NCDP Clips for November 22, 2013

JFK 50th ANNIVERSARY

Times News: How Can We Retrieve That 1963 State of Mind?

Fifty years ago on a November afternoon we were doing great things in our country. We were inspiring people to promote peace in the world. We had stared down a Russian adversary with a reasonable and peaceful solution. We had decided to put a man on the moon. We had decided that we would move to honor the words in our Constitution by acknowledging the freedom, dignity and equality of every man’s creation. There was hope. America’s biggest asset was not our military. It was not our financial might. Our strength was America’s state of mind. It was being among people who innovate, people who dream of a better way and people who are crazy enough to think they can make something happen. They are the ones who usually do. We were asking how we can make us better instead of how to make it better for me. America’s state of mind is a fragile thing. It can turn in an instant and that afternoon, it did.

Buzzfeed: 36 Stunning Color Photos Of The Kennedy White House

FOX News: 50 years ago: JFK’s tragic final hours

Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy died, a stunned nation grieved and a million conspiracy theories were born. It was just after noon local time on Nov. 22, 1963, when the limousine carrying Kennedy entered Dealey Plaza in Dallas, its bubble top down so a smiling president, riding in the back seat with First lady Jackie Kennedy, could wave to an adoring crowd. The boyish president, a World War II Navy hero, author and former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, was just 46 and not quite three years into his first term as commander-in-chief. "Kennedy had become a talented and incandescent politician. He had developed stage presence and star quality," wrote Thomas E. Cronin, author of "Leadership Matters," in a recent Denver Post editorial. "He served as president just as pride in America was at its peak."

Buzzfeed: Here’s How The Kennedy Assassination News Broke On The Big Three TV Networks

The world was changed forever.

MCCRORY ADMINISTRATION

WNCN: Another McCrory appointment called into question

An environmental advocacy group is calling into question the appointment of the former deputy secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce to head an office within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The North Carolina chapter of the Sierra Club said Bryan Gossage, who was appointed to lead water and land conservation efforts at DENR, has no background in a related field. He was placed in the job after his previous position at the Commerce Department was eliminated. "This appears to be political patronage just getting out of hand, and that’s a real shame," said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard, spokesman for the Sierra Club. "There’s a certain amount of political-appointed jobs that come with winning an election. This administration seems to be taking it a bit further."

Charlotte Observer: Well-connected McCrory appointee’s qualifications questioned

Another high-ranking political appointee in the McCrory administration is facing questions about whether he is qualified to hold his post. Bryan Gossage leads water and land conservation efforts at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as director of the newly created Office of Land and Water Stewardship at an annual salary of $78,000. In this capacity, he manages the Clean Water Management Trust Fund – a position that is required by state law to have “training and experience in conservation, protection and management of surface water resources.”

WRAL: Former DHHS staffer takes job with Medicaid contractor

A state employee who helped oversee the construction and rollout of the NCTracks Medicaid billing system now works for Computer Sciences Corp., the contractor responsible for the troubled project. Paul Guthery was an IT manager at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he had worked since January 2010. At a hearing Wednesday, State Auditor Beth Wood described him as the agency’s "point person" for CSC, responsible for certifying NCTracks’ testing process. At least one good-government watchdog says his jump from supervising the company to working for it raises the appearance of a potential conflict of interest, one that the state should try to avoid in the future.

NCGA

Dome: State Senate’s lead budget writer leaving office

State Sen. Pete Brunstetter is leaving office next month, to accept a position as executive vice president and chief legal officer with Novant Health, which has hospitals in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. The departure of the Winston-Salem Republican leaves the legislature without one of its most knowledgeable budget writers. Brunstetter, 57, said it was a “terrific opportunity” to join what he called “an innovative and cutting-edge health-care company.” Brunstetter is in his fifth term and was the state Senate’s lead budget writer and negotiator. He flirted with running for the U.S. Senate next year, before turning down a statewide campaign. Brunstetter said at the time he wanted to focus on state issues.

News & Observer: State Senate’s lead budget writer leaving office

State Sen. Pete Brunstetter is leaving office next month, to accept a position as executive vice president and chief legal officer with Novant Health, which has hospitals in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. The departure of the Winston-Salem Republican leaves the legislature without one of its most knowledgeable budget writers. Brunstetter, 57, said it was a “terrific opportunity” to join what he called “an innovative and cutting-edge health-care company.” Brunstetter is in his fifth term and was the state Senate’s lead budget writer and negotiator. He flirted with running for the U.S. Senate next year, before turning down a statewide campaign. Brunstetter said at the time he wanted to focus on state issues.

Winston-Salem Journal: NC Senate budget-writer Brunstetter to resign

A key budget-writer in the North Carolina state Senate said Thursday he’s leaving the General Assembly next month to become a top executive at a large hospital system. Sen. Pete Brunstetter, R-Forsyth, said he’ll resign effective Dec. 15 because he’s taking a job as executive vice president and chief legal counsel for Winston-Salem-based Novant Health. Currently a corporate lawyer for one of the state’s most prestigious law firms, Brunstetter said it was too difficult to remain in the Senate – with all of its health care-related issues – while working for Novant. The not-for-profit company operates more than a dozen hospitals in three states, employs 24,000 people and has more than 1,100 medical group doctors.

WNCT: NC Rural Center board stops ex-president payment

The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center’s board has decided not to give a special $242,000 severance to its founding president. The board voted Thursday against giving the payment to Billy Ray Hall, who resigned over the summer. The group was designed to help rural communities but its state funding was cut off after a critical audit. State Auditor Beth Wood’s office said in July that Hall’s $221,000 salary was unreasonable and the center neither adequately monitored state funds received nor verified job-creation claims. Most center funds are now in state hands.

WNCT: Rate cases raise ethics questions at NC Utilities Commission

If Aqua North Carolina gets what it wants, nearly 100,000 water customers, many of them in the Triangle, will have to shell out a whole lot more money. The company is asking for a 19 percent rate hike that could cost the average family more than $200 a year. Aqua NC provides water and waste water service to many who live in subdivisions not covered by city water service. "We’re asking for recovery of investments already made that are already benefiting the customer," said Tom Roberts, the president of Aqua NC. The company went before the NC Utilities Commission at a public hearing Thursday night to hear customers concerns. One of those concerns voiced by homeowners and watchdog groups–whether there are conflicts of interest–involving those who decide to grant–or deny rate hikes. WNCN Investigates uncovered–many of the people making the decisions have previous ties to the companies they are often regulating. The Utilities Commission regulates the rates and services of all public utilities in the state, such as Aqua NC.

U.S. CONGRESS

Roll Call: Democrats Go ‘Nuclear,’ Eliminate Filibusters on Most Nominees (Update)

Senate Democrats succeeded Thursday in deploying the “nuclear option” to make the most fundamental change to floor operations in almost four decades, ending the minority’s ability to kill most presidential nominations by filibuster. The Senate voted, 52-48, to effectively change the rules by rejecting the opinion of the presiding officer that a supermajority is required to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on executive branch nominees and those for seats on federal courts short of the Supreme Court. Three Democrats — Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — voted to keep the rules unchanged. The move came after Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., raised a point of order that only a majority of senators were required to break filibusters of such nominees. Presiding over the Senate as president pro tem, Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont issued a ruling in line with past precedent, saying that 60 votes were required. Leahy personally supported making the change.

The Washington Post: Nine reasons the filibuster change is a huge deal

The change the Senate made today is small but consequential: The filibuster no longer applies to judicial or executive-branch nominees. It still applies to bills and Supreme Court nominations. Well, technically it still applies to all bills and Supreme Court nominations. In practice, legislation that mainly uses the government’s tax and spending powers can evade the filibuster using the budget reconciliation procedures. That’s how George W. Bush’s tax cuts passed, and how Obamacare was finished. As for the Supreme Court, it’s very hard to believe that Democrats or Republicans would accept filibusters of qualified Supreme Court nominees, either. And, as Democrats proved today, they don’t have to.

WCNC: US House hearing to air NC health law complaints

Congressional Republicans are making North Carolina their centerpiece for opposition to the federal health insurance overhaul law. Republican U.S. Reps. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte and Renee Ellmers of Dunn were holding an online video conference call Thursday to hear from constituents with complaints about the law backed by President Barack Obama. Congressional critics of the law meet in Gastonia on Friday to hear from five North Carolina residents. The U.S. House committee headed by Republican Congressman Darrell Issa (EYE’-sah) of California plans to hear fears of insurance rate increases.

2014

Fayetteville Observer: Karl Rove visits Fayetteville to raise money for Thom Tillis

Former George W. Bush strategist and presidential adviser Karl Rove visited Fayetteville on Wednesday to raise money for Thom Tillis, the state House speaker and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. The soiree was held at the home of Terry and Rosalind Hutchens and open to people donating $1,000 to $2,600. The event was closed to the press; neither Rove nor Tillis granted interviews before the fundraiser. Attendance and fundraising figures were not available Wednesday. Terry Hutchens, founder of the Hutchens Law Firm of Fayetteville, Charlotte and Wilmington, is a longtime supporter of Republican candidates, said Republican political consultant Carter Wrenn. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is the incumbent. Tillis faces at least four announced candidates in the Republican primary. Rove’s appearances for Tillis here and in Cary and Charlotte this week show that North Carolina will be a battleground in Republican efforts to end the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, Wrenn said.

Dome: Environmentalists praise Hagan for her votes to reduce mercury pollution

The League of Conservation Voters launched a new ad in North Carolina on Thursday thanking Sen. Kay Hagan for her votes in the U.S. Senate to support Environmental Protection Agency regulations that reduce mercury pollution. The ad opens on a family with two small children at a dining table. A narrator says: “They can’t see it but they sure feel its effects – asthma attacks, birth defects, even heart attacks. Mercury pollution.” The Hagan ad started Thursday and will run through Dec. 4 in the Charlotte media market at a cost of $305,000, the organization said. It’s part of a $1 million national ad buy by the League to praise Hagan and four other members of Congress for environmental protection votes.

Dome: Morning Memo: Senate tea party candidates find common enemy in Tillis

The four tea party candidates in the U.S. Senate race found a common enemy Thursday and it wasn’t Democrat Kay Hagan. If you take a look at Jim Morrill’s report from the Gaston County tea party meeting, Thom Tillis is the target of most the barbs. It didn’t help that the Republican House speaker reinforced the perception that he is the establishment candidate by holding a fundraiser the same night with Karl Rove. From the story: “Let’s face it,” said local tea party leader Christian Hine, who carried a sign that read: “Liber-TEA, not Rove.” “Karl Rove declared war on the tea party in February.” That was when Rove launched the super PAC called Conservative Victory Project designed to back candidates that he said would give Republicans the best chance to win.

2016

ABC 11: Cooper talks future at Democratic fundraiser in Durham

Democrats taking over the General Assembly and the governor’s seat was the talk of a fundraiser Wednesday evening in Durham. Possible governor hopeful Attorney General Roy Cooper was in attendance. Cooper did not make any official announcement about running for governor. He did, however, talk about his disappointment with decisions made in this year’s legislative session. "We need a change in North Carolina," Cooper told the crowd. "In 2016, we’ve got to make sure we have a majority in the state legislature, and if I might add, we need to elect a new governor in 2016, and I’ll be talking to you about that."

Politico: Hillary Clinton applauds heckler at green speech

Hillary Clinton on Thursday argued that women can play a critical role in promoting sustainability while speaking at a Philadelphia event, where she also dealt lightheartedly with what appeared to be a friendly heckler. “[In] developed countries, we still have to keep knocking barriers down to women’s full participation on boards of companies that make decisions about sustainability, in corporate suites where people make decisions about sustainability,” she said to cheers, speaking at a conference held by the U.S. Green Building Council. “Now I’m not one who will say automatically that having women involved makes a difference just by the fact of the women being there, but there’s growing evidence that corporations with women in leadership positions, as corporate executives, and in the board, are actually more focused on sustainability.”

Politico: Fla. poll: Hillary Clinton beats Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would top former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in their home state in 2016, a new poll finds. Clinton holds a narrow lead over Bush, 47 percent to 45 percent, and leads Rubio 50 percent to 43 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Friday. The former first lady also tops the other possible Republican candidates in the poll. She leads New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by 4 points, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan by 8 points, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by 10 points and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 16 points.

ECONOMY

DigTriad: NC Jobless Rate Shows Improvement

North Carolina’s unemployment rate is continuing a slow improvement, falling in September to 8.3 percent and dropping again to 8.0 percent in October. The state Commerce Department on Friday reported the unemployment rates for both months after delays related to the federal government shutdown. North Carolina’s jobs picture remained worse than the nation’s jobless rate, which was 7.3 percent in October. The state and the country have seen unemployment rates fall through most of this year and the North Carolina rate is more than a percentage point lower than the 9.4 percent recorded a year ago. The trend has come in large part because many people stopped looking for a job.

HEALTHCARE

ABC 11: Beth Wood defends North Carolina Medicaid audit for second day
North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood defended a Medicaid audit done by her office for the second straight day Wednesday – using perhaps some of her strongest language yet when it comes to the Department of Health and Human Services controversy surrounding the NCTracks computer system which is how Medicaid providers get paid. Wood addressed a letter she sent to the legislative oversight committee last month clarifying what she says was misinformation given to lawmakers. Wood says her office told DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos in March that the NCTracks system may not be able to go live on July 1 because of problems the Medicaid audit uncovered months before the audit was released in May.

Huffington Post: You Won’t Even Believe How Little A Mother Of 3 Must Make To Qualify For Medicaid In Texas

No, Medicaid expansion hasn’t been a complete success, and contrast to the HealthCare.gov troubles, the issue isn’t technical: it’s political. Due to the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that states can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, only half of the states — all of them Republican-controlled — have elected to extend Medicaid coverage according to the Affordable Care Act’s provisions. As a result, millions of low-income Americans are missing out on health insurance because they don’t meet their state’s income qualifications for Medicaid. Some of the qualifications are ridiculously low: a single mother of three kids in Texas must makeunder $3,737 to receive Medicaid. Chris Walker, a data visualization expert, created an interactive graphic (scroll down to see) showing the impact of a state’s decision whether to extend Medicaid coverage. Using a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Walker’s visualization is a perspective on the contrast between what level of income qualifies for Medicaid coverage in states that adopted the ACA’s provisions and those that opted out.

Politics NC: My Obamacare story
Republicans who are cheering for Obamacare to fail are really hoping that a lot of sick people don’t get treatment. They can rant and rave about government intrusion all they want but this program will have a real impact on the lives of real people. And it’s going to help a lot more than it’s going to hurt. I’m biased. I’m one of the people it will help. I’ve been self-employed for the past 20 years and, until this year, have bought insurance on the individual market. I had good coverage, but I paid for it. But that only worked in the good times. When the recession hit, I got burned.

WNCN: NC using new health care models to tackle doctor shortage

The Triangle is renowned for its medical and research centers. But behind the scenes, there is a shortage of doctors, mostly primary care physicians. Experts believe the shortage nationally could be as high as 130,600 by 2025.Some believe that Obamacare will complicate the already short supply of doctors. Dr. Lloyd Michener is the Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Duke. He says people are struggling these days to find a doctor. "That’s one of the challenges of North Carolina. Like many states are, there are places in the state where it’s hard. Eastern North Carolina, up towards the Virginia border, we have places that are severely short," says Michener.

WOMEN

The Daily Beast: The People Have Spoken On Abortion Republicans are in trouble.

After its shellacking in the 2012 election, the Republican Party issued an “autopsy” report that foretold continued losses unless the party moderated its positions, especially on social issues. Voters, the party found, identify Republicans as being “scary”, “narrow minded”, “out of touch” “stuffy old men”. Which was a sufficient problem in 2012 but as the electorate gets younger and more racially diverse, those labels—and the retrograde policy stances that inspire them in voters—are basically a death knell for conservatives. And yet it would appear that, all warnings aside, Republicans simply can’t help themselves. And thus, the Republican Party cannot avoid its rapid death spiral into political irrelevance. The latest case in point comes from Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, in a purple city in a reliably purple state, voters struck down a municipal ballot seeking to ban all abortions in the city after 20 weeks. Weeks before, voters in Virginia chose an inexperienced political hack over a well-known state leader largely because the latter—Republican Ken Cuccinelli—supported a host of draconian restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.

The Daily Beast: Can Congress Protect All Women? I-VAWA Is Gaining Backers

A strong liberal and a feminist, Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky worked hard to win bipartisan backing for the International Women Against Violence Act. It was touch and go until Thursday morning, when just hours before she was scheduled to introduce the bill on the House floor, two upstate New York Republicans, Reps. Richard Hanna and Chris Gibson, agreed to sign on to the legislation known as I-VAWA, which Schakowsky says “would make ending violence against women a pillar in foreign policy… to be considered in all things that we do.” Schakowsky calls Hillary Clinton as secretary of State “a major force in making sure the mindfulness about women was there,” but says statutes are needed to make permanent the Office for Global Women’s Issues in the State Department, led by an ambassador-at-large, and to create a senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

CIVITAS

Southern Studies: Conservative group demands emails, phone records of UNC anti-poverty crusader after critical newspaper column

A think tank founded and almost wholly funded by conservative mega-donor and North Carolina budget director Art Pope recently filed a broad Freedom of Information Act requestseeking all emails and other records of a University of North Carolina law school professor and anti-poverty crusader over a month-long period. The Raleigh, N.C.-based Civitas Institute wants the email correspondence, phone records, and calendars of Gene Nichol, director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunityand a Moral Monday protest participant. It seeks Nichols’ records during the period from Sept. 14 through Oct. 25, the day the request was filed. Civitas submitted the FOIA request the week after Nichol wrote a newspaper column critical of the McCrory administration.

OPINION

The New York Times: Democracy Returns to the Senate

For five years, Senate Republicans have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

Citizen-Times: Seconds sentiments in McMinn column

Lee McMinn hits the nail on the head in his guest column “More mischief from Raleigh” (AC-T, Nov. 19) regarding Gov. Pat McCrory’s formation of a “Teacher Adviser Committee” meant to “… help him understand the (education) problem.” McMinn asks, “Is the governor’s committee a placebo, designed to relieve pressure through illusion?” I believe it is. McCrory is playing “good cop” to the state legislature’s “bad cop.” He claims to be looking at many options to increase pay for public school teachers (AC-T, Nov. 15) with the obvious knowledge that the legislature will kill any option that’s chosen. Still, it makes him look like the “education” governor fighting for teachers.

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

Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.