Under the Dome

Dome: Pittsboro mayor to seek Democratic Party chairmanship

Staff writersDecember 13, 2012 

Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller said Thursday he plans to seek the Democratic Party chairmanship next year when David Parker steps down.

Voller, a 43-year-old real estate executive, plans to hold a news conference Friday morning at state Democratic headquarters to announce his candidacy. He will likely face state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville, who is also expected to seek the post.

A contest, said Voller, “will be good for the party, and everyone should emerge a winner.”

Voller, who is Chatham County Democratic chairman, said he would focus on party building if he was elected chairman. He said Chatham County had the highest turnout of eligible voters (76.5 percent) of any county in the state in November. He said Democrats in Chatham raised $75,000 during the past year – a large figure for a modest sized county.

Lumbees may get dibs on land

The state would sell 384 acres in Robeson County to the Lumbee Indians and let them try to develop a cultural center that has failed to materialize after more than three decades of effort, under a plan advanced Wednesday.

The Lumbees would be given the first shot at buying the land, with conditions that it be preserved for public access and to protect artifacts. If that doesn’t work out, the land could be sold at public auction without those conditions.

The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee approved the plan on Wednesday, and directed staff to draw up a bill that will be introduced next year.

Committee members were concerned that the Lumbees would look to the General Assembly for additional money if the development plans don’t pan out. But a representative of the tribe told them the money was available and they were ready to purchase the land.

The property is one of four parcels comprising 528 acres that the state bought for $1.5 million in the 1980s. Its tax assessment is now $2 million. An appraisal will be done before the deal is completed.

What to do with the rest of the property remains undecided. Committee members said they thought prospects for a private buyer were slim, as long as the restrictions remain on the property. Staff estimated more than $2 million in repairs and renovations are necessary. They also said they recognized the value in preserving Native American culture and history.

Some of the property might fit into the state Division of Parks and Recreation’s long-range plans for paddling access points to the adjoining Lumber River, which has been designated one of the state’s four wild and scenic rivers.

‘Right-to-work’ protection

The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity this week called for a constitutional amendment to protect the state’s “right to work” law, which says workers can’t be forced to join unions and bans collective bargaining for public employees.

Chapter president Dallas Woodhouse made the announcement following the Michigan legislature’s approval of right-to-work legislation.

Woodhouse says AFP doesn’t doubt that the GOP-run legislature and North Carolina’s newly elected governor will uphold the law. But, he says, “fringe elements opposed to worker freedom continue to press for changes towards more forced unionization.”

(Thanks to Jonathan Kappler of the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation, Dome is reminded that House Speaker Thom Tillis was talking publicly about doing this last fall.)

The Koch Brothers-funded AFP has become an increasingly influential force in the state’s politics, with the ascent of the Republican-dominated General Assembly over the past two years.

Staff writers Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis

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