By James Harrison
There were two meetings of Asheville City Council members in February. At their Feb. 10 gathering, the group unanimously passed a resolution that would allow police video and audio recordings to be destroyed after being held for 30 days. They also backed rezoning requests for two projects along Charlotte Street and in Montford. Last week, the council gave the OK to a new 45-lot West Asheville subdivision, located off Craggy Ave. The proposal, met with opposition from community members, was ultimately approved in a 6-1 vote—with councilman Cecil Bothwell casting the lone “no.” For a full recap of debate, see this Citizen-Times report.
New chief months away
Officials say Asheville’s new police chief will be in place by June 1st. A search is ongoing, with a consulting firm being paid $21,000 to help find the candidates, according to WLOS. The city’s previous chief, William Anderson, resigned amid controversy last year.
City leaders caused a stir last month when it was revealed steps had been taken to ban shows including “wild or exotic animals” at the U.S. Cellular Center. The move resulted in the cancellation of this year’s circus, along with other kid-friendly shows. Applauded by many, the decision was also criticized for how it was brought about, without a heads up or opportunity for public comment.
County Commissioners are anticipating to vote this week on building a new $6.5 million indoor pool facility, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. The vote comes roughly one month after goggle-clad students packed the commission chamber to protest the announced closure of the 50-year-old Zeugner Center, requesting the facility stay open till a replacement was built. Plans for the new facility are far from concrete, but County Manager Wanda Greene was quoted saying she hoped the resolution would serve as a “placeholder” for the project going forward. In other news, the board of commissioners is expected to also vote on a new $6 million indoor firing range this week, according to the Citizen-Times. Currently, county officers travel to Madison County to complete annual firearms training since other facilities closed in 2010 and 2012.
In one of the more controversial bills put forward this session, state senators approved a measure that will allow magistrates to remove themselves from performing same-sex marriages for religious objections. The bill, which passed largely on party lines, now heads to the House.
Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory delivered his biannual State of the State address, laying out his vision “for North Carolina to have the best of everything.” Recent polls have show the governor at less-than-ideal approval ratings across the state, despite making gains overall in public approval. With anticipation of a long-awaited decision on Medicaid expansion running high, McCrory commented last week he would wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the law. The governor was also dealt a blow from lawmakers last week, when his goal of restoring the state’s historic tax credit was not included in economic development legislation from the House.
Remember Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad dissing craft beer? U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry thought it was “insane,” according to this Daily Beast article. The congressman represents 25 breweries across his district, which includes much of Asheville and Buncombe County.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows introduced a bill to ban federal workers from viewing porn on government-owned computers. The congressman introduced a similar bill last year. On another front, Meadows made headlines after suggesting the mayor of Washington, D.C., would be in “willful violation of the law” by allowing marijuana legalization to take effect in the nation’s capital. Despite objections from the congressman, growing and possessing marijuana for personal use became legal in DC last week, after being approved by voters last November.
Also Of Note
– Mayor Esther Manheimer has an op-ed on innovation districts
– Patsy Keever will serve as chair of the NC Democratic Party
– Former state Rep. Nathan Ramsey has joined AB-Tech’s board
– Pat McCrory blows smoke (OK, it’s really cold air, but still)
– It’s been one year since the infamous coal ash spill
– U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis opposed the nomination of Loretta Lynch
– And in case you missed Thom Tillis’ hand washing comments featured on the Daily Show