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Conti defends Wilson bridge

In one of his last public acts as state transportation secretary in the waning days of Gov. Bev Perdue's administration, Gene Conti went to Wilmington on Dec. 8 to preside over a bridge-naming ceremony in honor of Lanny Wilson, a Democratic Party fundraiser who was forced to resign from the state Board of Transportation in 2010 amid state and federal investigations that brought down Perdue's predecessor, former Gov. Mike Easley.

Conti defended Wilson amid criticism that he didn't deserve the honor because of his role in the events that led to former Gov. Mike Easley's felony conviction on a campaign finance charge.

Treasury secretary joins lists of Obama surrogates flooding to North Carolina

Add Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the list of Obama administration officials flocking to North Carolina as the state figures prominently into the 2012 electoral picture.

He is visiting Wilmington to pitch President Barack Obama's jobs bill, according to the Associated Press: 

"Geithner plans to tour Corning Inc.'s fiber optics plant on Tuesday during a visit to highlight the importance of investing in so-called advanced infrastructure projects like broadband Internet.

Corning's plant in Wilmington, which employs more than 1,000 workers, is the largest fiber optics manufacturing facility in the world."

With Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit to Wake Tech (read more in previous posts), that makes two Obama administration officials in one day -- and comes a week after the president visited.

Hooray! SAYS Hollywood

Moviemakers will get a 25 percent rebate on many of their production expenses in North Carolina under a bill signed into law by Gov. Beverly Perdue Thursday.

The bill, which increases the existing 15 percent rebate, was described as critical to cultivating the state's film industry, which includes a Screen Gems studio in Wilmington. Various states have engaged in something of a bidding war as they fatten their handouts to Hollywood. Georgia, which recently snatched a Miley Cyrus movie from North Carolina, raised its rebate to 20 percent.

"This is a business," Perdue said during a signing ceremony at the capitol. "They go to where the money is, where they save the money."

A study of film incentives commissioned by North Carolina's film office shows the incentives lose money in their first two years, but state officials say those are conservative estimates that don't consider indirect spending that the films generate.

Under the rebate, a film maker totals up what they spent on salaries, hotel rooms, renting land and buildings, supplies, food and assorted other expenses. The following year, they submit those totals to the state and get a rebate worth 25 percent.

Fetzer to sue over gay allegation

Former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer says he will sue a Wilmington radio host for libel for forwarding an e-mail that alleges he is gay.

A longtime Republican political consultant, Fetzer is running for head of the state party.

In an e-mail to supporters today, he said that he intends to "vigorously pursue legal action" against radio host Curtis Wright, his employer, WLTT, and corporate owner Sea-Comm Media.

"The fact that I'm 54 and single does not mean that I have to put up with vicious rumors that I'm gay," he wrote in the e-mail. "The fact that I am heterosexual is a matter of public record."

Fetzer told Dome he will file the lawsuit on Tuesday.

North Carolina's case law may present a challenge to a potential lawsuit.

In 1994, the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled that falsely claiming that someone was gay or bisexual was not libelous by itself.

After the jump, Fetzer's letter.

Earmark Watch: SpotShotter

An earmark from three state Democrats would track gunshots in North Carolina cities.

Reps. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton, G.K. Butterfield of Wilson and Bob Etheridge of Lillington have all requested federal appropriations for the SpotShotter GLS system, which uses sensors on buildings and telephone poles to detect gunshots.

The data is then used by police to rapidly track down criminals.

McIntyre asked for $950,000 for the Wilmington Police Department to buy a system, while Butterfield and Etheridge sought a similar amount for Rocky Mount.

"Agencies using ShotSpotter systems have seen gunfire related violent crime rates fall by at least 30 percent, and have a more than a 50 percent increase in gunfire arrests," Etheridge wrote in his request.

McIntyre noted local problems with gunfire.

"In 2008, Wilmington Police responded to 1374 calls for shots fired, with a notably high volume in Houston Moore housing area and The Village at Greenfield apartments, which comprise the proposed ShotSpotter coverage area," he wrote.

Bill would add 1898 riots to curriculum

A bill would mandate North Carolina schools teach about the 1898 Wilmington race riots.

Introduced by Sen. Julia Boseman, a New Hanover Democrat, the bill orders the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to create teaching materials and provide workshops on the subject.

The idea was first proposed by the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which issued a report in 2006.

A previous bill proposed by former Rep. Thomas Wright did not pass in part because of an estimated cost of $200,000.

"It might be an unfortunate part of our history, but it's part of our history, and our students deserve to know about it," Boseman said. (WS-N)

More Senate bills filed on day two

Several more bills were filed in the state Senate today:

S.B. 15: Session Limits, Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand

S.B. 16: DPI / Curriculum on 1898 Wilmington Race Riots, Sen. Julia Boseman

S.B. 17: Pay Teachers the ABC Bonuses They Earned, Sen. Steve Goss

S.B. 18: Amend Cemetery Act, Goss

S.B. 19: Use of Additional Technology Prohibited, Goss

S.B. 20: Voter-Owned Election for Treasurer, Sen. Doug Berger

McCain campaign had 36 offices

John McCain had 36 offices in North Carolina.

The Republican presidential candidate had offices in the major cities, such as Greensboro, Asheville and Wilmington.

Though several offices were located around the Charlotte and Raleigh areas, there was only one office within the cities proper.

Unlike Barack Obama's mostly independent offices, pretty much all of the McCain campaign offices were located within a local Republican Party headquarters or in space shared with them.

In addition, another 30 local parties ran phone banks and canvassing operations on their own.

The shared offices were part of the shared financing of McCain's campaign.

"The Republican National Committee was raising a lot of money, while the DNC was not," said N.C. Republican Party spokesman Brent Woodcox. "Particularly after the public campaign financing kicked in, it made more sense for the state parties to set up these offices."

Correction: An office was missing from the list.

After the jump, a complete list.

Obama's visits to N.C.

Barack Obama's crowds in North Carolina have gotten bigger.

Below are crowd estimates from events held during the primary and general election by the Democratic presidential candidate.

In all, they total 194,050, although presumably some people attended more than one rally.

Before Election Season:

Durham, Nov. 1, 2007: 4,000

Before Primary (57,550):

Fayetteville, March 19: 150
, March 19: 2,500
, March 26: 2,400
, April 17: 2,000
, April 17: 8,000
Wilmington, April 28: 6,000
Chapel Hill
, April 28: 18,000
Winston-Salem, April 29: 2,000
Hickory, April 29: 2,500
, May 2: 5,000
Charlotte, May 2: 9,000

On Primary Day:

Raleigh, May 6: 2,000

After Primary (133,000):

Raleigh, June 9: 500
, Aug. 19: 2,500
, Sept. 21: 20,000
, Sept. 27: 20,000
, Oct. 5: 28,000
Fayetteville, Oct. 19: 10,000
Raleigh, Oct. 29: 25,000
Charlotte, Nov. 3: 25,000

McCain's visits to N.C.

John McCain has made few visits to North Carolina.

While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has spoken to crowds totaling 169,050 in almost all of the major metropolitan areas of the state, McCain has come here only a handful of times.

McCain has also held mostly smaller speeches and meetings instead of the larger rallies held by Obama, though as Election Day neared he's held more rallies.

In all, McCain has spoken to about 17,900 people.

Before Primary:

Charlotte, May 5: McCain gave a speech on foreign policy before a crowd of 200 at the Charlotte Chamber.

Greensboro, May 5: McCain gave a speech on his judicial philosophy before "a large crowd of students" at Wake Forest University.

After Primary:

Montreat, June 29: McCain met privately with Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin at their retreat, Little Piney Cove.

Wilmington, Oct. 14: McCain gave a speech at a rally of 2,500 at Cape Fear Community College.

Concord, Oct. 18: McCain spoke to 7,000 at a rally in Concord.

Fayetteville, Oct. 28: McCain spoke to 8,200. 

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