Government Accountability Project Asheville

The Asheville City Council meets this Tuesday 5/9/23 at 5 pm. You can attend the meeting on the 2nd Floor of City Hall, 70 Court Plaza in downtown Asheville. You can watch the meeting online at this link. The full agenda is here.


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



Things of concern, more information needed

Follow Up: Community Responder Pilot Program

Last month, we raised questions about this pending program, based on a presentation by Asheville Fire Department Assistant Chief Captain Patrick Crudup at the most recent Environment and Public Safety meeting. The stated goal of the program is “to focus collective efforts to assist persons that are unsheltered and/or experiencing addiction or experiencing behavioral health issues.” We asked whether the folks being placed in these new positions were going to receive any racial equity training, and if so, how that training would be implemented.

As we reported to you back on April 10th, GAP subscribers received similar responses from Council Members Sandra Kilgore and Maggie Ullman, and also from Chief Crudup, all asserting that the Community Responders would be receiving the same racial equity training from the City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. Wanting to know more about the nature of this training, GAP reached out to the Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda Mills for more information. Over the course of the past month, we have repeated this request multiple times. She has responded several times, promising to send information soon, but has so far not done so.

Things to do

We encourage you to reach out to Equity and Inclusion Director Brenda MIlls to request more details on the training protocol for these Community Responders.

You can (a) use our Equity Director template link to open up an email you can adapt, (b) copy and paste the content below this chart into an email, or (c) write your own message to


Updates on previous items

Follow Up: Buncombe County – Community Development Block Grant – Neighborhood Revitalization (CDBG-NR) Funded Home Repair Program (Request for Proposals)

This Request for Proposals was posted on April 11th: “Buncombe County has been awarded $400,000 in CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization (CDBG-NR) funding through the North Carolina Department of Commerce Rural Economic Development Division (REDD) to conduct owner-occupied rehabilitation activities. The program seeks to expand Buncombe County’s home repair work and allow partners to identify issues in homes that affect the health, safety, and well-being of residents where such repair costs would approach $30,000 per residence.” Proposals were due on April 27th but the schedule has been extended.

In the 4/17/23 GAP Report, we flagged this item with concerns about the process the County was undertaking in identifying the company that will administer the program. Then in the 4/24/23 GAP Report, we were able to report back to you that the deadline had been extended, but that questions remained.

We received additional information from County Procurement Manager Ron Venturella. He described the process the County follows in seeking to identify Black-owned businesses for these contracts. (You can read his full response below.) We wonder what else the County is doing – or could do – to bolster more bids from Black firms, and will be following up further on this issue with Mr. Venturella and other County staff.

Things to do

We wanted to update you on this issue, but aren’t recommending any immediate action. We will be reaching out to County Procurement Manager Ron Venturella with some follow up questions, and will update you further once we get responses.


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 addresses listed.

Send to:

Subject: Community Responder racial equity training

Dear Director Mills,

I understand that the Office of Equity and Inclusion is overseeing the racial equity training of the City’s new Community Responders. I’d like to better understand the processes you and your team have put in place. Can you share more information about the process you are using for training these staff members in issues of racial equity? How many hours does the training run? What topics do you cover? Any detail or description would be appreciated.

Thanks for your leadership,


Good afternoon,

Thank you for the interest in this project.

For the second posting, we have extended the time of the advertisement and incorporated a pre-submittal meeting to allow the opportunity for individuals to speak with County staff about the project and how to submit proposals.

When we post a solicitation, our practice is to review lists from the State’s Historically Underutilized Businesses, our system for WMBEs (Women Minority Business Enterprises), and the City of Asheville’s Business Inclusion vendors and invite them directly.

In addition to our efforts, we encourage you and GAP/AVL to share this posting (and all our postings) to your network.


Ron Venturella, MSAC, CLGPO
Finance, Procurement Manager
p. (828) 250-4154
200 College St., 4th Floor
PO Box 7526 – Asheville, NC 28802