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Char-Meck Dems In Disarray: Commission Cage Match and City Council Circus; UPDATE ~ New Poll Shows Broad Support For Firing Harry Jones


With solid majorities on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and the Charlotte City Council, local Democrats should be living high on the hog. They find themselves, instead, floundering in a political pigpen of self-churned mud.

After nearly a year of fruitless endeavor and intra-party squabbling, the Democrat-led city council is stuck without a capital budget plan, currently eyeing upwards of a 7-percent tax increase, pondering yet another hike for water and sewer bills, and is still chasing an exorbitantly expensive streetcar to nowhere. The council is led by the ultimate lame duck Democrat mayor, with Anthony Foxx more focused on hotfooting it to Washington than tackling the lingering problems he leaves in his wake, while residents of the city’s fattest tax base, southeast Charlotte, show no signs of reversing their desire to secede from the Queen City.

The scariest part? Compared to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, the city council could be considered borderline functional.

With Democrats at the helm, the board of commissioners oversaw the county’s Big Heist, fleecing homeowners through a corrupt property tax revaluation; stumbled through myriad scandals; currently finds itself without a county manager and with a Department of Social Services in shambles; and is facing a potential budget shortfall of $54 million, thanks in large part to the board’s own incompetence.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Democrats, to the detriment of Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents, are on a roll.

The latest example comes courtesy of Democrat county commissioners, whose deranged sniping marred a board meeting this week that was supposed to focus on public policy but devolved into a public display of squabbling, shouting and name-calling, replete with Democrat commissioners accusing each other of everything from racism and sexism to unethical behavior and skullduggery.

The rift started last week, when three Democrats – board chairman Pat Cotham and commissioners Trevor Fuller and Vilma Leake – joined the board’s three Republicans in voting to sack former county manager Harry Jones.

Democrat commissioners who had opposed the long-overdue firing were up in arms this week over a proposal to hire a consultant to help restructure top county management and review county operations. Cotham had previously floated the proposal, but without consulting the board’s three Democrat commissioners – vice chairman Kim Ratliff, Dumont Clarke and George Dunlap – who opposed ousting Jones.

Tempers flared at Tuesday’s meeting when Dunlap began aggressively questioning Cotham’s leadership, and fireworks erupted when Leake accused of him of woman-bashing.

“I have never seen a male that sat in that [chairman’s] seat to be harassed and dealt with as has happened here today,” Leake scolded, rapping her fist on the table.

“So now it’s harassment?” Dunlap balked.

“I’m not talking to you,” Leake said.

“There are some of you who find it very – you know, you feel like you can do and say what you what you want to say,” she continued. “But I think we need to respect each other in this process, even in our tone, although you may not like us as women.”

Leake subsequently turned her wrath on Clarke, who during the same meeting also questioned Cotham’s leadership and earlier this week had called on her to resign as chairman.

“You go back to the old times as white men sitting in rooms making decisions for poor people,” Leake fumed at Clarke, heeding her own call for a respectful tone in board discussions. “And I refuse to accept it.”

“You called me a racist,” Clarke, who is white, said in a confrontation with Leake, who is black, after the meeting.

“I sure did,” Leake countered. “I said it now and I’d say it again.”

That, of course, wasn’t all Leake was saying. She’s also requesting extra security for board meetings because she feels threatened by Dunlap.

“This is not the first time he has been violent with his behavior against women,” said Leake, apparently referencing an incident from 1991 when Dunlap served a 10-day suspension from the police department for hitting a female officer.

It’s also not the first time an elected official has called for extra security in response to Dunlap’s behavior. Former school board member Kaye McGarry, a Republican, requested the same after she accused Dunlap, who served on the same board, of becoming verbally abusive and hostile.

It seems the more some things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to the behavior of Char-Meck Democrats.

This from Tuesday’s cage match meeting:

UPDATE: Interesting results harvested from the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling’s latest effort – taken, it should be noted, “on behalf of the Pat Cotham Committee”:

Key findings from the poll include:

-46% of voters in the county approve of the job Cotham is doing to just 26% who disapprove. Cotham is drawing support across party lines for her leadership. Democrats approve of her by a 50/23 margin, independents do so by a 43/29 spread, and Republicans do 42/28. Cotham has solid personal favorability numbers as well at 42/25.

-There is overwhelming support from voters in the county for the decision to replace Harry Jones as County Manager. 54% think that’s the right move to only 30% who disagree with the decision.

-Voters also agree more broadly with some of Cotham’s key goals since taking office. She has said that commissioners should exercise more oversight of top county employees than they have in the past, and her constituents agree with that sentiment by a 59/14 margin. She has also said she believes the county government needs to be more efficient and effective, and voters agree with that goal by a 66/12 spread.

PPP interviewed 574 likely 2014 voters on May 14th and 15th with a margin of error of +/-4.1% on behalf of the Pat Cotham Committee.

For whatever it’s worth, the poll also shows 59 percent of respondents agreeing that county commissioners should exercise more oversight of top county employees; while a slight majority of respondents (52%) said they would support changing the law so that there is no smoking allowed in Mecklenburg County parks.

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