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A memorandum from the state budget office issued earlier this month asks state agencies to let them know what’s essential and what’s not, in the event a budget stalemate leads to a government shutdown.

budget-pieThe July 14 memorandum (scroll down to read) asks agencies to go through their operations, and report back about public safety and essential services need to continue on in the event of a funding stoppage –things like keeping on the staff who feed animals at the N.C. State Zoo, emergency responders in the highway patrol and prison guards.

Agencies need to provide their responses by Monday, which need to include estimates about what would happen if funding is halted for a week, or longer.

Preparing for a budget stalemate is a lot different from how the state prepares for other emergencies, state budget director Lee Roberts wrote in the July 14 memorandum.

“For a budget contingency plan, we must instead identify the minimum functions and services that must be performed for immediate response to issues of public lives or safety, or to avoid catastrophic loss of state property, and the associated personnel required to carry out these tasks,” Roberts wrote in the memorandum. “This includes the number of personnel required to perform these functions at the critical level, as well as administrative staff that support those critical functions.”

He takes care to point out that the chance of government shutdown because of the current budget negotiations is unlikely, and his request is intended to make sure a contingency plan is available in case things fall apart on the federal or state level.

But it’s certainly not an unprecedented scenario, as North Carolinians found out in 2013 when the federal government stopped running.

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News
Graffiti on Confederate Women's Monument in downtown Raleigh (photo by Sarah Ovaska-Few).

Graffiti on Confederate Women’s Monument in downtown Raleigh (photo by Sarah Ovaska-Few).

The words “Black Lives Matter” were spray-painted on a Confederate monument on the State Capitol grounds overnight,

The Confederate Women’s Monument is downtown Raleigh is one of two Confederate monuments on the capitol grounds in downtown Raleigh, where Gov. Pat McCrory has his office.

Workers had begun trying to remove the “Black Lives Matter” graffiti off of the monument Tuesday morning.

Tuesday’s actions comes as the state House of Representatives will finish debating a bill today that would make it more difficult for local communities to remove Confederate monuments from public property. Any removals would have to be approved by the state legislature.

McCrory has also said he wants the legislature to pass a law preventing the distribution of “Sons of Confederate Veterans” state license plates adorned with the Confederate battle flag. Republican state Sen. Phil Berger has said McCrory has the power to stop issuing the plates on his own, and does not need the legislature’s permission.

Meanwhile, demand last month for the Confederate flag license plates depleted the state’s existing stock, and the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, which is under McCrory’s purview, is in the process of having more produced.

Workers try to remove "Black Lives Matter" graffiti on Confederate monument.

Workers try to remove “Black Lives Matter” graffiti on Confederate monument.

Commentary

Pat McCrory 4The scathing assessments of Gov. Pat McCrory’s job performance continue to multiply — and, no, this is not a reference to Sen. Tom Apodaca’s observation that “the Governor doesn’t play much of a role in anything.”

The new take-down comes from the editorial board of the Winston-Salem Journal, which blasts the Guv this morning over his performance in the Paul Foley affair:

“The Associated Press reported late last week that ‘the chief legal counsel for Gov. Pat McCrory knew almost a year ago that Paul Foley’s law firm had received more than $1.3 million in payments [for legal work] from the target of an investigation into questionable political donations. However, Bob Stephens didn’t say anything to McCrory about the potential conflict of interest or other issues with Foley, a Winston-Salem lawyer … McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said.’

This wasn’t Stephens’ first problem as chief counsel. McCrory and Stephens owe us all a full accounting of this latest one. As The Charlotte Observer said in an editorial Sunday, McCrory ‘should either stop throwing [Stephens] under a bus, or he should dismiss Stephens for poor judgment and incompetence.’”

As the Journal goes on to point out, the public deserves a much more thorough explanation:

“What does trouble us is fact that the governor acted far too late on the Foley issue. McCrory and Stephens both work for us. They both us owe us a full accounting of what they knew and when they knew it.

Perception is everything in politics, and, most important, public trust. Good leaders respond quickly to problems of perception to retain the public trust. Gov. McCrory responded far too late to the conflict of interest in this case.”

Sadly, given his past performance in so many other areas, one has to seriously wonder whether the Governor is actually capable of providing a coherent and convincing explanation of what the heck actually happened. Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Commentary
Paul Foley

SBOE member Paul Foley with presidential candidate Donald Trump – Image: Twitter.com

The Winston-Salem Journal became the latest major newspaper this morning to call for Governor Pat McCrory to remove his appointee, Republican lawyer  Paul Foley, from the state Board of Elections. The editorial, which cited Foley’s troubling behavior surrounding the Board’s investigation of a sweepstakes company owner that was also a client of his law firm, came at almost the same time that Associated Press reported new and disturbing developments in the ongoing investigation of Foley related to the elimination of a voting site at Appalachian State University.

After summarizing his behavior in the sweepstake investigation (in which he repeatedly questioned Board of Elections staff and failed to disclose his obvious conflict of interest) the editorial concludes this way:

“Foley has shown he can’t be trusted to understand and fulfill his responsibilities. His continued presence on the board could hurt its credibility.  If he won’t realize that and step down, Gov. McCrory should remove him.”

The Journal editorial comes on the heels of one in yesterday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer that said this:

“The public relies on the State Board of Elections to oversee honest elections and fair enforcement of election laws. Foley can no longer fulfill those roles credibly. He should step down or the governor should ask for his resignation.”

Meanwhile, this is from this morning’s AP story on Foley’s involvement in the A.S.U. voting site matter:
“Paul Foley, a Republican member of the the North Carolina elections board from Winston-Salem, worked closely with local officials in their effort to eliminate a heavily Democratic voting site, a plan a judge ruled was intended to suppress voter turnout, according to hundreds of emails reviewed by The Associated Press.
The state Board of Elections is supposed to act as a neutral arbiter when policy disputes arise involving county elections boards. The emails show that Foley worked closely behind the scenes with GOP officials in Watauga County as they crafted a plan to eliminate the early voting site at Appalachian State University.”

Coming, as they have, at the very moment that Republican officials are trying to defend their relentless and transparent efforts to rig and suppress voting in a federal court trial in Winston-Salem, you’d think these latest revelations would prompt Governor McCrory to ax Foley ASAP. Based on his penchant for waffling and indecisive leadership in so many other controversies, however, it seems just as likely that the Guv will ignore the matter and head off to another ribbon cutting somewhere. Stay tuned.

Commentary

A Charlotte Observer editorial over the weekend calling for Gov. Pat McCrory to demand a line banning policy changes from future state budgets before he will sign this year’s spending plan includes what may the best one line summary of the McCrory Administration that has been written since McCrory took office in 2013.

From the start of his tenure, he’s been the boy on the runaway horse, unable to rein in a conservative and dismissive Republican legislature

That about sums it up and there’s not much evidence that the boy on the horse is capable of slowing it down any time soon.