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Archive for January, 2012

Bummer. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx Not Running for Governor.

Such a run … would have required more focus on a statewide campaign than on my young family … will continue my efforts to build a brighter future for our city … and blah, blah, blah, Foxx told the Charlotte Observer.

Sure. That and the party politely reminded Foxx that Democratic Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton is the next in line and it isn’t Foxx’s turn, never mind that 44 percent of registered Democrats statewide are black, a fact that would have tilted the primary in Foxx’s favor and set him up for a likely win. (Here’s why.)

No doubt no one was more bummed to see Foxx decline to run than former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. (Read this to understand why.) Foxx was the only candidate who could have knocked Dalton out of the race. This clears the path for a primary nomination for Dalton, the strongest candidate the Dems have, to move forward with little interference.

If only North Carolina Republicans were this organized.

 

 

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Eugenics town hall meeting

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Rep. Earline Parmon will be hosting a town-hall meeting on the state’s eugenics program on Wednesday, Feb. 1 in room 267 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. It’s free and open to the public.

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Back of the Envelope: Could Former Mayor Pat McCrory Win the Governorship?

Take a look at the back of the envelope on this and let me know what you think.

It's time to get serious, Superman.

McCrory’s chances would depend heavily on who wins the Democrat primary, if either of the presidential candidates have coat tails and how good his campaign is.

But here are some helpful numbers:

.08% – The amount by which Bev Perdue beat McCrory in Mecklenburg County in 2008. Normally getting beaten in your home county is a lethal sign of weakness that would finish off one’s statewide political career. The Dems and the media will use this to spin McCrory’s supposed weakness, but there is a reason this actually shows McCrory’s strength.

Obama/Biden clocked McCain/Palin by 24 points in Mecklenburg County. Straight ticket voting in Mecklenburg ran 64 percent Democrat to 35 percent Republican. Given Obama’s coat tails, McCrory performed phenomenally well in Mecklenburg and has a broad base of bipartisan support. If he can duplicate that statewide, he will be formidable. And Obama’s coat tails certainly won’t be as long this time, if he has any at all.

3 points — How much Perdue beat McCrory by statewide in the closest governor’s race in the nation in 2008. Every other down ballot statewide race had a bigger spread with the Democrat beating the Republican by four or more points. So McCrory kept the spread down. But … statewide, McCain/Palin did better than McCrory, losing to Obama/Biden 49.70 to 49.38 percent.

2,133,058 votes — Democrat Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton could be a big problem for McCrory if Dalton can get out of the primary. Dalton got 2,133,058 total votes running statewide against Charlotte’s Robert Pittenger in 2008 for an office that quite frankly no one cares about. That’s more votes than the 2,00168 votes McCrory got against Perdue in a far more high profile race.

That shows Dalton’s popularity.  He was the third highest vote getter statewide in 2008. But look who he beat in total votes — both McCain/Palin in a battleground state and McCrory.

1. Perdue (2.146 millionn  votes),

2. Obama (2.142 million votes)

3. Dalton (2.133 million votes)

4. McCain/Palin (2.128 million)

5. McCrory (2.001 million)

44 percent — Anything that keeps Dalton out of the general election helps McCrory. As I wrote here, 44 percent is roughly the percentage of registered Democrats in the state who are black. If current Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who is black, jumps into the Democratic primary, unaffiliated black voters will also likely cross over to vote. If Foxx is the only black guy in the field, on the back of the envelope, he has a good shot at winning the primary if two or three white Democrats get in and split the vote, which they surely will.

With Foxx and another highly qualified, serious black candidate in a crowded primary field,  there are still enough black votes to really boost a major metropolitan black candidate.

It’s a lot for a highly popular Democrat candidate like Walter Dalton to counter, but it could be done, especially if a white Democratic candidate could somehow split the black community in the primary. That would be hard to do on the short notice Bev Perdue has given the party. If Foxx got in and won the primary, there is no telling how he’d fare against McCrory. It would be fascinating to watch.

31.4% – Again, as I wrote the other day, this is now essentially a Democrat or Democrat leaning state.  It’s not deep blue, but rather a purpley blue, but definitely blue. And it is a state that has elected just two GOP governors since Reconstruction. The last one, Jim Martin, left office in 1993.

That, too, will give McCrory an uphill climb. Here’s what I wrote on that Friday:

It is common knowledge in the campaign world that GOP registration in a state or district has to be at 35 percent for the GOP to have a serious chance at winning. It’s at 31.4 percent. Unaffiliated registration is 24.5 percent. Democrat registration is 43.8 percent. To win, McCrory or another Republican must turn out the GOP, not too hard in an presidential year, and capture almost all of the the unaffiliated vote, or some of the unafilliated vote and some of the Democrat vote, not an easy thing to do.

McCrory, or any other Republican, could really struggle against someone who doesn’t start the race with high, built-in negatives like Perdue had.

Given that … Perdue’s announcement that she won’t run again was a huge blow to the state GOP — and to McCrory.

What’s fortunate is that Perdue made her announcement at the last minute, which will force her party to scramble for the rest of the campaign since the planning for most governor’s campaigns starts years before the primary election date. McCrory will have to work even harder. And he can’t make a mistake. Not one.

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Defense cuts and Charlotte: Be concerned

Flashing yellow light. There is a reason to somewhat worried here. Why, you ask? Simple, the defense budget proposals released yesterday include significant transport plane cuts and flying transport planes is what the Charlotte-based N.C. Air National Guard does. Specifically, the Pentagon is planing on:

• Retiring 27 aging C-5As, resulting in a fleet of modernized 52 C-5Ms and 222 C-17s
• Retiring 65 of the oldest C-130s, resulting in a fleet of 318 C-130s
• Divesting 38 C-27s

And some quotes:

…[W]e are making only marginal reductions in the Army reserve and Army National Guard and no reductions to the Marine Corps Reserve… the Air Force is balancing the size of its reserve and active components, including aircraft and manpower reductions, and adjusting the alignment of missions and installations to sustain the operational Reserve Component for the long term. The Air Force will augment the readiness of their reserves by increasing Active-Reserve Component associations.

Translation: some Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve flying units will be shutting down.

Now let’s look closer. Charlotte is, of course, a C-130 Hercules base. The Air Force proper currently operates about a third of all C-130s in use, with the rest flown by the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. The typical ANG and AFR C-130 unit has between six and 10 aircraft, with most being at six to eight rather than 10. (The N.C. ANG is on the high side.) So it’s quite easy to image six or eight ANG/AFR C-130 bases being eliminated if unit sizes don’t grow. And in the last base closing round, the Air Force wanted to increase unit size to, in most cases, 12 aircraft, which would have resulted in far fewer ANG and AFR C-130 units. (The base closing commission (BRAC) did not go along.)

There’s some good news though: CLT rated very well in the methodology used to rank AF/ANG/AFR facilities during the last (2005) BRAC round. In fact, for the airlift mission, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport ranked 33rd of all Air Force bases, active duty or reserve component. The only base with a National Guard C-130 unit to rank higher was Little Rock, but that’s also an active-duty Air Force base.

Two important qualifiers: There’s no guarantee that a future BRAC round would use the same measurement to determine a base’s military value, so we might not look quite as good in the future.

And there’s a truth that doesn’t go away: CLT is the second-best C-130 base in North Carolina, behind what is now Pope Army Airfield, which is right next to Ft. Bragg. It’s very, very hard to imagine there not being C-130s at Pope. If the Pentagon cuts enough transport planes, and Charlotte looks a bit more average, the N.C. Air National Guard might simply shift over to Fayetteville.

Now how likely is this? Unlikely, certainly. Impossible? No. Unprecedented? No. The Virginia ANG, which used to have its own F-16s and be based in Richmond, shifted over to Langley AFB a few years back and now provides extra pilots for the active-duty assigned F-22s based there.

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Back of the Envelope: Mayor Anthony Foxx Could Easily Win the Governor’s Race. Here’s How.

By the numbers, I’d argue that Foxx’s odds are actually better than the other Charlotte mayor who wants that position, Pat McCrory.

It has nothing to do with who Foxx is or who McCrory is. It’s all about numbers.

44% – The first, most important number. That’s roughly the percentage of registered Democrats in the state who are black. With Foxx, who is black, in the Democratic primary, unaffiliated black voters will also likely cross over to vote. If Foxx is the only black guy in the field, on the back of the envelope, he has a good shot at winning the primary if two or three white Democrats get in and split the vote, which they surely will.

With Foxx and another highly qualified, serious black candidate in a crowded primary field,  there are still enough black votes to really boost a major metropolitan black candidate.

 31.4% – This is now essentially a Democrat state. It’s not deep blue, but rather a purpley blue, but definitely blue. It is common knowledge in the campaign world that GOP registration in a state or district has to be at 35 percent for the GOP to have a serious chance at winning. It’s at 31.4 percent. Unaffiliated registration is 24.5 percent. Democrat registration is 43.8 percent. To win, McCrory or another Republican must turn out the GOP, not too hard in an presidential year, and capture almost all of the the unaffiliated vote, not an easy thing to do.

McCrory was polling at around 50 percent of the vote against current Gov. Bev Perdue, who was in the low 40s. But that likely has more to do with Perdue’s unpopularity — she’s the least liked governor in the nation — than McCrory’s popularity. After all, McCrory lost his hometown of Charlotte by a hair to Perdue in 2008. He hasn’t done much to change that since then but stand by as she became more and more unpopular.

McCrory, or any other Republican, could really struggle against someone who doesn’t start the race with high, built-in negatives like Perdue had.

Personalities, campaign strategies and uncontrollable outside factors like presidential year coat tails will color this race and anything could happen. But back of the envelope, this is where the GOP is starting. Perdue’s announcement that she won’t run again was a huge blow to the state GOP — and to McCrory.

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Will Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx Seek The Governorship After Perdue Step Down?

Going out on a limb here, but Foxx statement reported in three tweets by Brad Broders @news14Broders seems to suggest he is considering it.

Mayor Foxx: “(Perdue’s) decision not to run for re-election came as a surprise.  I remain focused on Charlotte and substantial work ahead …

Mayor Foxx statement: “I will spend the coming weeks talking with my family and friends about how I could best serve our city and state….

Mayor Foxx statement cont’d: “…and I ask the public and media for some patience as I work through those conversations
Hmmmmmm …
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Meet Gov. Perdue’s Pet Monster, Danny Hembree, the Likely Serial Killer She’s Protecting by Blocking the Door to the Execution Chamber

This week, the entire nation was introduced to Governor Bev Perdue’s pet monster, the vicious killer she’s protecting by blocking the door to the execution chamber for killers just like him.

Governor Perdue's pet monster, Danny Hembree.

By now you’ve probably seen death row inmate Danny Hembree Jr.’s mug jeering at you on national TV, as he laughs at the North Carolina death penalty system. People around the country are watching aghast as Hembree mocks the inability of the state justice system to carry out his death sentence. In a letter to the Gaston Gazette, he wrote this:

Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking place in the  next 20 years if ever are very slim?” Hembree asked. “Is the public aware that I  am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the a/c, reading, taking naps at  will, eating three well-balanced meals a day?” … Kill me if you can, suckers. Ha! Ha! Ha!”

What hasn’t clearly been explained to people is that it is mainly our governor’s veto of the overhaul of the Racial Justice Act that will keep this man alive long after he exhausts his traditional appeals and the state resolves its other issues surrounding the death penalty, which have resulted in a temporary moratorium.

As usual, the media largely missed the big story here — namely that it is now essentially impossible to kill Hembree in North Carolina because he murdered a teenager who happened to be white. Thanks to North Carolina’s obscene Racial Justice Act, passed in 2009, killing a white woman has essentially become an act exempt from the death penalty. Why? Because you are more likely to get the death penalty if you kill a white woman than a minority in this state, studies show. Therefore, carrying out the execution would be discriminatory and thus illegal under the RJA.

That Hembree is also white won’t matter. That Hembree is guilty as sin won’t either. Under the RJA, if you can prove statistically that your race or the race of your victim made it more likely that you would get the death penalty, you can get your death sentence reduced to life in prison.

Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell told the Los Angeles Times that thanks to the Racial Justice Act, Hembree could also use statistics to get out the death penalty and have his death sentence reduced to life in prison in a myriad of other ways:

“Hembree, who is white, could point out that seven of eight death row inmates from Gaston County are white, Bell said. “Statistically, he could argue that Gaston County discriminates against white defendants,” Bell said.

And off death row he goes, just like that, even if he is guilty as sin. It is a sick system that devalues the lives of murder victims, placing more emphasis on the color of their skin and that of their killers than in protecting the public or punishing the guilty.

It’s clear that Hembree, who was sentenced to death two months ago in Gaston County, intends to use the Racial Justice Act to stay alive. He has already begun building a record of racial prejudice against him, parts of the Gazette article show.

Hembree, who could possibly turn out to be a serial killer, is now attempting to involve the NAACP in two other murder cases he is accused in, those of Randi Dean Saldana, who was white, and Deborah Ratchford, was black.

Along with the suggested editorial, Hembree sent a copy of a three-page  letter that he said he intends to send to the National Association for the  Advancement of Colored People.

In the NAACP letter, Hembree tells of his conviction and pending murder  charges. Hembree suggests that the NAACP get involved because the cases of the  two white women are being tried first.

Catterton and Saldana were each killed in 2009. Ratchford’s body was found in  a Gastonia cemetery in 1992.

In his letter, Hembree says that Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell  has no intention of taking the Ratchford case to court. Hembree suggests in his  letter that Bell’s intent is racially motivated.

“I implore your great organization to pressure Mr. Bell until he gives Debora  Ratchford her day in court in the interest of justice,” he wrote.

Using the RJA to tie up the courts is a strategy so effective that will likely work to keep Hembree and most of the other killers on the state’s death row alive long after the exhaust their other appeals if it remains in place. In fact, the Racial Justice Act is now so popular, most death row inmates are using it.

Charlotte School of Law Professor Cindy Adcock said it could be ten years, if not longer, before Hembree is up for execution. She said some inmates in North Carolina have been on death row for decades.

“Most of the cases, most of the inmates on death row are being litigated around the racial justice act,” said Adcock. “That will have to be resolved before any case goes forward towards execution.”

Meanwhile, the families of the victims are left to deal with the agony this has caused.

Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell said that he has received two distraught phone calls from Catterton’s father today.

“I got a call from the father of the 17-year-old that he murdered, in tears. He said that this is tearing the family to shreds. This is ripping the wound open,” Locke told ABCNews.com. “[The father] said, ‘He murdered our daughter, got the death penalty and now he’s just sitting in jail laughing at us.'”

 

 

 

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Police Chief: “We’ll Only Target the Troublemakers.”

Who will the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department target at the DNC? Just the “troublemakers, the agitators … Those that are looking to do more than just voice their opinions.”

So says the chief of police, Rodney Monroe. But as long as they aren’t camping out, they have nothing to worry about.

That’s because they won’t be there if the Charlotte plan survives legal scrutiny. The ordinance is geared toward just allowing one or two “groups” to show up. But these protesters don’t usually travel — much less apply for permits — as organized groups. And even if a group got one, they’d have to come up with the money up front to cover the potential costs of police for the protest as part of the permit process. I’m sure that will be a hunky chunk of change.

The security at the convention, by the way, is supposed to be both historic, and trend setting for the future.

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NC on Top 10 Worst List for Budget Management. Authors Puzzled. Why is the State So Broke?

North Carolina just made an elite list of states with the worst budget management in the country, alongside some perennial disaster case states.

Wall Street 24/7 has named North Carolina to its list of the 10 States With the Most Trouble Paying Their Bills. On the list with North Carolina are Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, New Jersey and Arizona.

To the authors of the piece, North Carolina’s numbers — especially the 30.6 percent budget shortfall as a percent of the general fund — are clearly puzzling because the state has not suffered the economic hardships several others on the list have.

Compared to most states, North Carolina actually fared relatively well during the worst years of the recession. GDP and home values increased substantially, while median income and poverty rates did not worsen by much. Despite this, the state has had high budget gaps for each of the past three years.

What makes this even more puzzling is a recent tax study by the Chief Financial Officer of the Government of the District of Columbia that showed that Charlotteans paid some of the highest state income taxes and combined local and state sales taxes in the nation.

The question essentially raised by Wall Street 24/7 is a good one. Where the heck is all the money going? Why do we have these problems when it doesn’t appear that we should?

What’s even crazier is that our governor wants to raise state taxes to add/keep positions paid for by stimulus money that is going away, but not enough to actually debate the GOP in public on the issue.

 

 

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2012 Portland/Sacramento Test

Yup, it’s that time of year again, where we see how things are going for US Airways flights to the mountain and Pacific time zones. The basics: the airline has for many years flown nonstop year-round from Charlotte to seven destinations out west: Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. US Airways and Delta Air Lines are both starting daily flight to Salt Lake City in March with Delta essentially trying to force US Airways off the route as Delta is quite content with the status quo of no nonstops.

Which brings us to Portland, Oregon (PDX) and Sacramento, California (SMF), the cities referenced in the title of this post. US Airways has offered summer seasonal service to these cities for the past several years (Portland since 2007, Sacramento since 2008). If we are going to see more service to the western U.S., the existing service has to do well. And I can say that things are looking good this year:

• Portland: Like last year, the nonstops to PDX began the earliest they ever had, with daily flights from May 2. This year daily flights again begin on May 2nd. However, from April 18 through May 1, US Airways will operate the route four days a week (all but Monday, Tuesdays, and Saturdays), so that is progress.

• Sacramento: This is a smaller market that Portland, so the season is shorter. Last year, it began on June 2. This year, service start on May 3 and the flight goes daily on May 24. So again, this is a positive development.

So what next? Ordinarily, I’d put up a big chart showing the amount of money that people spend flying between various cities and Charlotte. Unfortunately, the federal data I use now combines the various Los Angeles (LAX, SNA, ONT, BUR, LGB) as one. Same for the three San Francisco bay area airports (SFO, SJC, OAK). Here’s a link to last’s year’s chart. Suffice it to say though, that the next largest market remains Orange County (SNA), but it both has a short runway and is slot restricted (NIMBYs), making service unlikely. Beyond that, it’s a big drop to Ontario and San Jose. Albuquerque and Tuscon are also possibilities, but again, while the trend is definitely in the right direct, we’re not there yet.

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