Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More on 'The Great State of Meck':

Former state Rep. Lane Brown, a Democrat who represented Stanly County in the legislature and who now lives in Cheraw S.C., recalls the Great State of Mecklenburg debates in the House going back to the early 1970s -- fostered by Eastern N.C. legislators, as Brown recalls:

Enjoyed reading your piece in yesterday's Charlotte Observer ("Charlotte vs. Raleigh, again', Jan. 16), which brought back some
memories of an "exchange" on the floor during the 1971 session (my House District was the 32nd,
Stanly County):

Billy Culpepper rose from the Honorables to speak on a bill one of those short calendar days, making
some comment about "the Great State of Mecklenburg" as compared to his "Little State of Chowan"!

Holding his "fire" until the sponsor finished his remarks, "Cousin" Jim Vogler as he was affectionally
called, rose to propound a question to Culpepper, which went something like this: "Mr. Culpepper,
don't you think it unfair that my district (Mecklenburg) sends more tax dollars - sales tax, income
tax, inheritance tax - to Raleigh than all of your counties combined on the Albemarle Sound send
to the capitol?....that Mecklenburg is a 'donor county' while your little counties are 'donee' counties?"
Culpepper, caught off guard, quickly recovered, replying: "If you Mecklenburg people think you are
so ***/** big, why not just set up your own state?" Vogler, not to be outdone by the rep from down
East, finished the argument by saying: "We have this under continued consideration....". The debate
closed and the question was called.

I can recall many other occasions when the Mecklenburg quip was mentioned on the floor. Perhaps
Jimmy Greene, later as Speaker, often said when presiding: "For what purpose this time does the
Great State of Mecklenburg desire to be recognized?" The reply from some member of the delegation:
"To suspend the rules so that the Speaker might have a smoke!"  So it went, session after session.

Keep bringing us some of this good Tar Heel history and lore!

Best Regards,
Lane Brown


Mark said...

Why is there no hyper link to the Charlotte v. Raleigh article on the 16th? I've used the search bar and as usual it still does not come up.

Jack Betts said...

It should be up by now, but just in case it didn't work, the column link is always on the website. Here's a link:

Will Culpepper said...

Rep. Brown,

I appreciated reading this story as Billy Culpepper was my grandfather. I hope he wasn't too displeased looking down from above when his great grandson, and namesake, was born in Charlotte two years ago. Given this fact, and in hindsight, perhaps he would be more content with Mecklenburg County being a part of North Carolina.

therestofthestory said...

My wife's uncle who served in the state legislature in the 70's and early 80's and I still get into this debate. He served a county just west of Raleigh. I served as a page in the state legislature in 1971 or so and remember Jimmy Green very well. My post was 3 desks just behind him.