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Pat McCrory 4Dan ForestWith yesterday’s mostly predictable election out of the way, state policy debates will actually take center stage in North Carolina for a few weeks. Not surprisingly though, the process will begin today with a rather strange pair of competing press conferences in which the ideological battles that played out in the Republican Party primary between the far right and the ultra-far-right will be renewed. As WRAL.com reported last night:

“Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that he plans to roll out a ‘major education announcement’ in Greensboro on Wednesday that will address long-term issues and focus on rewarding teachers for good work….

The governor plans to join educators, state and local officials and business leaders at North Carolina A&T State University for the 10 a.m. announcement.

Four hours later, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will join Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, chief education budget writer in the Senate, in Raleigh to ‘unveil a new fund to supplement teacher pay in North Carolina public schools.’

Talk about the right hand not keeping up with the left (or, in this case, the right hand not keeping up with the extreme right). Of course, it’s been common knowledge in Raleigh for a long time that Forest is the darling of the Tea Party/religious right crowd and that he has been building a network of supporters to help him run for Governor in 2020 (or maybe even 2016 if McCrory continues to falter). Could it be that the contest between these two will begin today with, ironically enough, competing proposals over teacher pay — a subject over which the GOP has been pummeled for its budget-slashing policies? Stay tuned — it could be that an interesting next chapter in state policy wars is about to begin.

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Dan Forest

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

Regular NC Policy Watch readers will no doubt recall some of our previous stories on the rather curious  Raleigh-based group co-founded by Lt. Gov Dan Forest shortly before his run for state office — a group called the Faith Driven Consumer. As we reported back in 2012 shortly after the election, Forest co-founded the organization (a group that, among other things, recommends boycotting Sears because its catalogs feature lingerie models) with a guy named Christopher Stone:

Basically, the group purports to provide seals of approval for companies that it decides comport with “Christian” and “Biblical” values (note that for the group’s purposes “Christian” and “Biblical” mean conservative, fundamentalist Christianity). It then promotes the companies to the supposed tens of millions of Americans whom it claims will be swayed by such information. Read More

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DinosaurNorth Carolina’s Lt. Governor Dan Forest is no longer on the board of the group he helped found a few years back known as Faith Driven Consumer, but the group remains enmeshed in controversial issues with important political implications.

The group’s most recent crusade is to make sure that that the bosses at Paramount Studios, which is producing a multimillion dollar movie based on the Biblical figure Noah and the mythological story in which he saves all the creatures of the world from a flood, doesn’t allow the film to include any deviation from the what the group considers to be the literal truth. As Fox News reports, the group, which claims to speak for 46 million Christian consumers, released survey results showing that that “98 percent of faith-driven consumers are ‘unsatisfied with (the) Bible-themed movie which strays from Biblical message.’ The report suggested that ‘Noah’ could thus face ‘commercial challenges.’”

Such a scenario is in keeping with the past efforts of the Faith Driven Consumer to inject a conservative Christian worldview into modern American commerce. As reported here previously, the group has gone so far in past years as to dispense low marks to retailers (like the department store chain Sears) that feature lingerie models in their catalogs.

In the “Noah” example, the Faith Driven Consumer group has made it plain to Paramount that it doesn’t care for the notion that the film might attempt to superimpose modern, non-literal interpretations on the flood story. This is from an appeal on the group’s website: Read More

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Dan ForestApparently sensing the political vulnerability of Gov. McCrory, North Carolina’s ambitious Lt. Governor, Dan Forest engaged in a little gratuitous headline grabbing last week by making the rather stunning/bizarre statement that he wanted North Carolina’s public school teachers to be the highest paid in the country and that there is “plenty of money in government” to effect such a change without raising taxes.

Yesterday, in response, veteran Raleigh journalist Scott Mooneyham of The Insider provided Forest with a crash course in Public Finance 101:

“Let’s dig down into the nitty-gritty of what it would take to make North Carolina public school teachers the highest-paid in the country. Read More

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Lunch sandwichHere’s something to spur a little dyspepsia on the first day of a short work week: The General Assembly is back in Raleigh!  Yes, just six weeks or so after blowing town, the honorables are back for what will apparently be a two-day veto session. In case you’ve forgotten, the state Constitution (Article II, Section 22) requires an affirmative vote of three-fifths of those present and voting to override a gubernatorial veto and, at this point, it looks very much as if both the House and Senate will produce margins of this amount or greater on both bills at issue. In other words, it would appear that Governor McCrory’s September is about to get off to a start very much consistent with his extremely lousy August – a month so bad that it prompted his hometown newspaper to question his truthfulness.  

And speaking of important official events in Raleigh today, the State Board of Elections will convene at 1:00 to take up an appeal of a candidate challenge to Montravias King from Pasquotank County. Click here to watch the live feed from WRAL. The Board will also consider the appeals for one-stop alternate plans for 2013 municipal elections in Watauga and Pitt counties. Students and civic groups including NCPIRG, Common Cause, Ignite NC, NCSU Student Power Union, Democracy NC and Rock the Vote will be on hand to call on the Board to reverse recent decisions by local county boards of elections that make it harder for young people to vote.

And speaking of “must see” video, Read More