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Morning Memo: McCrory administration slanted Medicaid report

McCRORY BOOED IN HIS HOMETOWN: For his 69th birthday party, Charlotte attorney Bill Diehl rented out The Fillmore at the N.C. Music Factory, hired rockers Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and invited around 400 of his closest friends, Jim Morrill reports. Among them: Gov. Pat McCrory.

When the band took a break, Diehl grabbed a mic and introduced McCrory, who was greeted with a loud smattering of boos. It wasn't the first time the former Charlotte mayor -- elected and re-elected seven times -- has heard boo birds in his hometown. In Charlotte, at least, the popular mayor has been a less popular governor. This summer he appeared at a concert at the Bechtler Museum. When he was formally introduced, many in the audience booed.

MUST-READ: For months, members of the McCrory administration have maintained that the state’s Medicaid program is "broken." But in the first of a two-part investigation, North Carolina Health News shows McCrory officials sat on information that would have depicted the state’s much-lauded Medicaid program in a better light. Read it here.

***More from the N.C. Health News story and an important notice to readers below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

NOTICE TO DOME READERS: The Under the Dome blog is migrating to a new home at newsobserver.com starting Wednesday. The new platform will have a completely new look and web address. Check Dome later today for more details about how to reset your bookmarks and use the new system so you don’t miss tomorrow’s Dome Morning Memo. Thanks for reading.

FROM THE MEDICAID STORY: "In a document that displays "track changes" that include (Medicaid director Carol) Steckel’s electronic signature, whole paragraphs were deleted, with evidence that, for example, North Carolina’s administrative costs are lower than most states rather than 30 percent higher, as maintained by McCrory administration officials.

"Incoming administration officials also deleted whole sections explaining that budget overruns were in large part a function of under-budgeting by the General Assembly. And in her first week in her new office, Steckel struck through paragraphs explaining that Community Care of North Carolina had been studied by two national groups that found cost savings. Instead, she inserted language casting doubt on the efficacy of CCNC and suggesting further study of the statewide program that’s been lauded nationally and that is being replicated in several states."

GENERAL ASSEMBLY POLICE TRACKED SO-CALLED ANARCHISTS: The first trial of a "Moral Monday" protester revealed far more than the guilty verdicts that have shaken attorneys and demonstrators still awaiting their court dates.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver testified to a murmur of disbelief among the many lawyers attending the Wake County District Court hearing that his 18-officer department had people in this region they labeled "anarchists" and collected intelligence on them.

Weaver did not identify the so-called anarchists, nor did he reveal how many his department considered to fall in that category.

But the chief at the helm of the law enforcement agency that arrested more than 930 people this past summer testified that his officers had scanned the many "Moral Monday" rallies with eyes trained for "anarchists."

On Monday, Weaver declined to elaborate on what kind of intelligence his department collected on the people he and his officers considered to be "against government."

SURVEILLANCE UNDER SCRUTINY: Weaver also declined to comment about his testimony that his officers often had a good idea about who might be among those getting arrested in the Monday crowds because of "intelligence" provided by Raleigh police officers. "I’m not going to discuss intelligence gathering, and I’m not going to discuss operational issues," Weaver said.

Raleigh Chief of Police Cassandra Deck-Brown said meetings held at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church on May 6 and 13 – that were open to media and the public – were attended by one officer who was not in uniform. Read more here.

TODAY’S BIG STORY -- State lawmakers look for answers from HHS secretary: Legislative meetings Tuesday have elements of a scripted drama, where the aggrieved meet their antagonists, and a department head under fire gets to explain faulty technology and high agency salaries.

The hashing out of problems and controversies that have hit the state Department of Health and Human Services this year are being rolled into an all-day meeting where health care providers will come face to face with an officer in the computer firm running the system that’s failing to deliver their payments. Tech company representatives will be on hand to explain why food-stamp delivery doesn’t work statewide. DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos is set to address the technology stumbles and give her reasons for offering high salaries to 24-year-old former campaign aides to Gov. Pat McCrory, and a high-dollar personal services contract to a vice president in her husband’s company.

"We look forward to using all the time allotted to get to the bottom of this mess," said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat. Read more here.

TODAY IN POLITICS: The legislative oversight committee on health begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday in room 643 of the legislative office building. It is supposed to last until 5 p.m. The joint legislative oversight committee on technology will also meet all day. And the Revenue Laws Committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. in room 544.

Gov. Pat McCrory will attend a family farm conservation event at 11 a.m. in Burlington. It’s the only item on his public calendar today.

DMV TESTS WAYS TO SHORTEN LINES: Gov. Pat McCrory campaigned last year on "fixing DMV," and he promised this year that state agencies would make "customer service" a new priority. Two-hour waits were not unusual at the North Raleigh driver’s license office, one of the busiest in the state, so it was picked as one of several test sites for a slew of changes.

The office keeps longer hours on weekdays (8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and it reopens Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. The new facilitator checks with folks coming in the door to see what they need from DMV and whether they’ve brought everything DMV will need from them. This is an idea borrowed from businesses across the country. Read more here.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP APPEALS BONNER BRIDGE CASE: The case involving a replacement for the Bonner Bridge along North Carolina's Outer Banks is back in the courts with environmental groups appealing a judge's decision allowing construction of a parallel span.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is appealing a judge's decision last month allowing the state to replace the 2.4-mile bridge across the Oregon Inlet. Environmentalists support a 17-mile bridge into the Pamlico Sound with an estimated cost of $1.1 billion. Read more here.

BIG CASE AT SCOTUS: In its first major campaign finance case since the Citizens United ruling in 2010, the Supreme Court is considering whether to undo some limits on contributions from the biggest individual givers to political campaigns. The justices will hear arguments Tuesday, the second day of their new term, in a dispute between the Obama administration and Republicans who are challenging the contribution limits as a violation of First Amendment rights. Read more here.

LOCAL INCENTIVES FIGHT MIRRORS STATE BATTLE: At a time when incentives are coming under scrutiny at the state level, the battle in Cabarrus is emerging as a particularly vivid local example of how deals traditionally backed by Chamber of Commerce Republicans are taking fire from more conservative Republicans who see them as government meddling in the business arena.

"I do not believe it’s fair for a governing body … to get to pick and choose which companies get these tax incentives," said board vice chair Chris Measmer. So worried are business leaders that they’ve taken the unusual step of launching a political action committee, Cabarrus Jobs Now, to take on those opposed to incentives. Read more here.

PITTENGER SUPPORTS SHUTDOWN PUSH ON DEBT CEILING: The fight over the federal government shutdown has moved beyond health care, at least according to U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte. "We’ve really moved beyond Obamacare," Pittenger said Monday. "This whole debate has really moved into the debt ceiling."

Like a growing number of people in Washington, the Charlotte Republican expects the current shutdown to last at least until Oct. 17, the date administration officials have said is the deadline for Congress to raise the debt ceiling. He said he supports Republican efforts to push for spending cuts or changes in entitlement programs in exchange for supporting a higher debt ceiling. Read more here.

THE SHUTDOWN VOTE COUNT: Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre didn’t sign the letter supporting a clean continuing budget resolution, but he supports it. Read more here.

BOB ORR: "Any criticism of Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to hire outside legal counsel in the litigation over the voter ID legislation is not only wrong but reflects a lack of understanding of the duties a lawyer owes to his client." Read more here.

GOP MISFIRE? The N.C. Republican Party issued a statement Tuesday bashing Attorney General Roy Cooper for setting his eyes on the 2016 governor’s race -- but their attack also hits a particular Republican: House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is running for the U.S. Senate. Tillis is even spending more time campaigning than Cooper now. Here’s the quote from N.C. GOP Chairman Claude Pope. Substitute "Tillis" for Cooper -- and it’ll sound like it came from Democrats: "North Carolina deserves an Attorney General who is fully committed to the job he has now, not the job he wants in three years, and Cooper’s flagrant political posturing is an incredible disservice to the people of North Carolina."

A BIPARTISAN EVENT: Democratic state Rep. Ed Hanes and Republican state Rep. Donny Lambeth are teaming up to raise money for the Children’s Home of Winston-Salem. The two lawmakers recently teamed up to send invitations for the Autumn Ball, which raises money for the children’s home. More here.

WHO’S BEHIND THESE SIGNS? A few signs that say "We hate teachers" and stamped "NC GOP" are showing up in Raleigh, a Dome reader reports. The phone number at the bottom: 1-888-ART-POPE. The number goes to a mortgage refinancing message before disconnecting. No disclaimer or group name appears on the sign.

PERSONNEL FILE: Jordan Shaw, the communications director for House Speaker Thom Tillis, switches to his boss’ U.S. Senate campaign today. Monday was his final day as a legislative employee as he takes a leave of absence to work on the campaign. No replacement has been announced.

Daniel Keylin has joined the N.C. Republican Party as communications director. Keylin will work with Luther Snyder, the party’s deputy director overseeing communications. The Connecticut native is a newcomer to North Carolina. He most recently worked on Republican Deb Fischer’s successful U.S. Senate campaign in Nebraska in 2012.


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