Thursday, July 30, 2009

Report: Charlotte post offices could close

Five Mecklenburg County post offices are among 677 nationwide marked for possible closure or consolidation, the Washington Post reports.

The Charlotte offices under scrutiny:

CLT-30th St



CLT-Eastway Finance


Click here for the full list.

The Post story quotes Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) expecting the steps to prompt public backlash.

“You better believe that if those post offices have to be closed I’m going to be besieged by people asking, ‘Please don’t close my post office,’” she said.

The story also cites postal and Congressional sources saying "privately that only about 200 of the 677 postal facilities are likely to be closed after a review," after the document was given today to a House subcommittee holding a hearing on the future of American mail delivery.

- Doug Miller

New Mint Hill high boundary maps

CMS has three new boundary proposals for the new Mint Hill high school, though staff and school board members acknowledged earlier this week they still don't think they've come up with the final assignment plan.
Click here to see the latest street-level maps.

The new school, set to open in 2010-11, would relieve crowding at Butler, East Meck and Independence.

The district has spent months on the maps, seeking feedback from the public and school board members. Some of the changes in the new maps appear to reflect concerns raised in recent weeks. For example, the third map would reassign families in the Sardis Forest neighborhood to Butler High, a move some parents spoke in favor of at Tuesday's board meeting.

But none of the new proposals appear to come close to an attendance plan crafted earlier this spring by Mint Hill leaders, who worried that too few of the town's students would be able to attend the school under a previous boundary recommended by CMS staff. The Mint Hill proposal would have sent students living in the zone for the town's three elementary schools -- Bain, Clear Creek and Lebanon Road -- to the new high school. The school board rejected that plan in June.

The three new options -- like all of the other proposals posted so far on the CMS Web site -- would send a portion of the Clear Creek zone to the new high school. And part of the Bain zone would feed to the school under a plan originally backed by CMS staff.

But it doesn't appear that a large portion, if any, of residents living in the Bain and Lebanon Road zones would go to the new high school under any of the three scenarios released this week.

The school board is expected to vote on a boundary plan Aug. 11, and district leaders plan to continue hashing through ideas in the coming weeks. See the other plans considered so far here.

Want to weigh in? Contact the district's planning and student assignment office at or the members of the school board. - April Bethea

N.C. Bar complaint against Mackey

A complaint from the N.C. State Bar accuses state Rep. Nick Mackey of failing to file four years of state and federal income tax returns.

The allegations against the Charlotte lawyer, a Democrat, are detailed in a seven-page bar complaint made public this week.

Among the allegations:
- On or about December 27, 2002, defendant signed and submitted an application to the Board of Law Examiners of the State of North Carolina to be permitted to take the North Carolina Bar Exam.
- Application asked the defendant: "Have you failed to file any personal local, state or federal income tax return, or failed to pay any taxes due?
- Defendant answered "no."
- Defendant failed to disclose and failed later to supplement that he failed to pay federal income taxes for the years 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2002 at the times such taxes were due. Defendant failed to disclose and failed later to supplement that he failed to pay state income taxes for the years 1999, 2001, and 2002 at the times such taxes were due.
- Doug Miller

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Burr to oppose Sotomayor

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. of Winston-Salem, will oppose Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, saying he admires her qualifications but that he fears she would impose her personal beliefs in setting legal precedent.

“My fear is that she has been unable to separate her personal belief system from that of the letter of the law,” Burr said in a prepared statement.

Sotomayor, who would be the first female Hispanic member on the court, has been widely criticized by Republicans for a speech in which she said “a wise Latina” might sometimes make better decisions than a white male.

Burr is a conservative Republican who nonetheless praised Sotomayor’s experience when she was first nominated. He faces re-election next year in a state with a growing population of Hispanic voters.

There are 70,565 registered Hispanic voters in the state, nearly double the numbers two years ago. The numbers are still small though, representing just 1 percent of registered voters.

Burr met with Sotomayor last week and said in his statement that she brings impressive academic credentials and a lengthy judicial record. But he said he worries about whether she will apply a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

“While she stated in her testimony that she would adhere to legal precedent, her judicial record suggests otherwise,” Burr said. “In several cases she has clearly ignored precedent or cited precedent that did not apply to the facts at hand, and I believe let her personal beliefs cloud her judgment.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Sotomayor’s nomination Tuesday. It now goes to the full Senate. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, previously said she would support Sotomayor.

- Barbara Barrett

Myrick's take on health care

Here's the view from U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, Charlotte Republican, as told to Washington correspondent Barbara Barrett:

Q: What are your top priorities for health reform?

Myrick: One of the things is immediate limitations on pre-existing conditions, exclusions…that kind of thing. … I think we need to have price transparency so people know the cost of what they're paying for.

Medical liability reform. The doctors pay a ton of money in insurance premiums in medical liability, and if the American people knew how much of the cost of their procedure or visit was attributed to medical liability, that is something they should have access to. … It's another hidden cost of health care. I support medical liability reform.

Also, quality reporting requirements for providers. To tie the payments they get to the quality of care they're given.

Q: How do you feel about the public option?

Myrick: The public option, as it's stated, I don't support. One of my biggest concerns is the thing nobody wants to talk about, and that's rationing. … In the bill, there's a new health care commissioner and what he's going to be able to do is literally decide … what's acceptable health care coverage and then set the rules on what that coverage could include as well as the treatments that people could receive and at what cost. And that amounts to rationing.

President Barack Obama is bringing his health care campaign to Raleigh today, for an 11:45 a.m. town hall event at Broughton High School. Myrick's committee (Energy and Commerce) is marking up policy issues for the House of Representatives' health care reform bill.

- Doug Miller

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cash for clunkers confusion

Some old cars got bumped out of the new-car discount program when the government changed the eligibility for about 100 older vehicles last week. Other cars are now on the list.

The Detroit Free Press says: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said ... a review of data on 30,000 models from the past 25 years in preparation for the clunkers program changed the eligibility of about 100 vehicles. Of those, roughly half had their mileage increased above 18 m.p.g., making them ineligible, while the other half were found less efficient and could now qualify."

"The government relies on the data from the Web site to determine whether an older model qualifies for a $3,500 or $4,500 voucher. The problem was first reported by users at and other Internet sites who reported the fuel economy figures on their clunkers changing without warning, knocking them out of the program."

Says Edmunds: "A few examples brought to's attention by shoppers through its forums are a 1993 Camry station wagon with a V6 engine, a 1988 Toyota 4Runner and a 1992 Saab 900S. Initially each had a combined mileage rating of 18 mpg so they qualified as clunkers, but their "refreshed" rating came in at 19 mpg, so they ended up not qualifying."

Want to check your car?

Click here for the official government list of vehicles that qualify.

Have you had a problem with the program?

Click here to send us an email, and we'll check it out.

- Doug Miller

Report: Jobless rate could hurt county credit

Three new reports weigh in on the health of Mecklenburg County's economy - and whether factors like a high employment rate may make it more expensive for the county to borrow money for construction projects in the future.

The reports all generally praise the diversity of the local economy, and financial management within the county.

But they also make clear analysts are paying attention to changes locally. For example, both Moody's and Fitch note the local unemployment rate exceeds that of the nation.

Among the comments:

  • From Standard & Poor's: "The county continues to experience long-term sustainable growth of both its tax base and employment base which has provided strong operating results and subsequent reserve build-up, positioning the county with financial flexibility during economic slowdowns"
  • From Fitch: Local financial sector will "sustain continued economic growth" even with the Wachovia acquisition and “other potential industry changes."
  • From Moody's: "The full impact of the downturn in financial services has yet to be felt, and we will continue to monitor the implications for the city." Later: The county's growing and vibrant economy has historically been asignificant factor in the Aaa rating (but) protracted unemployment at the current level and a longer than average recession could challenge the county's credit profile." (Earlier this year, the agency assigned a negative outlook on all tax-backed U.S. local governments)
Mecklenburg leaders meet with the rating agencies each year, usually before the county borrows money for construction projects. All three agencies upheld the county's longstanding triple-A bond rating, which allows it to get the best interest-rates on its bonds. A downgrade of the rating could make it more costly to pay off the debt.
The county is preparing to borrow up to $100 million in bonds next month, and is restructuring some of its other debt. - April Bethea

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Police report from Gates arrest case

An incident report from the Cambridge (Ma.) Police Department offers more details into why Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested last week, an incident that has drawn lots of attention in recent days, including a comment from President Barack Obama.

According to the report, Gates was placed under arrest after he was observed "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, in a public place, directed at a uniformed police officer."

Officers responded to Gates' home on July 16 to investigate a report of a burglary and demanded Gates show him identification. Police say Gates, who is African-American, at first refused, flew into a rage and accused the officer of racism.

Gates was charged with disorderly conduct. The charge was dropped Tuesday.

Many pundits and others have weighed in on the incident. Obama was questioned about it Wednesday in a Q&A session during a primetime news conference on health care.

Obama said he believes the police "acted stupidly" in arrested Gates, a friend of the president. He did acknowledge, however, that he did not know all the facts of the case.

In interviews today, Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer said that while he supports the president, "I think he was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts as he himself stated before he made that comment, " according to a report from the Associated Press. "I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too." -- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where is the stimulus money going?

Mecklenburg may be the state's largest county, but it ranks third in the amount of federal stimulus dollars allocated so far, according to data from the state agency created to handle distribution of the money.

The N.C. Office of Economic Recovery and Investment recently released this breakdown of stimulus allocations, showing how much was given to counties for a variety of projects like public housing, crime control and school lunch equipment.

(Note: you'll need to zoom in on the PDF to read the report.)

The chart only includes allocations made through the end of June and does not include any direct grants awarded to local governments by federal agencies.

Mecklenburg has received $219 million so far, including $37.3 million for roads and bridges, and $20.8 million to the Charlotte Area Transit System. By comparison, Cumberland County has received more than $255 million, with another $246 million going to Wake County.

Still, an analysis by the Observer shows that, with the exception of Cumberland, urban counties have received less on a per-person basis in stimulus money so far than rural counties. Mecklenburg has received $246 per person in stimulus funds through the end of June, compared with a statewide average of $328 per person, according to the article by reporter Steve Harrison.

That's largely because many of the dollars are being doled out using current state formulas, some of which favor rural communities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let the campaigning begin ...

With the local election season officially underway, it’s never too early to start learning more about who is running for office.

And the Web site of the Mecklenburg Board of Elections should be one of your first stops.

With just a few clicks, you can peruse a list of all candidates and their contact information, learn who has donated money to a particular campaign, and find out how that candidate is spending money.

Candidates for office, and current elected officials are required to routinely file finance reports with the Board of Elections.

Recently, several candidates have turned in organizational reports, which must be filed within 10 days of starting a new campaign committee.

Some also have filed mid-year reports summarizing how much money was raised and spent from January to June. For example, Republican mayoral candidate Martin Davis discloses he’s spent more than $12,000 on his campaign in the first half of the year, mostly for his campaign Web site. The forms are due July 31. -- April Bethea

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Which grads got big bucks?

Myers Park High raked in the biggest pile of academic money, while Butler topped the athletic list, according to the annual Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools tally of scholarship offers.

The district likes to keep track of the ever-growing pile of money being offered to grads as a sign that CMS students are academically attractive and competitive.

And speaking of competitive, students, families and alums often like to see how each school fared compared with the others.

But while the tallies can be fun, they're not a clear predictor of any student's odds of getting help with college costs. A high tally may mean lots of students got aid, or it may be boosted by a few stars who got lucrative offers from several schools.

Click here to see the school-by-school breakdown.

- Ann Doss Helms

Stepmom: Mayfield cooked meth

NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield stopped making methamphetamine when stores took pseudoephedrine off the shelves and then bought the drug from others, his stepmother said in court papers filed Wednesday.

Said Lisa R. Mayfield:

"Between 1998 and 2005, I am personally aware that Jeremy used methamphetamine often. I was concerned about his heavy use and talked to his father about it. I saw Jeremy use methamphetamine by snorting it up his nose at least thirty times during the seven years I was around him."

The Associated Press reports that Mayfield's second positive test for methamphetamine ignited more denials from the driver. “I don't trust anything NASCAR does, anything Dr. David Black does, never have, never will,” Mayfield told AP during a phone interview.

Black is the administrator for NASCAR's drug-testing program.

“And they picked the wrong woman to use against me because that (expletive) is trash and has got nothing on me,” Mayfield said.

The court papers also describe how Mayfield was asked to report for drug testing on July 6 but missed the two-hour deadline because he got lost. Black called the behavior "classical efforts of a drug user to avoid being tested."

Testers arrived at Mayfield's home. The court papers said Mayfield’s urine sample was “very dilute,” which likely indicates an excessive consumption of water “in an effort to defeat a drug test.”

- Doug Miller

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Story: Madoffs wooed banker in Charlotte

Tuesday wasn't the first time a family member visited North Carolina, according to a story in The (Syracuse, N.Y.) Post-Standard.

The newspaper quotes a man identified as a retired Wachovia senior vice president who said convicted financier Bernie Madoff's sons once met with the banker "at a steakhouse in Charlotte, N.C."

Earlier this week, Bernie Madoff reported to a federal prison in Butner, about 20 miles north of Raleigh.

Click here to read The Post-Standard story.

It says:

"Dalton Givens saw the warning signs.

Madoff's sons wined and dined Givens, then a senior vice president of Wachovia Securities, at a steakhouse in Charlotte, N.C., to try to persuade Wachovia to invest in Madoff's hedge fund.

Givens, now retired from the firm and living in Boonville, said he took a few sniffs and didn't like the aroma."

The story's focus was about how a New York labor union invested $180 million in pension money in Madoff's hedge fund.

As for the banker - he was suspicious: "Generally, when you have someone that controls everything about the fund, most (investment) firms wouldn't have anything to do with it."

- Doug Miller

Paulson: 'Our responses were not perfect'

But according to prepared remarks obtained by the Observer, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that he remains "confident that our responses were substantially correct
and that they saved this nation from great peril."

Click here to read Paulson's testimony.

Read Rick Rothacker's full story detailing Paulson saying he did not bully Bank of America Corp. chief executive Ken Lewis into buying Merrill Lynch here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sanford emails: 'What in the world is going on?'

Messages from S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford's communications director, Joel Sawyer, show how he downplayed Sanford's disappearance last month amid a flood of inquiries.

Sawyer's official explanation:

"The governor is hiking along the Appalaichan Trail. I apologize for taking so long to send this update and was waiting to see if a more definitive idea of what part of the Trail he was on before we did so."

Emails obtained by The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper also show Sawyer explained the media's interest on a "slow news day," along with other responses.

Click here to read his response to a quip about Sanford's Cheney-esque 'undisclosed location.'

Click here for his 'slow news day' explanation, part 1.

Click here for his 'slow news day' explanation, part 2.

Click here for his answer to an update on 'ridiculous rumours.'

- Doug Miller

Monday, July 13, 2009

Clodfelter: 'Charlotte's an outlier'

That's why Charlotte Democrat Dan Clodfelter, co-chair of the Senate finance committee says his plan to change the state's tax rules would cut city collections so dramatically.

Businesses here pay license taxes totaling more than twice the amount collected by the next-biggest city, Raleigh.

“A Wal-Mart in Charlotte may pay a $10,000 tax. Wal-Mart in another city may pay a $50 tax,” he said. “You guys are so far out of the range of everybody else.”

State legislators are considering abolishing the local license fee as part of a group of tax changes tied to a particularly difficult budget.
Opponents of the business tax say it is confusing and levied many different ways across the state. They complain that it leads to double-taxation in some cases.

For most cities, the legislature's proposed tax changes wouldn't be painful, Clodfelter said. He said for those cities, the lost revenues would be offset by substitute taxes under consideration, including the expansion of the sales tax base.
But Charlotte is different.

How different?

The Department of Revenue data for 2006-07 shows Charlotte businesses paid $17,663,113.
Others in the seven-figure range:
Raleigh: $5,962,920
Greensboro: $3,267,431
Durham: $2,585,946
Winston-Salem: $2,308,525
Wilmington: $1,656,746
Cary: $1,463,554
Hickory: $1,110,078
Concord: $1,047,246
Asheville: $1,040,814

- Julia Oliver/Doug Miller

King: Panthers tickets appropriate

Former United Way President Gloria Pace King says she had legitimate business reasons to charge Carolina Panthers football tickets to the agency, court papers say.

She said the Panthers tickets were bought at the suggestion of Martin Voss, then the agency's chief financial officer. She said she did nothing improper to obtain them and denied the United Way's contention that they hadn't been used to reward agency volunteers or for other legitimate business purposes.

King said the United Way bought the tickets from 2002-2008 using her PSLs. The purchases did not require board approval because they were less than $5,000. The suit says she does not have records showing the uses or recipients of the tickets.

Click here to read King's filing.

The United Way, locked in a bitter court battle with its former leader, accused King of billing the agency for tens of thousands of dollars of personal expenses. In court papers filed late Friday, King offered her first full legal defense.

She contends she is still owed more than $300,000 on her employment contract and a $2 million supplemental pension.

- Eric Frazier

Friday, July 10, 2009

Feds: 41 patients got fake Botox

Federal authorities accuse a Gastonia plastic surgery company with ordering 10 vials of the substitute product and, despite labels reading, “for research purposes only – not for human use,” administered it to 41 patients starting in 2004.

It's not clear from court documents how long the practice continued. The company asked the patients to sign a consent form that falsely said the product was shown to be safe in clinical trials, and then charged them prices comparable to treatments with the more expensive Botox Cosmetic, the charges allege. Botox injections can cost several hundred dollars each.

Click here to read the federal complaint.

“Southeastern decided to purchase (the product) for use on human patients because, among other things, the product was substantially cheaper than Botox Cosmetic and had a longer shelf life,” court documents allege.

Read the full story here.

- Kirsten Valle

Hagan's picks for federal courts

Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) today announced her recommendations for key federal appointments in North Carolina’s three federal districts. In a letter to the President, Hagan made recommendations for two federal district court judgeships, three U.S. Attorney and three U.S. Marshall positions.

Click here to read Hagan's letter.

- Doug Miller

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cogdell: 'Odd' that Jones would audit himself

County Commissioner Harold Cogdell questions why top county managers sit on a committee charged with monitoring the performance of management.

Cogdell's comments earlier this week came after the audit review committee updated the full board on its latest findings.

The panel found that managers reacted appropriately to allegations of impropriety at the Department of Social Services.

At issue is whether County Manager Harry Jones and General Manager John McGillicuddy should be members of the audit panel. DSS Director Mary Wilson reports to Jones.

"It seems odd to me that our county manager and an assistant county manager who reports to our county manager would be a part of a committee to make a determination about whether management responded appropriately," Cogdell said. "It undermines to some extent the appearance of what this committe is charged with having done."

Click here to view Cogdell's remarks. (Fast forward to this time: 1:45.00.)

Commissioner Dan Murrey said the committee will address the matter.

- Doug Miller

Subpoena: Who deleted the emails?

Authorities want N.C. State University to provide information on missing emails from former Chancellor James Oblinger's high priority account.

Other emails have shown that former governor Mike Easley was involved in helping to create a new N.C. State position for his wife and that Oblinger was a part of it.

But the university says emails from a special account that would have handled that correspondence have been deleted. The authorities want "any record" showing the date on which such emails were deleted and the "computer user" responsible for the deletions.

Click here to read the subpoena.

The subpoena also shows investigators want to know how former first lady Mary P. Easley was using her time. The new subpoena also requests all documents relating to the decision in 2008 to offer Mary Easley a new position with a higher salary.

- J. Andrew Curliss

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Perdue: Pass emergency 1-cent sales tax

Gov. Beverly Perdue told legislative leaders today she wants a 1-cent sales tax increase and a total tax hike package of $1.6 billion to balance the budget.

Perdue, a Democrat, met with lawmakers at the Executive Mansion and gave them a list of tax and other revenue options that she would like to see passed. It was an effort to help break the impasse between Democratic Senate and House leaders over what taxes to increase and how much.

Highlights of Perdue's wish list include: an "emergency" 1-cent increase in the sales tax that would expire in October 2010, an emergency income tax surcharge on single taxpayers who earn more than $500,000 and married couples filing jointly making more than $1 million.

Perdue wants a 50-cent-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes, down from the $1-per-pack she requested in March, plus 2-cents-per-can more on beer and a 2 percent increase on alcohol.

The list included several tax increases that would take effect in the fall of next year, including taxes on some services (warranties, installations, repairs) and a tax increase on "luxury services" such as cosmetic surgery, limousines and chartered flights.

Click here to read Perdue's letter to lawmakers and wish list.

- Mark Johnson

Monday, July 6, 2009

Report: DSS missteps 'unacceptable'

A county panel has released its report on recent audits of the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, which is under scrutiny for allegations of misspending.

"The audits of DSS indicate inconsistent and insufficient supervision of and use of internal controls, which is unacceptable and incongruent with expectations for appropriate fiscal management of public funds," the Audit Review Committee says in its summary of the June 24 meeting.

"At present, it is unclear why or how the lack of controls developed and how long they have existed. The Audit Review Committee is considering the feasibility of further investigations to answer these questions."

Click here to read the audit review committee report.

The committee is comprised of commissioners Dan Murrey and Bill James, community member Ward Simmons, County Manager Harry Jones and County General Manager John McGillicuddy.

The committee on Tuesday will give the full board of commissioners an update on DSS finances. That talk will happen during the board's regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

Commissioners are also expected to talk in closed session with County Manager Harry Jones about staff's role in lapses in oversight at DSS.

Read the full story about a widening probe at the county's second-largest agency.

- April Bethea

NASCAR: Drivers won't race Mayfield

NASCAR asked a federal judge Monday to renew Jeremy Mayfield's ban from racing, saying officials face "resistance from other drivers refusing to put their lives at risk with Mayfield on the track."

Court papers filed by NASCAR cite comments attributed to Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, as quoted by Burton reportedly said, "One thing I disagree with the judge on, my safety is important to me. . . . He potentially put my safety in jeopardy by that decision.”

The quote is from a story, by reporter David Newton.

(The complete quote: "One thing I disagree with the judge on, my safety is important to me," Burton said. "If there is an instant test available, then the judge is 100 percent right [to let Mayfield back]. There is no instant test. He potentially put my safety in jeopardy by that decision. The other decision puts Jeremy's career in jeopardy. So what do you do?")

Mayfield was suspended May 9 after failing a random drug test, and NASCAR said he tested positive for methamphetamine.

U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen last week cleared Mayfield to compete. Mullen said the chance of a false positive on his drug test was "quite substantial." NASCAR disputes Mullen's conclusion, and says Mayfield poses a threat to public safety. NASCAR also filed a notice saying it plans to bring the case before a federal appeals court.

In Monday's filing, NASCAR also said an expert for Mayfield said the "level of methamphetamine revealed by Mayfield’s urine test indicates that Mayfield may be a chronic methamphetamine user."

Click here to read the court papers.

Mayfield has denied using illegal drugs and said he believed a combination of a prescribed medication and an over-the-counter medicine created the positive test.

- Doug Miller

Friday, July 3, 2009

Roberts seeks city, schools for safety net

Mecklenburg County Commission chair Jennifer Roberts will ask the Charlotte city council, the school board and municipal mayors to discuss how to meet community needs in the recession.

The invitation is for Tuesday, says County Manager Harry Jones in his weekly board bulletin.

Writes Jones: "The purpose of this invitation is to provide an opportunity for elected officials to discuss this idea of a strategic community plan for human services."

Jones said the move was prompted by a public discussion Tuesday. He said it led Roberts to ask public officials to attend next week's meeting between two county committees: Health and Community Support Services, and the Natural Resources committee.

A standing-room only crowd of more than 200 attended Tuesday's public hearing on Charlotte's charity money crunch. Panelists included former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, Mecklenburg County General Manager John McGillicuddy, Crisis Assistance Ministry director Carol Hardison, Latin America Coalition Executive Director Angelas Ortega-Moore and Observer Editor Rick Thames.

- Doug Miller