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Archive for March, 2014

The Cannon fallout

Couple points in no particular order:

• So who will be the next mayor of Charlotte, and the fourth within the past year? As the Charlotte Observer reports, it could come down to James “Smuggie” Mitchell or Dan Clodfelter. Both are currently running for other offices: Clodfelter to be reelected to the N.C. Senate in a safe seat while Mitchell is running for Congress. Of course, the situation is very, very fluid as to who will replace Cannon.

• Unsurprisingly, the airport control issue is back. OK, it never completely went away but now we have Stan Campbell and Sen. Bob Rucco saying “we told you so,” claiming that the push to shift the airport out from under city control was to protect it from corruption associated with city governance. Nice try but they’re ignoring two basic points. First, this issue was always mainly about keeping Jerry Orr in control of the airport. Secondly, the push for an independent airport authority comes exactly at the same time as Cannon is allegedly accepting his first bribe from the FBI. And it’s possible that the rumors touched upon the broader FBI investigation into something that generated the leads that eventually targeted Cannon.

• While on the subject: Sound public policy isn’t built upon rumors.

• Jeff Taylor theorizes that the initial tip to the FBI may have come from an ALE agent. That sounds pretty reasonable, though as he correctly states, we may never know for sure.

• Which gets us to Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee’s Thursday press conference, in which he claimed that Patrick Cannon corrupting local government decision-making was just an impossibility:

“(The mayor) doesn’t have operational responsibility for the airport or transit,” Carlee said. “It can’t be done by the mayor, it’s done by the council. The mayor is an important position, has a bully pulpit, but he doesn’t have operational control.”

Which is an argument that completely and utterly ignores how things work in the real world. Personal relationships matter. Positions of power matter. The unofficial way things are done matter. Was Cannon likely overstating his influence? Yes. Is he without influence on zoning matters? Absolutely not. I’m guessing that city and county officials do rather promptly return calls from the mayor. And if the city were to do a public/private partnership to redevelop land along the streetcar line, with competing visions from different developers, which proposal the mayor favored could matter greatly.

And Carlee also ignores that in Charlotte, the mayor has a veto, which requires an extra vote on city council to overcome.

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US Airway’s CLT-Rio flight makes a brief comeback

From December 2 to January 10 to be exact. So a little less than six weeks for very busy Christmas season after being suspended come September. And presumably January is the last time we’ll see the flight.

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What caused the Cannon investigation?

Or put another way, who else might have Patrick Cannon been taking bribes from? From the complaint against the now former mayor filed yesterday:

This investigation was initiated in August 2010 based on a tip and information received from local law enforcement. A local law enforcement officer was working in an undercover capacity on other criminal matters and learned of information that would be helpful to the FBI regarding public corruption. Although the FBI was originally investigating other individuals and other potential criminal activities, the investigators learned that CANNON was potentially involved in illegal activity.

Based on the information received from the local law enforcement officer, an FBI undercover operation was initiated. The local undercover officer introduced an FBI undercover employee (hereinafter UCE1) to certain business figures in Charlotte. At that point, the local law enforcement officer and his/her agency were no longer involved in the investigation.

While UCE1 was interacting with certain businessmen in the related investigation, he learned of specific information regarding potentially corrupt activities by CANNON, who was then a City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem.

So it seems that Cannon did something in 2010 or 2011 that caused the FBI to specifically target him. What was this? And what of the broader ongoing FBI investigation? What is it that all about and who is being investigated?

Hopefully soon we’ll have answers to these questions.

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Breaking: Patrick Cannon arrested on federal corruption charges

The UPoR reports this involves an FBI sting operation, which dates back to August 2010. Cannon allegedly solicited bribes from undercover federal agents posing as real estate developers and investors. More details as they become available.

Update: Cannon allegedly took a $20,000 bribe in cash last month in the mayor’s office.

Update II: There were allegedly five payments to Cannon, the first to help fund the develop of a feminine hygiene product called “Hers.” OK, that’s just weird.

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Stallings comes out against the Monroe Bypass/Connector

So reports the UPoR. Not a lot of love left for this project, now is there…

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Silly alochol laws of the moment

“Of the moment” meaning that they made it into the newspaper this week.

• Tennessee, per the Associated Press:

If it isn’t fermented in Tennessee from mash of at least 51 percent corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, filtered through maple charcoal and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof, it isn’t Tennessee whiskey. So says a year-old law that resembles almost to the letter the process used to make Jack Daniel’s, the world’s best-known Tennessee whiskey.

Now state lawmakers are considering dialing back some of those requirements that they say make it too difficult for craft distilleries to market their spirits as Tennessee whiskey, a distinctive and popular draw in the booming American liquor business.

Nothing like a dominate producer using its influence to bend product definitions in its favor…

• South Carolina, per the Washington Post:

Imagine the anguish of a staffer working for a losing campaign once the polls close. All those hours, all that work, for naught. That staffer sure could use a drink. But in South Carolina, the drink will have to wait. The Palmetto State is the only state in the country that still bans alcohol sales on Election Day.

Now, the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee has given its preliminary approval to a bill that would allow alcohol sales on Election Day.

Leave it to South Carolina to be the last state to boldly move into the 21st Century…

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Obamacare is being repealed

So writes JLF head John Hood in a column last week. John’s article begins:

Remember all the brouhaha from last fall’s Washington showdown and government shutdown? The dispute purportedly pitted Republicans intent on repealing Obamacare against the president and Democrats intent on preserving the legislation.

In reality, the Obama administration, with the blessing of its allies on Capitol Hill, is already in the midst of amending, suspending, or eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s most consequential and controversial provisions. If the process continues into 2015 and 2016, and particularly if the GOP wins control of the U.S. Senate this November, what remains of Obamacare can without great difficulty be integrated into a real, market-based reform of American health care — a pro-competition, pro-consumer system remarkably similar to what conservatives and Republicans have long advocated.

What we are watching, in other words, is a slow-motion repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

You can read more of the column here.

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Dumb claims about political smarts

JLF head John Hood’s column today is about the silliness of claiming that your side is just smarter than your political adversaries. John’s piece begins:

One of the cheapest shots in politics is to claim that only the unschooled and ignorant could possibly side with the other team. Both Democrats and Republicans make the claim about the other party. Democrats ridicule Republican-leaning voters for being dumb rednecks and undereducated boobs. Republicans ridicule Democratic-leaning voters for being empty-headed kids and school dropouts. Fox News viewers think MSNBC viewers are sheep. MSNBC viewers think Fox viewers are fools.

The real fools are those who think electoral politics is an intelligence test.

You can read more of the column here.

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How to make money as a band

Simple: As, the New York Times reports from SXSW in Austin, sell out:

At this year’s festival, historically a place of artistic idiosyncrasy, music labels were an afterthought and big brands owned the joint. Venues were decked out with a riot of corporate logos, and the conference’s legacy as a place where baby bands played their little hearts out to be discovered seemed quaint in a week in which Jay Z and Kanye West kicked it for Samsung, Coldplay headlined for Apple’s iTunes and Tyler, the Creator played a showcase for Pandora.

This new order evolved because when music moved into the cloud, not much of the revenue came with it. CD sales are a fraction of what they once were, and the micropayments from streaming services have yet to amount to anything meaningful. It’s a grim state of affairs, but corporate America, in search of an elusive demographic, has been more than willing to fill the breach.

H/t: JAT

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Pizzas are made differently now

So says the city, so you can now recycle pizza boxes. If you’re wondering about the specific changes in pizza production techniques, don’t look to this UPoR story announcing the change, which says that there’s now less food contamination (grease and cheese residue) in boxes than was previously the case. No mention though as to why suddenly there’s less goo in the box or how that otherwise effects what people are eating…

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