Comment and analysis on all things CharlotteRSS

Archive for September, 2010

… And Justice For Michael Harvey?

Now what?

Murder charges against Michael Harvey will be impossible to sustain given the evidence that has emerged in the Valerie Hamilton case. In fact, it is no longer clear — if it ever was — why charges have not been filed against other individuals who saw Hamilton in a distressed state and evidently helped Harvey move an incapacitated Hamilton in and out of vehicles.

Then this altogether bizarre twist:

In the warrants, police say one of Harvey’s roommates told them that Harvey was a known drug user who sold heroin and cocaine. The warrants also say a woman who lived in Harvey’s house overdosed on heroin and was hospitalized the same night Hamilton was seen there. .. Another of his roommates told investigators she didn’t see Harvey or Hamilton that night because the roommate had overdosed on heroin at about 1 a.m. and was taken to the hospital.

Come again? Exactly how many people were ODing on heroin that night with Michael Harvey? Did any of these people know Hamilton?

Finally, the curtain is peeled back a little Concord Police Chief Merl Hamilton and things are not as they appeared. It is tough to say, but Chief Hamilton probably was not exactly surprised to wind up on Good Morning America pleading for help after his daughter had been found dead. The question is, did Chief Hamilton think in his heart of hearts that a murderer was on the loose — or just some unlucky addict who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Sounds to me like Chief Hamilton is still in denial:

By phone, Chief Merl Hamilton told NewsChannel 36 that he was aware of much of the information in the warrants and affidavits.

He declined to comment on whether his daughter had met Harvey in rehab or if she had even ever been in rehab.

Hamilton said, “I have spent 29 years in police work never blaming the victim and I am not about to start now.”

No one wants to blame the victim, but in matters of addiction, there is usually an enabler or two. If the toxicology report shows opiates in Valerie Hamilton system, her addiction would be the primary cause of death, not Michael Harvey.

Bonus Huh: This case still badly needs a map and a timeline.

Read full article » 1 Comment »

Slot Swap Redux

It’s back. US Airways and Delta Air Lines’ proposal for a LaGuardia/Reagan National slot swap that is. The two airlines are claiming that the Southwest Airlines/AirTran merger eliminates the antitrust problems. We’ll have to wait and see what the DOT says about that. AirTran’s DCA and LGA slot holdings are close to but still slightly less than what the DOT wanted the two airlines to sell off when the swap was first considered.

Read full article » Comments Off on Slot Swap Redux

Montgomery Trial Closing

We’ll know more after closing arguments today, but it would appear from afar that the prosecution has done enough to win a second-degree murder conviction. And let us immediately add that such predictions are built on sand. Juries usually do what they think will please the presiding judge — and Judge Forrest “Don” Bridges gave them a big hint by allowing a 2nd degree option.

The forensic evidence has not been a slam dunk for the state, leaving just enough room for doubt. However, Demeatrius Montgomery has done absolutely nothing to claim the benefit of that doubt by choosing to act like a stone-cold, remorseless killer in the courtroom. If the state does not paint him as such today with reference to his mute routine, I’ll be absolutely shocked.

Still, the defense has ready-made grounds for appeal on the evidence bumbling of CMPD Det. Arvin Fant and can claim something a victory in taking capital murder off the table while putting 2nd degree on it.

Read full article » 3 Comments »

Glock, Stock, and Barrel

Pizza Hut robbers have been IDd.

What do you bet they had priors, probably felonies, and possibly were out on probation?


The two men killed – Gregory James Hardy and Dauntrae Wallace – were both 21-year-old convicted felons, one on probation and one awaiting trial on unrelated charges.

Do tell. And do understand that unless and until local judges start treating property crime as a crime — instead of restitution on the down-low, quick and dirty social justice — we’ll have more sentences handed down via .40 cal bullet holes.

Read full article » 2 Comments »

CMS Nukes Waddell, Other Horrors

Like putting 5-year-olds on school buses with 15-year-olds.

But to be honest, I cannot make heads nor tails out of what — exactly — CMS is trying accomplish by shuttering 11 buildings and reworking, oh, one-third of the district.

Stay tuned.

Read full article » 2 Comments »

Southwest Comes To Town Q&A

Did some more research and slept on the Southwest/AirTran announcement. Let’s just say, there are a lot of subtle ramifications to this. So here’s a Q&A to try to explain what’s up, and how it may affect Charlotte and the Carolinas.

Q. Why is Southwest Airlines buying AirTran Airways?
A. Couple of reasons. Southwest is weak in the eastern U.S. in general and the southeast in particular. AirTran’s biggest operation is in Atlanta, and will fill that hole. Also, buying AirTran strengthens Southwest in Baltimore, Boston and LaGuardia and gets Southwest into Reagan National.

Q. Why is AirTran selling?
A. Limited growth prospects. They are profitable (for now) but nobody can really figure out what they are trying to do.

Q. How well do the two airlines’ business models match?
A. Somewhat. Both are low-fare carriers. But there are also a lot of differences. AirTran offers assigned seating and has business class. Southwest does not and the combined carrier will not. AirTran flies internationally. Southwest doesn’t currently. AirTran is willing to fly to serve domestic markets with as little as three flights a week; for Southwest the buying is more like eight flights a day.

Q. How many destinations do the two airlines serve?
A. Southwest currently serves 69 destinations and has announced plans for three more (Newark, Charleston, SC, Greenville-Spartanburg). AirTran flies to 32 of those destinations — plus 38 places Southwest doesn’t serve.

Q. 38 destinations?
A. Yup, though you might want to think of it as Atlanta and Reagan National plus 36 other places. ATL and DCA are clearly mentioned in the merger press information, the others aren’t. Charlotte’s the biggest market of the other 36.

Q. How many of those other 36 stay and how many would Southwest drop?
A. That’s one of the big unanswered questions at this stage. Southwest claims that they would keep most if not all except for Dallas/Ft. Worth (which they are not allowed to serve) but they would say that at this stage. The helpful aspect is that virtually all the unique to AirTran destinations have service to ATL, BWI, or MCO, are of which would be big anyway for the combined carrier. That said, some are small and some are near existing Southwest stations, and are likely to be cut.

Q. How many flights a day do these unique to AirTran destinations have?
A. Typically three to five, though eight aren’t even daily.

Q. If Southwest decided to keep a destination, would it also add flights and destinations?
A. In many cases, almost certainly yes. And to name names, Chicago Midway, St. Louis (for places in the Midwest), and Tampa are high up on the list of possible additions.

Q. What’s kept Southwest from coming to Charlotte in the past?
A. Businesses rarely state why they aren’t coming to town. That said, Charlotte is easily big enough, airport delays are not a factor, and CLT is cheap to operate out of. The constraint is thought to be gate availability and/or the market’s competitive climate plus Southwest having bigger fish to fry.

Q. Isn’t Southwest mainly a point-to-point operation that has no hubs?
A. Wrong. Particularly in the eastern U.S., Southwest has a number of focus cities that also allow for connections. The largest of these, Midway, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, and Baltimore, act as de facto rolling hubs. Overall, think of it as several small hubs rather than one or two huge hubs. This service pattern makes it pretty easy to predict where Southwest will fly to from a particular city.

Q. Is there a model for what possible Southwest service from CLT might look like?
A. Yes. It’s the airline’s service to Raleigh/Durham, which is a pretty similar market. Over this past summer, the airline offered 31 flights a day from RDU:

7 x Baltimore (6 x since August)
4 x Chicago Midway (3 x since August)
1 x Denver
1 x Ft. Lauderdale
1 x Las Vegas
4 x Nashville
4 x Orlando (3 x August – March)
4 x Philadelphia (3 x November – March)
1 x Phoenix
1 x St. Louis
3 x Tampa

AirTran had four or flights a day to Atlanta.

Q. How many AirTran flights are there to Charlotte now?
A. A total of five to Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. It was up to seven over the summer.

Q. Didn’t AirTran use to have more flights from Charlotte?
A. Yes. They have had as many as 11 flights a day in the past.

Q. So what’s the maximum limit on Southwest flights from CLT?
A. AirTran has access to two gates on A Concourse, which would allow Southwest to have as many as 18 to 20 flights a day from Charlotte.

Q. What destinations?
A. Baltimore and Atlanta are givens and at higher frequencies than is currently the case. Orlando and Tampa are likely. You may well see one flight a day to one or more of Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix eventually. The big question marks are Midway, Nashville, and Philly. Hard to get those all in given the gate limit. Not sure they would all work in any case.

Q. Is it certain that Southwest will soon have 15 to 20 flights a day from CLT?
A. No. They could easily operate fewer flights. They have a lot on their plate and aircraft availability will be at a premium.

Q. What existing big Southwest operation is most likely to be negatively affected by the merger?
A. Nashville is vulnerable. Atlanta could easily take over the connecting function that Nashville now performs.

Q. When does the gate limit to Southwest growth at CLT disappear?
A. Not soon. A, C, and D concourses are all built out. Jerry Orr may talk about an E Concourse extension as an answer, but it isn’t. B Concourse could be extended, adding gates for US Airways mainline but also perhaps allowing United to move over there, and thus freeing up gates on A for Southwest. Whether US Airways goes along with that remains to be seen. Beyond that, a new international concourse is planned, which would free up gates on D. This though is five years or so out.

Q. Any chance Southwest turns CLT into one of its focus cities?
A. It’s extremely unlikely. They already have enough big stations relatively nearby — Atlanta, Baltimore, Nashville, Orlando, and Tampa.

Q. Will Southwest acquiring AirTran lower fares out of CLT?
A. Maybe. A lot depends on how many flights a day they offer. Fares out of Charlotte are a bit above average (14th highest of 127 top airports in 1Q2010) but are no longer absurdly high, thanks in part to AirTran and jetBlue. At best a few percentage point drop could happen, though some analysts question if even that will come about. Note that a big part of AirTran’s problem is attracting high-yield passengers. CLT-BWI fares, for example, are already in the basement.

Q. Can US Airways effectively compete in Charlotte after Southwest comes to the town? Or is this the beginning of the end of US Airway’s hub here?
A. Neither Southwest nor AirTran have been able to make much headway in Philadelphia, which is pretty much just a big spoke plus a few Florida cities and a couple other odds and ends. There’s no reason to expect the merged carriers to be able to undermine US Airways here.

Q. Didn’t Southwest announce they were going to serve Charleston, SC and Greenville/Spartanburg? What’s up with that?
A. Good question. Back on May 11, Southwest announced they would begin service to GSP and CHS in 2011. They did not give an exact date though nor announce where they would fly to from those two cities. Since then, Southwest has announced Newark with a define start date (March). Not sure it makes sense to begin service to GSP and/or CHS until after the merger as Atlanta may well be critical to serving both destinations.

Q. Doesn’t AirTran serve Asheville?
A. Yes, it does. It flies five times a week to Orlando and offers no connections beyond Orlando. Whether this service survives most merger is extremely questionable. It’s not that far from AVL to GSP, and neither is exactly a huge market, so it could easily be one or the other. Probably GSP though.

Q. Any chance Southwest comes to Greensboro any time soon?
A. No. Too much on their plate and they have GSO bracketed on either side.

Read full article » Comments Off on Southwest Comes To Town Q&A

Blog Freaks CMPD Brass

The Cedar Post blog, which is tightly wired into the local law enforcement community, appears to be the target of a takedown order from a law firm representing a high ranking CMPD officer.

A September 21 letter citing material posted on the blog has been sent to several current or former CMPD officers, but oddly not to the website administrator. The letter, from attorney Derek Adler of DeVore, Acton, & Stafford, states that the blog has posted “longstanding untruths” about Maj. Veronica Foster and threatens legal action unless the posts are removed and “destroyed” by October 5th.

Read full article » Comments Off on Blog Freaks CMPD Brass

Open Season on CLT Restaurant Workers?

First, kudos to the Pizza Hut employee who plugged two would-be robbers last night in East Charlotte. They went Under The Roof, ended up Under The Ground. Good.

What do you bet they had priors, probably felonies, and possibly were out on probation?

One of the would-be robbers of the Wendy’s down Charlottetown way early Monday was out on probation. Dion Lamar Williams, 19, was sentenced to 48 months probation in September 2008 for felony armed robbery, according to state correction records.

Williams and two other men were arrested in connection with that heist gone wrong.

Read full article » 9 Comments »

Dems Bail on County Commission Debate

Think it has anything to do with the attention the property tax issue has suddenly received? Yet another county social service fraud?

At-large Mecklenburg County Commissioners Reject Debate Plans

For Immediate Release Monday, Sept. 27, 2010

Contact: Carol Gifford: 215-872-9239 (cell)

Charlotte, NC — Democratic Mecklenburg County Commissioners Dan Murrey, Jennifer Roberts and Harold Cogdell, Jr. have declined to participate in a debate tentatively scheduled for Monday, September 27, 2010 noting that debate organizers failed to provide accurate information.

The debate was to be sponsored by Speak Out Charlotte, a known conservative talk show on cable access channel 21, moderated by Republican former county commissioner Jim Puckett.

The Democratic at-large commissioners issued the following joint statement:

In originally agreeing to participate in this debate, the hosts represented to us that it would be taped for rebroadcast on TV News 14, the Government Channel and other local news outlets in its entirety. However, the news director of News 14, when contacted, stated that no such agreement exists and he was not aware of the event.

Given this misrepresentation and the show’s history of promoting single perspective viewpoints, we lack the confidence that this debate will provide the public with any meaningful opportunity upon which to compare and contrast policy differences between candidates.

We have all agreed to participate in the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters to be aired on WTVI. We hope that Mecklenburg County voters
will watch that event to better acquaint themselves with the candidates and their positions. We are also willing to participate in additional debates
with a neutral venue, a professional moderator and a balanced format.

Dan Murrey

Jennifer Roberts

Harold Cogdell, Jr.

Towns with 3000 residents have more robust, actual public policy debates than Charlotte does. Just sad.

Update: The debate will go on — with empty chairs. I am of two minds about this approach. One, yeah a few hours before an event you get what you deserve. But two, that lopsided reality will convince some the deck was indeed stacked against Dems.

Update II: The UPoR take.

Update III: And they’re baaack. Dems change directions again. I swear it was the result of this blog post by the UPoR edit page this afternoon declaring that, “The Democrats don’t look good on this one. Pulling out the day of a debate is bad form.” The UPoR should tell them to wear dog poo on their heads just to see what would happen. Forty percent chance they’d do it.

Read full article » 1 Comment »

Southwest Airlines To Serve CLT

Southwest Airlines today announced that they are acquiring AirTran Airways. And with that move, Southwest will enter the Charlotte market.

Analysis: This is a game changing move in U.S. aviation. Southwest Airlines was weakest in the southeast. Buying AirTran, with a good-sized operation in Atlanta, fills that hole. AirTran offers LUV some nice side pieces as well, including extra slots at LaGuardia and entry in Washington’s Reagan National. AirTran also has a fair number of flights flights from Baltimore-Washington and Orlando, both of which are key Southwest bases.

While I could imagine certain destinations being dropped after the merger, Charlotte is very likely to remain. It’s the biggest market Southwest doesn’t serve behind only Atlanta.

Possible CLT impact: The big constraint for getting Southwest to come to CLT has generally been thought to be gates. AirTran makes not particularly heavy use of two gates on A Concourse here. This past summer they offered a daily flight to Orlando, two flights a day to BWI, and up to four flights a day to Atlanta. Southwest could operate up to 15 to 18 flights a day from those two gates. Look for Southwest in time to add extra flights to BWI and Orlando, probably a Tampa flight or two, and a couple of flights to Chicago Midway plus maybe a daily flight to one or more of Denver, Phoenix, or Las Vegas. Nashville is also a possibility.

Read full article » 3 Comments »
September 2010
« Aug   Oct »

You are currently browsing the The Meck Deck weblog archives for September, 2010.

RSS Feeds


JLF Network Websites & Blogs