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Hotel prices high? Come back for race week

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Demand creates commerce and sometimes enough demand creates price-gouging.

Reuters news agency looked into whether the tens of thousands of visitors to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention caused merchants to charge unreasonable prices for their wares and services. While everything from turkey bagels to campaign buttons to the most basic hotel room seems pricey this week, officials told Reuters they don’t have evidence merchants are breaking North Carolina law.

“Nothing that we’ve seen so far comes close to meeting our state’s law on price gouging,’’ Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau of Charlotte told Reuters.

Bartholomy said his organization hasn’t received any formal complaints during convention. That, despite various low-income families being pushed out of economy hotels this week, with some prices being jacked up five-fold or more.

Bartholomy told Reuters hotel prices rise higher during NASCAR race weeks than they have during the DNC.

SIX-FIGURE COSTS: Speaking of costs, the Los Angeles Times said some of the country’s top media outlets – cable networks Fox News, CNN and MSNBC or the Washington Post or Wall Street Journal – spent over $100,000 each on work space this week.

The Times reports Hargrove, Inc., is contracted to the convention to provide tables, carpeting, security and food (outside food is forbidden to carry into the area surrounding Time Warner Cable Arena). Since this is the pro-labor DNC, union labor adds to the media outlets’ costs at a time when newspapers’ profit margins are shrinking.

The cost hasn’t shrunk attendance: There are roughly 15,000 media members in Charlotte, or roughly 2 1/2 media members for every DNC delegate.

ABE … HONEST: In Las Vegas, you get Elvis impersonators. In Charlotte, Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer columnist Myron Pitts was charmed by Charlottean Sam Miller, a street performer dressed as Abraham Lincoln and holding a sign reading, “Republicans for Obama.’’ Delegates came by to have their pictures taken with Abe. “He worked for tips,’’ Pitts wrote, “and his tip cup looked to be full.’’

MAKE YOUR OWN SPACE: Fayetteville’s Pitts ended up using the park-and-ride system down South Boulevard, getting uptown on the Lynx light-rail. Except the park side of the arrangement was used up. Spaces were long gone in the lot, so Pitts reluctantly drove over to a grassy area where he feared he’d be towed. Two Charlotteans walked over to tell him he’d be fine parking there, to great relief.

SOME TABASCO WITH THAT? At 3:18 Thursday afternoon Wisconsin delegate Kevin Kopplin tweeted from Birdsong Brewing Company in NoDa, “Jalapeno beer. It exists … and it’s in my belly.’’

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