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By Bill O’Connor –

As I begin this project to report on the Commission.  I will try to do what I have for so long wished to see.  Reporting on what actually happens; who said what on the issues and what it means, as best I can figure, but with some humor and some life.  I have no doubt you will let me know how I am doing.

Fifty people, with hair in various shades of gray, from the local far left gun control lobby, stood up in a show solidarity, some styling themselves as the “Department of Peace”, appeared in support of having the Commission ban something, or ask the state to ban something.  We presume that the 60 or so other people who did not stand up support the Second Amendment as an individual right.  Individually the fifty favored getting rid of different magazines, or ammunition, or certain firearms.  There were 4 or 5 speakers standing on the Constitution, and much talk from the Department of Peace about the need for a “well regulated militia”.  No one pointed out that every person present; by state law, is a member of the state militia.  As a group there was little consensus, they seemed to be unsure of themselves after having learned since making the same appeal to the City of Hendersonville, that  the North Carolina’s is not a “Home Rule” state but operates under the “Dillon Rule”.  Generally in Home Rule States, the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the authority to pass laws to govern themselves within that states and the federal constitutions.  Henderson County as did Hendersonville took no action on the request.

Dillon Rule (after a 19th century Iowa and Federal jurist) states impose tighter limits on counties and municipalities in what laws they may or may not pass; North Carolina in among the more restrictive in this regard.  (a chart nearby shows which states operate under which rule).  There are none pure in how they manage Home Rule, but the chart attempts to show what the preponderance of the evidence indicates.

The consent agenda usually contains routine, non-controversial items and passes routinely.  Commissioner Hawkins objected to an item: Henderson County has been invited to submit a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grant for the initial planning and building of the French Broad River Greenway Initiative. This grant would look to build the initial portions of the greenway starting at Westfeldt Park. The RTP grant requires 25% match. It is possible through the submission of a Water Resources Development (WRD) Project Grant to receive the required 25% match ($50,000.00). The application is being submitted on December 31, 2012. The WRD grant application does require a resolution from the county.  (more on the county website)

In other words, on the financial side of it, an opportunity exists to get money from our grandchildren which requires us to put up 25 cents on the dollar, BUT we can get other money from our grandchildren to cover the quarter.  On the practical side, these projects invariably encroach at some point on private property interests.  The item was pulled from the agenda.  Laurel leaf to Hawkins.

Long time local resident and political operative Donald Goldstein shook “down some thunder from the sky” on this BCS championship game night when he announced that a Bright Water neighborhood group was meeting tonight to consider how to react to his (Goldstein’s) claim that there is $300,000 dollars unaccounted for in city water funds associated with the water project some years back at Bright Water.  He further announced that he had provided relevant data to them and turned over copies to the FBI.  Stay tuned.

Among the annual appointments local boards and was that of long-time State Representative Carolyn Justus as Chairman of the History Heritage Museum Board, to which she has devoted much time and talent, on a 4-1 vote, Hawkins demurring.

As they took up the continuation of the promised taxpayer support for the Flat Rock Playhouse the Commission unusually allowed speakers signed up for public comment with FRP interests to delay speaking until just before the item instead of at the start of the meeting.  Parliamentary confusion broke out as some Commissioners objected to this process.  After those public supporters wishing too had spoken, Hawkins interjected his opposition to the FRP bailout because of the positive moves made by FRP in planning and personnel, and the outpouring of private (appropriate) support for FRP, Chairman Messer called for a vote without discussion, getting Hawkins to agree that he had made a motion to withhold the funds.  A confused vote defeated the measure 4-1.  Messer then invited FRP representative McKibbon to engage in a discussion with the Commission, and Vice-Chairman Thompson stated a point of order that the issue was closed by the vote and that public or any other comment was pointless.  After a bit more back and forth between the leadership, it was agreed that the vote had closed the issue against the interests of taxpayers, the Hendersonville Little Theater, and other struggling county businesses.  One of the speakers against the issue, Ron Jenkins, whispered that he wondered how next year’s appropriation request from FRP would be handled.

President Molly Parkhill of Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) announced the launch of a Craft Brewing Academy at BRCC that will include granting national certifications in craft brewing.   She reported that 150 students are already working and there is a waiting list.  The rest was just routine.

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