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The Candid Conservative: Who maimed Asheville? (Part 1)
Thursday, 06 December 2018 16:24
Special to the Daily Planet

We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.

Tennessee Williams

The Problem

Don’t look now, but Asheville is limping.  From north to south and east to west, the transitions, growth and mutations are transforming what once was a cool green working man’s mountain town into a frustrated, bulging, expensive and confused asylum.  

Over the past several decades a host of hands – some passive, some aggressive – have successfully conspired to turn paradise into something more acquainted to misery than cool.

How’d it happen? Glad you asked – there are host of perpetrators.


An indifference to our traditional values

Contrary to those who like to rewrite Asheville’s history, our community was founded on a long-standing tradition of conservative Christian values. Sure, we’ve had our share of rogues, colorful characters and dynamic visitors, but most of Asheville was built and maintained by people once called “normal.”

The mad dash of newcomers has been remarkably indifferent to those traditions and, frankly, brought many of the bad habits they came here to escape. The result – much of what once made us nifty has been extinguished and an intangible specialness has been lost in the exchange.

Hate to break it to our transplants, but buying a new car and running it off a cliff doesn’t make sense.  

An enabled drug culture

In 1970, the year I stumbled out the doors of Owen High, the school logged one weed smoking incident. That individual was kicked out and ostracized by the community. Why? Because the majority understood that drugs were not a path to anything of lasting good.

Fast-forward to today. The majority has lost sight of that old-style wisdom and embraced the idea that drug-induced mindlessness is a necessary ingredient to modern life. The result is a drug dealer in every neighborhood, a gazillion lost souls and an epidemic of overdoses.

How did we get here?

Well, a big part of the failure equation tracks to a well-advised war on drugs that fairly targeted suppliers but then gave a pass to the users funding this sour enterprise.

We ignored history’s relentless affirmation that demand always generates supply. As a result, we have been chasing our tail – and losing ground – long enough to have created a genuine dialed in to-the-max drug culture.

Can we do anything? Absolutely.

It starts with ending the pretense that we’re having anything approaching success in treating our drug abusers. As a personal view, when it comes to the heavy hitters like opiates and meth, we’re lucky if – over time – we salvage one in ten. Drug treatment in America has become a commercial enterprise attempting to counter another commercial enterprise. Drug dealers have proven to be much more creative than drug treatment dealers.

So, what do we do? Keep trying to salvage the plethora of users, but concentrate on new recruits. It’s in stopping the recruitment of users that we have a winning chance.

How do we do that? The same way we keep our drinking drivers, child and spouse abusers and bank robbers down to a minimum – consequences.

In the case of new users those consequences have to be immediate and dramatic enough to discourage the behavior. Dramatic consequences like when you get caught buying or using drugs you get two-weeks in a tent jail and picking up paper along the highway.

Are we going to do that? No. As a culture we don’t have the courage or the character.

For those who still care and wish to make a difference, may I offer a simple compass course? Remember that drug abuse is like colon cancer – you have to catch it early to stop it. What we’re doing in America today is pretending that colon cancer is no big deal.


Clogging up our traffic Arteries

This one, like a host of our community’s ills, falls firmly on the doorstep of the liberal-progressive-socialists who’ve successfully shanghaied the Democratic Party.

These folks and their partners in crime – the Sierra Club and other histrionic climate obsessives – have spent decades intercepting every DOT attempt to address our long-anticipated traffic overload.

Now we are there and suddenly these folks are slinking off and even pointing fingers at the DOT. Sorry guys, obstructionists on the left are singularly responsible for our clogged-up highways.

Next time you are stuck in a creep and beep on I-26, I-240 or I-40, remember who you need to thank for all that pollution wastefully undoing the atmosphere. If you’re a member of the liberal elite who – with typical chutzpah – thought you knew more than the rest of us, may we recommend you take the bike route?



Elitist elected officials

Speaking of elitism, the Democrats who have politically dominated our community for 20-something years have that trick down to a science.

Their fascination with centralized control, tax and fee increases, regulation and micro-managing everything but the misbehavior of their mascots has created a town that no one but the wealthy, vacationing, super-employed or trust-funded can afford.

Those afraid of getting kicked out of their apartment because that third job isn’t covering city leadership’s concept of affordable housing can take heart. Thanks to all these new hotels dotting our skyline, you can embrace a $400 a night room until you snare that ’65 Oakwood mobile home rental in Swannanoa. Firing one up and sleeping in the car can be a back-up plan.

If you are one of the many struggling to make ends meet in our platinum city, reflect on those most-favored city council buzzwords – good jobs and affordable housing. We now know those were code for employment for the liberal elite and $350,000 bungalows in West Asheville.

When Swannanoa is full, the rest of us are expected to move to Tennessee.



Special interest groups

While observing the polls during the recent election, I was introduced to a campaigning Sierra Club member. “Are you a member,” she asked. “No,” I replied. “Don’t you care about the environment,” she exclaimed. My response – while on my way to climb into my Subaru Outback – was, “Yes, but I don’t agree with how you guys go about it.”

Needless to say, there was righteous indignation at that poll that day. I took the pain and avoided trying to make a broader point – that would be that special interest groups have a reliable tendency to evolve into selfish interest groups. Selfish groups, in turn, become greedy for power and privilege.

Witness the fact that by law the city’s room tax goes to a special interest group working under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce. No other city in North Carolina has this “special” set-up. Why? Because a certain deceased Democrat state senator – aided and abetted by a group of bi-partisan co-conspirators – made it so. That’s a special deal, but a not-so-special outcome if you are a resident paying property taxes to subsidize a gazillion tourists.

My personal favorite special deal is the one enjoyed by our local privately owned mega-estate. Perhaps you’ve noticed that liquor by the drink is a city-only phenomenon in North Carolina? So how did the folks at Biltmore get that privilege without being voluntary annexed into Asheville like the law requires? It was a special deal by the same crew that funneled the city’s room tax to the chamber. Oh yes, and these are the same folks who worked so hard to steal the city’s water system to give a special deal to their county supporters.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not fan of Asheville’s governance model, but end-runs are not the way to address it. Special deals for others usually equate to the shaft for the rest of us.

When it comes to such, I’m reminded of what a friend once said when he was asked to run for public office. “I have so many skeletons in my closet,” he said, “if I ran people would think it’s Halloween.”

Asheville is embedded with lots of skeletons – living and dead.



What’s a guy or gal to do?

 We’ll cover that in more detail in Part II. For now, may I suggest the best response is a simple one?

 It has something to do with writing your own script – and remembering God always hides opportunity in the misery….


 Carl Mumpower, a psychologist and former elected official, is chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




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