by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I would normally be at an Asheville City Council meeting tonight, but I am observing the Passover. I do not say that with joy, as I resent council deciding to move their formal meeting from 5:00 p.m. to 2:30 in observance. I am all for freedom of religion, but I somehow view that freedom as tolerance for a member of council’s request to be absent and perhaps for the agenda not to carry important items to be addressed after sundown. I do not construe it to mean we need to make anybody who wishes to address council on agenda-ed items arrange time off work on short notice. Some people have to get paperwork approved and find substitutes. Others are just out of money. I actually was not forced into taking time off work. I did have the option of silencing the conservative press’ interpretation by skipping the meeting. (If another conservative could sit through a single meeting without going batty, I would have been relieved of my duties long ago.)
The meeting did not impress me as showing consideration for those members of council are supposed to represent. Cecil Bothwell was a couple minutes late. Councilman Gordon Smith and Mayor Terry Bellamy were absent. Breaking with tradition, no explanation was given for the absences. At 5:00, Vice Mayor Manheimer left, and then there were four.
To top things off, members of the skeleton crew agreed to move their next budget work session back to 2:00 p.m. This is not a problem for a volunteer reporter trying to prove to her paying boss that she really isn’t needed. The reason for biting into my work schedule (taking things personally) was that a lot of people, who have no problems making themselves available at 2:00 in the afternoon, want to complain about council’s intentions to either raise user fees or cut back on services at recreational facilities. Get it? People who don’t need to work need to have subsidized recreation. We also learned that Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts is the city’s third largest department.
I boofed yesterday. I supposed the sign in question for the McDonald’s was the letter board under the Golden Arches, when in fact it was the tri-fold sign at the drive-thru speakers. The sign, therefore had nothing to do with locating the facility, as it was not to be visible from the road. Regardless, neighbors attempted to use the request to tweak a signage plan to include a sign that was permissible with the underlying zoning as a means of running the McDonald’s store off the premises in the name of excessive and dangerous traffic and property devaluation. Members of city council at least acted as if they wanted to use the sign request to uproot the McDonald’s plans; and one said he would vote against the sign as a means of articulating this. In the end, council decided to continue the hearing until a full body would be present.
Fortunately, nobody reads what I write, so they were all ganging up on the reporter from the local daily. Members of council believed he had misled the public in claiming the city was going to raise water rates to balance the budget. Well, Mark Barrett, I’m here to defend you. I, too, believe money is fungible, and I don’t buy those lines about transmutation of fiat into “already budgeted,” “elsewhere appropriated,” or “unalterably obligated.” For vindication, to whomever wrote Barrett’s headline:
You were correct.