More big salaries uncovered at DHHS, veto override fallout continues pitting Republican against Republican, new polling finds NC’s image taking a hit at the national level, Watauga County Republican comes out swinging against local voter suppression tactics, McConnell continues to get heat from the right in Senate primary and the ‘tragic waste’ of the economic fallout response
Every day I say: Today I won’t pick on Governor McCrory. Then he does something so boneheaded I can’t resist. Like his parting shots at the legislature. He looked like the 98-pound weakling sticking out his tongue long after the bully who kicked sand in his face walked down the beach. The legislature made quick work this week of his two vetoes. Then the Governor said that, notwithstanding his oath of office, he wouldn’t carry out one law and would work around the other. And he came up with a “solution” to the teachers masters’ degree debacle that even his own Board of Education chairman said won’t work and that his communications director and education adviser couldn’t explain Senate leaders shot back. "It seems a little instrument called the state constitution is being ignored," said Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, "All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the constitution. We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law."
MORE HUGE SALARIES AT DHHS — Secretary hired staffer from husband’s firm; McCrory’s office says he does a "helluva" good job: An adviser to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has been paid more than $228,000 by the state for eight months of work. The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a personal services contract with Joe Hauck to serve as "senior adviser" at the agency. The initial contract was extended at least four times between March 1 and Aug. 1, and was modified at least once to pay him more "due to increased hours of work per day," according to a state Department of Health and Human Services contracts website. According to DHHS, Hauck started under contract in January to work in Wos’ office. The contract is now set to expire Nov. 30, and it is capped at $310,000.
An adviser to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has been paid more than $228,000 by the state for eight months of work. The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a personal services contract with Joe Hauck to serve as “senior adviser” at the agency. The initial contract was extended at least four times between March 1 and Aug. 1, and was modified at least once to pay him more “due to increased hours of work per day,” according to a state Department of Health and Human Services contracts website.
Unlike most states, where a governor shares a state capitol building with the state legislature, there is a physical remove between North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s office and the building in which the 170 members of the state House and Senate meet to conduct their business. The distance is only the length of a city block, along a promenade between the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Museum of History. But given the tensions between McCrory, a Republican, and the leaders of the two chambers, it might as well be a gulf that stretches from Raleigh to Charlotte.
State-level progressive and pro-teacher groups held a press conference this week to criticize raises for two young, relatively inexperienced executive branch workers as hypocritical and politically motivated — and some local teachers were also up in arms about the developing issue. “If the governor says we need to tighten our belts, it should be across all government,” said Vickie Wilkins, a teacher at Southern Lee High School, who is also president of the Lee County branch of the North Carolina Association of Educators. The NCAE is the closest thing to a teachers’ union in North Carolina, where collective bargaining is outlawed.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s surprising announcement Wednesday that he would not execute a newly enacted law is drawing criticism from at least one conservative group. The Civitas Institute began Tweeting and posted a clear message on its website: “Tell Governor McCrory to enforce the law.” McCrory said he would not let his Department of Health and Human Services begin implementing a new law that allows drug testing of welfare applicants if social workers suspect there is a reason to. McCrory had vetoed that bill, but this week the General Assembly overrode him.
In just 10 minutes, the N.C. Senate voted Wednesday to override Gov. Pat McCrory’s only two legislative vetoes, bringing the General Assembly’s 2013 special session to a close. The action mirrored the N.C. House of Representatives’ decision Tuesday, which also attained the three-fifths majority necessary to override the governor’s veto on a welfare drug testing bill and an immigration bill.
In a week that brought Gov. Pat McCrory stinging defeats, with lawmakers from his own party overriding his first two vetoes, the Republican governor Wednesday responded by criticizing legislators and throwing up roadblocks to the new laws that he had opposed. McCrory vowed not to implement a new law requiring drug tests for some welfare recipients until the legislature finds the money to pay for it. And he said his administration would further scrutinize a new immigration law to make sure it complies with the “letter and spirit” of federal law.
Two bills vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory will become law anyway now that the General Assembly has formally canceled them.The Senate voted to override the vetoes by comfortable margins Wednesday morning, a day after the House did the same thing. The Senate took less than 10 minutes on both bills.
Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday accused unnamed High Point manufacturers of pushing for a loophole in state law so they can hire illegal immigrants instead of American citizens. “In fact, some of the manufacturers in towns like a High Point worked hard for this bill because they, frankly, want to hire illegal immigrants as opposed to North Carolina workers,” McCrory said at the board meeting.
A spokesman for the N.C. Department of Labor said Thursday that the agency doesn’t have widespread complaints against home furnishings companies for employing undocumented workers, a day after Gov. Pat McCrory made the accusation during a speech in Raleigh.The GOP governor accused High Point area manufacturers of backing a bill McCrory vetoed that allows employers extra time to verify the legal status of a worker. The N.C. General Assembly this week overrode McCrory’s veto from earlier this summer of legislation that extends from three months to nine months the amount of time an employee can draw a paycheck without having his or her legal status cleared though a federal database known as E-Verify.
Kieran Shanahan’s unexpected resignation as head of the state’s public safety agency in July came as he appeared to be making long-term plans to remain in the job. Three days before he resigned, efforts were underway to complete his clearance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that he could be designated as the state official eligible to receive sensitive information in North Carolina about terrorist and other threats. Also, the Office of State Budget and Management planned to have a “strategic” budget meeting with Shanahan on the day before he departed, which Shanahan indicated he would attend.
North Carolina’s national image has slipped with all the negative publicity surrounding its sharp turn to the right, according to new survey.Two years ago, North Carolina was regarded among the ten most popular states in the country, with 40 percent of voters rating it favorably to only 11 percent having a negative opinion, according to Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh. But a new national poll by the firm has found that its favorable rating has dropped from 40 percent to 30 percent, while those viewing it unfavorably has gone from 11 percent to 23 percent.
Legislative oversight committees will keep tabs on a pair of troubled computer systems designed to ensure needy families get benefit payments and health providers are paid for care to those families."We’ve got two things called NCTracks and NC FAST over there that aren’t on track and aren’t fast and are about to kill this state," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe. NCTracks is designed to provide payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who work with Medicaid, the state health insurance system for the poor and disabled. Nesbitt, the Senate minority leader. cited reports from providers that they are having problems getting paid under the newly implemented system.
Despite the Republican presence in most legislatures and governors’ mansions across the South, Democratic leaders are looking to reclaim the region in 2014 and beyond. Party leaders from 10 states, including North Carolina, recently formed the “Committee of the South” to combine resources and strengthen the Democratic party in the traditionally conservative region. The committee aims to fortify regional Democratic candidates and establish a more powerful national presence, said Robert Dempsey, the executive director of the N.C. Democratic Party.
In an effort to move the resolution authorizing the use of force against Syria to the floor as quickly as possible, the Senate is expected to return for a brief session on Friday. The short session would allow the filing of the use of force resolution, a senior Senate Democratic aide said. The move would allow the measure, which was reported out by the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday afternoon on a 10-7 vote, to be on the calendar by the time the Senate really returns on Sept. 9. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could then move to proceed and file a motion to limit debate, setting up a first test vote on Sept. 11.
For the first time since the Iraq War in 2002, Congress is debating military action in the Middle East. But this time around, the resistance is palpable—most notably from the very Republicans who supported President Bush in the run-up to Iraq. Their reasons for opposing intervention in Syria differ. Some are scarred by what they see as mistakes made in Iraq. Others seem to be motivated by Obama himself, and the urge to oppose him at any cost.
President Barack Obama will address the American people on Syria from the White House on Tuesday, he said Friday. Obama’s comments came as he spoke at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
When Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 589 last week, the controversial Voter Information Verification Act, he said in an op-ed published inThe News and Observer,“The common sense election reforms I just signed into law will protect the integrity of one of the most precious rights guaranteed in our state constitution, the right to vote.” But the ink from the Republican governor’s signature was barely dry before a litany of progressive civil rights groups, led by the North Carolina NAACP, were lining up at the federal courthouse door, filing separate lawsuits to stop what they say are unconstitutional “voter suppression” measures to impose unwarranted voter photo ID, and end same day voter registration, Sunday voting, straight-ticket voting and pre-voter registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
The "vote truthers" trolling for fraud in North Carolina — groups like the N.C. Voter Integrity Project that watch and challenge voters — may now themselves become the watched.Bryan Perlmutter, a recent graduate of N.C. State University in Raleigh, is leading a student-run initiative called the N.C. Vote Defenders that will train and organize North Carolina college students to protect voters — especially college students and people of color — from overzealous poll watchers. The effort comes in response to the state’s controversial new Voter Information Verification Act, which contains provisions that expand the powers of amateur poll observers — activities that have hazardous racial histories in North Carolina and beyond.
Casey Miller, a registered Republican of Watauga County, penned the following letter addressed to Claude Pope, chairman of the N.C. GOP, after attending an Executive Committee Meeting of the Watauga County Republican Party on Aug. 29. Miller also sent the letter to Todd Poole, executive director of the N.C. GOP Executive Committee. Read the entire letter below:
Liz Cheney wants everyone to know that, were she in the Senate, there’s no way she would support President Obama’s request for congressional authorization of military intervention in Syria. That, at least, is what Cheney told the crowd of 150 Jackson Hole Tea Partiers who gathered Tuesday night at the Snow King Resort in Wyoming to hear her make the case for why she should be their next U.S. senator. According to one meeting attendee, the candidate’s Syria declaration sparked loud, energetic applause.The response is hardly surprising. Public support for wading into the Syria morass is downright feeble—the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll puts it at 19 percent—and Tea Partiers in particular are known less for their interventionist leanings than Rand Paulian isolationist ones.
Syria, once the center of the Islamic empire, has been the scene of many conquests throughout history before its present incarnation as a dictatorship led by a small Shiite Muslim sect battling a rebellion of Sunni Muslims. As a result, this land of mountains, fertile plains and desert is home to many ethnicities and religious groups.
In a move that dramatically shakes up Rhode Island’s political world, Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced Wednesday outside the state Department of Motor Vehicles that he will not seek re-election next year. Chafee, who was elected in 2010 and still has more than a year in office, said he wanted to finish his term focused on "issues that Rhode Islanders would like him to focus on" rather than engage in a "hugely time consuming" campaign. The former U.S. senator said the decision comes after many long conversations with his wife, Stephanie. The governor said he informed his staff Wednesday morning of his decision.
A leading tea-party group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, has booked a $340,000 television-ad buy in Kentucky attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his failure to join the movement to defund Obamacare."McConnell’s the Senate Republican leader, but he refuses to lead on defunding Obamacare," says the ad, a copy of which was shared with National Journal. "What good is a leader like that?" The ad is set to air from Sept. 6 through Sept. 17, according to the group. The Senate Conservatives Fund, which was founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint but is now independent of him, has not endorsed McConnell’s Republican primary opponent, Matt Bevin. The group, however, is openly considering doing so and its executive director, Matt Hoskins, said in July that McConnell "needs to consider whether it might be time to hang it up." The fight to defund President Obama’s health care law faces a key Oct. 1 deadline, and the ad says, "Tell Mitch McConnell to join the fight to stop Obamacare, before it’s too late."
North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper said Thursday that he is weighing a run for governor, becoming the second prominent Democrat in two days to say he is looking at a run against Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. On Wednesday, former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker said he was looking at running against McCrory in 2016. "I am concerned about where we are headed in our state. I am concerned about that direction," Cooper said, when asked directly if he would run. "I want to be a part of that change. "It’s certainly too early to make any formal announcements but I want to be part of moving North Carolina forward and moving in the right direction."
The closer Congress gets to voting on whether to back President Barack Obama’s call for a military attack on Syria, the more election politics influences the debate. Splits exist on both the left and right, revealing the political calculations of Washington regarding next year’s congressional elections and the 2016 presidential vote. While the 2014 contests faced by every House member and a third of the Senate are more proximate, the machinations at work in debating and acting on the Syria issue also are heavily focused on the balloting three years from now to choose Obama’s successor.
Set aside the politics for a moment, and ask what the past five years would have looked like if the U.S. government had actually been able and willing to do what textbook macroeconomics says it should have done — namely, make a big enough push for job creation to offset the effects of the financial crunch and the housing bust, postponing fiscal austerity and tax increases until the private sector was ready to take up the slack. I’ve done a back-of-the-envelope calculation of what such a program would have entailed: It would have been about three times as big as the stimulus we actually got, and would have been much more focused on spending rather than tax cuts.
This is a particularly bad time to sell the American people a war, and make no mistake: we are being sold, and this “military action,” in another time and place — and in some quarters, here and now — would be called an act of war. According to Gallup, only 10 percent of Americans now have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress, a record low since Gallup started tracking the measure in 1973. Only 36 percent have the same level of confidence in the presidency.
Micah Beasley, Press Secretary
North Carolina Democratic Party
|Paid for by North Carolina Democratic Party. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.|