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More Extraordinary Event silliness

As the UPoR reports, City Manager Ron Carlee has declared Saturday’s Liverpool – AC Milan soccer match and associated events an “Extraordinary Event,” limiting the items people are allowed to carry in “inside a corridor of West Carson Boulevard, South Cedar Street, West Trade Street and South Tryon Street.” The justification for the declaration:

“Although there is currently no known intelligence regarding threats for the game or related events, there is a general security threat due to recent world developments, large crowds with public access, and the potential for harm to take place during an international sporting event.”

So there’s no actual threat but the CMPD still gets extra police powers because Ron Carlee said so. And if the mere presence of a sporting event at Bank of America Stadium that draws lots of people justifies declaring an Extraordinary Event declaration, then Carlee should also declare Panthers home games and the Belk Bowl Extraordinary Events. His failure to do so demonstrates the utter arbitrariness of the designation. Special police powers based upon arbitrary designations such as this simply should not exist in a free society. And by using the designation as he does, Carlee shows exactly what sort of a gutless, unprincipled empty suit he is.

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US Airways drops CLT – Sao Paulo

Press release out today:

US Airways service from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to [Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)] will be discontinued beginning Oct.1, 2014. Charlotte customers will still have access to GRU through American’s Latin America gateway in MIA. American will also continue to serve GRU from its hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, JFK and Los Angeles.

Wow, that hurts, and leaves CLT with no South American flights. I expect US Airways/American Airlines will put out a similar press releases in about three months announcing their plans for summer 2015 and that people here in Charlotte wouldn’t much like what it says either.

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How not to write a press release

Carolinas Medical Center put this out earlier today:

Late last evening, a patient arrived at Carolinas Medical Center Emergency Department after visiting a country known for high risk of infectious diseases. The hospital took all appropriate infection control measures to protect patients, staff, and visitors.

After consulting with the Centers for Disease Control and NC Department of Health and Human Services, it appears the risk for communicable disease is low.

No further testing is needed and the patient will be sent home. The Emergency Department at Carolinas Medical Center remains open and operating normally.

The aim of a press release of this sort should be to provide information so as to reduce speculation and fear. Instead, CMC’s message does the opposite, inviting speculation by providing exactly the wrong mix of information. “A country known for high risk of infectious diseases” simply leaves it for people to fill in the blank with whatever place holds the greatest fear for them of very highly infectious, very deadly disease. Mentioning the Centers for Disease Control just highlights those sorts of fears. And an incompetent PR job will cause the public to wonder how competent the hospital is in other areas, like identifying and controlling the spread of communicable diseases.

As the UPoR reports, the hospital eventually put out more detailed information. It seems that someone you had recently been to Africa came in to CMC last night with a fever. They eventually tested positive for malaria and their condition is not consistent with Ebola.

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NBA considering changes to draft system

It would probably still use ping-pong balls, but the odds of the team with the worst record getting the top pick would be greatly reduced. Zach Lowe of Grantland provides the details. Highlights:

The league’s proposal gives at least the four worst teams the same chance at winning the no. 1 pick: approximately an identical 11 percent shot for each club. The odds decline slowly from there, with the team in the next spot holding a 10 percent chance. The lottery team with the best record will have a 2 percent chance of leaping to the no. 1 pick, up from the the minuscule 0.5 percent chance it has under the current system.

The proposal also calls for the drawing of the first six picks via the Ping-Pong ball lottery, sources say. The current lottery system actually involves the drawing of only the top three selections.

This may seem like a minor change, but it actually is a huge deal in terms of roster construction and overall team philosophy, as teams’ incentives would change. Lowe also provides some interesting background information on the issue, including am alternative draft order determination mechanism called “the wheel.”

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Second US Airways Frankfurt flight ends early

For the past couple of years, US Airways has supplemented its traditional daily nonstop to Frankfurt with a second summer-seasonal flight, with “summer seasonal” for the route being from early April through late October. That, despite the merger with American Airlines and the resulting switch from the Star Alliance (main European player: Lufthansa) to One World (main European player: British Airways), was the plan for this year as well. Or at least the plan until this past weekend, when US Airways updated its schedule, which shows the second flight now ending in mid-September. Such close-in flight schedule changes are rare and are a clear sign that CLT-Frankfurt bookings are disappointing at best this fall. It’s also another sign that there’s likely to be a lot fewer flights on offer to Europe from Charlotte in the summer of 2015 as compared to this year.

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American exceptionalism

Gene Healy of the Cato Institute has a provocative column on American exceptionalism in the Washington Examiner. A sample:

There’s something sweaty and desperate about a patriotism that cannot tolerate the diplomatic acknowledgment, on foreign soil, that other countries might have their own reasons for national pride. You’d think a great-souled nation could afford a little magnanimity — but too many conservatives think it betrays weakness. We’re well on our way to becoming the first hyperpower with short-guy syndrome.

Worse still, some neoconservative ideologues have turned American Exceptionalism into an ersatz religion, fidelity to which demands reshaping the rest of the world in our Image, by force, if necessary.

You can read the rest of Healy’s column here.

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Panthers’ 6th round pick gone after exactly one play

Not sure which is more bizarre:

• The Panthers’ decision to draft running back Tyler Gaffney in the sixth round this year, given that the Panthers already had DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Kenjon Barner on their roster.

• The process by which the Panthers lost Gaffney to the New York Giants after, yes, he was on the field for all of one play at Fan Fest.

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And NCAA and soccer

Soccer is increasingly popular — and increasingly, top U.S. soccer prospects are being told not to play college soccer. Which is a big problem if you’re the NCAA. So now in a bid to remain the minor league of choice for American soccer players, the organization is considering changing its men’s soccer season, going from having it be a fall-sport to being played from August through May with a big Thanksgiving to February break thrown in. The Washington Post provides details on the proposed change here.

Is anyone surprised that the NCAA is considering cashing in like this? No, didn’t think so.

H/t: VC

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Charlotte Premium Outlets to open

And to mark the occasion, the Charlotte Observer offers up an informative look at the outlet mall business model. A highlight:

“Off-price … is growing much faster than the rest of the retail industry,” Saks’ owner, Hudson Bay Co., wrote in its annual report to investors. The company also noted there’s “very little overlap” between customers who shop its full-price and outlet stores.

Because there’s so little overlap, Hudson Bay told investors it’s confident it can open more Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th stores “without cannibalizing our full-line business or harming the Saks Fifth Avenue brand.”


A Panthers’ incentive non-story

Last week, the Carolina Panthers said that they weren’t asking for an addition in $50 million in money from the city. While this sounds like it’s a significant development development, in reality it’s a non-event. As Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal reports, the team never had any intention of actually asking for the money, which would have required the team to stay in the city for an extra four years.

So why is it even in the contract between the city and the Panthers? Simple: because the city wanted it in there — the powers that be in this town don’t believe that the Queen City is NFL-worthy absent a whole lot of public dollars being delivered to the team’s owners resulting in a legally-binding promise to keep the team here for some number of years. The $88 million in public money that the team did take requires that they stay in Charlotte through 2018 and repay some money if they leave between 2019 and 2022. Had the Panthers accepted, the city would have achieved its goal of tying the team to the city for longer.

So what happens next? At some point, the Panthers will be back asking for more incentive money, and they’ll be seeking a lot more than the $12.5 million a year towards stadium improvements that they are currently getting. And unless there’s a change in attitude at city hall and among the Uptown powers-that-be, the city will again quickly give the team everything it wants and then some.

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August 2014
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