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Morning Memo: McCrory adminstration reverses Confederate flag stance

FLAG FLAP PROMPTS McCRORY ABOUT-FACE: A Confederate battle flag hung inside the old North Carolina State Capitol last week to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being taken down after civil rights leaders raised concerns. The decision was announced Friday evening, hours after the Associated Press published a story about the flag, which officials said was part of an historical display intended to replicate how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. The flag had been planned to hang in the House chamber until April 2015, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of federal troops in Raleigh.

"This is a temporary exhibit in an historic site, but I've learned the governor's administration is going to use the old House chamber as working space," Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz said Friday night. "Given that information, this display will end this weekend rather than April of 2015." The decision was a quick about-face for the McCrory administration, which initially defended the display. More from AP here.

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more N.C. political news and analysis below. ***

Lawmakers return to Capitol chambers with ceremonial flourish

The N.C. General Assembly met in its old chambers Monday evening at the State Capitol to commemorate the 10th anniversary of an FBI raid that eventually led to the return of the state's Bill of Rights.

On the House side, state lawmakers took turns reciting the history behind the event. The scene provided quiet a contrast to the more modern legislative chambers. House Speaker Thom Tillis stood on the small dais in front of a large painting of George Washington, a Thomas Sully copy of the Gilbert Stuart "Lansdowne" portrait. The lawmakers spoke at times without microphones, voices echoing in the softly lit chamber, giving the whole proceeding a Ken Burns affect.

The House members were crammed elbow-to-elbow in the tiny half-circle rows of old wooden desks. Rep. Roger West, a Marble Republican, sat in desk No. 106, the one formerly occupied by his father, Herman West, a two-term House member and one-term state senator. "I was just sitting here, thinking about what they were thinking about back then," he said. "It was probably a different agenda."

Morning Memo: Rare session at Capitol, more fallout from tainted donor

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene this evening in the old legislative chambers at the Capitol to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the recovering of the N.C. Bill of Rights after a Union soldier took it during the Civil War. Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a reception for the event earlier in the day.

McCRORY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TAINTED BURNS MONEY:From AP: North Carolina's governor says he had no contact with a campaign contributor who faces racketeering charges in Florida over illegal gambling. Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday he had never heard of Chase Egan Burns, the Oklahoma man accused this week of owning gambling parlors operated by Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors say the purported charity earned about $300 million from illegal gambling, with only about 2 percent actually going to veterans. McCrory's campaign has purged itself Wednesday of $8,000 in contributions made in October by Burns and his wife, sending the money to a Durham charity. "I wouldn't know him if I saw him," said McCrory, a Republican. "I think we got it (the checks) through the mail."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- a roundup of North Carolina political news and analysis. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Click "Read More" for more.***

Pat McCrory proclaims new direction in inaugural address

Standing in front of the Capitol, Gov. Pat McCrory said North Carolina faces challenges after “some wounds that had been camouflaged were uncovered and exposed” amid the economic recession.

“Today we are setting a new strategy and vision ... to unleash the strength of our industries and the entrepreneurial talent and energy of our citizens,” he said in his inaugural address Saturday. “We will lead the way once again right here in North Carolina.”

Democratic flier features a bombed-out state Capitol

The Capitol Building looks like a bomb scene from Baghdad or Bosnia in Democrat Erv Portman's new mailer. Terrorists? Sherman? Nope, the legislature.

"The North Carolina legislature is broken. It's time for a businessman to fix it," the caption reads.

The altered image shows a corner of the Capitol decimated with several windows shattered and a pile of rubble on the sidewalk. The Democratic Party paid for the ad, which Portman approved.

Old Tar Heel pols gather at the Capitol Wednesday

Jim Holshouser, Gene Anderson, Meg Scott Phipps, Phil Kirk and a lot of other names from Tar Heel politics gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to unveil eight benches on Union Square.

The benches, some made for outdoor and others indoor, were donated to commemorate Governors such as Holshouser(1973-77), Bev Perdue(2009-2013), Jim Martin(1985-1993), Bob Scott(1969-1973) as well as First Lady Jessie Rae Scott(1969-73) and Secretary of State Thad Eure(1936-89.)

Phipps, who was agriculture commissioner before going to prison in a campaign finance scandal, had one of the longest speeches, talking about three of those honored with benches -- her father, mother and grandfather.

The benches, she said, “gives them one more chance from up above to serve the citizens of the state.''

The metal benches were hand crafted by metal artists from Carolina Bronze in Seagrove. There will be more unveiled honoring prominent North Carolina leaders in October.

Capitol Christmas tree lighting to be held Thursday

Gov. Bev Perdue will host the state's the annual Christmas Tree lighting at about 6 p.m. Thursday on the south side of the old state Capitol.

For those among you who are directionally challenged, that's the side facing Fayetteville Street.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with musical performances. The governor and First Gentleman Bob Eaves will hang wreaths on the Capitol’s south doors to begin the official tree lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. After the tree is lit, the governor and Santa Claus will read to the children.

The Capitol will also host holiday open houses featuring local performing groups from Thursday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 12. Hours are: Thursday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 3 p.m.

Those wishing to attend can contact the state Capitol at 919-733-4994 for more information.

No parking on Capitol lawn

For state Rep. Nelson Dollar, the construction vehicles parked in front of statues and monuments on the Capitol's lawn had ruined enough field trips.

So Dollar got his fellow lawmakers to do something about it.

The Cary Republican sponsored a bill that would let state maintenance vehicles park on the streets around the Capitol for free as long as they stayed off the building's lawn. On Thursday, the bill got final approval from the Senate.

"I just wanted it so school children and other visitors to the Capitol could see the vistas," Capitol said.

In the past, trucks were ticketed for parking too long in metered and free spots. The bill is a compromise between the Department of Administration, which own the trucks, and the city of Raleigh, which is planning on installing more parking meters along the streets.

"It was just to make sure that, no matter what, these people would still be able to work and park," Dollar said.

Capitol closed on Sunday


Under the Dome will be closed on Sunday for repairs.

No, not us. (We're usually closed on Sundays anyway.)

The state Capitol will be closed to visitors on Sunday for some maintenance. State officials say a new transformer will be installed, and power must be shut off while the work is underway.

The Capitol is expected to be open for business again on Monday.

Capitol closed on Sunday

Under the Dome will be closed on Sunday for repairs.

No, not us. (We're usually closed on Sundays anyway.)

The state Capitol will be closed to visitors on Sunday for some maintenance. State officials say a new transformer will be installed, and power must be shut off while the work is underway.

The Capitol is expected to be open for business again on Monday.

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