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Watt confident Senate filibuster change assures confirmation

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt is confident he’ll be confirmed to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency now that Senate Democrats changed the chamber’s filibuster rule.

“I would say that certainly substantially improves the chances,” he says.

President Barack Obama nominated Watt last spring to head the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation last month.

But Thursday, Senate Democrats triggered the so-called “nuclear option.” They changed the rules so that most judicial and executive-office appointments can move to confirmation votes with support from a simple majority of senators, not the 60-vote super-majority that had been in effect.

The Senate could vote on Watt’s nomination when it returns to session in early December.

Watt continues to be optimistic.

“I’ve known it’s not been about me,” he says. “Every once in a while they’ll make some noises about qualifications. But no one felt they were saying that with a straight face. This has been about politics, and a lot of it has been directed at this president.

“I’ve never taken this personally I’ve been patient. ... And I’m still patient.” Jim Morrill

Chamber to host city’s mayors

Charlotte’s past three elected mayors are scheduled to speak to the Charlotte Chamber in separate appearances over the coming weeks.

• Mayor-elect Patrick Cannon is scheduled to speak to the chamber’s board of advisers Monday afternoon at UNC Charlotte’s Center City.

• Former Mayor – now U.S. Transportation Secretary – Anthony Foxx will speak to the chamber’s annual meeting Dec. 3 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

• And Gov. Pat McCrory will join a panel at the chamber’s Economic Outlook Conference Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center. Jim Morrill

N.C. named in ALEC report on tax cuts

A new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council – a free-market advocacy group of corporate and political interests that drafts boilerplate legislation for states to enact – is giving a boost to conservative lawmakers.

It tallied up 18 states that significantly cut taxes this year, including in North Carolina where the Republican-controlled General Assembly overhauled the state tax code this year.

“Without question, the reforms are among the most significant tax relief any state has passed in the last decade,” the ALEC report says of North Carolina, adding up to more than $500 million in tax breaks in the first two years.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office wasted no time touting an article in Forbes about the report. The Forbes article, written by an ALEC research analyst, contends that tax cuts make for a stronger economy. McCrory’s office distributed it as a news release on Friday.

Democrats disagree, of course, and it remains to be seen how the tax cuts will play out, especially as lawmakers struggle to find ways to pay for already under-funded government services. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Fact checker rates voter ID claims ‘mostly false’

McCrory is facing more scrutiny for his comments earlier this week about the state’s new voting law in a national TV interview.

“If you survey, most (North Carolina) Democrats also agree with our (election) laws and voter ID,” the Republican governor told MSNBC on Wednesday morning.

But PolitiFact says McCrory is “mostly false.” The award-winning fact-checking website took a look at recent polls on the subject and found little recent evidence to support the governor’s assertion.

PolitiFact concluded: “There’s a bunch of polling data on this question; some of it is conflicted, and much of it with a degree of uncertainty due to small sample sizes in the polls. Still, there’s enough data to cast at least some doubt on the accuracy of McCrory’s statement.

“While a majority of North Carolina Democrats were indeed comfortable with a voter ID law for many months, that support turned to disapproval beginning no later than September 2013 (according to the Elon poll) and possibly as early as February 2013 (according to the Civitas poll). And the one poll question that asked about the law as a whole found strong opposition among Democrats, to a degree that is well outside the margin of error.

“We give more weight to the recent polls that were public knowledge when he made his statement, so we rate the claim Mostly False.” News & Observer

Board to meet 6 for county manager job

The full board of Mecklenburg County commissioners got their first look last week at a narrowed-down list of candidates for the new county manager. They remained quiet on who might be Mecklenburg’s future leader.

Chris Peek, the county’s human resources director, later sent a news release saying that six candidates are on the list. That’s one candidate larger than the three to five the board instructed a search committee of four commissioners to bring back.

Peek said each candidate will be “confidentially” interviewed by the full board, with a goal of finishing that step by mid-December. After the candidates are interviewed and evaluated, the board will decide the next steps – including whether it will engage the public in the process.

Some commissioners said last week it may be difficult to name a new manager by year’s end. David Perlmutt

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