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Archive for May, 2009

Fetzer v. Wright

Look, I got no dog in this fight and certainly do not know the facts of the matter but…

It strikes me as exceedingly counterproductive to combat email rumors with a full-blown legal assault, an act which demands that news outlets cover and report on the slander at question, thereby repeating and amplifying it many times over.

I do not understand why Tom Fetzer is suing Curtis Wright for forwarding the email in question, but not the author of the email. There is “anonymous” email and then there is the reality of email headers which forensic data recovery can pin-point. Are we to understand that Fetzer and/or his attorneys attempted this already and failed?

I do not understand this statement by Fetzer: “The fact that I am heterosexual is a matter of public record.” Not to be glib, but is there a license or certificate program that I am unaware of? How can there be a “public record” of private conduct for anyone, anywhere?

But more than anything this dust-up tells me that there is a sickness deep within the Republican Party in North Carolina that will not soon be healed. What was once a party of ideas is now a collection of special interests, boiling resentments, and stunning mediocrity.

Update: Filling in one blank, it seems the claims originated in an anonymous letter as opposed to an email, rendering my forensic approach moot. I think.

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New Suspect in Yarmolenko Murder?

If police ever catch the guy responsible for abducting, robbing, and holding at knife-point a woman in University City Saturday night, wouldn’t it be prudent to know what he was doing last May?

Ira Yarmolenko was last seen alive in UCity. At one point Mt. Holly police speculated she had been abducted and taken by force to banks of the Catawba River, where she was strangled. Investigators still do not have a satisfactory account of how Yarmolenko came to a secluded spot far from prying eyes when she started out in a busy parking lot 40 minutes away.

At a minimum, any suspect or suspects in the recent abduction should have their DNA tested against that which has been found in the Yarmolenko case.

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Have a Tea Party Memorial Day

Before you fire up the grill, consider heading out to Sharon Memorial Park tomorrow morning to join some of the local Tea Party folks in remembering why it is we have the freedom to Tea Party, to blog, to watch auto races — to pursue happiness to an extent never before possible in human history.

You’ll be glad you did. Details here.

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MNI’s Latest Wing and Prayer

Wanted to make sure I was not seeing things when I read that McClatchy plans “a five-point sales strategy” that includes not one, but two butt-stupid ideas.

First, MNI insists on hollowing out newspaper help wanted ads in favor of, an entity that should be sold off before it is too late and social networks completely overtake job hunting. Dumb.

Worse, however, is the announcement that MNI plans to start paying commissions to ad agencies for ad placements. OK, how much revenue could that possibly bring in? Well, if you look to recent history in the Charlotte market, you are starting from a baseline of about 1 percent of revenue. Suppose you double that with the new policy — yippee! Then you are looking at maybe $5 to 6m. a year.

Meanwhile, you’ve utterly gutted your in-house sales staff, the ones who were delivering the bulk of your revenue quarter after quarter. I swear, you could not invent a more inane set of business propositions than the ones McClatchy trots out month after month.

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Programming Note

The working plan to pop in on Bill White who is in for Tara today on WBT, starting right at 3pm.

In the meantime, enjoy what I told WBTV earlier this week about Keith Parker’s departure from CATS. Mmm-kay?

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WSJ: Eastland is a “Dead Mall”

Gee, the usually rah-rah suspects who cannot shut up when Charlotte gets major media attention are strangely silent on the big Wall Street Journal spread detailing the death of the American shopping mall, poster-child Eastland Mall.

Money quote:

Charlotte city officials have lined up resources to help reinvent the mall, including $20 million in public financing. They acknowledge that finding a developer willing to underwrite the additional $180 million needed to turn Eastland into a mix of housing, shops and parks will be tough.

In other words, the Journal just told the world that the city’s current leadership is out of their damn minds. Shhh, maybe no one will notice.

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“Friends do all sorts of things for friends”

With stellar legal defense like that Mary Easley is pretty bold holding out for a $700K buyout. Jim Black had friends too. Eventually they turned state’s evidence.

What I’ve never understood, however, is how NCSU could hire her for an Executive in Residence post despite the fact that Mary Easley has never been an executive — anywhere. She’s been an assistant DA, run her own law firm, taught some legal classes on the side — and been First Lady of North Carolina. That’s it.

So in a way, NCSU and the UNC system deserve every bit of pain and embarrassment they now endure. The honest taxpayers of the state, not so much.

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TARP Windfall: $2b. for BofA?

Bloomberg notes that the U.S. Treasury did not exactly stick up for taxpayers in dealing to sell back stock warrants to banks that received TARP funds. Extrapolating from the deal that netted a small community bank a $4m. bonus the report projects that Bank of America could net over $2b. when it strikes a price with Uncle Sam.

Wells Fargo stands to gain almost $1.5b. Way to set a fair market price there guys.

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Ho-Hum. Bob Johnson Wants Out

Big surprise.

Rick Bonnell has finally gotten someone to admit that Bob Johnson is trying to unload the Bobcats — for 15 to 25 percent more than anyone thinks the team is worth.

For two years now the only question has been if Johnson’s massive ego would permit him to sell the franchise that cost him $300m. at a loss. Right now the answer is no. As a result, do not expect the team to change hands any time soon. Instead think of this as Johnson’s first salvo in convincing the NBA and the city of Charlotte that he is really tapping out.

This brings us back to the situation in Phoenix. A sports league and city government cannot force a team owner to lose money. If Johnson goes a year trying to sell, loses another $25-50m. — then what? Will the NBA step in to run the franchise as the NHL has done in Phoenix (Glendale)? Does the NBA then start to look to moving the franchise? Remember, the city agreements on the Uptown Arena are with the NBA, not Johnson.

The good thing is that the same ego that has Johnson over-valuing the Bobcats probably also prevents him from following bankruptcy route for Bobcat Sports Entertainment. But we shall see.

Update: Bonnell has a post up now citing an unnamed NBA source to the effect that they’d be surprised if Johnson owns the team at the start of next season. I wouldn’t be. In fact, the only thing that’d surprise me is if Johnson is not in litigation with the city and/or the NBA by then.

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Tea Partiers to Demand Sane Budget from City

This is getting interesting.

Some of the local Tea Party folks are planning to march on the Charlotte city council meeting Tuesday night to demand a responsible budget. They are off to a good start, but more could be done.

For one, taxpayers need to understand why the City Manager’s office ballooned from 169 employees and a $12m. budget in 2007 to 220 employees and a $18m. budget in 2009. Ditto “business support services” from $15m. and 191 employees to $18m. and 234 employees.

The city should also zero out the $520K spent on “business investment grants,” de-fund Center City Partner’s $125K Vision 2020 plan, nix $200K for the CIAA basketball tourney, $125K for the Charlotte Regional Partnership, and cut $100K from other memberships and lobbies.

Now that would be responsible.

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