Fitzsimon File

The Follies

Few smoke signals from the transition

News from the transition team of Gov-elect Pat McCrory has been sparse. We know McCrory and his team are interviewing candidates for cabinet secretaries and other key administrative positions this week, but there’s been little news coverage of who the candidates are or how much progress McCrory is making.

Reportedly, conservative funder Art Pope is one of a handful of people sitting in on many of the interviews or meeting with candidates after they talk to McCrory himself.

That’s not a surprise considering that McCrory named Pope co-chair of his transition effort, but it’s troubling nonetheless for folks hoping McCrory would turn away from his flirtation with the far right of the Republican Party and govern more as the business conservative he seemed to be as mayor of Charlotte.

WRAL.com reported Thursday that McCrory had set up “working groups” that are meeting with officials in many state departments looking for ways to operate more efficiently.

Transition Communications Director Chris Walker told WRAL that there was no formal list of each working group, then seemed to suggest that the groups weren’t completely set up yet even though there was a structure to them but there’s not a list of members at any given time.

Well that certainly clears things up. There are working groups with structure but no list of members that are holding meetings with current state officials that the public can’t know about.

Then there’s this from the story by Mark Binker.

“Asked if having an undisclosed sphere of advisers might lead to ethics questions – why might someone volunteer or what they might get as a result of offering their services – Walker said no.”

Whew. For a second there, it looked like McCrory was already bumping up against all the promises of transparency he made during the campaign.

Odd priorities for “fiscal conservatives”

McCrory has weighed in with a bewildering answer to an interesting issue brewing in his hometown. Officials with the Charlotte Panthers appear to be looking for state support for renovations to their stadium.

The Charlotte Business Journal reports that McCrory was asked about state funding for the renovations are a recent event in Charlotte and said “I have no idea. No one’s approached me.” Surely McCrory has an idea about whether or not he would support spending state taxpayer money on a football stadium in his hometown.

Two powerful legislative leaders from the Charlotte area, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Finance Chair Bob Rucho, have indicated they do support using state money to upgrade the stadium. That’s an odd position for two alleged stalwarts of fiscal conservatism who were recently troubled by the recent decision by Governor Bev Perdue to expand slots in NC PreK for at-risk four year olds.

At least Tillis and Rucho have their priorities straight.

Public money to advertise for-profit cyber charters

It’s not like we needed another reason to think that for-profit cyber charter schools run by a shady out of state corporation are a bad idea for North Carolina, but USA Today provided one this week.

The paper reports that K-12, Inc., the company trying desperately to siphon off some of the state’s public school funding, has spent almost $100 million of taxpayer money on advertising in the last five years, with the money coming from schools districts across the country that are slashing public school budgets and laying off teachers.

K-12 spent money running ads on Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and on VampireFreaks.com, a website that the USA Today story points out bills itself as “the Web’s largest community for dark alternative culture.”