Here we are, back for another round! Brace yourself.
Just as last week’s Hit List was going to post, Friday morning news readers were greeted with the kind of headline no-one wants to see—”City Councilman charged with impaired driving.” A week ago Thursday, Councilman Cecil Bothwell was pulled over by a state trooper in a car with no license plate. The councilman was driving a friend home from a celebration in Black Mountain, and breathed .02 points above the legal limit for driving. Since then, Bothwell has apologized, accepted to “live with the consequences,” and committed to not resign. He participated in Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Speaking of council meetings, Tuesday’s was a big one as the group unanimously approved a $147 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The plan includes no property tax increase and is highlighted by commitments to pedestrian projects including sidewalks, greenways and Sunday bus service. City employees will get a 3 percent pay increase, and storm water fees will rise for property owners. Council members also voted to approve an expansion of downtown’s Central Business District, which will allow for construction of taller buildings closer to the intersection of Hilliard and Asheland Avenues. Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel has a complete rundown of the meeting here.
Buncombe County Commissioner David King may have been knocked out of his seat last month by Miranda DeBruhl, but that won’t stop his wife from trying to take it back. This week Nancy Waldrop, King’s spouse, delivered 3,279 verified signatures to the Board of Elections—easily earning her a spot on the ballot as an independent candidate in the November election for the District 3 seat. Waldrop told Mountain Xpress she’s running to give residents of the district “a more moderate option” in contrast to DeBruhl, a political newcomer who has been critical of King’s votes aligning with a Democratic majority.
Moffitt maligned, Turner to toss
Here comes the District 116 ad war! This week we saw one of the first hit pieces in the race—a 30-second ad sponsored by the North Carolina Environmental Partnership blasting state Rep. Tim Moffitt over his pro-fracking vote this year. Meanwhile, Moffitt’s Democratic opponent Brian Turner was out and about this week, canvassing for votes and talking baseball. According to the Citizen-Times, Turner will throw out a first pitch at an upcoming Tourists game, and has been training to fire in a real pitch “with a little bit of humph.” Perhaps we’ll see the speedball featured in an ad.
The home stretch seemed within sight weeks ago, but with a clock ticking toward deadline it appears House and Senate lawmakers may not reach a budget compromise before month’s end. If Republicans from both chambers can’t come to an agreement on the $21 billion plan before June 30, it will be the second year in a row a budget was not passed before the end of the current fiscal year. Gov. Pat McCrory made efforts this week to appease lawmakers by separating key priorities of the plan into different bills, but was left instead making preparations with his staff for a longer session just in case an agreement isn’t reached. A key component of the dispute is between McCrory and Senators over Medicaid, which was the feature of a fireworks-laden hearing between members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and State Budget Director Art Pope on Thursday.
McCrory mellow to mayhem
Despite the wild times in Raleigh, McCrory told Raleigh news station WRAL this week he’s feeling more comfortable with the challenges of his job 17 months into his tenure, expressing pride over his achievements since taking office. You can watch highlight’s of the governor’s interview with the news team here. In other McCrory news, the governor issued his third veto this week, on a bill making changes to unemployment insurance. According to a Raleigh News & Observer report, the governor’s primary objection to the bill was an overhaul of the appointment process to an “obscure board” that handles appeals of unemployment board decisions. The jury is still out on whether the General Assembly will override the veto (they’ve done it twice before).
In other General Assembly news, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle found time Tuesday to remember former state Sen. Martin Nesbitt, who passed away last spring. WRAL has a nice collection of comments made by Nesbitt’s colleagues on the floor, including Western North Carolina Sen. Tom Apodaca, and Nesbitt’s appointed successor, Sen. Terry Van Duyn.
Millions from Meadows
Big news this week for the 11th District from U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows—the congressman announced his procurement of a federal grant of up to $6.5 million for construction of a new runway and taxi-way at the Asheville Regional Airport. The current runway is more than 50 years old and has been re-paved on several occasions. Meadows, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, broadcasted news of the grant on Monday. In other Meadows news, the congressman also introduced a bill this week to address a shortage of doctors at the nation’s VA hospitals. Read more about the proposal here.
McHenry moves up
With the continuing shakeup in House Republican leadership following the primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, it wasannounced Thursday that U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry will take on a higher role among his peers on Capitol Hill. The congressman was appointed to serve as Chief Deputy Whip—the highest appointed position in the House Republican Congress (kinda a big deal in DC circles). The news means McHenry will focus more of his efforts toward wrangling votes in the interest of the Republican party, and could be a key stepping stone in any future positions his career may hold.
Senate slog soldiers on
How many more days till election day? The battle between U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and state House Speaker Thom Tilliscontinued this week, with a pro-life group slamming Hagan in an ad calling her stance on abortion “too extreme” for North Carolina. Meanwhile, a group which sponsored ads backing Hagan is under scrutiny for not reporting its spending, and Republicans are attempting to broaden their voting base in North Carolina despite a propensity for controversial comments by Tillis. And it wouldn’t be another weekend without another poll—this one shows Hagan up over Tillis by 6 points.
That’s all for now! Have a great weekend.