Wells Fargo delays in-person work again + Cawthorn accused of having knife at NC school board meeting

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Happy Wednesday, everyone. This is Kristen. Craving ramen? Uptown’s newest spot will open soon. JINYA Ramen Bar will open Sept. 20 at the new Ally Charlotte Center. Get all the details here with CharlotteFive’s Melissa Oyler.

Now, let’s get into today’s headlines:

1. One of Charlotte’s biggest employers postpones return to office plans — again

Wells Fargo is postponing its return to office plans again, according to a new memo distributed to its U.S. employees.

The bank originally set a return to in-person work on Sept. 7, then moved the date to Oct. 4, citing rising COVID-19 case rates across the country. Now, employees will return on Nov. 1.

Tuesday’s Wells Fargo memo, from Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell, did not provide a reason, as reported by the Observer’s Hannah Lang.

Wells Fargo employs more than 27,000 workers in Charlotte.

2. Madison Cawthorn accused of having knife at NC school board meeting about masks

A photo taken by and distributed by U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s political opponents has been reported to law enforcement. It appears to show the handle of a knife protruding from a sheath affixed to the underside of Cawthorn’s wheelchair.
A photo taken by and distributed by U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s political opponents has been reported to law enforcement. It appears to show the handle of a knife protruding from a sheath affixed to the underside of Cawthorn’s wheelchair.

A North Carolina school system contacted a sheriff’s office after a report that U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn brought a knife to a Henderson County school board meeting. He was there to oppose the district’s mask mandate.

What happened here?

  • On Monday, Cawthorn spoke to the school board.

  • The next day, a photo was released that appears to show a knife in a sheath attached to the bottom of his wheelchair.

  • A group opposing Cawthorn’s re-election to Congress reported him to law enforcement.

“I don’t really know anything about that,” Cawthorn said when asked about the allegations after speaking at a Johnston County school board meeting Tuesday. “I’ll have to look into it, but I don’t know anything about it.”

Having a knife on school grounds is a class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina.

Find the rest of the details here with the Observer’s Will Wright and the News & Observer’s T. Keung Hui and Travis Long.

3. Today in politics & government news

Mecklenburg leader believes someone voted on colleague’s behalf, but county drops review by Alison Kuznitz

  • The Mecklenburg County attorney is no longer reviewing whether someone voted on behalf of County Commissioner Ella Scarborough during a virtual board meeting last week.

  • “Based on our history, nothing would come from it,” County Commissioners’ Chairman George Dunlap said. “I don’t know that it would serve our community well to go through that.”

George Soros was major investor in Trump-backed NC Senate candidate’s family company by Will Wright

  • U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a Donald Trump-backed candidate in N.C.’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, has a business connection with George Soros, according to records with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • A Soros investment firm was the largest shareholder of AgriBioTech, a seed company led by Budd’s father that filed for bankruptcy in 2000, filings show.

Some Mecklenburg County employees suspended for not complying with COVID testing rule by Alison Kuznitz

  • Mecklenburg has begun suspending unvaccinated government workers who didn’t provide proof of a negative COVID test.

  • George Dunlap, chairman of the county commissioners, told the Observer Wednesday that suspensions started Tuesday.

Find the rest of our politics & government reporting here.

4. Alleged NYC mob figure arrested near Charlotte

An alleged high-ranking member of a New York crime family was arrested Tuesday in Waxhaw. The arrest is part of a federal crackdown on what court documents describe as Mafia extortion of an East Coast labor union.

The details:

  • Vincent “Vinnie Unions” Ricciardo, a captain in the Colombo crime family, appeared in federal court in Charlotte on Tuesday morning.

  • He was to be transferred to the custody of federal officials in New York, where his case will be prosecuted.

  • About a dozen suspected Mafia figures were named in a 19-count indictment from the federal courts in the Eastern District of New York.

Jacquelyn Kasulis, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the defendants’ crimes are part of “a long-standing, ruthless pattern” to prey on the union and its leaders.

Find more information with the Observer’s Michael Gordon.

5. Here’s a look inside the new men’s shelter in Charlotte open today

The exterior of the new Howard Levine Men’s Shelter on Statesville Avenue is shown on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in Charlotte. The shelter will open on September 15, 2021 and offer 164 beds for shelter guests.
The exterior of the new Howard Levine Men’s Shelter on Statesville Avenue is shown on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in Charlotte. The shelter will open on September 15, 2021 and offer 164 beds for shelter guests.

Roof Above opened the Howard Levine Men’s Shelter on Wednesday, a new 164-bed shelter on its Statesville Avenue property.

As the Observer’s Lauren Lindstrom reports, the nearly $5 million project has more private sleeping space and features two-person pods to facilitate social distancing.

The new space features a kitchen that will serve hot meals daily — a welcome amenity as the other Statesville building did not have a kitchen. It also features office space for residents to work with staff on housing, employment and other programs.

“We always look for how we can lower barriers on people’s journey out of homelessness,” Roof Above CEO Liz Clasen-Kelly said. “One way to lower barriers is to have services available on site.”

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