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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bob Johnson Is Broke? Or Just Charlotte Backlash Rumors?

Is BET Founder and former Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson really broke or is this just a rumor created by angry Charlotte Officials and fed to Daily Beast writers because Johnson dared to expose the city's extreme Racism to the world?

I am a native New Yorker (Brooklyn) who currently resides in Charlotte, NC home of the Bobcats.

I don't believe Mr. Robert L. Johnson is in fact "going broke" for a number of reasons.

(I'm not making excuses, just providing facts.)

You see Charlotte has an extensive history of Racism.

Racial Inequality is intricately and deeply woven into Charlotte's Business world, Educational, Employment, Health Care and Legal systems.

The KKK organization has a long history in this city and its clutches are still active sans wearing White Sheets.

This includes Charlotte's completely Segregated Public School system.

As a Minority resident in this city you either intentionally ignore Charlotte's extreme Racism for survival purposes, pretend it no longer exists, speak up about it at your own peril or move.

For the record just because Charlotte currently has a Black Mayor (Anthony "Uncle" Foxx) doesn't account for any real Black Leadership.

Mayor Foxx is just a token who carries out the bidding of Charlotte's White, Good 'Ole boy system.

Who can we thank for all of this "loveliness"?

North Carolina Democrats!

That's right! North Carolina's Divisive, KKK-dominated Democratic Party.

(Includes Jim Crow, Racially-Segregated Schools)

Which is why I refuse to ever cast a Straight Ticket Vote for Democrats while residing in this state.

To any Minority person reading this blog post who thinks I'm exaggerating I'll defend what I've written with this statement:

Until you actually live (NOT Visit) in Charlotte, NC you will NEVER understand the EXTREME level of Racial Discrimination which exists here.

Contrary to any lies or rumors, Bob Johnson wasn't a distant, inactive NBA franchise owner.

Instead Charlotte's White establishment simply chose to intentionally NOT support the Bobcats because the team's owner was a Black man.

Its the stinking truth whether anyone wishes to admit it or not!

Charlotte's former NBA team owner George Shinn (Charlotte Hornets) mismanaged the team, didn't want great players like Kobe Bryant (because he was Black) and squeezed millions of dollars from Charlotte City Leaders, than moved on to New Orleans taking his team with him.

George Shinn was a sorry NBA franchise owner however because he was Caucasian, received excellent, wonderful support from Charlotte's Business Leaders & Public Officials.

This includes Charlotte's so-called Black "Leaders".


Simply because he was White and no other valid reason!

By the way what are the Charlotte Hornets doing now?

Last I heard they've become a third rate team down in New Orleans.

It doesn't matter how much money your worth, if your African-American and live in Charlotte you will only get so far.

As an African-American regardless of your "pedigree" or social status, you will NOT receive proper support from Charlotte Caucasians nor Charlotte's scared Black "Leaders" for ANY Business venture.

With that being said Bob Johnson (an outsider) naively thought if he kissed enough behinds, it would benefit him.

Sadly he learned it didn't.

Charlotte's White & Black community never warmed to him despite his generous efforts, used up his money, talked about him like a dog and then kicked him to the curb!

The White community saw him as being "too uppity" and Charlotte's Black community was jealous.

It was a lose-lose situation.

Why do you think Julius Peppers defected to the Chicago Bears?

Believe me honey it wasn't just about the money.

Peppers was tired of Charlotte's extreme Racism and tired of kissing behinds, if you know what I mean.

And as I mentioned above Charlotte doesn't have any REAL Black Leaders, only scared Tokens posing as Black Leaders.

Whenever Charlotte News Reporters wish to disprove "claims" about Charlotte being a Racist city, they will interview some uneducated, low income Minority citizen who is of course afraid to really speak up or....

They will interview an educated, Politically-Connected Minority citizen who most definitely isn't going to speak up because it could interfere with his or her comfortable lifestyle.

Charlotte News Reporters would NEVER interview people like Bob Johnson to speak on Charlotte's negative Racial Relations or if they did you can rest assured Johnson's true responses will NOT be published.

And for those falsely depicting Bob Johnson as a "Sell Out" I'll refute those foolish claims by saying this:

Bob Johnson may be a snob, however he is NO "sell-out"!

Just because Mr. Robert L. Johnson is a Black man who chose not to support Pres. Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential race, doesn't make him a "Sell Out".

When Bob Johnson saw it no longer financially feasible to keep the Bobcats, he wanted his former team to go to another African-American.

That's why Michael Jordan is the new majority owner of Charlotte's NBA franchise. The Bobcats.

Perhaps since new Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is an Native North Carolinian, an NBA Champion and has Strong Chicago connections he will fare better business wise than Johnson.

Check out the articles (Daily Beast, MSNBC, WCNC, etc.,) and videos below.

After reading/viewing the content I'll let you decide if what I've written accurately describes Charlotte's Racial Relations.

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Michael Jordan Bails Out Former Billionaire Bob Johnson

The nation’s first African-American billionaire, Robert Johnson, is enduring a cash crush so severe, reports Peter Lauria, that he had to hock his NBA franchise to Michael Jordan for a song.

When the nation’s first African-American billionaire, Robert Johnson, bought the expansion Charlotte Bobcats NBA team in 2002, his highest-profile move was hiring the most famous athlete in the world, Michael Jordan, to run the team. In a twist thick with irony, the employee has now become the savior: Two weeks ago, Jordan bought the team for pennies on the dollar.

The sale underscores Johnson’s dire financial situation. Four sources with firsthand knowledge tell The Daily Beast that the 63-year-old founder of BET desperately needs cash. The Bobcats sale was precipitated by a need for liquidity to fund his other investment obligations and avoid becoming insolvent, according to business associates of Johnson’s and sources involved in the sale.

Indeed, three sources specifically involved with the team sale said Johnson was eager to ink a deal before an upcoming interest payment on the team’s $40 million in bank debt, so he could save the cash, even though it was only for a few million dollars. That, combined with the deal’s terms, suggests that Johnson is dangerously close to being illiquid. Though reports said he initially wanted between $325 million and $350 million for the Bobcats, the NBA valued the deal at $275 million. But that includes the assumption of debt and other liabilities taken on by Jordan. His Airness only paid Johnson a fire-sale price of $25 million cash in the deal, these three sources say.

“If he didn’t get out now,” says a former colleague of Johnson’s who asked to remain anonymous because of their prior relationship, “he’d be [out of cash] soon.”

“Bob is in a lot of businesses that require a lot of upfront capital expenditures, like hotels and gaming,” adds a financial world source close to Johnson, “so he needs to husband cash flow for the assets that are growing rather than the ones that are not.”

Johnson declined to comment for this story. A representative of The RLJ Companies, the umbrella organization that houses Johnson’s assets, declined comment “on the sale of the Bobcats or any financial matters involving The RLJ Companies or Mr. Johnson.”

Johnson founded BET in 1979 with $15,000 of his own money and a $500,000 loan from Liberty Media’s John Malone, building a programming powerhouse for the African-American community with a mix of rap music videos featuring scantily clad woman and socially conscious coverage of events like the Million Man March. He achieved billionaire status with the sale of BET to Viacom for $3 billion in 2000.

A year later Johnson hit the Forbes 400 “Richest Americans” list with a net worth of $1.3 billion. While he’s still on that list, Forbes estimates that the intervening nine years have slashed his net worth by a staggering 58 percent, to $550 million last year.

A large chunk of Johnson’s fortune, conservatively estimated at $400 million, was awarded to his ex-wife Sheila in their divorce (she went on to marry the judge who presided over the divorce). Another chunk is held in Viacom and CBS stock, the result of BET’s sale to Viacom and that company’s subsequent split from CBS. While those two stocks are up year-to-date, with CBS trading at around $14 per share and Viacom trading at roughly $35 per share, both are down significantly from their previous highs of more than $30 per share for CBS and $40 per share for Viacom in 2007, a drop that has also cut into Johnson’s net worth.

The rest of Johnson’s money is tied up in a byzantine network of companies, partnerships, and investment funds. There’s RLJ Equity Partners, a private-equity fund managed by The Carlyle Group; RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Group, a network of car dealerships in Arkansas; Carribbean Cage, a video lottery terminal company; and Our Stories Film, a production studio launched in partnership with The Weinstein Company, to name a few.

As private entities, the financial performance of most of these businesses is hard to ascertain. There is, however, some public information through which performance can be gleaned. For instance, the RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Group touts on its Web site that its estimated gross revenue for 2009 was $625 million, up from $400 million in 2008. What is doesn’t say is that the revenue gain was likely achieved through the purchase of 15 car dealerships last year, amid one of the worst consumer car buying years on record, and not through organic growth—meaning Johnson had to spend additional cash to grow revenue.

Carribbean Cage highlights the fact that it has licenses to install and operate its terminals in such places as Turks & Caicos, St. Kitts, Jamaica, and Barbados, among other exotic locales. Of course, Johnson had to first pay to obtain gaming licenses in those countries and now has to lay out cash to set up the terminals. He also sunk $8 million into the RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas in Liberia that opened in June.

One of Johnson’s most visible private holdings is Urban Bank Trust, an African-American-controlled banking and mortgage company. According to FDIC documents, Urban Bank Trust had net income of just under $8 million last year, but lost nearly $7 million in 2008.

There are two common threads that run through all of Johnson’s holdings: They are hard assets that aren’t easily convertible to cash, and they are asset plays, meaning they don’t throw off a lot of cash but tend to appreciate in value over time. Unfortunately for Johnson, the meltdown has crimped the values of real estate, and banking, gaming, and auto assets have gone down in value, taking his fortune down with them.

“He’s invested very poorly,” says his former colleague succinctly.

But far the biggest drain on Johnson’s finances was the Bobcats. “No one has ever lost money on an NBA franchise, and I don’t think anybody ever will,” Johnson told USA Today in 2006, echoing the asset play philosophy. Yet Johnson did: He sunk $300 million into obtaining the franchise rights for the team in 2002 and pledged to invest a further $30 million on top of that. Johnson bought the Bobcats with grand plans to revisit his cable success by launching a regional sports network with the team’s television broadcast rights. When that didn’t pan out, Johnson had to scramble to ink a distribution deal and, out of desperation, agreed to a lowball offer from Time Warner Cable that also gave away naming rights to the team’s arena, now known as the Time Warner Cable Arena.

“He destroyed value rather than creating it,” says a sports industry executive, who noted that arena naming rights could generate millions of dollars of revenue for a team.

Under Johnson’s stewardship, the Bobcats are said to have lost between $20 million and $25 million per year, or around $200 million total, say three sources with knowledge of the team’s finances. “He’s put up a lot of cash,” sighs Johnson’s former colleague, “and he’s nearly lost it all.”

Bob Johnson Accurately Describes Charlotte: Racist & Small-Minded

Days after selling the Charlotte Bobcats, Bob Johnson called Charlotte's business community "arrogant" and "incestuous" and said the city doesn't do enough for existing and potential minority-owned business.

Johnson, a self-made billionaire who started the Black Entertainment Television cable network and brought the Bobcats to Charlotte, made the remarks Saturday at the Urban Leadership Institute, a gathering of mostly black business people.

The group presented Johnson with an award moments before he spoke, though the crowd's reaction was mixed after he made his comments:

"Charlotte is a very, how would I call it, close-knit, arrogant, sometimes incestuous town".

"...It's close-knit, and if you come to this town, and you look like you're one of those people that might break some glass ... it's going to be tough for them to relate to".

"The thing that concerns me is that I'm just surprised that the city doesn't do more for African-American Small Businesses. And I don't really understand that."

But Mayor Anthony Foxx (Charlotte's Token 2nd Black Mayor) said later that the city's Business climate towards Minorities is improving.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that our city's leadership base is broadening,"Foxx said. "What used to be a small group of people leading a large population is now becoming a larger group of people leading even a larger population. Just by nature of the fact that there are more voices at the table. I think you'll see a lot of opportunities emerge."

Johnson has criticized Charlotte's business community before. Two years ago, in an interview with the Observer, he said Charlotte's business community wasn't doing enough to support the expansion team.

"I am absolutely concerned," Johnson told the Observer in April 2008. "I am doing everything I can to make this team work, including writing a lot of checks."

But some people in the community, including members of the City Council, have said he was not visible enough during his tenure as Bobcats owner. Support for the team lagged, the council members said, because of its poor record.

Johnson didn't speak with reporters after his remarks.

"I am surprised at the number of people ... that come to me looking for financial backing that they haven't been able to find in the business community," he said. "I'm surprised that there aren't more substantial alliances between larger white businesses and minority-owned businesses."

He said the owners of No Grease, a group of barber shops owned by the head of the Urban Business Network, had a well-run business and a good plan for growth, but weren't able to find funding.

He added that the onus to improve the climate was also on the black community. "I think what is needed is a little bit more aggressiveness on the part of the African-American community."

Foxx, who spoke to the crowd shortly before Johnson, cited a commission that is examining small business opportunities in Charlotte as evidence of progress.

"I haven't been in every meeting or every social situation or every board table that Bob Johnson's been to, so I can't speak to his experience, only he can," said Foxx. "I can't refute what someone else believes other than to state what I believe, and what I believe is this: this city is more than capable of being an embracing place for minority business owners."

Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, said he did not want to talk about Johnson's comments, saying only that "I think Charlotte owes Bob Johnson a debt of gratitude for bringing the NBA back to Charlotte."

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Charlotte Schools Block Black Kids From Attending AP Classes

Students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's high-poverty schools face an "opportunity gap" in access to college-level classes, says a report from a citizen advisory panel being presented today.

Students at several low-poverty suburban schools can choose from more than 20 Advanced Placement subjects this school year, while students at four high-poverty schools have fewer than 10, the report says.

The Equity Committee, appointed by the school board, spent the past year looking at Advanced Placement along with services for students who don't speak English well. The recommendations, designed to boost equal opportunity, are likely to clash with budget-cutting plans.

For instance, the panel recommends that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools do more to increase AP offerings at the high-poverty schools, where most students are Black or Hispanic. The panel also calls for more minority enrollment in AP courses at all schools. But a consultant advising CMS on the likelihood of budget cuts for 2010-11 has suggested cutting some AP classes with low enrollment to focus on boosting basic skills.

"We're just in challenging times right now," said board Vice Chair Tom Tate. "I think that the board is going to have some pretty interesting debate on this."

AP Challenge

AP offerings range from 25 subjects at South Mecklenburg High to seven at Waddell, the report says. Even at schools such as Mallard Creek High and Northwest School of the Arts, which have large numbers of middle-class black students, AP classes are disproportionately white.

Taking AP classes can help students get into competitive universities, and students who earn high scores on the exams can get college credit. "The lack of a diverse range of core and elective AP courses at all schools raises serious equity concerns," the report says.

CMS offers other college-level options, including classes hosted by Central Piedmont Community College and advanced classes in International Baccalaureate magnets. The report did not look at those.

High-poverty high schools tend to have lower enrollments and more students struggling to meet graduation requirements, both of which can make it challenging to fill AP classes. For instance, Waddell offered 10 options on its "enrollment card" last winter but ended up only teaching seven, the report says.

But those schools also have successful college-bound students. The equity panel recommends offering a set number of AP courses at each school, even if enrollment is low, and urges schools to "actively recruit and place students in those courses."

The report says white students make up 37 percent of CMS's high-school students but account for 62 percent those taking of AP exams. Minority students may be hindered by home support, peer culture or low expectations in lower grades, the report says. Recommendations range from recruiting AP teachers "of various ethnic backgrounds" to "cluster(ing) students of racial groups in AP courses in order to provide peer support."

Language Barrier

On students with limited English skills, the report notes that some schools have so many that students may not be immersed in spoken English, while others have so few that it's tough to provide adequate staff support for kids and families.

CMS has eliminated jobs for bilingual parent advocates, even as the number of students whose families speak Spanish and other languages has grown. The committee recommends restoring those jobs at schools with large numbers of families who need translation, noting that parent involvement is essential to student success.

The report describes a visit to Merry Oaks Elementary, where 19 languages are spoken, most children come from low-income homes, and some students "not only don't speak English but may not have any experience with indoor bathrooms or electricity." Committee members saw a woman arrive to enroll a young child, who did most of the translating between his mother and the school secretary. Two hours later, the child and his mother "were still trying to navigate the enrollment process," it says.

The report urges CMS to make sure schools make better use of available translation services and make it easier for families without cars to get to the Family Application Center south of uptown, where international students must register. City buses used to run along that road, the report says, but no longer do.

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Charlotte Citizens Protest Against Charlotte Affordable
Housing Project

The meeting started inside while people were still lining up outside. Hundreds showed up to hear more about a proposed public housing complex in the Ballantyne area. One by one, they fired questions and comments at the developers, Republic Development Group:

"What experience do you have creating something like this?"

"Can you not find a more suitable place than what is the southern gateway to our community?"

"Where I'm coming from is I don't want it here. My house is over one million dollars and I don't want the crap next to me."

The project took a hit Monday afternoon when the Charlotte Housing Authority issued a statement that it would not participate in the mixed income housing development. "Questions about certain aspects of the project's structure, including its density (the total number of apartment units relative to the cost of the land) and funding, prompted our decision," said Jennifer Gallman with the Housing Authority.

"We keep going," said Stuart Proffitt of Republic Development. Proffitt says he still hopes to build the 86 unit complex with another affordable housing developer. A representative from the Crosland Company told News Channel 36 the developer has asked if Crosland would manage the property if it were approved.

One man, who asked not to be identified, said he believed this was a case of "not in my backyard." "I live on the West side and this will be pushed to some other part of town," he said.

But opponents say that's not the case. They point to the fact that the proposed site, south of Ballantyne, off of Johnston Road, has no easy access to public sidewalks, little public transportation and already overcrowded schools.

Cynthia Jennings lives in the Ballantyne area. "People who live in low income housing want the same thing we all do. A nice place to live for their families. But the way the developer came in, through the back door, was sneaky and shady," she said.

Charlotte Leaders Pull Out Of Ballantyne Affordable Housing Deal

The Charlotte Housing Authority pulled out of a controversial public housing project for Ballantyne Monday, but the other developers of the project said the 86-unit apartment complex for low-income residents will continue.

The authority said it dropped the project at Johnston Road and Providence Road West because of concerns about its cost, which could be as much as $13 million.

But its decision comes after two weeks of intense opposition from many Ballantyne residents, who are objecting to what would be the area's first subsidized housing for low-income tenants.

The authority had partnered with Republic Development Group, a newly formed company that was seeking a rezoning change to make the apartment project possible.

"I don't know why they (CHA) aren't doing this," said Stuart Proffitt, part of Republic's two-person team. "I was surprised."

At a meeting Monday night with angry Ballantyne residents, Proffitt said he is seeking other partners with affordable housing experience to build the apartments, known as Ballancroft.

The loss of the authority as a partner means that 26 of the apartments that were to be reserved for people earning 30 percent of the area's median income won't also receive assistance from the federal government, Proffitt said.

A family of four earning just under $20,000 would qualify for those apartments.

Proffitt said that would be the only change to the complex. The rest of the units would be reserved for people earning 60 percent of the area's median income.

He declined to say who also might work on the apartments. Republic doesn't have the necessary experience to secure federal tax credits to make the project possible, he said.

Proffitt and his partner John Schwaller have an option to buy the 7-acre site at the southwest corner of the intersection. The land is currently zoned for offices. They want it rezoned for a neighborhood services designation, which would allow the apartments adjacent to a proposed bank.

If they don't receive the tax credits, they said the project could be built for residents who would pay market rates.

The Housing Authority issued a one-page press release Monday afternoon dropping out of the project. CHA spokesperson Jennifer Gallman said the authority has to balance the needs of providing as much housing as it can, along with the cost of doing so.

"Questions about certain aspects of the projects structure, including its density (the total number of apartment units relative to the cost of the land) and funding, prompted our decision," the release said.

On Friday, the authority had restated its commitment to the project. It said it was important to bring affordable housing to Ballantyne so low-income workers could live near where they work.

Mayor Anthony Foxx said he wanted to know why the authority dropped the effort. He said he was not familiar with all the details of the proposal because it had not yet come before City Council. He said dispersing affordable housing remains a priority.

Four years ago, the city codified its long-standing policy about spreading public housing throughout the city. Much of the city is now considered "prohibited" for new public housing because of low home ownership rates or existing subsidized complexes. Ballantyne is considered a "priority" for subsidized housing.

The plans for the 86 apartments drew roughly 300 people to a two-hour meeting Monday at Harrison United Methodist Church.

The meeting was punctuated with residents heckling the developers and cheering when they were grilled by neighbors.

Proffitt said that state law doesn't allow them to discuss the income levels of potential residents. He said his rezoning request should be scrutinized on how it will impact land use.

Residents then asked questions about the impact on schools and traffic. They also questioned whether there were enough sidewalks for residents. They also said the site is too far from mass transit.

"You say there will be strong access to transit. I just don't see that," Ballantyne resident Al Rutherford said.

Joel Stolz said he thought there would be more than 200 hundred students generated from the project - not the 20 public-school age children that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools projected.

Proffitt and Schwaller said the complex is expensive in part because they want it to blend in with the surrounding community.

There were some questions that dealt directly about the low-income residents.

One resident who didn't give his name said he didn't want public housing next to his million-dollar home

Another resident, Kevin Williams, said that's not why most people are against the rezoning.

"This isn't a NIMBY issue....We are angry about the rezoning," Williams said. "It's a 45-minute walk from your site to the bus stop."

The developers said they expect mass transit to serve the area eventually.

They also said a number of low-income residents have cars, and people who depend on buses won't choose to live there.

Residents also asked the developers about their contract with the authority, which was to pay them $20,000 to handle the rezoning costs and up to $50,000 if it were successful.

Proffitt and Schwaller said they aren't going to pay back the $20,000 after residents asked if they would.

Another resident asked Schwaller about his previous relationship with Ben Collins, who works at the authority. Collins and Schwaller had partnered two years ago to work on a real estate project in Cornelius, but that project fell through, Schwaller said.

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Sources: Baller Status, ESPN, NBA, BET, The Daily Beast, The Grio, McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, MSNBC,, Washington Post, Wikipedia, Google Maps

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