Winners and Losers in Downtown Fayetteville – Paid Parking Part II

Yesterday, the Fayetteville Observer reported on the parking study that was published on Cross Creek Divide a few days ago.  The experts conducting the study encourage our city leaders to charge more for parking downtown.  Read the Observer article here for a primer:  Study Points to Paid Parking for Downtown Fayetteville.

The Observer interviewed the familiar talking heads for downtown, and it seems that all the experts think charging more for parking is a good idea.  95% of the comments to the article from regular citizens suggest otherwise.

What struck me was Jordan Jones’s take on the issue:

Jordan Jones, the project manager for converting the former Prince Charles Hotel into high-end condos with ground-floor restaurants, said this is the right time for the city to move ahead with a detailed parking plan.

“With all of the demand we’re adding, with all the new businesses we’re bringing down there, it is time to really shift over to paid on-street parking,” he said.

First off, why does Jones care?   His parking needs are taken care of.  The City is purchasing a brand new parking deck and then leasing it back to Prince Charles Holdings for insanely discounted rates:

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lease price agreement

So Jordan Jones and Prince Charles Holdings will get City-owned parking for $50/month or $1.66/day.  Everyone else will be lucky to get $1.66/hour.

Is this fair to every other business downtown?  Their customers will be filling up a running meter to buy a cup of coffee, shop for art, eat a fried turkey sandwich, or stop by for a meeting with their attorney.  Many of these businesses invested in downtown long before “Project Homerun.”

There’s nothing immoral about making money, and we should encourage investment downtown, but when public resources are being used by private businesses to make said money or encourage said investment, I think we should be as fair and transparent as possible.  That hasn’t happened in this case.  If you think it has, ask a random person on the street whether the parking deck will be used for baseball games.  You might be surprised by their response.

I’ll close this one with former mayor Tony Chavonne, who is in favor of more paid parking:

Chavonne said he expects some businesses to be opposed to paid park.

“Undoubtedly, with any kind of change, there will be people not necessarily supportive of this,” he said. “The city just can’t continue to give away its most valuable asset, and that is convenient parking. That just doesn’t even make any sense if you think about it.”

The City is already giving away its most valuable asset, to Prince Charles Holdings.

What doesn’t make sense, if you think about it, is that everyone else is going to pay for it.

Do you like free parking in Downtown Fayetteville???

If so, you’re old-fashioned.  It’s time to get with the “new paradigm” and pay up according to the group of experts that were hired with your tax dollars to perform a parking evaluation of downtown Fayetteville:

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According to these experts, “too much supply is harmful.”  Really??

My favorite:  “Public resources should be maximized and sized appropriately.”  This is a fancy way of saying your local government should make money off of you.  Get ready to pay a lot more to park downtown.

If you want more information, a draft of the study can be viewed here:  parking study report draft 12 28 18 with appendix r revised final draft (002)

At first glance, the study seems to imply that the “new Stadium Garage” can be used for baseball games, which we know is not the case.

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It will be interesting to see how the City Council reacts and whether any of the findings are questioned.  I’ll update this post accordingly.

To close, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a parking deck that was open to the public in the middle of the bulls-eye???

Stuck in the Middle – Fayetteville Airport Poll

The Fayetteville Observer is reporting that our current city council is unhappy with the performance of the Fayetteville Airport.

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When I fly, I appreciate the convenience of flying out of my hometown.  It’s nice avoiding an hour-long car ride when you finally land.  The lack of polish and amenities in the Fayetteville airport never really bothered me.  Still, I’ve driven to RDU on more than one occasion for the (often cheaper) direct flight to my destination.

In the end, I think Fayetteville suffers from being stuck in the middle of Charlotte and Raleigh, but I’m curious as to what others prefer.  Please take the time to complete these polls:

 

C.C.D.’s Top 8 for 2018

We’re wrapping up the first calendar year of this site.  Below is a look back at the eight most popular stories for 2018.

8.  Fayetteville Observer Wins an Important Victory (Mike Lallier Case)  This is the most recent post on the site, but it gained traction quick.  It’s worth a read if you’re into sealed court documents and the 1st Amendment.

7. Judicial Election Preview (Cumberland):  After much fanfare and a few years of hype, District Court Judge Lou Olivera decided he was not going to challenge sitting Superior Court judges Mary Anne Tally and Jim Ammons.  This would have been an amazing three-person race to cover.  Instead, it’s the one that got away in 2018.

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6. Don’t Pick the Player Without Knowing the Game (By: Andrew Porter):   Porter criticizes the Cumberland County Democratic Party for how it handled the Tyrone Williams replacement process.  In the end, Republican Dan Culliton was appointed to represent a heavy minority/democratic district in Fayetteville.

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5.  What’s in a Name? (Senate 19) (By: Andrew Porter):  The democratic primary in NC Senate 19 was full of “interesting” politics.  This post caused quite a stir when Porter hypothesized that Ed Donaldson was calling himself by his given name “Clarence” in his media advertising in order to trick Democratic primary voters into thinking he was black.

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4.   No Parking: Fayetteville’s 14 Million Dollar Mistake:  After a public records request, I was the first to bring to light the contractual details surrounding the Prince Charles Holdings parking deck.  A quick summary:  your tax dollars are paying for the new parking deck by the stadium downtown, but you won’t ever get to park there for baseball games, unless you book a dinner or hotel reservation.  This is a good strategy at Disney World, less so in downtown Fayetteville.

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3.   “One of Us” Democrats – Senate 19:  An analysis of the attack ads in the Senate 19 primary between DeViere and Donaldson, this post has everything:  Trump, catch-phrases, fake checks, Samuel Coleridge, and a crystal-ball prediction that comes true in seven months.

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2.   Washed-Out Dams, Parking Decks, and Double Standards (Fay. City Council)  City leaders told city residents they cannot repair broken dams on private property unless the public will have access to the lakes after the repairs.  At the same time, City leaders gave millions of dollars to Prince Charles Holdings, a private corporation, to build a parking deck that the public will have no access to.  You be the judge.

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1.   Rep. Szoka on Teacher Pay: At least you’re not a farmer (Audio) The subject of this post was not happy with it.  I thought it was fair game and the tape backed it up.  Moral of the story:  don’t minimize concerns over teacher pay on the morning that tens of thousands of teachers are rallying in Raleigh to protest…teacher pay.  This one went viral.

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Thanks for reading.  It’s been a fun year.

 

Fayetteville Observer Wins an Important Victory (Mike Lallier Case)

I’m a firm believer in our free press.  It’s one of the reasons I started this blog.  I’m also an attorney, and in my near decade-long legal career, I’ve learned that justice does not grow well behind closed doors.  When it comes to our courts, it’s imperative that they be open and accessible to everyone, especially the press.

At the same time, the truth can be painful for parties involved in the legal process.  It’s not fun having your fights and faults aired in front of the general public.

In American history, we have weighed these interests and erred on the side of openness and access to the courts, and it has served us well.  The alternative is an invitation for unequal justice under a blanket of secrecy.  Just think about your personal life.  Isn’t it easier to do something wrong if you know no one’s watching.  The temptation lurks for our judges as well.  Remember, there are imperfect human beings under those robes.

With that said, on to the points of this post, starting with some background: 

From what has been reported, wealthy Fayetteville businessman Mike Lallier has been accused by one or more minors of sexual abuse or assault.  He has settled some portion of these claims against him.

Minors can’t enter into settlement contracts (or any other contract) under North Carolina law, so civil settlements with minors must be “court approved” in order to be legally enforceable. This means that a Superior Court judge has to investigate and review the settlement and ensure it is in the minor’s best interest in light of all of the circumstances.  Even the attorney fees are reviewed to ensure the minor is being protected.  Here’s a good blog post if you want more detail on the minor settlement procedure.

So how did the court approval process go in the Lallier case(s)?  We don’t know.

Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons recused himself from hearing the case and brought in a special judge from out of county.  The special judge decided to seal the entire file.  He even sealed the order sealing the file!

The Fayetteville Observer sued and argued that sealing the file violated the paper’s rights under the 1st Amendment.  The case went up to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  Multiple Fayetteville law firms argued the file should remain sealed, including (from the court’s opinion):

  • Player McLean, LLP, by James A. McLean, III
  • McCoy Wiggins Cleveland & McLean PLLC, by Richard M. Wiggins
  • Beaver, Courie, Sternlicht, Hearp & Broadfoot, P.A., by H. Gerald Beaver and David T. Courie, Sr.

In a victory for the 1st Amendment and public access to the courts, the Observer won the case.  Here’s a link to the the opinion if you’re interested:  Doe v. Doe

Judge Donna Stroud (my former law professor at Campbell) summed up the special nature of the case, writing for the court:

We have been unable to find any other case in North Carolina in which the entire court file, including the court orders sealing the file, has been sealed.  This level of protection from public access is unprecedented in North Carolina and has occurred in only very few cases throughout the United States.  Even in cases dealing with highly sensitive matters such as national security, only specific portions of files are sealed or documents are redacted as needed, instead of sealing the entire file.  

Now, unless the North Carolina Supreme Court gets involved, the file will be unsealed with the minor’s names redacted, which is an entirely reasonable result in this blogger’s opinion.

If you want access to the file after it is unsealed, its available to you at the Cumberland County Courthouse.  That’s how our system is supposed to work, and you have the founders of the United States Bill of Rights and the Fayetteville Observer to thank for that.

Our rights are meaningless if they are not exercised.

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The original Bill of Rights: it’s worn, but it still works.