Politics & Government

McCrory squawks over ‘Squawks’

McCrory squawks over ‘Squawks’

Gov. Pat McCrory gets skewered as usual in the latest edition of Charlotte Squawks, the annual satirical review with WFAE’s Mike Collins. There’s even a song and dance where actor Patrick Ratchford does a spot-on imitation of the former mayor.

But for the first time in years, McCrory himself isn’t part of the show.

His video appearances, usually self-deprecating, were often hilarious. He once won a Metrolina Theatre Association Award for best cameo. Not this year.

“I feel abandoned,” McCrory says. “Mike Collins has abandoned me. I think he was extremely envious of my Emmy (sic) award. He didn’t get one.”

Collins says producers originally wanted McCrory again.

“But we got a late start and our budget is being watched very carefully so going to Raleigh was out of the question and the logistics of coordinating everything were difficult,” he says. “Then the ( Patrick) Cannon thing happened and we wanted to get Mayor ( Dan) Clodfelter and did.”

Clodfelter actually shows some deft timing and humor in this year’s opening video. When approached on screen by Collins, he said, “What, did Gov. McCrory turn you down?” Jim Morrill

Airport talks still up in air

The fight over Charlotte’s airport has been in limbo as both sides wait for a ruling by federal transportation authorities. But Gov. Pat McCrory says the issue was “very close to a resolution” until former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s March 26 arrest.

McCrory’s ideal resolution?

“Let the airport remain in city hands but take the day-to-day politics out of it,” he says. He called the current commission set up “a good compromise.” Jim Morrill

GOP Iron Man

The issues may change, but whenever state Republicans gather for a convention there’s a familiar face at the podium.

Billy Miller is a Charlotte pastor and the party’s favorite convention chairman. By his count, this weekend’s gathering in Cherokee is his “16th or 17th.”

Miller, 49 and the father of eight, is a master of parliamentary rules. With patience and even humor, he explains arcane rules and terms (“ad seriatum”) and keeps things running more or less on time. He’s also adept at parliamentary pleasantries. (“The gentleman will refrain from debating.”)

“I’m kind of the guy when things are contentious, or just laborious,” says Miller, pastor of Resurrection Lutheran.

For state GOP Chairman Claude Pope, there was never a question about who would stand at the podium.

“You need somebody who has a good command (of rules) and is respected by the body,” Pope says. “Billy is respected by every faction.” Jim Morrill

Vetoes ahead?

Gov. Pat McCrory didn’t mince words last week when he said the legislature’s effort to repeal Common Core standards “is not a smart move.”

The governor made his comments in a speech last week shortly after the Senate voted on its version of a bill that would make North Carolina the second state to abandon the standards.

The governor had pushed for what he liked to call “common ground” in the fight over Common Core. He declined to say he would veto the legislation, championed by his fellow Republicans.

“At this point in time I think we can get these issues resolved,” he said. Jim Morrill

High on hope

State Rep. Kelly Alexander is nothing if not persistent.

The Charlotte Democrat is sponsoring yet another bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana. His bill, HB 1161, would amend the state constitution by adding a new section called the “Medical Cannabis Protection Act.”

Alexander has sponsored medical marijuana bills before.

“I can see attitudes changing,” he said last week in his legislative office.

Pot is legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state. And a total of 22 states, plus the District of Columbia, have medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

To Alexander, pot, at least for medical use, is no longer a Cheech and Chong fantasy, even in North Carolina.

A Republican, Rep. Pat McElraft of Emerald Isle, is co-sponsoring a bill along with Charlotte Democrat Becky Carney and others that would allow the use of hemp oil, derived from the cannabis plant, for treatment of certain disorders.

Not many people give Alexander’s bill a chance. At least not yet.

“The trend is going in my direction,” Alexander says. “I talk to conservatives. I talk to liberals. I talk to old folks. To people of all political persuasions united in their belief that the law needs to change, and where we are now just doesn’t make any sense.” Jim Morrill