Category: Public Service
Former state budget director and businessman Art Pope has been added to a bi-partisan Hurricane Matthew recovery committee that includes former North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue.
From the Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press on November 1, 2016
McCrory: Hurricane relief timetable includes special session
Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he expects to call lawmakers to a special session next month on Hurricane Matthew relief for eastern North Carolina, looking to Congress for supplemental aid first and developing policy based on recommendations from committees his administration created.
Addressing the first meeting of one panel assigned to examine the damage and pinpoint unmet needs, McCrory and other administration officials told participants the actual recovery will be long and hard.
“It won’t be a sprint. It will be a marathon,” said McCrory Chief of Staff Thomas Stith, who is also the panel’s chairman.
The storm raked the eastern half of the state 3½ weeks ago, dumping up to 17 inches of rain and leading to record flooding along rivers and in the towns and cities adjoining them. Authorities said there were 28 storm-related deaths. While federal damage assessments are continuing, state officials earlier estimated $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings. That doesn’t count agricultural losses.
“Our state has gone through a very traumatic, violent and emotional disaster,” McCrory told the Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee, but “now we need to reinvent ourselves on how do we recover from this.”
McCrory laid out a plan that in which the bipartisan committee — comprised of elected leaders, business people, government officials and citizens — would tour hard-hit areas. In early December the panel would fashion recommendations for recovery assistance that wouldn’t be covered with existing funds. A separate panel of emergency management officials would consider more technical issues related to federal and state assistance and address immediate needs.
The governor said he would turn in the state’s request for federal disaster assistance on Nov. 14 and wait for Congress to approve it. The state would have to provide matching funds and cover items not included in supplemental federal funds. McCrory said he envisioned calling a special legislative session for early December, although the date could move up depending on the speed of Congress.
“I am confident that we’ll be able to recover and rebuild even stronger than what we had before in many of these areas impacted,” he said.
The General Assembly likely would be asked to create state recovery programs and permit spending from the state’s reserve fund, now close to $1.6 billion. Laws also would be amended to exempt some schools from the required minimum number of days or instructional hours they must be open.
State Budget Director Drew Heath told the committee the state has enough disaster funds to meet immediate needs through January, when the legislature convenes its two-year session. But McCrory told reporters waiting until then to act would hamper long-term recovery planning.
The governor said he wanted the recovery committee to raise private and corporate funds to address permanent housing and small business aid. State officials said 250 people are still in shelters and more than 1,500 displaced households are still living in hotels.
The committee’s members include former Gov. Beverly Perdue, ex-McCrory budget director Art Pope and current University of North Carolina system President Margaret Spellings.
Original story: http://www.wral.com/mccrory-hurricane-relief-timetable-includes-special-session/16183762/
From the Charlotte Observer:
So a liberal and a conservative walk into a bar…
By Taylor Batten, Editorial Page Editor
June 4, 2016
Conservative Art Pope and liberal Rick Glazier walk into a bar…
This is no joke. Pope, Glazier and some of North Carolina’s other most prominent liberals and conservatives are breaking bread together, trying to find something that has been elusive in recent years: a shred of common ground. These 35 leaders in business, politics, philanthropy, education, law and other areas are investing their time to test whether bipartisan ideas and civil discourse between Republicans and Democrats really are dead.
It’s called the North Carolina Leadership Forum, and it’s just ramping up. The group met for the first time in March and will gather again on June 17 at Duke University. They hope to convene in Charlotte later this year.
What makes them think this is worth the effort? In an era of Trump and Clinton, Fox News and MSNBC, HB2, gerrymandered districts and legislators who are an ocean apart, it seems hopeless. But it is that deepening gulf in society that makes this effort so urgently needed.
The group will meet four times in the first year, tackling the question of how to enable more North Carolinians to earn enough to support their families. They hope to agree on specific policy proposals, but they know liberals and conservatives may see very different causes of and solutions to that issue.
Just having the conversation, though, and doing so civilly and respectfully, may be a more important and lasting product of this experiment. The group was created as much to foster reasoned conversation as it was to devise policy solutions. Even if members can’t agree on a minimum wage, the thinking goes, they might set an example that others can follow, whether they are legislators, City Council members or just Uncle Fred at the Thanksgiving table.
True listening to the other side, after all, rarely happens anymore. A lot of people consume only the news that reinforces their existing positions. Combine that with a politically divided state and “what you have is political discourse in North Carolina and lots of places that falls short of what we can and should provide,” said John Hood, president of the conservative John William Pope Foundation. “Lots of people are disenchanted.”
The Leadership Forum was born after Hood wrote a column about North Carolinians living in “media cocoons” and the disappearance of civil debate. Democrat Leslie Winner, then head of the progressive Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, read it and met with Hood about changing that. They recruited a bipartisan steering committee, then the group of 35.
Hood emphasizes that the goal is not to find moderate solutions.
“Our point is not we have these extremes and if everyone was more centrist we’d be better off,” Hood told me last week. “We like the fact that we have people way out on the right and left. The goal is not to marginalize them and aim for the common denominator.
“The point is to have a dialogue that is very robust with points of view strongly argued, but respectfully and with no name-calling. … If we can have people argue rather than bicker, make good-faith logical arguments, that’s a very valuable outcome.”
It’s easy to imagine this group having civil conversations around a conference table, only to see the divisiveness persist among elected officials. But with what passes for debate today, I’m glad they’re taking a shot.
The North Carolina Leadership Forum
Anita Brown-Graham, Institute for Emerging Issues
Pete Brunstetter, Novant Health, Inc.
Pearl Burris-Floyd, Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce
Jack Cecil, Biltmore Farms, LLC
Dan Clodfelter, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, LLP
Gene Cochrane, The Duke Endowment
Sharon Decker, Tryon International Equestrian Center
Martin Eakes, Self-Help Credit Union
Dan Gerlach, Golden Leaf Foundation
Rick Glazier, North Carolina Justice Center
Ann Goodnight, SAS
Maurice “Mo” Green, Guilford County Schools
Robin Hayes, Cannon Charitable Trust and Cannon Foundation
Hank Henning, Commissioner of Guilford County
John Hood, John William Pope Foundation
Bob Hunter, North Carolina Court of Appeals
Jeff Jackson, North Carolina Senate
Raquel Lynch, Crisis Assistance Ministry
Esther Manheimer, Mayor of Asheville
Frederick “Fritz” Mayer, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Chuck McGrady, North Carolina House of Representatives
MaryBe McMillan, North Carolina AFL-CIO
B.J. Murphy, Mayor of Kinston
Chuck Neely, Williams Mullen
Jim Phillips, Brooks Pierce
Art Pope, John William Pope Foundation
Robert Reives, North Carolina House of Representatives
Tom Ross, Volcker Alliance
Richard Stevens, Smith Anderson Law Firm
William Thierfelder, Belmont Abbey College
Eugene Washington, Duke University Health System
Andy Wells, North Carolina Senate
Brad Wilson, Blue Cross & Blue Shield North Carolina
Stelfanie Williams, Vance-Granville Community College
Leslie Winner, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Leaders try to find common ground in North Carolina
From the News & Observer, March 9, 2016
BY ROB CHRISTENSEN
It was a simple idea, but a surprising one in this age of political polarization, which now includes innuendo about one’s manhood.
Why not get North Carolinians of all political stripes together to have conversations, to better understand one another’s point of view, and see whether there is any common ground about how to make life better in the state?
The result was the first of a series of meetings last week at Duke University involving conservatives such as Raleigh businessman Art Pope, former state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes and former gubernatorial candidate Chuck Neely, and liberals such as MaryBe McMillan of the state AFL-CIO, former Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, and former state Rep. Rick Glazier, head of the North Carolina Justice Center.
It all started when John Hood, president of the conservative John Pope Foundation, wrote a column about a year ago about how liberals and conservatives rarely talk to each other and usually get their information from different sources. He encouraged people to not just read information that reinforced their views, but to read material that would help them understand different viewpoints.
What is needed, Hood said, is a more constructive dialogue.
That column prompted Leslie Winner, executive director of the liberal Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and a former state senator, to call Hood to talk about it.
“One of the main lessons of being in the General Assembly in the 1990s was to really listen to people who disagreed with me,” Winner said. “There was always a kernel of truth to the people who disagreed with me.”
“We agreed to do something about it together,” Winner said.
Hood, Winner and Fritz Mayer, associate dean of Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, began planning a way to bring a political cross-section of North Carolina leaders together in an informal setting to talk about the state’s problems.
Invitations to join the group – called The North Carolina Leadership Forum – were sent out under the names of some prominent North Carolinians, including former governors Jim Hunt, a Democrat, and Jim Martin, a Republican, Duke University President Richard Brodhead, Ann Goodnight of SAS and Pope.
And so about 30 people met last Thursday and Friday at the Durham campus. Among the listed participants were business leaders such as Brad Wilson of Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Goodnight, and political leaders such as state Sen. Andy Wells, former state Sen. Pete Brunstetter and state Sen. Jeff Jackson.
The group plans to meet four times during the year. The subject is both simple and difficult, Winner said. What can be done so that more North Carolinians can earn enough to support their families? It doesn’t have to be a government program, Winner said. The group may come up with ideas for businesses, churches or nonprofits.
People can leave disagreeing about the solutions, Hood and Winner said. The goal is to have a constructive discussion and come up with ideas that everybody can get behind.
During the first meeting, the participants spent time getting to know each other and, with the help of a professional facilitator, tossing out ideas about how to improve the ability of residents to provide for their families. In the next meeting, the group will hear from policy experts.
Some ideas, such as raising the state minumum wage, Hood said, drew sharply different reactions from the participants.
But they judged the first meeting a success. “It was an A plus,” Mayer said. It was also, Mayer said, probably the first statewide effort of its kind in the country.
And in a year when much of the nation’s politics has turned toxic, it is a breath of fresh air.
Rob Christensen: 919-829-4532, email@example.com, @oldpolhack
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/article64793782.html#storylink=cpy
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio picked up another big-name donor in the presidential race on Thursday, this time one from North Carolina.
Art Pope, a philanthropist and CEO of Variety Wholesalers, said he would support Rubio’s campaign in the GOP primary and in the general election.
Pope said he’d been meeting with many of the Republican candidates and made up his mind this week.
“I think Sen. Marco Rubio is both the most qualified, has the best all-around experience, and I agree with him more so on the issues than all the other candidates,” Pope told CNN.
The businessman and former politician has invested millions in North Carolina politics and is an ally of the Koch Brothers’ network of advocacy groups and foundations.
He wouldn’t discuss any dollar amounts behind his planned support of Rubio, but pledged to “do whatever I can” to get Rubio elected, including through his contributions, advocacy for Rubio and frequent role as a national Republican Party convention delegate.
Pope said Rubio’s experience as speaker of the Florida House especially appealed to him.
“To be elected by your peers, your colleagues, is a good indication of your leadership,” Pope said, adding state speakers have a heavy set of policy responsibilities. “That is more experience than President (Barack) Obama had when he was a member of the Legislature in Illinois.”
He also cited the senator’s positions on national security, taxes, immigration and spending as being appealing.
North Carolina’s primary is in mid-March, making it a more important prize this election cycle than previous ones, where it voted later in the year. That was part of Pope’s reasoning for getting behind Rubio in the primary, which he sat out last election cycle.
It’s the latest victory for Rubio in the GOP donor race, where he’s competing against other big fundraisers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been sinking in the polls.
Rubio has been endorsed by other mega-donors including Ken Griffin, Paul Singer and Frank VanderSloot.
From CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/10/politics/marco-rubio-donor-art-pope-north-carolina/
From the John William Pope Foundation
July 24, 2015
RALEIGH – The John William Pope Foundation recently announced the award of a $5,000 grant to the White Oak School gymnasium revitalization project in Elizabethtown.
“Buildings like the White Oak gymnasium are the backbone of many small communities,” said Art Pope, chairman of the John William Pope Foundation. “The Pope Foundation is proud to support a project that the people of Bladen County will find useful and important for years to come.”
The Pope Foundation receives its support from the family of Art Pope and from Variety Wholesales, Inc., owner and operator the North Carolina based Roses and Maxway stores.
The White Oak school doors were shuttered years ago, and all that remains on the property is a gymnasium built in the 1940s. The property was donated to White Oak Baptist Church about a year ago and the White Oak School Reunion Committee began the process of renovating the building into a community center.
The grant from the Pope Foundation will help complete the final work on the building, including the installation of heating and air conditioning systems.
Read the original press release at Bladen Journal online: http://bladenjournal.com/news/education/750/white-oak-school-gymnasium-effort-receives-5000-grant