Things that seem problematic
Consent Agenda N: Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with EPIC Recruiting to create recruiting media, create a recruitment website, and strategize and market the City of Asheville and the Asheville Police Department to recruit exceptional police applicants. This will be paid for out of the existing APD budget. According to the resolution, the contractor will “assist the department in reaching exceptional applicants, to include a more diverse recruiting pool, in a nationwide online recruiting campaign.” We think there needs to be more clarity on how these consultants will specifically recruit Black and Latinx candidates with a community-oriented mindset.
Things to do
Contact the Asheville City Council BY 5 PM TUESDAY and ask them to take this off of the consent agenda and have a public discussion at their meeting. Ask that Chief Zack and the Asheville Police Department leadership explain how these consultants will target their recruitment efforts. How will they appeal to Black and Brown candidates with a track record of prioritizing community connections? How will this recruitment effort align with the City’s commitment to reimagine public safety?
Things of concern, more information needed
Consent Agenda M: Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into an agreement with Buncombe County to accept funding for Code Purple emergency shelter. The requested action will amend the existing $20,000 contract with ABCCM to add $80,000, composed of $40,000 of pay-go funding for affordable housing and $40,000 from Buncombe County, for a total contract amount of $100,000.
We have several concerns about this initiative: 1) Has the City done a racial equity analysis to determine whether these service providers are adequately sheltering Black people? 2) Are the 8 beds allocated for women and children enough (out of 50 beds total)? 3) Every single one of the organizations (WNCRM, ABCCM, Salvation Army) listed as providing Code Purple services have practices of not sheltering trans people. What provision is the City making to ensure that trans folks (Black trans folks, in particular) will be sheltered? 4) These shelters will only be open when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, and even then only at night. We think the temperature should be raised and that they should be open during the day.
Things to do
Contact the Asheville City Council BY 5 PM TUESDAY and ask them to take this off of the consent agenda and have a public discussion at their meeting, so City staff can explain what their plan is for addressing these questions.
Unfinished Business A: Assignment of Purchase Contract at 148-150 River Ford Parkway. The City wants to purchase the Ramada Inn and enter contracts with Step Up and Sunrise for permanent supportive housing, rather than setting up a low-barrier shelter as originally planned. We agree that permanent supportive housing is needed, but are concerned that the low-barrier shelter plan has been postponed. We wonder what plans the City has for ensuring that this project will address the needs of Asheville’s Black population, since there is a troubling track record of similar endeavors disproportionately supporting the needs of white people.
Things to do
Contact the Asheville City Council BY 5 PM TUESDAY and ask them what the plans are for addressing Asheville’s need for a low-barrier shelter, and how the City will ensure that there is racial equity in who is provided permanent supporting housing.
Things that sound like a step in the right direction
Consent Agenda L: Resolution authorizing the Purchasing Division to purchase three new buses for the Asheville Rides Transit System that includes transit accessories and features. The city is buying three new buses for the Asheville Rides Transit System, at a cost of $1,649,192.
Even though these are diesel (rather than hybrid or electric) buses, additional buses are needed to build up our local public transit system.
Things to do
Contact the Asheville City Council BY 5 PM TUESDAY and tell them that you approve of their allocating funds to support our public transit system.