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NBA Commissioner David Stern, who's been involved in a petty media war with Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, picked a committee to look into the Hornets' request for permission to move to New Orleans. Stern said he had no preference whatsoever in the matter, although reporters noted he stepped to the podium staggering drunk and wearing a teal and purple Mardi Gras costume, a feathered headdress, and 20 strands of colored plastic beads around his neck.

Stories of the week, according to Charlotte media: New Panthers coach; Hornets' attempt to move to New Orleans; minority businesses and city council; local officials' retreats.

What we heard people talking about the most: Vice squad guy who fired his gun while fighting with a transvestite in his car; Harris-Teeter shafting local bakers (see Tricia Childress' story on this); the school bus driver who was arrested at a live sex show; the Hornets' pending move; Enron; and, as always, traffic.

New head cat: After losing former Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy to Indianapolis, and never being seriously considered by Florida's Steve Spurrier, the Carolina Panthers hired respected NY Giants defensive coordinator John Fox as the team's new head coach. Everyone, of course, pretended he was the one they'd wanted all along.

More than just contractors' jobs on the line: City government remained enmeshed in a nasty dispute with many in the black community who are infuriated by council's decision to end its program to help minority- and women-owned businesses. Chastised councilmembers say they'll look into ways to help those businesses without leaving themselves open to lawsuits. Or to defeat in the next election.

The Greatest Show On the Square: Three topless women painted as tigers, and crouching in a cage downtown, protested the Ringling Bros. Circus' treatment of animals. Meanwhile, a crowd of bankers nearby made a silly attempt to disguise themselves as bowls of milk. No arrests were made.

The Greatest Show In Hickory: A Charlotte school bus driver was arrested for soliciting for sex at a Hickory nightclub that was hosting a live sex show. A school spokesperson said, "Looking back, we're glad we didn't go along with her idea for drawn shades and muted lighting on her bus."

K-Mart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving many people with fond nostalgic memories of the good old days when they bought cheap junk and waited in long, slow check-out lines.

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