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North Carolina - Republicans

05
A TAPster who spent many years as a private-sector economic developer offers this:
 
The myopic, confused and naïve approach of North Carolina Republicans to the state’s business recruitment efforts continues to baffle experts who toil daily to bring good jobs here.
 
Our Republicans are opposed to incentives as “corporate welfare,” and they don’t want taxpayer money going to “subsidize” private business.
 
Fine.
 
Why, then, do Republicans in South Carolina embrace incentives? Why do they give their governor a well-funded incentive plan and authority to aggressively lasso any prospect who comes along? And lure existing businesses from North Carolina?
 
It’s a mystery.
 
The NC House took a baby step this week when it passed a recruiting package, but it’s not enough and too late and even it has plenty of opposition.
 
Our Republicans need to crawl down from their philosophical high horse and take a trip down I-77 from Rock Hill to Columbia, or I-95 through Florence and look at the explosive growth of large businesses and job creators along those corridors. And talk to real people whose lives have been enhanced by a job at one of those places.

 

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05
This is about as good a tale of conniving as I’ve heard: I can’t remember why but forty years ago back in 1976 the state legislature moved our Presidential primary up from May to March – then the unexpected struck and Ronald Reagan whipped Gerald Ford.
 
It was the first time Reagan won a primary. And the only time a sitting President ever lost a primary. And it turned the 1976 election upside down.
 
Down in South Carolina, watching, inspiration struck Lee Atwater and, after a bit of conniving of his own, Lee got South Carolina to move its primary up so in 1980 South Carolina was the ‘first primary in the South.’
 
Atwater’s plan worked better than he ever imagined. The winner of the South Carolina’s primary has gone on to win the Republican nomination in 8 of the last 9 Presidential elections.
 
In fact, South Carolina liked its new status so much, at some point, it got together with Iowa and New Hampshire and persuaded the Republican National Committee to pass a rule saying no other state could hold a primary before March 1.
 
At the same time, after the 1976 election, the North Carolina legislature went back to business as usual – and holding primaries in May – and for the last 40 years the North Carolina’s Republican Primary hasn’t mattered a toot.
 
Which suited Democrats just fine – after all about the last thing, say, Jim Hunt wanted was a liberal like Walter Mondale or Michael Duhakis or Al Gore traipsing across the state while he was running for reelection.
 
But, then, Republicans took control of the legislature and decided we’d been sitting on the Presidential sidelines long enough and moved our primary up to the week after South Carolina’s.
 
Which seemed reasonable.
 
But, oddly, sent national Republican Chairman Reince Preibus into a tizzy – Preibus announced North Carolina would not be allowed to hold its primary before March 1 and, he added, if we tried he’d take away 60 of North Carolina’s 72 delegates to the Republican Convention.
 
Those sounded like fighting words but, rather than calling Preibus out, North Carolina’s Republican Chairman decided to strike the flag and traipsed over to the legislature to ask it to move the primary.
 
The State House played its cards pretty close to the vest and didn’t say much either way about Priebus’s edict. But Republican State Senator Bob Rucho didn’t buy it – Rucho stuck to his guns and he’s got a point.
 
It’s as easy for the National Republican Committee to change its rule as it is for us to change our law – and, after 40 years of playing second fiddle to South Carolina, it’s time to unwind this bit of political conniving.


 

 

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05
It rang a little jarring to open the newspaper and read, Stam Introduces First Bill of New Session – To Limit Eminent Domain.
 
No doubt Representative Skip Stam was right but it was a little like watching a knight errant tilting at a windmill – because, after all, Eminent Domain isn’t one of the burning issues of our time.
 
Then, about two weeks later, Representative Stam was back in the newspaper –announcing the fiscal prognosticators in state government were dead-wrong when they said there was a $270 million revenue shortfall.
 
This time the knight errant had sunk his teeth into a deception– and, it turned out, he wasn’t tilting at windmills. In fact, the state has $586 million more to spend this year than last year.
 
And calling that a shortfall was like calling more less.

 

 

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04
The saga of Tony (Thriller) Tata continues. You can just hear that guy who does the movie trailers: “By day, he’s the powerful commander of DOT. At night, he’s A.J. Tata, mild-mannered novelist.”
 
Tata’s two roles collided last week when icy roads caused thousands of accidents back home while Thriller was in Chicago flogging his newly released novel. (TAP is hoping for a free, autographed copy of said novel in exchange for the extensive publicity we give it).
 
On Monday, Tata sat down with WRAL’s David Crabtree to defend DOT’s performance, both when he’s here and when he’s not. Crabtree pressed him on Sunday morning’s 13-car pileup near RDU. Tata said: "I want people to understand that no amount of preparation is going to make black ice go away. But the crews try. The crews are pre-positioned. We know where the hot spots are."
 
Three PR notes here.
 
First, you know you’re on slippery ground (so to speak) when you’re in a one-on-one interview with the Big Anchor Guy.
 
Two, DOT secretaries would be wise to stay on the job in the winter.
 
Three, many a political career has foundered on storm response, or the lack thereof.

 

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02
A loyal TAPster outraged by Thom (No Clean Hands) Tillis contributes today’s blog:
 
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any colder last week, Senator Thom Tillis embarrassed North Carolina again, voting against Loretta Lynch’s nomination as US attorney general.
 
Lynch is the daughter of a Baptist minister from Greensboro who opened his church to protesters during the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 60s.  She attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School.  (Note to Thom:  That is THE Harvard University in Cambridge, not the online, for-profit version.) She has served as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  She is known as a tough prosecutor of honest-to-God terrorists.
 
To that, all Tillis could muster was, “She was raised right.” Then he declared that the decision to vote against her in the Senate Judiciary Committee, “was the most difficult I’ve had to make in my 45 days on this job.”
 
Only 45 days?  It seems like an eternity already.
 
This “no” vote comes in the same Judiciary Committee meeting where three of the Senate’s most outspoken and curmudgeonly Republican senators--Orrin Hatch, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake-- voted for her confirmation. Yes, even Graham, our Confederate flag-waving neighbor to the South--South Carolina that is-- saw his way to a yea vote, because, he said, she is qualified for the job.
 
Could it be that Tillis was stung by her unapologetic support for the Justice Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina to overturn its draconian voter ID law—a law Tillis himself championed?
 
When civility and decorum take a backseat to pure meanness and race baiting, it is a cold, dark day in North Carolina. The condescension breaks in icy waves like the slush on Nantucket’s beaches.
 
As Reverend Barber put it, “To see other southern Republican senators put aside the politics of extremism and support attorney Lynch’s nomination and then watch Thom Tillis refuse is a tragic misrepresentation of the values of North Carolina and the call of history.  Shameful,” he said.
 
Shameful indeed.  And, shame on you, too, Richard Burr.

 

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25
The fur’s flying over in Chapel Hill – Dean Boger (at the Law School) along with a cohort of professors have lit into the Board of Governors saying closing the Law School’s Anti-Poverty Center leaves them with only one conclusion: The Board is for poverty.
 
The Dean lamented the Board was guilty of every sin from betraying Dean Smith’s ‘Carolina Way’ to leading the University off the road to “light and truth” into the darkness – then blasted the Board for playing politics, saying it was shuttering the Center to silence law school professor Gene Nichols, who’s been blaming Republicans for poverty.
 
Listening you’d think the Anti-Poverty Center was founded by Mother Theresa – instead of John Edwards.
 
In fact the Center was never a step down the road to “light and truth” – it was a political farce Edwards created (and the Law School embraced) to serve as the launching pad for Edwards’s 2008 Presidential campaign. Dean Boger, the Law School’s Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor – a chair established by John Edwards to honor his late son – has long given it his blessing. And now he’s accusing the Board of playing politics.


 

 

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25
Something was missing from the usual snow day TV fare. Bill and Renee ran down the shutdowns. Elizabeth and Greg kept predicting the snow would end any minute. Gilbert was giddy. Various teams showed us various roads. But…something just wasn’t there.
 
Oh yes! The Governor’s snow briefing! Where was Governor McCrory warning us not to put on our stupid hats? Where were the beefy, serious guys in uniforms standing behind him? Where, oh where, was DOT Secretary Tony Tata on a day when more than a thousand accidents were reported on the state’s roads?
 
WRAL tracked him down: “Tata traveled to Chicago Monday night and Tuesday to promote his new novel, ‘Foreign and Domestic,’ one of a number of titles the retired brigadier general has authored about fictional elite soldiers fighting threats overseas.”
 
We’ve twitted Tata before about thriller-novel-tweeting during snow emergencies and the State of the State. He good-naturedly assured us those tweets were from his publicist and he was full-time on the job.
 
But that was the real Tata on TV Tuesday, live from Chicago. (Note: You can do live links with CNN and Fox from Raleigh.)
 
His DOT spokesman made a heroic effort to make a molehill out of an ice mountain, assuring us that Tata had been on the phone back to Raleigh all day.
 
We must ask: With Tata reputedly being a master of logistics, would DOT trucks have been deployed earlier in the battle against snow and ice if he had been in command on the scene?
 
Governor McCrory’s office “did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” Which raises another question: Where was the Governor? He was last spotted in this odd clip with other Republican governors in Washington. The Governor appears to be blowing smoke rings in the cold. Or maybe hyperventilating as Bobby Jindal holds forth.
 
Democratic bloggers already are pouncing. Will the mainstream media pursue the issue?
 
No doubt the administration will profess nonchalance. But here’s betting that McCrory and Tata will be all over TV if there’s a repeat tomorrow.

 

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20
We’re in the Great Mentioner season of the political cycle, when the names of potential 2016 candidates start floating through the rumor mills, media and blogosphere.
 
And nothing talks like money.
 
An enterprising TAPster looked at the year-end cash-on-hand numbers for potential statewide candidates and Council of State incumbents.
 
Not surprisingly, at the top of the list were Governor McCrory, with $1.6 million, and his presumptive opponent, AG Roy Cooper ($1.5 million).
 
Next were Senator Josh Stein ($798,634), who will run for AG, and Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin ($304,776). Those are healthy numbers. Any challenger to Stein or Goodwin better pack a lunch.
 
Then come Treasurer Janet Cowell, a potential U.S. Senate candidate ($80,282), and Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who is sure to face a tough challenge (only $29,395). Followed by Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry ($16,157), Auditor Beth Wood ($14,698), Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson ($9,448), Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler ($8,200) and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall ($4,399).
 
The TAPster noted, “Given that June (Atkinson) hasn't raised any funds for Superintendent at all since 2012, might there be an opening on the Council of State other than Attorney General? Word around the Legislative Building is that Rep. Tricia Cotham is interested in the race.”
 
Further, “And what about all the national mentions of Janet Cowell potentially running for U.S. Senate, in tandem with her lower cash-on-hand numbers for her state campaign account? Some have said that she'll decide her plans for 2016 after the legislative session concludes.”
 
(Why wait? $100 million was spent in last year’s Senate race.)
 
Low cash-on-hand doesn’t tell us everything. But it does start the who-will-run-for-what buzz.

 

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19
Yesterday we talked about Senator Jeff Jackson’s tweets. Today’s Twitter topic is Tony Tata.
 
Specifically, his two Twitter identities: DOT Secretary Tata and Thriller-Novelist Tata.
 
This week, Thriller Tata posted tweets touting his books while DOT Tata backed up Governor McCrory at snow-emergency briefings. Earlier this month, Thriller Tata tweeted while DOT Tata was at the Governor’s State of the State address.
 
Tata assured us he’s not short-changing taxpayers: “@jgaryp didn't touch my phone during state of state. Publicist runs personal Twitter and schedules tweets. Thx for asking.” His personal Twitter is @ajtata, and it’s separate from his DOT tweets. 
 
Still, there’s something disconcerting about two Tonys. Maybe it’s the publicist putting out his tweets. Maybe it’s a nagging fear he’s thinking about a plot twist instead of ice on I-40. Maybe it’s Twitter envy. (“Darn it, why don’t I have two Twitter handles?”)
 
But here’s wishing both Tatas well. Writers should sell as many books and make as much money as possible.
 
Just don’t tweet while driving, Tony.

 

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18
When the State Ethics Commission ruled that a lobbyist having sex with a legislator didn’t violate the ban on gifts to legislators because sex acts do not constitute “things of value,” it got the attention of the redoubtable Ira David Wood, who’s surely NC’s most respected artist.
 
Woods posted the entire newspaper article on Facebook then wrote beside it: Happy Valentine’s Day, NC! (Just take me now, Lord.)
 
Beneath his comment one of his friends added: This ruling is perfectly consistent as there are obviously no ethics rules prohibiting a politician from screwing his constituents.
 
Who says art has no practical purpose?


 

 

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