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Urban refugees

And other things that make me go hmmm


Call them urban refugees. A staggering 73,444 people fled Mecklenburg County for the surrounding counties between 2000 and 2005, according to an interactive map on The Charlotte Observer's Web page that tracks county-to-county migration data. The data, based on year-to-year changes in addresses on tax returns, came from the Internal Revenue Service.

The three top destinations were Union (22,926), Cabarrus (17,032), and York (10,746) counties. What does this mean? Purchasing a moving truck franchise may now be the best way to get rich quick in Mecklenburg.

Given the demographics of the surrounding counties, it is safe to say that the flight is decidedly white. It could also explain another demographic trend I've been puzzling over in this space for years -- the decline in the percentage of white children in our schools from the high 50s 10 years ago to the low 30s today. I've long thought that indicated the beginnings of the large-scale white flight other major cities have seen. While other demographic groups grow like gangbusters in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the number of white kids, which fluctuates slightly on an annual basis, has remained virtually unchanged for over five years. Meanwhile, the numbers of white kids in schools in surrounding counties grows by thousands every year.

We'll have a better idea of what is going on when the results of the next census come out. So far, the flight trend has been covered up by an influx of all kinds of people from across the country moving into the county, which has far outpaced the number moving out, according to census projections. But you've got to wonder who is coming and who is going. Is this a sign that those young, single "Creative Class" professionals we've spent so much money to attract ultimately head for the hills when they have kids? That Mecklenburg has become a place where those with the ability to move think twice about raising children? And could Union County be reaping the benefits of our recruitment efforts? Time will tell.

A social worker or a police chief?

Charlotte city staff has put together a profile of the kind of person the city council is looking for in its new police chief. Apparently, they want to hire a camera-friendly social worker. The profile says they want a "visionary leader committed to providing timely and responsive information," someone with the ability to "positively affect legislation that helps CMPD become more effective and better serve residents" and "a person with commitment to the development and enhancement of community policing."

Oddly enough, nowhere in there is the word "crime" or the actual combating of crime mentioned. That's something of a growing trend at city hall. Take the city's Transportation Action Plan, which doesn't mention congestion or combating traffic among its five main goals, and barely mentions them at all throughout the rest of the 36-page document. You see where that has gotten us.


The media and the exit pollsters did it again. The race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was just too close to call, they claimed last Tuesday around 5 p.m., while Pennsylvania primary voters were still voting. Wow, a razor's edge according to the exit polls, they carped. Uh, no. It wound up being a 10-point spread. It's part of a disturbing pattern of media exit poll idiocy that has gotten little attention this primary season. The first wave of polling, released while voters were still voting, has been so off in many primaries that it literally risked throwing elections.

Take March 4, for instance. The media reported in early exit polling that Ohio was too close to call, too. Obama also lost that one by 10 points. Obama won Texas by two points, they said, when he actually lost by four. "A virtual tie in Rhode Island!" they reported before it turned out that Obama actually lost by 18 points. On Super Tuesday, the media was off by 10 points or more in its early and leaked exit poll reporting in a third of the states it covered. Not a good sign for how this is going to go in November.

Really Confused

As the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board agonized over the ongoing test score gaps between different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups of students last week, board member George Dunlap admitted he has no idea what the schools are doing to make some groups of kids succeed while others fail. But he was certain the schools were somehow to blame. Other school board members agreed, a baffling admission from a group of people who insist in their annual budgetary guilt trip that if the county doesn't give them additional money beyond inflation and enrollment growth, children will be left behind and it will be the taxpayers' fault. Now we learn that the school board has no idea why some kids get left behind. So what was all that extra money for? Perhaps we should withhold rapidly escalating funding increases until they figure it out.

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