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Morning Memo: Democrats hit GOP on education in new ad campaign

SEE IT HERE FIRST: N.C. Democrats launch ad campaign hitting GOP on education: The headline "Republican leadership has failed teachers in North Carolina" is hitting newspapers across the state this week in full-page advertisements paid for by the N.C. Democratic Party. The ads target 17 legislative districts (eight Senate, nine House) and criticize Republicans for not increasing teacher pay, forcing class size increases, eliminating some teacher assistants, ending the back-to-school tax holiday, cutting money for textbooks and supplies, taking away the graduate school bonus for (future) teachers and allowing private school vouchers.

"We’re putting Gov. McCrory and Republican legislators on notice that their assault on public education is not going unnoticed," said Robert Dempsey, the party's executive director.

***See the ad and get a list of the targeted lawmakers below in today's Dome Morning Memo.***


DENR head John Skvarla riffs on fracking, agency layoffs, job creation

John Skvarla, North Carolina's top environmental regulator, said Monday he is overseeing 15 reorganizations simultaneously at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in an effort to streamline the agency he has been running since January.

Skvarla said he doesn't know how many people will be laid off from the 4,000-employee agency, but noted that the purpose of the reorg is not to maximize body counts. Rather, Skvarla said, his goal is to make DENR more responsive in its dual mission of protecting the environment and growing the economy.

"Historically, the philosophy has been that corporate America is the enemy," Skvarla told a lunchtime crowd of several dozen at the conservative John Locke Foundation in Raleigh.

"We can't take people who are going to build the economy and treat them like the enemy," Skvarla said. "Everything we do in DENR has to involve some consideration of economics."

Not clear if DENR water quality workers know their fate yet

The state Division of Water Resources director talked to section chiefs in the division Wednesday, possibly giving them a clearer picture of their employees’ futures in the department.

The director, Tom Reeder, led a discussion with section bureau chiefs from Raleigh and across the state. It included “information about the consolidation of water quality and water resources programs,” according to a statement from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The agency didn't provide any new information from the meeting to Dome, and didn't say if any employees would be laid off in the near future. The state is working to keep employees and customers informed when decisions are made, the statement said.

DENR had announced the restructuring of the Divisions of Water Quality and Water Resources in the beginning of August. The consolidation of the two divisions could include cuts to programs and staff, and has made some worried they’ll lose their jobs. Leaders aim to create more efficiency in the agency, and save money and resources by changing things around.

Division of Water Resources staff to get details on DENR restructuring, cuts

The director of the state water quality and resources program will address section leadership Wednesday morning about the recent changes the program is going through – including restructuring and possible staff cuts.

At the beginning of August, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources consolidated its Division of Water Quality and Division of Water Resources. The move brought Water Quality under the umbrella of Water Resources.

“Tom Reeder, the (water resources) division director, will be addressing his section chiefs about consolidation of the two divisions,” said Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for DENR. He was not able to elaborate.

In the coming months, the Division of Water Resources’ leadership will look at what regulations and practices can be trimmed to make the combined program more efficient.

The restructuring could shrink the water quality program, making it more difficult to enforce regulations, environmental advocates say. And it adds to work the division must already do to get up to Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The Division of Water Resources will need to cut $2 million this year, as stipulated in the state budget. DENR has said that the restructuring could include staff cuts, but not how many. It isn’t clear if the Wednesday meeting will include talk of layoffs.

Morning Memo: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to attend Wake fundraiser

JAN BREWER TO ATTEND WAKE GOP FUNDRAISER: The Wake County Republican Party announced Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will attend a Sept. 14 fundraiser in Raleigh for the local party's fall candidates. The announcement email includes the now infamous photo of Brewer, a Republican, wagging her finger upon meeting President Barack Obama at an airport tarmac. The top ticket for the fundraiser is a $5,000 VIP package and a single ticket is $75. The party expects the event to sell out.

THE MUMMIES RETURN: From columnist Rob Christensen-- "We have seen this before in North Carolina – the reign of the green-eyeshaded men who thought low taxes trumped all, and if there were any coins left in the till at the end of the day they would throw it into the education pot.

"It was called the 1800s. And Walter Hines Page had a name for them. He called North Carolina’s leaders “the mummies” as in very old, well-wrapped, very dead Egyptians because of their complacent conservatism." Read his full column here.

***Get more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Attorney general would avoid losing half his legal staff, under new bill

Attorney General Roy Cooper has dodged a big bullet: the governor’s proposal to transfer half of his legal staff out from under his control.

In a technical corrections bill to the new budget, unveiled late Thursday in a Senate committee, only 19 positions would be transferred.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget would have moved 210 attorneys and support staff from the state Department of Justice to 14 different state agencies where they already specialize. The move would put them under the budgetary control and supervision of those agencies.

State's top clean water regulator retires

Chuck Waklid will retire as director of the state Division of Water Quality, DENR secretary John Skvarla announced Friday.

Waklid worked for the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for more than two decades, serving as deputy director of the air, water and groundwater programs; as regional supervisor, and as chief of the water quality section. After serving in the private sector, Waklid returned to DENRin 2006 and became director of water quality in January 2012.

“Chuck's vast knowledge of water quality engineering and regulations has served DENR and the state well,” Skvarla said in a statement. “I know that many inside and outside DENR will mis his expertise and direction.''

Tom Reeder, director of the state Division of Water Resources, will serving as acting director of the state Division of Water Quality.

DENR gets new head computer nerd

Keith Warner has been named chief information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, handling the IT for the 4,000 employees and their customers.

Warner has been deputy director for the department's Information Technology Services since last year. Before that he worked for Gartner and for CIBER.

"Keith represents the changing role of future CIOs," said Chris Estes, the state's chief information officer. "Keith brings us a services experience that aligns to how the technology industry is evolving with more software facilitating services arrangements.''

DENR human resources director named

DENR Secretary John Skvarla has turned to a veteran state government employee to be his human resources director.

He has names Anne G. Lasley to head the division of human resources division at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Lasley has worked for state government for 24 years, directing human resources programs for the Division of Services for the Deaf and the Employment Security Commission. She served as a member of Gov. Pat McCrory's Human Resources transition team.

Skvarla names DENR team

Secretary John Skvarla Wednesday named his team to run the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. As expected, former state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a small business owner and a long-time critic of DENR, was named assistant secretary for the environment. Brad Ives was named assistant secretary for natural resources. He is currently vice president for corporate development at Semprius, a manufacturer of solar panels in Research Triangle Park. Neal Robbins was named director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs. He is an attorney with Robbins Law in Winston-Salem, where his practice focused on debtor-creditor issues. Lacy Presnell, a Raleigh attorney, was named general counsel. Mary Penny Thompson, who had been chief deputy, was named acting assistant secretary for administration.
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