Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.By James Harrison

Back for another round, here’s our best attempt at looping you in on political happenings. Enjoy!

Asheville City

City Council members voted last week on whether or not to incorporate up to $700,000 in additional fees for drinking water, stormwater fees and building inspections. According to the city’s budget and financial reporting manager, the changes would be reflected in an annual rise of $6.60 in water and stormwater bills for residents, reports the Citizen-Times. The city also passed a resolution to help finalize the transfer of property near Bent Creek for an undisclosed economic project (more on that to come). Meanwhile, city officials are also looking at proposed state law changes that could siphon up to $3 million in annual revenues away from Asheville. Keep an eye on these as the legislation makes its way through Raleigh.

New candidate

Another candidate joined the race for Asheville City Council this week—Keith Young, a deputy clerk of the Buncombe Superior Court. In an interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times, the candidate intends to put police reform and community programs atop his agenda, along with improvements to the bus system and representation for the poor and working class. Young is a former vice chairman of the Buncombe County Democratic Party, and has run twice for County Commission in the past. Along with Young, other announced candidates include Corey Atkins, Rich Lee, Julie Mayfield and Grant Millin. Three seats will be up for grabs.

Buncombe County

The ramifications of last month’s closed-session meeting during which commissioners agreed to buy a $6.8 million tract of land were on full display earlier this month, with Republican commissioners voicing concerns over transparency during their meeting. Specifics of why the land was purchased have yet to be disclosed, save for a “potential” site selection of a major economic development project that’s yet to be announced.

Turner

Newly-minted state Rep. Brian Turner sat down with public radio station WCQS earlier this month, to reflect on his first term in office thus far. The representative discussed a host of issues and their impact on Asheville during the segment, from incentives to proposals to redistribute sales tax and redistricting.

NCGA

Lawmakers in Raleigh were in the news for more than a couple items this week, among them the House’s plans to not move ahead on a controversial “religious freedom” bill this year and approval of a measure which would require women seeking abortions to wait 72 hours after consulting a doctor. State representatives were also mentioned in a report focusing on their inability to support economic incentive programs put forward by Gov. Pat McCrory, as Volvo appeared to have dropped North Carolina from its list of states for a proposed car plant. Hope it didn’t have anything to do with that Bent Creek deal.

Supreme Court

Big news from Washington D.C. this week, as the Supreme Court ordered the state court to re-examine the 2010 GOP-drawn redistricting map. According to D.C. newspaper The Hill, the Court expressed concerns over whether the maps had been drawn to consign large populations of black voters to small districts.

McCrory

A $3 billion plan by Gov. Pat McCrory to use bonds to pay for road and infrastructure improvements could be on the ballot for referendum this fall, if the governor can convince House and Senate members to go along. According to Carolina Public Press, WNC projects included in the plan are improvements to US 221 in McDowell County, $13 million for a new state medical examiner’s office in Asheville, $71 million for the Appalachian State College of Nursing and $115 million for a STEM facility at Western. The governor also fell out of his chair last week, which wouldn’t be worth noting unless it was caught on video. Enjoy.

Tillis

It’s been 100 days since U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis planted his flag in Washington. So what has he been up to? A Charlotte town paper takes a look, here. Meanwhile, the senator traveled to Afghanistan earlier this month, along with four other Middle East countries. Upon his return, Tillis called for the US military to maintain a presence there beyond President Barack Obama’s projected withdrawal of troops in 2017.

Burr

Would you like to extend the federal government’s ability to collect your phone data? It appears to the OK with U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who gave the OK to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bypass his Senate Intelligence Committee in seeking a renewal of the program this week. The bill, for which Burr is a co-sponsor, would extend data collection for five years. Meanwhile, the Senator announced he has raised $1.8 million for his re-election campaign in the first quarter of this year. That puts the incumbent at having $2.4 million cash on hand for next year’s race—for which there is no opponent. Better safe than sorry.

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for Nooga.com, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

8 Comments

  1. City Voter says:

    Do all city voters vote for all council candidates? Or are council candidates arranged by district?

    • Council candidates run city-wide. There are no districts for Asheville City Council seats.

      • Republicans, led by Tim Moffitt were talking about forcing district elections on Asheville City Council in 2013. Folks like Pete Kaliner justify that as giving “better representation to minority views”, ie., trying to gerrymander a couple of districts to make it easier for Republicans to get on Council.

        Nice to see that they believe in the concept of affirmative action.

        Me, I’d suggest running better candidates.

      • City Voter says:

        Thank you for that information.

      • “There are no districts for Asheville City Council seats.”

        That could change soon. As well as having city elections occur in even-numbered years.

  2. Yay, Burr. Don’t forget, this is the guy who argued that Americans overseas should be killed in drone strikes rather than be captured and given a fair trial.

    bit.ly/1JP7CdL (drag & drop)

    And now he wants to extend NSA spying on innocent Americans at home.

    Does anyone doubt that someone like Burr will go the next short step, and argue that Americans here at home can be assassinated without trial?

    In a few short years, the Department of Defense will succeed in finally forcing their way to unrestricted access for military drones in US airspace. Just FYI…

    Read: When The Reapers Come Home
    bit.ly/1HUEZhS (drag & drop)

  3. Since Thom Tillis is so gung-ho on keeping troops in Afghanistan beyond 2017 (14 years just ain’t enough!) Let’s make Thom Tillis the first replacement troop sent and the last to be brought home.

    I think he’d do a lot less harm over there than he’s doing in Washington.

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