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Other stories of note this year included "World Class City, Third World Paycheck" 

This April 25 cover story discussed how the working poor ­ folks who work a full-time job, yet still do not earn enough to make ends meet ­ have become one of the fastest growing demographics in the city. We told you about how some of these folks work for the city of Charlotte. Helping Empower Local People (HELP) spearheaded a campaign to pass a "living wage" ordinance which would raise the minimum wage paid to city workers to $9 per hour as well as the minimum paid by businesses who do contract work with Charlotte. Over 60 cities across the country have already passed such an ordinance. Ultimately, the ordinance failed after the city council failed to override Mayor Pat McCrory's veto last May of the living wage initiative, which he compared to socialism and later characterized as a "non-issue." In response to the city's decision, HELP launched an anti-arena campaign a week before the June 5 referendum, asking, in effect, why they should support millionaire basketball players and team owners when the city would do nothing to help the working poor. HELP leaders are currently in the process of reaching out to other groups in hopes of getting the living wage initiative re-started.

Sports writer Susan Shackelford's stellar coverage of the Charlotte Sting, the city's most successful professional sports team ever, smoked the rest of the local media. We ran a cover story on Allison Feaster's emergence as a bonafide star, provided a mid-season report card that noted impressive improvements, and a regular-season recap explaining how the team pulled off their amazing turn-around which took them all the way to the WNBA championship game.

Charlotte's declining air quality continues to be a troubling issue, and it's one we explored at length in "Homegrown Health Hazard" by Sam Boykin. In this September 12 cover story, we wrote about how the EPA sued Duke Power, citing over 50 violations of the Clean Air Act. Moreover, several environmental and health organizations, referring to in-depth studies, accused Duke Energy's antiquated coal-fired power plants of producing a substantial amount of NC's air pollution. According to the studies, that pollution is, in effect, responsible for increased asthma attacks, respiratory disease and premature deaths in the area. Duke Energy responded that they're improving the efficiency of their power plants, and continue to operate within the confines of the law. Duke Energy spokespeople also pointed to car and truck emissions as being a major source of air pollution. The potential for real improvements in our environment was delayed once again as the NC House of Representatives adjourned this year's session without approving the NC Clean Smokestacks Act, which stood to reduce smokestack emissions early 70 percent over the next 10 years.

We also covered local efforts to enact a death penalty moratorium. Groups like Charlotte Coalition for a Moratorium and People of Faith Against the Death Penalty were at the forefront of this campaign, and continued to point out what they see as inequities within the capital punishment system. Their efforts are part of a growing state and national movement which, to date, has resulted in over 30 municipalities ­ including seven in NC ­ calling for a moratorium. The NC legislature this year passed a law that bans executions of prisoners who are determined to be mentally retarded. Legislators also discussed whether black defendants who have all-white juries are being discriminated against during their trials, and lawmakers approved a measure to improve the quality of representation for death row defendants. *

The Year Paul Morsecapty: Paul Morse

George Bush

In QuotesEver have one of those days where nothing seems to come together right? Well, if it's possible to have an entire year like that, we had one in 2001. From here, the century can only get better. In January, the nation swore in a president the people weren't completely convinced they had elected. The seemingly unstoppable pendulum of prosperity reversed itself, taking with it quickly made fortunes and hard-earned retirement funds. NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt was killed in an accident that should have merely rattled him while racer Tony Stewart walked away from a violent airborne wreck. The Mecklenburg County Commission squabbled with the Charlotte City Council over land for a new arena for the Charlotte Hornets, then offered to help the city after a referendum on a new arena failed miserably.

Meanwhile, schools of sharks of different breeds swam the East Coast in a bizarre behavior pattern that included a rash of attacks on humans and the death of a 12-year-old boy. Then in September, the secure world we knew shattered along with the walls of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Anthrax, a disease unknown to Americans for a quarter century, was unleashed in newsrooms and our nation's capital.

But if ends were left untied nationally, locally the year 2001 was one of reckoning, settling old scores and writing new chapters. Voters said no to an new arena for the Charlotte Hornets, banks merged, the school desegregation lawsuit was settled, a founding father retired and a local racing legend was laid to rest.

The year 2001 was a turning point. The only question that remains is exactly where we're headed now and what lies around the corner we've turned.

"It's a tremendous struggle. A lot of times I've had to rely on my mom for groceries. I've had to go to Crisis Assistance a couple of times to keep my power on." ­ Former City of Charlotte employee Leah Whiten.

"We have so much prosperity; we can afford to pay city workers a decent wage." ­ Charlotte City Council member Susan Burgess.

"I just got back from East Germany where they're trying to get away from socialism. I've got some very liberal council members who are going the opposite direction." ­ McCrory, pledging to veto a living wage ordinance that would have guaranteed city employees at least $9 per hour. At the time, McCrory and the council were working to placate wealthy Hornets owners by building them a new sports arena.

"Why do we have to have this rigid articulation of such a specific rule if it's something we come by naturally?" ­ UNCC professor Dr. Judy Aulette on the custom of marriage.

"I want everyone to hear loud and clear that I'm going to be the president of everybody, whether they voted for me or not." ­ President George Bush after his swearing-in ceremony following a bitter battle over who really won the presidency.

"Everything we're hearing from corporations is, business is falling off the cliffs in the fourth quarter, and it's not getting any better." ­ Economist Robert Mellman after the Fed cuts interest rates by half a percentage-point to spur the faltering economy.

"We are aware of the impact that power plants have on air quality in this state, and we believe we are addressing that issue." ­ Duke Energy spokesperson Joe Maher

"Obviously they need to do more." ­ Elizabeth Ouzts of NCPIRG, a non-profit environmental group.

"After 38 years and five children, Jackie, you're still here." ­ Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, to his wife during his first public appearance since news broke about the out-of-wedlock child he had with lover Karin Stanford.

"We were going to grow old together." ­ Former racecar driver Darrell Waltrip, on the death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.

"We're establishing a partnership. . .unfortunately, there are those who don't want things to change, they prefer to see things remain as they are. But we can't let those few stand in the way of progress." ­ Charlotte Housing Authority President Harrison Shannon on the HOPE VI program.

"It sounds good the way it comes out of their mouths, but it don't work like it comes out of their mouth." ­ Addie Pearce, long-time Piedmont Courts resident on the HOPE VI program.

"This whole thing is a subterfuge to get by the expressed desire of the people to have a referendum on an arena." ­ Charlotte City Council member Don Lochman, on the city council's decision to "bundle" the arena referendum question with five other more popular projects.

"It's about two women having sex." ­ Martin Davis to the Mecklenburg County Commission moments before he was thrown out of a commissioners' meeting for threatening to read from a book called Women on Top, which he had checked out of the public library.

"She was upbeat and full of life. . .She said she had some big news to share." ­ Linda Zamsky, the aunt of missing intern Chandra Levy, about an April 29 message left by her niece the day before Levy was last seen alive.

"This team belongs to the fans of Charlotte." ­ Hornets co-Owner George Shinn, explaining why the team withdrew its application with the NBA to relocate the team to Memphis, TN.

"It is something I had to do." ­ Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords on his defection from the Republican Party, which gave the Democrats control of the US Senate and its committees.

"We've spent 30 years proving we put public safety as our first priority. We have the most at stake here. If there was something dangerous or risky about this, we certainly wouldn't be involved." ­ Duke Energy spokesperson Steve Nesbit on the Duke Energy MOX fuel plan.

"We feel there are enough serious implications in this program that the people of Charlotte clearly have the right to know what's going on, and be given some kind of voice in the matter." ­ Catherine Mitchell of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League on the MOX fuel plan.

"I guess you have to celebrate anything you get in this town if you're an environmentalist." ­ Lower Lake Wylie Association member John Byrd on some environmentalists' reaction to The Palisades deal.

"Why not? Why should we not have a great city?" ­ Hugh McColl, the outgoing chief of Bank of America, to the Charlotte Observer the week he retired. McColl built the former North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a national banking giant, turning little-known Charlotte, NC, into the second largest financial center in the nation.

"I just think we need to find this guy. He has a lot of questions to answer." ­

Rebecca Felmet on the mysterious disappearance of former Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chairman Andrew Reyes, who disappeared in May. Felmut is the daughter of Reyes' now-deceased client Doug King, who authorities believe Reyes stole at least $1.5 million from.

"This is the greatest upset in Charlotte political history." ­ Don Reid, a co-chair of Citizens Opposed to Sports Taxes (CO$T) after the $342 million arts and arena referendum package was pummeled 57-43 percent by Charlotte voters.

"Look around us. All those people gathered to watch someone die." ­ Nathan Chambers, attorney for Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his role in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in April 1995.

"They're all in state waters right now, so they're protected." ­ Bob Spaeth, owner of Madeira Beach Seafood, in the Tampa Tribune after a rash of shark attacks up and down the East coast, including two in Hilton Head, made national news.

"We see airplanes passing overhead all the time from Newark Airport. No, these weren't airplanes." ­ Carteret, New Jersey, police Lt. Dan Tarrant in the Bergen County, NJ, newspaper, The Record. Along with Tarrant, about 75 motorists and several state troopers parked their cars on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike at about 12:20am on July 17 to watch what onlookers described as dozens of UFOs flying in a 'V' formation.

"Any way you cut it, it's the biggest thing either company has ever done. The stakes are high." ­ First Union Corp. businessman David Carroll about the merger between that bank and Wachovia Corp., which, combined, make the new Wachovia the nation's fourth largest bank.

"You needed that job, and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota." ­ The voiceover from US Sen. Jesse Helms' famous 1990 campaign commercial. The controversial paleo-conservative US Senator announced he wouldn't seek a sixth term, ending an era in North Carolina politics.

"Now's an opportunity to do generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, hunting it down, binding it and holding them accountable." ­ President George Bush, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

"School choice is yours." ­ A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools billboard, after the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the school system to concoct a race-neutral student assignment plan, ending 30 years of court-ordered desegregation.

"This is an isolated incident." ­ A US Health official, referring to the death of Florida newspaper photo editor Robert Stevens, the first victim of inhaled anthrax.

"Yes, be cautious, but resume your normal lives." ­ Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory at an October news conference. The mayor said he would attend that Sunday's Panthers game at Ericsson Stadium to show Charlotteans that life shouldn't stop just because terrorists blow things up.

"We and local law enforcement are doing everything we can without knowing exactly what we're guarding against." ­ Duke Power spokeswoman Becky McSwain, on efforts to fortify the two power plants within miles of Charlotte's uptown against terrorism.

"Our dream is that someday we could take a patient's cell, skin cell, and give them back anything that they needed to cure disease." ­ Dr. Michael West, president of Advanced Cell Technology. The Massachusetts company announced it had cloned a human embryo.

"All things must pass." ­ Time article headline about the death of former Beatle George Harrison.

"In some ways, you'd just assume keep on going and just work your way through the remainder of the season." ­ Carolina Panthers Coach George Seifert on the team's (as of deadline) 12-game losing streak. *

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