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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.***

Forte moves from DMV to parole commission

James Forte, who has been the new administration’s motor vehicles commissioner since January, is already changing jobs.

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced Friday the governor has appointed Forte to the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

The governor also re-appointed Bill Fowler to the commission. Fowler is a former Raleigh police officer and detective, who left the force in 1972 and became a parole officer.

Fowler has been supervising the parole and probation systems since they were merged. He has been on the parole commission since 2005.

Forte has been in state government for 25 years in several departments. Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Nick Tennyson will be acting commissioner until a permanent replacement is named to head the DMV.

Forte replaces Derrick E. Wadsworth of Edenton, and will be sworn in Monday.

Former Senate majority leader Tony Rand remains on the four-member commission. Paul G. Butler Jr., appointed by McCrory earlier this year, is the fourth member. He replaced Rand as chairman of the commission.

Morning Roundup: Blueprint, cursive, DMV -- oh my!

It's Blueprint North Carolina's turn to be in the spotlight at least another day, as the head of the nonprofit group now says it didn't distribute the controversial strategy memo that offered options to discredit GOP leaders. He suggests political dirty tricks are at play.

A "Back to Basics" bill in the House would require students be taught cursive writing. (Holding an instrument called a pen or a pencil in your fingers and making looping figures on paper to form words and sentences -- before there were keyboards.)

DMV offices in Raleigh and two other cities will be open later on weeknights and on Saturday mornings, DOT Secretary Tony Tata announced. Ultimately, the expanded hours will be statewide.

Legislators want delay on immigrant licenses

A new House bill would prevent the state Department of Motor Vehicles from issuing licenses to young illegal immigrants who are protected from deportation and eligible to drive.

The bill filed Thursday would put a freeze on such licenses until June 15.

The state Department of Transportation said last week that DMV offices will begin issuing licenses to people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The issue affects up to 55,000 teenagers and young adults in the state.

The bill says that the complexity of the issues "requires a carefully crafted legislative response."

Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout

Senate President Pro Team Phil Berger's campaign website perpetuates one of the bigger myths of the Affordable Care Act: that the government is coming to get your health records.

A lawsuit accuses Blue Cross plans nationwide of driving up health-care costs by illegally carving up the nation's insurance market. It's an issue North Carolina's General Assembly has tried to deal with going back several years.

The state's DMV headquarters on New Bern Avenue has been in the dark -- really -- since a short circuit Thursday morning caused an outage . Repairs should be completed over the weekend.

1360418968 Morning Roundup: Sen. Berger repeats Obamacare myth, lawsuit says Blue Cross/Shield colluded, DMV blackout The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Morning Memo: A new 2014 map, McCrory mum on second big departure

UPDATED: WHAT REDISTRICTING MEANS: Only one competitive congressional race in 2014. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball political rankings show what happens when congressional districts are packed with like-minded folks. Of the state's 13 congressional races, only one is deemed competitive between parties. The seat is Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre in District 7. McIntyre won a close race in 2012 -- one of the few where Mitt Romney won the president vote -- and another tight contest is expected in 2014. The pundits at University of Virginia give him the early edge, though, ranking the race "leans Democratic."

***You are reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more news and analysis below.***

Coleman campaign seeks DMV voter registration records

The campaign for Linda Coleman, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, is seeking voter registration records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles covering the last two years.

The Coleman campaign is working to have thousands of provisional votes counted by local boards of election this week, and is looking for cases where voters are about to have their ballots wrongfully thrown out.  Campaign officials think that the DMV voter registration database will show that people who should be counted as  registered cast ballots that for some reason are in question.

Coleman trails her Republican opponent Dan Forest by 11,103. Counting more provisional votes could put her ahead, or at least pull her into recount range.

Alcohol ignition lock manufacturer settles lawsuit with DMV

A Morrisville Company that makes vehicle ignition-locking devices that deter drunken drivers has settled its state and federal lawsuits with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

Monitech alleged the DMV violated vendor bidding rules when it failed to renew its state contract. It sued the division in August 2011.

Under the settlement, Monitech will submit its device to be tested. If the equipment passes the test it can continue to sell the device; if it doesn’t pass, then the company can only service current customers and not install new devices.

Monitech had been the state’s only vendor of the equipment since 1989. In 2010, a competitor, Smart Start Inc. of Texas, sued in state court alleging the state’s bidding requirements were written in a way only Monitech could win.

The ignition-locking devices test a driver’s breath for alcohol. They are sometimes required as a condition of a drunken-driving conviction.

Pat McCrory goes to the DMV

UPDATED: Pat McCrory is (apparently) breaking new ground: the presumed GOP candidate for governor in 2012 used Twitter to share his experience at the DMV and promised better service if he gets elected.

It started about 11:15 a.m. when McCrory, according to his tweets, jumped in line to renew his drivers license. After standing in line for 15 minutes, he remarked: "Our state in action. Nothing has changed since I was 16." Later he sent this update: "30 minutes and counting ... Sitting on curb. Thank goodness nice weather."

McCrory's spokesman later clarified that the former Charlotte mayor was emailing updates to his staff -- who posted them to Twitter and Facebook. He didn't tweet himself.

A number of political observers amusingly followed his 140-character observations -- such as "Nice pic of Governor Perdue on the wall" -- including dozens of McCrory fans who commented about them on his Facebook page. (Democrats mocked that McCrory's Republican Party cohorts are responsible for budget cuts that prompted the long lines.)

In the end -- after waiting an hour and passing the test -- McCrory wrote this: "My new drivers license will expire in 5 yrs. Will DMV service be the same then as it was today &when I was 16? Not if we have new Gov!!"

Was it a policy announcement? A declaration of his long-expected candidacy? The disclosure of his first priority if elected? Who knows.

Wake DA decides against charges in DMV cases

Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby had decided not to pursue criminal charges following a trio of SBI investigations involving allegations of wrongdoing at the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

The SBI was called in to investigate in 2009 over improper gifts and meals provided DMV employees by Verizon Business, which holds a lucrative no-bid contract to provide computers to state inspection stations. The SBI was also asked to determine whether the state paid Verizon for hundreds of computers that were never delivered.

After reviewing the SBI's report, Willoughby said this week that the gifts and meals, while unethical, did not rise to the level of criminal bribery. He said he also thought that the administrative penalties issued against the employees involved were punishment enough.

"I didn't think criminal charges were warranted," Willoughby said. "Most of that involved ethics and management issues. There was evidence of improper relationships, but there was no evidence of bribery."

The DA said the SBI found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing involving $64,124 in no-bid purchases by DMV from surveillance equipment maker Law Enforcement Associates, a small Raleigh company with ties to then-Senate majority leader Tony Rand.

The purchases were made under the supervision of then-DMV commissioner George Tatum, who is a friend of Rand's, and then-Department of Transportation Sec. Lyndo Tippett, who is Rand's longtime personal accountant. Records showed both Tatum and Tippett owned thousands of shares of LEA stock, as did members of their immediate families.

Willoughby said the purchase amounts involved were relatively small and that there was no direct evidence that Rand, Tippett or Tatum exercised undue influence to persuade their subordinates to buy equipment from the company in which they had an ownership stake.

"There wasn't any evidence of undue influence," Willoughby said.

Willoughby said there would also be no criminal charges from the accusation that Rand pressured the owner of a company that makes devices to thwart drunken drivers to sell out to LEA.

Larry "Jerry" Mobley, the founder and sole owner of Monitech, said that after he spurned Rand's offer to buy his business that he faced retaliation from DMV, which regulated his ability to sell his products in North Carolina.

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