Apr 28, 2020

3 Urgent Calls to Be Better

Friends and Neighbors,

As I work in the garden between virtual meetings advocating with and for neighbors, I am thankful to live in these beautiful mountains with such caring, thoughtful people!  Today I’m writing with urgent requests for action on 3 matters:

1. Send Tuesday/TODAY: We need our hotel occupancy taxes to be available for relief funds! Decisions are being made in the (super) short session of our North Carolina General Assembly this week. In solidarity with members of Faith For Justice, Carolina Jews For Justice, the WNC Workers Center, and Just Economics, please review and send your email:

  • “Today: reach out to the delegation (and ask others to do the same).  EmailTerry.VanDuyn@ncleg.net,  Susan.Fisher@ncleg.net, Brian.Turner@ncleg.netJohn.Ager@ncleg.netEdwardsla@ncleg.net
    • Include the following in your Email: 
    • Open with appreciation for the work done so far.
    • Share your personal story of the impact of this crisis.  “This is my experience of this crisis… This is where I’ve lost access to funds…”
    • Share that Edwards’ proposed bill is a great first step. “Thank you for recognizing this need. Three amendments that would support critical needs in our community”:
    • Draw $5M from advertising funds, not infrastructure funds: The current proposal draws the $5m from the TPDF fund. By taking money from this fund, it reduce access to infrastructure funding for Buncombe County, and area that is already going to face a loss due to decrease in sales taxes. Officials have  agreed that infrastructure funding is vital; let’s make sure this $5 million doesn’t deplete those vital funds. If the bill adjusted the funding split between Marketing and Buncombe County infrastructure to a 67/33% split, that would increase the money that goes into TPDF and thus decrease the loss to infrastructure funding.  This would ensure that the $5 million in re-opening businesses funding is not such a large cut to the infrastructure funds.  From the press release about this bill, its current structure would take money away from the fund for local projects, from funding for Greenways and transit, and leave advertising dollars untouched.  I propose that the money instead comes from the marketing budget.
    • Add access to relief funds for workers in addition to the funds dedicated to reopening small businesses. There is also a need for relief funds that are accessible to distressed workers/workforce now.  We need relief for workers, in addition to helping small businesses reopen.  
    • Provide financial assistance now, not only when NC is reopened. The current bill focuses on re-opening businesses, which is necessary.  However, I want the legislation to be clear that financial assistance NOT be contingent upon a lifting of the stay at home orders.  I propose that the local project funds be tapped to invest now in local projects to stimulate our economy.”

For more information and context, and if you’d like to send your email to our Buncombe County Commission and City Council as I have, you’ll find context and contact via Ami Worthen’s blog here. Our community will need follow up and to take our next steps boldly together, so stay tuned. Please send your message tonight.

2) We need to protect and expand access to the polls! From DemocracyNC: 

  • We just found out that… Tuesday, April 28, at 5 p.m., Buncombe County’s leaders will meet virtually to make important decisions on how to fund and administer the upcoming election in light of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Election resources may be hard hit if leaders at all levels don’t fight to defend current options, broaden absentee voting, recruit more poll workers, and more.
  • In order to secure safe voting options for all, including access for historically-marginalized Buncombe County voters, take two steps now:
    • #1 – Click here to contact the Buncombe Board of Elections now using the fields below (we’ve made it easy) and tell them to
      • Ensure that Black voters have access to the ballot by including the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center in the one-stop Early Voting plan for the 2020 General Election.
      • Ensure that Buncombe County’s youngest voters have access to the ballot by including UNC Asheville and AB-Tech in the  one-stop Early Voting plan for the 2020 General Election. 
      • Maintain sites with robust weekend hours during Early Voting, including Sundays, so that more working voters can access the ballot. 
      • Ensure adequate staffing and sustain realistic funding for this high turnout presidential election. 
      • Ensure that paper ballots are available in Spanish and English.
    • # 2 – Plan to virtually attend tomorrow’s 5 p.m. meeting to follow the action and provide the above as public comment — click here for directions on how to attend, and click here for the meeting link.
  • Together we can begin fighting for more voting access in Buncombe County during the 2020 Election. Questions? Reply to this email or contact Edward Peters at 828-419-0546.”

3) This week, participate in mutual aid with our neighbors who aren’t eligible for stimulus and unemployment. Join me in giving a gift or sharing with your networks a message from those engaging in direct mutual aid with the most vulnerable in our community via WNC Workers Center and/or BeLoved Asheville. This is what love in action looks like!

I miss sharing time and energy with our community, and I look forward to when our paths next cross.

Yours In Solidarity,

Ms. Kim