Minor League Airports

Back in January, I wrote a post about the Fayetteville airport that included some polling.  The polls are still live, so feel free to vote:

The results so far are pretty clear:

  1. Overwhelmingly, people in this area would rather fly out of Fayetteville; and
  2. These same people fly out of other airports at least 50% of the time, often driving to RDU or Charlotte.

This demonstrates an untapped market.  People will use the Fayetteville airport if it gets them where they need to go at a reasonable price.  And maybe, just maybe, they might pay a little bit more if they could get a cup of Starbucks in a lobby that didn’t make them feel like Elvis was about to get off of the next plane on his way to play the Cumberland County Arena.

But even The King avoided our airport, flying into Pope instead:

Image result for elvis fayetteville nc

Which leads me to the point of this post…

Our airport came back up today when the Observer reported that we’re scaling back our current renovations in a big way.  In short, our airport’s not going to be as nice as we had planned.  The costs to do it the right way went up about 10 Million dollars, so we’re pulling a minor-league move and scaling it back.

Are we doomed to mediocrity in this town?  Sometimes it feels like it.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way?  Maybe we just need a new vision…

Put on your thinking cap and come with me as we leave the 35th parallel and enter the land of pure imagination:

imagination

Yes we can!  Imagine that our City will finally create some first-class infrastructure, a 21st-century gateway that will become a regional hub for southeastern North Carolina.  All we need to do is pitch in an extra Ten Million Dollars. 

Of course, we don’t have the money right now, but we could borrow it!  Surely there is a form of financing that cities can use for capital projects like airports that spur economic growth, increase the tax base, and create jobs!?  After all, an airport is open to the public and benefits the community as a whole!  Perhaps there’s even a University nearby with a school full of smart people that assist cities in doing these types of deals??  Don’t we already know some of these people!?

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Now, come back to reality.

Image result for parking deck fayetteville

This is Fayetteville, after all.

Borrowing Millions, “Just In Case” (UPDATED)

UPDATE:  5/13/19

In a surprising move, The Fayetteville City Council voted 5-4 against borrowing additional money to fund the Prince Charles Holdings (PCH) parking deck downtown.

vote

In short, my prediction in the post below was incorrect.

But this is one time that I’m happy to be mistaken.  The mayor and the four other “no” votes should be commended for finally standing up for the taxpayers of Fayetteville.  It was a small win for responsible government and fiscal sanity.  It also demonstrates the power of shining sunlight on these deals.  The local press and the community finally began looking at the fine print.  Our elected leaders followed suit.  That’s how the process is supposed to work.

So where do we go from here?

Just over a month ago, PCH representatives told the council that they were not certain they could finish the planned Hyatt hotel and offices on top of the deck without the additional money from the city.  Well, the council has called their bluff.  The current contract price of 14.7 million is still in place and still enforceable.

Time will tell whether the council members will hold this position and whether PCH will honor its contractual obligations.

I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the story.


 

ORIGINAL POST

Tonight, the Fayetteville City Council will vote to borrow millions more to build a parking deck to service a private corporation while it continues to raise parking rates on the general public downtown.

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However, the council will not be up front about it, at least not at first.  Instead, we will hear the same lip-service we heard the last time this issue came up, things like:

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“We’re not making the decision to spend the money today.”

“We’re just giving ourselves the option in the future by making sure the money’s available.”

“We can always give the money back if we decide not to spend it.”

In other words, you’re going to be lied to.  They’ve already calculated the interest on the money they’re going to borrow, to the dollar.  It’s a done deal.

In case you’re wondering, it’s going to cost Fayetteville citizens another $2,136,682 to placate Prince Charles Holdings (PCH).  Otherwise, they may just pack up their crane and go home, and we can kiss our Hyatt Hotel goodbye.  Maybe then we could use the parking deck??

Along those lines, you’ll probably hear from other concerned downtown business owners at tonight’s meeting as well.   Apparently, people don’t want to go eat at a restaurant or buy a cup of coffee if they have to pay 10 bucks to park nearby.  Who could’ve seen that coming?  By the way, there’s seven home baseball games in a row this week.  That’s a lot of missed revenue.

Since we’re playing with dollars now, remember that the reason given by the council for charging the public increased parking fees was that Fayetteville was losing approximately $250,000/year in downtown parking.  “Free parking isn’t free,” they said.

My son is into division right now and he’s pretty good at it.  He might be able to tell you that $250,000 will go into 2 million about eight times.

So…. we could:

  1. Not give PCH this extra money;
  2. Keep downtown parking “as is” (mostly free); and
  3. Remain in the same financial position until 2027.

But we won’t do that.  It makes too much sense.

In the end, the council members have already made up their minds, and they are going to give PCH everything it wants.  The success (or at least the appearance of success) of this project is too important to them, politically.  It’s the tallest albatross in town.

I just wish they’d be up front about it.

 

A Civil War Around the Center

This site has been live for over a year now.   I have posted over 80 different articles covering a range of topics, many controversial in nature.  To this point, I have only taken down one.  It was a post entitled “Leave it in the Dirt” in which I criticized the new Civil War Center being built in Fayetteville.  I took it down because it angered and upset certain people who support the museum.  For context, here’s how the post ended:

Instead of reading the tea leaves that say, very clearly, that young people are fed up with North Carolina’s celebration of the confederacy, Fayetteville has chosen a new path in the exact same direction.   Yes, we’re going to take this emotionally charged, painful history and put a shiny new cover on it and tell “both sides of the story” in our “museum of the future.”

The problem with the “museum of the future” is that it celebrates the past when it’s way past time to move forward.  It’s way past time to move on.

Leave it in the dirt where it belongs.

I take some pride in standing by my opinions, but I didn’t in this case.  The conflict didn’t seem worth it, and I retreated with a click of my mouse.  But I knew the battle would go on, and so I was not surprised when the museum found its way back into the news this week.

Colvin Steps into the Breach

On April 30, the mayor of Fayetteville stirred up a skirmish over the new museum, questioning the project’s funding on his Facebook page:

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Colvin’s argument is that the state’s money could be better spent on more pressing issues.  He was interviewed about his comments by local news sources, and here’s some of the media coverage that ensued:

Fayetteville Mayor Criticizes State’s History Center Proposal (Fayobserver)

Fayetteville Mayor: State Funding For History Center Overlooks Community Needs (WUNC)

$46 million proposal for Civil War museum draws concern from city leaders (WTVD)

Representative John Szoka, the sponsor of the legislation funding the center, said he was “perplexed” by Colvin’s position because the Fayetteville City Council had unanimously supported the project in the past.  Szoka’s correct.  Here’s Colvin with a golden shovel in his hand (along with Rep. Szoka and others) at the groundbreaking ceremony a year ago:

EP-180417886Szoka was quick to defend the project’s economic impact.  He believes the museum will be a tourist destination, drawing visitors from across the state.

Colvin didn’t back down from his new position.  Apparently liking the sting of this battle, he doubled down last night with another Facebook post:colvin-2-e1556889100169.pngFirst, let me point out how profound this is politically.  There is a bill in a state legislature to give a municipality over 55 million for a construction project in the municipality.  This is free money.  Just, here you go, have 55 million dollars.

The mayor of that municipality is now publicly chiding the expenditure, saying the money should be spent on other things like Florence relief and infrastructure.  He’s basically telling state legislators how to do their job, a “thanks, but no thanks,” if you will.

“Increase Our Divide”

At the groundbreaking ceremony that Colvin attended, Former Governor Jim Martin told the crowd that he prayed the museum “would be an instrument of healing through our part of a divided country.”  Colvin himself stated “this was something that will bring us together, not increase our divide.”

So why is Colvin now challenging the project after publicly supporting it?

There are two ways to look at Colvin’s actions, one is the raw political take, the other is the human side:

It’s easy to see Colvin’s actions as political hedge.  This project has been controversial in the African American community from the start.  It’s going to be built on the top of  Haymont Hill, the site of the old Confederate Arsenel.  By criticizing the project without really challenging it, Colvin is giving lip service to those critics.  He’s also giving red meat to Hurricane Florence victims who are fed up with government in general right now.  You could also argue that Colvin is trying to change the narrative, shift blame, or rally people to his side.  It could be any of these things.

But I think it’s deeper than all that.

I think Colvin, like me, is personally conflicted about the entire project.  He admitted at the groundbreaking ceremony that it was “difficult” for him to embrace the museum initially, but he came around when he learned that it would tell the full story of the war and its aftermath, including its impact on African Americans.  Now he’s trying to “unembrace” it.  Unfortunately, politicians (unlike bloggers) don’t get to “unembrace” ideas with the click of a mouse.

And so I’m left with the same take I had when I wrote about this project a year ago.  This museum, although it has admirable goals, will not bring people together.  The Civil War, by its nature, cannot do that.  It is and always will be about race.  We cannot “tell both sides” without making a moral judgment about one of them, and there is only one right side of this history.  Fayetteville wasn’t on it in 1860.

Charlottesville, Chapel Hill, and recent presidential politics have demonstrated that our nation is still grappling with this debate, and our state and local leaders have made a policy decision to bring the debate, front and center, to Fayetteville.

Maybe Colvin’s right that our resources could be better spent on other things.  I guess he should have left that golden shovel in the dirt where it belongs?  Instead, he’s using it to dig a trench between our community and our state delegation.

The Cross Creek Divide just got a little bit wider.  But don’t worry, there’s still “very fine people on both sides.”

Old, White Males – A (D) Primary Preview

As a democrat longing for the day when Donald Trump returns to his golden tower on 5th Avenue, this past week got me a little worried.

The worry set in after listening to hours of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN on XM radio in the car on my way to Florida.  I digested it all while watching the Hall of Presidents in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.  The Trump animatronic only made it worse:

Image result for donald trump hall of presidents

It was a mistake to fall for the obvious trap.  After all, these networks make money by getting people riled up.  But they had me believing that democrats are going to destroy themselves (and their chances to win) before they ever get a chance to take on Trump next year.  The front-runners, pundits claimed, would be so bloodied by left-wing activists that they would have nothing left for the general election battle to come.  A democratic house divided against itself was sure to fall!  The TRUMP Empire would continue to rule the galaxy!

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The imminent doom was reinforced with six more hours of political XM radio on the way home, and it lasted, strangely, right up until the time that I started writing this blog post.

The original title of this post was “Democratic Civil War in 2020?”  Then I read what I wrote, came to my senses, deleted it, started over, and came up with my own take instead of a regurgitation of what reporters say on the radio.  Here it is:


The democratic field that has emerged for 2020 is the the most diverse in history.  We have multiple minorities, women, and an openly gay man in the mix.  This diversity is a strength and a liability.  The obvious strength is that you’re bringing together a cross section of the American populace under one political tent.  The weakness is that the losing sections may be so upset with what they consider defeat that they leave the tent and don’t bother to return until 2024, causing a low-turnout election and a repeat of 2016.  Remember all those Bernie voters who didn’t bother to come back out to vote for Hillary Clinton?  They may have cost her the election.

When Joe Biden formally entered the race this past week, he became an instant target for the media.  According to the pundits, Biden is three things that Democratic voters don’t like anymore:

  1. Old.
  2. White.
  3. Male.

In addition, they say he’s been around too long and that he represents too much of the old establishment that younger voters reject.  They shrug off Biden’s popularity with African Americans in important primary states like South Carolina as “name recognition” or “Obama’s coattails.”

But regardless of what the pundits say, the two old white guys, Bernie and Biden, are currently leading in the betting markets:

markets

Quick political hack:  If you want to know who’s really winning a race, look at where people are putting their money instead of what they are telling pollsters.  

I tend to agree with those with their money on the line.  I don’t think being an old, white male is a liability, even in the democratic party in 2020.  In fact, being a minority, homosexual, or female is more of a liability.  Trump is a master at exploiting others as “outsiders,” and he’s already beaten one woman.  And remember, two of the most important early primaries are South Carolina and Iowa.  These states aren’t exactly leading the progressive charge.

hopThe talking heads brought up another (apparent) conundrum facing the democratic field.  According to the pundits, Democrats are faced with two disparate options:

  1. Running against Trump, or
  2. Running on Policy.

The argument is that democrats will spend so much time attacking Trump that they will forget to offer a vision for the future worth voting for.  Combined with a good economy, this is an apparent recipe for another Trump term.

I got mad at this one.  This is an idiotic and false choice because any politician worth being elected to the highest office in the land will be able to do two or more things at once.

The real recipe to beat Trump is simple:

  1.  Go toe to toe with Trump and don’t let him bully you.
  2.  Offer an economic vision that appeals to all working class people.
  3.  Be a decent human being.

The good news is that you can do all three of these things at the same time.

So, ignore the talking heads for now.  And rest assured that it in 2019, it’s still o.k. to be old and white and male.  But you better look after those that aren’t, or you’ll spend all your time looking over your shoulder while Trump hits you where it hurts.  

The Night King

“For the haters”……SMH.

It makes you wonder why you decided to start a political blog in the first place, especially one that attempts to bridge partisan divides. We aren’t getting any better or closer as a Americans at this moment in history.

But perhaps it will swing back around when we decide to elect people that care more about their country and their office than themselves.

It’s really that simple.

Enjoy the Easter Holiday and a baseball game if you make it out to one.