Under the Dome

Morning Memo: McCrory flushes taxpayer-funded remodel

Gov. Pat McCrory has decided the six bathrooms in the executive mansion don’t need a $230,000 taxpayer funded redo after all.

The day after AP reporter Michael Biesecker reported the large-scale renovation that included $100,710 just to fix the governor’s master bathroom — complete with marble and ceramic tile — his spokeswoman said the no taxpayer money will be used for the upgrade.

Kim Genardo, McCrory’s communications director, said only a limited amount of money would be used to fix broken faucets, code violations and treat dangerous mold. The original story noted that a memo justifying the repairs said there was concern mold might be growing behind the walls.

Dome notes that Genardo said no taxpayer funded money would go to gussy up the loo. There is always the beloved tool of politicians: donors.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest went that route when he overhauled the Victorian that houses the Lt. Governor’s offices.

*** Good morning and welcome to Dome Morning Memo our look at the day ahead and recap of political news.

STARTING TO FEEL LIKE GROUNDHOG DAY: Tired of waking up to overcast skies, rain and a gridlocked Congress? Wish this was a Bill Murray with a few good laughs? So does Dome, but the best we can offer is an explanation. Rob Christensen is no meteorologist but he knows which way the wind blows in DC and why. He says U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is the perfect example of what’s gone wrong in Congress. Read his column.

THE STRATEGY: First, House Republicans shut down the federal government in their attempt to block the new health care law. Then they started passing bills to fund the specific parts of government they deemed critical. And now, they’re pointing fingers at Senate Democrats who don’t want to fund government that way. As part of that effort, the Republican National Committee will today start robocalling constituents of various U.S. senators, including N.C.’s own Kay Hagan. The message: Democrats need to stop playing politics and make sure veterans get their benefits. Last week, Congress was told that the if the VA’s staff furloughs weren’t ended soon, they wouldn’t be able to send out November pensions, disability compensation or GI Bill allowances to 5.18 million veterans or their survivors.

TODAY’S AGENDA: This morning the NC Economic Investment Committee is meeting at 10 a.m. to consider Job Development Investment Grant applications. Tonight, members of the state legislature’s black caucus, including Sen. Dan Blue, Reps. Rosa Gill and Yvonne Holley are holding a series of town hall meetings while the General Assembly is taking a break. The first in this district is 6:30 p.m. tonight at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St. in Raleigh.

THE OTHER GOP CANDIDATE: Greg Brannon, the Cary doctor running in the GOP’s Senate primary, has not gotten as much attention as House Speaker Thom Tillis or Rev. Mark Harris but his conservative credentials are opening doors. At 7 tonight, he’ll be speaking to the Triangle Republican Women at Bleu Bistro, 1821 Hillandale Road in Durham.

PRE-K’S FUTURE: The state Supreme Court begins hearing arguments Tuesday on the state's appeal of the 2011 Superior Court ruling that said the state could not impose barriers or regulations that prevent eligible children from enrolling in public preschool. The state says Superior Court Judge Howard Manning can no require a statewide prekindergarten program. The case puts back in public view the long-running Leandro school quality case that had the Supreme Court decide in 1997 that the legislature must give children in every district access to “a sound basic education.” Read the full story.

HELP LACKING: The law designed to make sure that everyone has health insurance is not reaching some of the state's poorest because the legislature and the governor rejected Medicaid expansion earlier this year. The federal government was going to fully fund that expansion the first year and then share the expense with the state in following years. The feds regularly pay the largest bulk of Medicaid - last year for instance the feds paid $14 billion, the state $3 billion. Read the full story.

FROM THE OP-ED PAGES: As for those reeling from their Blue Cross Blue Shield letters, Adam Linker explains what’s up with that and why you don’t have to take the option the company is giving you. Read the full column.

BETTING ON PRIVATE EQUITY: From Bloomberg News – NC is pumping more of its investments into alternatives to stocks and bonds. Moving more of the state pension fund into private equity worries some, even though the legislation allowing it received rare bipartisan support. Says Ardis Watkins, legislative affairs director for North Carolina’s State Employees Association: “We’re behaving like a losing gambler right now. We’re chasing money.” Read the full story.

COULD IT HAPPEN HERE?: From The New York Times – Arizona and Kansas are setting up a two-tiered voting system that requires showing proof of citizenship to vote in state and local elections. The decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court said they could not require such proof in federal elections. Read more here.

BLUE-LIGHT OBSESSION: From the Washington Post – File this one under politicians behaving badly. Dome alumnus John Wagner, using documents obtained via a public records request, reports that Maryland’s AG, who happens to be running for the Democratic nomination for governor, has regularly ordered state troopers driving him to run red lights, bypass traffic jams by using the shoulder and to turn on their lights and sirens to speed him to appointments or his childrens’ sporting events. Read more here.