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Archive for June, 2010

And How Many Reporters Did Rick and Cheryl Send?

Big presser from Crystal Gail Mangum. If past is prologue, you’d think Rick Thames and crew would have 3 or 4 Charlotte reporters up in Durham to hang on every word, put it in a larger context for Mecklenburg’s great unwashed.

No?

Maybe next time.

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Clip N’ Save Panthers Analysis

Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson on the Carolina Panthers’ defensive tackles:

As of today, the foursome that should expect to see playing time at tackle consists of Nick Hayden, Louis Leonard, Tank Tyler and Corvey Irvin. And maybe Ed Johnson or Derek Landri will factor in. Seriously? Let me just go on record to say that this is the worst group of defensive tackles in the league, and I am not even sure that dubious competition is close.

Yup.

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LeBron to Bobcats?

Could be. According to this very scientific approach.

Or Miami. Or Chicago. Or Oklahoma City.

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CMS: Equity is Obscenity

They know it when they see it. But damned if they can define it. Whatever it is, equity must involve much smaller class sizes and 30 percent higher per pupil spending — the getting naked steps in our obscenity analogy.

Ann Helms wades through the ridiculous waste of time that was CMS’ “priority” exercise to unearth a couple keepers.

One, Board Chair Eric Davis has manufactured a belief that parents like to have their kids go to school near where they work in order to help spare close-in schools from cuts or closings. Don’t know if this penumbra will also be used to help keep the long-desired Uptown high school on life-support, but as long as CMS keeps Myers Park packed to the gills, you gotta wonder.

Also, I guess in a way — a roundabout CMS way — amorphous concepts like equity do feedback into the iron question of which schools to close. After all, if “equity” bumps up a school’s “utilization” — not how many bodies actually attend the school but a CMS construct — then it is less likely to be on the chopping block.

And never forget that it is the very grave matter of closing schools that CMS faces in the coming years.

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Forget Kagan, Blago Trial is the Deal

Rod Blagojevich’s trial should be the above-the-fold lede of every paper in the country. We have nothing less than a political show trial underway in which the presiding judge is doing everything possible to keep Barack Obama out of his courtroom — no matter what witnesses and the evidence might say.

At a minimum Obama reached out through union officials to indicate that Valerie Jarrett was his choice to take his senate seat. What is at issue — and what federal prosecutors and Judge James Zagel are positively loathe to entertain — is if Obama directly or indirectly offered anything to Blagojevich in exchange for picking Jarrett. Simple, eh?

Not in Chicago and not with our deeply flawed federal criminal justice system. Not with the fake media circus at the White House, which can’t even nail down a blatant contradiction of the Obama line that he had nothing to do with Blagojevich’s selection process for the seat. “You’re telling me about this testimony. I’m not going to get into commenting on obviously an ongoing trial. And I have had not had an opportunity to see that,” Robert Gibbs lied to the press corps yesterday.

And speaking of lies, go read through the transcripts of the FBI wiretaps of Blago and tell me what a farce American government has become.

Update: A blogger at Time of all places, has started to connect the dots.

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Union DA: “We have a no-return policy on armed robbery”

This is good. Union County will not charge the Sunny Food Mart clerks in connection with the fatal shooting of an attempted robber. More John Snyder:

The honest, hard-working families that operate small businesses must be free from the fear of being robbed. Those that choose to rob should be filled with fear that they will suffer the same fate as the deceased. In Union County, we have a no-return policy on armed robbery.

I like the filled with fear part.

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Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and All That

US Airways added flights between CLT and the Mexican resorts of Cabo (five days a week, all but Wednesday and Friday) and Puerto Vallarta (four days a week, no Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday) earlier this month. What’s that all about, you ask?

US Airways now serves 23 destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean from Charlotte. All but two — Mexico City and San Jose, Costa Rica — have beaches nearby. So clearly adding Cabo and Puerto Vallarta doesn’t change the general formula.

It does though highlight the limits of the airline’s expansion to points south. The last time US Airways successfully added a destination in Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean from CLT was over five years ago. That was Bridgetown, Barbados, and it’s a weekend-only destination. When an extra plane became available because of delays in the US Airways/Delta slot swap, the airline determined the best possible use were flights to resorts on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Sure, US Airways has three or four flights a day to both Cabo and Puerto Vallarta from its Phoenix hub, but people in the eastern U.S. tend to go to resorts on the Atlantic, not the Pacific.

Now let’s suppose both these new routes work out and the airline were thinking of adding more flights from CLT to cities in Mexico it already flies to from Phoenix. The only other Mexican cities that get even two flights during a day at least a portion of the year not served from CLT are Guadalajara and Mazatlan. Mazatlan is on the coast, so weekend (seasonal?) service from CLT might be a possibility.

Guadalajara, however, is inland. It’s more of a business center, exactly the sort of market US Airways has typically avoided serving from CLT in the past. Time will tell if the airline changes its business model and tries to make non-beach markets like it work. If not, there’s extremely limited growth potential for US Airways from CLT to points south.

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Meet the New Bosses, Same as the Old Bosses

The Mecklenburg Times does a bang up job of peeling back the issues and people around the recent Rent Seekers Guild trip to Boston. To wit:

Hugh Stevens, a lawyer and president of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, which champions public access to government activity, describes the elected officials’ participation on the trip as a “Catch-22.”

“If they are not discussing public business,” Stevens said, “then why the hell are the taxpayers paying for it?”

Boo-yah!

We also get the full list of those who went on the trip — a who’s who of the Uptown crowd with all the major players represented. Add this detail to the previously reported snorter that the Charlotte business community really did not care that BAC honcho Brian Moynihan has not moved to Charlotte and this was nothing less than a publicly funded lobbying trip.

Worse, our clueless cadre subjected themselves to the rantings of Larry Summers — the one guru most responsible for the insane federal response to financial bubble economics. All in all, the excursion was a disaster for hard-working, average Charlotteans.

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Dead Mall Valuation

$2 million for 512,000 square feet of Eastland. This does not include the four equally dead anchor store properties. It’s also apparently even less than the city offered in the fall.

Where this goes from here is anyone’s guess.

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Catching Up on Jobs Weirdness

Didn’t notice when this happened, but the state employment commission went back and upped Mecklenburg’s workforce number for April — and then told us that the number of jobless actually increased in May. As we’ve noted before, it is an either or deal. Bump up the workforce number to around 462,500 for April and May compared to 461,876 for March and you better get some actual employment growth.

Otherwise you get what Meck got — employment slightly shrinking for May to 414,832 from 414,956 — helping to nudge the county’s unemployment rate to 10.4 from 10.3 percent. Put another way, the number of unemployed in the county grew by 500 from 47,472 to 47,924. Once again — some recovery, eh? Unemployment is off its 54K peak of February, but still roughly double its pre-recession 2008 number.

Given that unemployment rates usually increase in the summer months, I don’t see how Mecklenburg has chance of getting below 10 percent unemployment before the fall. If that is true, local sales tax revenue should continue to be very soft. It has to be — we are still about 29K jobs short of our pre-recession total.

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