Pete's Prep: Friday, March 16, 2018

On today's show..

We'll talk with NC Rep. Chuck McGrady about a legislative committee studying whether to create a regional water system here.

He's been making the rounds to local elected bodies:

McGrady said when he suggested the study, the state treasurer’s office and Department of Environmental Quality told him he’d hit on a big issue. The treasurer’s office, he said, was concerned about finances. “Some of these systems are not sustainable,” McGrady said. “They estimate that somewhere between 30 and 60 municipalities [and counties] across the state … are functionally bankrupt because of their water and sewer systems.”

Of course, the issue is fraught with political peril, as it was the consolidation of Asheville's water system with the Buncombe County Metropolitan Sewerage District that prompted outrage a few years ago.

Some developments in the Asheville PD beating case


Mr. Jackson's odd news conference

The Democratic leader in the NC House of Representatives called a news conference to defend the Governor's attempt to create a $57.8 million "side deal" with energy companies building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. But House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) also says the records surrounding the deal should be released to the public.

To prove everything was above board.

Which is he is certain it was.

Because it's Governor Roy Cooper.

From the Carolina Journal:

Jackson, flanked by state Reps. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, and Bobbie Richardson, D-Franklin, at a news conference Thursday, March 15, blamed Republicans for shattering the governor’s plan to create jobs in economically challenged eastern North Carolina.

When pressed, he acknowledged, “I have not seen a study specifically [about jobs for] rural North Carolina [linked to] the pipeline project.”

Republicans said the side deal was unconstitutional because the General Assembly controls spending - not the executive branch. The GOP allocated the money to schools in the counties where the pipeline would be erected.

But Jackson argued:

The Governor's plan would create jobs -- even though he saw no study showing it would do so.

The Governor was not acting nefariously when he negotiated the side deal -- which is why all the records should be made public.

The Governor was acting within his constitutional authority when he made the deal -- except...

Jackson hesitated to say he would support a future Republican governor using Cooper’s pipeline fund as a precedent to set up a side deal for collecting state money, and assuming authority for how it would be spent, cutting the General Assembly out of the process. He said it was a hypothetical question, and particular details would matter.

Particular details are exactly what was missing from Gov. Cooper's pipeline side deal.

Who thought holding this press conference was a good idea?

The President of the conservative Civitas Institute think tank said the slush fund could be considered an illegal gift under the State Government Ethics Act’s gift ban.

Bryson filed a complaint on February 14 with the North Carolina Ethics Commission. This complaint requests the Ethics Board issue an opinion regarding Governor Roy Cooper’s recent decision to join into a Memorandum of Understanding with Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. Civitas requests that special attention be given to the details surrounding the $57.8 million “slush fund.”

Bryson continued, “Furthermore, there are questions about what law or section of the State Constitution gave Governor Cooper the authority to exact $58 million from a private entity. If Rep. Jackson believes the governor was acting within his power, he should cite which element of the Constitution or specific law gives the governor that power. I can’t seem to find that authority in Articles III or V of the State Constitution.”

In response, the NC Democratic Party communications director attacked Civitas:

Robert Howard's Civitas tweet

He deleted the tweet.

NC GOP consultant says the "Blue Wave" is real

Brant Clifton over at The Daily Haymaker got his virtual hands on an e-mail to Republican candidates - and you could hear Democrats on Jones Street popping the champagne almost immediately.

From the News & Observer:

Democrat Conor Lamb on Tuesday won a special election for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, an area Republican President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points less than two years ago. The next morning, a staffer for NC state House Republicans warned GOP representatives in an email that they would not only lose their supermajority but would lose complete control of the House if North Carolina Democrats replicate Lamb's success in Pennsylvania.

The email circulated by Matt Bales, political director for the GOP House Caucus, was postedon The Daily Haymaker, a conservative blog. Bales listed 23 incumbent House Republicans in districts that might be considered safe but that supported Trump in 2016 by 20 points or less. 

The North Carolina Democratic Party pounced quickly, circulating a newsletter that highlighted the "leaked email" and boasted of the party's momentum.

Clifton had a bit of a different take on the motive behind the email. Namely -- money.

I have it on good authority that House GOP members are not donating to the caucus like they have in prior cycles.  It apparently gets real old handing over the fruits of your fundraising labors to the various and sundry “consultants” and hangers-on who leech on to leadership (when  you could be using the money to get yourself reelected, like you told the donors you would). 

What else?


And finally.... Happy Friday!

(Press play on the video)

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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