by Bob Geary
Interesting story in the Charlotte Observer about the Queen City's new budget. Check it out: Money for infrastructure investments in underdeveloped parts of Charlotte. (Is there a Southeast Raleigh analogue?) And a plan to offer insurance benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. (Raleigh, so far, has ducked this one.)
Thus, in Charlotte:
The city would spend $119 million to continue building a streetcar line through uptown. The first 1.5 miles is expected to open mid-decade. This project would extend both ends of that starter line past Presbyterian Hospital and to Johnson C. Smith University.
How about a streetcar line out New Bern Avenue, serving St. Aug's and WakeMed?
Also, in Charlotte:
And for the first time, the city has proposed offering health benefits to same-sex partners. City Attorney Bob Hagemann said the city was exploring whether that would be legal after N.C. voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only civil union recognized in the state.
Regardless of Amendment 1, it's my understanding that public employers can continue to offer benefits to same-sex partners by simply making such benefits available to all unmarried employees and any other person they designate. That designated person would pay for the benefits, by the way, so there would be no additional expense to the city by offering them.
This is my understanding of what Amendment 1 allows, I should add, because House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, the author of Amendment 1, said that's how it could be done while he was campaigning for passage.