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Archive for May, 2010

Before You Head out to the Lake, the Grill…

…the pool, the links, the movies — whatever — give it five minutes to take in this scene from Normandy a couple of years ago. Guarantee it’ll make your fun today just a little more fulfilling.

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Go to The Blue Taj

Great Sunday staple — the Indian buffet — down in Ballantyne Village. I point this out because a distressing number of near-by crap outlets were overflowing with bodies while the Blue Taj only had a handful of diners. This is wrong.

Now fix it, my pretties.

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Down the Memory Hole, with Darrin Gantt

Here’s a story on Panther offensive line depth that manages not to mention last season’s 16-game starter Keydrick Vincent. A 10-year vet who started 30 games for the Panthers at RG the past two seasons, Vincent is an unrestricted free agent Carolina has opted not to bring back.

Working in Vincent’s place has been third-year player Mackenzy Bernadeau. Bernadeau has started exactly zero games at RG in the NFL. Bernadeau is backed up by second-year player Geoff Schwartz, who has zero guard starts. Both Bernadeau and Schwartz did have decent outings as starters last season, seven games at LG for Bernadeau and three at RT for Schwartz.

Add all this up and Vincent’s departure at least rates a mention, if not hangs something of a question mark on the extent of Carolina’s OL depth.

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Meck Labor Force Shrinks

You tell me who expected this new data — besides Meck Deck readers. The notion of a shrinking Charlotte may be becoming a reality.

The April jobs number for Mecklenburg County shows additional job growth, no doubt about it. Around 4000 jobs were added to bring us to almost 415K in the county. The total number of jobless fell from 51K to 46,601 — just as we surmised the other day would be the case. This is good. This means we are now only about 25,000 jobs behind peak employment of 2008.

But.

The labor force reversed several months of growth, growth the professional economists told us would continue as more and more workers re-entered the local work force as more jobs became available. Except it did not happen in April. At 461K workers, the county is idling about 12,000 short of the pre-recession peak.

Now here is the key question going forward: Have those 12K people moved on, or all they just waiting for even more jobs to show up before they re-enter the workforce? It will take a few more months of data to know for sure.

Still, the very possibility that Charlotte is on a permanently altered, lower population, economic growth, and employment track runs counter to everything our so-called local experts expect and are busy planning to address.

And remember, 10 percent unemployment in the county is really nothing to get too excited about.

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Mercury Blues

Once upon a time the Mercury Cougar was the badass car of the neighborhood. Someone’s older brother or older sister’s boyfriend who dared to move beyond the Mustang-Camaro dog-fight, had no use for MOPAR — ie, was not a dragracer — and preferred a little bit of mystery along with his V8.

But that was a long, long time ago.

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Tea Party Candidate vs. Tea Party Candidate

Paging Chris Fitzsimon, Jim Morrill. Need a re-write.

If the official grow-government/MSM story line was that booga-booga scary “tea party candidates” like Tim D’Annunzio were butting heads with the GOP establishment, it must be double-secret booga-booga scary that much more significant Tea Party figures have endorsed D’Annunzio’s opponent — and supposed candidate of the GOP establishment — Harold Johnson.

You see, I was never entirely certain that the Tea Party groups which endorsed D’Annunzio — We the People of Cabarrus and the Sand Hills — were 100% apart and separate from the D’Annunzio campaign. I simply took it at face value that they were.

Fitzsimon, however, charged in to declare that their endorsement made D’Annunzio the “darling” of the entire Tea Party crowd across the district. But I know several of the folks who are endorsing Johnson were major Tea Party activists first, active for 8th CD candidates second.

Former Charlotte city council candidate Craig Nannini, for example, was filling the Uptown government center with anti-tax activists back in April 2009 to kill a nascent plan to ask the General Assembly for authority to double the transit tax. He has now endorsed Johnson.

Which I guess means that Nannini is double-secret booga-booga scary, which by extension now makes Harold Johnson the double-secret booga-booga candidate and Tim D’Annunzio, by default, the candidate of the GOP establishment. Which means that if D’Annunzio loses, the GOP establishment loses and the Tea Party wins — right guys?

Cmon guys, don’t quit. Isn’t this still fun? OK. How about this — Tea Party on both sides, no matter who wins the runoff — Tea Party wins in the 8th CD is the headline.

Guys….guys?

Bonus Observation: I still think — as of this moment — Larry Kissell wins in November regardless.

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Death of a Hub

In Cincinnati. Delta Air Lines’ big Midwestern hub isn’t so big anymore. The Cincinnati Enquirer offers up a good analysis into what happened. Basically, too many flights on high cost 50-seat regional jets for a city of Cincinnati’s size. This resulted in the highest fares in the country for eight straight years, and hordes of people driving to Dayton, Indianapolis, Louisville etc. for cheaper flights. And as Delta spokesman Kent Landers put it:

And to be honest, that’s why the model of having such a large hub in a small city is unsustainable over the long run.

Charlotte, of course, is only a slightly larger market than Cincinnati.

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The Pat PAC

Pundit House alerts me to the newish web site for Pat McCrory’s New Leadership PAC. I enjoyed the meta tagline in the source code — “Pat, McCrory, NC, Conservative, Republican, New, Leadership, PAC, Charlotte, Mayor.” Someone tell Anthony Foxx.

Anywho, the site is registered to a web host in Pennsylvania and the PAC itself raised almost $25K in the first quarter, almost $9K of which went to Capitol Advertising in Zebulon, the same mailing outfit Pat used during his run for governor. Still looking for the PAC’s first contribution to a campaign.

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City Money For Courts? Prosecutors?

Why not? Is there a more pressing need in Mecklenburg County?

CMPD — controlled by the city of Charlotte — complains non-stop of arresting the same guys over and over. Why is it suddenly the city’s job to fund libraries but not a broken criminal justice system?

I’ll tell you why: We are being governed by a bunch of grandstanding morons. Morons who are completely bamboozled by career bureaucrats like Curt Walton and Harry Jones.

Here is Curt Walton, political philosopher, spinning his desire to manage down and justify his own huge salary by boosting city employees’ take by an outrageous $6.1 million:

“It’s not the employees vs. the community,” Walton said. “The employees are the community.”

Wrong, Prof. Walton. The city of Charlotte workforce has shrunk not at all in the current economic climate while Mecklenburg County is still down about 30,000 jobs since 2008. The official state numbers for March are 51,295 unemployed in the county. I suspect that improved some in April — say down to 45K jobless.

That is the community the city of Charlotte is taxing in order to fund grandstanding, hubris, and an out-of-control public sector which refuses to do the hard, dirty work of governing while constantly crowing about how wonderful it is.

What it really is is disgusting — and it will destroy this community.

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Roberts LTR Howler: “The money is there”

And the hits just keep coming.

Mecklenburg County Chair Jennifer Roberts spins WBTV on the reality of running light rail to UNCC:

“The money is there, it’s just the length of time is going to be tremendous,” Mecklenburg commission chair Jennifer Roberts said after a transit meeting Wednesday night.

Roberts says something has to change to keep the timeline from becoming so long.

Pray tell, what “something” might get LTR to UNCC before 2025? Let’s go to the videotape as the saying goes:

Among them:

* more money from the feds than CATS got for the South line light rail project
* a turnaround in the economy
* some creative way to pay for the extension, such as a public/private partnership

So the feds are going to fund more than half of a project? Where are they going to get that money — besides from the Chinese by floating more debt?

The economy can do backflips — there is absolutely no going back to the 2003-2008 boomtimes when the idiot MTC — cheered on by Jennifer Roberts and crew — adopted a $9 billion — now $9.5 billion — transit plan.

And what, the bankers in town are gonna lend the money to CATS? I know they threw a $22m. slush fund at the NASCAR Hall, flat forgave $15m. in debt at the Whitewater Center, but $500-600m. worth of fraud might be a tad bold even for government-sponsored enterprises like Bank of Wells Fargo.

Besides, the reason transit tax revenues are running 25 percent below annual projections is only partly a function of joblessness and a listless economy. Charlotte’s position as the retail hub of the region has only declined in the past decade as more and more retail options have popped up in the neighboring counties. The Great Recession has masked this shift to some extent, but it is real and it is permanent.

Accordingly, the only responsible approach to mass transit is to adopt a new plan with a $4-5b. total price tag, one which absolutely can be completed by 2025. The alternative is the Roberts approach — spin and howl, spin and howl.

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