AVL Watchdog

Two long-time members of Transylvania Regional Hospital board of directors resigned Monday, saying they were “embarrassed” to have supported the sale of the Mission Health System to giant HCA Healthcare and that they now fear for the future of the Brevard-based community hospital under HCA’s profit-driven management.

COVID Surge: 51 Dead In August. 'We're Running Out Of Ambulances'

Sep 11, 2021

Jessica Vaughn, a 33-year-old mother of five, was found dead in her Asheville apartment. The cause: COVID-19.

Brianna Justus, a 31-year-old expectant mother, went from healthy to COVID intensive care patient at Mission Hospital in less than a week. Her baby, delivered by emergency cesarean section, survived. Brianna Justus did not.

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, Republican representing western North Carolina, spoke this week to Macon County Republicans in Franklin. The organizer estimated the crowd at more than 200 people. The Macon County Republican Party posted a 1-hour, 28-minute video on its Facebook page, but removed it after Cawthorn’s remarks attracted nationwide scrutiny. A copy of the video can be found on YouTube here.

Under a Carolina-blue sky, shaded by the oaks framing Pack Square, the small crowd formed a loose, attentive circle around a man speaking and gesticulating with the fervor of a revivalist. This was David Hurley, 37, a candidate to become the Buncombe county sheriff in 2022. 

But, he told the crowd, he wouldn’t be your typical sheriff. 

Quality Of Care Concerns Rise At Mission Hospital

May 21, 2021

Forrest Johnson fell in her garden on April 22 and broke her leg in two places. Her husband and stepdaughter rushed the 68-year-old former nurse to the Mission Hospital emergency room in Asheville from their home near Burnsville, about an hour’s drive. They arrived around 8 p.m.

Profits Up At HCA, Ratings Down At Mission

May 3, 2021
Photo courtesy HCA Mission

HCA Healthcare, which owns and operates Mission Hospital in Asheville, reported this month that it made $1.4 billion in profits for the first three months of 2021, more than double the amount for the same period last year. 

Can Asheville Become More Than Beer And Bears?

Apr 30, 2021

Five years ago, entrepreneur and philanthropist Mack Pearsall thought he had discovered Asheville’s path to great wealth and world acclaim. Not through its beer; not because of its natural amenities.

COVID-19: Those We’ve Lost

Mar 29, 2021

They taught students in school, delivered the mail, advised Congress, and served the country in wartime and peace.

Come Hell Or High Water, Asheville Is Climate "Winner"

Mar 16, 2021
NOAA

Back in 2006, when Scott Shuford was Asheville’s planning director, he reluctantly accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting about the impact of climate change on local governments. 

“I didn’t see how a two-degree temperature change could affect the community,” he recalled, referring to the predicted rise in earth temperatures in years to come. “But I agreed to attend, thinking it would only be about 15 minutes. 

“After about an hour-and-a-half I came out of the meeting drenched in sweat.”

Since Madison Cawthorn took office two months ago, vowing to represent everyone in his Western North Carolina district, not just those who voted for him, nearly all of his votes in Congress on substantial issues have been against proposals supported by Democrats, an analysis of his record by Asheville Watchdog found. 

Black Home Ownership And The Promise Of Reparations

Feb 25, 2021
Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson

Priscilla Ndiaye Robinson looked across the empty fields where her Southside neighborhood once thrived. “It’s all gone,” she said. “One thousand two hundred businesses and homes were lost.” 

The neighborhood, where approximately half of Asheville’s Black population lived, suffered major upheaval under Asheville’s urban renewal program in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the largest urban renewal projects in the Southeastern United States.

Cawthorn Joins Firebrand GOP Colleagues On Far-Right Media

Feb 13, 2021
Twitter

Shortly after taking his seat in Congress last month, Madison Cawthorn emailed his Republican colleagues to tell them of his intended role. “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation,” he wrote, using the slang word for public relations.

Reparations, Six Months Later: So Far, Empty Promises

Feb 5, 2021
Juanita Wilson / Buncombe County Special Collections, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville, NC

Six months ago, as part of a reckoning on racial injustice, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County both passed resolutions to consider reparations to the Black community as a way to begin making amends for slavery and generations of systemic discrimination.

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.

Pages