Government Accountability Project Asheville

LATEST UPDATE

GAP Report for 1/23/23

The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday, January 24th at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting on the 2nd Floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online here. The full agenda is linked here.

URGENT

  • 0 Items

PROBLEMATIC

  • 1 Item

CONCERNS

  • 2 Items

POSITIVE

  • 1 Item

EMAIL TEMPLATES

Use our prepared email templates to take action on this week’s items.

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RED:

Things that seem problematic

City Equity and Engagement Committee Meeting (January 17th, 2022) (Agenda)

This newly formed City Council Committee held their first meeting, and as one of their first actions, reviewed the Immediate Recommendation “Stop the Harm” from the Community Reparations Commission (CRC). The committee voted to recommend that it be taken up by the full City Council next.

While we appreciate the fact that the Asheville City Council appears poised to approve this recommendation this week (see below), we have major concerns about the precedent of sending Reparations recommendations through this committee. This seems like an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. The CRC already has a robust process for vetting their recommendations: Each potential recommendation gets presented at a full Commission meeting and then is reviewed and finalized over the course of the following month before being voted on. The next step should be a review and vote by the full City Council, not the additional hurdle of another committee process. City Council already does this more expedited process with issues it deems important, such as the recent response to the water crisis. We would suggest that actions by the CRC have inherent urgency and should move forward immediately.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the Asheville City Council and encourage them to place future Community Reparations Commission recommendations directly on their agenda, rather than sending them through the Equity and Engagement Committee first. You can use our template link to open up an email to adapt, copy and paste the content below, or write your own message to AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.

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YELLOW:

Things of concern, more information needed

Joint Meeting of the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Commissioners to hear the results of the project conducted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) (Agenda, Full Report, Summary of Recommendations)

From the City’s announcement: “The purpose of this joint meeting is to hear the results of the project conducted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, including a comprehensive needs assessment and corresponding strategies and recommendations to improve our community response to unsheltered homelessness.”

We appreciate the fact that the NAEH report identifies the racial dimension of the homeless issue: “Black residents represent only 6 percent of Buncombe County, although they represent 10 percent of those living in poverty, and 24 percent of the people experiencing homelessness in the Asheville-Buncombe Continuum of Care population.” Overall, the plan proposed appears far-reaching and to show some promise. However, we have questions about how many of the 110 distinct recommendations presented will actually be implemented.

Things to do

We encourage you to attend (virtually or in person) the joint meeting, and pay attention to the action steps proposed by City and County officials.

The meeting will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25th at Harrah’s Cherokee Center, located at 87 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC. You can watch it online at the City’s YouTube channel.

Buncombe County Commission Meeting – County appointments to the Community Reparations Commission (January 17th)

The County Commissioners appointed Dewayne McAfee to the Community Reparations Commission (CRC) and named Ronnie Copeland and Jesse Ray as alternates.

It’s important for vacancies on the CRC to be filled, but it’s also important that the process for doing so be as transparent as possible. Is there a nomination process? How does the County determine which candidates to consider for these posts, and what is the process for selecting the eventual appointees?

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the Buncombe County Commissioners and ask them to clarify their process for inviting nominees to the Community Reparations Commission. You can use our template link to open up an email to adapt, copy and paste the content below, or write your own message and send it from their contact page.

GREEN:

Things that sound like a step in the right direction

Asheville City Council Agenda – New Business A. Resolution authorizing the City Manager to develop a scope of work for an official audit in response to the Community Reparations Commission’s Immediate Recommendation to cease harm impacting the African American Community (Staff memo and resolution)

The Asheville City Council plans to vote on the Immediate Recommendation “Stop the Harm” that was unanimously passed by the Community Reparations Commission (CRC) at their December meeting.

We’re glad to see the City moving forward on this matter, and to do so without significant delay. We hope that this represents a new standard of urgency for Reparations Commission recommendations and that we’ll see similar responsiveness when proposals emerge from the Commission for returning land and money to Black communities.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to the Asheville City Council and express support for the adoption of the Reparations Commission’s Stop the Harm recommendation. You can use our template link to open up an email to adapt, copy and paste the content below, or write your own message to AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.

CITY COUNCIL EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT

You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the text below into an email and then address it to City Council.

Send to: AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov

Subject: Please approve Stop the Harm and expedite future Reparations recommendations

Dear City Council Members,

I am glad to see the Community Reparations Commission’s Stop the Harm recommendation on your January 24th agenda and encourage you to support it. I’d like to see future Reparations Commission recommendations go directly to City Council for a vote, rather than having to pass through the Equity and Engagement Committee first. As you know, the Reparations Commission has an extensive vetting process already in place for its recommendations, so moving it through an additional committee runs the risk of unnecessarily dragging out the process, and shamelessly undermines the authority of the Reparations Commission.

Thanks for your leadership,

COUNTY COMMISSION EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT

You can open this email in your own email program by clicking here. To proceed manually, you can copy and paste the text below into an email and then address it to the County Commission.

Send to: brownie.newman@buncombecounty.org, jasmine.beach-ferrara@buncombecounty.org, alfred.whitesides@buncombecounty.org, amanda.edwards@buncombecounty.org, terri.wells@buncombecounty.org, martin.moore@buncombecounty.org, parker.sloan@buncombecounty.org

Subject: Understanding your process for Reparations Commission appointments

Dear County Commissioners,

I read about your vote at your January 17th meeting to appoint Dewayne McAfee to the Community Reparations Commission (CRC) and to name Ronnie Copeland and Jesse Ray as alternates. It’s important for vacancies on the CRC to be filled, but it’s also important that the process for doing so be as transparent as possible. I was wondering: Is there a nomination process? How does the County determine which candidates to consider for these posts, and what is the process for selecting the eventual appointees? Shouldn’t the public be made aware of the process and the progress on these decisions?

Thanks for your leadership,

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LAST WEEK’S UPDATE

GAP Report for 1/16/23

The Buncombe County Commission meets this Tuesday, January 17th, 2023 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting at 200 College Street, Suite 326 in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online at the County’s facebook page. The full agenda is here. The Community...

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