The Politics Of Budgets: The Week In Review From WFAE
The Charlotte politics world consumed our attention this week, starting off with some fireworks at a local Black Political Caucus forum.
A Mecklenburg County budget proposal would withhold $56 million from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools unless the county is presented a detailed plan of how the school system intends to close the achievement gap between Black and white students.
After Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Thelma Byers-Bailey opened the discussion by saying she was "disappointed" in the decision, County Commission Chair George Dunlap snapped back with pointed criticism aimed at CMS and Superintendent Earnest Winston.
“What I say, I will say publicly,” Dunlap said at the end of the forum. “And one thing you need to know about me: If I throw a rock and I don’t hit you, some more are coming.”
Meanwhile, over at City Council, the debate rages on over the Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan and whether the plan should eliminate single-family-only zoning. After a seven-hour meeting, council members tentatively voted to keep the original plan, which makes it easier for developers to build triplexes and duplexes in neighborhoods without deed restrictions.
Council members will take a final vote on the plan next month. Charlotte could become one of a few U.S. cities to scrap exclusively single-family zoning, along with Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon.
Disagreements continued in other parts of the state, too, as the district attorney in Pasquotank County said the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. by deputies in Elizabeth City was justified. DA Andrew Womble said Brown used his car as "a deadly weapon."
The attorney for Brown's family refutes that conclusion and has asked for a full release of body camera video.
There should be fewer disagreements in everyday life about whether to wear a face mask now that the mandate has been removed in North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance saying people vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask in most situations. But people are still being cautious, and not all businesses in the Charlotte area immediately lifted their own face mask requirements.
Anyone who wants to follow the CDC's guidance about face masks by getting vaccinated can still do so at Charlotte's storied Bojangles Coliseum. WFAE's Claire Donnelly reported that although the vaccine clinic was scheduled to end this weekend, it will remain open through June because of demand. That means if you want to get a shot where Elvis and the Rolling Stones have performed, you still can.
ICYMI: MORE LOCAL NEWS
A federal jury awarded Brian Hogan and his daughter $4.6 million last week after Cherokee County Department of Social Services officials separated him from his daughter about four years ago. A reporter with Carolina Public Press explains why.
Criminal charges were the basis of only six of the roughly 1,500 deportation cases filed in Charlotte through April, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Duke Energy plans to move its headquarters to a new building it's constructing across the street from its current home in uptown Charlotte. The company says it's adopting a new workplace model that dramatically reduces its need for office space.
Restaurants across the Carolinas are struggling to find workers even as demand is rebounding from a pandemic slowdown. That’s despite many restaurants raising pay and even offering signing bonuses.
The Gem Theatre in Kannapolis has been an emblem of the town for more than 80 years. Now, as part of the downtown's revitalization, the theater is getting a makeover — but one in keeping with its authenticity.
Charlotte artist Whitney Austin shares her story about going from a career as a flight attendant and working in corporate sales to launching a studio and finding success that is "beyond a dream" through her paintings.
North Carolina has had an eviction moratorium since last fall and it runs through the end of June. The moratorium protects some tenants who cannot afford to pay the rent because of the pandemic. On the other end of those postponed rent payments are landlords.
THE HIGH COST OF COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt an economic blow to many small businesses, with one estimate saying 200,000 closed in 2020. Charlotte entrepreneur Sussa Goins had one of those businesses, and today she says she’s glad it shut down.
FAQ City recently received this question from Adam Derbidge: How did Charlotte become a disc golf epicenter? With over 15 courses and host of the Disc Golf Pro Tour, we seem to be a destination for fans of the sport. How did it take off, and who should we thank?
Local music veteran David "DK" Kim notes the lack of Asian representation among Charlotte's rock, pop and folk scenes, sharing his thoughts on incremental music progress and his introspection as an artist, a Korean American and a North Carolinian.
The lines for COVID-19 tests and vaccines that we got used to during the pandemic got replaced by new lines in the Charlotte area – lines at the gas pump. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his On My Mind commentary, says the temporary gas shortage was another reminder of how fragile our normal routines really are.
BEST OF CHARLOTTE TALKS
Charlotte Talks went over the county’s $1.99 billion budget proposal, including a controversial plan to withhold $56 million from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools until the district improves academic outcomes for minority students.