It was a no go for the city manager, Mayor, and all the city council members as far as I can tell:

      http://www.innovograph.com/projects/osic/

      OSIC hardly requires a million dollars a year to run and its needed around here, big time. I’ve already moved over some of the GroWNC findings.

      Here’s something I extrapolated from my time as a GroWNC consortium member:

      “Imagine millions of people rushing to WNC within a decade from now to take advantage of our comparatively mild climate and rich water resources. Our state population projections are based on traditional factors, not climate change.” – The Trillionth Ton of airborne carbon is too expensive

      http://www.citizen-times.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/12/19/trillionth-ton-airborne-carbon-expensive/20650491/

  5. bsummers

    Sadly, “Mark Cates is a climate-change denier” won’t come as newsworthy to many.

    I think the biggest local story is the repudiation of the seizure of Asheville’s water by Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, and sponsors Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey’s subsequent loss in November.

    • Grant Millin

      Also serious events for this year, Barry. And thanks for staying hot on water issues.

      Barry, apparently Mark believes humans influence climate outcomes… but the risk is no greater than a ‘Deep Impact’ asteroid event.

      I wanted to load in a lot of response to not just Mark’s approach, but for what I think is a very strong libertarian/localized view many, many Ashevillians seem to share about the Federal government, the international level, and a “We the People” approach in general to most anything… regardless of what party they back… and including many such folks are off politics and stuff like voting entirely. Tough to get a full, necessary response to this systems level challenges with those approaches.

      Got solar on your roof ? Yes. Did you vote for people who have sustainable notions about people, the environment, and economics? No.

      Oops. (I’m being rhetorical and they aren’t questions directed at you, Barry.)

  6. Jake Frankel

    Thanks for the responses, thoughts and suggestions everyone.

    • Grant Millin

      Happy Holidays and New Year.

      Let’s get on track to mutual aid success.

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