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RPeople_16_Teacher_Blackboardaleigh’s News & Observer has obtained a recording of a virtual, two-minute talk that Gov. Pat McCrory gave in January to GOP legislators (the Guv was apparently fighting a cold — what he called the “Carolina Crud” — which may explain why he wasn’t there in person). The talk was about the Guv’s education agenda and while it contains little that we haven’t heard before, a couple of things stand out with respect to the issue of teacher pay:

Number One is that McCrory is still fixated on new teachers. He calls for raising the floor to $35,000 but says nothing about veteran teachers largely neglected by last year’s convoluted pay raise scheme.

Number Two and perhaps most troubling and perplexing is the Guv’s statement that teacher pay should, in part, be a function of the “marketability” of the teacher’s skills. What does that mean?

If it means that the teacher could get a better deal in another state to be a fourth grade teacher than she can get in North Carolina, well then it would seem that just about all of our teachers have great “marketability.” Providing raises on such grounds would make some sense.

If, on the other hand, it means (as one would suspect) that McCrory wants to start paying math teachers or computer science teachers (or football coaches) more than amazing veteran Kindergarten teachers, English teachers or Special Ed teachers because they might be able to earn more in the “free market,” then that is a potential problem. Read More

Commentary

McC709Maybe Gov. Pat McCrory will continue to cruise along as the state’s ribbon-cutter-in-chief in 2015 and leave all the real governing decisions to legislative leaders for yet another year. It’s certainly conceivable that he could eke out reelection next year by pursuing such a strategy so long as urban areas of the state continue to enjoy the moderate growth that’s accompanied the national economic recovery.

However, if the Guv wants to be taken seriously and be seen as anything other than a glorified errand boy for Senators Phil Berger and Tom Apodaca, he must stake out a strong position on a high profile issue and dictate the result. And, no, some relatively minor matter like historic tax credits isn’t enough to get the job done.

No, the only issue that really stands out in this area as the means for McCrory to truly establish himself as Governor is Medicaid expansion. McCrory knows it’s the right thing to do. He knows it will save thousands of lives and pump billions into the state’s economy. He knows that a huge and important segment of the business community is for it. Heck, his DHHS Secretary has already endorsed the idea. And he knows that the Senate leaders stand in the way.

All that remains for a real and definitive battle to ensue is, as we noted as few weeks back, is for McCrory to find his inner Jim Hunt, grab the elephants down the street by the ears and lead. For once, McCrory must find a way to bend the General Assembly to his will, rather than the other way around.

So, which will it be in 2015 — McCrory the would-be general or McCrory the same ol’ doormat?  What the man says or doesn’t say about Medicaid expansion in tonight’s State of the State speech should give us a pretty clear indication.

Commentary

Climate change - droughtThe good people at the Center for American Progress have released a new and sobering set of fact sheets documenting the abysmal state of climate change denial in Washington. Sadly, several members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are “recognized” for being on record in support of the denial efforts. The list includes: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Representatives Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Walter Jones, Robert Pittenger, David Rouzer and Mark Walker (as well as Gov. Pat McCrory).

This is, of course, a tragic and maddening state of affairs given the the fact that ninety-seven percent of climate scientists (as well as several fossil fuel companies!) agree that current human activity is contributing to the warming atmosphere and causing the global climate to change.

Unfortunately, as the fact sheets note, North Carolina’s denier delegation is far from alone:

  • One hundred sixty-nine Republicans in the 114th Congress are on record questioning or denying the science behind climate change.
  • Fifty-three percent—or 131 members—of the House Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.
  • Seventy percent—or 38 members—of the Senate Republican caucus question or deny the science behind climate change.

Click here to see the North Carolina fact sheet and the disturbing documentation with respect to each of our head-in-the-sand lawmakers.

Commentary

Pat McCrory 4Thom TillisWhat is it about the title “partner” that’s so attractive and impressive that prominent pols would go out of their way — and even stretch the truth a smidgen — to leave voters with the impression that they were in fact holders of such a moniker during their lives in the private sector?

First, it was new U.S. Senator Thom Tillis who went out of his way to make sure everyone knew that he was a “partner” at the corporate giants PriceWaterhouseCoopers and IBM before becoming a politician. As WRAL’s Mark Binker reported last year, this claim may have been sort of kind of technically true, but was also a bit of a stretch once Tillis landed at IBM.

Now the pol whose previous claims of “partner” status are in question is Gov. Pat McCrory. As the editorial page of the Charlotte Observer notes this morning in an op-ed entitled “McCrory vs. the truth — again”:

“Was Pat McCrory fibbing then, or is he fibbing now?

For years, McCrory was declared a partner in his brother’s firm. But on state ethics forms, the governor claimed he was merely a consultant, not a partner. There’s a big difference. Read More

Commentary

Valentine’s Day 2015, February 14, will be especially memorable this year. This is from the good fols at the NAACP and HKonJ coalition:

On this Valentine’s Day, bring your sweetheart to Raleigh and JOIN THE LARGEST LOVE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT SINCE SELMA!

We will show our LOVE for JUSTICE! We LOVE justice in Education; We LOVE Economic Sustainability, We LOVE Workers and Workers’ Rights and Livable Wages; We LOVE Health Care For All, Medicaid Expansion: We LOVE our Environment; We LOVE Equal Protection Under the Law, without regard to creed, race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation; We LOVE Voting Rights For All; We LOVE criminal justice.

We LOVE the most vulnerable within our State and Nation; We LOVE the power and beauty of diversity within our State and Nation; We LOVE our neighbors; WE ARE IN THIS LOVE TOGETHER! And We are determined to go “FORWARD TOGETHER, NOT ONE STEP BACK!”

On February 14, 2015, we will gather at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. The march will begin at 10:00 a.m. after which we will begin the mass people’s assembly on the doorstep of the State Capitol. Read More