North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse is loudly attacking the news media and “disgruntled former and current employees” for the story about Gov. McCrory’s involvement in helping a longtime friend and political donor obtain a state contract to provide prison maintenance services over the objections of top prison officials.

Fire breathers on the Right, however, are hearing no such excuses.

Here’s the ultra-conservative Beaufort Observer:

“We think most North Carolinians know that a person does not donate $50,000 to anyone without expecting something in return, whether it be a multi-million dollar contract, season tickets. to get their kid in the “right” university or whatever. The quid pro quo is not what is important. What is important is that such contributions make it appear that decisions are influenced by money. We think you should have to make a choice: Either exercise your right to make political contributions or your right to solicit contracts from the state and its subsidiaries. But not both.

It used to be called ‘payola.’ It still should be. It is legal bribery when one gets private emoluments (benefits not everyone gets) from the government while making political contributions or secret bribes. To call them ‘legal contributions’ is a distinction without a difference. To put a dollar limit on such contributions is immaterial.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Haymaker is blasting the news as reminiscent of corruption by Democratic elected officials:

“When the GOP took control on Jones Street in 2010, and state government in 2012, they promised that things were going to be different from the ways of the old regime.  We got a new set of people in charge.  But a lot of the nasty habits from the old regime are still apparently hanging around.”


In case you missed it, columnist Susan Ladd of the Greensboro News & Record hit a home run this week with an outstanding essay entitled “We are citizens of North Carolina, not customers.” Here’s Ladd:

“I’m not a customer.

I thought it was an odd choice of words when Gov. Pat McCrory first said on the campaign trail three years ago that he intended to treat the citizens of North Carolina like ‘customers.’

McCrory has used that metaphor frequently during his term, most recently lauding the state’s customer service improvements at the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

You can use the customer metaphor for residents and taxpayers, but it is a shallow and ultimately unsatisfactory interpretation of the relationship between people and the government of the state in which they live.

A customer is someone who receives a good or service in exchange for monetary compensation.

It’s clear now what the governor meant when he talked about customers. If you carry the metaphor to its logical conclusion, you can see he has done exactly as he promised.

Your best customers get the best service and the best deals. In politics, those are the customers who can make generous campaign donations, such as oil and gas companies that want to reap the state’s natural resources through fracking and offshore oil drilling. The residents of beach communities and counties targeted for fracking — who only pay taxes, after all — got the bum’s rush.

People without food, the people without jobs, the people without insurance were left to struggle on their own. Because businesses get to choose their customers, I guess that’s the equivalent of ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service.’”

As Ladd goes on to explain, she is:

  • “a resident of Greensboro, and as such I should be able to have a voice in how my leaders are elected.”
  • “a citizen who has the rights and protections that belong to all Americans.”
  • “a constituent, a part of the whole that makes up North Carolina’s voting population.’
  • “a stakeholder in the natural resources of the state, part owner of the water, land and air, who deserves more of a say about how those precious resources are used than the companies who want to exploit them without regard to damaging the environment.”

And finally, here’s her excellent conclusion:

“McCrory made a big splash last week about streamlining and improving customer service at the DMV. That’s great, but making it easier to renew my driver’s license is a poor trade-off for selling the rest of the state to the highest bidder.”

Read the entire piece by clicking here.


With lawmakers on the verge of passing controversial legislation to expand funding for charter schools at the expense of traditional public schools, yet another voice is speaking out against the proposal.

Proposed charter school bill masks true budget issues

By Amy Wamsley and Lynn Michie

There are few things that stir a dust-up among education advocates like the issue of charter schools. Even among our own board of directors and members of Western North Carolina for Public Education (WNC4PE), we don’t agree on the value and role of charter schools in our communities and our region. But one thing we all can and do agree on is that making our state’s public education budget a scrap heap for different viewpoints to fight over is not just bad public policy – it’s very bad for our children.

That’s exactly what HB539 does. It once again pits traditional public schools and charter schools against one another for funds that are hard-earned and precious. In a nutshell, HB539 would redirect a portion of funds used by traditional public schools to public charter schools during a time when all of North Carolina’s public schools are inadequately funded to meet the diverse needs of all our students.

There is no doubt that there will be vehement argument and outcry on both sides of the debate about HB539, and that debate will mask the true issue at hand: public schools, traditional or charter, in North Carolina are still woefully underfunded.

Yes, the budget just passed included some tiny gains, such as the promised raise for first-time teachers and a stay of execution for thousands of teacher assistant jobs. But the fact remains that North Carolina’s leadership have yet to step up and fulfill their obligations to the taxpayers of the state to provide “a sound basic education.” Not making additional cuts is not the same as making investments.

Let’s put it in perspective. Read More


This morning’s lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal calls on state legislators to slow down with the last-minute. end-of-session sausage making when it comes to selling off the state’s Medicaid program. The Journal rightfully describes the sell-off as a “huge and controversial deal” that deserves much more public input before moving ahead.

An editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer over the weekend was even more pointed:

“GOP lawmakers want to install a managed care system in which Medicaid would be put under a new division in state government and come under the control of three contracted companies offering managed care plans. Groups of doctors and hospitals would enroll people in regional managed care networks. And Medicaid no longer would pay for each hospital visit or medical procedure for the 1.8 million enrolled in North Carolina. The companies would get a fee for each patient at the time of enrollment. If the cost of care ran over the fee, the companies would be liable.

In other words, it’s money first, people second.

This is a terrible idea. First, as has happened in other states that have tried this system, companies that find they can’t make money leave. Bob Seligson, CEO of the state Medical Society, notes that expenses also can go up. Hospitals and doctors have fought this very bad notion for years, and they’re the ones on the ground providing care….

Once again, Republican legislators move to fix something that’s not broken, even when their decisions could put the health of their constituents in peril.”

Let’s hope lawmakers make the unusual move of coming to their senses before taking this destructive step.


MedicaidThe endless 2015 legislative session appears, mercifully, to be nearing a conclusion after nine long months. With the passage of the budget early this morning, legislators are now free to wrap up final details and adjourn for the year. Unfortunately, one of those final details will be giving away the state’s award winning Medicaid program to giant, for-profit insurance companies. As Lynn Bonner reports this morning in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Legislators have agreed to privatize North Carolina’s $15 billion Medicaid program, a change that doctors and hospitals have been fighting for months, but which some Republican legislators have championed as a remedy for unpredictable spending.

Under House bill 372, three insurers would be given contracts to offer statewide Medicaid managed care plans. The state would have up to 10 contracts with “provider-led entities,” or groups of doctors and hospitals, that would enroll patients in regional managed care networks.

Rather than pay for each hospital visit or medical procedure as it does now, Medicaid would give the companies a fee for each patient when they enroll. The government would not be liable for cost overruns.”

In many ways. of course, this is a perfectly apt conclusion to the session. The 2015 session opened nine long months ago with one obvious and overriding imperative: North Carolina needed to follow the lead of 30 other states and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Such an act would have saved thousands of lives per year, pumped billions of dollars into the state’s economy and strengthened an already highly effective program. The state’s feckless governor admitted these facts at times even as he manufactured excuses not to act.

Now, however, the decision has been made to, essentially, do the opposite. Rather than expanding the program to save lives, state leaders will heed the siren song of fat cat corporate lobbyists and give away this enormously valuable public asset to a handful of giant corporations that will, in turn, squeeze profits out of it by denying services to people in need.

The bottom line: More poor people will die, our economy will suffer unnecessarily and wealthy, out-of-state corporations will pad their profits. It’s hard to think of a concluding act that better symbolizes the awful 2015 session.