Saturday, September 30, 2006

All-American look-out

I don't post everything the Crime Dawg sends because I don't want UtWT to become a crime rant. Also I couldn't keep up. Let's face it -- Crime Dawg is awesome. But one thing is creeping me out and I wanted to make sure you heard about it. Here are excerpts from some recent CD reports from our neighbors:

26-Sept-06: I wanted to let everyone know there is a really clever and cute ‘kid’ who is NOT Nearly as Harmless as you might think. He was supposedly fundraising for his baseball team and selling books for charitys. He is probably 20-25 years old, muscular, athletic build, blue green eyes….looks like the All American College boy…. goes by the name of Casey Harmon. Anyway, he may catch you doing yard work or outside with the kids…He will say his Mom is from such and such and his Dad is from another place, both places will be where you are from and your husband is from the other. It is really freaky. Early Friday evening 5:30 or so, September 23rd on Sterling Road, my husband, the kids, and I were getting ready to go to the Freedom Park Festival …..when he appeared in our front yard. And my husband, of course, totally befriended him while he played with our kids in the front yard. He had everything in common with us and his Mom supposedly lived right down the street, Don’t we know her, she walks her golden retriever everyday and she is such a great help to his fundraising. He also happened to tell us he knew our neighbor next door and was going for a ride in his Porshe later & lots of other details about our neighbor who ended up having no idea who this guy was. But we didn’t learn all this until after we had left him alone for a minute in our foyer with 2 small children while retrieving a checkbook… He had our guards that down!!! As embarrassing as this is, I want to warn everyone about him because he is nothing like he describes himself as and appears to be. It turns out he has physically assaulted a woman in Elizabeth, and threatened others in Foxcroft and other neighborhoods around here. My husband gave him a check which we have cancelled. Fortunately, the valuable lesson came cheap for us, Thank God. But please call the police if you happen to meet him.
29-Sept-06: Yes, this is the exact same guy (and exact same phony story of Casey Harmon raising money for baseball team trip, claiming to be neighbor's son) who approached me earlier in the summer and threatened me (got in my face, backed me into my front door, held fists up, etc. when I would not buy from him). I cannot believe he is back, but the writer is correct that he is very convincing, very handsome, looks like he could baby sit your kids and live in the neighborhood -- but he is DANGEROUS. The best description I can give from memory is: White male, 5'10", athletic, tan skin with dark brown short cut hair, blue-green eyes, looks to be of Italian or Mediterranean descent, was wearing a Nike athletic outfit, backwards baseball cap, peddling a scooter...
29-Sept-06: I think the same guy knocked on our door about 6 months ago. He is a good looking, early to mid 20’s white kid. He was wearing a baseball hat, tee shirt and jeans. He was going door to door on his Razor Scooter and he had a similar rap: very fast, aggressive talker, he said his mom and dad live on Kenmore, his dad is a doctor, he grew up in this neighborhood, and he was raising money so that his elite baseball team could go to a national tournament (although he did not need the money, he was doing it for the team). When I told him I was not going to give him any money, he flipped out and started yelling at me telling me that he did not want to listen to my BS excuse, etc. We ended up going at it for a bit on the front lawn (I shared with him that his sales techniques needed some fine tuning) and I’m a little bummed that I did not call the police.

From police: Our district has been receiving calls to 911 and information from residents about this salesperson, who seems to come prepared with information about residents and neighbors. We have been told that he is cocky, aggressive, and sometimes belligerent when questioned or turned away. However, I am unaware of any reported assaults involving this individual, in Elizabeth or any other area. Since, I can’t keep track of every single incident that happens in our district, I checked for reported assaults in the Elizabeth and Chantilly neighborhoods for the previous month. I found no reported assaults where this individual was the suspect. I do encourage residents to call about aggressive behavior from any salesperson, but I do not want you to be overly alarmed and fell like this subject is waiting for an opportunity to physically harm you. Please use normal recommended precautions when someone comes to your door that you do not know. Do not open the door for them. Speak to them through the door or ignore their presence until they leave. There are still some businesses who have salespeople canvassing neighborhoods, but I personally don’t recommend buying anything from someone who approaches your home unsolicited.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

SE transit corridor doomed

I wonder what people are thinking when they decide no loaf is better than half. Voting to wait five years before choosing between light rail or busway for the Southeast corridor? So much can happen in five years -- and almost none of it is good for realizing mass transit along Independence Boulevard, which last I knew was one of the more heavily traveled roads in the state. To top it off, they spent an extra $19.5 million on land they may not need. What -- they're not spending enough already?

Look, if the next corridor is managed as poorly as the south corridor has been, a third corridor might never get built. You know, fool me once. And every day nothing is done to give motorists a choice on Independence is a day the state remembers how much it wants to widen 7th Street. We do not want to fight that battle again.

After the Center City corridor, the Southeast corridor will most impact Elizabeth. Or would, if it ever gets built. I understand the yearning for light rail. It's hot; busways are not. But busways cost less, can be built quicker and promise greater ridership (pdf). Why isn't that good enough?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In with the new

Check out the new ECA site. It's still a work in progress (what isn't online?), but it looks awesome. Equally awesome is the latest ECA newsletter, which unfortunately is not yet posted on the site. Grab a copy and learn what happened to our Poetry Man, a little history on Lillian Arhelger and the rebirth of the Historic Elizabeth Neighborhood Foundation. Excellent job by the new editor, Nancy Albert.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Left side to curb

The other day several neighbors received $25 tickets for parking left side to curb on my block (I was not among them -- I got mine 20 years ago). I'm not trying to be belligerent, and I hate to over-simplify things. But we have a serious crime problem in our neighborhood. My car has been stolen twice in two years. My home has been burgled three times in 15 years. Drug deals go down on our streets. You've seen Crime Dawg's excellent updates. Yet we're using precious city resources to punish law-abiding citizens parking in front of their own homes? There's something wrong with this picture.

An excellent reason to attend the annual ECA dinner meeting Sept. 26 at St. John's Baptist Church. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will be there and perhaps this subject will come up. Politicians and other government officials and ECA board members will be there also, telling us what's going on and listening to our comments and questions. This is town hall-style democracy at work, every bit as American as election day. Come get involved.

The ECA provides beverages and a main course. The rest of us bring a covered dish or, really, whatever you want to share foodwise. It's always a good feed. See you there, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Crime at Cooking

Regular readers of UtWT know that I've taken a pair of cooking classes at Cooking Uptown and I love that store, even if I don't get into it as often as I would like. So it pains me to report there's been another break-in. Here's owner Karen Cooley's report via Crime Dawg:

Cooking Uptown was broken into at 5:40AM today. Looked exactly like the break-in that occurred on 12/21/05, except the perpetrators went straight back to a locked office and apparently kicked in the door. They knew where they were going and must have cased the store in advance, as they knew what they were looking for.

There have been a couple of people in that I suspect were up to no good in the past week. A white female about 5'4" with what may have been a blonde wig, a little overweight and otherwise non descript and an older white male around 5'8" with light brown receding hair and carrying a black or dark colored backpack, he is known to hang out next door at Hawthorne's to drink.

The crime investigator did try to get some fingerprints, but the perpetrators seem to be wearing gloves. The thieves got away with cash.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

International House

Hope you got to see The Observer's piece on the International House the other day. I'd list the International House as one of our neighborhood's most under-appreciated assets. I should know because I've been under-appreciating it for some time now. Maybe I'll finally get over there to practice my Spanish on Spanish night -- if they still have it.

Homes tour

The Elizabeth Homes Tour 2006 will be Oct. 14-15. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Tickets will go on sale two weeks before the tour at the Charlotte Council of Gardens, 1820 E. 7th St. It's too late for me to mention the homes tour committee was looking for volunteers. But if you're interested in helping out, give Terry Lett a call at 704-377-0052. You can be early for next year.