by Jeff Taylor
Important not to make too much of a big deal out of disagreeing with one paragraph out of 20, but I think Tara Servatius gets it wrong when she says that City Manager-Until-June Pam Syfert will not be a big part of Charlotte’s late 20th century history. Overall, Servatius places Syfert in the hall of Charlotte’s civic leaders, but doubts she’ll much be remembered that way:
When local historians write the history of what I’ve long called the era of the titans — the two decades during which a handful of strong corporate leaders like [Hugh] McColl, Ed Crutchfield and the super CEOs set Charlotte and its urban core on a world-class course — Syfert likely won’t merit more than a footnote, if she even gets that.
That is unlikely as you simply will not be able to make sense of how Charlotte ended up where it did — Detroit-on-the-Catawba? — without reference to the city manager system of government and Syfert’s ten-year run at the helm of that system. Her willingness and ability to carve out and set aside little “dedicated” pots of money for various, frankly, non-essential civic projects created a template for future use.
Even before Syfert leaves office we will see that template used once again in the spring with the attempt to link a real estate transfer tax to road-building in Charlotte. Soon after, expect a push for impact fees for school construction. Further out, an amusement tax on museum and sporting events to fund more cultural projects. (Maybe bail a few bad ideas out, too.)
This is a powerful legacy. Expect chapters, not footnotes.