Farewell, Charlotte Coliseum

Charlotte’s “old new” coliseum, built back in the late 80s and still beautiful when it was all but abandoned a little over ten years later, was imploded Sunday to make way for mixed use development (part business park, part residential). Here’s video of the implosion:

The last use for the “old new” coliseum was to house Hurricane Katrina victims displaced by the hurricane. Oh, and I say “old new” coliseum because we actually have an older coliseum than the “old new” one, called “Cricket Arena” (formerly known as “Independence Arena”) – which seats about 10,000. That was Charlotte’s original coliseum, built back in 1955. The ECHL-affiliated Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team used to play in that arena, but has since moved to the new Charlotte Bobcats arena, leaving the Cricket Arena with no major tenant.

Exactly one year ago, I wrote about the controversies here involving coliseum projects:

It doesn’t get any better as far as the Charlotte City Council is concerned, either. Today marks the five year anniversary of the day that Charlotte voters surprisingly rejected a $342 million bond package deal that the city wanted to use on sports and cultural projects, including a new uptown arena. The new uptown arena was not a popular idea here in Charlotte, and 57% of voters let that be known with their nay votes, in effect saying “you won’t use our money to build another arena” (Charlotte already had a beautiful Coliseum built for the then-Charlotte Hornets in the late 80’s that everyone loved).

So you’d think that the voters rejecting public money being used on a new uptown arena would be the final word right? Wrong. The city of Charlotte, thanks to a concerted push by Republican (RINO) Mayor Pat McCrory, got its arena anyway. With 65% of the funds coming from tax money. Former City Councilman Don Reid, a solid conservative I met many years ago, talks about it in an interview published in today’s Observer:

Q.. Immediately after the vote, city leaders said they did not intend to build an arena against the voter’s wishes. Are you surprised it happened anyway?

DR: Not really. I’m shocked that it happened and sad that it happened, but not surprised. The power structure in uptown controls the big issues … I think it was a horrible message to send to the people of Charlotte, that their voice means nothing on an issue like this.


Q. What do you think is the long-term effect of city leaders building an arena after voters defeated the bonds?

DR: It has done more to dampen the trust for government than any other one single event that’s happened in Charlotte.

We have a problem in this city and around the country of small election turnouts and people not being interested in local government. They think their efforts are futile. I think building the arena destroyed the credibility of the government and some people on the council.

Q. After the vote, you called the referendum’s defeat the biggest upset in Charlotte’s political history. Do you still believe that?

DR: Yes. The arena package had a lot of money and powerful people leading the charge. We had very little money. I was so pleasantly surprised when the (vote) went down in flames. It was gratifying because I felt it was the right thing to do and 57 percent of Charlotte agreed. For a single issue in the middle of summer, we had as many people turn out as turn out to vote for mayor and city council in many elections. It was a true reflection of how citizens felt.

Yep – a feeling that city ‘leaders’ here ignored. I remember discussing the bond issue at the time with some friends, telling them that even though the bond package was defeated, I knew that Charlotte was still going to find a way to fund the new arena using public money.

We have the same mayor now as we did then: (RINO) Mayor Pat McCrory, who was a big proponent of a new coliseum. The mayor was on hand for the implosion on Sunday, and he looked pretty elated about it, even sharing a champagne toast. You sure pulled the wool over our eyes, didn’t you, mayor? Taxpayers said “no” to public funding for a new arena, and after the vote you promised that we would have a new arena that would be paid for sans public funding. So much for your promises.

Bobcats Arena, our bright and shiny new coliseum, seats thousands less than the “old new” coliseum. It seats 19K to the “old new” one’s 24K.

Why on earth would a growing city like Charlotte downsize from one coliseum to the other? Here’s why:

The Charlotte Coliseum will be demolished tomorrow — five years after its lack of luxury suites and premium seating led the NBA’s Hornets to leave town and two years after it was made redundant by a glitzy replacement.

In other words, there really wasn’t anything wrong with the old new coliseum – it just had too much seating for the average Joe and not enough seating for people who could have funded without taxpayer a much larger, more expansive arena that would have seated comfortably MORE average Joes in addition to providing MORE luxury seating to those who can afford it. Instead, we get a smaller, more uncomfortable arena located in a bad spot: uptown, where it’s easy for corporate Charlotte to get to, but not everyone else. This, an arena in which 65% of the cost was paid by taxpayers.

Is this about class envy? No. It’s about the government right here in my own backyard who told voters they had a voice, but then ignored that voice, acting contrary to what the citizens of Charlotte voted against, and in the process built an arena with mostly public money that benefits the people who could have afforded to fund it wholly more so than the people who had to be forced into it via tax hikes.

The coliseum might have just been demolished this past weekend but the rights of the voters of this city were demolished long ago thanks to ignorant city ‘leaders’ who, like most government bureaucrats, figured they knew better what was best for us than we did.

GOP debate open thread (VIDEOS ADDED)

I’m going to catch up on some blogging, rather than liveblog tonight’s GOP presidential candidates debate, but I wanted to start an open thread devoted to the debate and news related to the candidates. Here’s a preview of what’s likely in store at tonight’s debate.

The debate starts at 7pm ET.

I’ll link up to some of the blogs liveblogging the debate as I find them.

Update: Fresh off of liveblogging Sunday’s Dem debate, ST reader steveegg is going to liveblog the Republican debate as well. If you can’t make it to a TV, check here often for updates.

Post-debate update: Here are a few video snips from the debate.

Romney on immigration reform:

Senator McCain on dividing Iraq into three separate states:

Hot Air has more video, including some Rudy highlights (or lowlights, whichever you prefer), and also points to a video from former Hot Air video extraordinaire Ian Schwartz who has caught on tape Mike Huckabee calling Fred Thompson’s run for president a “Mighty Mouse” candidacy on Monday.

Thompson, Brownback and Tancredo on how they would use President Bush in their administrations:

Brian at Iowa Voice liveblogged tonight’s debate as well and will have some video clips posted shortly.

More: Here’s video of lightening striking as Rudy explains his abortion position:

How fitting …

And, the I’m With Fred website launches.

Wed AM Update: Here’s the transcript from the debate.

What do you get when you combine a controversial preacher and a politician?

Well, if you’re a Republican, then what you get is widespread attention in the national media, guilt by association, etc.

But if you’re a Democrat, not so much.

Update: Speaking of guilt by association, will the MSM hammer Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards for touring parts of South Carolina with none other than prominent Hugo Chavez supporter Danny Glover?

I won’t hold my breath.

Hsu, Hsu, where are you?


Fox News reports that shady Dem door Norman Hsu failed to show up today for a bail reduction hearing:

DEVELOPING STORY: California businessman Norman Hsu, a former New York apparel executive and major contributor to Democratic candidates and causes, failed to appear for a bail reduction hearing Wednesday, leading to speculation that he again is a fugitive from the law, FOX News has learned.

Hsu’s attorneys say they do not know his whereabouts, and that their client did not surrender his passport.

Hsu turned himself in to authorities last week after more than 15 years on the run from a felony conviction of grand theft. He admitted to defrauding investors of $1 million in a bogus investment scam.

He failed to appear in court for sentencing on that 1991 conviction, a revelation that prompted high profile Democrats — including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — to return thousands of dollars donated by Hsu.

A warrant has now been issued for his arrest:

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — A warrant was issued this morning for Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, who failed to appear for a bail hearing on a 15-year-old grand theft charge.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Robert D. Foiles ordered Hsu, a major fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, to be held without bail should he make an appearance. Last week, Hsu was released after posting $2 million bail.

Hsu’s attorney, James Brosnahan, explained that he had lost contact with Hsu and that the financier had failed to deliver his passport as promised.

“Mr. Hsu is not here and we don’t know where he is,” Brosnahan said outside court. “We expected him to be here.”

Brosnahan told Foiles that a legal assistant for his law firm went to Hsu’s New York City condominium last week and spent 90 minutes searching for Hsu’s passport.

Where has he gone? Dan Riehl speculates that he may have gone back to Hong Kong.

The DC Examiner has a must-read piece up today examining Norman Hsu’s “curious largesse.” Read more on that via Clarice Feldman at The American Thinker.

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit, who has many more links on this developing story.

See also: Right Wing Nuthouse, Blue Crab Boulevard, Suitably Flip, Blog For All, Fausta, Don Surber, Jammie


Dem earmark reforms: 100 hours versus 100 days

Wish I had more time to comment on this, but wanted to post the link anyway to this editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal about Democrat promises on so-called “earmark reform” which sums up the Dems words versus their actual actions when it comes to ‘reforming Washington.’

Hat tip to Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard, who writes in response:

And so it goes in the doublespeak world of the most ethical leadership the House has ever seen. The new boss is much worse than the old one. The polls are starting to collapse for the Democrats, incidentally. The rank and file will look back and revile the Reid-Pelosi regime in Congress.

Will this translate into some Republican wins at the polls next year? Stay tuned …

Breaking: Scooter gets 30 months

Via AP:

WASHINGTON – Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, stood calmly before a packed courtroom as a federal judge said the evidence overwhelmingly proved his guilt.

“People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem” U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said.


Walton fined Libby $250,000 and placed him on probation for two years following his release from prison. Walton did not immediately address whether Libby could remain free pending appeal.

Here are the letters prominent former Bush admin officials wrote on Libby’s behalf.

Tom Maguire has loads of commentary on Scooter’s sentence.

“Duh” headline of the week

From ABC News:

Democrats Lose Their Edge

Come to think of it, have they ever had an edge? ;)

The article talks about a poll which notes that Congress’ approval rating has slid back down to pre-election levels, primarily due to the Iraq war issue, which is leaving nobody happy these days.

On a more interesting note, for the first time in, I think, ever, Senator Barack Obama is now in a virtual tie with Senator Clinton in a poll about the Dem presidential nomination:

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the first time that the New York senator hasn’t clearly led the field.

The Illinois senator bests Clinton by a single percentage point, 30%-29%, if the contest includes former vice president Al Gore.

Clinton bests Obama by a single point, 37%-36%, if it doesn’t include Gore.

The survey of 310 Democrats and 160 independents who “lean” Democratic, taken Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points.

Polls being what they are, though, they can change in a New York minute (no pun intended). That said, no doubt Mrs. Clinton will be sharpening her claws and revamping her strategy after she reads news of this poll this morning.

The poll will definitely please the Nutroots left, who view Hillary as a ‘war hawk’ (?) even though she’s completely flip-flopped on the Iraq issue.