Under the Dome

Dome: Gurley says some in House GOP jealous of Wake

August 31, 2013 

Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley is attributing the defeat earlier this year of a bill that would have changed who controls school construction to “jealousy” and unexpected defections among state House Republicans.

Wake GOP commissioners had asked state lawmakers to shift authority for school construction from the school board to the county. After starting as a statewide bill, the Senate approved a version that only included Wake and a handful of other counties.

After that bill stalled in the House, a new bill affecting only Wake was approved by the Senate. But it was defeated in the House when a number of Republican legislators opposed the bill.

Gurley was asked Thursday at the Wake County Taxpayers Association’s meeting why he hadn’t called on them to help lobby legislators.

Gurley answered that Tom Fetzer, the lobbyist hired by the commissioners and the former state GOP chairman, had developed a list of GOP legislators who said they would back the bill and those who said they were opposed or were on the fence.

Gurley said Fetzer gave him the list with the goal of converting four to yes votes.

“I converted like seven, and we should have won,” Gurley said. But he said those legislators who were listed as supporters ended up voting no.

“There is a lot of jealousy toward Wake County in the legislature,” Gurley continued. “And the way that we ran this bill, where it was a statewide bill and then we took it out at the end, we made some enemies.”

Gurley said commissioners would pursue the legislation again when the General Assembly reconvenes for the short session in May.

Blame the Borg

Former Carrboro Mayor Jim Porto sounds like a “Star Trek” fan, but he’s not a fan of the GOP-dominated legislature.

Porto, the director of executive programs in health policy and management at UNC’s Gillings Global School of Public Health, is one of seven candidates vying to be appointed to former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s seat.

Answering questions at candidate forum last week in Chapel Hill, the retired Marine who flew helicopters in the Vietnam War said working across the aisle is futile, because the other side doesn’t see the need.

He also compared Republican lawmakers to the Borg, a pseudo-alien race living in the Star Trek universe. They manifest as cybernetically enhanced drones linked by a hive mind that force other species into the “hive mind.”

“For those of you who do not know the Borg, it is a mindless, feeble force taking orders,” he said.

“The Republican Borg takes orders from the Koch brothers, the NRA and Grover Norquist – outsiders who do not live in North Carolina and who do not care about North Carolina,” Porto said. “You can’t deal with the Borg; you have to attack it. You have to cut off its connections to the mother ship. That’s what I want to do – attack the Republicans for what they have become: an alien force hostile to North Carolinians.”

Taking the pain out of 53

House Speaker Thom Tillis turned 53 on Friday, and he wasn’t asking for cake or ice cream, just cash to help fund his U.S. Senate race.

An email to his supporters from the campaign asked supporters to “help us wish Thom a happy birthday!” and said the birthday goal was $53 from 53 supporters. Of course, when you clicked on the participate link, the contribution options went up to $2,600.

Dome particularly liked the accompanying family photo that featured the speaker, his wife, Susan, and their dog. The dog was wearing the party hat.

Staff writers T. Keung Hui, Tammy Grubb and Mary Cornatzer

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