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Rucho criticizes GOP opponent

Rucho criticizes GOP opponent

Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho didn’t waste any time attacking his would-be GOP opponent.

Rucho, of Matthews, sent out an email last week criticizing Charlotte attorney Matt Arnold, who plans to run against him in the Republican primary.

“Matt Arnold is just another trial lawyer who fills our courts with frivolous lawsuits that hurt the job-creating businesses and working families of our district,” Rucho said. “It should surprise no one that he doesn’t understand 1) Obamacare is wrecking our health care system and 2) Obamacare is a grave threat to our economy and personal freedom. …

“For the last 100 years Raleigh was full of people like Matt Arnold – they were called liberal Democrats.”

Arnold, a first-time candidate, specializes in family law. He said he and Rucho have never met.

“I don’t think his divisive comments and the way he carries himself fit that district,” Arnold said. “I don’t think you can be a leader and be that divisive. Even if you don’t agree with what they have to say, you still have to treat them with respect.” Jim Morrill

Meck ranks high for voting access

Mecklenburg, Cherokee and Union counties have the best voting access in North Carolina, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, while Hertford, Pender and Scotland counties have the worst.

Seventy-nine counties in the state were analyzed based on rates of overall voter turnout, voter registration, voter list maintenance, provisional ballots accepted and rejected, and absentee ballots rejected.

The report, which analyzed counties in every swing state from the 2012 election, concluded that ease of exercising the right to vote is heavily dependent on where one lives. Data was compared only within each state, with counties measured against state averages – not nationally.

When all factors were weighted equally, the study noted that Hertford County rejected the highest number of absentee ballots in the state, while Pender rejected the sixth-highest. All three counties were among the worst-performing in terms of the rate at which registered voters were purged from the list.

Researchers analyzed data collected in the 2012 election, but numbers could change in this year’s election after the new voting law goes into effect, said Joshua Field, one of the authors of the report from the left-leaning organization.

The law – which shortens early voting, ends same-day registration and adds a voter ID requirement, among other things – targets many of the same factors analyzed in the study, Field said.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see how that affects” the data, Field said. “If you think about anything that makes it harder to register, reduces the number of days that someone could go in and vote, and adds more restrictions for what people need to vote, we’ll guess that you’re going to see some dramatic changes.” The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Hunt to lead education forum

Former Gov. Jim Hunt will lead this year’s Emerging Issues Forum on “Teachers and the Great Economic Divide” at N.C. State University from Feb. 10-11.

Hunt launched the annual forum in 1986 to bring together speakers from different perspectives to examine issues that affect the state’s growth and prosperity. This year’s session comes as state officials are experimenting with controversial new ways to pay teachers and gauge their effectiveness, and as many complain that low teacher pay is hurting the state’s reputation for valuing education.

This year’s panelists, who include education commentator Diane Ravitch and Ron Clark, a celebrity educator in Atlanta, will talk about how teachers are paid, how the profession is valued, and how students are taught around the world and in North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, has been invited to join Hunt, a Democrat, in leading a session on charting a path forward, according to the agenda. Phil Berger, president pro tem of the state Senate, has also been invited to participate in a panel about “value-added” ratings that use student test scores to gauge teacher effectiveness.

Confirmed speakers with ties to Charlotte include state Board of Education member John Tate, who will talk about education in Finland, and Bryan Hassel, a consultant who will talk about creating highly paid teaching jobs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Project LIFT schools. Registration is open through the end of January. Details: http://iei.ncsu.edu Ann Doss Helms

Faster commissioners meetings?

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meetings are not known for their brevity, so it was a rare occasion on Thursday when a planning meeting that was scheduled for four hours took only three.

It followed a regular meeting of the board that had lasted only an hour.

When both meetings ended, commissioners looked at each other like they didn’t know what to do next, and several made quips about the early adjournments.

Board Chairman Trevor Fuller said he’s trying to keep meetings moving at an efficient pace and not get bogged down in “speech-making.”

“We’re trying to be not only respectful in what people want to say, but efficient in what we do,” Fuller said. “Sometimes we get carried away with things when we don’t focus on keeping our conversation to the subject.” David Perlmutt

Harris gains endorsement

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Harris got a big boost last week – the endorsement of former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

“He’s a true conservative who will join us in fighting against the status quo in Washington,” Huckabee said in a statement. “Americans are looking for leaders who they can trust to place their oath of office above partisan politics by fighting for the Constitution and standing up for what they believe in.”

Both Huckabee and Harris are Baptist ministers. Harris is pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church.

Huckabee is expected to campaign in North Carolina for Harris ahead of the May 6 primary. He could help Harris energize support among social conservatives in the six-way primary.

A former Arkansas governor, Huckabee ran for president in 2008. He finished second in total delegates to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

McCrory emphasizes MLK legacy

Gov. Pat McCrory emphasized the continued importance of upholding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy Friday at the state employees’ celebration in Raleigh.

In advance of Monday’s holiday, McCrory spoke about the importance of remembering King’s words from 50 years ago and living them every day.

King “issued basically two challenges,” McCrory said in front of an audience of about 300 at First Baptist Church. “First, that we as a society must end racial prejudice. The other, that we must be judged by the content of our individual character, a theme that we celebrate today.”

The governor highlighted a number of state employees in the audience who he said had worked to do the right thing, even when no one was looking – what he called his own definition of good character. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Lawmakers named to health panel

House Speaker Thom Tillis last week named three Mecklenburg County lawmakers to the new Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Affordable Care Act.

Appointed were: Republicans Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Jacqueline Schaffer of Charlotte and Charlotte Democrat Beverly Earle. Jim Morrill

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