Monday, March 12, 2007

In honor of Sunshine Week

You did not know it was Sunshine Week? Okay, I did not either. But I am old enough to remember when we fought for, and won, all the laws on the books about open government--laws which are now ignored routinely at all levels of government.
Let us focus on one, right here in Buncombe County, North Carolina, shall we?
It seems our County Commission, or rather, parts of it, decided when they were approached by Progress Energy, we, the people of Buncombe County did not need to know what they were discussing. And even more perverse, they decided to not include other members of the County Commission, either to avoid having to report the meetings, or because they felt those Commissioners would report the secret meetings.
Take your pick.
At any rate, there were a series of discussions about leasing land to Progress Energy over a significant period of time between Progress Energy and several county commissioners.
There was never a report of this made to the public. (If you are pissed now, here is a mechanism to report such actions.)
Now, how do we know this happened? Well, they told us at a meeting. The same meeting when they decided to lease the land to Progress Energy for $1 a year, whether they ever build a power plant there or not.
Clearly this violates the spirit of Sunshine Laws.
Opposition to the proposed diesel power plant has been playing catch-up to this shocking announcement. Mountain Voices is a group working on getting the county's decision overturned.
Of course, all this has been in the paper, on TV, and given a good coverage around town, right?
Mountain Express has had a few articles on it. Nothing in the Citizen-Times. Nothing on Channel 13.
The Asheville Bloggers are all over it, with posts such as this at Scrutiny Hooligans, this at BrainShrub, and others.
So, please, keep the pressure on. The county commission is standing by their decision. Progress Energy has no comment. The NC State Representatives are shocked by the whole thing. Congressman Shuler is reported to be against it.
If you have connections with the local media, let's get them going on this.
And enjoy the sunshine.
While you can.

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