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Civitas December 2010

CAPITOL CONNECTION nccivitas.org

Mike Easley Now a Convicted Felon

Former Governor Says “Buck Has To Stop Somewhere” lieutenant governor, and during her campaign for governor in 2008. In a hearing earlier this year, the State Board of Elections fined her campaign $30,000. As a convicted felon, Easley could lose his law license, and would have lost his citizenship rights such as his right to vote and being allowed to own a gun if he had been given active probation. A Class I felony carries a

Former two-term Democratic Gov. Mike Easley (right), now a convicted felon, gives current Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue (left) a hug the day Easley endorsed her candidacy for governor. Photo: The News & Observer

• BY JANA BENSCOTER

T

NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID Permit #144 Reidsville, NC

he 22-month long investigation into an impressive record of alleged illegal gifts accumulated by former two-term Democratic Gov. Mike Easley during his tenure, and campaign for governor, came to an end on Tuesday, Nov. 23 when a state judge handed Easley a fine of $1,000 after Easley entered a guilty plea on one felony charge of filing a false campaign finance report. According to Carolina Journal, “Easley received free flights on private aircraft that were not reported, used state aircraft for personal business, obtained real estate at discounted prices, and failed to disclose rental income from his Raleigh home

while his family lived in the Executive Mansion.” Many of the gifts were from Democratic Party endorsers and politically-connected friends. During Easley’s court hearing, he said, “Our campaigns over the years have made financial errors. We’ve tried to correct them as much as we could. However, as a candidate, I have to take responsibility for what the campaign does. The buck has to stop somewhere. It stops with me. I take responsibility in this instance.” Current Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is facing an investigation into her own failure to report campaign flights. Perdue, who was Easley’s lieutenant governor for both terms, did not disclose more than 40 flights she made while serving as

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1

Mike Easley Convicted Election Shifts Power

2

From The Editor Early Voting Summary

3

New Legislators

4-5

Unemployment & Maps

6

Race to the Top

7

Increased Budget Spending 100 South Harrington Street Raleigh, N.C. 27603-1814

Unreliable Cards Issued

7

Investigation Leaves Unanswered Questions

sentence of up to 15 months in prison. Easley was not given any active prison time or sentenced to probaEasley Continued on pg. 6

Do you think the corruption scandal involving Governor Mike Easley is an isolated incident, or do you think it reflects a general ethical problem with most North Carolina Democrats who are in state government? Isolated Incident 33% General Ethical Problem 49% Not Sure 18% Civitas Poll January 2009

Historic Election Shifts Power

Republicans won at the ballot box in the 2010 mid-term elections and they did it in a convincing manner in both the state House and Senate. A new General Assembly convenes on Jan. 26. Photo: Jana Benscoter

• BY FRANCIS DE LUCA

Republicans now control the North Carolina Legislature for the first time since the main means of transportation for legislators was horse and buggy. In January 2011 when the new leaders of the Legislature are elected by their respective bodies it will have been 140 years since the GOP controlled both houses of the state Legislature. In November 2010, legislative Republican candidates won at the ballot box and they did it in a convincing manner. No incumbent Republican legislator lost reelection in November. In the 120-member state House, Republicans picked up 15 seats plus one unaffiliated representative, who will caucus with the GOP, for a 16-seat gain giving them a total of 68 house members. For Democrats in the state House, 13 incumbent legislators lost in November. In the state

Senate, Republicans picked up 11 seats defeating seven Democratic incumbents, giving Republicans a total of 31 out of the 50 members, more than the 30 votes required to override a gubernatorial veto. In the state House, Republicans are four votes shy of the 72 needed to override a veto but observers speculate that on a number of issues they can convince conservative Democrats to join them in an override vote. Republicans won the majorities by a comfortable margin in both number of seats won and the percentage of the vote garnered. In both the state House and state Senate, Republican candidates captured about 59 percent of the vote statewide while Democratic candidates captured only Power Continued on pg. 7


2

December 2010

Civitas

CAPITOL CONNECTION

F R O M T H E E D I T O R

Momentum for Governor’s Race Picks Up in 2011 BY JANA BENSCOTER

Evidence is mounting that President Barack Obama is concerned about his popularity in North Carolina and his chances to regain the same voter trust here in 2012 that he garnered in 2008. He has been on radio programs and visited Winston-Salem in early December to talk about economic and intellectual competition from outside the United States. His visit comes on the heels of the American people sending him and Washington a loud, resounding message that Americans want “smaller government and more freedom.” Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all considered swing states, meaning voters could elect either a Republican or Democratic governor by narrow margins, now have Republican governors. Eight of those states flipped from Democrat to Republican as a result of mid-term elections. “Republican control of the majority of 2012 swing states is a major roadblock to the President’s re-election and a repudiation of his policies,” said RGA (Republican Governors Association) Chairman Haley Barbour. “These states are the bellwethers of the nation, and they’ve sent a firm message to Washington that America wants smaller government and more freedom.” North Carolina was a swing state in 2008, which went in favor of Obama by 13,000 votes. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue won a four-year term riding on his coattails. A June 2010 Civitas Institute Poll reveals that voters, if they had the chance to vote for governor then, favored Republican candidate Pat McCrory 46 percent to Perdue’s 37 percent. McCrory, who established New Leadership Political Action Committee after stepping down as a seven-term mayor of Charlotte, has been traveling nonstop throughout the state and country promoting a message of massive clean-up of North Carolina state government. A Public Policy Poll released in November has McCrory easily defeating Perdue 49 percent to 37 percent. According to PPP, “he pulls 37 percent in a slate of potential GOP gubernatorial primary candidates that includes current party chairman and former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer (12%), 5th-District Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (11%), 9th-District Congresswoman Sue Myrick (6%), former state senator and 2008 gubernatorial aspirant Fred Smith (4%), 10th-District Congressman Patrick McHenry (3%), Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry (3%) and incoming State Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (2%), with 22% preferring someone unnamed or not sure of their current preference.” McCrory has not officially announced a run for the Governor’s Mansion. In August 2010, he told The Charlotte Observer, “My goal is to get Republicans in charge of the House or Senate or both…If I run for governor that would make my job a lot easier.” The Republican-led General Assembly returns to business on Jan. 26. Official filing with the North Carolina State Board of Elections for governor begins in February 2012. w

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CAPITOL CONNECTION PUBLISHER

Francis X. De Luca Francis.Deluca@nccivitas.org MANAGING EDITOR

Jana Benscoter Jana.Benscoter@nccivitas.org Editorial & Advertising 100 S. Harrington Street Raleigh, NC 27603 919-834-2099 (phone) 919-834-2350 (fax) www.nccivitas.org All non-advertising content published in Civitas Capitol Connection may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given and it is published in its entirety. Copyright 2010

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tion. With the introduction of Same-Day Registration (SDR) at one-stop sites it is virtually impossible to verify addresses of people who register in the days leading up to the election. As a result we now have two classes of voters, those who have had their addresses verified before they vote and those who have not. Is it important? In the 2008 General Election after their votes had been counted and the election certified, thousands of people who had registered to vote, and voted at the same time had their registrations denied after their verification notices were returned undeliverable. The North Carolina Legislature and the State Board of Elections in partnership with very liberal, progressive groups have spent 15 years molding North Carolina’s election process to the point where the security of the vote cannot be assured. North Carolina’s new legislature should now concentrate on ballot security and protecting the integrity of the electoral process so that all of North Carolina’s citizens are confident when they cast their vote. w Breakdown Continue on pg. 3

Early Voting Less Popular in 2010 Midterm Elections • BY SUSAN MYRICK Using the early voting process, Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s GetOut-The-Vote machine owned the 2008 General Election in North Carolina. In the two and one half weeks leading up to the election 2,638,915 voters voted early, more than 60 percent of the total turnout for 2008 General Election. Democrats made up more than 51 percent of the 2008 early voting total, followed by Republicans at 30 percent and Unaffiliated voters at 18 percent. Along with the historic wins for North Carolina Republican State House and Senate candidates, the early voting landscape changed with the 2010 General Election. This year, the percentage of voters who voted early dropped to 36.5 percent. Of the 960,873 voters who voted early, 46.4 percent were Democrats, 36.5 percent were Republicans and 17 percent were unaffiliated voters. The process of absentee voting without an excuse (one-stop voting and voting by mail) is relatively new to North Carolina and was first used in Board of Elections’ offices in 2000. Early voting, especially one-stop voting, has become popular for its convenience to the voters (they are no longer assigned to one day and one place in order to cast a ballot) and for political campaigns that use the time to get their voters to the polls. Most of the news coming out of early voting in the 2010 election consisted of reports of faulty voting machines that seemed to default to Democratic candidates, and that Republican, white males were out-voting all other demographics.

The mainstream media reported on these two occurrences because watching voting equipment change a vote is sensational and voting statistics are accessible, understandable and easy to report. What is not so transparent and never reported is the one-stop process itself and how it impacts the security of the ballot. In particular, North Carolina’s early voting process has obstructed the 25day voter registration deadline (NCGS 163-82.6 (c)). This deadline was in place to allow county boards of elections time to verify addresses of new registrants before the poll books were printed for Election Day. With the advent of one-stop voting, that verification window was reduced from 25 days to 6 days – not nearly enough time for adequate verificaContinued Below

Voters lined the halls of Guilford County Courthouse on the first day of early voting on Oct. 14. Early voting runs for two weeks in North Carolina prior to the General Election. Photo: Jana Benscoter

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Civitas

December 2010

3

Early Voting Breakdown New General Assembly

Legislators

Method Party 2 0 0 8 2 0 1 0

NC Senate

Civilian Unaffiliated

Louis M. Pate, Jr.

District 5 (Greene, Pitt, Wayne) Democrat

Republican

One-stop

Bill Rabon

District 8 (Brunswick, Columbus, Pender)

Unaffiliated Democrat Republican

One-stop

One-Stop Civilian Military Overseas Republican Democrat Unaffiliated Total

2,411,116 215,258 8,443 4,098 795,456 1,355,390 486,256 2,638,915

91.4% 8.2% 0.32% 0.16% 30.1% 51.4% 18.4%

905,139 53,100 1,444 1,190 350,285 445,774 163,820 960,873

District 44 (Burke, Caldwell)

District 10 (Duplin, Lenoir, Sampson)

Wesley Meredith

94.2% 5.5% 0.15% 0.12% 36.5% 46.4% 17.0%

Pie charts are sized in proportion to total votes cast. Percentages are of that total.

Midterm Elections 2010: Wave of Fresh Legislators

District 19 (Bladen, Cumberland)

Eric L. Mansfield

District 21 (Cumberland)

Rick Gunn

District 24 (Alamance, Caswell)

Norman Sanderson

District 3 (Craven, Pamlico)

Jimmy Dixon

District 4 (Duplin, Onslow)

Bill Cook

Stephen LaRoque

District 10 (Greene, Lenoir, Wayne)

Phillip Shepard

District 15 (Onslow)

Susi Hamilton

District 18 (New Hanover)

Jeffrey L. (Jeff) Collins

District 25 (Nash)

Tom Murry

District 41 (Wake)

•

BY KAREN DUQUETTE

The 2010 North Carolina election brought in a wave of fresh legislators eager to push new initiatives in the 2011 legislative session. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr easily won re-election, becoming the first Republican U.S. senator to be reelected from North Carolina since Sen. Jesse Helms, and the first senator to be re-elected to his seat since 1968. In the U.S. House, incumbents managed to retain most of their seats with the exception of Renee Ellmers, who narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge after an official recount. At the state level, Republicans won control of both General Assembly chambers, holding the first Republican

two-chamber majority in more than a century. In the state House, Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) will lead the Republicans as House Speaker in a 67-52-1 majority with Independent Bert Jones (U-Rockingham) aligning himself with Republicans. In the state Senate, Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) was selected as the President pro-tem nominee, leading Republicans 31-19 over Democrats. Reps. Iler (R-Brunswick), Ingle (RAlamance), Jackson (D-Wake) and Parfitt (D-Cumberland), appointed in the last term, will serve their first elected term. Senator-elect Pate (R-Wayne) and Reps.elect LaRoque (R-Lenoir) and Hollo (RAlexander) will return after serving in the state House in previous terms. w

Warren T. Daniel Dan Soucek

District 45 (Alexander, Ashe, Watauga, Wilkes)

Ralph E. Hise, Jr.

District 47 (Avery, Haywood, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Yancey)

Jim Davis

District 50 (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Transylvania)

NC House

District 6 (Beaufort, Pitt)

GOP lawmakers revel in celebration after their victories in both the state House and Senate on election night. Photo: Zan Bunn

Kathy Harrington

Brent Jackson

E.S. (Buck) Newton

2010

District 35 (Mecklenburg, Union) District 43 (Gaston)

District 11 (Nash, Wilson)

2008

Tommy Tucker

Thom Goolsby

District 9 (New Hanover) Civilian

Gladys A. Robinson

District 28 (Guilford)

Gaston (G.L.) Pridgen

District 46 (Hoke, Robeson, Scotland)

Charles Graham

District 47 (Robeson)

Glen Bradley

District 49 (Franklin, Halifax, Nash)

Mike Stone

District 51 (Harnett, Lee)

Marcus Brandon

Ken Goodman

District 66 (Montgomery, Richmond)

Craig Horn

District 68 (Union)

Harry Warren

District 77 (Rowan)

Rayne Brown

District 81 (Davidson)

Mark W. Hollo

District 88 (Alexander, Catawba)

Johnathan C. Jordan

District 93 (Ashe, Watauga)

Rodney W. Moore

District 99 (Mecklenburg)

Bill Brawley

District 103 (Mecklenburg)

John Torbett

District 108 (Gaston)

Kelly E. Hastings

District 110 (Cleveland, Gaston)

Mike Hager

District 112 (Cleveland, Rutherford)

Patricia (Patsy) Keever

District 115 (Buncombe)

Timothy D. (Tim) Moffitt

District 60 (Guilford)

District 116 (Buncombe)

John Faircloth

Chuck McGrady

District 61 (Guilford)

U Bert Jones

District 65 (Rockingham)

District 117 (Henderson)


4

December 2010

nccivitas.org

CAPITOL CONNECTION

Civitas

The New General Assembly The 2010 election brought with it a change in North Carolina’s party leadership for the first time in over a century. Just how dramatic was the change? North Carolina House District changes and North Carolina Senate District changes are listed below. You can also find more information regarding seats for the next General Assembly at http://www.carolinatransparency.com/assembly/ Using this new interactive tool, you can look at each seat in each house, and view maps of party representation from 2008 to 2010. The 2011 General Assembly convenes on Jan. 26, 2011 for the long session.

2011 North Carolina House of Representatives Makeup 90

93 94 84 118 114 119

112

117

89

96 97

110

113

120

74 72 62 59 75 71 73 6157 58 60 79

88 95

76

98

108 9982 109 103 107 106105100 68

111

81

77

83

55

50

92

86 85

115

116

87

65

91

63

30 31 40 56 34 29 41 35 33 39 3638 26 37

70 54

53

52 66

69

8

24

2 9

3 12

4

21

15

16

2010 NC House Districts

13

14

22

47

6

10

28

46 42 43 45 44 48

1

23

25

11

51 67

5

7 49

64

80 78

27

32

18

20

NCH

17

19

Democrat - No Change Republican - No Change Republican - Change from Democrat Unaffiliated - Change from Democrat

2011 North Carolina Senate Makeup 26

30

45

32

47

50

48

34

42

20

43

15 16

33 18

40 38 37 39

NCS Democrat - No Change Republican - No Change Republican - Change from Democrat

3

1

5

12

36 22 21 35

25

10 13

2010 NC Senate Districts

11

14

17

29

41 46

27

4

7

23

24

28

44 49

31

6

19

8

9

2


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Diciembre 2010

CAPITOL CONNECTION

Civitas

5

How Much Longer Can North Carolina Sustain High Unemployment? • BY MARIANNE SUAREZ

lina in October, increased in 18 counties and remained the same in 16 counties. This marks a slowing trend when compared to the September report. In September, unemployment was recorded to have dropped in 97 counties, increasing in two and remaining the same in one. There are 51 counties that reported unemployment rates above the state’s 9.1 percent unemployment average in September, while in October that number increased and the NCESC reported that 55 counties had unemployment rates above the

The most recent report released from the North Carolina Employment Security Commission (NCESC) shows the statewide unemployment rate in North Carolina at 9.1 percent in October and revised at 9.3 percent in September. This marks a 0.2 percent decline in the last recorded month and a 0.6 percentage point decrease since August’s revised statewide unemployment at 9.7 percent. Unemployment rates dropped in 66 out of 100 counties in North Caro-

state average. Currituck County had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in October at 4.9 percent, while Scotland County had the highest at 14.7 percent. In September, reports indicated unemployment rates had dropped in all of the state’s metropolitan areas, while in October unemployment rates dropped in 13 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. Overall trends show that the number of people employed in North Carolina has decreased 6.6 percent, compared to 4.9 percent nationally.

Unemployment Insurance benefits were paid in October statewide to more than 118,205 people totaling $118,196,790. That is an increase of over 3,600 people since the previous month. North Carolina has paid over $5.4 billion dollars in total benefits since October 2009 putting the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance in the red for more than $2.3 billion dollars at the end of the month. w

North Carolina Regional Unemployment September + October 2010

14.0% 12.0%   10.0%   8.0%   6.0%   September  

4.0%

October 2.0%  

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UNEMPLOYMENT Map on pg. 8

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July 2010

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Race to the Top: Not Exactly What You Think • BY BOB LUEBKE

Race to the Top funds were designed to benefit students and schools, yet the first clear winners are Dr. Bill Harrison, current chairman of the state board of education, and state government. In September, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced Harrison would oversee Race to the Top funds and lead a new education commission. Harrison’s $90,000 salary will be paid using federal grant funds. Perdue appointed Harrison early last year to a newly created position to lead the public schools. A lawsuit brought by State Superintendent June Atkinson questioned Perdue’s authority to create a management position that had authority over the state Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). A Wake County judge agreed with Atkinson. The decision forced Harrison’s resignation last August from the $200,000 post. Since last year, Harrison has served as chairman where he earns $15 a day, plus expenses. Harrison is viewed as the big picture guy who will bring the strategy of Race to the Top funds into play for all schools. North Carolina educators and teachers were ecstatic in August when the state was named one of four winners in the second round of the federal government’s $4 billion Race to the Top Competition. North Carolina public schools will receive approximately $300 million over four years. Recently, the first round of Race to the Top funds were distributed to school districts around the state. While most districts welcomed the money, many were probably unhappy to discover the state siphoned $1.5 million for “administration” costs. The high costs are all the more curious, considering the Race to the Top officials’ plans to hire only two positions to assist in monitoring and dispersal of Race to the Top funds. To boost the state’s chances for obtaining grant funds, conventional wisdom said North Carolina would at least need to lift the state’s cap on 100 charter schools. General Assembly lawmakers failed to pass specific legislation to lift the cap, an idea which is likely to be quickly taken up when the lawmakers convene in January. However, the General Assembly did pass legislation that turns failing public schools into charter schools and gives control of the schools to publicly-elected boards of education. Charter schools have historically been

directed by an independent board or trustees. Allowing school boards to control nontraditional public schools is the very opposite of charter school autonomy. While most of the education establishment continues to gush about the opportunities Race to the Top funds afford, too little attention has been paid to what the federal program actually costs the state. Race to the Top is merely the means by which the federal government provides cashstarved states money for “education reform” to gain control over an area the U.S Constitution provides them no authority: public education. With more and more federal money comes more and more federal control. Citizens know that schools run best when local officials are in charge of what is taught and what is spent. Too many states – including North Carolina – view Race to the Top as the impetus for education reform. In reality, Race to the Top is merely the “sugar” to ensure federal control over public education and less local freedom. w

Easley

CONTINUED FROM PG 1

tion, he was only fined $1,000 and charged $153 in court fees. Other players involved in the Easley investigation included: • In December, Ruffin Poole, known as “the little governor” resigned from his job at the McGuireWoods law firm in Raleigh and his position on the board of grantmaking for Golden LEAF Foundation. The same day Poole was indicted, Lanny Wilson resigned from the N. C. Department of Transportation board and a few days later resigned from the N. C. Turnpike Authority board. Wilson plead guilty in federal court to tax evasion in connection with money he accepted from land developers while working for Easley. • McQueen Campbell, a pilot and aircraft owner, testified in 2009 at the Easley hearings that he had flown Easley to numerous campaign events but never billed the

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue signs Senate Bill 198 in March 2009, which hired Dr. Bill Harrison as CEO of North Carolina public schools and chair of the State Board of Education. Photo: Office of Governor Bev Perdue

Easley campaign. He also testified that on two occasions he billed Easley campaign for flying services that in fact reimbursed Campbell for repairs to Easley’s Raleigh home that Campbell had paid for. Campbell resigned from the N.C. State board over his role in the initial hiring of Easley’s wife, Mary, by the university in 2005. Soon after that, Mary Easley was fired from her $170,000 a year job. • In late October 2009, the State Board of Elections convened a hearing to investigate alleged campaign finance violations by Easley’s campaign committee. At that hearing, developer Gary Allen and businessman Lanny Wilson acknowledged writing checks to the N. C.

If an elected official accepted free trips and use of a car and did not disclose or report it, should they be prosecuted for a crime? No 26% Yes 60% Not Sure 14% Civitas Poll June 2009

Democratic Party under the assumption the money was earmarked for Easley, a violation of the law. On Jan. 4, a lawyer for Allen and his development associates told Pamlico County officials that his client was abandoning the 680-acre Cutter Bay development. Allen sought a refund of $2.96 million in impact fees he had paid to the county for water. County commissioners voted unanimously not to return the money. At the time of this article no information is available on any of the other persons involved in federal investigations of Easley. w

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CAPITOL CONNECTION

December 2010

7

Increased Budget Spending Causes Rampant Use of Fear Tactics • BY BRIAN BALFOUR

doubled in the last decade. Put differently, state government workers could receive an average 10 percent cut in salary, and the salary of the average state worker would still be higher than North Carolina’s average private sector worker. And what about wiping out decades of “progress”? An examination of annual state budgets shows that from 19792009 – even after adjusting for inflation – state spending in North Carolina tripled during that time. Furthermore, inflation-adjusted spending grew at more than three times the rate of population growth. All of this data, however, still doesn’t take into account one important fact: the state General Fund budget isn’t the only money being spent on government programs in North Carolina. Billions in federal government dollars, mostly for education, transportation and social welfare programs, are sent from Washington to Raleigh every year to supplement expenditures on state programs. In the current fiscal year, it is projected North Carolina will receive $13.6 billion in federal dollars. If that amount is combined with the $18.98 billion state General Fund budget and $2.36 in transportation expenditures, total spending on state programs is $34.9 billion.

Recent media reports have unveiled some state government agency spending reductions submitted to Gov. Perdue at her request. Predictably, the revelations prompted apocalyptic warnings from those who advocate for more government to correct all of society’s ills. The warnings typically follow a well-worn script followed by liberal advocacy groups for years: thousands of teachers and caregivers will lose their jobs, “progress” will be set back decades, and all that is good about the state will be destroyed. Sober examination of actual budget figures, however, suggest that the latest budget crisis is merely a minor speed bump on North Carolina’s long-term expansion of government growth. Wild-eyed claims of unspeakable suffering offer no value and need to be placed in proper context. Frequently used is the rhetorical claim that state programs are grossly “underfunded.” Such claims may appeal to the sympathetic ear, but offer no perspective. Exactly what level of funding would be sufficient? Liberals never provide an answer. Next is the very real threat of some state employees losing their jobs. To paint the bleakest of all

pictures, big-government advocates will list the most sympathetic of state workers like school teachers and mental health workers. Notably absent are the tens of thousands of non-classroom administrators, redundant paper-pushers or retirees pulling in six-figure pensions. From 2001 to 2009, North Carolina state government added nearly 35,000 workers. Surely these were not all school teachers or caregivers for the elderly. Indeed, over the period 19992009 state-funded nonteaching “instructional support” positions in North Carolina public schools swelled by nearly 5,000. Growth in such non-classroom staffers exploded by 57 percent, nearly three-and-ahalf times the growth rate of student enrollment. In short, a total of 10,000 state jobs could be eliminated next year and state government would still have 25,000 more workers than a decade ago. Moreover, with salaries and benefits for state workers being the overwhelmingly largest budget expenditure for state taxpayers, it is interesting to note that the average salary for a North Carolina state government worker is more than 12 percent higher than that of a private sector worker. This pay disparity has

Power

Unreliable Cards Issued to Illegal Immigrants

CONTINUED FROM PG 1

41 percent of the vote. Republicans won all seats that the Civitas Partisan Index (CPI) said were Republican leaning and captured four seats in the Senate and two in the House that were Democratic leaning. Republicans won throughout the state (see maps on page 4), winning seats from the coast to the mountains and in both urban and rural areas. The next Legislature has a number of tasks facing them with the most important being to clean up the fiscal mess in North Carolina and trying to close the estimated $3.5 billion gap between what the last Legislature had been spending and what they actually had available in state taxpayer money to spend. They were able to ignore the problem by raising taxes and using “stimulus” money from the federal government to allow them to keep spending at levels not supported by current economic conditions. The Republicans have pledged to let the “temporary” taxes expire and close the gap by streamlining government, reducing waste and making the hard choices about what priorities the state should be funding. There is another task that will affect the political landscape for the rest of the decade – redistricting. Once every 10 years congressional and legislative districts in North Carolina have to be redrawn when the new census data becomes available. That will occur in 2011 and for the first time in modern North Carolina history – Republican legislators will be the ones

• BY JANA BENSCOTER

The role of law enforcement is to carry out the law to the fullest extent, maintain order and protect residents. Law enforcement is told what to enforce according to local ordinances; state and federal laws; state constitutions and the US Constitution. Durham City Council in early November voted to accept the use of Matricula Consular Identification Cards (MCAS) as proper identification for Mexicans residing in the city. While issued by Mexico’s government, a person’s identity in possession of MCAS is not positively identified. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has claimed the card “is inherently unreliable and unverifiable as an identification card and is highly vulnerable to fraud, regardless of its security features.” “The government of Mexico issues the card to anyone who can produce a Mexican birth certificate and one other form of identity, including documents of very low reliability,” Steve McCraw, former assistant director of FBI’s Office of Intelligence said in the Carolina Journal. “Mexican birth certificates are

in charge of drawing all the maps. The governor can’t veto redistricting so what passes the Legislature, and is approved by the Justice Department under Obama’s administration, will be the plan that elects congressional representatives and state legislators for the next decade. w

easy to forge and they are a major item on the product list of the fraudulent document trade currently flourishing across the country and around the world.” As many as 13 states currently accept the Matricula Consular ID card for the purpose of obtaining a driver’s license. McCraw said, “Once in possession of a driver’s license, a criminal is well on his way to using the false identity to facilitate a variety of crimes, from money laundering to check fraud. And, of course, the false identity serves to conceal a criminal who is already being sought by law enforcement.” A few days after Durham City Council passed the resolution, councilman Howard Clement commented on the possible inappropriate overreach of executive decision making by Durham City Police. Clement voted against the resolution. In an interview with the DurhamHerald Sun, Clement told the newspaper he “quizzed Deputy Police Chief for Operations Steve Mihaich about the decision…three days after council members voted 5-2 to support the department’s practice of accepting the ID.” He continued, “it was news to me” that the department’s “willingness to accept the ID went back nearly to the start of Police Chief Jose Lopez’s tenure in Durham.” Mihaich was of a varying opinion. He said, “I wouldn’t have seen a need for council approval.” An effort spearheaded by a group called CHANGE (Commu-

Looking ahead to the next fiscal year, these realities lend some perspective to the budget situation predicted by some to thrust North Carolina into a “dark, crumbling” state of existence. Expiration of the $1.3 billion in state “temporary” tax revenue and $1.6 billion in federal stimulus funds, along with $300 million in one time spending reductions will add up to a $3.2 billion structural deficit. Even holding state revenue and federal funding flat for next year, and subtracting the $3.2 billion structural deficit, total available revenues would come in at $31.7 billion. That total would merely reset total state spending to a level slightly less than fiscal year 2006-07. And for even more perspective about how “underfunded” state programs would be; a total budget of $31.7 billion would still be a full 34 percent higher than 2001-02 expenditures, and virtually twice the spending from just 15 years ago. Dire predictions will be numerous this upcoming legislative session. Just be sure to view the fear mongering in the proper context, and realize how we have arrived in this budget situation in the first place. w Brian Balfour is a policy analyst with the Civitas Institute in Raleigh (www. nccivitas.org)

nities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) in Winston-Salem appears to be using its influence for social change, following suit with Durham. The group’s effort is slightly different in that it’s not directly using MCAS. CHANGE has offered to make identification cards for Winston residents who don’t have any form of identification. Winston-Salem Chief of Police Scott Cunningham held a press conference in late October, prior to the 2010 midterm elections, to tell the community he was open to the idea. In a broadcast news interview, Cunningham said, “When the police interact with these people, it is very difficult to verify their identity if they don’t have anything on them, and it expands the interaction time.” The card, not issued by the government, American or Mexican, will be valid for one year, will have a photo, address and date of birth. He went so far as to say, “There is the possibility that some of the information may be wrong, and we are giving out information to our personnel later this week about how to recognize, utilize and what safety precautions and credibility to give to the card.” In both cases, acceptance of the cards does not change the law. Durham City Council members favored a resolution. A resolution is an opinion. If an illegal immigrant is stopped by Durham City Police, or Winston-Salem City Police, and is carrying a nongovernment issued identification card, the word illegal doesn’t, or shouldn’t change, any legal recourse. w


8

December 2010

nccivitas.org

CAPITOL CONNECTION

Civitas

SCANDAL

Easley Conviction Ends Investigation, Does Not End Questions • BY BOB LUEBKE It was an odd picture. The prosecutor who spent many years putting away criminals and later served as the State’s Attorney General found himself fidgeting in the defendant’s chair and responding to judge’s questions about a plea agreement. So ended the lengthy investigation by state and federal authorities into former two-term Democratic, Gov. Mike Easley. Veteran political watchers felt the investigation would likely end in an indictment and possible jail time for the Governor. Instead, the former Governor admitted to one felony conviction, was fined $1,000 and charged $153 in court costs. After a steady diet of stories on how Easley contributors provided the Governor free campaign flights, a sweetheart land deal at a high-end waterfront development, bargains in home remodeling and car leases, as well as a high paying job for his wife at a public university – all presumably in exchange for political influence – the public was itching for justice. In the end, the public got a plea agreement from former Gov. Easley; one conviction, dropped charges, an end to lengthy investigations and a whole lot of head scratching. Strangely, we’re told that this story is about process and not about what happened. It turned

on missteps, rather than misdeeds. Does anyone think that is a good thing? There are many questions. In an interview after the case, Rowan County District Attorney William Kenerly, who was handling the state’s investigation, acknowledged his courtroom experience was with hard criminals and not politicians. He even offered, “I’ve never dealt with a political case like this before.” No doubt Kenerly’s lack of experience influenced his decision on how to proceed. While many saw it easy to connect the dots, the Republican lawyer saw “hotly contested facts” and “vague statutes.” To be fair, the United States Supreme Court curtailed how state and public officials could prosecute corruption cases under the “honest services” statute. Prosecutors frequently used the statute against politicians and corporate executives who violated their duty to provide “honest services.” After evaluating several high profile white-collar crimes, this summer the Supreme Court tightened the use of the statute when it found the law could not determine when mere “friendships” cross lines into criminal offense. Still, prosecutors’ uncertainty over whether calling Easley to testify before the State Board of Elections granted the former Governor criminal immunity on matters on which he commented was surprising.

Former Gov. Mike Easley entered a plea of guilty to one felony charge of filing a false campaign finance report in November after a lengthy 22-month investigation. Procedural questions remain. Photo: Associated Press

Prosecutors say wrongdoing does not imply criminal activity. Maybe true. But the sheer preponderance of evidence is unsettling. Even more troubling, is the decision to end investigations on matters where the former Governor most likely would have faced indictment. A plea agreement may end the legal proceedings for Easley, however, the decision inspires little confidence in prosecutors, and even less in a legal system that is supposed to serve the interests of justice. w

The Civitas Institute offers training in investigative journalism and exposing government corruption. We hold monthly meetings for those who want to learn more and connect with others to combat public corruption. For more information contact Bob Luebke at 919-834-2099, Ext. 135. Scandal is a regular column in Capitol Connection that will explore public corruption in NC Government. Have a local corruption story? Email us at: corruption@nccivitas. org. or call 919-834-2099.

North Carolina Unemployment Rates by County October 2010

North Carolina Unemployment By County October 2010 | Story on Pg. 5

Alleghany 8.9

Vance Gates Northampton Currituck Stokes Rockingham Caswell Person 11.3 Warren Hertford 6.8 Pasquotank 4.9 11.2 9 10.7 10.9 Granville 10.1 8.5 8.8 8.8 Halifax Wilkes Camden Chowan 9.1 11.3 Yadkin 11.3 6.5 Forsyth 9.4 MitchellAvery Perquimans Bertie Guilford 8.5 OrangeDurham Franklin 8.6 9.3 8.2 8.2 8.7 10.4 9.6 CaldwellAlexander Nash 5.5 6.9 Davie Madison Yancey 11.6 Tyrrell Alamance 12.3 11 Edgecombe Martin Washington 9.7 8.7 14 7.6 Iredell 8.5 9.7 Wake Davidson 10 9.8 Burke McDowell 10.4 7.3 Wilson Dare 10.6 Randolph Chatham Catawba 12 Buncombe Rowan 10.9 Haywood 9.3 10.9 7.5 6.4 Pitt 11.4 7.4 10.9 8 Swain Johnston Lincoln Greene 9.2 Beaufort Lee Montgomery Hyde Cabarrus Graham 10.3 Rutherford 8.9 10.8 9.7 Henderson 11.1 Harnett 10.9 5.9 Wayne 7.7 9.6 Jackson 12.2 Polk 13.2 Stanly Gaston 7.2 Moore 9.8 7.9 Lenoir Mecklenburg Cleveland 10.2 Craven Cherokee Macon 7.3Transylvania 7.1 10.5 8.2 9.8 Pamlico 11.3 8.8 9.7 11.6 Clay 8 8.6 8 9.2 Jones CumberlandSampson Hoke Union Anson Richmond 9.7 7.6 8.6 Duplin 8.8 8.4 11.8 11.1 7.8 Scotland Carteret 14.7 Onslow 7.2 Bladen Robeson 7.3 Pender 10.9 11.3 9.3 Ashe 9.9 Watauga 6.6

Surry 10.1

October 2010

Unemployment 4.9 - 7.2 7.3 - 8.7

Columbus 10.8

New Hanover 8.5 Brunswick 9.8

8.8 - 10.1 10.2 - 12 12.1 - 14.8

Source: Employment Security Commission of North Carolina Data Not Seasonally Adjusted

Profile for Civitas Institute

Civitas Capitol Connection - December 2010  

The December issue of Civitas Capitol Connection, including coverage of the Easley indictment and a recap of the landmark 2010 elections in...

Civitas Capitol Connection - December 2010  

The December issue of Civitas Capitol Connection, including coverage of the Easley indictment and a recap of the landmark 2010 elections in...

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