Tonight, City Council will decide whether to spend $4.5 million in supplemental money to resurface streets or hire more police officers. City Manager Curt Walton will recommend shifting the money from street maintenance to the police department. Consider this blog entry a vote for leaving the money where it is and fixing the streets. Nothing against police officers, but even they have to drive down the same bumpy, cracked and potholed streets as the rest of us, so they know as well as you or I that Charlotte’s roads are in terrible shape. Especially for such an image-conscious city; it's pretty hard to seem “world-class” while you're dodging dozens of potholes per day.
But here’s a more central question: if crime rates in Charlotte are plummeting — not just “decreasing,” but plummeting — why do we need 75 new police officers at the expense of safer roads? Walton may have forgotten the latest crime stats, but we haven’t. Crime in the Q.C. is down 21 percent from last year, with homicides down 39 percent and vehicle thefts down 35 percent. So, why more officers now? Is this just politics, where someone does a good job (in this case, Chief Monroe) and so he gets more goodies? You hope not, but it does seem kinda obvious. Meanwhile, if you’re going to the city council meeting where this decision will be made tonight , you’ll have to be careful not to wreck your tires and shocks while getting there.