Dome: Private school debate awaits new governor

FROM STAFF REPORTSNovember 10, 2012 

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory received a welcoming message from a group that wants more charters and public money to support private school education.

“We look forward to working with the McCrory administration to create more quality parental school choice options for all families that will help prepare their children for a 21st-century economy,” wrote Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

The group worked for the law last year that eliminated the cap on charter schools, and this year it pushed unsuccessfully for a law that would have corporations get dollar-for-dollar tax refunds for contributions to private school scholarships.

Candidate McCrory expressed support for more charters and for some type of taxpayer-supported private school scholarships.

But Chris Hill, director of the education and law staff at the N.C. Justice Center, said McCrory should rethink his whole education platform.

“Since McCrory has not started the job yet, there is still time for him to consider that the best course of action is not to privatize public schools but to actually advocate that public schools have the funding and resources,” Hill wrote.

Scorecard for lawyers

Now that the post-election haze has cleared, what’s it all mean for the legal community?

N.C. Lawyers Weekly has come up with a list of winners and losers. Here’s a sampling:

Winner: “Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, who managed to hang on to his spot on the bench in an unexpectedly expensive and contentious race.”

Loser: “Paul Newby, who will surely be remembered forever as the Banjo Man.”

Winner: “Moore & Van Allen, which not only employed Pat McCrory,” but also “the firm has lobbyists – and they’re pals with the new governor.”

Loser: “Capstrat, the Raleigh public relations and lobbying firm that has long enjoyed a reputation as being a Democratic-friendly shop.”

Winners: “Crafters of those new district lines,” which helped Republicans make gains in the 13-member congressional delegation and gave both chambers of the General Assembly veto-proof majorities.

Losers: “Advocates for Justice and personal injury lawyers in general. Tort reform got jammed down their throats in 2011 and with the GOP now triumphant across the board, things will only get worse.”

Here’s the full list:

Public Safety PR chief dies

Ernie Seneca, chief public information officer for the state Department of Public Safety, died Friday morning.

Seneca, who was 51, battled several forms of cancer in recent years, spokeswoman Patty McQuillan told The Associated Press.

Seneca had been the director of public affairs for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety before it was merged into the new Department of Public Safety this year.

He worked for several newspapers in North Carolina, including the Washington Daily News and the Rocky Mount Telegram. He went to work in state government in 1990 with the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

Seneca worked in the state Division of Water Quality, and was deputy press secretary and policy adviser for Gov. Mike Easley. He was also communications director for the Department of Transportation.

He is survived by his wife, Julie.

Staff writers Lynn Bonner and Craig Jarvis

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