Tags:The People Advocating Real Conservancy group, which includes Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell on its board, sent out the following Nov. 21 email newsletter raising a number of critical questions about the city's tentative deal to sell naming rights for the Asheville Civic Center to U.S. Cellular. Asheville City Council is scheduled to vote on the matter during its regular meeting tomorrow, Nov. 22.
Here's the text from the email newsletter:
Not a done deal yet
The mail is running about fifty to one against renaming the Civic Center without a public process.
Most residents seem to oppose renaming it at all, not wanting the corporate logo look for Asheville.
The process by which the issue arrived on City Council's agenda raises a lot of questions:
• Why was Council informed about this in closed session, prohibiting members from discussing it with voters?
• Why didn’t the closed session rules apply to Mayor Bellamy when she announced the deal, surprising not just the residents but also the other City Council members?
• Why did Mayor Bellamy use indefensible numbers to defend the sale? She said that the $800,000 the City would get over five years was the same as a 2-cent increase in the property tax. Actually, though, a 2-cent increase would generate over $10 milllion over five years.
• Why did the Asheville Citizen-Times use the same bad numbers in their editorial endorsing the deal? Shouldn’t the results change when we find out that the math is wrong? Neither the mayor nor the newspaper has retracted their statement.
• Why didn’t City Council use an open bidding process to sell the naming rights?
• Why was the prospective deal kept secret until the City Council election was over? Wouldn’t it have been useful to get public input during that time?
• Why was the vote scheduled for the only meeting before the new council takes office?
• Why is the renaming vote scheduled to take place the day before Thanksgiving?
The whole thing was done suddenly, with only eleven days between the announcement and the vote.
Some are surprised by low voter turnouts. With political maneuvering like this, maybe we should be surprised that anyone votes at all.
If Council wants an open process, they must first have public hearings to ask residents if they want to rename the Civic Center at all. Then, if they do, Council could put in place a process to solicit bids. Then and only then should they consider awarding a contract.
Sometimes Council listens if enough residents attend the meeting. So please, if you can, come to the Council meeting at 5PM on Tuesday, November 22 at the City Building.
If you can't make it, please email City Council and let them know what you think.
--the folks at PARC
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