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Decision to halt destruction of Vance Monument? ‘It’s historic!’
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 11:24
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The June 4 decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals to order Asheville and Buncombe County to desist in deconstructing the Vance Monument in heart of downtown Asheville was “a very historic order” in the state’s history, according to H. Edward Phillips III, the attorney who represents the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th North Carolina Troops. 

“This is the first time a court in North Carolina has come out and said, ‘We’re stoppig a political subdivision in North Carolina from removing a monument,’” Phillips told the Daily Planet in a June 8 telephone interview.

“It’s historic!” Phillips said of the decision, noting that he felt “ecstatic” about it.

While the other side’s attorneys are saying the case with take a few months to resolve, Phillips said, “The average appeal time in the state of North Carolina takes 15 months.”

He added, “They (the city) can’t dispose of anything” to do with the monument until the appeal is decided. “The city has a responsibility to make sure nothing happens to it. You have to hold on to every single thing and make sure nothing happens — and protect everything... I begged them not to put themselves in this spot.”

What’s more, Phillips projected that “they’ve blown north of $100,000 on this (demolition), so far... Rental fence. Rental dumpsters. Rental cranes... And they are — and will continue to be — burning money on the rentals” into the foreseeable future.

N.C. Court of Appeals orders city/county: stop demolition
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 11:22

From Staff Reports 

The North Carolina Court of Appeals on June 4 ordered the City of Asheville and Buncombe County to halt their demolition of the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville.

“The order said Asheville and Buncombe County must desist ‘any further action to deconstruct, demolish or remove the Zebulon Baird Vance Monument’ pending the outcome of an appeal,” Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported. 

“The order said Asheville and Buncombe County must retain all parts of the monument already taken down.”

On June 5, Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham released the following statement about the court’s ruling:

“On Friday afternoon, the N.C. Court of Appeals issued a stay on all demolition activities for the Vance Monument. This means all work must cease immediately, pending the outcome of the current appeal. Although no time frame is certain, this could take several months to resolve. The City of Asheville still feels confident in our legal position, but we’ll have to wait for some time to finish the removal of the Vance Monument.”

Citing severe staffing crisis, APD releases list of crimes it no longer will respond to
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 11:18

From Staff Reports

The Asheville Police Department — experiencing an increasingly severe staffing crisis — announced on June 2 a number of changes in officer response, going into effect immediately, “in order to improve response times for emergency calls made to 911.” 

As for staffing, the APD has lost 84 sworn officers since Jan. 1, 2021, with recruitment of new officers amid a “defund the police” atmosphere in Asheville proving to be highly challenging.

As for the service cutbacks, APD officers will no longer respond to the following types of crimes:

▪️ Theft under $1,000 where there is no suspect information (this does not include stolen vehicles or guns)

▪️ Theft from a vehicle where there is no suspect information

▪️ Minimal damage and/or graffiti to property where there is no suspect information

▪️ Non-life threatening harassing phone calls (does not include incidents that are related to domestic violence and/or stalking)

▪️ Fraud, scams, or identity theft

▪️ Simple assaults that are reported after they have occurred

▪️ Reports that do not require immediate police actions and/or enforcement (information only reports)

▪️ Funeral escorts

▪️ Lost/found property

▪️ Trespassing where the property-owner does not want to press charges

▪️ Noise complaints made during normal business hours and after-hours may have a significant delay in response.

“Victims of these crimes can use the Police to Citizen online reporting tool to file a police report,” the APD noted in a press release. “Individuals who do not have access to online reporting can call (828) 252-1110 to have an officer respond when they are available. This may result in a significant delay in response.”

Franklin Graham urges evangelicals to get vaccinated: Advice leaves some evangelicals fuming
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 11:14

From Staff Reports

BOONE —  The Rev. Franklin Graham, an Asheville native, son of the late (and world-famous) evangelist Billy Graham and now chief of his father’s massive Christian outreach operations and his own Samaritan’s Purse relief organization in Boone, has left a number of his followers fuming after he pleaded with evangelical Christians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in an interview with Axios that appeared May 17 on HBO.

“I want people to know that COVID-19 can kill you,” Religion News Service quoted Graham as saying in the interview. “But we have a vaccine out there that could possibly save your life. And if you wait, it could be too late.”

RNS’ story on May 17 added, “Graham said his father — the famed evangelist Billy Graham, who died in 2018 — would urge them to do the same.

“‘My father was a firm believer in medicine. He believed in it, so he would have been a supporter — no question,’” RNS quoted Graham as saying.

“The Axios interview comes as polling by the Pew Research Center shows 45 percent of white evangelicals say they definitely or probably will not get vaccinated against COVID-19, a higher number than any other religious group,” RNS reported.

FOP chief rips council, D.A. for APD’s crisis in staffing
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 10:47

From Staff Reports

Rondell Lance, who is the chief of the local Fraternal Order of Police, called out both Asheville City Council and Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams for their alleged respective parts resulting in the severe staffing crisis that has forced the Asheville Police Department to close its lobby and cut back on crime calls to which it will respond.

Lance’s comments were made during a June 7 interview with the Daily Planet. As president of the local FOP, he represents roughly 280 people. “I’m elected to speak out for the men and women in law enforcement,” he emphasized.

He began by noting “In Buncombe County, we have a lot of state employees. Their employees are asking to be transferred out of Buncombe County because they don’t trust the DA (district attorney).”

Regarding Williams and his team, “They’re dropping good cases or plea-dealing them,” which, he noted, is discouraging to law enforcement officers.

“Why would you work here when they’re dropping charges against people who are assaulting us?”

Lance then noted that the two inane concepts predominating in the Asheville area are “reimagine” and “defund.”

To that end, he said, “I’ve known the mayor (Esther Manheimer) and” when he was still an active officer, once even “did a ride-along with her. But at the end of the road, she’s basically a politician.  She’ll listen to whoever makes the most noise.” 

Lance said that the loudest — and most dangerous — groups in the city are Antifa and Black Lives Matter, who, he said, also get the greatest attention of council. Also, he said personal threats from those groups likely is affecting votes from fearful council members.

After a pause, Lance said, “We used to have a couple of people on City Council — like Vijay Kapoor and Jan Davis” with whom police officers could discuss city problems related to their work.

“We found a voice of reason” in Kapoor and Davis. “But now, I can’t find a voice of reason any more” in any of the council members.


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