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Archive for March, 2010

What’s New Lady Cats?

lady catsThe Charlotte Bobcat dance team is back competing in the NBA’s Dance Bracket 2010. Really.

You can vote for them here. They are up against — hey now! — the Chicago Luvabulls.

Sometimes America is too good to me. I mean, c’mon. This stuff writes itself.

Meow.

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AA: CLT-LGA Again

They’re back and bigger and better than ever. American Airlines that is, on the Charlotte-LaGuardia route. When the airline dropped the route in November 2008, it was offering five-time a day service mainly on 37-seat regional jets. When service starts back up this summer, it will again be five-times a day, but on 66-seat regional jets that have a first-class section.

American Airlines currently flies from Charlotte to Dallas-Ft. Worth (five daily 140-seat MD 80 mainline aircraft), Miami (four times a day on 50-seat regional jets), and Chicago O’Hare (currently four times a day on 50-seat regional jets, with a fifth daily flight being added next week).


Bonus observation
: Glad American and JetBlue didn’t announce that deal tomorrow as everyone would have thought it was an April’s Fools Day prank. Big, aggressive move by both airlines, which includes a small slot swap (eights pairs at Reagan National and one pair White Plains to JetBlue for 12 pairs at JFK to American). This does reduce the odds of additional CLT-JFK flights on JetBlue in the future. The DOT will absolutely love this deal, as it both increases competition and aircraft size at LaGuardia.


Extra special route watch:
IF the US Airways/Delta slot swap gets approved, look for Delta to resume flying CLT-LGA also on larger regional jets fitted with a first-class section. Come to think of it, Delta might do that even if the deal is rejected or continues in limbo.

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Red Light Cameras: For the Children

WCCB gets CMS honcho Pete Gorman all excited about the prospect of red light camera cash flowing to the school system. Gorman:

“Is that a dedicated source where that money would go? Does it go into the general fund? Ya know, I’ve heard some city officials say well we think this is good we think it should be used for after school programs.”

A-ha, if you want after school programs, you gotta go with the red light ticket scam, shorter yellow-lights, more dangerous intersections, impossibility of any appeal, etc.

But it is for the children.

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How Not to Hire the Next UNCC Hoops Coach

Focus on a guy without head coaching experience and assistant experience only at small, private universities.

Nothing against Xavier associate head coach Pat Kelsey, but his is not the type of resume I’d want for second-tier, public university desperately trying to get its own fan base to pay attention to it in a major league market. In fact, few of the names in AD Judy Rose’s supposed pool of hopefuls have much pizazz. Rose seems to be proceeding on the notion that the Niners were somehow lacking in the talent area under Bobby Lutz. Not so.

Lutz had fine, winnable mid-major talent. His teams just played a frustrating, often unwatchable brand of brain-dead basketball. Fans stayed home in droves in response and finished this season completely dejected after the Niners collapsed down the stretch.

Walking a new head man into this situation who has only experienced the built-in enthusiasm found at a tight-knit institution like Xavier or Wake Forest sounds like a set-up. And just think — UNCC fans still get to look forward to Judy hiring a football coach.

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Nine Years Running: CLT Tops in NC Tax Burden

In your face space coyote!

Charlotte once again has the highest per capita tax burden — almost $2600 for fiscal 2008 — of any large city in the state. By about $300 per person, so it is not even close.

And understand that only resort communities at the beach and in the mountains best Charlotte’s total per person tax take. Think about that. A town with a relatively small year-round population can spread its tax bite over tens of thousands of visitors. Not so Charlotte, which it still not a destination location no matter the spin coming from Uptown.

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Programming Note

Should be popping up on WBT around 7:15am to talk county budget. Recall that a couple weeks back we IDed specific low-priority items in the current county budget.

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County Debt Binge: Sobriety?

We swear…hic…..

Jennifer Roberts, her fellow county commissioners, and county staff sound like they are suddenly getting sober over the potential loss of the county’s triple AAA credit rating. Of course, we told you what happen the minute the county foolishly popped the cork on jacking the county’s debt ceiling from 16 to 22 percent of the operating budget back in 2008.

Kaboom.

On the revenue side, the county had a completely rose-colored assumption of ever-increasing tax booty. In other words, boom times were assumed to be the norm. On the spending side, despite a fairly rigorous priority ranking scheme within the county budget, we simply opted to buy everything. Back to our tried and true grocery store metaphor.

The county went shopping for dinner with a $20 bill. Steak and salad cost $18, SunDrop $3. County officials — cheered on by staff — concluded the only way to buy dinner was to put it all on a credit card. Afterall, when they went shopping next week they surely would have $22 to spend.

Except we don’t and now the banks want to hike our credit card rate if we don’t shape up, set some priorities, and stick with them. Families all over America have confronted this reality, why should Mecklenburg County be any different?

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Statewide Unemployment: Up.

Which means that when the February numbers are released next week for Mecklenburg County there will be little to no improvement in the jobless rate, possibly an increase. If so, that will mean that local unemployment which is almost 20 percent higher than the national average will be held up as some sort of “model” to emulate when President Barack Obama comes calling on Friday.

Then again, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx actually told local Realtors last week that the because the city-owned airport finished a third runway (?!) happy days are right around the corner — and Foxx was not laughed out of the room. Belief continues to trump logic at every turn.

As ever, keep an eye on the real numbers. The total jobs number for the county. Until it starts to climb, all the bunting and pep rallies in the world do not matter.

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Pat McCrory’s Law Firm to Investigate City

The city of Charlotte has turned to Moore & Van Allen attorney Valecia McDowell to get to the bottom of sexual harassment claims swirling around Charlotte city council. Former mayor Pat McCrory joined the powerful Uptown law firm as a director of “strategic initiatives” in January. State Sen. Dan Clodfelter, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dumont Clarke, and numerous other attorneys with family and professional ties to local government call Moore & Van Allen home.

McDowell is a registered Democrat who has contributed to the local Democratic Party and the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to campaign finance reports.

In a 2005 interview with The Charlotte Business Journal McDowell said, “I am the product of busing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. All of my professional achievements are the direct result of the sacrifices of those who demanded that Charlotte have one, integrated public school system.”

Update: According to Foxx’s campaign reports for last year, the $1250 McDowell contributed in June was among the over $5600 in donations Moore & Van Allen employees made to his mayoral campaign.

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Baton Rouge and All That

As promised, an analysis US Airways’ growth possibilities in the south and southeast.

Charlotte is US Airways’ main hub for serving secondary markets in the southeastern and southern U.S. Most of the new domestic destinations that the airline has introduced from CLT in recent years are also to the region. Since 2008, the airline has added daily, year-round flights from Charlotte:

  • Daytona Beach, FL effective Feb. 1, 2008
  • Forth Walton Beach, FL effective April 6, 2008
  • Panama City, FL effective April 6, 2008 (dropped September 2008)
  • Gulfport, MS effective May 4, 2008
  • Austin, TX effective May 4, 2008
  • San Antonio, TX effective May 4, 2008
  • Tuscon, AZ effective June 2, 2008 (dropped December 2008)
  • Honolulu, HI effective Dec. 17, 2009
  • Melbourne, FL effective Feb. 11, 2010
  • Baton Rouge, LA, effective June 24, 2010

So a beach market plus a failure in Tuscon. And, yeah, lots of places from Florida to Texas but nothing new in the Midwest or Northeast.

Figuring out what’s possible in the SE from CLT is fairly simple. Delta Air Lines has a huge hub in Atlanta. Let’s compare the number of seats offered on DL to ATL with US to CLT to secondary markets in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and eastern Texas. The numbers are for Thursday, June 24, 2010:

City Code ATL CLT
Huntsville, AL HSV 702 290
Sarasota, FL SRQ 638 242
Tallahassee, FL TLH 618 280
Ft. Walton Beach, FL VPS 600 260
Panama City, FL ECP 584
Jackson, MS JAN 582 200
Mobile, AL MOB 540 150
Gulfport, MS GPT 534 190
Daytona Beach, FL DAB 494 210
Melbourne, FL MLB 422 150
Baton Rouge, LA BTR 420 150
Montgomery, AL MGM 400 150
Gainesville, FL GNV 350 200
Shreveport, LA SHR 250
Alexandria, LA AEX 150
Lafayette, LA LFT 150
Monroe, LA MLU 150
Killeen, TX GRK 100
Meridan, MS MEI 100
Columbus, MS GTR 84
Muscle Shoals, AL MSL 68
Tupelo, MS TUP 34

The critical points I take from this:

  1. US Airways gets about 35 to 40 percent of the traffic flow over CLT that Delta does over ATL for these sorts of markets.
  2. The minimum buy-in for service to CLT is 150 seats a day. That’s three 50-seat regional jet flights a day.
  3. To do the math, if Delta offers above about 375 seats to a SE destination from Atlanta, there’s a good chance the market will work from Charlotte.

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