Dome: Golden LEAF will watch grant recipients more closely

FROM STAFF REPORTSSeptember 4, 2012 

The state-funded Golden LEAF Foundation is upgrading efforts to monitor recipients of its economic development grants in the wake of a new report by the State Auditor’s Office.

The audit issued last week by State Auditor Beth Wood reported that Golden LEAF agreed with the recommendation that it develop a “comprehensive plan” for monitoring grant recipients and other suggested changes. The foundation’s board of directors endorsed the recommendations at its August meeting and the foundation is in the process of hiring another employee to help oversee grant recipients, which would give it eight employees devoted to that task, according to the report.

The mission of Golden LEAF, which is funded out of the state’s share of a national legal settlement with cigarette manufacturers, is to promote economic development in tobacco-dependent and economically distressed regions of the state. Founded in 1999, the foundation has made hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, including $46.4 million in 2011.

The audit, which covered the six-month period that ended Dec. 31, found a deficiency in internal controls that included instances in which the foundation didn’t obtain documents – such as canceled checks and invoices – that support a grant recipient’s report of how the funds are being used.

GOP: Obama won’t win N.C.

Republican legislative leaders said in a conference call Tuesday that President Barack Obama won’t win North Carolina despite Democrats’ holding their national convention in Charlotte. They also predicted the GOP would extend its majority in the state legislature.

“Conventions have little effect on election outcome,” said House Speaker Thom Tillis, who lives in Mecklenburg County.

Obama won North Carolina narrowly in 2008, Tillis said, and the circumstances that led to that victory don’t exist four years later. Republicans have a 68-52 majority in the state House, and a 31-19 advantage in the state Senate. Tillis said Republicans have a good chance of reaching a veto-proof majority of 72 seats with the November elections.

Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County, said Senate Republicans have a chance to maintain their 12-vote advantage. “Whether we will or not depends on fundraising,” he said.

The economic environment this year is similar to 2010, Berger said, when Republicans won majorities in both legislative chambers for the first time in more than a century.

What went unmentioned in the call was the advantage Republicans gave themselves in redistricting. Republicans were in charge of drawing new district lines this year. The new districts make it easier for Republicans to extend their majorities.

Fake Perdue fools MSNBC

MSNBC fell for the fake Gov. Bev Perdue on Twitter, more than once, a tweet-curating website reports.

The TV news program is trailing political tweets across the bottom of the screen during some of its coverage of the Democratic National Convention, as it did with the Republican convention last week.

During host Chris Matthews’ show, one trailer attributed to “@GovBevPerdue” remarked: “Welcome to North Carolina, Democrats! Can’t wait to tell everyone about NC’s great economy, low unemployment and my high approval.”

Problem with that bit of sarcasm is that it isn’t the governor’s Twitter account. It’s a parody whose unknown author has weighed in periodically on the state’s political events.

The gaff was caught by twitchy.com, a website started by conservative blogger, commentator and author Michelle Malkin. The site curates a sampling of Tweets from across the Twittersphere. It reports the fake Perdue tweets showed up on other MSNBC programs, too. Examiner.com, a website fed by local contributors, reported the twitchy.com scoop.

In May, The Huffington Post fell for the gag, quoting the Perdue parody as having apologized to the governor of Mississippi for her comment that the marriage amendment voters passed made North Carolina look like that state.

“Called the Mississippi governor today and apologized for my remarks,” the parody said. “Offered to send him some Bojangles Bo-Berry biscuits to make amends.”

That didn’t happen, and The Huffington Post admitted it had been hoodwinked.

The Twitter account clearly admits it’s a parody. It also says: “73rd Governor of North Carolina. 1st Female Governor of North Carolina, and now probably the last.”

Staff writers David Ranii, Lynn Bonner and Craig Jarvis

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