Twenty-plus people opposing the Pratt & Whitney plant called into the Nov. 17 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, but commissioners voted for it quickly with little discussion. PW’s plants produce components for weapons-delivery systems that maim, kill; lay off workers in other states to build in right-to-work states (no unions); pollute, leaving contaminated sites when they close. Commissioners seemingly disregarded this.
Per local media, seven people opposing the Buncombe County ban on discrimination based on gender identity, race and other factors called into the April 6 board meeting. They opposed protections for members of our community who are continually persecuted, even though, as reported, callers to previous meetings supported these protections. Some callers requested a vote delay. Some religious leaders claimed the ordinance was coming at “warp speed,” that no one had contacted them. The commissioners delayed the vote.
My point here is the great divide between how the commissioners rolled out the welcome mat for PW, with virtually no regard for the opposition, yet postponed the protection ordinance vote that has far less opposition.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t address the need for this ordinance. N.C. Senate Bill 514, being considered now, bars medical doctors from treating transgender youths for transition. Buncombe County would join six other North Carolina jurisdictions that have provided local protection for this population as the state assembly tries to strip them of this right. (Arkansas’ governor vetoed a similar bill, but the Arkansas general assembly overrode the veto, making it the first state to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming treatment for trans people under 18.)
Asheville city leaders have allowed our hometown to become a tourist’s “Hotelville,” while residents struggle to find affordable housing. Buncombe County leaders are driving us to become another cog of the military-industrial-congressional complex while postponing an ordinance that could be lifesaving for some members of our community.
These are not the leaders I thought I voted for.
— Cynthia Heil