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Archive for January, 2012

Buncombe County Commissioners’ Retreat in a Nutshell

The Buncombe County Commissioners held their annual retreat today. It was very business-like, and not full of the touchy-feely pipe dream stuff that permeates Asheville City Council retreats. Following are some hot topics:

  • Reportedly, two schools are in horrible repair. Asheville City Schools does not have the funding to fix them. The county must identify a new revenue stream. Kay Ray Bailey noted the modicum of lottery funds coming to the schools. Buncombe County Schools will get $1.6 million, and Asheville Schools $200,000. He asked where the “billions and billions” of dollars are going and wondered aloud if the lottery department was being audited. People replied seriously that all was in order, and Bailey said he was only joking.

  • The county would like to charge garbage collection as a household assessment. Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton explained only about half of Buncombe County residents subscribed to the county’s waste hauling program. That begged the question of what everybody else was doing with their trash. Creighton said before the road closed behind the courthouse, he would watch a nonstop stream of illegal dumpers. The schools have their dumpsters filled twelve months a year. Some people just throw it down a hillside or leave it to explode on the highway, causing the county to dispatch cleaning crews. Creighton estimated the cost of driving to the landfill every week would be more than an annual assessment of around $14.
  • The county is going to look into implementing an inclusionary zoning policy. Commissioners thought the action would be long overdue. So far, only eight jurisdictions in the state have active policies. Bailey wanted to know how the policies were impacting the housing market. Creighton said he could not give a fair assessment, because of the economy. (He did not say one reason the economy is so deplorable is rotten policies that make developers build at a loss.)
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Some Day My Subsidy Will Come

A couple weeks ago, at the Buncombe County Commissioners’ meeting, representatives from ABCCM told how last year they placed 302 homeless veterans in jobs paying at least $12/hr., and they aimed to place lots more in jobs paying $36,000 to $60,000. The success, they said, was based on a book by Ruby Payne, A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Having been counseled multiple times to dismiss outright get-rich-quick schemes; I was nonetheless enticed to see how dually diagnosed people were starting out earning 150% of the most I had ever earned working two jobs with fifteen years of seniority. So, I confess, I obtained a copy.

While glossing over the j’en sais quoi, I was struck by an outrageous message. As a child, I learned the messages from Proverbs: A fool chases after instant gratification, and a wise man invests in things eternal. Today, one cannot say such things. Payne reframes the situation to indicate low-income people have a culture that thrives on entertainment. In other words, middle-class people get one or more jobs to try to buy food, clothe, and shelter their families. They sometimes fall short because they have to pay for insurance and taxes. The tax dollars they get go to buy food and shelter for low-income families so the low-income families can use their earnings to pay for bling, big-screen TV’s, nights on the town, and chemicals. It is wrong to be ethnocentric, but the middle-class should be more accepting of others’ needs for entertainment.

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Thinking with the Brain . . . Nice

This is much better. I posted previously about an article that said, “Black, black, black, black.” A rewrite waits until the third paragraph to bring up the pigmentation issue. Knowing the candidate in question is a substitute teacher who has kept his job leads one to believe he has experience squelching monkey business and shenanigans. He’s probably developed a talent for seeing through manipulation as well.

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Stepping away from Nationalsozialistische Gestapo

Police departments may lose federal community policing funds. Here are some good reasons:

  • The federal government’s intrusion into state law enforcement could be described as the nationalization of the police force. That was a bad thing until revisionists rewrote Hitler’s biographies.

  • A typical grant will pay the full cost of hiring five officers for a year. The next year, the funds will be reduced, and in about five years, the local government will have to find a way to make local taxpayers pick up the bill.
  • The funds are used to pay sworn and gun-toting officers to cut paper dolls with little girls and play basketball with little boys. From the experience, kids learn, “The policeman is your friend.” This also does not sit well with the “propaganda” I learned about Hitler’s Germany.
  • The federal government does not have a quarter billion dollars to give to North Carolina for these programs.
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Pack’s Tavern Developer Dies

It is worth noting Stewart Coleman died. He is the developer who acquiesced to popular sentiment and reneged on constructing condos to honor wishes that he not cut down a magnificent magnolia tree on the property. The energy from the spells cast (They really did this.) to save the tree has created a sort of vortex (They really didn’t do this.) that has made the swatch of land graced by the tree the campground for Occupy Asheville, and the property Coleman developed a handsome spot for an uninvited compost pile.

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Marsha! John! Marsha! John!

In the latest episode of our drama, Hospital Wars . . .

Mission Hospitals has indicated it wants to terminate the Certificate of Public Advantage entered into for fear it would eat New York when it merged with St. Joseph’s Hospital long ago. As was likely anticipated, MedWest and Pardee are ganging up on Mission, which is smaller than they, asking the legislature to not only keep the cuffs on Mission, but to write more laws to elevate the little guy’s goal post. Yes, I am playing favorites with Mission, only because laws have been written, and are being written, explicitly to impede the organization’s ability to grow. If Mission is so nasty it must be stopped in its tracks, the state has means of shutting it down.

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Here’s another headline trying to make racists out of all of us:

Young announces bid to be first African American commissioner in history.

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Food Control

Asheville has a new Food Policy Council. In case you’re wondering what a food policy council does, Katie Souris provided the following for the Mountain Xpress:

Asheville’s new Food Policy Council is leaving the mall with a brand new pair of pants, and it will be wearing them around town for a few months (come on, we’ve all been guilty of it) to see how they fit.

The fledgling FPC has been a legitimate mall of sorts up until now; interested parties from all backgrounds and missions convening in UNCA’s Sherrill Center to discuss, hash out, deliberate, and ultimately dynamically agree what this web should support. Through a trial run of Dynamic Governance in action we decided that this mode of decision making would govern the 7 clusters that are taking shape out of the large group.

The third and final FPC meeting was geared to establish how many representatives each cluster would send to a central circle and how many and what those clusters would be. This was no easy task since as I mentioned we were also charged to decide on a way to decide. That success is arguably the most important thing to come from our meeting, . . . [read more].

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Not News

It’s only a wee $63 thou, so it is not a problem; even if another 100 or 1000 places take their own wee $63 thou. The Hendersonville Times-News told the story of how the modicum of porkulus greened Hendersonville’s mainstreet with retrofits to arrest climate change, created jobs, and stimulated the local economy with a wealth of economic multipliers – or should we say exponentiators. What? You mean you’ve heard that too many times already?

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Cain’t Blame ‘Em for Tryin’

Starbucks Coffee is really into the corporate gifting scene, as you know. In a current exploit, which you probably don’t know about because only people on welfare can afford to go to Starbucks these days, the coffee company wants you to help create jobs by making a donation to Opportunity Finance Network, an organization that loans money to capital-access-challenged companies that employ the low-income, food-insecure. In a deal that sounds like OFA, Fannie & Freddie, and Solyndra all rolled into one, generous contributions will be rewarded with a wristband that looks like a Scunci ponytail holder.

Here’s a description directed to the 99%:

To recognize support for the program, donors who contribute $5 or more will receive a red, white, and blue wristband with the message “Indivisible.” [Is this supposed to be some kind of post-theist message?] Donations will be accepted at Starbucks company-operated stores or online at createjobsforUSA.org starting on November 1. Donations will go to the Create Jobs for USA Fund at OFN and will be awarded to select community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to help finance community businesses that help create and sustain local jobs.

And here’s one that leans a little more toward the 1%:

OFN represents a nationwide network of 180 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) set up to provide financing to community businesses in underserved markets where accessing credit through traditional lending institutions is challenging or not available. The Create Jobs for USA Fund at OFN will be seeded with a $5 million contribution from the Starbucks Foundation.

Like getting warmed twice for chopping wood; donating to the fund creates jobs for those who painstakingly manufacture and market the coveted wristbands (If they are in step with the times, the facilities will employ a perky HR department with wellness initiatives, management with visioning retreats, an OSHA boy, a union leader, etc.) and the bureaucrats who administer the funds for companies that otherwise couldn’t turn a profit.

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January 2012
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