Politics & Government

Too many journalists in NC?

Too many journalists in N.C.?

How many journalists does North Carolina have? Too many, according to Gov. Pat McCrory.

During a stop in Greensboro last week to unveil a new work force initiative, the governor offered his opinion on career options.

“We’ve frankly got enough psychologists and sociologists and political science majors and journalists,” he said, according to the Triad Business Journal. “With all due respect to journalism, we’ve got enough. We have way too many.”

Politico reported on the comments, with a little context, citing McCrory’s comments last month to the Council of Independent Business Owners.

His economic policies, he told them, were “too complex for the journalists.”

“They don’t have economics degrees, they’ve not been in business,” he said. “I respect them greatly, but you get it.” Jim Morrill

Judicial erudition

The lawyers were there to make their arguments. The judicial panel’s role was to listen and ask question.

But an activist group of judges clearly took over Thursday’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on North Carolina voting laws – at least when it came to one-liners.

In many cases, Appellate Judges Diana Motz, Henry Floyd and James Wynn gave more than they received, repeatedly interrupting the well-rehearsed speeches of presenting lawyers and drawing bursts of laughter from the packed main courtroom in the Federal Courthouse in Charlotte.

Neither side ducked the verbal fire from the bench. When Allison Griggs of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice repeatedly cited a recent 6th Circuit appeals court ruling that eliminated Ohio’s cuts to early voting, Motz injected, “Well, for better or worse, we’re in the 4th.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly Thomas, who spoke against the state’s new election plan, and Tom Farr representing the state barely introduced themselves before Motz and Wynn, respectively, barged in with questions.

Floyd, a South Carolinian, was the quietest member of the panel, but he may have delivered the best punchline of the day.

When Assistant Attorney General Alex Peters detailed how a court decision to change the voting rules this close to the Nov. 4 vote risked chaos in the county boards of election, Floyd asked quietly, “Does an administrative burden trump a constitutional right?”

Wynn, who hails from Down East, offered a running and folksy commentary on the new laws’ refusal to count votes filed by people who turn up at the wrong precinct.

“What is this thing about North Carolina not wanting people to vote,” he told Peters toward the end of one exchange. “ Let Grandma go and vote where she’s been walking to or where people drop her off.”

You can hear all the oral arguments at the 4th District website, www.ca4.uscourts.gov.

The judges will have the last word on the subject when they issue their ruling, which could come in the next week. Michael Gordon

Hagan’s husband got stimulus funds

A manufacturing company co-owned by the husband of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan received nearly $390,000 in grants and tax credits from the 2009 stimulus, according to a report from Politico.

Chip Hagan is a co-owner of JDC Manufacturing, which received the stimulus grants and credits to help pay for work at a facility in Reidsville, Politico reported.

A Hagan spokeswoman said the senator did not help her husband’s company obtain the grants, but told Politico that Hagan consulted with an ethics attorney on the issue.

Politico also reported that Hagan challenger Thom Tillis supported a measure to let North Carolina participate in the federal renewable energy tax credit program. A bank Tillis owns stock in received credits for some of its projects, the report said. Tillis denied any improper involvement. Staff reports

Duke mum on land swap

Duke Energy still doesn’t seem energized by a proposed land swap that would bury 4.7 million tons of coal ash from the Riverbend power plant on city-owned land.

The city of Charlotte proposed the idea last month after the airport rejected Duke’s original plan to bury ash under a planned airport runway.

Charlotte would give Duke 1,287 acres of vacant land at Interstate 485 and Wilkinson Boulevard to bury the ash. In return, Duke would give the airport 42 acres south of Wilkinson, next to an airport parking lot.

John Elnitsky, Duke’s senior vice president for ash strategy, said Friday that Duke is still evaluating the offer. But it’s only one idea the company is weighing after soliciting proposals in July.

“At the moment we’re keeping our options open, but I don’t know that will be the first place we go with material,” he said. “It’s still on the table but not the frontrunner at the moment.” Bruce Henderson

Ads praise failed autism effort

House Speaker Thom Tillis often wears an Autism Speaks pin and supported legislation this year that would require insurers to cover certain treatment for autism disorders. The measure got tied up in the Senate and didn’t become law, but that’s not stopping Carolina Rising from running two ads thanking Tillis for his support.

The North Carolina-based group is run by Dallas Woodhouse, the former state director of Americans for Prosperity. It is a tax-exempt nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors. According to Carolina Rising it is spending $2 million on the TV ads.

In the ads the parents of an autistic child talk about how they felt when they learned their child had autism and that their insurance company wouldn’t cover some of the therapy he needed.

In the spot, Kyle Robinson of Greenville says: “Thom Tillis has taken the politics and big insurance to the side and tried to do the right thing for the families of North Carolina.”

The ads will air throughout the state. The (Raleigh) News & Observer

Conservative group says mistakes were administrative errors

The director of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity said Friday that the mistakes in the voter registration forms the organization sent out in recent weeks were the result of administrative errors.

“We have identified a few minor administrative errors in our mailers and some old information in our data, and we’ll be addressing those. Any large mailing even with 99.9 percent accuracy is going to have a few inaccurate recipients,” Donald Bryson, North Carolina’s director of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, said in a statement.

Bryson did not reveal how many voter registration forms the organization had mailed to North Carolina homes.

The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported on Friday that the State Board of Elections had received hundreds of complaints about the forms, which included conflicting information about voter registration deadlines and incorrect information about where to send them. One complaint said the form was addressed to the resident’s cat.

Joshua Lawson, an elections board spokesman, said the State Board of Elections was “looking into it,” but had not launched a criminal investigation because no one who received the mailing had made a sworn complaint.

Misinformation about voter registration can be a felony if it is intentionally misleading and is proven to suppress voters, Lawson said.

One of the incorrect details in the form sent by AFP is that voters can send their registration information to the N.C. Secretary of State’s elections division. There is no such division, Lawson said.

“(But) there are lots of states where the BOE is housed in the Secretary of State’s office,” he said, “so it may be that they pulled something that was pulled for another state to use here, too. That may lack the criminal intent to suppress the vote.”

Repeated phone calls this week requesting an interview about the mailings were not returned, but in his statement, Bryson said: “Helping more people participate in our political process by making sure they are registered to vote is a good thing for democracy, and that’s exactly what we are accomplishing.” The (Raleigh) News & Observer