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Political notebook: Giving Christmas gifts for county, schools and city

Everyone deserves a gift at Christmas. That includes government officials.

Though our county commissioners, school board and city council members may receive gifts individually from families during the holiday season, perhaps they could use some sort of collective present.

For county commissioners, the gift may seem obvious — a special use permit for the mall. In reality, the need is space. So rather than a piece of paper, the county commissioners could use an infinite amount of space for county departments for Christmas.

Repeatedly, previous and current commissioners have mentioned the ails of Veterans Services and the Board of Elections. In fact, this week, a chunk of the board of elections equipment is being stored in the hallway of the county’s administrative building. Other departments say there’s a need for space as well. There’s likely some departments that commissioners are unaware of.

A recent example was Community Corrections, which will likely move into a third building near the courthouse to accommodate seven additional probations officers.  It isn’t a county department, but Rowan County government is required to provide space for Community Corrections and a number of other state departments that are based locally — the district attorney for example.

As for the school board, the one gift it needs most is an endless amount of money for capital improvements. The central office will come to fruition in time. Financing could be in place by early next year and construction, theoretically, could start in mid- to late 2015.

The most notable capital improvement needs for the school system, not including the central office, include replacing or renovating Knox Middle School and building a consolidated elementary school for Woodleaf and Cleveland.

A Christmas gift for the city of Salisbury could be that all downtown buildings would be filled to the brim with shops and residents, but the best gifts for the city of Salisbury all relate to Fibrant. After all Fibrant is a pretty significant investment in terms of money.

One gift for the city could be that dozens of tech companies move into the city limits to utilize the blazing-fast internet speeds. Another could be that every resident of the city suddenly subscribes to Fibrant as their internet provider. A large subscription base could cause traffic problems, but would result in a huge boost in profit.

Just like people, government entities have needs, too.

Associated Press, McCrory clash over payout story

Clashes between press and politicians are common, but rarely do they play out in a public manner.

This week, however, the North Carolina Republican Party and Gov. Pat McCrory’s press office vigorously refuted a bevy of statements in an Associated Press story. The AP story stated “McCrory and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina accepted six-figure stock payouts from an online mortgage broker accused by regulators of deceiving its customers.”

The story written by the AP is quite lengthy, but so are the responses to the story from McCrory’s press office. McCrory said in media reports after the AP story that he accepted the stock option described in the story, but it seems the main disagreements come with details further down into the story.

In response to the story, McCrory said: ““I continue to uphold high ethical standards and follow the law. Unfortunately, the Associated Press failed to report that fact. The story is misleading, riddled with factual errors and flat out misrepresentations, and is a disservice to the public. It was written with malice and the intent to do harm without any factual consideration given.”

In total, McCory’s office refuted eight different claims by the AP in its story.

Not only did his press office send out an email blast with a fact sheet about the errors in the AP’s story about the six-figure payouts, but it also sent out a 34-page-long document detailing examples of potential errors in previous AP reporting.

Most of the examples in the 34-page document involved stories about either Duke Energy or coal ash. The document includes several tongue-in-cheek titles referring to stories, such as: “Intrepid AP reporter doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good story.”

In response to this week’s AP story, McCrory even sent out a fundraising email.

McCrory’s multiple rebuttals to the AP story are perhaps making more noise than the actual story did.




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