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‘Toxic political environment,’ so drop out?

To hear Tim Moffitt tell it, he was only trying to be a good guy by asking his Democratic opponent to drop out of the race for the Asheville House seat Moffitt holds.

“We’re all rookies at some point. ... I could tell that nobody had really sat down with him and said, ‘Hey, do you really know what you’re getting involved with?’ ” the aspiring House speaker told NCInsider.com. Moffitt said he was simply trying to educate a political newcomer about what he could expect from the coming campaign, describing Buncombe County as a “toxic political environment.”

Whatever Moffitt’s motivations, he would have to be a political novice himself to believe his action wouldn’t be construed by some as more self-serving than altruistic. It’s a bit patronizing as well. Challenger Brian Turner is a former vice chancellor at UNC Asheville and a former MTV producer, not jobs where naivete gets you very far.

Moffitt denies he offered Turner a state job at UNC TV in return for dropping out. Buncombe County commissioner David King, the Republican who arranged the meeting between the two and was present, concurred. A misunderstanding is possible on that score.

But this private meeting with an opponent where Moffitt asks him to drop out of a race in a district where neither political party has a lock on winning was bound to spark suspicions. You’d think Moffitt, a political “veteran” with four years in the House, would know that.

Waiting game for N.C. teachers

Eric Guckian, Gov. Pat McCrory's education adviser, didn’t do much to boost N.C. teachers’ hopes about accross-the-board pay raises this year. He reiterated at a conference of N.C. school administrators last week that the governor would push for raises for starting teachers in the short legislative session in May. Raises for veteran teachers will depend on state revenues, and as part of a “comprehensive” plan could take several years.

The latest national survey of teacher pay released last week bolsters the argument for boosting starting teacher pay. North Carolina is dead last in the Southeast and 48th nationally on starting teacher pay. The state’s $30,778 starting pay falls behind Mississippi’s $31,184.

But do the governor and lawmakers really believe the state can’t do better now on improving the state’s overall ranking on teacher pay, which is 46th, especially given that teacher pay in the Tar Heel state saw the largest decline nationally in average pay over the past decade?

Highs and lows of working

Here are two sets of figures to consider.

President Barack Obama moved last week to make more people eligible for overtime. Currently, salaried workers making more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, aren’t eligible for time-and-a-half overtime if some of their work is considered supervisory, even though most of their duties are not managerial but manual, clerical or technical work.

Also last week, the New York State Comptroller’s office said Wall Street firms handed out $26.7 billion in bonuses to their 165,200 employees last year, up 15 percent over the previous year. That’s the third highest on record.

Which, if either, offends you?

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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