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Archive for November, 2011

DNC Dinged

The state legislators have finally hit on the biggest issue here — hiring outside firms to do the DNC work rather than Charlotte firms when perfectly capable companies exist here.

The resolution asks the DNC to refrain from hiring workers and companies from outside North Carolina when qualified businesses or workers are available within the state.

It’s almost a bigger deal than any preference for unionized labor. Almost every firm hired so far has been from out of town with a local company partner for cover doing minor work. This is not the local economic boom we were promised in return for putting up with the inconvenience of the DNC.




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On News 14 later today

Pete Kaliner swung by earlier today to film an interview on American Airline’s bankruptcy filing. Story should be up by 5pm.

Update: And the link.

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Are they Serious? Charlotte Observer and Stanford Try to Pass Off White Flight as Class Warfare

Try reading this propaganda from the Charlotte Observer with a straight face.

The middle class just couldn't take Charlotte's big tax, high crime, crappy school liberalism any more.

The middle class in Charlotte is supposedly shrinking, the paper claims, because of a growing income gap between the rich and the poor.

“Charlotte’s poor and affluent neighborhoods have grown dramatically in recent decades, evidence of a widening income gap, while middle-class communities are shrinking,” the paper read.

Uh, no. As in hell no. They can’t be serious.

To arrive at this conclusion, the Observer and Stanford University twisted Charlotte’s demographic reality into an unrecognizable mangle in an article over the weekend. The propaganda here is the same stuff the media and the Obama campaign (sorry, that was redundant) have been spinning for months. The evil rich are destroying the middle class and only the rich and poor are left. Ergo we need class warfare and to punish the rich by redistributing the wealth. It’s Obama’s main — heck only — line for this election, and now universities, the Observer and other Democrat Party subsidiaries are cranking out cooked studies like this one to support it. The reality, at least in Charlotte, is another story entirely.

The middle class isn’t shrinking here, as the Observer and Stanford claim, because of some insidious, growing income gap between poor and rich created by rich greed, but because Charlotte elites, particularly those on the school board, declared war on the middle class aboout 15 years ago and launched a massive wave of middle class white flight no one will acknowledge.

Charlotte’s “missing” middle class can be found in York County, SC, and Union County, where they moved to avoid Mecklenburg’s taxes, schools and legendary crime problems. Many of them didn’t actually flee, but instead skipped over the county entirely when they moved here, locating outside and then driving back in. You can see the evidence of this on our clogged freeways as everyone commutes.

The biggest secret of the last decade is that the explosive growth Charlotte leaders were so proud of — and that they liked to pretend was an influx of white,  affluent bankers attracted by Charlotte’s fabulous social amenities — was actually the opposite, white flight accompanied by an even larger surge of low income people moving here. I began tracking the overwhelming evidence of this screamingly obvious phenomenon about a decade ago, mainly because no one else would do it. Here’s how bad white and middle class flight from the county had become by 2006, from a piece I wrote that year:

Since 2001, CMS had added about 20,000 additional kids to its rolls. But while the numbers of students of every other race have exploded, the big secret that no one dares speak of is that the total number of white kids in the system has stayed almost exactly the same. In 2001, there were 46,749. This year, there are 46,741.

Of the roughly 5,000 kids CMS added this year, just 189 were white. Compare that to Union County next door, which added 1,800 white kids this year while the counties around us added a total of nearly 4,000 and you begin to get a picture of what’s happening here. White middle and upper-middle class parents are bypassing our school system by the thousands.

For much of the last decade until the recession, the surrounding counties were adding a total of 4,000 to 5,000 additional middle class kids a year (about 10 percent were African-American or Hispanic).

Meanwhile, 26,000 middle class individuals fled middle ring neighborhoods for outside the county — a trend completely ignored by the Observer — not because the rich oppressed them, but because crime was so bad.

By 2005, with the economy still booming, this was obvious. Consider this from a piece I did on it:

When 26,000 people disappear, you’d think someone would notice. In the space of just a decade, that’s exactly what happened. Nearly 10,000 white people packed up the moving boxes and abandoned what until recently were solid, diverse middle-class neighborhoods along a four-mile wide stretch of land between Albemarle and Monroe Road. Like clockwork, they were replaced nearly one for one by Hispanic and African-American newcomers. Across the county, in another census tract between Little Rock Road and I-85, another startling transformation took place. In the space of less than a decade, 2,000 white residents fled the solid, diverse middle-class neighborhoods in that area, too.

It’s a phenomenon that’s occurring in neighborhood after neighborhood in the county’s middle ring, the once strongly middle-class suburban space between uptown and the far-flung suburbs. Between 1990 and 2000, a net 26,000 white, middle-class residents moved out ofthese middle-ring neighborhoods, a staggering trend that continues today.

It’s the classic lead-in to white flight. Just ask the folks in Chicago. First whites fled middle-ring suburbs for far flung suburbs, leaving behind depressed property values and rising crime in the neighborhoods they abandoned. As the blight spread, they abandoned those far-flung suburbs and pressed even further out. Then came bright flight, where middle class African-Americans and Hispanics begin to abandon middle-ring suburbs as well.

Stanford and the Observer claim that poor neighborhoods are growing in Charlotte, implying that the evil rich are somehow creating more poor, or that the middle class has now become poor.

The Stanford study hints at an underlying complaint by Occupy Wall Street protesters – that there are two Americas, and people are upset about the division.

The 140 percent increase in families in poor neighborhoods was larger than the national average of about 100 percent, said Sean Reardon, an associate professor of education at Stanford who led the research.

The number of poor here HAS exploded, but it has nothing to do with income distribution among the classes changing or the middle class becoming poor. It is because Charlotte has become a national mecca for the poor, importing more of them over the last decade than almost anywhere else in the country, in part because our social services were so generous.

Between 2000 and 2008, or right up until the beginning of the Great Recession, the Charlotte region had the second highest growth in poverty in the nation according to the Brookings Institute. We jumped from 123,000 impoverished people to 233,000 in less  than a decade, a study of census data by the Brookings Institute showed. That same study ranked Charlotte first in the nation in the increase in the number of poor children living here, from 40,000 at the beginning of the decade to 87,000. This wasn’t because they suddenly became poor. It was because they moved here.

As the left-leaning but demographically accurate Brookings Institute pointed out repeatedly during the last decade, Charlotte became a destination city for (mostly) poor minorities in particular over the last decade, as I documented in this piece in 2010:

The city has become so diverse that non-Hispanic whites have now officially obtained minority status in Charlotte, making up just 49.1 percent of the population, a trend that was unthinkable as late as 2000.

What is going on here? Brookings described Charlotte as one of the top Hispanic destination cities in the nation with the second fastest growing Hispanic and Asian population in the country, according to the report. (Brookings combined the two groups in its stats. Given that the Asian population is still tiny here, it’s almost entirely the Hispanic population that is driving this trend.)

In that time period, the Charlotte area’s Hispanic population more than doubled, jumping by more than 40,000 to 80,200. The new Brookings report also lists Charlotte as a destination city for African-Americans, a trend Brookings first noted earlier in the decade as part of what it called the “New Great Migration” of black Americans back to the South. A staggering 94,171 African-Americans moved here in just eight years, making the Charlotte area the sixth hottest relocation spot in the nation for them, after Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and the Washington, D.C., area.

 Now do you understand why they are holding the Democratic National Convention here?

So essentially what the Observerand Stanford have actually proved here is not that some insidious income gap is growing, but that Charlotte’s affluent, shiny-shoed liberals won’t live next to the only other group of people left in Charlotte — poor minorities.

That sounds like a personal problem to me. Whatever the case, it’s not one that requires income redistribution to fix.






In an interview with Reuters, Reardon said the Stanford study hints at an underlying complaint by Occupy Wall Street protesters – that there are two Americas, and people are upset about the division.

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American Airlines files for Chapter 11

Not a surprise really, as they have been losing money for years. The big issues American Airlines (AA) will want to address while in bankruptcy are their labor costs and the scope clause on their regional flying, with the aim of adding more large regional jets. They will also want to reject leases on aircraft that are at unfavorable rates or are obsolescent — and that could cover a significant chunk of the aircraft American and its American Eagle regional subsidiary flies.

CLT impact, short run: AA flights from Charlotte are:
Dallas Ft. Worth: Five times a day (six times a day from December 15) on 140-seat MD-80s
New York LaGuardia: Five times a day on 66-seat CRJ700 regional jets.
Chicago O’Hare: Five times a day on 44-seat or 50-seat regional jets
Miami: Five times a day on 50-seat regional jets

Since American’s fleet will almost certainly shrink while in Chapter 11, there’s a good chance that we could have fewer American flights here in Charlotte a year or two from now that we have currently. It remains to be seen if they keep all four destinations from CLT; ORD and LGA would be the most vulnerable. Down the road, American will be replacing older, less efficient aircraft (roughly everything they use to serve CLT except the CRJ700s) with newer aircraft that are also larger.

Possible long run impact: Simple. Many of those that follow the aviation industry think that there will be one more big merger, with a post-Chapter 11 American Airlines buying either US Airways or JetBlue. So this is an important first step in that direction.

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Big Brother Comes to Life in DC Now, Huntersville Soon

Unbelievable. A man shoots and kills a convenience store clerk in DC. Police quickly find him using their network of video cameras that record everyone’s movements … uh, what?

Meet Big Brother.

This came as a shock to the media too. Public officials didn’t bother to tell the Washington Post, or the rest of the media, or the public, about the extent to which peoples’ license plates are being photographed as they travel DC roads on a citywide level. The data is stored and can be retrieved by police, who simply enter a tag number into a database that spits out where you were when you were in the city if you drove.

Here’s how the Post describes this. And yes, it is quietly going on all over the country:

Police entered the suspect’s license plate number into that database and learned that the Pontiac was on a street in Southeast. Police soon arrested Christian Taylor, who had been staying at a friend’s home, and charged him with two counts of first-degree murder. His trial is set for January.

More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.

With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.

Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.

It will probably be years before this comes here to the Charlotte area, you are thinking. Nope. Huntersville is already making plans for a DC-style dragnet of its own.

Here’s the upside:

But police say the tag readers can give them a critical jump on a child abductor, information about when a vehicle left — or entered — a crime scene, and the ability to quickly identify a suspected terrorist’s vehicle as it speeds down the highway, perhaps to an intended target.

Having the technology during the Washington area sniper shootings in 2002 might have stopped the attacks sooner, detectives said, because police could have checked whether any particular car was showing up at each of the shooting sites.

So if you aren’t a violent criminal or kidnapper, if you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have to worry about this, right? They’d never use it to invade the privacy of an innocent person, right?


In Northern Virginia recently, a man reported his wife missing, prompting police to enter her plate number into the system. They got a hit at an apartment complex, and when they got there, officers spotted her car and a note on her windshield that said, in essence, “Don’t tow, I’m visiting apartment 3C.” Officers knocked on the door of that apartment, and she came out of the bedroom. They advised her to call her husband.”

 Oh, and the feds are getting into the act too. Remember this? So where does it all lead? Probably to a national database of drivers’ movements, as stored and cataloged by some federal entity. They’re already doing it or planning for it in parts of Europe.

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ACC bowl outlook

If your brain is still stuck in neutral from turkey overload, try getting it fired up by working through the permutations for which ACC team goes to which bowl game. And yes, there will be a quiz beside the water cooler later today…

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About those 50-seat regional jets

The Charlotte Observer ran on its front page Saturday an Associated Press story about how airlines are cutting back on the number of 50-seat and smaller aircraft they operate, which in turn means that some communities are losing their scheduled air service. It’s a good story as far as it goes but it does not get into one of the critical issues going forward: scope.

As always, the issue is easier to imagine when you’re looking at a concrete example. Like, well, US Airways flights from Charlotte. On November 10, 2011, the airline and its regional partners operated 625 flights. By aircraft type, these broke down as:

US Airways mainline (Airbus and Boeings): 275
Large regional jets (CRJ700, CRJ900, E175s) seating 67 – 86, have first class: 145
50-seat regional jets: 151
50-seat turboprop: 30
37-seat turboprop: 24
(Total: 625)

Now everybody that follows the airline biz expects that over time the number of aircraft seating 50 or less will go down. It doesn’t take much brains to come to this conclusion, as such regional jets aren’t in production anymore.

If you said that the obvious solution is for US Airways and friends to simply replace their 50-seaters with bigger regional jets that seat 67+, that may not be so easy to do. The scope clause in US Airways’ contract with its pilots says that the airline’s regional partners can only operate 110 such large RJs. And yes, they do currently fly 110. Getting approval to add more would depend upon a new labor contract.

US Airways is actually better situated when it comes to operating such large regional jets than some other airlines. American Airlines is limited to 47 big RJs. Continental’s pilot contract effectively forbids them, causing Continental to opt for modern 70-seat turboprops instead. Like US Airways, American and Continental (as part of the merger integration with United) are negotiating new pilot contracts. The specifics of those deals, including what specific types of aircraft regional partners can operate and in what quantities, along with the price of fuel, will go a long way to determining how many 50-seaters are in the air five years from now, and how many communities lose some or all of their air service.

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US Airways adds second Charlotte-Frankfurt flight

And it’s a summer seasonal, beginning May 24. You’ll recall that US Airways wanted to run a second Charlotte-Frankfurt flight this past summer but couldn’t get properly timed landing and takeoff slots in Frankfurt. Well, FRA just opened its fourth runway, which eases that constraint, and allows the second flight to proceed in summer 2012.

Flight times, from Charlotte to Frankfurt:
US704 4:45pm – 7:20am on an Airbus A330-300
US706 8:45pm – 11:20am on an Airbus A330-200

Return flights from Frankfurt to Charlotte:

US707 9:10am – 12:50pm on an Airbus A330-200
US705 12:30pm – 4:10pm on an Airbus A330-300

This gives Charlotte eight flights a day to Europe next summer: the double daily to Frankfurt plus a flight a day on US Airways to London-Gatwick, Paris, Rome, Madrid, and Dublin. Lufthansa flies to Munich as well.

US Airways also flies from Charlotte to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is excepted to start service to Sao Paulo, Brazil in about a year.

Also, US Airways is replacing their seats in the A330-300, with the new seats being slimmer, thus providing a bit more leg room in economy.

What comes next: Best bet for the next destination to served in Europe is Manchester, England but not before 2013. US Airways gets five more A330-200s in 2013 and three more in 2014, which could allow some extra service if they choose to keep their old Boeing 767-200ERs around.

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Mayor Anthony Foxx’s Solar Mirage

It’s become glaringly obvious lately that Democrats and solar energy don’t mix.

In fact, when you put the two together, you often seem to end up with billions in lost cash blown on boondoggles — or worse, as we recently saw with the FBI investigation into the Obama administration’s Solyndra debacle.

The green energy revolution went disastrously in Spain, where it destroyed more jobs than it created. Politicians and the Obama administration are determined to recreate the mess here.

For a decade, I’ve been saying that Charlotte needed to isolate a few business sectors to target and put a laser focus on those, like Raleigh has. We then need to actually actively recruit. Mayor Anthony Foxx’s trip to China makes it look like the city is finally doing that. The idea of turning Charlotte into an energy hub isn’t a bad one — if we focus on reality, not political correctness.

Like Obama, Foxx’s trip shows he may be pursing an energy hub future for Charlotte that could be based on a mirage. The 10-day trip focused on solar companies at a time when even China is discovering that solar-based industries aren’t quite the great investment they initially appeared to be.

Worse yet, one of the main companies Foxx focused on to bring more jobs here appears to have the future makings of another Solyndra.

If you spend your days reading national news, it seems that half of the major cities in America are pursing some kind of green energy future. Things are so bad at Jetion Solar that the company delisted from the London Stock Exchange. The CEOs mother is currently proping up the company with a 60 million pound shot of cash. Here’s how the London Telegraph described the situation:

This year, Jetion predicted its profits for 2010 would be well above expectations. But it decided to delist saying 2011 will be “difficult   and challenging”, while also citing the difficulty of raising funds on Aim and a lack of liquidity. The offer is just 2p above the 81p share price prior to the deal. The shares are down 47pc since 2007’s float.

Focusing on building Charlotte into an energy hub has decent potential. The ingredients are already there in Charlotte’s nuclear and gas industries. If politicians and the regulators would get out of the way, the nuclear industry and natural gas, which North Carolina has large untapped stores of, would explode. But unfortunately Obama, Congress and state politicians are standing in the way — for now.

Despite the media’s best efforts, I believe that eventually the American people will figure out how obscenely energy rich this country and this state are. They’ll get tired of endless 8 and 9 percent unemployment and downward mobility and demand true change.

Let’s just hope that Foxx and the state Democratic regime don’t get any crazy ideas about pumping millions more in tax incentives or worse yet tax dollars into Chinese solar companies to get them to come here.

-Former Meckdeck blogger Jeff Taylor contributed to this post.






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Illegal Immigrant Hits Child, Runs, Arrested, Could Be Rewarded With Work Permit

The mom of an 8-year-old boy who was getting off a school bus at the Ashley Place Apartment complex was horrified to watch her son hit by a driver who never even bothered to stop as he got off the school bus. She was so enraged, in fact, that she followed the woman the short distance home and the two began to argue. The mom ultimately punched Joana Echeverria Mariche in the face, giving her a bloody nose, WBTV reports.

This woman is about to hit the immigration jackpot

The street justice she got from the outraged mom could be the only kind Mariche will ever face for entering the country illegally and then deeming herself too good for the bus system. She topped off the crime of entering the country with the crime of driving illegally and then with the crime of illegal hit and run resulting in injury.

No biggie. Now, I wouldn’t recommend committing the above crimes if you are an American citizen. But Mariche isn’t, and so will likely benefit from driving illegally while illegal and illegally mowing down the boy. Yes benefit.

Here’s how.

First, the hit and run will be knocked down to a misdemeanor from a low level felony in the plea deal, as is customary in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg justice system.

If she has a good attorney, she’ll be advised to stick around and face the charges rather than bolting. Here’s why. Charlotte was chosen as the test site for the new Obama administration policies on not enforcing immigration law at all unless the illegal alien in question has a serious felony criminal record and sometimes not even then.

This was announced in the Observer in September, when a group of illegals were arrested for illegally (how else?) blocking traffic. Here’s what the paper reported at the time:

Tuesday’s arrests were expected to be one of the first chances to see how a  new Obama administration policy on illegal immigrants is implemented. The  administration announced last month that those without criminal records – who  are found to be a low priority because they are students, were brought to the  United States as children or have long family ties to the country – would be  released from jail and granted work permits.

Yup. Work permits. In Charlotte, test ground for Obama’s new attack on the rule of law, getting arrested on low level charges/breaking traffic laws could actually turn out to be a good idea if you want to work legally. (Read more on the new Obama immigration enforcment policies I’m referring to here. They actually incentivize illegals to get pregnant or get their partner pregnant in order to be allowed to stay, among other outrages.)

There is no telling what will happen with Mariche’s case, of course. She could bolt back to her home country or disappear again in this one. But many like her will no doubt hit the jackpot when they break the law in Charlotte, and elsewhere.

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