Don Wright receives Order of the Long Leaf Pine award

RALEIGH, N.C. — The State Board of Elections today announced that Gov. Pat McCrory has awarded Don Wright The  Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one the state’s most prestigious civilian honors.  Wright will retire Monday from his post as longtime general counsel to the Board of Elections. He is a 30-year veteran of state government.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the people of North Carolina and for the many friends I’ve made along the way,” said Wright.

Poll released same day as Romney’s decision not to run shows him leading

PPPRALEIGH, N.C. — A poll released the same day former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced his decision not to seek the presidency shows him atop the heap of potential Repulbican primary candidates.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, shows Romney at 21% to 17% for Jeb Bush, 15% for Ben Carson, 11% for Scott Walker, 9% each for Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, 7% for Chris Christie, 4% for Rand Paul and 2% for Rick Perry.

If Romney’s supporters are reallocated to their second choices, Bush leads with 21% to 16% for Carson, 14% for Walker, 12% for Huckabee, and 10% for Cruz.

Romney decides against 2016 bid

MittRomneyFormer Massachussets Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has decided against a 2016 bid.  Romney made the following remarks on a conference call with supporters Friday:

Let me begin by letting you know who else is on this call, besides Ann and me. There are a large number of people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort. In addition, state political leadership from several of the early primary states are on the line. And here in New York City, and on the phone, are people who have been helping me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past who have all been kind enough to volunteer their time during this deliberation stage. Welcome, and thank you. Your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new, competent and conservative leadership warms my heart.

Opinion: Higher Spending No Guarantee of School Success

TerryStoopsby Dr. Terry Stoops Inc. is a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based company that evaluates and ranks K-12 schools, colleges, cities, and neighborhoods. It recently released a 2015 ranking of public schools and school districts in each state, as well as a national ranking of private and public schools and districts.

Niche researchers evaluated dozens of variables in eight categories and weighted each. Factors included academic performance (50 percent), health and safety (10 percent), student culture and diversity (10 percent), parent and student survey responses (10 percent), teachers (10 percent), resources and facilities (5 percent), extracurricular activities (2.5 percent), and sports and fitness (2.5 percent).

Naturalized U.S. Citizen Born in Somalia Added to FBI List of Most Wanted Terrorists

Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, has been named to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, and a reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Mohamed is charged with providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization.

“Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for many bombings in Somalia and Uganda and the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya,” said Carl Ghattas, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Liban Mohamed is believed to have left the U.S. with the intent to join al Shabaab in East Africa. We believe he is currently there operating on behalf of that terrorist organization.”

Judicial Branch Names Former Rep. Tom Murry as New Chief Legal Counsel for Governmental Affairs

TomMurryRALEIGH, N.C. — John W. Smith, director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC), announced Thursday that Tom Murry will join the Judicial Branch to assist the Chief Justice and the NCAOC director in coordinating legislative efforts and governmental affairs, effective February 2. In his role as chief legal counsel for governmental affairs, Murry will coordinate all legislative activities for the Judicial Branch and will work with legislative leaders and stakeholders of the court system in order to promote consensus on critical funding needs.

Study: EPA Rules to Cost NC Thousands of Jobs

RALEIGH, N.C. – New rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposing unprecedented restrictions on electric power plants will drive up energy bills and cost North Carolina tens of thousands of jobs, according to a study conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University and released by the Civitas Institute.

“These new rules forced upon the states by the Obama administration will unleash significant harm on the people of North Carolina,” said Civitas Institute President Francis De Luca. “Energy bills will rise dramatically and our economy will lose tens of thousands of jobs. These new rules will especially harm low-income households.”

North Carolina’s New Poet Laureate to be Installed Monday, Feb. 2

RALEIGH, N.C. — Shelby Stephenson, award winning poet, educator and recipient of a North Carolina Award for literature, will be installed as the state’s poet laureate in a ceremony with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory on Monday, Feb. 2, 5:30 p.m. in the historic State Capitol, House of Representatives Chamber, One E. Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh.

“Shelby Stephenson’s poetry expresses the heart and spirit of our land and people,” said Governor McCrory. “He is a wonderful representative of the outstanding traditions of poetry and literature that are such important parts of our state’s cultural heritage.”

Wildlife Commission Seeks Public Input for Chowan Swamp Game Land and Chowan Game Land

NC WildlifeGATESVILLE, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is holding a public meeting on Feb. 16, in Gatesville to seek input in developing a management plan for the Chowan Swamp Game Land located in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties and Chowan Game Land located Chowan County.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., and will be held at Merchant’s Millpond State Park Visitors Center, 176 Millpond Road (GPS coordinates: 36.437105, -76.701585).

Opinion: State Still Outpaces Nation

John Hood

John Hood

by John Hood

Ever since conservatives won majorities in the North Carolina General Assembly and began reducing taxes, spending, and state regulation, liberals have predicted doom.

Without sufficient government spending, they said, the North Carolina economy would suffer. Businesses don’t place as high a value on cost as they used to, liberals assured us, so efforts to promote growth with lower taxes and regulatory burdens will accomplish nothing. Instead, they counseled more spending on schools, infrastructure, and even public assistance as a stimulus.