A searchable audio archive from the 2013-2016 legislative sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly.

searching for

Reliance on Information Posted The information presented on or through the website is made available solely for general information purposes. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such materials by you or any other visitor to the Website, or by anyone who may be informed of any of its contents. Please see our Terms of Use for more information.

Senate | June 15, 2016 | Press Room | Curtis Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File


[INAUDIBLE] [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO]. I'm happy to tell jokes while we're waiting. I'm not sure that'll help Mark a little bit there, what's left of him. >> [LAUGH] [SOUND]. >> We're just waiting on a couple more [BLANK_AUDIO]. [BLANK_AUDIO]. [BLANK_AUDIO]. [BLANK_AUDIO]. [BLANK_AUDIO]. [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO]. All right.

Apparently I was asked to start, if you hand me a microphone so we're here talking about house bill 954, brilliant bill offered by myself, which overwhelmingly passed the house after passing both the transportation committee and appropriations committee received the 81 to 27 vote, in affirmative out of the house, two weeks ago tomorrow. It was a bipartisan support, democrats and republicans were really pleased with the activities, it is the number one issue in the late Norman community. Which includes the four Northern towns and which I include [INAUDIBLE] Northern County, I guess it's the Southern town of Iredell county, so with that being said we appreciate you by being here, we have we have human interdiction got here >> [INAUDIBLE] >> We've got everybody from Henderson Town Commissioners, Charles Gainyard/g. >> Let's just go around the room. >> Charles Gainyard/g Henderson Town Commissioner, Jim Pocket, Mecklenberg County Commissioner District One, [INAUDIBLE] Brian Is a Davidson commissioner you may approach you're not, are you? Brad Captain of Davidson, Debra Conrad one of my great colleagues here at Forsyth County, Senator David Curtis, Danny Philips who mayor for Huntersville , Jeff Tart/g who needs no introduction, John Aneralla the mayor of Huntersville John Hetward, who is the leader of the I-77 Business Plan Group, Greg Wallace who is a member of that organization, Dan Boone, Huntersville commissioner, Bill Russell, unfortunately Carolina Gamecock fan. We will not try to hold that against him too much but also [UNKNOWN] on the chamber. Kurt Naas who has been instrumental in this process and Mitchel [INAUDIBLE] down there at the end, so we appreciate everyone being here, we appreciate the efforts and with that I will pass it off to my good friend in college, senator Tart. >> Thanks [INAUDIBLE], I think the big thing that or the point to make today is we're here to express and see the support that we've among the elected in North Mecklenburg County Be to terminate and cancel the Cintra I 77 Mobility Partners just think for a minute, we actually did this yesterday afternoon. Part of the reason cuz we know the senate transportation committee is meeting as we speak, and this bill has been assigned there and we need it to be heard and then brought to the floor for a vote. These folks who are all working folks like most of us, took time off at the last minute to dry two and a half hours for about a 20 minute exercise today to share and express their view and the need to kill this bill. What you really need to understand as well, a couple points one is the timeline and what's happened around this bill. This just makes you want to kind of do an [INAUDIBLE] and scratch your head and go, things that make you go mh, and June 2014 I made a formal request to the NCDOT claim to have an independent audit and review of this contract, we got a formal notice back from the secretary of NCDOT at the time he said no thank you, not necessary, not needed, we got this covered. And that article run in Charlotte Observers, the notes of both conversations, if you fast forward then into December the contract, the financial close was scheduled to occur I think on the 26th late January of next year, and so we had made a request in December, why don't we just take a 90 day pause, let's go do an independent review and understand really what's in this contract. Not only did they stage the schedule of the end of January. They accelerated the signing and signed it two weeks after the, notice they did it in December. The irony of that is by that action it locked in the contract moving forward and they were unable to finish the contract after signing until this summer, which a little mind boggling. So, we had plenty of time to do it but they continued to ignore the requests of all the electives to have that done. Moving further in the timeline, then we. We announced in the fall, that they were going to start the actual construction and this is in 2015 we are going to start the construction of this project in the spring. About four to six weeks later, they came back and noted that actually there's gonna need to be a project delay for whatever reasons and it's gonna be the summer. So at that point when they announced the second delay and it's still in it's late fall that were on the calendar. We announced that we're gonna file a bill they define/g the project. Now, it was two weeks after that, the following Monday of that fall/g, they started putting out orange cones, to accelerate the project. From a project they had announced said is going to be a six month delay. How all this shuffling goes on? I don't know. The reason we find this at this point today I believe, is a classic example of rational choice theory. You need to look it up, it's from lectures I took from Mark's [INAUDIBLE] at Kellogg on contract negotiation.

And this is an issue where you're making what you think [INAUDIBLE] A very sound logical decision of each decision point. But when you get to the end you realize you've got a very irrational decision. We're no longer talking to the facts, crazy numbers are being thrown about. And what you find is they can't let go of it. Emotionally they're bought in and holding on and can't admit this is an absolutely flawed contract. And publicly, I think everybody agrees with it. Why in the world we can't address it before it becomes problematic, is mind boggling from my perspective. With that, one of the last things I will share as we talk about it, is the things that have surfaced and come out once we started digging into the contract. And looking at it. It is basically being complicit by omission. The things they did not tell us it's in the contract that for lack of any other way to describe it or absurd. That we would concur and execute the contract like this in the state North Carolina. With that what I'm going to do is turn it over to my colleague Senator Curtis. >> David, thank you I'm gonna make a few quick points about the contract then I wanna talk a little bit about the meeting held last week, where two mayors came up to lobby for the contract. We feel like the DoT estimates of the cost to cancel the contract are greatly exaggerated. We feel like to toll lane will not provide any help with the congestion problems. Which is the whole idea behind the toll lanes. The toll lane body basically admits that the only way toll lanes can be successful is for the free lanes to be totally congested. And so they indirectly admit that the toll lanes will not stop the congestion. The local residents are clearly opposed to the contract an the way the contract is set up backloads a lot of the debt. The principle on the debt is gonna increase As time goes by not decrease as normal loan would. And so if they default and we have to deal with it 10 years down the road, the cost is gonna be much higher that it will we right now. Now the meeting last week where the two mayors came to lobby for the contract, they made two arguments. The first argument was that people don't really understand the contract. If the people that oppose the contract understood the negative consequences of cancelling, then they would not oppose this contract. And my response is, the folks here have studied this contract for hundreds of hours and discussed the ramifications of cancelling it. And almost unanimously have agreed that it'd be better to cancel the contract than to leave it in effect. The consequences of not cancelling is worse than the effects of cancelling. And the second point they made was that there is not a tremendous opposition to the contract. But there's a small vocal minority that support cancelling the contract. And that's simply not the case. All of the polls have showed 80% to 90% support of cancelling the contract. One of the [INAUDIBLE] is that if an elected official does not do what the voters want, that he can be removed from office. And that is what is happening now with this issue. The current Huntersville mayor was elected in great part because the former mayor supported the toll contract. Last night the Cornelius City Council asked for the resignation of the Cornelius mayor. And last night the Davidson City Council censured their mayor. The local officials doing everything they can do to cancel the contract. But unfortunately only the legislature has that power. So I'm very hopeful that the senate will follow the lead of the house and cancel this contract and do what senator Tart, senator Brock and I hope to happen because we like there is tremendous support for cancelling contract in our district. Thank you. [BLANK_AUDIO]>> I will tell you about the economic impact and what's it's gonna have in our region and area. In our area we lost manufacturing jobs during the recession any where else in the country, and you're looking at a location and one of the key to to business is location, location, location. We're within 500 miles of 50% of the United States population. This is a great location to have manufacturing, great location have distribution, we already have that in our area. We put this tow line which is only one, only two south connectors,

95 being the other one. going up and down the East Coast, it's imperative that we have a free and open lane. Now we can get into the actual physical aspects of it that this was Interstate built on top of a ridge, because we floated the Catabwa river to make Lake Norman. There's no other wet room to go. In fact with additional two lane there's not enough room to put any tractor trailers on those two lanes. From my understanding of what I've read, so with that we're not gonna be able to move business. Now I have [INAUDIBLE] planned my district and this is a good cursor of what the economy will do in the next six to 18 months, and if our trucks are't moving which means that our businesses aren't producing here in our region, they're gonna go somewhere else.They're gonna find somewhere where it's cheaper and alternative. When you're looking at the cost up to $20 per day for people to move. That's a very, very, very, high tax. And it's something that we that we can't afford and our businesses can't afford. And it would mean major economic losses for our area. >> Thanks senator. Just as a side bar. Representative Bradford will join us. And John as most of you may know has been in [INAUDIBLE] with Charlie and I working on this legislation. So I appreciate all your efforts. >> Thank you. All right mayor >> Good morning I'm John [INAUDIBLE] mayor of Huntersville and Doctor Curtis I thought was my personality that caused me to win that race so. >> [LAUGH] >> I'm a little disappointed, Huntersville's the 17th largest, one of the fastest growing towns in North Carolina with 57,000 people and going tens of thousands more over the next few years. We have a severe traffic problem and despite this terrible traffic in my six months as mayor I've met hundreds and hundreds of people, and an overwhelming number ask me can you council the contract. For many the reasons are obvious, many of them were already stated today especially the fifth year when I call the right away give away to a foreign company. An additional antidote is unfortunately recently I had to go to the emergency room with my wife the other day, and she's fine, once we assessed that she was okay immediately the conversation turned to can you cancel the toll contract. So you have to understand my wife's in the bed we have nurses and doctors and everybody is saying can you cancel the contract. Even as we walked out of the emergency room a gentleman was sitting there with his son and are you mayor, yes I'm mayor, can you cancel that contract? I talked to all my friends at church, my business people, everybody in our area for the most part is against this contract, and obviously this is contrary to picture that was presented last week to Senator Berger by colleagues from Davidson and Cornelius. I met with Senator Berger yesterday, handed him a letter signed by our town commissioners reiterating Huntersville's commitment to cancelling the I77 contract. As I know Davidson and Cornelius yesterday we reiterated there unanimous support of cancelling the contract. This contract is such a terrible contract we are still waiting over three months for NCDOT to respond to our concerns we submitted in early March. It's a tough contract to defend, and finally I often hear from procyntrus/g supporters that cancelling this contract would be unprecedented in North Carolina and unfortunately it's not. Just two years ago after five years of development spending over $85 million North Carolina department of revenue cancelled the contract with the software developer only a few weeks before going live. They ended up paying an additional $5 million to cancel everything and clear it all out. Of course no one area in the state paid the price for that poorly executed contract. So needless to say this is a big issue in our area it's an overwhelming support for cancelling this contract, and we hope that the senate would give us a vote. And now I would like to turn this over to John [INAUDIBLE] will give you a little bit of a business perspective, thank you. >> Good morning. I guess I really speak from the heart from the business community as a whole, and from the citizens. And what's frustrating to us is that it's not close and I think it speaks a lot to look at the number of people that drove two and a half hours at the last minute to state the point that it is a solemnly unanimous decision. When we have unanimous decision the council in Cornelius, a unanimous

decision the council in Davidson, and unanimous decision the council Huntersville. It's hard to say that there's a lot on the other side. I think the reason that obviously this aggravates us and frustrates us as a community gets to the heart of one thing, it's a quality of life. It's a quality of life when you are clogged up to get your kids to school. It's a quality of life when you are clogged up to get to the office. That everything that you do when you plan throughout your day you have to count for how long it will take you to drive that two miles. That's right, it's two miles. There's a section. People don't understand I'm an engineer by degree and I not against managed lanes. But this is a mismanagement misapplication of managed lanes because we have no alternative. The lake does not have enough bridges We can't cross that lake. And so we're struggling and we have to deal and live with that. We have congestion seven days a week. This is not a commuter problem to Charlotte that some people want you to believe. This is not a commuter problem to Charlotte. This is a problem between Exit 23 and 36. Because once you get past 20.6 in the morning you can get all the way down to Charlotte all the way to 85. And it frustrates people me, us when you think it's just a commuter problem. Cross the interstate Saturday at 2 o'clock in the afternoon jammed solid both ways. Seven days a week. I'm sure the facts of how many people are against, we've elected or influenced the elections of everybody, it is the talk in town I own apparel processing company and I can talk continually to many many businesses. And it is the topic of conversation throughout the community. When we talk to senators and representatives their biggest question is this, will it affect the money in my district? An HP954 takes that pot of money that the state is already spending to pay the penalty. And we're gonna pay the penalty for a contract that we weren't a part of that we're gonna get stuck with the penalty. But that is even better than if we get this contract and we create ourselves a financial hurdle. So my answer to the representatives when they ask the question to the senators when they ask that question is, the best day to cancel this contract today. And the next best day it tomorrow. While it won't affect the districts today, many here would agree with me that in 5 to 7 or 10 years when the debt has been armotised And because it's a major North-South Oral/g fair/g for the state of North Carolina and interstate commerce is important to the state of North Carolina, it will have to be gibfixed/g and it will cost a lot more money at that time. So I'm here today, to ask Senator Berger, to ask Senator Raven. Thank them for being able to meet with us and [INAUDIBLE] and let this go through a vote. We feel confident that when we meet with the Senators and the Representatives obviously in the house, it was 81 to 27. We feel it could be very similar in the Senate, but we ask Senator Raven and Senator Berger to understand our plight. But most importantly understand that that's the right decision for the state of North Carolina. I do wanna quote one thing when we said that the Davidson mayor was censored, we wanna be accurate the Davidson mayor was not censored. However it was passed again unanimously and some significant verbal comments followed regarding his action. Actions so I did wanna pull that up. The last thing I laughed because those mayors made a comment that 100 or 200 people is responsible for all this, and it's really a small group. I thought about that. They're kind of right. Because 100 or 200 people educated 200,000 people of how bad this bill is. And there's 81 of them in this building that understand that, and I just know there's a lot of senators too. So from the community, from the heart, speaking for all of us, we're asking the Senate Transportation Bill Committee to help get this through and get us to [INAUDIBLE]. >> Senator Tart and I are happy to answer any questions. >> [INAUDIBLE] for something else we'll direct it to those with a little more detailed background. >> Is there a timeline? What happens next? How do you push this forward?

>> Well as you know the House passed the bill two weeks ago in a very overwhelming majority. I'm sorry, go ahead. >> I just wanna say I'm sure this, and all my discussions, I've got enough votes to pass this bill if we can get it to the floor. I put it on Facebook without stating who and obviously everybody has the opportunity to change their mind, so and this is a couple of week ago. So really it's the question of getting a calendar but as you all know about the process, [INAUDIBLE] is the first step. The second is actually arranging enough time in the committee to be heard. And if that's done, we'd probably take it to the floor. I know there's some things that need to be tweaked, we've talked about it. I'm inclined not to, mainly because of the time-frame. Run it as is that way we don't have to go to a concurrence on the House. And then we can change the few tweaks later. >> Have you talked to Senator Berger recently? >> Not in the last hour or so, no. >> Okay, have you talked to him in the last week? >> Last time we talked on this topic was the day after the Mayor's were here. And the Mayor's clearly did not help our case. They were basically refuting everything we had been prepping for the last two or three Few weeks and you would find if you had access to those notes and minutes, this group completes or refutes, everything goes to mayor is delivered to Berger. So it complicates the matter because I think what Senator Rabin and Senator Berger are hearing are part of the community is for and part and against and therefore it's already on the way, why disturb it? But that's clearly not the case there was recent poll that was online. It's 95% running in favor of cancelling the project. Anybody saying anything differently is just being completely disingenuous. >> I have a question, you were talking about the decision making process, I didn't understand any of that but- >> Charlie was sending me notes Dave Charlie was sending me notes Dave. >> All right, what you said was that people are so entrenched essentially around the decision. The decision no longer makes any sense. Who is they? >> They would be first and foremost any CDOT, and legislators do not have the time, I think, to really understand all the new and the real problems with it and that's what we've been trying to do over the last couple of months. >> Dave, to me I think the best example of that is, NC DOT is not even defending the contract, and keep in mind there is four manage lane projects in Mecklenburg County. The other three, NC DOT is planning on running themselves. Because I think that's a tacit acknowledgement, I'm sure secretary Tennyson would deny it, that the p3 model doesn't work. So to some degree they got their hand caught in the cookie jar, now they don't know how to get out without getting blamed. >> Is there any oversight of the NC DOT in the legislature branch? >> One of the things that I think this is short of what we're doing and the reality is they're the executive branch, they're there to execute laws. And when this law was passed in 2012, they were tasked to execute that law. So short of this legislation, one of the things I think we have to look at, That's been brought to light by this situation is, any state contract that exceeds $500 million or some number, needs to come back to legislative body for approval because I think, had that happened we wouldn't be in this situation. We offered up a policy, we offered up a plan in 2012, Jeff and I were not here Here at the time, but when the bill passed, and then it goes off and gets negotiated with the contract, and, we're left with no inputs, say advising, consent or anything. I thing that's a real problem not only for this project, but for all major contracts across the state. >> As a general rule we don't oversee individual Restart your project though. Are there open lines of communications in anyway with the governors so that there can be a mediation at this point? >> The governor certainly has the right at any time he wants to cancel his contract, the NC DOT can cancel it the minute we get to walk out of this meeting. >> I'm trying to ask if you're I think that Senator Tart now had numerous conversations for the governor and the governor's office. I think it would be irresponsible for us to rely on confidential conversations that he had with the governor, he knows our position. >> When was the last time you talked to him? [BLANK-AUDIO]. >> Danny Spenser Meckenberg county and also this is a side bar, Meckenberg county commission is a resolution against this, there's going to be one from the Iredell commissioners coming as well. >> The Meckenberg county commission has voted on this at least three times. unanimously. That's representing 1 million people. We're the kind of commission made of 6 democrats, 3 republicans, 3 women, 4 African Americans. It is the most diverse group that I know of in North Carolina, and has formally said this is a bad idea. They are representing a million people.

But the one thing that I think is missing So we talk about the cost of canceling etc. I'm a business man. I'm in the manufacturing sector so I understand the manufacturing impact of this probably better than most. But the fact is, that over the 50 years of this contract $3.5 to $4 billion, would that be we'll be taken out of the local economy in toll, and sent to [INAUDIBLE] the home office of central. And those of us who represent the, who are actively looking to spur economic development in and around the Charlotte region understand that when you pull four billion dollars out of the local economy that is not a wise thing to do. That's money that could be captured by the state of North Carolina, that doesn't talk to the $10 billion in lost potential economic development. It is literally the amount of money paid in tolls to this company, so when we talk about the cost of getting out I don't want anybody to miss the cost of staying in, and at some point we've to recognize that this is just not a feasible plan, not only does it rob us of that revenue it also does have about a 10 billion dollar that comes from a person of transportation whose actively built at the study of compressed economic development. So again this is not just a North Mecklenberg issue, the Mecklenberg county commission represents roughly one tenth of the state of North Carolina by the way and also uniformly say this is a bad idea and ask the council, so thank you. >> Why we taking one more question, if there's on cuz I know the [INAUDIBLE] waiting coming behind us, any others? >> Thank you all for your time. >> Thank you. [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK-AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO]