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Joking about the school naming fight in Wake County

The controversy over the Wake County school board renaming West Apex High School as Apex Friendship High School made its way into today’s State Board of Education meeting.

It came up because an applicant seeking permission to open in 2014 wants to be called West Charlotte Charter High School. Some state board members were concerned that it might be confusing to parents because there’s an existing school called West Charlotte High School.

As board members talked about requiring the charter applicant to get a name change, State Board Chairman Bill Cobey noted how he had been reading in newspapers about a fight over school names. While he didn’t bring up Wake by name, there was no doubt about what he was discussing.

“Let’s not go to naming schools, please,” Cobey said to laughs from the crowd.

McCrory makes education, tourism boards appointments

Gov. Pat McCrory named three people to the State Board of Education Friday.

They were A.L. “Buddy” Collins, a Kernersville attorney who serves on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. Collins, who contributed $1,000 to McCrory's campaign, will replace Christine Greene on the board.

Also appointed was Olivia Oxendine of Lumberton, who is a professor in the Department of School Administration and Counseling at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She previously served as curriculum director for the Hoke County School system. She will replace Shirley Harris.

McCrory also appointed Marcella Ramirez Savage, a member of the Union County Board of Education. She serves as marketing director for Chick-fil-A.. She will replace Melissa Barlett on the board.

Morning Memo: McCrory in spotlight in MetLife deal

BIG JOBS DEAL PUTS McCRORY IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Charlotte law firm Moore & Van Allen, where Gov. Pat McCrory was employed until just days before taking office, helped the New York-based insurance company negotiate with state and local governments to receive more than $94 million in taxpayer-funded incentives in return for the promise to add more than 2,600 jobs in the next three years. The connection raises questions in the minds of Democrats about McCrory’s role in the deal and again shines light on his employment at the law firm, which also runs a lobbying practice in Raleigh. Republicans used similar concerns to reject a major economic development project under Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, citing how the company hired a Raleigh law firm that employed her son.

TODAY IN POLITICS: McCrory will tout the MetLife deal at another event in Charlotte Friday. The U.S. Labor Department reports the national unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, a four year low. The full N.C. Mining and Energy Commission meets Friday as the debate about what to do with fracking waste remains unresolved and lawmakers are getting involved.

Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo. Much more on the MetLife deal and the political implications below. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. Have a good weekend and Go Heels!

McCrory nominates three to state Education board

Former congressman and former GOP state chairman William Cobey is one of Gov. Pat McCrory's nominees to the State Board of Education.

The legislature plans to move quickly to approve the nominees before the State Board of Education meeting next week, at the governor's request. A joint session may come Monday or Tuesday, House Speaker Thom Tillis said.

McCrory nominated Cobey to an at-large seat.

Rebecca Taylor was nominated to fill the 1st district seat, replacing Jean Woolard. Taylor has worked in education for more than 35 years. She is a former special education teacher and now owns and operates Sylvan Learning Centers in eastern North Carolina.

Gregory Alcorn was nominated to fill the 7th district seat.

All three nominees' terms expire March 31,2019. Terms have expired for three current board members, including Chairman Bill Harrison.

Interest in starting charter schools jumps

The state Department of Public Instruction received 161 letters of intent from people and organizations who want to open new charter schools in 2014. The letter is an indication that the writer intends to submit a charter application by the March 1 deadline.

Charter applications have increased since the legislature ended the 100-charter limit two years ago.

This summer, the Public Charter Schools Advisory Council considered 63 applications for new charters to open this fall, and 25 were approved.

The State Board of Education earlier approved nine charters under a "fast track" process, and some of those opened last fall.

The advisory committee is scheduled to make its recommendations to the State Board of Education on the 2014 charters in June, with the board giving final approval in December or January 2014.

State Ed Board members on borrowed time

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison and members Jean Woolard of Plymouth and Tom Speed of Boone are working on terms that expired March 31, 2011.

Gov. Bev Perdue asked the Senate back in May 2011 confirm reappointments for Harrison and Woolard and to appoint William Woltz to take over for Speed.

Senate Leader Phil Berger said Monday that the legislature will not act to confirm those appointments.

"Gov. Perdue is a lame duck," Berger said. "We would prefer to have whoever the new governor is fill in long-term appointments on various state boards and commissions. We may make some limited exceptions to that, but that would be the general rule."

The state Utilities Commission will be short-handed when it considers the Duke/Progress Energy merger. The legislature is sitting on a Perdue recommendation to appoint Linda Cheatham to fill a vacancy.

Read my list

As part of her proposed government reorganization, Gov. Bev Perdue promised legislators she would send them a list of 150 boards she believed should be "reviewed and justified."

What legislators got from her office is 6 1/2 page alphabetical list of all the boards, commissions and committees - about 340 of them -  that are authorized by the legislature or to which they make some appointments.

The list includes every UNC campus trustee board, all the community college boards of trustees, and groups such as the state Board of Elections and the Board of Education.  It  effectively gives equal status to the state Board of Transportation and the N.C. Internship Council.

It's not what Senate leader Phil Berger expected. He thought Perdue would categorize the boards and offer suggestions on what to keep, what to consolidate, and what to eliminate.

"All I got was a list," he said. "I don't know that this is particularly helpful in terms of what we're doing. I was hoping for additional guidance from the governor's office."

Perdue spokesman Mark Johnson said it's obvious that some boards and commissions should be retained, but Perdue didn't want to appear to be telling the legislature what to do.

"We wanted it to be a partnership with the General Assembly," he said. 

House to vote on budget plan today

BUDGET BATTLE: The House is planning to debate and vote on its budget proposal. (N&O)

THEY WILL SURVIVE: Openly gay recruits will likely be admitted into the military, and the services will adjust to their presence, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a group of soldiers at Fort Bragg on Wednesday. (N&O)

TOUGHER STANDARDS: The State Board of Education is expected today to make North Carolina one of the first states to adopt national standards for math and English for public school children, setting milestones for learning that are meant to push U.S. students to be more competitive. In doing so, North Carolina will join what the nation's governors and state school chiefs call an important endeavor to ensure equity and quality. (N&O)

OUR STATE HORSE: Buffeted by hurricanes and harassed by centuries of sand fleas, the humble colonial Spanish mustang has been enshrined as North Carolina's official horse. (N&O)

What does the state treasurer do?

Brief: 
Manages the state's investments, administers budget funds and chairs the N.C. Banking Commission.
Answer: 

Manages the state's investments, administers budget funds and chairs the N.C. Banking Commission.

As the state's chief financial officer, the treasurer manages more than $75 billion in state funds and administers the General Fund, Highway Fund, and Highway Trust Fund.

The treasurer also administers a number of state investment programs, including retirement, pension and worker's compensation.

In addition, the treasurer serves on the State Board of Education, the N.C. Board of Community Colleges and the boards for the state's public employee retirement systems. The treasurer works with the state's 401(k) and 457 plans offered to public employees.

The treasurer is one of 10 elected members of the Council of State, which oversees spending of tax dollars and conducts business on behalf of state government. In 2008, the treasurer had an annual budget of $38.5 million, 323 employees and a $123,198 annual salary.

North Carolina is one of 36 states that elect treasurers by popular vote, and 22 states that do not have term limits for the office.

John Haywood was the longest-serving treasurer in state history. Haywood served for 40 years until his death in 1827. Harlan Boyles, who left office in 2000, served for 24 years.

Boyles' successor, Richard Moore, expanded the unofficial role of the treasurer, using the state's shares in major companies to push for changes in corporate governance. He later ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Elected in 2008, Janet Cowell is the first female state treasurer in North Carolina. 

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