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Civitas Capitol Connection

JANUARY 2014 VOL. 6, NO. 1

Inside NC Jobless Rate Dips — p. 4 —

6 New Laws — p. 7 —

IT’S ACADEMIC Profs Complain – and Push Their Radical Agenda

an “abuse of power” that was “unprecedented in our state’s political history.” First, Civitas did not request Nichol’s “personal email correspondence.” The request was for all email correspondence from his official work email address. State employees are routinely instructed that correspondence from state email accounts is a matter of public record. Additionally, our request for public records is materially unrelated to a Nichol column – however scurrilous – in the News & Observer. The two are related only insofar as they brought to mind that the controversial UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity – of which Nichol is the director – had been unresponsive to an earlier public records request that Civitas filed in 2011. The professors’ description of our public records request is incomprehensible because any citizen can request public

Members of SNCF gathered outside the Capitol to urge that Civitas’ open records request be denied.

records, at any time, for any reason. That’s because our democracy relies on transparency to shine the light of public scrutiny on dark corners of our state government. Just this year, public records requests by the Civitas Institute helped to expose multiple instances of corruption and waste in Raleigh. Similarly, public records requests filed by media outlets uncovered scandals in the UNC athletics department. The professors said they were not opposed to trans-

parency or public records requests. Why, then, do they only oppose public records requests by Civitas? The answer, I believe, requires taking a closer look at the organization that produced this letter. Scholars for North Carolina’s Future positions itself as an impartial body of experts. That’s misleading, to say the least. SNCF is an activist organization that advances a far left-wing agenda. The organization was founded earlier this year. Before it was rebranded several months ago,

the organization was called Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina. The organization requires its members to use their academic credentials to influence public discourse: “In order to become a member of the group, academics must commit to performing at least one public activity each year such as writing an OpEd, developing talking points, giving a presentation, serving on a panel, delivering expert testimony to a legislative or administrative body, or CONTINUED on page 6

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee to Speak at CLC U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, one of the staunchest voices for conservative values in Congress, will speak in person to our Conservative Leadership Conference on March 28-29 in Raleigh. Sen. Lee has joined with Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz as well as with other leading conservatives in fighting for limited government and free enterprise. He is also speaking out on new ways for conservative ideas to spread and succeed. His appearance is a great opportunity to hear one of the nation’s most thoughtprovoking advocates for constitutional government. Among other speakers will be radio talk-show host Jason Lewis, well known in North Carolina from his tenure at WBT in Charlotte. Also speaking will be noted writer and economist Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal. 

100 S. Harrington St. Raleigh, NC 27603 Vol. 6, No. 1

Civitas Institute

NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID Permit #231 Winston-Salem, NC

BY francis de luca As the old saying goes, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” But some North Carolina professors have decided that they are neither goose nor gander. In a letter delivered to Gov. Pat McCrory, university professors affiliated with a group called Scholars for North Carolina’s Future [SNCF] wrote: “… We call on [Gov. McCrory] to condemn the Civitas Institute’s demands for six weeks’ worth of personal email correspondence, phone logs, text messages, and calendar entries from [UNC Professor] Gene Nichol … citizens may reasonably infer that a sitting administration is using a private tax-exempt nonprofit organization funded by one of its leading officials to retaliate for criticism of its policies and intimidate future dissent.” The letter went on to say that Civitas’ request for public records from Nichol was

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee

CLC will be March 28-29 in Raleigh. Other exciting events and speakers will be announced soon. For updates or to get your tickets, go to CLC2014.com, or call 919-834-2099.

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January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Trim Jobless Pay, People … Go Get Jobs

BY JIM TYNEN North Carolina has just run an experiment about what happens when unemployment benefits run out. The outcome: Many unemployed people go out and get jobs. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen markedly, and this may be linked to the end of extended unemployment benefits, the Charlotte Observer has reported in an article on research by Wells Fargo Securities economist Mark Vitner. “The state’s unemployment rate started [2013] as one of the highest in the country but has fallen two percentage points from a year ago to 7.4 percent in November, according to state commerce department data,” the newspaper wrote. (For more, turn to page 4.) “The state’s unemployment rate is now 0.4 percentage points higher than the U.S. average, compared with 1.6 percentage points higher in November 2012.” The Washington Post also reported the sharp decline in the jobless rate, from 9.4 in November 2012 to 7.4 in November 2013, adding, “That two-point drop was the steepest decline of any state year over year.”

The General Assembly had petitioned the federal government to allow the state to pay lower unemployment benefits for the extended period, only to be rebuffed by the Washington bureaucrats. Facing a budget crunch, lawmakers decided to let the extended benefits expire in July. Left-wingers predicted doom. I went to

cording to the article, one inference is unemployment “benefits have two impacts on the labor force: They raise the required wage for someone to take a job, and they keep people seeking jobs because it’s a requirement of receiving benefits.” In other words, if you pay people not to work, many will not work — until they can find a great job. Most economists agree with this common-sense idea.

ment dropped by 45,100. To repeat, give people motives to stay home, they will tend to stay home. Give them motives to work, and more will work. This isn’t a knock on people out of work. It is simply to note that rational people respond to incentives. Moreover, extending unemployment pay for too long a time harms the people it’s meant to help. Their skills grow rusty, and the brute fact is that after awhile

some of those Monday protests this summer and heard speakers bewail the terrible fate of those whose extended unemployment benefits were being cut off. Instead, the state’s unemployment rate has sunk. Ac-

Vitner’s study backed up that possibility because the civilian employment in the state climbed by 39,400 over the most recent three months, the newspaper said. In contrast, in the first eight months of the year employ-

employers begin to worry about someone who has been out of work for a long time. Sadly, a long spell of unemployment could turn into permanent joblessness. Moreover, our experience could have lessons for the

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nation as a whole, Vitner wrote. With Washington debating expanded unemployment benefits, he said, “If Congress does not extend them, the same results seen in North Carolina may begin to show up in the national unemployment figures.” On a side note, Vitner did suggest that data may show that some people stopped looking for work, so they aren’t counted in unemployment figures. Times are tough, but that’s another reason for government to support pro-growth policies. Which is what NC is doing. In 2013, a conservativeleaning General Assembly and governor passed a number of reforms that aimed to revive the state’s stagnant economy. The unemployment rate nose-dived. True, correlation is not causation. But it’s a darned interesting coincidence. It seems pretty plain that a business-friendly government encourages businesses – and it’s businesses that hire people. North Carolina has embarked on a bold venture to boost prosperity. Already the results are encouraging. Surely political opponents will continue to attack these efforts. As with unemployment benefits, it’s vital for the state to stick with policies that in the long run really work. 

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January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Easy Steps for Keeping Poor People Poor

3

BY brian balfour many costly regulations on businesses. Such restrictions discourage businesses from starting or expanding, meaning fewer job openings for those most in need of opportunity. And mountains of red tape force businesses to expend scarce resources on compliance costs rather than investing in their businesses and creating jobs. If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would supIf I wanted to keep poor people poor, there are several government policies I would favor. For starters, I would advocate for a robust and ever-expanding welfare state. Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, etc.? Perfect poverty traps. I would recognize that a perfect recipe for keeping poor people poor is to create incentives that push them into decisions that will prevent them from climbing out of poverty. Case in point: Earlier this year the Fiscal Research Division of NC’s General Assembly provided an analysis of the decisions confronting individuals and families enrolled in various government welfare programs. The results were telling. For instance, a single mother with two children ages 1 and 4 earning $15,000 a year through work would be eligible for government benefits equivalent to roughly an additional $35,000. Such a scenario puts this woman in a bind. Should she find an opportunity for a better job paying more or to work more hours in her current job to earn more money, she risks losing substantial amounts of benefits for her family. Indeed, just to break even after taxes, she would need to find work paying about $55,000 a year. Not many low-skilled workers can make such a leap. This scenario is commonly referred to as the welfare cliff. Fear of falling off that cliff is a perfectly rational attitude, but it also serves as a highly effective tool to trap people in a life of poverty.

If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would also finance the welfare state poverty trap through punitive taxes on the job and wealth creators of society. The key ingredient to economic growth, and thus a higher standard of living for society’s poor, is through productivity gains made possible by capital investment. High marginal taxes on profitable companies and small businesses alike discourage capital investment. As businesses decide to either not expand or take their businesses to friendlier areas, job opportunities dry up. If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would advocate for higher minimum wages. The law of supply and demand tells us that the higher the price of a good or service, the less it will be demanded. Higher minimum wages will price more and more low-skilled people (especially young minorities) out of the labor market. Such laws are an effective tool to cut off the bottom rung of the career ladder for those most in need of establishing work experience to help themselves climb out of poverty. If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would support government “green energy” initiatives that make energy more expensive. Such initiatives mean that – in the words of President Obama – utility bills “necessarily skyrocket.” Poor people trying to scrape by just to stay even, let alone get ahead, can scarcely afford higher electricity bills. If I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would see to it that government imposes

port stimulus and “quantitative easing” policies under which the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air. The inflated money supply erodes the value of the dollars sitting in your wallet or bank account. The poor are hit hardest by this inflation because their limited skill set makes it far more difficult for their incomes to keep up with the rising cost of living. Moreover, devaluing

the dollar erodes the value of any savings the poor may set aside to help them climb out of poverty. In short, if I wanted to keep poor people poor, I would fully support the liberal “progressive” agenda that has been carried out for decades and indeed ramped up during the last five years. A version of this article appeared in the Charlotte Observer on Jan. 1. 

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NC Voter Petition to Fight Common Core Standards Common Core education standards are harmful to children, erode parental rights and local control and in many cases do not represent an improvement in existing academic standards. I ask the NC legislature to withdraw the state of North Carolina from participation in the program.

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January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

2008-2013 Unemployment Rate Comparison

Unemployment Update

NC Jobless Rate Plunges From Nov. ’12 to Nov. ’13 BY lee brett North Carolina continues to show promising indicators of significant economic recovery. The Employment Security Commission, which tracks unemployment figures for the state, released figures for November 2013. These most recent numbers show that North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is now 7.4 percent. That is a drop of 2 percentage points since last November. When not adjusted for seasonal fluctuation, the unemployment rate is even lower – 6.9 percent. Compared to other states, North Carolina’s unemployment figures continue to improve. Last summer, the Tar Heel State had the thirdhighest unemployment in the country. Now, North Carolina is ranked 35th. This is a marked improvement for only a few months’ span.

Since February 2010, unemployment rates have dropped from a statewide peak of 11.3 percent (seasonally adjusted). Analysis of unemployment rates in North Carolina’s 100 counties also shows positive changes. Sixteen counties now have unemployment rates (not adjusted for seasonal fluctuation) at 6 percent or lower. Only six counties have unemployment that is higher than 10 percent. Orange County, Chatham County, and Polk County have the lowest unemployment at 4.3, 4.6, and 4.9 percent, respectively. Scotland County, Edgecombe County, and Graham County have the highest unemployment at 13.5, 12, and 11.8 percent, respectively. However, even the worst-off counties have shown marked improvement. In July, for example,

Scotland County had 16.1 percent unemployment. Unemployment in North Carolina’s major metropolitan areas is consistent with the increasingly healthy unemployment picture around the state. The metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment are Asheville and Durham-Chapel Hill (5.8 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively). These figures appear higher compared to county figures because they are adjusted for seasonal fluctuation, whereas the county figures are not. Only one metropolitan area has an unemployment rate that exceeds 10 percent: Rocky Mount has 10.8 percent unemployment. Rocky Mount has consistently had the highest unemployment among metropolitan areas, but its unemployment rate has fallen steadily throughout 2013. All told, the job situation is looking up in the Old North State. 

5  Years  of  Unemployment  in  North  Carolina   12.0%  

Unemployment Reform Implemented in NC

11.0%  

10.0%  

9.0%  

8.0%  

Nov-­‐13  

Jul-­‐13  

Sep-­‐13  

May-­‐13  

Jan-­‐13  

Mar-­‐13  

Nov-­‐12  

Jul-­‐12  

Sep-­‐12  

May-­‐12  

Jan-­‐12  

Mar-­‐12  

Nov-­‐11  

Jul-­‐11  

Sep-­‐11  

May-­‐11  

Jan-­‐11  

United  States  

Mar-­‐11  

Nov-­‐10  

Jul-­‐10  

Sep-­‐10  

May-­‐10  

Jan-­‐10  

Mar-­‐10  

Nov-­‐09  

Jul-­‐09  

Sep-­‐09  

May-­‐09  

Jan-­‐09  

Mar-­‐09  

6.0%  

Nov-­‐08  

7.0%  

County

10-08 11-13

County

10-08 11-13

Alamance

7.1

6.7

Johnston

6.1

6

Alexander

7.9

6.6

Jones

6.8

7.7

Alleghany

6.6

7.5

Lee

8.2

8.8

Anson

9.5

8.2

Lenoir

7.8

7.9

Ashe

6.3

8.1

Lincoln

7.2

7.1

Avery

5.6

8.2

Macon

5.3

7.2

Beaufort

7.3

8.4

Madison

5.7

5.3

Bertie

7.5

9.4

Martin

6.9

8.2

Bladen

8.1

10.2

Mcdowell

8.1

7.9

Brunswick

6.9

7.9

Mecklenburg

6.6

7.1

Buncombe

5.1

5.1

Mitchell

7.7

8.9

Burke

8.6

7.7

Montgomery

8.3

8

Cabarrus

6.4

6.2

Moore

6.4

6.6

Caldwell

8.3

7.5

Nash

8.6

8.9

Camden

5.4

6.8

New Hanover

5.4

6.7

Carteret

5

6.4

Northampton

7.7

8.5

Caswell

8.2

6.8

Onslow

5.8

6.6

Catawba

7.9

7.8

Orange

4.2

4.3

Chatham

5.5

4.6

Pamlico

5.7

8.7

Cherokee

8.7

9.1

Pasquotank

6.4

9.1

Chowan

8.5

8.2

Pender

6.4

8.1

6

6.6

Perquimans

6.7

7.9

Clay Cleveland

8.5

7.6

Person

7.3

7.1

Columbus

8.1

9.1

Pitt

7

6.9

Craven

6.2

7.9

Polk

5

4.9

Cumberland

6.8

8.1

Randolph

6.7

6.7

Currituck

3.6

5.7

Richmond

9.5

9.6

Dare

4.2

8.4

Robeson

8.1

10.1

Davidson

7.4

7.3

Rockingham

7.9

8

Davie

6.9

6.3

Rowan

7.2

7.1

Duplin

5.9

7.6

Rutherford

8.7

9.3

Durham

5.4

5.3

Sampson

5.4

6.5

Edgecombe

11.4

12

Scotland

11.7

13.5

Forsyth

6.3

6.5

Stanly

7

6.7

Franklin

6.7

6.3

Stokes

6.1

6.2

Gaston

7.7

7.6

Surry

8.3

7.4

Gates

5.2

5.7

Swain

5.5

9.5

Graham

8.2

11.8

Transylvania

5

6.8

Granville

7

7

Tyrrell

6

8.1

Greene

7

6.5

Union

6

5.8

Guilford

6.7

7.2

Vance

9.8

9.6

Halifax

9.7

10.5

Wake

5

5.3

Harnett

7.1

7.9

Warren

9.7

9.3

Haywood

5.7

5.8

Washington

7.2

9.3

Henderson

5.1

5.1

Watauga

4.1

5.7

Hertford

6.6

7.8

Wayne

6.3

7

Hoke

6.3

8.3

Wilkes

8.2

7.8

Hyde

4.6

7.8

Wilson

7.9

9.5

Iredell

6.5

6.9

Yadkin

6.1

5.7

Jackson

4.3

5.9

Yancey

7.2

8

North  Carolina    

Alleghany Gates Camden Ashe Northampton 7.5 Surry Vance Warren 6.8 Currituck Stokes Rockingham Caswell Person 5.7 8.1 8.5 9.3 7.4 9.6 Hertford 6.2 5.7 8.0 6.8 7.1 Watauga Halifax Granville Perquimans Wilkes 7.8 5.7 10.5 7.0 7.9 Pasquotank 7.8 Yadkin Orange Forsyth Bertie 9.1 Franklin Guilford Chowan 5.7 Mitchell Avery 4.3 Durham 6.5 9.4 Alexander 8.2 Alamance 6.3 7.2 8.2 8.9 Caldwell Nash 6.6 5.3 Davie 6.7 Madison Yancey Tyrrell 7.5 8.9 Edgecombe Iredell Washington 6.3 Martin 12.0 5.3 8.1 8.0 Wake Davidson 6.9 9.3 Chatham 8.2 McDowell Burke 5.3 Randolph 7.3 Wilson Dare Catawba 4.6 7.7 Buncombe 7.9 Rowan 6.7 9.5 8.4 Haywood Pitt 7.8 5.1 7.1 5.8 Swain Johnston Lincoln Greene 6.9 Rutherford Beaufort Lee Hyde Graham 9.5 6.0 Cabarrus Wayne 6.5 7.1 9.3 8.4 8.8 Harnett Montgomery Henderson 7.8 11.8 Jackson 6.2 Stanly 7.0 Polk ClevelandGaston 8.0 5.1 Moore 7.9 5.9 Transylvania Lenoir Cherokee 4.9 7.6 6.7 7.6 Mecklenburg Craven Macon 6.6 6.8 Pamlico 7.9 9.1 Clay 7.1 7.9 7.2 8.7 Hoke 6.6 Jones Cumberland Union 8.3 NC Counties Anson Richmond 7.7 8.1 Duplin 5.8 9.6 Sampson 8.2 7.6 Scotland Nov 2013 Unemployment 6.5 Carteret 13.5 6.4 Onslow 4.3 - 6.0 Bladen Robeson 6.6 Pender 10.2 10.1 6.1 - 7.3 8.1

7.31 - 9.0

9.1 - 10.5 10.51 - 13.5

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Columbus 9.1

New Hanover 6.7 Brunswick 7.9

*Data is from the North Carolina Department of Commerce Labor and Economic Analysis Division


January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Freedom Is

March 28-29 Raleigh Marriot Crabtree Valley Join with other defenders of free enterprise and limited government to learn how to advance conservative ideals. Come hear U.S. Sen. Mike Lee and other dynamic speakers at this two-day event designed to educate and empower you on how we can lead our state to greatness. Don’t wait. CLC sold out last year, and you won’t want to miss this year’s event. Mail in the form below, or go to CLC2014.com or call 919-834-2099.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee

CLC 2014 REGISTRATION FORM

Please fill out this form in its entirety. To submit, cut out and mail to CLC 2014 c/o Civitas Institute, 100 S Harrington St., Raleigh, NC 27603

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*Your phone number will only be used in case of a question concerning your registration and your tickets will be sent to your email. These fields are required for a successful registration.

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Questions Linger on Prisoner Home Leave

BY angela hight Murder victims’ families can now worry less about seeing their loved one’s killer in the community. After Civitas and district attorneys across the state exposed problems with the Home Leave Program this summer, changes were made to the program. Now that the policy manual has been updated, people need to know what the changes amount to. Perhaps the two most significant changes are: No sex offenders can qualify for the program, and anyone with a life sentence cannot qualify unless he or she has a release date set. These are great steps and give the public a little more confidence in the system. But one would think that the public would have even more confidence if the program were to apply also to convicted murderers with sentences of less than life who have release dates set. That would ensure that leaves would be granted only to those who will soon be released and might benefit from a gradual transition back into life outside of prison. There are other changes and aspects of the program that are important to consider – but at the same time leave questions unanswered.

1. An inmate who is in minimum custody level III and has maintained this status for a minimum of 90 days and is within 12 months of a projected release date is eligible for consideration for home leave. What exactly is a “projected” release date? Does this mean if you are denied parole you can still qualify for the program?

2. A qualified sponsor must be an immediate family member, which is defined as mother, father, husband, wife, adult daughter, adult son, adult brother, adult sister, foster parents, or other person who has acted in the place of parents where such relationships can be verified. (“Adult” refers to 21 years of age or older). Are prisoners from out of state eligible for the program? While there are still questions about the Home Leave Program, now fewer families won’t be seeing their loved one’s murderer in the community before the sentence has been served. Peg Dorer of the NC Conference of District Attorneys said, “The most important change I think is that they are to notify victims before the inmate gets approved for home leave and then they get notified again when they actually are released. The DA’s offices are also notified. Another significant change to be noted would be that offenders sentenced to life are no longer eligible for home leave.” 

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January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Bill Moyers Program: Portrait of a Hit Piece BY FRANCIS DE LUCA Bill Moyers – for many years an advocate on television for liberal causes -- recently gave North Carolina a lesson in how to disguise bias

One figure is William Barber, head of the state NAACP, shown leading the “Moral Monday” protests. In a glaring omission, the program

fies the angry rhetoric, such as leading the crowds in chants: “We fight! We fight! We fight!” But what is it they fight for? A Civitas inquiry led us

NC NAACP leader William Barber

and distortions as news. Let’s look at just a few of the liberal activists who appear in the Moyers & Company program “North Carolina: Battleground State,” which claimed to document a conservative takeover of the state.

portrays Barber as a moralistic crusader while neglecting to mention the more than $1 million in taxpayer funds secured by Barber’s nonprofit over the years. The program doesn’t even question how someone in clerical garb justi-

to dub the events “Money Mondays.” A coalition of liberal groups called Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) organized the protests. A Civitas study showed that HKonJ-affiliated groups have received more than $100

million in direct state grants in recent years. “Battleground State” ignores the question of whether taxpayer funding compromised the groups’ integrity as the arbitrators of what is “moral.” Another of Moyers’ mouthpieces is New Yorker writer Jane Mayer. Her 2011 piece on businessman and philanthropist Art Pope, we noted at the time, was “a mere hit piece, similar to her earlier piece on Koch Industries. This isn’t reporting. It’s an attempt to distort facts to fit one’s reality.” In the Moyers video, she continued her attacks on Pope, now the governor’s budget director. Mayer says of Pope’s involvement in campaigns, “It’s as if somebody had looked at the map in every single district and figured out what it would take to get Republican control.” Does she think Democrats didn’t try to do the same? Turning to the “Battleground” attacks on Republicans in 2013, inconvenient facts keep cropping up. For instance, Sue Sturgis of the leftist Institute for Southern Studies moans, “One of the things that particularly upset people is we saw cuts to long-term unemployment assistance.” Whoops! In November, statistics showed that, since the 2012 election, North Carolina’s unemployment rate had dropped 2 full percentage points. And a bank economist produced a study showing that the trimming of longterm unemployment benefits may have pushed people to go back to work.

“Battleground State” also tries to confuse viewers about health care. Dr. Charles van der Horst, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine, criticizes a state budget “cut” for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. “The Art Pope budget cuts $8 million from ADAP,” Moyers intones. But as a legislative fiscal brief revealed, “Due to increased federal receipts for this program, ADAP pharmaceutical purchases are projected to be $5 million more in FY 2013-14 than in the FY 2012-13 budget.” [Italics added.] And more people will get the drugs. Is Dr. van der Horst an impartial expert? No, he got himself arrested at the Monday protests. He also has a long record of donating political money (over $34,000) to President Obama and Democrats. A newspaper doesn’t have room for all the other distortions, evasions and downright falsehoods the program purveys. But we want to point out that “Battleground State” has precious little from the other side. True, I get a few minutes (quickly followed by rebuttals). Yet almost all the others on the program are Monday protestors, partisan politicians, liberal activists or writers with an ideological ax to grind. Moyers created a one-sided, misleading portrayal of North Carolina. A robust discussion of the real issues of 2014 would benefit everyone. It’s too bad “Battleground State” can only muster up clichés and falsehoods in service of the liberal agenda. 

Profs Complain — and Push Radical Agenda CONTINUED from page 1

reviewing research related to the work of SNCF affiliates.” So who are those affiliates? Let’s see: Duke CLASS Center: This ultra-liberal center at Duke “explores the … important question of social sustainability: how the quality of jobs and working people’s collective power – or lack thereof – affect individual well-being, social health, and democracy itself.”

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The center is closely tied to unions like the AFL-CIO. NC Justice Center/Progressive Voices/Progressive Pulse: The North Carolina Justice Center is a liberal policy organization. Along with its media wing, the Progressive Pulse, the Justice Center calls itself the “state’s preeminent voice for economic, social, and political justice.” It publishes left-leaning articles in a column called Progressive Voices.

After examining the source of this complaint against Civitas, it seems hard not to conclude that either these professors are so deluded that they think public records requests do not apply to taxpayer-paid academics, or they are cynically seizing on another opportunity to attack and “eviscerate” conservatives across the state. In either case, our records request will remain in force. 

Most SNCF members are anything but impartial. Twelve of the signers of the letter condemning Civitas, for example, were also signatories of the infamous “Group of 88” ad that falsely accused Duke lacrosse players of racism and sexual assault.


January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Civitas Poll Six New NC Laws You Looks at Views Should Know About on Leaders BY francis de luca RALEIGH – The latest Civitas Poll provides insights on North Carolina’s political scene.

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BY brian balfour The 2013 North Carolina state legislative session was a memorable one. The passage of historic and long-overdue reforms to state taxes, election laws and education made headlines throughout the year. This article is not intended to recap those highly publicized laws, but rather is an opportunity to highlight a half-dozen new laws that received far less, if any, media attention.

NC Direction Fifty-seven percent of respondents think the state is headed on the wrong track; less than a third think it’s headed in the right direction. Those are the most pessimistic figures since our July 2012 poll.

Legislature Asked which party’s candidate they’d favor if the election for the state General Assembly were held today, 39 percent choose the generic Republican, and 42 percent choose the generic Democrat.

Health Care Fifty-three percent oppose of respondents oppose the Affordable Care Act; 44 percent of respondents support it.

President Obama President Obama’s job approval rating remains under water: 54 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. Forty-five percent approved.

54% Disapprove 45% Approve

State Legislative Building

House Bill 392 Drug Testing Benefits House Bill 392 requires county social services employees to conduct background checks on all applicants for Work First benefits and food stamps to ensure they’re not parole/probation violators or have outstanding felony warrants. Adult recipients whom the DHHS reasonably suspects are engaged in the illegal use of controlled substances will be required to do a drug test. The cost of the initial drug test is absorbed by the state. If an individual fails the test and wishes to have a retest, the individual may submit additional test(s) at their own expense. If an adult applicant fails a drug test, their children will not be affected by any results.

House Bill 4 UI Fund Solvency & Program Changes HB 4 makes adjustments to North Carolina’s unemployment insurance (UI) program. Specifically, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit will be lowered from $535 (fifth highest in the nation) to $350 (still higher than all other Southeast states, except Virginia). Furthermore, the state UI program’s maximum duration for benefits is scaled back from 26 weeks to a sliding scale ranging from 12 to 20 weeks, dependent upon the unemployment rate at the time. These changes (among several other adjustments to UI) were made in response to the $2.8 billion the state borrowed from the federal government beginning in 2009 to cover UI benefits. Under the new program, the debt will be paid back about four years earlier, saving an estimated $400 million in interest payments.

Bill 248 Taxpayer Debt Information Act Gov. Pat McCrory The governor has a dead-even rating: 45 percent approve of the job he’s doing, 45 disapprove.

45% Disapprove

45% Approve

HB 248 requires that local bond referendums include both the total principle amount of the bond plus the anticipated interest to repay the bond on the ballot. Until now, such ballots were only required to disclose the principal amount of the bond, painting an incomplete picture for voters.

House Bill 937 Amend State Firearms Laws HB 937 dramatically expanded protections for gun rights in North Carolina. The new law allows North Carolinians with valid concealed-carry permits to protect themselves in several areas that were previously gun-free zones, including restaurants that sell alcohol, greenways, and establishments that charge admission. All told, this law is a major step toward restoring gun rights in North Carolina.

House Bill 269 Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant HB 269 creates new grants to replace the current tax credit program. Grants can be used to reimburse tuition, special education and related services for eligible children. Changing the tax credit to a scholarship grant will increase the number of children with disabilities who will benefit from school choice. Grants cannot exceed $3,000 per semester. The individual grant amount is determined by a family’s expenses and is not limited by a family’s tax liability.

House Bill 74 Regulatory Reform Act of 2013 ----------------------------------This poll of 600 registered voters in North Carolina was conducted Dec. 4-8 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, N.J. The margin of error was plus/minus 4 percent.

HB 74 offers up a wide-ranging overhaul of state regulations, aiming to weed out obsolete or burdensome red tape. At the heart of the bill is a “sunset” process to ensure that every state regulation is reviewed regularly and that unneeded rules are repealed. The process begins with the State Rules Review Commission reviewing all state regulations and establishing a date for its expiration, or sunset. After this initial review process, state agencies will be required to review and justify their regulations, or else they will be allowed to sunset. 

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January 2014 Civitas Capitol Connection

Scandal BY bob luebke It is unlikely the Siler City household of Keith and Deb McManus was filled with much holiday spirit this year. On Dec. 11, Deb McManus, the freshman Democratic representative from Lee and Chatham counties, resigned her legislative seat literally hours after being charged by the North Carolina Department of Revenue with three counts of embezzlement of state property. McManus worked for Carolina Family Practice, a practice run by her husband, Dr. Keith McManus. A Dec. 16 press release from the North Carolina Department of Revenue charged that McManus, as bookkeeper of the business, “aided and abetted the corporation to embezzle, misapply and convert to its own use $47,369.00 in North Carolina Individual Income Tax withheld during the period January 2011 through July 2013.” McManus was released on a $150,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear on Feb. 6 in Wake County District Court. Curiously, the Department of Revenue press release made no mention of McManus’ service as a state legislator. It also made no mention of charges against McManus’ husband. Dr. Keith McManus founded Carolina Family Practice more than 20 years ago. He also teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill’s nursing school and medical school. The practice was sold in November to FirstHealth of the

Allegations Spur Rep. McManus Resignation — and Questions immediately clear who will take McManus’ seat. Democratic Party leaders in Chatham and Lee counties have scheduled a meeting Jan. 24 to discuss nominees to fill the rest of McManus’ term, which runs through the end of 2014. The nomination will be submitted to Gov. Pat McCrory, who will make the formal appointment to fill the remainder of the term. According to reports, several people have already expressed their interest in the appointment. Robert Reives II, a Sanford attorney, and Kathie Russell, a former member of the Chatham County School Board, have

Ex-Rep. Deb McManus

Carolinas, which renamed it FirstHealth Family Medicine, but McManus continues to practice there. Press reports state Deb McManus was surprised by the charges. She said she had been working with the Department of Revenue on resolving the issue. Elliott Abrams of the Raleigh law firm Cheshire, Parker, Schneider and Bryan is representing McManus. Abrams said he will be reviewing the evidence and discussing the matter with the Attorney General’s Office. At this time the felony charges are mere allegations. However, McManus’ resignation underlines the seriousness of the case. The resignation preempts her removal from office. According to state law, legislators convicted of felony charges automatically

lose their right to vote and hold elected public office. Since the amount in question is less than $100,000, McManus will face a Class F felony pending any further developments. With no prior convictions, if she is found guilty, she could be sentenced to about a year in prison or placed on supervised probation — which could include a mix of confinement and probation, or house arrest or community service. Prior to winning a seat in the legislature, McManus served for 10 years on the Chatham County Board of Education, serving as chair and vice chair. While in the General Assembly, McManus was a member of the agriculture, education, elections and finance committees. The legislature is scheduled to reconvene May 14. It is not

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yer and newspaper publisher from Pittsboro who ran against McManus in 2012. Practical concerns aside, the facts surrounding this case still raise at least two additional questions that deserve answers. First, why did the Department of Revenue release a statement on the charges if — as McManus has stated — she was working with the department about resolving the issue? Second, the allegations make no mention of Dr. McManus. Does that mean he’s not a subject of the investigation and has been cleared? The press release is mum on those issues, and so far state offi-

“...why did the Department of Revenue release a statement on the charges if — as McManus has stated — she was working with the department about resolving the issue?” submitted their names for consideration to party officials. Others that have been mentioned include Cedric Blade of Siler City; James Heymen, a psychologist from Pittsboro; Tim Weiner, a Siler City doctor; and Jeffrey Starkweather, a retired law-

cials haven’t provided many clear answers. No doubt these questions will get answered and the people of Lee and Chatham counties will get representation. But until then there will be a lot of curious North Carolinians. 

Scandal is a regular column in Civitas Capitol Connection that will explore public corruption in NC Government. Have a local corruption story? Email corruption@nccivitas.org or call 919.834.2099.


Civitas Capitol Connection January 2014