Per a Nov. 3 Mountain Xpress online article, “WNC General Election 2020 Live Coverage,” Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman “said officials would commit to ‘open, transparent methods’ of business to ensure that the voices of Republicans are heard.”
The article’s writer implies that Newman was referring to the commission’s new makeup of six Democrats and only one Republican as a result of that day’s election.
The Pratt & Whitney deal was transacted before this newly formed commission. Is that why there was seemingly little-to-no transparency regarding what Project Ranger was as we began reading of it during summer; why we were finally told what it was at the end of October/early November? Why residents who are not necessarily “Republicans” were not afforded an opportunity to comment until the Nov. 17 commissioners’ meeting, when, in spite of the concerns raised, every commissioner then seated voted in favor of the plant?
Reflecting on the behavior of several Buncombe County leaders over the past five years and this most recent event, I have to wonder what the term “transparency” means to Buncombe County officials elected and/or hired to watch over the interests of all county residents.
If this is transparency, I shudder to think what other probable done deals are being transacted without the public’s knowledge.
People may like the 800 jobs promised by the Pratt & Whitney deal and so don’t care that it was transacted so discreetly, but now that this precedent has been set, will there be future deals made without taxpayers’ knowledge and input during the negotiations? If so, will they be as pleasing to some as this deal or maybe not? I guess we won’t know until the deal is done.
— C. Heil