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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowflakes: No Two Alike? Check This.

"No two snowflakes are alike?"  Not so true, according to this cool video "The Chemistry of Snowflakes" by the American Chemical Society.  (Thanks to Maria Popova @Brainpickings, for pointing it out).

With the prospect of snowfall heading to Charlotte and the surrounding area, I am grateful for a warm, safe place to sleep.  There are heavy storms with snow around half the country at this time, which is less inviting than a light dusting to be enjoyed, or a good drift to ski.

During all these holidays and throughout the brutally cold winter season in the Middle East, I am grateful for our United States Troops serving overseas in even harsher conditions than normal.

As the temperatures drop, don't forget to check on elderly neighbors to be sure they have safe forms of heat.  Also make sure all pets are inside and have a way to keep warm.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Puddle Jumping

There are plenty of things to write about today, including Mayor Foxx's contentious dealing with Charlotte's City Council as he keeps trying to raise our taxes for expensive projects even most in his own party voted down several times already.  Some on City Council who are opposed to Mayor Foxx's plans have said they feel Foxx has threatened them politically for not backing him his nearly $1 Billion plan.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe presented to Council how he wanted to keep not only the millions of dollars in surveillance equipment added for the DNC Convention (shock, surprise) but also wants to access private and university cameras so police can collect additional information through those cameras as well.  Monroe wants to expand the Shotspotter program (technology that purports to zero in on gunshots and report them to police real time) to private property in more areas.  

Instead of that, watch this video.  Feel good.

Video by Julian Burrett with copyrighted music "You're My Best Friend" by Queen.  EMI.  Via YouTube.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Reports in several outlets released details of what we will be paying now-former Tax Assessor Garrett Alexander since he “resigned” last week.  It is startling to read in the Charlotte Observer that he not only kept a job with Mecklenburg County, but that he “offered his resignation in a closed meeting on the condition he remain a county employee in another job.”  (emphasis added)

Since when does someone in his position make demands on offering his resignation?  Since when are those demands accepted? 

Pearson’s consulting firm was hired by the county to evaluate the process and found dozens of problems with the Revaluation process Alexander was in charge of, leading to tens of thousands of appeals, tens of millions of dollars overcharged to county citizens, talk of having to take North Carolina State Legislature action and millions more in work for the county to fix the mess.  All the while, many citizens are suffering with the daily reality of trying to pay the overcharges and trying to pay other bills.  Many fear losing their homes over this and some have had to sell.

The result?  Alexander’s boss, County Manager Harry Jones, keeps his job (again).  And Garrett Alexander keeps a county job as...   Senior Fiscal Analyst.   Salary:  $98,500 for now. 

The Observer reported that in the closed session:
After the county manager told commissioners he could find Alexander another position, they unanimously voted to accept Alexander’s resignation.

Jones reportedly complained bitterly he did not get a raise.

The new Board of County Commissioners could correct both of these problems.  They could also correct the 2011 appeals that need to be corrected without having the State Legislature clean up the mess the former board created.  They should be too embarrassed to ask.  How much more time and money will be wasted on incompetence? 

  • Order a Board of Equalization and Review to set appointments within 2 hour blocks (at least) with anyone who wants or needs a review.  The previous system of forcing people to come at 9 a.m. and remain all day long, sometimes in to the evening, is ridiculous.  Even the courts split the day in half.  Some people paid attorneys (as they were incorrectly instructed by Alexander/staff they needed) to sit with them for hours on end, in addition to missing work and other hardships.  
  • Order time limits waived due to the lack of due process and deal with the process in house.  
  • Order the Assessor/BER to provide support documents for their basis for assessment to the tax payer—it’s only fair.  
  • And then have a fair meeting with tax payers to come to reasonable valuation.

It would be a lot cheaper than the arduous processes being proposed.  And, it has a chance of producing an equitable result.

See also previous post with details of Revaluation review recommendations: 

Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners Delays Vote