The Source

October 27, 2013 

CPCC kicks off bond support campaign

Central Piedmont Community College has launched its own “ Vote Yes for CPCC Bonds“ campaign, in addition to the education bonds campaign led by the Charlotte Chamber and MeckEd. Mecklenburg voters will be asked to approve $210 million for CPCC and $290 million for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Nov. 5.

Public bodies such as CMS and CPCC walk a fine line in promoting bonds.

State law prohibits using public money and resources to advocate for a “yes” or “no” vote. But the CPCC campaign is funded by up to $50,000 in private money provided by the CPCC Foundation, with no government money involved, said spokesman Jeff Lowrance.

CMS, meanwhile, is pushing hard to provide information while stopping just short of advocating for a specific vote. Many schools are sending home copies of bond information from the district’s website, often with notes like this one from Ballantyne Elementary’s Bear Blast:

“On November 5th, all registered voters in Mecklenburg County will have a chance to decide whether CMS receives $290 million in school bonds. If approved, the bond money will be used to add classrooms, build new schools, repair aging systems, and renovate older schools across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Please help show our students that every vote counts by taking part in the elections on November 5th. ... Visit the CMS website for more information about the bond referendum and why strong public schools matter to all of us. Please let us know if you have further questions and again, make your vote count on November 5th.”

Christine Mast, who is running for the District 1 school board seat, argues that such material is inappropriate.

“School communications are clearly being used for bond advocacy by getting our students to bring these documents home with them,” she wrote in an email to Superintendent Heath Morrison. The website implies that “a ‘yes’ bond vote is the only vote that supports public schools,” she wrote.

CMS Chief Communication Officer Kathryn Block disagrees.

The wording “informs people about how the bond money, if approved, would be used and the importance of participating in the voting process,” she said. “It does not advocate for a specific position.”

Meanwhile, Tom Davis from the north suburban SPARK and Tim Timmerman from the south suburban SMART sent out a statement calling for Mecklenburg’s seven municipalities to provide money for a cost-of-living allowance for CMS teachers.

Davis and Timmerman are urging voters to vote down the CMS bonds.

The only connection to teacher raises is that they’re promoting a “teachers before bricks and mortar” slogan. Teachers are paid from the district’s operating budget, which is separate from the budget for construction and renovation, though county property taxes support both. Ann Doss Helms

Poor word choice at mayoral debate?

Perhaps the most memorable line of last week’s debate between Democrat Patrick Cannon and Republican Edwin Peacock came at the end.

“I’m just wondering why you are so anti-Charlotte,” Cannon said, apparently alluding to Peacock’s opposition to a capital spending plan.

The comment brought an audible gasp and scattered boos from the audience at UNC Charlotte’s uptown campus.

Afterward, speaking to some of Peacock’s campaign team and later to the Observer, Cannon seemed to apologize. Sort of.

“I was not apologizing for what I said,” Cannon said, “but rather the choice of words, in that I was pretty much suggesting he would have been against progress.

“If there was an apology, then it was for the word choice but not for what I meant.” Jim Morrill

More controversial statements from N.C. GOP

In a week when the North Carolina Republicans got a black eye on “The Daily Show,” a Concord lawmaker offered critics more fodder.

The Washington Post got ahold of a video of GOP Rep. Larry Pittman speaking to a friendly crowd in his home of Concord. The Post blog began with the words, “Birther alert.”

Alluding to a Facebook post, Pittman said, “Someone had posted something with a picture of Barack Obama and across it said ‘traitor.’

“And, you know, I don’t always agree with the guy, I certainly didn’t vote for him, but I gotta defend him on this one. I just don’t think it’s right at all to call Barack Obama a traitor. There’s a lot of things he’s done wrong, but he is not a traitor. Not as far as I can tell. I haven’t come across any evidence yet that he has done one thing to harm Kenya.”

Earlier in the week, Don Yelton resigned as a member of the Buncombe County GOP executive committee less than 24 hours after “The Daily Show” aired a segment where Yelton made racially tinged comments. Jim Morrill

Little said on search for Meck manager

The committee overseeing the search for Mecklenburg County’s new manager made progress Friday, but its four members are saying nothing about the 16 people interested in the job.

Made up of four county commissioners, the committee met for more than two hours in closed session with representatives from Coleman Lew + Associates of Charlotte, county Human Resources Director Chris Peek and County Attorney Marvin Bethune.

The committee is led by board Chair Pat Cotham and includes Democrat Vilma Leake and Republicans Karen Bentley and Bill James.

The other five commissioners weren’t allowed in Friday’s closed session after the full board voted to exclude them to protect the applicants’ confidentiality. Coleman Lew had told candidates that only the search committee members would see their resumes.

The excluded commissioners will be brought into the process once the committee takes a group of finalists to the full board, which ultimately will hire the next county manager.

“I was very pleased with the progress we made,” Cotham said. “Everyone put in time at home to study the applications and were engaged in the meeting. We had a spirited, positive discussion.”

Cotham wouldn’t say where the applicants are from or the jobs they currently hold. She did say she was pleased “with the caliber of all the applicants.” David Perlmutt

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