Monday, August 25, 2008

What gov candidates SHOULD be saying

I caught up today with Charlotte Chamber president Bob Morgan (below, left), and asked what questions he thought voters should be asking of North Carolina's gubernatorial candidates.
He didn't hesitate for even an eye-blink: Transportation, he said.

1. First, he said, ask Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue (the Democrat) and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (the Republican) whether transportation funding is a priority for them. (As an experienced questioner, I'd say ask them their top three -- or maybe five, whatever -- priorities. THEN you'd see if "transportation" or "transportation funding" is among them.

2. Second, he said, ask how the state should pay for its transportation needs in the future. Some state officials estimate that by 2030 there will be a $64 billion (not million, billion) gap between state transportation needs and funds.

So far, according to Morgan, candidates are saying, "Fix the N.C. Department of Transportation," meaning (what follows are my words, not his) get rid of the cronyism and inefficiency that we've all come to know and love. Candidates also say they'd stop transferring money from the Highway Fund into the general fund.

Fixing DOT and stopping the transfer of funds may well be excellent ideas, but they don't solve the problem of there being not enough money to pay for the state's transportation needs: maintenance, new roads, maintenance, new transit systems, maintenance, better rail service, and did I mention maintenance?

Where does that money come from?

Of course, the answer has to be, "From the taxpayers." Maybe it's a sales tax, maybe it's a gas tax, maybe the state shuts down its education department or UNC Chapel Hill and transfers the money to the transportation department. (Note, I am NOT recommending that.) Regardless of how it's done, the money is taxpayer money.

Don't hold your breath waiting on either candidate to say so, though. Both Perdue (left) and McCrory (right) are smart enough to know the transportation mess isn't going to be solved without more money. And both are smart enough to know it's really stupid to talk about new taxes during a campaign.


Anonymous said...

One almost comical measure being considered by our state’s 21st Century Transportation Committee is taxing North Carolina motorists a fraction of a penny for every additional mile they drive over 12,000 miles. Apparently South Dakota has been tossing around the same idea. How to measure and charge that fee hasn’t been figured out yet. A lot of wild solutions regarding that are going through my mind. The first thing that comes to mind is “South Carolina Here I Come”.

Some other ideas, including one that would hike property taxes, can be found in an article at

By the way, less than $1 of the average North Carolina resident’s local property taxes go toward highways, while the national average is $27.

Anonymous said...

Oop! The article can be found at:

Anonymous said...

First Anon,

Good riddance and enjoy the toll booth when you come back into Charlotte to earn a living. On top of the gas for the commute. Think it wont happen ? Think again. They have been talking about border tolls seriously for the last few years. I know, I know a few politicians.

It will happen as it has in most urban areas where cheap asses try to get all the benefits of a city and let someone else pay for it.

Bye Bye

Anonymous said...


I didn’t mean that I would move to South Carolina. No doubt, though, there are many who have moved here from other states whose first loyalty is to their own pocketbook. But that doesn’t include this long-time NC resident.

I meant that when you start to think about how a mileage fee could be measured and enforced, the most likely checkpoint would be once a year at an authorized state inspection station. Since SC doesn’t require vehicle smog and emission testing, and if vehicle inspection is where NC where determine such a tax, then there will be folks saying “South Carolina Here I Come”.

I’m all for toll roads and or bridges, especially to catch those SC residents who work here and use our water, sewer, trash collection, roads, and other public facilities. But where would tollbooths be built on I-77? Does the I-485 entrance road off I-77 northbound occur on our side of the state line? If not, what prevents SC residents from bypassing the booths as they travel to the light rail stations. And in any case would most of the Rock Hill/Fort Mill workers just shift to Rt. 21 or some other bypass?


Anonymous said...

Sorry for misunderstanding you.
Interesting question about how to enforce the people who will sneak by to reach the light rail via another route.

I think over time those people will opt for the Interstate and just pay the toll. Once everyone starts trying to avoid it the secondary roads that they use for trying to beat the system will become so clogged with traffic that they will just end up paying the toll for the faster moving road.

Anonymous said...

Does someone seriously think that if a toll road exists between A and B that there is no other way to get from point to point?

There are always other options, but they are (almost) always slower and longer.

Also, I don't think putting a toll on I-77 would be the best of ideas as it's not just commuters that use that road. A new road that is designed for commuters should be built (maybe over 77 - not sure where else it could go) using reversible lanes. It would be toll from the get-go and dump everyone at or near uptown. With just a few on/off ramps, congestion would hardly be an issue. No goofy school buses going 45 either.

Jumper said...

I have the odd feeling no one on this forum has ever been on a toll road.

Anonymous said...

Either they have or haven't been on a tool road, but the important thing is that at least they are contributing ideas to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Or tooling around on toll roads, either.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, let's build a tax wall around Charlotte or Mecklenberg county so all those people who work here an live elsewhere can finally pay for water sewer, trash collection, etc.

Are you kidding? Do you not realize that property tax based services used by employees are paid for by the companies whose business premises are in the city or county via the local taxes paid by those businesses? Apparently not.

Add to that the following: if you successfully build that little tax wall, you create additional disincentive for business to engage in job creation in the city and county by raising employment costs. You might want to check private sector job creation numbers in Charlotte. The trend is not pretty as it is. Then check the surrounding counties. If you pay attention you'll come to realize that the very LAST thing Charlotte needs is another layer of employment cost that is not found in surrounding areas.

Anonymous said...

What about the services used by SC residents (or out-of-county NC residents for that matter) who shop here, party here, or attend concerts and sporting events in Charlotte? I see a heck of a lot of SC plates all over this city, and I don't think they are all worker bees. So who is paying the tab for their use of water, sewer, trash, roads, emergency personnel, etc.?

But the real topic Mary presented for discussion pertains to how to fund transportation in this state.
Surely tolls can bring in revenue to maintain or perhaps improve the Interstate highways, including those through Charlotte.

Another idea is for the state to turn over some roads to the counties, and then for the counties to increase property taxes to pay for their maintenance. I can see Bill James turning gray over that.

Anonymous said...


Yeah Jumper, I've never seen a toll in my life. I grew up in NY. I am quite familiar with the Verrazano bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Jersey Turnpike, NY State Thruway, New England Thruway, Rip Van Winkle Bridge, Tappan Zee Bridge,Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Goethals Bridge,Throgs Neck Bridge, Triborough Bridge.

Tolls are a part of life when a population grows to large for the normal state funds to be able to handle the cost of maintaining the infrastructure.

If you don't like it then grab a bus or train and stop your crying.

Matt C said...

I grew up paying tolls on the NY State Thruway - tolls ranged from 25 cents to eight bucks depending on how far I went. It was an easy system, and the road was very well maintained.

I wonder how to do it on 77 from a logistical standpoint. The state would need to build toll booths on each entrance and exit. Some of the exits as currently constructed are not long enough to add the toll booths.

Plus, in NY the rest stops all had restaurants and gas stations so one did not have to exit the highway (and go through toll booths) to get those services.

How long would it take to recover the cost of installing toll booths from the collected tolls on the road? Is it cost feasible to do so?

Jumper said...

I wasn't crying, 8:34 Anon. I actually believe your experiences, and Matt C's, are to be listened to because you know whereof you speak!

Anonymous said...

One of the obvious ways to pay for transportation would be the use of road impact fees as are used by over 60% of communities (with population greater than 25,000) across the United States. North Carolina is one of the few states that does not make wide use of this transportation revenue wonder we are going from being known as the "good roads state" to a state known for poor roads and excessive congestion.

Anonymous said...

Transportation funding a priority?

Maybe for the rest of the state. We already have our own simple solution here in the Great State of Mecklenburg: Just move the other 693,000 city residents to center city to join the vast throng of 7,000 already there.

In “uptown” we’ll all live and work in towering high rises. We’ll just use bike or foot power to get most places. Maybe take a taxi to the airport, or hop a bus or a light-rail car once in awhile, but not enough to worry about street maintenance or expansion. Especially not out there in Provence, NC, which we’ll never visit.

And our developers care enough about all classes of people that they know to build not only luxury units but also average housing for the middle class and the poor.

If you think that’s not true, just look at The Park. It is now open to vagrants.

Yes, there may not be too many trees growing in the part of our uptown that was once known as Brooklyn, but just imagine the brotherhood, goodwill and friendship generated by cramming 700,000 sardines into such a small area.

If suburbanites don’t have enough sense to move back to the city, our solution should be to continue to keep the roads narrow and let the potholes deepen, the macadam decay, and the bridges crumble. If that doesn’t work, increase the gas tax and let them finance the result of their folly.

"What? Me worry?" - Alfred E. Neuman

Anonymous said...


It's people like you that need to just move away. It's simple, you don't like city life, Charlotte is becoming a major city, so leave. The city wont stop for a few crybaby GOP's. Move, there are plenty of places with greener pastures for you and your family with the lifestyle you DESERVE.

I cannot understand why these types feel we should keep on building miles and miles of roads to Suburban Hell and support YOUR lifestyle. WE are a city, we live in and around a CITY. YOU are the ones that should figure out how to fix your decaying McNeighborhoods, not us.

You kill me with your ENTITLEMENT philosophy. Cities start at the base and move outward. You happen to be far, far, far down on the food chain. Get over it. You are simply not that important and I believe deep down inside you know it.

Anonymous said...

And another thing Blow Hard,

Uptown now has over 12,000 full time residents, not 7,000. That's a 70% increase in a few short years. With Catalyst and VUE alone it will be pushed closer to the 14,000 mark. Once McCain looses the economy turns around we should hit at least the 20,000 mark by 2013. That's a lot of people inside the loop who's incomes and condos generate a ton of revenue for the city. On top of that we pay an extra Center City Real Estate tax. Bet you didn't know that either Skippy, did you ?

The city is the heart of any area. Why on earth any of you would want it to rot and crumble is mind boggling and quite stupid.

Rick said...

It's people like you that need to just move away. It's simple, you don't like city life, Charlotte is becoming a major city, so leave.

Genius, pure genius...did you think that up all by your self? Or were you just channeling that great orator of Charlotte - Norman Mitchell.

You use the word "we" as if everyone in the city has the same opinion and only some rube, hick, or redneck from the hinterlands could possibly think differently.

Give your definition of "we"...I'm sure it will be hard pressed to include anyone outside the 277 loop - which was the previous poster's point.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not part of your "we" even though I ride the bus every day to work (and not just an express route).

I'll ride my bike just about everywhere I need to go on the weekends using greenways and bike lanes - oh so very, very urban.

I certainly don't want uptown to rot, but I'm also not one of the uptown elites pushing to not hand out food to the homeless in an uptown parking lot or cheering gentrification as it pushes out those with lower incomes.

...and I live within the city limits, but I don't live in Uptown with that giant 1.8% of total city residents.

Please, please, please...don't use "we" when "you" speak unless you are clear that you really mean "we" to be Uptown-Cheerleader-Real-Major-City-Envying-Condecending-Know-It-All.

That would be more accurate I think.

Anonymous said...

I knew it would only be a matter of time before Dick would speak.

Dick wants so bad to be inside the loop it's actually funny. There are all sorts of price ranges to be had. I can find you a 700 sq. ft. loft in a mid rise that's only 5 years old for $170,000. So you can stop calling us "The Elite" or any other numerous names you like to sew out from your jealous mouth.
We have all types and all incomes uptown.

WE, as I used the word is not just the "inner loop". It is Dilworth, Southpark, Myers Park, Elizabeth, etc., etc., etc...... Charlotte proper if you would. It's the city, the urban environment. Places where you can if you choose to walk to just about anything you need. It's where you would take friends visiting from out of state. You certainly wouldn't take them to PineHell now would you ?

Sorry, if you can't walk it then it's not "urban".

These people, the 'WE" I speak of are the same ones that bulldozed the silly little "Stop The Train" fiasco.
People like the one I was replying to were the ones who created that fiasco.

What I am trying to say Dick, may I call you Dick ? Is that if you don't like a city environment then why not move to some place that suits you better ?

The reason I am in Charlotte is because I wanted a mid size city with a fair cost of living. So I moved here. If I wanted something else I would have moved to a place that provided that.

It's a no brainer.

I love how the Burbanites are allowed free rain to spew their crap but as soon as I or some other "urbanite" chimes in then Dick is running to the rescue. You're a joke Dick.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...

The commentary on all of these blogs really shows people's true colors. Nobody can stay on the subject, no matter what the original subject was!

No matter what you uptowners or suburbanites think...




If uptown was only allowed to employ people that lived inside the loop, there wouldn't BE an uptown. Some people like the condos, some people like to get a little more for their $170k plus fees than 700 sq. ft. That's everyone's personal choice. Ever try to raise 3 kids in 700 sq ft? You don't have to if you move to burbland.

Spare me the argument about not having kids or just waiting until they can afford a 1700 sq. ft. condo either.

As someone previously said, this is about transporation funding, and no matter what happens to uptown, something has to be done about it as people from 'the outside' will be using the roads. NO MATTER WHAT. Those same people that you uptowners probably sit next to at work. Do they know the pure hatred you hold for them or do you only spout it off anonymously in blog commentary?

Anonymous said...


See what I mean ? Rick and Anon "Alfred E. Neuman"
8/28/2008 08:00:00 AM have the RIGHT to spew their version of the crap but an uptowner can not come back and challenge him.

Raising kids in a 700 sq. ft. condo - no, not really possible. But I did actually grow up with me, my sister, my mom and dad and my grandfather in a 1,000 sq. ft. ranch. So it can be done, you've just gotten spoiled with your McMansions. As well as the fact that you need more room to get away from your spoiled brat kids.

There are some older condos that are around that size and for under $200,000. So again, in your words, "Spare me the argument"

As far as the people working next to me - I don't have any besides my wife. We run our own business out of our spare bedroom.

Anonymous said...

By the way, do you really see a difference between using Rick or Andrew as opposed to being plain old anonymous ?

For all we know Rick and Andrew aren't even your real names. Even if they are, does it matter ? Really, how many Rick and Andrew's are there in Charlotte ?

What a joke of an argument.

Andrew said...

All I'm saying "Anonymous" is that you obviously don't want me cramming my lifestyle choice down your throat, anymore than I want you cramming your choice down mine.

I'm glad you like uptown. I'm glad you like working next to your wife. It's not my preference though. In addition, it's not me or my neighbors that cause traffic problems on I77. My moving uptown wouldn't change a single thing on the roads. As a matter of fact, I'd have to be on the roads even MORE than I am now. Surprise, my office isn't near your house...excuse me, condo.

Instead of just complaining about how you hate suburbia, why not just cope with the fact that it's here to stay, so you'll better suit yourself if you contribute to the discussion on TRANSPORTATION FUNDING.

Unless you don't rely on cars at all. I guess all of your customers/clients are living (and working) uptown too.

Roads are necessary, there aren't enough here.

Anonymous said...


Sorry, sold both cars over four years ago. You got it, foot, bike, bus train, taxi to the airport and the very occasional rental car for a drive to the coast or mountains.

My client base is not based in Charlotte at all. Actually I do zero work in Charlotte. Most of my work takes me to Rio, Sydney and Las Vegas. I don't need a car there either.

Nice try, have a nice day Andrew.

Rick said...

I suppose this will just set off another infantile tirade, but…

Does anyone else see the humor in the fact that Anon takes offense at being called elitist, but then only says by name Dilworth, Southpark, Myers Park, and Elizabeth in his definition of urban?

Then this one really made me laugh…

if you don't like a city environment then why not move to some place that suits you better? Then in the next follow-up post he defends pushing out the homeless from the place he chose to live even though urban areas are traditionally where most of the homeless congregate.

Oh no, not elitist at all…

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 10:21 a.m.:

Sorry, I forgot that there are 2,000 Johnson & Wales students plus 3,000 winos. Yep, you are right. That plus the actual census count of 7,000 makes 12,000 uptown residents.

By the way, I noticed yesterday that there's another person walking in my neighborhood. Our walkership has increased by 100%!!!

Anonymous said...


Apparently he walks to and from Douglas International and therefore doesn't use the roads, just the sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

Anon the Carrot Top (^):

You don't even know who Alfred E. Neuman is, much as less what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...


Anon is right. The area's he listed are about the only walkable urban area's in Charlotte. At least where you actually see people walking to grocery stores, movies, restaurants, work and such. Sure there are other area's with sidewalks but you rarely see people taking advantage of them. Just because they are pricier doesn't mean they are elitist neighborhoods. You and I can also purchase there. Maybe a little smaller home or condo ? Maybe a fixer upper ? There's give and take in any situation. The simple fact is that in any city the more desirable areas cost more to live in. Usually you can get into these areas if you are willing to sacrifice square footage or purchase an older place and remodel it. But if you want brand new and square footage you usually have to go further out. It's all a matter of what's important to you as an individual. Living uptown you tend to be out and about more than in the Suburbs. So you don't have the need for as big a space. Yes, we even have some kids living uptown and they aren't in 1,500 square foot homes either.

The homeless situation is a sticky one. I also live uptown and understand the dilemma as well. It's a hard call. The city/county should really move them and the shelter to an area that isn't some of the priciest real estate in the state. That's my opinion anyway. The fact that you don't have anything constructive to say to Anon about this matter proves you have nothing to offer the situation either. Why not move them to your cul-de-sac ? Why not feed them on your street ? You obviously feel the Burbs are better so lets give the homeless a fresh start in a better neighborhood. The argument about Calvary Church is a very good one as well.

By the way Rick, I don't make $250,000 a year either. I make $61,000 a year and have saved and invested my entire life. Choosing to not own a car has also save me thousands of dollars a year in payments, insurance and gas. I chose to put my money where I would reap rewards and not to flush it down the toilet on cars and gas. This has afforded me to purchase a $400,000 condo. If this makes me an Elitist then so be it. I was brought up to think it was simply being American. I worked hard, saved and practiced good financial ethics. The result is that I own my home free and clear at age 40. It's as simple as that.

Who knows Rick, maybe the Anon you are butting heads with has a similar story. You never know.
The fact that you think that Anon is an elitist simply because Anon states the facts, proves that you are the infant on this blog. Just because you can't ever stand being wrong doesn't give you the right to go off on someone else. I've read the blog over again and to me, you seem at fault. As in many blogs you always seem to be the one in the wrong and you always try to turn it around so it looks like it's the other poster. But it's very transparent to anyone who's paying attention.

Have a nice Labor Day everyone !