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US Airways widebody jet badly damaged at CLT

Back on December 2. The aircraft in question, an Airbus A330-200 with the registration of N288AY, has not flown since. Looks like a cleaning truck tried to go around the front of the plane but hit the aircraft’s nose instead, rupturing the jet’s forward pressure bulkhead in the process. You can see the pictures here — it’s not pretty (NSFW language in comments).

Bonus thought: The aircraft is very likely repairable but it’s going to cost multiple millions of dollars. The fact that the plane is only 1.5 years old makes the repair worth doing. That level of damage would be a total loss if the plane were 15 or 20 years old.

Update: Latest rumors I’m hearing are the damage is even more extensive that it appears from the photos. If that’s correct, then the level of damage may be high enough to make repairing the plane cost prohibitive. Even if it is worth repairing, if repairs stretch to May (or longer), it will impact US Airways’ summer European schedule.

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Bowl game attendance down

So reports the Associated Press — down about 4 percent on average for established games, which matches a 4 percent fall in average attendance for college football overall. A highlight:

[Wright Waters, the executive director for the Football Bowl Association] suggested that some bowls should try attracting more local fans who aren’t affiliated with the two schools playing in the game each year. He cited the Sugar, Peach and Rose as three bowl games with exceptional community support.

“We’ve probably gotten comfortable with crowds coming from schools,” Waters said. “Just as schools are having trouble with their attendance, we’re going to have to get more active locally.”

Waters said bowl games that have attendance increases generally have compelling matchups featuring regional opponents that are hungry for a bowl appearance.

Good luck with that. As conferences have gotten bigger, it’s become increasingly difficult to have “compelling matchups featuring regional opponents,” as the ACC, SEC, and Big 10 etc. are no longer just in one region.  (Case in point: UNC-Chapel Hill playing Rutgers… in Detroit.) But the problems extend beyond that: why should the average local spend their hard-earned bucks to sit in a cold stadium in late December in say Charlotte to see a game between two teams that they may not follow when the game is also on television? And why is that result good for the local economy, as bowl ticket revenue from locals is headed straight out of town?

H/t: JAT

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Hood on the 2016 N.C. Senate race

JLF head John Hood offers up an analysis of the 2016 U.S. Senate here in North Carolina, which will see Republican incumbent Richard Burr taking on a TBD Democratic challenger. There’s been a lot of speculation as to which Democrat or Democrats may run. A sample:

The problem the [Democratic Party] has in the U.S. Senate race, however, is that its most capable candidates will probably opt to run for something else. Attorney General Roy Cooper will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee to challenge Gov. Pat McCrory. I suspect that State Treasurer Janet Cowell, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (Burr’s foe in 2010), Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, and key Democrats in the state house and senate will be loathe to pass up what are good reelection prospects in order to take on an incumbent senator.

It would be one thing if 2016 promised to be a Democratic wave akin to 2006 or 2008. Perhaps later this year, the wind will seem to be blowing that way — and many North Carolina Democrats will feel emboldened to unfurl their sails and see how far it can take them. But I tend to doubt it.


Again, assuming no radical change of the political fortunes of President Obama and his party, I think Burr has to be the favorite in his 2016 duel — regardless of who ends up walking off the paces with him. The marquee race of the year will be for governor, not U.S. Senate.

You can read John’s column in its entirety here.

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US Airways 767 retirement date set

Per World Airline News, the last US Airways 767-200ER revenue flight will be February 11th.  US Airways operated 10 of the aircraft until last year — they once had as many as 12 — and is now rapidly retiring the type. These (or at least some of them) are the last planes US Airways proper flies that date back to the days of Piedmont Airlines. Piedmont first took delivery in May 1987 and started Charlotte – London service this next month.

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An attention-grabbing murder

JLF head John Hood has a guest column in the Charlotte Observer on a highly publicized Charlotte murder:

The public couldn’t get enough of the murder trial. Spectators mobbed the courthouse while reporters jostled to interview witnesses, attorneys, and relatives of the victim and accused. When the jury produced a surprising acquittal, much of the community erupted in shock and fury, some questioning the very legitimacy of the justice system.

This description could fit one of many notorious cases making national news in recent years. But the trial I mean happened in Charlotte more than a century ago. Robert and William Simpson were brothers who lived near Mint Hill. They were tall, powerfully built farmers – generally well liked but sometimes violent after they’d been drinking, especially “Big Bill” Simpson. Among their neighbors were prosperous farmer Henry Hartis and his son Will, who had his own reputation as a brawler.

You can read the rest of John’s column here and discover his family relationship to the case.

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Appeals Court Upholds Six-Year Easement Limitation

Got an article out for Carolilna Journal on an unsuccessful attempt by Duke Energy to get longer to enforce easements it holds. The article in full:

RALEIGH — Utilities rely on easements to control a considerable amount of land in North Carolina. But state law also places limits on the amount of time a utility has to enforce easements it holds — currently, six years. The state’s second highest court recently affirmed that six-year statute of limitations despite an attempt by Duke Energy to argue that the enforcement period should be longer.

In 1951, J.L. and Pearl Wallace entered into an agreement granting Duke Power, as it was then called, a 200-foot-wide easement to run power transmission lines on property the couple owned in Mecklenburg County. The area covered by the easement was to be kept free of buildings and trees. The easement was recorded by the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds.

The Wallace property changed hands over the years, with John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods of the Carolinas eventually acquiring it and building houses on it. One of the houses Wieland built, located on Lot 533 in Phase 8 of the Skybrook neighborhood in Huntersville, extended into Duke’s easement by a little more than 8 feet.

A certificate of occupancy was issued for the house on Oct. 11, 2006. Wieland in turn sold the home to Herbert Gray in 2007.

Duke eventually learned that Gray’s house sat within the easement. In February 2010, the company sent a letter informing Gray that his house encroached on its right of way. It would not be until Dec. 12, 2012, though, that Duke sued Gray, seeking a judgment that that the homeowner must remove the encroachment from its easement.

Superior Court Judge Richard Boner dismissed Duke’s lawsuit, finding it came after the statute of limitations had ended.

Statute of limitations

Before the Court of Appeals, Duke made a variety of arguments saying a six-year statute of limitations shouldn’t apply. The N.C. Electric Membership Corporation, the N.C. Association of Electric Cooperatives, PSNC Energy, and Piedmont Natural Gas Co. filed amicus briefs supporting Duke’s position. The appeals court was, however, not persuaded.

“N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-50(a)(3) provides for a six-year statute of limitations for injury to an incorporeal hereditament [aka easement], which includes claims for encroachment upon an easement. Because plaintiff’s claim for encroachment was filed more than six years after its claim accrued, the claim was barred by the statute of limitations,” wrote Judge Sanford Steelman for the court.

Duke argued that the statue of limitations should begin on the date it knew or reasonably should have known of an encroachment. In support of its argument, it cited a 1999 Court of Appeals case called Karner v. Roy White Flowers, Inc. The appeals court said Karner did not apply to the current controversy. It also questioned whether the case had precedential value as the N.C. Supreme Court had reversed the appeals court decision.

Even if the appeals court had agreed with Duke on its argument related to Karner, it still would have ruled against the utility in the current dispute, noting that “the statute of limitations had expired when plaintiff filed suit,” wrote Steelman.

“It is undisputed that the house was completed, at the latest, by 11 October 2006, when the Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services Agency issued Wieland a Certificate of Occupancy for the house. Plaintiff should reasonably have known of the existence of a completed house that encroached on its easement, and plaintiff’s claim was not filed until more than six years after this date.”

Duke also advanced a number of policy arguments claiming that a six-year statute of limitations was too short, including that the utility would incur “the substantial cost of continuously patrolling [its] easements, [resulting] in higher rates.” The appeals court also rejected these rationales, saying that assigning responsibility for those costs was a matter for the legislature rather than the courts to decide.

N.C. Court of Appeals decisions are controlling interpretations of state law unless overruled by the state Supreme Court. Because the decision by the three-judge panel of the appeals court was unanimous, the high court is not required to hear the case if Duke appeals the ruling.

The case is Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC v Gray, et al. (14-283).

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2016 Senate race

The first question is who will run on the Democratic side. The issue Democrats face is that they have no obvious candidate. That said, John Wynne of Carolina Strategic Analysis provides a list of people whose name have come up as possibilities:

Dan Blue, NC Senate Minority Leader
Janet Cowell, State Treasurer
Cal Cunningham, former State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate, 2010
Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary and former mayor of Charlotte
Larry Hall, NC House Minority Leader
Kay Hagan, outgoing U.S. Senator
Allen Joines, mayor of Winston-Salem
Mike McIntyre, outgoing U.S. Representative
Charles Meeker, former mayor of Raleigh
Brad Miller, former U.S. Representative
Heath Shuler, former U.S. Representative
Allen Thomas, mayor of Greenville

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The decline of the hockey enforcer

As Katie Strang of ESPN reports, there are fewer fights in NHL games these days and prototypical hockey enforcers — big, slow guys, whose primary skill comes in standing up for teammates — increasingly can’t find a job.  A sample:

Toughness is still valued, but a player must bring more to the ice than simply a willingness to drop the gloves. A guy has to bring energy, show an ability to kill penalties, win faceoffs and be defensively responsible to retain a spot on the roster.

Agent Peter Cooney, who has a stable of brawlers that includes heavyweights such as Trevor Gillies, Patrick Bordeleau and Bobby Robins, as well as scrappers such as Micheal Haley, tries to reinforce to his clients the importance of bodychecking in finding that balance between physicality and utility.

“It’s a more intimidating skill than fighting because you still remain on the ice; you’re not in the penalty box, or thrown out of the game,” Cooney said.

Versatility is key, and there are some players who have anticipated the change and adapted accordingly.

And yes, the change extends down to the AHL level as well.


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Bruton Smith won’t be happy

Seems that the N.C. Supreme Court has decided not to address his appeal of a lower court ruling that he and Charlotte Motor Speedway never had a deal with Cabarrus County for $80 million in incentives tied to construction of the drag strip at the track that Smith was going to build anyways. Poor baby.

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Painting the waters blue, black, and white

And various other colors, depending upon who played at Bank of America Stadium. Super bizarre story out from the Observer how field paint from the stadium was being discharged into the city’s storm water system — apparently since the stadium opened in 1996 — and thus into Irwin Creek near Uptown because of a misconnected drain pipe. Not exactly an endorsement for the folks doing water quality inspections that this took 19 years to detect…

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January 2015
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