Commentary

It’s probably just a coincidence that the biggest donor to the state’s new sketchy economic development nonprofit is Duke Energy that ponied up $200,000 to help the nonprofit meet its first year goal of $250,000 in private contributions.

That donation surely has nothing to do with the state’s ongoing battle over regulation of the company’s leaking coal ash ponds across the state. There’s no chance that Duke officials were trying to keep Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration happy with the donation to the nonprofit that is so important to the governor.

It’s all probably above board. Nothing nefarious here. No expectations, just $200,000 out of the goodness of Duke Energy’s heart.

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There is lots of talk on right-wing avenue this week about North Carolina’s big jump in the business climate rankings published by the right-leaning Tax Foundation.

Imagine that, a conservative think tank that evaluates states solely on their tax rates giving North Carolina a higher ranking for cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy. More on that later this week on the main NC Policy Watch site.

But business leaders care about a lot more than just  tax rates when deciding where to set up shop—things like the quality of life for their employees, a well-educated workforce, good transportation infrastructure, etc. And they care about how states treat their workers.

That was the message from Apple CEO Tim Cook in a recent speech in his native state of Alabama.

Alabama was “too slow” to guarantee rights in the 1960s, Cook said, and it removed a ban on interracial marriage from its Constitution only 14 years ago.

And (Alabama is) still too slow on equality for the LGBT community. Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation,” said Cook, a native of coastal Baldwin County. “We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and we can create a different future.

Workers in North Carolina can also still be fired based on their sexual orientation. Our state  leaders need to listen to Cook and create a different future here too.

Commentary

The folks in the North Carolina Republican Party keep wanting to have it both ways on Common Core. Abolishing the standards has become a crusade for the Tea Party wing led by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, when he is not planning wacky constitutional conventions.  But much of the state’s business community, specifically the NC Chamber, has been outspoken proponents of retaining the Common Core standards.

Governor Pat McCrory has praised the standards too, and McCrory’s appointment to a commission rewriting the standards is a Common Core supporter, much to the consternation of the party’s hard-right activists.

But when Texas Governor Rick Perry came to North Carolina last week to stump for Thom Tillis’ Senate campaign and shared a stage with McCrory, he specifically mentioned Common Core as a reason to vote for Tillis.

He will go to Washington, D.C., and do everything he can to dismantle Obamacare,” Perry said. “He will say no to things like Common Core. He will say no to things like Race to the Top.”

Wonder what McCrory was thinking when Perry was speaking and when they both held Tillis’ hands high for the crowd?

Does McCrory want Tillis to go to Washington stop things like Common Core that McCrory himself supports?

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McCrory-with-Polar-bear (2)Governor Pat McCrory was all smiles today at the N.C Zoo as he cut the ribbon for the new polar bear exhibit. It’s not the first time that state politicians have talked about polar bears.

In the 2010 and 2012 elections, Republican-allied groups ran ads against Democrats in the General Assembly for supporting funding for polar bears at the zoo.

A 2012 story by WRAL-TV had the details.

One other ad targets former lawmaker Cullie Tarleton, a Democratic (sic) who is running against Rep. Jonathan Jordan in a rematch of the 2010 race, which Jordan won. This year’s anti-Tarleton ad features the lines: “He (Tarleton) voted to spend $200,000 on a Shakespeare festival and $2 million on a playground for polar bears. Real Jobs used the polar bear accusation to great effect in mailers during the 2010 election.

Now Republican Governor McCrory is posing with people in polar bear costumes to celebrate the exhibit that was attacked by the groups working to elect legislators of his own political party.

It is apparently not very far from Real Jobs to Real Hypocrisy.

Commentary

One of the most interesting parts of the Pro Publica report  in the News & Observer today about the huge profits from taxpayer money made by charter school operator Baker Mitchell is the story of how Mitchell lobbied the General Assembly for a tax break for himself and then denied it.

Mitchell was intimately involved in seeing the bill through as chairman of a pro-charter lobbying group, the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Asked about the tax break and whether he had pushed for provisions that would directly benefit him, Mitchell told ProPublica, “There was another group that pushed that through. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

But a lobbyist for Mitchell’s group, Debbie Clary, said, “It was our bill. I was the only lobbyist working on it.” Clary added, “The person most engaged was Baker (Mitchell).”

Whoops. It’s bad enough that Mitchell is raking in millions in taxpayer money with his questionable operation and apparently violating the law by not releasing financial details about his schools.

He at least ought to own up to his role in passing the legislation that is helping make him a wealthy man.