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One day after Governor Pat McCrory announced the state would sell the Dorothea Dix campus to Raleigh, at least two state Senators voiced reservations about the deal.

Mitchell County Senator Ralph Hise told WRAL-TV the $52 million transaction was “on the lower end” of what would be acceptable.

Senator Louis Pate told the Raleigh News & Observer he has his own concerns:

“I don’t know that the state is in a better position or not, the way this agreement reads,” said Pate, who represents parts of Lenoir, Pitt and Wayne counties. “I think we need to sit back and take a long look at it before we put our stamp on it.”

Legislators won’t need to put their stamp on the deal, that will be up to the NC Council of State. However Senators could intervene, as they did when then-Governor Beverly Perdue first sold the Dix property to Raleigh.

As the N&O reports:

…legislators could file a bill seeking to amend or revoke the deal, much as they did in 2013. Pate said he “can’t say” what legislative leaders might do, and it’s too soon to speculate on any action. Senate leader Phil Berger’s spokeswoman said he was still reviewing the deal Tuesday and had no comment.

Pate said his biggest concern is the price. While Gov. Pat McCrory said the $52 million will go toward mental health services, Pate says that amount “can be spent in a heartbeat around here .”

Sen. Hise says a decision to get involved in the deal really comes down to the Governor’s plans for relocating the state Health and Human Service workers, who are currently working on the Dix property.

For her part, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is optimistic this is a done deal, and the city can begin the planning process for the 308-acre “destination” park.

McFarlane is our guest this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. For a preview of that radio interview, click below:

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News

Just released…

Progress NC Action files formal ethics complaint against Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. McCrory has shown a clear pattern of deceptive omissions of income, stock ownership and even simple membership and affiliation with private corporate interests. With these omissions, McCrory has hidden clear conflicts of interest from the public. The State Ethics Commission should investigate.

RALEIGH – Progress North Carolina Action today filed a formal ethics complaint with the State Ethics Commission against Gov. Pat McCrory, detailing the governor’s clear pattern of deceptive omissions of income, stock ownership, and conflicts of interest between his private financial ties and his public duties as governor.

As numerous press reports have shown, Gov. McCrory has omitted key financial information from his Statements of Economic Interest in several places:

1. McCrory initially failed to accurately disclose ownership of more than $10,000 in Duke Energy Stock on his 2008 and 2014 Statement of Economic Interest (SEI).
2. McCrory failed to disclose more than $185,000 of income from dividends and director fees from Tree.com on his 2014 SEI.
3. McCrory failed to even disclose membership on the board of directors of Tree.com on his 2013 SEI. Tree.com’s mortgage business is regulated by the state.

The 50-page ethics complaint also details other clear discrepancies between public documents of other private firms and McCrory’s ethics disclosure forms. Read More

Commentary

Veteran Raleigh journalist Seth Effron included the following fascinating chart in his daily “Quick Clips” this morning about the comparative success of Governors McCrory and Perdue in the field of job recruitment.

Commerce chart

 

In addition to in your email box, you can read Effron’s daily clips at Blue NC.

Commentary

mc-1Governor Pat McCrory emerged from his much-publicized meeting with a handful of other governors and President Obama at the White House  Tuesday breathlessly declaring that Obama is open to considering waivers to allow North Carolina to crafts its own version of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

But that shouldn’t be news to McCrory or anybody else.  Nine states, most of them with Republican governors, have already expanded Medicaid with waivers from the feds or have been in discussions with the Obama Administration about waivers for their own versions of the program.

Neighboring Tennessee is the latest state with Republican leadership to move forward, with Governor Bill Haslam unveiling a proposal for Medicaid expansion last month. 

Apparently McCrory had to fly to Washington to figure out that the Obama Administration was willing to work with state officials who are developing their own Medicaid plan.  Or maybe he just wanted us to know he was talking tough with Obama.

I presented a very strong argument for more flexibility if we even consider Medicaid expansion, so we can have a North Carolina plan instead of a Washington plan, and especially a plan that would encourage more people to get a job or get training before we expand another government program,” McCrory said after the meeting.

While it’s too bad it took McCrory much longer than many Republican governors to realize the Obama Administration was willing to work with the states to provide health care for people who need it, at least he seems to finally understand it.

There’s also the head-scratching logic that more people will have to get a job before Medicaid is expanded, as if only people who are working need to be able to see a doctor, not to mention the people with chronic illnesses whose lack of access to treatment prevents them from working in the first place.

But maybe now McCrory can get on with what he should have done already, following the lead of his Republican colleagues across the country by expanding Medicaid in North Carolina and providing health care coverage for several hundred thousand low-income people and creating thousands of jobs in the process. It is past time.

Commentary
Donald van der Vaart, new secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Donald van der Vaart, new secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In case you missed it over your holiday break, Governor Pat McCrory named Don van der Vaart as the new Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to replace Secretary John Skvarla who is moving over to head the Department of Commerce.

Van der Vaart was serving as Deputy Secretary of DENR and as the state’s first “energy policy adviser” according to a press release from McCrory’s office. That means, according to the release, that van der Vaart “focuses on increasing domestic energy exploration, development and production in North Carolina as well as promoting related economic growth and job creation.”

In other words, the new secretary’s previous job was pushing drilling and fracking  and other industry objectives in a department that’s priority is supposed to be protecting the environment.

And that’s not the most disturbing part of his appointment. Read More