Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ron Carlee sleeping well, thank you

New Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee says there's no single thing about his job that keeps him up at night.

"Part of it may be that I don't know what I don't know," he says.

More likely is that he thinks Charlotte is "in a good place."

Carlee met with the editorial board, along with Observer reporters and editors, Tuesday afternoon. The get-to-know-you meeting covered a variety of current city issues, but it also marked a deliberate change in approach from the city. Carlee, a thoughtful and engaging guy, was hired in part to be thoughtful and engaging with the public and media - a contrast to the smart but reticent Curt Walton.

Carlee, a former manager of Arlington County, Va., was appropriately optimistic Tuesday about his new job and home. He loves Charlotte. He loves uptown, where he lives. He thinks that city government here is not nearly as dysfunctional as some might think. "Most cities in America would take Charlotte in a heartbeat, on its worst day," he said of the political climate. In other places, he said, "you've got people who can never work together, fighting and screaming, who can never balance a budget."

As for Charlotte's issues? Carlee said he needs to come up with recommendations for the city's capital improvement plan within the next couple of weeks, which may present a problem with one of the most controversial elements of previous budgets: an extension of Charlotte's streetcar.

Carlee is clearly a fan of streetcars and their economic development potential, but he's waiting on an upcoming report on the impact of Charlotte's extension. If he doesn't have enough time to study the report, he might request that the streetcar be taken out of the new CIP. That won't be, he said, "a backdoor way of killing it." 

Carlee also said Charlotte hasn't given up on keeping control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but he acknowledged the likelihood that the state would pass legislation creating a regional airport authority. Carlee clearly isn't a fan of such authorities, which he says can be prone to micromanaging and other inefficiencies.

He said US Airways should have a say in the successor to 72-year-old airport director Jerry Orr. The airport's "bread and butter" is as a hub of the airline, he said. "We need this to be an airport they hold most dear in their system."

On the Carolina Panthers, Carlee said he was disappointed that the state "did not come forward." He's hopeful a new stadium renovation agreement can be worked out between the team and Charlotte, which is not likely to be able to come up with the $144 million it initially pledged, the Observer reported today.

"There are a lot of cities that really want an NFL franchise and will do anything to get them, and one of the most available teams is ours," he said.

The question for Charlotte: "Do we want to keep them or not?"

Peter St. Onge


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Watch out Ron. The editorial board will turn on you In a heartbeat.

How they are so hands off in investigating county commissioners Pat Cotham, Vilma Leake, and Matthew Ridenhour is truly interesting. Certainly the emails of the past week circulating circles about Cotham and a potential property assessor have fallen in their hands....yet....crickets.