3 Important Things
- More Kids in Poverty. According to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half-a-million children are now living in poverty in North Carolina. This figure is up 25% since 2008. While the recession played a role, so did legislative changes like letting the earned income tax credit expire in 2014. The report was not all bleak – more children than ever have health insurance, reading proficiency improved among fourth graders, math proficiency improved among eight graders, and more high school students are graduating on time. Plus, programs like STAR are kicking off to address chronic absenteeism due to homelessness.
- The Group 2.0. For those of you who weren’t around in the 80’s and 90’s, you may not realize what a huge role the CEOs of large Charlotte based businesses played in Charlotte’s development. Informally called “The Group”, CEOs like BofA’s Hugh McColl, Wachovia’s Ed Crutchfield, Duke Energy’s Bill Lee, and department store CEO Jim Belk used to meet up every now and again and discuss things they’d like to see happen in Charlotte and then make them happen. For example – the Transportation Center? Pretty much McColl’s idea. There’s been a bit of an outcry for more of the city’s business leaders to step up and follow in these CEO’s footsteps. This call to action resulted in a new group of CEOs being formed recently, the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council. Independent from government and the Chamber of Commerce, the group of nearly two dozen Charlotte executives was started to tackle issues like economic mobility and education. Right now they are getting their feet wet. We’ll be watching to see if they make their mark on the city the same way “The Group” did.
- Transparent and Accountable. The Charlotte Observer joined with several of its competitors and open-government groups this week to sue the McCrory administration for violating public records requests laws. The laws require government agencies to supply records as “promptly as possible” after a request but gives no hard deadline for production. The lawsuit lays out several instances of year-long waits for records. Open government advocates note that while this administration is not the first to violate open-record laws, they have taken the delays to new lengths. The administration characterizes itself as a champion of transparency, and accuses some media and public interest groups of filing duplicative and overly broad requests and gumming up the system. They reportedly had more than 22,000 records requests and argue there isn’t sufficient funding to fulfill them unless resources are taken away from other needed services. McCrory ran on making government more open and transparent in both 2008 and 2012.
2 Happy Things
- Charlotte has cut its unemployment rate by more than half since the recession. It also ranks number nine on a list of the fifteen US cities that have fared best since the end of the downturn, and number two for the biggest decrease in unemployment.
- The non-profit program Venture for America added Charlotte to its roster of cities. Similar to the Teach for America model, Venture for America pairs recent college grads with new local startups for two years to train as entrepreneurs while they receive on-the-job experience.
1 Random Thing
- Charlotte Water is asking customers to voluntarily cut down on the water they use. They ask that you only water your lawn twice a week on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. The last time water conditions were this bad in Charlotte was December 2011. Some other ways to cut down on water consumption: use commercial car washes instead of washing your car yourself, turn off that gaudy fountain in your front yard, have Jeeves only top off the swimming pool on Thursday and Sunday evenings, have a “who can shower quickest” competition with your house-mates (except for smelly Steve), and of course drink wine instead of water.