Local News Roundup: Auction at the Epicentre; CMS teacher vacancies; Airline cancellations; Optimist Hall paid parking

After two postponed auctions, the Epicentre was finally sold at auction this week to the highest and only bidder, for a bid of $95 million. The buyer is the same bank that lent the money to the Epicentre’s former owner.

Get ready to open your wallet if you go to Optimist Hall after August 15. Parking fees will now be charged, to the tune of $18. Why the change?

With just a few weeks to go, there are still hundreds of teacher vacancies at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. We’ll have an update.

And a transportation update including a new light rail stop, news from the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization and more.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top local and regional news on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

Guests:

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Claire Donnelly, WFAE health reporter

Danielle Chemtob, investigative reporter with Axios Charlotte

When it’s staring you in the face, it just might be the truth

“Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

The phrase has morphed from hackneyed joke to cliche to words to live by.

When I saw the street scene from the familiar city of Tucson, Ariz., it looked like a creation of Claes Oldenburg. But this tableau of a port-a-potty sliding into a plastic heap in the Southwestern heat was reality, not art object, something I doubt the artist, who recently died at 93 after a career of creativity, could ever have imagined.

When I lived in Tucson 30-plus years ago, we certainly had our hot days, ones where the sun seemed to be sitting on your shoulders with no relief in the weather report. But I don’t remember witnessing anything like that.

Yet, that image and so many more — wildfires all over the world, buckling airport runways and Texas roadways “bleeding” the binder that holds them together — have resulted in solutions that could only be described as temporary. Wrapping London’s Hammersmith Bridge in foil or coating Phoenix streets with a gray emulsion might work, but for how long?

And what’s to become of the iconic Tour de France? The first yellow jersey donned by the bicycle race leader in 1919 was made of wool, the thought of which is more than scary in 2022, when riders and spectators risked their lives while navigating twisty routes throughout that broiling country.

What are leaders doing about a long-term threat we feel in our cities, our homes and our bodies?

Hedging, dissembling and putting it off on our children and grandchildren, who must be thrilled at yet another problem left by the grown-ups.

Examining post-Roe concerns over data privacy and health care inequities

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade raised many questions on the future of abortion rights in the United States. With search histories and health apps possibly used for tracking, how can data be protected and kept private? Will the health care outcomes of African-American women, who are already three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women, worsen?

To shed some light on life in this post-Roe world, Equal Time host Mary C. Curtis talks with Amie Stepanovich, vice president for U.S. policy at the Future of Privacy Forum and a nationally recognized expert in domestic surveillance, cybersecurity and privacy law, as well as Kwajelyn Jackson, executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center, a nonprofit reproductive health, rights and justice organization based in Atlanta.

How do you make a 10-year-old disappear? It’s easier than it should be

I prayed for that 10-year-old child, raped and impregnated by a man who has confessed to the monstrous crime, a young girl who then had to travel from her home state to end that pregnancy.

Then, I prayed for America.

Just when you think things can’t get worse, that human nature couldn’t sink any lower, something happens to prove you wrong, to make you realize that the country is truly broken in ways that each day make the path to healing more difficult to imagine.

It is the case of the girl child who was quickly transformed from flesh and blood human being, used and abused by adults tasked to take care of her, to political cudgel, used and abused by a country that says it cares about its children most of all — and obviously doesn’t mean it.

If you cheered the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the constitutional protection for those seeking and providing abortions, this is the ultimate nightmare. It’s not the vision of a post-Roe world you want to present to the world, this story of a 10-year-old abandoned by the courts and the country’s health care system, a child many would have forced to bear a child conceived in violence, no matter the physical and emotional costs.

So, does that mean the most extreme foes of abortion rights have started to rethink the wisdom of their plans to enact ever harsher and stricter abortion bans in the states?

Of course not.

Instead, the narrative quickly shifted from stories of the indecisive giving birth and feeling vindicated by the choice forced upon them — to be sure, an occurrence that does happen — to a harsher alternative: Erase a 10-year-old, or worse, turn her into a weapon dreamed up by abortion rights activists and the party whose members overwhelmingly support that right.

For those with blinders on, softening an anti-abortion stance might require compromise, which equals hypocrisy if you sincerely believe life begins at conception — no exceptions allowed. But that kind of compromise simply makes room for the complexity that is real life.

Local News Roundup: State budget approved, COVID state of emergency to end, UDO feedback

On the Local News Roundup, Gov. Roy Cooper signs the new budget into law. The $28 billion budget includes money for teacher raises but no Medicaid expansion.

Cooper also vetoed some bills, including one that would have required sheriffs to cooperate with ICE.

Two and a half years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the state plans to lift its state of emergency next month.

Charlotte City Council hears from citizens on the Unified Development Ordinance.

And, the nation’s new poet laureate is an instructor at the Queens University of Charlotte.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Steve Harrison, political reporter for WFAE

Seema Iyer, chief legal correspondent for FOX 46 Queen City News

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

What it means to be ‘surprised’ by the massacre in Highland Park

Why do I know that Highland Park, Ill., was the backdrop for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a 1986 John Hughes movie starring a young Matthew Broderick as a cheeky teenage suburbanite who misbehaves? It’s because so many articles recounting the horrific Fourth of July shooting at the town’s annual holiday parade mentioned it.

The reference was used as an emblematic totem, shorthand that tracked the comments sprinkled through the articles and tweets launched that day: “probably the last place we would expect this” or “just inconceivable in a community like Highland Park.”

I mourned along with the country at the heartbreaking details, the child left without parents, the grandfather in an extended family, now left without its patriarch, the mother hit as she ran with the daughter who saw her go down but who kept running to save her own life.

Will this country ever be rid of the senseless gun violence that stains a quintessential Independence Day celebration, with marching bands, floats and children toted in strollers and wagons? Will there ever be a consensus that pushes politicians to change laws that allowed a 21-year-old suspect to obtain authorization to purchase weapons at an even younger age, with a co-sign by dad, even after incidents that drew law enforcement to the home?

Apparently not until America decides enough is enough and makes elected leaders pay a political price, which has not yet happened.

But while I mourned, I also realized, and not for the first time, that Americans mark tragedies in different ways, with wide-ranging levels of empathy, that deeply felt emotion that allows you to look into the faces of those whose lives are forever changed by violence and feel the same pain, maybe because those people remind you of you.

 

Local News Roundup: Early voting, local public safety conversations, CATS driver shortage and more

Early voting started Thursday in the election for Charlotte mayor and city council. The election was pushed to July from last year because of delayed census data needed to draw new districts. We’ll talk about who is running and how it’s going.

Conversations about safety during large-scale events are top of mind this week for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police after a deadly Fourthof July parade in Illinois. CMPD officials say they’ll be on high alert for Charlotte’s next big public event, August’s Pride Parade.

In other CMPD news, Chief Johnny Jennings defends and praises actions taken by police during a dangerous high-speed chase this week.

Driver shortages within Charlotte Area Transit System continue to impact travel for Charlotte transit commuters. The shortages have been happening for weeks.

As the heat continues in the Charlotte region, Mecklenburg County activates cooling stations to provide relief to residents.

And Salisbury becomes the backdrop for an upcoming movie.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters talk about those stories and all the week’s top local and regional news.

GUESTS:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Ann Doss Helms, WFAE education reporter

Shamarria Morrison, WCNC reporter

Mary C. Curtis, Columnist: Congressional Quarterly Roll Call

On this episode, Mark Simon is joined by Mary C Curtis. Mary is a longtime reporter and editor, and now columnist for Congressional Quarterly Roll Call – covering the intersection of politics, race and culture.

Mary is also a senior facilitator at The Op-Ed Project, a group that mentors people (mostly women) to share their stories and be thought leaders. She has 40 years in an NABJ Hall-of-Fame career in journalism to draw upon, including time as an editor at The New York Times and Baltimore Sun.

Mary talked about her journalism origin story – as a lifelong observer of people. She explained her column writing – where she gets her ideas and how she writes her ledes and her kickers. She also talked about the editing work she had done – and how she overcame misperceptions about her in newsrooms. And she explained the work she does for The Op-Ed Project.

Please share feedback on the show at [email protected] or on Twitter at @journalismpod. And you can visit Mark Simon’s website at MarkSimonMedia.com

Black Issues Forum: The Overturn of Roe v. Wade and Open Season on Civil Rights

As Americans celebrate July Fourth, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings restricting freedoms loom. Journalist Mary C. Curtis, Political Analyst Steve Rao and Professor La’Meshia Whittington comment on the high court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade regarding abortions, Miranda v. Arizona on suspects’ rights to sue and a New York law on gun regulation.

‘What Next TBD’ podcast: TikTok’s Mental Health Influencers

Social media makes mental health information accessible. But it’s not a perfect solution.

Guest: Lindsay Lee Wallace

Host: Mary C. Curtis