Ashvegas Political Hit List: 19 minutes of nothing at Asheville City Council, Turner set for run, more

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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roy_cooper_2014By James Harrison

Ready to swim in a sea of politics? Let’s dive in.

Unemployment drops for better or worse

Here’s some news—the jobless rate in North Carolina plummeted last month, from 7.4 percent to 6.9 percent in December. Is that good? Depends on who you ask. Both Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Tom Tillis would like you to think so, labeling the change as part of a “Carolina Comeback” sprouting from their smart Republican policies. But economists across the state are offering different perspective. According to several quoted in this Raleigh News Observer report, the labor force in North Carolina actually shrunk in the past year, allowing the jobless rate to drop while barely changing the total number of unemployed persons. That’s kinda sobering. Ironically, McCrory’s rhetorical tactics are similar to those adopted by the White House in response to drops in the national unemployment rate, which have been subsequently bashed by Washington Republicans. Wild.

Shelved development equals record-short meeting

It had all the makings of an epic showdown, but this week’s Asheville City Council meeting turned out to by 19 minutes of nothing major. Council members had planned to weigh the merits of a controversial 16-unit development on Chestnut Street, only to see the proposal withdrawn a week before amid strong neighborhood opposition. With snow mercilessly blanketing the city and frantic commuters scrambling to get home, Mayor Esther Manheimer defiantly declared the group would not be canceling “because of a few inches.” True leadership.

Turner at the starting line

If political campaign kickoff events are your thing, have we got one for you! Democrat Brian Turner kicks off his effort to unseat state Rep. Tim Moffitt Saturday, and he wants you to be there. The event, which will be held at the Holiday Inn on Smokey Park Highway from 6 to 9 p.m., is “non-partisan” and open to the public. Before announcing his candidacy, Turner worked as an Assistant Vice Chancellor at UNCA.

Cooper ready to reclaim North Carolina

How many more years till 2016? Two-too-many if you’re N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper, who has all but announced a gubernatorial bid to unseat Gov. Pat McCrory, seems ready to run now. This week, Cooper released a three-minute online video announcing plans to build a movement “to take back North Carolina from those who are doing so much harm.” After a newsreel of clips highlighting last year’s controversial Republican-led policies (including the Daily Show comments from Buncombe County’s own Don Yelton), Cooper casts himself as a voice of reason. It’s a real soother. More here.

McHenry king of crowdfunding

U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry continues to make a name for himself in the world of crowdfunding—the concept behind platforms like Kickstarter which allows upstart companies and nonprofits to raise capital. In a Huffington Post piece this week, the congressman was hailed for backing the concept with his recent JOBS Act legislation, instead of “caving to special interests and Washington bureaucrats.” McHenry is scheduled to speak at a crowdfunding conference in San Diego on Friday, and has been sharing links to recent articles which highlight crowdfunding success stories from his Twitter feed. Perhaps he can find a new way to crowdfund money for his next campaign?

Burr pitches Obamacare alternative

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr pre-empted President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week, by putting forward what Forbes called “the most thoughtful and constructive plan yet to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Burr, along with Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Orrin Hatch, authored the bill, which would keep popular provisions of the current law in place (like bans on limits of lifetime insurance benefits and allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26). The senators say that their plan, which received extensive coverage in national publications, would ultimately lower costs and expand access. Burr made appearances on both CNBC and Fox News to hawk the proposal, which had already been panned by the White House.

Tillis rakes in the dough

Thom Tillis, your state House Speaker, announced this week a fourth-quarter campaign haul of more than $700,000 for his U.S. Senate bid. While not on par with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s $2 million quarter, the figure puts Tillis head and shoulders above the Republican primary field, with $1.3 million cash-on-hand. To boot, a new Rasmussen poll released this week put the Speaker up seven points in a hypothetical Tillis-Hagan match-up. Maybe this has something to do with why he’s been absent for at least three GOP candidate forums so far?

OK! Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

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

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. theOtherBarry February 2, 2014

    Speaking of questionable campaign choices, I find it really offensive that Tim Moffitt’s new campaign ad starts out with a shot of Jackie Robinson.

  2. Tim Peck February 1, 2014

    Try substituting “in years” for “20 years” and see what you can come up with. I know you can do it.

    1. theOtherBarry February 1, 2014

      You make a false statement, ridicule people for calling you on it, while complaining that they ignore your substantive point, then you fail to answer direct questions about the substantive point, because it might expose the whole thing as a sham.

      Wow, if I’m Tim Moffitt, I gotta think about asking for my money back. You’re the worst shill ever.

    2. smytty February 1, 2014

      You backtrack like Gov. Christie.

      Lemme know how that works out.

  3. Tim Peck January 31, 2014

    It’s interesting that all of the progressive “intellectuals” latched on to a nonessential.

    1. theOtherBarry February 1, 2014

      Don’t say that. I’m sure your mother thought you were plenty ‘essential’.

      But hey, I asked – if the Moffitt bill on “jobs” was so great, why did the GOP leadership in the NC Senate kill it? And please don’t just link to the 7-month-old Moffitt webpage again.

    2. Smytty February 1, 2014

      Maybe if you use your “nonessential” fact as the basis for your entire first paragraph about how the council lacks leadership, it wouldn’t have rubbed people the wrong way.

      When you lead with a mistaken fact, people are much more likely to disregard the rest of your point.

  4. Vlad Emrick January 31, 2014

    “Asheville experienced the worst winter in 20 years, essentially shutting down the entire city and causing numerous car accidents for people stranded in the bitter cold snowstorm.”


    When did this become Atlanta?

  5. theOtherBarry January 31, 2014

    If Council had cancelled the meeting altogether, paid haters would be paid to hate on them for doing that.

    It’s all just background noise…

    1. Fark January 31, 2014

      Hahahahaha!!!! It is all just noise isn’t it? Paid haters, hey its just Moffitt championing new jobs!

      1. theOtherBarry January 31, 2014

        Was only referring to the Council-hating, said nothing about the Moffitt-shilling.

        But OK, if the bill was so great, why did the GOP leadership in the Senate kill it?

  6. Tim Peck January 31, 2014

    “because of a few inches.”

    Appalling. Asheville experienced the worst winter in 20 years, essentially shutting down the entire city and causing numerous car accidents for people stranded in the bitter cold snowstorm. By not cancelling the city council meeting, council put at risk the safety and well-being of themselves, city staff and media who cover council; a clearly reckless move. For the author to call this “True leadership” is puzzling. Maybe it’s because he is a Democrat.

    “McHenry king of crowdfunding”

    Here in North Carolina, Representatives Murry, Moffitt, Shepard and Hastings are the kings of crowdfunding.

    “House Bill 680, the ‘North Carolina Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act’ (NCJOBS) provides a revolutionary new way for entrepreneurs to secure the start-up capital they need by encouraging the use of a successful new investment technique called crowdfunding: soliciting many small contributions over the Internet from a large pool of investors.”

    This legislation stalled in committee during the long session, but sponsors hope they can revisit the bill in the short session coming up in May and push it through.

    1. Blogsforfree January 31, 2014

      Not the worst snowstorm in 20 years, not even in the last 5 years.

      1. Big Al January 31, 2014

        It is if you happen to be the least competent city government in 20 years.

    2. roo January 31, 2014

      “Worst snowstorm in 20 years.”

      Least truthful person for 20 miles.

    3. Smytty February 1, 2014

      Perhaps the worst cold in several years, but it was three short years ago that we got hammered by snow (8-12 inches depending on your part of town) right before Christmas.

    4. Nate February 2, 2014

      I’m sorry that you didn’t realize that he was being sarcastic, but I thought it was fairly obvious that he was mocking the Mayor for a 19 minute meeting that accomplished nothing.

      1. theOtherBarry February 2, 2014

        Ah yes, the classic “it was just a little joke” defense. Where have we seen that recently?

        If asked, no attempt from the Moffitt camp to bully, insult, or harass Asheville City Council is ever meant seriously.

        1. Nate February 3, 2014

          Wait, what? The “joke” here was on the part of the column’s author, James Harrison. Peck over-reacted as if Harrison meant to seriously praise the mayor for holding a nineteen minute meeting with no agenda in the middle of a storm. Then everybody else overreacted to Peck. Ah, the joys of small-town politics.

    5. luther blissett February 3, 2014

      “Representatives Murry, Moffitt, Shepard and Hastings are the kings of crowdfunding.”

      In spite of what the Mouth of Sauron wants us to believe, I don’t think bogus websites run by InTouchNC LLC and “informational publications” that are thinly-disguised campaign ads count as crowdfunding.

      1. Sean February 3, 2014



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