Ashvegas Political Hit List: Moogfest funding rejected, lawmakers eye liquor tastings, more

| May 23, 2014 | Comments (10)

Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.By James Harrison

Another Friday, another Hit List! Here’s your latest roundup of political happenings across Asheville and the state. Read up!

City crew to check permitting headaches

Are you a builder or developer who feels like you’re hitting a wall when it comes to dealing with the city? Changes could be in store. This week, Mayor Esther Manheimer announced the formation of a new group tasked with finding existing barriers to the city’s various permitting processes, and recommending changes. The issue is especially important to small entrepreneurs, who comprise much of the city’s 3,175 sign permits issued last year—the most reported since 2008.

County agency rejects Moogfest application

Uh oh. First the news that Moogfest lost $1.5 million on this year’s event, now this—a rejection for a $250,000 grant from the Buncombe County Culture and Recreation Authority. Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel was at the meeting, and has detailson the vote. Several CRA members expressed support for the festival, but suggested Moogfest seek funds directly from the county board of commissioners. In addition, the festival’s grant request was filed three months after a Feb. 7 deadline. There’s still plenty of time for the festival to apply for other economic development grants in the coming months though, and Moog CEO Mike Adams is upbeat about the festival’s first year—which he said he doesn’t view in profit or losses but rather as “investment” in the Asheville community. So all hope isn’t lost for another epic weekend of music and tech synthesis downtown.

Water war heads to court

The battle continues. Months after being introduced, a lawsuit filed by the city over the state’s attempt to takeover city water will be heard by a judge. According to the Citizen-Times, that hearing takes place today. The dispute over Asheville’s water has been building for decades, with the most recent development being a bill passed by state lawmakers to turn over authority over the water to a regional entity. The bill, backed by state Rep. Tim Moffitt, was not signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last year because of his desire for it to be finalized in court. Regardless of the judge’s opinion, expect an appeal. Reporter Mark Barrett has an excellent article detailing the long history of tension over mountain water between Asheville and Raleigh. Read it here. And for an interesting angle about the future of Asheville’s water, read this report in the Triangle Business Journal about climate change having a possible affect on the destination for fluids from the city’s renowned high-elevation watershed.

Moffitt eyes liquor tastings

Along with water issues, Moffitt appears to have had liquor on his mind. This week, the representative introduced a bill to allow “spiritous liquor tastings” at local ABC stores. You can read the three-page proposal in all its legalese glory here.

McCrory makes NYT

What will the short session hold for our governor, Pat McCrory? People are interested to see, including the New York Times. The outlook for McCrory was the feature of a story in the paper this week, which focuses on the question of the governor’s ability to exercise clout over powerful Republican leaders in the supermajority General Assembly.

Paring back film incentives

Included in McCrory’s budget is a “revision” of the state’s tax incentive program for movies. In the past, films shooting in North Carolina have reaped up to $20 million in tax breaks, but McCrory’s proposal would cut that number to $6 million. The item could have impact on Western North Carolina, where recent films like “The Hunger Games” have been shot and upcoming movies are set to begin shooting this summer.

Senate backs fracking

It didn’t take long. On Thursday, the state Senate approved a bill to lift a state moratorium on shale gas drilling—AKA fracking. The controversial bill, called the “Energy Modernization Act,” would also make it illegal for citizens to “knowingly or negligently” disclose trade secrets about hydraulic fracturing chemicals in North Carolina, according to a Reuters report. Approved in a 35-12 vote, the bill was unanimously supported by Republicans, including Sen. Tom Apodaca. Buncombe County’s newest senator,Sen. Terry Van Duyn, voted no. The bill now heads to the House.

Tillis mingles in DC

State House Speaker Thom Tillis was in Washington this week, soliciting funds for his GOP Senate campaign against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. The candidate wound up half a mile from his opponent, who happened to be giving a keynote address at a Hedge Fund Symposium nearby. For some reason, there’s video of Tillis rocking a pair of shades as he left a limo to enter the fundraiser. Ah, Washington.

Hagan homes in on women voters

This week U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan unveiled a portion of her campaign strategy to specifically focus on women voters. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, that includes highlighting policies espoused by Tillis that she sees as being detrimental to women. The strategy will be important for the incumbent—when Hagan beat Elizabeth Dole in 2008, she carried 55 percent of the women’s vote in the state. Hagan claims she will have the “biggest, most effective turnout operation North Carolina has ever seen in a Senate race.”

That’s all for now! In closing, here’s a trio of takeaway stories from the week which may interest you. Cheers!

Takeaways

Reporter’s recorder confiscated in General Assembly

“Dark money” group hits Hagan in $3.6 million ad buy

Hagan bests female senators in 3-mile road race

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for Nooga.com, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

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Category: Asheville politics

About Jason Sandford: Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville. View author profile.

Comments (10)

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  1. JML says:

    If they frack the ground and poison our water with these chemicals, they are the criminals, the real terrorists, and they should be treated as such and locked up

  2. indie says:

    Glad to see the Moogfest subsidy request denied. Why should tax $ be used to prop up events like this?

    • Matt says:

      I’m guessing your question is rhetorical, but…

      There are good reasons city officials fund festivals with tax $. They can often bring in revenue for the local economy, greater attention from tourists, result in infrastructure that can be used for other purposes, promote industry, promote status (which can = clout in other areas.)

      It’s an investment on the well being of a community. Asheville has an identity of being a creative haven. An event that attracts tourists and creative artists from around the world And gets nation wide attention for it is certainly $ well spent.

      I’m not saying all festivals actually work out that way, or that Moogfest did or didn’t succeed in these ways…just saying there’s some logic behind the use of tax payer $ to subsidize major events.

      • indie says:

        Oh, I’m well aware of the drill. Made up impact numbers designed to justify the funneling of money to favored groups. I’m consistently opposed to these types of business subsidies.

  3. Matt says:

    “Trade secrets” my ass. What a nefarious bill.

    • Murphy says:

      20 other states require the public release of the chemicals used…

      you have to wonder what the NC “G-no-P” is afraid of – anyone can search the internets and find the info… seems like it’ll be kinda’ hard to convict someone who reveals something that is already in the public domain…

      • Because the goal is to maintain plausible deniability. Doesn’t matter if other states are revealing the stuff the frackers are using there – if you can’t prove they’re using them here, you can’t sue them if the stuff makes you sick, or there’s other negative results.

  4. Just got back from the Asheville water lawsuit hearing. Three people leaving the Wake County Courthouse not looking happy? Reps. Tim Moffitt and Chuck McGrady, and the attorney for the State. We’ll have a ruling within 30 days.

    Handed these out – they were a big hit:

    tinyurl.com/nt2dga5

    • indie says:

      Like the predictions of Supreme Court rulings based on the questions asked, such speculation is unwise. We’ll know in 30 days.

  5. Santa says:

    What the FRACK?!? Knowing what I know about our Republican super majority legislature it does not surprise me at all they have approved fracking in NC. But including language that makes it A CRIME for the public to be informed on the chemicals they’re blasting into the ground — WHERE OUR WATER TABLES ARE — is beyond the pale.

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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