The leader of the North Carolina Senate sent out a most unusual news release on Friday.
Phil Berger’s office wanted everyone to know about a Charlotte TV news report on a man who went into the women’s bathroom at the Seventh Street Public Market in uptown, alarming a female patron.
It appeared to be a standard case of a sexual deviant trespassing in the women’s restroom. But Berger said it was much more. He called it proof of how Charlotte’s much-debated non-discrimination ordinance lets a man avoid criminal charges for such an offense simply “by claiming he felt like he needed to use the women’s room that day.”
“Roy Cooper, Jennifer Roberts, and anyone else actively fighting the common-sense bathroom safety bill needs to explain why they think what this man put this woman through in a Charlotte bathroom this week should be legal,” Berger said in the news release.
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Which, as he knows or should know, is a patently false statement. While the ordinance gives transgender women the right to use the women’s restroom, city officials have repeatedly said that the ordinance most certainly does not allow a non-transgender man to wander into women’s restrooms and escape criminal trespass or indecent exposure laws simply by claiming he felt like using the wrong restroom that day.
The city has even urged businesses encountering a situation such as the one at the Public Market to call the police so the person can be apprehended, as the trespasser at the market was.
Berger’s press release represents the latest chapter in a long-running campaign of misinformation about the city ordinance. Hopefully, federal courts will soon bring that campaign to an end by striking down House Bill 2 as unconstitutional.
Welcome TSA changes at airport
After 600 people missed flights on Good Friday at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, some much-needed changes have been made to speed up screening lines.
The changes came after airport director Brent Cagle ripped into the Transportation Security Administration for its move to cut 60 positions at the airport upon installation of a new explosive-detection baggage system.
Now comes word that the TSA has added overtime for workers and is limiting employee vacations during peak times. The agency’s top official in Charlotte has also been given the OK to beef up checkpoint staffing on occasion by pulling officers from a program that tries to detect suspicious passenger behavior.
On July 1, the day the airport hit a new record of 31,704 passengers, TSA officials say the longest standard wait time was 17 minutes. That’s not bad.
But with passenger volume continuing to grow, Cagle is right when he says these short-term TSA fixes aren’t enough. The TSA has taken heat nationwide for struggling to keep up with rising passenger traffic on reduced staffing and new security protocols.
It’s gotten so bad some airlines are reportedly advising flyers to get to airports three hours ahead of flight time.
Congress certainly could help by bankrolling more staff and installing better management. Until then, however, it’s good to know Cagle and other local officials are keeping a close eye on this vital but struggling agency.