The Christmas party invitations are arriving and it looks like this year’s hot ticket will be U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry’s annual “McHenry for Congress Christmas” gala in Gastonia. Doesn’t “Gala in Gastonia” just make you all tingly like Christmas morning? If that’s not enough, McHenry’s very special guest will be Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. (For entertainment, Dome suggests spinning some Aaron Neville Christmas songs.) McHenry’s “guests” will pay $2,600 for a VIP reception, photo op and seat at the table with either their Republican host or Jindal, who is seen as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016. Option 2: VIP reception, photo op and a reserved seat for dinner for $1,000. A $500 ticket gets you in the reception and a place at the table; for $100 you get to eat. The date is Dec. 17, be sure to take your Christmas sweaters out of the mothballs in plenty of time to air out.)
*** Good morning and welcome to Dome Morning Memo on this rainy Wednesday. Before we talk turkey, a programming note: Morning Memo and Dome will be taking a break on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for the bountiful harvest of political news in North Carolina this year. ***
WHERE’S THE GOVERNOR?: No public schedule has been released for Gov. Pat McCrory for Wednesday. This is our third day without a McCrory sighting in Raleigh.
PERSONNEL FILE: While we haven’t seen the governor, he has apparently been busy. Tuesday his office announced McCrory’s appointments to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund Board of Trustees, the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission, the North Carolina Water Treatment Facility Operators Certification Board and the North Carolina State Water Infrastructure Commission.
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TESTING THE WATERS: Before we look at those appointed, let’s review the story so far. McCrory recently appointed Bryan Gossage to head the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Gossage’s qualifications for the $78,000 job, according to DENR: He served on the Apex Town Council from 2003-2011, serving his final term as mayor pro tem, and “provided oversight of town water management and conservation efforts” during a prolonged drought in 2007.
The N&O story noted that Apex’s municipal water system is managed by neighboring Cary as part of a joint agreement.
DRINK UP: So, who are McCrory’s latest appointments to protect our waters? They are:
• Frederick Beaujeu-Dufour of Sampson County. Beaujeu-Dufour manages more than 7,500 acres of timber and wildlife. He is currently developing a wildlife habitat and implementing the farm’s forestry program. He has an MBA from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Business.
• Troy Kickler of Wake County). Kickler is the founding director of the North Carolina History Project and editor of NorthCarolinahistory.org, a project funded by the John Locke Foundation. He has an M.S. in social studies education from North Carolina A&T State University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee.
Greer Cawood of Forsyth County. Cawood retired as director of public policy for Wachovia in 2007. She was the NC State appointee to the Natural Heritage Trust Fund and currently serves as lower school vice-president for the FCDS Parents’ Association. She has been a trustee of the North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
MORE APPOINTMENTS: For the Mining and Energy Board, McCrory chose:
• Jane Lewis-Raymond of a Mecklenburg County. She is responsible for legal, legislative and community affairs for Piedmont Natural Gas.
• Amy Pickle of Wake County. She is the director of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. She previously served on the Environmental Management Commission.
PAYING FOR TRANSPARENCY: From the AP – “As a candidate, Pat McCrory pledged a transparent and accountable government. But now that he is governor, those seeking access to public records are often met with long delays and unprecedented demands for payment.
“McCrory’s staff has interpreted a one-sentence clause in North Carolina’s public records law as providing broad authority to assess a ‘special service charge’ on any records request taking more than 30 minutes for an employee to process. Invoices totaling hundreds of dollars have also been assessed for requests for digital copies of emails that have routinely been produced by past administrations without charge.
“The fees appear to run contrary to the primary principle expressed in North Carolina’s public records law, which says government documents ‘are the property of the people’ and that copies should be provided ‘as promptly as possible’ at ‘free or at minimal cost’ Read more here.
CIVITAS AND THE LAW (PROFESORS): Meanwhile, the N&O’s Jane Stancill writes “a group of law professors at UNC-Chapel Hill are questioning the motives of the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute, which promotes limited government and implementation of conservative policies. On Oct. 25, the institute used the state’s public records law to seek six weeks’ worth of Nichol’s email correspondence, his calendar entries, phone logs, text messages and a list of electronic devices issued to Nichol by the university.” No word on whether Nichol will try to charge Civitas for the requested records. (See above.) Read more here.
SESSION’S OUT BUT LEGISLATORS BUSY: The Wilmington Star News talked to its area lawmakers to see how they’ve been staying busy now that the session is over. The answer: constituent calls, committee meetings and their regular jobs. Read more here.
GROUP WANTS TUITION VOUCHER POLICY CHANGED: From the Wilmington Star News – “A statewide gay rights group wants the General Assembly to change its new tuition voucher program so schools with policies that exclude gay people won’t receive taxpayer funding.
“Members of the gay rights group Equality N.C. spoke out Tuesday against a policy recently adopted by Myrtle Grove Christian School that requires students’ families to promise they won’t support or participate in a gay lifestyle. The faith group N.C. Values Coalition also released a statement Tuesday supporting Myrtle Grove Christian School’s right to set its own admission policies.” Read more here.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: State Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Fayetteville, and Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom President, will do a little point/counterpoint action at the North Carolina School Boards Association’s annual conference on Dec. 6 in Wilmington. The two will focus on school vouchers/tuition tax credits, charter schools, and homeschool issues. Dome finds it impossible to see the words “point/counterpoint” without hearing “Jane, you ignorant slut” or “Dan, you pompous a--.” If there’s an “SNL” moment in the discussion, may it find its way to YouTube.