Every December, I take a little time to try to apply the lessons I’ve learned as an observer of local politics over the past 12 years. The goal is to try to give some useful gifts to people who are in the spotlight in our community, to help them reach their full potential in the new year. Here are my offerings for 2008. Take them in the spirit in which they’re presented: with kindness, warmth and sincere humility.
Mayor Terry Bellamy: Teacher, please! For Robin Cape’s sake, change the seating arrangements at City Council. Wait—strike that! Fix a lot more cameras on Carl Mumpower and Robin Cape. Also, get a camera crew to follow them around to committee meetings and public events. (I recommend a team made up of Wally Bowen, Tim Peck, Gordon Smith and, for good measure, Brother Christopher.) Then, set up a pay-per-view channel as part of the next local cable deal, and start raising some serious cash to pay for installing more road signs along the renovated portion of College Street. I’m sure I’ve seen at least four 5-foot stretches with nary a sign posted on them yet.
Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan: If the media ever ask if you’re involved in some kind of possible criminal action, never point to how small your apartment is as a way to refute the allegations.
Council member Bill Russell: Bring more balance to the Asheville City Council … by getting Brownie Newman to have occasional meltdowns while he’s sitting next to you. Don’t let Carl steal all the memorable moments. If you’re good enough, you may even get your own fixed camera frame like the ones Robin and Carl have.
Mayor Jerry VeHaun: Continue Woodfin’s silent war to conquer the rest of Buncombe County’s unincorporated territory before the mighty Asheville Empire has time to react. I envision a day when The People’s Republic of Woodfin will surround the city and set up checkpoints at all entrances and exits to make sure none of the “freaks” get out to further pollute the region. (See South Park hippie-infestation/jam-band episode for further insights.) San Franciscans could airdrop crates of patchouli from hot-air balloons whenever the drummers signaled for resupply.
Cecil Bothwell: Start a satire page in your new paper called “The Asheville Inflamer.”
Sen. Martin Nesbitt: For the third straight year, I have the same resolution for you: Speak to us! (By “us,” I mean the people who might not always agree with you.) Or at the very least, return phone calls or answer e-mails. Heck—for starters, just have your staff acknowledge that you’re still in the state Senate. You have a Cal Ripkin Jr.-type record that will never be broken: You’re safely in the “Blow-off Hall of Fame.” Come out of the shadows and engage with the listeners of Take a Stand!.
Chad Nesbitt: Grow back the mullet—or was it a ponytail? You had much more street cred when you were sporting the transplanted-Michigan-hockey-player look; it matched your tactics nicely. Somehow, looking like a character from an early ‘90s street-fighting video game isn’t really speaking to me. PS: Have your stepdad call me.
Council member Brownie Newman: 1) Get back in touch with the “natural side” of what the Earth has to offer—you were more fun in the old days. 2) Rent Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke.
Selina Sullivan: Open a trampoline business. Then you can bounce all day and not get in trouble for it.
Council member Robin Cape: I have a revision to last year’s resolution. Start bringing your standup bass to City Council meetings. Every time Carl tries to speak, start slapping out the riffs to “Another One Bites the Dust.” Music is something you’re very good at, and it might help you deal with the stress a little better. You may never get the last word, but you could always play the final tune.
Rep. Heath Shuler: Open a local fence business. You’re awfully good at walking them.
Darcel Grimes: Create a YouTube channel where you can post rants like the “Leave Britney Alone” guy. We know you have it in you to become a household name across the country, not just in the greater Asheville area. I can see it now: “Leave John Le Alone!!! [cry] He’s a human being!!! [sniffle] Do you know how hard it is to get on TV and make a fool of yourself every day? [cry] You people are lucky he even performs for you! [wipe snot from nose] Leave John Le Alone!!! [sob].” Go nuts: We’ll love you for it.
Don Yelton: Talk less—laugh more.
Carl Mumpower: Here’s a way you can maximize your productivity: Rather than hanging around the housing projects in Asheville looking for drug dealers while constantly pushing for local enforcement of federal immigration laws, why not combine the two? Stake out rural marijuana crops that are being harvested by illegal aliens. Let us know how that works out for you…
If you have any suggested New Year’s resolutions for me, e-mail them to Matt@wwnc.com. Happy Merry New Crist-za Huana-Solst-Year!
[Matt Mittan hosts Take a Stand! on WWNC-AM, Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. The show’s Web site is www.mattcave.us]