Opinion: Latest Asheville police scandal shows cronyism alive and well


The latest Asheville Police Department scandal, despite all its unknowns, makes one thing crystal clear: cronyism is alive and well inside Asheville City Hall.

Last year, the city of Asheville searched high and low for a new Asheville Police Department chief to replace Chief Bill Hogan, whose tenure was tainted by a scandal involving the handling of evidence. The city hired William Anderson, who had been working as chief of the Greenville, N.C., police department.

Anderson, Asheville’s first black police chief, was hired at an annual salary of more than $134,000. He was put in charge of Asheville’s police agency and essentially handed the job of restoring trust in the agency. It’s a trust that was severely damaged by the evidence room questions, as well as Hogan’s handling of issues involving several other employees.

But the city didn’t stop there. In a year when Asheville continued to struggle with budget issues, including figuring out a way to pay for raise for public safety employees (the city ended up approving a raise for all employees) and dealing with frozen positions (such as superintendent of cultural arts), city officials hired Anderson’s wife and his son. Anderson’s wife works in the city’s downtown development office, and his son works for the city water department.

I’m working on confirming the salary numbers, but it appears that Asheville taxpayers are providing the Anderson family with a tidy living, somewhere to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars. All this information has come out over the past two weeks as details of a crash involving a car registered to Anderson dribble out.

I would really like to hear the city manager’s office justify the hirings. I’m certain that Anderson’s wife and son have job skills and talents suited to any number of jobs. The fact that all three feed at the public trough simply smacks of a city administration bending over backwards to please a chief whose judgement is questionable and whose track record should be scrutinized closely during an upcoming performance review process.

The hirings apparently don’t violate any nepotism rules. But it sure looks like a sweetheart deal for the Anderson family. In my view, it’s cronyism, plain and simple.


Joseph October 22, 2014 - 5:24 pm

It is sad but funny how we finally get a Black in a position, we back slide. We finally got a Black Mayor, she was only was in it for her personal goals and gains. She even went along with a threat on my life and laughed, showing that she was truly worthless to the black community. she support keeping blacks in the community is re-meanial positions as servants for corporate heads. in town. The police chief has a lot against him, first he is black and the Caucasians under him as-well as city hall don’t intend to kept a black in that position of knowing how corrupt they are. I went to Hogan on the threat I was given by a city office worker and the actions that Mayor Belamy took and he came to me with , sometimes when the City Council wants you to stop coming up on your issues, they sometimes break the law. If you do the work that info should have touched the DA’s desk, they cover themselves well. That is why we need a change here in Asheville NC. The Mayor supported Curtis Canty we see what that lead to, too. I hope that the New Police Chief isn’t as arrogant as Mr. Canty was.

Reality Check March 21, 2013 - 7:06 pm

You rock on, Jason. Something smells to high heaven about this one. I only hope we can get the truth before someone else resigns or collects a fat golden parachute.

Johnny Lemuria March 20, 2013 - 11:48 pm

Considering Asheville’s history with law enforcement, maybe it’s time they consider a different approach. This whole ‘police department’ thing doesn’t seem to be working out.

Big Al March 26, 2013 - 5:51 pm

We should call Blackwater (or whatever they changed their name to).

In the meantime, the hippies and homeless should use their “occupation” skills to organize a committee and create consensus on how to best promote public safety and order. By the time they come to any coherent policy decision, we will have retired Chief Anderson and hired a new chief. But in the interim, the debate and discussion will make everyone feel good about themselves, and that is what really matters.

Miss Daisy March 20, 2013 - 11:08 pm

I wonder if Dianty is on the city payroll too.

Edward March 24, 2013 - 1:09 pm

Dianty doesn’t exist!!!!

Melissa March 20, 2013 - 7:20 pm

Police officers marched with those firefighters to city hall to demand a raise, which they deserved.

The city has a lot of financial troubles so it’s fair for the public to know how (if?) its employment positions were advertised and filled.

I don’t think there should be any resistance to that or any doubt about why it should matter. Several employees have been laid off in the past couple of years. It would be nice to know how many, and also how many postions have been left dark, eliminated and/or filled.

John March 20, 2013 - 6:27 pm

You have a good nose Mr. Sanford. Keep following the scent.

bob March 20, 2013 - 2:54 pm
Jason Sandford March 20, 2013 - 6:13 pm


Nate March 20, 2013 - 2:39 pm

Nepotism issues aside, why is that employees of government agencies get subjected to this kind of rhetoric when private workers almost never do? Would it be appropriate to describe you and your colleagues as “feeding at the Citizen-Times trough”?

And why is nepotism standard, expected, unremarkable practice in nearly every sector of private employment but a cardinal sin in the case of public employment? Presumably Anderson’s wife and son were hired to do specific jobs, and if they’re doing those jobs then they’re earning their salaries, not “feeding” at any trough. Whether they obtained those jobs entirely appropriately is completely separate question.

Jason Sandford March 20, 2013 - 6:13 pm

Nate, yes, Citizen-Times employees are most certainly feeding at Mama Gannett’s trough.

Nepotism is not standard practice among private employers, in my experience. There are plenty of employers who require that one spouse not supervise their partner. That said, I have seen plenty of instances of spouses employed in the same workplace, and I don’t care about that.

But I have a higher standard when it comes to public money, my money, taxpayer money. I want to be assured that favoritism has played no part in the hiring of any public worker.

It’s clear to me that the Andersons got special treatment. Look at what’s been happening in city government over the past couple of years: the city has frozen several positions over the past couple of years, with city officials crying poor about their budget. Last year, firefighters went before City Council to beg for raises that had been put off, a move that set off a public outcry that resulted in City Council giving all their employees overdue raises. City Council is cutting off Bele Chere funding. The list goes on.

And yet the Andersons just walked into town and land cozy government jobs. Give me a break.

Nate March 20, 2013 - 7:45 pm

I don’t mean to seem overly apologetic for the Andersons, because if the family members were “placed” in those jobs by the city as an unwritten part of their deal with Chief that’s obviously shady, inappropriate activity (even though employers like universities do it *all the time*). Whether or not they got special treatment is something worth investigating, but simply saying it’s “clear” without any proof seems a little bit dubious. And the other problem, as I see it, is that being “assured that favoritism has played no part in the hiring of any public worker,” is a pretty impossible standard to meet.

Presumably the Chief of Police has no direct involvement in hiring for other departments, and there’s no legal basis to *prevent* his family members from working in positions for other agencies or departments. How do you legitimately prevent the sort of quiet favor-and-influence-trading that undoubtedly gives people like his wife and son (or relatives of any other senior city employees or elected officials, for that matter) a boost in the hiring process?

That’s the sort of behind-the-scenes use of connections and insider information I was referring to when I said that nepotism is common in the private sector. After all, what percentage of jobs are obtained due to connections and access as opposed to strict evaluations of merit, in the private and public sectors?

David Stuart March 20, 2013 - 11:47 pm

An external audtor, expert in Human Resources issues, should be brought in to assure the public that, indeed, the wife and son of the Police Chief are fully qualified to do the jobs, were among the BEST applicants for the jobs, and are being paid salaries that are commensurate with their experience, responsibilities, and performance.

EJ March 20, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Figures!! He wasn’t highly recommended!!

Mike March 20, 2013 - 3:22 pm

Wow what a non-issue. Suspected cronyism because the whole family works for the city? Slow news day, perhaps? The family, as it appears, all work in three different segments of the city. They, I am sure, qualified for their jobs. I don’t know why, on earth, the city would have to justify this to anyone. I am pretty sure there are plenty of other families that work for the city: a teacher may be married to a fireman, a Police Officer and a librarian. My god, cronyism is everywhere! (sarcasm)

Jason Sandford March 20, 2013 - 5:52 pm

Mike, are you serious? The cronyism is clear. I don’t know if you live in the city of Asheville, but I do, and I care how my tax money is being spent by city officials.

Mike March 21, 2013 - 8:44 am

I still think this is a non-issue with a scent of journalistic agenda.

(FYI born and raised)

Jason Sandford March 21, 2013 - 8:51 am

Mike, what does “FYI born and raised” have to do with anything? I’ve lived in Asheville 35 years.

ashevillain March 21, 2013 - 7:20 pm

Your double standards are hilarious.

Jason Sandford March 21, 2013 - 9:00 pm

What double standard?

ashevillain March 23, 2013 - 10:31 am

“I care how my tax money is being spent by city officials.”

There is no waste of tax dollars in this instance. Regardless of whether it’s this family being employed or someone else, the COA is going to pay those salaries to someone. It’s not as if this family didn’t exist then the city would save that part of their payroll expense. (As an aside, I really don’t understand why you question the qualifications of these few individuals and yet ignore the hundreds of other potentially more wasteful city staff positions…but that’s just an aside like I said.)

On the other hand, you recently posted an article & commented in support of a draconian and superfluous criminal charge placed against a local citizen. A law that caused the charge and is the result of one of the most financially wasteful “wars” of all time in this country.

THAT double standard.

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