After a week hiatus, Hit List is back! Let’s dive in.
Plan for I-26 moves ahead
Will it really happen this time? With the vote of six members of City Council, the proposal to route a new I-26 connector through portions of West Asheville and downtown moves on to the next phase. The vote came one week after Buncombe County Commissioners unanimously backed the proposal, following hours of debate and community input. Councilman Cecil Bothwell was the lone member of the council to offer a “nay” to the plan, which would cost an estimated $230 million and disrupt the “least amount of homes and businesses,” according to an analysis from the state Department of Transportation.
In other city news, the council OK’d a plan to accept proposals on developing a vacant tract of city-owned land on Haywood Street, across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Keeping in fashion with his previous vote, Bothwell was the sole dissenter to the plan—stating his preference for allowing the public to decide if the land should be transformed into a new public park.
Water rate hike?
Do water costs factor into your budget? If so, you might want to think about factoring in new expenses. According to a Citizen Times report, the council’s finance committee voted to recommend a 1.6 percent rate increase for drinking water to residents, beginning July 1. The group is also studying the idea of increasing the rate of sewer fees paid by locals. But it’s totally worth it, right? Asheville has some of the most pristine drinking water in the country! No word yet on a council vote.
New city attorney
If that headline doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will. Last week, City Council voted to appoint Robin Currin to the city attorney’s post—the first change to the position in 16 years. Currin, a Raleigh lawyer, is the first woman to occupy the job for the city, which it turns out is extremely important. Mountain Xpress reporter David Forbes has a post detailing the duties of the position, which will likely include a great deal of attention focused on land use and rezoning laws pertaining to Asheville.
Race for District 49 full swing
Three weeks after the passing of long-time state Sen. Martin Nesbitt, the field is awash with would-be candidates for his seat. So far, Veronika Gunter, Terry Van Duyn, Charlie Owen and Michelle Pace Wood have declared candidacies, as has Keith Young and Aixa Wilson. Buncombe County Democratic Party officials plan to meet on April 3 to pick a successor. Food and dinner provided!
McCrory to revise public records policy
Changes are in the works for the way Gov. Pat McCrory‘s office handles public records. After continual criticism over his administration’s charging of fees to publishers across the state, Raleigh news station WRAL reports the governor’s staff is evaluating several new options. The talk of change comes months after reports chronicled delays and hefty “special service charges” issued to media outlets who formally requested public information from McCrory’s office. It’s worth mentioning that on the campaign trail two years ago, the governor pledged to operate an “ethical and accountable” government.
Economist examines McCrory one year in
The governor’s first year got a quick review in The Economist this week. The magazine published a short profile on McCrory, offering perspective on his first year in office. The article pays special attention to his interactions with the GOP supermajority in the General Assembly. “Mr. McCrory seems unable to rein in his party and frustrate unpopular laws,” it reads. “The legislature’s power to override his veto can leave him looking foolish, as he did when two vetoes were quashed last year.”
Hagan cool with Obama now
Remember when President Barack Obama visited Raleigh this year? Remember how Sen. Kay Hagan had other business to attend to? Turns out she’s fine being seen next to Obama in an election year, and would even welcome him to the Tar Heel state. At an event in Winston Salem this week, Hagan said she meets with Obama regularly, and added he was “always welcome” to campaign for her in North Carolina. So that basically means another trip to 12 Bones is happening, right?
GOP candidates begin to scrap
It must be close to primary day. Outright negativity between Republican Senate candidates and their opponents had been kept at bay for months, but the landscape changed this week. The campaign for Mark Harris, a Baptist minister, went there—accusing House Speaker Thom Tillis of living a “double life,” presiding over scandals within his office and having ties to ideological opponents of conservatives. The attack generated a private, personal response from Tillis, which Harris seized as another opportunity to go negative against the presumed front runner. In other GOP primary news, four of the candidates, including Tillis, appeared at a Hendersonville event last week to give stump speeches rally support against Hagan.
Money, money, money
The river of money is reaching tidal wave status. The surge wasn’t really supposed to happen until the general election, but a crowded GOP field has the big guns lining up to pour cash on their respective candidates. This week, it was Karl Rove, whose group American Crossroads reserved $1.1 million of air time in North Carolina, presumably for pro-Tillis ads. The move is part of what Bloomberg describes as a “proxy battle” over the Republican party’s future, as groups backed by Sen. Rand Paul, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Gov. Mike Huckabee attempt to have influence over the race. With eight candidates in the mix, the odds of a runoff after the May 6 primary are looking better all the time.
In other campaign money happenings, a new pair of ads is out this week. One, released by a coalition of environmental groups, praises Hagan on her fight against “oil industry billionaires.” The other, from the pro-Hagan Senate Majority PAC, attempts to link Tillis to special interest groups. Which will make you reach for the mute button quicker?
That’s it for this round! Back for another next week.
Special thanks to Cecil Bothwell for doing his part in trying to let the public decide what to do with the land near the basilica. For sure we’d decide on a public park or green space there.
But the attitude of scarcity – and not trusting that staying true to the locals and providing a refreshing park will probably draw in as many money hemorrhaging tourists as another bland shop/hotel/taco shop – is a compelling thing.
Judging by all the arrests recently, Democrats everywhere are corrupt.
Sorry. That was a reply to Dustin.
Nice, a water rate hike… So they can pay for that flouride poison they add to the water, to dumb down the public. What an outrage. How about the government stops poisoning the people, then with the money they save from paying all the chemical companies, they give money BACK to the people. How about that, you G-D damn crooks!
McCrory belongs behind bars for his crimes against the people and the planet
No news about corruption with the mayor of the largest city in our state?
How is that an Asheville or “statewide issues that affect Asheville” story?