Ashvegas Political Hit List: N.C. General Assembly slogs on, Hagan hammers Tillis, the Pack Place shuffle, more

Jason Sandford

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

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Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.By James Harrison

Well here we are again, watching another week circle down the drain into the gutters of Asheville history. Settle in, take a deep breath, and brace yourself for the Hit List.

Pack Place shuffle

Months of debate led to Tuesday’s vote at Asheville City Council, where members unanimously gave the green light to a new leasing arrangement for Pack Place, which hosts the Asheville Art Museum, Diana Wortham Theater and Coburn Earth Science Museum. Leases for the building will no longer be offered by the city to the nonprofit Pack Place Education Arts and Science Center, but rather to the individual tenants of the building themselves. In the case of the Earth Science Museum, a short-term lease was granted as the establishment has plans to eventually move out. According to WLOS, other leases for Diana Wortham and the Art Museum are 30-years with two 10-year successive renewal options. The move came with pushback, particularly from former Mayor Ken Michalove (who penned an op-ed slamming the deal in Ashvegas) and Buncombe County Commission Chairman David Gantt, who told Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel he thought the deal was “bad.” For years, the county has granted the nonprofit hundreds of thousands of dollars for maintenance. For a rundown on the changes, click here.

Moogfest takes a gap year

What hath politics to do with Moogfest’s announcement this week that the festival will become a biennial event? Not much, except that both the city and county shelled out a combined $180,000 in cash and in-kind services to make this year’s event happen. When figures were added up, organizers found Moogfest lost more than $1.5 million (they’re confident costs can be “cut” in future years). According to this Xpress report, the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County is finishing an economic assessment of the five-day event, which “could be used to make the case” for additional public funding for festivals to come.

Turner touts grassroots cash

Is campaign money the most important figure when it comes to winning elections? This week, Brian Turner would like us to think so. Turner’s campaign announced Thursday it had out-raised state Rep. Tim Moffitt in the second-quarter fundraising period, hauling in $46,334.31 in campaign fuel as opposed to Moffitt’s $33,196.96. More than that, Turner emphasized the size of his contributions—with more than 80 percent being $100 or less. Impressive, but will the money translate to votes? There’s still plenty of time for this race to heat up before election day.

General Assembly slogs on

Wake us up when it’s over. This week brought another failure by lawmakers to breach an impasse on a budget which was supposed to have been approved nearly a month ago. What’s slowing the process down today? Is it debate on Medicaid reform? Funds for teacher assistants? Raises for teachers in general? Moped regulations? Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up. The stalemate has Gov. Pat McCrory making visits to budget writers, and “unusual” visits to the legislature to “touch base.” But as of now the prospects of a deal are unclear. Lawmakers could find themselves working the weekend, but at this rate expect more of the same next week.

Pope gets national treatment

It’s no secret to North Carolina political junkies that state budget director Art Pope is a powerful, figure. But in the Washington Post this week, readers nationwide were introduced to the man who is “widely viewed as one of the most influential people in Raleigh.” Despite not breaking new ground for those familiar with his history, the article is worth reading to understand Pope’s impact on the current political climate in Raleigh, and the attention he’s drawing outside the state.

Meadows farms for dollars

Despite being virtually guaranteed re-election this fall, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows held a fundraiser this week featuring U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla. The event marks the second time in one month Meadows has brought in House colleagues from outside the 11th District to appear on his behalf at fundraisers. He’ll face Democrat Tom Hill in November. Read about it here.

Hagan hammers Tillis on budget

It was bound to happen, and this week U.S. Sen Kay Hagan began calling out her opponent Thom Tillis’ role in the budget impasse at the General Assembly. Hagan, who once served as a co-chair for the budget, took the opportunity to slam Tillis and his colleagues at a press conference in Raleigh this week. The potential impact of the legislature’s inability to pass a budget is beginning to be noticed by national scribes, with another Washington Post report exploring how the implications of the feuding in Raleigh could extend well beyond the Tar Heel state. You’ll be hearing more about this. For all we know, the fate of who winds up controlling the U.S. Senate after November could wind up being pinned on the North Carolina General Assembly. Meanwhile, Tillis ducked out of Raleigh this week to raise additional funds for his race with Hagan’s colleague, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in Washington, D.C. He’ll need it—a new Public Policy Poll released this week showed Hagan extending her lead over Tillis by seven points. And the new ads from outside groups attacking both Tillis and Hagan keep coming.

That’s it for this week! See ya next time.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. theOtherBarry July 29, 2014

    AT&T, WalMart, Pfizer, State Farm, Coca Cola, Reynolds American… hey, guess what? Aside from being donors, they’re all current or former ALEC Private Sector Board members.

    As we speak, Rep. Moffitt is on his way to meet with his constituents at the ALEC meeting in Dallas. Guess he’ll be missing a few more votes in the crucial last days of the NCGA short session while he does his real work…

    1. theOtherBarry July 29, 2014

      Also making the trip to the Dallas ALEC Corporate Lovefest 2014™, will be the Gov. Pat McCrory is keynote speaker tomorrow.

    2. Tim Peck July 30, 2014

      “Rep. Moffitt is on his way to meet with his constituents at the ALEC meeting in Dallas”

      I guess he must be in two places at once since right now he’s in caucus meetings in Raleigh.

      Or, maybe you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Can’t decide.

      1. theOtherBarry July 31, 2014

        Sure, it appears they all cancelled going because it looked bad. I don’t blame them.

        “Gov. Pat McCrory was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the meeting, and Tillis was also expected to attend, but neither ended up going to the event because of the ongoing budget negotiations.”

        They’ve bollixed up the budget: politically, fiscally, morally, intramural-ly, and the current smoke & mirrors they’re calling a “deal” just kicks the really reprehensible stuff like cutting Medicaid, down the road until after the election. And Rep. Moffitt is being hit today by Brian Turner for voting to raise taxes on parents by cancelling the sales tax holiday, so important for people with kids going back to school.

        Thanks, Rep. Moffitt! for cutting taxes on the rich & on corporations, & then balancing the books by raising taxes on the rest of us.

        …So showing up early to a luxury confab with the donors in Dallas was a political bridge too far.

        …But they’re there all weekend. Who’s to say a fella can’t sneak out & press the flesh later on?

  2. Tim Peck July 29, 2014

    Syntax schmyntax.

    By the way, does a parody of me mean that I’m important?

    1. theOtherBarry July 29, 2014

      No, but it does appear to be a useful distraction from the fact that your employer is in the pocket of dozens of PACs, while Brian Turner is connecting with real people of the 116th district.

      Actual quote:

      “I AM corporate America.” Rep. Tim Moffitt.

  3. Tim Peck July 28, 2014

    Funny, but fake. Thanks for making this thread about me:

    “Tim Peck says:
    July 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I’m so sick of the direction the Republican party is going in that I’ve decided to vote Democrat this year. Tim Moffitt, been nice working for you as a paid internet poster aka troll but my conscious just can’t take it anymore”

    1. theOtherBarry July 28, 2014

      You’re right – back to the actual topic:

      In the first six months of this year, Rep. Moffitt accepted money from 35 – 40 PACs, all but one based outside the district, many of them outside the state altogether. But only 5 actual people within his district chose to donate to him.


  4. Jake July 28, 2014

    Don’t worry. Mr. Moffitt will have plenty of help to smear Mr. Turner every way possible.

  5. Tim Peck July 28, 2014

    Brian Turner quit his job to campaign for office full-time and is conducting weekly fundraisers aided by supporters largely from Asheville. Who among us can afford drop out of the job market to conduct a campaign?

    Representative Moffitt is busy working in the legislature during difficult budget negotiations and did no fundraising in 2Q, and yet received $33,000 in contributions.

    It should not be surprising that Turner is ahead in the numbers. In fact, I would expect him to be in an even better position given the circumstances.

    Turner received $50,000 from his mom and dad. Oddly enough, this is illegal now. His parents saw the new law coming in the 2013 Election Reform and took the opportunity to slip their son some big money right before the date when it would be outlawed. Quick thinkin’ mom.

    1. theOtherBarry July 28, 2014

      …did no fundraising in 2Q, and yet received $33,000 in contributions.

      What a croc. $26,750 of it came from PACs, every single one of them from outside the district or even outside the state, and every single one of them expecting something in return.

      The “Petroleum and Convenience Marketers” gave him $2000. I wonder what they want?

      “Reynolds American PAC” also gave him $2000. What do you suppose Big Tobacco wants in return?

      Microsoft, Weyerhauser, Duke, GE, Bank of America, Honeywell, AT&T, Pfizer, Coca Cola, Merck, McGuireWoods, State Farm, Time Warner, Waste Management, Wells Fargo, CSX, John Deere, Sprint, WalMart, Fairway Outdoor Signs, PSNC Energy, on and on and on – these are Rep. Moffitt constituents, not the voters in the 116th District.

      Oh, and of the remaining $6500 from “individuals”, roughly half that came from Rep. Moffitt himself.

  6. theOtherBarry July 25, 2014

    Is campaign money the most important figure when it comes to winning elections?

    It is when one of the candidates gets almost all of his money from local individuals, while the other gets almost all of his from from out-of-town or even out-of-state PACs.

    (hint: the PacMan’s name rhymes with ‘Moffitt’. Oops, I gave it away…)

  7. Tim Peck July 25, 2014

    I’m so sick of the direction the Republican party is going in that I’ve decided to vote Democrat this year. Tim Moffitt, been nice working for you as a paid internet poster aka troll but my conscious just can’t take it anymore!

    1. Matt July 28, 2014


    2. Matt July 28, 2014

      I’d prefer that the people making fun of my political opposites could be more literate. You know – represent.

      So, if I can also say, your syntax is way off, “Tim”.


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