North Carolina’s Latino advocates are voicing alarm following the governor’s decision to eliminate the state’s office for Latino affairs. The closing of the Office of Hispanic/Latino affairs was sudden and caught many by surprise. The move appears to have exacerbated the already tense relationship between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Latino community, including criticism over a driver’s license plan for young immigrants.
Advocates says it sends a message that McCrory and Raleigh conservatives are less concerned with the needs of the Latino community. Paradoxically, it comes at a time when issues of deep concerns, like immigration, are at the political forefront and Republicans nationally are trying to appear more welcoming to Latinos.
***Thanks for reading the Good Friday edition of the Dome Morning Memo. Send tips and news to firstname.lastname@example.org. More on the Latino office and other big headlines below.***
GOV OFFICE STATEMENT ON LATINO OFFICE: A spokesman for the governor said the duties of the office were being shifted to the office of community and constituent affairs. “We are committed to serving the needs of all of North Carolina’s citizens,” Thomas Stith, the governor’s chief of staff, said in a statement. “We don’t segment our constituents by race or cultural background any more than we separate them by age or gender. In addition, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs is a valuable resource to help us address culturally sensitive issues.” Full story.
UNIVERSITY FACULTY REVOLT AGAINST GOP, McCRORY: In a rare show of solidarity, professors from North Carolina’s public and private universities have joined to fight legislation being enacted by the Republican majority in Raleigh. The group, called Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina, has been quietly organizing for months. On Thursday, the professors held a public forum they dubbed, “Save Our State,” to decry policies coming from the GOP-led legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory.
The forum, attended by a standing room only crowd in a Duke University lecture hall, had the feel of a political organizational meeting. A panel of scholars picked apart actions by the state legislature’s Republicans to prevent Medicaid expansion, change voting laws, reduce unemployment benefits, lift environmental regulations, and promote charter schools and taxpayer-funded scholarships for students at private schools. “This is what’s unfolding in our state – an extreme right-wing agenda, funded by some of the wealthiest individuals in North Carolina and the nation, is being jammed through at record speed,” said Nancy MacLean, a professor of history and public policy at Duke. Full story.
TODAY IN POLITICS: The NAACP will hold a 10 a.m. press conference to respond to Republican legislation to curtail early voting hours, a move the group feels will suppress voting in North Carolina. State lawmakers are home for Easter weekend and McCrory lists no public events on his calendar through Sunday. Today is a state holiday. Enjoy.
--SLIGHT IMPROVEMENT IN STATES JOB NUMBERS:The state’s unemployment rate edged downward in February but remains just marginally better than it was a year ago. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate across North Carolina fell one-10th of a percentage point to 9.4 percent in February, according to data released Thursday by the state Commerce Department’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division. A year ago, the state’s jobless rate was 9.5 percent. Full story.
SENATE ON DIFFERENT SCHOOL SAFETY TRACK THAN HOUSE: Republican Dan Soucek, the Senate education committee co-chairman, said his chamber has a similar urgency to pass school security legislation this session. But he prefers a measure that allows trained school employees to act as a marshal or sentinel and carry a firearm, a component of the South Dakota law. “One of the challenges is ... we have limited resources,” he said. “So I’m looking for more of a revenue-neutral thing.” Full story.
24 YEARS LATER, POPE TRIES AGAIN TO KILL TAXPAYER CHECKOFF: The governor’s budget recommends ending a post-Watergate reform that permits Tar Heel taxpayers to check a box on their individual tax forms to give $3 to a fund that finances political parties in the state. The move to end the check-off has been the long-time goal of McCrory’s budget director, Art Pope, an influential figure in GOP circles. As a legislator in 1989, he unsuccessfully co-sponsored a bill to repeal the check-off. “Party registration doesn’t reflect voting strength,” Pope was quoted as saying at the time in North Carolina Insight Magazine. “Most people don’t realize that this is how the funds are being split.”
THE MONEY AT STAKE:During 2011-2012, the state check-off funds distributed $1.8 million to the state Democratic Party, $1.1 million to the state Republican Party, and $122,541 to the Libertarian Party, according to the State Board of Elections.Full story.
McCRORY PURGES GAMBLING MONEY FOR THIRD TIME: From AP -- Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign is giving another $8,000 to charity, the third time his campaign has unloaded contributions from people facing criminal charges related to sweepstakes cafes. McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said Wednesday the Republican governor's campaign would rid itself of $8,000 brought to their attention by The Associated Press this week. The cash was donated last year by John Patrick Fannin and his wife, who live in Little River, S.C.
Fannin is among 57 people indicted in Florida related to a chain of sweepstakes cafes affiliated with Allied Veterans of the World. Prosecutors said only about 2 percent of the $300 million raised actually went to veterans. The latest move brings to $18,000 the total from donors facing criminal charges or their spouses that McCrory has given to charity.
SECRETARY SHANAHAN SLOW TO CRACKDOWN ON SWEEPSTAKES: More than three months after the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld lawmakers' most recent attempt to ban the sweepstakes, there has been no visible statewide law enforcement effort to put the multimillion dollar industry out of business.
The Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement has the explicit responsibility to root out illegal gambling. Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan, who supervises the department, said Thursday that investigators are studying the issue. "We have been conferring with our law enforcement partners and prosecutors statewide on how to best monitor and enforce the sweepstakes law," Shanahan said. "We also have been monitoring the state of the law and how the legislature will respond to the operators who keep changing their configurations citing that they are in conformance." Full story.
NEW HIGHWAY PATROL COMMANDER QUESTIONED FOR STOPS: Early in his career, Col. William J. Grey became part of a select drug enforcement team, which earned him praise and criticism. In 1995, Grey pulled over a tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 85 near Archdale that turned out to be carrying $4.2 million worth of cocaine.
The following year, an investigation by The News & Observer found that the drug team was charging minority drivers at nearly twice the rate of other troopers working the same roads. Grey charged 27 minorities in a row, for such violations as failing to wear a seat belt and driving without a license. The patrol insisted it wasn’t targeting minorities. Full story.
--STORY BEHIND DALTON'S CONTROVERSIAL CAMPAIGN VIDEO:Frank Eaton, the Democratic ad man, produced a video of himself explaining the story behind then-gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton's web ad hitting McCrory as out of touch with black voters -- an ad McCrory called the low point in state politics, an assertion Eaton rejects.
CARY SHOWS METLIFE THE MONEY: Cary and Wake County each could pay MetLife about $1.9 million in cash incentives, according to staff projections. In exchange, the company could put more than $85 million into a Cary campus by 2017. Under a rough-draft deal approved unanimously by the Cary Town Council on Thursday night, Cary and the county would make annual payouts based upon the insurance company’s investment in local buildings and equipment. Ultimately, the company could get back 77 percent of its local taxes and 53 percent off its county bills over an eight-year period. Full story.
McCRORY ADMINISTRATION WONT BACK TURNPIKE PROJECTS: Transportation Secretary Tony Tata has endorsed a Senate proposal that probably would kill three turnpike projects in Currituck, New Hanover and Gaston counties. Full story.