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StrengthenCharlotte Publishes First Formal Opinion

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Today, StrengthenCharlotte released its formal opinion on the Streetcar project undertaken by the Charlotte City Council. The group, a nonpartisan advocate, held its kickoff meeting on January 13 at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. “This is a ‘what we’ve been doing’ statement from StrengthenCharlotte to the public at large” said President and Founder Tariq Scott Bokhari. “We had an incredibly successful opening debate, based on the facts, where each of our City Council Committee members provided their view of the Streetcar project and grant.”

StrengthenCharlotte features subcommittees, each tasked with a local board to follow, debate, and hold accountable on local issues.  The Streetcar debate was the first launched by the group’s City Council Committee, which was led by co-chairs Ben Lassiter and Darrin Rankin.  The open thread allowed for a running conversation on facts about the Streetcar, the actions taken by the City Council, and the opinions/recommended next steps from the committee members on all sides of the issue.

Finally, on Monday, March 15 the School Board Committee will launch their first open thread.  The School Board Committee features co-chairs Susan Walker and Aaron Pomis. Coming later in March the County Commission Committee, featuring co-chairs Andy McGee and Mike Love, will launch their first open thread as well. The Technology/Viral Marketing/Operations Committee, led by co-chairs Matt Mercer and Blake Narr, continue building the infrastructure for the group’s future.

City Council Committee – Think Tank Thread:

Each of the Strengthen Charlotte Committees will have one or more open ‘think?tank’ based threads. As it is the committees that drive the actions of SC, these will enable us to determine the actual facts of the issue, the committee’s position and ideas for solutions.  The executive summary below outlines the pilot ‘thread’ that StrengthenCharlotte has been working on over the last month behind the scenes.

The Streetcar Grant – The Executive Summary

While understanding the critical needs of these areas of our city, StrengthenCharlotte does not support the plan to spend $12MM of local money to build a leg of the Streetcar ahead of schedule. StrengthenCharlotte feels there are opportunities for better projects that will have substantially more impact to the city.

StrengthenCharlotte came to this conclusion through a comprehensive debate focused on only the facts.  For extensive detail on the facts and debate of the City Council Committee on the Streetcar issue, see the StrengthenCharlotte website at www.strengthencharlotte.com.

StrengthenCharlotte acknowledges that the Federal Grant will pay for part of this project, but determined that the $12 Million is too large a sum for the City of Charlotte to pay during these tough economic times.  We believe that the $12 Million could be used more effectively to accommodate more pressing needs such as crime, roads, and sidewalks in the streetcar areas. StrengthenCharlotte feels this would improve the job environment, and promote economic development. SC recommends as an alternative, that a portion of this money instead be developed into an East/West Charlotte crime/roads/sidewalks-focused plan by staff during the upcoming budget cycle, while using the remaining money to reduce taxes if possible.

Plan of Action

  • 1,000 Emails/Calls Supporting City Council in Tough Decisions – StrengthenCharlotte will launch a city?wide campaign to build awareness on their recent debate, and encourage citizens to call and email their wishes to City Council members (goal of 1,000) leading up to the next voting decision points of:
    • May – 5/24 public hearing on City Council voting the $12MM budget line items, and
    • June – City Council voting to accept or decline the federal grant

To learn more or join this effort, please email strengthencharlotte@gmail.com, or visit our website and find us on Facebook at www.strengthencharlotte.com

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