Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 12/9: $2,500 CMS bonuses, NC primaries delayed, plane passengers removed

Collin Cunningham

Charlotte's in North Carolina
Back where she wanted to be
Charlotte's in North Carolina
She left me here in Saint Louis in misery

Keith Whitley, "Charlotte's in North Carolina"

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) The chorus for Keith Whitley's country ballad "Charlotte's in North Carolina" is a powerful set of four lines that juxtaposes upbeat guitar playing with melancholy lyrics, and it kicks off today's roundup that balances several stories. First up: new retention bonuses for teachers at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

We'll inform you how much the district agreed to give full- and part-timers to stay onboard in addition to when North Carolina's primary elections will take place after the state's Supreme Court delayed the date from March. And a family is suing American Airlines after accusing the company of unjustly removing them from a flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. And as the gift-giving season continues, the bottom of the newsletter continues our Charlotte Gift Guide with delicious morsels from Queen City bakeries..

It is Thursday, Dec. 9, and Charlotte is still in North Carolina. Here's what every resident of the city needs to know.

1. CMS to give retention bonuses to all staff, up to $2,500

What happened: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board unanimously approved new bonuses for all staff members during an emergency meeting on Wednesday, but they're not holiday gifts. The district will pay $2,500 to every full-time staff member and $1,250 to every part-timer who started prior to Oct. 31, 2021, and remains with the district through September of 2022.

"We just got word late yesterday that we had the authority to make this happen," school board Chair Elyse Dashew said at the emergency meeting, per WFAE. "And we wanted to vote on this and put it into action ASAP so that you can get your bonuses before Christmas."

Why it matters: The bonuses, which will consume $48 million of the district's roughly $317 million in COVID-19 relief funds, could help convince teachers to stay at CMS. The gifts will come to staff in two installments and are separate from bonuses teachers will get in January under North Carolina's new budget.

The district increased bus driver wages in response to a driver deficit in October.

2. NC Supreme Court moves primary elections to May over congressional map suit

What happened: North Carolina's primary elections are now set to take place on May 17, 2022, after the state's Supreme Court made the decision to delay voting from its initial date of March 8 on Wednesday. The move is in response to a lawsuit from the North Carolina League of Conservative Voters accusing the Tar Heel State's General Assembly of OK'ing congressional maps that gerrymander residents. Democrats have accused the maps of granting more votes to the state's Republican lawmakers.

The decision came the same week that the filing period started for the 2022 elections, but candidate filing is suspended and the state is expected to announce new filing dates in the future. Over 1,400 candidates have already filed, per a press release from the state elections board.

Why it matters: This is the second time that primary elections have been delayed n North Carolina this year. In June of 2021, 35 cities from the Old North State — including Charlotte, Mooresville, Greensboro and Raleigh — pushed their primaries back to the March date due to delayed results from the 2020 U.S. Census.

3. Couple sues American Airlines after being kicked off plane in Charlotte

What happened: Allan Ali and his wife are suing American Airlines over what he called a “traumatizing” experience at the Charlotte airport, accusing the airline of unjustly removing the couple and their seven-week-old infant from a departing flight on Sunday. Ali said the incident began when a flight attendant asked him and his wife to stand up to allow another passenger to sit next to them. Ali’s wife and one of the attendants then got into a minor confrontation, and crew members removed the couple from the plane. While he has yet to take legal action, Ali said he intends to find a lawyer.

“She said ‘is there going to be a problem?’ I said ‘no, there’s not going to be a problem,’” Ali’s wife can be heard saying in a video posted to Instagram. It has been viewed more than five million times as of Thursday morning.

Why it matters: American Airlines has dealt with its share of local controversy over the past few months. The Texas-based company announced in November that it will cut 27 routes from its lineup, including flights leaving Charlotte to Toledo and Champaign, Illinois, in April. That same month, over 20 attendants from American Airlines subsidiary Piedmont Airlines went on strike outside the Charlotte airport, saying Piedmont paid them 45% less than attendants with more mainstream carriers.

4. Timely Queen City Holiday Preview: Charlotte Gift Guide, Part 3

With Charlotte gift shops and restaurant certificates already under our (Santa) belt, the Charlotte Gift Guide keeps rolling today with our picks for the best bakeries for gifts and guests. Buy a box of cookies as a present, bring a pie to Christmas dinner or grab a gift card to let the people on your list choose their own oven-baked delights.

Pies so good, you have to pre-order them. Sunflour's Christmas menu boasts chocolate peppermint cake, a bourbon pecan pie and a pumpkin apple coffee cake. Orders can be picked up from any of the bakery’s four locations during the week of Christmas, but the stores are only taking orders on the holiday menu through Monday, Dec. 20. For a more interactive gift idea, try the “gingerbread people kit,” which includes eight pre-baked gingerbread humanoids ripe for decoration. Various mixed nuts, mini cheddar biscuits and a portion of pimento cheese provide savory options.

Spell out a holiday message to loved ones or guests with Suárez’s "message doughnuts," which come in every letter of the Latin alphabet. Just doing some quick math, “Happy Holidays” in doughnuts will run you $32.50 and “Merry Christmas” comes to a grand total of $35. If you want to save a few dollars, “Feliz Navidad” may be the least expensive option, costing $30 to be rendered in deep-fried hieroglyphics.
The bakery needs a heads-up of at least 48 hours to prepare its "message doughnuts," which can spell out a variety of holiday phrases.(Suárez Bakery)

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

Charlotte, NC

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