AVL Watchdog

Cawthorn Says Capitol Mob Was Paid By Democrats

Jan 18, 2021
Cawthorn For NC Twitter account

In the middle of the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, while a mob of insurrectionists still roamed the halls and ransacked offices, leaving five dead and dozens injured, Madison Cawthorn called a friendly conservative radio host and blamed the violence on left-wing agitators sent by “the Democratic machine” to make President Trump look bad. 

Nonprofit Mission Made Lots Of Profits. Especially For Bosses

Dec 10, 2020

For a hospital system organized as a not-for-profit charity, Mission Health made a lot of profits.

Billy Graham's Legacy Threatened By Family Split

Nov 12, 2020

For the Rev. Franklin Graham, the scathing editorial in Christianity Today last year calling his friend Donald Trump “a leader of grossly immoral character” and urging that Trump be “removed from office” was heretical.

In this episode, we talk with -

- Dr. Chris Cooper of Western Carolina University, about why partisanship was the biggest winner in this week's elections in North Carolina

- Raul Saldana, the founding director of the new PEAK Academy charter school in Asheville

The sale of Mission Health to HCA made be concluded as a financial transaction, but the details of how it was reached are few and far between.  Peter Lewis of AVL Watchdog wrote two stories last month (here and here) examining what details about how Mission reached its agreement with HCA, and whether the then non-profit health system sold for far less than it was worth.  He spoke with BPR's M

#NC11: Attack By Madison Cawthorn's Schoolmates Goes Viral

Oct 23, 2020
DebateLord/Wikicommons

A scathing public letter signed by more than 150 of Madison Cawthorn’s former schoolmates at Patrick Henry College alleges that the Republican candidate engaged in “sexually predatory behavior,” vandalism and lying as a student and is unfit for congress or as a representative of the conservative Christian school.

Mission Sale: Good For WNC, Or Just HCA?

Oct 23, 2020

Years from now, the decision in 2018 by the directors of Mission Health to sell to HCA Healthcare might be seen as a brilliant strategic maneuver, one that guaranteed affordable, high-quality healthcare for future generations of western North Carolinians. This was, and still is, the position of the directors and executives who pushed the deal.

A Done Deal: How Mission Health Wooed HCA

Oct 20, 2020

The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, for an estimated $1.5 billion.

Asheville Equity Advocates Resign Amid Racial Reckoning

Oct 2, 2020

The CEO of the YWCA of Asheville has quit, becoming the second Black woman in a month to leave a high-profile job with a mission of improving racial equity in the city.

Libby Kyles resigned Sept. 18, a little more than a year after being selected to run the century-old women’s organization whose primary role is racial justice.

Her departure follows the resignation of Kimberlee Archie, the city’s first  equity and inclusion manager, who left in August.

#NC11: Fact-Checking Cawthorn Attack Video

Sep 23, 2020

In the Western North Carolina congressional campaign already notable for its bare-knuckled ferocity, GOP candidate Madison Cawthorn’s latest attack video against Democrat Morris (Moe) Davis stands out: TERRORIST DEFENDER, the video proclaims in bold text and shock-inducing graphics.

#NC11 Debate Fact-Checker: Zingers, Jabs, And Lies

Sep 8, 2020

In their first public face-off, the candidates vying for the increasingly competitive 11th district congressional seat, Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis, touted their differences on just about all issues and hurled accusations, with each calling the other “fast and loose” with the facts. Who was telling the truth? AVL Watchdog fact-checked some of the claims made at the Sept. 4-5 debates at Western Carolina University (which were sponsored by Blue Ridge Public Radio, Smoky Mountain News, and Mountain Xpress) and rated them as true, false or misleading.

#NC11: From Military Prosecutor To Congressional Candidate

Sep 7, 2020
(Photo courtesy of candidate)

For Air Force Colonel Morris Davis, a career military lawyer, the assignment he won in 2005 could solidify his opportunity to become a general.  The North Carolina native – and now the Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district -- was named chief prosecutor of the alleged al Qaeda terrorists imprisoned at the US Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba where they were subject to military justice. 

#NC11: Cawthorn Mingles With Far-Right Fringe

Aug 26, 2020

Conservative congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn, scheduled to speak Wednesday at the GOP national convention, traveled to Texas last month to visit a private border wall and echoed discredited child sex trafficking claims promoted by the extremist conspiracy theory movement.

#NC11: Candidate’s Claim Creates False Impression

Aug 11, 2020

The narrative created by Republican congressional-candidate Madison Cawthorn paints a picture of a bright, young man headed to the U.S. Naval Academy until he was severely injured in an auto crash.

#NC11: Cawthorn Takes A Hard-Right Turn

Aug 10, 2020

When then 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn easily defeated a Trump-backed rival to capture the GOP nomination in Western North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, he declared that his mission would be to rescue his party from a “generational time bomb.”

Come Back Tourists: Oops, Never Mind

Jul 29, 2020

TDA ads start, stop as virus surges

Buncombe County’s Tourist Development Authority began advertising for tourists to visit Asheville again – on the same day that the county’s top public health official said coronavirus cases were “rising at an alarming rate.”

The ad campaign, designed to promote “the safe and responsible return of visitation,” featured social media posts like one picturing a young couple picnicking on the bank of a river. “We invite you to pack your bags and masks, and safely experience our mountain oasis.”

Of 911 calls and requests for assistance to Asheville Police, less than 1 percent involve a violent crime, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police dispatch data shows.

How Tech Can Help Asheville's Economy

Jun 26, 2020
Trevor Lohrbeer

In 2019, if you were to ask anyone what drove Asheville’s economy, they’d tell you beer, arts and crafts, outdoor recreation, hotels and restaurants. In short, tourism. 

Today, with those businesses only just beginning to ramp back up and tourists staying home, talk of diversifying Asheville’s economy is picking up. Local technology businesses and the rise of technology-based work-from-home jobs may be part of the solution. 

Asheville Arrest Data Suggest Discrimination Against Black People

Jun 22, 2020

African-Americans in Asheville are three times more likely than white people to be searched by police in traffic stops and are disproportionately charged with common crimes such as marijuana possession in disparities that experts in police bias called shocking, an AVL Watchdog analysis of police data found.

Franzi Charen

One by one, they arrived at their downtown businesses this week to find shattered storefronts and graffiti-stained walls.

The damage could not have come at a worse time, following a two-month closure from a pandemic and a sluggish reopening.

But these Asheville business owners chose not to cast blame or demand justice from the vandals.

They joined the cause.

It began with one employee falling ill from the coronavirus.

By Friday morning, just 11 days later, 55 elderly and infirmed residents at the Aston Park Health Care Center in southwest Asheville and at least 30 of its staff had tested positive.

Pandemic Put Pause On Mission's Troubles

May 15, 2020

 

The biggest health crisis in a lifetime hit Asheville shortly after the one-year anniversary of the biggest upheaval in local healthcare: the $1.5 billion sale of the nonprofit Mission Health System to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital management chain.

Food Donation Chain In Near Gridlock, Manna Chief Says

May 9, 2020
Nick Peters

The main floor of Manna FoodBank’s warehouse in Asheville is a beehive of activity as scores of staff and volunteers pack, load and wrap food for distribution. Boxes, pallets, and forklifts still abound, but the vibe has changed.

'Scared Of Losing Everything'

Apr 22, 2020
Evan Sung Photography

Asheville’s celebrity chef Katie Button describes the challenges and stark realities facing her industry and business since closing her renown restaurants Cúrate and Button & Co. Bagels on March 16.

By Katie Button as told to Sally Kestin, AVL Watchdog

The Long Road Back: A Post-Pandemic Asheville Faces A Daunting Return

Apr 20, 2020
Jason Sandford

Asheville’s thrumming downtown, a darling of the “best of” list makers and an economic hub for Western North Carolina, stands quiet as its once harried restaurant owners, beer-thirsty tourists and Millennial workers hunker down to avoid the health threat posed by a deadly coronavirus.