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WCNC Charlotte's Flashpoint
Each week, WCNC Charlotte's Ben Thompson moderates a conversation with newsmakers and community leaders about politics in Charlotte - and across North Carolina and South Carolina.
23 hours ago
Election fraud myths discussed -Flashpoint April 11, 2021
This week, Flashpoint's Ben Thompson sits down with a Winthrop professor who debunks myths about widespread elections fraud. Despite a long list of proposals in state capitols promising to secure our elections, the U.S. doesn't have a problem with election fraud, according to Dr. Scott Huffmon. "This is a solution that can't quite find the real problem," said Huffmon, professor of politics at Winthrop University. Huffmon also serves as the director of the Center for Public Opinion & Policy Research and the Winthrop Poll initiative. "Our elections are secure," he said. All of this and more online: https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/politics/flashpoint/flashpoint-elections-voting-rights-north-carolina-south-carolina-wcnc-politics-elections/275-0d5ebf43-c9aa-4a2e-ad64-44ee8fe8413b
Apr 4, 2021
Flashpoint April 4, 2021 - Talking transit with Sec. Buttigieg and Charlotte leaders
Ben Thompson goes one-on-one with US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg about Charlotte's 2040 plan, possibilities of expanding rail, and more. PLUS: Charlotte city leaders discuss the city's plans for transit and what could come. These stories and more, online: https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/politics/flashpoint/flashpoint-politics-charlotte-transit/275-f31da8b9-e7db-48a0-8603-622f0808ff6d
Mar 28, 2021
A look at COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County, one year later
As restaurants, stores and museums reopen at near-normal capacity limits across North Carolina, public health officials are displaying a cautious optimism. Dr. Raynard Washington, the deputy director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department, said his office continues to closely watch the numbers. There's been a recent plateau in downward progress. In the meantime, the county is getting more vaccines than expected from the state, and it's moving through prioritization groups at a quicker pace. At this rate, the vaccine will available to all adults in Mecklenburg County by the end of April, Washington estimates. The full story, and much more, is online: https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/politics/flashpoint/flashpoint-covid-optimism-charlotte-public-health/275-c3a399ca-07fa-4988-a257-e9a221428e07
Mar 21, 2021
City leaders split over Charlotte's growth plan
Some Charlotte Democrats are pushing for changes with the city's Future 2040 plan, which supporters say will make the Queen City more equitable, connected and affordable. The plan also tackles some of the city's ongoing problems, such as affordable housing, heavy traffic and long commute times. Policy 2.1, under the Neighborhood Diversity & Inclusion section, calls for allowing "duplex and triplex housing units on all lots where single-family housing is allowed." Currently, 84% of Charlotte is zoned for single-family housing. "We have an equity issue," said Democrat Sam Spencer, who is chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission. Spencer says the 2040 plan strengthens struggling neighborhoods. "This doesn't eliminate single-family zoning," Spencer said. "If you're a small-time developer, or a homeowner, or a landowner, you get the choice of what kind of housing types you want to build in your neighborhood." MORE: https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/politics/flashpoint/charlotte-city-leaders-future-2040-growth-plan-affordable-housing-crisis-solution/275-7384c557-8c4e-4cd0-850e-e06dabb46629
Mar 6, 2021
Charlotte's affordable housing crisis: Should the city change its zoning laws?
Charlotte's affordable housing crisis is nothing new, and now city leaders are addressing proposals that could bring solutions to people in need. First, Ben Thompson is joined by Taiwo Jaiyeoba, assistant city manager and chief city planner, to discuss the Charlotte 2040 plan. Next, City Councilman Tariq Bokhari discusses a proposal to add more duplexes and triplexes in the city and the elimination of exclusive zoning for single-family housing. Bokhari also shares his concerns over the Charlotte 2040 plan. Our third guest this week is the new chairwoman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Dr. Bobby Richardson. She's the first African-American woman to hold the position, and talks about where the Democratic party is headed the next two years as they try to gain more representation in the 2022 elections.
Mar 3, 2021
The hidden cost of the COVID-19 pandemic
On this week's FlashPOINT, we're looking at Charlotte's affordable housing crisis and the hidden cost of the coronavirus pandemic. There was nearly 1,000 evictions in the last few months of 2020 in Charlotte alone. These are folks who have fallen between the cracks despite the moratorium on evictions. Plus, we discuss efforts to make Charlotte more inclusive for LGBTQ citizens and protections local leaders are considering as the state's ban on local ordinances has expired.
Jan 29, 2021
2022 US Senate candidate Jeff Jackson
If you thought the new year would mean a break from partisan politics, think again! We start this week's show with North Carolina State Sen. Jeff Jackson, a Democrat from Charlotte, who tells us why he chose to run for U.S. Senate in 2022 and why now is the right time to make that announcement. Then we're joined by Charlotte City Councilmen Larken Egleston and Tariq Bokhari for a roundtable discussion about WCNC's report on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police still arresting low-level drug offenders despite the district attorney's decision to not pursue the cases. We also discuss how Charlotte's economy is faring one year after the state's first COVID-19 case. In case you hadn't heard, Charlotte received over 100 inquiries for the at-large city council seat. Egleston and Bokhari break down the process of getting a new councilmember and their plans for the future in the Queen City.
Dec 6, 2020
Is another non-discrimination law in Charlotte's future?
After focusing for months on the 2020 election and COVID-19 pandemic, this week's FlashPoint with Ben Thompson is all about Charlotte! Guests on this week's show include City Council members Larken Egleston and Tariq Bokhari. Topics on this week's program include Charlotte's biggest obstacles entering 2021, as well as renaming streets that are named after Confederate generals and white supremacists. Is the matter of renaming streets worth considering during the pandemic? In 2017, Charlotte and North Carolina became the epicenter of American politics with the controversial House Bill 2. When the bill was repealed, a section in the law barred local governments from enacting or amending non-discrimination ordinances regulating private businesses until Dec. 1, 2020. Now that the ban has expired, will Charlotte look to pass another non-discrimination ordinance? If so, how can they keep the city's desires from becoming another disaster that leads to state intervention? The Silver Line light rail extension has been the talk of Charlotte transportation plans for years. The proposal would create a new rail line from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Matthews on the southeast end of Independence Boulevard. But how would it be paid for? Larken and Tariq discuss the city's options and where they could go to find the money for the huge project.
Dec 3, 2020
FlashPoint Preview: Sunday, Dec. 6
After spending weeks focusing on the 2020 presidential election, this week's episode is all about Charlotte. Years after the Queen City's non-discrimination ordinance caused shockwaves across North Carolina and ultimately cost the state billions of dollars (and an NBA All-Star Game) will Charlotte move to create another non-discrimination ordinance? Charlotte City Council members Larken Egleston and Tariq Bokhari discuss how Charlotte can avoid another House Bill 2 disaster now that the bill's ban on local ordinances has expired. Plus, we take a look at the new transportation plan Charlotte leaders are hoping to approve and how it would be paid for. And speaking of getting around Charlotte, city leaders are considering changing the names of streets that are named after Confederate generals and white supremacists. Is this issue big enough to tackle in 2021?
Nov 8, 2020
The 2020 election is over: Where do we go from here?
Election Day is behind us and absentee ballots are still being counted in several states that could determine the final outcome of the presidency. On this week's show, Ben Thompson is joined by Michael Dickerson, director of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, who explains the absentee ballot counting process and what poll workers have to do in order to accurately count every vote. We also discuss how provisional ballots cast by those who requested an absentee ballot could impact the total count. Then we're joined by Davidson College political science professor Susan Roberts, who pulls out her crystal ball to predict where Democrats and Republicans go from here, what lessons can be learned from the 2020 election and how Democrats can pick up voters in Republican strongholds. Winthrop University political science professor Scott Huffmon then breaks down what we can learn from 2020 polling and if claims about inaccurate polls have a leg to stand on. Finally, Ben shares new information from the Department of Health and Human Services that shows us why COVID-19 won't "magically disappear" despite claims from President Donald Trump that we were turning a corner.
Nov 1, 2020
2020 Election Preview
We're now less than 3 days away from Election Day 2020 and the stakes couldn't be higher. Now that early voting has wrapped up, it's down to in-person voting and any remaining absentee ballots that will come through the mail. Ben Thompson is joined by Catawba College political science professor, Dr. Michael Bitzer, who breaks down voter turnout, record early voting and what we can expect after the election and why we won't have the "official" results for several days or weeks. Then we're joined by Winthrop University's Dr. Scott Huffmon, who has the inside track on the South Carolina Senate race between Lindsey Graham and Jaime Harrison. Dr. Huffmon also tells us what we can expect in South Carolina during the overall election. Dr. Susan Roberts, a political science professor at Davidson College, also joins the show to discuss the tight Senate race between Republican Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. Dr. Roberts also analyzes the race for North Carolina governor…
Oct 21, 2020
FlashPoint 2020 Election Preview Special Episode
We're less than 2 weeks until the 2020 election and all eyes are on the Carolinas, where President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are focusing their campaigns. On this special edition of FlashPoint, Fred Shropshire and Sarah French break down what's happening in our area as Election Day gets closer. Ben Thompson examines why North Carolina is so important to both candidates. And we get an idea of why so many campaign ads are featured on our TVs. Ashley Daley joins the show to recap Cal Cunningham's extramarital affair and questions about his credibility in North Carolina's Senate race. Then we head south of the state line where Jaime Harrison and Lindsey Graham are in an extremely tight Senate race. Plus, we explain the electoral college, why it exists and answer your questions about absentee ballots, mail-in voting and early voting in the Carolinas.
Oct 20, 2020
Why North Carolina matters so much in the 2020 election
We're less than a month away from the 2020 election and all eyes are on North Carolina, where President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are focusing their campaigns. But it goes far beyond the state level, with campaigns going so far as to target specific neighborhoods. Ben Thompson is joined by Michael Dickerson, the head of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, as they gear up for a busy early voting period and expected heavy voter turnout November 3. Plus, we hear from three election experts who tell us how to protect your vote and keep your ballot legitimate if you plan to vote absentee. Then, Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, joins the FlashPoint to break down just how competitive North Carolina is and he explains why the Tar Heel State is a microcosm of what we're seeing across the country when it comes to partisan alignment. Finally, an election attorney joins Ben to tell us why it could be mid-December before the president…
Sep 6, 2020
North Carolina election officials preparing for influx of absentee ballots
On this week's episode of FlashPoint on WCNC Charlotte, Ben Thompson is joined by former Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, who talks about what he's been up to lately, why he's backing Joe Biden in November's presidential election and if he'll ever return to politics. North Carolina voters are on track to set a record when it comes to absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ben is joined by the man responsible for making sure it goes smoothly, elections director for Mecklenburg County, Michael Dickerson, who breaks down the absentee ballot process and how election workers are preparing for an influx of voting by mail. During his interview, Dickerson also talks about the importance of poll workers and keeping them safe during the election. Join the conversation on social media! Follow Flashpoint on Twitter @FlashpointWCNC and tell us who you'd like to see on the show! Flashpoint airs every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. ET on WCNC Charlotte.
Aug 28, 2020
Reflecting on the RNC in CLT
The Republican National Convention is in the rearview mirror and the race to the White House is on! Ben Thompson is joined by North Carolina State Rep. Chaz Beasley and former Vice-Chairman of the NCGOP, Wayne King to discuss the RNC and they each make the case for their party's candidate in November's election. In Segment Two, Ben is joined by Dr. Micahel Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, who offers his analysis of the RNC, Trump's acceptance speech and an update on absentee ballots in North Carolina. In our third segment, WCNC Charlotte reporter Hunter Saenz discusses his experience covering the RNC in Charlotte and his exclusive access as part of the president's motorcade in Charlotte and at a speaking engagement outside Asheville, North Carolina. FlashPoint is where power and politics collide, airing every Sunday at 11 a.m. on WCNC Charlotte!
Aug 23, 2020
The Republican National Convention kicks off in Charlotte
It's finally here. The 2020 Republican National Convention has rolled into Charlotte and the 2020 presidential election is on! On this week's show, Ben Thompson is joined by Charlotte City Council members Larken Egleston and Tariq Bokhari to discuss the RNC and what it will look like compared to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Then, Egleston and Bokhari discuss multiple ethics complaints against Charlotte City Council members, including Bokhari himself. In our third segment, Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer analyzes the DNC, breaks down what it's like to teach during a pandemic and updates the influx of absentee ballot requests in North Carolina. Bitzer's analysis really drives home the point on how the Postal Service controversy could help swing the election in many states.
Aug 12, 2020
Absentee ballots, a blue wave and will Trump be in Charlotte for the RNC?
As North Carolina prepares for the 2020 election, the state has received well over 100,000 requests for mail-in ballots. That is five times where we were this same time in 2016. To discuss the tremendous increase across North Carolina, we're joined by Catawba College political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer. Bitzer digs into the data and tells Ben Thompson why the 2020 election could be determined by the U.S. Postal Service. Plus, Ben is joined by former Charlotte City Council Member LaWana Mayfield and former North Carolina Rep. Charles Jeter. Mayfield and Jeter discuss absentee voting and if Democrats are a little too cocky after early polls show a "blue wave" heading for the Tar Heel State. White House officials remain split on whether President Trump will actually be in Charlotte for the Republican National Convention. Ben tells us he's not convinced Trump will arrive in the Queen City. What about the panelists?
Aug 12, 2020
What will the RNC look like in Charlotte?
We're just a couple of weeks away from the Republican National Convention in Charlotte. And as changes seem to be made on a daily basis, we're still learning what the toned-down convention might look like in the Queen City. Ben Thompson is joined by Republican strategist Larry Sheehan, as well as Democrat strategist Douglas Wilson to discuss it. Plus, we're talking about the methods schools are using to prepare students, teachers and their families for an upcoming year unlike anything we've ever seen due to COVID-19. And the U.S. Census Bureau announced it will stop collecting field data one month earlier than anticipated. What kind of lasting impact could this have on marginalized communities and what could be done differently to increase participating in the Census?
Jul 23, 2020
Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston on the movement to defund police
As protests against racial injustice continue across America, there are louder calls to "defund the police." On this episode, Ben Thompson is joined by Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston to discuss the semantics and meaning behind defunding the police. Winston shares his thoughts on the movement, how police tactics should be changed and if defunding police is really "reform." Winston also explains why people in the Charlotte community who have been impacted by violent crime need to lend their credibility to those calling for change. Ben is also joined by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesman Rob Tufano to discuss how Charlotte's law enforcement division will fight violent crime in the future. Tufano also pleads for the community to join officers in helping stop violent crime in their neighborhoods as Charlotte is on pace for more homicides than 2019's tragic mark.
Jul 22, 2020
Reopen NC's Ashley Smith on why Roy Cooper should be impeached
Coronavirus continues to be the biggest headline nationwide and in the Carolinas. While the numbers aren't great for North Carolina, they're better than some of our neighbors, including North Carolina. Ben Thompson is joined by Ashley Smith of Reopen NC, the group pushing for Gov. Roy Cooper to be impeached and have businesses across the state back open. Smith explains why her group believes Cooper should be pushed out and why it's not worth shutting down the state's economy in the name of safety. Ben is also joined by State Rep. Chaz Beasley and former Union County Republican Chair Dan Barry to discuss the inconsistencies in the state's reopening plan. Plus, we discuss what led to the RNC leaving Charlotte for Florida and how state leaders should tackle back to school plans or if they should leave it up to individual districts. FlashPoint airs every Sunday at 11 a.m. on WCNC Charlotte.
Jul 22, 2020
Why the Republican National Convention left Charlotte
The COVID-19 pandemic has been going for nearly six months. Ben Thompson is joined by Congresswoman Alma Adams, who says the federal government's response to COVID-19 was insufficient. Adams also discusses what could be done to help people in North Carolina and nationwide recover. During her interview, Adams talks about protests for social justice during the pandemic and what law enforcement and police can do to safely protect communities, plus we touch on the renaming of military bases named after Confederate generals, including Fort Bragg in North Carolina. We're also joined by Charlotte leaders Tariq Scott Bokhari and Larken Eggleston to break down Mecklenburg County's response to coronavirus and if the right steps have been taking during the pandemic. And our panel discusses how much responsibility lies with state leaders, including Governor Roy Cooper, on the balance of safely reopening the state when it came to the now-gone Republican National Convention.