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Morning Memo: McCrory administration slanted Medicaid report

McCRORY BOOED IN HIS HOMETOWN: For his 69th birthday party, Charlotte attorney Bill Diehl rented out The Fillmore at the N.C. Music Factory, hired rockers Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and invited around 400 of his closest friends, Jim Morrill reports. Among them: Gov. Pat McCrory.

When the band took a break, Diehl grabbed a mic and introduced McCrory, who was greeted with a loud smattering of boos. It wasn't the first time the former Charlotte mayor -- elected and re-elected seven times -- has heard boo birds in his hometown. In Charlotte, at least, the popular mayor has been a less popular governor. This summer he appeared at a concert at the Bechtler Museum. When he was formally introduced, many in the audience booed.

MUST-READ: For months, members of the McCrory administration have maintained that the state’s Medicaid program is "broken." But in the first of a two-part investigation, North Carolina Health News shows McCrory officials sat on information that would have depicted the state’s much-lauded Medicaid program in a better light. Read it here.

***More from the N.C. Health News story and an important notice to readers below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Art Pope's $90 million fix-it list for state government

State Budget director Art Pope is recommending $90 million in repair and renovation projects in state government from repairing new roofs, to putting in new elevators, to paint jobs.

The funds were part of $150 million appropriated by the legislature – with $60 million going to the University of North Carolina system and $90 million going to other state agencies across the state.

In a memo to legislative leaders, Pope said the agencies had requested $554.4 million for 545 renovation and repair projects and the budget office had pared it down to $90 million for 191 projects.

Gov. Pat McCrory had said he would put a particular emphasis on fixing broken systems, particularly projects that had been put off because of the recession.

The projects topping $1 million include $1.6 million for structural work for Parking Deck 65, $2.6 million for a lighting retrofit in several state government buildings, $1.8 million to replace the roof of the Administration Building, $1.3 million for art store renovation and a new fire suppression system at the N.C. Museum of Art, $4.7 million for new heating plant at the O'Berry Neuro Medical Center in Goldsboro, $1.1 million for ADA and security upgrades at the Walter B. Jones facility, $2.2 million for a new steam plant for the John Umstead Hospital, $1.8 million for upgraded SBI crime labs, $1.4 million for renovations to the SBI building, $2.9 million to renovate the gym at the Western School for the Deaf, $1.7 million to upgrade obsolete security systems, $3.4 million to install and replace fire alarm systems, $7.5 million for various roof repairs, and $1.7 million to renovate the Dobbs Youth Development Center kitchen.

State workers may feel effects from federal shutdown

The federal government shut down could effect as many as 6,000 state government workers whose jobs are fully or partially federally funded, North Carolina officials said Tuesday.

Art Pope, the state budget director, said state officials would not know exactly how many state employees would be affected until guidelines were issued by federal agencies about what jobs were deemed as critical.

Civitas president apologizes for post blasting McCrory administration

The president of the Civitas Institute is apologizing for a blog post he wrote last week and quickly deleted that accused Gov. Pat McCrory and his chief of staff of cronyism.

Francis De Luca posted his mea culpa Tuesday. "In trying to be vigilant against cronyism or even the appearance of cronyism— whether from the left or the right, liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans — I made a mistake," he wrote, saying he skewed some facts in the original piece. "In talking about the event the Governor attended, I painted with too broad a brush by implying that an elected official’s appearance at an event involving organizations that lobby for state funds is tantamount to cronyism."

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.

Morning Memo: Veto session scheduled; Rachel Maddow live from North Carolina

LAWMAKERS TO RETURN FOR VEOT SESSION: Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday called for a veto override session of the legislature for Sept. 3, to consider two bills dealing with the drug testing of welfare recipients and immigration. It was not immediately clear whether House Speaker Thom Tillis would ask the House to attempt to override the governor’s veto. But one of his lieutenants, Rep. Mike Hager said there were enough votes in the House to override the veto if Tillis wanted to move in that direction. Both bills passed with more than the three-fifths needed to override a veto.

“We got pretty good last year at overriding vetoes,” he added. “I think we got it down pat by now.” Last year, the Republican legislature voted to override three vetoes by Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.

RACHEL MADDOW PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON N.C. IN LIVE BROADCAST FROM ELIZABETH CITY: The MSNBC host broadcast from the docks at Groupers and put a focus on North Carolina’s new voting law. She also went on to discuss Art Pope’s role in the 2010 election See her entire segment here.

***More on the pending veto session and a N.C. political news roundup below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Dems eager to replace Kinnaird; GOP's barbs in Senate fight

FOUR CANDIDATES SEEKING KINNAIRD SENATE SEAT: State Rep. Valerie Foushee and three others announced Wednesday their intent to seek state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird’s District 23 seat. The other candidates for Kinnaird’s seat that emerged Wednesday were retiring Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton; author and educator Amy Tiemann, and former Alamance County Rep. Alice Bordsen. Read more on the candidates here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: The country's former top military officer and the head of an Internet giant are the main attractions at a gathering of North Carolina business executives that will draw Gov. Pat McCrory. The CEO Forum is scheduled for Thursday at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh. Former U.S. Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell is speaking along with Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers. McCrory will attend the event at 8 a.m.

***More North Carolina political news from the U.S. Senate race below in the Dome Morning Memo. Send news and tips to capitol@newsobserver.com.***

Bill Maher on North Carolina: So much for a comedian to work with

Bill Maher used North Carolina as his comedic spittoon a week ago, generating a good bit of attention.

Maher will undoubtedly offer a few more barbs when he performs his standup routine Saturday in Durham. Previewing his visit, staff writer David Menconi talked to Maher about the state's politics. From today's N&O: When told he’s being interviewed from North Carolina, Bill Maher guffaws for a good long while. “Ah, North Carolina,” he says with relish. “So much there for a comedy show to work with!”

So what does he think of North Carolina politics right now? Read below.

McCrory adminstration freezes N.C. Rural Center money

Gov. Pat McCrory's administration has frozen state funds to the troubled, taxpayer-funded N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and ordered the nonprofit not to spend any more state money.

In an order hand-delivered to the center on Thursday, state budget director Art Pope wrote that the administration is considering “the further step” of seeking recovery of all state funds now held by the center, an amount that may top $100 million.

Morning Memo: McCrory's taxing pledge; Tillis super PAC money questioned

TAX BILL NOW PUTS FOCUS ON McCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory pledge in his campaign to make any tax overhaul revenue neutral. It was the only specific detail he offered and came under pressure from Democratic candidate Walter Dalton who warned such a tax bill, if not revenue neutral, could lead to huge cuts in government spending on popular services.

With legislative approval Wednesday, the two-billion tax bill goes to the governor. Will he meet his pledge, one he repeated just months ago in his State of the State address? It depends. The governor's office called the bill fiscally responsible and essentially revenue-neutral in the first year at about $35 million in less revenue. From there, the bill is nowhere close to bringing in as much state revenue as projected. And McCrory is moving the goalposts and redefining what he meant. (Read below to see how the governor's office is positioning itself.)

TILLIS SUPER PAC GETS BIG CHECKS FROM 3 HE HELPED PUT ON UNC BOARD: A super PAC for House Speaker Thom Tillis recently raised $105,000 from five donors for his U.S. Senate race, including $70,000 from three men the House appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The contributions raise more questions about whether donations to the Republican candidate’s bid are connected to legislation in the chamber he controls. They also highlight Tillis’ ability to raise money when other lawmakers are limited in soliciting campaign contributions. W.G. Champion Mitchell said his $25,000 contribution had nothing to do with his recent appointment to the university’s governing board. “I want to see him be our next senator,” Mitchell said. “That is the answer.” Read more here.

***Get a full roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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