By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy last day of May, Charlotte! Are you ready to rumble? Stakeholders in the Queen City are set to use the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center as a wrestling wring as City Council looks to approve a proposed $3.2 billion budget and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools seeks to iron out its dispute with Mecklenburg County in building on its own budget.
This Tuesday, May 31 Roundup also covers a pair of fatal shootings that took place on Memorial Day in Charlotte before recapping the Hurricanes' 6-2 loss against the New York Rangers that same day, ending the Carolina hockey team's 14-game run at the Stanley Cup playoffs. Keeping the Charlotte Area Transit System in check, we also take a look at ridership numbers on the city's streetcar route amid efforts to expand.
1. Fatal Memorial Day shootings: Man dies with officers on scene at drag race; 3rd shooting at apartment complex this month
What happened: Officers are investigating two unrelated shootings that resulted in deaths along an impromptu drag racing track on Central Avenue as well as Granite Pointe Apartment Homes, which has witnessed three shootings over the past month. Police have yet to release names in either of Monday's incidents.
Granite Pointe shooting: CMPD officers found a man suffering from gunshot wounds while responding to a call about a shooting in the 1000 block of Deep Rock Circle around 11 p.m. Monday. Officers attempted to intervene with medical care, but the victim soon died from the bullet that had entered his chest. In hopes of finding the suspect and identifying a motive, Charlotte's police department is asking Granite Pointe neighbors to turn over footage from Ring cameras or other doorbell surveillance devices, per WBTV.
The news comes less than four weeks after the CMPD started investigating a homicide at Granite Pointe on May 8 after police responded to another shooting without naming a suspect. On May 17, police again found themselves at the residential development after a nine-year-old and two others sustained gunshot wounds.
Drag race shooting: Monday's second fatal shooting took place within an hour of the first after police arrived in the 5000 block of Central Avenue to respond to reports of drag racing. Citing an apparent "drag racing disturbance," CMPD officers arrived on Central near the intersection with Sharon Amity Road at 11:41 p.m.
Few other details are available about what transpired next, but officers said shots rang out across the street from the area where they had stopped and, upon making their way over, found an adult man who had been shot. The victim died before emergency crews could arrive and it is unknown if he was involved in the racing taking place on Central Avenue.
2. Budget battles: Charlotte City Council looks to approve $3.2B bundle as CMS remains locked against Mecklenburg County
What's happening: Tuesday's Charlotte City Council business meeting could end with city employees toiling for higher wages as an agenda shows the governing body will put a proposed $3.2 billion budget that will raise some staff members' salaries by over 8% to a vote.
Do Charlotteans want it? Charlotte community activist Kass Ottley, representing Charlotte City Workers Chapter of UE Local 150, praised some aspects of the raises at the council's public listening session on May 9, WBTV reported. Other residents who attended the hearing, however, expressed consternation about Charlotte's Strategic Energy Action Plan, a facet of the budget that earmarks $4.5 million for building sustainability and $1.45 million for electric vehicle charging stations, among others.
Readers can watch deliberations live when the meeting airs tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Mecklenburg County's GOV Channel.
Latest on CMS ask: Charlotte residents are also going to be keeping an eye on Mecklenburg County's $2.1 billion budget proposal to see if the board of county commissioners will inject it with an additional $578 million at the request of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. A final vote on the fiscal year 2023 budget is expected at the commissioners' next budget public policy meeting, on June 14.
Prior to that, commissioners like Susan Rodriguez-McDowell are likely to appeal to the now nine-member body to grant the district closer to its initial request to commissioners, a $40 million increase over 2021's ask to boost teachers' pay. According to WBTV, the county will not be hosting any additional public hearings to collect input on the county's fiscal forecast, but readers can still sound off using this form.
3. Undesirable streetcar: Can CATS expand Gold Line route given low ridership, staffing?
As Charlotte's sets its sights on sights on cutting carbon in favor of electric transportation,, somewhat uncertain is the expansion of the Charlotte Area Transit System's CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar, a 21/7 (that's 5 to 2 a.m. daily) that currently operates for free. As the streetcar expands past its current lineup of 17 stops, the transit network intends to implement a $2.20 fee but that expansion is in question.
CATS introduced its "fleet of five modern streetcar vehicles" on Aug. 30 of 2021 and WFAE reported within a month that the commuter census was lower than expected after the first two days brought a total of 2,566 passengers, a far cry form the daily ridership figure of 4,100 that CATS anticipated. Less than six months later, CATS caught Charlotte headlines when 21-year-old Darion Dru Thavychith, a resident of the Queen City, shot and killed 43-year-old Ethan Rivera while Rivera was behind the wheel of a CATS bus in February.
That incident and other violent engagements between riders and drivers have led to staff shortages at the transportation system, an issue that could trap the trolley in its current route spanning Plaza Midwood to Johnson C. Smith University.
4. Hurricanes humbled: Franchise first in 6-2 Rangers loss ends season for Carolina hockey team
After forcing a seventh game in two consecutive rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes will need to hang up their skates until next season due to a crushing 6-2 defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers on Monday. The Memorial Day match at PNC Arena saw the Rangers close the Canes' 3-2 lead after the Rangers took a 5-2 win against their southern-hailing competitors in game six on Saturday.
The Hurricanes' goals in the weekend game were handled by defenseman Brady Skjei and centerman Vincent Trobcheck, the latter of whom also landed a notch on Monday. Assisting him there was left wing Max Domi.
Even though the Canes couldn't land the puck frequently enough, Monday's bout did result in a first for the 50-year-old franchise, per NHL.com: the team's debut home loss during the last game of a playoff run. Canes coach Rod Brind'Amour could have dragged a stone tablet onto the sidelines in the third quarter to carve an "L" next to May 31, 2022 given the Rangers' 5-1 lead, but Domi slackened the score disparity with minutes remaining. Jordan Staal, a captain for the Canes, called Monday's game "an unfortunate way to end the series" and "season."