Unemployment drops for better or worse
Here’s some news—the jobless rate in North Carolina plummeted last month, from 7.4 percent to 6.9 percent in December. Is that good? Depends on who you ask. Both Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Tom Tillis would like you to think so, labeling the change as part of a “Carolina Comeback” sprouting from their smart Republican policies. But economists across the state are offering different perspective. According to several quoted in this Raleigh News Observer report, the labor force in North Carolina actually shrunk in the past year, allowing the jobless rate to drop while barely changing the total number of unemployed persons. That’s kinda sobering. Ironically, McCrory’s rhetorical tactics are similar to those adopted by the White House in response to drops in the national unemployment rate, which have been subsequently bashed by Washington Republicans. Wild.
Shelved development equals record-short meeting
It had all the makings of an epic showdown, but this week’s Asheville City Council meeting turned out to by 19 minutes of nothing major. Council members had planned to weigh the merits of a controversial 16-unit development on Chestnut Street, only to see the proposal withdrawn a week before amid strong neighborhood opposition. With snow mercilessly blanketing the city and frantic commuters scrambling to get home, Mayor Esther Manheimer defiantly declared the group would not be canceling “because of a few inches.” True leadership.
Turner at the starting line
If political campaign kickoff events are your thing, have we got one for you! Democrat Brian Turner kicks off his effort to unseat state Rep. Tim Moffitt Saturday, and he wants you to be there. The event, which will be held at the Holiday Inn on Smokey Park Highway from 6 to 9 p.m., is “non-partisan” and open to the public. Before announcing his candidacy, Turner worked as an Assistant Vice Chancellor at UNCA.
Cooper ready to reclaim North Carolina
How many more years till 2016? Two-too-many if you’re N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper, who has all but announced a gubernatorial bid to unseat Gov. Pat McCrory, seems ready to run now. This week, Cooper released a three-minute online video announcing plans to build a movement “to take back North Carolina from those who are doing so much harm.” After a newsreel of clips highlighting last year’s controversial Republican-led policies (including the Daily Show comments from Buncombe County’s own Don Yelton), Cooper casts himself as a voice of reason. It’s a real soother. More here.
McHenry king of crowdfunding
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry continues to make a name for himself in the world of crowdfunding—the concept behind platforms like Kickstarter which allows upstart companies and nonprofits to raise capital. In a Huffington Post piece this week, the congressman was hailed for backing the concept with his recent JOBS Act legislation, instead of “caving to special interests and Washington bureaucrats.” McHenry is scheduled to speak at a crowdfunding conference in San Diego on Friday, and has been sharing links to recent articles which highlight crowdfunding success stories from his Twitter feed. Perhaps he can find a new way to crowdfund money for his next campaign?
Burr pitches Obamacare alternative
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr pre-empted President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week, by putting forward what Forbes called “the most thoughtful and constructive plan yet to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Burr, along with Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Orrin Hatch, authored the bill, which would keep popular provisions of the current law in place (like bans on limits of lifetime insurance benefits and allowing children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26). The senators say that their plan, which received extensive coverage in national publications, would ultimately lower costs and expand access. Burr made appearances on both CNBC and Fox News to hawk the proposal, which had already been panned by the White House.
Tillis rakes in the dough
Thom Tillis, your state House Speaker, announced this week a fourth-quarter campaign haul of more than $700,000 for his U.S. Senate bid. While not on par with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s $2 million quarter, the figure puts Tillis head and shoulders above the Republican primary field, with $1.3 million cash-on-hand. To boot, a new Rasmussen poll released this week put the Speaker up seven points in a hypothetical Tillis-Hagan match-up. Maybe this has something to do with why he’s been absent for at least three GOP candidate forums so far?
OK! Thanks for reading. See ya next week.