• Obama to visit Charlotte to discuss women in workplace

    By: Mark Becker


    CHARLOTTE - When Towanda Long started her blog for working moms on work-life balance, she never imagined it would get her a front row seat for a town hall meeting at Imaginon with the president on Wednesday.

    “I’m definitely excited…looking forward to it!,” Long said Tuesday.  She has three daughters and holds down a full-time job, and she wants to make sure the president hears what she has to say.              
    “I would love to know what people in the Obama administration do for work-life balance.”

    The issue that is likely to take up most of the agenda here is equal pay for women.

    A recent report shows that on average, women in the workplace make only about 78 cents for every dollar a man makes in the same job.

    While he's not running in 2016, the president knows it will be a hot-button issue in an election where candidates on both sides will be trying to appeal to women voters, and he figures to get some tough questions on it on Wednesday.

    But it’s not the only tough question he’s likely to face.

    Lena Gott is an accountant and a stay-at-home mom.  She's also a blogger who calls herself conservative and instead of equal pay she wants to ask the president about the growing cost of entitlements.

    “What's going to happen when the country cannot afford to pay those programs...in addition to everything else that we fund?” she asked Tuesday.

    The event is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. at the Imaginon library.

    President Obama will visit Charlotte Wednesday to talk to about 50 people about families and women in the workplace.

    Workers have started getting the Spangler Library inside ImaginOn ready for the presidential visit.

    Report: NC gender gap for equal pay among smallest in nation

    “We are bringing cooks, we are bringing home decorators. We are bringing people who are working every day,” said Lisa Stone, who started a nonpartisan blog for women called BlogHer.  

    Stone, who will come from California to moderate the meeting, said the issue that figures to dominate the discussion is equal pay for women in the workplace.

    “I was not surprised, because the issue of equal pay is crossing party lines and of enormous interest to our community,” Stone said.

    She will help select the audience from about 100 bloggers in the Charlotte area who post on her blog site.

    Obama's visit will come just days after Hillary Clinton announced her presidential candidacy. A discussion of women’s issues in what has been a swing state for the last two elections may be no coincidence.

    “When you talk about equal pay, this is a bread-and-butter daily issue that affects people on a daily basis,” said Dr. Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNC Charlotte.

    The presidential visit will create some traffic issues for several hours on Wednesday.
    Police are planning for the visit, which will start with the president landing at 1:50 p.m. and end with his departure just before 5 p.m.  Police will close streets to clear the way for the motorcade to and from uptown Charlotte.

    Follow the converstation on Twitter using #ObamaInCLT

    “We will do so on a rolling basis, so we'll try not to keep a road closed unless necessary. Otherwise we will try to open and close it as he rolls through,” Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said.

    Estes said some areas around ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte might be closed to pedestrians as well.

    Vice President Joe Biden was in Charlotte in February for an event regarding transportation.

    Biden spoke with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who was formerly the mayor of Charlotte.

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