President Obama Addresses Working Mothers at Charlotte Town Hall Meeting

obama_clt_15CHARLOTTE — President Barack Obama arrived in Charlotte for an event intended to rally support for his economic proposals.

The president on Wednesday visited the ImaginOn educational library and theatre arts center. He held a town hall meeting with the groups BlogHer and SheKnows about working family issues.

It was no surprise he addressed issues such as equal pay for women, just days after Hillary Clinton announced her run for president. But what was surprising, her name didn’t come up once.

On his 19th trip to North Carolina, Obama seemed more casual and comfortable, fielding questions and even joking along the way.

The invite-only guests were ready with their questions, looking for answers that impact working families.

Take mother of two daughters, Ashley Taylor. She asked the president how she’s expected to encourage her children to succeed, when women continue to fight for equal pay.

“I am not only trying to be a role model for them by showing them the value of hard work in what I’m doing, but also to encourage them for the future,” said Taylor.

“I have two daughters and I expect them to be treated the same as someone else’s sons when it comes to their opportunities on the job,” said Obama.

In the hour the president spent at the library, he fielded questions from working mothers, bloggers, a registered nurse and a student.

Questions included issues like early education, teacher pay, childcare tax credits and student loans.

He shared several personal stories, answers that always came back to working women.

“Companies have to want to make it happen, they have to be intentional about it. They’ve got to pay attention to it. Companies that pay attention to it, end up succeeding recruiting more women, promoting more women and those companies end up being more successful,” said Obama.

On helping women run small businesses, Obama said he would like to see people take advantage of loans through the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration).

“We want to make sure that we’re continuing to innovate in our economy, that’s ultimately how jobs get created.”

The president took opportunities to slam Republicans and tout the Affordable Healthcare Act, but there was not one mention of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

His town hall meeting ended with another story about his daughters and equal pay for women.

“I think what we need to do is build a movement, create political pressure, educate people, make sure women know and husbands know that this is a family issue and economic issue.”

Obama this week is using Tax Day to draw new attention to family-friendly tax proposals that haven’t exactly been embraced by congressional Republican leaders. He’s holding events aimed at rallying support for his own tax proposals while detracting from Republicans’ plan to repeal an inheritance tax on large estates.

On Monday, Obama accused Republicans of trying to boost the richest Americans at the expense of poorer taxpayers.

– Kate Gaier and Associated Press

Vice President Joe Biden to Visit Charlotte Thursday

CHARLOTTE—Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to be in Charlotte on Thursday.

He will join former Charlotte mayor and current secretary of transportation Anthony Foxx for a meeting at the Extravaganza Depot as part of the department of transportation’s Grow America tour.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say commuters should be prepared for traffic congestion around Charlotte-Douglas International Airport  Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Google Expanding Fiber Service to Charlotte, Raleigh

CHARLOTTE – Google Fiber is coming to Charlotte and the City of Oaks after the company announced the expansion in both the Queen City and Raleigh Tuesday afternoon, offering customers another option for high speed internet.

Company officials claim the service features speeds up to 100-times faster than normal broadband speeds.

“This is a major, major win for our city ,” said Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter.

In a press conference, he joined other elected officials who said they hoped the service will help continue to bridge the digital divide and one day attract new business to the area.

“We think Google Fiber will put Charlotte on par with some of the fastest cities in the world like Tokyo, Seoul, and Zurich,” said Jill Szuchmacher, Director of Expansion.  “Given that the U.S. is still 14th in the world for speeds, this is a big deal.”

Szuchmahcer could not give an exact timetable for the service to be up and running.

“This is a huge step in an announcement of what the city’s going to be in the next century,” said Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane.

Later this year, crews will begin the complicated installation of 6-thousand miles of fiber optic cable and other infrastructure.

“Just for the network here in Charlotte, the number of route miles will have to go from here to Canada and back, so it’s a very enormous effort and a lot of detail that we need to plan,” said Szuchmahcer.

The combined gigabit internet and TV package will run you about $120 per month with Google Fiber.

Within the past several months, competitors Time Warner Cable and AT&T announced they were also increasing internet speeds.

“Google coming is going to lead other internet providers to really kick up their game,” said city manager Ron Carlee. “Products are going to really begin differentiating themselves and the service they provide, by their speeds and by their pricing.”

In a statement, Time Warner Cable said:

“Today, our most popular Internet plans offer consumers the best value across our entire Charlotte/Triangle service areas, not just select neighborhoods.  And we’re innovating for tomorrow: TWC Maxx will bring Internet speeds up to 6x faster for every Time Warner Cable Internet customer in the Charlotte/Triangle area this year, with a top speed up to 300 Mbps.  We have the people, products and local service to compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

AT&T submitted submitted this statement:
“We’re excited about the initial feedback we’ve received about U-verse with AT&T GigaPower in Charlotte and our work is on track. U-verse with AT&T GigaPower’s fiber-enhanced speeds open up new possibilities for innovators and businesses, as well as consumers who want faster speeds for surfing, shopping, gaming, social networking, business transactions and more. U-verse with AT&T GigaPower provides customers access to the fastest Internet available from AT&T, featuring speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. We’ve launched U-verse with AT&T GigaPower℠ in Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Winston-Salem, in addition to Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex. We welcome additional competition because it strengthens customer offerings and drives innovation.

-Becky Bereiter

Clodfelter Delivers State of the City Address

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter says the state of the city is strong.

He gave his first state of the city address Tuesday at the government center.

Resilience, resourcefulness and reinvention were the three words Clodfelter said define Charlotte and were the themes for his speech Tuesday.

Clodfelter says the state of the city is strong but outlined two key areas he’d like to see Charlotte do even better.

Following Patrick Cannon’s sudden resignation, Clodfelter says he didn’t come into office with a typical agenda for the city and spent much of last year learning the issues of Charlotte.

But he touted strides the city made including a shrinking unemployment rate, fewer homicides and rising home values.

Clodfelter says he’s remaining focused on expanding the city’s transit system and initiatives put in place by former Mayor Anthony Foxx.

But he says now that state leaders have drawn down the amount of financial support they’re willing to give, in order for those projects to become reality, that money is going to have to come from some place else.

“This will require us to look within the region to our neighbor cities and counties for ways that we can combine and leverage our individual local resources,” Clodfelter said.

The mayor also talked about a commission to address the issue of social mobility in Charlotte.

He says the city has to come up with better ways for people born here to move up and enjoy all the city has to offer.

The other big question is whether Clodfelter will run for mayor.

He said Tuesday was only about the state of the city and politics would have to come on another day.

– Leslie Mayes

CMPD Chief Monroe on Police Shootings: “How do we get through these?”

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe is weighing in on race relations and police departments.

He appeared on the CBS Evening News Thursday, the same day one of his officers appeared in court for shooting and killing an unarmed black man.

Randall Kerrick is on unpaid administrative leave, charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell.

The hearing was very quick, pretty uneventful, file a few documents and schedule another court date.

But it’s timely as protests across the country continue in the wake of no indictment of officers in Ferguson or New York.

The case against Randall Kerrick is a little different, but he was greeted by protestors shouting “no justice, no peace” as he left court Thursday afternoon.

Unlike the officer who killed Michael Brown or Eric Garner, Kerrick was indicted by a grand jury and will now stand trial for voluntary manslaughter.

He shot and killed 24-year old Jonathan Ferrell in September of 2013.

He said he was following his police training. The department called the 12 shots, 10 of them hitting Ferrell, excessive.

CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe held a news conference just hours after the shooting, announcing the charge.

He appeared on the CBS Evening News Thursday night, with three other chiefs, to discuss race relations.

When asked if he thought if the Garner case was excessive force, Chief Monroe called it unfortunate.

“I think it’s an issue and incident occurring in different ways and different places across the country and that’s what people are really struggling with, how do we get through these incidents,” Monroe says.

And as questions of excessive force by police officers continue across the country, another CMPD officer is scheduled to be in court Friday.

Jason Van Aken is charged with assault and battery, and assault inflicting serious injury.

Investigators say he broke a man’s collarbone who was handcuffed and in custody.

– Kate Gaier

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon In Federal Prison

MORGANTOWN, WV — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon turned himself in before noon on Tuesday at a federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia.

He’ll become one of about 1,100 inmates serving time at the minimal security facility. Patrick Cannon will spend the next three and a half years in prison.

Wearing a tan sweater and blue jeans, Patrick Cannon surrendered at 11:30 a.m.

He arrived in a black SUV with dark tinted windows. Who drove him, remains unclear.

That SUV quickly left while Cannon was escorted to a waiting truck.

He was driven around the property, and back to the main building.

Cannon pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud this summer and was sentenced in October.

He admits he accepted thousand of dollars in bribes while mayor of Charlotte, in exchange for his power and influence.

– Kate Gaier

Cannon Gets House Arrest After Illegally Voting in Midterm Election

CHARLOTTE — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was placed on house arrest with an electronic monitoring device after he illegally voted in last Tuesday’s election.

He arrived to court at noon, sporting a goatee. His wife and attorney were also with him.

Cannon refused to comment to the media as to why he voted, out of respect to the US Attorney, he said.

In court, Cannon said it was an honest mistake, saying he didn’t think he wasn’t allowed to vote until he went to prison.

The judge said the house arrest will not count toward Cannon’s 44-month sentence.

Cannon spoke to the media following the hearing and said he had made an honest mistake.

He plans to report to Morgantown Federal Correctional Institute in West Virginia on Nov. 18 to begin serving his 44-month sentence.

As a convicted felon, Cannon shouldn’t have been allowed to vote after being sentenced last month to three and half years in prison for honest services wire fraud.

Some legal experts predict the judge will haul him straight to prison for violating his probation.

Cannon has been free since he was sentenced on Oct. 14.

He has been awaiting notice from the federal Bureau of Prisons that a bed is available.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections says he voted early this year.

His ballot was discovered on election night and on Wednesday, the day after the elections, Cannon reported to the US Probation Office, which says voting is a violation of his bond.

Legal experts say Cannon voting is considered another federal crime, a felony which could have a negative impact on his sentence.

“There’s procedures and rules that have to be followed. and no one is above that,” says Legal Expert John Snyder. “You don’t get a special pass because you used to be on city council and you were mayor.”

– Kate Gaier

Former Charlotte Mayor Cannon Sentenced to 44 months

CHARLOTTE — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was sentenced Tuesday to 44 months in prison after pleading guilty over the summer to federal corruption charges.

Cannon apologized for the shame he brought to the city of Charlotte during his sentencing hearing.

“Sorry for the wrongdoing, shame on myself family and city,” Cannon said in court.

Prosecutors said Cannon cooperated immediately and volunteered information on government workings, but attorney Anne Tompkins said he, as an elected official, should be held to a higher standard.

She said this was not a one-time lapse in judgment and he became more brazen over time.

The judge added he’s “a good man” that “made serious mistakes.”

He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Attorneys for Cannon asked that he be allowed to self-report to prison after Dec. 30 at a prison facility close to Charlotte.

Future Control of Charlotte-Douglas Airport Remains Undecided

CHARLOTTE–U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Wednesday the Federal Aviation Administration is waiting on the court to make a ruling on future control of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation which transferred control of the airport’s day to day operations from the City of Charlotte to a regional commission.

The city is challenging that decision and the city’s attorney said a judge is likely to make a ruling Friday on whether the legislation is constitutional.

However, the city attorney said appeals and a final FAA ruling on whether the commission can continue could take at least another year.

The airport commission meets without formal powers and the city remains in control of Charlotte-Douglas until a final ruling is made.

“This issue either needs to be dealt with either by the courts or locally among leaders,” said Foxx. “As I said before, it’s unnecessary that it’s where it is, but you kind of now have to deal with it.”

Foxx said he is not interfering with the airport decision and hasn’t spoken with those connected to the issue, including Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter or state Sen. Bob Rucho.

Charlotte Airport Controversy Erupts Again in Raleigh

CHARLOTTE — There’s a new battle brewing about control of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The state versus city’s battle has been held up in court for nearly a year now. The action taken in Raleigh Tuesday is the first step according to Republican lawmakers in getting it resolved.

“As you all know, we had a Charlotte airport bill last year that was only slightly contentious,” said Rep. Ruth Samuelson as she introduced the Technical Adjustment Bill in the Senate Finance Committee. “What you have before you is the city controls the airport. The commission is under the city.”

The state created a 13 member commission last summer to oversee the airport. That group, however, remains unable to actually operate it due to a court order. A judge will not make a decision in a city lawsuit against the state until the F.A.A. determines who owns the operating certificate. The F.A.A. won’t make a decision until it’s clear who is operating the airport.

“All of this is about getting this out of court whichever way they decide,” said Rep. Samuelson.

During the hearing, the Mecklenburg lawmaker answered several questions saying the new amendment is only about technical corrections, but some Democrats were concerned.

“As I understand it, the city opposes this,” said Sen. Joel Ford.

Charlotte Mayor Daniel Clodfelter says the new legislation is disappointing.

“I think the airport and the community all are better served if we can first find a resolution of this dispute among interests here in Charlotte and then decide how to put that solution into legislation,” wrote Mayor Clodfelter in a statement.

Republicans say the new legislation only answers the F.A.A.’s questions to eventually get an answer to the airport controversy.

“They (the city) want this court case resolved. We want it resolved,” said Rep. Samuelson.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the new bill. It now heads to the full Senate for approval.

– Shawn Flynn