Letter: We deserve better political leadership

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman and Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer have failed miserably with their response to the virus among us.

Initially, they tried to carve their own response to the virus. With the help of Fletcher Tove, [the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator], this Unholy Trinity quickly learned they were not competent enough to deal with the virus. So they ducked behind the state guidelines, with the caveat that they were going to be more restrictive when it comes to tourism, our life’s blood.

Hiding behind the state ignores the fact that Buncombe County is vastly different than many of the other counties. We have minuscule cases of the virus, and our hospitalizations are low and deaths have been flat. These deaths were of people who were elderly and with underlying medical conditions, some severe.

So, we have a very low rate of virus and an economy based on tourism. What does the Unholy Trinity do?

Well, they put their boot on the neck of the businesses that this area exists on, and that further strangles the already suffering people of the county and city.

It is interesting that they cherry-pick negative statistics while ignoring positive ones. I wonder if they noticed that Georgia has better numbers since opening up?

Millions of dollars are going from our area residents into Tennessee and Georgia, and many millions more from noncounty residents who would rather have spent their money here. The opened states are helping their citizens. They are doing it smartly. The Unholy Trinity is not that smart.

We could open tomorrow. If they are not smart enough to come up with new well-thought-out ways to keep the virus at bay and save our future, at least they could copy other states. Masks for employees, strict disinfecting criteria, slightly diminished capacity of spaces, checking temperatures and health of employees, even checking temperatures of diners before they enter a restaurant, are a few of the ways to protect health and livelihoods.

I am sure that when this is all over, they will crow that they saved us all from catastrophic disease spread and continue to ignore the human misery and ruined businesses they perpetuated. All while they raise our taxes to pay for their ineptitude.

— Lex Burkett

Editor’s note: This letter was received while the state was still in Phase 1 of reopening. Xpress contacted Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman and Fletcher Tove, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator, with a summary of the letter writer’s points, and we received the following response from Manheimer and Newman: “The city and county have been working in collaboration through our combined emergency response team to build and implement a strategy that keeps our community as safe and healthy as possible. This crisis, unprecedented in our lifetime, has challenged our community as well as all levels of government. I am proud of the local, coordinated response here in Asheville and Buncombe County and the leadership shown by Gov. Cooper.”


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13 thoughts on “Letter: We deserve better political leadership

  1. James

    You get your own opinion. Not your own facts. Buncombe’s new cases have doubled (182 to 361) in the last two weeks now surpassing Henderson County. Deaths have quadrupled from 7 to 29. We were in good shape BECAUSE of the actions of city and county officials. When did things start to go south? When OpenUp protesters began holding unmasked group demonstrations and businesses opened without requiring masks. Correlation or causality?

    Temperature checks do no good because research shows carriers can be asymptomatic for days. If you want to place blame why things are going badly now, look in the mirror. #ScienceMatters #FactsMatter Stay strong Asheville and Buncombe County leaders. WE support you.

  2. Dopamina

    I am employed at a business that decided to defy the governor’s (perfectly legal) order and open early. The owner of said business bought the line from rabble-rousing politicians (do you call your Congressman for medical advice outside of a pandemic?) that citizens were “yearning for freedom!”

    Well guess what? No one showed up and the business is losing money by being open. Real cool…you put your employees at risk so you can lose money…

    So people like the guy who wrote this letter can kick and scream all they want, tell us all about how they feel is the correct way to feel but meanwhile it seems the majority of the public is erring on the side of safety as opposed to loading the weak and the elderly onto a sacrificial altar to the economy!

    • Lulz

      So don’t go back. Quit, find another job. That’s called freedom of choice.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    manheimer and newman are failed non leaders for MANY more reasons other than this…WAKE UP sheeple and be WOKE !

    • Lou

      Gee that is exactly what I would say to you. Sheep are known to follow blindly and that sure does describe every single conservative GOP supporter I have ever met. That and the level of ignorance, which is breathtaking.

  4. bsummers

    Georgia has better numbers since opening up

    Oh, Holy Jeebus! Read a book!!

    Georgia has corrected data that appeared to show a misleading decline in cases

    They lied to you. They rearranged the order of the days of the Covid cases, to make it look like cases were going down.

    The people who are desperate to reopen because Trump is desperate to reopen, don’t care about lying to you about the threat to your life, or your family’s life, or your neighbors life, or your grandchildrens life, etc. etc. They are counting on people who are stupid, to spread lies to try to reelect the worst President this country has ever had. I try to be an optimist about how this American Experiment might actually succeed, but when I read a letter like this, I just want to weep.

  5. Lou

    “they put their boot on the neck of the businesses”…seriously dude? You can’t even come up with an original insult, you have to exploit the very nature of the angst surrounding the death of yet another black American at the hands of white supremacist police? Shameful and typical for yet another white guy who is nothing special but has convinced himself and a handful of Neo Nazis that he is superior, when in reality his time is up.

    • Tracy Rose

      Just as a point of clarity, this letter was submitted before George Floyd was killed.

      • luther blissett

        The clarification shows how the vocabulary of oppression has been appropriated and used for years as a cheap tool by the not-actually-oppressed.

      • James

        Just goes to show that the mindset of the people like the letter writer is one of using force like this against his opponents.

  6. Peter Robbins

    Georgia has better numbers since opening up? Speak of the devil. Georgia just reported its largest single-day spike in coronavirus cases since May 1. https://www.newsweek.com/one-month-after-reopening-georgia-reports-highest-number-daily-coronavirus-cases-1508846.

    And even without those storm clouds on the horizon, there are good reasons not to trust Georgia alone as a bellwether. https://www.vox.com/2020/6/4/21267769/georgia-coronavirus-pandemic-covid-cases-deaths-data.

    Remember the early days of the pandemic when people thought the easy-going Swedes had the answer? Not even the Swedish government whistles that happy tune anymore. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/sweden-epidemiologist-anders-tegnell/2020/06/03/063b20e4-a5a0-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html.

  7. Mike R.

    Government’s first and most important priority is public safety and health.
    It is very easy to “Monday morning quarterback” what officials did here and around the country. Hindsight is always 20/20.
    What our local leaders did was no different than the vast majority across the nation and at the urging of the federal government. No one really knew how widespread the virus was and so out of an abundance of caution, they took drastic measures to protect the public.

    I believe they did an admirable job, all things considered.


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