by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Comments from the Asheville City Council candidate “speed dating” event hosted by the Asheville Downtown Association are posted in a Mountain Xpress article. They contribute to my renewed dislike for cities. Just as I was beginning to figure out how to navigate New York City, I’m reminded of old-fashioned ideas of getting out-of-touch with the land by not working with it, thereby having to find some other means of eating, which relies on somebody else, and that’s usually the start of problems. One candidate mentioned a study referenced by somebody else that concluded, quadruply-paraphrased, “towns with a large percentage of locally-owned, independent businesses had higher incomes and reduced poverty.” Since I don’t know the name of the study, and nothing was said about population size, I’m concluding we only discovered that – here we go again – quaint mill towns with mom and pop shops, where everybody knows everybody’s name, are more wholesome than urban swills.
Were I running for city council, my primary concern would be what to do with crime; how do we prevent Asheville with all its pig-bashing from going the way of Baltimore and looking like Jerusalem does on the TV today? And I don’t mean calling in local celebrities to sit around a table and talk about programs to raise awareness. Next, I’d worry about public health; too many people are complaining about human feces on the streets downtown. I’d be more inclined to say if we take care of the pennies (individual humans), the dollars (the city) will take care of itself. People need to feel safe going about their business, and not like it is the right of any punk to vandalize their investments. I am not trying to suggest micromanagement, but, rather, that the city needs to rescue people living in violence or abuse before it master-plans huge tourist traps.
Well, it goes deeper than that, but at the forum, candidates made comments about it being the role of government to incentivize businesses of the stripe government favors, build a semipermeable trade membrane around Asheville to make sure dollars only flow in, and ban chain stores. A couple candidates mentioned the beauty of getting the Asheville Way when state and federal law forbids by indirect legislation, like restricting elements undesirables would use. Undesirables are not vagrants or vandals, but large employers. The issue of fracking came up. I didn’t realize our granite mountains were shock-full of oil shale. Regardless, our new councilors would likely use indirect restrictions to outlaw that practice. One candidate referred to south Asheville as, “the only place that we can still really design,” and another expressed concern about leaving the fate of real estate up to the private sector. Everybody wanted to partner, which goes back to the bucolic theories correlating parasitism and urbanism.
I left off the names so as not to endorse anything, but you can see who said what here.