Ashvegas Political Hit List: Moogfest-loving Asheville City Council, Meadows challenger, more

Jason Sandford

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

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By James Harrison

Moogfest-loving liberals at City Hall

What are your feelings about City Council? Warm and fuzzy? Cold and distant? According to a lobbyist, the group is seen by many outside the city as “a bunch of liberal crazies.” At the annual council retreat last weekend, the group was branded with the moniker by Paul Meyer, Executive Director of the North Carolina League of Municipalities. During the meeting, Meyer facilitated a brainstorming session on how the council could improve its relations with both state officials in Raleigh and the general public. Citizen-Times reporter Mark Barrett was there, and offers more details on the discussion in this report.

In other council news, the group overwhelmingly approved a resolution during their meeting Tuesday to grant $90,000 of incentives to Moogfest. The group voted 5-1 to combine $40,000 cash and $50,000 in-kind services for the festival, which will be held downtown in April and feature Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, M.I.A., and Flying Lotus among others. Most members championed the move, but Councilwoman Gwen Wisler saw issues. Wisler emailed citizens before the vote to explain her reasons for voting “no,” citing fairness and not being able to justify granting taxpayer dollars to a festival not open to the public.  

McCrory touts raises, teachers shrug

Gov. Pat McCrory began the week with a bang—announcing a long-hyped plan to boost salaries for roughly 42,000 North Carolina teachers. The governor, along with top leaders in the General Assembly, announced intentions to increase base pay to $35,000 for teachers with up to 10 years experience in the next two years. Right now, the starting salary for a teacher in North Carolina is $30,800. While the $200 million plan would raise teacher pay closer to the national average, several educators lamented its failure to address long-time veterans. “Teachers all around me are walking around today like someone died,” a Roberson teacher told the Citizen-Times. “We feel like we’ve been punched in the gut. This is not what we wanted.” Reactions were similar from teachers in other areas across the state.

Meadows nets a challengermark_meadows_1_2014

Hooray, election filing season is upon us! This week, a Democrat from Barnardsville announced a bid to try and unseat U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, who is seeking re-election for the first time to the hyper-conservative 11th District. Keith Ruehl, a business owner and volunteer firefighter, told the Citizen-Times he was running in part out of reaction to Meadows’ involvement in last year’s government shutdown. Meanwhile, Meadows also filed his papers this week, and has more than $166,000 ready to use against any threatening challengers.

Up in Washington, Meadows, joined with House colleagues from Western North Carolina in voting against a measure to raise the debt ceiling this week. The legislation passed 221-201, and didn’t have any policy provisions tacked onto it for the first time in years. The era of debt limit showdowns in Congress may have actually come to an end.

Senate race all about outsiders this week

The river of money flowing from Washington, D.C. into the North Carolina Senate race keeps widening. This week, voters got the gift of a new $500,000 ad campaign from a super PAC attacking Thom Tillis‘ positions on the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan blasted the actions of similar “dark money” groups spending millions to stymie her re-election. Simultaneously, Tillis is netting contributions from GOP strategists and U.S. Senators. Here’s the fact that matters to you most—only 262 more days till this silliness is over.

Happy Valentines Day! See you 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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