Tuesday, July 31, 2007


On her website, Madam Virginia Foxx takes credit for securing $1 million in federal funding for the Statesville Regional Airport.

She doesn't mention that she actually voted AGAINST the appropriations bill that contains the federal funding for the Statesville Regional Airport.

She needs to rewrite her press release:
I want to thank the Democrats in the U.S. Congress for making it possible for me to brag about getting money for my district that I actually worked against. Without them, I'd have precious little to show, other than a teapot museum.
What would she have said if her side actually prevailed in that vote?

He Fell on His Right Side

HUPPER ISLAND, Maine —....
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
St. George Ambulance responded to a call at about 2 p.m. Monday of a man who had fallen 5 to 10 feet and landed on a dock, hitting the back of his head. The patient was ashen and was foaming at the mouth.... [Maine Coast Now]

Not to worry. It's happened before. There's a 60 percent chance it'll happen again. Doctors don't know what caused it. Therefore, don't worry. "No cause for concern." Seriously, that's what they're saying.

What is a seizure? "A little storm in the brain's electrical system," saith the Associated Press. Apparently, practically no one understands whither, why, or whence?

Having more than one seizure technically makes you an epileptic. But not to worry. Absolutely NOTHING to worry about.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Teacher After Madam Foxx's Own Heart

Article in yesterday's Winston-Salem Journal about the public school teacher chosen by Madam Foxx for her "Teacher in Congress" program ... one Daric Beiter, a Davie High School teacher of history, who, after one day of observing Congress in session, summed up his appreciation for democracy:

"As a teacher, I wanted them to sit down and shut up. It was total chaos."

Cowardly Lions

Found this posted this a.m. on the local WataugaRepublican site:
"When I was a kid and we wanted to fight someone, we had to try to find that insult that would provoke him. Insulting his mother usually worked. But, there were always sissies on which nothing worked.

"Barack Obama wants to be the leader of the free world. What do you think it would take to make him fight?"
Guess the point is not only that Barack Obama is a great big ole sissy -- hell, ALL Democrats are sissies! -- but also that the poster is a big ole he-man model of proper bravery. He knew how to treat sissies in school.

So brave that he now hides behind anonymity. "Posted by Blogger," it says, with no hint who "Blogger" is, though we note he's a frequent poster to the site. A sniper by nature, he shoots from cover.

But he knows warfare, yes indeedy. Wonder when he served? Or is he another of those model warmongers, like the following list, who did not have the guts to serve in Vietnam: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, Dan Quayle, and Brit Hume, to name just a few.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thompson's 'Little Wifey' Takes Charge

The struggle at the top of the (undeclared) Fred Thompson presidential campaign appears to be a case of nobody's being able to work with Jeri Kehn Thompson, Ole Fred's much younger wife, who was herself a political operative once upon a time.

Many of Thompson's top dudes were either fired or walked off the job this week.

Thompson's failure to announce his candidacy back on July 4th, and hence his failure to register his fundraising with the proper authorities, now appears a dodge to conceal how poorly he's doing raising the bucks ... which is a huge surprise, actually, since his team was trying to hype his mojo all summer. They've been feeding the impression that he can amble to the nomination because the conservative grassroots are so head-over-heels about him, and the money spigots were flowing.

Not true.

"...there are concerns about a summertime drop-off in enthusiasm and fund-raising," which may not flat-out be a BAD sign but sure as shootin' ain't a GOOD one either.

Winding Down

The state legislature is taking its first votes on the budget this morning, and this coming week promises to be the last for this current session ... with a lot of stuff left on the table.

Late yesterday we got the word that Sen. Joe Sam Queen had managed to get language into the budget bill to split the 24th Judicial Dist. into two, but as of this a.m., that provision appears to be back in limbo.

Last we heard, ASU's funding for a new College of Education bldg. is safe, and so is the Town of Boone ... from any special bills exempting the university from local law. The two entities will have to work together within the law to find a suitable location for that building.

But we're holding our breath to see what gets slipped into the budget at the last minute. There is, after all, a well known form of legislative magic that goes under the general heading of legerdemain.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Answering Mr. Phillips

In the comments to a thread below ("Playahs"), Stephen Phillips says we got it wrong: "I voted FOR cracking down on rentals to more than 2 unrelated persons in established neighborhood. (Your information is wrong)."

So we returned to the minutes of the Boone Area Planning Board to check our notes:
11/18/02 CASE NO. RZ2002-17 The Town of Boone has filed a text amendment to UDO Section 169 which would prohibit renting out rooms within a single-family residence to unrelated persons as an accessory use in the R-1 zoning district ....
VOTE: Aye -8
Nay - 1 (Commissioner Phillips)
Unless Mr. Phillips has some other documentation that proves these minutes wrong, we'll stand by our previous characterization of his vote on the Planning Board.

Quarterly Public Hearing Minutes, 8/10/06 Case 20060341 The Boone Town Council has initiated text amendments to UDO Articles II, X, XI, XIX, and XX to address large scale retail land uses .... Commissioner Stephen Phillips mentioned that the impact studies are missing the fact that these types of businesses, Lowe's or Wal-Mart, employ many ASU students on a part-time basis. These students need the flexibility of part-time hours more than full-time benefits. The smaller businesses might not allow for the flexibility of hours....
No mention in the minutes that Mr. Phillips expressed concern about the sale of the old high school property.

And relative to the issue of prohibiting university development in the central business district:
3/19/07 Case 20070088 The Boone Town Council has initiated a zoning text amendment to UDO Article X, Section 165. The proposed amendment would prohibit colleges, universities, and community colleges (Use 5.130) in the Town's B-1, B-2 and B-3 zoning districts and prohibit hospitals, clinics, and other medical treatment facilities in excess of 10,000 square feet (Use 7.100) in the Town's R-1 and R-1A zoning districts .... Commissioner Phillips asked about the impact of moving the Cultural Museum to a more visible location in the business zoning districts. Mr. Spear said that the Cultural Museum falls into a different land use classification and would be unaffected by this change. Mr. Spear noted for example that if Caldwell Community College wanted to build an educational facility in a business district, this would not be allowed unless the area were rezoned. Commissioner Phillips asked about the Goodnight Brothers building on Howard Street and if this building were to be removed, could the area be used as a park? Mr. Spear said that if this area were proposed to be a park, it would fall into a different land use classification and be unaffected by the proposed text ....
Aye - 7
Nay - 1 (Commissioner Phillips)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Asheville "Flag Desecration" Case

Man, oh man. Shades of Craig Dudley getting visited by the Secret Service in li'l ole Watauga County! Now an Asheville couple is roughed up by a Buncombe County sheriff's deputy and put in jail for using the American flag as an instrument of free speech.

It's sometimes problematic (can we get an "amen"?) to base our understanding of the facts on a newspaper account, but the following seems fairly clear:

1. Mark & Deborah Kuhn (pictured left) displayed an upside-down American flag on their Asheville property to signal their disgust with the direction of the country. They pinned signs to the flag, the ones they're holding here along with a picture of George Bush and the words "OUT NOW." From the evidence of the photograph to the left, they're Ron Paul supporters.

2. A person or persons unknown (perhaps the mystery man dressed in Army fatigues who Deborah Kuhn says appeared at their front door one day to harass her husband about the flag display) complained first to the Asheville city police and then to a sheriff department deputy, maintaining that the flag display broke the law.

3. An Asheville city policeman investigated, found the Kuhns okay, and went away like a smart officer of the law. The Kuhns were exercising their constitutional right on their own property.

4. The Buncombe County sheriff's deputy who came to their door was not similarly smart. First, he was pushing his weight around in the jurisdiction of the city police, and second, he evidently lost his head or was suffering from excess testosterone that day, for he announced he was placing the couple under arrest for the grave offense of displaying dangerous opinions on an upside-down American flag. The Kuhns' front door got broken, the deputy's hand got cut, and this American couple spent some hours in jail.

5. Are you freakin' kiddin' me?

If this particular deputy is (a) still carrying a gun or (b) still in a position to rough up citizens in or around the city of Asheville, we would have to question the judgment, nay, the fitness for office, of his boss.

Western N.C. in the National Spotlight

Bob Moser's article, "Purple America," in the new Nation magazine highlights the resurgence of the Wilkes County Democratic Party as a means for exploring in depth the vibrant changes Howard Dean has brought to the national party, primarily through his "50-state strategy."

The article opens with a tasty eye-witness account of the Wilkes Democratic County Convention back in April, particularly the performance of the ineffable Seth Chapman as keynote speaker, a role he performed as volubly that same month in Watauga County.

Tucked into that first section is a reference to Watauga County (though we go unnamed until page 3): "Farfetched as [the Democratic conquest of Wilkes County] sounds, it wouldn't be any more so than the red-to-blue turnaround that's happened just up the road..." (That'd be us in Watauga.)

Here are the paragraphs from page 3:

North Carolina's first hire [of regional political directors with Howard Dean support], Mark Hufford, knew the turf. He also knew that Democrats in a few of these mountain counties had already begun to dig themselves out of the doldrums -- particularly in Watauga County, where a band of progressives had taken over the party apparatus in the 1990s and, despite a sizable Republican majority among registered voters, slowly built toward dominance in local elections. The Watauga organizers were soon being deployed to help Hufford train and inspire other county leaders on recruiting good candidates, motivating volunteers and getting out votes. Last fall, as Watauga County chair Diane Tilson happily recalls, "We were the first county in the nation to do a countywide canvass. Yes we were! It was freezing cold, but we did it."

Often, even when hard-core Republicans answer their doors, they turn out to have issues on their mind that run right up the Democratic alley. "There's so many people that really don't realize the relationship between elections and whether or not they're going to be able to get their drugs," Tilson says, "or how expensive gas is." While new canvassers often brace themselves for a barrage of questions about abortion and gay marriage, that's not foremost on most folks' minds. "They're thinking about whether they'll have heat this winter," she says. "How they're going to get themselves to the grocery store and work."

In November, Democrats swept every race in Watauga....
Love that mean Dean! And love that Seth Chapman too. And miss that Mark Hufford, who's taken another job.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Okay, here's the story so far on the Boone Town Council races, which are clearly going to be a major battleground for the future direction of our town (and county), with the lines drawn over protecting small-town Boone from high-density developments on steep-slopes, big-box, and unregulated university development.

First, the basics on who has filed to run for what:

Boone Mayor race
Loretta Clawson, 62, incumbent, Democrat, first elected to the Town Council in 1995, known as a champion for single-family neighborhoods and for imposing regs on steep-slope development

Danny (Tim) Wilson, 56, Republican, former Town Council member who was the subject of an investigative series of "Watauga Democrat" articles in 1996 over his operation of the Watauga County Ambulance Service and the subsidies that business received from Watauga County

Boone Town Council
Elizabeth (Liz) Aycock, 34, Democrat, real estate agent, married mother of two, member of the Boone Area Planning Commission and the Affordable Housing Taskforce

Jeremy Blocker, 32, Democrat, parole officer

Justin Dodson, 24, Republican, ASU graduate student

Robert Freeman, 31, Unaffiliated

Lynne Mason, 49, incumbent, Democrat, social worker

Stephen Phillips, 38, Democrat, owner of rental properties

Milton (Bunk) Spann, 65, incumbent, Unaffiliated, retired ASU professor

Charles (Rob) Taylor, 24, Democrat, ASU student

Dempsey Wilcox, 48, incumbent, Republican, works for the Athletics Dept. at ASU

Liz Aycock's voting record on the town's Planning Board indicates strong and consistent support for maintaining policies on growth established over the past few years by the current council

Jeremy Blocker was recruited by David Blust, current executive officer of the Watauga County Republican Party and both a former Republican County Commissioner and former State Senate candidate (defeated by Steve Goss in 2006). Though registered as a Democrat, Blocker will be supported by town remnants of the Watauga County Republican Party

Justin Dodson was recruited by ASU SGA President Forrest Gilliam

Robert Freeman and Charles (Rob) Taylor registered for the race together and do not appear to bring backing nor a base to the race

Stephen Phillips has a seven-year voting history on the Boone Area Planning Commission. He voted against the steep-slope compromise, against limiting big-box retail to 150,000 square feet, against increased green-space buffers for commercial and multi-family developments, against cracking down on rentals to more than two unrelated persons in single-family neighborhoods, and in favor of allowing ASU to expand into the Boone central business district

A newly organized Phil Templeton group, calling itself "Citizens for Change" (a.k.a., "Citizens in Favor of Taking Boone Back to Wide-Open Development"), is meeting regularly and targeting Mayor Clawson and incumbent council members Lynne Mason and Bunk Spann. (At least one ASU administrative official is a member of the group.) The Templetons are looking to endorse and support candidates against Clawson, Mason, & Spann. They will certainly support one incumbent, Dempsey Wilcox, who votes consistently for their interests, and Stephen Phillips, whose pro-business votes are outlined above, along with Jeremy Blocker and (probably) Tim Wilson. The Templeton group reportedly invited all candidates except Clawson, Mason, Spann, and Aycock to a meeting yesterday to be "interviewed." Blocker, Phillips, and Wilson all attended the interview meeting seeking Templeton support. (Other candidates may have attended, but we do not have this confirmed.) Some of this group reportedly want Tim Wilson to withdraw from the election because they would prefer to mount a write-in campaign against Mayor Clawson.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

See Ya at the Movies

You can have your "Transformers," your "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," your (Gawd help 'em!) "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry."

'Cause "The Simpsons Movie" is coming this Friday.

Eighteen years in the making, featuring almost 100 speaking parts, based on the Most. Profound. TV Show. Ever.

Nothing else for 20 years has offered even faint competition to the capacious satire of "The Simpsons," which has psychoanalyzed the American experience far more comprehensively than 10 zillion books by social/political/economic critics.

Of Thee We Sing!

Mitt McBlowdry Goes After Fred 'Lazybones' Thompson

John Dickerson in Slate tracks Mitt Romney's planned operation against ex-Sen. Fred Thompson for the hearts & minds [sic] of conservative Republicans in the race for the presidential nomination.

The Inauthentic girding for battle against The Purely Theatrical.

Romney doesn't have that much practice with firearms, obviously, plus Ole Fred refuses to present himself as a target, preferring to lie back in the Tennessee weeds and put off his announcement until he has impressive fundraising totals to share with his celebrity-obsessed acolytes.

Plus we're betting that Romney hasn't got the red-meat instincts to really go after Thompson. Dickerson writes that Romney is "miffed" at Thompson's (undeclared) candidacy. He's peeved that Thompson is "coasting" to the nomination. Miffed? Yeah, that about sums up the over-groomed politico from Massachusetts ... Mr. Miffed Romney.

Thompson will clean his clock, if Romney has a clock to be cleaned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Crummie Doctoring in Raleigh

The state legislature has a "Doctor of the Day" program (and a "Nurse of the Day" too), wherein physicians from around the state go to Raleigh and self-consciously hang out on-call in the state legislature for anything medical that happens, from nose-bleeds to heart attacks.

Doctors of the Day are warned not to do or say anything political, but Dr. Bob Crummie of Rutherfordton took his opportunity last Tuesday to hand out free copies of a book he wrote, "Dr. Bob's Grocery Store Medicine and Healthy Life Anecdotes." Among other remedies advocated in Dr. Bob's tome are the generous ministration of lobotomies and the use of electric shock to cure homosexuality, which in Crummie's view is a character disorder. And, oh, by the way, schizophrenia is caused by mothers. No, really.

Granted, the state budget might be advanced if Dr. Nutso were turned loose with scalpel and/or high voltages administrated cranially, though we'll settle for muddling through.

Apocalypse Watch

Jeff Sharlet is one of the sharpest reporters out there on the motivations and permutations of what some call fundamentalist Christianity, and his current review of "Have a Nice Doomsday" in the New Statesman will bring you quickly up to speed on the current state of apocalypse lust and on the motivations of those religious leaders who see the nuking of Iran as the surest route to a world-wide conflagration and the rapture of true believers.

The unknown in all this is the extent to which some government officials (the neo-con residue, still occupying high office) might decide to hasten sundown by attacking Iran prior to the last gasp of George W.'s second term.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Guv Gets Mean ('Bout Time)

A proposed land transfer tax OPTION -- note that last word -- is holding up approval of the state budget, as the powerful real estate and homebuilders lobbies have mounted a huge (and hugely expensive) campaign to kill the idea in its cradle.

The tax OPTION would give hard-pressed counties the right to propose a new tax on property sales, especially those counties where new and second-home sales are putting incredible pressures on infrastructure, from water & sewer services to new schools. The state Senate seems cowed by the real estate special interests, while the leadership in the House is holding firm for keeping the tax OPTION in the budget.

Yesterday Gov. Easley actually found his voice and spoke out: "I think that a lot of the legislators are scared of the Realtors and they've got to decide: Do they stand with the Realtors or do they stand with the people they represent?"

That's putting it succinctly.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coy Privette ... Another in a Long Line

Cabarrus County Commissioner and noted "Christian activist" Coy Privette, president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, noted opponent of alcoholic drinks and proponent of English-only, was arrested today and charged with six misdemeanor counts of aiding and abetting prostitution by renting a hotel room and paying for sex acts with the same prostitute over several months. (Hat tip, Stumpy)

Barak Obama ... Another Look

Ted Sorensen, who worked for JFK, points out some fairly striking similarities between Barak Obama's candidacy and John Kennedy's long-shot run in 1960.

JFK was a first-term senator when he ran for president. Ditto Obama.

JFK was considered too young and inexperienced by the party establishment. Ditto Obama.

JFK's cultural heritage -- Irish Roman Catholic -- equalled "unelectable" in many people's minds. Obama is "that black guy" (or a term less circumspect) with a strange name.

JFK rose to national prominence almost overnight because of the speech he gave at the 1956 Democratic convention, nominating Adlai Stevenson. Four years later he himself was nominated. Obama rose to national prominence suddenly because of the speech he gave in Boston at the 2004 Democratic convention.

JFK published an inspirational best-seller, "Profiles in Courage," in 1956. Obama published "The Audacity of Hope," an inspirational best-seller, in 2006.

JFK focused his campaign on "hope, a determination to succeed despite the odds, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and confidence in the judgment of the American people." Ditto Obama.

JFK attracted the young, the disconnected, first-time voters, and independents "
at the grassroots level, a phenomenon that initially went almost unnoticed by Washington leaders and experts too busy interviewing themselves." Ditto Obama.

preached (and personified) the politics of hope in contrast to the politics of fear." Ditto Obama.

What Sorensen doesn't say is that JFK was the only candidate who could stop Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960. Obama is clearly the only Democrat who can stop Hillary in '08.

Big Yawns for Hired Guns

Confirmation is all over the Intertubes this a.m., based on this NYTimes investigative report, that ex-Sen. Fred Thompson took some $5,000 to lobby for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a pro-choice group. Even more significant ... the Thompson campaign has stopped denying it, choosing rather to claim that their boy was mostly asleep while making those advocacy calls, or that he made the calls just for the money. But, hey!

"It is not unusual for a lawyer to give counsel at the request of colleagues, even when they personally disagree with the issue," said Thompson's spokesman.

This is something Republicans understand, taking money under pretense. And explains an apparent total lack of interest in the story among Thompson enthusiasts. If there's one thing they understand in the marrow of their bones, it's the necessary expedience sometimes involved in pocketing other people's money.

First We Count the Money, and Then We Count the Votes

Sen. David Hoyle of Gaston County, the Democrat who makes some other Democrats break out with prickly heat, has gotten his Billboard Industry Empowerment Act of 2007 through committee, and it will now go to the full Senate. The bill will allow billboard companies to cut a 375-ft. swath of trees, so that tail-gating motorists can better see that Even a Caveman Can Do It.

Bill Ross, secretary of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, objects to the bill, saying the proposal undermines the state's preservationist policies. "It's green that makes us strong and great in North Carolina," he said.

To which Hoyle replied, with more truth than wit, "When we talk about green, I agree. Green is what pays the bills."

What an enlightened representative of the people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How Appalachian State University Operates, Part 3

1. Sewer Maintenance Agreement
Negotiations went on for multiple years between representatives of ASU (primarily attorney Dayton Cole, with Director of Design and Construction Clyde Robbins and "chief of staff" Lorin Baumhover) and the Town of Boone for a "sewer maintenance agreement," which was unanimously adopted by the Boone Town Council on May 18, 2006, and forwarded to ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock for his signature. Chancellor Peacock has never signed the agreement (which can be read in its entirety here, pp. 19-25).

The "sewer maintenance agreement," among other provisions, called for...
ASU to calibrate all its sewer meters within 5 years from the execution of the agreement and to replace or repair any meters which are inaccurate

ASU to grant permission to Boone to access all ASU lands and facilities served by town utilities for the purposes of installing, inspecting, operating, maintaining, repairing, and reconstructing its sewer lines

TOB in all cases to notify ASU Dir. of Design & Construction 3 business days prior to engaging in any of the activities specified above, except in cases of emergency

ASU to establish a 35-ft. wide zone over existing sewer lines, to avoid any use which interferes with town maintenance of those lines (ASU would be entitled to landscape the zone, but in event that vegetative roots damage sewer lines, ASU would bear the expense of repair) [this provision violated by the construction of the covered entry to Hoey dorm in June 2007, which sits entirely over the TOB's sewer line]

TOB to restore to original condition any ASU facility injured, marred, or defaced by maintenance activities, and to remove any waste at the town's "sole cost and expense"
2. Water Supply Agreement
Negotiations went on for multiple years between representatives of ASU (primarily attorney Dayton Cole, with Director of Design and Construction Clyde Robbins and "chief of staff" Lorin Baumhover) and the Town of Boone for a water supply "interconnectivity" agreement which was unanimously adopted by the Boone Town Council on November 16, 2006, and forwarded to ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock for his signature. Chancellor Peacock has never signed the agreement (which can be read in its entirety here, pp. 15-21).

The water supply agreement, among other provisions, called for...
ASU to supply and sell water to Boone to meet peak demand "from time to time," provided that ASU can also meet its needs. In addition, ASU would agree to sell an amount of water to Boone at least equal to the amount Boone supplies to ASU

Either ASU or Boone, in the event of a required interruption or curtailment of water delivery, to give the other party at least 24-hr. notice of interruption

Boone to pay ASU for water at the same rates applicable to Boone's provision of water to ASU

Both parties to jointly fund the expenses of design, construction, maintenance, and operation of an interconnection between the two water systems

ASU to be responsible for selection of designers, engineers, and contractors to construct the interconnection facilities, agreeing to give Boone 45 days to review and submit comments or recommendations on any proposals

ASU to periodically invoice Boone for one-half of all expenses incurred in planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of interconnection facilities

In the event of a failure of water supply within the system of either party, the other party to supply water "to the maximum extent feasible" to its partner in this agreement
Failure of ASU to sign these agreements, worked out under color of cooperation and good will by both parties, signals something less than full faith and credit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Message to 5th District Dems

Guest blogging: Ryan Eller

Brothers and Sisters,

I deeply regret not being able to participate in last week's Democratic Issues Forum in Statesville. My fiancée is still in recovery from surgery, and although she is doing well, I could not leave her side. Over the past few years I have come to know some very good folks in Iredell County, and forums such as these are extremely necessary as we organize to defeat Virginia Foxx.

I did, however, want to chime in briefly about the future of the 5th Congressional District.

Last summer I served as a Naval officer assigned to the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune. While my congressional representative, Virginia Foxx, was claiming that all was well in Iraq, United States soldiers were struggling with the horrors of war and deciding the proper way to tell their families that they might not return home. While my fellow soldiers were fighting for their lives and psychological well being, with shoddy armor and inadequate rest, Virginia Foxx was working behind the scenes to spend $400,000 on a teapot museum.

Virginia Foxx remains one of only 11 members of Congress to have voted against funding for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Just after her vote, Foxx sent out a mass mailing (at taxpayer expense) claiming that she voted against this bill because there was not enough accountability built into the legislation. This, even though she refuses to hold the Bush administration accountable for the billions of dollars that are unaccounted for in Iraq.

As a minister, I find it truly hard to watch Virginia Foxx brush off the deepest moral issues of our day: genocide in the Sudan, global warming, and systemic poverty. Time and time again, Virginia Foxx and the Bush administration have abandoned the common good in favor of ideologically driven politics.

That's why it does not surprise me that Virginia Foxx's staff has already begun to use scare tactics and lies in an attempt to thwart any formidable candidate from running against her in 2008. When Foxx's Chief of Staff (whom she pays over $130,000 per year) heard that I myself was considering running against the congresswoman, he sent warnings that he would "bury me and ruin my reputation forever."

Rest assured that Congresswoman Foxx will continue to do whatever she can to put fear in us, because it is only when we are scared that we can be controlled.

As Democrats we do have issues in the 5th Congressional district. Our manufacturing jobs continue to go out overseas while economic development lags in our area. Our educational systems continue to be under-funded. Our health care continues to be unaffordable. Our gas prices continue to soar. Global warming is on the cusp of changing our economy (ski resorts and Christmas tree farms require a certain climate). Loggers and asphalt plants are constantly looking to move into our neighborhoods.

Foxx refused to take a stand on the clear-cutting of the national forest area near Blowing Rock. On other issues, she's deaf to our needs because she has grown completely out of touch with those she claims to represent.

We must not forget the bodies of those floating in the Katrina aftermath. We must not forget those who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (like Specialist Christopher S. Honaker of Iredell County). We must not forget those who have lost their jobs here in northwest North Carolina or those without enough money to pay for their medical expenses.

The time has come for us to organize around a candidate -- regardless of his/her age, sex, race, or creed. We must stand up together and give a voice to the voiceless, bind up the brokenhearted, and give hope to all those who have lost hope in politicians like Virginia Foxx.

God Bless,

Ryan Eller


If a candidate does emerge within the next 6-7 weeks, may I suggest that he or she (we)...

1. Find out how to appeal to a new demographic of voters
2. Focus primarily on local issues while mentioning the necessary national issues
3. Remind voters of Foxx's unethical behavior
4. Focus on Democratic Voter Performance, with extremely targeted communication
5. Have absolutely no fear -- losing is not an option for those who are struggling

Understanding the North Carolina Senate

Important post by KMR on BlueNC this a.m., about why an increased Democratic majority in the NC Senate has actually led to less progressive legislation getting out of that body.

KMR is, we believe, an old hand at covering the state legislature, so we tend to listen closely to what he has to say about the workings of those particular cogs 'n' wheels.

KMR focuses on two main glaring areas of failure, an energy bill with lots of "lovely perks" for Duke Power and Progress Energy and "health care bill after health care bill gutted or skewed." The pro-business Dems, led by Sen. David Hoyle (pictured above), have sided with the Republican minority in the Senate to stop or sideline anything the big money boys don't like.

KMR writes, "Hoyle, a finance co-chair and a key member of the Senate leadership team, has long had a way of sounding the alarm that too progressive a tack would mortally wound him politically. This even though he ran unopposed in 2006 and won by a handful of percentage points in 2004 when George Bush carried his Gaston County district by more than 2 to 1. Yet Hoyle, now in his eighth term, seems to always be firmly focused on his next election. And since, like most of the leadership, he contributed tens of thousands raised for his '06 cakewalk to senators in close races, he's got the ear of many."

So what's Hoyle doing with those boxes and bags full of ears? Keeping 'em damp and buried in horse manure?

Monday, July 16, 2007

How Appalachian State University Operates, Part 2

The following history of university behavior toward the Town of Boone (exclusive of the proposed new College of Education, already detailed down-column) is compiled from publicly available documents:


January 9, 2003 ... Zoning Compliance/Permit application received by the Town of Boone for ASU's new central library project. Application filed by ASU consultants Site Solutions for both the library building and the adjacent parking deck. Grading compliance and floodplain compliance portions of the application have not been completed

February 4, 2003 ... Site Solutions resubmits a complete application

February 27, 2003 ... Town of Boone Development Coordinator David Graham writes Clyde Robbins, ASU Director of Design & Construction, a three-page letter outlining specifically why the proposed new central library project is being turned down for a building permit (the parking structure does not meet setback requirements, buffering and height requirements, is proposed to be built within the Howard Street corridor in violation of a previous agreement between the university and the town on a feasibility study for making Howard Street a thoroughfare, no traffic impact analysis has been done for the entire project, etc.)

February 28, 2003 ... George Cole, TOB Planning Supervisor, and David Graham meet with Clyde Robbins and Patrick Beville, project manager for the new library, to discuss the objections raised in David Graham's letter of Feb. 27

August 5, 2003 ... central library project manager Patrick Beville writes David Graham saying that the library project should be considered in two phases, that the parking deck will be completed as phase 2, and that ASU has decided to proceed with the library "based on the verbal approval provided by you and your office"

August 19, 2003 ... David Graham responds to Beville: "We do not recall making any statement regarding verbal approval for the Central Library .... when the office of Planning and Inspections approves or denies a particular project it is approved or denied in writing." Graham further points out that with the parking deck taken off the table, only three unresolved problems (regarding stormwater drainage) remain for the library. No building permit has been issued

August 27, 2003 ... ASU's contractor (Site Solutions) writes David Graham, asking that the stormwater requirements be "waived administratively"

September 3, 2003 ... David Graham replies to Site Solutions that storm drainage requirements cannot be waived administratively, that only the Board of Adjustment can grant a variance

October 7, 2003 ... TOB staff notes that the library is now under construction without a permit

October 22, 2003 ... TOB issues a notice of violation to ASU for beginning construction without a permit: "If the violations described in this Notice are not corrected within 15 days from [this] date ... the Town of Boone will take additional appropriate legal action against you .... Failure to correct the violation(s) listed above will subject you to penalties of $100.00 per day per violation effective upon receipt of this letter, plus court costs and attorney fees...."

November 21, 2003 ... ASU applies for administrative review by the town's Board of Adjustment, appealing the violation citation of 22 Oct. (This appeal has never been heard for reasons outlined below)

April 28, 2005 ... Site Solutions writes David Graham, revising the library plans with respect to stormwater drainage, addressing problems first raised by TOB on August 19, 2003

May 17, 2005 ... David Graham accepts Site Solutions' representations that the stormwater problems have been resolved for the new library, and he issues a TOB zoning permit for the construction of the new library approximately 567 days after construction began

May 20, 2005 ... David Graham writes library project manager Patrick Beville, pointing out that the notice of violation issued Oct. 22, 2003, for building without a permit, is still in effect and that ASU has now accrued a total civil penalty of $56,700

CIVIL VIOLATION NUMBER 2 (case file AR2005-1)

January 19, 2005 ... Application is submitted by ASU consultant Site Solutions for parking lot construction and stream restoration at the intersection of Hardin Street and Locust St. Plans show an existing apple tree, designated as "historic" by the TOB, which Site Solutions intends to cut down (NOTE: the tree is not in the footprint of the proposed construction)

January 31, 2005 ... TOB hand-delivers notification to a representative of Site Solutions that the historic apple tree must not be removed

February 3, 2005 ... ASU Dir. of Design & Construction Clyde Robbins, in a phone conversation with TOB Planning Supervisor George Cole, asserts that the town has no authority to dictate which trees must be preserved. The town has a "Preservation of Existing Trees and Vegetation" ordinance on the books (Article XX, Section 370)

March 4, 2005 ... ASU staff attorney David Larry writes TOB attorney Sam Furgiuele an e-mail advising the town that ASU will proceed with the destruction of the tree. Larry attaches a lengthy memo arguing (on the basis of South Carolina law) that the TOB does not have authority to prevent the cutting of trees. "I'm hopeful the town will decide not to press the issue," writes Larry

March 4, 2005 ... TOB attorney Furgiuele replies to Larry in an e-mail: "I'm constantly amazed by the hostile attitude of ASU to every effort by the Town to protect what's left here"

March 7, 2005 ... the apple tree is cut down and hauled away

March 9, 2005 ... TOB issues Notice of Violation to Clyde Robbins. Civil penalty: $3,000, due within 10 days of issuance of the notice. ASU is now noted as a "repeat offender"

April 6, 2005 ... ASU files an appeal for Administrative Review with the BOA. The appeal has never been heard (explanation below)

CIVIL VIOLATION NUMBER 3 (case file AR2005-2)

Same as # 2 above, involving an historic pine tree on the same property as # 2 above, and please note that the historic tree is not within the footprint of the proposed construction ... leading up to...

March 10, 2005 ... historic tree is removed

March 14, 2005 ... notice of violation sent to Clyde Robbins. Civil penalty: $8,500

April 6, 2005 ... ASU files appeal with the BOA (appeal has never been heard)

CIVIL VIOLATION NUMBER 4 (case file AR2005-3)

January 6, 2003 ... meeting is held between representatives of ASU and TOB to discuss a new Student Recreation Center (among other proposed projects)

January 9, 2003 ... ASU consultants Corley Redfoot & Zack submit packet of information about proposed construction plans

February 19, 2003 ... David Graham, development coordinator for TOB, outlines for Clyde Robbins a number of compliance problems with the plans for the new Student Recreation Center. Major problems include the need to rezone a portion of the property and the planned use of retaining walls in excess of 4 ft. high

February 28, 2003 ... Clyde Robbins and Patrick Beville, representing ASU, meet with TOB Planning Supervisor George Cole and David Graham to discuss Graham's objections to ASU's plans, as outlined in his letter of Feb. 19th. Although Robbins says in the meeting that he will direct the project architect to redesign to fix the wall problem, he also says he does not agree that the TOB has any jurisdiction over several other items of concern, including landscaping and parking

March 17, 2003 ... ASU applies for rezoning of a portion of the property

May 13, 2003 ... TOB approves the request for rezoning

August 25, 2003 ... TOB receives plans from Corley Redfoot & Zack for the Student Recreation Center with NO noted changes to the retaining wall design

October 23, 2003 ... David Graham writes Clyde Robbins, again raising the issue of too tall retaining walls

November 12, 2003 ... Corley Redfoot & Zack submits response to David Graham's Oct. 23rd letter and an application for zoning permit. However, staff review reveals that although the wall problem has been mostly solved, it still encroaches at one point into the setback and is 9 feet tall (making it 5 ft. over what is allowed by law)

November 24, 2003 ... TOB planning officials note that construction of the Student Recreation Center is underway, with no permit

December 16, 2003 ... David Graham writes Clyde Robbins that the Student Recreation Center is NOT approved

May 23, 2005 ... Notice of Violation is issued against ASU for proceeding with construction without a valid permit. The notice advises that if the violations are not corrected within 30 days, the university is subject to a civil penalty as a repeat offender of $1,000 plus penalties of $250 per day per violation

May 30, 2005 ... Clyde Robbins replies to the notice of violation, saying that TOB had no basis for issuing it and saying further, "I was assured by the Town staff that ... the University was within its rights to proceed with the construction of this facility"

June 14, 2005 ... TOB Director of Development John Spear responds to Clyde Robbins' May 30th letter: "Your allegation that Town staff provided assurance that the University 'was within its rights to proceed with construction' of this facility is completely erroneous and contradicts all correspondence between the Town and University regarding zoning approval of this facility"

June 15, 2005 ... ASU appeals the notice of violation, filing for administrative review by the BOA (appeal has never been heard)

CIVIL VIOLATION NUMBER 5 (case file 20070366)

June 6, 2007 ... David Graham writes Lorin Baumhover, "chief of staff" to ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock, that the construction of an exterior covered entry to Hoey Residence Hall on Hardin Street is illegal, pointing out that ASU has neither applied for nor received zoning approval for its construction. The covered entry encroaches "entirely" into the 20-foot street setback required by law and has been built directly on top of the sewer main, in violation of law. Graham orders ASU to discontinue construction immediately and to remove the structure within 30 days

June 19, 2007 ... Cindy Wallace, ASU Vice Chancellor for Student Development, responds to David Graham's notice of violation, saying essentially that the TOB ought to be happy with a beautiful new bus stop, and that whereas other dorm renovations did not require TOB permits, surely the Hoey renovation didn't either ... without bothering to address the total encroachments into the required setback and onto the sewer line

July 6, 2007 ... ASU files an appeal with the BOA which is scheduled to be heard on August 2nd, 2007, but probably won't be ... because ...


The Board of Adjustments for the TOB cannot convene a full hearing panel for ASU cases because so many members and alternates on the BOA would have a possible conflict of interest ... because many of them are employed by the university.

TOB Director of Development John Spear informs us via e-mail today that if the Town Council fills two vacancies on the BOA this month with non-ASU employees, there would be enough non-university members to have a full hearing panel for the multiple ASU appeals of TOB civil violations of the law.


Noted in the June 2007 list of on-going construction projects in Boone are two university projects, a new dining hall and the parking deck next to the central library, for which no permits were issued. In response to our queries about these projects, Director of Development Spear said today:
"With respect to the Dining Hall, all of the UDO standards were met. However, the Fire Department had an access issue and would not approve the site plan submitted. We therefore did not issue the zoning permit. Subsequently, they [may] or may not have worked out the Fire Department's issue.

"The Parking Deck likewise met UDO standards with one possible exception -- the Commercial Development Appearance Standards. They would not submit some of the information pertaining to required building features necessary to demonstrate compliance with appearance standards. We therefore did not issue the zoning permit.

"At the time, I would have sent a Notice of Violation for the Parking Deck except that the Town was in the process of entering into a land use agreement with the University. It was in a sprit of cooperation and with full anticipation of finally executing a comprehensive land use agreement that the Town decided not to pursue a violation to commercial appearance standards when everything else had been met."
That's called forbearance on the town's part. What's ASU's performance over the last 4+ years called?

Fred Thompson, Soft on Abortion Rights

These words, in particular, are going to come back to haunt him:

"The ultimate decision on abortion should be left with the woman and not the government."

Thompson wrote that sentence on a candidate survey form for The Tennessean newspaper in 1994, the year he first ran for the Senate.

In the same year he wrote answers to a similar candidate survey for the Eagle Forum: "I do not believe abortion should be criminalized. This battle will be won in the hearts and souls of the American people."

These nuggets are being mined from Thompson's official Senate papers on deposit at the University of Tennessee.

Of course, now, to hear him tell it anew, he's a born-again pro-life Republican conservative who wouldn't countenance abortion on a two-lane blacktop in darkest Vermont.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How Appalachian State University Operates

The following is a time-line (January to March 2007) of the basis for Appalachian State University's current campaign to force the Town of Boone to bend to its will … compiled from public documents:

January 5, 2007, ASU Dir. of Design & Construction Clyde Robbins meets with TOB Planning Dir. John Spear for the first time about the proposed new College of Education building between Howard St. and Hamby Alley. Spear learns from Robbins that ASU has already purchased one of the tracks of land and had offers on the table for the others. Although no building or development permits have been sought nor granted to ASU, engineering studies are already underway for the building. Spear advises Robbins to apply for a Special Use permit through the Board of Adjustment (BOA), which can determine hardship or other special circumstances. Robbins replies that ASU has had bad experiences with the BOA and would rather apply for conditional zoning through Town Council. Spear advises Robbins that "the Council could not approve their development as proposed due to non-compliance with the UDO." Robbins says that ASU has been told differently in an earlier meeting with the town attorney. Spear doubts that version of events, and in any event, the town attorney does not grant building permits

January 8, 2007, Clyde Robbins submits completed application for conditional zoning to TOB, with $500 application fee, although Planning Dir. Spear has told him such a request was not grantable under the law

January 9, 2007, Planning Director Spear requests his staff to review ASU's Site Specific Development Plan and report back to him

January 11, 2007, Planning staff member George Cole reports that under provisions of town law the planned College of Education must meet the land-use intensities, setbacks, and height restrictions of the B-2 district, but that it "exceeds the maximum floor area ratio that could be permitted by a factor in excess of 10," that the required stormwater drainage plan has not been submitted, that a required tree survey of the site has not been submitted, and that information on compliance with lighting regulations has not been submitted

January 11, 2007, Public Utilities Dept. of the TOB reports that ASU's plans cannot be approved because they do not specify whether TOB would be supplying water and sewer

January 12, 2007, Planning staff member Jane Shook reports that the proposed building does not meet interior setback requirements

January 16, 2007, Planning staff member Christy Turner reports that one of the existing structures indicated for razing for the new building "is identified as a potential historic structure in the Historic Preservation Report"

January 17, 2007, Town arborist Brian Johnson reports that the vegetative buffer ordinarily required between a single family residence and this large proposed building would not be required under the requested new zoning designation and that the university has failed to submit a lighting plan

January 18, 2007, Town Planning Director John Spear informs property owners within 150 feet of the proposed rezoning that a public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Feb. 8, as required by law

January 19, 2007, Planning staff member David Graham reports that the proposed building cannot meet setback requirements, that it is far too close to a single-family residence, that it does not meet minimum open space requirements, that it will be out of compliance with height limitations, that required appearance standards have not been addressed in the application as required by law, and that the required water and sewer availability application has not been filed. Based on this report, and the reports from staff members detailed above, Planning Dir. John Spear begins preparing his Staff Report on the requested rezoning

February 2, 2007, a valid "protest petition" is filed with TOB by owners of property within 150 feet of the proposed development. These owners include First Baptist Church. A valid protest petition will require a "super majority" vote on the Town Council of 4-5 to approve the rezoning

February 6, 2007, "The Appalachian" student newspaper reports that ASU has already purchased some (but not all) of the nine apartment bldgs. required for the site but is proceeding with the other purchases even though the required rezoning is far from assured

February 6, 2007, in a letter to Planning Dir. John Spear from ASU attorney Dayton Cole, the university withdraws its petition for the rezoning, citing "planning issues" highlighted in John Spear's Staff Report to Town Council and the "concerns of neighboring landowners"

February 7, 2007, a day after withdrawing the rezoning request, ASU attorney Dayton Cole requests in person a copy of Spear's staff report. Cole, according to John Spear, professes "shock" that staff has recommended against rezoning, though Spear says the report contained exactly the same issues he had previously outlined for Clyde Robbins on January 5th

February 8, 2007, TOB Quarterly Public Hearing goes forward without the ASU request being heard

February 13, 2007, article in "The Appalachian" says plans for the new College of Ed. "have been abruptly put on hold." Quotes Alison D. Kemp-Sullivan, asst. dir. of design & construction for ASU, saying "university met with town planners in January," were advised to get on agenda for the quarterly public hearing (Feb. 8) to request rezoning the property, and that they expected the rezoning to pass -- the latter two claims not supported by public documents (as outlined above). "The Appalachian" article reports that the proposed new bldg. would exceed the maximum floor area by more than 100,000 sq. ft., exceed the maximum height by 47 ft., is deficient in required open space by more than 15,000 sq. ft., and encroaches 97 ft. into the required 110 ft bldg. setback. "The Appalachian" article further quotes Alison Kemp-Sullivan as claiming that "two members of the Town Council had already signed the memo against the petition," implying a conspiracy against the university, but no such "memo" nor "petition" exists

February 19, 2007, in memo to Lynne Mason from John Spear: "I have never met Alison Kemp or discussed this project with her." Spear further reports that ASU was already well into engineering studies for the building before the university's representative, Clyde Robbins, ever approached the town's planning dept. Spear points out that Robbins was told in January that the proposed development would not qualify under the law for rezoning. Spear writes that ASU had no basis for "shock" over his staff report, since it contained exactly the same points of non-compliance that Spear outlined for Robbins in January

February 23, 2007, The Charlotte Observer reports that Gov. Easley's budget just submitted to the state legislature contains $34 million for ASU's proposed new College of Education

March 7, 2007, in response to a request from TOB Manager Greg Young, Planning Dir. John Spear "re-evaluates" the proposed ASU College of Education as to "intensity regulations" and "Parking Requirements," finds that the proposed square feet of floor area is 10 times the allowable square footage, that the proposed open space is deficient by 13,455 square feet, that while the "Minimum Livability Space" is very close to the requirement and the required "Street Setback" of 20 feet is met, that the Interior Setback requirement on the east property line is deficient by 93 feet, that the height restriction of 50 feet is exceeded by 32 feet, and that the university proposed supplying exactly zero parking spaces of the 800 required by law (also noting that the new building is expected to generate 1,200 additional daily vehicle trips on College St.)

March 29, 2007, "The Appalachian" quotes Dir. of Design & Construction Clyde Robbins that at the time of the land purchase by ASU, he was "under the impression" there would be no problems with putting the bldg on that site. "I met personally with town officials and the town attorney," Robbins said. ASU SGA President Forrest Gilliam is quoted: "We talked to [TOB officials] in the fall [2006] on building in that location and there was no protest. I feel we did all we could, and [Boone officials] did not act professionally." There are no records in TOB files to confirm that any meetings or conversations prior to January 5, 2007, ever took place and no evidence whatsoever that town officials "did not act professionally"

March 30, 2007, in a two-page letter, SGA President Forrest Gilliam urges Town Council to reconsider and grant Conditional Use permit for College of Ed. In passing Gilliam calls the Howard St. properties "existing slums," alleges that discussions between TOB & ASU over the site took place "in the middle of the fall" (2006), "if not earlier," and that TOB officials raised no objections at that time -- allegations not supported by the public record. Forrest Gilliam soon began urging ASU students to sign a petition against the Town of Boone

Friday, July 13, 2007


Just got the word that Hillary Clinton will be at Westglow Span in B'Rock on July 28th for a fundraiser ... limited to 75 high-rollers who can afford twenty-three hundred billion dollars a piece for the pleasure.

We'll be canning beans.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ASU Steps Up Its Campaign against Town of Boone

Our thanks to BooneWeb.com for bringing to light an e-mail this a.m. from some ASU alumni calling themselves "Appalachian Advocates."

The e-mail says "a MINORITY of the town leadership of Boone [is trying] to block ASU's funding for [the proposed new College of Education between Howard St. and Hamby Alley]."

This is simply untrue. A solid 4-1 majority of the Town Council voted on a procedural motion, signaling that the university's project cannot proceed as planned because it does not meet town regulations. By anybody's math, 4-1 is NOT a minority.

Secondly, the sentence quoted above alleges that Town Council members are opposed to the funding for the Education building and are somehow trying to sabotage it.

This is also untrue. The Town Council members have stated their full support of the funding (see below) and the need for a new Education building. There's NEVER been ANY attempt whatsoever to block ASU's funding for the College of Education.

Fact: the university paid over $4 million for less than an acre of land (much of that money going, incidentally, to the family of a sitting member of the ASU Board of Trustees) and began engineering and design work BEFORE they bothered finding out whether they could build the building they wanted on that particular piece of property WITHIN THE LAW.

When they found out they could NOT build that building WITHIN THE LAW on that piece of property, they went ahead with the purchase of land anyway and then began misrepresenting the facts to their constituents -- to ASU students and now alumni. They began to claim that they had verbal indications as early as last fall that everything would be a-okay. (Note: when it comes to building permits, neither the Town of Boone, nor any municipality on the face of this green earth, gives "verbal indications" of approval. They grant written, signed, stamped, and dated PERMITS under the law. The university knows that but chooses to tell past and present students elaborate tales to the contrary.)

Back to the e-mail from Appalachian Advocates: "There will be no negative impact from this project."

Based on what? The professional planning staff in the Town of Boone's Development Services Dept. found a number of negative impacts that they forwarded to Town Council, namely the destruction of a number of viable rental housing units and a total failure of the project to comply with town development rules (maximum allowable floor area, building height, open space, and encroachment into required building setbacks), plus the project would depend on the town for water and sewer services, resources that the Town of Boone is currently struggling to maintain. There are also storm water, traffic and parking concerns. The site desired by the University is zoned R-3 (multi-family residential). The proposed site is adjacent to the university as well as our downtown area, which the town is committed to protecting for local businesses. The university has a lot of undeveloped land that is zoned U-1 (University) which allows for much higher density development and was established to provide for university planning and expansion. The plan presented to the town exceeds the allowable floor area by 100,000 square feet, which is ten times the allowable square footage. In addition, the project fails to meet the minimum open-space requirement. This project would put a non-residential structure next to a single-family residence and would not meet the required interior setback.

Interestingly, the Appalachian Advocates' e-mail seems most outraged that members of the Boone Town Council had recently been in Raleigh to talk to legislators (as though the university hasn't been there on a nearly daily basis doing exactly the same thing, trying, in fact, to get a member of the legislature to introduce a bill declaring ASU exempt from local law).

We asked Boone Town Council member Lynne Mason this morning about the foregoing and just obtained the following statement from her:
"For the record I can state that there is absolutely no truth to the accusation that the town is trying to block funding for this project. In fact, we are in full support of funding for this project and would welcome the opportunity to work with ASU on evaluating the feasibility of the other sites identified by ASU. The only conflict is the proposed site in that it does not meet our local zoning ordinances. The town cannot issue the zoning permit unless we change our ordinances, which the majority of the Town Council does not support as we do not believe this would be in the best interest of our entire community. The town would also like the opportunity to work with ASU on a master plan that will address future university expansion and its impact on the community. The mayor, two council members and the town manager did go to Raleigh as we heard that ASU was trying to get special legislation adopted that would exempt them from local zoning. We were not there to block funding for this project and in fact clearly stated our support for full funding."
More on the university's behavior to come in subsequent posts.

Point Is, He'd Say Anything for Money

Apparently ex-Sen. Fred Thompson is both too stupid and lazy to bother hiding his GIGANTIC equivocation about once being a lobbyist for abortion rights ... while answering a Sean Hannity soft-ball. Thompson dodged: "You need to separate a lawyer who is advocating a position from the position itself."

Yeah, right!

We've eaten ice cream out of more substantial WAFFLE cones than that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Asheville Passes Steep-Slope Regs; Developers Predict End of the World

The Asheville City Council passed new steep-slope and viewshed regulations last night. The howls of big developers were reportedly heard as far as Spruce Pine.

The new regs kick in at 2,350 feet of elevation. If a property has a slope of 33 percent or greater, the new rules prevent grading of more than 30 percent of the tract. The new rules also greatly restrict density on slopes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What a Shame

Doug Marlette, dead at 57, in a single-car accident in Mississippi.

Years ago, when Sen. Jesse Helms was invited to give the commencement address at ASU, some disgruntled students set about organizing a un-graduation ceremony at the same time, and somehow I got volunteered to contact and invite Doug Marlette as the guest speaker. He agreed to come to Boone on the appointed day and relished his assigned role as the un-Jesse Helms.

But Helms canceled his appearance, the counter-graduation ceremony became pointless, and I never got to meet Doug Marlette.

Fred Thompson: A 'Dumb as Hell' Mole for R. Nixon

Get a load of how Richard Nixon both disrespected Fred Thompson and simultaneously used him as a compliant spy on the Senate Watergate Committee ... back in the day.

An idiot but a useful idiot.

Everybody Says It: 'Nobody Will Build in Boone'

The Boone bashers. They love claiming that no one can build here, now that there are actual REG-YOU-LATIONS on such stuff as steep slopes and viewshed.

But Boone's Development Services has issued its June report on current commerical projects that have been approved or are under construction. Does this look like a no-building boom to you?

America's Home Place, a model home office
Best Place Apartments, 24 one-bedroom units
Greenway Office Park, bldg. 2
an occupational training building at Caldwell Comm. Colg.
a retail bldg. for Templeton Properties next to TCBY
a new car wash
a vehicle storage bldg.
a medical office
a new vehicle sales facility for Ross Automotive
Boone Square, a mixed-use development on Hwy 105 Ext.
Queen St. parking lot
Creekside Villas
WF&G Condominiums
Judd Allen Financial Office
Wellness Center addition
Hampton Estate, a single-family subdivision
King St. Office Building next to courthouse
Hester Office Bldg.
Sleep Inn / LaQuinta Inn
Best Place Too Apartments
Valle Capital Office/Retail
Deer Valley Condominiums Phase II
Boulder Cay Sudivision (34 single-family lots)
Councill Oaks Subdivision (82 lots)
Park St. Subdivision (9 lots)
Boone Rental Cabin
Hampton Estates Condominiums (24 two- and three-bedroom units)
Enterprise Rent-a-Car
Boone Heights Mall
There are others. But you get the gist of how our little town is withering on the vine, right?

First They Find the Evidence; Then You Find God

You KNOW what connoisseurs we are of official hypocrisy, so you might have guessed we'd swarm all over the Senator David Vitter (R-La.) story. Turns out the pious Senator Vitter was a patron of a notorious Washington, D.C. prostitution ring.

Vitter's office issued the confession:
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible. Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way."
Carefully crafted, that! It starts off on the right foot -- "I am completely responsible" -- while throwing in that subtle qualifier ... "in my past" ... to make us believe he's wholly redeemed and scantified NOW. But then comes all that God talk, which is wielded like a shield against accountability. "God's forgiven me, so you HAVE to forgive me too."

O Senator Vitter, we forgive you for the adultery. It's the fact that you're a completely dishonest jerk that we won't easily forget.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Foxx on CBS News Last Friday Night

"Earmarks are evil, except when they're MY earmarks."

Situational ethics, eh, Madam Foxx?

You. Monumental. Hypocrite.

Yak On

Just spent hours driving late last week, so we got a good dose of right-wing talk radio. It put the dogs to sleep in the back seat, but I listened to those gentlemen good.

According to this a.m.'s N&O, of 257 talk-radio stations, 92 percent of them do not broadcast a single minute of liberal talk. That means that on approximately 244 talk-radio stations, there's currently 100 percent scorn for Americans not willing to lay waste in the name of the Lord, and personally, I find that educational. Let's me know where we stand with approximately 32 percent of the voting public.

The N&O story referenced above is a longish piece about the debate Sen. Trent Lott started about bringing back the "fairness doctrine," which imposed on radio stations, the ones blasting political opinion at least, an obligation to give equal time to opposing viewpoints.

Guess what? I'm agin the fairness doctrine.

I'd treat talk radio the same way I've treated high fevers. Better to let them fulminate and boil the germs in their own steam. Too many people want to take aspirin, or worse, antibiotic, too quickly for every little thing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Watauga Democrats in the Boone Parade

Comparisons are odorous, said Dogberry, so we'll refrain from posting a second picture of the other team's float.

Thanks, Lonnie.

Asheville Chosen Best Southern City

What!? Pinko, commie, socialist Asheville chosen the South's best small city!?

Pinko, commie, socialist "Outside Magazine" did the deed, calling Asheville "an island of liberal alternative culture."

Way to go, you hippies!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth!

It was a good day to be in a small-town parade, to stand up for freedom, to celebrate the fact that we still have a Constitution, even if we aren't always using it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mountain Landslides

A writer on the North Carolina Conservative site protests the marketing of land in western North Carolina that is prone to landslides and to the inability of unsuspecting homeowners, whose houses have been rendered unlivable, to collect on their insurance.

A law was introduced in this session of the NC legislature, H1756, the "Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act," that would require full disclosure of pre-existing landslide hazards in any mountain land transaction. Republican House members Mitch Gillespie (McDowell), Curtis Blackwood (Union), and Roger West (Clay, Cherokee), together with the powerful real estate and homebuilders lobbies, managed to sideline the bill into a "study commission," usually a sure way not only to delay a law but to kill it over time.

Bottomline: there'll be no disclosure of landslide hazards to potential land buyers any time soon.

The North Carolina Geologic Survey's mapping of known landslide hazard zones in Watauga County is due out this summer. We understand from reports that the NCGS found some 140 new homes sitting in those known landslide areas.

Who Is Joey Stansburg & Why Was He Hanging Out in Boone?

From inside the local Republican machine comes news that a recent county executive meeting was attended by one Joey Stansbury, currently a registered voter in Wake County, a self-described "political organizer," and currently a student at Campbell University's School of Law.

Stansbury is a 1994 graduate of UNC with a degree in political science. He's worked for Congressman Walter Jones's campaign and with the John William Pope Foundation, principal funder of the John Locke Foundation, and the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, various fronts for an extreme right-wing political agenda. In 2004 Stansbury was appointed the new director of the Pope Center's satellite office in Chapel Hill. It's primary function, one block off the UNC campus, appears to have been the monitoring of "liberal bias" among the academic elite. Some called such "monitoring" intimidation.

(Prior to Stansbury's appointment to the Pope Center satellite in Chapel Hill, the Pope people launched a very public crusade against Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickle & Dimed," chosen as a book for university freshmen summer reading in 2003 -- the same book was also chosen for ASU's summer reading program that year too. "Nickle & Dimed," a first-person account of working for hourly wages in America, was attacked as part of a liberal plot to indoctrinate students against wage slavery.)

For a handle on the sort of political activism Mr. Stansbury has advocated in the past, at the 12th Annual Eagle Forum Collegian Summit on Capitol Hill in 2005, he "offered methods by which conservative students can pressure their campus administrators. He emphasized that the most powerful way to fight campus liberals is off campus, taking legal action when necessary. He stressed the power of embarrassment, urging students to contact various forms of local media, including talk radio programs and newspapers to publicize liberal atrocities. He wrapped up his speech by encouraging students to solicit donations from people who would be excited to donate to a conservative cause, explaining to students that there is much more money 'out there' that would be willing to support their endeavors than they might realize."

Is Mr. Stansbury's presence here part of the revitalization of the Republican Party we've been hearing so much about?

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Bush Administration, Still Above the Law

Scooter Libby's jail sentence ... commuted by El Presidente.

Way to go, Georgie!

This means a lot, coming from the man who said he'd come down hard on anyone in the White House found to have been involved in the outing of Valerie Plame.

When a Foxx Likes Pork

In case you missed it, fellow Republicans and Democrats ganged up on whiny little Patrick McHenry (NC-10) to cut out his pork project funding a commerical Christmas ornament project in Mitchell County.

Interestingly, Madam Foxx, who professes herself shocked -- SHOCKED! -- by other people's sins, voted to keep Mr. McHenry's pet project in the budget.

Can teapot-museum-funding be far behind in McHenry's future voting?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blowing Rock Retains Its Cold Shoulder for Madam Foxx

Eye witnesses at the Blowing Rock July 4th Parade yesterday say that the crowd's reception of U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx was "indifference trending toward disdain."

The Madam was evidently assigned a slot at the end of the parade. She didn't approve of that assignment and evidently wedged herself into a more advanced section, very near NC House Rep. Cullie Tarleton. While Tarleton was wildly cheered, Foxx got mainly an icy silence.

We also learned yesterday that the Madam's husband Tom sent out an e-mail trying to raise money for the Foxx campaign in commemoration of her 64th birthday, suggesting "perhaps $640, ten dollars for each year -- or even just $64, a friendly reminder of her age."

Or how about, instead, some Beatles' lyrics:
Send me a postcard, drop me a line stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say, yours sincerely wasting away.
Give me your answer, fill in a form, mine forever more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four?