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Faced by a rising tide of complaints about barking dogs, Jackson County commissioners indicated this week that they would consider passing an ordinance that would muzzle the offenders.

“I’ve had negative experiences with barking dogs,” said Commissioner Doug Cody. “I can sympathize with people who have an issue with dogs. I think we need to take a hard look at it.”

After a month of controversy surrounding the granting of alcohol permits, Sylva and Jackson County leaders have made it their goal to work amicably together and compromise when discussing how the county will handle its ABC operations in the future.

“We really want to work with them (Sylva). We don’t want it to be an adversarial thing,” said Jack Debnam, chair to the Board of Commissioners.

The Jackson County Sheriff has denied allegations that his department setup traffic checkpoints to racially profile Latinos and find possible illegal immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation announced June 4 that it will investigate traffic checkpoints conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Sylva town board has trimmed the green energy features from its new police department project and boosted the proposed cost to more than $1 million.

The town originally budgeted $786,500 for the construction. The lowest bid, however, came in nearly $100,000 higher, forcing the town to decided whether to downsize the project or increase the amount of it’s willing to spend.

Western Carolina University is remaining mostly neutral on the topic of alcohol coming to Cullowhee, at least officially.

“The campus has had alcohol on it for many, many, many years, and I don’t see that changing,” said Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student development. “It doesn’t really make it much better or worse.”

Although the approval of countywide alcohol sales will bring booze to WCU’s doorstep, the vote does not necessarily translate to more underage drinking and other alcohol-related crimes, stated university officials.

“Students already have access to alcohol sold in stores and restaurants just a few miles from campus. The availability of alcohol closer to campus will certainly be more convenient for many students, but we don’t know how or if that will change their behavior,” said WCU Chancellor David Belcher in a statement.

Most other college campuses in the country have stores and bars selling alcohol all around them, yet drinking is not substantially different among students at WCU where it is less accessible, according to a study by the Healthy Campus initiative on alcohol and drug use among students in 2007.

“Alcohol is a tremendous risk factor for our students as it is nationally,” Miller said.    

And, like many other colleges nationwide, WCU requires its freshmen to complete an alcohol education program and take tests featuring alcohol-related trivia. The hope is that students will make more informed decisions when considering whether and how much to drink.

“We want to make sure they have good information about the risks of inappropriate use of alcohol,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, we know for many, many of our students, alcohol is part of what they consider the college experience.”

The Division of Student Affairs also offers the “Party Smart” website initiative, which gives students access to advice and information about alcohol.

While WCU isn’t publicly jumping for joy over the arrival of alcohol in Cullowhee, former chancellor John Bardo had openly adopted a pro-alcohol stance in his final years.

Cullowhee lacks a vibrant college town and nightlife scene, and that in turn hurt the university’s ability to recruit and retain students, Bardo had said. Bardo had been looking for ways to incorporate Cullowhee as a town, giving it the ability to make alcohol sales legal.

 

Permits still pending

Four of the six businesses in Cullowhee that have expressed an interest in selling alcohol have hit a stumbling block after Sheriff Jimmy Ashe raised red flags over their locations — namely as being too close to WCU.

Ashe was designated by the county to render an official opinion on whether a particular establishment and its owner should be granted a permit from the state to serve alcohol.

Of the six establishments in Cullowhee that applied for permits, the sheriff offered a “thumbs down” assessment to four of the six for being too close to campus.

“With a 10,000 student population, this agency has already experienced a significant increase in underage drinking, alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related sex offenses at fraternities and even alcohol-related deaths … with my experience of 30 years in law enforcement, this would not be a suitable location for alcohol sales,” Ashe wrote in response to the permit application.

University administrators expressed their appreciation for the sheriff’s concern.

“I think we share concerns about making sure our students are safe and are good neighbors in Jackson County,” Miller said.

No matter what happens with the alcohol permits, however, students will still be expected to follow the same code of conduct as always.

“Regardless, WCU will continue to expect that our students are living up to their responsibilities and are good neighbors to Jackson County residents,” Belcher said in the statement. “We will be following the impact of countywide alcohol sales very closely this fall.”

In 2010, 245 students were referred to the university’s disciplinary board for alcohol-related violations. That is a nearly 100 percent increase from the number of violations reported in 2009 but only up 45 referrals when compared to 2008.

 

Ashe creates extra hurdle

The university has also done its part to vouch for area businesses that were deemed unsuitable for alcohol sales by Ashe.

“The university has been great,” said Jeannette Evans, owner of Mad Batter Bakery and Café in Cullowhee, who is facing delays after getting a negative assessment from Ashe on her permit application.

WCU’s General Counsel Mary Ann Lochner sent a brief letter to the state’s assistant director of ABC permits clarifying that Mad Batter, Rolling Stone Burrito and Bob’s Mini Mart — all of which have applied for alcohol permits — reside more than 50 feet from the entrance of the nearest building on the college’s campus. The letter refutes an assertion by Ashe that the businesses sit too close to the school.

Ashe filed reports stating that the three business are “located within 50 feet of educational institution properties in which 80 percent of the student population being potential customers are underage thus bringing on the problems of underage consumption and alcohol-related crimes involving persons underage.”

Despite her hard feelings about being denied a temporary permit for the time being, Evans said she does not feel like her business nor Cullowhee were singled out during the application process. The denial simply delayed the process, she said.

Evans traveled to Raleigh on Thursday to formally apply for a temporary permit with the state, which makes its own determination regardless of Ashe’s opinion. Evans called applying with the Sheriff’s office a “colossal waste of time.”

Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe was stripped of his appointed role to render thumbs-up or thumbs-down assessments of businesses wanting to sell alcohol.

Jackson County commissioners, who had initially appointed Ashe to the role, voted this week to instead make County Manager Chuck Wooten the go-to local official in the permit process.

Ashe indicated in a written statement last week that he didn’t really want the responsibility anyway.

The vote Monday to relieve Ashe of the position was a 3-2, down party lines. The two Democratic commissioners voted to keep Ashe, also a Democrat, in the position.

The issue of revoking the job from Ashe was originally not scheduled for discussion at the meeting. However, complaints from the community prompted the board to add the topic at the last minute.

Commissioner Joe Cowan acted surprised when Chairman Jack Debnam asked for a motion to swap Ashe for Wooten as the county appointee regarding alcohol permit matters. Cowan asked to put the vote off for another couple of weeks.

“Could we possibly postpone this item until the next meeting to give us time to read these?” asked Cowan. “I just got these resolutions, and I have not had time to read them or study them.”

Cowan then made a motion to postpone the decision until the board’s next meeting. Commissioner Doug Cody retorted that the resolutions only take a moment to peruse.

“These resolutions are about one page in length. I mean, how long does it take to read them?” Cody said.

Cody, Debnam and Commissioner Charles Elders voted against delaying the matter, and the three then succeed in pushing through the resolutions. Both Cody and Debnam previously expressed a desire to oust Ashe as the county designee following complaints from business owners.

Commissioner Mark Jones sided with Cowan.

“On the quick read, I disagreed,” Jones said, adding that he felt there was no need for a change since all the applications were processed in a timely manner under Ashe.

Specifically, Ashe’s role was to render an opinion on whether the owner and location of an esablishment wanting to sell alcohol was appropriate. If Ashe approved, that business could get temporary permit to sell alcohol while it waits for the much longer process to get a permanent permit from the state ABC Commission.

In a statement written May 30, Ashe stated that processing the permit applications, which requires background checks, interviews with community members and a visit to each location, is time consuming, and a change in appointee would allow his office time to conduct other duties.

“It would be more beneficial to my office to allow the county commissioners to assume the responsibility as the designee for the local government opinion form,” Ashe wrote. The statement wasn’t specifically addressed to anyone but apparently had been sent to commissioners.

Wooten will now take on the responsibilities of the county designee, though he has the option of appointing his own designee. Wooten indicated that if the applications became overwhelming, he would consider naming Gerald Green, the county planner, to the position.

 

Who’s got it, who doesn’t

Almost a month ago, Jackson County voters approved the countywide sale of alcoholic beverages by nearly 60 percent. And soon after, business owners rushed to file their applications for alcohol permits.

One of the first stops in the paperwork trail is to secure the blessing of Sheriff Jimmy Ashe.

However, Ashe filed unfavorable opinions about six of the 12 businesses that have applied so far. Those businesses have since gone over Ashe’s head to temporary permits directly from the state.

Four of the six that got a thumbs down from Ashe were in Cullowhee. Ashe didn’t like their proximity to campus for fear it would encourage underage drinking. One in Cashiers was turned down because of the applicant’s criminal record.

The sheriff also turned down Catamount Travel Center convenience store on U.S. 441 just outside Cherokee, citing its proximity to Cherokee, which is dry. Ashe did not deem it fitting for a gas station just over the line in Jackson County to start hawking beer and wine on Cherokee’s doorstep, particularly when Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted a resounding “no” to the sale of alcoholic beverages in a ballot measure of  their own in April.

Despite Ashe’s opinion, the state ABC Commission rather promptly issued the gas station a permit to start selling.

“Sales have done real well,” said Jamie Winchester, whose family owns the travel center. “It’s been really good.”

Who has it so far:

In Cashiers, Cornucopia Gourmet, Cornucopia Cellars, Cashiers Farmers Market, Ingles grocery, Orchard Restaurant, and Cork and Barrel. In Cullowhee, The Package Store and Sazon Mexican Restaurant. In Tuckasegee, Caney Fork General Store. In Whittier, Catamount Travel Center.

Who’s still waiting:

Bob’s Mini Mart, Mad Batter, Rolling Stone Burrito and the Catamount Travel Center, all in Cullowhee.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners once again declined to support a movement aimed at restraining corporate power, causing local activists to raise a joint sigh of frustration.

Move to Amend activists, a local offshoot of the Occupy movement, called on commissioners to pass a resolution of support for their cause — namely to reduce corporate money and influence in the political process and instead make government beholden to the common man.

At its last May meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 not to champion the resolution. Commissioner Doug Cody said that he wouldn’t vote for a resolution that singled out corporations unless it also included such groups as political action committees, labor unions and lobbyists and limited their campaign funding as well.

So, the group of activists returned Monday, June 4, with a slightly reworded resolution.

“This resolution is revised to take into account concerns mentioned having to do with labor unions, limited liabilities and PACs,” said Commissioner Joe Cowan, who had been in support of the resolution the first time around but was outvoted.

Cowan added that he would dispense with “my same old worn-out speech” about the importance of passing the document.

Despite the change, the outcome remained the same. Commissioners voted the resolution down once more 3-2 along party lines — Republicans against it, Democrats for it. Commissioner Jack Debnam, who is unaffiliated, swung the vote by siding with Republicans.

Cody asked the activists why the Move to Amend website has a few iterations of the resolution, including one approved by labor unions at universities. Why would labor unions support a resolution that limits their influence, he queried.

“If labor unions are included in on this proposed amendment, why are they signing on to support it? It seems counter-intuitive,” Cody said.

He also claimed that the Move to Amend’s platform would limit the amount of money candidates can contribute to their own campaign.

“This resolution would inhibit an individual from spending his own money. Is that the American way?” said Cody, adding that he funded much of his own campaign for commissioner.

Cody’s comments elicited groans from the vexed crowd of activists.

Cowan said he could not influence what was on the website, but the board should pass the resolution simply because of its call to place restraints on corporations’ campaign spending.

The goal of local Move to Amend activists, along with other chapters across the nation, is to spark a groundswell of support that could ultimately prompt Congress to pass a constitutional amendment limiting corporate spending in the electoral process. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts in campaigns, prompting fear that politicians will become even more indebted to corporate money.

More than 250 cities, towns and counties in the U.S. have passed similar resolutions. Locally, town boards in Franklin, Highlands and Bryson City approved Move to Amend’s resolutions.

The state General Assembly recently introduced legislation espousing views similar to those reflected in the resolution.

Two decrepit trailers hauled in and dumped down on an empty lot in the middle of Cullowhee’s old business district are creating a furor in that community.

“It’s the slums of Cullowhee,” Cindy Jarman said between serving customers at the Cullowhee Café, 64-year-old mainstay run by Jarman’s family. “Those are 80-foot eyesores.”

It’s also as provided a case in point for Cullowhee advocates who say the area needs land-use regulations.

The trailers are parked along old Cullowhee Road not far from Western Carolina University and directly across from the venerable Cullowhee Café.

The owner of the trailers, Bill Kabord, operates a trailer park nearby. He did not return messages seeking comment.

Jarman’s sister, Kathy Millsaps, said the trailers are particularly disheartening because so many efforts have been undertaken recently to revitalize and improve Cullowhee. There’s even a group now, the Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor (CuRvE), dedicated to that very mission.

“Cullowhee is trying to clean up,” Millsaps said. “And I think there does need to be rules so that something like this doesn’t take place, particularly in an area like Cullowhee that is trying to grow and improve.”

CuRvE meets at Cullowhee Café though it has no direct affiliation with the family. The group has planted flowers, done various landscaping projects and collected roadside trash in an effort to beautify the area.

In addition to two dilapidated trailers parked in a lot across the road, Kabord hauled another newer-looking mobile home in and set it up three feet from the Cullowhee Café property line. That one is there to stay — it was recently underpinned — but Millsaps said she understands the worst looking ones are pulled in for repairs, and then they might be removed.

Millsaps’ father, Arnold Ashe, plans to plant fast-growing Leyland Cypress trees to try and block the restaurant’s view of the trailer that is there for keeps.

The fact that the two worst looking trailers might eventually be removed still doesn’t appease many people in the community. They have been loud, vocal and pointed regarding their discontent with the situation.

“I’m pretty furious about those junky old trailers being brought into Old Cullowhee,” Cullowhee resident Claire Eye said. “I have no issues with quality mobile homes, but these are real eyesores, and to put them right there in the heart of Old Cullowhee Road is distressing. At the same time that the community and WCU is working to revitalize Old Cullowhee, this sort of move feels like a slap in the face.”

Eye said she believes the trailers absolutely do make a case for zoning, though she has doubts that land-use planning in the community actually will ever take place.

“I believe zoning is a Herculean task that we’re not likely to win, but it’s worth fighting for,” Eye said.

A group of Cullowhee residents and business owners are at work now on that very issue. Since Cullowhee is not incorporated, any land-use regulations would need the OK of county commissioners. They met for the first time earlier this month with Jackson County Planner Gerald Green to discuss the possibility of community-based planning.

Preston Jacobsen of Cullowhee said he’s very unhappy about the trailers being parked in almost the dead center of old Cullowhee.

“I think it could hurt the image of Cullowhee,” Jacobsen said, then added that “this is indeed a perfect case and point for a planning board. As a landowner I’m hesitant, but as a citizen of Cullowhee and Jackson County I think it is needed.”

Rick Bennett, owner of Cullowhee Real Estate, said that like Jacobsen, a part of him balks at being told what he can and cannot do with the property that he owns.

“On the other hand I try not to devalue anyone else’s property. (The trailers) do show me that for other property owners, there does need to be some restrictions,” Bennett said. “Other property owners have worked to make their properties attractive.”

Bennett also worried about the impact of the trailers on potential Cullowhee-area investors.

“Those trailers would not give them a good warm and fuzzy feeling,” the real estate agent said, adding that what’s in essence the community’s commercial district needs guidelines and a certain measure of uniformity.

Bennett noted that the old trailers have been hauled in and plopped down in what is essentially Cullowhee’s downtown.

“Would the town of Sylva allow this to happen to their merchants on Main Street? It’s to everyone’s common good to keep up the value,” he said.

Jackson County Sheriff Jimmy Ashe is refusing to grant permits for businesses wanting to sell alcoholic beverages despite voters overwhelmingly approving countywide alcohol sales when the issue appeared on the ballot earlier this month.

With Jackson County no longer dry, more than a dozen businesses have jumped on the booze bandwagon, from grocery stores to gas stations to restaurants, hoping to add alcohol to their coolers and menus. But so far, Ashe has balked at signing off on the needed permits.

In response, county commissioners are considering whether to strip Ashe of the authority and appoint someone else to oversee the permits instead.

“This caught all of us by surprise,” Commission Chairman Jack Debnam said of the board of commissioners. “I guess Sheriff Ashe has his opinion about whether Jackson County ought to sell alcoholic beverages, and it didn’t really matter what the wishes of the people were.”

Voters approved the countywide sale of alcoholic beverages May 8 by nearly 60 percent. Since then 13 businesses in Jackson County have started the application process. County commissioners must appoint someone to oversee and approve those applications.

Last week commissioners voted to have Ashe handle what’s known as the local government opinion part of the process — essentially a formality in which a local official says whether they approve of the applicant and of their particular location.

Ashe, however, has taken his authority to a new and unexpected level. The sheriff turned down Catamount Travel Center convenience store in Whittier, for example, citing its proximity to Cherokee, which is dry. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians voted a resounding “no” to the sale of alcoholic beverages in a ballot measure of its own in April. Ashe apparently did not see fit for a gas station just over the line in Jackson County to start hawking beer and wine on Cherokee’s doorstep.

“Cherokee Indian Reservation as a sovereign nation recently voted down alcohol sales on the Qualla Boundary, which was a strong message from that community that it was not wanted or needed,” Ashe wrote in a letter last week to Catamount Travel Center regarding the reasons for disapproval.

Additionally, the sheriff wrote that 1.7 million people annually travel by this location going to the reservation, and that letting the Catamount Travel Center sell alcohol would create “traffic problems and an overwhelming amount of motor vehicle accidents.”

Ashe asked the county commissioners for a budget increase to hire eight new deputies following the passage of countywide alcohol sales, claiming that establishments selling alcohol would place additional demands on his patrol units. Commissioners are taking a wait-and-see approach, however, to determine whether the need is in fact there.

Ashe also rejected Catamount Travel Center’s request to sell alcohol at its Cullowhee location near Western Carolina University. In that case, he said the business was “located within 50 feet of educational institution properties in which 80 percent of the student population being potential customers are underage thus bringing on the problems of underage consumption and alcohol-related crimes involving persons underage.”

The sheriff said that “with a 10,000 student population this agency has already experienced a significant increase in underage drinking, alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related sex offenses at fraternities and even alcohol-related deaths … with my experience of 30 years in law enforcement, this would not be a suitable location for alcohol sales.”

Ashe also turned down Bob’s Mini Mart, located in a strip mall on campus known as the “catwalk,” for essentially the same reasons. Owner Bob Hooper said that the sheriff claimed the business was within 50 feet of the university. Hooper said that it is not.

Most other college campuses in the state, if not the country, have stores and bars selling alcohol all around them, yet drinking is not substantially different among students at WCU where it is less accessible, according to a study by the Healthy Campus initiative on alcohol and drug use among students in 2007.

Whether Ashe would apply his reasoning to blacklist any and all gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants wanting to serve alcohol in the greater Cullowhee area is unknown. Ashe did not return a phone message seeking comment for this article.

Nor is he returning messages left by Debnam either. Debnam called looking for some answers about what’s going on.

Debnam said that while the full board of county commissioners must make the decision, he for one is leaning toward picking someone else to handle the local application procedure. Commissioner Doug Cody said the same thing.

“We don’t have to have him do it,” Cody said. “There’s other options out there if this is going to be a problem for him.”

Ashe’s refusal to approve the applications is delaying the process but not stopping it. That’s because local business owners have the right to appeal the decision directly to the N.C. ABC Commission, which many of them are doing.

Hooper wasted no time bypassing Ashe and going straight to Raleigh. After getting his letter of denial from Ashe on Thursday, he was on the road to Raleigh the next morning to appeal to the N.C. ABC Commission. ABC agents plan to hear the appeal within a mandated 21-day period, he said.

“We’re going to get it, but it’s going to be a little slower,” Hooper said of his permit to sell.

Dwight Winchester, owner of the two Catamount Travel Centers, also drove to Raleigh on Friday, challenging Ashe’s denial of permits for both his Cherokee and Cullowhee locations. He received permission to start selling beer in his establishment outside Cherokee. He’s still blocked for now on the Cullowhee one, but he’s optimistic the ABC Commission will reverse that decision, too.

“He’s doing this to everyone in Cullowhee,” Winchester said of Ashe’s decision to deny him the permits.

Winchester said the state plans to investigate for itself whether his convenience store in Cullowhee is an appropriate location to sell beer and wine despite Ashe’s claims.

“What he wrote is factually incorrect. That’s what pissed me off with the sheriff,” Winchester said.

Ashe also claimed that allowing Catamount Travel Center in Cullowhee to sell alcohol would impede emergency responders at the Cullowhee Fire Department, that the fire department itself has protested against this location selling alcoholic beverages and that this would increase the probability of more alcohol-related accidents at the main intersection of the university.

Agnes Stevens, spokeswoman for the state ABC Commission, said it’s standard procedure for the state to do its own research if an applicant objects to having their permit denied at the local level.

“While local governments have a voice, the commission has the final say,” Stevens said.

Other business owners are gearing up to sell alcohol but aren’t yet ready equipment-wise, so the delay hasn’t impacted their bottom lines.

Jim Nichols, who owns an Exxon service station and a BP service station in Cashiers, said space is tight at the Exxon and that readying the store for beer coolers is going to require some expansion. He believes being able to offer beer to customers will help his businesses.

“If I had a nickel or dime for every customer who walked through that door looking for beer, wine or wine coolers, I’d have a lot of dough now,” Nichols said. “When we say we don’t have it, their faces show bewilderment — because this is a resort town.”

Jeannette Evans, owner of Mad Batter Bakery & Café, believes the availability of alcoholic beverages will help all of Cullowhee, not just her restaurant.

“I think of it as a chance to expand the vitality of the area and to expand the energy at night,” she said. “People like to sit down and have a glass of wine or a beer. I do think it’s part of dining out in the evening.”

 

Who wants to sell booze?

Here’s who has applied in Jackson County to begin selling alcoholic beverages.

• Catamount Travel Center, Cullowhee

• Bob’s Mini Mart, Cullowhee

• Sazon, Cullowhee

• The Package Store, Cullowhee

• Mad Batter, Cullowhee

• Rolling Stone Burrito, Cullowhee

• Caney Fork General Store, Tuckasegee

• Tamburini’s Restaurant, Cashiers

• Cornucopia Cellars, Cashiers

• Cashiers’ Farmers Market, Cashiers

• The Orchard, Cashiers

• Ingles grocery, Cashiers

• Catamount Travel Center, Cherokee

Exactly how many businesses have had their permits denied isn’t known. Sheriff Jimmy Ashe has not responded to requests that public records on this matter be released.

Jackson County commissioners butted heads with local activists at a meeting this week, refusing to lend their philosophical support to a movement over whether corporate power should be reined in.

A local offshoot of the Occupy movement called on commissioners to pass a resolution of support for their cause — namely to reduce corporate influence and power and instead make government beholden to the common man. But, commissioners voted 3-2 along party lines not to sign on.

The group has been taking their message on the road, visiting town and county boards, as part of the nationwide Move to Amend movement. Their goal, along with other chapters across the nation, is to spark a groundswell of support that could ultimately prompt Congress to pass a constitutional amendment limiting corporate spending in the electoral process. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts in campaigns, prompting fear that politicians will become even more indebted to corporate money.

Locally, town boards in Franklin, Highlands and Bryson City approved Move to Amend’s resolution. The group has asked to come before the boards in Dillsboro, Sylva and in Macon and Swain counties and hopes to do so soon.

While Move to Amend has seen unanimous support from leaders of other boards they appeared before, they weren’t so lucky in Jackson County this week, the home county for many of the activists.

Commissioner Joe Cowan made a motion that Jackson County approve the amendment submitted by the group. Rising to his feet, Cowan rendered a somewhat impassioned speech against the original Supreme Court decision.

“It basically said money can have a voice,” Cowan said. “And that corporations are people. And I don’t agree with either of those propositions … somebody is buying influence and we don’t know who that is.”

Cowan, a Democrat, said that he did not believe this was a Democrat versus Republican issue, though that’s exactly how the debate promptly framed itself. The resolution failed by a 3-2 vote.

Commissioner Doug Cody said that he wouldn’t vote for a resolution that singled out corporations unless it also included such groups as political action committees, labor unions, lobbyists — and even the Canary Coalition for that matter, the group headed by Avram Friedman, a member of Move to Amend.

“I will not be a party to something or of legislation that calls for the discrimination of any people or group,” Cody said, adding that he found such an idea “despicable.”

“If someone will come back with a resolution that asks for barring all lobbyist and PACs, I’ll sign it,” he said.

Commissioner Charles Elders said that he agreed with Cody. Chairman Jack Debnam simply described himself as “tired of being browbeat” by the Move to Amend folks over the issue. The group has been vocal in their quest to get face time with the commissioners, raising a ruckus when the county initially would not put them on.

Friedman thanked commissioners for placing the issue on the agenda though he described himself as disappointed by the resulting vote.

“This is truly a nonpartisan issue,” Friedman said, adding that the resolution would cover other groups such as the ones described by Cody. Friedman also made the point that as a 501(c)3 nonprofit the Canary Coalition can’t make political donations anyway.

Another Move to Amend group member, Lucy Christopher, also described herself as disappointed and said that she hoped discussion over the issue would continue.

“I hope that we can sit down around a table and talk,” said Christopher, who lives in Jackson County.

That, frankly, seems unlikely to happen, however.

Page 57 of 106

This Must Be the Place

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