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Archive for April 8th, 2009

Meet Loren Spivack

nnAssuming there is only one of him. Since hitting town several months ago Loren has been a whirling dervish of activity, getting his Freemarketwarrior.com site and associated mall kiosks up and running.

I have been meaning to swing by the Carolina Place spot, but since I don’t get out for any kind of shopping these days that does not involve protein and veggies, that has not quite happened. I’m interested in seeing what kind of reaction conservative bumper stickers have on the average South Charlotte mall patron.

Bonus Observation: Psst, Loren — how about a test run of these numbers? Mayor’s race coming up, ya know.

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Vacancies Up, Rents Down

hhHey, what do you know, another Meck Deck prediction coming true.

Doug Smith reports that rents have dropped almost 40 percent at the high end and 15 to 20 percent on more modest digs. And check this:

Uptown’s vacancy rate jumped to 21.7 percent from 12.1 percent in August after two condo projects converted units to apartments and an apartment owner dropped plans to go condo.

In South End, nearly 1,300 apartment units are under construction along the Lynx light rail line.

“I’m very concerned about the urban market – it’s going to be tough for two to three years,” said Doug Levin, whose Gateway Homes is building a 296-unit apartment project in the University City area.

Exactly. Charlotte seriously overbuilt in a New Urbanist frenzy, cheered on by official city policy which distorted demand in favor of the transit-oriented projects unelected city staff preferred.

They all — from Deborah Campbell on down — should resign in disgrace. Or be fired by the Charlotte city council. If only we had one.

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Why Does the County Have a Slush Fund?

How else to describe the ability to “cut” 256 positions, many of them vacant, and “save” millions of dollars?

Those must be dollars and positions the county does not need — never needed — and yet held the slots open in budgets year after year. That sounds like fraud to me, representing that money is being used for one purpose when in reality Mecklenburg County officials are keeping the “extra” money as a ready reserve in case revenue projections crash, as they have.

No wonder county officials have resisted performance contracting and other innovative measures that would squeeze out waste instead of floating it along in the form of a slush fund. That the county could magically come up with almost $40m. it does not need suggests we need serious reform in the way the county does business.

Update: News14 reports different, and I suspect, more accurate numbers. Some 334 full-time positions would be cut from next year’s budget, 245 of which are already vacant. There should be a criminal investigation into this.

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