Dome: Inaugural weekend ends with entourage-bearing limos

FROM STAFF REPORTSJanuary 13, 2013 

Inaugural festivities concluded with Saturday night’s bash at the Raleigh Convention Center that served as a fundraiser for a new nonprofit conservative group and a chance to party with Gov. Pat McCrory. Guests arrived in chauffeured sedans, limousines and cabs.

McCrory’s new public safety secretary, Kieran Shanahan, arrived in a black stretch limo with a deep entourage. He emerged holding what appeared to be a red Solo cup and sipped from it on the sidewalk as he talked to State Highway Patrol officers before entering the venue.

Across the street, about 30 protesters demonstrated, saying the event represented a trend where those who pay the most get the best access to the new governor. “Governor for sale. Step right up. Tonight Only. And probably tomorrow,” said Dov Rosenberg, emulating his best carnival barker voice.

Rosenberg, a public school teacher, said he is concerned about what McCrory and the Republican legislature will do to education funding. The protest was organized by Progress North Carolina, a liberal nonprofit group that, like event organizer Foundation for North Carolina, hides behind tax law that doesn’t require the disclosure of its donors.

Guests paid $75 to hear two bands, including beach music specialists Chairmen of the Board. Inside the venue, it look much like it did a night earlier at the Junior League’s inaugural ball, except this time Democrats were hard to find. Most guests were state lawmakers, congressmen, McCrory administration officials, campaign supporters, lobbyists, Supreme Court justices, GOP donors and other party faithful. One of the rare Democrats spotted: State Auditor Beth Wood.

McCrory took the stage to make brief remarks. He thanked the crowd for its support and rehashed a few talking points from his inaugural address and recent speeches.

Before he left the stage, he sat behind the drums and played the beat to Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” as he did a couple of nights before at another inaugural event.

“I think this is the only part he knows,” said Henry Hinton, a McCrory supporter who served as emcee.

DENR leaders named

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla has named his team to run the agency. As expected, former state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a small-business owner and a long-time critic of DENR, was named assistant secretary for the environment.

Brad Ives was named assistant secretary for natural resources. He is currently vice president for corporate development at Semprius, a manufacturer of solar panels in Research Triangle Park.

Neal Robbins was named director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs. He is an attorney with Robbins Law in Winston-Salem, where his practice focused on debtor-creditor issues.

Lacy Presnell, a Raleigh attorney, was named general counsel. Mary Penny Thompson, who had been chief deputy, was named acting assistant secretary for administration.

Perdue to speak at UNC

Former Gov. Bev Perdue will give a lecture Thursday at the UNC-Chapel Hill journalism school as part of the “Women in Media Leadership Series.”

Perdue, the former Democratic governor who was no fan of the media, will give a brief talk and answer questions from students on stage.

The 4 p.m. lecture will take place at the Nelson Mandela Auditorium in the FedEx Global Education Center on campus.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen

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