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Archive for October 2nd, 2009

IOC Stiffs Chicago

Man, no one saw that one coming. Chicago cut first from the ranks of 2016 Olympics host candidates. Even the BBC said the outcome “will raise questions about the political advice that [the President] is receiving.”

Chi-town not so sweet for the IOC kleptocrats — their loss.

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Illegal Immigrant Kidnap Scheme

Cannot wait to hear how checking the immigration status of somehow accused of plotting to kidnap a school girl from her bus stop is a great affront to the cause of liberty in these United States. Do tell me not to be concerned that the Kidnap Industry as it exists in Mexico and other parts of Latin America might spread to the U.S. in times of economic stress.

And here’s a fun one, maybe the city of Charlotte should revoke any permits granted to a landlord who rents to any illegal immigrant who is booked into the Mecklenburg County jail. Remember, city staff and CMPD think it is fine and dandy to deputize landlords into enforcing the law.

Is that all the laws, or just some of them?

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MJ’s New Digs in…Florida?

Hey, the Charlotte Bobcats hoops czar has enough scratch to build a house anywhere he wants, but Jupiter, Florida?

The Palm Beach Post has reported that Michael Jordan is building a massive 38,000 sq. foot home at a cost of some $7.6 million. The details:

Once completed it will reportedly be three times the size of other houses around the area, not pleasing some of his neighbors. It will be erected on the 10th hole of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course.

The opulent two-story mansion will feature 11 bedrooms, an elevator, a grand stairway, a giant fireplace. It will also include a cottage and a guard gate.

The Bears Club is one of those impossibly swanky golf resort developments for the immortals among us — like MJ. But it is not clear what would become of the Miami home Jordan bought a few months ago with his Cuban model girlfriend, Yvette Prieto.

Maybe MJ just needs his space — lots of it — and far, far away from the Queen City.

Bonus Observation: Couldn’t be that North Carolina’s high marginal income tax rate has Jordan eager to establish residency in a no income tax state like Florida, could it?

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Foxx, Lassiter Miss the Stop on Streetcar

Anthony Foxx wants you to know that he will not raise property taxes to pay for the $500m. streetcar. So then he supports the $30 a year car registration fee hike? Foxx says he “supports” the streetcar so the money has to come from somewhere.

John Lassiter correctly notes that Charlotte is “a high-taxed city in a high-taxed state” but has hailed the supposed economic development benefits of a $500m. streetcar and refuses to completely rule out the city the building one.

Guys you are doing it wrong. The right way is not even that hard, as Pat McCrory showed. Once upon a time the McCrory standard on train building was somewhat sane and defensible — if the train could qualify for federal funding of its construction and local revenue for the project was limited to that raised by the half-cent transit tax, McCrory was for it. Unfortunately, Pat could not or would not maintain that position as the reality of the $9.5b. transit plan overtook the spin and gloss.

First the North line’s low ridership projection made it very unlikely the feds would fund it. The gap in funding was to be covered with tax increment financing of at least $70m. Yet McCrory never opposed the line, effectively sliding off the McCrory Standard. From there it was a short hop for McCrory to stand by as the $500m. streetcar was taken away from CATS — and the half-cent — and handed over to the city. By definition then, the city proposed to build the line with General Fund revenues, somehow. This brings us up to the present day, with Foxx and Lassiter essentially squabbling over which General Fund revenue to spend when on the damn streetcar. There are some distinctions in there, but not a whole lot of difference.

Here are the three coherent positions city candidates can take on the streetcar:

  1. Oppose the streetcar It is a fantastically expensive economic development gambit that will not improve congestion or air quality one bit.
  2. Apply the McCrory Standard to the streetcar If the feds will help build it, and the half-cent will support it, the streetcar was in the 2030 transit plan.
  3. Support the streetcar This subsumes all “vision” and “concept” qualifiers. It is what it is, a $500m. project city staff badly wants and was promised to West side voters in exchange for their support for the half-cent transit tax in 2007.

Funcationally Lassiter is somewhere in between #2 and #3 and Foxx is firmly in #3 giving voters not a whole helluva lot to choose from. Besides, as we just saw with the veto override of the $4.5m. streetcar study, unless the mayor is hair-on-fire opposed to something the official powers of the office do not count for much.

In sum, by narrowly focusing on the property tax hike angle, the candidates are ducking the larger question of the wisdom of building a $500m. streetcar now, soon, or ever. Period.

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October 2009
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