Under the Dome

Dome: Forest opts for private swearing-in Monday

January 6, 2013 

Incoming Lt. Gov Dan Forest is holding an even more private swearing-in ceremony than Gov.-elect Pat McCrory.

The son of former U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-Charlotte, will hold a family-only ceremony with about 20 guests in the old Senate chambers Monday at the Capitol. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby will officiate. Hal Weatherman, Forest’s new chief of staff, said only one reporter and one TV camera are allowed to attend, even though the chamber includes more than 50 seats.

Weatherman, who also worked for Forest’s mother, maintained the event is “open and transparent” because News14, the pool TV camera, will air the event live on its station. But the station is only available to subscribers of the Time Warner cable network. News14 said it will make it available on a satellite feed for other TV stations. There’s no word on whether any will air the event.

McCrory, who was sworn in Saturday, also held an invite-only event but allowed more than one reporter to attend and aired his swearing-in ceremony live online. The governor and lieutenant governor typically take the oath in a public ceremony. The rest of the statewide elected leaders, Republicans and Democrats, will take a public oath Saturday.

Gillespie resigns from Assembly, takes new post

Mitch Gillespie, a longtime Republican member of the House, has resigned effective Sunday. He’s headed to the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to become an assistant secretary under the new boss there, John Skvarla of Pinehurst.

Gillespie, who lives in Marion, took the lead on what is termed regulatory reform last session, with a special emphasis on changing environmental regulations that restrict development. He’s been a developer and surveyor and has received substantial campaign contributions from development and energy interests. In 2011, he drew a bull’s-eye target on his legislative office window aimed at the DENR building.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Gillespie submitted his letter of resignation Friday. The General Assembly’s website confirms the resignation.

Republican leaders in District 85 will select a replacement, which the new governor will sign off on as a formality.

Charter school surge

The state Department of Public Instruction received 161 letters of intent from people and organizations who want to open new charter schools in 2014. The letter is an indication that the writer intends to submit a charter application by the March 1 deadline.

Charter applications have increased since the legislature ended the 100-charter limit two years ago.

This summer, the Public Charter Schools Advisory Council considered 63 applications for new charters to open this fall, and 25 were approved.

The State Board of Education earlier approved nine charters under a “fast track” process, and some of those opened last fall.

The advisory committee is scheduled to make its recommendations to the State Board of Education on the 2014 charters in June, with the board giving final approval in December or January 2014.

Szlosberg-Landis wants Democratic first vice chair

Nina Szlosberg-Landis, a former member of the state Board of Transportation from Raleigh, has sent out a letter saying she plans to run for first vice chair of the state Democratic Party.

Long active in Democratic Party and environmental circles, Szlosberg-Landis said the party needs new leadership, having suffered through “two very tough election cycles with devastating outcomes.”

“As you know, I have been involved in party politics for a long time now; working at the grassroots and grass tops levels,” she writes. “Organizing on the ground and raising money. Developing strategy and running tactics. And now, in a more formal leadership role, I want to dedicate the next two years supporting our party and reorganizing the state.”

She stepped down from the state transportation board after the December meeting.

The state Democratic Executive Committee is scheduled to meet in Durham on Feb. 2.

There is already a competition for state party chair with state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville, who will not be returning to the legislature, and Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller seeking the top party post.

Staff writers John Frank, Lynn Bonner and Rob Christensen

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