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Archive for October, 2010

Butler RB Charged with Death by Vehicle

hsHighly recruited Butler High RB Deion Walker has been charged by CMPD with death by vehicle and driving without a license in connection with an accident which killed a motorcyclist Saturday afternoon.

Nathan Scott Hartis, of Midland, died at the scene.

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Judge to Voters: Don’t Be Dopes

Super. It takes a federal judge to order the NC Elections Board to hand out a flier telling voters to make extra-special sure that they actually voted the way they wanted to vote.

How absurd.

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County Loses Workers, Jobs in September

The latest state employment figures show that both the Mecklenburg County labor force and total employment number fell in September compared to August.

Almost 5300 workers disappeared from the county labor force in September, going from 462,577 to 457,286. At the same time the total number of jobs in the county fell from 414,346 to 413,477 — a loss of 869 jobs. But because of the much bigger contraction in the labor force the county unemployment rate fell from 10.4 percent to 9.6 percent for the month, the first dip below 10 percent since January 2009.

Thus far in 2010, total employment peaked in May with 415,696 jobs — 2200 more than in September. May also saw the largest work force, almost 464K workers.

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Touch-Screen Vote Fraud Test

Here’s my bright-line — informed by years of “unintended acceleration” and tech support horror stories: Those who assert touch-screen errors must meet one of the following tests 1) Own and use a cell phone 2) Use an ATM at least twice a week 3) Only write paper checks for Girl Scout cookies.

Sorry, but the simplest explanation for perceived errors is that voters are leaning or bracing themselves on the screens, triggering boxes in the process. The possibility that machines “default” to straight ticket Democrat is crazed on its face — but for that reason cannot be completely ruled out. Because the vote machine business is a closed loop and not subject to normal technological checks, balances, and competition, there is no telling what kind of half-assed unintentional coding errors lurk in those black boxes.

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Delta Air Lines drops two SC, one VA destinations

That would be Florence (FLO) and Hilton Head (HHH) in South Carolina. Plus also Lynchburg, VA. (LYH). In all three cases, the communities’ only remaining scheduled air service will be to CLT.

And that’s also where it gets interesting in the future. Florence, Hilton Head, and Lynchburg are served almost exclusively from Charlotte on turboprops seating either 37 or 50 passengers. Most of those aircraft, which are operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Airways, are ancient, often dating back to the 1980s. US Airways hasn’t announced plans to replace these aircraft, in part because it depends upon scope clauses with its pilots union. And we know what sort of a mess US Airways’ pilots union situation is.

Bonus observation: In Hilton Head’s case, the airport’s short runway was also a big factor in Delta leaving. 4,300 foot runways are just too short for anything but turboprops, and then only with a weight restriction.

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Fed Hands Country to the Banks

It is official. We all just work for the banks now.

There is no other conclusion to draw from Fed chief Ben Bernanke asking Wall Street to tell him how much debt the Fed should buy. The consensus — at least $1 trillion worth, possibly two.

This is how Zero Hedge nut-shelled it:

And, incidentally, since the “independent” Treasury will be forced to issue more debt to fill all the demand for $2 trillion over the next 12 months, as there is not enough debt in the pipeline to fill $2TN worth of demand and prevent the entire curve pancaking at zero (i.e., the 30 year yielding precisely 0.001%) it also means that the government will be forced to come up with more deficit programs, which also means that primary dealers will now also determine US fiscal policy.

Which begs the question, why is anyone pretending that the political vote on November 3 matters at all?

Below are the 18 banks that, in a completely separate vote, will henceforth rule America, regardless of what particular puppets end up in the Congress and Senate:

BNP Paribas Securities Corp.
Banc of America Securities LLC
Barclays Capital Inc.
Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc.
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Daiwa Capital Markets America Inc.
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
HSBC Securities (USA) Inc.
Jefferies & Company, Inc.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated
Nomura Securities International, Inc.
RBC Capital Markets Corporation
RBS Securities Inc.
UBS Securities LLC.

The kicker for Charlotte is that none of this guarantees that BAC does not end up in de facto FDIC receivership, depending on exactly how Fed funny-money lands and how aggressive wronged parties are in demanding closure for their Countrywide wounds. It is clear, however, that actual policy prescription to fix all this is nothing more than using the Fed and the Treasury to mask trillions in losses by the money center banks with the hope that somehow this leads to renewed “economic growth.”

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Peter Gorman: Crazy or Genius?

I’m going to retire from having an opinion on the topic.

Just the other day I was convinced that Harding High had been Sneaky Pete’s actual target for closing all the time — much older plant than Waddell, a magnet, etc. Then I read this in The Charlotte Post:

Scores of students and parents from Harding came out wearing school colors and waving handmade signs. Their message was simple “Leave our School Alone” and “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Some even suggested CMS now stands for “Can’t Make Sense,” because the district would thwart academic success by dismantling Harding’s program.

Harding student body President Reshard McElrath said, “I feel that we were unfairly targeted. I think they put Phillip O. Berry on the same street as us for a reason because they want to close us down and move all the students [there].”

McElrath is the grandson of CMS board member Richard McElrath. He said that because of the late of the recommendation, he didn’t have an opportunity to talk to his grandfather, but planned to do so.

I mean, seriously? Why would anyone associated with CMS think trying to close Harding would not be met with an absolute firestorm of opposition?

Nah, let’s get back to basics: money. The linchpin of the Harding vs. Waddell deal is coming up with a landing place for the Smith Language Academy. CMS wants to deep-six the Smith space off of Tyvola Road. A 27-acre space that just happens to be a couple hundred feet from a light rail stop.


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Did BAC Try to Buy DNC 2012 with Loan?

PJM roots into FEC filings to discover that Bank of America loaned the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $32m. last month while asking for nothing more than future contributions as collateral. Such de facto mailing list valuations are an extremely flimsy basis for securing a loan. PJM asks:

Were the Bank of America deals legitimate, arms-length transactions, or were they cozy sweetheart deals in which nothing was really put up to secure a $32 million loan?

But one question not asked is the connection between the loan and Charlotte’s ongoing pursuit of the DNC’s 2012 convention. We already know that BAC CEO Brian Moynihan has been called President Obama’s favorite banker and that the bank’s exec team — like the rest of the Uptown crowd — is full-on behind landing the convention for Banktown USA. Plus we have ample local precedent for BAC throwing millions in sweetheart loans at favored endeavors — the US National Log Flume Ride and France Family Convention Center Annex being two glittering, irrefutable examples.

BAC has yet to respond to PJM inquires with details about the loans — but you know what is coming. BAC will say there is a legit business purpose to the loans and any suggestion to the contrary is counter-factual.

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Whistling Past the Reval Graveyard


Area home prices fell 3.4 percent in August from August 2009.


…Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander told commissioners that preliminary figures show that overall market values of properties are up by about 12 percent over 2003 levels, based on sales occurring since 2009

Hello? Doesn’t this tell us that the average Mecklenburg County homeowner: 1) Faces a 10 to 15 percent property tax hike in 2011, absent a property tax rate cut? 2) Could be paying 20 to 30 percent too much in property tax, considering that 2009 values in no way represent current values — or near term future values?

Remember, I caught holy hell for suggesting that all taxpayers should seek the Afshin Ghazi 26-percent downward tax-value adjustment deal from the tax assessor’s office next year.

I do not see any possible alternative. If you do not challenge your value, you will probably end up paying way too much in property tax from 2011 on.

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Three Must Read Bloomberg Stories

Folks you just cannot begin to understand Charlotte’s economic future without reference to the issues raised in these stories.

Bernanke Asset Purchases Risk Unleashing 1970s Inflation Genie

Fed Won’t Join Bank High Court Appeal on Crisis Loans

Shrinking Bank Revenue Signals Dawn of ‘Worst’ Growth Decade

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