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Archive for November 18th, 2009

“Yesterday’s subprime is today’s FHA”

Whoa. Weren’t we just talking about the FHA?

That is Toll Brothers CEO Robert Toll telling everyone within earshot that we are indeed re-inflating the real estate bubble. When a guy building houses says this, you might want to pay attention.

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CATS Needs Scratch

In honor of getting new CATS chief Carolyn Flowers off to a good start, let’s be clear. CATS can either adopt a new, cheaper transit plan or it can go out and try to get an additional one-eighth, one-quarter, or one-half cent county sales tax to pay for the existing plan. Those are the two options. Period.

Did you catch the UPoR’s sly admission of this the other day? Flowers needs to “alter, articulate and implement a long-term transit plan now that the 2030 Transit Plan looks unrealistic.” No kidding? That is exactly what some of us were saying needed to be done in 2007 and were branded transit-hating cavemen by the very same op-ed page. Does this make Carolyn Flowers a cavewoman?

Meanwhile, McCrory line ridership has flattened while some bus ridership grows. Hmmm, there might be a cost-effective implication there for future priorities. Let’s see what Flowers does with this data. And the UPoR as well for that matter.

However, lurking in the background — as ever — is Charlotte’s impending gridlock due to traffic congestion. Who says so? MUMPO, the official keeping of road funding for the region. Back in September MUMPO trickled out a fascinating Power Point making clear that congestion will explode in the coming years pretty much regardless of what we do, primarily because massive funding of road-building is not part of the picture. MUMPO even went so far as to guesstimate what would happen with additional county sales tax revenue for roads and transit. Answer, not much. Not even building three more train lines at a cost of $2b. or more would have much impact on congestion or air quality.

This is why last week MUMPO endorsed the no new revenue scenario for its 2035 plan. Here’s where things get interesting. I think that is prelude to asking for voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax hike in Mecklenburg County “dedicated” to roads, infrastructure, and trains.

I am sure no one will want to take that vote to put the measure on the ballot for next November, but once confronted with the political dynamics of the situation — the streetcar we are now having giddy meetings about will not get built otherwise — local Dems will realize the only way they wash themselves clean from over-promising is to kick matters over to voters.

I could be wrong. Jennifer Roberts and crew may prefer to just hunker down and hope for the best. However, if CATS’ new chief comes out and declares CATS needs a new plan, that may not be possible.

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The Great Eggo Shortage of 2009

The empty freezer shelves at Teeter had me puzzled. Now I’m only concerned. Floods in Atlanta wiped out one of Kellogg’s waffle plants and another in Tennessee is also hurting. The result is not enough Eggos to meet demand.

Maybe we’re at the dawn of the frozen-waffle as an alternative currency.

Update: Oh, and Coke Costco has stopped stocking all Coke products due to a price dispute. It is the End Times, people.

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When is the Yadkin River Bridge Not a Bridge?

When it is a TIGER.

You see, if you call it a regional, I-85 improvement the feds might hand you sacks of cash to help come up with the $300m. needed to finally replace the overwhelmed structure.

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