Weekly Asheville Disclaimer Page: 03/12/08

Democratic primary driving wedge between local progressive couples

W. ASHEVILLE, MONDAY — For many Asheville couples, the drawnout Democratic primary race between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton is increasingly becoming a divisive force in their relationships.

Scott Ogletree and his fiancée, Sarah Reynolds, who met at an Earth Day benefit concert in 2003, have both lost political capital in the household due to the extended political season.

“These days, when Sarah talks about change, I don’t think she’s only referring to a bi-partisan effort to move this nation ahead,” said Scott, a fervent Clinton supporter.

“It wasn’t like I was asking her to get a Hillary Clinton necktattoo or something, but a little loyalty would be nice,” said Scott of his fiancée Tricia. “It was just henna, after all.”

You would not know at first glance that this West Asheville home has a cloud of tension hanging over it.

“Check it out, bro — bootleg Bill Clinton speeches,” says Scott, proudly pointing at a bookshelf filled with VHS cassette tapes. “I collect and trade them. I have an ’81 gubernatorial stump speech from Little Rock that would melt your brain.”

Looking back, however, Scott now sees that Tricia was not on board with their yard’s support for Hillary.

“I just think we should keep our options open and not rush into things,” Scott remembers her telling him back in September as she moved the Hillary sign to a less conspicuous corner of their property on Brevard Road.

By January, however, Tricia had, according to Scott, become quite distant. Things only took a turn for the worse when she forgot to delete a private e-mail that Scott discovered.

When she returned home from work, Scott confronted his fiancée.

“How does Barack Obama know your name, why is his campaign sending unsolicited emails to our personal account and why is he thanking you for your contribution?” Scott recalls asking Tricia.

At first, she claimed to not know why the Obama campaign had charged $50 on their joint Visa card using PayPal. When Scott threatened to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, Tricia ended the masquerade.

“She became unglued, going on and on about Obama,” said Scott. “She even played a Obama bootleg for me — January 2, Des Moines, I think it was — and she cried. I think she even spoke in tongues. I had no idea she felt so strongly for this guy. I was blown away.”

“I mean, there we were, going out the door to a WNC Hillraiser event, and she’s suddenly getting cold feet?” Scott said, then stared silently for several minutes into his coffee cup that was filled with cheap Chardonnay, his second cup of the morning.

Scott decided that they would just have to cancel out one another’s vote in the North Carolina primary and then work to repair their relationship.

It won’t be easy. Tricia will have to housetrain her new wild-eyed grassroots friends before they are allowed to visit, and Scott must confront the couple’s pro-Hillary friends and neighbors who have waged a whisper campaign against Tricia.

“Doug and Brandy Stewart across the street are telling people that Tricia’s probably secretly riding the Straight Talk Express as well, and that’s just too far,” said Scott.

“It’s disheartening to learn the Stewarts have gone negative,” Scott continued, “especially since the whole town knows that, before she married Doug, Brandy worked her way through Warren Wilson at nights as a Nader Raider.”

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Environmentalists blame fluctuations in Beaver Lake on global warming

Residents plan for worst

N.ASHEVILLE, TUESDAY — Recent fluctuations in water levels at Beaver Lake in north Asheville “must be due to global warming,” according to several environmental experts recently overheard at Rosetta’s Kitchen.

A portion of the sky, above, seen as it falls into Beaver Lake last Tuesday.

“I was driving up near Mt. Mitchell the other day and saw all these puddles in the parking lot that seemed like they should still be frozen this time of year,” explained Jim Hardick, as he finished up his peanut butter tofu plate. “All that runoff is headed down the mountain and will push Beaver Lake over its banks.”

The crisis is sending residents of the surrounding neighborhoods into a panic, with many calling for the city to immediately begin work on a series of levies that would drain any excess water into the French Broad River.

Some residents are not waiting on the city to take action, and have started propping up their homes on stilts and building sandbag barriers in their yards.

“We’ve got to be ready,” said local resident Randy Hayes at a recent neighborhood- watch meeting. “I saw Al Gore’s slide-show movie, I know what’s coming. By my own measurements, the water levels are rising nearly a millimeter every few days. Just a week ago the lake was nearly empty and safe. Now it’s nearing its banks, and I’m worried for the safety of my children and lawn.”

In response to these concerns, Asheville city staff released a statement stating “the lake was drained for purposes of routine maintenance and is now being refilled to its normal level.”

However, this is doing little to calm residents’ fears. Addressing many of them at a special emergency session of City Council, Council member Brownie Newman promised to take “urgent action to avert this environmental catastrophe” and called for “a subcommittee or task force to study this important issue, indefinitely.”

The campaign of Carl Mumpower, who is vying to be the Republican Congressional candidate for the 11th District seat, recently hosted an open house at his downtown offices on College Street.

Among the surprises:

• Carl wears a Nehru jacket and constantly strokes a Persian cat.

• Mantlepiece portrait of Jesse Helms done in melty Salvador Dali style.

• Secret room packed with frozen exwives.

• His policy initiatives are outlined on stained cocktail napkin stuck to the fridge.

• Still has original banjo from star turn in Deliverance.

• “Special brownies” alone worth the visit.

• Answers phone: “Stately Wayne Manor, Carl speaking.”

• After spending several hours with Carl in a hot tub with floating rose petals, the lone attendee began to suspect that there never was a party planned in the first place.

• He has a shockingly lovely singing voice — Verdi baritone with a thick Irish brogue.

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