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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.***

Document(s):
AD.pdf

John Hood: The argument for the state cutting public assistance

"In the spirit of keeping things simple, the case for reforming North Carolina’s medical-assistance programs can be expressed in four numbers: 12, 15, 17, and 48,'' writes John Hood in his weekly column/blog for the John Locke Foundation.

"These are all national rankings. North Carolina ranks 12th in the nation in state mental health spending per capita. North Carolina ranks 15th in Medicaid payments per child or working-aged adult enrolled in the program. North Carolina ranks 17th in state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income. And North Carolina ranks 48th in per-pupil spending on elementary and secondary schools."

Hood: Economists agree that if you cut benefits, unemployment will decline

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, writes in his blog Daily Journal, that there is strong evidence that reducing unemployment benefits results in a drop in unemployment. The column can be read at www.carolinajournal.com.

"Noting that the unemployment rate continues to drop, albeit at a painfully slow rate, one think tanker told The Wall Street Journal that recent reductions in the generosity of the unemployment insurance system could be playing a role in boosting employment."

Pearce on Pope: Good for McCrory, good for Democrats

Gary Pearce, the veteran Democratic strategist, writes that Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's choice of Art Pope as budget director is both good for McCrory and good for Democrats. "Art Pope is both a good target for Democrats and a good choice for Governor-elect McCrory," Pearce writes on his blog, Talking About Politics.

"Democrats get to skewer him as a rich, right-wing puppet master who will pull McCrory’s strings while running and ruining North Carolina.

McCrory gets three things: Pope knows the budget in and out. He knows how Raleigh works. And Republican legislators know that he has taken out apostates before, so they’ll be less likely to defy the Governor.

RJA rewrite a major blow to death penalty opponents, Hood says

John Hood of the Locke Foundation writes that the legislature's rewrite of the the Racial Justice Act was a major blow to death penalty opponents. “The Racial Justice Act was just the latest in a series of initiatives used by death-penalty foes to maintain a de facto moratorium on executions in North Carolina, as nearly every death row inmate had filed RJA claims to convert their sentences to life in prison,” Hood writes in his weekly column for the Locke Foundation.

“The newly rewritten RJA, however, is no longer so easy to abuse,'' he writes. “Rather than use old or irrelevant data to assert racial bias in sentencing, murderers on death row now have to cite recent statistics from the counties or prosecutorial districts where their sentences were imposed as well as other evidence directly related to the handling of their cases.' For more read here.

Expert on cleaning up congress to speak to both left and right Tuesday

Lawrence Lessing, a Harvard Law professor who has written a book about political corruption, has accomplished what few have done done – gotten speaking gigs at both the right-leaning John Locke Foundation and the left-leaning N.C. Policy Watch.

Lessing will appear at both on Tuesday, to plug his new book, “Republic Lost, How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It.''

He will first appear Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Regulator Bookstore in Durham.

Lessing is director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard and is not easy to pigeon hole ideologically.

His trip here is being sponsored by Common Cause. He is speaking at an 8 a.m. breakfast on Tuesday to N.C. Policy Watch at the Junior League Building at at 711 Hillsborough St., charge $5.

At noon, Lessing is speaking to the Locke Foundation at its headquarters, 200, W. Morgan St. at a cost of $10 per person.

Leading NC conservative opposes marriage amendment

John Hood, the president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, has weighed in against the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriages.

In a recent column, Hood writes that neither the Foundation or he personally get involved in social issues, focusing on fiscal and economic matters. But he decided to make an exception after a free lance contributor to the Locke Foundation's Charlotte blog used an offensive post involving President Obama attacking the president's stance against the amendment.

“As it happens,” Hood writes, “JLF(John Locke Foundation) staffers and contributors have a wide range of views on social issues, including the marriage amendment. Some support it, based on a heartfelt moral or religious convictions. Others oppose it, including me.

“I think amending North Carolina's constitution to forbid gay and lesbian couples from receiving any future legal recognition, including civil unions, is unwise and unfair,” Hood writes. “In my opinion the real threat to marriage is not the prospect of gay people getting hitched. It is the reality of straight people too quickly resorting to divorce, or never getting hitched in the first place.''

Hood then goes on to say he believes it will pass and calls for a civil discourse on the issue.

The Locke Foundation is a Raleigh-based think tank started by Raleigh businessman Art Pope. It has long had small-government, libertarian leanings.
 

Morning Roundup: Myrick spends most on family business

No member of Congress has spent more campaign money on a business owned by his or her family during the last two elections than U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a watchdog group says in a new report.

The Charlotte Republican paid Myrick/Gunter Advertising – owned by her stepdaughter – $408,818 since 2007, according to the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Read Jim Morrill's report here.

In other news:

--Former presidential candidate Herman Cain said he expects the Republican presidential contest to extend well past North Carolina’s May 8 primary and possibly end in a brokered convention. “The process has been unpredictable from the beginning,” Cain told reporters. “I believe that the rest of this process will also be unpredictable.” Read more from his visit to the Triangle.

John Locke blogger resigns over Obama cartoon

UPDATED: A blogger for the conservative N.C. think tank The John Locke Foundation has resigned after she illustrated a story about President Obama’s position on N.C.’s Marriage Amendment with a photoshopped image of the president in chains and high heels with a bucket of fried chicken, The Charlotte Observer's Cleve Wootson Jr. reports. 


On Monday, "Meck Deck" blogger Tara Servatius, who hosted a radio talk show until May 2011, posted a story about Obama and the marriage amendment, accompanied by an image of the president’s face photoshopped onto a black man wearing high heels and chains. Between the man’s legs is a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

It's not just Art Pope bankrolling the Locke Foundation

With the Republicans in power in the legislature, some of the corporate big boys are opening up their wallets to help support the John Locke Foundation, the Raleigh-based conservative think tank that provides ideas and other support for the GOP lawmakers.

Banks, insurance companies, tobacco manufacturers, beer distributors, accounting firms and others are among the sponsors for the Locke Foundation's annual dinner to held January 21st at the North Ridge Country Club.

The executive sponsors for the dinner, who give $10,000 each, include the BB&T Corp., Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North  Carolina, CaptiveAire, K.P.B. Corporation, and New Breed Logistics Inc.

Listed above those companies on the invitation, although it is not clear how much it gave, was Reynolds American Inc.

Giving $5,000 each were Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated and Triangle Securities Wealth Management.

Giving $2,500 each are Carolina Strategy Group, Hicks & Associates, which is connected to Amerprise financial Services; Lorillard Tobacco Company, Metro Productions, North Carolina Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, the Parker Poe law firm, and Red Oak Brewery.

The featured speaker is Brit Hume, a political analyst for the Fox News Channel. Being honored is Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and Lisa Baldwin, a member of the Buncombe County school board.

The Locke foundation was started by Raleigh businessman Art Pope.

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