How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: BB&T and SunTrust Merge; No New Funds for Cross CLT Trail

Monday night’s City Council meeting brought with it suggestions on how to finish the Cross Charlotte Trail, which has come up $77 million short in funding, but the new plan left council members frustrated. We talk about the proposed solution and council member reactions.

BB&T and SunTrust Bank announced Thursday that the two banks would merge and move their new headquarters to Charlotte. What are the implications of this merger here and around the Southeast?

Charlotte City Council plans to vote next week on whether they’ll start the referendum process to extend their terms from two to four years. We discuss what council members said about the process.

United Way is experiencing budget problems, with plans to cut grants by 25 percent and cutting $1 million from its yearly budget. The reasons for the cuts go back several years.

Governor Cooper calls for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam after a racist 1984 yearbook picture surfaced.

Guest host David Boraks from WFAE News and our roundtable of reporters discuss those and other stories.

Guests:

Ann Doss Helms, reporter for the Charlotte Observer

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Steve HarrisonWFAE political reporter

Trump was trying to channel Reagan. He sounded more like Nixon

OPINION  — “The state of our union is strong.” It is the line that is prominently featured in the speech of every president when he (and so far, it’s been a he) stands before Congress for a political ritual that remains impressive. Political theater? Sure, and why not. A country without a monarch craves a little pomp now and again, no matter the partisan sniping that precedes and follows it.

But what does that statement actually mean once the booming chants of “USA, USA” — which are sounding more aggressive than affirming lately — fade?

Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The president’s State of the Union speech was delayed because of a government shutdown, which said something about the state of the union. President Trumppromised to reach out to make bipartisan deals now that Democrats control the U.S. House, under the leadership of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. So, what was the message of his SOTU speech and the Democrats’ response by rising party star Stacey Abrams. “Visionary” or “American carnage.” On script or off? Compromise or national emergency? Any “You lie” moments? (Mary C. Curtis)

Stacey Abrams has already delivered her message

OPINION — Move over Beto O’Rourke, the candidate who brought Texas Democrats closer than they had been for years in his eventually unsuccessful Senate race against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last year.

Will he or won’t he run for president? That’s the question that’s been following him during his postelection adventures. But another Democrat who caught the attention of national leaders and celebrities in her midterm contest is getting ready for her moment on the national political stage.

Though Stacey Abrams lost her race to become Georgia’s governor in November, she will be the face and voice of the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 5, a speech that most anticipate will be less unifying oration than politicking to shore up the GOP base.

Campaign 2020

CHARLOTTENC — Campaign 2020 Is Up and Running!

So, you want presidential candidates? According to the Federal Election Commission, almost 500 people have registered to run. You probably have not heard of most of them, though at the top spot is Donald Trump, hopeful to repeat his 2016 win. Other contenders see his volatility creating an opening for a challenger. What are the chances of anyone on what looks to be a long and growing list?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A Kamala Harris candidacy is a test, and not just for the candidate

OPINION — Of course, a reporter asked Kamala Harris how she would describe her identity. The California senator, a new entry into a crowded and growing Democratic field to challenge Donald Trump next year, answered simply, “I describe myself as a proud American.”

It’s a question no other candidate has been asked, and one that Harris will no doubt be asked again before the long slog to November 2020 is completed.

It’s not just her competitors Harris will be confronting in the months until then (or until her campaign comes to an end). It’s also questions like that one, understandable in the coverage of her historic quest. But it’s the extra scrutiny that can be exhausting for anyone just trying to live as herself or himself while being seen as an “other” by so many.

Judge Denies Mark Harris’ Request to Be Certified

CHARLOTTE, NC — On Tuesday, a Wake County Superior Court judge turned down the request of Republican Mark Harris to certify him as the winner in his race against Democrat Dan McCready. “This is an extremely unusual situation, with no board in place,” said Judge Paul Ridgeway. He said asking the court to step in and declare the winner, when that is the authority of another branch of government, was inappropriate, especially in the middle of an ongoing investigation. (Mary C. Curtis)

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: E-Scooter Rules; Affordable Housing Funds; Flight 1549 Reunion

City Council OKs the new rules for scooters for now, but council members say revisions to the rules are likely in the future.

Financial institutions in the Queen City are putting up $70 million combined to aid in affordable housing initiatives to help with the $50 million Housing Trust Fund bond money. How far will that money get the city towards its affordable housing goals?

The number of people receiving federal paychecks is in the thousands in the Charlotte region, so as we reach nearly a month of the government shutdown, what is the effect locally, and what will be the long term impact here and around the country?

Charlotte was in the national spotlight on Tuesday celebrating the 10th anniversaryof the outcome of what could have been a major air disaster. The crew and passengers of the Charlotte-bound “Miracle on the Hudson” flight assembled in the Queen City for a major remembrance of that extraordinary emergency landing.

Those stories, an update on the 9th Congressional District probe and much more.

Guests:

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE

Joe BrunoWSOC-TV reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal 

Very much up for grabs: this year’s profile in courage

OPINION — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Identifying the politician offering that idealistic advice is not so hard — President John F. Kennedy at his Jan. 20, 1961, inauguration. But that’s not all the 35th president had to say about the promise and challenges of America.

Climate change? “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Income inequality? “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, based in Boston, planned to regularly tweet out Kennedy’s quotes, though if you now try to seek a daily dose of inspiration, you will see a note on its page: “We’re sorry, but we will not be posting updates to our social media channels during the government shutdown. Also, all National Archives facilities are closed and activities are canceled until further notice.”