Lt. Governor Mark Robinson Guest Speaks at CIBO Issues Meeting - TribPapers

Lt. Governor Mark Robinson Guest Speaks at CIBO Issues Meeting

Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, guest speaker at CIBO Issues Meeting. Staff photo.

Asheville – With the upcoming midterm elections, if you ask the residents of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County what their issues are, you will get a plethora of answers. It was also the case at the September 29th CIBO Issues Meeting held at the new Hilltop Event Center. North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, the guest speaker, told his story and then opened up the floor for questions.

Buzzy Cannady, President of CIBO. Staff photo.
Buzzy Cannady, President of CIBO. Staff photo.

Lt. Governor Robinson first came to the public’s attention when he made an impassioned address at a Greensboro City Council meeting on gun show bans. The meeting was in April of 2018, and the speech, which has been titled “I Am the Majority,” went up on YouTube and almost immediately went viral with over two million views. The speech was labeled “the greatest speech of 2018,” putting Robinson on the map. He became the first black American elected as Lt. Governor of the state of North Carolina.

What is CIBO?

CIBO, or the Council of Independent Business Owners, is a local group of independent business owners who have a vested interest in Asheville and Buncombe County and its people. It was founded in 1987 by a group of local business owners who envisioned an organization that would educate business owners about the way local government analyzes its effects on business. They wanted to be a liaison, facilitating an unfettered flow of information between businesses and the government.

Who is Lt. Governor Mark Robinson?

Lt. Governor Robinson told his story of growing up extremely poor in Greensboro, NC. He was the ninth of 10 children. He experienced alcoholism and abuse by his father in the home. For many kids, that type of upbringing sets up a scenario for a life of crime, but Robinson’s mother was a “strong woman of faith.” Mark credits his mother’s leadership for cultivating a foundation for his faith and an understanding that with hard work he could achieve anything.”

In addition to being an Army veteran, Robinson has worked in various industries, including a long stint in furniture manufacturing. Unfortunately, like a lot of people in manufacturing during the implementation of NAFTA, he lost not one, but two manufacturing jobs. That had a huge impact on him, watching 350 crying people lose their jobs to Mexico, but it did not stop him. He and his wife went on to own, and later sell, a successful small business.

Questions and Answers on Issues

Q: Difficulty in getting people who work for government agencies to return calls, especially after the pandemic.
A: As far as people working in government and not being able to fulfill their duties, it comes down to one word, accountability. We’ve got to set a new standard in our government that says if you’re not any good, we’re going to get rid of you and replace you with somebody who can do the job. You are there to serve the people of your state and community.

Q: Why is there no enforcement of the North Carolina Monument Protection Act?
A: This is a good thing to talk about here. Why? Because it affects one thing, public safety. When they illegally tore down the statue of Silent Sam and no one was held accountable, it set a standard in public safety that said “if you don’t like it, tear it down.” That’s dangerous. That happened another time in history. Some in the South didn’t like reconstruction. They didn’t like that folks were getting to vote who had the wrong color of skin. They went to Wilmington and they bombed it, they burned it, they lynched people, they killed people. They did not follow the rule of law, which was our Constitution and the 15th amendment to the Constitution that passed in 1865, which said that black men had the right to vote; but because somebody didn’t like it, they refused to follow the rule of law. We see the same thing happening right now with those monuments. People don’t realize how dangerous it is, how slippery a slope that is. Is there a conversation to be had as to whether or not a confederate monument should stand in a public square or on a college campus? Yes, but it should be held by people with rational and sound minds who bring their opinions to the table, come to a consensus, and do it legally. It’s not about your opinion about confederate statues, it’s about whether you intend to follow the law.

Q: School Choice
A: In the grand scheme of education, the number one thing that is most paramount is parental involvement, and within parental involvement is their ability to chart their children’s educational destiny. Nobody knows better what you want for your children than you, not some bureaucrat in Raleigh, not some bureaucrat in Washington, DC. We’re working on that in North Carolina. We’re going to make sure that, once again, parents have total control of their children’s educational destiny.

Q: Our roads are built and maintained by gas taxes. If we go to electric cars, how do we make up that money to maintain our infrastructure?
A: There was a time when everyone in this country rode in a horse and buggy.Then Americans started buying cars. What if the federal government had stepped in and said “That’s it, you cannot have anymore horses and buggies, everybody must buy a car. Think about the disaster that would have caused, because there were no gas stations, no mechanic shops, in many places there were no roads, no infrastructure to support the total use of automobiles at their inception. What played the major role in that switch from horses and buggies to automobiles? The market is what drove that. As more people bought cars, more gas stations were built, more roads were built, and more parts stores opened. The government followed as best they could. The infrastructure is not there for electric cars. If the government continues to push this, it is going to be disastrous for people’s lives, on our grid, and in our economies. We see it already happening in California. I am bound and determined to see this state run by sensible energy programs that rely on solid science and lean heavily on the market, which will be driven by innovation and common sense.

Q: Healthcare Delivery in North Carolina
A: Healthcare is one of the toughest nuts to crack. I’m not a fan of Medicaid expansion. My one reason for not being for Medicaid expansion is that I don’t trust the federal government, and here’s why. The federal government only has a few missions. One of the main missions is to make sure this nation is protected, i.e., its borders and fighting wars. The federal government will send a young man or woman off to Iraq or Afghanistan, and they will come back with mental issues or health issues and have to jump through red tape to get the care that they need. The federal government can’t take care of the soldiers they sent off to fight to protect us and the people that make the laws. What makes you think they are going to be able to take care of the people of North Carolina as a whole? I do not want to see the federal government take over healthcare in this state. We can come up with a plan that is not imitative but innovative. We have a chance to set a standard in this nation to reformulate the way we do healthcare. We also need to teach people to be good to themselves, exercise, eat healthy. Self-care is the first tenet of healthcare.

Q: We don’t have the equipment and supplies we need for our schools and our students.
A: First, I would sell the education building in Raleigh to the highest bidder. That’s prime real estate. Second, I would start paying teachers like professionals, holding them accountable like professionals, and allowing them to have control in the classroom once again. The third thing I would do is start directing dollars into the pockets of the teachers and into the classrooms, instead of into some bureaucrat’s pockets who are making three times what teachers make. It’s not a money issue. Our budget is $26 billion, and we spend half of that on public education, and our kids can’t read. If you look at what we are spending it on, we are wasting the money. No business would have spent money on a big fountain outside; they would have put that money into their best and brightest. That’s what we need to do.

Q: We just passed a ballot harvesting law in North Carolina where anyone who is not a politician can collect ballots. How can we trust our elections?
A: If we do not have safe and secure elections, our republic will fall. It is the foundation of our republic. People have asked me if the 2020 election was legal. I asked them, was the 2016 election legitimate? Was the election of Bush against Gore legitimate? Was the election of JFK over Richard Nixon legitimate? Both sides of the aisle have admitted there are problems with our election system. When are we going to act like adults and recognize that this affects America and Americans, not just Republicans and Democrats? We need to sit down at the table and fix it. It’s gone on for too long, too far, and it is inexcusable.