Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Governor
We can probably stop calling him 'Mayor Pat' about now
Oh, merciful heavens. What the hell is Pat McCrory doing?
A few points:
a) You can argue all you want about whether the streetcar is a good idea, and whether the city ought to be using property tax revenue to pay for it. (For the record, I’m on the fence. I think it could have significant long-term benefits, but it is hard to justify the expense when the economy’s still lousy.) But Pat McCrory’s say on this as a public official expired when his seventh term as mayor did.
b) As mayor, McCrory never missed a chance to carp about heavy-handed state government. Apparently it matters only whose heavy hand it is.
c) For McCrory — who knows good and damn well how important the light-rail line to University City is to Charlotte’s growth — to issue some unibuttocked, vague threat to withhold state funding if the streetcar plan proceeds is just … slimy. Sorry. There’s not really a nice way to put it. And to do it that backhandedly — in an apparent aside to Bob Hagemann and Ron Kimble during a meeting about using state money for Bank of America Stadium improvements, of all things — is, let’s be frank, bush league. I don’t blame Anthony Foxx for getting royally pissed off.
During his campaign for governor, McCrory painted himself as an “outsider,” somebody who wasn’t wise in the ways of state government. It’s showing. This week alone, he’s riled up the entire UNC system and spat in the eye of his old city. Next week, I guess, we can expect him to visit Kannapolis and urinate on the Dale Earnhardt statue.
Update, 2/4: He apparently was just trying to help. OK, maybe Gov. Pat deserves some benefit of some doubt, the idea being that he wasn’t threatening to withhold streetcar money himself, just alerting Hagemann and Kimble that the anti-government rabble at the Legislative Building thinks Charlotte buys too many nice things. (Because it just wouldn’t be the General Assembly if hog farmers from Sampson County couldn’t grumble about fancy taxpayer-funded gewgaws like streetcars an’ such in the big town. Whoever heard of such a thing?)
Still, the city attorney and deputy city manager felt odd enough about the exchange to register their discomfort in their memo to the mayor and council (” …we are uncomfortable with the position we are in”). And if it wasn’t actual “meddling” — given McCrory’s well-established public opposition to going outside the transit fund for the streetcar — it was clearly a case of the once-King of Charlotte failing to appreciate that he’d abdicated the throne.