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Don Reid’s Thursday Morning Breakfast Meetings . . . A Charlotte Tradition

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Looking for something different to do this summer? Something in air conditioning, perhaps, with other like-minded patriots that involves food? Here’s just the thing – the Thursday morning breakfast meetings hosted by former Charlotte City Council member Don Reid.

A political junkie myself, I had been meaning to go FOREVER, and I finally made it a few weeks ago. I dreaded the drive into Charlotte from Huntersville, but with school out it wasn’t so bad.

Held at the Skyland Family Restaurant for the past 15 years, the fare is simple and the crowd is unpretentious, but don’t be fooled.  Among the 30 or so attending was as good a selection of past, present and future political movers and shakers as you could hope for.

Some of those were:

Charlotte City Council member Warren Cooksey,

District Court Judge Candidate Jeff Thompson,

Mecklenburg County Commission At-Large Candidate Wayne Powers,

12th District Congressional Candidate Jack Brosch,

Mecklenburg Republican Party Precinct Organization Chairman Bob Diamond,

Former Charlotte City Council Candidate Ed Toney, and

Former Charlotte City Council Candidate and current SMART Advocate Jay Privette.

At the podium, microphone in hand, was Reid. I think it was the first time I had actually seen him in person, but years ago I stood in the rain outside the gym at Charlotte Christian School holding his campaign sign and an umbrella. I was happy to do it.

In case you’re not familiar with him, Don Reid was a Charlotte City Councilman from 1991 to 1999. He has been dispensing his brand of plain-speaking, common sense conservatism for as long as I can remember. Reid’s long-time friend Jim Puckett calls him a “full-time cynic.” Big-spending liberals call him much worse.

Reid still stays on top of current political events. “It’s a hobby of mine, something I enjoy doing, so I continue to do it,” he told Puckett in an interview on “Speak out Charlotte” last July.

Do not doubt his impact on local politics. When putting this story together, I asked for quotes from a few others, and every single person took the time to send one in. (Thank you.)

From U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick – “Don has been a stalwart conservative since day one. His weekly meetings have provided a forum for ideas and information to be shared, and have been a valuable resource to our community. He has always been a good friend to me, and I thank him for his many years of selfless public service.”

From Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James – “Don helped me get started in politics. Long before he had breakfast meetings at the Skyland Restaurant, Don, Joe Miller, Mike Jackson and I would meet at his office once a week to discuss City/County issues. I wouldn’t be in office if it weren’t for Don.” You can find a selection of past political cartoons featuring James and Reid on James’ Facebook page.

Former reporter and WBT talk show host Pete Kaliner sent this statement from his new post in Asheville: “I never covered Don Reid when he was an elected official. He was off Council by the time I got there. But I got to know him during the arena vote debate in 2000. Don was an outspoken critic of the proposed arena “bundle.”

“Along with a group of devoted volunteers, Don helped lead the effort to defeat the referendum. All the components of the “bundle” have since been built through separate non-referendum decisions by subsequent City Councils, except for the Knights new Uptown stadium (although plans are still in the works). However, Don’s efforts cleared the way for getting Hornets owner George Shinn out of Charlotte, so residents owe him a debt for that.

“His breakfast meetings at the Skyland Restaurant helped keep conservatives informed of City business and helped introduce residents to local elected officials who would regularly attend. It was also a good way for a new reporter to get good background information while getting a good, inexpensive breakfast!”

Christian Hine, Managing Partner for New Majority Media (Pundit House) and Mecklenburg Chairman for the Dan Forest for Lt. Governor Campaign said, “I used to be a regular at that breakfast.  It was through the group that I became a co-chair of the anti-arena campaign, my first big challenge in politics. (It was also the first time I learned that not all Republicans supported limited government.  Sort of the beginning of the end of my naivety and move toward a more libertarian philosophy.)  I owe Don a great deal for inspiring me.”

And from Pete Politis, former owner of the Skyland Restaurant and a friend of Reid’s, “I have known Don Reid for many years. He always is a good man. The people who come here to eat and meet are nice.”

But back to the meeting . . .

After running down a laundry list of relevant topics, including the soon-expected results of the SCOTUS ruling, Reid turned the microphone over to Warren Cooksey for a scintillating description of the behind-the scenes maneuverings of the recent tax hike defeat by an unlikely bi-partisan Charlotte City Council coalition. Some of my favorite quotes; “Never presume that silence equals assent,” and “There was a disconnect between the architects of the original proposal and the folks who had to face the voters.” Congratulations Charlotte taxpayers!

In 2003 Reid was honored by the John Locke Foundation at their 13th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony for helping to found the watchdog group Citizens for Effective Government and for his leadership in the fight against high taxes and wasteful spending. “Reid, who also runs an advertising business in Charlotte, has recently led efforts to block taxpayer funding for a new NBA arena and to question plans for an expensive rail transit system in the region,” stated the 2003 press release.

Ah, it seems like only yesterday that Mecklenburg County tax-payers were fighting a light-rail line. Oh, wait . . .

Jay Privette then gave a well-documented brief overview of the problems associated with the proposed Red Line, many points eerily similar to past transit issues. Which makes one wonder; do these meetings do any good? Will Charlotte leaders ever learn from past mistakes? Is anyone listening?

“Do we make any progress?” Reid asked in the “Speak out Charlotte” interview. “At some point when enough pain exists, people will turn back to the basics and figure out that liberalism always fails, it always brings them misery, and they turn back, and that’s what’s happening in the country today, I hope.”

I will end with one of my favorite Don Reid quotes, “Rome had one coliseum that lasted a thousand years; Charlotte’s already had three!”

The meetings start at 7:30 a.m. each Thursday at the Skyland Family Restaurant, 4544 South Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28209. The Skyland Phone is 704-522-6522. They are open 24 hours.

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