Politics & Government

McCrory, Hagan pushing for more debates with Perdue, Dole

Let the debate over debates begin.

Republican Pat McCrory wants on stage with Democrat Bev Perdue in their race for governor. And Democrat Kay Hagan wants a public shot at Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Neither is feeling the love.

Perdue has agreed to some appearances with McCrory, but she turned down a chance to debate him at the annual convention of the N.C. Association of Broadcasters this weekend in Asheville. She dismissed McCrory as “just whining” when he complained about that.

Hagan is left even more lonely. The broadcasters association invited Dole and Hagan to debate. Hagan accepted, but Dole did not. So who gets to speak to the broadcasters? Dole, as an incumbent senator, while Hagan was left out.

We get why Dole wouldn't want to give the underdog Hagan a spotlight. But in a tight race, can Perdue afford to skip the publicity? Taylor Batten

Here's one ticket nobody will be scalping

Either Rep. Cary Allred is out of touch, or the Charlotte Bobcats need a better marketing plan.

Allred, an Alamance County Republican, rose on the N.C. House floor Thursday to debate the legalization of ticket reselling. He began with a personal note.

“I don't go to rock concerts or to the Charlotte Hornets basketball games or anything like that,” he said.

With good reason. The NBA's Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans in 2002. The Bobcats replaced them in 2004.

David Ingram

She got the criticism, but not the paycheck

Making $57,562 a year for doing nothing would be a sweet deal – but it's not what state Rep. Tricia Cotham is getting.

Cotham was an assistant principal at East Mecklenburg High when she was appointed to disgraced House Speaker Jim Black's seat in March 2007. She went on unpaid leave and headed to Raleigh shortly afterward.

But when the Observer filed a public records request for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools payroll this March, Cotham was still listed at full time and full salary. That's because she's technically on the payroll; when she returns, she'll still be an assistant principal earning that salary. Until then, she's getting no paycheck and no benefits.

Once the Observer posted the salaries online, bloggers and Cotham critics began to buzz about whether she was pulling a fast one on Mecklenburg taxpayers. Cotham repeatedly asked CMS to set the record straight, but the word didn't reach Chief Communications Officer Nora Carr – who had agreed to check out concerns about errors in salary listings – or the Observer folks who oversee the database.

Last week, while Carr was on vacation, Cotham's increasingly desperate pleas reached Superintendent Peter Gorman. After a misguided first response – “I believe that it is a Charlotte Observer database and not ours” – he set the record straight. The Observer's online listing now includes her salary but gives her status as “unpaid leave.”

At least there's one plus for Cotham. When she first checked her status on Charlotte.com to see what the fuss was about, she learned she had gotten a cost-of-living raise – collectible only when she returns to work. Ann Doss Helms

Do you know which party is in power in Raleigh?

Charlotte residents aren't paying attention to state government, according to a new poll out this week.

Pollsters asked N.C. voters which party holds power in the N.C. House, the N.C. Senate and the governor's mansion.

Fewer than half of the 600 respondents correctly identified Democrats as the majority party in the House. Only 40 percent knew Democrats were in charge of the Senate.

Voters in the Triangle were more likely to pick correctly. Charlotte area voters were the least likely to get it right.

Staff reports