• City leaders trying to re-establish trust after Cannon scandal

    By: Jim Bradley

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon will learn how long he'll spend in prison Tuesday in federal court.

    SPECIAL SECTION: Patrick Cannon investigation

    He faces up to 20 years for taking bribes in office, but his sentencing doesn't end the federal investigation into corruption in the city, and it won't end the work city leaders are doing to regain the public's trust.

    ARTICLE: City leaders trying to re-establish trust after Cannon scandal

    All eyes will be on the federal courthouse Tuesday but from the moment the Cannon scandal broke, there was collateral damage to the city's reputation.

    ARTICLE: Former Charlotte mayor to face judge for sentencing Tuesday

    “When you hear about something like this happening, your first response is 'What in the world has just happened?'” said current mayor Dan Clodfelter.

    Clodfelter was still a state senator when Cannon's fall from grace became public. But six months after taking the oath of office to replace Cannon as mayor, he insists both he and the city have come far.
     
    “People came together very quickly, they came together very strongly and they put their heads down and went back to work,” Clodfelter said.

    The work to heal a city and its reputation, stained by Cannon's admission that he took bribes in office, began in the first moments after his arrest -- and City Manager Ron Carlee said it hasn't stopped.

    “I think the best way for us to show the public that they can depend on us is to continue to deliver for them,” Carlee said.

    He insists the city hasn't skipped a beat. Still, there is clear damage. Charlotte can no longer say it's immune to public corruption, and political expert Michael Bitzer says the hangover from that may be long-lasting.

    “I think there will always be questions in the voter’s minds in terms of electing new city officials, ‘Can we truly trust them?’” said Bitzer.

    The city has taken steps to reassure the public and even city employees, creating a hotline for reporting corruption or fraud. Both the mayor and city manager said they get few questions these days about the scandal. They hope that's a sign the community is moving on from the political sins of Cannon.
     
    “This is something one person did that he's going to pay a price for. It's really tragic -- it's tragic for him and tragic for his family. But it doesn't have to be a tragedy for the city,” Carlee said.

    Carlee also noted that despite Cannon's obvious criminal activity, he championed some good causes while in elected office, and his defense team will certainly make sure the judge hears about that at his sentencing Tuesday.

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