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.