CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mayor Dan Clodfelter delivered his first State of the City address this morning, speaking on a wide variety of new innovations in Charlotte, community successes and future goals, including proposed LGBT-inclusive changes to the city’s public accommodations ordinance.
Clodfelter said the new LGBT-inclusive changes “are on city government’s agenda” for 2015.
“Soon,” Clodfelter said, according to his prepared remarks, “Council will have before it a decision on the extension of our public accommodations anti-discrimination ordinance to include gender and sexual orientation.”
The new protections include changes to several other ordinances, as well. They were first proposed in November by a coalition of local, statewide and national LGBT community groups.
The proposal comes as other cities in the state are also considering similar changes. Greensboro became the first city in the state to pass an LGBT-inclusive fair housing ordinance on Jan. 6. Charlotte’s proposed changes do not include fair housing, a result, say advocates and the city attorney, of how Charlotte’s city charter is worded.
The Charlotte ordinance proposals are still being drafted and researched. City Attorney Bob Hagemman recently told qnotes he’s still in the process of pulling together materials, including an overview of the various ordinances’ histories and backgrounds.
“My intent is to do a briefing paper for Council that outlines to them a little bit of the history at the national level, where these different characteristics start to become recognized as deserving of protection,” Hagemman said in a Jan. 7 interview.
Some City Council members had asked for the in-depth briefing paper when the proposals were first presented in November.
Hagemman hopes to have the research completed soon.
“When I get done with the work … I anticipate the city manager to put it back on the Council agenda,” Hagemman said. “I would hope it would be back to Council no later that two months from now.”
Other recommendations, praise from mayor
Clodfelter also pointed to other upcoming city agenda items, including recommendations from an immigration task force.
“These will provide an action plan for maximizing the economic and civic contributions of newcomers to Charlotte and improve the feeling of acceptance and being part of the Charlotte community for those who were not born here,” Clodfelter said Tuesday.
“All of these will be part of efforts to strengthen public trust, build community linkages among diverse groups, and provide support for those in the community who are at greatest risk,” Clodfelter added.
In other parts of his State of the City, Clodfelter addressed Charlotte’s continued economic growth, from a “one-horse banking town,” he said, to an “economy…far more diversified and robust than we had known.” Charlotte’s jobs have grown, unemployment is down and home values are on the rise.
Clodfelter also praised a wide variety of community groups and initiatives, businesses and accomplishments in the city.
“Our city today is a far richer seedbed for new ideas and for new ways of looking at the world than it was when I arrived here just short of four decades ago,” Clodfelter said. “This is an inevitable function of the explosion in diversity in our community of all kinds. Another way of putting it is that the diversity of visions and goals in Charlotte today is a mark of our having become truly a large urban place, a city where no single dominant group can dictate the community’s vision of who it is or what it will become.”
Clodfelter was appointed mayor last April following the arrest and resignation of former Mayor Patrick Cannon on federal bribery and corruption charges. Clodfelter addressed trust and accountability in city government following the ordeal, saying city staff has “daily maintained the long-standing tradition of professional public service.”
Clodfelter added, “What some discovered about our city for the first time in 2014, and what others perhaps knew but re-discovered is that we are a community that cannot be broken apart by any one person’s actions or failures, a community where people do not shun challenge but embrace it, a community where adversity causes people to pull together rather than stumble and pull apart. My point to you this morning is that this is not something new for us, it is genetic and has been in us all along. We re-discovered that we are indeed, a highly resilient people.”