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Speaking of the election…

The Charlotte Observer has an interest post-election analysis with some interesting quotes:

• “I was running against six people, and the former mayor was one of them for sure.”

— David Howard, referencing Patrick Cannon

• “The main takeaway from yesterday is there is no such thing anymore as a monolithic black vote. Those days are gone. … Everybody was on equal footing in wining black voters’ support.”

— Herb White, editor-in-chief of the Charlotte Post

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Charlotte primary results (yawn)

Well waiting for results to come in last night is a couple hours of my life that I will never get back. And I say that because absolutely nothing changed all night. Jennifer Roberts had about 36 percent of the vote early in the evening and finished with 36 percent. Dan Clodfelter was ahead of David Howard all night for second (and thus in the runoff, if he wants one) at all points during the night.

Some random thoughts:

• Michael Barnes’ brand of minimal campaigning (don’t raise much money, don’t spend much money) just doesn’t work at the mayoral level.

• If Barnes hadn’t run, Howard would almost certainly have finished ahead of Clodfelter. Barnes got 4,326 votes, and the margin between Clodfelter and Howard was only 643 votes. The more interesting question is whether in a straight Roberts/Clodfelter/Howard contest, Roberts would have gotten to 40 percent and thus avoided a runoff. It’s possible — she would only have needed to get 30 percent of Barnes’ votes to get there.

• Has anyone ever spent more to achieve less in a Charlotte election than Scott Stone, who raised well over $100,000 and still managed to get only a third of the vote in the Republican primary for mayor? Edwin Peacock was wise to hold his money for the general election.

• Smuggie is back. James (Smuggie) Mitchell finished second in the Democratic at large primary with 17,644 votes, behind Vi Lyles (19,131 votes) but well ahead of Julie Eiselt (12,976) and Claire Fallon (11,995). Fifth, and out of the money, was Billy D. Maddalon with 9,504 votes. Fallon remains the most vulnerable incumbent on city council.

• There were 30,945 votes cast in the Democratic mayoral primary and 102,064 votes on the Democratic side for city council at large. That means that a significant number of people voted in the mayoral contest but didn’t pick four candidates in the at large race. In fact, the number of such “missing” votes (21,716) exceeds even Lykes tally.

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A game changer for rail transit in North Carolina

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the new state budget contains a provision that caps the state contribution for future light rail projects at $500,000. Previously, the state was picking up 25 percent of construction costs. While the measure is apparently aimed at a proposed $1.6 billion 17-mile Durham to Chapel Hill light rail line, I think it’s a fair reading that the state is unlikely to provide much funding for rail transit construction as long as Republicans control the General Assembly. And yes, CATS Red Line, I’m looking at you.

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Charlotte’s notable shooting of the moment

Six people injured, included three with with life-threatening injuries, at the N.C. Music Factory. Per WSOC-TV:

Detectives believe that there was an altercation that started inside Queen City Underground [rehearsal space] between several people and that’s when they started shooting at each other and the gunfire spilled out into the parking lot. Police said those involved then exited the business and continued shooting at one another.

The CMPD arrested three suspected, all are 18 or 19 years old and face charges including possession of firearm by a convicted felon. Would be very interested in the why behind this crime, and specifically whether it was gang related.

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Your 2015 Panthers predictions

I’m going with 8-8 or thereabouts, with the Panthers not making the playoffs. This team just has too many holes, even in a weak NFC South. Cam Newton is a good (above average) but not great quarterback but he doesn’t have enough tools around him. The offensive line is simply suspect. The wide receiver corps features a bunch of guys that are perfectly reasonable #3 receivers but really just aren’t #1 or #2 options on a good team.

On defense, the linebackers are solid but that only gets you so far. Can the defensive line holdup or will injuries, nagging and otherwise, reduce its effectiveness. And the D-line needs to be good, and generate pressure, because aside from Josh Norman the secondary is adequate at best.

The Panthers’ special teams have been special for all the wrong reasons in recent years despite the team have having a decent enough kicker and punter. Nor sure they become a net plus this year.

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Linsanity doesn’t extend to Charlotte

It seems that new Hornets guard Jeremy Lin had trouble convincing Hornets security staff that he was an actual NBA player, and more to the point, played for the Hornets. Yes, really.

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Asheville’s Odd War Against Airbnb

My latest column for Carolina Journal:

RALEIGH — Technological innovation changes industries. How fast such better ideas take hold often depends on government actions. And while new technologies raise difficult questions, poor economic logic never should be the justification for clamping down on new ideas.

As the Asheville Citizen-Times reports, the city of Asheville is poised to crack down on local homeowners who list their homes on sharing services like Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner. These services inform tourists or other visitors who would like to rent a house, apartment, or even a room for one or more nights (but not sign a lease) from homeowners who have space to rent.

The city is adding an employee who will do nothing but enforce its ban on short-term rentals. It also is considering raising the penalty for violations to $500 a night, up from the current $100.

Proponents of the crackdown offer a rather odd justification: Allowing people to rent a house for less than a month would drive up rents across the city, harming those in need of affordable housing. “There would easily be a significant number of houses being bought for the purpose of short-term rentals that would in turn drive up land values and housing costs and in turn increase the rental rates,” said Vice Mayor Marc Hunt.

Hunt’s rationale is either counterproductive or wrong. By all accounts, Asheville enjoys being a tourist mecca, and its economy is built in no small part around out-of-town visitors’ money. Now, local leaders appear to be saying that they like tourists and the money they bring — except when they don’t, when those visitors choose to stay in places that aren’t approved by city officials.

Though Asheville often is portrayed as a trendy, highly desirable place to live, the reality is a bit different. While the Asheville area certainly is growing, the Triangle, Charlotte, and Wilmington areas are gaining population at a greater clip. The per-capita income in Buncombe County, where Asheville is located, is below the state average; the region simply has relatively few high-paying jobs.

If there really is a huge, unfilled demand for lodging for potential visitors to Asheville, that suggests the city is leaving an awful lot of money on the table. More tourists should result in more sales by local businesses, more sales tax revenue, and, yes, more jobs and opportunity for residents. And the locals who stand to benefit most include those who need affordable housing.

One city council member who gets it is Cecil Bothwell, one of the city’s most liberal elected officials. “I think any attempt to regulate a business plan that permits local entrepreneurs to use international websites to attract business is a fool’s errand,” Bothwell said. Bothwell also questions how many people would buy houses in Asheville just to rent them for a week or weekend at a time.

In any case, Hunt’s argument sends an awful message to city landowners: He views home value increases as a very bad thing, even after the haircut they took during the Great Recession. Given that attitude, why anyone would want to invest in the city’s future by buying property there is a mystery.

Creating the proper regulatory framework for services like Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner is complex, as it necessarily involves addressing health and safety standards and zoning rules. Rather than relying in part on fuzzy economic logic to slow innovation, a much better way for the city to address rising housing costs would be to re-examine the regulations it places on new construction.

Unnecessary rules, excessive requirements, and burdensome zoning drive up new home prices.

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Who has raised the most money in the mayor’s race recently?

With “recently” being Aug. 5 through Sept. 1? As the Charlotte Observer reports, that would be Dan Clodfelter at nearly $50,000 and Edwin Peacock at $46,000, followed by David Howard at nearly $37,000, and then Jennifer Roberts at just under $32,000. Scott Stone raised $13,000 while Michael Barnes continues to get only a minimal amount of contributions ($3,700).

Analysis: Roberts’ strategy of portraying herself as the front runner, and thus the one to whom donations should go, obviously hasn’t been entirely effective. On the Republican side, Peacock seems to thinks he’s got the nomination in the bag, as he’s now holding a very large amount of cash ($157,000).

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What N.C. drinks

Vodka is the best-selling liquor in 13 of the state’s 15 largest counties (whiskey outsells vodka in Catawba and Onslow counties). But there are some interesting local alcohol consumption trends, reports the Wilmington Star-News:

Statewide, drinking habits do tend to follow patterns, sometimes unexpected ones. Rural counties like Bertie, Greene and Hertford have an outsized appetite for gin, while communities in Dare, Currituck, Onslow and other coastal counties imbibe rum at an accelerated rate.

Local bias also emerges — Tennessee whiskey sells better in communities closer to North Carolina’s western boundary with that state.

In the Triangle area, it’s the hip rye whiskey splashing into tumblers a lot these days. Wake, Durham and Orange counties all are significantly ahead of the state average in rye sales, peaking at 463 percent above the norm in Orange County.

“Rye is a hot new trend right now, for sure. Most of my business is on the south side in Chapel Hill,” said Barry Roberts, buyer and warehouse manager for Orange County’s ABC board. “Rittenhouse Rye is particularly hard to find. I order it 50 cases at a time when I can get it.”

Others buck the trends entirely. In the tiny Duplin County community of Warsaw — estimated population 3,000 — whiskey beats vodka as the top seller. The percentage of vodka sales there is actually the smallest in the state. Meanwhile, brandy and gin sales soar to about 300 percent above the state average there.

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Were the Panthers cheated out of a Super Bowl win?

ESPN has a major piece out titled “Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart”, which attempts to quantify the degree of New England Patriots cheating leading up to the Spygate scandal and how the light penalties the team received impact the NFL’s actions in Deflategate. The portion of the story of local interest:

The Patriots’ primary victims saw Spygate, and other videotaping rumors, as confirmation that they had been cheated out of a Super Bowl — even though they lacked proof. The Panthers now believe that their practices had been taped by the Patriots before Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. “Our players came in after that first half and said it was like [the Patriots] were in our huddle,” a Panthers source says. During halftime — New England led 14-10 — Carolina’s offensive coordinator, Dan Henning, changed game plans because of worries the Patriots had too close a read on Carolina’s schemes. And, in the second half, the Panthers moved the ball at will before losing 32-29 on a last-second field goal. “Do I have any tape to prove they cheated?” this source says. “No. But I’m convinced they did it.”

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