Ashvegas Political Hit List: Poets who don’t know it, Moral Monday comes to Asheville, 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

Let’s begin this week’s Hit List by publishing an original poem:

This is just to say

I have surveyed

the news

that was happening

this week


and which

you were probably


to know


Forgive me

it’s a little overwhelming

so exciting

and so thrilling


Does this qualify me to be Poet Laureate? Read on and find out!

Racket in the RAD

City officials pulled the power plug from eight buildings behind Riverview Station in the River Arts District last week, leaving more than two dozen artists with no choice but to vacate the premises. The move was in response to a lack of compliance from Asheville developer Robert Camille, who had failed to remedy code violations. Despite a last-ditch effort from tenants, a temporary certificate of occupancy wasn’t granted. Among those affected are creators of an arts project commissioned by the city, along with new kids on the block New Belgium Brewing Co., who had been using a building for storage. Now they’re all looking for space. Read all about it here, in Kyle Sherard’s report for Mountain Xpress. 

Graffiti cleanse underway

You know Asheville has a graffiti problem when your five-year-old young cousin exclaims, “OK let’s look for graffiti!” on a drive to get ice cream. Luckily, the city has teamed up with a generous donor to help business owners plagued by vandals. With the help of a $30,000 grant from an anonymous giver, some property owners are beginning to see relief. Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel reports that since July 1, 67 owners have requested support from the city and 9 have received assistance. Down with graffiti, long live art.

Hotel clears hurdle

In the words of our native son Thomas Wolfe, the little town of Asheville continues to stick “hotels in its hair in order to vamp the tourist populace.” Design for the latest, the 132-room AC Hotel was approved by the Downtown Commission this week. Before you know it, the old BB&T parking garage will meet the wrecking ball. Read a rundown on the design from Citizen-Time sreporter Carol Motsinger, with photos of the design up for viewing on Ashvegas.

Long hot budget summer continues

Will the budget standoff make it to August? Lawmakers in Raleigh have yet to zero in on a compromise. The week began withGov. Pat McCrory issuing a veto threat to the most recent Senate plan, while House leadership attempted to set an adjournment date of July 25. Meanwhile, all kinds of last-minute bills are continuing to be brought before the legislature. Among the items includes a bill addressing the closure of the state’s coal ash pits, which was nixed by Senators on Monday. Another item seeing action this week is a measure to revise and possibly eliminate the state’s Common Core standards, which waspassed by House members Thursday. Minutes after the bill’s approval, McCrory indicated he would sign it into law, mandating that the State Board of Education begin rewriting curriculum to better “tailor” to students in North Carolina public schools.

Fracking moratorium lifted

We’ve seen it coming for months now, but it’s worth noting this week’s signing of a bill into law by Gov. Pat McCrory to lift the state’s moratorium on hydraulic fracking, which was implemented in 2012. With this development, the door is open for fracking to begin in areas across the state as soon as 2015.

Dems target Tillis

Most of the people blasting state House Speaker Thom Tillis these days are interested in his prospects as GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. This week, the attacks came from within his own chamber. Democrats in the state House accused the speaker of abusing his power, by refusing to release funds for staff of the state Democratic Caucus and using “parliamentary maneuvers” to table debate on issues twice as much as his predecessors in recent years. For full details on the development, read this report from Raleigh news station WRAL.

McCrory maybe on Medicaid?

He signed a law last year preventing it, but this week Gov. Pat McCrory suggested he might be possibly, maybe, open to the idea of accepting a federal offer to expand Medicaid for state residents. Appearing on radio Monday, the governor said he had not “closed the door” to expanding state services if the state could craft its own plan after fixing its current system. The governor’s comments drew national attention, being featured in the Washington Post. 

Poet laureate resigns after flap 

Did you know North Carolina has a Poet Laureate? If you didn’t, you certainly do now. Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision this week to bypass traditional methods for appointing an ambassador of poetry for the state were met with scorn from serious poets, and garnered unfavorable press across the nation. McCrory bestowed the role on Valerie Macon, a disability examiner for the state Health and Human Services department. Despite never being published by an established journal, Macon’s self-published poetry featured themes about the homeless, with proceeds from sales from her work going towards a garden to grow food for homeless in her town of Fuquay-Varina. Still, her lack of literary credentials drew criticism from poets across the state, who stillcommitted to assisting Macon in her new role. Despite the fallout, McCrory defended his pick, arguing that the position of Poet Laureate shouldn’t be limited to “cultural elites.” No matter. Late Thursday, Macon announced her resignation, citing a desire to not have “negative attention” detract from the Office of Poet Laureate.

McCrory 2016

Who should Republicans run for president in 2016? For one Fox News host, Gov. Pat McCrory might be the guy. In aninterview with the governor this week, host Stuart Varney asked the governor point blank if he proposed, “at some point, to run for the presidency.” The governor said he was satisfied with life as governor of North Carolina, with houses in Raleigh and Charlotte.

Make way for Mountain Moral Monday 

Mad about it all? You don’t have to go to Raleigh to protest. For the second time in as many years, the Moral Monday movement will return to Asheville on Aug. 4 to protest recent policies enacted by the Republican legislature. You have a right to get out there and rage. You also have a right to protest the protest, or to stay home and do things like watch movies and play board games. Have fun!

Meadows bill advances

Millions of dollars are one step closer to being released to Swain County this week, as a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows addressing the “Road to Nowhere” was approved in a House committee vote Wednesday. The congressman says $4 million is being withheld from residents by the federal government, but money won’t move until the bill is brought to a floor vote.

Senate money made known

By this time next week, we’ll be nearing double digits in days till November’s mid-term election. This week, we got to learn thelatest fundraising totals in the hotter-than-hot race between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and House Speaker Thom Tillis. In the second quarter of 2014, Tillis raised $1.6 million, leaving the GOP candidate with $1.5 million cash on hand. His totals were obliterated by Hagan, who reported raising $3.6 million during the period, along with an $8.5 million war chest. Will Tillis be able to close the gap? The spread could be indicative of a couple things—Tillis coming off successful his bid for the May 6 Republican primary, along with his inability to fundraise full time due to duties in the state House, which continues to wrangle with the Senate over a budget plan. Still, undisclosed “dark money” continues to pour into the race (more than $25 million so far, according to the New York Times)To boot, Tillis has been the beneficiary of more $16 million in ads spent by outside groups attacking Hagan, as opposed to the senator’s receiving $10 million in additional help from outsiders.

Who’s next

And when the Senate race is all said and done, win or lose, Tillis will be leaving the state House (either as a winner or not seeking another term). That opens the door to speculation for who could replace him as House speaker, a topic tackled this week by the Salisbury Post. Among the names of those mentioned by the paper as “publicly expressing interest” in the report?State Rep. Tim Moffitt.

See ya next week.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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