NCDP Clips August 27, 2013

A comparison of McCrory administration salaries vs. public school teachers, newly ‘exempt’ state employees already pulling top salaries, McCrory misfires at supposed ‘unions,’ teacher assistants see hours, jobs cut, State Elections Board to hear Montravias King, Watauga County appeals, Conservative Phyllis Schlafy’s stunning voter suppression admission and Thom Tillis: too sensitive on Twitter?

MCCRORY ADMINISTRATION

Talking About Politics: A Real Leader
Powell made clear that real leaders aren’t afraid of voters: “I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote.” McCrory’s response was extraordinary in its lameness: “The Governor appreciates the warm compliments Secretary Powell made today regarding many of the Governor’s initiatives and on voter ID we respectfully disagree.” But now Phyllis Schlafly has admitted the voter-suppression law isn’t about fraud. It’s about taking the right to vote away from Obama voters and Democrats. She wrote, "The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game.”

Indy Week: McCrory’s Staff: Pay Pals
After the Associated Press and investigative reporter Sarah Ovaska of the N.C. Policy Watch reported on the hefty paychecks pulled down by young staffers in Gov. McCrory’s administration, INDY Week compared their salaries with those earned by public school teachers and principals. The takeaway? It’s not what you know, but who you know.

WRAL: Newly exempt employees already pull in top salaries
Gov. Pat McCrory has said designating these employees exempt will give him and his cabinet secretaries more flexibility to streamline state government, hire and fire, reward strong performers and get rid of deadwood. "We want to reward our talented state employees, but seat warmers must be a thing of the past," McCrory said during his State of the State address this year. "But I want to also say, we have to continue to attract, retain, reward and appreciate our state talent that works so hard for all of us in state government."An analysis by WRAL News shows most of these newly exempt employees are already paid at the top of their salary ranges. Compared with their nonexempt colleagues, who are overwhelmingly paid at the bottom of their pay scales, the difference is stark.

PilotOnline: State agency in N.C. makes several high-salary hires
The agency has also created several new high-salary positions since Gov. Pat McCrory took office in January, The News & Observer of Raleigh reports. Joe Cooper was hired to be the agency’s information technology chief. He is making $175,000, about $20,000 more than the information technology chief for all of state government. Medicaid director Carol Steckel is making $210,000 a year, though the state’s new salary plan caps pay for that job at $136,900. She is making $48,000 more than her predecessor. The agency hired Rod Davis to be its first chief financial officer at a salary of $169,148, and its budget director, Jim Slate, received a $30,660 raise, to $144,000 this spring.

Mountain Xpress: Stepping on toes: in surprise Asheville visit, McCrory defends policies
He also said that he planned to increase vocational education, judge colleges based on the amount of jobs they created, and introduce performance pay for teachers, but “the unions are stopping us from doing that.” North Carolina does not have teachers’ unions.

WRAL: Jordan Lake Rules on hold with McCrory’s signature
Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation Friday that will delay for three years regulations designed to clean up Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake has been "impaired" by pollution, much of it nutrient-filled runoff that feeds algae, since it was constructed by the federal government decades ago.

EDUCATION

WRAL: School funding debate meets reality in classrooms
The principal at Aycock Elementary School in Vance County would like to replace world maps that are out of date and science textbooks that were current when she was a classroom teacher 13 years ago. But higher priority goes to figuring out how to provide students with worksheets for reading and math classes without the money to buy new workbooks and a school supply budget that means copies have to be rationed among teachers. "We don’t have substitutes," Rigsbee said, noting that the budget isn’t there to hire temporary replacements for teachers who are out sick. Teachers aides, gym coaches, librarians and even the principal fill in. "It’s very frustrating when you hear the governor say, ‘We’re giving more to the schools,’ and then see all the red numbers on our side of the ledger," Rigsbee said. "If we’re getting all this money, where’s it going?"

NC Policy Watch: State budget cuts temper hopes for new school year
As we walk around her classroom, Carter points out all of the little ways in which she has prepared this room to be a great place to learn for her 21 second graders. Her positivity and excitement are palpable, but as we sit down to discuss her preparations for the upcoming year, Carter speaks in hushed tones about what is to come. She is worried. Not the back-to-school jitters kind of worried; she has deep-seated concerns about the challenges she will face this year as educators grapple with a public school budget that spends $500 million less than what was spent in 2008.

The Daily Herald: Teacher assistants squeezed in Roanoke Valley
Exceptional Children teacher Evelena Drayton thinks lawmakers have no idea what impact cutting $120 million in funding for teacher assistants did for education in the state. “It is a serious matter,” said Drayton, who is a teacher at Everetts Elementary School. “With budget cuts and classroom size increases, it leaves teachers with more students to manage.” School systems in the Roanoke Valley and across the state have had to make some hard decisions concerning finding funds, reducing hours or eliminating positions after the 2013-14 state budget released in July. It cut funding for teacher assistants in second and third grade. Teacher assistants could see reduced hours in Halifax County Schools after the system received $1.5 million less in state funding.

WRAL: Study: Waivers leave behind at-risk students
Millions of at-risk students could fall through the cracks as the Education Department gives states permission to ignore parts of No Child Left Behind, according to a study education advocates released Tuesday. The Education Department has been giving states waivers from the education law’s requirements, including those to collect and publish data about students from poor families, students whose native language is not English, those with learning disabilities and minority students.

VOTING RIGHTS

Dome: State Elections Board to hear Montravias King, Watauga County appeals
Watauga County’s plan to eliminate a campus voting location and Montravias King stifled political bid will get a hearing before the State Board of Elections next week in a meeting that is sure to draw a crowd. The state board announced late Monday it would hold a Sept. 3 meeting to address the hotly debated elections moves that are generating national attention. The new Republican-led board will hear appeals to Watauga County’s plans to eliminate a one-stop voting location on the Appalachian State University campus for the 2013 municipal election, a move that may carry broader implications for future elections.

The Maddow Blog: How not to defend voter suppression in North Carolina
Last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned the state’s new voting restrictions, and yesterday, pundit Cokie Roberts said, "[W]hat’s going on about voting rights is downright evil.”But don’t worry, the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, a prominent leader of the religious right movement for decades, has a new defense. In a WorldNetDaily column, the right-wing activist offered an unexpected explanation of why some of North Carolina’s new restrictions are worthwhile. The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that "early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election."The Obama technocrats have developed an efficient system of identifying prospective Obama voters and then nagging them (some might say harassing them) until they actually vote. It may take several days to accomplish this, so early voting is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign. Have you ever heard a political figure accidentally read stage direction, unaware that it’s not supposed to be repeated out loud? This is what Schlafly’s published column reminds me of.

Politico: Obama’s big voting rights gamble
Whatever President Barack Obama says at the March on Washington ceremony on Wednesday, his administration has already sent a loud message of its own: ramping up its push on voting rights by way of a risky strategy — and pledging more tough moves to come.The irony of the historical forces colliding at that moment won’t be lost on anyone. The nation’s first African-American president, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. stood 50 years earlier, will speak at a time when many African-Americans and other minorities feel that the Voting Rights Act — one of the proudest accomplishments of the civil rights movement — is being dismantled.

2014

NPR: In Arkansas, The Senate Battle Is Already Brutal
If Republicans are going to retake the U.S. Senate in 2014, their path runs through Arkansas. The state’s two-term Democratic senator, Mark Pryor, is often called the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. And, while the election is still 15 months away, it’s already gone negative.

Slate: Tom Cotton: Race Relations Would Improve "If We Stopped Emphasizing Race in Our Public Life"
Arkansas Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton has earned some flack for his Harvard Crimson columns, in which he at turns compares a golf cup to battle, calls libertarians "sanctimonious," brushes off feminism, and says affirmative action is "superficial" diversity. A new trawl through the archives shows Cotton wrote a review for the Harvard Salient, the university’s conservative political journal, of "America In Black and White" by Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom. The thesis of the book seems to be that Democrats refuse to accept how much better life is for black people today (read: in the late ’90s) than in the pre-war era.

James Kotecki: Thom Tillis’ Twitter Tussles: A Strategic Analysis
Thom Tillis is the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He’s a Republican running for Kay Hagan’s Senate seat. And he takes Twitter very, very personally. While Hagan’s campaign feed sticks largely to the processed views of her press operation, Tillis uses Twitter to mix it up with his critics. His tweets are a lot more fun to read. But are they strategically sound?

NPR: A Guide To The Nation’s Most Vulnerable Governors
If you’re looking for the most interesting gubernatorial races to watch in the coming year, the nation’s biggest states are a good place to start. Democrats Jerry Brown and Andrew Cuomo look like safe bets for re-election in California and New York, respectively. And, despite the pending retirement of Rick Perry, Republicans are confident of maintaining their hold on the governor’s mansion in Texas. But Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois all feature embattled incumbents whose reelection campaigns will easily cost tens of millions of dollars. Michigan GOP Gov. Rick Snyder could also face a real contest.

OPINION

Fayetteville Observer: White: North Carolina GOP gets message – too much, too far
Thank you, Colin Powell, for speaking truth to North Carolina power. Republican leaders who shrug it off will do so at considerable peril. The former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was in Raleigh on Thursday, keynote speaker at the CEO Forum.He used the occasion to call out state leaders for the election-reform legislation that Gov. Pat McCrory signed just over a week ago. He made his comments moments after McCrory left the stage and was still in the audience. Powell said he wants to see "policies that encourage every American to vote, not to make it more difficult to vote. It immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican Party needs," he said. "These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away."

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Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
MBeasley
Twitter: @Micah4NC

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