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Utility accused of running ‘dog and pony show’
Friday, 02 June 2017 11:19
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Duke Energy was accused of launching a local joint energy task force that amounts to little more than “a dog and pony show” during a May 5 meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

CIBO member Mac Swicegood voiced the criticism during a question-and-answer period that followed a presentation by Duke Energy’s Jason Walls.

“Now you’ve got a task force comprised of Brownie (Newman), who’s in the solar panel business; and Julie (Mayfield), who’s trying to stop everything, and you’re stuck in the middle,” Swicegood told Walls, who is also a member of the three-person unit. “It’s like a dog and pony show.”

Newman, who lives in the Montford community, founded — in 2015 — a new solar energy company, Headwaters Solar. He is chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

Mayfield, who lives in West Asheville, is co-director of MountainTrue and a member of Asheville City Council. MountainTrue battles for area environmental and conservation causes.

In a state hearing, MountainTrue was a key opponent to Duke Energy’s plan to replace its coal-fired generator in South Asheville with two new 280-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fired electric generating units with fuel oil backup. At the same hearing, Swicegood spoke strongly in favor of Duke’s proposal. Duke eventually received approval to proceed with the two natural gas generators.

In responding to Swicegood’s verbal joust, Walls said, “Personalities aside, I think we have a lot of the right people around the table... Brownie and Julie, each, were appointed by their respective political bodies, and I was appointed by Duke.”

He added, “I’m going to resist you’re saying ‘dog and pony show’ because I don’t think that’s a very nice phrase… So I think we have a real opportunity to make real progress....”

Opponents of APD’s $1M request pack hearing; demand spending elsewhere
Friday, 02 June 2017 11:17

From Staff Reports

Asheville City Council chambers were filled to overflowing May 23 with a big and vocal crowd opposing additional funding for the hiring of 15 new police officers.

A $1 million request, sought by Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper, would finance the addition of more officers with the aim of reversing the 17 percent jump in violent crime, mostly in the downtown district.

In response, activists, protesting under the slogan of “$1 Million for the People,” say the funds, instead, should go to public transit or anti-poverty programs.

The hearing on the APD issue lasted more than two hours, as mostly opponents — and a few proponents — voiced their viewpoints, often passionately. The hearing was the last opportunity to comment on the budget before council’s vote on June 13.

Among the speakers, the Rev. Amy Cantrell, the protest organizer, told council that she is giving it a petition — with 903 signatures  “and climbing” — that says “we need more community. That community creates safety, and not expanding police.”



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