Under the Dome

Ken Starr will be in Cary to talk about higher education

Ken Starr, president of Baylor University but better known as Bill Clilnton's nemesis, will be in the Triangle next month, to talk about higher education.

He will give a talk entitled "American Higher Education: Working Hard..or Hardly Working?'' He will appear at the forum sponsored by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Policy on Oct 3 at 4 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary.

Starr is a former federal judge, former solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush. He was appointed independent counsel during the Clinton presidency to investigate the death of White House counsel Vince Foster, but soon expanded it to other areas, most notably, Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Starr graduated from Duke University law school.

Justice Beasley will run for her seat in 2014

State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley announced Wednesday she will be a candidate for her current seat next year.

Beasley was a state appeals court judge when Gov. Bev Perdue in December appointed her to the vacant Supreme Court seat created when Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson retired.

Beasley said she will formally file in February for the election in November 2014.

She served on the Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2012, and was a district court judge in Cumberland County from 1999 to 2008.

She received her law degree at the University of Tennessee.

Morning Memo: Another DHHS hire raises questions; FEC chides Tillis camp

ANOTHER HIRE RAISES QUESTIONS AT DHHS -- Unadvertised job goes to former tea party member: The state Department of Health and Human Services has filled a newly created $95,000 senior planner position with a Greenville woman who was a medical school lecturer for three years but who has been absent from the health care labor force since 2002.

Margaret "Mardy" Peal, 42, has been hired as part of the "Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina," Gov. Pat McCrory’s initiative to allow private insurance companies to run the government’s health care program for the poor in North Carolina.

Peal gave $1,250 to the McCrory campaign in 2012. She helped organize the Eastern North Carolina Tea Party in 2010. The job was not posted, which prevented others from applying. Department officials declined to provide a job description or list Peal’s duties. Read more here.

***More on Peal and news from the U.S. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Cris Mulder appointed to Wake County school board advisory council

Cris Mulder is back serving the Wake County school system, but this time it’s in a volunteer position.

On Tuesday, the Wake County school board appointed Mulder to serve on the District 7 board advisory council. Mulder was nominated by District 7 school board member Deborah Prickett to serve on a body that gives her advice and reviews issues for her.

Mulder had been the school system’s chief of family and community engagement, aka head of communications, until February. She left to become deputy secretary of communications for the state Department of Transportation.

Environmental secretary responds to fiery retirement letter

John Skvarla, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resource, responded to a former water quality employee who sent him a "Dear John" email when she took early retirement.

To recap, Susan Wilson told Skvarla she couldn't work at DENR anymore, and attached at "Take this job and shove it" YouTube video to her email.

"Between your inappropriate mission statement, the dismantling of the Division of Water Quality, and HB74 (along with a few other gems from this session's NCGA), I see no reason to continue here - because my own mission - to assist all citizens and protect those that don't have a voice, would be compromised," she wrote in part.

In his reply, Skvarla said maybe it's a good thing she left.

Legislative Black Caucus to hold town hall meetings

The N.C. Legislative Black Caucus is holding a series of town hall meetings called the What's Up Tour: Taking Back Our State.

Lawmakers will talk about legislation affecting families, education, health care and voting rights. The Black Caucus, which has all Democratic members, didn't like much of what the GOP-led legislature did this year, particularly in the areas of education, health care, and voting.

The tour started Monday in Lumberton and will hit eight more cities by December. The Raleigh Town Hall is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14, 6 p.m., at the Martin Street Baptist Church.

Poll shows strong support for photo ID, less for other parts of new elections law

A new High Point University poll released Tuesday shows overwhelming support for the requirement that voters show government-issued photo identification, as required by the new state law. Nearly three-fourths support it.

But it also finds support drops off considerably for some of the other provisions in the law: 56 percent disapprove of eliminating same-day registration, and 55 percent disapprove of shortening early-voting days from 17 to 10.

The survey of 408 residents with standard telephones or cell phones covered all 100 counties, and has a margin of error of 5 percent. The poll was taken by interviewers between Sept. 8-12. Most of the participants were registered voters.

The results are similar to what other polls have found so far this year, as the issue was debated in the General Assembly.

Here's where you can find the poll.

Tillis headed to DC for Rove-sponsored event

House Speaker Thom Tillis will attend a Washington meeting next month hosted by the political committee associated with Karl Rove, and meant to showcase Republican Senate candidates.

Tillis is scheduled to appear at a reception on Oct. 3 that is being planned as part of the American Crossroads Summit, the super PAC formed by Rove, the former chief strategist for former President George W. Bush.

He is listed in a reception with the "top 2014 Senate candidates.'' along with Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Steve Daines of Montana, and Mike McFadden of Minnesota. The event will be held at the House of Sweden. Then is he scheduled to attend a cocktail reception at Four Seasons Hotel that includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

American Crossroads spent about $105 million in independent expenditures in the 2012 election and Crossroads GPS spent $70.8 million.

Tillis is one of several Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan next year.

Changes in classroom lessons and state tests featured on UNC-TV

State Superintendent June Atkinson and two state Department of Public Instruction administrators will be on UNC-TV this week explaining changes in public education and how parents can help students.

The network will air "North Carolina Schools and You: What Changes in Our Schools Mean for Parents and Students" at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

It will repeat Friday, Sept. 27, at 4:30 p.m.

Atkinson, chief academic officer Rebecca Garland, and Garland deputy Angela Quick will talk about the new state curriculum, the Common Core standards, and new state tests.

Morning Memo: Protests at mansion draw 200, GOP senator says 'Let 'em yell'

'MORAL MONDAY' RALLY DRAWS ABOUT 200: Nearly 200 demonstrators were part of the procession that moved slowly from the First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh to the Executive Mansion. The event, touted as the 18th “Moral Monday,” was led by Youth and College NAACP groups from across North Carolina.

Gov. Pat McCrory was attending a Republic Governors Association meeting in Charleston, S.C., his staff told the media, and not at the Blount Street mansion while the young and old walked the perimeter of the property. “We’re going to make one circle around the governor’s mansion to let him know we plan to go all around this state,” the Rev. William Barber II, head of the state NAACP, told the demonstrators,

On Monday, it was the youth doing most of the rallying, though. “Just because the governor is gone doesn’t mean the issue is gone,” said Isaiah Daniels, a Shaw University student at the event. Read more here.

***Read a firebrand GOP response to the Democrats and get more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

National Journal looks at Raleigh and Wake County school bond issue

The National Journal is focusing on Raleigh for its latest “America 360”series looking at “forward-thinking local economies.”

The focus of its first article Monday is on next month’s $810 million Wake County school construction bond referendum. The magazine bills itself as “Washington’s premier source of nonpartisan insight on politics and policy,” but the article is an attack on Republicans.

One hint of the tone of the piece is the headline: “The GOP Plan to Sabotage Raleigh's Successful Growth.”

High Point University poll shows McCrory's approval falling 10 points

Gov. Pat McCrory's approval rating declined 10 points in six months, according to the latest High Point University poll released Monday.

The HPU poll found North Carolina resident put the Republican's approval rating at 39 percent -- equal to President Barack Obama. Another 42 percent disapprove of McCrory's handling of his job -- a 17 percent increase from six months ago -- with 19 percent unsure, HPU found. The poll, which has an approval rating of plus-or-minus 5 percent -- did not screen for registered voters or likely voters.

Civitas deletes story questioning cronyism in McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute removed his story from the conservative-leaning think tank website last week that was critical about "cronyism" in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration and hit hard at his chief-of-staff.

Francis De Luca's story (cached by Google here) criticized the Republican governor for failing to change "the culture of cronyism and insider dealing in Raleigh" by pointing to his appearance at the Sept. 5 inaugural Minority Enterprise Development celebration. De Luca wrote that the event featured two speakers of a group tied to the coalition behind the "Moral Monday" protests and was hosted by the N.C. Women and Business Enterprise Coordinators Network.

The story noted that network is a client of Capitol Access, a lobbying firm led by Yolanda Stith, the wife of McCrory's chief of staff, Thomas Stith. It went further to say that it "may be that Thursday was not the first time that Ms. Stith’s clients benefited from a cooperative governor," highlighting how her clients budget cuts received only small budget cuts in McCrory's proposed budget.

Pittenger, Hagan among richest members of Congress

CORRECTED: This item has been corrected to more accurately reflect Rep. Robert Pittenger's relationship to his former company and the source of his assets.

Two members of North Carolina’s delegation made it onto Roll Call’s list of the 50 Richest Members of Congress: Rep. Robert Pittenger and Sen. Kay Hagan.

Pittenger, a Republican who lives in Charlotte and represents the 9th District, ranked No. 13 with a net worth of $27.68 million. Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro, ranked No. 45, with a net worth of $8.06 million.

Who got the money: FreeEnterprise Foundation's PAC contribution analysis

The NC FreeEnterprise Foundation released a report on PAC contributions in state races that reinforced a basic political lesson that money flows to power.

According to the report, PACs registered in the state contributed $12.27 million to legislative and statewide candidates in 2011-12, with Republicans soaking up about $8.8 million, and Democrats landing about $3.4 million.

The report lists the top 200 PAC contributors. The top three were Advocates for Justice, $449,750; Nationwide Insurance, $335,500; and the NC Hospital Association, $327,750.