Under the Dome

Dome: The things they said – quotes from the past political season

December 25, 2013 

North Carolina’s political characters sure like to talk. And what they say makes for plenty of big headlines.

As a gift to you, dear Dome readers, we looked back into our archives to find some memorable quotes of the past year. Happy reading:

“We’re stepping on the toes of a lot of the establishment that’s been controlling this state government for a long, long time, on both the left and the right. I’m really an outsider coming in here, and a lot of the political insiders, the lobbying insiders, are pretty well established.” – Gov. Pat McCrory, Republican

This particular quote was in an interview with The Washington Post, but “the stepping on toes” phrase or some variation of it was a popular line for the new governor. So much so that a Charlotte Magazine reporter created a “Pat McCrory toe-stepping quote generator,” made up of the governor’s quotes.

“I would just remind you of one thing. The Republicans won the election. We are in control.” – Rep. Edgar Starnes, N.C. House Republican leader

The veteran Hickory lawmaker made this remark when Democrats complained about Republicans putting like-minded folks on the 17-campus UNC system’s governing board. But the naked truth of the statement left a mark that summarized how the GOP controlled the entire lawmaking process for the first time in recent history and used it to drive a largely partisan agenda.

“I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.” – Sen. Tommy Tucker, Republican from Union County and chairman of the state Senate’s State and Local Government Committee. He was speaking to Hal Tanner, publisher of the Goldsboro News-Argus, who had just told Tucker that he was unhappy with the way a vote was handled in committee. Tucker disputed the quote, saying “I said something to the effect that, ‘I’m the senator here, let me finish.’ 

“I think for the most part, what I see from the folks who are opposing our agenda is whining coming from losers.” – House Speaker Thom Tillis

The Republican from Cornelius was talking to a reporter from Politico about the U.S. Senate race, and making it clear that he was embracing the legislature’s record in 2013.

“I was proud to vote for Thom Tillis to be the speaker again, when we got back up there this year. Because last session, he was great. ... But, now he’s running for U.S. Senate, or planning to, things have changed.” – Rep. Larry Pittman, Concord Republican

Pittman’s unscripted speech before a tea party group in April shed light on how Tillis’ bid for higher office might be coloring the legislative session. Tillis rejected the premise.

“I was convinced that you were going to have to poke them in the eye with a stick to make them aware of what’s going on here, and you did. And I thank you for it.” – Sen. Martin Nesbitt, Asheville Democrat, speaking on the floor as Republicans pushed through a bill that critics say restricts access to abortions.

“With a veto, you can encourage more people to be involved in the political process, stop this bad public policy and prevent the confusion and cost of a legal battle.” – Attorney General Roy Cooper, Democrat, in a letter to McCrory asking him to veto a voter ID bill that implements many changes to the state’s election process.

“Actually, it should be more, but that option does not exist,” Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services on Sept. 20. She was responding to questions about why two 24-year-olds employed by her department were hired for senior positions paying $85,000 and $87,000 a year. The questions arose because a running theme in the McCrory administration has been the experience of people in important, well-paying jobs.

DHHS received more than its share of attention this year for problems with the launch of its new Medicaid claims system, ending an effort that lasted about a decade that included delays, false starts and budget overruns. Since the state started using the system called NC Tracks on July 1, doctors, hospitals and others have had big problems getting their claims paid.

On Nov. 19, Wos said: “I assure you, that where necessary, I will hold people accountable.”

On Dec. 2, Teresa Oudeh, administrator of a small medical practice in Dunn, told a legislative committee, “How can I tell you in public what a tragic nightmare I’ve gone through?”

At that same meeting, Sen. Andrew Brock, a Mocksville Republican, said: “It’s a monster. As with Frankenstein, we’re teaching it some manners.”

But apparently those words were lost on Joe Cooper, head of computer systems at DHHS, who told legislators on Dec. 10 that the office staff that managed the project: “Are to be congratulated for seeing this project to a successful launch.”

Staff writers Lynn Bonner, John Frank and Mary Cornatzer

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