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Archive for August, 2010

Weird Sidewalk Meeting

The sidewalk meeting did not go as anticipated. About 250 people filled all available seating, but the rest had to wait outside per orders from the fire marshal. On the way in, a group of drummers beat away, as if conjuring sidewalk energy. Two little girls offered people yellow “Sidewalks for Safety” stickers to wear, since people are not allowed to display signs at city council meetings.

The meeting had been moved to a church because the original public location was not air-conditioned. City Attorney Bob Oast said it would be OK, because council would be meeting in the cultural hall. People had to walk past a nativity scene and deal with banners about the church’s ministries and other religious themes.

Heather Goldstein, playing up her role as executive director of the Jewish Community Center, worked the audience. She’s running in the controversial Superior Court judgship race against Diane McDonald and Marvin Pope. Pope lost the primary, and so he and the others are running to fill a vacancy created just weeks ago.

City Manager Gary Jackson told early arrivers there was a gunman at the federal building. At the meeting, Mayor Terry Bellamy announced Councilman Jan Davis, whose business is almost nextdoor to the federal building, had a very important personal emergency and would be unable to attend. At the time of this writing, the APD is being politically correct about the situation.

As for sidewalks, the neighborhood group played a video with loud sidewalk music. It showed an ambulance trying to drive past a parade of protesters marching down the road with sidewalk signs. City staff made a couple presentations, including one with question-raising statistics: Asheville is growing slowly (but that is because it isn’t annexing, and it has nothing to do with density as claimed), Asheville’s daytime population is high (but that doesn’t mean the people who come in the daytime don’t pay property taxes for their business offices), the city lost $3 million in sales tax revenue (over an unspecified time frame from an unspecified total), etc.

Members of council explained building sidewalks was going to require partnering with state and local government. Congressman Heath Shuler is being lobbied for sidewalk money already. Bellamy told members of the audience they needed to stake a claim for funds or Raleigh, Charlotte, and Wake Forest would get Asheville’s fair share. An unspecified amount of porkulus is going toward sidewalks in the city already. Councilman Cecil Bothwell encouraged persons in the audience to vote for representatives that would be sympathetic. He also encouraged them to petition council at an upcoming meeting not to put transit funds into a parking garage that would encourage people to drive downtown instead of being green.

Most surprisingly, the meeting lasted less than two hours. Questions, commendably, were collected on index cards, so the mayor could set aside repetitive concepts. She promised, however, that all comments would be displayed on the city’s web site with answers. At least three times, people requested that taxes be raised to pay for sidewalks. The taxpaying status of the persons making the request is unknown. The question drew applause regardless.

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Finally Swimming with the Current of Market Forces

Hendersonville will switch to single-stream recycling in September. It is nice that people are finally listening to what environmentalists were saying twenty years ago: People like the path of least resistance. If you want them to recycle, you have to make it easy. In addition, making recycling easy for the individual creates jobs for people willing to mass-process the dirty work.

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Platonically, I Hate Democracy

Among my emails today, one requested a packing of the Asheville City Council community meeting tomorrow. The subject matter will be sidewalks, those impervious groundcovers that get rid of Type 2 diabetes. How much fact-finding on the subject do you think council will accomplish in five hours?

Another email came from my friends at OFA, who are “putting together one of the most ambitious campaign programs in American political history.” They anticipate their GOTV program will cost over $50 million. Expenses include office space and salaries. Donations are strongly recommended by August 31.

If I must spell things out, I hate democracy because the race is not to the swift, but to the well-connected manipulator who can coerce the most little minds. By the way, nobody bothered to send me data and analysis on why East Asheville needs sidewalks or why Congress needs more Democrats.

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If You Can’t Be Dumb, Choi Num

Local news still appears to be in a holding pattern. I read a couple articles about Al Sharpton’s humongous rally in Washington, DC. It appears there was a small gathering of neo-Nazis and KKK members down the road. Sharpton coached his people well in crisis de-escalation so they could deal with the hate speech and spit they’d be getting from the little gathering of bigots and racists. The small, predominantly white crowd consisted of dupes who are stupid enough to believe Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin when they say taxes are too high and too many people are out of work. Unwittingly, they flock to stop government takeover of more of America’s industries.

Another scathing article shines a light on the hatred behind the libertarian movement. Hatred, by the way, is defined as opposition to government fat-cat policies. So, there are these brothers named Koch who are evil because they made a lot of money. And now they’re using their money to support the arts and lobby for deregulation. Randroids would chuckle at the reference to their success as “the Kochtopus.” The Kochtopus is behind every apparent anti-government movement, ranging from McCarthyism and the John Birch Society to today’s Tea Party movement, Freedom Works, and Americans for Prosperity. Again, anybody stupid enough to say government is neither big nor intrusive enough is just a useful idiot for the Kochtopus.

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They Still Read

I feel like expatriating today. I guess it all started when I heard my name appeared in Il Nuovo Cimento. That’s not anything big, but it is illustrative of my experience with Europeans. They read what you write and think about it. In America, people tend to read what somebody else says about something taken out of context that you wrote, put a label on you, and plaster their conclusions all over the Internet.

Today’s headlines from newspapers in the Wild West fall into three broad categories: (1) You need to see these hot shows, (2) Some guy running for office is making appearances and telling you things he thinks you want to hear, and (3) Al Sharpton thinks Glenn Beck is a race baiter. I made a last-minute decision not to attend Beck’s event in Washington, DC this weekend. Many of you may have inferred I really wanted to attend, not to see the mystery speakers; not because I love Hitlerian spectacle; but to stand up and be counted as somebody willing to try different things to, as local talk show host Matt Mittan likes to say, put the federal government back in its Constitutional cage.

My reasons were primarily financial, but I wish I could have claimed to back out because of media intimidation. Why go to all the effort only to be held up as a racist enamored with Sarah Palin or hypotized by Glenn Beck? Who could logically reason there is anything wrong with scenarios like making your kid keep good grades while working through high school so he can pay for an underprivileged kid to go to college while he stays home?

As for the mystery speaker, I assume they could quote scripture warning of spiritual darkness in high places or referring to work ethic. My fantasy mystery speakers would be Henry Waxman and Nancy Pelosi, coming out of the closet saying, “We cut you all the rope we could. We made caricatures of your silly socialist notions in the bills we passed. And you only wanted more. Well, that strategy isn’t working, so now it’s time for Plan B.”

And so, electronically expatriating to another West Country, I discovered Cornwall, England is going to be cutting positions and reducing salaries of public executives to save about $25 million pounds a year. In America, budget crises are usually dealt with by funding new recreational facilities and programs.

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Land of the Programmable

Maybe you spend so much on taxes you can’t afford to drive to Washington, DC this weekend to stand up and be counted with other citizens who are fed up with unresponsive government pretending you’re too stupid to know their welfare statist, socialist maneuvers don’t belong in this Republic. If you’re stuck at home, maybe you’d like to serve your new country by canvassing for OFA. Don’t worry if you don’t know why or wherefore. Scripts will be provided for the clueless, and buddies will be provided for people with ideas of their own.

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Diogenes Strikes

A few days ago, I whined that all the headlines about business expansion these days pertain to the acceptance of porkulus. Today, I learned that Nypro is expanding their North Carolina operations, and hiring, because they have a new customer. My informant said the company does not take stimulus.

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China Seeks Mayor’s Input on Global Sustainability

The following from a press release is presented without comment:

Mayor Bellamy was invited by the Global Mayor’s Forum to represent the City of Asheville at the Expo 2010 Shanghai UN Millennium Development Goals Urban Construction Forum in Langfang, China, on September 3, 2010, at the Langfang International Hotel near Shanghai, China. The foundation of the forum will aimed at ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. No City tax dollars will be used for this travel.

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Need Money? Threaten to Cut the Jugular

The Marshall Fire Department’s board of directors is not happy with the budget the Town of Marshall proposed. The town allocated $48,174 to the department this year, but a lot of it will go to debt service for a new fire truck. The department also services a large stretch of county which pays a fire district tax. To leverage more funding, the fire department is threatening to henceforth stop responding to non-fire calls in the town limits. Services to be terminated include calls for first responders, cats stuck in trees, and directing traffic. The fire chief told the town’s aldermen they would be receiving a bill for any non-fire calls for service answered by his department. The discussion then degenerated into soap opera talk for which Madison County government has long had a reputation.

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Visions of Sugarplums Dancing in My Wee Little Head

Newspapers for the past year have been filled with stories about businesses accepting or competing for porkulus. I was just wondering when the last time was that anybody saw a headline along the lines of, “Unrelenting Demand Forces Innovator to Hire New Shift.”

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