McCrory: Dems are ‘fishing'

Pat McCrory says state Democrats are on a “fishing expedition.”

The Republican gubernatorial nominee said Friday that the N.C. Democratic Party has filed a public records request for correspondence between the mayor, the city manager and his staff and three businesses for the past 12 years. The businesses are Duke Energy, Bank of America and US Airways.

The McCrory campaign said City Attorney Mac McCarley estimated the request would cost “more than $100,000” and take “up to a thousand hours” of work to complete.

“I am disgusted by this fishing expedition being conducted by the North Carolina Democratic Party with the blessing of Beverly Perdue,” McCrory said in a statement, calling it “dirty tricks.”

Perdue spokesman David Kochman said the Perdue campaign was aware of the records request and had no problem with it.

“One of the reasons we have campaigns is for voters to learn about candidates and the work they've done,” he said. “I would hope that the mayor has nothing to hide. If that's the case, there shouldn't be any problem sharing more information about his record.”

On the issue of cost, Kochman said it's standard for a government body to charge reasonable costs to comply with a records request. The Democratic Party offered to defray the cost up to $200. (Raleigh) News & Observer

Taylor changes campaign leadership

Democrat Harry Taylor has shaken up the management of his 9th District congressional campaign.

Out is former Mecklenburg County commissioner Susan Green. In is Maria Smithson, a relative newcomer to Charlotte but long active in West Coast Democratic politics.

Smithson, 38, formally takes over Tuesday as manager of Taylor's campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Sue Myrick.

“Susan Green did an extraordinary job for us,” Taylor says, “but we wanted her to concentrate more on fundraising than she had been, and she decided she didn't want to do that.”

Green ran for the 9th District seat herself in 1984, losing a runoff. She declined to comment in detail on her departure.

Smithson says the campaign hired a fundraising consultant this month and plans to hire a media strategist and pollster.

“We're looking to run a full-bore campaign,” she says. Jim Morrill

N.C. FREE says it will press on, despite membership losses

N.C. FREE says it will continue what it's doing, at least for now.

The pro-business, Raleigh-based group that researches N.C. politics released a statement Friday following a meeting of its board of directors. The statement notes the recent reduction in its membership – including the loss of Bank of America, Duke Energy and Wachovia as supporters.

But, the statement says, N.C. FREE has “adopted plans for continuing its mission” for the 2008 elections. Bill Brown, the board's chair, declined further comment.

In recent years, N.C. FREE has become more involved in political action through raising money, recruiting pro-business candidates and encouraging voter turnout. But the effort has alienated some members. David Ingram

Chicago trip was full of Charlotte, Mecklenburg leaders

Charlotte sent the biggest public delegation on the Charlotte Chamber's three-day trip to Chicago this week.

Eight of 11 council members – Michael Barnes, Susan Burgess, Nancy Carter, Warren Cooksey, Anthony Foxx, Patsy Kinsey, John Lassiter and Edwin Peacock – joined City Manager Curt Walton, Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, Economic Development Director Tom Flynn and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Director Debra Campbell.

The trip, which cost $2,225 for each elected official and $2,425 for others, is part of an annual series that takes business, civic and government leaders to see what counterparts are doing across the country. This year's visit included sessions on transportation, urban parks, economic development and school reform, along with chances to see a Cubs game or the musical “Wicked.”

Mecklenburg County sent commissioners Parks Helms, Dan Ramirez and Jennifer Roberts, County Manager Harry Jones and General Manager Janice Jackson.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had the smallest crew of the three major government bodies: School board members Joe White and Trent Merchant and Deputy Superintendent Maurice Green.

Other folks from the public sector included state Sen. Malcolm Graham; Phil Dubois and David Dunn of UNC Charlotte, and Tony Zeiss and Jerri Haigler of Central Piedmont Community College. Ann Doss Helms

Davis survives push to remove him from board

Eric Davis, a Wachovia employee who chairs the all-volunteer Bond Oversight Committee, ended up being the focus of an unusual public tribute Tuesday, when school board member Kaye McGarry tried to revoke his appointment.

Six years ago, then-school board member John Lassiter appointed Davis to the panel, which is charged with making sure public bodies spend bond money the way they promise during campaigns. After Lassiter left the board, McGarry named Davis to a second term.

Tuesday, she asked her colleagues to remove him – with less than three months left on his term and only one committee meeting remaining.

“My appointment is my appointment,” she said. “I choose to appoint someone who mirrors my philosophy and knows the majority of my constituents.”

Other school board members balked, noting Davis's effective service. Vilma Leake pressed McGarry for an explanation of the philosophical differences, to no avail. Trent Merchant asked Superintendent Peter Gorman to read a prepared statement detailing Davis's qualifications and accomplishments.

The board voted 5-3 one absent to reject McGarry's request.

Davis declined to discuss their differences afterward. McGarry also provided no further details. Ann Doss Helms