Decries “Legislative Larceny” of Asheville Water System
Former City Council member and 11th District Congressional Candidate Carl Mumpower expressed serious displeasure and disappointment with his fellow Republicans in an open letter that challenges them for “malfeasance” and indifference to the party’s principles.
He writes, “The Republican majority in Raleigh, under the local leadership of Republican State Representatives Tim Moffitt, Nathan Ramsey, and Chuck McGrady, are in the process of conducting an act of malfeasance meriting challenge. The unprecedented use of eminent domain to seize a city-owned water system reveals a party power structure indifferent to the principles upon which that party is founded.”
He continues, “This action is a follow-up to earlier misbehaviors by State Representative Susan Fisher (D) and Senator Martin Nesbitt (D) who led the charge to pass Sullivan Acts II & III which effectively seized control of the City’s water system, but fell short of transferring ownership. Moffitt and his colleagues are simply finishing the job that their colleagues started. I expect political opportunism from the left, but to have members of my own party act with such indifference to our principles requires more than a passive response,” says Mumpower.
Mumpower offers a short list of concerns and his intended follow-up actions, excerpted below:
1) Legislative theft of a city owned water system is bad policy, unprecedented action, and in direct opposition to the Republican Party’s Principles 5 & 6.
• I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.
• I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
2) This is a local governance matter being decided in Raleigh … and will have a dramatically harmful social and economic impact on the citizens of Asheville and by association, Western North Carolina. This effort represents the effective practice of eminent domain – a misapplication of elected authority antagonistic to everything the Republican Party stands for.
3) Legislation against Asheville is a patterned activity. Recent seizure of the airport, being … the only city in NC not allowed to share room-tax revenue, Sullivan Acts II & III …, and other actions reflect a mismatch between word and deed in supporting the viability of chartered municipalities.
4) The reasons tendered … are dishonest and beneath the dignity of the elected officials offering those justifications-
• Asheville has not maintained its water system
Point of truth – Asheville’s system is no greater state of disrepair than most water systems across the state. Where differences exist, it is due to the size of the system and exceptionally difficult terrain issues that require a dramatically higher water pressure to insure service.… That consideration will be in place no matter who owns the system.
• Asheville wants to charge higher rates to non-city residents
Point of truth – Of course it does. Asheville’s forefathers had the foresight to purchase two reservoirs standing as the foundation of the city-owned water system. City residents pay roughly double the taxes of those living in proximity to the city. The use of city assets such as water to compensate for that doubled taxation is the majority practice for cities all over the state….
• The Metropolitan Sewer District will do a better job of managing the system
Point of Truth – The MSD is not an elected body and thus has reduced accountability and incentive to contain costs.… Why is there not a movement to seize all other city owned water systems? Why is this regional action essentially limited to Asheville?
• Asheville will be better off
Point of Truth – Using eminent domain through legislative action to seize an objectively appraised billion-dollar-plus asset and then pretending the citizens victimized by this action will be rewarded is the height of audacity. There is simply no way an asset of this magnitude can be removed without significant penalty. There is a reason no other city in NC is being forced away from their water assets or offering to surrender those assets – there is no equation whereby it does not represent major harm.
5) Neither the Buncombe County nor NC State Republican Party organizations have offered any public challenge to the unprincipled actions of the Republican representatives (here or in Raleigh) who are initiating/supporting this action against Asheville. The failure to press for principled actions by Republican elected officials has resulted in the progressive erosion of the standards, impact, and integrity of the Republican Party … [that] represents a model of political opportunism versus political leadership. If my party does not stand for something, continued participation represents opportunism on a personal basis.
6) Therefore, should my fellow Republicans in Raleigh choose to support this destructive, unprincipled, and unprecedented legislative action, I will take the only step I have in hand to express my concern for that act of misplaced integrity and resign from the Republican Party. I will further call on Asheville citizens registered as Republicans and others at large who are concerned with the erosion of principle in our party to do the same.
Carl Mumpower, Asheville, NC