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INDY Week columnist Bob Geary's Raleigh news & politics blog

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Friday, November 30, 2012

N&O: Dix deal emerging, Council of State to consider on Tuesday

Posted by on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 2:32 PM

The News & Observer is reporting that the deal for Dorothea Dix is a 75-year lease by the state to Raleigh for $500,000 a year, with a 1.5 percent a year inflation factor.

The Council of State will take up the lease Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Background is here

Someone who's better at calculating the time value of money than I can you what the city's offer is "worth" versus, say, an up-front payment of X amount. $500,000 a year times 75 equals $37.5 million, which is pretty close to the $35 million that city officials think the land appraises for. (State appraisals were higher.)

The 1.5 percent inflation factor is some protection against inflation (that is, deflation in the value of the lease), but not much.

The N&O says the lease is for $68 million, but that doesn't mean the same as if the "price" were $68 million. Think of it this way: If the price of a mansion is $68 million, that's what seller wants for it right now, and if you don't have it in cash, you have to borrow it. Paying it out over 75 years — that's a bargain.

***

An unanswered question is whether any of this money is earmarked for mental health programs. Although, to be honest, any earmark would be subject to the same shenanigans as the lottery — that is, we earmark extra money over here, and cut the basic appropriation for mental health over there.

Assuring that mental health programs are properly funded is a job that will fall, in the first instance, to Governor-elect Pat McCrory — as I've noted elsewhere.

This deal is getting some pushback from mental health advocates. For example, here's a letter written to Council of State members by Bonnie Schell of Asheville (h/t, Martha Brock):

To the Council of State:

I am opposed to the sale or lease of the 300 acres left out of 1,000 acres that was Dorothea Dix Hospital. Politicians and state officials sometimes serve in a guardian role of targeted assets and that is the case with this property dedicated from its inception to the welfare of those with psychiatric disabilities. The Mental Health Trust Fund has been depleted, and not for mental health services. NC dogs have more options for park exercise and relieving themselves than the minimally served youth and adults with mental health disorders have choices in where to live in their communities.

Raleigh wants to offer you 50 million less than the best appraisal because now is not the time to sell real estate. The land comes with certain liabilities: old buildings with asbestos, a landfill, black and white patient cemeteries that would have to be moved, a main building listed on the National Historical Registry. The assets of the Dix property to the state and Division of MH/DD/SA, however, are many. Well-built two bedroom cottages (where staff used to live) scatter the landscape and could serve as housing for trainings, transitional housing for homeless and mentally ill persons, sites for new or bare-bones-budgeted nonprofits such as NCMHCO which is there at the present time.

With a caterer, small conferences such as the Recovery Conference held two weeks ago in Winston Salem at Benton Convention Center could use the gym, auditoriums, offices, wards, and the free parking and safe night strolling. The rooms in the oldest buildings at Pinehurst are equally small and not lavishly decorated. I suppose a golf course is easier to envision as a training destination than a former asylum, but at one time Dix provided some of the finest nurse’s training in the country.

I don’t think you can rest comfortably in your minds to improve the modernity of facilities for 1200 to 1800 Division staff while NC rates in the lowest group of states on money spent per adult mental health patient. I don’t think we should modernize office facilities until we bring our mental health programs forward 15-20years to catch up with evidenced best practices that include peer support, supported housing and employment, respite care instead of revolving emergency room doors, recovery and wellness centers, clubhouse experiences, a life in the community that goes far beyond a prescription and with it the reduced life expectancy of 25 years compared to that of general population.

It would be hard to explain to constituents why you would decide to build new buildings on land you have to bid on when you own the most beautiful land in the state near Raleigh.

I urge you to put off selling or leasing the Dix property or any part of it without honoring the vintage request that all proceeds go into the MH Trust Fund.
I urge you to go back to the parties involved in a proposed collaborative for research, training and program development and see if the issues could be worked out. I implore you to consult with persons who have mental illnesses and those who provide services to them on what the highest or best use of this property might be.

I invite you to have happy holidays knowing that you did the right thing by doing nothing until you can convene more information, look at more possibilities, bring more creativity and integrity to this issue.

Respectfully,
Bonnie Schell, MA,
Mental patient, taxpayer and voter, retired Director of Consumer Affairs for an LME

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

N.C. Utilities Commission to Duke Energy: We give up

Posted by on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Is there any other way to read this than that the N.C. Utilities Commission, having huffed and puffed at Duke Energy's sleight-of-hand in the "merger" with Progress Energy, is now issuing a collective, "Never mind"?

The alternatives included revoking its merger approval, a whopping fine, ousting Jim Rogers and installing a new CEO (or, if Duke balked, revoking the merger) ... am I missing any?

Instead, we have a trivial levy, Rogers stays on for another year, the Duke Energy board remains in control, but it is required to "receive comments" from time to time from the Commission. I thought it was already required to receive their comments.

Anyway, here's the statement from the NCUC. You be the judge:

Settlement Agreement Entered Into in Merger Investigation

RALEIGH — Today the Staff of the North Carolina Utilities Commission entered into a Settlement Agreement with Duke Energy and the Public Staff — North Carolina Utilities Commission. If approved by the Commission, the agreement will conclude the Commission’s investigation arising from the termination of William D. Johnson as CEO of Duke on July 2, 2012.

Salient provisions of the settlement are:
· Duke will make several changes in its top management positions, including naming a new General Counsel and naming a former Progress executive as Executive Vice-President for Regulated Utilities. In addition, James E. Rogers will retire as CEO of Duke on December 31, 2013, as he originally planned to do in conjunction with the merger.
· Duke’s Board of Directors will create a CEO and Board Member Search Committee with a balanced number of former Duke and former Progress Board members, plus a new Board member not previously affiliated with either of the two companies. This search committee will identify candidates for the CEO and new Board member positions.
· Duke will create and maintain a new committee of its Board of Directors to meet with the Commission periodically to receive comments from the Commission on the activities and actions of the Duke Board.
· Duke will guarantee that Duke's North Carolina retail ratepayers will receive an additional $25 million in fuel and fuel-related cost savings over and above the amount that Duke is obligated to provide pursuant to the Commission’s Order approving the merger.
· Duke will contribute an additional $5 million to workforce development and low-income assistance in North Carolina over and above the amount that Duke is obligated to provide pursuant to the Commission’s Order approving the merger.
· Duke will maintain at least one thousand (1,000) employees, including the President of Duke Energy North Carolina and the Senior Vice-President of Carolinas Delivery Operations, in Raleigh for at least five (5) years.

The Settlement Agreement will be presented to the Commission for approval at its regular Staff Conference on Monday, December 3, 2012.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dorothea Dix park: A done deal for Raleigh? (Updated, as Perdue hits back at Republican critics.)

Posted by on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 10:34 AM

[Update, 2:30 p.m.: In response to Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger's criticisms, Gov. Perdue hit back in a statement:

"During the last four years, in the worst economic climate since the great depression, North Carolina is one ofeight states that has retained its AAA bond rating. We have seen the largest number of our children graduate from high school. We have again been named the best place in the nation to do business. My administration has focused on efficiencies in state government through consolidating, eliminating, and right-sizing public services.

The Dorothea Dix property and the consolidation of DHHS would save taxpayers nearly $100 million, move employees from 60 separate facilities into five buildings on one campus, and it would preserve green space in a metropolitan area that is expected to grow by more than 1 million people in the next 10 years.

It is a shame that in the first few weeks after a very heated campaign season, that some of North Carolina’s leaders continue to try to divide people by political party and not bring people together.”

The original post from this morning —

WRAL and The News & Observer are reporting that Gov. Perdue and the city of Raleigh are close to a deal for turning the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital campus into a destination park. Mayor Nancy McFarlane's been working on this virtually since the day she took office. Now, with the clock running out on her term as governor — and with the General Assembly not in session and able to block her — Perdue, too, is pushing the pedal to the floor.

A few minutes ago, House Speaker Thom Tillis weighed in with a dissenting view, calling for a timeout and underlining the need for proceeds of the deal to be large ... and kept for mental health programs.

Here's what Tillis said:

“The Dorothea Dix campus is a historically valuable state asset, and the future of the property should be thoroughly vetted through the legislative process. Rather than rush this decision through the Council of State, we should work together to determine if this is the best path forward. If this proves to be a good idea today, then it will be a good idea weeks from now.

The North Carolina House of Representatives made its position clear by unanimously passing HB 981, stating that any disposition of the Dix property should have General Assembly approval. This has been further highlighted by well-documented fiscal problems in the mental health budget. It appears that Gov. Perdue is pursuing a legacy for herself instead of protecting the interests of taxpayers and the thousands of individuals who desperately need better-funded mental health services. I look forward to working diligently with future state leaders and the city of Raleigh to make the best possible use of the property.”

It should be noted that HB 981 passed the House but not the Senate. I don't think Tillis, by himself or with the Senate Republicans, has the power to stop a deal if Perdue and Raleigh agree on it — with Raleigh paying a reasonable price.

On the other hand, it sounds like many details remain to be hammered out in a week, and I can tell you the same details haven't been hammered out in a year — this deal's been close, but no cigar, for months.

And unless the details are right, the Council of State may get cold feet ... because unlike Perdue, most of them will be at the mercy of the General Assembly for four more years.

***

112906cover.jpg

That said, I'm happy to say that I've been pro-Dix Park — all 306 acres — since 2006.

I agree with Tillis that any deal should generate substantial funding — perhaps via a long-term lease, or a combination of down payment and lease — for mental health programs.

But there is absolutely no reason for DHHS, having abandoned a leadership role in mental health, to hang on to the Dix campus for agencies that aren't doing mental health any more.

Otherwise, as I've said before, Dix would live in infamy as the state's reward for not doing mental health.

Dix will make a great park. And in the long run, whether the purchase price is $40 million or $70 million is really pretty inconsequential. What matters is preserving this land for posterity.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

McCrory will take his oath Jan. 5, deliver inaugural address a week later

Posted by on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Governor-elect Pat McCrory's staff disclosed his schedule for taking the oath of office, delivering his inaugural address and hosting a string of open houses and inaugural balls. He'll be sworn in on January 5, with the rest spread over the next seven days.

Here's an edited version of the press release we received:

Governor-Elect McCrory Announces Inauguration Details

“North Carolina has incredible people, talent and resources, and to start a North Carolina Comeback, we must bring all parts of the state together to put them back to work. This year’s inauguration will be focused on highlighting North Carolina’s untapped potential and setting a vision for the future of our great state.”

— Governor-Elect Pat McCrory


Raleigh, N.C. — Today, Governor-Elect Pat McCrory's transition office released the following scheduling details for the inaugural proceedings:

After consultations with the Perdue Administration and the General Assembly, Governor-Elect McCrory will be officially sworn in on Saturday, January 5, 2013 in the Old Senate Chamber to ensure his cabinet and leadership team is in place prior to the General Assembly’s opening session on Wednesday, January 9.

Inauguration Festivities will be held on Saturday, January 12 in Capitol Square, where Governor McCrory will participate and deliver his Inaugural Address.

Between January 5 and leading up to his Inaugural Address on January 12, Governor McCrory will attend official and inaugural activities while holding public open houses across the state. Details of additional public and official events are forthcoming and will be released as they become available.

Additional scheduling details are forthcoming. A website has also been established for the inaugural proceedings: http://inaugural.nc.gov/.


Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:00am

WHO:

Governor-Elect Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Prayer Service

WHEN:

Saturday, January 5, 2013
11:00am

WHERE:

Christ Episcopal Church
120 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

PRESS: CLOSED


Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 12:00pm

WHO:

Governor-Elect Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Official Swearing-In Ceremony

WHEN:

Saturday, January 5, 2013
12:00pm

WHERE:

Old Senate Chamber
North Carolina State Capitol, Second Floor
1 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Monday, January 7, 2013 at 5:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Western North Carolina Open House

WHEN:

Monday, January 7, 2013
5:00pm

WHERE:

Governor’s Western Residence
45 Patton Mountain Rd
Asheville, NC 28804


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 11:00am

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Piedmont Open House

WHEN:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
11:00am

WHERE:

TBD


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Eastern North Carolina Open House

WHEN:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
5:00pm

WHERE:

Tryon Palace
520 South Front Street
New Bern, NC 28562


Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 4:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Charlotte Open House

WHEN:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
4:00pm

WHERE:

TBD


Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 9:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Rock-the-Ball, Sponsored by the Junior League of Raleigh

WHEN:

Thursday, January 10, 2013
9:00pm

WHERE:

Lincoln Theater
126 East Cabarrus Street
Raleigh, NC 27601


Friday, January 11, 2013 at 6:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Governor’s Reception, Sponsored by the Junior League of Raleigh

WHEN:

Friday, January 11, 2013
6:00pm

WHERE:

Raleigh Convention Center Grand Ballroom
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 8:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Gala Presentation, Sponsored by the Junior League of Raleigh

WHEN:

Friday, January 11, 2013
8:00pm

WHERE:

Raleigh Convention Center Exhibition Hall
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Friday, January 11, 2013 at 9:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Inaugural Ball, Sponsored by the Junior League of Raleigh

WHEN:

Friday, January 11, 2013
9:00pm

WHERE:

Raleigh Convention Center
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601


Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 11:00am

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory, Council of State

WHAT:

Ceremonial Inauguration Festivities & Inaugural Address

WHEN:

Saturday, January 12, 2013
11:00am

WHERE:

Capitol Square

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 12:30pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory, Council of State

WHAT:

Inaugural Parade

WHEN:

Saturday, January 12, 2013
12:30pm

WHERE:

Downtown Raleigh

Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 1:00pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

North Carolina Open House

WHEN:

Saturday, January 12, 2013
1:00pm

WHERE:

North Carolina Executive Mansion
200 North Blount Street
Raleigh, NC 27601


Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:30pm

WHO:

Governor Pat McCrory

WHAT:

Governor’s Inauguration Celebration, Sponsored by The Foundation for North Carolina, Inc.

WHEN:

Saturday, January 12, 2013
8:30pm

WHERE:

Raleigh Convention Center
500 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

###

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Linda Coleman concedes; Republican Dan Forest is Lt. Gov-elect

Posted by on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Linda Coleman was trying to be the first African-American woman elected statewide. (The late Ralph Campbell, elected state auditor, is still the only African-American male.) Coleman lost by 0.16 percent, or 6,585 votes out of more than 4.3 million cast. Forest, a tea-party style Republican, is retiring Charlotte Congresswoman Sue Myrick's son. I've seen it suggested — and think there's some truth to it — that if former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, the governor-elect, proves too much of a moderate for the Republican General Assembly, Forest could challenge his Charlotte base in a 2016 primary for governor.

Here's Coleman's concession speech from this morning:

Thank you for joining me this morning. Let me begin by thanking my family, a constant source of love and support, who have stood by me every day of this campaign. In their eyes and in the eyes of their children, I see the hope and future of this generation.

How we lead, today, determines the tomorrow we leave for them. Delivering a better tomorrow for all North Carolinians is why I entered this race. This campaign, our campaign, has always been forward-thinking and I’m proud of the work we accomplished together.

I’m proud of the many voices who have championed the cause of this campaign—from Congresswoman Eva Clayton, to Governor Hunt, to Dr. Maya Angelou—it is a testament to the lives we have touched over the past several months.

I have said time and time again, that we have the best supporters North Carolina has to offer. From the men and women who joined our call for quality education, to protecting the middle class, for standing up for women’s healthcare. Together, we brought our issues to the forefront of the political discussion this year. I have always been a defender of the defenseless, a voice for the voiceless, that is why you have stood by me—not because of me, but because of what I stand for.

I want to thank my staff for working tirelessly, day end and day out, around the clock and through the night. They knew the stakes and the challenges facing every day North Carolinians—this was more than a job for them, it was a fight for the values we all hold dear. In them, I see future leaders and look forward to their continued service to our state and country.

The days since Election Day have been strenuous for all involved in this endeavor. Our post-election effort has, so far, shined a bright light on the flaws of our provisional ballot counting process. Together, we helped get at least several hundred additional ballots counted. And while we contend that there remain at least 3,000 ballots that should be counted, we face the reality that an extended legal battle would not alter the outcome of this race.

But, I want you to know that I am truly proud of all of you. The work you have done to make sure every vote counts means so much to me. We made sure the election was fair. We worked to make sure every vote was counted and everyone’s voice was heard. We know that what we were fighting for was bigger than just this race. We waged a fight to protect our most sacred constitutional right: access to the ballot box. In the end, our instinct was right and the results narrowed significantly.

But, today is a day for reflection and rebirth. Today is both a beginning and an end. We embrace the future undaunted. We remain confident that the resounding ideals we stood for will have a lasting impression on politics in North Carolina.

Moments ago, I spoke with Mr. Forest and congratulated him on becoming the next Lt. Governor of North Carolina. It was a hard-fought, spirited campaign and we have stark differences. But, in the end, in a tight race, North Carolinians have chosen Mr. Forest to serve. I pray that God guides him and his family on this journey. The trust of this office is now in his hands. I hope and believe that he will honor that trust with tempered judgment and a servant’s heart.

Now, more than ever, our leaders must answer the call of service. North Carolina will face many challenges in the next few years. We need the Governor-elect and Lt. Governor-elect to meet these challenges with dignity and loyalty to the people of North Carolina. A favorite adage of this campaign has been results, not rhetoric. We need results for our struggling middle class, resources for our renowned education system and innovation for a vibrant North Carolina economy.

North Carolina will always have a friend and an advocate in me. I seek only to serve this state and the betterment of its people.

I’m proud to live in a state that made history during this campaign by nominating the first-ever African-American woman to seek statewide executive office. I’m proud to be a part of our state’s rich history of progress and prosperity. While we may have fallen short, today, I want my friends and supporters to hold their heads high knowing that because of the trail we blazed, we’ve made it that much easier for the next generation to stand up and be heard.

I’m proud of the young people who knocked doors, made phone calls and engaged their friends to become a part of this process. Now, you must lead your generation to reach great heights—you are the future innovators of this state and of this country. You have touched my heart, and I will stand by you every day.

What we fought for in this campaign matters. A woman’s access to her own healthcare. Fair pay for hard work. Security for the middle class. A strong public education for our young people. These are the resounding issues of my public service—and they resonated as we crisscrossed this state. We didn’t hide from our convictions. We stood strong and proud.

I have dedicated my entire life in pursuit of that ideal. My heart has always been with the everyday men and women who work the 9 to 5 to provide a better life for themselves and for their families. That’s why I’m proud to have waged this fight for our future with our working families, including the State Employee’s Association, standing by my side. These people make up the fabric of what has made this state great: service, leadership and advocacy.

I’m convinced that the old phrase holds truer today than ever before: North Carolina, where the weak grow strong, and the strong grow great. We have grown strong, hand in hand, together over the course of this campaign. Now, we move on to the greatness that the next journey has to offer.

I know that many are disappointed with the outcome of this election. Do not be. We ran this campaign with dignity and integrity. We touched lives and held strong to our values. This is not failure, but a new beginning. With our eyes fixed squarely on the future, we stand strong together on this day and find solace knowing that North Carolina’s best days are yet to come. We have the creativity, the innovation and the drive to deliver for this generation—if we come together to face our shared challenges.

My heart is full knowing that we are knitted together with our history, our values and most importantly: our future. What we did over this year matters. I know it. You know it. North Carolina knows it. We continue our work with renewed energy. We face the future undeterred. We forge ahead. We move forward.

Thank you, my friends. God bless you and God bless the great state of North Carolina.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Get a job with Pat: McCrory says, Help wanted !!

Posted by on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM

One thing I've learned about Republicans over the years: They have a very short bench.

McCroryHeadshot.jpg
Great public servants they're not.

Elect a Democrat governor, and all the activists line up for jobs — well-qualified and otherwise.

Elect a Republican governor, and the activists think all the jobs should be abolished. Except they aren't, because government performs essential functions that most Republicans aren't interested in doing.

Hence, you might not be wasting your time to check out Governor-elect McCrory's new website, WorkforPat.com.

Who knows, you could be the next deputy secretary of something.

***

Or, share your ideas with Pat.

He didn't seem to have an over-supply of them, either, during his campaign.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Obama: You guys .. are the source of my hope and my strength and my inspiration

Posted by on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Obama thanking his campaign staff in Chicago and talking about his adult beginnings — and theirs.

I put off watching this until I could sit down and appreciate it. If you haven't seen it, do not miss it.

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McCrory off to a bad start: Pearce

Posted by on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Ah, the social media. Saving me lots of time today. Governor-elect Pat McCrory took the stage yesterday surrounded by Art Pope minions, Art Pope himself and a dollop of ever-lovin' Duke Energy ... which leads me to tweet Gary Pearce:



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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saturday night: 4th annual Couture for a Cause at Marbles

Posted by on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Designs by Kristin Robbins at 2011 Couture for a Cause
  • Photo by Chris Florio, courtesy Activate Good
  • Designs by Kristin Robbins at 2011 Couture for a Cause

I first encountered Amber Smith five or six years ago, not long after she started the nonprofit organization called ME-3 that, with a new name, has grown up to be the very excellent group called Activate Good. I wrote about Smith two years ago in the Indy when we gave her a 2010 Citizen Award. She and her organization continue to merit her good citizenship medal. Activate Good's mission is to promote volunteerism, recruit people to be volunteers and help worthy nonprofits find volunteer help when they need it. The ultimate do-gooders.

Activate Good's big fundraising event is the annual Couture for a Cause, which is coming around for its 4th run Saturday night at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. It's a fashion show and a show to promote 20 other nonprofits—groups helped by Activate Good.

2011 Couture:a Karen Huskins design
Every year before, I've tried to go and something got in the way. This year, Pam and I are going. If you'll indulge a plug, tickets are $25 online for general admission ($30 at the door), and $75 for VIP tickets. WRAL Out and About dubbed Couture for a Cause "the hottest local fashion show," so that's good.

I'm looking forward to it because:

* It has nothing to do with elections or politics.

* They auction off the designs at the end (in addition to a silent auction for donated stuff), which may help with holiday shopping. Can't hurt, anyway.

* I hear it's fun.

* Cupcakes by Ruby Cakes.

***

Really, if you're looking for a way to de-stress after the elections and before the No. 1 stressor in most people's lives, which is the holidays, give Couture a try.

I got a briefing from Smith and Ann Clinton, an Activate Good board member who says she's always been a volunteer nut and who works by day as a Saks Fifth Avenue executive — so she's perfect to be this year's Couture chair:

* Doors open at Marbles at 7:30, allowing time for socializing, a drink (cash bar), hors d'oeuvres and a cruise through the silent auction. Or, if you spring for a VIP ticket, it comes with a special lounge, "VIP cuisine," a second cash bar and a goodie bag from the sponsors.

* The food is from Zinda, a new New Asian restaurant on Fayetteville Street, which is also hosting an after-party.

* The fashion show kicks off at 8:15, in two parts. Part one is "ready to wear" designs. Part two is "art to wear" — which is a little more ... or maybe a lot more ....

* Each part will end with an auction of what's just come down the runway.

* Three judges select the winning designs and give cash prizes, aided by audience voting — via texts on your phone.

And all night, the designers will "show" the nonprofits as well as their own couture, using their artistry to mix the one with the other. Take a drink every time you hear the word inspiring. (I said that, they didn't.)

Plug over. Maybe I'll see you there.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Message of 2012: Moderation, in DC and in Raleigh

Posted by on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 1:13 AM

Obama a decisive winner, though the popular vote is close. Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin head a cast of new Democrats in the U.S. Senate, which stays Democratic by 55-45. The House is Republican. Averting the fiscal cliff and moving the country forward now requires — what?

Compromise.

Pat McCrory wins the governor's office for the Republicans, who dominate both houses of the General Assembly. They can do what they want, but North Carolinians split down the middle for lieutenant governor, and most of the Council of State went Democratic. Obama lost North Carolina, but not by much.

Our state is closely divided, suggesting that while the Republicans can slash and burn government services, it won't be popular if they do. They really should — what?

Compromise.

Around the country, gay marriage is winning in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota, and we'll see about the state of Washington later. A pro-immigration DREAM Act measure passed in Maryland as well. Florida rejected an extreme anti-abortion measure. The country is not conservative. It is forward-looking.

Given our constitutional structure, the Republicans in Washington can stop President Obama and the Democrats from accomplishing anything, despite the election results. The Republicans in Raleigh can run roughshod over the Democrats, despite the election results.

But good sense and a regard for the good of the nation — and the state — say that it's time for the Republicans to stop being the party of opposition and obstruction and start being a party of constructive compromise.

Obama is prepared to bargain. Not clear if the Republicans in Congress will.

In Raleigh, McCrory may or may not put the brakes on his party's right-wing. As for the Democrats, the search for leaders and policies begins immediately.

One final word, about Walter Dalton. Bev Perdue's lame withdrawal put him at a terrible disadvantage against McCrory, one he couldn't overcome. But he proved to be a first-rate candidate, albeit with second-rate financing, and he shouldn't be counted out in the future. He'd be a good governor.

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    Obama is prepared to bargain. Not clear if the Republicans in Congress will.

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