News

North Carolina politicos remember Rep. Paul Luebke’s 25 years of public service

State Rep. Paul Luebke died from lymphoma Saturday at the age of 70. The Durham County Democrat served in the State House of Representatives since 1991. Here’s how many North Carolinians are remembering his legacy:

“Representative Luebke was a dedicated servant whose long career in education and in the General Assembly reflected his undeniable passion for serving his district and helping the people of North Carolina. Ann and I join with people in Durham and throughout the state in mourning his loss.”Gov. Pat McCrory

News

As election season winds down, a closer look at dark money (Audio)

The Center for Responsive Politics projects that when the 2016 election season wraps up two weeks from now, the spending level by candidates and special interest parties in the federal races could reach a whopping $6.6 billion. The presidential race alone is expected to cost $100 million more than it did in 2012.

But it’s not just outside spending at the top of the ticket that should have you concerned.

Karen Hobert Flynn, national president of Common Cause, says her organization is seeing more and more outside money being used to influence down ballot races at the state and local level. While the amounts are smaller the impact can be troubling:

“That money —  people don’t give it out of the goodness of their heart. They give that money because they want something in return. And they often get that something in return,” explained Hobert Flynn.

Hobert Flynn recently joined NC Policy Watch to discuss the role of dark money, the state of voting rights, and the effort to end partisan gerrymandering. Click below to listen to our podcast with the democracy reform activist.

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Also be sure to check out CRP’s chart: Top Election Spenders, by Election Cycle.

News

Business Journal: HB2 just cost North Carolina another 730 jobs

Chalk up another major jobs loss to the anti-LGBT law HB2.

The Charlotte Business Journal reports that Charlotte was one of four cities on the final short list for a major expansion by CoStar Group, Inc.

The commercial real estate information and analytics company announced on Monday plans to open its new research operations headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.

The Journal’s Ashley Fahey reports:

logo_costar…sources say North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 ultimately cost the Queen City those jobs and approximately $8.2 million in initial investment by CoStar.

“The primary reason they chose Richmond over Charlotte was HB2,” said David Dorsch, senior vice president at Cushman & Wakefield’s Charlotte office. Cushman & Wakefield was representing CoStar nationally, and Dorsch said he had been working with CoStar in its local real estate search for most of 2016. He said the company was looking at downtown new construction for about 100,000 square feet.

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David Dorsch (Photo: LinkedIn)

“(CoStar) is a great company; they’re a world leader in commercial real estate,” Dorsch said. “Their not coming here is a commentary on Gov. Pat McCrory and Mayor Jennifer Roberts … HB2 is a problem that was, in my opinion, led by those two people.

“This would come on the heels of a growing list of companies that have not moved to Charlotte as a result of HB2,” Dorsch continued.

Some of the more well-known decisions directly resulting from HB2’s passage: PayPal (NYSE: PYPL) reversing its decision this spring to add 400 jobs in a new global operations center in University City and the NBA’s decision to move next year’s All-Star Game out of town. But many local leaders, including developer Johnny Harris, have previously said there are countless other losses that nobody has heard about that pose an even bigger threat.

When asked whether CoStar planned to open any type of research facility in Charlotte, the company submitted a statement to CBJ late Monday:

“CoStar Group has concluded a national search for its research operations headquarters, selecting Richmond, Va., for the expansion, bringing approximately 730 new jobs to the Richmond area,” the statement read. “At this time, there are no plans to open additional research facilities.

On Monday, state Commerce Secretary John Skvarla told The Charlotte Observer that HB2 has had no significant business impact in North Carolina.

“It hasn’t moved the needle one iota,” Skvarla told the Observer Monday during a visit to Charter Communications’ training center in Matthews.

Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Education cuts1. National report: K-12 funding cuts in North Carolina among the worst in the nation

A national report released today seems to confirm what many of the N.C. General Assembly’s harshest critics have long declared: K-12 education funding in North Carolina has fallen prodigiously since the economic recession of 2008, and has worsened even as the state’s economy begins to rebound.

The report, authored by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, lists North Carolina among just eight states nationwide that have cut general funding per student by almost 10 percent or more since 2008.

From the report: [Continue reading…]

manning2. Judge Howard Manning steps away from landmark education case

Judge Howard Manning will no longer oversee Leandro v. State, the landmark education lawsuit that he has presided over for nearly 20 years.

Manning made a request to be removed from the case, and Chief Justice Mark Martin reassigned it on Oct. 7 to Emergency Superior Court Judge David Lee, according to Sharon Gladwell, communications director at the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

Melanie Dubis, who represents the plaintiffs in Leandro, and Mark Dorosin, an attorney working on the case for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the development and therefore could not comment.[Continue reading…]

rudo-and-gerlach-13. Sworn testimony contradicts McCrory administration coal ash claims

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office — and possibly McCrory himself — did influence the wording on health risk evaluations that were sent to well owners, contrary to his assertions that he was not involved.

That’s according to two depositions obtained by NC Policy Watch: New testimony by state toxicologist Ken Rudo and another by Kendra Gerlach, communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rudo’s deposition was taken on Sept. 14 by lawyers for the Department of Environmental Quality and Duke Energy. Gerlach was deposed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on Sept. 20.

Gerlach testified that at the behest of McCrory’s communications office, DHHS inserted language into the forms that could have downplayed the health risk of hexavalent chromium. [Continue reading….] Read more

Commentary, News

Trending today on social media: #EarlyVoting, #NCvotes

With the debates now in the history books, voters are taking advantage of early voting in several states today.

Across North Carolina, long lines are being reported — not just in the state’s larger cities, but also in the smaller communities that were recently contending with the floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew.

Here are just a few pictures from Twitter with folks sharing their experience at the polls: