Bonner Bridge is falling down (And what’s up with Lyons Gray?)

dl111111We’ve come to realize there is A LOT of “theatre” in politics.  Both sides holler about the other doing the little people wrong.  Both sides claim to have the best interests of the people at heart — to be good stewards of their money.  The facts typically bear out that both parties expend a lot of hyperbole publicly, but privately find a lot of common ground on ramping up the size of government and spending more of OUR money. 

The Moral Monday crowd and their Democrat friends like to holler about how those mean ol’ Republicans are cutting state government to the bone.  The Republicans on Jones Street brag to their constituents about how they are being conservative and fiscally responsible with OUR money.  Then, along comes a report from The John Locke Foundation that blows the claims from both sides out of the water.

CVB, Downtown Partnership to unveil new tourism signageLefties are using the Duke Power coal ash spill to holler about environmental regulation being cut to the bone. Republicans have been thumping their chests about making state environmental regulators more “business-friendly.”   Yet, we come to find that the conservative revolution on Jones Street has actually bumped up the total appropriation for NC DENR by $3.7 million from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.

The Southern Environmental Law Center of Chapel Hill has been engaged in a courtroom fight with the state DOT over replacement of The Bonner Bridge in The Outer Banks.  The people of that part of the state are getting tired, and want something done to allow them to travel safely to and from their homes. Late last year, Gov. McCrory, speaker Tillis, and senate president Berger had some harsh words for the SELC about the lawsuit.

The problem?  Long-time NCGOP establishment figure, former legislator, and Gov. Pat’s current revenue secretary Lyons Gray was sitting on the board of one of the two groups that hired the SELC to file suit against the state and stop the bridge replacement.  It came out in the media in December 2013 that Gray was a board member of Defenders of Wildlife — an opponent of the bridge replacement.  Gov. Pat’s response?:

[…] The SELC’s clients in the state and federal cases are Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association. McCrory acknowledged that a senior member of his administration, Revenue Secretary Lyons Gray, serves as the only North Carolinian on the Defenders of Wildlife board. But he declared that Gray had been unaware of the Bonner Bridge lawsuit.

He said Gray would resign his seat unless he can persuade the organization to drop the case. Gray did not respond Monday to requests for comment. […]

pat-mccrory11Hmmm.  That was in December 2013.  Here we are in March 2014.  According to the Defenders of Wildlife web site, revenue secretary Gray is STILL on the organization’s board — right there with ultra-lib Hollywood types Ed Asner and Ashley Judd as well as former congressman Norm Dicks (D-WA).  According to The North Carolina Department of Revenue’s web site, Gray is STILL the department’s chief administrator. 

Gray has clearly not resigned his post with Defenders of Wildlife.  We’ve seen no indication that Defenders of Wildlife is backing out of the suit over Bonner Bridge.

How seriously are we to take this rhetoric by McCrory, Tillis, and Berger against the environmentalists and their lawsuit against the bridge project, when a top state appointee, longtime NCGOP high-roller, and close friend of the governor is a board member of one of the plaintiff organizations? 

Gray sure is moving slow on this whole persuasion effort Gov. Pat promised.  Of course, the governor’s pledge about Gray could have been meant to merely lull us to sleep while the subject gets changed.  (Kinda like Fletcher Hartsell’s campaign account audit …)