Under the Dome

Dome: UNC taking up governor’s drug, alcohol abuse challenge

September 15, 2013 

Apparently Gov. Pat McCrory was serious a few months ago when he challenged UNC system leaders to do something about substance abuse on campus.

On Friday, Board of Governors Vice Chairman Frank Grainger briefed the board on a series of meetings between the governor’s staff and UNC leaders. On Sept. 4, Grainger and UNC President Tom Ross met with McCrory and his staff, as well as Frank Perry, secretary of Public Safety, and Jim Gardner, chairman of the ABC Commission. The sheriffs of Anson and Guilford counties also attended, Grainger said.

“The bottom line is that it appears that drugs are becoming more and more prevalent on our campuses,” Grainger said.

Though he did not cite any statistics, Grainger said drug dealers are targeting college campuses because they are a lucrative market.

Another meeting is planned for Sept. 17. “The governor is not messing around with this,” Grainger said. “It’s a very serious problem, obviously, and it’s not getting any better, and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it if we possibly can.”

Based on conversations with Perry and Gardner, Ross said he expected an aggressive crackdown on alcohol sales to underage drinkers. The UNC system also plans a strategy session with campus police chiefs from around the state.

McCrory on ‘NC SPIN’

McCrory was this weekend’s guest on “NC SPIN,” the statewide public affairs TV program, this weekend. In an interview with host Tom Campbell, McCrory talked about his surprises and challenges in the job.

The governor brought up his complaint with the General Assembly’s last-minute legislation, and repeated his criticism that legislators wrote policy into the budget – referring to cutting bonuses for teachers earning master’s degrees. McCrory said he could have vetoed the budget over that issue, “but I would have paralyzed government.”

Yet the governor noted one of his own policy goals was put in the budget with a provision requesting North Carolina be granted a waiver for Medicaid, which would give the state flexibility in operating and paying for the programs. “That’s not the right way to do it,” he said. “But it got it done.”

McCrory said he will be involved in a big push on Medicaid reforms in the coming months, including trotting out some pilot programs.

The governor also stood up for his Cabinet members, saying they are working very hard but not getting the attention they deserve. That might come as a surprise to some of them, who probably wish there was a little less attention on them lately.

Miss the early Sunday broadcast? The interview can be seen online at www.ncspin.com.

Smart Start chief resigns

Stephanie Fanjul is resigning as president of the N.C. Partnership for Children, the umbrella group that oversees the early childhood health and education program Smart Start.

The Partnership for Children said Fanjul’s resignation was announced at a board of directors meeting Friday. She had been president since 2007. The date of Fanjul’s departure has not been determined.

“I am grateful for my time as President of NCPC,” Fanjul said in a statement. “Together, with the Board, staff and Local Partnerships, we have accomplished a great deal for children and families across North Carolina and have continued to build a strong organization that is recognized as a national model. I am proud of where we are today and have decided that it is time for me to explore new opportunities and see how else I can contribute to improving our communities.”

Fanjul helped launch Smart Start when she was director of the Division of Child Development in the state Department of Health and Human Services under Gov. Jim Hunt. Smart Start became a nationally recognized child development program.

Financial support from the legislature has declined in recent years. With the executive and legislative branches controlled by Republicans, Smart Start supporters have had to fight to prove its value.

After she left DHHS, Fanjul worked for the National Education Association as director of student achievement.

Staff writers Jane Stancill, Craig Jarvis and Lynn Bonner

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