Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Charlotte City Council Huddles With Panther's Jerry Richardson In The Bunker

Charlotte City Council voted to meet behind closed doors with the Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. But it didn't take long for word to leak out the Richardson was asking Charlotte taxpayers to cough up $125 million to upgrade his 17 year old stadium.

No word if any council member opposed the closed session but Warren Cooksey tweeted at link to the NC statute that permits closed door meetings. That link is here. So one can assume Cooksey voted in favor of the closed meeting.

To pay for the renovations, council members are considering doubling Mecklenburg County’s tax on prepared food and beverages by a penny. That would bring the restaurant/bar tax to 2 percent, said three sources, who spoke to the Charlotte Observer and asked to remain unnamed because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Council held its meeting with the team in the basement of the Government Center (Cedar Posts Assumes this is where Maxwell Smart's "Cone of Silence" is located, in some secret bunker located in the bowels of the Government Center).

Capitol Hill Police officer guards a staircase in Washington. Photo Credit Cliff Owen

Oddly CMPD Officers wouldn't allow the media near the outside door leading to the "bunker" where the meeting was held. When the meeting broke up late in the evening council members exposed the reason for the basement meeting by using a back door to leave the government center and enter the parking deck undetected, allowing them to dart off into the darkness behind the tinted windows of their cars without comment.

According to the Charlotte Observer: "Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann said earlier Monday that council isn’t required to use a closed session for economic development issues. Instead, council members have the option to meet in public, as they did with the Knights last year.

City officials are only required to use closed sessions when discussing personnel issues, he said."

Even behind closed doors Richard has a tough sale, anyone who has been to the stadium lately has noticed it has lost much of its luster. 17 years and little improvements, and a so-so team makes you wonder where the big guy has spent all the money.

Council will claim the penny hike is not a property tax increase, but still it is a burden placed on Charlotte's tax payers and working class.  The people who pay much of the "prepared food" tax are those of us who work long hours and have our dinner either out, in a to go box or delivered in a pizza box.  Why should we pay for Jerry Richardson's failure to draw big crowds that will spend money on the panthers.

A little advice to Charlotte City Council: A sure fire way to get taxpayers pissed off about spending $125 million is behind closed doors.  And for the big guy, Jerry don't use George Shinn's play book.

Again the Charlotte Observer:

"Some council members are worried about the Panthers’ long-term future in Charlotte. Richardson, who had heart transplant surgery in 2009, fired his two sons as team executives and hasn’t announced a succession plan for the team.

Los Angeles is trying to lure at least one NFL team to play in a new stadium."

Best Jerry Richardson gets out ahead of any sort of talk and publicly denounce any such idea as moving the team.


Ryan said...

I know that Mr. Cooksey, in general, doesn't like taxes. That is all I know.

Anonymous said...

The day they pass this tax will be the last day I go out to eat in Charlotte. Concord here I come. I will vote with my feet.

Anonymous said...

The whole Panther franchise can go get bent. If it was such a profitable venture then Richardson would pay for everything himself. I'm glad I left this corrupt city and county years ago...

Anonymous said...

Pickering said the Panthers are “important” to Charlotte and a public debate over the plan could have led to “misimpressions.”

In other words the public is so stupid they wouldn't understand.