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Archive for May, 2012

Oz Never Did Give Nothing to the Tin Man

I was thinking about businesses that have been doing well during the recession: payday loan joints, gold buyers, tattoo parlors, consultancies, accounting firms, law firms, government, second-hand shops, coffee shops, acrylic nail salons, survival gear vendors, work-from-home jobs, . . . I forgot one: paper mills.

State officials honored Grandfather Mountain Tuesday for being the first North Carolina attraction to become certified through the state’s new NC GreenTravel Initiative.

Meanwhile, Cherokee Central Schools has so much money, its leadership wants the system to become accredited.

P.S. In case you didn’t notice, it really helps something or other to run two capitalized words together.

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Procedures, Procedures

Would you do business with the federal government if you didn’t have to? Swain County is still making waves because it has not received moneys promised by a long-ago settlement for compensation after the TVA took acreage off the tax rolls to create Lake Fontana.

Shuler has twice gotten the annual $4 million payment appropriated for Swain County as part of the National Park Service budget — but both times it failed to actually reach Swain County. In 2011, the payment was rescinded after being caught up in an across-the-board clamp down on earmarks. So far in 2012, the National Park Service is refusing to release it, citing bureaucratic procedures that it wants followed.

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Heh, Heh!

Hendersonville refused to give the federal government a certificate of occupancy for its new ICE office. ICE representatives had told the county the building, located in an area zoned only for office space, was office space. But it alarmed neighbors with its scary fence topped with barbed wire. While assessing the site, city inspectors found a detention area, which had not been disclosed in the site plan, and detention is not a use by right in office zonings. ICE must now decide how it will resolve the building’s nonconforming feature.

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Uptick or Downmoose?

If the number of cats dropped off at the animal shelter were an economic indicator, what would this mean? Here are some other economic indicators found while trolling through the headlines today (1, 2, 3).

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Monjour et Visicose Shorcroix to You, Too

Sometimes words have two meanings, and sometimes they have so many, they have none. Again, I’m not too bright, but at least I do not suffer from that learning disability wherein unusually high releases of dopamine are stimulated by undefined words. For example, exactly what am I supposed to do with the following?

The grassroots, community-driven movement, Venture Local Franklin (VLF), held a community forum last Thursday to share data compiled from community stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, Franklin TDA and Franklin Main Street Program to determine what each organization does and their separate mission statements, funding sources, current goals and overall vision for Franklin and Macon County.
VLF is geared toward promoting positive and sustainable community advancement. As a citizen-maintained movement, they value inclusivity and participation that is action- based and outcome-focused. The group works to collaboratively strengthen the local economy by utilizing the area’s natural resources to establish common goals, nurture entrepreneurial ventures and drive innovation with the goal of moving Franklin forward.

Maybe some good will come of the program, but for now, it looks like another example of, “Where are they going, for I am their leader?”

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What We Have Here, Is . . .

Dear Buncombe County Commissioners:

I may not be very bright, but I graduated from much higher-ranking schools than most of your constituents, and I still can’t decipher the staff reports appended to your agendas. Since I do not have the luxury of moseying down to the county offices to have somebody hold my hand and guide me through the agenda, I will try broadcasting a little question through my Moodle. Here goes:

What is a $200,000 HFA Single Family Rehab?

Whatever it is, it sure doesn’t look good, and if you want to look good, maybe you could make a practice of elaborating better for your constituents and the commissioners, who say they receive no more information than we get from these pages. I’s a jus sayin’ . . .

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Go, Team, Go!

Local anarchists are speaking out against the proposed Business Improvement District. They are organized and making waves. An open letter from a few of them has been online for almost a day now. I agree with several of their well-stated points (e.g., the BID is plutocratic) as much as I disagree with others. I rather liked their insight that the BID is essentially the privatization of governance. The Mountain Xpress reproduced the letter. Hopefully the smorgasbord of ideas will give every member of council sufficient cause to vote against the BID.

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Mere Mortals

None of the Henderson County Commissioners had the gall to make a motion to give themselves a pay raise, so they won’t be getting one this year.

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Economic Recovery

Why are there so many stories in the news today about starvation – Buncombe County schools needing federal universal free lunches; food stamp recipients increasing by 40% in Haywood, Macon, and Swain counties; food kitchens gearing up for more business; . . . ?

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Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Rights

Tonight, we witnessed something that happens about once every ten years. It was a public meeting where sense outweighed nonsense. Asheville City Council held a fifth-Tuesday community meeting. Staff presented some sweet nothings before opening the floor to members of the public. And would you believe that in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, people were, miracle of miracles, standing up to government?

Much to my wondering eyes, the opposition to the Business Improvement District had organized, and about a dozen members showed up to voice their concerns. Chris Peterson, who has a knack for supporting the right side of issues, spoke first. He said things hadn’t been too rosy for downtown business and property owners, and prospects for the near-term vary. A new quarter-cent tax has just been levied for AB Tech. The BID is suggesting a seven-cent tax, but BIDs in other areas have required taxes in the teens. The county isn’t going to announce its tax rate until August, and everybody knows the county will be hurting for money, so property owners can only brace themselves for another tax increase. A couple others told how they rent, and property owners are not going to sit and suck up the increase, but they will pass it on to tenants. A couple others told how passing the damage to tenants will marginalize small businesses, causing only the likes of multinational corporations to be able to do business downtown.

Even a contingency of local anarchists asserted their rights. Julie Schneyer asked exactly what kind of policing power these ambassadors were supposed to have. Root Robbins said the BID would marginalize not only small businesses, but low-income households, a demographic with a preponderance of minorities. To embrace the BID would be to fly in the face of the funkiness, individuality, diversity, and entrepreneurship that made Asheville attractive and economically viable. Even Asheville School Board member Al Whitesides asked when the city was going to stop bringing in outsiders to move the black people around according to their plans. Minorities want a voice at the table. Whitesides was “appalled” at how civic leaders were still playing chess.

Wes Reinhardt, among others, asked the city to please crunch some numbers. The Utopian BID that was proposed was beautiful, indeed; but the BID advocates’ “structure, methodology, and concepts” were flawed. People asked to see numbers. When no more hands went up, Peterson asked if he could have a second turn. He said he did not want the city to impose a corridor plan on Charlotte Street. The study would cost $50,000, and the city’s investment in staffing the BID would be another $200,000. If the city could just hold off on those items for another year, they could give their employees their long-awaited raise.

For the grand finale, Councilman Cecil Bothwell said it was amazing he should agree with Peterson after Peterson had spent so much money trying to keep him out of office. However, if the city needs more money, it should levy a tax across the board, and not just in one area. Services, likewise, should not be enhanced for only one area. Worse, the BID, as members of the public had indicated, represented an added layer of bureaucracy. Like the TDA, it would be able to make decisions for the people, but the people would not be able to vote unpopular decision-makers out of office. Bothwell said he would not be voting in favor of the BID.

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May 2012
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