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McCrory Nixes CHA/CL Investigation 

For now, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory plans to stay out of squabbles among Charlotte Housing Authority(CHA) board members. CHA board member Eric Douglas wrote McCrory a letter two weeks ago requesting an investigation into how Creative Loafing obtained a draft of a controversial report by a consulting group which detailed a lot of problems at the Housing Authority. Douglas also requested permission to investigate whether another board member leaked information to Creative Loafing from the board's executive session meetings, which aren't open to the media.

McCrory said he wouldn't put the request on the Charlotte City Council agenda for a vote unless the full board requested the investigation. It's highly unlikely that that will ever happen, since that would require the approval of the one board member who the others want to investigate.

The Charlotte Housing Authority refused to release the taxpayer-funded report, which is public record, three weeks ago despite at least two written requests from local news media. The report, produced by Reznick, Fedder & Silverman (RF&S), was part of an ongoing attempt at internal reorganization by CHA, the Charlotte agency that manages federal, state and local subsidized housing projects and initiatives and distributes federally subsidized Section 8 rent vouchers.

The Reznick report was less than flattering, and in some instances suggested that some of the agency's problems could be due to mismanagement by its executives. The report highlights much of the progress the agency has made to date, and sheds the first ray of public light on the bureaucratic chaos that has ruled CHA over the past few years.

Creative Loafing will have a copy of the draft of the report on our website later this week, at www.charlotte.creativeloafing.com.

Dueling Rallies By Sam Boykin

Two very different rallies took place last week in Charlotte. One was a show of support for fighting back against terrorism. The other was a statement against launchng a war. Guess which one gathered the most people. Together, the two rallies demonstrated not only the current wave of support for smacking terrorists, but also the polarization that cold grow as America wrestles with how to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Last Friday, downtown Charlotte was the site of a patriotic lunchtime freedom rally organized by the Carolinas' Citizens Freedom Foundation and Charlotte Center City Partners. On hand were the US Continental Army Band, Mayor Pat McCrory, and several members of the armed forces as well as police, fire and medical personnel. Oh, and several hundred supporters who crowded the downtown area.

It's about pulling together as a country and a people and celebrating America, said Robert Krumbine, vice-president of events at Charlotte Center City Partners.

It's about honoring those who are on the front lines of this new war, or whatever you want to call it, said Col. James Quincy Collins, who is chairman of the Carolinas' Citizens Freedom Foundation. It's to show solidarity and support for America and the actions that we as a nation are going to have to take.

The following day, there was a peace rally at Marshall Park which was organized by the local chapter of International Answer, a coalition of national and international peace groups based in New York City. The rally was attended by a whopping five people.

Charlotte's event, which concluded with a march to the federal courthouse, coincided with similar, albeit far better attended, rallies around the country that urged the US government not to go to war.

What else would they have us do? What's the alternative? asked Collins,who was also a POW during Vietnam. America has been put on alert. In order for us not to suffer the kind of losses that this country experienced on September 11, we're going to have to find out who is causing this and eliminate them. It's basic self-preservation.

If we just go and bomb Afghanistan and whoever else we think is involved, then more innocent people who had nothing do with this will die, countered David Dixon, the local director for International Answer. The people in Afghanistan are already victims of the Taliban government that the US government trained, organized and funded in the first place. If we're going to do anything, I'd say the CIA should actually perform their job for once and go get bin Laden and bring him to international justice.

It's a terrible thing that happened, and everybody wants something to be done, but I think these freedom rallies just play on people's feelings and whip up public sentiment, Dixon continued. It just results in militarizing society here and abroad, and taking away people's rights in America through domestic repression like increased surveillance.

We're not going to just randomly attack civilians and wipe out cities, said Collins. We've got to hone in on the terrorist cells and the military of the countries who harbor terrorists. America has a short attention span. We need to keep patriotism alive, especially with our young people. The enemy is just waiting for us to relax, and if we're not careful we're going to get zapped again. The funny part about this whole thing is that these peace guys couldn't hold their rallies in any other country but America.

Samuelson Raises Funds for African-American Documentary

By Tara Servatius

County Commissioner Ruth Samuelson is doing something highly unusual for a conservative Republican. First, she apologized for past misdeeds committed against African-Americans to a surprised, all-black audience at a candidates' forum last year.

Now she's raising money for a documentary on how folks of African-American descent were treated in Mecklenburg County throughout the county's history. By Christmas, she hopes to have enough money to pay for the film, which would be produced by WTVI-42.

Samuelson says her thoughts changed after reading the 1978 book Soul on Fire by Eldridge Cleaver, who helped found the militant Black Panther Party in the 1960s. In later years, Cleaver renounced his former radical views, became a born-again Christian and embraced conservative political causes.

Samuelson said his description of what it was like to grow up black in America touched her heart, and she began to think differently than she had before about things she saw and heard that might be offensive to African-Americans.

Three weeks later, she found herself at Renaissance Place Restaurant on North Tryon, a traditional black restaurant, apologizing to the all-black political group meeting there.

Afterwards, a woman came up to me and said, I've waited all my life to hear a white person say what you just said,' said Samuelson.

Samuelson says she's not sure what the story line of the documentary will be, since she doesn't know the whole story of the county's racial history. She also stops just short of publicly apologizing for the county to the black community, and says she'll have to see what county history turns up before deciding if there is anything the county commission should apologize for.

There were some things done in the county that shouldn't have been done, Samuelson said. Wouldn't it be great if we all came together and acknowledged that?

Clarification

In the September 26 story by Shannon Reichley reviewing the TV documentary Local News, a PBS program about Charlotte's WCNC-TV, it was stated incorrectly that former reporter Bea Thompson was offered a contract renewal by the station. She was not offered a new contract by her employers and chose to leave the station in 1999. Thompson also says that, contrary to our story, she did not organize meetings and pickets that protested her ouster from the station.

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