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Archive for April 23rd, 2009

Probate Charged with Flashing Kids

jMeet Shelton Jamar Smith.

He was arrested yesterday by CMPD and charged with flashing kids in East Charlotte. The kids were aged 6, 7, and 9. The incidents occurred over the weekend and on Tuesday.

Last Thursday a Mecklenburg County judge turned Smith loose on 12 months probation following a disorderly conduct conviction stemming from an Oct 18 2008 arrest. Two other charges — resisting arrest and possession of pot — were dismissed.

In February Smith was arrested on essentially the same charges, which evidently made no impression on the judge who released him. Better still, Smith has felony charges still pending from other arrests in October and November of last year. Which also did not prevent him from being given probation on Thursday.

Which was a few days before he was busted for flashing his junk at pre-teens.

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Filthy Falcons Get Gonzalez for 2nd Rounder

Super.

Way to stand pat, Marty/Foxy.

Why does anyone think Pep is worth a 1st rounder? Deal him for a 2nd, now, before it is too late.

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Bulls-eye. Full Cent for Transit.

That was quick.

Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James emails to say that Commission chair Jennifer Roberts has already has already put it on the commission agenda for the next meeting “an item to endorse raising a new ½ cent (one half cent) tax for transit only (not for ‘transportation’ or ‘roads’).”

James adds that, “Harold Cogdell (Vice Chair) is calling and telling the Commissioners that it will be on next Tuesday’s public policy meeting for a discussion. We don’t vote at those meetings but supposedly they are going to present the reasons for endorsing the tax and asking the legislature to give it to us.”

Note by “legislature” Cogdell, Roberts and gang basically mean Dan Clodfelter, who is busy re-writing the state tax code on the fly. The Mecklenburg-less new half-cent for transit legislation just passed the state House. In theory lawmakers could double-back and add Mecklenburg to the bill, but doing so would seriously wound chances for the Triad and the Triangle to convince their voters to approve a half-cent for transit as the bill authorizes.

Right now, the other jurisdictions can — inaccurately, but plausibly — claim that the same wonderful choo-choo benefits of Meck’s half-cent await the Triad and Triangle. But if Meck crashes in to say, “Excuse me, but the half-cent ain’t cutting it, we need a whole penny (belch)” that argument evaporates. For that reason — along with the general reluctance of lawmakers to “give” anything to Charlotte — I think it a long-shot, but one the status quo must take.

The other element of this is, of course, Clodfelter. A we’ve noted he has got to wonder why his East Charlotte district is at the bottom of the heap for CATS choo-choos when all the funding and cost rules have flown out the window.

Still, first step — the county commission in broad daylight must beg for more authority to tax the county $70m. a year more in order to build trains.

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Martray Proctor charged with felony(!)

Well, this is interesting: Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Martray Proctor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Yes, that would be a felony.

He’s the cop that was going over 90 in a 45 at night without his blue lights and siren on to assist a fellow officer with a routine traffic stop on Old Statesville Road. Before he got there, he collided with another car, killing the driver, 20-year old Shatona Evette Robinson.

Wish someone could explain why Proctor was charged with involuntary manslaughter when back in 2000 CMPD police officer Scott Darby was only charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle when involved in a very similar fatal accident (67 in a 35, at night, no blue lights or siren). Because had the powers that be taken the 2000 incident more seriously, perhaps Shatona Robinson would still be alive today.

Full disclosure: I am not objective on this one.

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Curry Goes NBA, Makes a Mistake

hhSorry, if I had to choose between Steph Curry and UNC’s Wayne Elington for my NBA team, I’m taking Weezy everytime — primarily because I’ve seen him play better defense than Steph Curry has ever dreamt about.

Put another way, Adam Morrison. The parallels with Curry are striking. Small school Cinderella darling, big time scorer, S-PIN highlight reel fave. No defense. Oh, sure Curry will play the odd passing lane and is orders of magnitude quicker than Morrison, but this is the NBA. Guys you’ve never heard of will put up 20 in a quarter against weak defenders.

Two more words: Dell Curry. Cat was bigger than Steph, never asked to check PGs, and still was a defensive liability.

Still, I hope it all works out. I expect Ty Lawson and Elington to enter the draft here in a couple hours. That’ll be the right choice. For them.

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Meanwhile, in State Tax Hikes

Got an extra $1.2b. sitting around? State lawmakers think you do. The “tax reform” lie would actually hike taxes by $600m. a year — and call that reform.

Thrall Master Hood explains:

There is absolutely no evidence that North Carolinians are undertaxed. Measured properly, as a percentage of personal income, North Carolina taxpayers pay more for state and local government than does the average American taxpayer. It’s not by much. I’m not arguing that North Carolina is a tax hell akin to New Jersey (yet). But by no stretch of the imagination can the data be contorted to prove that our tax burden is too low – though the data do show that North Carolina’s tax system is more unfair, confusing, and inefficient than that of the average state.

Couple more things. Love to see something, anything on the cost of compliance associated with the proposed changes. Many of the service sectors which would be newly taxed have never interfaced with the NC Dept of Revenue on retail sales transactions. Starting to would represent a huge new burden on these businesses. And it is that burden, not the amount of the tax which they would merely pass on to consumers, that constitutes an insane drag on productivity in a time of economic contraction.

In short, Dan Clodfelter and other backers of these tax changes are saying to thousands of small business persons across the state, “Wait, before you do something productive, stop and fill out these forms and make these calls, then be sure to increase your prices — possibly beyond what your customers can afford — to make sure we get our take.”

Completely nuts. And here’s another thing. Recall that Clodfelter told us a couple years ago that if you go monkeying with the local option sales tax rate you have to go back and re-write the entire revenue section of state law, even that which deals with repeal and adoption. I guess we’re doing that now, right?

Damn skippy we are — the money and power would flow toward Raleigh, not away.

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More Trains? More Taxes. It is Official.

There you have it, ladies and gents. CATS says it needs another quarter-cent in county-wide sales tax in order to build more trains. With that precisely everything we’ve said would happen with regard to Charlotte’s transit system since 2006 has come to pass.

CATS cannot build $2b. worth of new trains without reaching deeper into our wallets, it is as simple as that. The Northeast line has officially broken the $1b. barrier — another of our predictions — with a $1.12b. price-tag, up from $741m. waaayyyy back in 2006. The North line will cost $400m. — CATS now claims $375m. — but it does not matter, it’ll never get built because the line will never get federal transit funding, as opposed to one-time “stimulus” pork. And don’t forget the $400m. worth of streetcars which used to be in the 2030 plan, but now are to be built by the city and paid for with future property tax dollars.

If CATS is gonna go the quarter-cent route, the next stop is the Mecklenburg County commission, which will have to vote to approve to put a quarter-cent referendum on a local ballot.

The ball is in your court, Chairwoman Roberts.

Update: Quite unbelievably Charlotte city councilman John Lassiter this morning on WBT said that the city should pursue getting additional half-cent authority for transit, as the legislation state Rep. Becky Carney is flogging through the General Assembly would give the Triangle and the Triad. Recall that state Sen. Dan Clodfelter said no to including Mecklenburg in that, citing the uncertainty surrounding the MTC’s train-building plans. Lassiter no doubt figures that if you are going to ask voters for a tax hike for trains, might as well go for the big one.

In other words, a full cent for transit, just a Randal O’Toole said would happen when he came to Charlotte in advance of the 2007 transit tax repeal vote.

Oh, and Lassiter is 100% wrong when he asserts that “the economy threw us a curve ball” on transit plans. No, Lassiter and the status quo local leadership simply struck out swinging on the issue. The $9b. transit plan unveiled in 2006 was instantly and obviously unsustainable. Some of us said so.

Some of us — hint hint — did not.

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