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Archive for November, 2009

US Airways Defers Delieveries

Not completely a surprise, but US Airways has announced its deferring by three years each delivery on 54 aircraft it has on order. This is a huge deal for international flying but has little impact on the airline’s domestic operations.

Widebody: US Airways was due to take five 258-seat A330-200s this year, seven more next year, and another three in 2012. This would allow for significant expansion in intercontinental flying, especially if the airline’s 10 204-seat Boeing 7670-200ERs were retained. The airline also has nine 293-seat A330-300 and a number of smaller Boeing 757s that are used over the Atlantic.

Well, looks like those 767s are staying for awhile as the A330-200 deliveries just got pushed back. The airline will now take a total of seven this year and in early 2010. The other eight though will be pushed back, with five due in 2013 and the last three in 2014.

In addition, the 22 A350s on order will be delivered from 2017 on, not 2015 as previously scheduled.

Given US Airway’s existing schedule, that leaves about two 767s extra, which is enough for the second Brazil route US Airways has proposed (very subject to government approval). After that, if a 757 can’t get it done, forget about it until at least 2013.

Narrowbody: US Airways contract with its pilot’s unions require it to operate a certain minimum number of aircraft. It is at that minimum currently. The airline is also aggressively taking new aircraft to replace older planes.

US Airways was due to take 72 Airbus A320 series aircraft in 2010 – 2012, 18 in 2010, 30 in 2011, and 24 in 2012. The schedule now becomes: 2 in 2010, 12 in 2011, 12 in 2012, 16 in 2013, 18 in 2014, and 12 in 2015. So effectively, 46 planes are each delayed by three years each. An equal number of older leased 757s, and 737-400s and 737-300s will stick around longer until now stick around a bit longer until those replacements arrive. Especially 737-400s, easily the most common US Airways Boeing type CLT sees these days.

Bonus Observation: Anybody talking about how CLT needs a new international concourse any time soon should simply be laughed at.

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Ari Fleischer to Argue for Football Socialism

Classic. Ari Fleischer, who I knew to be a smary, officious little functionary for Bill Archer’s Ways and Means Committee before he grew up to be a smary, officious little functionary for the Bush White House, has gone to work for the BCS. To defend the BCS and all its positives for college football. A BCS system reviled by anyone not getting a check from it. A system dependent on “non-profits” vacuuming up millions of dollars along with state and local government subsidies.

Congrats, Ari. You’ve finally it the big time. Spend that money well. You’ll absolutely have to earn it.

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Gorman Explains Pay for Performance

CMS honcho Pete Gorman provides here his most complete vision yet for a pay for performance regime for the district’s teachers. As he notes, the key is designing a system that the teachers themselves believe in and support. Not easy, but not impossible either.

To make it happen, however, we’ll need to see improvement on two local government bugaboos, trust and transparency. Many CMS teachers simply do not trust CMS leadership, often with good reason. But some teachers are also needlessly afraid of the word “performance,” as if all that notion will reduce to is student scores on end-of-year tests. A properly designed performance pay system would do no such thing.

Gorman says he is committed to doing this the right way, to getting teachers involved in building their own pay and evaluation plan. We’ll just have to see if that in fact happens or not.

Bonus Observation: It should go without saying that the plan cannot function without weeding out incompetent teachers. That is why I am telling CMS that your plan cannot function without weeding out incompetent teachers.

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What is DSS Spending Our Money On?

Kinda hard to tell.

Local attorney Tom Ashcraft asked a straightforward question: Which local non-profits and churches are getting funds from DSS? What he got back was a 1311-page, non-responsive data dump of all vendors receiving funds. Still, there are some interesting things to note at first glance.

Things like the raft of Diners Club accounts floating around DSS. Like the $99,000 worth of charges to a Target charge card, including late fees and adjusted balances, which indicate disputed transactions or returns. Like the $3 million or so for Medicaid transportation and paratransit — that’s what I thought CATS paratransit was for, at least that is what the 2007 transit tax repeal campaign taught me. Like the dozens of parking tickets and several false burglary alarms — the latter at $500 a pop — worth thousands of dollars. Like the $250K to the Urban League ($25K per month) for a “Youth Empowerment Program.” And the $300K in U.S. Postal Service charges, a line item that was utterly abused in the House Post Office scandal of the early 90s.

All of these expenses might be completely legitimate. The problem is that the county’s inchoate data dump leaves any curious observer in the dark as to the ultimate destination and justification for millions in DSS spending. And that is just not acceptable.

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Guilty Party: Tommy Apologizes Instead of Atomizing

I suppose Tommy Tomlinson bears the responsibility for choosing to direct his readers to give to a DSS operation despite Mecklenburg County’s long track record of playing fast and loose with cash — DSS especially. So, wet noodle. But to me his tone is far too remorseful over the Giving Tree matter, as if he personally lost the $162,000 in question. What is missing is good old fashioned outrage.

I know if I had put my name on the line and asked for contributions to help kids and then found out something wonky had happened, someone would have to TASER my crazy ass to stop me from finding out what went wrong. But that’s me.

However, at a minimum the situation demands that some anger and disgust be directed at County Manager Harry Jones and DSS chief Mary Wilson. The Uptown crowd is uncomfortable with that, they don’t do anger. Too primitive and unsophisticated.

Instead, they prefer to work Parks Helms behind the scenes and come up with A Plan as Jones goes into damage control mode by tossing the auditor who missed the $33,000 “repayment” — restitution? — to the county out on her ear. So much less messy and painful, you see, while protecting the great wealth transfer engine that is the county’s DSS operation.

Bonus Observation: Hate to knock down those who think any ongoing investigation of what went on at DSS could claim Harry Jones. Won’t happen. Count the votes on the county commission.

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“Daddy feels God was using her to wake America up”

Unless I miss my guess, that quote from Franklin Graham on Sarah Palin’s visit to see his father, Billy Graham, will detonate all across the left-wing spew-o-sphere.

Let’s see if I’m right.

Update: Yep. Already made an open thread at Daily Kos.

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Waiting on the DOT

Back in August, US Airways announced a slot swap with Delta Air Lines. US Airways would get 42 set of slots at Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport plus certain international rights while Delta would get 125 set slots plus gate space at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. The effective date for the swap was suppose to be mid-February. It likely would also have some impacts here in CLT, which is, after all, US Airways’ biggest hub.

You might have noticed that it’s now the middle of November. The leaves are (mostly) off the trees. Thanksgiving is on Thursday. And yet neither US Airways nor Delta have so far released flight schedules that reflect the slot swap. Why? Because the government hasn’t approved it yet… Nothing like bureaucrats at ‘work.’

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Unemployment Up in NC. Whoops.

And the only inkling of job growth is from….government jobs. Ta-da!.

We are well on our way to permanently crushing private sector job creation in much of the country — including North Carolina.

But I’m more convinced than every that we will stay on this path unless and until 1) Two-thirds of the elected officials in this state and in Congress are replaced 2) One-half of all government employees at all levels of government are fired and not replaced. We didn’t get here by accident. This is on purpose. Some voters in some jurisdictions might figure it out and begin the process of re-sovereignization and re-enfranchisement sooner than others.

I’d put North Carolina and Mecklenburg County at the absolute tail-end of any such sea-change.

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How Many Hmong Speakers in Charlotte?

Good thing those new Wells Fargo ATMs include that language, huh?

This is the clearest sign yet that WFC is just transferring its West Coast template to points East without any type of re-jiggering. ATMs with options for Hmong, Korean, and Vietnamese might make sense in California. In Waxhaw, not so much.

Accordingly, for our Redneck readers, these additional details:

* Six language screen opshuns (English, Spanish, Chinee, Ha-mong, Ko-re-an, Vietnamese)
* Voice instruckshuns fo’ th’ visually impaired in English an’ Spanish
* Account transfers an’ mini-statemints
* U.S. postage stamps in menny of th’ ATMs. (Wals Fargo is th’ largess financial services re-tailer of postage stamps in th’ count-ree.)

And yes, I’ll take a window seat.

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“Borrowers usually cannot pay their mortgages without jobs”

Facepalm.

That’s the Gray Lady folks, suddenly figuring out that high unemployment rates just might — might mind you — have something to do with the “new wave of foreclosures” out there. We’ve been trying to point this connection out, especially with regard to the housing market in Charlotte, for over a year now.

Mecklenburg County has settled in at a steady 1,000 foreclosures a month, a figure which does not include various other states of distress including pre-foreclosure. Nationally, lenders have been parking more and more properties just outside of foreclosure and hoping for the best. The truth is no one really knows how many unperforming loans are out there — aside from the banks, which have no incentive to acknowledge them.

All I know is one new wave deserves another.

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