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Another bit of Americana dies out

As the Associated Press reports, there are now exactly two Howard Johnson’s restaurants left.

H/t: RH

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The anti-rave ordinance lives down to expectations

Back in 2001, the city of Charlotte passed a “dancehall” ordinance, with the aim being to shut down or at least heavily regulate places that might host raves. And so we’re absolutely clear, a “rave” is a dance party featuring certain forms of electronic dance music. The audience is predominately white. Raves are also associated with drug use, particularly Ecstasy. The thing about raves is that they often don’t happen in traditional clubs. Rather, a promoter might hold a party somewhere, complete with a sound system and a DJ, and people would learn of it by word-of-mouth.

People in Charlotte’s music scene were rather frightened of the city targeting raves. It’s not that they were necessarily fans of raves but they feared that the powers-that-be didn’t understand what raves actually were, that whatever rules the city drafted would have unintended consequences, and would be used to squish something besides its intended target.

These fears proved well founded. I distinctly remember being at Tremont Music Hall one Saturday night in the run up to city council passing the ordinance and seeing Pat McCrory and Patrick Cannon come wandering in to check things out. An alt-country band was playing at the time.

Now fast forward to September 2014, when a District Court judge struck the dancehall ordinance down as unconstitutionally vague. This came after the owner of a space cited for holding a Sweat Sixteen party without a dancehall permit challenged the ordinance in court. Oh, the club owner is black. In fact, 13 of the 15 places cited for violated the ordinance between 2009 and 2014 are African-American. As the Charlotte Observer reports:

The ordinance defined a dancehall as any place open to the public that has music, has space for dancing (even if there is no dancing actively taking place), and allows admission by payment or donation.

There are exclusions, including private residences, government-owned and -operated buildings, schools, “bona-fide” religious buildings, and any business regulated by alcohol control laws.

Sweat’s recording studio also has a party room that he rents out for gatherings.

He ran afoul of the ordinance because he collected $1 from each guest at the door. He said the parents of the girl were collecting the money for a birthday gift.

In Sweat’s case, his defense team demonstrated – in an almost comical way – the overly broad language of the ordinance.

Samuel Williams, a law student, visited the Harris YMCA. He showed his membership card that costs $66 per month. He said he heard music by Rihanna playing over the building’s sound system, and he found a space available for dancing.

“He danced in view of YMCA employees, who permitted him to do so,” according to Hoover’s court order dismissing the charges against Sweat.

The law student did the same thing at the Phillips Place movie theater. He bought a ticket and began dancing to music playing from the televisions in the lobby. No one stopped him.

He did the same thing at other institutions: The Levine Museum of the New South. The NASCAR Hall of Fame. Even Monkey Joe’s, the children’s indoor playground.

“… (He) found space available to dance and began dancing in view of Monkey Joe’s employees, who permitted him to do so,” Hoover wrote. “Further, when informed of Mr. Williams’ purpose, a Monkey Joe’s employee told him he had just missed a group of children doing the dance known as the ‘Cha-Cha.’”

To get around the vagueness problem, the city is considering changing its definition of a dancehall to a place “where a dance open to the public is held.” Not everyone has bought into the concept though. Mayor Dan Clodfelter asked: “Do we still need this (ordinance) at all?” The answer to that is, of course, a resounding “no.”

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Charlotte population tops 800,000

As the UPoR reports, the official estimate per the Census Bureau for 2014 for Charlotte was 809,958, up 2 percent from 2013. Doing the math, should that 2 percent a year population growth rate continue, then Charlotte would hit a million residents in 2025…

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Carolina Panthers cut Edmund Kugbila

Who? That’s a fair question, as Kugbila near actually played in a game for the Panthers, and that includes the preseason. Kugbila was an offensive lineman the Panthers took in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of Valdosta State. Unfortunately, he soon got hurt, and then got hurt again, and has had at least four surgeries over the past two years.

The Panthers only had five picks in 2013 (no third or seventh round selections). They took defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first and second round respectively and both have contributed. Kugbila in the fourth round was obviously a bust and running back Kenjon Barner, who the Panthers took in the sixth round, spent last season on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad. Fifth-round selection Linebacker A.J. Klein — who doesn’t turn 24 until July — looked like a solid pick and was getting considerable playing time last season (eight starts). Yet the Panthers obviously think Klein isn’t the answer as that they took linebacker Shaq Thomson in the first round of this year’s draft.

If you don’t have a lot of draft picks, you got to make the ones you do have count, and Panthers didn’t really do that in 2013. Coming up on three years in, the Panthers turned three fourth through sixth round selections into, at best, a reserve and special teams linebacker. That’s just not good enough if the Panthers are going to consistently contend in the NFL.

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Does Ron Carlee play well with others?

The UPoR suggests that may be a concern to some unnamed members of Charlotte City Council.

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Bob Rucho speaks

To Carolina Business Journal:

“I told (Panthers president Danny) Morrison this the other day: I said, ‘You know, we lowered your corporate taxes, we lowered the (personal) income tax, we cleaned up the issue of what was a (3 percent gross-receipts) tax embedded into my Panther tickets and yet for the last two years I’ve increased (my payments because of higher prices). Explain to me why that is.’”

Simple answer: The Carolina Panthers raised ticket prices because they can. It’s simple supply and demand. They think they can fill the stadium at those higher prices. To bring tax issues into it suggests a lack of understanding of basics economics. Or that you’re a grandstanding politician.

H/t: LSK


NASCAR HOF predictions 2015/2016

Not because I’m a NASCAR fan, because I’m analytical.

The basics: There are 20 nominees to get in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The top five vote getters get in, the other 15 names stay on the ballot for next year when five new names will be added (announced in February in the run up to the Daytona 500).

Analysis: The NASCAR HOF voting process is a ranking problem. It’s not a question of whether someone is good enough — by definition, because they’re on the ballot, they’re good enough. The question is rather which are the best five names of those currently on the ballot.

Traditionally, the selection committee has really liked drivers that did well in NASCAR’s top division, electing 19 of them in the first six HOF votes and very logically working down the all-time winner list in the process. That pattern may change… next year. For now, there are a number of drivers that have Spring Cup championships and/or a lot of Sprint Cup races on the ballot: Bobby Isaac (1970 champion, 37 wins), Benny Parsons (1973 champion, 21 wins), Terry Labonte (1984 and 1996 champion, 22 wins), and Mark Martin qualify (five-time second place finisher, 40 wins). Curtis Turner would also be a possibility. The issue with Martin and Labonte are whether they have been retired long enough for voters tastes.

Among those who weren’t top division drivers, owner/engine builder Robert Yates and modified division champion Jerry Cook stand out. They finished sixth and seventh last year respectively. I expect both to get in this year along with three of Isaac/Labonte/Martin/Parsons.

I don’t expect either Richard Childress or Rick Hendrick to be voted in tomorrow. The issue isn’t whether they have done enough for the sport to merit induction; rather both are still very active in the sport as team owners, which apparently has caused the voting committee to look elsewhere. Bruton Smith doesn’t get in this year for the same reason.


Edwin Peacock is running for mayor again

And will face Scott Stone in the Republican primary.

Quick analysis: Peacock would have a better chance in the general election than Stone. Note that I said “better chance” not “good chance.” Could I imagine a scenario in which Peacock wins? Yes. Is it a likely scenario? No.

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Inside the Tommy John surgery epidemic

Sam Miller of ESPN The Magazine offers up a highly informative look at why Tommy John surgeries are now so very common in baseball. A key point:

What makes an elite athlete now is the willingness to accept injury — sports in the Survivor age. In the recently published book The Fall Line: How American Ski Racers Conquered a Sport on the Edge, Nathaniel Vinton writes that skiers travel at twice the speeds they did a century ago, at tremendous risk. Even the surface is more merciless: “The snow — injected with water, sometimes treated with chemicals — got faster. In order to make firmer guarantees to buyers of broadcast television rights, the sport’s overseers hardened the snow, making it icier and slicker.” Researchers have noted what they call an “epidemic” of ACL injuries among competitive skiers.

The same mentality — get as close to the edge as possible and hope to get lucky — is evident across youth sports. At the University of Kentucky’s department of orthopedic surgery, Dr. Mary Lloyd Ireland sees rapid rises in injuries for youth softball pitchers, especially those playing year-round. The throwing motion puts very little stress on softball pitchers’ elbows — elbow injuries are rare. So instead they’re hurting their knees, back, shoulders. ACL injuries are “epidemic” in girls basketball and soccer, according to a Loyola University research paper. Shoulder injuries for elite swimmers are “approaching epidemic proportions,” according to Swimming World. “The 21st century athlete of any age or sport must throw faster, play harder, earn the scholarship, and don’t tell anybody you’re hurt,” Ireland says. They do this even in sports without financial incentives — athletes pursuing scholarships, not $6 million signing bonuses. Modern athletics are no longer just a test of who is best. They’re a test of who can stay healthy when their sports are trying to break them.

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School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment

That’s the title of a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by David J. Deming, Justine S. Hastings, Thomas J. Kane, Douglas O. Staiger. The paper was eventually published in the American Economic Review. The abstract:

We study the impact of a public school choice lottery in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools on college enrollment and degree completion. We find a significant overall increase in college attainment among lottery winners who attend their first choice school. Using rich administrative data on peers, teachers, course offerings and other inputs, we show that the impacts of choice are strongly predicted by gains on several measures of school quality. Gains in attainment are concentrated among girls. Girls respond to attending a better school with higher grades and increases in college-preparatory course-taking, while boys do not.

H/t: JMH

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May 2015
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