Friday, November 21, 2014

So Long Cactus

I'm going to miss the "Cactus" call sign. 

US Airways adopted Cactus with the merger of America West, who used the western symbol to avoid confusion with American.

Next year the US Airways logo will join these iconic logos of aviation past.

(counter clockwise from the top).

US Airways




Trans Caribbean

Reno Air

Air Cal


Lake Central


America West


And so it goes....

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CMPD Stingray

Nice uproar among Charlotte City Council members over privacy concerns because CMPD has deployed StingRay cell phone tracking devices.

But what remains really shocking are the council members who claim they don't remember voting to approve the purchase.

Dig a little deeper and you'll find that Raleigh and Durham spent considerably less to aquire the contraption and used a Federal grant to pay for it.

CMPD's appetite for new spiffy stuff is boundless. Shot Spoter, ATVs, Dirt Bikes, Take Home UCO Cars, Helo Upgrades, Golf Clubs. The items hidden and glossed over by CMPD that council approves is embarrassing.

Raleigh spent $126,000 on the system, while Durham spent more than $200,000. Both cities used Federal grants to cover Stingray purchase costs.

So where did Charlotte's money come from? Taxpayer pockets, and by default officer salaries.
Have a look at the Harris Company price list. 

This just got to have item that most of the country is doing without. 

CMPD wants you to believe that Stingray is used only to track serious violent felons. If crime is down and this is such a rare event why not just borrow a unit from the FBI? After all they don't use the system that often, right?

Here's an interesting tidbit from a response to a request made of the North Port Police Department in the Tampa Florida area regarding an arrest where StingRay was apparently used:

 "In the past, and at the request of the U.S. Marshalls, the investigative means utilize to locate the suspect have not been revealed so the we may continue to utilize the technology without the knowledge of the criminal element. In reports or deposition we simply refer to the assistance as " received information from a confidential source regarding the location of the suspect" 

The reason CMPD has these items and we the taxpayers are paying the price in dollars and our constitutional rights is that these units are up and running 24/7/365 and they are tracking you!

Note to Thugs and Hoodrats, upgrade to 4G and unless the popo has the latest and greatest you are untrackable. As an alternative get a real job and stop your thieving and killing. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cedar's Pick and Pans Election 2014

Tomorrow the Nation will go to the polls to cast votes that will make a difference in our lives, in some cases just for 2 years in others for 6 and still others forever. Choose wisely America.

United States Senate - Hagen - Tillis Most see this race as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Hagen is a complete failure, Tillis a whack job Republican who has about as much business being a US Senator as Pat McCory has being Governor.

Hagen is such an ineffective Senator that even the Charlotte Observer slammed the Democrat:

"Hagen has been a disappointment to many voters who sent her to the U.S. Senate six years ago – and to this editorial board, which recommended her. She has done about the minimum you’d expect from a U.S. senator, with few if any notable legislative achievements. She has a chronic reluctance to take firm positions on controversial issues, leaving voters wondering what she believes in and will act upon."

Never the less, The Observer's editorial board goes on to endorse Hagan. No real surprise, but considering the Observer's readership decline it is doubtful the local paper's endorsement carries much weight outside the Blue Zone that has become Charlotte.

Let's face it Love him or hate him, North Carolina had one hell of a Senator in Jesse Helms. And that said, that neither Elizabeth Dole or Kay Hagen have lived up to the high bar that he set in his 30 years representing North Carolina. It is doubtful Thom Tillis will either, but a vote for Tillis will at least be a hope for change.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff - This race has been largely under the radar. Republican Chris Hailey and Democrat Irwin Carmichael are hoping to replace out going Chipp Bailey.

Neither candidate has extensive experience in running a large business, neither has been employed by the city or county in the past. Unlike Police Chief Rodney Monroe the Mecklenburg County Sheriff reports directly to the voters which give both an unique opportunity and a chance to improve on the operational efficiency of the MCSO.

Carmichael has run a campaign as any elected official would, public speaking engagements, signs posters, twitter and facebook posts. Hailey has remained mostly out of the spotlight running a behind the scene face to face press the flesh get out the vote push.

Hailey has relied of the racial divide within the MCSO to win election, he has the endorsement of the Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus, a rare event considering Hailey is running as a republican. Hailey's very quiet campaign may ride a republican wave combined a crossover vote from democratic voters who are voting based on color.

Carmichael is running on the "status quo" hoping to ease into the official with a promise of "its good enough".

What Cedar knows, is that there is a very deep divide within the MCSO based on race and uniform. Jail staff are considered 2nd class citizens versus those in judicial and process divisions. The secondary employment opportunities for jail staff are zero whereas many deputies enjoy the perks of take home cars and lucrative off duty employment.

Mecklenburg voters would be wise to vote for change rather than status quo, but a black sheriff and a black police chief may be too much for South Charlotte republicans. Sadly Hailey isn't a republican at all and it is doubtful he would bring a budget axe with him to office.

CP will hope the Irwin Carmichael continues the long tradition of the MCSO but also addresses the racial divide with in the department and looks to reduce the department ever expanding budget.

Many of the state and local races where decided during the primaries, which shows just how segmented and divided our region has become of the offices still in contention CP offers some "suggestions".

Mecklenburg County At Large - There is no better example of "the lunatics running the asylum" than the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. From Vilma Leaks Flower to Bill James endless attacks on Gays, Un-wed mothers and liberals there is seldom a sense of normalcy on the MBOCC.

Five candidates looking to fill one of three seats on the at large board are Scott Carlisle, Pat Cotham, Trevor Fuller, Ella Scarborough and Emily Zuyus.

Here the choice is easy; Ella Scarborough was a voice of reason during her 10 years on Charlotte's City Council. Scott Carlisle a native of Charlotte should bring a fresh approach, while still somewhat rooted in the county's past to the dysfunctional board. Emily Zuyus is an exceptional choice and should be considered an ally of those of us, and there are many, who are overburdened by our local property tax.

Charlotte voters won't have a chance to unseat Bill James or Vilma Leake so removing the black political caucus leg humper Pat Cotham and pro tax at all costs Trevor Fuller would be a good option.

Board of Commissioners District 1 - Karen Bentley has decided not to run for reelection. Mecklenburg voters would be wise to vote Jim Pucket to recapture his former seat.

Board of Commissioners District 5 - Matthew Ridenhour who Vilma Leake routinely calls Eisenhower, has earned re-election. Often the only sane person on the board, Ridenhour seems to be the only one on the dais that is playing with a full deck of cards.

U.S House of Representatives 8th District - Richard Hudson

U.S House of Representatives 10th District - Patrick McHenry is seeking his 6th term and the incumbent republican should win decidedly.

U.S House of Representatives 12th District - Voters in the gerrymandered 12th district need to pay attention as Mel Watt's vacant seat is on the ballot twice. Once for his current term and again for the new term. Vince Coakley should be able to turn his media presence into votes. His challenger Alma Adams is a Vilma Leake spinoff complete with the nutty hats and flowers.

Foot Note: By the time the polls open tomorrow nearly 1/4 of all votes will already be cast. CP feels this "early voting" dilutes the sense of community election day should bring to not only our nation but to every neighborhood in America. It is clear that early voting also offers a greater chance for voter fraud.

It is CP's hope that in the coming years we roll-back early voting and establish the First Tuesday of November as a national holiday on which we celebrate and exercise our right to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Charlotte Weekly Picks Up Cedar's Rant - South Charlotte Middle School Kids At Risk

A few weeks ago I banged out a half dozen tweets (twitter rant) after seeing 2 near pedestrian vs car accidents within a quarter mile of each other. The victim in each case, a CMS Middle School student trying to cross speeding traffic on South Charlotte's Pineville - Matthews Road (Highway 51 to Native Charloteans).

Main stream media types fail to take notice of such things, unless of course there is the dead body of a 14 year old lying in the road. 

Case in point, Park Road where there were no crosswalks or signals until a South Meck freshman was struck and killed while trying to cross the street several years ago. 

Even though main stream media types including WCNC's Dianna Rugg blew it off my direct appeal as not newsworthy, South Charlotte Weekly's Ryan Pitkin saw the need to spotlight my concerns. 

His in depth look at the situation follows in part here:

South Charlotte Middle School students and parents cross Pineville-Matthews Road around 4 p.m. as they do every school day. Ryan Pitkin/SCW photo

Students At A Crossroad

Ryan Pitkin October 31, 2014

Five middle-school-aged children and three adults peer down Pineville-Matthews Road as westbound traffic barrels by at 50 miles per hour. It’s nearing 4 p.m. and traffic levels are starting to increase.

(Note: on the afternoon CP saw two students nearly hit while trying to cross highway 51 they were on their own, with no parents in sight.)

When given a wide enough gap, the entire group walks to the median, which consists of about four feet of concrete. They wait together a few minutes longer before crossing the two lanes of eastbound traffic. This game of “Frogger,” as one parent calls it, is a daily thing for these families.

The kids are students at South Charlotte Middle School (SCMS), which is tucked behind a daycare at the intersection of Strawberry Lane and Pineville-Matthews Road. The subdivisions they live in are just a three-minute walk from the school, save for the minutes spent waiting for traffic to zoom by before giving them a chance to cross the dangerous road.

Susan Slade, a resident of the Alexsis subdivision and mother of a seventh-grader at SCMS, spent nearly two years contacting the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to advocate for road projects that would ensure the safety of children in her neighborhood.

After hitting a wall of red tape from government agencies and not hearing anything back from the school system, Slade became discouraged and is now skeptical any such project will come. She and her neighbors rotate turns, acting as a walking carpool, to meet their children on the south side of the highway and help bring them back home safely.

“I come out here because I’m a parent,” Slade said. “A lot of kids are impulsive. They want to get across safely but sometimes they just don’t make good decisions. They will do these dashing efforts, and sometimes they can’t anticipate a car’s speed. It’s just a bad scene.”

Although there is a crosswalk across Pineville-Matthews Road from Strawberry Lane, no students from the Alexsis or nearby Windswept subdivisions use it because it does not lead to their neighborhoods. Kids who use the crosswalk would walk through grass that slopes toward the highway and is often either muddy or covered in a green dye applied by the nearby golf course.

Parents have decided that crossing closer to their own neighborhood was safer, as the existing crosswalk is at the top of a slope for westbound drivers and the lack of a school zone on Pineville-Matthews Road means most drivers have no reason to slow down as they approach the intersection.

School zones are placed according to the school’s “frontage,” meaning the pieces of property that face the street. SCMS’s only frontage is on Strawberry Lane, and that’s where the school zone lies.
SCMS hired crossing guards on Strawberry Lane in the past to help children who live in the Raintree neighborhood cross safely, but the number of kids crossing to Alexsis and Windswept is comparatively low, and no crossing guard has been employed to help children cross Pineville-Matthews Road.

SCMS administration did not return calls by South Charlotte Weekly’s press deadline.
Kevin Earp, director of safety for CMS, said that a bus is available for residents of Alexsis or Windswept, if requested. Parents have said they don’t consider using the bus, which comes more than an hour before they would normally leave for class to take them one-fifth of a mile to school.

Parents have been told the relatively low amount of foot traffic between the school and the small neighborhoods on the north side of Pineville-Matthews Road is also a reason a crosswalk will probably not be placed in front of the subdivisions.

The rest of Ryan's article is here:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thriller - Vincent Price

Cedar Posts is no fan of Michael Jackson, however "Thriller" remains one of the best Music Videos of all time. Beyond Jackson's dancing and John Landis' direction, the short is still rather thrilling due in part to Vincent Price and his voice over "rap" Thriller.

What better way to kick of a Friday edition of All Hallows Eve.

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood

And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

Additional details at Wikipedia here  

Ghost Fleet Of Mallows Bay

A little Halloween Tale without the macabre horror.

There’s a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., that is an eerie final resting place for hundreds of ships. More than 230 were scuttled here, and most of them were never put into service.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson rallied the nation to join World War I. Germany’s submarine offensive was fearsome, and the United States was woefully unprepared.

To counter the Kaiser’s forces, the nation would have to launch the greatest shipbuilding program in history; 1,000 wooden steamships would need to be built within 18 months. Each vessel in the fleet would be 240 to 300 feet, the total built from 1.5 million board feet of yellow pine or Douglas fir.

On Dec. 1, 1917, the first ship was launched in the Pacific. Almost a year later, only 134 wooden steamships had been built and 263 were less than half-finished. When Germany surrendered, a grand total of zero had crossed the Atlantic.

A congressional inquiry soon followed. Vessels were alleged to have been poorly designed, the construction was shoddy and the boats leaked. Years of debate followed about what to do with the obsolete armada. After many twists and turns, the wooden fleet was towed to Mallows Bay and torched.

You can visit Mallows Bay today by kayak and see the eerie remains of the largest shipwrecked fleet in the Western Hemisphere. It has been nominated to become a National Marine Sanctuary.

For much more on this spooky story, read Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and Other Tales of the Lost Chesapeake by Donald G. Shomette.

A search of Mallows Bay on Google Earth might also be in order.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tina McCard Fraudster Thief Convicted Felon - Spotted In Charleston and Still on the Loose

BOLO - Tina McCard

CMPD Stingray - Beyond The Constitutional Issue

A lot of chatter over the Charlotte Observer story concerning the use of Stingray, a super tech spy gadget that LE is using across the nation to track and ease drop on thugs and ghetto rats.

Of course the story line is all about constitutional rights and the ever increasing scope of government in the "big brother" age.

But the back story is rather interesting:

As with much of CMPD the budget and expense approval process is all smoke and mirrors.

From the Observer:

"Charlotte City Council voted unanimously without debate in 2012 to spend about $357,000 to update the equipment for CMPD. Some members now say they don’t remember the vote and do not know much about the surveillance."

Well no surprise there, these folks are actually paid to at least read the motion that is put before them and hopefully understand the facts. But more often than not they approve budget requests without discussion.

Autry said he plans to meet with city attorneys. "I am a Fourth Amendment kind of guy,” Autry said, referring to constitutional protections. “I have some pertinent questions that will spark some discussion.”

Council member LaWana Mayfield said she would also talk with city attorneys. Mayfield said she did not know about the surveillance technology before she was contacted by a reporter Monday.

The issue is concerning, she said, because since the Sept. 11 attacks “rights that have been taken for granted are being slowly eradicated.”

Senior Assistant City Attorney Judith Emken did not respond to questions on Monday. City Manager Ron Carlee said he could not talk because he was in a meeting.

Cellphones send signals to nearby towers whether they are in use or not. A device city officials call a cell site simulator tricks phones into electronically identifying themselves and transmitting data to police instead of the closest cell tower.

Privacy groups say the equipment is powerful enough to collect cellphone information from an entire apartment building. They claim it gives law enforcement the ability to gather voice, text and other data from phones.

Charlotte officials have refused to divulge details about the city’s equipment but did defend how CMPD uses its cellphone tracker. CMPD does not capture the voice contents of phone calls, Emken has said. She said officers do not store data that is retrieved.