Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shenanigans and tomfoolery rule in closing days of NCGA

In a flurry if activity late in the session, the Honorables in Raleigh pulled so many switcheroos, fast moves, and sleights of hand it would make a 3-card monte street hustler proud.  Take your eyes off the game for even a split second, and you will be left wondering what just happened to you.

Here are the low-lights of the waning hours of this year's long session that ended around 4AM Wednesday morning.

We told you last week about H373 which allows the leadership of the 4 legislative caucuses to setup their own shadow parties through something called "affiliated party committees".

This raised holy hell among the grassroots community who saw this as a direct attack on the state's political parties.  Activists held out some hope Governor McCrory would veto the bill.  Instead Tuesday evening, it appears the rest of your state government got in on the act.

Rather than facing a veto, legislators passed bill S119 which actually expanded the potential use of the affiliated party committee concept to include the Governor - thus letting him in on the action.  This will occur if Governor Pat signs H373.  Read this story at for more details.

Also, on Tuesday legislators attempted to ram through some legislation intended to limit the type of ordinances municipalities could enact.  While normally, we here at aShortChronicle see putting limits on government as a good thing, in this case it was done in a very irresponsible way.

Similar to what happened in H373, with S279 legislators also attached a controversial provision to something that really needed to pass - legislation to improve capabilities around fighting human trafficking through improved counseling.

The pushback against the municipal restrictions forced the entire bill to be pulled off the calendar on Tuesday.  In order to save the good parts, legislators had to roll back a previous vote in the Senate, pretend that vote did not happen, then re-vote on an earlier version of the bill that did not contain the offending municipal provisions.

That put a number of Republican Senators in the position of having to pull a "John Kerry" - meaning they were against the bill before they were for it.

More than 2 dozen Republican Senators had originally voted against the bill which sent it to a conference committee where the offending local government provisions were added.  To get the counseling portion of the bill passed they rolled back that vote and then voted for the original bill

All this was to clean up a mess that they had made themselves.

Then finally there was Senate Bill 313.

In this case legislators replaced a bill having to do with license plates with one having to do with legalizing industrial hemp production.

This one flew through the legislature in a single day  The biggest concern here was wanting to make sure hemp products did not get used to promote actual marijuana products.  Nevermind how they so nonchalantly bastardized the legislative process.

The bill passed both houses with near unanimous support.

Folks, this is your government.. For a legislative session that ran way too long, ending it like this is pretty darn sad. 

Update: Governor McCrory did sign H373 Wednesday.  Story here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Has NCGOP Chairman Hasan Harnett become his own worst enemy?

As mentioned in the previous post, Saturday's NCGOP Executive Committee/Central Committee meeting in Greensboro turned out to be a doozy - and a marathon.

With multiple controversial topics on the agenda including votes on...
  • proportional versus Winner Take All allocation of delegates in next year's presidential primary (the vote went with proportional)
  • whether or not to take action against Rep David Lewis for his role in pushing through last week's controversial bill allowing NCGA leaders to setup separate committees with the powers of a political party (the item ended up being avoided due to a technicality)
  • and selecting a new Executive Director (former AFP leader and Gov McCrory favorite, Dallas Woodhouse, got the nod)
Chairman Hasan Harnett started the day off by sending out a blistering email early Saturday morning.  That went over like a lead balloon and set the day off in a less than amicable direction.

Now, I'm not a trained negotiator, but I've got to think there is a chapter somewhere in Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends and Influence People that says something along the lines of don't spit in someone's face if you want them to vote your way in just a couple hours.

Just sayin'...

Email from Hasan Harnett below...

To: Central Committee Members
To: Executive Committee Members
To: Republicans All Across North Carolina

To clarify to each of you...YES, the Central Committee will vote on and elect the next Executive Director for the North Carolina Republican Party without delay.

Our top prospective Executive Director Candidates are great and they have sacrificed their time, energy and treasure for this position. At the very least, these Candidates deserve a fair vote as we elect the next Executive Director.

Republicans all across the state are outraged. Your voices have been heard. Like you, I am deeply concerned.

Rest assure, there are specific individuals (on the Central Committee) who will attempt to mute your voice and concerns by delaying or even stopping the vote as we elect the next Executive Director.

It is also perceived that specific individuals (on the Central Committee) will also attempt to use the following strategies and tactics which include:

1. Fear
2. Intimidation (lack of fundraising)
3. Emotional Disturbance (lack of trust, confidence, etc.)
4. Disappointment (personal or collective feelings) and,
5. Confusion

Just to be crystal clear, all of this is designed as an attempt to distract, stall, delay, thwart, postpone or even suspend the vote as we elect the next Executive Director. It this be true, what a shame.

Remember the State Convention? Remember the energy? What you should remember about me, in the face of all this chaos, I remain steadfast ready and willing to work with all Republicans; however, some are set on seeing us fail. We just all need to work together. 

YES, Voting Members of the Central Committee will vote on and will elect the Executive Director for the North Carolina Republican Party. I strongly recommend you go into the ExComm meeting knowing who our next Executive Director is.

Executive Committee Members, if the bad news and perception from up above is true, you will hear ALL about it. And if so, may the names of these select individuals be thrust forward into the light. They must be held accountable and responsible for purposely working hard against me, against you and the ultimate success of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Republicans All Across North Carolina, may you remember the scriptures of John 3:20 when it says...

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

Stay Tuned. God Bless You. God Bless America.

Friday, September 25, 2015

There will be War!

That very well may be the result of the Pearl Harbor style attack by NCGA electeds on the NCGOP apparatus yesterday with passage of H373.

Rep John Blust of Guilford County had this to say on Facebook Thursday evening after the vote.

"Just think - the measure was only released 24 hours ago. If it was something we needed to enact, why wasn't a bill filed which followed the normal process which those we represent could follow? Why would this matter be hidden even from members until the very last minute? Honorable people do not conduct the public's business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent. That cannot be disputed. If one disputes it, tell me why the matter was hidden until the last minute?"

Blust was referring to the inclusion in the bill of a provision that would gut the power and influence of the state's political parties by allowing legislative leaders to essentially take full control of the purse strings.  This provision was added as part of the conference report for H373 - a bill intended to move NC's primary date back to March to avoid penalties at next year's Republican National Convention for having the state primary too early according to national party rules.

The new provision would allow House and Senate leadership to form their own fundraising and campaign support committees.  Instead of the money going through the political parties, it would be controlled by legislative leaders directly.

It appears this is a direct response to the grassroots success at June's state NCGOP convention.  The election of Hassan Harnett and Michele Nix as Chairman and Vice Chair has upset the applecart.  Direct control of the purse is more important than ever for legislators who raise large sums from special interest groups who want to ensure it goes where it is "needed".

If that control can't be assured the money could dry up all together.

Party leaders and grassroots activists are not taking this lying down however.  An effort was underway Friday afternoon to encourage Governor Pat McCrory to veto the bill.

McCrory has not had a lot of success with the veto this legislature. However in this case it seems unlikely the House would have the votes to override one if he decides to use it.  The Republucan-led effort only passed the House by 3 votes (52-49) and relied on several Democrats to get it done.  There were also four Republican legislators absent yesterday afternoon who were actually there earlier in the day.  It appears this bill may have even been scheduled for an afternoon vote to ensure passage. At least one of those absent Republicans, John Bradford of Mecklenburg, indicated on Facebook Thursday evening that he likely would have been a 'no' vote.

So, why is all this happening now?

It may just be part of the typical shenanigans that seem to occur at the end of legislative sessions.  However, it may also have something to do with the imminent selection of a new NCGOP Executive Director.  Maybe legislative leaders see that choice not going their way, so this was a preemptive strike.

Regardless, it will make Saturday's Party Executive Committee meeting much more interesting.

Time to get the popcorn ready!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Update on Mi-Connection new internet speeds

We told you last week about the new download speeds on the way from Mi-Connection.  Well, now comes the official announcement.

Looks like the upgrade will be even more impressive than originally thought based on the company's earlier Facebook postings.

This upgrade is also definitely needed for the company to keep up with its competition.

We checked in with Standard Pacific, the developers of the new Davidson East neighborhood on NC73 that recently broke ground.  That neighborhood will be one of the largest new developments in town in several years.  It is a potential cash cow for new Mi-Connection customers.

The representative we spoke with said they will likely be making a decision on whether to go with Mi-C or Time Warner in the next 30 days.  One thing for sure, without this upgrade announcement Mi-Connectiob would be at a disadvantage to Time Warner and its new TWC Maxx product.

Announcement below...

MI-Connection to Offer Faster Internet Speeds
Some customers will see an increase of up to 275%

Mooresville, N.C. – MI-Connection, the cable and telecommunications system owned by the towns of Mooresville and Davidson, will increase residential Internet speeds as much as 275% around the November 16th timeframe.  Current Internet customers, with a speed of 10Mbps or higher, will experience the faster speeds automatically, and at no additional monthly charge.  Please see the chart below:

“The recent investment we made to our network and infrastructure allows us to deliver these new speeds with even greater reliability,” said David Auger, CEO of MI-Connection. “We are thrilled we can do this for our customers.”

NCGOP dominated NCGA attempting to gut NCGOP

In breaking news out of Raleigh yesterday, legislators inserted language into a bill which effectively will allow party leaders to circumvent their actual parties by forming their own committees to control the money rather than having it go through the party.

This appears to be in response to the takeover of NCGOP party leadership by outsiders earlier this summer.

The NCGOP has been in turmoil since then with multiple senior staff leaving.

Make no mistake this recent effort is about money - who gets it and who controls it.

Below are the details from Adam Love...

HB 373 is up for a vote today. This is the bill that will change our primary date to be in accordance with the RNC rules, so we don't lose our delegates. 

The bad news is that Rep. David R. Lewis has added another section to the bill that sets up House and Senate "shadow" parties. This will undermine the NC GOP and will create havoc next year. Please call your representatives and ask section 163-278.8B be taken out of the bill. The vote is TODAY. 

Here is the newly-added text inserted by Rep. Lewis:

"§ 163-278.8B. Affiliated party committees.
(a) The leader of each political party caucus of the North Carolina House of Representatives and the Senate may establish a separate, affiliated party committee to support the election of candidates of that leader's political party. The affiliated party committee is deemed a political party for purposes of this Article."
Read that again: "The affiliated party committee is deemed a political party for the purposes of this article."

This is nothing less than the establishment of a new political party.  The NCGOP RNC Committeeman is trying to start his own political party! Why would he do this?

Call your NC House representative TODAY and demand that this language be stripped from the bill! By attaching this to HB 373, Rep. Lewis has effectively taken our RNC delegates hostage; if the bill fails completely, NC will lose many of its RNC delegates!

While you're on the phone, call Rep. David Lewis at 910-897-8100 and ask him WHY he is attacking his own party!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Catalyst Project up for discussion Monday night

About twenty residents gathered at the the Allen Tate office on Davidson's Main Street Monday evening to discuss their concerns with the proposed Catalyst Project to remake the town owned property on and around Town Hall with a potential mixed use development.

Also in attendance were Davidson Commissioners Rodney Graham and Beth Cashion.

After host Rusty Knox kicked off the meeting with his recollections of what it was like growing up in Davidson when it was much smaller place, he quickly outlined what are the major concerns with the project held by many in attendance - the project's size, location, and perceived rapid schedule.

The last item, concern with the schedule for the project, definitely rang true with many in the room.  It also brought out some of the evening's more interesting comments.  With one participant citing a media report saying the project was anticipated to be completed in the "next for years", Commissioner Cashion responded with "we're not sure where that came from".

Where that "four years" came from was a WSOC TV report that hit the airwaves last week.  The report featuring Mayor Woods can be seen here.  The accompanying article concludes with the following line:

"While there are no set deadlines yet, the town spokesperson says the goal is to try and get the project finished in the next four years."

Interestingly, that line is not actually in the video report.  It is only in the accompanying article.  Also, the "spokesperson" is not specifically named.

In a follow up conversation with Commissioner Cashion to find out what she meant when she said "we're not sure where that came from", Cashion indicated that both town public information officer, Christina Shaul, and economic development manager, Kim Flemming, denied telling WSOC that schedule.

The good news for opponents of the project is that regardless if anyone actually said that or if the WSOC report simply got it wrong, it does not appear to be the case.

Graham and Cashion also attempted to clarify what Commissioners really endorsed in their last meeting with consultants.

Much has been made of the introduction of the possibility of adding a 128 room "boutique" hotel to the plan - an idea that first appeared during the last discussion with the UNC SOG consultants.  What the commissioners "endorsed" during that meeting was not a plan that would definitely include a hotel, but rather the idea that plans for further investigation would include tearing down the current town hall rather than simply trying to modify/expand town hall and adding some parking.

The difference may sound subtle, but considering that much of the recent angst surrounding the project involves be inclusion of the hotel, it could be significant.  While the consultants indicated there was a lot of developer interest in a hotel project, if that concept generates a lot of community discontent, it seams that it could end up being a deal breaker.

There was also a good bit of discussion about other potential developments along South Main, the increase in traffic any development in that area will cause, and concern of the town getting into the development business.

The Commissioners indicated the town will have another public meeting on the project.  The tentative schedule for that is October 20th.  They also indicated the possibility of other community meetings to ensure all concerns are sufficiently aired.

As the first hour of the meeting wrapped up, this blogger had to head home, but one thing was clear - there will be a LOT more discussion before anything happens with the Catalyst Project.

Davidson Commissioners kick off monthly "coffee chat" series

Davidson elected officials held their first "coffee chat" at The Egg in The Saddler Square shopping center on Monday.  Roughly 40 people were said to have attended.

Special guests for this first event included NCGA electeds Sen Jeff Tarte and Rep John Bradford to give an update on goings on in Raleigh, and topics ranged from education spending, to toll roads, to the local Catalyst Project.

Based on how few people attended the previously scheduled "commissioner chats", this new format appears to be a raging success.  The earlier format occurred rather sporadically only on months that happened to have a fifth Tuesday, and the meetings were in the evening.  This new format will occur on the third Monday of the month from 9-10am.

Glad to see the town working to keep this kind of informal format alive.  This kind of up close and personal interaction with elected officials is one of the nice things about #smalltownliving!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mi-Connection to increase speeds in Q4 of this year

Back on September 8th, the municipally owned cable company, Mi-Connection, quietly announced on its Facebook page that faster broadband speeds are on the way to subscribers in November.

According to a series of posts to its page over the past few days, subscribers will see speed increases from 233% to 275% depending on the tier they currently receive.  The increases will be "free of charge".

Users who currently get 15Mbps download speeds will see their service bumped to 50Mbps.  20Mbps becomes 75Mbps and 30Mbps becomes 100Mbps.  Upload speeds remain unchanged for each tier at 5, 10, and 10Mbps respectively.

Readers may remember back in May, we told you about MiC testing faster service in response to the rapidly changing competitive environment.   It would appear that these service increases are part of that same response.

When asked about the speed upgrades, Mi-Connection CEO, David Auger, had this to say:

"We periodically have increased internet speeds over the last few years. The decisions to do so, and the amount of each speed increase, are mostly driven by market demand and competitive activity. Technical considerations do play a role and that is primarily what we were testing some time ago. We are confident the speed increases that will be implemented this fall will allow us to grow broadband customers at the same rate as the previous five years."

Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.

When Time Warner began rolling out its upgraded service dubbed TWCMaxx its top speeds were considerably faster that what Mi-Connection customers will receive after the upgrade.  While the lowest tiers will be the same for download speeds at 50Mbps.  The TWCMaxx top speeds for its middle and upper tier services will offer speeds of 200Mbps and 300Mbps respectively - considerably faster than what Mi-Connection will offer.

Of course the argument can be made that few users actually need the TWCMaxx top speeds, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out with new developments in the Mi-Connection footprint - particularly around its edges.

A big chunk of Mi-Connection's growth in the past couple of years has been from exceptionally high penetration rates at the new Langtree development at Exit 31.  If Mi-Connection loses out on some of the new developments in the area because it doesn't match the top speeds of its competitors, that certainly could impact growth projections.

Mooresville and Davidson taxpayers better hope that is not the case.

More information should be on the way soon.  Auger said the company  "will be sending out an additional press release early next week announcing the speed increase migration path for residential customer". 

Be on the lookout for that.

Friday, September 18, 2015

About that plane crash in Davidson on Friday...

That got your attention didn't it!?!?

Well, it got my attention too when my wife called me Friday just before 11am saying it was going around Facebook that a plane had crashed near Exit 30 in Davidson.

Fortunately, it ultimately turned out to be nothing, but that early report had some worried around town.  Davidson Public Information Officer, Christina Shaul provided the following statement on how it really went down.

"Officers with Davidson PD and FD, Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, Cornelius PD and FD all responded and circulated the area using air (helicopter), land and water (Cornelius Lake Patrol and CMPD Lake Patrol) to try and locate the ultralight aircraft (parasail).  It was later discovered that the operator had landed in the Langtree Apartments area and had already departed. Without talking to him, he may not have even known he was the subject of a 9-1-1 call."

Shaul went on to say...

"It’s my understanding that the original call came in as the paraglider going down in the water—so fire and police responded with search and rescue in mind.  We did not notify the schools because there was no identified threat."

A quick check with the schools at Exit 30 found that Davidson Day had received a few calls following the incident, but fortunately their front desk had the correct information to provide parents.

This is a good example of the old saying "bad news travels around the world, while good news is still putting on its pants".  In this case it was a very good thing the bad news turned out not to be true.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

"Ok Davidson" is new information resource in town

Facebook pages related to Davidson town issues seem to be all the rage these days.  We've seen pages both for and against the Narrow Passage project recently.  This past week saw the Paradise Lost page explode on the scene opposing the town's proposed Catlyst Project.

Now comes "Ok Davidson".

The page describes itself this way...

"Whether you live in the Town of Davidson, NC or just love it, Ok Davidson is a page dedicated to staying on top of what’s going on in and around our town.

Ask a question. Answer a question. Ask for a recommendation and give one. Give a heads up about a local event. Find out what’s being built behind the gas station on Griffith. (I still don’t know.) is sorely missed. Until a new local site comes along to give us the news, let’s do it ourselves."

"Ok Davidson" did answer one question right off the bat for me.

What in the world is that free standing wall next to the new building under construction at Davidson College on Davidson-Concord Road?

Apparently, it is just a sample of what the building is going to look like when completed.  Daily curiosity solved!

While we'd like to think aShortChronicle fills a small bit of the void left by the departure of DNN, we realize it's likely not everyone's cup of tea.  Glad to see more hyper-local news sources jumping in to help fill the blanks.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget...

Like when president Kennedy was shot decades earlier, everyone remembers exactly where they were on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001.  It is something indelibly etched into the American psyche.

I was in an office building in Herndon, VA outside of Washington, DC.  

When the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center someone turned on the TV.  I remember thinking to myself "this has to be a terrorist attack".  When the second plane hit there was no doubt.

I'll never forget the look on two of my co-workers faces when word came the Pentagon was struck.  These two young guys both had fathers who worked there.  They rushed out of the building in total panic.  Fortunately, I would find out later that neither of their dads was injured.

The project I was working on was for a large technology company, and we were implementing software from an Israeli firm.  Other than the Israeli Embassy downtown, there were probably more Israeli nationals in our building than anywhere in the whole metro area - making our building a potential target.  A rumor came over the news of a reported car bomb at the State Department.  We were told to evacuate and go home.

At the time, I lived with a few college buddies in a large townhouse in Arlington - only a few miles from the Pentagon. One of my housemates was a newly minted FBI agent.  I remember him coming home, grabbing a few changes of clothes, and saying "I'll be gone for a few days".

The next time I saw him, he was visibly shaken from exhaustion and from what he had seen.  He had been working on recovery and looking for the plane's black box down at the Pentgon crash site.  The black box was found in the room right next to where he had been.

Days after the attack, I rode my bike over to the Pentagon area.  I still remember seeing the giant flag covering the gaping hole in the side of the building.

Everyone has their own memories of that day, and these are just a few of mine.

The memorial pictured here was down in Charlotte and set up the day before this year's anniversary of that horrible day.  It made the memories come flooding back for me.  I hope the pictures do the same for you.

No matter how long I live, it is something I will never forget.

Feel free to post your memorie mmemories of that day in the comments.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Catalyst Project or Paradise Lost

This story first appeared in the a Herald Weekly at

Two weeks ago, the Town of Davidson received an updated report on the Catalyst Project - the proposed multi-use facility for the town Center that the Town has been working on with the UNC School of Government over the past several months.

According to the consultants from the UNC-SOG, the most popular proposal floated by developers includes a new hotel and convention facility on the town owned property along Main and Jackson streets as well as 400+ parking spaces along with new residential, retail, and office space – totaling hundreds of thousands of square feet in new construction.

Now, over the recent years I have given Davidson town hall a fair amount of grief, but I have not sounded off on too much is this one.  Frankly, when this idea first surfaced, I thought surely they will not pursue this.  Then again, this is the same town that entered the cable TV business and bought Mi-Connection.

Avoiding bad ideas, is not always Town Hall’s strong suit.

Well, in the last week, others have taken up the challenge of challenging this idea which could have everlasting impact on the town.

It is one thing for someone like myself who is relatively new to town to chime in on local politics.  It is entirely something else when one of the town’s favorite sons from one of the town's oldest family names does it.

Last Friday, Rusty Knox launched a Facebook Page titled “Paradise Lost”.  Within two days it had over 300 “likes” with multiple posters commenting.  None of the comments were what you’d call “supportive” of the Catalyst Project.

Many people know Rusty from his work as a professional musician, but his family is also part of the bedrock in Davidson.  His father, Russell Knox, was a longtime mayor, and the family real estate business has been around for decades.  In years past, they were involved in rehabbing several of the old buildings along Main Street.

 I checked in with Rusty Knox on why he started the page.  The answer was poetic and personal.

On his first album, one of the songs was about his home town of Davidson.  The song was titled “Paradise Lost”.  Here are the lyrics:

The big city’s here with all the traffic and fear
Paradise is lost once more

          There’ll come a day
          When we all stop and say
          Trees used to grow around here
          What was the cost?      
          Now that Paradise is lost once more

Cars come and go- their pace never slows
Careful when crossing the street
The interstate’s stopped-we’re caught in gridlock
We got a mall ain’t that neat

          There’ll come a day
          When we all stop and say
          Trees used to grow around here
          What was the cost?
          Now that Paradise is lost once more

Buildings come up with concrete and dust
Floating around in the air
The parking lots full and so are the schools
Leadership just doesn’t care

          There’ll come a day
          When we all stop and say     
          Trees used to grow around here
          What was the cost?
          Now that Paradise is lost once more

The concern with the Catalyst Project according to Knox is that once the small town is gone you can't get it back.  “It's gone forever.”

That’s not to say all growth is bad or that opposition to the project is based on NIMBYism.  It’s also not about saying “I've got mine, and nobody else should have it.”  It is about protecting the small town character at the town’s core – both figuratively and literally.

Town Hall is driving the  Catalyst Project - supposedly in the spirit of the town’s Comprehensive Plan developed back in 2010.  Ironically, the Town likes to tout that the Comprehensive Plan involved input from over 150 volunteers over several months.  The Paradise Lost page garnered more than twice as many followers in two days.

That should tell us something.

If you are interested in joining the discussion, “like” the Paradise Lost page on Facebook.  There is also a Facebook group by the same name.  As importantly, attend town meetings when they are held to make sure officials know what you think.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Davidson Board Agenda for Tonight

Not too much on the agenda for tonight.  My be a good one to catch on live stream if you are interested.  Here is the link.

The next big announcement in coming weeks will likely be who the Board has selected to be the new town manager when Leamon Brice retires later this year.  Those discussions have been the subject of some of the closed meetings lately.

Agendas for Davidson Board of Commissioners’
September 8 Pre-Meeting and Regular Meeting Now Available

The Town of Davidson Board of Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, September 8 the Davidson Town Hall board room at 4:00 p.m. for a pre-meeting and at 6:00 p.m. for their regularly scheduled meeting. The agendas follow:

216 South Main Street
September 8, 2015

PRE-MEETING - 4:00 p.m.       
(Held in the Town Hall Meeting Room)
(a)        Public Works: Greenway Extension Spring Street            
(b)        Public Works: Sidewalk Project 2016                   
(c)        Planning: Narrow Passage Debrief       
 (Held in the Town Hall Meeting Room)
I.          CALL TO ORDER  

(a)        Recognize Jeff Almond for his Service to the Davidson Fire Department           
(b)        Proclamation: Be the Match 2015 


(a)        Armin's Catering - Beaver Dam Property              
(b)        President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing (Police Chief Jeanne Miller)
VI.       CONSENT    
(a)        Approve Regular Meeting Minutes from August 11, 2015, Approve Work Session Meeting Minutes from August 25, 2015
(b)        Consider Resolution 2015-29: Mecklenburg County Mitigation Plan                  
(c)        Budget Ordinance Amendment 2016-07  
(a)        Discussion with Planning Board Members  

(a)        An Issue Regarding NCGS § 143-318.11(5): To establish, or to instruct the public body's staff or negotiating agents concerning the position to be taken by or on behalf of the public body in negotiating (i) the price and other material terms of a contract or proposed contract for the acquisition of real property by purchase, option, exchange, or lease; or (ii) the amount of compensation and other material terms of an employment contract or proposed employment contract.   

Monday, September 7, 2015

About that drone over Concert on the Green Sunday night...

A Facebook friend posted a photo about a drone hovering over last night's Concert on the Green and Davidson.

As David Boraks pointed out in a comment, it does look suspiciously like an imperial tiefighter from the Star Wars movies.

Not to worry.  It was nothing nefarious and we are not about to see Storm Troopers on the Green.

Per the town Public Information Officer, Christina Shaul,

"Visit Lake Norman hired a video producer to take some aerial footage via drone. They went through the appropriate channels to get approvals from the Town of Davidson and applied for and received a film permit."

While not typically a fan of over regulating, it is nice to know VLN followed the rules and got a permit for this.  

Otherwise, people would be left wondering what that was all about!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

NCDOT and their Spanish partners at Cintra have some splaaaynin' to do...

On Friday, put out this piece which pretty clearly shows how the contract with Cintra is structured to avoid NC law.

The activists at lay out how the contract basically allows Cintra to get around ever paying anything to the state in revenue sharing as required by the P3 authorizing legislation.  This is due to the thresholds being set at levels likely never to be reached before the state would receive a dime from any excess toll payments.

What's even more egregious is that this wasn't made clear by the state until citizen activists essentially forced them to admit to it prior to signing the financial close with their partners at Cintra/I77 Mobility Partners.

...and remember, after all of this numeric tomfoolery, the debt for the HOT lanes still only came in one level above junk bond status.  If the contact was written fairly for NC taxpayers and forced them to give up any revenues, what does their rating likely look like?  Not good is the likely answer.

But that was just the first of a one-two punch combination with the second hitting the wires Saturday night.

In a press release sent out Saturday evening by Vallee Bubak and Diane Gilroy separate from WidenI77 and the story mentioned above, another potential bombshell is dropped.  Gilroy is the wife of Cornelius, N.C. Commissioner Dave Gilroy, and recently traveled to Spain to research Cintra's parent company Ferrovial and its subsidiaries.  She has become a real thorn in the side of Javier "Mr Who Knows" Tamargo and the folks at Cintra.  She has also been the target of some of the company's pushback.

The information in the press release is said to come from a 198 page Spanish language document received on Friday.

Press release below.

Charlotte, N.C. – September 6, 2015 – Opponents of the I-77 toll project may have just gotten a needed break as a result of documents revealing that Cintra, the subsidiary of parent company Ferrovial, failed to disclose in required contractual documents that its affiliate was being investigated for breaking Spain’s anti-trust laws. Ferrovial’s waste management subsidiary called Cespa had their offices raided in 2012 and 2013, yet failed to disclose those investigations as required by the NCDOT’s Request for Proposal (RFP) process in 2014. As a result of those investigations, Cespa (Ferrovial) was fined more than 13.6 million Euros (approximately $15 million USD) for engaging in market sharing and collusive activity.

Journalist Baltasar Montaño explained in Spain’s January 28, 2015 digital publication Vozpópuli how the “garbage cartel” was rigged. He explained, the CNMC [Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia – Spain’s National Commission of Markets and Competition] went through thousands of emails from companies like Ferrovial, FCC, ACS, and Sacyr in which they divided contracts, clients, territories, and they expelled possible competitors among other illegal practices.

“A 198-page document by Spain’s CNMC dated January 8, 2015 details the investigations, scandalous emails and documents showing collusive joint agreements between Cespa (Ferrovial) and others,” said Diane Gilroy, a local Spanish professor who recently traveled to Spain and researched Cintra’s parent company Ferrovial. “Because Cintra failed to disclose this serious anti-trust investigation that Ferrovial/Cespa was notified of by the CNMC in 2012 and 2013, the toll contract
documents signed in 2014 between Ferrovial and the NCDOT are likely invalid and the so-called $100 million penalty is baseless.”

As more and more of these revelations start to pile up, everyone looking at this situation should channel their best Ricky Ricardo and say...

"NCDOT and Cintra, you got some splaaaaynin' to do!!!"

About those orange flags around the Westmoreland property in Davidson

Well, it appears that development swirl in Davidson is continuing at a furious pace.

If you live on the east side of town in the vicinity of the Westmoreland Farm property, you may have noticed the orange flags along Robert Walker and Davidson Concord Road as well as along the greenway.

Those are survey stakes.  There are also a bunch of the small utilities flags marking those locations as well.

Apparently, workers in trucks from a company named Cardno, Inc were seen on multiple occassions this past week doing work - including taking soil samples.  Per a local resident, these workers said they were doing the work on behalf of a "community development" company.

From its website, Cardno is a global engineering firm with an office in Charlotte.  A firm of that size would seem unlikely to be involved in anything small.

Davidson recently completed a planning ordinance rewrite which included rezoning of numerous parcels all across town - including the Westmoreland farm property.  That's why you are unlikely to ever see any of the large yellow rezoning signs.  The town took care of that for the landowners as part of its internally initiated work.

With these flags appearing so quickly on the heels of that rezoning, one has to wonder if anything was already in the works prior to the town finalizing the latest rezoning maps.

Keep your eyes on this one.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why the Pittenger FBI investigation matters...

It is not yet clear how the current investigation into NC-9 Congressman Robert Pittenger’s family company got started.  Was it a partisan effort, a disgruntled investor, a whistleblower of some sort?  To a certain degree the answer to that does not really matter.

What has mattered to voters of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is that the money behind the Congressman has had a very direct impact on how the last two election cycles have gone.

When Pittenger ran for Congress in 2012, he was one of the wealthiest potential members on the ballot in the country.  According to data from, Pittenger’s net worth was pegged at $27.68 million prior to winning election in 2012.   That would have put him solidly in the top 20 of all members of Congress, both the House and Senate.

After his election, when ethics rules around “fiduciary” professions kicked-in and Pittenger sold his interest in the family land business to his wife, Pittenger's wealth dropped dramatically to “only” $6.86 million.  Over night, he’s “only”the 55th wealthiest member of Congress according to the 2013 numbers at Roll Call.

Here's the thing.  It doesn't matter whether one buys into the idea that Pittenger followed the strict letter of the law according to the ethics rules by simply reclassifying who has his wealth – though it does raise eyebrows that he has repeatedly refused to release the agreement with the House Ethics Committee.

What matters locally is that his wealth has played a very direct role in his initial election in 2012 and his reelection in 2014.

In 2012 Pittenger was one of the top self-funders to run for Congress.  He poured over $2.3 million of his own money into his primary and general election campaigns.  Not only did he spend astronomically from his own coffers, most of that money was actually given to his campaign.  It is not uncommon for wealthy candidates to spend their own money, but more often than not they are loaning their campaigns money.  Pittenger gave his campaign nearly $1.7 million.

The difference may sound subtle, but the underlying message to opponents is “I am willing to spend whatever it takes to win, and I really mean it.  Give up!”

In 2012 nobody gave up, but the money did have an impact.  Pittenger ultimately overwhelmed all of his primary opponents with his ability to advertise.  It is also easy to argue that it pulled out the general election for him against Democrat Jennifer Roberts.  Roberts actually won Mecklenburg country where she was well known from her days on the County Commission, but Pittenger won every single precinct in Iredell and Union counties.  Yes, those are heavily Republican areas, but the money advantage sure didn't hurt.

In 2014 after proving money was no object, Pittenger had only nominal opposition in the primary and ran unopposed in the general election.

If it turns out that there is something to this investigation and the money that has backed the Congressman’s campaigns is somehow tainted, it won't just be his finances and reputation that takes a hit.

Voters’ choices at the ballot box for two election cycles will have been impacted when that situation never really should have occurred.

Bonus Observation:  A  story over at says the trial balloons are already floating for a possible replacement/primary challenger.  Things could be about to get interesting

This story first appeared in the Herald Weekly at