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Archive for March, 2012

Obsessed with Security until Somebody Gets Hurt

Skating seems such a silly thing to regulate, but Swain County has decided it can be legal again, but skaters using the county park must wear PPE. A deal-maker may have been the absolution of the county from any liability associated with injury in the park.

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Spin & Sting

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports a rash of bank robberies. Both bank robberies and embezzlement have been regular fare in headlines for about the last year. Lest we conclude jobless people are getting desperate amidst a general increase in the cost of living, it is important to note the article did not say how many bank robberies occurred. It further hinted the incidents were largely perpetrated by a lone wolf. That means, the article is not a statement on a bad economy, but the old police trick of trying to get somebody to say, “I only robbed one bank.”

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Blue Streams & Clamped People

Lest you believe the poor, impoverished state only has funds for recruiting beer companies, it has awarded Polk County funds for the Green River Watershed. Projects slated include:

  • Removing exotic, invasive plant species,
  • Stabilizing failing streambanks
  • Increasing the steram’s connectivity with its floodplain
  • Improving stream channel dimensions and diversity.

The discussion caused me to consult Merriam-Webster for a refresher on the definition of government. Perhaps, thought I, it had changed into something like, “horn of plenty.” Instead, I was shocked to find a compilation of tastelessly coercive concepts.

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Rally – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

To paraphrase a not-so-famous physicist, we should listen to the group that doesn’t rally in Asheville.

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A Giant Pipe-Cleaner Man

Ah, those pesky market forces. The Jackson County Commissioners have been arguing over what to do with the hot potato left in their hands when the recipient of an economic development incentive went belly-up. No interested purchasers emerged, so the county thought about using the hardware themselves. Then, they found out that Metrostat was not the sole owner of the goods the county wished to confiscate. In the meantime, people are asking how the wires can be used for the community – perhaps as public art?

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Oh, Moffitt? Can We Have a Bill for This One?

The City of Asheville is moving closer to creating a Business Improvement District. This was the major thrust of Goody Clancy, the Massachusetts firm hired in the long-ago to create a downtown master plan for the city.

The BID is a special taxing district. Property owners in the downtown area will pay an additional 7-cent levy. On top of that, the city and county would spend $150,000 each to help pay the salaries of eleven downtown ambassadors charged with tending to public safety and sanitation issues. Not to worry. An economic analysis indicates:

The BID could boost property-tax revenues in the district by about 2 percent a year, and sales-tax revenue by 5 percent.

The city can no longer concern itself with providing core services downtown for two reasons: (1) It has annexed more turf than it can handle, and (2) It has extended its role into too many extra-curricular, “strategic” roles, not the least of which is doing its part to save the planet.

According to Councilman Jan Davis and inquiries made by the Mountain Xpress, the extent to which loyal subjects want this service is “unclear.”

Efforts are under way, added [chair of the Downtown Management Subcommittee Susan] Griffin, to get “the largest property owners on board.”

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Profs Get Rad

Dig this headline from the Smoky Mountain News:

WCU asks professors for input on budget. Their surprising answer? Education.

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California Dreamin’

The Hendersonville Times-News is excited about the prospect of converting the Norfolk Southern Ecusta rail line, between Hendersonville and Brevard, into a hiking trail. According to consultants, the move would generate around $42 million initially and $9.4 million annually, create 180 jobs, and lower annual health care costs by $5 million. (Pay no attention to the jobs lost from the medical industry.)

Creating the trail would probably require the creation of an authority and “partnerships” (i.e., contributions) from state and federal governments and local businesses, such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., which was just recently lured to the area with economic development incentives.

If you think it’s a weird idea, you’re not alone. Norfolk Southern, who owns the land in question, will not even come to the table to talk about giving it up.

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What Boots It?

Vance Patterson, candidate for NC’s 11th Congressional District, announced at a recent GOP debate in Burke County that he will give his salary, if elected, to charity. That is fine, if he wants the Democrat vote, but Republicans would likely have problems with the idea of giving money to somebody to donate to the charities of his choice.

As it turns out, Vance will be donating to charities that promote job growth and provide safety nets. Again, what Republican entrepreneur is going to want him to subsidize the workforce of his competitor? Even if Vance donated to one’s own company, it would spell suicide according to Republican concepts. Businesses that succeed on their own merits are more sustainable (almost by definition) than those that rely on subsidies and cannot accommodate eventualities.

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When You Follow the Money, All Roads Lead to Rome

Tonight, Asheville City Council approved a slight tweaking to their living wage ordinance. The ordinance originated through efforts of the activist group Just Economics, which at the time published materials availed by another community organization, ACORN. The group believes people should make at least $9.85/hr with benefits, or $11.35 without, in order to live in Asheville where the cheapest acceptable apartments rent for around $560 a month, without utilities.

There seemed to be a disconnect in discussions tonight. Having sought work in the Asheville area for several months recently, it became obvious that anybody who was not fluent in 56 verbal and ten programming languages couldn’t earn more than $7.50 an hour, and that was for maybe 8 hours a week. Even so, non-evading folks piecing together a career of eight minimum-wage jobs will contribute tax dollars to subsidize what Brenda Mills, the city’s administrative services manager and ex-stimulus czar, calls a “bump” in costs to the city for paying all employees and most contract workers a living wage.

Mills did not know exactly how many dollars equal one bump. However, since (1) the right hand knoweth not what the left hand taketh, and (2) Marxist philosophers are probably teaching that money isn’t fungible; then one is not allowed to conclude anything unfair is going down.

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March 2012
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