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3 legislators decide not to seek re-election

Trio of legislators will not seek re-election

Three state legislators announced Friday that they won’t run for re-election: Rep. Mark Hollo, a Republican from Taylorsville; Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Republican from Wilmington and one of the most visible members in the General Assembly; and Sen. Michael Walters, a Democrat who represents Robeson and Columbus counties.

All said they wanted to spend more time with their families.

Hollo is a physician assistant. He is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and the Health and Human Services committee.

Goolsby shepherded the repeal of the Racial Justice Act through the legislature, promising to kick-start executions in North Carolina, and he successfully promoted legislation imposing tougher penalties for human trafficking.

A criminal defense attorney and sometimes fiery speaker on the Senate floor, Goolsby made a point to publicly criticize Attorney General Roy Cooper last year. Cooper is a presumed Democratic candidate for governor, but Goolsby once ran for attorney general and lost in the GOP primary.

That has led to speculation that Goolsby will make a run for another public office. But not so, according to the news release he sent out; at least not now.

Walters was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue in 2009 to fill a vacancy in the Senate, and he was elected twice. He said the decision not to run again was due to “personal and business reasons,” The Robesonian newspaper reported. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

In Meck, there are more independents than Republicans

Independent voters are growing in North Carolina and across the country. In Mecklenburg County, they outnumber Republicans.

Does that mean both parties will target their appeals more to the center? Not necessarily, says Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer.

In his “The Party Line” blog for WFAE, Bitzer said the 2012 American National Election Study showed that “pure independents” split evenly between the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate.

But independents who leaned to one party or another ended up voting for that party’s candidate 90 percent of the time. That was about the same rate as those who identified themselves as strong Democrats or strong Republicans.

Independent voters, he wrote, tend to turn out at a lower rate than partisan voters. The bow-tie-wearing Bitzer, by the way, was named Catawba College’s new provost last week, a post he had held on an interim basis since June. Jim Morrill

Former senator to deliver speech at UNCC

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe will keynote the 2014 summit of the Women + Girls Research Alliance at UNC Charlotte.

The Maine Republican served three terms in the U.S. Senate before retiring last year.

The April 2014 summit is called “Convergence: Mapping Success, Well-being and Empowerment.” Tickets go on sale Feb. 1. Jim Morrill

Senator seeks federal probe of Raleigh housing agency

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has joined U.S. Rep. George Holding in calling for a federal investigation of the Raleigh Housing Authority.

Grassley and Holding voiced concerns about the agency director’s use of comp time in a three-page letter sent Thursday to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We are concerned that the RHA – a HUD ‘high performer’ – allows its executive director, Steve Beam, to be on paid vacation from the housing authority for nearly three months a year to pursue his outside hobbies and interests,” the two Republicans wrote in the letter.

Grassley and Holding cite recent News & Observer reports that Beam has been using a combination of vacation, sick and comp days each year – in part to pursue a side business as a well-respected magician specializing in card tricks. He travels to magic conferences across the country, often using comp time accrued by working beyond the standard 7.5-hour workday. In recent years, he has taken up to 20 comp days a year.

“This benefit is extremely unusual for such a highly paid manager, and Mr. Beam has used it to rack up over four months of paid vacation from 2010 to the present,” the letter states. “In fact, because of Mr. Beam’s unique 7.5-hour workday, over the course of one year he accrues an additional two weeks of comp time simply by working a traditional eight-hour day.”

Beam – whose annual compensation has reached as high as $280,000 – has full support from his city-appointed board. Holding, a first-term congressman from Raleigh, announced last week that he had requested a federal audit of the Raleigh Housing Authority because of the director’s pay and time off.

The congressional interest in the housing authority’s practices comes as the agency’s board has scheduled two closed-door meetings to discuss a “confidential personnel matter,” according to meeting notices. The first meeting was held last Monday; the second is scheduled for Thursday. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

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