Mountain Moral Monday a huge success!

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Apr 9, 2013 No Comments ›› cecil

Councilmember Cecil Bothwell kicked off the Mountain Moral Monday rally on August 5 by playing guitar and leading a packed crowd through each verse of “This Land is My Land,” a song Bothwell says he chose to represent the unity and spirit of the event.20130805-_DSC2988

“The theme of this rally has been ‘Forward together, not one step back,” Bothwell said. “Beginning the event with a chorus of voices across Pack Square singing ‘this land was made for you and me’ really sends a message to the General Assembly that the people of Asheville will continue to stand together to fight for our rights.”

The rally was held in front of the Buncombe County Courthouse Monday evening and was intended to mirror the very successful Moral Monday protests held each week in Raleigh while the General Assembly was in session. This is the first Moral Monday rally to be held outside of Raleigh, but organizers of the event promise further Moral Monday protests across the state until legislators return to session.

By the time the event began, thousands of protestors from cities and towns across Western North Carolina had gathered in Pack Square, many of them carrying signs opposing GOP infringement on voting rights, women’s rights, and harmful cuts to education. N.C. NAACP president Rev. Dr. William Barber delivered a powerful keynote address to the cheering crowd and asked that communities come together to fight against further legislative injustice.

The N.C. NAACP began the Moral Monday protests in late April, and the weekly rally quickly gained national attention. Each week, cars and buses filled with Ashevillians made the four-hour trek to Raleigh to protest the overbearing legislation coming out of the General Assembly. On July 8, the Bothwell campaign took two buses full of Asheville participants to the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh.

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Radical Right-Wing Legislature Endangers All NC Citizens

Over the last few months North Carolina’s radical, right-wing legislature has issued a flood of inept and dangerous legislation, with a willing partner in Governor Pat McCrory. These Raleigh Republicans seem to be doing their very best to eliminate many of the proud progressive traditions that North Carolinians cherish, with a special focus on Asheville and Buncombe county. While bills and resolutions allowing the establishment of state religion, crippling the student franchise, making the voting process much less convenient, and nearly halving unemployment benefits represent an affront to every civic-minded and humane North Carolinian (and, in the first case, to the U.S. Constitution), the last three mentioned on this list have particular importance for those happy to call Asheville their home.

AshevilleSkylineBlueThese three bills would remove Asheville’s authority over its own water supply, restrict its ability to complete necessary capital improvements such as sidewalk repair, and totally eliminate Asheville’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. While these last three may seem to have relatively obscure and technical consequences, the real effect will be the near doubling of this city’s budget deficit and the erosion of its ability to care for itself.

North Carolina and Asheville have rarely faced a greater challenge to progress and good governance than that which is offered by this legislature, which seems to be determined to reshape the state and its municipalities according to an extreme reactionary vision shared by few, and harmful to many.

The legislation cited in this section is offensive and dangerous to every North Carolinian.

H.J.R. 494, A Joint Resolution to Declare The Rowan County, North Carolina, Defense of Religion Act 2013.

Sponsors: Representatives Ford and Warren

This resolution, though now thankfully tabled, baldly defies the validity of the 1st amendment’s Establishment Clause (Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof) as it applies to the States, thus in theory allowing North Carolina to proclaim a state religion.

Senate Bills 666 and 667

666 Sponsors: Senators Cook, Sanderson, and Rabin

667 Sponsors: Senators Cook, Sanderson, and Rabin

Both of these bills represent a serious detriment to the effective exercise of civic participation in North Carolina by placing serious roadblocks in the paths of all voters, with a focus on minimizing the largely Democratic college vote.

SB 666 would eliminate same-day voter registration, limit early voting to ten days, and eliminate many “satellite” early voting sites.

SB 667 would effectively discourage the votes of college students by removing their dependent statuses with respect to their parents’ state income taxes if they should register to vote at an address other than that of their parents.

This bill would also require vehicles to be registered in the county of residence of their owners.

HB 451

Sponsor: Representative Starnes.

This bill would make judicial races partisan, clearly undermining the ideally impartial credibility of judges, and would eliminate one stop Sunday voting and straight ticket voting.

HB 4

Sponsors: Representatives Howard, Warren, Starnes, and Setzer

This bill, already signed into law and going into effect on July 1st, will cut maximum state unemployment benefits from 26 to 20 weeks and from $535 to $350 per week.

The legislation cited in this section is particularly harmful to Ashevillians.

HB 488

Sponsors: Representatives Moffitt, McGrady, and Ramsey

This bill would forcibly take Asheville’s water system and the revenues that accompany it and incorporate it into a regional water management entity, effectively doubling this city’s budget deficit in the process and weakening Asheville’s ability to care for its own citizens.

Asheville’s representation on the Metropolitan Sewage District Board would only amount to 20 percent of its seats, despite the fact that Asheville has the majority of both water assets and population within the system. Thus, not only is Asheville authority undermined, so is democratic representation.

Photo Jul 15, 4 23 16 PM

 

HB 224 Sponsors: Representatives Moffitt and Ramsey

In a further effort to undermine the authority of municipalities, this bill would eliminate Asheville’s zone of extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) and transfer all responsibility of for planning and zoning in this area to Buncombe County. This bill would also prevent the city from completing or initiating any annexation process through 2025.

HB 252

Sponsors: Representatives Moffitt, Ramsey, and McGrady

This bill would take away the city’s ability to use 5 percent of water and sewer authority revenues for capital projects such as sidewalk repair associated with water projects such as necessary pipe extensions and replacements (assuming that the city retains any revenue from these sources).

Rarely have Ashevillians faced a more direct challenge to their dignity and independence, both as metropolitan citizens and as citizens of North Carolina. These pieces of legislation are not just abstract collections of legal-speak for politicians and lawyers to fight over; they are real and imminent dangers to your rights and privileges. Republican legislators in Raleigh have forgotten who their employers are, and it is up to you, the people, to remind them.

Below is a list of the legislators immediately concerned with the above legislation:

What can you do? Write a letter or e-mail to your representatives, or phone them.

Here are some suggestions:

This is a letter from Valerie Hoh, in Asheville—

Dear North Carolina State Representative:

I am writing to you today to ask you to oppose H488, the “Regionalization of Public Utilities”.  I want to ask you for your consideration on this very significant matter.  I live in Asheville, NC, and while HB488 doesn’t specifically name my city, it will be directly impacted by this legislation and, therefore, I will be as well.

The bill initiators frequently project significant savings if the state forces this merger.  However, they don’t publicly acknowledge the results of other legitimate studies that contradict their claims.   There are reasons for this.

I urge you to thoroughly investigate and analyze ALL of the facts regarding this bill before supporting it. There is so much at stake for the citizens of Asheville and in other North Carolina cities, so please take the time to weigh the issue carefully.

Sincerely,

Your name & complete address

Courtesy of Kathy Kline

northforkwebDear North Carolina Legislator:

I am writing to you today to ask you to oppose HB488, the “Regionalization of Public Utilities”.  I live in Asheville, NC, and while this bill doesn’t specifically name my city, it will be directly impacted by this legislation and, therefore, I will be as well.

The bill initiators frequently project significant savings if the state forces this merger.  However, they don’t publicly acknowledge the results of other legitimate studies that contradict their claims.   There are reasons for this.

I urge you to thoroughly investigate and analyze ALL of the facts regarding this bill before supporting it. There is so much at stake for the citizens of Asheville and in other North Carolina cities, so please take the time to weigh the issue carefully.  This is a quantifiable exercise, it’s a math problem, and I am counting on you to do the math.

Below are a few other good reasons to oppose HB488:

  1. Buncombe County assessed the value of the watershed at $677 million.  The current MSD Board recommended $57 million in compensation to the city.  The bill that has been introduced offers no compensation to Asheville for the water system. Cities won’t invest in infrastructure if the NCGA takes their assets, setting a bad precedent statewide.
  2. This bill will undermine the confidence of local government to effectively plan, invest and manage their own systems and infrastructure for the benefit of taxpayers and ratepayers. The city projects that House Bill 488 will produce a $2 – 4 million/year deficit to the city operating budget for everything from firefighters to sanitation to street repair. This will affect everyone who works and lives here, including investors and businesses.
  3. If HB488 passes, the non-elected members of the  Metropolitan Sewage District Board would become the governing body of the water system.  This would undermine the democratic process by removing the direct accountability that exists today between the citizen and their elected officials.  Asheville, which has the lion’s share of water system assets and population, gets a paltry 20 percent of board members under the proposal (3 of 15 members).
  4. Eighty-six percent of Asheville voters don’t want to lose control of their water per Nov. 2012 referendum and at least fifty cities across the state have adopted resolutions opposing forced takeovers of municipal water systems.  The “will of the people” on this issue is clear.
  5. Finally, there are many indications that bill sponsors are motivated by a long-standing resentments held by Henderson County against the City of Asheville.  If you carefully examine the details of the bill, you will see how Henderson County benefits a great deal while Asheville is “taken to the cleaners”.  These same bill sponsors have consistently refused to respond to a multitude of requests for constructive dialogue (with city officials and Asheville residents), claiming that those who disagree with them are simply “wrong.”

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.  I am counting on you to take the necessary time to make your best decision on this issue!

Sincerely,

Your name & complete address

How to contact your representatives:

Rep. Carl Ford:
Phone 919-733-5881
Email Carl.Ford@ncleg.net

Rep. Harry Warren:
Phone 919-733-5784
Email Harry.Warren@ncleg.net

Rep. Edgar V. Starnes:
Phone 919-733-5931
Email Edgar.Starnes@ncleg.net

Rep. Julia C. Howard
Phone 919-733-5904
Email Julia.Howard@ncleg.net

Rep. Mitchell S. Setzer
Phone 919-733-4948
Email Mitchell.Setzer@ncleg.net

Rep. Tim D. Moffitt
Phone 919-715-3012
Email Tim.Moffitt@ncleg.net

Rep. Chuck McGrady
Phone 919-733-5965
Email Chuck.McGrady@ncleg.net

Rep. Nathan Ramsey
Phone 919-733-5746
Email Nathan.Ramsey@ncleg.net

Sen. Bill Cook:
Phone 919-715-8293
Email Bill.Cook@ncleg.net

Sen. Norman W. Sanderson
Phone 919-733-5706
Email Norman.Sanderson@ncleg.net

Sen. Ronald J. Rabin
919-733-5748
Email Ron.Rabin@ncleg.net