More details have come out about what city council did last night. It didn’t just listen to a proposal from the Carolina Panthers about public funding for improvements at the team’s privately-owned stadium. No, it went much further than that. The Charlotte Observer is now reporting that city council actually secretly voted 7-to-2 to approve an increase in the prepared food tax to provide $125 million towards the cost of stadium upgrades. All this with zero public input. Yes, they will have to take another vote in public but the die is cast.
With this action, the City of Charlotte has abandoned any and all pretensions of open or good government. It has instead embraced crony capitalism of the worst sort like some sort of banana republic, in which deals are secretly agreed to give vast sums of public money to favored special interests while taxes are increased on entire industries with no previous notice. And what the public thinks just doesn’t matter.
Some lowlights via the UPoR:
The city’s decision to discuss the Panthers request in closed session was different from how it handled a request last year from the Charlotte Knights baseball team for money to build an uptown baseball stadium.
When the Knights asked for city help, the issue was discussed in public meetings.
Some council members said Tuesday they didn’t know why the Knights stadium deliberations were held in public, while the Panthers were allowed to meet with council members in private.
“I don’t have an answer for that,” said [warren] Cooksey. He added that he would not discuss what was said in a closed session meeting.
[Beth] Pickering said the Panthers are “important” to Charlotte and that a public debate over the plan could have led to “mis-impressions.”
Bonus observations: Voting against the plan were Warren Cooksey and Michael Barnes. Patsy Kinsey left before the vote but probably would also have voted against the proposal. Patrick Cannon recused himself.