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Archive for July 30th, 2011

Charlotte: A Lost Decade

Really thought that coming up with my last entry for Meck Deck would be hard. The latest jobless numbers for Mecklenburg have taken care of that for me — 11.2 percent unemployment officially, then add in a couple more points for reality.

I started the Detroit-on-the-Catawba thing years ago as a half-joke, half-warning when it was clear that local government was assuming boom-time revenues would be the norm. Now it is not a joke. Now Charlotte is Detroit-on-the-Catawba.

Not the Dee-troit of 2011, more like the early 80s when it was obvious that things could not hold yet…local government employees still got their raises (via tax hikes), local power brokers still talked a big game (with nothing but air behind it), and the criminal justice system was failing apart in plain sight (and to point this out was considered not “progressive.”)

In retrospect, winning the arena vote in 2001 was the worst thing that could’ve happened to Charlotte’s forces of limited and sane government. The arena was built anyway — along with all arts toys and a fraudulent NASCAR HOF thrown in for good measure. Plus the Uptown crowd turned even more secretive and conniving — culminating in the orgy of lies that was the 2007 transit tax vote.

Since then deceit and denial have become the hallmark’s of official Charlotte. Last year’s reval process was nothing less than a conspiracy to milk hundreds of millions of dollars out of taxpayers in order to replace transaction taxes that will not ever deliver expected revenues. The transit plan has gone from sad joke to actively hostile to Charlotte’s quality of life. If everything goes according to plan — which likely means another half-cent for transit, as many cavemen pointed out in 2007 would be the case — one and half-billion dollars worth of Blue Line will run inside 485 with UNCC (sans additional parking) at one end and a county-owned liquor store at the other. You just cannot make that up.

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that nothing will change until multiple members of the Uptown crowd go to jail for racketeering. Jim Black was not enough — as his fake $1m. fine proved. Black was the capo who does symbolic time while the Organization hunkers down to keep doing Bidness.

And the business of Charlotte is well and truly giving the average schmoe the Bidness. Keep your wallets in sight and your ammunition ready, friends. You are next.

So long and good luck.

Bonus UPoR: All Things Charlotte? Really? Where have I heard that before? And a countdown ticker for the DNC? Plus a glossy ad deal no doubt. So much for any objective coverage. Hopeless…

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