Monday, August 31, 2015

First Drip (8/31/15): New poll shows Roberts, Peacock well ahead of mayoral primary opponents

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 10:58 AM

A new Charlotte Observer poll shows Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Republican Edwin Peacock with double-digit leads in their respective primaries, as early voting is set to begin on Thursday. Roberts reportedly showed a lead in all demographics, including men, women and black voters. Both Republicans in the race, Scott Stone and Peacock, were on the losing side of the last two mayoral elections in Charlotte, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. 

Bishop Phillip Davis of Nations Ford Community Church accidentally shot and killed himself while cleaning his gun in his Union County home over the weekend. He had worked as a preacher for more than 40 years. The congregation gathered Sunday to mourn Davis on an occasion that was planned to be a celebration of the anniversary of the church's founding. Davis was known throughout the community, and had appeared on local media multiple times to speak about issues ranging from the Randall Kerrick trial to his stance against same-sex marriage. 

Cousins Properties and Dimensional Fund Advisors are reportedly eyeing a triangle-shaped parcel of land between South Tryon Street, Camden Road and Park Avenue. Popular, locally owned shops like Common Market and Black Sheep skate shop currently sit in the parcel, and Food Truck Fridays are held in an empty lot that also is on the land. Creative Loafing reported in early August that Common Market has been researching potential new locations amidst rumors that developers are eyeing the land. Dimensional Fund Advisors recently announced it will move its East Coast regional headquarters to Charlotte, and wants to have it done by 2018. 

The North Carolina Supreme Court will hear arguments today for the second time in a case regarding how voting districts were redrawn in 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state court to revisit the issue following a decision in a case out of Alabama regarding voting districts. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Voting Rights Act does not require that lawmakers place a certain percentage of African-Americans in majority-minority districts. The U.S. Supreme Court has not made any statement regarding the decision already made by the state's Supreme Court, but just asked that it review the state's voting districts again with the new guidance in mind. 

The University of South Carolina football team unveiled a new sticker players will wear on their helmets through the 2015 season to honor the nine people shot and killed in an attack on Emanuel AME Church this summer. The sticker depicts nine birds formed out of the characteristic South Carolina palmetto tree design. 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

First Drip (8/28/15): Kerrick case will not be retried

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 11:09 AM

The North Carolina Attorney General's office announced this morning that it will not retry CMPD officer Randall Kerrick for voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. The original trial ended in a mistrial after the jury became deadlocked. Prosecutors said they do not believe another trial would result in anything different from the first one. 

The North Carolina legislature has given themselves more time to agree on a state budget, expanding the deadline for approval of a budget yet again until September 18. The budget was originally due by June 30. Teacher salaries and the decision whether thousands of teacher assistants will stay in CMS schools hang in the balance as legislators decide on a budget. The $2.1 million cost of expanding the legislative session three times for lawmakers to reach a decision could reportedly pay the yearly salary of 47 CMS teachers. 

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney spoke yesterday regarding rumors of low morale and complaints from officers in the department regarding leadership's handling of the Randall Kerrick case, mainly that he was arrested too quickly after the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. Putney said the Internal Affairs process will change in the department, allowing officers faced with charges to appeal to a deputy chief or take it to a department expert. He also said the department will look into making changes to its training procedures regarding how an officer responds to certain scenes, making it safer for them and residents. 

New documents unsealed by federal authorities show that an MS-13 gang member was in possession of CMPD documents listing the names of officers, witnesses and victims in a case against him when they arrested him in May, as part of a large round-up of MS-13 members. Carlos Almonte was apparently collecting the information, and was crossing out or circling names of those involved with the case. The documents also discussed details the CMPD had learned about secret meetings amongst MS-13 members. 

After losing a bid in 2013 to host the ESPN Summer X Games for four years, Charlotte is now eyeing the next opportunity to bring the games to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2018. Austin was awarded a four-year contract from 2014 to 2017, beating out other top-bidders Charlotte, Detroit and Chicago. Officials from the city's tourism department as well as from the speedway say their partnership came too late in the game last time around, and they will be working together with more cohesion to land the internationally watched event in coming talks. 

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Opening Friday

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 8:00 PM

  • Dreamline Pictures
  • Unsullied

The Diary of a Teenage Girl - Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig

No Escape (opened Wednesday) - Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan

Unsullied - Murray Gray, Rusty Joiner

We Are Your Friends - Zac Efron, Wes Bentley

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Carowinds announces new water park, a coastal experience on the state line

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Carowinds tried to curb the anxiety of panicked park-goers when they announced the end of that God-awful but popular wooden roller coaster Thunder Road earlier in the year by dropping hints about newer, wetter options to be built in its place. 

Thunder Road is now a splinter-inducing pile of wood instead of a headache-inducing attraction and today Carowinds announced the details of its new water park, Carolina Harbor, which will reportedly have twice as many slides as the current Boomerang Bay. ("Yeah, well, back at ya," said the Bay.) 

The biggest attraction to be featured in Carolina Harbor, being pitched as a "coastal experience," will be Blackbeard's Revenge, a six-story water slide complex named after the infamous English pirate who spent much of the time he took off from murderin' and plunderin' in North Carolina. 

Before we get to that though, let's address something Carowinds didn't mention in the press release. Blackbeard already exacted his revenge on park-goers prone to motion sickness for 14 years. From 1985 to 1999, Blackbeard's Revenge was a "ride" in which reluctant parents followed kids with no sense of equilibrium to crowd into a dark room made to look like the cabin of a pirate ship while the walls moved up and down and Blackbeard told his story. The introduction to sea-sickness was the closest thing to a coastal experience I've ever had at Carowinds. 

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First Drip (8/28/15): Driver's ed to drop from CMS programs next week

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Driver's education will no longer be offered to CMS students through the school system when the temporary school budget expires next week. The law currently requires 16- and 17-year-old kids to take driver's ed to get a license, but the Senate budget would only require 85 hours of driving with a licensed adult and a score of at least 85 percent on the written DMV test. Gov. Pat McCrory has spoke in support of privatizing driver's ed, saying that if someone can't afford driver's education courses, they probably can't afford a car. CMS students currently pay $55 for driver's ed, but a course reportedly runs between $300 and $400. 

Attorneys for Randall Kerrick met with media yesterday and called on the attorney general's office not to pursue a retrial in the voluntary manslaughter case of his client for the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. Kerrick is still charged in the case, but prosecutors have not yet said whether they plan to retry him. 

The father of slain Roanoke, Virginia journalist Alison Parker appeared on Fox News' "The Kelly File" last night and spoke about the last time he had heard from his daughter. Andy Parker also vowed to become an activist for tougher gun laws, saying he wanted to do something about crazy people getting guns. "I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation; to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns," Parker said. "This is not the last you've heard of me. This is something that is Alison's legacy that I want to make happen."

The economy grew at a 1.4-percent faster rate in the second quarter of 2015 than originally reported, according to reports. Original reports from the Commerce Department in July put the economy's growth at 2.3 percent, but no reports based on increased corporate spending put the number at 3.7 percent. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LGBT groups back council candidates, say they will turn out ‘critical mass’

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 1:29 PM

Representatives of three LGBT advocacy groups announced their endorsements of City Council candidates at a press conference Wednesday morning, throwing their weight — and money — behind four at-large Democratic candidates and several candidates in contested district races.

Candidate James "Smuggie" Mitchell speaks at a press conference of local, state and national groups endorsing him and several other candidates for Charlotte City Council. - PHOTO BY MATT COMER.
  • Photo by Matt Comer.
  • Candidate James "Smuggie" Mitchell speaks at a press conference of local, state and national groups endorsing him and several other candidates for Charlotte City Council.
The announcement comes as the local Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) joins with the statewide Equality North Carolina and national Human Rights Campaign to launch a coordinated campaign effort they’ve billed as “TurnOUT Charlotte!”

The slate of candidates endorsed mutually by the groups includes at-large hopefuls Julie Eiselt, Billy Maddalon and former councilmember James “Smuggie” Mitchell. Additionally, the groups have endorsed incumbent at-large candidate Vi Lyles, as well as district candidates LaWana Mayfield, Al Austin and John Autry, all incumbents in their respective districts. MeckPAC separately announced they will endorse incumbent Patsy Kinsey and Chris Turner, a Democrat challenging current District 7 Republican Ed Driggs, in the general election.

Of the entire slate, four candidates identify openly as members of the LGBT community, the most that have run for council in the city's history. These candidates include incumbents Mayfield and Austin and newcomers like council candidates Maddalon and Turner and mayoral candidate Roderick Davis.

The groups’ mayoral endorsements were not announced today, with organizers stressing their focus on the Council seats.

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First Drip (8/26/15): Troubled club in Wesley Heights shut down, owner to serve prison time

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 10:30 AM

A club in Wesley Heights that has upset some nearby residents after being the scene of multiple shootings and two murders has shut down and the owner will face jail time. Adolph Shiver, owner of Club 935, will serve nine months in prison and nine months of house arrest. He will also reportedly have to pay more than $50,000 in fines for tax crimes. According to federal documents, Shiver agreed to launder $50,000 through the club for an FBI source during a sting. 

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education formally approved a raise for the county's newest teachers last night, although there really wasn't any choice, considering the raise comes from the state. The salary raise – from $33,000 to $35,000 a year – for teachers with zero to four years experience is part of a stopgap budget from the state while negotiations continue in the General Assembly to pass a final budget. Until that happens, teachers with five or more years experience will be held at current pay. 

The first televised debate between Charlotte's mayoral candidates was held last night at the Ballantyne Hotel, with the four Democratic frontrunners squaring off to begin the evening and the two Republican candidates following up. As has been the case in previous forums over the last month, many of the Democrats agreed on a lot of issues, with small tweaks to how they would like to handle things like mass transit and recruiting companies. Scott Stone and Edwin Peacock are running on the Republican ticket. A Republican has not served as Mayor of Charlotte since now-Governor Pat McCrory left office in 2007. 

According to preliminary reports from Charlotte Area Transit System released yesterday, ridership on the new Gold Line streetcar has been 67 percent higher than expected since opening in July. While the first projected numbers given to the federal government during the funding process estimated a daily ridership of 1,100 people, the average number through July stood at 1,507 people. 

A reporter and cameraman for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia were killed on-air during a live interview this morning, sending shockwaves through the national media industry on social media. The channel confirmed through Twitter that reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, were killed in the shooting. The woman being interviewed by Parker was reportedly injured and is in surgery. Creative Loafing's thoughts are with the friends, family and coworkers of Parker and Ward. 

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Today's Top 5: Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, August 26, 2015 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Melanie Martinez at Amos' Southend


Party at the Park at Romare Bearden Park

O.A.R., Allen Stone, Brynn Elliott at Uptown Amphitheater

Screening of The Real Dirt on Farmer John at Freedom Park Pavilion

Almost Famous Comedy Show at The Comedy Zone

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LGBT groups hope to swing Charlotte elections

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Three LGBT advocacy groups will launch a new electoral campaign in Charlotte at a joint press conference on Wednesday morning. Leaders with the effort say they’re confident they’ll be able to turn out the support and votes to sway this year’s Charlotte City Council election — all in the aftermath of March’s failed LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance vote.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter, pictured with other Democratic mayoral candidates, addresses the crowd at the LGBT Community Candidate Forum in early August. - PHOTO BY RYAN PITKIN
  • Photo by Ryan Pitkin
  • Mayor Dan Clodfelter, pictured with other Democratic mayoral candidates, addresses the crowd at the LGBT Community Candidate Forum in early August.
“Charlotte is the second-biggest city in the entire country without the necessary protections for the LGBT community,” said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, one of the partnering coalition organizations in the new campaign, “TurnOut! Charlotte.” Other partners include the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC) and the Human Rights Campaign.

“With the failure of the ordinance, it’s incumbent upon the LGBT community and our allies to stand up and say we are a sizable and vital part of the city of Charlotte and these municipal elections in 2015 are the most critical in quite a while for our community,” Sgro added.

He said TurnOut! Charlotte will bring together the resources and “vast network of members” of the three coalition partners and “make strategic investments in this [election] cycle.”

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First Drip (8/25/2015): More renovations planned at airport

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:12 AM

The Charlotte City Council approved a nearly $48 million contract for more renovations at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The plan, which will take roughly six years to complete, calls for a new, wider access road in front of the airport's terminal that will include tunnels.

The jury foreman in the trial of CMPD Officer Randall Kerrick says that race was not an issue during deliberations, though there were heated discussions. He added that the most important piece of evidence was the dash cam footage which shows Jonathan Ferrell charging at Kerrick.

After plummeting 1,089 points on Monday and ending the day down 600, the Dow Jones rebounded on Tuesday morning with a quick 250-point bounce. Part of that is due to China slashing interest rates in an effort to calm financial markets and boost economic growth.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signed a four-year extension with the Charlotte Hornets on Monday. The contract is reportedly worth $52 million.

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