Leslee KulbaLocal News: Asheville and HendersonvilleLocal OpinionOpinion

Council: Success depends on changing culture or mindset

Anybody familiar with the bulk of city leadership would not be so cruel as to lob such a weighty accusation at the kindly folk. But calling others racist helps fragile egos feel cool-factored, and the city has just the remedy for racial tensions. Nothing ends racism better, evidently, than giving the group movers and shakers want to identify as oppressed a monument. The best way to bring friends on equal terms is to give them a rock and expect them to find fulfilment rallying around it. Other council goals aim to increase the diversity of city hires and help minorities start businesses.

To his credit, Parks and Recreation Director Roderick Simmons took a functional approach to addressing accusations of systemic racism. He examined his department’s facilities and programs to see if somehow, unintentionally, the resources that were supposed to help the poorest of the poor were somehow missing their intended audience. Wherever this was found to be the case, he restructured.

Other goals screaming governmental overreach and patronization included the city’s Food Action Plan and affordable housing strategies. The idea of a free country is so last-century. Government tells us people today want an elect few in the halls of power to provide us with food and shelter – and transportation and jobs and daycare. The Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy agenda is sufficiently launched to warrant that item struck from the revised goals.

But creating an adequate supply of affordable housing remains an important job for council; that, while enforcing a zoning code that doesn’t want people living in lowlife mobile homes or smallish homes of inferior materials that could stigmatize the owner’s children; cramming more families into a building than the arbitrary codes allow, especially for short-term rentals; or building apartments near established neighborhoods where too much traffic will injure children and rooftops will obstruct viewsheds.

The big cure council envisions is renting city property for housing, sort of like lords did in the Middle Ages. “Analyzing the inventory of city-owned real property and establishing a strategy to utilize land for affordable housing in conjunction with other municipal needs so to provide a vision and a framework for effective decision-making and land use,” the plan decrees in syntax close enough for government work. Goals also include creating neighborhood identities and placemaking.

Another overreach is saving the planet. Regardless of what’s stated in the plan, it is widely known the city will soon adopt plans to eliminate its use of fossil fuels by 2030. It also aims to eliminate all municipal waste sometime in the future. The only problem with a “Government, heal thyself” strategy is it positions powermongers to spread their dominion with fewer resources. Extending government’s tentacles into private affairs is what sounds alarms, and it begins here with incentivizing private-sector greening with an Asheville Workplace Challenge.

The nanny state is also control freakish about how subjects get from here to there. People did not get elected to city council for lauding the autonomy a personal vehicle affords. “Increased use of public transit will reduce carbon emissions, resulting in less pollution and decreased operationale [sic.] costs,” the plan says. “Success, however, is dependent on changing culture or mindset so that individuals make transit a natural part of the daily commute.” And even if the vast majority preferred to ride the bus, the plan seems high on overhead, with plans, outreach, and reports.

Some goals call for diversifying and strengthening revenue streams (i.e., getting more money); particularly through partnerships. Others call for more outreach to create a more positive image and sense of inclusiveness. Most importantly, though, it wouldn’t be a plan without shooting the bull. For example, the city should, “Operationalize the Comprehensive Plan based on the adopted implementation strategy to include annual review and goal setting.”

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