NC Covid Anomalies: Part II

A few days ago, I pointed out how NC’s Covid-19 death rate was an outlier. NC was low in comparison to other states with similar infection rates. I have some more good news, this time in the form of positive cases in the Tar Heel State, and it may help to explain NC’s low death rate.

NC has increased its testing dramatically. 28,679 North Carolinians have been tested as of today:

But, NC is seeing a very small share of positive cases. NC’s positive test rate is only 6.5%.

Meanwhile, the United States as a whole has a positive test rate of 18.3%.

You want a low positive rate. It means you’re testing liberally, ruling out doubt, and getting closer to an accurate measure of the disease in your state.

If your positive rate is high, you could be missing a majority of your cases, especially if you’re being stingy with tests by saving them for serious and critical cases.

For example….

Our neighbors to the South have a positive rate of 20.4%, higher than the national average:

Two facts emerge:

  1. It is likely that far more than 1,293 people have Covid-19 in South Carolina.
  2. It is less likely that far more than 1,857 people have Covid–19 in North Carolina.

It’s probable that NC has a better grasp of the extent of the disease within its borders. This is probably why SC has more deaths than NC, despite fewer reported cases.

The whole point of this is to get an accurate depiction of the mortality rate and the extent of the disease. In short, how many people will die, and what are the steps, if any, we can take to protect people. With accurate data, you’re less likely to be caught off guard (any more than we already are). You’re also less likely to take extreme mitigation measures that aren’t necessary (like curfews in Fayetteville, NC).

Our Nation’s data is behind “the curve.” North Carolina is trying to catch up and is doing substantially better than the majority of the Union. What you see is what you get here.

Esse Quam Videri.

Seal of North Carolina - Wikipedia

NC’s Anomalous COVID-19 Numbers

With the obvious caveat that everything is subject to change on an hourly basis, as of March 31, North Carolinians are showing abnormal resistance to COVID-19. Only eight people have died from the virus, and only two of those were under the age of 65. Our mortality rate is currently 0.53%. It’s quite possible that the rate is much lower, due to the number of people with mild symptoms that are not being tested.

There are 24 states with case counts greater than 1,000. North Carolina is one of them, but it is the only one with a single-digit death count. North Carolina now has fewer deaths than Idaho and Kansas, despite having 4-5 times the number of confirmed cases.

For some more perspective on these numbers, let’s look at some more data:

  • In 2018, 2,067 people died from influenza and pneumonia in North Carolina.
  • In 2018, 5,367 people died that same year from “lower respiratory diseases.”

You can search for any other year or disease with this link from NCDHHS.

In writing this, I don’t have an agenda. I’m coping with it like you all are, as best I can. Facts and data help me to get my fear and emotions in check. What I see, at least as far as North Carolina goes, is that we’re doing pretty well compared to some places, and I wanted to point that out.

Let’s hope this trend holds. Let’s also hope that reason, common sense, science prevail over paranoia and fear.

We’re going to have to get back to work, school, and life soon.

Fayetteville Takes on More Debt to Institute Paid Parking

The implementation of paid parking in downtown Fayetteville is getting expensive. Not only are you going to have to pay to park downtown in the near future, you’re going to have to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars in unanticipated debt so that Fayetteville can implement paid parking enforcement.

If you want to read all about it, download the attached file.

Here’s the cliff-notes version:

Parking Deck Delays = Lost Revenue

Fayetteville doesn’t yet own the new parking deck downtown. The reason is that we’re not building it ourselves. We are buying it from private developers, once it is finished. Then, we’re leasing back most of the spaces to those same developers.

The deck is more than a year late. Therefore, we haven’t been able to rent out the spaces to Prince Charles Apartments, Woodpeckers employees, etc.

Thus far, according to the City’s numbers, we’ve lost $352,369 in projected revenue as a result of the delay:

In the meantime, the cost of the deck has increased by $3,446,095.

I have more good news: once the deck is finally finished, you, the taxpayer, will be paying a private company to manage, clean, and operate the deck, even though you will not get to use the vast majority of the spaces.

Need Money = Borrow It

So what’s Fayetteville doing to make up for these losses? Borrowing more money:

Now we are taking out a $500,000 loan to install electronic parking meters and equipment. Note that this was all supposed to be “cash funded” from parking revenues we already had.

Keep in mind, we’ve already taken out $14,842,032 in bond money to pay for the deck. The voters didn’t approve this by the way. The City went around the voters using a legal loophole called Synthetic Tax Incremental Financing. It’s great, assuming your tax projections pan out. They haven’t thus far.

Bad Business

The City of Fayetteville has already proven it is lousy at the parking business. It can’t decide what it wants to do, and it once it does, it has to take the taxpayers further into debt to get there.

Moreover, what’s the goal here? The end result of all this is a significant burden on downtown businesses. Less people are going to shop and eat downtown if they can get the same amenities elsewhere in town without having to pay to park.

The short of it is this: Your City government has taken you into debt so that they can charge you money to park on City property.

It’s pretty much a lose/lose. But don’t worry, City staff says that downtown parking will pay for itself, one day, when the deck is finally finished.

Image result for shell game

Despite the money shuffle, it’s pretty obvious where the problem lies.

Biden and Basketball

Everyone’s got their own opinion as to why Joe Biden came back from the dead and cleaned up yesterday.

Before I give you mine, let me point out that Cross Creek Divide viewers saw this coming long before anyone else. Our poll from early February predicted Biden would win, back when Biden was polling in the teens nationally and Bernie was running away with it:

So why’d the tables turn so fast? Here’s my take:

Joe Biden ran for President twice before 2020, but he never won a single state in a Presidential primary. People tend to forget his shortcomings because he is universally recognized as Obama’s V.P., and they won, together. But prior to this week, Joe Biden’s solo efforts on the national stage had always come up short.

Joe needed to show that he could actually win. He did that in South Carolina, and then the floodgates opened. He won a lot more yesterday.

It all seems so simple doesn’t it? It is in theory, but it’s hard in practice. To illustrate the point and since it’s March, here’s a basketball metaphor:

A defense won’t guard a player on the perimeter unless he can make a three-pointer. We call this “respecting the shot.” Here’s LeBron James showing no respect for his opponent’s outside game:

Image result for lebron james no respect defense

This isn’t lazy defense by the way. It’s smart. On this play, LeBron’s opponent was goaded into shooting and missed badly.

If you can’t make an outside shot, the defense will continue to sit back and take away your high-percentage (close) shots, and your chances to score dwindle. You lose Iowa, then New Hampshire, and outsiders like Mike Bloomberg start putting campaign offices on Hay Street and using ad-buys to steal your Tar Heel voters.

Speaking of voters, they’re smart. They’re not going to go out of their way to get into your camp unless you can demonstrate that you’re the real deal. With each miss, it starts to look very bleak, very fast.

So how do you get the defense to respect you? You make one three. Just one. It changes the game.

Biden hit a last-minute three in South Carolina and gained respect across the Nation. Doubts about his ability to win were vanquished along with Pete, Amy, and “Little Michael” a few days later. The nomination is now Biden’s to lose.

Someone to Watch

This take is stolen from my wife: Jill Biden will be a serious asset to her husband’s chances this Fall, and she is the perfect “foil” for the Trumps.

Jill is smart, accomplished, and likeable. Women across America will relate to her.

Image result for jill biden protestor

She also stands by her man, literally.

I know Republican readers won’t want to hear this, but Trump’s in trouble. Deep down he knows it. That’s why he spent so much effort trying to keep “Sleepy Joe” from waking up.

It’s going to be a fun ride.

Still Holding Hands…

In what is becoming an early-Spring tradition here in Fayetteville, City Manager Doug Hewett went on local radio this morning and defended the parking deck project downtown.

It’s making me a bit nostalgic…

I first published my concerns about the project in April of 2018. It must have struck a nerve, because Hewett immediately went on the radio and criticized my take. Since then, the contract’s been amended multiple times, costs have increased by millions of (tax) dollars, and the completion date continues to be pushed back.

This morning, Hewett assured listeners that the deck would be completed “soon,” and that the “big crane” would be returning in April to begin construction on top of the deck. Everyone loves a big crane. Hewett was hopeful that a few floors of the deck would open to allow Woodpeckers employees and Prince Charles residents a place to park.

Notice that the deck will be paid for with public funds (17+ Million). Also notice that the public won’t be parking in the deck when it opens.

But that’s O.K., Fayetteville, because after all this time, we’re still in love.

Image result for doug gif heart

Love is Patient

The deck was supposed to be finished a year ago. Hewett said the City is still deciding whether it will enforce the $1000/day penalty provisions of our contract with the developers:

Hewett’s not being truthful here. He knows his office won’t push for enforcement. The city has not enforced a single term of this contract in the past. Why would it start now? Instead, the City Council and Mayor will be asked for patience and understanding, and they’ll give it.

Love is Kind

And why would we make our development partners pay us money, especially days after we were ready to pay them nearly $200,000 in interest income?

Just Because” 😉

The council postponed the vote on the Assistant City Manager’s “interest income” proposal last week, waiting until after Valentines Day to give away your interest earnings to their development partner.

But look at the irony in that. We should be charging these developers over 300k in late fees ($1,000/day from March 15, 2019 to present). Instead, Doug Hewett’s office wants the council to pay them $186,095, for no reason at all. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Hewett also explained in the interview this morning that the parking deck is being built by “Hay Street Development Pad” (LLC), and not “Prince Charles Holdings” LLC. Hewett said many of the investors are the same, but technically, it’s two different companies.

Remember, we just have to take Hewett’s word for it on this. The public doesn’t get to know the identity of our development partners. It’s not a public record.

So while City Hall and these investors continue their tango into 2020, they’re asking the public to love a ghost.

Image result for ghost patrick swayze gif

And by “love,” I mean they’re asking the public to throw millions of tax dollars at a ghost.

Image result for ghost whoopi goldberg gif

If you look hard enough, you can almost see your money floating away…

Image result for patrick swayze ditto gif

I have to make a (bad) joke about it because it’s such an inherently awful way to conduct city government. We should not be receiving assurances on the radio from an un-elected city employee about a public-private development deal with secret investors.

It’s way past time to shine some sunlight on this romance. Local media won’t dig into it, and it’s clear you’re not going to get a straight answer from City Hall.

It’s up to us.

Image result for doug patty mayonnaise gif

Thanks for reading.