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Char-Meck, the Remix: A vision of 2010 

It's almost New Year, and once again we pundits find ourselves dizzy with our renewed annual powers to predict what will happen in the next 12 months. This time, though, something's different, and I'm having trouble telling the actual future from my own dreams and wishes for our city and nation. So, with that caveat, here's a look at some of the top events of 2010. I think.

Mayor Anthony Foxx gets off to a running start, convening an Emergency Conference of Leaders to deal with Charlotte's woeful economy, unemployment, housing shortages, homelessness, aging infrastructure, foreclosures, and glut of Brooks Brothers suits. At the last minute, the county agrees to participate in the conference, adding area schools to the list of issues to be considered.

Bank of America's new CEO Brian Moynihan announces that he has "some big surprises" in store for the conference. County Commissioner Bill James and School Board member Kaye McGarry release a joint statement, warning of an upcoming "wholesale embrace of the homosexual agenda by local government," after which 50 angry conservatives start posting comments on political Web sites, convincing themselves they represent majority opinion.

The conference convenes in mid-February amid complaints by Republicans that they aren't equally represented at the event. Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess replies, "That's because your numbers on city council and county commission have shrunk -- duh!" After a day of welcoming speeches and introductions, Mayor Foxx and Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts surprise everyone by immediately calling for closed sessions to outline "a plan we've been working on since the election."

The media hit the roof about being shut out, and Rep. Sue Myrick shows up with an exorcist to "release this conference from its captivity by devil Democrats," but the conference presses on, with attendees sworn to secrecy. After two weeks, Foxx, Roberts, Moynihan, Duke Energy's Jim Rogers, and CMS Supt. Peter Gorman announce "Char-Meck, the Remix," a dramatic revamping of major Charlotte-Mecklenburg institutions, priorities, and government agencies. The entire package, they announce, will be voted up or down by citizens in the county in a special election in May.

In May, voters overwhelmingly approve the Remix plan, containing the following proposals:

• The unwieldy Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system will be split into four districts, taking care to produce zones containing a solid mix of economic groups and using magnet schools to achieve reasonable racial balance. All districts will teach real-world, comprehensive sex education rather than the fantasy-based, ineffective "abstinence-only" curriculum. Bank of America CEO Moynihan reveals his "big surprise," announcing that all costs related to implementing the new education reforms will be paid for by BofA, because, "Charlotte has been very good to our company, and as part of the community, we need to do a good deed for Charlotte."

• The city and county immediately begin discussions on how to merge the two governments, to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency. A full-time mayor and County Council, to be determined by election, will oversee the merged government.

• The city remixes the focus of its business incentives, providing carefully administered seed money for local owners who want to start small businesses in areas outside of Uptown.

• A new policy of fare-free public transportation in the entire county is implemented, supported by road and vehicle taxes. Ridership soars, and funds for finishing I-485 are diverted to speeding up an expansion of the light rail system.

• The city institutes a Living Wage program, guaranteeing all city workers a salary that will keep them out of poverty, and mandating that the city only do business with companies that provide their workers the same.

• The city invests in a tenfold expansion of the "Moore House" Supportive Housing project, and starts a central Homelessness Center. The center will include administration, sufficient beds for those who need them, plus a daily soup kitchen, job training, job interview classes, computer help, showers, laundry, mail delivery service, counseling and more efficient coordination of available state and federal programs.

• The city, county and Duke Energy work together to expand the use of passive solar heat, green roofs, and other environmentally friendly features in buildings. Owners get heavy tax breaks for retrofitting their buildings to be greener. Local government, with Duke Energy's help, aggressively recruit green energy companies to the area.

Other local news:

• Former BofA CEO Ken Lewis is convicted of obnoxious arrogance and sentenced to kitchen duty in the new homeless center for five years. No promotions, and definitely no bonuses.

• County Manager Harry Jones, City Manager Curt Walton, and City Attorney Mac McCarley, desperate for a job after the government merger, all donate their much-criticized bonuses to the homeless center.

• Rep. Sue Myrick has another coffeepot revelation, quits her House seat and dedicates herself to helping Latino immigrants adjust to life in America.

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