Mayor Foxx gets job with bus maker

Mayor Foxx gets job with bus maker

Mayor Foxx gets job with bus maker

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by Steve Harrison / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 10:08 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A fledgling Charlotte hybrid bus manufacturer that has done business with the city has a new in-house attorney: Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.

Foxx started doing legal work for DesignLine International in March, when Foxx was an attorney with Hunton & Williams. Foxx said the bus maker asked him to become its attorney, and that he has been careful about any conflicts between his public office and private job.

Foxx said on Monday that DesignLine hasn't talked with him about lobbying other cities for the manufacturer, and lobbying isn't in his job description. Many of DesignLine's potential clients are governments, who might buy the buses for their airports or transit systems. The company has contracts with Baltimore and New York.

"That's not in the job description," said Foxx, who became the city's first Democratic mayor in 22 years earlier this month. "No one has talked to me about that."

Foxx said he'll be handling any litigation for the firm as well as personnel issues.

Foxx said he recused himself last spring when the Charlotte City Council had a vote concerning the bus maker. He said he has talked with Charlotte City Attorney Mac McCarley to make sure "it won't be an issue."

Charlotte's mayor is not a full-time position, and past mayors have had other jobs. Pat McCrory, Foxx's predecessor, worked as a manager at Duke Energy, though he worked a reduced schedule. McCrory quit his Duke job when he ran for governor in 2008.

Foxx said he worked a reduced schedule at Hunton & Williams since he was elected to council in 2005. Foxx said his new job will better fit with his schedule.

"There's no question that when you are practicing law in a law firm your production is tied to your time," Foxx said. He said his new job will place a premium on his judgment and skills.

"I have more flexibility over my day," he said.

Foxx has also supported some of the city's green-energy initiatives, and one of his first acts as mayor was to sign a U.S. Conference of Mayors climate-protection agreement.

Charlotte City Council member Edwin Peacock, a Republican, said he doesn't have a problem with Foxx's new job. But he said the mayor will have to be careful if DesignLine has business before the city.

Charlotte/Douglas International Airport has had two DesignLine hybrids for two years, and may buy additional ones from the same company if its receives grant funding to help pay for the higher purchase price.

Aviation director Jerry Orr said the DesignLine hybrids cost about $500,000 - more than $200,000 more than a regular diesel bus.

"If we get the grant, we get the buses," Orr said.

One of the Charlotte/Douglas buses is featured on the manufacturer's Web site. Orr reports to City Manager Curt Walton.

The Charlotte Area Transit System doesn't own any DesignLine buses but is also considering buying the firm's hybrids, if it receives grant funding.

DesignLine chief executive Brad Glosson and his father moved the company headquarters to Charlotte from New Zealand three years ago.

The company headquarters is a 100,000 square-foot plant in southwest Charlotte.

Glosson couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

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