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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.

Tata names more top DOT officials

Sherman Lupton, a 30-year Navy veteran, has been named State Part Authority and Global Transpark Director of Logistics. He starts Monday and will be responsible for synchronizing and coordinating activities of the ports and the Transpark. Lupton most recently served as deputy director in the in the Office of Naval Operations Staff. He will make $140,000 per year.

Shelley Blake will be the new agency general counsel. Blake has been in private practice and is an adjunct professor at N.C. Central University School of Law. She starts May 28 and at a salary of $118,000.

McCrory's transportation appointees donated $156,000 to his campaign

Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign raised $156,394 with the help of nine men and a woman who will take their seats Thursday as his appointees to the state Board of Transportation, according to financial disclosure statements released Wednesday by McCrory's office.

The governor's top helper among the group is Michael C. Smith of Raleigh, president of Kane Realty Corp., the developer of North Hills. Smith is the new transportation board representative for Division 5, seven Triangle-area counties including Durham and Wake. Smith is the only one of the 10 new board members who reports no campaign contributions directly from himself to McCrory. But he says he worked as a campaign fundraiser, bringing in $106,000 from other donors to McCrory, and his brother gave $250.

Among the other transportation appointees, only Michael V. Lee of Wilmington reported helping McCrory as a fundraiser. Lee said he raised $500 from other donors, and he and his wife contributed $829.

Morning Memo: McCrory closes Latino outreach office

North Carolina’s Latino advocates are voicing alarm following the governor’s decision to eliminate the state’s office for Latino affairs. The closing of the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was sudden and caught many by surprise. The move appears to have exacerbated the already tense relationship between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Latino community, including criticism over a driver’s license plan for young immigrants.

Advocates says it sends a message that McCrory and Raleigh conservatives are less concerned with the needs of the Latino community. Paradoxically, it comes at a time when issues of deep concerns, like immigration, are at the political forefront and Republicans nationally are trying to appear more welcoming to Latinos.

***Thanks for reading the Good Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to dome@newsobserver.com. More on the Latino office and other big headlines below.***

McCrory wants better highway lights

Gov. Pat McCrory used his state of the state speech to ask his transportation secretary to improve highway lighting. It's just not clear what highway lights he's talking about.

Bradshaw back at DOT

Tom Bradshaw, the former state Transportation secretary and former Raleigh mayor, will start work Monday as North Carolina's interim Statewide Logistics Coordinator.

In the Department of Transportation post, Bradshaw oversee and manage all operations of the N.C. Ports and the N.C. Global Transpark, as well as other facilities related to transportation infrastructure.

“Tom brings a wealth of real-world experience and knowledge to this position that will greatly benefit the future of North Carolina,” said DOT secretary Gene Conti.

Bradshaw, a long-time finance industry executive, is only taking the job temporarily until a permanent coordinator can be found.

Bradshaw was DOT under Gov. Jim Hunt from 1977 until 1981 and served as Raleigh mayor from 1971-73. He is a former chairman of the Triangle J. Council of Governments, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, and the N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry, now known as the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE: He will be paid at a rate of $150,000 per year.

DOT chief to undergo surgery

Transportation Secretary Gene Conti will undergo surgery at Duke Medical Center on Monday and could be out for several weeks, his office reports.

During Conti's absence, Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon will assume responsibility for running the department.

DOT spokeswoman Greer Beaty said the family preferred not to discuss the nature of the surgery, but he expects “a full and speedy recovery.”

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