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Morning Memo: Berger to make decision; Wos as a mentor to McCrory

MORAL MONDAYS IN THE FOOTHILLS: The North Carolina NAACP is taking its protest of legislative action to Yadkinville. The civil rights group said its Moral Monday and the Forward Together Movement will be at the Yadkin County Courthouse at 7 p.m. Monday.

The NAACP has been protesting actions by the Republican-dominated General Assembly for weeks. The group says it's concerned about what it calls attacks on teachers, unemployed workers, immigrants and voting rights, among other issues. Read more here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: Other political headlines to expect: Senate leader Phil Berger announces whether he will run for the U.S. Senate on Monday. Gov. Pat McCrory will take his message outside the capital city again, traveling to McAdenville for a tour at Pharr Yarns Facility and then visit Belmont for a business roundtable at the String Bean on Main Street.

***Read a dissection of the Aldona Wos profile below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: Two more headlines raise heat on McCrory administration

MORE HUGE SALARIES AT DHHS -- Secretary hired staffer from husband’s firm; McCrory’s office says he does a “helluva” good job: An adviser to state Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos has been paid more than $228,000 by the state for eight months of work.

The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a personal services contract with Joe Hauck to serve as “senior adviser” at the agency. The initial contract was extended at least four times between March 1 and Aug. 1, and was modified at least once to pay him more “due to increased hours of work per day,” according to a state Department of Health and Human Services contracts website. According to DHHS, Hauck started under contract in January to work in Wos’ office. The contract is now set to expire Nov. 30, and it is capped at $310,000.

TIMING OF SHANAHAN’S DEPARTURE RAISES MORE QUESTIONS: Kieran Shanahan’s unexpected resignation as head of the state’s public safety agency in July came as he appeared to be making long-term plans to remain in the job. Three days before he resigned, efforts were underway to complete his clearance for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security so that he could be designated as the state official eligible to receive sensitive information in North Carolina about terrorist and other threats.

Also, the Office of State Budget and Management planned to have a “strategic” budget meeting with Shanahan on the day before he departed, which Shanahan indicated he would attend.

***Read more details on the latest two stories to sidetrack the McCrory administration below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Legislative committee will look at problems with NC FAST, NC TRACKS

A legislative committee will soon begin looking into problems with the state’s computer programs that allow Medicaid providers to be paid and provide food stamps for the needy.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Wednesday that a committee will take up the issues. He said that he has heard from medical practices and hospitals that they have had trouble getting their claims processed.

“It’s something we’re working through,” Berger told reporters after the Senate’s veto session.

The issue came up at the conclusion of the Senate session, when Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat from Asheville, brought up the controversy over a pair of high-paid DHHS employees, and complaints about the state’s NC FAST and NC TRACKS food stamps and Medicaid reimbursement computer systems.

N.C. Black Caucus demands DHHS get food stamps to those seeing delays

The N.C. Legislative Black Caucus is asking the state to declare a state of emergency because food stamps recipients are seeing delays in receiving their money for groceries .

Senator Earline Parmon, a Winston-Salem Democrat, in a Tuesday statement urged the state agency in charge of food stamps, the Department of Health and Human Services, to get people their benefits by Friday.

Wayne Black, the state Department of Social Services director, said in an interview that the state doesn’t know when it’ll be able to get food stamp delays to stop, but that he, other DHHS employees and the county DSS offices are working as hard as they can to get the problem solved.

Some food stamps recipients are seeing delays because the state is implementing a new software system that will handle many social services cases once it’s fully installed: Child services, services for the elderly, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, food stamps and others.

Morning Memo: Daily Show says North Carolina trumps South Carolina in crazy

VOTING BILL TARGET OF LAUGHS: Another day, another national television show puts North Carolina at the butt of the jokes. The Daily Show on Comedy Central took aim at the recently approved elections bill that puts restrictions on voting. Host John Oliver joked that the state election bill would place “all voting booths on buoys that are only accessible by yacht." The segment lumped North Carolina together with Texas and Florida but the Tar Heel state (starting at 2:30) received particular attention and Senate leader Phil Berger make an appearance from a TV clip. Oliver says the voting bill is just the “tip of the true $h*!-berg of a legislative session" and concludes: “Your move South Carolina. Oh, you thought you had crazy Carolina all sown up, didn’t you?”

***The state's system to deliver food assistance is troubled and ALEC is targeted ahead of this week's meeting. Read more North Carolina political news below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

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