Morning Memo: Where are the women in NC politics?

Posted by John Frank on February 18, 2014 

A photo recently prompted a question about North Carolina politics: Where are the women?

The front-page News & Observer photo from the announcement of Republican leaders teacher pay plan featured a smiling Gov. Pat McCrory, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate leader Phil Berger and Rep. Bill Brawley.

“Notice something?” wrote Leslie Maxwell, a Durham writer and adjunct professor, in a op-ed published Tuesday. “No women.”

A similar photo from the White House of President Barack Obama’s male-dominated appointees caused a furor in Washington last year.

“Perhaps it was just the angle of the photo,” Maxwell continued. “A photo from the event taken from a different angle showed two unidentified women standing behind McCrory. One TV station’s coverage showed a third woman off to the side.

“But consider the men: leaders of our state, all of them worthy of identification by name and title. The few women were not afforded the same treatment. Women make up about 75 percent of public school teachers in North Carolina. Yet when it comes time to announce a proposed salary increase in a profession dominated by women, where are they?

“Women may well have been involved in developing the proposal, though I wonder how likely that is: Though 51 percent of North Carolina’s residents are women, they account for 25 percent of the seats in the N.C. General Assembly. Further, between the North Carolina House and Senate, just four of the 31 leadership roles are held by women.”

*** Read more from Maxwell’s op-ed here and find even more North Carolina political news and analysis below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a reception recognizing state employees’ charitable giving at 2 p.m. The event at the mansion is not open to the press or public.

A number of legislative committees will meet Tuesday. The panel looking at granting civilian credit for military training and the selection of the state adjutant general meets at 9 a.m. in 544 LOB while a committee on health care practices meets at the same time in room 643 LOB.

At 1 p.m., the purchase and contract study committee meets in 415 LOB and at 2 p.m. a committee looking at foster care meets in room 414 LOB.

Elsewhere in Raleigh, the jury continues deliberations in the civil trial against U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon.

THE BIG STORY – DENR FIGHTS IMAGE THAT IT’S TOO COZY WITH DUKE ENERGY: Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla on Monday pushed back against criticism that his agency has become too close to the businesses it regulates.

After a legislative hearing in Raleigh on Monday, Skvarla bristled at environmental activists’ criticism over his agency’s decision not to force Duke Energy to shut down its coal ash ponds.

“We have done more than any administration in history to solve this problem,” Skvarla said. “I’m incredulous that anyone thinks we haven’t taken action on this.”

Skvarla is facing increased scrutiny since last week’s revelation that federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into his agency’s relationship with Duke Energy. Prosecutors have subpoenaed records and correspondence between DENR and the company. Read more here.

RELATED – STATE REGULATORS, DUKE TRY TO REASSURE LAWMAKERS: State environmental regulators and a Duke Energy executive assured state lawmakers Monday that Duke’s accidental spewing of tons of coal ash into the Dan River poses no immediate threat to public health.

The hastily scheduled hearing was the first update lawmakers had received on the environmental accident, but it offered few specifics on how and when North Carolina will go about cleaning up the river and preventing other coal ash accidents. Read more here.

McCRORY BRIEFED ON DUKE SETTLEMENT: AP – North Carolina’s top environmental official said Monday that he briefed Gov. Pat McCrory before intervening in lawsuits against Duke Energy, resulting in a negotiated settlement that fined the $50 billion corporation $99,111 to resolve violations over groundwater contamination leaching from two huge coal ash dumps.

Environmentalists criticized the modest fines as a sweetheart deal that included no requirement to force the nation’s largest electricity provider to actually clean up its pollution. Read more here.

2ND PIPE THREATENS NEW DAN RIVER SPILL, McCRORY SAYS: Gov. Pat McCrory said a second pipe at Duke Energy’s closed Dan River Steam Plant threatens to start a whole, new round of leakage from its coal-ash storage ponds. Read more here.

THE BIG TALKER – AFTER COMMENT TO MCCRORY, CHARLOTTE STORE CLERK FIRED: An employee at a Myers Park gourmet food store was fired after Gov. Pat McCrory’s security detail complained Sunday about a comment the worker made to the governor.

On Sunday afternoon, McCrory was shopping at Reid’s Fine Foods when Drew Swope, a 45-year-old cook, said he asked if he could help McCrory.

After realizing he was speaking with the governor, whom he disagrees with politically, Swope said he told McCrory, “Thanks for nothing,” and walked away. Swope said the governor was upset at his comment and began “yelling” at him. He said McCrory said he was a customer and shouldn’t be treated that way.

He said the governor and his security team complained to the food store owner, who then fired him. Read more here.

MORE #NCGOV – BEHIND THE SCENES – CHARLOTTE TV STATION SPENDS A DAY WITH THE GOVERNOR: The WBTV piece starts: “North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is a polarizing politician, he’s both loved and loathed.” More highlights:

On food stamp crisis: “I don’t know, we’re going to have to do some negotiating with the federal government,” McCrory said. “See Secretary Wos has fallen on her sword for the 100 counties, it’s each of the counties that are responsible for this.”

On his detractors: “I know a lot of this is political. We have their document coming out of the UNC Poverty Center and their No. 1 goal was to eviscerate Pat McCrory.” (The “eviscerate” memo came from America Votes, as the N&O reported. It’s unclear what the governor is referring to.)

On his reaction to the protesters: “I hide my thin skin most of the time.”

On running for president: “Right now, based on the protestors, I’d better survive the next week,” he said. See the whole piece here.

COLUMNIST BARRY SAUNDERS on McCrory sidestepping the global warming issue: Some of us are, a year into his governorship, still trying to figure out what Gov. Pat McCrory did while employed by Duke Energy for nearly three decades. It was a question he sidestepped during his gubernatorial campaign with footwork that would’ve made Gene Kelly, Victor Sylvester or a “Soul Train” dancer proud.

No one will have to guess what he’ll do upon returning to the private sector. I’m giving odds that he’ll become president – or at least spokesman – of the Flat Earth Society. Read more here.

OTHER #NCPOL NEWS –

VOUCHER LAWSUIT ALIVE: Voucher opponents won an early court battle Monday when a Superior Court judge turned back an effort by state lawyers to dismiss their lawsuits challenging the use of taxpayer money to send children to private schools. It was one of the first in what may be many legal decisions on the state’s new voucher program. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood on Friday will consider whether the voucher program should be frozen while the lawsuits work their way through the courts. Read more here.

MOONEYHAM: A day before tens of thousands of people gathered for a protest march in the state capital, the head of the state Republican Party, Claude Pope, called a news conference to conduct his own protest. ... “We can have our disagreements on policy,” Pope said. “But if Democrats want to have a seat at the table, they need to learn how to turn down some of that rhetoric and discourse.”

In an indirect sort of way, his words get to the heart of the current state of politics here. Read more here.

QUICK HEADLINES –

AFP recently put together a new web video hitting Kay Hagan. See it here.

Political ads are narrowing their target. Read more here.

The end of the state political party? Read more here.

Fayetteville Observer: Obamacare enrollment in N.C. exceeds expectations. Read more here.

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