Asheville City Council members say state lawmakers are trying to force them to ditch their lawsuit over the water system merger law.
Rep. Nathan Ramsey says no such thing is occurring.
The Council's premise is twofold: First, that NC House lawmakers are trying to tank a bill that would allow for the voluntary merger of the City and County Parks & Rec operations. Second, that these same lawmakers are threatening to impose district elections on the City Council.
The premise assumes both of these ideas are bad, and are, therefore, legislative extortion.
I looked at both of these issues in Friday's blog post, so I won't re-hash them here.
However, over the weekend, I had a brief Twitter discussion with Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith.
Or at least, I tried...
Sounds more like rehashed talking points from forced changes to county system.— Gordon Smith (@gordondsmith) June 8, 2013
I wasn't here for BOCC district elex debate, @gordondsmith. Do you think districts give minority voters representation?— Pete Kaliner (@petekaliner) June 8, 2013
I understand you & Council view it as a pressure tactic, @gordondsmith. I'm asking about the concept of district elections, though.— Pete Kaliner (@petekaliner) June 8, 2013
@petekaliner It is an intimidation tactic. That is a true statement. Let's talk abt the concept of govt by bullying. What are yr thoughts?— Gordon Smith (@gordondsmith) June 8, 2013
He never did respond to my question, which is pretty straightforward and simple. Indeed, any and all sitting elected officials should be able to answer this question.
It's obvious that Councilman Smith doesn't want to answer the question, however.
But here is why it's important...
If district elections are bad for Asheville voters, then Council members can say they are being pressured by state lawmakers. Indeed, this IS what Council is saying. So, they are leading us to assume that they all believe district elections are not good for the citizens. Voters should know why.
On the other hand, if district elections are GOOD for Asheville voters, then it cannot be extortion for state lawmakers to pursue the idea. More so, if district voting is good for Asheville voters, the Council should be working WITH the NC House members to get it implemented.
Hence, my simple question to Councilman Smith.
And, hence, my surprise that there's been no reply.
As the blog title states: Can the Council be extorted for something it actually wants?
Quid pro quo
Now, Councilman Smith did ask me an open-ended question about "government bullying" which I did not answer. I chose not to answer because I suspected he was trying to divert the conversation away from the district election question I first asked him.
Given that a response does not seem to be coming from the Councilman, I will answer his question now.
"Government bullying" is redundant, Councilman. As George Washington put it, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
The founders of the nation understood this simple truth about government, because government is conducted by people - who can be corrupt, petty, ego-maniacal, short-sighted, and power-hungry. The solution was to pit these people against each other, in order to protect the liberty of the people as much as possible.
The City's fight with the State over control of the water system is a perfect example of it. It's a fight over control - a very human desire. The government, itself, doesn't care about whether the water system is governed by an authority or the Council. The people in the government, do, however.
So, do I like "government bullying?" Of course not.
But I recognize that government is coercive in nature and is, therefore, a form of bullying. And because I understand the nature of government I prefer it to be limited.
I hope this addresses the Councilman's question.
I'm not expecting a similar courtesy for mine.