-December 2, 2013-
3:00 -- Is it unethical for Rep. Tim Moffitt to publish a newspaper outling all the great things his Republican Party passed in the NC Legislature?
4:00 -- Americans don't trust each other any more. Why? Plus Art Pope and William Barber exchange words.
5:00 -- Kevin King joins us to talk about his grassroots organizing work on college campuses. Plus, Milton Friedman debates Frances Fox Piven.
-December 3, 2013
3:00 -- Pete offers NC Democratic candidate recruiters the opportunity to come on the show. They chicken out.
4:00 -- The rise of the administrative state and why budget battles will be the focal point now.
5:00 -- The Hobby Lobby lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act, plus should chimpanzees get legal "personhood" status.
-December 4, 2013
3:00 -- A coup on the Mecklenburg County Commission might make it easier for South Asheville to de-annex from the city. Plus, a Hindu guy is mad at a local brewer for naming a beer Shiva.
4:00 -- Jake Frankel from Mountain Xpress joins us to talk about the latest edition on news stands. Plus, Buncombe County Commissioners say they want to reduce the carbon footprint by 80%.
5:00 -- Kurth Schlichter, columnist at Townhall, says liberals have to lie. Plus, human cheese.
-December 5, 2013
3:00 -- Fast food workers protest for an increase in the federal minimum wage.
4:00 -- Ford O'Connell, GOP strategist and former McCain-Palin adviser, talks about what the Republican Party needs to do to win the Presidential race in 2016 - including "getting over the fact that Reagan is dead."
5:00 -- It turns out President Obama did know his illegal alien uncle living in Boston. Plus, the Democrats are desperate to get everyone to focus on income inequality.
-December 6, 2013
3:00 -- Why the Affordable Care Act is costing Democrats support among women.
4:00 -- Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) dismantles a liberal professor's defense of presidential overreach. Plus, Rev. William Barber's comments after getting convicted on 2 of 3 counts for his Moral Monday protests.
5:00 -- More from Rev. Barber. Plus, the Olympic torch lights a man on fire in Siberia and the NC lottery is now offering subscriptions!
According to a report in Mountain Xpress, Asheville city leaders have been talking with NC legislators about what it would take to settle the City's lawsuit against the State.
Emails obtained by Xpress reveal that some state legislators have asked city of Asheville representatives to drop their lawsuit contesting a state-mandated transfer of the water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. The emails also show legislators discussing the fate of legislation that consolidates Asheville and Buncombe County parks-and-recreation services — a move that could save the city $5 million a year. Further, the candid discussions shine a light on a long-rumored proposal that the state may force Asheville to switch to district-based elections.
So, we have three major points:
1- State legislators Chuck McGrady, Tim Moffitt, and Nathan Ramsey have all been talking with Asheville City Councilmembers, Mayor Bellamy, and City Manager Gary Jackson about how to settle the lawsuit.
2- The legislature's proposal to allow the City and County to merge their respective Parks & Rec operations - and whether there is an implied threat that such a law would not get passed unless the water suit got settled.
3- The legislative iniative to create district-based elections for the City Council, as the NCGA did for the Buncombe Board of County Commissioners - and whether there is an implied threat that such a law would not get passed unless the water suit got settled.
Settling the suit
The NCGA suggestions of a settlement are largely being interpreted among the Asheville Progressive Left as being an act of desperation. The Left sees it as a sign that the NCGA believes they'll lose in court.
We can all watch in the coming weeks as this prediction-turned-dogma takes root among the local political set.
However, I'd submit it's preferable to not waste untold tax dollars on the matter, if there can be a resolution outside the courtroom.
There's a reason I don't predict court cases. It's impossible to do with any certainty. Be wary of people who do.
One thing that struck me, though, was that there were discussions at all.
Rep. Nathan Ramsey told the Citizen-Times last month:
... there had been talks with city officials over a compromise, comments he made after legislation mandating the transfer got a cool reception from the governor’s office.
He said these discussions have been going for "two months."
The Vice-Mayor, Esther Manheimer, seemed to agree:
“I appreciate Rep. Ramsey’s desire to reach an agreement that everyone can live with.”
Manheimer said it’s conceivable the lawsuit could be settled at some point, but no such discussions have taken place.
“I’m a lawyer and a litigator, and I know that 95 percent of cases in North Carolina are settled at some point,” she said. “It’s possible that any lawsuit can be settled.”
But when I asked at the City's news conference on May 9, the Mayor said "as a Council, collectively, we have not" had settlement discussions. (You can see the entire news conference and transcript here.)
There was universal denial that the City Councilmembers in attendance had been talking with anyone from the NCGA about potential settlement.
Perhaps this is because the backlash from the local Left was swift - demanding there be no settlement with the evil-doers in the NCGA. There should not even be talks about a settlement.
It appears some City Councilmembers might find themselves caught between between settling a suit to benefit all the taxpayers, or fighting one (with unknown consequences) in order to placate a vocal base.
As I've stated before, talking would be a good thing. Avoiding a costly and lengthy court battle would be a good thing for taxpayers. It could help stop the deteriorating relationship between local and state lawmakers.
Operative word there is COULD.
The idea here is to give the City & County the option to merge their respective Parks & Rec operations under County authority. It makes sense and would likely result in the same sort of administrative and operational savings. Ironically, this is the exact same sort of savings that the City Council argues it realizes by keeping the water system under its control.
Councilman Cecil Bothwell has publicly called Rep. Nathan Ramsey a liar on message boards about the merger proposal.
"Rep. Ramsey's claim that the CRA will "save Asheville millions" is fraudulent. Yes, it would take parks and recreation off the City's books, but it would create a new tax district, and City taxpayers are also County taxpayers. So it doesn't save City taxpayers a penny - and Ramsey has evidently forgotten that the "City" is not separate from the citizens of the City."
So, I guess he's a "NO" vote on this one.
If Council agrees with Bothwell that the merger is not a benefit to the City, it should reject the law.
But let's apply some logic here...
If Bothwell is right, then this proposal is not extortive - and Vice-Mayor Manheimer is inaccurate when she said:
"Who knows what the hell is really going on, but what appears to be happening is that we're being told to settle the water lawsuit or else. ... Those appear to be the options on the table."
Or else... what, exactly?
If Bothwell is correct, there is no benefit merging the Parks & Rec departments, so it wouldn't be useful an "or else" negotiating offer.
Now, if Bothwell is wrong in his analysis about the cost savings, then he might owe Rep. Ramsey an apology.
District elections for Council
This has been a rumor for a while, but I find it noteworthy that it's seen as a threat to Councilmembers. Throughout the entire water debate we've heard one of the primary reasons for opposition is that it puts the water system under the control of an unelected authority. This would rob Asheville city residents of direct electoral control over the system. (No mention is ever made of the non-City residents who don't get to vote for Council members.)
To believe this "good representation" argument from Council is to ignore the obvious - that Republican residents are not represented on Council.
According to the most recent voter registration data Asheville City Council is not representative of the people they serve.
This would mean a truly representative body (of the same current size) would include at least 3 Democrats, at least one GOP member, and at least 2 members who could be either D or R.
District elections give better representations to minority views - and in Asheville that minority view is the Republican one.
So, why would Council members feel extorted by a proposal to make elections more fair?