Pete's Prep: Friday, August 10, 2018

Buncombe Commissioner rips Chairman

District 3 County Commissioner Robert Pressley issued a statement on Facebook Thursday, saying the Board Chairman - Brownie Newman - has gone behind the backs of the three Republican commissioners to commit funding for an early voting site.

Here is what Pressley wrote:

With all of the promises of transparency, it doesn't appear that transparency is being delivered. I, along with Commissioners Mike Fryar and Joe Belcher, just received the letter below today. We learned about this from the news and members of the Buncombe County Board of Elections board, who had voted against the additional early voting site. I requested a copy of this letter on multiple occasions from Commission Chair Brownie Newman, but he failed to deliver. We were finally able to obtain a copy from another source. There are several issues with this. Resources have been committed, while the Republican commissioners were left in the dark. In addition, it is my understanding from Commissioner Fryar that this was never presented to the interim county manager, though a budget amendment and an official vote by commissioners would be necessary. Chairman Newman does not have the authority to commit county resources without an open vote by all commissioners.

He attached a copy of the letter:

Chairman Newman is clearly committing the County to fund an additional early voting site, amid a disagreement over whether the site is even needed.

Whether you think the additional site is a waste of money or not, it's completely unacceptable for one member of the Board of Commissioners to commit funding without a discussion and vote among the entire elected body.

When you ask how The Wanda Greene Gang could steal millions of taxpayer dollars for years... well... this is how.

AC-T editors: Commissioners engaging in "willful cluelessness"

The Editorial Board at the Asheville Citizen-Times today lays into the Buncombe County Commissioners for failing to provide the oversight required by their elected posts.

It's a fair criticism.

The board’s willful cluelessness was demonstrated when Greene retired. Mandy Stone, her top assistant, was put in the job with no search and little discussion. Greene was barely out the door when the first charges were filed, and Stone retired abruptly in June.

The most recent indictments may tell us why she quit. Stone was indicted, along with Greene and former assistant county manager Jon Creighton. The three are accused of accepting at least 20 domestic and international trips, complete with luxurious spa days and gallons upon gallons of wine, paid for by a contractor doing business with the county. Some of the trips appear to have no connection to county business.

Stone's hiring is an easy target, and I think a lot of members of the entrenched power structure in Asheville and Buncombe are comfortable citing this as an example of how lazy the commissioners have been in governing.

As I said - it's a fair criticism.

But I notice what is NOT being examined in this widespread corruption scandal. Namely, the Democratic Political Machine that operates here.

Columnist John Boyle has written about it before.

The "machine" is not new, it just metastasized over time.

The three top county administrators that were indicted were all Democrats in a Democrat city in a Democrat county. These people move in the same professional and social circles. They know the same people. They date the same people. Asheville can still be a pretty small city.

How many of the contracts did Greene get to hand out without bids?

Were commissioners meeting in committee to review details of the contracts for projects they were overseeing? Had commissioners met with project developers and engineers in open meetings over the years, they probably would have noticed the same corrupt contractor kept appearing in front of them for every project. Even when he worked for different companies.

They might have seen that special provision in the contract that said Buncombe could walk away from the agreement if the contractor left the various companies he worked for.

Or maybe the lack of this kind of oversight was designed to achieve precisely what The Wanda Greene Gang did. And while it's disturbing to think that not a single commissioner - FOR YEARS - could think of a way to provide better oversight, it's not realistic.

The system is designed to do exactly what it did. And so far, the Board's Democratic majority is looking to make fixes at the margins, when an entirely new system is required.

But we're asking the people who have running the show to change it. And I don't think that's going to happen. After all, some of the people that are at risk of going down are their friends.

Illegal Asheville homeless camp is illegal

If you're going to use zoning to direct development in your city, you cannot be upset when those zoning laws restrict your ability to set up homeless camps at your business.

The details from WLOS:

The city of Asheville has issued violation notices to four West Asheville businesses and organizations in connection with a homeless camp.

Those violations have been issued to The Steady Collective, Firestorm Cafe, Kairos West and 12 Baskets Cafe. 

If these organizations don't stop, they could face fines of $100 per day.

But, wait! There's more!

Gov. Roy Cooper looking to expand tax collections without legislative approval.

Amazon is coming to Garner, NC. It's a distribution center - not the HQ project. But, still...

A former Ohio State wrestler recants allegation against Rep. Jim Jordan.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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