Under the Dome

Dome: Perdue to appoint next justice with 'informal buy-in' from panel

From staff reportsNovember 29, 2012 


Governor Bev Perdue

ROBERT WILLETT — rwillett@newsobserver.com

Gov. Bev Perdue on Thursday reaffirmed that she intends to replace departing state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson before she leaves office, but she’ll do it without her independent nominating commission having a formal role in the choice.

Instead, she will discuss one or more potential candidates with individual members of the commission for their “informal buy-in,” she told reporters after an appearance at an event in RTP.

“I can’t imagine that the person I select will be anything but the finest jurist in North Carolina, or that anybody will have any problem with it,” Perdue said.

Perdue is getting around the process that she created by executive order last year by modifying the order, ostensibly in response to a letter from the commission’s chairman on Thursday suggesting she do just that. Chairman Edwin Speas Jr. – Perdue’s former general counsel – wrote that the commission’s role might be modified or suspended because there isn’t enough time left in her term to go through the normal process. Her order creating the commission anticipated it would take about six weeks to make nominations, but it also allows her to shorten the time frame.

“If they don’t have the time to do their job well – and they’re telling me they don’t – then I’m going to make an appointment on paper, in my mind, and I’m going to pick up the phone and call them, and see if there is some deep-seated reason, or some legal reason that I don’t know about that the appointment would be inappropriate,” Perdue said. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has a problem with it. “If she has enough time to thoroughly vet an appointee, then she can prescribe the commission to do so during that time frame as well,” says a statement from Berger’s office in reaction to Speas’ letter.

Last year Republicans criticized Perdue for stacking the 18-member commission with Democrats.

Modifying the process will not require rescinding the executive order that created the commission, she said. The governor added that she thinks there will be “a couple” more judicial positions to fill before her term expires.

McCrory a Dix Visionary?

The roster of leaders guiding the Dix Visionaries’ effort to turn the Dorothea Dix property into a park includes one name that stands out: Pat McCrory.

The Republican governor-elect is listed among 80 members of the Dix Visionaries Business Advisory Council. But now McCrory is seeking to block an effort by the Dix Visionaries and Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue to approve a plan in December to lease the property to the city for a park.

A spokesman for McCrory’s transition team said Wednesday that McCrory has never been involved with Dix Visionaries. But the group disagrees.

On the website, McCrory’s title is given as “Mayor of Charlotte,” indicating that the inclusion dates back to his time as Charlotte’s top elected official (1995 to 2009). The Visionaries group, headed by Raleigh businessman Gregory Poole, has worked in an advocacy role for seven years to turn the sprawling Dix Hospital campus into Raleigh’s version of New York’s Central Park.

Over the years, Poole has recruited leading citizens from all over the state to join the cause, including mayors from N.C. cities large and small.

“Pat McCrory expressed his support for the park to Gregory Poole personally while he was mayor of Charlotte,” said Chris Shigas, a spokesman for the group. The N&O asked Dix Visionaries to provide documentation to show that McCrory was part of the group, but none was immediately provided.

Since his election as governor, McCrory has not taken a position on the merits of the park concept. Instead, he has called for a delay to allow more time for review. A spokesman did not answer questions about whether McCrory would ask for his name to be taken off the website.

Hagan amendment praised

A progressive national security group is lauding an amendment by Sen. Kay Hagan to the National Defense Authorization Act, a law that, among other things, sets the Defense Department’s budget.

Hagan’s amendment, which passed Thursday on a 54-41 vote, would repeal a section previously added by Sen. John McCain that prohibits the Defense Department from entering contracts to plan, design, refurbish or build a biofuels plant unless specifically authorized by law.

Mike Breen, executive director of the Truman National Security Project, said the vote has him “extremely encouraged.”

“Today’s vote was a victory for our military’s energy security, helping ensure that we develop technology to diversify the fuels that power our military’s vehicles, ships, and aircraft,” he said.

Breen added that he is confident the amendment will hold when a conference committee of the House and Senate convene to exact the NDAA.

The Washington-based group wants the Defense Department to spur the biofuel industry by promoting private-public partnerships with the Defense Department.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, John Frank, Matt Garfield and Austin Baird

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