Under the Dome

May 16, 2014

Morning Memo: Ahead of protest’s return, McCrory and Barber squabble

A meeting between Gov. Pat McCrory and clergy Thursday became a political squabble by day’s end involving N.C. NAACP President William Barber.

A meeting between Gov. Pat McCrory and clergy Thursday became a political squabble by day’s end.

The governor’s Chief of Staff Thomas Stith invited Rev. William Barber, the leader of the “Moral Monday” protests and a vocal McCrory critic, to the lunch meeting at the Executive Mansion.

But Barber – the N.C. NAACP president who has repeatedly sent letters asking for a meeting with McCrory – didn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict, the governor’s office said. Asked why not, Barber’s spokeswoman didn’t reply to Dome’s questions and instead issued a mass press release saying the governor’s office was “spreading false information.”

In the statement, Barber said he asked to bring other clergy leaders involved in the protest movement and the governor’s office declined, saying it had it’s own list. Barber said he was told the luncheon may or may not occur and never heard back from the governor’s office.

McCrory’s office responded, laying out how the meeting took shape and issued a list of those invited, which included Barber. Spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor “arranged this meeting to continue reaching out to various individual groups including members of the business, clergy and education community.”

As for Barber’s accusation, Ellis said, “we’re unclear why he’s trying to mischaracterize his absence.”

An NAACP spokeswoman never replied to questions about the scheduling conflict.

The first “Moral Monday” protest is next week.

*** Much more political back-and-forth, another Tillis fundraiser in Washington, and the $5 million house lawmakers partied at Tuesday – all below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory is hitting the commencement circuit. He will address graduates of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College on Friday afternoon and speak at Wingate University on Saturday.

Also Friday, McCrory will attend an animal welfare luncheon sponsored by the Charlotte Humane Society, an organization pushing a puppy mill bill (see more below) that is supported by his wife, Ann McCrory.

Keith Crisco, the textile company founder and former North Carolina Commerce Department secretary, is being remembered in services at 2 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church in Asheboro.

TODAY’S BIG STORY: A North Carolina judge is set to issue the first ruling Friday in a legal battle over whether public school teachers can keep job protections they’ve had for generations.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood is expected to rule in a lawsuit challenging a state law that orders each school district to give the best 25 percent of its teachers four-year contracts. The teachers would get pay raises totaling $5,000 but lose their tenure rights. Read more here.

#NCSEN --- The news from the U.S. Senate campaign trail ...

FROM LATE THURDAY – House Speaker Thom Tillis to miss Monday session for Senate campaign fundraiser. Read more here.

MORE – Earlier on Monday Tillis will attend a fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s offices in Washington. The 2 p.m. event is hosted by Missy Edwards and Dave Lugar, according to another invitation. The event is hosted by Lugar’s lobbying firm.

ANOTHER FACT CHECKER SHOOTS DOWN ATTACK AD ON TILLIS: From Factcheck.org: Two new ads from Senate Majority PAC wrongly claim North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis “raised taxes on 80 percent of North Carolinians.” The claim is based on the Democratic super PAC’s misreading of an analysis of a 2013 Tillis-backed tax plan. Read more here.

As we expected ... VA CONTROVERSY ENTERS THE CAMPAIGN: From ABC 11 – Thom Tillis called for immediate action, or Shinseki’s resignation. Sen. Kay Hagan’s office told ABC 11 that she’s been working with the VA specifically about Durham’s situation, but wouldn’t go into detail. Read more here.

ON GRIDLOCK: “It is absolutely ridiculous that we have good bills that at the end of the day are not going forward,” said Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who has a tough reelection in North Carolina. Read more here.

HEADLINES – Bloomberg: GOP paints Reid as bogeyman in 2014 Senate races. Read more here. Washington Post: Republicans have a 77% chance of taking the Senate. Read more here. Columnist E.J. Dionne: Tillis will be one of the most right-wing candidates on any ballot this fall. Read more here. Washington Post: Same-sex marriage an issue in N.C. elections? Maybe. Read more here.

#NCGA --- The latest from the N.C. General Assembly.

PARTY HOUSE: Senate Republicans held their caucus fundraiser Tuesday, the night before the legislative session began, at a $5 million home in Raleigh, according to an invitation. Hundreds attended. The house is listed in the name of a trust run by a tax attorney. The owner is unknown. See a picture and story about the house here.

THE BIG STORY – NEW RULES RUSHED THROUGH AHEAD OF MONDAY PROTEST: The rewrite was prompted by legal concerns over the building rules cited by judges hearing the cases of some of the more than 900 people who were arrested in last year’s “Moral Mondays” demonstrations at the General Assembly.

The judges said some of the rules were unconstitutionally vague, and so legislative staff undertook the first major revision since 1987, which included updating the rules to reflect current practices.

But the process, rushed through on the second day of session in advance of next Monday’s anticipated first round of protests, drew criticism from Democratic legislators. Approved on a voice vote, the new rules will go into effect without going before the entire General Assembly. Soon after the commission voted, Senate Minority Whip Josh Stein, a Democrat from Raleigh, condemned the process on the Senate floor.

“It is deeply concerning we are changing the rules in which the people can enter the people’s house,” Stein said. “It was done without any public comment, or any opportunity for this full chamber to consider those rules.” Read more here.

GOP SENATORS FILE BILL TO DIRECT EDUCATION MONEY: Three Republican state senators Thursday introduced a bill requiring that at least 51 percent of state spending on public education go toward classroom teachers.

They called it a move to put North Carolina’s teachers at the top of the state’s priority list, in a year when teachers and their advocates have been protesting low pay and difficult working conditions.

“There’s no question that teachers have the greatest influence on student achievement, so we must ensure they are the top priority for education funding,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca of Henderson County, who sponsored the bill along with David Curtis of Lincoln County and Bill Rabon of Brunswick County. Read more here.

UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE DAY: The state Senate is diving into the details of Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed $21 billion budget and will put out its own version in two or three weeks. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing a little different budget,” said Sen. Harry Brown, a budget writer from Jacksonville. Read more here.

E-CIGARETTE PROVISION FACES QUESTIONS: Should North Carolina tax e-cigarettes as a tobacco product? It wouldn’t under a bill proposed by one of the country’s largest tobacco companies.

The measure, part of a larger bill on tax law changes, was approved Thursday by the state House Finance Committee and is expected to go to the full House next week. Read more here.

JUDGE RULES LAWMAKERS MUST SHARE VOTER ID DOCS: A U.S. District Court judge issued a ruling on Thursday that instructs North Carolina lawmakers involved with crafting the state’s new voter ID law to turn over some of their correspondence and email messages to the plaintiffs challenging the wide-ranging amendments.

Thomas D. Schroeder, the U.S. District Court judge, issued a memorandum order on Thursday that bats back the lawmakers’ claims that U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake was outside the bounds of law when she issued a ruling earlier this year. Read more here.\

#NCPOL – A roundup of North Carolina political news.

BULLETIN: U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican retiring this year, is wading into the GOP primary to replace him. Coble on Friday endorsed Phil Berger Jr. for the nomination, over Mark Walker, his challenger in the runoff.

AMERICA’S MOST GERRYMANDERED DISTRICTS: Yep, North Carolina is on the list. Read more here.

SEA-LEVEL FORECAST LIMITED: Hoping to avoid a repeat of the uproar sparked in 2010 when a state science panel warned of a possible 39-inch rise in sea level by the end of this century, the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission decreed Thursday that the next official forecast will look no farther than 30 years into the future.

“We could add credibility to the study if we limit the time frame we’re asking people to consider,” commission chairman Frank Gorham III said. Read more here.

WOODWARD AND BERNSTEIN IN RALEIGH: The best explanation for Nixon’s maneuverings, Woodward said, was stated by North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin Jr., a Democrat, who called it “a lust for power.”

Woodward noted that the Senate voted 77-0 to create a committee to investigate the Watergate scandal and to name Ervin to chair it. “Today, you could never get anything like that through the Senate and the House,” Woodward said. Bernstein said it showed the respect for Ervin as a constitutional expert that crossed party lines. Read more here.

CARTOON: Duke Energy’s new mascot. See it here.

QUICK TAKES – More headlines you can’t miss.

McCrory budget makes state employee firings political, critics say. Read more here.

N.C. magistrates sue state claiming breach of contract for frozen salaries. Read more here.

John Edwards wraps up first case since 2012 trial. Read more here.

Animal protection groups lobby on dog breeding bill. Read more here.

Meadows, Shuler to push for “Road to Nowhere” money. Read more here.

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