BlueNC has been on the trail of Art Pope for a decade, watching with alarm his steady rise to power and influence. Unable to win his race for lieutenant governor, he took his ball, went home, and decided to buy the government for chump change. You might argue that all the attention we've focused on Mr. Pope has been a waste of time, since he got exactly what he wanted all along. And you'd have a point.
But there's another point too. Unless and until the public is made painfully aware of undue influence, that influence will never dissipate.
In a story July 6 about state budget director Art Pope, The Associated Press erroneously attributed a quote from Pope to Gov. Pat McCrory. It was Pope, not McCrory, who said: "My job is to advise the governor and present information to him that's just not my personal advice ... and once the governor makes a decision, my job is to implement those decisions."
After reading Jim Morrill's article on Thom Tillis this morning, I found myself having deja vu all over again. Could it be possible that the McClatchy news organization in North Carolina is still a wholly owned subsidiary of Variety Wholesalers?
Back in 2006, I reported on the wide gulf between how the the then-independent Charlotte Observer and the News and Observer used Art Pope's Puppetshow for news stories. At the time, the differences were striking and disturbing. Fast forward eight years, with the two papers now under McClatchy ownership, and you'd think things would have improved. And you'd be wrong.
"Art Pope and Nelson Dollar’s latest budget gimmick fails to account for the state’s deteriorating Medicaid situation and could violate North Carolina’s constitutional requirement for a balanced budget,” Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca said in a news release.
In his own news release, Governor Pope responded, "I know you are, but what am I?". Dollar, meanwhile, called a press conference and shot back, "I'm rubber and you're glue Tom!"
Submitted by teddyrooseveltp... on Wed, 06/04/2014 - 7:32am
WRAL is out with the news this morning that the Department of Health and Human Services has blown a $60 million hole in the state's budget. Budget Director Art Pope and DHHS head Aldona Wos issued a press release this morning, revealing that the state had violated Federal guidelines on Medicaid.
During budget meetings earlier this year, Department of Health and Human Services officials guaranteed lawmakers that they had the Medicaid budget under control and that there would be no late-spring surprises from unexpected cost overruns. While this isn't a billing error or computer glitch like those that have plagued the department in the past, it is a nasty fiscal shock that comes in the middle of the budget process.
John Skvarla likes to joke that he was surprised as anyone when Deputy Assistant Governor McCrory named him to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Of course, that's total bullshit. Skvarla had been lobbying for more than a year to land the job, for which he is spectacularly unqualified. His mission? Find a way to gut environmental protections so vultures (like him) can make money trying to fix things after the fact. And that's just what he's doing.
Problem is, almost everything Skvarla is doing undermines federal guidelines for environmental stewardship. He is methodically destroying water and air protections, leaving North Carolina at the mercy of business interests whose only agenda is profit taking.
The latest move to lay out the red carpet for Titan Cement is but the latest in a crush of irresponsible, short-sighted actions that threaten North Carolina's present and future.
I have a confession to make. Once upon a time, Roses in Chapel Hill's University Mall was one of my favorite stores.
I was a financially strapped graduate student, and at Roses, I could find almost any little thing that I needed. I especially liked buying long-sleeve t-shirts there. They cost $5 each, and came in a rainbow of colors. Also, I had a good connections with middle-class folks who worked at this neighborhood store. They were friendly, nice, and knowledgeable.
Indeed, I carried on as a Roses shopper for many years, even after I became successful in business. There was something unpretentious about the store that appealed to me, even as Chapel Hill grew full of itself.
That was more than 10 years ago, back before I became aware of who owned the store and what that owner was doing with the profits he generated.
That was a lifetime ago, back before I knew who Art Pope was.
Remember when I said McCrory would be robbing Peter to pay Paul to fund his half-assed teacher pay plan? Well, the smoke has cleared and the characters have taken the stage. In this little drama, Peter is our once-proud university system. Paul, of course, is a slim slice of our teacher workforce.
It's a sorry situation in which everybody loses, especially the children of North Carolina.
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