Dear Charlotte,

I’m asking Charlotteans to hire me as an independent municipal financial advisor. If we address redlining as a colorblind credit issue, we can use stadium financing to close the gap.

In June 2018 I made a proposal to the Council to create an economic development project with a nonprofit to target poverty. In July, I said we’d outperform the outcomes in the Cost benefit/economic impact we’re given in Julys (2017 MLS, 2018 RNC…). EVERYONE, including elected officials, deserves the benefit of the doubt for being trapped in “The System.”

A deal for a Panthers stadium will be public in July. The people negotiating it are prohibited by law from saying anything.

THEY’RE PLAYING DEFENSE.

I was hired by Bank of America Public Finance in 1997 after serving as an Independent Municipal Financial Advisor to the Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park Ballpark. I studied Municipal Finance in graduate school and was an analyst at the Indiana Department of Commerce responsible for applying the brakes on economic development incentives in Indiana. It’s my expertise and I am trying to bring the same perspective here.

Representing taxpayers in a financing is the most fiscally conservative way to start closing the gap on income disparity and the city’s housing shortage. This is The Middle. Politics is the HR. Where does the money come from and where does it go? I need leverage.

There’s a state law in place that puts the interest of the private sector ahead of citizens. It was not put in place through malice. I was there. For the last four years I’ve been trying to piece this together especially the last two. It’s going to take a long time to explain. I’ve watched Hope die.

On my Facebook page last July, City Council member Tariq Bokhari said he hadn’t seen the RNC contract but it wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything and he wouldn’t sign it if it did. I need to explain Opportunity Cost so you’ll understand why that’s not accurate and what’s missing in the national discussion of economic development (WSJ 11/15/18 re: Amazon, etc.) In 2017 Larken Egelston and Ed Driggs campaigned that Tourism projects shouldn’t come from the City’s General Fund. True. But just as important is prioritizing transportation and infrastructure money to support economic development over citizen needs. It could’ve been a catalyst (ie $1 Mil infrastructure to Amazon distribution center last summer and also contributes to “You know what happens when the white people come.”) It’s harder track infrastructure/transportation prioritized to benefit Tourism facilities for the RNC since the Council raised the threshold for their responsibility for expenditures from$100k to $500k in Dec 2018.

The special taxes like those created for Tourism create a system based on the assumption that our city needs that over meeting needs like Housing. I first presented this at the City Council in July 2017 when I spoke out against the financing proposed for the MLS stadium.

I’M PLAYING OFFENSE.

The project I’ve been calling Jobs4CLT is Colorblind. Charlotte’s task force created after the study that said we’re 50th of 50 in upward mobility and the 2016 Protests said Upward Mobility is a Systemic Racism problem. It assumed economic development “works.” If you understand economic development finance, the study data said economic development is *causing* income disparity. The task force report was used in the City’s FY2019 adopted budget. The special taxes funding economic development created the system. The economic development players fund the foundations.

Local tax dollars are the “discretionary” ones. The overwhelming majority of the City and County budgets are based on state and federal program laws and funding. Voters can impact local choices. The discretionary funds such as City transportation projects are prioritized to benefit private sector partners. The foundations fund the task forces that say it works. Both are in place as a result of the that Special Tax. With state and national lawmakers split fifty-fifty, local elections matter more to escaping poverty. Foundations are inherently biased.

This is not a personal jab. It’s rational. IT’S LAW.

WE’RE THE BANK.

I’m a political economist/public finance banker recruited by Mr. McColl’s people (we’ve never met) after serving as an Independent Municipal Financial Advisor to the taxpayers in Milwaukee for the original financing of Miller Park for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1996. Then-NationsBank (now BofA) was MLB’s Bank. We financial advisors halted the financing for a reason that was never disclosed publicly. Since Economic Development is The Table, that’s like sending the meal back at The Last Supper then being recruited by the head chef. The next person calls me Democrat or “into politics” and I’m taking a swing.

A Panthers stadium will be used in July by the City’s Democrats and Mayor to get forgiveness for the RNC. I’m asking you to host gatherings so I can present this to you directly. Elected officials who want to stick up for something different are stuck. The Golden Rule in Politics? “Never Lose A Team.” (See John Oliver’s “Stadiums.”) Three of the four Council members who represent me started promising to make time for me since 2017. I’ve made one campaign contribution in 25 years. I’m not starting now.

  1. My observations are objective and public information. This is professional perspective. I need a title.

  2. This was not established in malice. It’s agreeing to a “want” when we aren’t meeting “

  3. A Blue Wave means no Plus One in 2020.

  4. “Pro-business” is costing us a fortune (city and county property tax increases last year, annually in the Center City Partner area.) The Foundation for the Carolinas funded the Opportunity Task Force Report tied the the lack of Upward Mobility to systemic racism.

  5. The only voters getting what they think are single issue Pro-Life and anti-LGBTQ voters.

“AND.” NOT “OR.”

We need the Panthers owner David Tepper to make me a his Plus One at The Table on our behalf. I’m trying to offer him, with Mr. McColl’s help, the chance to partner to create something like Tourism/Center City Partners/University City Partners so we target the area of most need in Charlotte objectively every two years. They’re economists. I think they’ll love this. It’s why I vouched for them in my quarterly 3 minutes in January.

If we address redlining as a colorblind credit issue, we can use economic development to close the gap.

I have a moral obligation to ensure we don’t keep making this worse. They won’t risk blowing their Hail Mary over this so it can be done. It cannot be done under the existing economic development framework. I’ve been trying with the current local elected officials since summer 2017.

IF NOT

I have to pursue litigation that Charlotte is the worst case of Systemic Racism in the country. That will also halt a stadium. I cannot let Mayor Lyles and Council commit to a stadium when the financing is causing this. If Charlotte becomes the legal precedent? That backlash will make our economic development people miss the HB2-backlash. Trust me. Selling the Midwest in the ‘90s Rust Belt was no picnic. Companies fled unions. That 50th of 50 study was, in economic terms, the Long Run impact of using economic development incentives.

Now?

I quit. I’m pooped and need help. Cash and administrative stuff. (80 pages of graphics and PowerPoint destroys the print layout? Plus $75 each to print?!) Use the form below to help. I’m still off Facebook. Mr. McColl and Mr. Tepper will listen once we get it to them and I’m confident they’ll like the plan. But I need you to hire me. No one stole a thing. I’ve put all in the record and used publicly posted info.

Now or never. Let’s just FIX IT. This is a once in history chance to just close the gap.

Leslie Dwyer

704.330.1911 Google voice

 

Jobs4CLT Public Forum Comments

6/25/2018

Original comments to Council June 25, 2018.

 
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“Listen.”

— Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams
at Amplify and Activate Summit, December 2017
when asked “what can we do?”

 

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Want to join our effort? 

Contact Leslie Dwyer, Jobs4CLT Founder, at Jobs4CLT@gmail.com