The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce likes its candidate forums smoooooth, like the surface of a covered cistern, where the water will go stagnant waiting for a natural ripple, but this particular question got asked tonight anyway, to our utter and complete astonishment:
"Have you accepted any contributions from a PAC?"
Then the four Citizens for Change PAC-endorsed candidates (Wilson, Dodson, Phillips, & Wilcox) proceeded to lie outright (okay, granted, their outright lies were technical falsehoods that no one else in the room appeared to recognize). When all four CFC-endorsed candidates said they'd received no financial support WHATSOEVER from any PAC, that was simply and demonstrably not true (we trust their financial disclosure forms filed with the Board of Elections will eventually reflect this). They ALL have their names printed on Citizens for Change campaign signs, which are stuck all over town, and that printed endorsement on glossy paper AMOUNTS TO A FINANCIAL BENEFIT TO THOSE CANDIDATES.
As does the endless endorsement of them on WATA radio by Jim Hastings.
Therefore, they have received BIG BUCKS from a PAC, and they ought to know that. Their claims that they haven't (and wouldn't, no NEVER! a thousand times no!) accept money from a PAC was the most ... depressing kind of dishonesty on their parts. We need such sapience governing our little mountain town?
Otherwise, the themes of the smooooth Chamber of Commerce candidate forum (in the stunning new main courtroom of the County Courthouse, whose warm mahogany tones immediately put you in mind of how much filthy lucre our legal tribe will be making there) was approximately this:
a. Poor, poor, pitiful ASU (this, exclusively from CFC-endorsed candidates)
b. Can't we solve the water shortage with, like, large storage tanks?
c. Everything bad that's happened, since (approximately) the cooling of the earth's crust, is the fault of three incumbents (this was particularly Dempsey Wilcox's favorite theme, who neatly managed also the trick of dissociating HIMSELF, a 12-year incumbent on the Council, from all those terribly bad decisions). He was like a debutante with no date to the prom.
As to theme "a," Kevin Freeman (who's been one of two Invisible Men in this election up until tonight) had the only line worth quoting: "I would like to work with and not against ASU, but also not be pushed by ASU." Amen, brother. We wish you had been more seen and heard prior to now.
As to "b," mayoral candidate Tim Wilson (who was still complaining, almost resentfully, that he hasn't received any money from CFC, nor any official notification of an endorsement) said that administrators at ASU had assured HIM that they were "more than willing" to share their abundant supply of water with the town.
Head-scratcher, that! ASU did nothing about signing a water-sharing agreement worked out with the Town of Boone attorney in Nov. 2006, did nothing (like, uh, sign the agreement) for almost a year, until their bad behavior in flaunting town regulations began to surface on this site and in other places. Chancellor Ken Peacock has now delivered his signature on a water interconnect agreement which we hear has been materially changed in many respects, the like of which has not yet been made public and probably won't be until this election's over. Hearing the CFC-endorsed candidates talk about how eager ASU would be to share its water with the TOB is akin to hearing optimistic reports that the VERY NEXT Mars probe is bound to find water-bearing rocks on that planet.
The "c" theme above does not require explication. We're all totally hip to the fact that Citizens for Change would have done EVERYTHING differently, so differently, in fact, that no one would recognize this place if CFC had been in charge for the last few years (and no one will recognize it in a matter of months if they get into power in this election: that goes without saying).
Eddie Haskell Award ... to Ethan Dodson, bless his heart, who's a fascinating study in stage-managed Personality Plus. He brilliantly does the best he can with his almost total unfamiliarity with town government by joking about his youth -- theatrically referring to it for laughs -- while saying a great deal of precisely nothing. (At one point he cheerily suggested that Boone might get water from Blowing Rock or Foscoe, not realizing that Blowing Rock has its own water crisis and Foscoe has no municipal supply.) Like Eddie Haskell of "Leave It to Beaver," he's all talk and smarm, a good deal more charming in his own eyes than, maybe, elsewhere. Eventually a couple of Master's theses could be written about how he came to be recruited and then endorsed by the guys who fund Citizens for Change.
O the cynicism! In both the creators and the creature.