At Least There's a Tupelo Honey Coming

Because Charlotte and North Carolina politics this week have been nasty, brutish and dumb
Mecklenburg County

Lord. This week. Too much. I thought Charlotte was supposed to be drama-free.

1. The ire that's arisen over the handling of Harry Jones' firing Tuesday night may seem initially like a sideshow, but it plants the seeds for some consequences down the road for Pat Cotham. I'm just going to be a megalomaniacal schmuck here and quote myself from a couple of months back:

You know that one of these days, Pat Cotham's going to step in it. She'll overstep her bounds, hack off the wrong people, get a big head and start believing her own hype as an avenging angel in local government, laying scythe and red pen to inefficient service providers and bloated budgets.

Jones richly deserved dismissal. But Cotham's "kick him out and change the locks now" approach was a tad extreme, befitting someone who had just committed a violent felony instead of a man who had devoted 22 years of his professional life to Mecklenburg County, if imperfectly and often arrogantly. In the cold light of Thursday, it seems to me that Jones deserved at least a chance to speak publicly and clean out his own office. It would have cost Cotham and the Board of Commissioners nothing to extend that courtesy, no matter how ticked off they were at Jones' mistakes and intransigence, and you can bet there'll be a price to pay for the chairman come election time.

There's another issue, too, for the new manager who'll take office in the fall sometime. I know if I were in a candidate's shoes, I'd be asking some hard questions about job security, and just how much power this Cotham lady intends to wield.

2. The Observer's actually been doing a damn good job of continuing coverage of the airport imbroglio (yes, "imbroglio," sue me). They had Ely Portillo's excellent Sunday piece about the developers who could stand to benefit from a business-friendly airport authority instead of the city. Today brought more reporting on who's really behind the consultant whose official view that CLT should be run by an authority of some kind was, perhaps, not quite unbiased.

A couple of things are increasingly coming into focus: Charlotte's going to lose control of its airport, and we're going to discover it was all an even more shameless and slimy piece of work than it appears now.

3. Which brings us to the North Carolina legislature, a public body that loves nothing more than to snake its long arm up the ass of the body politic. I do not exaggerate:

Parents would have to give their teenagers permission before they could receive birth control or be treated for sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse or mental illness, under a bill approved in a House committee on Tuesday.

Opponents said it would be the most restrictive law in the nation and would put teenagers’ health in danger. Supporters say the intention is to restore parental control over their children’s lives.

The bill would also require minors or their parents to visit a notary public to affirm the parental permission that is already required under state law before they could receive an abortion. In another abortion-related vote, the full House voted later Tuesday to prohibit abortions that are based on the gender of the fetus.

If the parental consent bill passes, House Bill 693 would repeal a four-decade old law that has allowed minors to seek treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and birth control without a parent’s or guardian’s consent.

Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Republican from Raleigh, said laws like that have been “undermining our families” for the past 20 or 30 years. She said what’s needed is “less emphasis on individual children and more on the family.”

But Rep. Verla Insko, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, said the law was enacted back in the 1970s because “there were real problems.”

“Teenagers were delaying treatment,” Insko said. “They were getting sicker, they were spreading venereal disease, in some cases committing suicide because they could not talk to their parents.”

The bill would require minors seeking treatment for those health concerns to either go to the doctor’s office with a parent or guardian, or show up with a notarized authorization.

Parents who need the state of North Carolina to "restore parental control" never had it to begin with, for one thing, and this law won't change that; parents who do give permission would get the same result as before, and parents who don't, I guess, will have to watch their kids get pregnant or suffer through the effects of STDs and mental illness, for God's sake. Serves 'em right!

Several states have these "parental consent" laws on abortion, and there's really no reason to believe the threat of having to get Mom and/or Dad to sign off on an abortion is preventing kids — who, after all, are not by nature great at making rational decisions in the heat of any moment — from getting pregnant. It's just causing them pain. The so-called "party of small government" deserves the title only on pocketbook (or hedge fund, or offshore tax shelter) issues. Otherwise, it's the Authoritarian Party, the rifle butt-end of the oligarchy. But you knew that.

4. There's some other stuff brewing in the GA, too: a bill that would ditch LEED certification for public projects as a sop to the state timber industry, a nifty double-barreled middle finger to North Carolina's environment; a House vote that funnels a disproportionate amount of transportation money to parts of the state that don't have that many cars or people but do reliably vote Republican; and freakin' guns on campus, which just makes me want to go vomit on something/one.

5. Yeah, and Mark Sanford won, the hell'd you expect, and I can't say it any better than this guy.

6. But we are getting a Tupelo Honey Cafe here in the QC. So there's that. Yum-my.