Local News Roundup: CATS Bus driver strike averted; naming rights proposed to generate money for city; pioneering judge Shirley Fulton dies at 71

A strike by Charlotte Area Transit System bus drivers is averted and discussions begin regarding a new deal with the drivers’ union this week. In addition, CATS will look for a new company to run the bus system. We’ll dig into details and hear what Interim CATS CEO Brent Cagle said to city council’s transportation committee this week.

A consultant for the city of Charlotte thinks naming rights in the new proposed Hornets practice facility and the new festival district could generate nearly $140 million.

Mecklenburg County Commissioners have passed their 2023 legislative agenda. This week, the county leaders are asking state and federal lawmakers to expand Medicaid, and additional funding for public education. Will they get what they want?

A bill was passed by the North Carolina Senate this week that would require teachers to alert parents before calling a student by a different name or pronoun in class. This comes after warnings to the senate about how this could endanger LGBTQ students.

Shirley Fulton, the first female African American Superior Court Judge in North Carolina, died this week at the age of 71. We’ll talk about her accomplishments and her legacy.

And a look at North and South Carolina lawmakers’ takes on the State of the Union address this week.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those and more.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

David Boraks, WFAE reporter

Is the American dream for everyone? Just ask Ilhan Omar

Is American citizenship conditional? The country certainly will welcome the immigrant, the newcomer — “as long as.” And that list is long. As long as you don’t criticize. As long as you don’t make a mistake. As long as you fit a certain, undefined ideal of “American.”

Watching President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, I realized how much decorum matters only for some, and an impossible “perfection” is demanded for others who will never clear the bar.

A wild-eyed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia can stand and point and yell, interrupting the president of the United States with her disrespect, and instead of feeling any shame for acting out, will probably replicate the moment to raise money from constituents and fans who love the show.

After all, it worked in 2009 for fellow Republican representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who no doubt earned extra points because the object of his ire was Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States, a man who had to be “perfect.” That “You lie” has since been used against him doesn’t mean Wilson would change a thing.

While witnessing Greene’s act, I remembered the scene on the floor of the same Congress about a week ago, when Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota mounted a futile defense before Republicans, as predicted and promised, cast her out of its House Foreign Affairs Committee for words used to criticize policy on Israel, something she had quickly apologized for years ago.

The irony is that some of the same colleagues who ultimately voted against her — including Greene and the speaker of the House — had never felt the need to walk back their own comments, including a now deleted Kevin McCarthy tweet about Democratic donors trying to “buy” an election, employing the same trope members of the GOP and some Democrats had accused Omar of using.

Their Americanness would never be called into question.

In Omar’s presentation, I was struck by the riveting photo of herself as a child, staring straight ahead, both ready and unsure of what would come next after fleeing one war-torn country and spending years in a refugee camp in another.

That the little girl is now a congresswoman in the U.S. House of Representatives should be Exhibit No. 1 in the resilience of the American dream, the tale of someone starting out with little who has risen to the top.

But since the girl-turned-congresswoman is Ilhan Omar, a Black woman, a Muslim and born in Somalia, her story will always be suspect for some. Instead of seeing her global experience as something that could inform any debates on a committee devoted to exploring U.S. policy in the world, it has become a cudgel to threaten when she steps outside the boxes she is put into.

What has been the go-to command for politicians from Donald Trump to GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas? They never hesitate to tell the woman who is as American as they are to “go back,” to “leave.” At the same time, they are insulting the voters she won over and the Americans she represents.

State of The Union & Iowa Caucus

CHARLOTTE, NC — President Trump touts the economy and what he calls a “Great American Comeback” in his state of the union address Tuesday night. Political contributor Mary C. Curtis breaks down the president’s message and gives her thoughts on the Iowa caucus.

POLITICAL WRAP: Iowa Caucuses, State of the Union, Impeachment Trial Vote

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Another busy week in politics is ahead. Monday is the Iowa Caucuses. Tuesday, President Trump delivers the State of the Union address. And Wednesday, Senators will vote whether to acquit President Trump in the impeachment trail.

Click above for more from WCCB Charlotte Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis.

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.

President Trump’s First State of the Union Address

CHARLOTTE, NC– After a contentious and divisive first year of the Trump presidency, the president and members of Congress have a chance to at least start to move toward the bipartisanship that most Americans want so the government will work for the American people. But is it possible for Democrats and Republicans to come together after so much has happened with so much to do

State of the Union perspective


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Washington Post columnist, Mary C. Curtis, joins Rising with some perspective on Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Congressmen feel that the President needs to work with them, not go around them.

In his address, President Obama said he will use executive action to pass bills if necessary.

Much of his focus was on the economy and income equality.