All five incumbent Buncombe County commissioners voted to approve the sale of a piece of Asheville’s central park to developer Stewart Coleman. Subsequent explanations run from not knowing what they were selling (i.e. blame the county staff) to “We screwed up” (David Gantt). One commissioner has no excuse: Bill Stanley is a former owner of the Hayes & Hopson Building, which is directly adjacent to the parcel in question. How could Stanley not know what the county was selling? He owed it to his fellow commissioners and the citizens of Buncombe County to make clear what was at stake.
But the story doesn’t end there. Stanley’s former, long-time partner in Hayes & Hopson Associates, Wallace Hyde, sold the H&H building to Coleman as well. Not long ago, Hyde raised $60,000 for Commissioner David Young’s campaign for state treasurer (according to The News & Observer). The county sold the parkland to Coleman for about half its assessed value. And on and on and on.
This smells a lot like the Woodfin lease to Progress Energy. Government in the backroom. It reminds me that I told each sitting commissioner, individually, about demonstrable payroll fraud and other misprision in Bobby Medford’s Sheriff’s Department. In 2005. No response. I exposed beatings in the jail and denial of medication to inmates in Medford’s detention center as well. Nothing happened. We have seen crimes and cover-ups and a lack of accountability to the people of Buncombe County.
I know we need rain, but it sure seems like we could use a little more sunshine in local government. Such failure of accountability will never happen on my watch.
— Cecil Bothwell
Candidate for Buncombe County Board of Commissioners