“A word is dead when it is said, some say.
I say it just begins to live that day.”
By Roger McCredie-John Bartlett owned the University Book Store just off Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like many booksellers in those pre-big box book vendor days, he was a pretty erudite individual; in fact he was known to be so intimately familiar with the contents of his inventory that students, professors and even rank-and-file customers often asked him to furnish appropriate quotes, off the top of his head, on any number of subjects. In 1855, he published Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, which is now in its eighteenth edition and, according to Google, is the longest-lived and most widely distributed reference work of its kind in the world.
Decisions as to who and what make it into Bartlett’s are made by the publisher’s own editorial department and the selection process is famously subjective; still it’s doubtful if any of the quotes below will ever find their way into Bartlett’s. Therefore, in its small and humble way, the Tribune has decided to try to help fill this culture gap with a random listing of what it feels are some of the more memorable public utterances of 2013 from notable persons in Asheville and Buncombe County.
The Tribune has two advantages over the folks at Bartlett’s: first, it is much more limited in scope, so it doesn’t have to winnow quotable material from thousands of eminent potential sources; and, secondly, on any given day it has at its disposal a veritable treasure trove of material, courtesy of local public personages, that is sometimes cogent, sometimes ironic and often funny (though usually not on purpose). So here are twelve quotes culled from the pages of the Tribune and other sources over the past year:
“The next meeting I come to, do I need to say, ‘Heil, Hitler’?”
-School Board member Lisa Baldwin, criticizing the board’s agenda policy and touching off a firestorm of criticism for mentioning Hitler. (Baldwin was also castigated for having given a mock Nazi salute, which live video showed did not happen.
“[It’s]basically a little smack on the hand, make sure you don’t do that again. It’s just a statement of displeasure.”
-Newbie school board member Amy Churchill, in calling for Lisa Baldwin’s formal censure for making the Hitler reference.
“[Asheville’s $6 million projected deficit] was a potential forecasted at the town hall, yes, but not true of the final budget.”
-Then-vice mayor Esther Manheimer on how the city fixed its shortfall and balanced its budget … by raising taxes.
-City Councilman Marc Hunt, describing council’s justification for voting to set aside $2 million in city funds for the Asheville Art Museum in the face of the possible $6 million budget deficit.
“It’s like being told you’ve won a trip to Disneyland but you’re going to have to walk to get there” … Maybe Disneyland isn’t worth the walk.”
-Diana Wortham Theatre Executive Director John Ellis, on being told that Asheville Art Museum’s planned major expansion at Pack Place would be beneficial for the theatre.
“All that [the default notice] refers to is the original contract timeline expiring. The timeline was revised and contract renewed. The Museum is in good standing with the current contract with the TDA.”
-Asheville Art Museum Executive Director Pam Myers, after being asked to comment on documents indicating the museum defaulted on two previous Tourism Development Authority contracts.
“As citizens of Asheville and individual members of Asheville City Council, we do not endorse this conduct … we urge citizens and visitors to avoid the event.
-Asheville City Council in an open letter to residents concerning the third annual Asheville GoTopless downtown rally.
“I’m not sure they have any business making any comments on a public protest.”
-Asheville Topless Rally organizer Jeff Johnson on city council’s statement.
“No, we took that [participation in the proposed new recreational authority] away from you. You filed your lawsuit, OK, so we’re not going to let you file the lawsuit on this side and sue the state and charge your taxpayers money but at the same time be the benefactor of this, because it’s going to cost people outside the city some of their hard-earned money. So until the lawsuit is settled, we took the authority away from the city.”
-Rep. Tim Moffitt to city councilman Chris Pelly, explaining Raleigh’s retaliation for the lawsuit filed by the city to retain control of its water resources.
“Asheville is the most picked-on, abused city in the history of cities. Every time the legislature gets a bad idea, they ram it down our throats.”
-Former mayoral candidate John Miall.
“Sadly the city government has suffered in recent years from an influx of incompetent, unprincipled opportunists … The city has a growing history of malfeasance and cover ups noted in the local media including sexual harassment by police staff, financial fraud by human resource staff, fraudulent hiring practices, failure to record financial and personnel documents with the state, and failures to provide specific public information upon request. Sadly these activities continue to this day …”
-Posting by an anonymous city employee on the website eBosswatch.com
“ ‘After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.’ Well, we live in the mountains and we have a lot of hills.”
-Mayor Esther Manheimer at her swearing-in ceremony, quoting Nelson Mandela and adding her own two cents.
So there you have it. In keeping with our rigorous professional standards, we have not attempted to put any spin on any of the above quotes. They are what they are, and taken together they provide an interesting glimpse into what makes Asheville and Buncombe County tick. Or not.