Another Friday, another Hit List! Here’s your latest roundup of political happenings across Asheville and the state. Read up!
City crew to check permitting headaches
Are you a builder or developer who feels like you’re hitting a wall when it comes to dealing with the city? Changes could be in store. This week, Mayor Esther Manheimer announced the formation of a new group tasked with finding existing barriers to the city’s various permitting processes, and recommending changes. The issue is especially important to small entrepreneurs, who comprise much of the city’s 3,175 sign permits issued last year—the most reported since 2008.
County agency rejects Moogfest application
Uh oh. First the news that Moogfest lost $1.5 million on this year’s event, now this—a rejection for a $250,000 grant from the Buncombe County Culture and Recreation Authority. Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel was at the meeting, and has detailson the vote. Several CRA members expressed support for the festival, but suggested Moogfest seek funds directly from the county board of commissioners. In addition, the festival’s grant request was filed three months after a Feb. 7 deadline. There’s still plenty of time for the festival to apply for other economic development grants in the coming months though, and Moog CEO Mike Adams is upbeat about the festival’s first year—which he said he doesn’t view in profit or losses but rather as “investment” in the Asheville community. So all hope isn’t lost for another epic weekend of music and tech synthesis downtown.
Water war heads to court
The battle continues. Months after being introduced, a lawsuit filed by the city over the state’s attempt to takeover city water will be heard by a judge. According to the Citizen-Times, that hearing takes place today. The dispute over Asheville’s water has been building for decades, with the most recent development being a bill passed by state lawmakers to turn over authority over the water to a regional entity. The bill, backed by state Rep. Tim Moffitt, was not signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last year because of his desire for it to be finalized in court. Regardless of the judge’s opinion, expect an appeal. Reporter Mark Barrett has an excellent article detailing the long history of tension over mountain water between Asheville and Raleigh. Read it here. And for an interesting angle about the future of Asheville’s water, read this report in the Triangle Business Journal about climate change having a possible affect on the destination for fluids from the city’s renowned high-elevation watershed.
Moffitt eyes liquor tastings
Along with water issues, Moffitt appears to have had liquor on his mind. This week, the representative introduced a bill to allow “spiritous liquor tastings” at local ABC stores. You can read the three-page proposal in all its legalese glory here.
McCrory makes NYT
What will the short session hold for our governor, Pat McCrory? People are interested to see, including the New York Times. The outlook for McCrory was the feature of a story in the paper this week, which focuses on the question of the governor’s ability to exercise clout over powerful Republican leaders in the supermajority General Assembly.
Paring back film incentives
Included in McCrory’s budget is a “revision” of the state’s tax incentive program for movies. In the past, films shooting in North Carolina have reaped up to $20 million in tax breaks, but McCrory’s proposal would cut that number to $6 million. The item could have impact on Western North Carolina, where recent films like “The Hunger Games” have been shot and upcoming movies are set to begin shooting this summer.
Senate backs fracking
It didn’t take long. On Thursday, the state Senate approved a bill to lift a state moratorium on shale gas drilling—AKA fracking. The controversial bill, called the “Energy Modernization Act,” would also make it illegal for citizens to “knowingly or negligently” disclose trade secrets about hydraulic fracturing chemicals in North Carolina, according to a Reuters report. Approved in a 35-12 vote, the bill was unanimously supported by Republicans, including Sen. Tom Apodaca. Buncombe County’s newest senator,Sen. Terry Van Duyn, voted no. The bill now heads to the House.
Tillis mingles in DC
State House Speaker Thom Tillis was in Washington this week, soliciting funds for his GOP Senate campaign against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. The candidate wound up half a mile from his opponent, who happened to be giving a keynote address at a Hedge Fund Symposium nearby. For some reason, there’s video of Tillis rocking a pair of shades as he left a limo to enter the fundraiser. Ah, Washington.
Hagan homes in on women voters
This week U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan unveiled a portion of her campaign strategy to specifically focus on women voters. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, that includes highlighting policies espoused by Tillis that she sees as being detrimental to women. The strategy will be important for the incumbent—when Hagan beat Elizabeth Dole in 2008, she carried 55 percent of the women’s vote in the state. Hagan claims she will have the “biggest, most effective turnout operation North Carolina has ever seen in a Senate race.”
That’s all for now! In closing, here’s a trio of takeaway stories from the week which may interest you. Cheers!