Gov. Pat McCrory reiterated his support for teacher pay hikes Tuesday but tooted his horn too loudly. Talking to reporters after the Council of State meeting, the Republican said he is committed to a proposal that would increase the state’s teacher pay, which currently ranks near the bottom in the nation. "I was hoping to get a teacher raise in my first year but getting it in my second year – when it hasn’t been proposed out of the executive branch by my predecessors for the past four years – I think would be a positive step,” McCrory said.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory has begun working with a coalition of governors from coastal states to press the Obama Administration to allow exploration of offshore energy resources, particularly oil and natural gas. McCrory described his involvement with the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition at an energy conference Wednesday organized by the N.C. Chamber, the state’s influential business lobbying organization. Offshore drilling in federal waters is dependent on federal permitting, a process that has stalled in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago.
McCrory certainly isn’t the only politician “obsessed with his image.” But he shows it more than any politician I’ve ever seen. Read Taylor Batten’s remarkable and revealing account of his hour-and-40-minute interview with the Governor. Batten, editor of the Charlotte Observer’s editorial page (which endorsed McCrory for governor) wrote: “This is a man obsessed with his image and how he’s portrayed. It’s clear he doesn’t go a day without being deeply frustrated by what he sees as unfair attacks on his good name.” Three things come clear. First, it’s easy to get under McCrory’s skin. Second, he reads and remembers everything that is the least bit critical. Third, he can’t remember where he read it or who said it. He criticizes the media for getting things wrong, but he gets wrong what they got wrong.
In response to Taylor Batten’s column you reprinted Dec. 3 under the headline “In the mind of McCrory, the media to blame”: I covered many issues in my 90-minute plus interview last week with the Charlotte Observer’s editorial page editor, and here are the items that should interest nearly every resident in this state as we head into 2014.
By now, it’s apparent to most political observers that Pat McCrory’s campaign platform was a sham. He ran on fixing a broken government but never defined what exactly was broken. Most of us thought he was referring to the cronyism and petty corruption like sweetheart real estate deals that had marked recent Democratic administrations. In reality, he wasn’t talking about anything. He was just saying what he thought sounded good or what some pollster or consultant told him to say. Instead of reducing cronyism or adding transparency, he’s filled state government with overpaid, under-qualified political hires and made government operations more opaque than any administration in recent memory. The announcement that his administration will charge for public records requests is a blatant attempt to discourage scrutiny of the executive branch.
So long as politicians exercise – and abuse – power, we need the press and professors around to question power. But it looks like Republicans in Raleigh want to shut down questions and shut up critics. This after Governor McCrory promised to run an open, transparent administration. First, McCrory’s highly paid PR flacks say they aren’t being paid enough to fulfill their legal obligation to provide public records – that is, records about how our government is working and how our tax money is being spent. No, they want to charge extra for that. Then, McCrory’s political allies at the Civitas Institute demanded emails from Gene Nichols, a UNC law professor who is prone to castigating the Republicans. Maybe Nichols, like the Governor’s flacks, should charge Civitas a few thousand dollars for his time and trouble.
It’s widely accepted as an article of faith that Obamacare will be uniformly bad politics for Dems in 2014. After all, the rollout is a disaster and majorities disapprove of the law, so how could it possibly be any other way, right? Here’s something that counter-programs that narrative a bit: Democrats are currently using a major pillar of the health law — the Medicaid expansion — as a weapon against Republican Governors in multiple 2014 races. Many of these Governors opted out of the expansion or have advanced their own replacement solutions, and many are facing serious challenges.
This past Sunday, to commemorate the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—a long-planned assault on segregation in the city initiated by Rosa Parks’ civil disobedience—the RNC wrote a tweet: “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand in ending racism.” The reaction was swift as hundreds of Twitter users piled on the RNC with the hashtag #RacismEndedWhen, created by user @FeministaJones, mocking the idea that racism is anywhere close to over. Eventually, the RNC clarified, writing that the “[p]revious tweet should have read ‘Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.’" Still, this advances the idea that racism is a relic of the past. It isn’t. And over the last few days, there have been several stories that re-affirm the extent to which racial bias—and anti-black racism in particular—are real things that happen to real people. To wit, just a few hours after the RNC’s ill-considered tweet, a news station in Rochester, New York noted the arrest and detainment of three African American students, who were waiting for a school bus to take them to a basketball game when police asked them to leave. They refused. “We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the bus,” said Wan’Tauhjs Weathers, one of the teenagers, to WHEC. “We weren’t catching a city bus, we were catching a yellow bus. He didn’t care. He arrested us anyways.” And, to be clear, this was even after the coach arrived to explain the situation.
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is giving an address to a group that stresses development and diplomacy. On Monday, Hagan is scheduled to speak at a Raleigh lunch being hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Organizers say Hagan is planning to talk about America’s global leadership and its impact on North Carolina’s economy and security.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a hypocrisy charge against Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) during an interview with Nevada’s News3 on Tuesday. When anchor Jeff Gillan suggested that Heck has expressed support for immigration reform in spite of his tendency to vote with tea party Republicans, Reid butted in. "You know I have to interrupt you. That, it just galls me — what do you mean he supports it? Let him vote that way," Reid said. "He had one chance to vote. He voted to do something that is important to 800,000 to a million Americans, to give them some relief to the country. It’s the only country they know and he voted against that." Reid added that any attempt by Heck to present himself as a supporter of immigration reform was "hypocritical," saying Heck could easily "get things done" as a member of the majority party in the House of Representatives, if he so chose. "He can’t get things done because he votes with the tea party folks every time," Reid said.
Unlike the Senate, many House seats are expected to be in play next November, as Democrats will try to whittle away at the strong 77-43 majority now enjoyed by Republicans. Here are the Insider’s top five races expected to garner attention in 2014, based on interviews with lawmakers, campaign consultants and insiders from both parties. Of course, much can happen over the next few months to change these races as potential candidates decide whether they’re in or out.
Dome: Morning Memo: NC bombarded with political TV ads
If it seems like an election year when you watch TV these days, don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. A recent analysis of spending on political advertising about the federal health care law finds more money is being spent in Charlotte than anywhere else in the nation. The total spent on anti-Affordable Care Act ads is estimated at $710,000, Kantar Media reported. Raleigh ranks No. 4 at nearly $600,000. The only cities in between the two North Carolina metro areas: Cleveland and Washington. The media-tracking company’s interactive map, published by The Washington Post andothers, shows what Dome readers know well – the ads are targeting Kay Hagan and other vulnerable Senate Democrats, particularly in the South. Republicans see the federal law as the key campaign issue for 2014.
Matt Bevin stood beneath Kentucky’s Capitol dome and tore into all the things wrong with Congress, starting with the state’s U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. "How," Bevin demanded, "can we begin to remedy what ails us as a nation … if we continue to send the very same tired ideas and tired people to Washington over and over and over again?" Soon enough Alison Lundergan Grimes chimed in. "D.C. has come to stand for the dysfunctional capital," she told a pair of reporters after touring a distribution warehouse in northern Kentucky, "and after 28 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell is the institution and the reason that it’s broken down." Bevin is a tea party Republican, Grimes the daughter of a prominent Democratic family. Together, they pose the most serious threat ever faced by the Senate Republican leader: challenges from the right and left that promise to make Kentucky’s Senate race next year one of the nastiest and most expensive in the country. Also, quite likely, one of the closest.
The executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) helped Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) win his first election in 2010, fending off a tough primary and winning in spite of the huge GOP wave that year. Last cycle, he helped Democrats expand their majority despite long odds. Now he’s back for another difficult fight, with Senate Democrats defending a tough map to retain their majority in the chamber. Cecil, 39, faces another tough task in 2014. Democrats are defending seven seats in red states as well as two open seats in swing states, and Republicans need to win six seats for control of the upper chamber.
"House Democrats are stockpiling cash, and some GOP strategists have expressed concern that Democrats could use their financial advantage to expand the playing field."Nathan Gonzales reports. "Through October, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $65 million and had $25 million in the bank for the 2014 cycle. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $52 million during that same period and had $18 million in the bank. If Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in fundraising, that $7 million cash discrepancy could grow between now and next November."
House Democrats are stockpiling cash, and some GOP strategists have expressed concern that Democrats could use their financial advantage to expand the playing field. Through October, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $65 million and had $25 million in the bank for the 2014 cycle. The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $52 million during that same period and had $18 million in the bank. If Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in fundraising, that $7 million cash discrepancy could grow between now and next November. So how could that impact the midterm elections? Democratic insiders believe they will be in a great financial position no matter what political environment they are handed.
The top fundraiser behind Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid is currently in talks to take on a major fundraising role at Priorities USA — the leading super PAC that backed President Obama last year and is now positioning itself behind Clinton ahead of her possible White House run in 2016. Jonathan Mantz, who served as Clinton’s national finance director in 2008 and is one of the Democratic Party’s biggest names in fundraising, is set to join Priorities USA as a senior adviser, while retaining his position as managing director of BGR Group, a D.C.-based lobbying firm, BuzzFeed has learned.
Dozens of teachers and their supporters wore red in support of education at the New Hanover County School Board meeting. "Right now there is a mass exodus of highly qualified, fabulous North Carolina teachers leaving," said Janna Robertson, a UNCW professor. To encourage teachers to stay and stand up for better treatment, the group stood side-by-side in unity with a clear message, continuing their protest against education and teacher pay cuts. "It’s kind of a cry for help. I’ve been teaching for five years. I haven’t seen a raise and they’re taking tenure away," said Nikki Strawn, a teacher at Wilmington Early College High School. "Do I stay in a profession that I literally can not afford to stay in or do I keep hoping for change?" There may be change coming for teachers like Strawn.
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi made her case for more women in politics at Wednesday’s Women Rule Summit. “We need many more women in elected office and in policy making,” Pelosi said. “I promise you this — I know it for an absolute fact, that if you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the civility in politics, you will elect many more women. Many more women will come forward.” “This is really important. We have to do it. We will do it. We must do it. And when we do, we’ll have many more women again in leadership. It’ll benefit women in military, women in government. … We just have to have that recognition that … whatever time she may spend at home counts on her resume. That’s not a blank. It’s a gold star.”
Meanwhile, and in a completely different context, the legal metaphor around what constitutes “personhood” has been stretched beyond recognition in another direction:Across the land, the personhood movement has been attempting for several years now to confer the status of legal personhood to fertilized eggs, granting them all the same civil rights as actual people, and thus effectively banning abortions and some forms of birth control. The federal version of the proposed personhood bill would grant a “one-celled human zygote” all of the “constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” It is a movement that has dramatically split the anti-abortion community into camps that seek either to champion the crisp intellectual purity of declaring that life begins at fertilization or to merely pragmatically push for earlier bans on abortion. The fracture within the anti-abortion community hasn’t stopped a slew of GOP members of Congress, various presidential hopefuls, and state activists from pushing for personhood legislation each year. Even when it makes no legal or rhetorical sense, it appears to be a powerful talking point.
A challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday as a federal court judge hears arguments in a case being closely watched around the country. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby is expected to ask many questions during the hearing, but his ruling will likely come at a later date. There are 46 similar court challenges to same-sex marriage bans in 22 states, but Utah’s case is among the ones being closely watched because of the state’s history of being staunchly against the notion of allowing gays and lesbians to wed, said Jon Davidson, director of Lambda Legal which pursues litigation on a wide range of LGBT issues across the country.
One factor that has perpetuated the income gap is educational achievement – the single best predictor for future financial success. Since educational opportunities are disproportionately afforded to families at the top of the income ladder, the children of the less fortunate are finding social advancement through educational achievement even more difficult. A June 2013 Brookings Institution Hamilton Project report found that “children of well-off families are disproportionately likely to stay well off and children of poor families are very likely to remain poor.” High-income parents are investing more in their children, widening the gap between the children of the rich and poor in test scores, college attendance and graduation. These gaps – combined with expanding income inequality – further threaten the ability of the next generation to improve their lot in life. The report also cites an earlier 2010 Carnezale and Strohl study that found that in most selective higher education institutions “… the wealthiest students out-populate the poorest students by a margin of 14 to one.”
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
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