The Bonner Bridge is no "bridge to nowhere" but it's likewise drenched in politics. Gov. Pat McCrory invoked politics in blaming environmentalists for its closure last week. Then Transportation Secretary Tony Tata dropped a bomb of a quote that rattled the N.C. political sphere about latte-sipping environmental lawyers enjoying air-conditioned offices (p.s. How does Tata like his coffee?).
The conversation continues Monday as Rev. Mark Creech, the executive director of the Christian Action League, invokes God to talk bridge politics. In a column at the Christian Post, he writes: "The Bonner Bridge closing is a case in point as to how our worldview affects us for either good or bad. Moreover, it demonstrates that when some point of view other than a biblical worldview is granted supremacy in public-policy, it inevitably results in harm to God's crowning and most beloved creative achievement – man.
"Sen. Cook is right; the environmentalists in this case need to get out of the way. But they might consider an even greater reason for getting out of the way than the trouble they've caused the people of Hatteras Island. Much of the philosophy behind what they do stands as an obstruction to the purposes of God."
Lost is the story of the shifting sands of the Outer Banks. Read the full Christian Post column. Check out the environmental group's reaction to the governor and more from the N&O about how the bridge closure is affecting residents.
*** Five months from the GOP Senate primary, the state’s premier 2014 contest is getting more attention. Read about it below in the Dome Morning Memo.***
"But she may ultimately benefit from state Republican leaders prone to overreaching. Her leading opponent is the speaker of the State House of Representatives, Thom Tillis, who has helped lead Republicans in Raleigh as they pushed through laws to regulate abortion clinics, tighten voter identification requirements and reduce early voting. Republicans this year also approved cuts to education while allowing people with concealed-weapons permits to take their guns onto school property.
"Democrats say those moves will make it easy to portray Republicans as reckless and extreme. “It hasn’t been the best of times the past couple of cycles here,” conceded Robert Dempsey, executive director of the State Democratic Party. "But this is a deeply purple state, and in my humble opinion probably trends slightly blue." Read more here.
“They are all good friends,” said Forest, who was the master of ceremony for the event. “All good guys. All bring different strengths to this race. It will be a positive primary for sure, and it will come down to a runoff most likely. When you put this many candidates in a race it is going to come down to whoever gets the grassroots out, whoever gets people to the polls.” Read more here.
That was the deadline, imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration, to get the malfunctioning website, Healthcare.gov, running smoothly after its disastrous kickoff. “Every day it’s getting a little better,” said Chris Blount, an agent with Piedmont Benefits Group in Charlotte. “On October 1, on a scale of 1 to 10, it was point 5. Now it’s probably a 7. We are actually getting people through.
“Some (people are) not 100 percent thrilled,” Blount said. “But our store is just full of people, and we’re starting to see a lot of success stories. ... We’ve got a stack of applications in our office, and we can’t get them through fast enough.”
And in another wrinkle, Charlotte might not be the only area of the state that’s interested in the new jetliner. Although Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the surrounding area appear to meet all of Boeing’s criteria for the new plant, other North Carolina sites near major airports could also fit the bill. Read more here.
But first comes the paperwork.
Most taxpayers are being asked to complete a new form this month, a direct consequence of the new income tax system. It’s a complication – some would say hassle – for employees and employers alike that is drawing complaints even from some who cheered when GOP lawmakers pushed through a new tax bill and Gov. Pat McCrory signed it into law in July. Read more here.
The speed and sweep of the restructuring have caught some lawmakers off guard, and several are questioning whether the administration has the authority to overhaul the department without further General Assembly approval. A brief and vaguely written provision in the state budget passed earlier this year gave Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker the authority to create the public-private partnership, called the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
State Sen. Harry Brown, an Onslow County Republican who has been at the center of Commerce changes, said his interpretation of the budget provision is that it allows Commerce officials only to create the public-private partnership.
"McCrory’s administration is setting a chilling precedent that could make it more difficult for average North Carolinians to get copies of public records that by law belong to the people. They’re your records, compiled and stored by people paid with your tax dollars. But McCrory and his top administrators have interpreted state law to mean they can charge exorbitant fees for fulfilling public records requests." Read more here.
The latest effort to end gerrymandering comes from groups representing organizations as diverse as the John Locke Foundation and the NC Policy Watch. The NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform is holding community meetings across the state – the next will be Wednesday night in Apex – to drum up support for a big change that would likely lead to more legislative and congressional races. Read more here.