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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Decision Day

Posted by on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 8:36 AM

click to enlarge Durham, North Carolina - Saturday May 21, 2016 - Activity outside the Carolina Theatre Saturday night during Moogfest in Durham. - ALEX BOERNER / INDY WEEK
  • Alex Boerner / INDY Week
  • Durham, North Carolina - Saturday May 21, 2016 - Activity outside the Carolina Theatre Saturday night during Moogfest in Durham.

Good morning! Today is something called World Turtle Day

1. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce head encourages City Council to do incredibly stupid thing.

You may or may not have heard over the weekend that Charlotte is considering a "deal" with General Assembly leaders to repeal its ordinance extending non-discrimination protections to the LGBT community, in the hopes that the General Assembly might change its mind on HB 2. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Morgan took to the opinion pages of the Charlotte Observer to offer up his bad opinion on this:
As The Charlotte City Council considers action regarding non-discrimination policies, some will argue that no deal is a good one. The chamber agrees that the only acceptable outcome are policies at the city and state level that prohibit discrimination against all people. We fear that if the City Council doesn’t take a first step, the crushing economic suffering, much of it hurting low wage hospitality workers, will continue for years while the courts ultimately resolve the issue.

The ask by the legislature that Charlotte act first carries with it an overture to begin rebuilding trust. To reject that overture likely only further impairs a relationship that needs repair. The legislature has made clear to anyone who will listen that once Charlotte acts they alone bear the burden of modifying HB2 to restore, and hopefully expand, non-discrimination provisions.

For anyone who's been watching the General Assembly over the past couple of years, this is an absolutely insane take.

While Morgan is correct that low wage hospitality workers (and venue employees, as well) are hurt by the boycott, he ignores the reason why the boycott happened in the first place: the state is sanctioning discrimination against its own citizens. The way to end the boycott, then, is not for the city to cede all of the moral high ground and support, effectively, what the General Assembly and Governor McCrory did to transgender rights in this state. Not sure providing reinforcement to legalized bigotry is going to bring entertainers and business back to Charlotte or any of the other cities that the GA has already made clear they don't care about. 

Morgan continues:

We believe the Council should act to take the first step in a process we hope leads to reforms to HB2 that advance our city and state as places where discrimination is not tolerated – for anyone. Doing so demonstrates our city and legislature can be responsive to each other. Doing so will result in our city being engaged in advancing corrective legislation – not backing off its core and appropriate beliefs. Taking the first step is another opportunity for our city to demonstrate it is leading the effort in our state to advance the rights of the LGBT community to live their lives feeling safe and accepted and not discriminated against.

At no point in the entire piece does Morgan actually say, "This is what the City Council should do to reach out to the General Assembly." Even as he says the Chamber "rejects discrimination in all forms," however, it's implied that he thinks the only way the General Assembly will take another look at HB 2 is if Charlotte rolls back its protections for transpeople in places of public accommodations.

The idea that Charlotte has to cave in to the General Assembly in order to continue having a functioning economy is ridiculous. Apple told Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts that coming to her city and North Carolina was contingent on the city passing this ordinance; not a single one has come to the state because they support HB 2.

The economic consequences of this are one-hundred percent the fault of the General Assembly, and asking Morgan and the City Council to "cut a deal" that throws the LGBT community under the bus - when the General Assembly hasn't even indicated that they're interested in revisiting HB 2 at all - is not only feckless, but a bad political move to boot. 

The City Council meets tonight. We'll let you know if anything crazy happens.

2. More construction on Hillsborough Street. 

If you like construction, I've got good news for you. From the N&O

By mid-June, Hillsborough Street will once again become a construction zone as crews overhaul another section of the artery north of N.C. State University, picking up where they left off in 2010.

Officials say it will take about 18 months and $18.7 million to slim the road to two lanes, bury power lines, replace sewer mains and add three traffic circles in the corridor running between Gardner and Shepherd streets.

“It’s going to be much more pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly, safe, and with the addition of these roundabouts, it’s going to allow the area to have smooth, steady traffic flow,” said Chris Johnson, design and construction manager for Raleigh’s Public Works Department.

If the project stays on track, it should be completed by early 2018. 

3. Moogfest happened!

We were there. Check out our posts on it from over the weekend.

Moogfest 2016, Day One: Delight and Disorganization, Protests in the Street and Sleep in the Ballroom 

Moogfest 2016, Day Two: Grimes in a Parking Lot, Grouper in the Wrong Context, and the Blessed Bass of Bicep in The Armory

Moogfest 2016, Day Two: A Call to Keep Using the Durham Armory and PSI Theatre

Moogfest 2016, Day Three: Lights, Colors, and Good Vibrations

And technically not Moogfest but still awesome: Live: Up Against Moogfest, Analog Aretha Reigns Supreme in Durham

The festival has already announced dates and ticket prices for next year.

4. Durham City Council intends to move forward with new police building.

And city workers and police accountability advocates aren't happy about it.

The city plans to build a new $71 million headquarters for the Police Department and Emergency Communications on East Main Street. The City Council plans to vote June 6 to authorize the city manager to negotiate and execute a contract of up to nearly $2.3 million for the East Main Street site’s demolition, abatement and soil remediation for the building that is expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

Critics of the new headquarters say the city should use the money to address other issues.

For about two months, protesters with the Durham Beyond Policing campaign and the workers union have been picketing Durham City Hall every Monday night. Last week about a dozen interrupted a City Council meeting holding signs and chanting “Money for jobs and education not for cops and incarceration.”

The City Council waited.

“Have you finished?” Mayor Bill Bell asked. “Thank you.”

“We’ll be back. We’ll be back. We’ll be back,” they chanted as the left.

That's it. Go forth and be merry. 

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