According to an article in the Mountain Xpress, “Campbell Discusses Next Steps on Asheville Street Renaming, Police Budget” [Jan. 20], it appears that “ranking high among” the Asheville City Council’s priorities for 2021 are:
1. Reducing the police budget. Is this a good idea? Asheville is in the top 10% of U.S. cities for high crime and is second worse for crime among large cities in North Carolina. Additionally, there is a racial disparity, with seven out of the nine Asheville homicides in 2020 impacting the minority communities (while 84% of the community is white).
2. Renaming Asheville streets that are named after documented slaveholders. “City staff have identified 120 streets that share the name of a documented slaveholder.” This appears to be both time-consuming and costly, not only to the city but also to businesses. As businesses point out, the rebranding and change to their marketing materials will be costly.
3. Removal of the Vance Monument. This includes a task force and bids from companies regarding the cost to remove; consequently the expense will not be immaterial.
I would have thought that it would be more advantageous for the City Council to redirect the resources and money that are being used on the street renaming and Vance monument removal projects to address more immediate issues caused by the pandemic:
1. Vaccine distribution. In particular, providing education and information to the minority community to help reduce the reluctance regarding taking the vaccine. Also, helping lower-income communities with limited access to health care, Wi-Fi and internet to apply for vaccine appointments.
2. Economic hardship caused by the pandemic. Help those in financial hardship due to loss of employment by providing rent and mortgage subsidies to avoid an eviction crisis later in the year. Also, support restaurants, music and arts businesses by providing support with rent and business loans.
In summary, it appears that there are more urgent priorities for the City Council to focus on and better usages of city funds.
— Cliff Moss