NEWS & OBSERVER September 2, 2012
Staff writers John Frank, David Menconi and Bruce Siceloff
Gov. Bev Perdue will play hostess in chief this week with the world look at North Carolina amid the Democratic convention. Her tentative schedule started with four national cable news interviews Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union”.
On Monday, after rehearsing for her opening remarks on the convention’s first day, Perdue is tentatively scheduled to appear on MSNBC for separate interviews with Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews. And later in the week, she will appear on MSNBC again for an interview with Chuck Todd.
But one major N.C. Democratic face you won’t see on TV: state party Chairman David Parker, officials said. (The less he’s seen the better, some Democrats privately say.)
Parker is still toxic after a sexual harassment scandal rocked the party earlier this year. At the time, national party officials described Parker as “a man without a part,” but he survived repeated calls for his resignation and remains at the helm.
That said, Perdue has her own issues: unpopularity and former campaign aides indicted after an investigation into her 2008 election effort.
The musical lineup for the big event includes James Taylor; Foo Fighters; Mary J. Blige; Earth, Wind & Fire; Delta Rae; Inspire the Fire; Marc Anthony (singing the national anthem).
Ledisi, DJ Cassidy and Durham resident Branford Marsalis are among the acts performing earlier in the week.
GOP elite crash DNC party
The Republican convention in Florida continues – at least in part – this week in Charlotte as the party seeks to counter the Democratic message.
About 50 high-profile operatives and surrogates for presidential candidate Mitt Romney are coming from Tampa to North Carolina to run a GOP war room not far from the Democratic convention at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Among the expected surrogates: N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, a former congressman and friend of VP candidate Paul Ryan; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida; and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
New executive decision looms
Republican legislative leaders are in tune with the concerns of Democrat Gene Conti, who complained this week that he is underpaid as the state’s transportation secretary.
That’s why they amended the state budget this year to give North Carolina’s next governor new power to set salaries for non-elected state department heads.
“These agencies have gotten huge in terms of budget and responsibility,” said state Sen. Richard Stevens of Cary, one of the Senate’s chief budget-writers.
Conti said he took a big pay cut in 2009 when he gave up a private-sector job to take charge of DOT, with its $4 billion budget and 12,000 employees. Stevens agreed with Conti that the statutory salary limit – $121,807 this year for the heads of DOT and seven other agencies – could make it hard for the state to attract the best administrators.
So whoever wins the November election to succeed retiring Gov. Bev Perdue will have the authority to set these salaries, starting in the fiscal year that begins in July 2013.
“Either Gov. Dalton or Gov. McCrory, we think, will need the flexibility to bring in the best-qualified people to run these agencies,” Stevens said. “We think the state will be better off at the end of the day. We did not provide additional money for this. If the next governor pays the health and human services secretary double what the current secretary is making, he’ll have to find that money elsewhere in the budget,” Stevens commented.