Pat McCrory does not want to be a bad governor. On the contrary, I think he has the best intentions. It's a shame no one has told him that trickle-down economics and punishing the poor are not how to make an economy grow.
But just when you're ready to give up on Pat and say, as one mean Citizen did last week, that he's sad and irrelevant, he up and has his best week in office—with not one, but two Big Red Vetoes stamped on a pair of wretched bills passed by his fellow Republicans.
And just in time for our "Best of" issue!
Anyway, he's earned a pat on the back as our best governor since Bev Perdue. Here with, my best of Gov. Pat McCrory.
It came Thursday when McCrory rejected Senate Bill 2. That's the god-awful bill that would allow magistrates to ignore their responsibilities on account of a "sincerely held objection" to same-sex marriage being legal. "We are a nation and a state of laws," McCrory said. "[N]o public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath."
We'll find out this week whether the House joins the Senate in overriding McCrory's veto.
Second Best Veto
On Friday, McCrory put the "Veto" to House Bill 405, the Ag-Gag bill. Ostensibly aimed at corporate spies, its obvious purpose is to keep animal-rights activists from investigating—and filming, as they are wont to do—abuses in the poultry, hog and other meat-producing industries. Broadly worded, HB-405 could spell reprisals for a whistleblower in any kind of business, including nursing homes and day cares. "While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity," McCrory said.
Ditto as to whether this veto will hold when the General Assembly has at it.
As president, Franklin Roosevelt asked to be judged by the enemies he made. McCrory has enemies on the political left, but for the most part they dismiss him as a lightweight; he views them as inconsequential, given the right-wing control of state government. But McCrory also receives, and welcomes, the enmity of Senate President Phil Berger and his band of far-right Republican jugheads (e.g., Sen. Tom Apodaca; Sen. Bob Rucho.)
Running for re-election, McCrory wants to be viewed as a moderate who'll "step on the toes" of extremists on either side. That's a tough sell given his appalling record of Art Pope-followership. But having Berger as his BEFN—Best Enemy For Now—will help.
After his second veto Friday, McCrory showed up at an economic development board meeting (h/t: Sarah Ovaska of N.C. Policy Watch), where he said two additional bills—he did not identify them—will soon suffer the same fate. He seemed to be spoiling for a fight with the right.
Meanwhile, McCrory is asking the General Assembly to put two bond-issue proposals on the ballot, totaling $2.85 billion for assorted transportation and infrastructure projects. No doubt, the vetoes won't help.
I'm not a fan of his plans, which are little more than a pork-barrel potpourri. I did like this McCrory comment, as quoted by Ovaska: "We have support in the legislature, but it is very soft support. ... Frankly, they're scared of their own shadow."
It's hard to say who's right in the case of McCrory v. Berger. That's the case in which McCrory is suing the General Assembly over the composition of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, which Berger & Co. created to green-light fracking—and which they packed with legislative appointees.
McCrory, with former Govs. Jim Hunt (D) and Jim Martin (R), contends that the commission violates the constitutional standard of separation-of-powers between the executive and legislative branches. Oddly, two elected Democrats on the Council of State, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and Auditor Beth Wood, are on the Berger side. But, hey, you can't go wrong suing this General Assembly.
Given the paucity of talent atop the McCrory Administration, this is an unlikely category. (Aldona Wos? John Skvarla? Need I say more?) So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dr. Randall Williams, a Raleigh OB-GYN, is joining the Wos team as deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Williams' Republican credentials are in order, but so is his record of public service, including more than a dozen State Department- and World Health Organization-sponsored forays into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Haiti.
Williams ran for mayor of Raleigh in 2011, a quixotic effort. This is a much better fit. Perhaps Williams will step into Wos' shoes on that hoped-for day when she departs?
Second Best Appointment
Literary division. Making former Army Gen. Tony Tata his secretary of transportation should limit the time Tata has available to churn out turgid military thrillers. (Sudden Threat, Rogue Threat, Hidden Threat, Mortal Threat.) Though it didn't prevent Tata from issuing Foreign and Domestic this year—or going on a book tour in February while DOT battled a snow emergency. Wait. Weather Threat?
This article appeared in print with the headline "The Best of Gov. Pat McCrory."