Letters from readers, 4-21
Check the record, facts in Maggie
To the editor:
In response to the recent letter on Maggie Valley and corruption and incompetence, there is apparent confusion.
Three of the four candidates that ran for office in the town last year, ones that were supported by the lodging association and led by Phillip Wight, have been arrested and charged by law enforcement with serious crimes.
Two have been convicted and one is awaiting trial on 44 counts child sexual abuse.
Mayor DeSimone has never been arrested or charged with any crime in his entire life. He was elected in November of 2011 by over 60 percent of the voters casting ballots.
Apparently your only plan for the future of Maggie Valley is to go back to the past. Most, if not all of the businesses you cited as solutions to the towns economic woes left.
The mayor of Maggie Valley, together with 24 out of the 25 elected officials in Haywood County, along with unanimous support by the Haywood County EDC, Recreation, TDA and both Chambers of Commerce and owners of 950-plus rooms out of the 1,425 rooms in Maggie Valley support the passage of the occupancy tax.
In addition, all of the surrounding counties in Western North Carolina have passed similar occupancy taxes. Haywood County is going to be left behind if we are unable to compete.
Several of your lodging association members/officers have inappropriately claimed that 100 percent of the association members oppose the tax, when in fact there are several that have openly supported it. In 2013, the three Maggie Valley town board candidates in support of the 2% occupancy tax were elected by a wide margin and your candidates were rebuffed.
If you have an alternate plan for Maggie Valley, other than do nothing or wait for the past to return, you need to bring it forward. Your idea of a referendum is inappropriate. In the State of North Carolina, local government can only be granted powers by the General Assembly.
To require a referendum on the General Assembly’s grant of power would be inappropriate and an insult to the General Assembly.
For you to write our state legislators and county commissioners accusing our mayor of corruption and incompetence without any basis of fact is despicable.
This is especially true when you and your lodging association supported the only criminals running for office in 2013. You should be ashamed of yourselves and immediately publicly apologize to Mayor DeSimone.
It is these kinds of baseless and mean-spirited accusations that are holding Maggie Valley back and has been for a long time. It is time for this kind of conduct to stop and time to move Maggie forward.
Candidate support statement is wrong
(Editor’s note: Maggie Valley Alderman Phillip Wight asked to have this letter printed at the same time as the letter directly above. Jim Blythe countered that member support was evident in phone calls and at the polls.)
To the editor:
Mr. Blyth’s letter incorrectly states three of the four candidates that ran for office last year were supported by the Maggie Valley Lodging Association.
The association did not vote to support/endorse any candidates in the 2013 Maggie Valley Alderman election. However, we did have two members who were candidates and one of the two was elected.
Our members are vested, hard-working small business owners who strongly support our area.
We have contributed years of our time and effort marketing our beautiful destination, volunteering, donating, and helping to feed over 250 families at Thanksgiving during our annual turkey drive.
Our association was formed to be an advocate for accommodation owners with out a voice in our community.
Tammy Wight and executive committee of Maggie Valley Lodging Association
Study the role of big money in politics
To the editor:
To fairly wield their awesome power they over our lives, courts must be above prejudice and politics. North Carolina’s are nominally nonpartisan, as of course they should be.
But there are still ways for politicians to meddle. Though the ballot doesn’t show party labels, both parties actively promote their own judicial candidates.
The Republicans in Raleigh figured on another way when they repealed public financing for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals campaigns. One can almost smell the big money coming.
And now the Republicans appear to be working a new scheme to grow their majority on the Supreme Court. Instead of just one candidate against incumbent Robin Hudson, a Democrat, they have two.
This matters. It sets up a primary on May 6 from which the top two candidates will advance to the November election. Everyone can vote, regardless of party, in a judicial race.
But there will likely be many more Republicans voting because their party has a hot statewide race for the U.S. Senate and the Democrats have nothing of comparable interest. The Republicans will be promoting both of their people, hoping the voters leave Hudson out in the cold.
One opponent is Eric Levinson, a Mecklenburg County Superior Court judge. Hudson expected him. The surprise was a last-minute filing by Jeannette Doran, a young Raleigh lawyer who has never been a judge and has interesting ties to Art Pope, the right-wing money man behind Governor McCrory and the Republican legislative majority.
Doran, who now holds a state job at the Division of Employment Security, was general counsel and executive director at the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, one of several organizations that front for Pope.
She said in a newspaper interview that Pope hadn’t encouraged her to run but is “very supportive.”
And she said something even more troubling: “If the voters want seven justices of one party, that’s entirely up to them.”
Voters who don’t want seven justices of one party will make sure to vote to advance Robin Hudson to the ballot in November.
Martin A. Dyckman