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Government Should Pay

The City of Asheville wants to enact an anti-graffiti ordinance. The plan is to make property owners responsible for remedying the damage to their investments within seven days of a notice from the city. Failure to do so will not result in a fine, but it will roll out the welcome mat for the city to come in and do a shoddy fix-up job and put a lien on the property.

Now, it is not customary to punish victims. If somebody slashes my face with a knife, you wouldn’t demand that I incur more debt than I will ever earn to make my face fit for human consumption. What kind of message are we sending to property owners and vandals? What about, if we don’t like you, we’ll deface your property to the point you can’t afford to stick around.

That said, I think it is a proper role of government to own responsibility for property damage. We pay them not to cut ribbons and get excited about synergies that never materialize. We pay them to be the protectors of law and order. If they are letting all pandemonium break loose, they should bear the brunt of the cleanup.

We talk about running government like a business. Well, Ye Powers That Be in Asheville, if your operations are too much to handle, then sell off some divisions or consider a buyout and move on something more befitting your talents and interests.

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Exempt Long-Nosed Hunchbacks from Vehicle Inspections

It is now Asheville City Council’s turn to oppose subjecting spent brewers’ grain used as animal feed to “the same handling, records keeping, packaging, and analysis regulations as manufactured livestock and pet food.” Of course I don’t want this to be regulated. I don’t want the other manufacturers of livestock and pet food to be regulated; nor do I think it is good for anybody to have to jump through hoops. Any tool should serve to realize a better product. Hyper-regulation has a way of taking people off-task to chase monkeys. The problem is, the rest of us are not cattle-farming state legislators in a symbiotic relationship with cozy crony capitalist brewers. Don’t get me wrong, Nathan Ramsey is one of the nicest guys on the planet. I just want the rest of us to have a chance at deregulation, too.

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I Wasn’t Going, Anyway

Governor Pat McCrory was one of a few dignitaries who was supposed to grace the Moogfest kickoff with his presence. Then word got out that he wasn’t going to show. McCrory’s people say Moogfest’s people asked the governor to cancel due to a looming protest. Moogfest’s people said there was a miscommunication. Those threatening to protest on a Facebook page are trying to start something with a rally around “women’s health, state regulation of Duke Energy, voting rights and education funding.” The demonstration is to take place, anyway, at, of all places, the obelisk named after a former governor believed to have been a KKK Grand Dragon.

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Unprecedented

Gov. Pat McCrory issued a memo March 27 advising state agencies — excluding entitlements and K-12 public schools — to discontinue most salary increases, to limit purchasing to minimum amounts for essential purchases only and to reduce administrative spending, including travel.

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Who Is Beterov?

The entries today are all gripes with the first few items on the agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting of Asheville City Council. Just because I don’t regularly mention this kind of thing, does not mean it isn’t happening. I just get sick of listening to myself sound like a broken record. Were I an enlightened politician, I would breeze through my consent agenda, see that we were going to get six digits of free money from the federal deficit here and there, visualize a land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold, and say, “This is exciting!”

But I am not a politician. I’m one of those creeps who asks what all this economic development funding from the federal government has gotten us. I ask if receipt of federal funding will be worth having the country default on its debt, or making the dollar a joke in international markets, or whatever craziness my uninformed mind conjures.

The stimulus for this tirade is that the federal government, for the sake of economic recovery, is offering $565 million in the sixth round of TIGER funding. The City of Asheville wants only a piddly $10-15 million of your grandchildren’s hope of discretionary dollars for greenways and streetscapes to exponentiate the economy on the city’s west end. The balance can be funded with interest that won’t need a tax increase until you’ve forgotten about it. The practice of getting lots of big, outside dollars is referred to as, “financial sustainability.”

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May 25 Is Wild West Bloggers Day

April will soon be over, and you will be able to be unaware of child abuse for another year. In the meantime, here is your awareness schedule, should you live in Asheville:

  • April 20-26, 2014, as “Administrative Professionals Week”
  • April 21-26, 2014, as “National Community Development Week”
  • May, 2014, as “Motorcycle Awareness Month”
  • May 4-10, 2014, as “National Drinking Water Week”
  • May 6-12, 2014, as “Nurses Week”
  • May 16-25, 2014, as “Strive Not to Drive Week”
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Planet Planit

Please to pardon if I don’t recall how many plans the City of Asheville has already. All I remember are lots of complaints about the proliferation, and a list of about six overlapping ones that included the Downtown Master Plan, a greenways master plan, and a French Broad MPO plan for transportation in the region. It is not enough, though. The city would now like to contract with Kimley-Horn for a $336,000 multimodal transportation plan.

Why?

This plan will include measurable goals and detailed strategies for creating a vision to develop transportation networks to improve accessibility, connectivity and transportation infrastructure throughout the City and at the same time becoming an element to promote economic development. [ED NOTE: This sentence is so far gone, I don't know how many sic's to insert or where.]

As added bonuses, the city will partner with folks wanting to excavate further into the federal deficit for some free money, and the plan will promote equality.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think the city needs seven transportation plans. I just think taxpayers should fund a comprehensive study or two before embarking on any planning process.

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Ride . . . Ride My Seesaw

Since May 16-25 will be a ten-day Strive Not to Drive Week in Asheville, I hope to have my magic carpet working by then. That failing, I’ll be zooming around on a lawnmower. For those of you who may find the automobile more appropriate for your lifestyle, the “Transit Subcommittee of the Strive Not to Drive Committee,” which may or may not be the same thing as “the Transit Committee, a subcommittee of the Multimodal Transportation Commission,” will be providing breakfast for bus riders, who will already get to ride fare-free on the 19th. Oddly, the city cut the time of fare-free travel from 90 days to 1. Among the greatest words of wisdom I’ve heard will always be former Transit Director Bruce Black’s PC comment to city council at that time, “But you can hold your breath and do anything for 90 days.”

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City Wants to Take out Whom?

The City of Asheville wants to create municipal service districts. For those who are unfamiliar with Synergeze, allow me:

  • district: excuse to tax
  • service: get your feelgood juices circulating, dummy.

Yes, the city is short on revenue, so leadership found this great way to take out more debt without putting it to a vote. Chapter 120A, Article 23 of the NCGS allows municipalities to finance projects with debt, provided the projects are in a municipal service district. The city will therefore hold a public hearing to ordain three areas MSD’s. Once the MSD’s are established, the city will be able to take out SOB’s.

The financial model being developed in conjunction with Parker Poe and DEC Associates uses revenue from the three cent property tax increase mentioned above, along with resources already dedicated to the City’s existing debt service budget, to fund all additional debt service that may arise from the future issuance of SOB’s.
. . .
This request is in alignment with Council’s 2013-2014 Strategic Plan for Focus Area 1: Economic Growth and Fiscal Responsibility (seek to ensure a sustainable financial future for Asheville by promoting an environment where citizens and businesses want to live, work and invest).

A public hearing will be held May 27. I won’t whine if you want to make the meeting extra long to object. Promise.

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Obedience Zones

If you are sitting there wondering when it would be a good week to observe legal speed limits, consider doing it now. The NCHP won’t care so much afterward. In fact, they expect you to be speeding so much, they have entitled their program “Operation Slow Down.”

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