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More fallout over heated Wake County schools exchange

The controversy over the heated exchange Thursday between Wake County school board member Jim Martin and state Sen. Neal Hunt isn't going away.

Martin contends he wasn't acting unprofessionally when he confronted Hunt in the hallway of the Legislative Office Building. Martin submitted this letter to the editor to explain the exchange.

In a related matter, Tom Fetzer charges that Martin and school board member Susan Evans acted in a threatening and harassing manner when they confronted Hunt.

Heated exchange marks Wake schools bill

Things got a little testy today between state Sen. Neal Hunt and Wake County school board member Jim Martin after a committee passed a bill giving authority for school construction to the Wake commissioners.

Following the vote in the Senate Rules Committee, a News & Observer reporter interviewed Hunt in the hallway about the new bill that would limit the change in school construction authority to Wake. During the interview, Martin stepped in to ask Hunt questions.

Morning Memo: McCrory abortion promise challenged

UPDATED: TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 7 p.m. for what some lawmakers hope is the final week of the legislative session. It seems unlikely, even if it wraps by Sunday, because of the bevy of issues remaining on the table: fracking, voter ID, taxes, budget, landfills, abortion, guns, a regulatory overhaul, commerce bill, immigration, etc.

The House will get started Monday, debating the so-called RECLAIM NC Act, an immigration bill that splits the loyalties of immigration advocate groups. A bill about riding ATVs on roads is also on the calendar. The Senate will consider a handful of measures, including a bill to force Durham to clear hurdles for the contentious 751 development. All this takes place amid the backdrop of the 11th "Moral Monday" demonstration, which starts about 5 p.m.

McCRORY'S HOMETOWN PAPER SAYS HE 'BREAKS HIS PROMISE ON ABORTION': The Charlotte Observer issued a scathing editorial in reaction to McCrory saying he would sign the abortion bill: "McCrory should have stood firm and vetoed it. But backed into a corner politically, trying to stay in the good favor of the extreme conservatives he has deferred to since taking office, he caved. Now, he says he will sign the House bill if it reaches his desk.

"Too bad. This was a moment when McCrory could have redeemed himself and showed up as the moderate governor we thought we were getting when he was elected, the person we recognized from his years as Charlotte’s mayor. Instead McCrory broke a promise. And by doing so, he showed us that though he may be governor in name, he’s clearly not in charge." Read more here.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Many more N.C. political headlines below.***

GOP called privatizing Commerce "incredibly dumb and dangerous'' when Democrats proposed it

Republican Gov. Jim Martin once called the replacement of the Department of Commerce with a public-private partnership "an incredibly dumb and dangerous idea.'' That was back in 1988 when Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan, his opponent in the governor's race proposed something very similar to what GOP Gov. Pat McCrory is now recommending.

At a rally on top of a downtown Charlotte parking deck, Jordan proposed creating a NC. Economic Development Corp which would be run by a panel of private citizens appointed by the governor.

"In the early 1980's, North Carolina was recruiting one out of every three new industries that located in the South,'' Jordan said. "But ladies and gentlemen, it is now 1988. Times are changing and now it is time for North Carolina to change as well.''

But Martin cited the state's No 1 ranking in industrial recruitment.

"I think he just wants to risk all of that simply to show that he has a new idea, that he has a different style, a different, what he calls hands-on, approach to mine," Martin said. "While we are seeing the kind of success, the kind of economic growth that North Carolina is experiencing right now, I would hope he would keep his hands off.''

1365531148 GOP called privatizing Commerce "incredibly dumb and dangerous'' when Democrats proposed it 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: Questions mount on MetLife incentives deal

FIVE DAYS LATER, McCRORY STILL SILENT ON ROLE IN METLIFE DEAL: Five days after the MetLife jobs announcement, Gov. Pat McCrory and the governor's office remains quiet on what role he played in luring the company even as questions mount. Consider this lead sentence from AP story Friday: "Gov. Pat McCrory avoided questions Friday about the state offering MetLife Inc. $94 million in tax breaks and other incentives to move thousands of jobs to North Carolina and using his former employer to help broker the deal." The Friday announcement was the second time in two days that McCrory dodged reporters' questions. The governor appears at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources today for a 12:30 p.m. announcement. Will he break his silence?

QUESTIONS MOUNT ABOUT THE INCENTIVES: At the same time, Charlotte area officials are raising questions about whether the incentives were even necessary to lure the company to the city, where half the 2,600 jobs will be located. On Saturday, less than 24 hours after a press conference announcing the deal, county commissioners questioned whether MetLife knew it was coming to Charlotte before commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the incentives.

Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham said questions about the timing of the incentives vote started to enter her mind when news broke that the company had picked North Carolina and media events were arranged – only two days after the commissioners voted. Later, she learned that some MetLife executives had already been picking out schools and colleges for their children. “In my opinion, the deal was done when we first learned of it and voted for incentives,” Cotham, a Democrat, wrote in her first email to commissioners on Saturday.

***Good morning and thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and analysis. Read much more below.***

Morning Roundup: Little known law benefits UNC Health Care

A little-known law, the Set Off Debt Collection Act, allows state and local agencies to collect debts by seizing state tax returns and lottery winnings. The law has been good to UNC Health Care. Last year, UNC Hospitals collected $5.7 million, while UNC Physicians and Associates collected $2 million. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Departing from this uber-optimism from the campaign trail, Pat McCrory gave a sobering assessment of the economy and the challenges ahead.

Broyhill, Gardner, Holshouser and Martin to fete McCrory

Pat McCrory will be blessed by the Tar Heel Republican establishment next week at a Greensboro fund raiser attended by the “Four Jims” of GOP politics.

Laying on of the hands will be Jim Broyhill, a former congressman and former senator; Jim Gardner, a former lieutenant governor, congressman and three-time gubernatorial candidate; Jim Holshouser, a former governor, and Jim Martin, a former governor and former congressman.

They, of course, hope that McCrory will be next Republican governor.

The fund raiser is being hosted by Don, Jim and Joe Brady of Brady Energy Services. But helping put it together is Phil Kirk, who served as chief of staff for Broyhill, Holshouser and Martin.

“I think they accepted our invitation to participate because they were afraid of what I might say about them in their absence,” Kirk quipped.

The cost of admission to the the event ranges from $250 to $2,000.

Ex Gov. Jim Martin backs Richard Hudson in the 8th

Former Gov. Jim Martin has endorsed Richard Hudson in the GOP primary for the 8th district House seat.

Voters would bring back Jim Hunt

If North Carolina voters could bring back a former governor, it would be Democrat Jim Hunt, according to a new poll.

A survey asked this question: “Which former governor would you most want running North Carolina right no: Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, or Mike Easley.

The survey found 38 percent preferred Hunt, 15 percent chose Martin, 15 percent said Easley,   7 percent said Holshouser, and 27  percent were not sure.

“Given that Governor Hunt served four terms and in many ways created the modern North Carolina governorship, it's unsurprising that he leads this list,” said Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education which commissioned the poll. "What is striking is that one-in-four voters are unsure of which former governor they would most like to see in office today -- perhaps indicative of how many voters have moved to the state in recent years, and as such are not well versed in North Carolina politics form the past few decades."

Martin, a Republican, served two terms(1985-1993) as did Easley, a Democrat (2001-2009. Holshouser, a Republican, served one term(1973-77.)

The poll was conducted April 18-20 by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh of 796 voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

North Carolina governors' troubles with horse racing

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's excursion to Kentucky blue grass country is not the first time a North Carolina governor has kicked up dust over a horse racing.

Republican Gov. Jim Martin's 1987 trip to the Kentucky Derby also became political fodder because it came during key legislative negotiations designed to avert a hostile takeover of Burlington Industries.

During his 1988 re-election campaign, his opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. Robert Jordan, ran a TV commercial featuring footage of the Kentucky Derby, and criticizing Martin.

“His idea about what's good for North Carolina and what's good for North Carolina jobs is a little different from mine,” Jordan said on the campaign trail. “I would not have have gone to the Kentucky Derby while were fighting to save Burlington's jobs. I would not have gone sailing in the Caribbean while we were making budget decisions.”

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