Shades of Gray: McCrory appointed judge, candidate contributions

According to North Carolina state campaign finance reports 17 candidate contributions have been attributed to Judge Beecher “Gus” Gray since 2008, totaling $12,046 received by 5 candidates. If the reports are correct some would seem to represent violations of the NC Judicial Code of Conduct. Canon 7 of the Code prohibits judges from personally making financial contributions or loans to almost all individuals seeking election to office.

Beecher Reynolds Gray was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory as a Special Superior Court Judge in January 2014, prior to which he had served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Office of Administrative Hearings since 1986. He was sworn in 01/09/2014 for a term ending 01/09/2019. Six of the 17 contributions have been recorded since taking office. The six campaign contributions provided $1,000 to Pat McCrory, $2,650 to Brent Jackson, and $1,000 to Phil Berger Sr. (These six contributions are specifically covered by the Judicial Code of Conduct)*.

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Goodall forms charter school 527 group

Eddie Goodall may have stepped out of the NC charter school media spotlight but he still lurks just behind the curtain. Early February the NC Public Charter Schools Association made a big to-do about Goodall stepping down as executive director and handing the reigns to Lee Teague. Goodall had been president of the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools before leaving to set up and lead the NC Public Charter Schools Association as a competing group. Goodall’s departure was apparently intended to help the two groups, and others, mend fences.

“I think more people will step in the void when I step out,” Goodall said

But Goodall hasn’t gone far. Continue reading

John Skvarla’s Happy Teeth

DENR Secretary John Skvarla grimaced his way through a February 19th press briefing on the Dan River coal ash spill. Only as he walked smartly away from a clamoring press corps, which was chagrined at the briefing’s premature cessation, did he crack a smile, followed by a smirking Tom Reeder, his Water Quality Man Friday. They had promised a press conference that would last as long as there were questions to be asked, but Michael Biesecker of the Associated Press had apparently asked one too many.
SkvarlaSmiling
A disconsolate Skvarla famously urged his besieged staff to “smile, be happy, have fun and enjoy the process – because if we can’t do that we’re all doing the wrong thing”. He even urged them by email to include it as a measurable goal in their Employee Performance Plans. By any public measure Skvarla is failing miserably in this category, though to be fair he and other political appointees may sit around privately laughing at the sorry state of North Carolina’s eroding environmental protections.

Skvarla’s oral fixation manifested itself early as he visited DENR’s disparate divisions and offices to get to know his new underlings. He surprised some managers in conversation with his personal affectation for tooth brushing after lunch, which he claimed put a whole new shine and invigorating outlook on the rest of the working day. It might have been dismissed as personal quirk except that later in the year at a DENR leadership training session, after regaling managers with his life story, personal leadership credo and management mantras, he had staff distribute toothbrushes emblazoned with the DENR logo along with toothpaste for the purpose of invigorating the latter half of every work day.
SkvarlaToothbrush
The inner cynic thinks this was dreamed up, Mad Men style, over mid-day martinis, but it’s entirely plausible that regular preventive maintenance can lead to a better and more productive work environment. Perhaps we could all learn from Skvarla’s happy teeth. Perhaps this could apply equally to the natural environment. How hard could it be? Because, if we can’t have a better natural environment “we’re all doing the wrong thing”.

Chicken nuggets: the downside of downsizing PreK

The Pre-K lunch story from Hoke County has been super-sized into a life of its own, and the umbilical cord connecting it with reality has been severed. Far from being an example of big government intrusion, the incident is really an example of the unintended consequences of short sighted shrinking of government, and de-regulation.

The construction and operation of childcare facilities and K-12 schools bear a deceptive superficial similarity to each other but the statutes, rules and codes governing them are quite different. The differences have chafed public school systems with Pre-K programs to the extent that many of those rules have been relaxed over the years as they apply to such programs in public schools. For example Session Law 2009-123 provided that public school facilities could be used for three and four year old preschool students without modifications normally required for child care facilities. Continue reading

Giving Gerrymandering a Bad Name

Remarks I made at the NC Redistricting Public Hearing – East, at the New Hanover location at UNC Wilmington, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, July 18th, 2011:
Spaghetti NC

My name is Greg Flynn. I live in Raleigh, Wake County but I thought it appropriate to speak at a hearing in Wilmington because it appears there is no part of North Carolina, however remote, that can not be drawn into a Congressional District with Wake County.

Actually I am on vacation but am so disgusted by the State House and Senate redistricting plans released just last week that I took the time to drive here from Topsail to register my concerns.

After my initial laughter at the absurdity of the boundary diagrams, that can charitably be described a resembling an explosion in a spaghetti factory, my concern grew on closer inspection of the delineation, if you can call it that, of the proposed districts. I couldn’t decide if the inspiration was mitochondria or Machiavelli, but the result is the same: Meandering and artificial division that obliterates all sense of civic geography and community place, and who might best represent it.

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