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Morning Memo: Speaker's hometown paper calls for his resignation

HOUSE SPEAKER'S HOMETOWN PAPER CALLS FOR HIS RESIGNATION: Responding to the second story (here and here) in a month about House Speaker Thom Tillis skipping session to fundraise for his U.S. Senate campaign, The Charlotte Observer editorial board said he needs to resign his post. In an editorial headlined, "Tillis tries but can't serve two masters," they concluded: "It’s fine that Tillis is interested in higher office, and we don’t fault him for recognizing the need to raise millions. But the fiscal year started three weeks ago and the legislature still has not agreed on a budget. Tillis is missing sessions. His actions are raising questions of conflict of interest.

"He has shown he can’t give his undivided attention to the N.C. House and the U.S. Senate at the same time. He should give up his Speaker’s gavel, resign from his House seat and give his full energy to his Senate bid, unencumbered by such distractions as running the state."

Facing this question before, Tillis has said he intends to remain speaker and do his job. But he also said he wouldn't actively campaign during the legislative session, a pledge that is in question. Some Republicans are starting to privately grumble that he may need to step down. Read the editorial here.

PAT McCRORY ON HIS FALLING APPROVAL RATINGS: Meh. WCNC-TV's Dave Wagner interviewed Gov. Pat McCrory and asked about the latest PPP numbers showing McCrory in the negative for the first time in his term. Accccording to a @WagnerWCNC tweet, McCrory replied: "I'm shocked they're not lower, cause we're stepping on the toes of the status quo."

***Welcome to the Dome Morning Memo -- more North Carolina political news and analysis below.****

McCrory approval margin shrinks in latest PPP poll

As his term nears the sixth-month mark, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's approval rating is at its lowest point so far.

A new poll finds 45 percent approve of his job performance and 39 percent disapprove, a slight decline from the previous month when 48 percent approved, according to Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic firm. The poll's margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.

But the Republican's +6 percent approval margin is his lowest, down from +10 in May and +26 when he took office in January, the survey found. "A big reason why McCrory won so easily last fall was a lot of crossover support from Democrats but that's dissipating -- in April he was at 31(approve)/ 53 (disapprove) with them, now it's 24/60," wrote pollster Tom Jensen in explaining the results.

McCrory's marks still remain better than the state legislature, according to the automated poll of voters conducted June 12-14.

Cartoon: Where McCrory stands

Charlotte Observer editorial cartoonist thinks he knows where Gov. Pat McCrory stands in the political sphere.

Convention arena fee paid with corporate money

Democratic National Convention organizers paid to use the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte from an account that accepted corporate donations, reports the Charlotte Observer.

President Barack Obama told organizers not to use corporate money to for the convention.

But Dan Murrey, head of the convention host committee, told CharO reporter Tim Funk that contracts signed in early 2011 said the committee could pay the arena fee from either of two funds, one that accepted corporate money or one that didn't.

All the big convention speeches were given from the arena. It cost $5 million to use.

Charlotte Observer: Run Erskine Run

The Charlotte Observer this morning has written a “Dear Erskine” editorial, urging him to enter the Democratic primary for governor.
Here is what it said:
"Dear Erskine,
We hear you're thinking hard about whether to run for governor of North Carolina.
We fully understand your ambivalence. Politics is a snake pit, and you might think you have better things to do than subject yourself to that venom. You've run for the U.S. Senate twice in North Carolina and lost both times, and you were subjected to negative advertising that attacked your reputation. Besides, you are 66, you've been working hard for more than four decades, and you've earned a little downtime with your kids and grandkids.

Full-page ads attack liquor tax

The American Beverage Institute will run full-page ads against liquor taxes.

The ads, which will run Sunday in the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer, advertise a Web site,

"Want to send more tax revenue out of state?" says one ad, above a picture of a Welcome to South Carolina sign. "North Carolina's liquor prices are already 30 percent higher than South Carolina's. Now politicians want to raise them even more to help fund their bloated budget."

The other ad says state legislators want taxpayers "shaken, not stirred."

The state budget includes a 1.5 percent increase on the liquor tax, the only one of several proposed "sin taxes" on alcohol and tobacco that were proposed that has not been cut.

The American Beverage Institute is run by a lobbyist or the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.

Publishers oppose online notice bill

Newspaper publishers oppose a bill to allow meeting notices be posted online.

Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, sponsored the legislation to allow certain cities and counties to stop buying classified ads to announce public hearings. 

An earlier version of the bill would have exempted all local governments, but Stam scaled it back to just towns in Wake and Mecklenburg counties after it met resistance.

Stam said the bill would give government a break on its expenses.

"Let's look for the things that would save counties and cities money while we're cutting the heart out of their budgets," he said.

Publishers and editors at the N&O and the Charlotte Observer lobbied against it, saying many people don't have Internet access. (N&O)

A Parachutist's Guide to N.C.

Welcome to North Carolina, D.C. Reporter.

We're glad that your national publication found our state worthy of coverage, especially with all that stuff going on in your usual haunts: New York, California and Iowa.

In the past, some of your colleagues have made dumb mistakes when writing about North Carolina, so here are a few tips:

THE OBSERVERS: A lot of our newspapers have similar names: The Charlotte Observer, the Raleigh News & Observer and the Fayetteville Observer. Try to keep them straight.

RALEIGH, DURHAM: Yes, the hyphen at the airport is confusing. But there is no such place as Raleigh-Durham. They're separate cities. (Winston-Salem is one city, though.)

TAR HEEL: That's two words. It's the name of UNC-Chapel Hill (called Carolina or North Carolina in sports) team and one name for residents of the state.

NORTH, SOUTH: We're not South Carolina, and we hate being confused with it. For starters, Charleston is in South Carolina; Charlotte, in North Carolina.

BARBECUE: That's a noun, not a verb. It's made with pork. There's two kinds: Eastern style has a vinegar sauce; Lexington style, a tomato-based sauce.

That should cover the basics. Now get to reporting!

Feds looking at Easley land deal

Federal authorities are looking into a former land deal by Gov. Mike Easley, according to the company that marketed the property.

Easley purchased a lot in the Cannonsgate development for $549,880 at the end of 2005, according to property records. It was assessed at a tax value of $1.2 million a year later, though it would sell for less today.

Separate reports in 2006 by the Charlotte Observer and the Carolina Journal, a publication of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, compared the Easley sale with others nearby and concluded that he got a good deal.

The project was developed and marketed by brothers Randy and William Allen, whom Easley appointed to the state Wildlife Resources Commission. Another Easley appointee, transportation board member Lanny Wilson, helped finance the project with a $12.5 million loan.

All three were major campaign contributors to Easley. (N&O

Betts on Garrett Perdue

Garrett PerdueJack Betts was bullish on Garrett Perdue in 2007.

In an Oct. 7 piece, the Charlotte Observer columnist said the son of Gov. Beverly Perdue did well when introducing her at the formal kickoff of her campaign.

"The younger Perdue has presence, poise, timing and wit that Bev Perdue ought to put to good use on the campaign trail between now and next spring, when she hopes to become the Democratic Party's nominee in the May 6 primary election," he wrote.

He wrote that Garrett Perdue was "a first-rate speaker" who "might just have a glowing political future."

Previously: Perdue hired as federal lobbyist, spotted at legislature and state political event, members of Congress haven't heard from him.

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