Thursday, October 31, 2013

Patrick Cannon's iffy memory

It has come to our attention, belatedly, that mayoral candidate Patrick Cannon provided inaccurate information in a column he wrote for last Sunday's Charlotte Observer.

The Observer editorial board invited both Cannon, a Democrat, and opponent Edwin Peacock, a Republican, to write for Sunday's Viewpoint page, making the case for why each is the stronger candidate. (You can find those pieces here and here.)

Cannon wrote: "As the top vote getter in the last four at-large City Council elections, I have also served as mayor pro tem, which provided me with a close look at the office of mayor and on many occasions the opportunity to assume some of the mayoral duties and obligations."

One big problem, as the Business Journal's Erik Spanberg first noted: Cannon was not the top vote getter in the last four at-large City Council elections. Not even close.

He was the leading vote getter in the most recent election, in 2011. He finished second to Susan Burgess in 2009, did not run in 2007 or 2005, finished first in 2003 and finished third in 2001. So whether Cannon was talking about the last four elections, as he said, or the last four elections that he participated in, either way he was not the top vote getter all four times. He was the top vote getter two times at best.

We should have caught the error and are sorry we didn't.

Spanberg quotes from a statement Cannon issued late Wednesday: "In my attempt to meet a tight deadline, it seems two thoughts were combined. I've been Mayor Pro Tem for four terms, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011 (counting when I assumed the role after Susan Burgess' passing). And, I was the top vote getter in the last at-large election. My apologies for the confusion."

Neither Cannon nor his campaign brought the error to the Observer's attention either before it was published or after Spanberg questioned them about it. "It must be a slow news cycle if people are looking to nitpick stories like that," Cannon's campaign manager spokesperson, Colleen Brannan, said in a voice mail to us after we asked about it. Either that, or we and our readers value accuracy.

As for the tight deadline: We invited Cannon to write his piece on Oct. 16. It was published Oct. 27.

-- Taylor Batten


Wiley Coyote said...

"If you like your current plan, you can keep your curent plan. Period."

Oh shoot. I got two Democrats mixed up.

Dan1984 said...

Not so fast Taylor.
Cannon was the Top Vote Getter in the 2009 Democratic Primary, the 2011 Democratic Primary, the 2011 General Election and most certainly the 2013 Democratic Mayoral Primary. You guys will do anything to find a negative!

Dan McCorkle

Observer editorial board said...

Dan1984: Really? Primaries? Cannon was referring to the top vote getting in connection with his being named mayor pro tem. As you know, that has nothing to do with the primaries.

Taylor Batten

Wiley Coyote said...


...Cannon wrote: "As the top vote getter in the last four at-large City Council elections...

Being the top vote getter in the primary is different than being the top vote getter in the election at-large.

You can't be appointed to whatever until you actually win the election, not a primary.

We've seen in past elections where the top at-large vote getter didn't get the chair and the gavel.

Dan1984 said...

Split hairs. Cannon was the Top Democratic Vote Getter in 2001, 2003, 2011 as was thus selected Mayor Pro Tem by his fellow Democrats. Whatever guys. He'll be top vote getter again next week and thus Mayor of Charlotte. You guys endorsement of Mitchell in the Primary was so laughable you are trying to change the subject.

Observer editorial board said...

Who's changing the subject?

Observer editorial board said...

Dan, you are arguing that Cannon's piece was correct. But he himself has apologized for the error. Hmmmm.

Charles said...

If you "valued accuracy" you wouldn't have published column after column and editorial after editorial using a fraudulent definition of "debt default".

Peter St. Onge privately referred me to a New York Times column he found that had the correct definition, but the Observer never fixed their coverage, nor did they ever publish a single OpEd or letter correcting the error.

So please spare us the "value accuracy" sanctimony.

Dan1984 said...

I deal in actual numbers...Oh Mighty Editorial Board ( actually there is no board...Taylor told a person almost three months ago who HE was going to endorse and it was spot on accurate)Now, Patrick Cannon was in fact the top vote getter of the party in charge in 2001, 2003, 2011 and thus one of the longest serving Mayor Pro Tems in memory- 2001 to 2005 and 2010 to current - so 7 years. AND he was the top Democratic vote getter in General Elections 2001, 2003, 2011 and four Democratic Primaries. And the runaway total top vote getter in 2011 getting just a few thousand less votes than Landslide FOXX. Taylor, do some deeper research next time.

CLT2013 said...

Cannon still got less votes than he got in 2009 in 2011.

Dan1984 said...

Cannon got 53,972 votes in 2011 in a 16.23% Turnout and 54,230 in 2009 in a 21.2% okay a 258 vote difference.

Peter St. Onge said...


I referred you to that New York Times item to illustrate how your perspective (and Moody's) on debt was an outlier, not for a definition of debt default.

Peter St. Onge

Charles said...


I would hardly call a panel of 36 economic experts (The Initiative on Global Markets, established by the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago) "outliers".

That panel, and the University of Chicago (only the most prestigious economics university in the history of the US), defined a "debt default" as a situation where "the United States fails to make scheduled interest or principal payments on government debt securities".

Also taking the Moody's/UChicago line on "debt default" - Economics Nobel Prize winner Vernon Smith. Dr. Smith's perspective was referenced in Reason Magazine, a publication you claim to read.

If one uses one's brain for even ten seconds, one realizes how counter-intuitive it is to define "debt default" as "keeping your outstanding debt at current levels rather than taking on even more debt".

You should recall that the Standard & Poor's downgrade of US debt in 2011 came two days AFTER the debt ceiling was raised, precisely because when you take on MORE debt you are LESS LIKELY to pay it off.

Egan-Jones, another credit ratings agency, has downgraded the US THREE times since 2011, again due to increases in the debt ceiling.

And most recently, Dagong Global Credit Rating in China downgraded US debt, once again AFTER the debt ceiling was raised.