Morning Memo: NC government back to speed; Gov. McCrory’s latest stink

Posted by John Frank on October 18, 2013 

North Carolina's government got back up to speed Thursday with the federal shutdown now ended and federal funds for welfare, health and child care programs flowing back to the states. The state suspended Work First welfare applications earlier this week and told counties they'd have to make do with fewer child care subsidy dollars because money wasn't authorized by Congress after Sept. 30.

North Carolina appeared to be the only state that took such actions, rather than extending those services with state dollars and expecting reimbursement from the federal government. DHHS said it wasn't persuaded enough that North Carolina could count on that payback. The legislation that passed Wednesday night to end the shutdown directed reimbursement to the states for federal programs that continued during the shutdown. Read the AP story here.

***Gov. Pat McCrory’s latest stink and Kay Hagan’s postponed fundraiser — all below in the Morning Memo.***

BIDEN FUNDRAISER FOR HAGAN POSTPONED: Vice President Joe Biden’s appearance at a fundraiser in Durham for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has been postponed to Nov. 15 because of the prolonged government shutdown, fundraisers said. The new location is TBD.

McCRORY’S ODOR PROBLEM: AP — North Carolina taxpayers spent about $19,000 to remodel a small restroom in Gov. Pat McCrory's office at the State Capitol over the summer following complaints about a bad smell. McCrory canceled plans last week to spend $230,000 in state funds to remodel six bathrooms in the historic Executive Mansion in Raleigh following public outcry. The Associated Press reported the work was to include more than $100,000 in new fixtures, marble and tile for McCrory's master bathroom.

McCRORY ADMINISTRATION — Democrats stunk it up: McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the old Capitol restroom required new paint, tile and repairs last July because of poor maintenance under the Republican governor's predecessor, a Democrat.

"We spent $19,156 to replace broken tiles, flooring and make extensive repairs to plumbing that were not fixed by the previous administration," Genardo said. "Additionally, a pungent odor seeped into the governor's office, which made it an embarrassment to host company CEOs and guests at the State Capitol." Read more here.

McCRORY’S BIRTHDAY PRESENT: Gov. Pat McCrory turned 57 Thursday. His gift: a round of golf at Rock Barn Golf & Spa Thursday during the Pro-Am at the second day of the Greater Hickory Kia Classic. He teed off with Ed McMahan, Phil Walker, Don Beaver and Nick Price.

From the Hickory newspaper: “North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory celebrated his birthday by playing in the Greater Hickory Kia Classic Pro-Am Thursday with World Golf Hall of Fame member Nick Price and Rock Barn Golf & Spa chairman and CEO Don Beaver. After he completed the ninth hole, tournament personnel greeted him with a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to him. McCrory’s team finished fourth in the morning Pro Am.”

THOM TILLIS PROFILE — WHY HE IS RUNNING: From Charlotte magazine’s lengthy story — “Tillis explains his candidacy not with the standard politician’s bromides about how the nation has “lost its way” and is in need of “strong leadership.” It’s plainer and more practical: strategy.

“I believe it’s a critical part of Republicans gaining a majority next year,” Tillis says. We’re in his office in the Legislative Building in Raleigh. “This is the swing state; it’s the only state that Romney carried that’s considered a legitimate swing state, and I feel strongly that we have to have somebody with a statewide presence who can run a credible campaign. That’s the primary reason I decided to do it.” Read it all here.

WORTH NOTING — OVERBURDENED TEACHER: Five days later, this is still the most popular story at newsobserver.com. Read it.

N.C. TEACHERS GROUP PUSHES McCRORY PARODY VIDEO: The North Carolina Association of Educators is passing around this video spoofing Gov. Pat McCrory’s education ad from the 2012 campaign. “Political ads are funny things in the age of the Internet. One can actually go back and look at what actually aired by spending a few minutes on YouTube,” NCAE writes in its newsletter. Watch it here.

NAACP PLANS 20th MORAL MONDAY: The event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in New Bern.

NOTE TO GREG BRANNON — Tea party losing favor, poll finds: From Politico — The tea party’s approval rating is spiraling downward — and that’s just among Republican voters. The conservative group’s favorability has fallen a dramatic 20 percentage points among moderate and liberal Republicans, down to 27 percent from 46 percent in June, according to a new Pew poll released Wednesday. Read it here.

GREG BRANNON TO SPEAK AT NULLIFICATION RALLY: Nullify Now, a national movement to promote nullification, the idea that states can disregard federal laws — i.e. the federal health care law — is holding a rally Saturday in Raleigh. Brannon, a U.S. Senate candidate, sponsored morning keynote speaker Mike Church and will give a 3 p.m. talk titled “How the states can stop Obamacare.” See the agenda.

INTERESTING READ: The GOP’s Dixiecrat problem. From The New Yorker. Read it here.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS UPSET ABOUT END OF TEACHER TENURE: Leaders of North Carolina’s two largest public school systems charge that state legislators made a bad decision when they replaced tenure with a system that will have teachers competing for a small number of four-year contracts.

Some of the most vocal complaints are coming from the Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school systems. Like their counterparts across the state, the large systems are searching for a way to carry out the new state requirements. “I’m hoping the General Assembly will talk with educators and look at the long-term consequences – both intended and unintended – of this legislation before it does irreparable harm that will take years and years and years to fix,” Wake County school board member Kevin Hill said Tuesday at a school board meeting.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison said the four-year contract and bonus plan has raised a host of questions, and threatens already-rocky teacher morale. Read more here.

MORE THAN 300,000 IN COVERAGE GAP: An estimated 318,710 low-income North Carolina residents will fall into a health insurance “coverage gap” and are likely to remain uninsured despite the federal health overhaul, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It’s the latest estimate to be released as officials try to gauge the impact of the rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act.

This group includes people with incomes under the federal poverty level – $11,490 for a single person, $23,550 for a family of four – who would have been eligible for Medicaid if North Carolina officials had chosen to expand that government health program for the poor and disabled.

But North Carolina is one of 26 states – most with Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures – that rejected the expansion. The people who would have qualified for Medicaid are allowed to buy insurance through the online exchanges created by the new law, but their incomes are too low to qualify for premium subsidies. Read more here.

READ THE TEA LEAVES: The John Locke Foundation is hosting Rep. Mike Hager, a Republican seeking the House speakership, on Monday for a talk called “The Three E’s: Economy, Environment and Energy.” The title is a take on Gov. Pat McCrory’s State of the State speech, except Hager swapped energy and environment for McCrory’s education and efficiency. It starts at noon at the Locke Foundation’s offices downtown.

EQUALITY NC HONORS TWO LAWMAKERS: The LGBT advocacy group gave its 2013 Legislative Leadership Award to Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Matthews Democrat. Sen. Josh Stein received the inaugural Jamie Kirk Hahn Ally Award, named after the late Democratic operative who was killed, earlier this year to honor her advocacy work.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP PLANS RALLY: AP — A group critical of North Carolina state government environmental policies is heading to downtown Raleigh to let its feelings be known.

Members of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network scheduled a rally starting Friday near the Legislative Building. Participants planned to walk to the headquarters of the state Department of Environmental and Natural Resources nearby. The network calls the event a "rally to end environmental racism" and alleges state policies and permits allow industries to pollute without regard to the health of residents or their property values.

The rally and march coincides with the network's 15th annual Environmental Justice Summit being held in Whitakers.

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