Letter: Asheville’s issues stem from poor leadership

Graphic by Lori Deaton

It is with great interest, as a recent Asheville transplant, that I read the Asheville Watchdog article published in Mountain Xpress, “More Vagrants, Fewer Cops: Merchants Describe Downtown Asheville’s Descent Into Squalor and Lawlessness” and “Just Say No to Spending Millions on McCormick Field” letter to editor [both March 8, Xpress]. Right on!

“Fewer cops” lines up directly with my observations of the vagrant/homeless problems in Asheville. Very soon after I moved here, I learned to avoid downtown. A total lack of reasonable parking (thanks to an apparent objective of privatizing every conceivable parking opportunity in town) and the preponderance of vagrants with their attending, negative effects. Such a sad testament for a “tourist destination.” And then there’s the omnipresent Gen Z slackers/beggars on virtually every median and major street corner in suburbia.

But I’m not sure this can be attributed to fewer cops, just ineffective distribution of cops. I’ve never seen a street cop downtown, just patrol cops in vehicles cruising around and wasting gas. No presence on the street, no interaction with the people (good or bad) and certainly no obligation or interest in confronting the vagrants/homeless folks that are the subject of this article. Zero enforcement of vagrancy regulations. Because, after all, “Asheville’s progressive.” And that’s why the gravity of the problem persists.

Secondly, but related, is Jerry Hinz’s assessment of the ineffectiveness of local governance (City Council and city manager). Let’s examine the composition of our recently reelected, “progressive” City Council. Ushered in by a measly 56% of registered voters of Asheville (another problem). For what it’s worth, they certainly don’t lack political correctness: One hundred percent female, 43% African American (representing 11% of Asheville’s populace according to the 2020 census). Not a sexist or racist point, mind you, a statistical fact.

I encourage everyone (as I did shortly after moving here) to actually attend a City Council meeting and judge the caliber and effectiveness of this crew. In the meeting I attended, they spent over an hour passing a resolution to rename a city park. Then they hastily proceeded to support a $40 million “affordable housing” bond issue — with virtually no critical debate. Is it any wonder that this same council is supporting the proposed baseball stadium scam?

In my view, the overly tolerant approach to vagrancy and lack of concern relative to soaring bond issues, financed by property taxes, in Asheville can be traced to poor leadership. We don’t need more cops, just better managed/distributed cops. And the taxpayers damn sure don’t need to spend $56 million to support minor league baseball. Follow the money!

— Harry Williamson


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6 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville’s issues stem from poor leadership

  1. Bryan M.

    Asheville (and Buncombe County by extension) is an example of how and why monopolistic control doesn’t work. The voting base is overwhelmingly Democrat/Left, and will NOT be electing any Republican/Right person to any position ever. As a result, the City and County management have zero interest in responding to citizen’s concerns. If the idividual people are ousted, a carbon-copy replacement will fill the seat. And, the sad part is, all of the people suffering from bad governance cannot or will not wrap their head around that its their own voting that is creating the situation. The popular meme of an NPC with a mask, multiple covid vax needles sticking out of them, and waving a Ukraine flag with the caption, “Govern me harder, daddy” is apt.

  2. NFB

    The writer of this letter goes to great lengths (three times in a short letter) to let us know he has moved to Asheville as if somehow this makes his views on the topic of the problems in town have more credibility. Gee. What did we ever do without him?

    He doesn’t define what he considers “reasonable parking” to be, but in his lament over the “apparent objective of privatizing every conceivable parking opportunity in town” ignores that the city he seems to hold in such contempt runs four parking garages downtown with a total of about 3,000 spaces.

    Perhaps he can take comfort that the 56% of registered voters he grouses elected the current city council is a massive improvement over the roughly 20-25% who elected previous councils when city elections were held in odd numbered years.

    Lastly, Council member Sage Turner said they received some 1,700 emails in support of funding the upgrades to McCormick Field, and 3 against. They get slammed for not listening to the people, they get slammed for listening to the people.

    And oh…please, “political correctness’ is such an old and outdated pejorative. Get with the program. The Fox crowd uses “woke” now.

    Seriously, does the letter writer not have anything positive to say about the city he chose to move too (and reminds of us three times)?

  3. Ken Silver

    A few years back, was “leadership” on issues more effective when city councilors weren’t “at large”? If I remember correctly, Asheville previously had a ward or district system under which everyone could know who was “their” city councilor. Then the state legislature threatened, or did, force Asheville to adopt an at-large system, I think to satisfy more conservative S. Asheville’s demand for more clout (if memory serves). So here we are: all our at-large councilors are responsible. Anyone with experience in bureaucracies or other large organizations can anticipate the next shoe to drop: no one on the Council is specifically incentivized to fix the issues that concern you and your neighbors. Everyone is charge, so no one is plainly in charge. Are the folks in S. Asheville better served or happier under this new regime? Just asking… Living near downtown, my answer is no.

    Ken Silver
    Five Points

    • Andy Ledford

      It’s the opposite, the state legislature forced the city to adopt districts and the city changed the charter to keep it 100% at large. This was in 2018. South Asheville haz zero representation on council.

  4. Lou

    Oh Harry, all I had to do was see the word “progressive” and I moved on without reading your letter. You people are sad, like a broken record too. Progressive and yes, woke, are positive labels to intelligent “progressive” folks. Get with the program or get out.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      progressives have false intelligence and they don’t want to acknowledge the Rule of Law. lemme guess your pronouns…

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