Sometimes you need a bulldozer. When a stubborn bad habit needs to be gotten rid of. When the road is bumpy and needs to be smoothed out. When bad habits lead to a dysfunctional muddle. That's when you need a bulldozer.
Enter Pat Cotham. She may be a small woman, but she's also a highly energetic go-getter with a long history of active public involvement, creating jobs and helping the disadvantaged. Her history is one of corralling whoever is interested in getting things done, regardless of ideology, and then look out, she's coming through!
And that's what eventually got her into trouble.
Charlotte Observer editorial pages editor Taylor Batten's Sunday report on his interview with Gov. Pat McCrory was probably enlightening to readers who are unfamiliar with the former Charlotte mayor's, um, thin-skinned conversational style. For those of us who've talked to McCrory as journalists over the years - we lucky, happy few, to sardonically paraphrase William S's Henry V - there was no surprise in Batten's main conclusion: McCrory is obsessed with his image and media criticism. Batten could just as easily have said, "Any media criticism, no matter the content nor the specific media outlet involved."
As mayor - heck, even before then, as a city councilman - McCrory would make the rounds of local media outlets and critique their coverage of his job performance. He first showed up unannounced at Creative Loafing's old offices on South Boulevard in the early 1990s. At the time, we were running a column by a pair of writers who called themselves Biff and Jiff. The column was a journalistic free-for-all, funny as hell but often offensive in its treatment of local pols; Councilman Pat didn't like it at all. He was particularly displeased with a column in which Biff (or was it Jiff? I could never tell) referred to the yuppie lawmaker as "a hemorrhoid on the city's butt." Granted, it was crude, and I had regretted letting the phrase pass after it was published - but considering our paltry circulation at the time, I was amazed that McCrory had even heard about it, much less read it himself (much less, it turned out, read the column regularly). That was the same meeting in which McCrory, who was an at-large council member and thus represented the entire city, kept referring to Myers Park residents as "my constituency." I never forgot that.
You've heard it before. Everyone has finished devouring a huge Thanksgiving dinner and somebody lying on the couch groans, "God, I ate so much, I feel like I'm gonna burst" (or "bust," if your family is Southern).
Did you ever stop to wonder if that's really possible? Could you really eat so much your stomach would blow wide open? In short, can you eat yourself to death? The answer is "It's not easy, but yes, you can."
So now Pat McCrory thinks the city of Charlotte should run the airport, and former airport honcho Jerry "I am the greatest airport executive of all time" Orr should take a hike because he's old and ostensibly used up. That's the gist of what the governor told Mike Collins yesterday on WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" show. Interpretations of what McCrory meant, why he finally took sides in the airport battle after months of farting around on the issue, and whether he even knows what he's doing are being blogged about and debated online.
Some city supporters, particularly those in the Uptown Chamber Zone, are feeling celebratory, while others are reacting along the lines of, "It's about damned time" or "WTF?" Jerry Orr supporters, naturally, are apoplectic in their defense of the guy they variously call "America's best airport director" and even "the man most responsible for Charlotte's growth and success."
State Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews - aka Sen. Fracking, Sen. GiveUsYourAirport and Sen. Stop Wasteful Government Spending - is leaving today with other North Carolina legislators of both parties to observe how fracking is done in Arkansas. Rucho co-chairs the Joint Legislative Commission on Energy Policy. The lawmakers will attend meetings in Little Rock today, visit Arkansas' Department of Environmental Quality tomorrow and then head out Friday for the fracking operations being run by Southwestern Energy, which is hosting the legislators' meetings.
As the (Raleigh) News & Observer notes in its valuable "Under the Dome" political blog, Southwestern Energy also operates in Pennsylvania, where more than a dozen families sued the company in 2010, claiming that its drilling sites contaminated their water supply and made them sick. In addition, a Southwestern Energy representative served on a "stakeholder panel" that advised North Carolina's Mining and Energy Commission, which is producing this state's fracking regulations.
Today, Sea World of Orlando, Fla., goes before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to begin its appeal of a federal penalty levied against it after the February 2010 death of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau. Brancheau drowned after she was dragged underwater by Tilikum, a bull orca, or male killer whale. The veteran trainer had worked regularly with the orca before it killed her.
Sea World, part of the Busch Gardens Corp., was fined $12,000 by OSHA - at most a half-drop in the company's bucket - which explains why the appeal is directed toward doing away with the additional safety measures required of Sea World by the U.S. Labor Department. Those requirements include a prohibition of "close contact" between Sea World trainers and killer whales during performances. A judicial confirmation of the new safety measures could be a big blow to Sea World, as it would take away the pizazz element of the popular shows and would no doubt cost the attraction a ton of money. Sea World's lawyers, of course, aren't talking about lost revenue; they say they're more concerned about the safety and welfare of their trainers and whales. Of course they are.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger hung out for part of the day Wednesday at the Billy Graham Library, volunteering at a food drive for local food pantries.
Pittenger has been a vocal supporter of food banks in the past, even helping develop a plan, along with CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison, to hold food drives at most local public schools.
Pittenger's press release about Wednesday's food drive quoted him as saying, "There shouldn't be hungry kids in Charlotte." I agree completely with that statement, and I'm glad the congressman took time to help local providers of food to the poor. But Pittenger's PR-savvy food drive photo op shows a different side of the Republican lawmaker than we're used to, and, frankly, I'm a little confused.
Edwin Peacock is that kind of guy you feel compelled to root for even when you disagree with him. As the Charlotte Republican mayoral candidate addressed a disappointed crowd at Dilworth Grill in his concession speech Tuesday night, he began by asking if everyone had a drink, with such sincere concern in his voice, I almost expected him to buy us all a round.
He delivered a positive, upbeat speech, saying he felt like even though he lost the race, the city had won. Despite his disagreements with newly elected mayor Patrick Cannon during the campaign, they never once attacked each other with negative ads or rhetoric, and that's something he will look back on with pride, he said.
Congratulations to mayor-elect Patrick Cannon, who defeated his GOP opponent Ed Peacock in yesterday's voting. Right off the bat during his victory speech, Cannon, ever a ball of energy, grabbed the world by the lapels and told everyone why winning the mayor's race was so important. It wasn't "Now we can begin to really move this city forward!" nor was it, "Together, we can make my bold vision for Charlotte a reality!" nor even "I think we need more diverse food wagons." No, electing Patrick Cannon as Charlotte's mayor is a huge, huge deal because, as the man himself explained it, "I am realizing a life goal."
Thursday's vote to block Democratic Congressman Mel Watt's nomination to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency is unprecedented in the modern era of American politics - the last time Congress rejected a sitting member's nomination to a cabinet-level position was in 1843.
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