UNDER THE DOME

Dome: Legacy to be highway, not fundraising issue

From staff reportsJuly 17, 2011 

Travelers on a new stretch of road in Rocky Mount will be greeted with the name of a former state Board of Transportation member who resigned a few years ago after his questionable fundraising tactics came to light.

The board this month approved a request to name the 4.6-mile stretch after Thomas A. Betts Jr. The project, known as the Northern Corridor, was approved during his time on the board.

Betts resigned in 2008 after he pushed a Roanoke Rapids city official to help raise money for then-Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue's gubernatorial campaign from country singer Randy Parton and others involved in a theater there.

Betts represented the region on the board from 2003 until he resigned in early 2008. In that role, Betts helped steer money for road projects to the area.

The Rocky Mount City Council asked the board in May to name the Northern Corridor after Betts "in sincere appreciation of his selfless service and his contributions not only to the Rocky Mount/Nash County community, but to the state of North Carolina."

Perdue distanced herself from Betts after the fundraising revelation, but the two seem to have revived their connection. He was listed on the agenda of an April "Team Perdue" re-election campaign meeting.

Identifying ID rules

Likely gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory has started an ID contest to help build support for a new voter ID bill.

McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, has gone on Facebook and Twitter, and encouraged people to share places they visit or things they do when and where a photo ID is required. He is asking them to record video and upload it to YouTube, join conversations on Facebook, talk on Twitter, or visit McCrory's Voter ID blog.

"We need to send our legislative leaders a message that North Carolinians overwhelmingly support this commonsense legislation and that they must override the Governor's political veto," McCrory writes.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill requiring a photo ID to vote, but Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the bill. The Senate this week voted to override, but it is unclear whether there are enough votes in the House for an override.

McCrory was the Republican nominee for governor in 2008 and is expected to go for a rematch next year against Perdue.

Price honored

Congressman David Price is the recipient of the 2011 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, which recognizes individuals whose lives have strengthened educational, cultural and civic life of North Carolina.

Past recipients have included William Friday, Reynolds Price, Doris Waugh Betts, John Hope Franklin and Fred Chapell.

Price is unusual in politics in that he is also a political science professor and author, having taught at Duke University before his election to Congress.

The award is being given by the trustees of the N.C. Humanities Council. The ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham.

The award is named for the former chancellor of N.C. State University.

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

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