Local & State
|City Council OKs contentious 2020 Republican convention deal|
|Panel votes 6-5 to move forward with contracts|
|Published Tuesday, July 17, 2018|
|PHOTO | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS|
|Charlotte City Council approved a measure to execute contracts to host the 2020 Republican National Convention if selected.|
Charlotte is bruised, but open to hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention.
City Council's 6-5 vote Monday to move forward with the city's bid to host the nominating meeting came after three hours of contentious debate, in which four Democrats voted with Republicans Tariq Bokhari and Ed Driggs to approve contracts with the RNC if Charlotte is picked.
Democrat James Mitchell provided the margin of victory.
Mayor Vi Lyles, who pushed for the convention bid, admitted the debate took a toll on her.
“I'm going to be frankly very honest here,” she said. “This has been probably the most difficult decision in my career, not just as a mayor, but as a mom, as a friend to many of you in this room. Many of you have stepped out in ways that I can't even imagine to support me. When people call and say they have a prayer circle for me or how they call or send a note they're encouraging me. This is really the kind of fortitude and goodness you see illustrated at this dais.”
Mitchell, who chairs the council's Economic Development Committee, said his concerns boiled down to public safety and the city's preparedness. The winning bidder – Las Vegas, Nevada is the other finalist – will receive $50 million in federal funds for security.
“I have great confidence in our CMPD and Chief [Kerr] Putney that we will not only keep our city safe, but those attending will have a good experience,” he said.
More than 100 speakers were allowed a minute to lobby the council, with most of the pleas focused on President Donald Trump's behavior, public safety and the economic benefit.
“It is about whether or not we will push back on racism, discrimination, hatred, lies, white supremacy,” former council member and state senator Malcolm Graham said. “Dr. [Martin Luther King] said it's not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends. Speak loud and clear today. Vote no.”
Democrats, who hold a 9-2 council majority over Republicans, actively sought the RNC, but a last-ditch effort to derail the convention was mounted by at-large representative Braxton Winston, who wanted more citizen input. While acknowledging the benefits of hosting a major political convention, he opposed moving the bid forward.
“I believe we as elected officials did a poor job of going through this in an informative, open and transparent fashion,” Winston said. “…I wish we had done a better job at answering some of these questions beforehand, but we didn't.”
Charlotte hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention, a first for the city. Lyles and the Charlotte Regional and Visitors Authority worked with Republican Party leaders to build the RNC bid, which pro-convention speakers urged would benefit residents of all political persuasions with an estimated $100 million in local economic impact.
“This debate is about bringing in a convention that not only has all the economic benefits, but it's for more than one person,” Bokhari said. “There are more than 78 million registered Republicans in this country. There are more than 127 million if you look at who leans Republican, so I would say this is their convention. We don't even know who the candidate is they're going to be nominating at this point in time. …This is what being tolerant and inclusive means.”
Winston countered that the GOP under Trump has been less than tolerant with policies that have separated immigrant families, gutted parts of the Affordable Care Act and disparaged longtime foreign allies.
“I believe this idea of bipartisanship has been used as a dog whistle,” he said. "As a council member, I am supposed to make the best decision for my city, not take a vote of quid pro quo because another vote happened in the past.”
Winston took a jab at Trump, calling him out for bigoted comments and policy that have upset the nation's political discourse.
“I don't see him as a Republican. I see him as a human avatar of white supremacy,” Winston said to applause. “He has hijacked the democratic process by taking advantage of the gray areas in our experiment in self-governance.”
“I actually believe it is an opportunity for us to take an active role in the democratic process, and I would hope that everyone would exercise their rights," Lyles said after the vote. “I think it is also an opportunity to share the values this city believes in through peaceful protest.”
Said Winston: "We should not let this vote change our focus, regardless of where it lands.”
|the money is green. we should be bipartisan sometimes. this is america|
|Posted on July 17, 2018|
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