Government Accountability Project Asheville

GAP Report for 2/21/22

Feb 21, 2022

URGENT

  • 1 items

PROBLEMATIC

  • 0 items

CONCERNS

  • 2 items

POSITIVE

  • 0 items

The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday (2/22/22) at 2:30 pm for a budget worksession and then at 5 pm for their regular meeting. You can read more about both and see their full agenda here.

Here are the items that the GAP Strategy Team identified as relevant to racial justice this week.

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URGENT:

Things that are top priority

City of Asheville staff proposes restructuring of advisory boards

The stated goal of the restructuring is “to improve the communication flow of Board work to the council and also better align work done with the Comprehensive plan and council priorities. This proposal aims to make our advisory boards more inclusive, strategic and efficient.“

At the heart of the proposal would be the replacement of the 20 current advisory boards with 4 new ones.

The City has set up four “workshops” where community members can learn more:

  • Thursday, March 3, 5 – 7 pm
  • Monday, March 7, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
  • Wednesday, March 9, 5 – 7 pm
  • Friday. March 10, 9 – 11 am

You can read more about the proposal and sign up for one of these workshop sessions here.

We are alarmed that on the same week when the City plans to announce some of the members of its Reparations Commission, there are also plans afoot to eliminate almost all of its advisory boards, some of which play a pivotal role in advocating for Black people in the city. Specifically, the Human Resources Commission and the African American Heritage Commission, both of which were created by the City with the stated intention of addressing ongoing harm to its Black community. There is an apparent disconnect between City claiming it is trying to repair racial harm with the Reparations Commission, while at the same moment proposing to disenfranchise and silence Black people by getting rid of these two bodies.

Things to do

Contact the Asheville City Council (AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov) and ask them how this restructuring plan, which will eliminate the African American Heritage Commission and Human Relations Commission, is compatible with their commitment to reparations and uplifting the voices of Asheville’s Black community.

Mark your calendar and plan to attend one of the “workshops.” You can sign up for them here.

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YELLOW:

Things of concern, more information needed

City and County announce new houselessness action plan

The City of Asheville, in partnership with Buncombe County, released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a consultant to develop an actionable plan to address unsheltered homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County.

We have been calling for the City and County to work together on a comprehensive plan, so want to recognize this as a step in that direction. We are concerned that the Request for Proposals does not explicitly state that racial equity is a central issue for this consultant to consider, even though Asheville’s houseless population is disproportionately made up of people of color. How will a racial equity lens be applied in the selection and then the work of this consultant? Will the Office of Equity and Inclusion or the Office of Business Inclusion be involved? It’s also important to note that in the same week the City made this small pivot on their houselessness policy, the Asheville Police Department released their Standard Operating Procedure for Persons Experiencing Homelessness, which doubles down on their ongoing criminalization of poverty.

Things to do

Contact Brenda Mills, Director of Equity and Inclusion and Angelica Driver, Business Inclusion Manager, and ask them what part they or their teams will play in the selection and oversight of this consultant. You can call Ms. Mills at 828-232-4517 and Ms. Driver at 828-259-8050. You can email both of them by clicking here.

To read more about the APD Homelessness policy, check out this information from BeLoved.

City Council sets schedule for new open space standard worksession and annual City Council retreat

Both events will take place in the Banquet Room at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, located at 87 Haywood Street. The open space standards worksession will take place on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 2:30 p.m.; City Council’s annual retreat will take place on March 17 and 18, 2022, beginning at 8:00 a.m. (There is no indication of the start-time on the second day, or what time either event will end.)

We strongly encourage community members who are able to attend both of these events to do so.

Things to do

Mark your calendar for these events. If they announce a livestream option for either event, we will share that (for those not able to attend in person).