An ad by the Alliance for North Carolina attacks Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory over his record as Charlotte mayor.
What the ad says: The ad begins with a postcard image of Charlotte with the words "Welcome to Charlotte! ... not the safest place." Narrator: "Charlotte, North Carolina. A higher crime rate than New York and L.A. That didn't stop Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory from taking a pay raise for himself, but vetoing a pay raise for police and firefighters, even as crime increased. And the Charlotte Observer said 'McCrory failed to address deep-seated problems by not adequately funding police and fire resources.' Mayor McCrory, stop supporting pay raises for politicians like yourself, and start supporting police and firefighters."
The background: The ad makes several claims about crime and the city budget.
POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS: In 2006, the Democratic majority on the Charlotte City Council passed a budget that included the first tax increase in 10 years.
The budget included a three percent raise for city workers, plus an additional five percent for certain police officers and firefighters.
McCrory vetoed the budget, saying among other things that the tax increase was unnecessary.
According to city council minutes from that year, he also said he had a "respectful disagreement" over giving one group of city employees higher raises than others.
"We saw fire uniforms, we saw sanitation uniforms, we saw police uniforms in here, yet we took one select group of good people and said you are going to get more across the board," he said, according to the minutes.
In 2007, the Charlotte Observer editorial board wrote that McCrory had not "adequately" funded police and fire resources in an editorial endorsing him for re-election.
CRIME RATE: Every year, police agencies around the country submit statistics on reported crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Based on the numbers for murder, rape, burglary, robber, aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft, CQ Press publishes an annual list of crime rankings for cities with more than 75,000 people.
In 2007, CQ Press ranked Charlotte the 50th least safe out of 378 cities — the worst score for a North Carolina city. Los Angeles was 135th least safe; New York City, 237th.
However, the FBI says on its Web site that these kinds of rankings are "simplistic" and "incomplete," since they do not take into account other variables, such as demographics and its geography, that could affect crime in a given area.
Overall, the FBI statistics show that the crime rate has gone down in Charlotte since McCrory took office in 1995, although there was an uptick from 2005 to 2006 — the year McCrory vetoed the budget.
PAY RAISES: As mayor of Charlotte since 1996, McCrory's salary and expenses have risen from $24,800 to $39,900. That's about a 60-percent increase.
Adjusted for inflation, however, it's more like a 20 percent raise.
The Charlotte mayor does not typically vote on the city budget, which includes pay raises, but he can veto it. If he does, it takes seven out of 11 votes from the City Council to override his veto.
In 1998, McCrory broke a tie, voting with the City Council's Republicans to overturn a pay raise for city leaders that would have boosted his own salary by several thousand dollars.
This year, the City Council narrowly approved a pay raise for members and the mayor in a vote that McCrory did not join. McCrory did not make any public statements on the raise and did not veto the budget, but his campaign staff said later that he opposed it.
Is it accurate? The ad is technically accurate, but overall it paints a misleading picture. While the crime rate increased in 2006, it has been down overall during McCrory's tenure. The pay raises for the mayor were in a different year than the pay raises for firefighters. And there are reasons to be skeptical of the comparison between Charlotte and New York and L.A.
— Ryan Teague Beckwith