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Archive for July, 2010

GOP Candidates Open Front on the Border

First off, I think the heds on the accounts of yesterday’s event are very telling.

From Mark Pellin and Pundit House: GOP Contenders Tackle Illegal Immigration and this from the UPoR and Franco Ordoñez: Pendergraph wants laws tougher on immigration.

As you might surmise from that shading, the very last thing the local status quo wants is a Mecklenburg County commission election this November with the issue of illegal immigration at the forefront. A personality-driven obsession that won’t “solve” any of the “pressing needs” of the community — yeah, they’ll do that marginalization trick in a heartbeat. 2..3..4..:

UNC Charlotte Professor Ted Arrington expects the well-known former sheriff to win a seat on the county commission, but he cautioned that Pendergraph should be careful not to push the immigration issue too far.

Arrington said immigration is relevant to voters across the country, but he doesn’t think it’s the most pressing issue among local voters.

Quick Ted, name another issue where the local GOP can and will draw a sharp distinction between themselves and local Democrats. Take your time, but show your work.

In the meantime, a quick answer to this rhetorical dud:

Hector Vaca, a community organizer with Action NC Charlotte, accused the candidates of politicizing the issue by using the term “illegal immigrants.”

“It’s just a conservative buzzword,” Vaca said. “If somebody doesn’t pay their taxes, or steals a loaf of bread, do you call them illegal Americans?”

No, Hector we call them convicts or felons. Like Rick Hendrick, convicted felon. Jim Black, convicted felon. Andrew Reyes, convicted felon. And so on.

And finally, the edit the UPoR rushed out Friday before the afternoon presser by the GOP candidates proved both the potential local political potency of the issue and the disconnect of the Uptown crowd:

Immigration reform is badly needed. We need more secure borders, yes, and we also need a path to legal citizenship for people who want to come to the United States, and are willing to work hard and contribute to this nation. The government shouldn’t be in the business of deporting mothers of young children who get stopped for traffic infractions, or hounding immigrants here legally just because police think they might not be.

This is nothing less than a call for open borders. Forget the state, local, federal cage-match — immigration laws should not be enforced, period. Some folks might disagree with that.

A lot of folks might disagree with that.

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Wendy’s Robbery Suspect on Parole

Zavier Marquis Davis, the man shot by a CMPD officer responding to an armed robbery call at the Wendy’s on Park Road late Thursday night, was on parole for a September 2005 felony armed robbery conviction. In fact Davis, now in stable condition at CMC with gunshot wounds to his legs, faced nine felony armed robbery charges which were consolidated into one charge per standard Mecklenburg County criminal court system operation.

Davis, 25, also received probation on a 2002 misdemeanor B&E conviction. His latest charges are 2 counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, 4 counts of kidnapping, and 1 count of possession of a firearm by a felon. His parole expires in November.

Update: The UPoR catches up to the story without once mentioning the “p” word. We are told that Davis was the subject of a 2007 UPoR story on being a career criminal. Priorities, you see.

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UPoR Biz Section Takes Hit

Talking Biz News reprints yesterday’s announcement that Stella Hopkins and Jen Aronoff are leaving the paper in a few weeks. Hopkins is sliding over the BAC PR shop, which I find fascinating. If Anne Finucane didn’t have a role in this, I’d be amazed. Aronoff is going to law school.

Both had produced some pretty good, ground up reporting in recent months on the banking, housing, development beat. Now the paper is looking to fill those two spots.

MNI: Here’s MNI ‘splaining that everything is A-OK even though revenue is down 6 percent and the chain sold 200K fewer papers the latest Q compared to a year ago.

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And “Justice” For All

The Sudafed patrol is on the job in Caldwell County, saving us from those who might possibly maybe have one-tenth of the raw materials to cook up some meth. Meth.

Meanwhile, in Denver, someone just cut to the chase, using scare-quotes to opine on the state of jurisprudence there. It was not noticed by LEOs or officers of the court for days.

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Make The Vue DNC HQ

If speculators who put down $25K up to ten years ago to “buy” a unit in Uptown’s The Vue condo high-rise are balking at closing on the units, why not look for a win-win.

Have the convention host committee buy them out — at a discount, natch — and make The Vue ground central for DNC VIPs. Huh? Huh? That way the developers can book some revenue, ramp up the visibility of the building, and re-set prices to reflect real estate crash realities without losing too much face.

Is that a genius idea or what?

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Charlotte’s New Normal for Employment

If you know how to decode and supplement it, Cheris Hodges’ toe-dip into the murky waters of local employment in Creative Loafing is very revealing. Turns out Official Charlotte has moved the goal posts on jobs. In fact we evidently are settling for fields goals from now on.

Hodges starts out by asking if we keep seeing all these announcements for new jobs coming to town, why is regional unemployment still 11.1 percent? The simple boring answer is that takes time to replace 54,000 jobs in 100 or 250 job increments. But Hodges instead trudges to the Rent Seekers Guild and the city development officials for answers — and gets some gold.

The Guild does not know — advising it’ll take “at least a year” for things for improve materially on the local employment rate. The city seems more specific, if guarded, five years until full employment. But what is full employment? Quite a bit less than it once was for Charlotte:

Brad Richardson, economic development manager for the city of Charlotte, said what we’re experiencing right now is a jobless recovery. … “The bad news is, it may be a five-year window before we see full employment, which is somewhere around that 5 percent, 6 percent number,” he said. “We have a long way to go.”

With 5.5 to 6 percent unemployment, this standard of full employment is roughly double the local unemployment rate during the big boom years. From 1994 thru 2000 state employment commission data say local unemployment averaged 3.3 percent. Then came the 9/11 shocks which slowed the national economy and saw the local unemployment rate bump above 6 percent in 2002 and 2003. Then from 2004 thru the start of the recession in mid-2008 the rate fell back down to 5 percent.

All rolled up and including at least 10 quarters of recession, from 1994 thru 2008 the metro jobless rate averaged 4.48 percent — but now normalcy is defined as unemployment rates up to one-third higher than that? We sure about that? Because if we are it portends some big things for local government.

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Panthers’ Robinson on PUP

Six players will not be practicing when the Carolina Panthers begin trading camp today. Five of those on the Panthers’ active-physically unable to perform (PUP) list — RB Jonathan Stewart, RT Jeff Otah, DT Louis Leonard, WR Steve Smith, and LB Thomas Davis — are on the mend from injuries.

The sixth player is offensive lineman Duke Robinson, who failed the conditioning test. Robinson being out of shape shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Check out what CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com had to say about Robinson, who the Panthers took in the 5th round of the 2009 draft:

Work Habits: Robinson needs to have his offseason program monitored, as he does not show great work ethic (tends to get soft and overweight when not playing ball). He must keep his weight in check, as he has speed and stamina issues when he weighs more than 340 pounds (has ballooned to 380-plus pounds in the past). He will never be known as a great practice player and needs a “kick in the pants” every now and then (inability to follow team rules led to him being benched for the 2008 Chattanooga game and suspended for part of the Texas Christian contest). GRADE: 5.3

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Slot-Swap Deader Than Dead

Yeah, we knew that US Airways and Delta Air Line’s proposed slot-swap centered mainly on Washington’s Reagan National and NYC’s LaGuardia airport was pretty much dead after the DOT required the airlines to sell off some slots as a requirement for approving the deal. There remained the possibility though that the two airlines might achieve some of the same objectives — increase Delta’s presence at LGA, and US Airways’ position at DCA — by simply leasing some (but not all) of the slots that would have been traded to each other.

And that actually seems to have been the plan. US Airways did load into reservation systems last month plans for four new routes from DCA — Montreal, Ottawa, Birmingham, and Tallahassee — effective October 3 but never issued a press release announcing the service. The source of the slots for these routes was not obvious at the time, especially in the longer term.

The answer has become clear the in last day or so: Delta today put out this press release today announcing seven new routes from DCA. And those four new US Airways routes from Reagan National no longer are showing up. So it would seem that whatever lease deal US Airways and Delta had worked out is now kaput. Will have to see what impact, if any, this has at CLT.

CLT-GRU update: Another sign, of course, that the slot swap was dead (but not necessarily deader) was US Airways proposed deal to lease daily slots at Sao Paulo, Brazil, from United for four years. US Airways had previously sourced Sao Paulo rights from Delta as part of the slot swap. No other airlines have objected to the United transaction, which makes it much more likely that flights will begin in January.

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BAC: The Anti-Bank

Several things to tie together here. One, banks do not lend money anymore. At least not to the private sector.

So how do they make money? Well, if you are BAC you book revenue by fleecing your customers for various services. Here’s BAC inventing the perpetual revenue engine in the form of a $30 charge every six months to keep a stopped check stopped.

And here’s BAC deciding that if it does not have a maximum penalty APR it charges credit card customers, it does not need to tell them what the default APR might be. That is about 58 million card-holders left in the dark via that wrinkle.

Finally, the fascist roots of such non-disclosure and government dependence. Simply, BAC does it and gets away with it because the Fed does it and gets away with it. Our financial system has become opaque and authoritarian as opposed to transparent and market-driven. If everything is done by fiat and ultimately back-stopped by the barrel of a gun, then of course you’ll take the credit assigned to you or do without.

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Gorman: “Are we willing to bus for diversity?”

I keep going back and forth. Is Pete Gorman an evil genius or an idiot savant?

Honestly, where to land after Gorman essentially cut the lights on — and the legs out from under — the re-assignment via obfuscation scam his board had been running for the past few months? Gorman even said out loud that busing for socio-economic balance could cause suburban families to flee CMS — “the deselection factor” in CMS-ese.

That is putting it politely. The path the board was on led two places — getting sued and going broke. Getting sued as the board was basically talking about returning to a race-based busing scheme. And going broke because suburban families would not have just routed around CMS in response — they would route around Mecklenburg County, taking their property taxes with them.

The board, and probably Pete Gorman too, has no conception that surrounding counties are fundamentally difference places than in 1999. They are viable options with infrastructure, shopping, neighborhoods, and functioning schools. But I surmise they are about to find out as CMS teachers jerked around by the EdShed might have an August surprise in the form of bailing on the system for those neighboring counties.

In the meantime, the priority-diversity circus is in a spotlight it did not want, with the end goal fully illuminated. Evil? Lucky? Both?

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