Under the Dome

Dome: Voller says NC lawmakers are 'monkeying around'

Staff writersFebruary 7, 2013 

Mayor Randy Voller, newly elected Chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party

In his first press conference since taking the helm of the state Democratic Party, Chairman Randy Voller took aim at Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP legislature, saying they are not fulfilling their campaign promise to focus on the economy.

“All I hear up here is cut, cut, cut, and I don’t see a lot of things that are creating jobs,” he said at party headquarters in Raleigh. “North Carolinians need to have jobs. They need to have jobs that pay. They need to have health insurance. They need to have livable wages.”

Voller said the “radical, reactionary” legislature should stop “monkeying around with removing people from commissions and other things that are not focused on creating opportunities in our communities.”

Voller takes control of the Democratic Party despite nearly losing the race to former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, who wasn’t actively campaigning for the job. Voller, the Pittsboro mayor, declared that Democrats will lead again and promised to run “the most transparent political operation in state party history.”

The N.C. Democratic Party is still trying to recover from a sexual harassment scandal that led to the firing of the executive director and nearly the ouster of former Chairman David Parker.

Asked what he is doing to move past the scandal, which is still mired in a civil lawsuit, Voller demurred, saying staff is handling the matter. He did not outline any steps the party is taking to avoid such a situation going forward.

Peck picked for media office

Russell Peck, Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign manager, is opening a new Raleigh office for Mercury Public Affairs.

The firm, which has offices in New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania and Florida, focuses on media strategy, lobbying, polling and other political work.

Peck is the former executive director at the N.C. Republican Party and a former operative for the American Natural Gas Association, and works on various other Republican campaigns. He said he is not going to lobby in his new job.

“Russell Peck is one of the best and most-accomplished political operatives in America,” Mercury partner Mike DuHaime said in a company announcement. “Russell’s addition allows us to bring Mercury’s top-flight public affairs capabilities to North Carolina, while adding to our considerable and growing national strength.”

Peck is the latest McCrory campaign alum looking to use his connections to influence state government. Former spokesman Brian Nick now works at Moore & Van Allen, a firm with a lobbying shop in Raleigh, and campaign strategist Jack Hawke is operating a new political nonprofit designed to further McCrory’s agenda.

Hold that dress code

The state Department of Health and Human Services’ first departmentwide dress code – which went out Monday to the agency’s 17,000 or so employees, and was published in Dome online Tuesday and in print Wednesday – actually hadn’t been cleared with the boss yet.

The policy is on hold while new DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos gets a chance to review it. The head of human resources, who sent out the Monday memo, had to send another memo Wednesday morning apologizing for not clearing it with Wos first.

The planned dress code spells out in detail just why it is that everyone looks the same in downtown Raleigh at lunchtime on weekdays.

And, frankly, is pretty similar to The News & Observer’s dress code.

Staff writers John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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