Friday, June 02, 2006

Governor envy

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – My affection for, and pride, in North Carolina get hurt when the governor of another state gives speeches that make me wish Gov. Mike Easley would be as visionary.

Today, the governor who stung my Tar Heel pride was Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island.

I’m here attending the national conference of the Congress for the New Urbanism. CNU is an organization of 3,000-some members: developers, architects, planners, designers and assorted others, including traffic engineers and even a few storm water engineers.

Their conferences are usually full of people telling about interesting developments or ideas or plans. Several Charlotte-area people and other Carolinians are here, including Charlotte architect Terry Shook, Concord developer David Mayfield, plus Chapel Hill architect/engineer/planner Tony Sease.

Carcieri, the Rhode Island governor, gave a short talk this morning as the conference opened. He seemed like a regular, Rhode Island kind of guy – the sort who’d slap you on the back, buy you a beer and kiss any infant in the room. In other words, he doesn’t come off as a policy wonk or a professorial type, or as a blow-dried 5-by-7 glossy, either.

Then he started talking about the importance of history and how interstate highways had destroyed the fabric of beautiful communities. He clearly understands the importance of place and how it relates to an economy: "You don’t see people go to ugly places," he said.

He talked about the way that the look of buildings affects land use: "When I go down Broad Street here and see a CVS – one story, surrounded with parking – I think ‘What a waste.’ "

"It all sort of links together in my mind," he said.

It made me wonder: Has Gov. Mike Easley ever learned enough about cities and how they’re built and how it all "links together?"

I haven’t seen much evidence of him caring at way about the physical world we inhabit in North Carolina. Our state has places of great beauty and history and it has been, and is being corroded by ugly, poorly thought-out development and scarred by ill-considered highway plans and designs. But it’s losing much of its rural beauty by just drifting into sprawl – due to a vacuum of state leadership.

Many in state government will try to excuse their flabby inattention, saying "Land use is a local issue." That’s a load of baloney.

For one thing, the only powers local government in North Carolina has are what the state grants them. Zoning, land use planning, subdivision ordinances – all require state enabling laws.

For another thing, the state designs and builds roads and highways. That’s one of the most powerful land use tools around.

I don’t know enough about Rhode Island politics to know whether Carcieri is a good governor or a shoddy one. All I know is that I wish the words that were coming out of his mouth this morning would also come out of Mike Easley’s mouth one of these days.


Myra said...

We can only hope that someone starts saying that in Charlotte - and North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

Land use is a local issue.

Do you seriously want people in Raleigh to make decisions for people in Indian Trail? LOL

More commie dogma from Newsom and the rest of the new urbanists.

That's right, Mary. You know how everyone should live. Why, they are all just too stupid to see what's best for own good.

Face it, if any of this new urbanist crap were of any interest to anyone but a tiny few, the private sector would have run with it ages ago. They haven't, and the rest of the public doesn't care either.

That is why your only hope is for big, bad gubment to step in and just MAKE people do it.

Rhode Island is also about the size of teh Carolina Place mall, so who cares what their governor says.

What NC should REALLY do is eliminate the corporate and personal income tax, and sit back and watch. Florida, Nevada, etc., have done so, and they are they have the lowest unemployment, the fastest job growth, and booming real estate.

I think it is inevitable that South Carolina will eliminate some sort of major tax, and all of our precious banks will ehad to Lancaster county just like that.

Anonymous said...

Oh good grief...if you don't like this blog...take off.

Ignorant,republican, anti-government "McVeighs" like you don't even know what government provides. And you know even less about how it's paid for...

It's always the same whine about taxes until YOU want the government to do something, and then it's important.

We'd all be happy for you to move to Florida. You must love the growth there. Perhaps you'd consider jogging near a canal in you new gated sub division!

As they used to say in Georgia...
"Delta is ready when you are."

Anonymous said...

>>Ignorant,republican, anti-government "McVeighs" like you don't even know what government provides. >>

I am not anti-government, but government has clearly overstepped its bounds when it starts telling people where and how to live.

In the words of the immortal Ronald Reagan: 'government is not the solution, government is the problem.'

I am just sick to death of paying for lame idea after lame idea from govco, when I am busting my rear trying to pay some bills and save some money for my kids.

What government should 'provide' is public safety, law enforcement to make sure everybody plays by the rules, *maybe* schools, and basic infrastructure.

That's all.

Not art museums, arenas, rec centers, after school programs, chambers of commerce, or any of those other useless boondoggles that just keep some govco working busy.

Anonymous said...

Mary, Providence is one of the last places I want Charlotte to be like. If you venture out of the downtown area, into surrounding communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, you will see even they have their share of malls and big box shopping centers. When it's not the winter, you would think you were in Charlotte, or any other city or suburb. Rhode Island as a state may be capable of doing some things because they are no bigger than a couple counties, and they also have a significant amount of history (much more than Charllotte could ever dream of having). They also have more corruption than anything North carolina's ever seen. Hello Buddy Cianci???? Hello Mob???

Zoning should remain local as it is right now. I live in Charlotte proper and I fully support the higher density plans in certain areas (as well as the arena, light rail, museums, white water parks, and anything else that will make this city stand out...but I digress). Having said that, I fully support Weddington, Waxhaw, Lancaster, Fort Mill and any other town that chooses a more spread out plan as well. I also have the utmost respect for the people and businesses that choose to move out to those enclaves. As long as they're happy, I'm happy. Personally, I wish they would enjoy their towns and quit bashing Charlotte, but obviously, that's not going to happen.

As for Mike Easley stepping in and determining our local policy, I say be afraid, be very afraid. I would never trust those folks in sprawling Raleigh to have any idea what's best for Charlotte considering that many of them don't think North Carolina goes further west than Winston-Salem. Until they help us finish I-485, widen the southern portion and fix the lights on Brookshire, they are just plain useless and out of touch.

I'm the Danimal, I'm a Democrat, and I stand by everything I've said here.

Anonymous said...

Government can help influence land use here without all the decisions coming from Raleigh. There could be an overall planning committee established that would allow for local land use planning by LOCAL residents. Instead there is no organization set up to influence any decisions on development in the area.

Rick said...

Mary would have us believe that our beautiful state looks just like New Jersey - right off the turnpike. For those of you who haven't been, even New Jersey has expansive, beautiful areas in the western part of the state.

Mary would have us believe that all of North Carolina is urban and under development. Outside of 4-5 cities - none of which qualify as large cities - NC is a very rural state. I'll point to my response to Mary's - Next Growth Hot Spot post. The numbers don't support the scare tactics.

Mary would have us believe that state government is the solution. That is wrong on two counts. First it implies that there is a state level problem. See the above paragraph for why that is not true. Second, the majority of state representatives come from rural areas who don't want to pay for public transit and other boondoggles for Charlotte and Raleigh. (I know most of this money is Federal, but these projects do require state support.) Again, see the above paragraph as to why most state politicians would vote this way. Most are from rural areas.

Anonymous said...

Of bigger to concern to Charlotteans is their proximity to the state line.

SC governor Sanford is hell bent on eliminating some major tax (property taxes, income taxes, etc) and go to a higher sales tax system (more of a 'fair' tax).

This will have no effect on Raliegh, and they will unlikely run to Charlotte's defense when SC danlges a huge carrot in front of Charlotte-area employers to head south.

Mayor McCrory and company have transformed uptown into something nice, but they have put it all on the taxpayers credit card and can't pay for it.

I bet in 10 years the Bobcats will be gone, the Panthers will be looking for a new stadium and beating up the city for $$$, and at least one of the banks will be in South Carolina for tax reasons.

Hopefully NC's next governor will be a Sue Myrick or another fiscal conservative who will slash taxes and keep the state competitive with surrounding states.

Otherwise NC will start to become the next Ohio.

Anonymous said...

Neither Wachovia nor B of A is moving from Charlotte since they are the ones who call all the shots in this city. Who would want to walk away from such power? Projections say Charlotte and Mecklenburg will have more than 350,000 moving into the county by 2025, as well as more in the surrounding area. South Carolina wil surely get their share, but this 'sky is falling' mentality is a farce. If everybody folowed the previous poster's logic, New York, oston and San Francisco would be empty right now...all are thriving. 'Quality of life' means different things to different people. You go on and have fun down there in SC, though. ome up and visit often when you get bored.

Anonymous said...

>>Neither Wachovia nor B of A is moving from Charlotte since they are the ones who call all the shots in this city. Who would want to walk away from such power? >>

The 'power' is the shareholders of the banks. If they can pocket an extra 7-8% in tax savings, that is who the 2 Kens ultimately answer to.

San Fran and New York thriving?? LOL Have you recently been to either of those places? Yes, you can get a nice 1,100 sq ft house or apartment if you are filthy rich.

I have met COUNTLESS people who have just relocated here from both California and New York who swear they will never move back.

All those glowing growth projections are always labeled 'Charlotte-area' which means from here to Spartanburg. Mecklenburg is already built up. All the new growth will be in cheaper, vacant farm land. This has happened in virtual every other city in the country. We will be no different.

In 10 years Spartanburg will be a hot spot, and people will commute 60 miles to get to work. Go look at Chicago or St. Louis or Southern California (or even Atlanta).

According to Business 2.0 magazine, 40 percent of the nation will live in the Souteast by the year 2030, and the I-85 corridor will be the place.

2% of those will live in urban dwelling. Do the math.

Anonymous said...

I have been to New York City and it IS thriving, thank you very much. Many of those who move down here saying they will never go back will still bring some of their ideas down with them, and they won't be the same as the locals. I hope all cities on the 85 corridor prosper just like you project, but Charlotte becoming anothe Buffalo or Detroit anytime soon is absurd. A good number of people will move down here looking for urban amenities that Charlotte and Atlanta will offer. That includes many in the business community. It's hard to recruit some of the best and brightest to boring and provincial hick towns.

Not Republican nor Named McVeigh said...

Back to the subject. We actually have a person who potentially influences public opinion praising an elected official who does not appreciate the vast commercial contribution to the US Economy of the Interstate Highway System. And no not McDonalds or Exxon type Commercial but the movement of goods and services to us all; For food alone you have Florida and California Produce in the Northeast,Midwestern Beef to the coasts, coastal seafood inland etc...

As for praising New Urbanist -
Planning penalty shuts door to homeownership. A new report calculates costs of smart growth policies. Homebuyers in two North Carolina cities pay thousands of dollars in extra costs, thanks to aggressive growth management plans. That's the key finding in a new Policy Report from the John Locke

As for a comment such as "Ignorant,republican, anti-government "McVeighs" like you don't even know what government provides. And you know even less about how it's paid for..."

I would suggest as July 4th approaches you revisit the Founders and the Constitution including the Bill of Rights to find out just exactly how seduced by the opiate of what our current government "provides" and how its "paid for" you are vs. the vision of the Founders for a nation of individual freedoms and tolerence for those freedoms. You cannot gain a government benefit or protection without a corresponding loss in freedom.Sometimes that is worthwhile as in criminal laws and police protection but most times it is decidely not.

So yell long and yell loud. Call names,thump your chest and pound shoes on the table because the loudest most obnoxious post does not place right on your side nor does it indicate winning. It indicates lack of something of substance to say.

Rick said...

recent anons,

Scare tactics from the right are just as bad as Mary's coming from the left.

First of all, the banks are doing very well by their shareholders. Bank of America is the #3 most profitable Fortune 500 company and Wachovia comes in at #20. Among commercial banks they are #2 and #5 respectively.

Secondly, where do you get the 7-8 percent tax savings for banks moving to SC.? My guess is that this is completely untrue

For Banks specifically, South Carolina has a 4.5% corp income tax rate vs the 6.9% rate in North Carolina. That's a 2.4 percent difference, not 7-8. Maybe you know something the rest of us don't, and SC is going to eliminate this tax completely. However, I doubt that.

South Carolina already ranks near the bottom in overall per capita tax burden. Great for them! They are doing much better than NC. However, since they are already near the bottom as a result of many well reasoned tax cuts, I don't see what motivates them to cut further. They already have a comparative advantage.

Lastly, I think you completely underestimate the desire of the Big Banks to have Charlotte as their showpiece city. Why do you think Bank of America is funding the new Ritz Carleton right next to their headquarters? The banks love bringing in big clients and saying - "see what a great city I've made?"

Anonymous said...

Maybe the 2 banks will be here forever (lord knows they have the locals wrapped around their finger).

Wach. and BofA extort so many tax breaks out of local government, you will start to wonder if it is really worth it.

Unfortunately, large companies are not the backbone of an economy, small business is.

While Wach. and BofA are sloths and pretty firmly entrenched in the real estate investments, most mid to small size companies are not, and would readily head south. This is not 'sky is falling' like one poster wrote.

HSBC, CitiBank, and Lending Tree have all left, or are all leaving, Mecklenburg for Lancaster county.

That's 1,600 new jobs at Citi that just bypassed Charlotte altogether, and the others are moving.

That's for real, and many other small to medium-szd businesses will do the exact same thing for the exact same reason.

The 2 banks probabaly never will because McCrory and the rest of the dumba$$e$ in local gov co would sell their mothers to keep them here.

Anonymous said...

Take a look at business trends in Charlotte. The numbers are pretty interesting. New business starts and relocaitons are trending DOWN, not up. The raw numbers are still good, but the trend is not and if it continues, the raw numbers will eventually not look pretty either.

As a business owner who moved a business OUT of Charlotte I can speak to at least some of the reasons why, when we needed to expand, we choose Cabarrus County.

1. Traffic congestion is expensive in time and dollars and Charlotte has no effective plans to improve the roadways in a meaningful fashion. Building a new facility, we looked down the road ten to twenty years and could see that seriously impacting our business.

2. Taxes, fees, and licenses are dramatically less expensive outside of Charlotte and Mecklenburg county. That may ultimately equalize itself to some degree as outlying areas grow, but it's extremely unlikely to be, in the end, worse than in Charlotte, and meanwhile we save a huge amount of money.

3. Significant numbers of our employees -and particularly recruited new hires were already locating outside of the CMS area: by locating outside of the county we are able to be more attractive to prosepctive emloyees.

Rick said...

Don't get me wrong, I agree with all of the comments about CMS and taxes that negatively affect small business and drive out individuals.

My comments were specifically directed at the statements that the banks were bound to leave because of taxes to improve the bottom line for shareholders, and that that exodus would cause the apocalypse for Charlotte uptown boosters.

I just don't see that happening. Take a look at yesterday's Observer. BOA is spending $65 million to subsidize its employees' hybrid cars. They obviously are not solely concerned about the shareholder, and they love being able to play the role of the corporate liberal social conscience of Charlotte.

My only point in that last post was that making overblown negative statements as a scare tactic shouldn't be done whether you are on the right or left.

Anonymous said...

Rick, I agree with you on both points. Hyperbole is not really useful to discussion, and I hardly think BofA or Wachovia are leaving any time soon. (And never say never: I'll bet San Fran never thought BofA HQ would be anywhere other than there.)

But I also think worrying -or taking comfort in- the relative permanence of the large and highly visible banks, etc. is misplaced. They provide a large number of jobs, but are by no means the driving force in the local economy. 13,000 BofA employees in Charlotte is a drop in the bucket when compared to the total number of employees in Mecklenberg.

I'd be a great deal more concerned with businesses employing 1 to 1000, since they are most of the jobs and most of the economic activity.

In reality, it seems to me that if CMS doesn't get it's act together, and if something does not reverse the current TAPS plan to basically ignore most of feeder roads in the county (i.e. ignore road congestion), new business trends are going to continue downward and accelerate on that path. And at that point, all the concern over land use regulation will take a back seat to a shrinking tax base and an expanding services demand.

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