In a June 6 online story, David Forbes reported on a series of exchanges between state legislators and city representatives regarding the lawsuit recently filed in response to a bill that transfers management of Asheville’s water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District (for more about this complex, ongoing story, visit http://avl.mx/ub).
“Emails obtained by Xpress reveal that some state legislators have asked city of Asheville representatives to drop their lawsuit contesting a state-mandated transfer of the water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District,” Forbes reports. “The emails also show legislators discussing the fate of legislation that consolidates Asheville and Buncombe County parks-and-recreation services — a move that could save the city $5 million a year. Further, the candid discussions shine a light on a long-rumored proposal that the state may force Asheville to switch to district-based elections.”
Many readers shared their strong opinions and intense reactions with Xpress — many more than we could include here. Visit http://avl.mx/uc for the full story, and to add your voice to the debate. — Jaye Bartell
This seems very close to racketeering. — Greyhawk
Either this lawsuit is badass — seriously badass — or we must ask why Moffitt and crew seem so so intent on forcing a settlement? Seriously, just whose land deal hinges on this water? That is the question no reporter has dated ask. This did not come from this trio of legislators without a significant reason why. No one has asked why? — Thurston Moore
Xpress reporters have asked, and sniffed around, but the results are inconclusive. — Margaret Williams, News Editor, Xpress.
And I would quibble on the title of this article: State reps cannot "settle" a lawsuit. That's between the parties (city of Asheville, State of N.C. Attorney General, MSD) and judge Howard Manning.
What the state reps are doing is bullying, threatening, coercing the city in an attempt to force them to abandon their legal challenge to a controversial and possibly unconstitutional piece of legislation. If I were them, I would worry about how the Judge in the case will take all this, now that it's been made public how they are secretly trying to pressure the City into surrendering their legal rights. — bsummers
Bsummers is right. A little reminder of what might happen if you don't settle (your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, called BATNA) is one thing. A threat to use power if you don't, and by another branch of government, is something completely different. A threat is dangerously close to meddling in a case and the judiciary’s right to hear it.
As a side. The city should not settle this. It is quite clear they have the upper hand, especially now that this has come out. Delay is your friend. Water profits keep coming, and more time to plan the budget hole if they lose. Delay forces a better bargaining position later. [Legislators] want a settlement, and have turned to threats, because they or someone needs this water authority now (perhaps a land deal or development?).
If this takes years, the parties that proposed it and the support of it by colleagues will wane. Some may not even be back. The city clearly has a dominant position after suing. And the defendants have made a cardinal error. Don't anger the judge. — Roger Hartley
This is unconscionable. Never in the history of government in this state has anything like this ever occurred. Asheville, and the western region, are the victims of the most vicious and sinister assault ever seen out of Raleigh.
It is my hope that the city of Asheville not only not cave to this pressure, but should ask the judge to censure the state for the actions of its "agents.” Further, I do not know what the requirements are for censure at the legislative level, but at the very least a full investigation by the state of this needs to be conducted. — John Miall
Wow! Is there such a thing as the Constitution, anymore? I would like to think that other folks in Raleigh would oppose these happenings. Then again, they're seeing it up close and personal.
Are citizens really not outraged that, whichever "side" one takes, that there is a serious lack of response to this thuggery? Or, do you have to wait until its "your" turn to be bullied? — TJ6
Rep. Ramsey's claim that the CRA will "save Asheville millions" is fraudulent. Yes, it would take parks and recreation off the city's books, but it would create a new tax district, and city taxpayers are also county taxpayers. So it doesn't save city taxpayers a penny, and Ramsey has evidently forgotten that the "city" is not separate from the citizens of the city. … — Cecil Bothwell
Kleptocracy only works when the thieves are competent. — Shad Marsh
What I'd like is the focus of a lot of high-caliber investigative reporters on ALL the dealings of these so-called representatives. — Scott Duncan
The war on Boone by Raleigh and the Watauga County Commissioners is just the tip of the iceberg in the war on municipalities across the state. — Pamela Williamson
Wow, that seems pretty blatant. They must be powerful in Raleigh to go on that way. The more I think about it the more I think some bottling company wants Asheville's water and needs a way to get control out of the hands of those environmentalists who are thinking 100 years into the future. — Judi Scharns
There already are houses backed up to the Parkway, and they are all elitist "cookie cutter" communities like the Cliffs and Biltmore park — invasive mountain homes only the richest Americans can afford.
You see, with all these transplants moving to Asheville, who are most likely conservative Republicans, if they do end up doing voting by district then there is a good chance the progressives will lose control of Asheville and eventually we will lose what makes Asheville Asheville!
Raleigh is obviously getting a back door deal out of seizing our water, I mean why else would they be making such a fuss about taking over our water system? — LiLi McMtn
What we’re seeing is an extension of the GOP’s “defund the left” strategy of undermining the largest concentrations of manpower and funding that support Democrats. First they went after private-sector unions, then public-sector unions and teachers, firefighters, trial lawyers, etc. Then with Voter ID they attacked seniors, college students and minorities.
Now, in N.C., they’re attacking cities. That’s where the large concentrations of Democratic votes are. So they are working to weaken them economically and politically. They’ve taken away control of Asheville’s airport. They’re working on Charlotte’s. They’ve forced district county commission elections on Buncombe and will do the same with Asheville City Council. …
They’ve legislatively taken Asheville’s water system to blow a huge hole in the city budget, leaving the city with two choices: cut services or raise taxes. Prices for water and sewer will likely rise. After a couple of cycles, Republicans will be running candidates who blame the city’s troubles troubles on “mismanagement and waste” by Democrats and counting on voters to forget by then who precipitated the crisis in the first place. — Tom Sullivan
Dear Asheville City Council, please continue with the lawsuit. These threats and scare tactics make it clear the Republicans in Raleigh know they will lose the court battle over retaining our water system. I hope you can present these emails in court as evidence as how they are willfully wanting to harm the city of Asheville. — Timothy Burgin
The only equitable settlement is a full settlement, where the state pays the full value of the water system and the land of the watershed. What Moffitt proposes seems like "legal" blackmail and as another commenter said, he doesn't have the authority to negotiate.
He got his law and now it's in the hands of the attorneys. Ramsey is showing up with too little too late, and also with no legal authority. — Frank Wartman