Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory has seized on a new issue in his still-unofficial campaign to be future N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, reports Tim Funk of The Charlotte Observer.
The issue: His contention that Charlotte and N.C. officials -- including Gov. Bev Perdue -- are setting a bad precedent by letting Occupy Charlotte and Occupy Raleigh literally occupy city and state-owned property.
If officials give in now, and let small groups of protesters set up tents in front of the old Charlotte city hall on Trade Street, McCrory asks, what will happen when very large groups of protesters show up in Charlotte next year for the Democratic National Convention?
"Where do they draw the line?" says McCrory. "If they let one, do they let 10 -- or 1,000? . . . That's not good for the economy, for public safety, and it's surely not sanitary for our city."
McCrory even has a catchy line, which he has repeated to TV stations and the Observer. If the city lets protesters camp out on city-owned property during the Democratic National Convention, he says, "it's going to look like Woodstock -- without the good music."
Republican McCrory, who's likely to challenge Democrat Perdue in 2012, says the Occupy Charlotte and Occupy Raleigh forces have every right to protest. "But they do not have as right to occupy" city and state-owned property, he says.
And if Charlotte officials don't feel they have an ordinance on the books to kick the Occupy protesters off city property. McCrory says, "The city council should create an ordinance to deal with it -- today."
And, unofficial gubernatorial candidate McCrory adds, "If the governor allows this in Raleigh, where does it stop?"
What does the City of Charlotte say about this issue?
Here's what Capt/ Jeffrey Estes of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told the Observer in an email:
"The City Code does not include a time limit in a person’s right to picket on a public forum space," he wrote. "As with any gathering on public property, sanitation must be maintained by the people demonstrating at the Old City Hall lawn. One concern was raised involving sanitation at the site, and notice was given to the group that failure to maintain a sanitary environment could result in a Health Inspection and potential removal from the site."