File Under: Irony, Rich

Had a great time at the Charlotte Center City Partners Vision Awards gala on Thursday night, although there was one moment rich with unintended irony that commands comment (I'll get to that in a sec). Crowd was a who's who in business, politics, and media. Must have been 1000 people there, many partaking of one of the two full bars on the huge Convention Center patio.


Robert Krumbine, CCCP's events whiz, knows how to put on a good show, and he delivered on this night. An innovative video showed the evolution of Charlotte's downtown, dropping in new buildings in a herky-jerky style to a Stomp-ish soundtrack. A glitzy awards presentation honored CATS, the county courthouse, Urban Ministry Center, Price's Chicken Coop, Hodges Taylor Gallery, and Harvey Gantt for their contributions to the center city. An, um, energetic group of young dancers provided the entertainment–during which I'm sure Robert was praying that there would not be a warddrobe malfunction. You had to see them to understand. Know that overalls were involved.

As for the irony. Esteemed county commissioner Parks Helms accepted the award for the new courthouse. In his speech, he declared "This courthouse was supposed to cost $90 million," and then paused. I half expected him to say that it came in under budget as a jab to the city, seeing as this award came on the heels of CATS accepting one for the new light rail. I should have known better. Instead, he said, with feeling, "It ended up costing $150 million!" He went on to say that in fifty years, we'd all be glad that the extra money was spent.

The next award went to the Urban Ministry Center. Jennifer Roberts, the current chair of the county commission, presented the award, and she explained that UMC and its partners have an ambitious plan to end homelessness in Mecklenburg County. And all I'm thinking is, man, I bet $60 million would be helpful to that cause.