City Smart: Streetcar opening to Carolina Theatre grant

City Smart: Streetcar opening to Carolina Theatre grant
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3 Important Things

  • Voting on terms. The County Commission voted last Tuesday to place a referendum on the ballot in November to extend their terms to four years instead of the current two. Mecklenburg is the only county in North Carolina that currently has two year terms for all of its commissioners. Advocates of the change say that it allows commissioners the chance to learn their jobs and do it before having to run for re-election, and brings Mecklenburg more in line with the rest of the state. Commissioners Pat Cotham and Matt Ridenhour, the only two votes opposing creation of the referendum, argued two year terms require commissioners to be more responsive to the public. Look for the referendum on your ballot in November!
  • Streetcar rumblings. As the Gold Line opens on Tuesday, new rumblings can be heard of plans to create a line to run up Monroe Rd. from Matthews to Uptown. Anyone who has ever sat in Independence Blvd. traffic can see how the proposal is worth at least discussing. The streetcar project was proposed after a study done by the Urban Land Institute suggesting it may be the route to go (#punintended). CATS has scheduled three public workshops on Monroe Rd/Independence Blvd. transit options for early August, the first at 6 pm August 4th at the Matthews Town Hall.

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  • Trial on voting law. The Voting Rights Act celebrates it’s fiftieth anniversary this year. In June 2013, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring certain places (including most of the State of North Carolina) to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice before passing new voting laws. Shortly thereafter, free from pre-clearance requirements, North Carolina vastly changed several of our election laws. These changes include creating a new provision requiring voters to show a photo ID, removing an option that allowed people to register to vote during early-voting at early voting locations, reducing the number of days that early voting would occur in the state, eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and eliminating provisional balloting for voters who go to vote at the wrong precinct. Several civil rights groups sued over the laws. This week the trial over the new law began in Winston-Salem. The North Carolina voting law changes have been called the most restrictive in the country by some. The law was recently changed to allow for someone unable to obtain an ID to vote by swearing to their identity via affidavit. Supporters of the law say that it’s needed to prevent fraud. Opponents say that the Republican-driven law is a solution in search of a problem and an attempt to disenfranchise vulnerable populations that don’t traditionally vote for the GOP. The case is expected to garner national attention, and the ruling, no matter what it is, is expected to be appealed.

2 Happy Things

  • The new streetcar line opens Tuesday along Elizabeth Avenue! The ride is currently free, and the streetcar runs Monday through Thursday from 6 am-11pm, Friday 6am-12am, Saturday 8am-12am and Sunday 9am-7pm. There will be an opening ceremony featuring various dignitaries, including Charlotte’s own former mayor turned Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx at the Plaza at Time Warner Cable Arena.

1 Random Thing

  • The County Commission voted last Tuesday to give $4.2MM in grants to the Carolina Theatre renovation project. This only comprises a small portion of the money raised for the project, but will be instrumental in restoring the theater’s marquee and vertical signs. In exchange, project organizers brought up potentially naming part of the theater in honor of the Board of County Commissioners or the people of Mecklenburg County.

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