Full Court “Press” Downtown

In my younger days, I played a lot of AAU basketball. I still remember a 13-and-under opponent from Raleigh called the “Beatty Bunch” that ran a wicked 1-3-1 press, the entire game. They were good at it. They got a lot of steals and easy buckets, and it wore you out.

When you’re facing a 1-3-1, the most important thing is not to panic. You have ten seconds to get the ball over half-court, and while this doesn’t seem like much, it’s plenty of time if you know what you’re doing. Patience under pressure beats the 1-3-1 every time.

There’s another type of “press” going on right now. The News and Observer is running articles about Fayetteville’s business partners and their conflict of interest problem.

In short, what happened in Fayetteville was wrong, and the UNC Development Finance Initiative where Jordan Jones and Mike Lamanski worked is putting in new measures to ensure the “wrong” doesn’t happen again.

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In response, Prince Charles Holdings is showing back up in Fayetteville’s Press to put a positive spin on their project:

It’s important that these guys show “continued work,” because they are behind schedule. The “facade” of the parking deck is supposed to be done in ten days according to the contract.

We’ll see if that happens. In the meantime, we continue to have a parking space problem.

Conflicting Documents

If you’ve read this blog, you realize that I’ve been following this deal for a year and a half. As an attorney, I know that it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s written on paper, so I started with a public records request for the City’s contract with Prince Charles Holdings. That contract has now been amended five times and the details have gotten “cloudier” over time.

As a reminder, the parking deck is supposed to have 492 spaces. Here’s how the various plans and contracts have allocated these spaces:

3rd Amendment

The 3rd Amendment to the Downtown Development Agreement (from 2017) provided a very specific allocation of spaces:

  • 120 Hotel
  • 155 mixed used building
  • 90 Prince Charles Apartments
  • 127 to City (remainder)

Mohn Memo

Several months ago, Councilman Ted Mohn circulated his interpretation of the plan, which would only leave 32 spaces for city residents:

It was this allocation that gave me the most concern. 32 spaces for the public in a publicly-funded parking deck is absurd on its face. Here’s my radio rant about it on Good Morning Fayetteville:

5th Amendment

In June, when Prince Charles Holdings came back and asked for 1+ Million more tax dollars for “our” deck, they changed the contract again.

The new, 5th Amendment to the Downtown Development Agreement leaves out the Prince Charles Apartments and the Hotel and gives more spaces to the City:

Math Problem

It’s cloudy now. That’s the short of it.

As you can see, you can’t “mesh” the allocations from each contract because you run out of spaces:

250 (offices) + 120 (hotel) + 90 (Apartments) + 167 (City) = 627 spaces

The deck only has 492 spaces, remember?

City Leaders Won’t Provide Clarity

I’ve asked multiple city council members, the mayor, city managers, and the city attorney for the true allocation of parking spaces in the new deck. I’ve pointed out the inconsistencies in the contracts. No one will provide me with a straight answer.

I made formal public records request for any city document providing the “plan” for the deck. Apparently, there is no plan:

I’m stuck. It’s “wait and see” at this point. Maybe that’s where they want it?

Wrap Up: Pessimism or Optimism

In the last analysis, there’s a few ways to look at what’s going on. I’ll let you decide:

Optimism: There is a chance that the plans have changed, for the positive. Public pressure has forced City leaders and PCH to change the contract to give the public more spaces, or at least “share” them at certain times.

Pessimism: The plan has not changed or has gotten worse for the public, and PCH and City Leaders have intentionally made the contractual documents “cloudy.” They don’t want you to know the real deal because they know it’s not good for the public, or public opinion.

If you care about this issue at all, I’d encourage you to email your council member or the mayor and ask them for the “plan” for the public deck.

Put the 1-3-1 press on them!

Maybe you’ll have more luck than me.

The Mayor vs. The Money (Civil War Museum)

In the game of politics, timing is everything. We saw this play out yesterday morning with the veto-override shenanigans in the North Carolina Legislature. But there’s a Fayetteville wrinkle to this story, and it’s pretty interesting:

On Tuesday, Mayor Colvin and community activist Val Applewhite came out in full force against the Civil War Museum. They want to hold public meetings, get input, put politicians on the record, and essentially shut the project down.

Less than 24 hours later, on Wednesday, Republicans in the N.C. House overrode Governor Cooper’s budget veto in a sneak-attack ploy that made national news. The Fayetteville “wrinkle” comes on page 327 of the Budget Bill that passed:

See that line-item called “Civil War Museum.” Here’s how much money’s heading to Cumberland County if the Senate overrides as well:

Image result for civil war museum groundbreaking fayetteville

Do you think when the Mayor came out against the museum he had any idea that the House would “pass” the budget the next day? I doubt it. But like I said, timing is everything, and the Mayor has flip-flopped on this issue at the absolute worst time. He’s now officially, on the record, against 46 Million Dollars in state money being injected into his community.

Call it bad luck? I don’t know. I’ve been critical of this project in the past as well, but I’ve tried to be consistent from the start. Now we’re left with an economic quandary and a brewing racial battle, and we haven’t even laid a brick. It reminds me of a song from middle school:

More to come on this one for sure.

N.C. House Dems Caught Sleeping

Something happened on your way to work this morning.

Democrats in the North Carolina House washed several months of hard work down the drain:

Sneaky or smart, depending on your perspective:

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I draw a couple of lessons from what happened:

  1. The “game” of politics is childish at times.
  2. Always know the rules of the game.

Republicans only need to flip one vote in the NC Senate to override Cooper.

Go back to bed Democrats. Rest up for 2020.

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Dog Days: NC-09 Poll

The legislature has ground to a halt, as has the fishing. High of 97 with a 40% chance of showers. Wash, rinse, repeat. Everyone’s ready for the first air of autumn.

The phrase “dog days of summer” come from the Ancient Greeks. The star “Sirius” is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major:

Image result for sirius canis major

In the late summer, Sirius rises in the eastern sky at dawn, just before the sun. To the ancients, Sirius represented oppressive heat, drought, disaster, and destruction. Here’s Homer’s description in The Illiad:

Image result for sirius rising

“That star which comes on in the autumn and whose conspicuous brightness far outshines the stars that are numbered in the night’s darkening, the star they give the name of Orion’s Dog (kynos Orionos), which is brightest among the stars, and yet is wrought as a sign of evil and brings on the great fever for unfortunate mortals.”

I think Homer’s being a tad dramatic here. Evil? Unfortunate Mortals? Maybe the dog gets a bad rap. He’s just following his master, and like most loyal canines, wants to go hunting when the sun comes up (which is the best time, by the way).

In the last analysis, I’ve got to give it to Homer because August 2019 is living up to his promise. We’ve got mass shootings, a spike in Fayetteville murders, a wild stock market, bored elementary school kids, and a general feeling of irritated restlessness (or is that just me?).

But all is not lost, for we are fortunate in Southeastern, North Carolina. Politics are coming early this year! We have an election in less than a month. On September 10, Democrat Dan McCready will face Republican Dan Bishop in a special election for our 9th Congressional seat.

The only show in town has become a bit of a donnybrook as of late, and it will get worse as more money is spent on negative ads as election day draws near.

The horse-race is shaping up as we head around the last turn, and internal polls are showing a close race:

But the national betting markets are favoring the Republican, Bishop. As of today, on Predictit, Bishop is holding a 2-1 advantage:

So it’s time for our own “internal poll.” Our readership is unbiased and has a greater knowledge of the 9th District than these folks, right! Let’s show everyone that we know what we’re doing. Please vote:

I’ll close this one with some poetry to match the season:

“Wet your lungs with wine: the star is coming round, the season is harsh, everything is thirsty under the heat, the cicada sings sweetly from the leaves, the artichoke is in flower; now are women most pesilential, but men are feeble, since Seirios parches their heads and knees..” Alcaeus, (C7th to 6th B.C.).

Watch out for pesilential women this August. If you can’t, here’s the full version: