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A Return to Personal Rights?

The courts are being called upon to consider the right of an individual to worship harmoniously with his conscience. Darrell Littrell objected to his employer, Citi Brands, LLC, in the guise of Dunkin’ Donuts, making him work against his stated wishes that he observe his faith’s Sabbaths. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed charges against Citi.

In my experience, one tells his employer he observes Sabbaths, the employer says fine and then puts the worker on the schedule for the day he requests off, or makes him work overtime into his holy day. It’s always an ox in the mire, so the believer has compassion on the boss, and so it goes.

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Beer in Shining Armour

Here is a nice story about the jerk-around developers used to get from city planners and code enforcement. It ends in quite the amazing way with a fast-forward to 2014 where beer saves the day.

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Power to Silence the Opposition

History is the propaganda of the victors, and so, by definition, it is only right that former Polk County Commissioners were kicked out of a meeting where allegations were hefted about misconduct in closed session (1, 2).

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Spec Buildings for Beer

Now that protecting liberties is so passe, government is in the real estate business. But, being almighty, it can’t just buy and sell like ordinary people. No, it must “acquire, improve and exchange Facility ‘B’ for Facility, ‘A’” as was specified for Project X, and close the deal, public hearing and all, before members of the public know what is going on. Requests for transparency are met with assurances that the multimillion dollar entity begging funds threatened to back out of the deal if its identity were revealed. Then, come the lectures about how the company is not getting a check. It is just getting a tax break. And, since it will be paying more in taxes than the owners of a derelict lot, it can afford not to pay those taxes for ten years.

So, in the latest Buncombe County saga, we learn of the dispensation of the “spec building.” At their last meeting, the commissioners approved the sale of the spec building for $1.3 million to a private company in order to make a charitable contribution of that amount to the newly-forming Enka Youth Sports Organization. I don’t recall how the county came to own a spec building, but I don’t believe it was the builder.

Two weeks later, the public is learning who is buying the spec building. It is Wicked Weed. The brewer will rent the building from the county for three years before buying it. Rent will be $1 for the first six months, then $5000/mo until 2017 when it goes up to $5833/mo. The purchase price will be below the tax value, which is $1,519,400.

Wicked Weed claims it would not enter an ambitious expansion phase but for the $74,925 lump sum the county will award up-front. Now, if some religious nut were to stand up for his right not to subsidize firewater, he would be making himself uncool. This is, after all, not bad beer of which we speak, but hip beer, like they drink in Munich. If some tight-wad were to ask what was so horrible about the brewer’s plans that they couldn’t get assistance from conventional lenders, he would be reminded that banks are so evil and greedy, only government can properly dish out corporate loans.

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That’s More Like It

The Sylva town fathers thought it would be really neat to extend their powers into lands where people cannot vote for them. The practice is known as creating an ETJ, and it is falling by the wayside in NC. As for those who would be feed and regulated (if not directly taxed) without representation:

They protested for more than an hour, characterizing Sylva’s ETJ expansion as everything from a sneaky tax scheme to a communist-inspired land grab.

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What’s Next?

A school bus ran off the road in Hendersonville. I am sorry for anybody who was harmed.

There have been a few school bus accidents in WNC in the last year or so. If I were a legislator, I would argue the drivers don’t have enough bells and whistles to worry about, so anybody who can read the word “children” on my bill will vote to additionally equip the monstrosities with disco globes, neon underlighting, chrome Batman exhaust pipes, subwoofers to die for, airplane wheels and tires, and extreme manual hydraulics.

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So There

I am not discussing fracking here, because I still believe people are big enough to pursue pure scientific inquiry. Distorting facts to swing power to D’s or R’s is no way to save a planet or build an economy.

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Still Is Not Is Understands Rent Control

According to what was presented to Asheville City Council last night, employees at the Industries for the Blind wanted to have some more amenities at the plant. Several items on the wish list were granted, but a few remained unfunded. It was then determined that IFB could sell some surplus property to fund the improvements.

The problem was, the land was zoned Industrial and city plans have indicated that industrial tracts should be preserved. It didn’t matter that Ben Teague, a higher-up with the Economic Development Coalition of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the property was so ill-suited for industry, his people were not even going to show it to prospects. It was home to a wetland and a slope that would require infeasible investment in a retaining wall. Since the experts didn’t think the land would sell to industry, they tried to interest council in rezoning for a project that would get the property back on the tax rolls.

A developer offered to build apartments on the property. He had already gotten permission from the county; the parcel straddled jurisdictions. Staff recommended denial of the request on the grounds that (1) The city has stiffer fire sprinkling codes than the county, and the developer saw no need to spend $750,000 extra for something that would do nothing to protect health, safety, and welfare. (2) They wanted the developer to offer more ADA amenities in apartments and on a footpath. The developer was already going to provide preferential treatment for blind employees, who do not need elevators and huge turning radii for the wheelchairs they don’t use. (3) The developer intended to offer apartments well below thresholds for workforce housing, but staff wanted rent controls. The developer did not want to go there.

During the debate, Councilman Jan Davis expressed pain and disappointment at what his peers were doing to scare developers away from Asheville. Davis is always super-nice, and he remarked this was the first time in over a decade of serving on council that he has mentioned that. Everybody else up there wanted rent controls. One would conclude there is virtue in assuming all factors change at the same rates, and what is forfeited by political decree is always surplus.

Council ended up giving the developer extra time to figure out how he will comply with their wishes.

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Big Bang Theory of Civilizations

Just before the Asheville City Council meeting, Mayor Esther Manheimer received word that the federal government had given the city’s River Arts District $14.6 million from its magic money stash. Reasons to celebrate run counter to conventional wisdom in that recipients believe it is better to save the world in one swell foop than to incrementalate, and it is better to have everything than to prioritize. When parents treat children like that, the children are described as spoiled because their personalities are as fun to be around as spoiled milk.

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So We Can Make You Change Them Again

Mountaineer Towing and Recovery is suing the Town of Boone for changing its towing ordinance for the third time in two-thirds as many years. Compliance with the new ordinance, which requires signs to be bigger and in different places, would cost the company “thousands of dollars for no legitimate public health, safety, or welfare reason.”

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