Gov. Pat McCrory will hold a question-and-answer session on his Facebook page Monday. The event coincides with his visit to the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Monday.
The governor’s office announced on Sunday that McCrory would travel to California, first visiting Google’s headquarters at 10:15 a.m. in Mountain View before stopping at Facebook at 2 p.m. The purpose of the visit was not disclosed. But the governor’s office said McCrory will meet with executives and employees from North Carolina.
The Facebook Q&A starts at 5:30 p.m. on his page at facebook.com/GovernorPat
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This class of officials emerged in a News & Observer analysis of pay data for 435,000 employees from 1,216 state and local agencies; the officials with surprisingly high pay run housing authorities, community colleges, a city utility, and even a local tennis complex. During the prolonged economic slump, many local employees have received meager raises, while state employees and teachers have gone five years with only a 1.2 percent raise from the state. But these public executives have done better:
• In Fayetteville, Steven Blanchard, general manager of the Public Works Commission, was paid more than $310,000 last year, about $100,000 more than either the city or county manager.
• In Greensboro, Tina Akers Brown, the Housing Authority director, received at least $242,000 in 2012, putting her among the top-paid employees in Greensboro or Guilford County government that year. Brown did not provide full compensation information despite numerous requests.
• In Charlotte, Tim Newman, the Regional Visitors Authority’s top executive until 2011, received as much as $334,520 a year. He resigned after scrutiny of his management practices that included inflated attendance projections for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He had been demoted to a sales position, but when he quit, the bureau agreed to pay him severance worth about $142,000 and $29,000 for unused vacation time. His total for fiscal year 2012 was $350,165.
In many of these cases, the boards that oversee these executives say the pay is well-deserved. They say the institutions are well-run, with clean audits and few public complaints. They also cite pay surveys that show their executives’ pay is in line with pay of leaders at similar institutions.
In at least two cases, these local boards have maneuvered to get around salary restrictions set by a state agency and the U.S. Congress.
Public records provided to The N&O show these officials’ pay is often augmented by perks that rank-and-file employees never get, or receive in much smaller amounts. The chief executive officer of a government-created nonprofit that purchases electricity for municipalities, for example, has been receiving a $53,000 bonus each year just for staying on the job.
Some have received housing stipends exceeding $40,000 a year, and two have received payments of more than $40,000 toward an annuity in addition to public money invested in their state pensions. At least one official has a car allowance topping $20,000 a year and is among others with additional health care coverage worth several thousand dollars a year. Some of these salaries are boosted by longevity payments that add as much as 7.5 percent.
The pattern of high pay for public officials in lower-profile entities emerged when The N&O obtained four years of data for every state and local employee in the state pension system. This information had not been available until 2010, when lawmakers made more information about employees’ pay available to the public in response to a series of reports in The N&O. Read more here.
All the liberal activists in the world praying and fasting on the National Mall – as they did last week – are unlikely to have much of an effect on the Republican-controlled U.S. House when it comes to changes in the immigration laws. But businessmen, lawmen and evangelical preachers might. Read more here.
The title of the hearing is “Obamacare Implementation: Sticker Shock of Increased Premiums for Health Care Coverage.”
McHenry’s office said the hearing will examine the impact of the health care law implementation on the price of insurance premiums in North Carolina. McHenry is a member of the oversight committee. Read more here.
But now they're stuck in political limbo, with U.S. Senate Republicans recently blocking Watt's confirmation path to a key mortgage regulatory post. The candidates say they hope he'll still get confirmed. But they also know that Watt, a Democrat, might run for re-election in the 12th Congressional district. Read more here.
The company’s announcement Friday comes a day after President Barack Obama urged insurers to extend this year’s insurance policies through 2014, as pressure mounted to alleviate the crisis prompted by problems with the Affordable Care Act, the president’s signature domestic policy. Blue Cross had notified 151,640 policy holders in recent months that their health plans will be phased out and replaced by new policies in January. Many of those customers were told their rates would double, or even triple, for health insurance that met the legal requirements of the new health care law. Now those customers will have at least one year’s reprieve. Read more here.
Known as “the puppy mill bill,” it would require breeders with 10 or more female dogs to provide daily exercise, fresh food and water, veterinary care and, if necessary, euthanasia that is “performed humanely.” The bill passed the state House in May with bipartisan support but languished in the Senate. Many of the dogs available for adoption on Saturday were “rescue dogs,” including some taken from a Pender County puppy mill that recently was busted. Dogs also were provided by the Wake County SPCA, Humane Society of Charlotte and Guilford County Shelter. Read more here.
It’s an attack on her main Republican challenger, House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is getting support from Republican strategist Karl Rove.“For those of us in North Carolina, we saw firsthand what the Koch brothers and Karl Rove’s foot soldiers in Raleigh are willing to do to push their fringe agenda,” she said, mentioning the recent ads against her from outside conservative groups. “These guys are trying so hard to take my seat because they had great results with fringe, ultraconservative legislation that I have opposed.
“They want a politician whose strings they can pull to promote the same dangerous policies in Washington.”
Tillis campaign manager Jordan Shaw said Hagan is trying to change the subject “away from the fact that she spent an afternoon cozying up yet again to the Obama administration.”
“It’s a desperate attempt to dodge the fact that she has apparently misled North Carolinians on the implications of Obamacare for years,” he said. Read more here.
The others include: Reps. Edgar Starnes, David Lewis, Tim Moore and Mike Hager. Notice a theme? All are vying for the House speakership in 2015. Expect them to make the rounds across the state in the next year as they try to help colleagues raise money and establish themselves as a front-runner. The fundraiser’s minimum ticket is $50 and top tickets are $1,000.
If approved, it would be a first in North Carolina, based on a new law passed without opposition this summer by the state legislature. Now before the N.C. Utilities Commission, the question of public hearings involves a number of current and former regulators with ties to the water utility industry. Read more here.
But there is renewed interest in stabilizing those children’s lives among North Carolina legislators of both parties. Earlier this year, lawmakers allocated $6.75 million for two adoption promotion programs, established two panels to explore what works and what doesn’t, and passed a foster care children’s bill of rights. What remains to be seen is whether those measures are enough to make a difference, especially when families are struggling under economic pressures for a variety of reasons, including state policies that make it harder on the unemployed and those without health insurance. Read more here.
Pathologists in North Carolina’s thinly staffed medical examiner system do as many as 10 autopsies in a single day, records show. Experts say thorough autopsies typically take two to four hours each, so it’s hard for pathologists to do more than four in a day. The Observer also found that pathologists in the state’s chief medical examiner’s office in Raleigh routinely do more than 250 autopsies a year – heavy caseloads that experts say can lead to mistakes. Read more here.
On that morning, Nov. 22, 1963, the sky was clearing as a smiling President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy, radiant in a pink wool suit and matching pillbox hat, strode out of the hotel and slipped into the same white convertible. Squeezing into a red leather seat alongside Gov. John Connally, they joined a motorcade that wound through streets lined with cheering crowds to Carswell Air Force Base.
There they boarded Air Force One for the fateful, 13-minute trip to Dallas. The Lincoln convertible will return to the hotel this Friday with Warlick, its new owner.
The Morganton native bought the car at auction last month for $318,000. He also paid $210,000 for a black 1960 Lincoln that was in Kennedy’s White House motor pool. Neither was the car Kennedy was riding in Dallas. The cars were part of a trove of Kennedy items he bought, including two rotary-dial phones from the president’s Fort Worth hotel room, the pen he used to sign the 1961 Peace Corps Act and a bathing suit that belonged to Jackie. Read more here.