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Archive for October, 2013

Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve to merge?

That would make entirely too much sense, but it’s unlikely to happen for political reasons unless this or some future administration pushes it through. Still, the idea is at least seriously being discussed now. As the Defense News reports:

The National Commission of the Structure of the Air Force is weighing a proposal to merge the US Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, but hasn’t found much support from the leadership of either branch.

An Oct. 24 hearing was focused on a proposal from five retired Air Force major generals, two from the Reserve and three from the Guard, which would essentially combine the duties of the two arms of the service into one command structure. A white paper outlining the group’s ideas has been circulated around the Pentagon since 2011, but the commission represents the most likely chance it could be adopted.

You can read more of the article here.

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Peacock and the Panthers

The mayor’s race as suddenly gotten a bit feisty. One example is Edwin Peacock’s statement that he’s against the existing $87.5 million in money for the Panthers in exchange for their promise to play in the stadium they own for another six years. Let’s consider both the policy and politics of the issue:

The policy: Charlotte’s existing exist approach to the Panther’s stadium needs is remarkably inept. The city apparently doesn’t think it’s NFL worth, as it sees the need to throw money at the Panthers to keep the team here in the short-term. The need to not offend the Panthers is apparently so great that votes to raise taxes to fund improvements at Bank of America Stadium must be taken in secret without prior public debate. Local pols are so scared that they were even promising state money to the Panthers — without apparently checking with the county’s legislative delegation to see whether the idea would fly in Raleigh. The only way to restore some sort of sanity to these negotiations is for someone new to come in who can credibly take a hard line. So in that sense what Peacock is saying makes a lot of sense.

The politics: The problem for Peacock in taking a harder stance is that a lot of the Uptown crowd is just as frightened that the Panthers might leave town as those running city government. And as Peacock is a moderate, the harder stance could scare off some key backers.

Bonus observation: Peacock has raised more money than Patrick Cannon. That doesn’t come by scaring the Uptown crowd.

Update: The Charlotte Business Journal reports that Jerry Richardson is making significant donations to candidates that favor giving money to the Panthers. He gave $1,000 to Patrick Cannon. Edwin Peacock got nothing from Richardson.

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Citizens Review Board to be less useless?

So a committee of Charlotte City Council approved major changes to how the Citizens Review Board operates. Good. As currently designed, the Citizens Review Board process is worse than useless. The board always sides with the police and does so without holding hearings in 95 percent of the complaints filed. That track record simply doesn’t promote public confidence in the process. It remains to be seen whether the revised process, which would lower the bar to conducting an investigation and finding the chief of police didn’t adequately discipline officers, will actually rise to the level of providing useful oversight over the CMPD.

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An unexpected robocall

I got a robocall on Saturday on the Charlotte City Council race from an unexpected source: Eric Cable, the sole Libertarian running at-large. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten a call for a Libertarian candidate.

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The Charlotte Observer endorses…

Edwin Peacock for mayor. Not sure newspaper endorsements mean that much in this day and age but it’s still an interesting development.

Patrick Cannon meanwhile gets tagged again with a “doesn’t play well with others” label. The Observer also notes that it has “disagreed with his unquestioning support of the Panthers, the Knights and, streetcar aside, the city’s Capital Investment Plan. The city needs a more analytical critique of such important and expensive projects.”

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The latest newspaper business model failure

It’s been nearly a year since the Charlotte Observer and the other McClatchy newspapers started to require a subscription either to the print or digital edition if you want to read more than 15 stories per month. How’s that working out? Not so well. Per the McClatchy’s third quarter earnings, the company now has 31,000 digital-only subscribers. No, that’s not 31,000 digital subscribers for the Charlotte Observer, that’s a total of 31,000 paid digital subscribers between all 30 of the company’s daily papers.

H/t: PC

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The latest Mecklenburg County Commission dysfunction

Seems that the process for selecting a new county manager has proven to be rather controversial among county commissioners — and the disagreement comes even before any candidates for the manager’s job have been eliminated from consideration. Why does this not come as a surprise?

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The failures of socialism, item #5,837,230

This Bloomberg headline says it all: Venezuela Is Running Out of Toilet Paper.

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The General Assembly and film incentives

Scott Mooneyham has a new column out on the future of incentives for movie and television productions here in North Carolina. He writes that the future of the incentives is in doubt and that at minimum the legislature is likely to have another look at the issue next year. A highlight:

Some GOP legislators don’t like that North Carolina is offering open-ended tax credits, even arguing that they violate the state constitution. At least a few conservative legislators are turned off by the idea of doing anything to benefit an industry that they see as populated by liberal elites and headquartered in the den of hedonism.

Decker, while on record supporting the industry and incentives to bring it here, told the Wilmington newspaper that some changes will be necessary.

“The big question on the table is, ‘How do we continue to help this industry grow in the state?’ she said.

State legislators, in 2014, may force an even bigger question: How much is the industry being here worth?

If more lucrative incentives are required to bring films and TV series here, and if those incentives don’t pay for themselves in any direct calculation, how valuable is the prestige of knowing that Robert Downey Jr. threw on some futuristic-looking suit on a Wilmington street?

Obviously, I think that film industry incentives are a bad idea. That said, there’s no reason for the city of Charlotte to make a decision on the possibility of helping turn the Eastland Mall site into a film studio until after the General Assembly does whatever it does next year. The worst possible outcome for the city is to commit to the project and then see the General Assembly end incentives.

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Preening Is Not A Rebuttal

JLF head John Hood had a column out on Monday on the response of the Left to conservatives coming to power in North Carolina. This quote from John’s piece kind of sums it up:

While some liberal lawmakers, activists, and commentators did engage in substantive debate, many others resorted to character assassination and ludicrous conspiracy theories. They peddled misinformation to inexperienced or credulous reporters. They compared their opponents to segregationists and neo-Nazis. The result was the circus atmosphere of a university sit-in, not a conversation among grown-ups.

Perhaps it was just too challenging to construct substantive responses to empirical evidence supporting North Carolina’s new conservative policies. For example, liberal critics said that instead of reforming and reducing North Carolina taxes, lawmakers should have increased state spending on education, infrastructure, Medicaid, and other programs, even if higher taxes were needed.

What does the empirical evidence say? Of the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies published on these subjects since 1992, nearly two-thirds show a positive link between lower taxes and economic growth. But only 38 percent show positive economic effects from higher spending on education and only 44 percent show positive effects from higher infrastructure spending. There is virtually no evidence for such effects from higher spending on Medicaid or other public-assistance programs.

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