GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES PALTRY 3.9% RAISES FOR EDUCATORS: Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed the legislature’s proposed raises for North Carolina teachers, calling them “inadequate.” Instead, he wants to negotiate for higher raises. “It’s clear to me that legislators want to do this, and we shouldn’t accept these paltry pay raises when we have an opportunity to do more,” Cooper told reporters Friday morning at a news conference at the Executive Mansion in downtown Raleigh. The Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly had approved average teacher raises of 3.9% over two years, including step increases for longevity. Lawmakers also passed 2% raises for non-instructional staff. But most Democrats opposed the bill containing those raises, and the Democratic governor announced Friday that he had blocked them.
TOM FETZER WAS BEHIND THE PUSH TO OUST DAN GERLACH: Other records reveal Fetzer's push to get legislative leverage behind the video. Fetzer texted Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, to help Romary. "Tell him the General Assembly has an oversight role and that you would like the tapes released,” Fetzer wrote in the text, adding, "...keeping this QUIET is essential." Romary has been involved before with intrigue at the UNC system and the Board of Governors. Last year, Fetzer said he contacted Romary to do an extra background check on a candidate for Western Carolina University's open chancellorship. That ended up derailing the search, and some members questioned Fetzer for running a check outside the system's regular protocol. Fetzer acknowledged in an email to fellow Board of Governors members his role in pushing for the Gerlach video, adding he is not ashamed because he questions whether it would have ever seen the light of day.
69 NC SCHOOLS MAKE LIST OF POTENTIAL CHARTER TAKEOVERS: Low-performing schools around North Carolina are being put on notice that they need to improve their academic performance over the next few years or else they could be turned over to an outside group such as a charter school operator. State education officials on Thursday released a list of 69 schools that qualify for inclusion in the Innovative School District based on their low state test scores. The lowest performing schools that remain on the list for four years in a row are slated to be taken over by the Innovative School District, which would hire a group to run their day-to-day operations. Forsyth County had the most schools of any district on the list at eight, followed by seven in Nash-Rocky Mount and six in Guilford County. Charlotte-Mecklenburg had four schools: Ranson Middle, Druid Hills Academy, Bruns Avenue Elementary and Allenbrook Elementary.
GIULIANI'S HENCHMEN ARE THROWING HIM UNDER THE BUS RE UKRAINE: Two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani pressed the then-president of Ukraine in February to announce investigations into former vice president Joe Biden’s son and purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election in exchange for a state visit, and a lawyer for one of the associates said Friday that they were doing so because Giuliani — acting on President Trump’s behalf — asked them to. The Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, met with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, said Edward B. MacMahon Jr., a lawyer for Parnas. He said they were working on behalf of Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who was operating on orders from Trump. “There isn’t anything that Parnas did in the Ukraine relative to the Bidens or the 2016 election that he wasn’t asked to do by Giuliani, who was acting on the direction of the president,” MacMahon said. Reached Friday night on his cellphone, Giuliani, who is also under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, said repeatedly, “I am not going to answer any questions about a pending case.” He said he was still representing Trump.
A BILLIONAIRE STEPS INTO THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY TO SAVE THE DAY (SNARK): Michael R. Bloomberg disrupted the Democratic presidential field on Friday as he took his first steps into the 2020 race, unnerving supporters of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and prompting Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to accuse Mr. Bloomberg of seeking to buy the presidency. Mr. Bloomberg, who flirted with running for president in 2008 and 2016 and early this year, but had never taken a formal step to do so, filed paperwork and qualified for the Alabama primary on Friday afternoon. The Deep South state has the earliest primary filing deadline in the country, effectively forcing Mr. Bloomberg to put his name into contention this week if he did not want to get shut out of the ballot. Mr. Bloomberg’s moves have already rippled through an unsettled Democratic field. While polls show that most Democratic voters are content with their current array of candidates, there are significant pockets of unease, most of all among politically moderate donors and leaders of the party establishment who are concerned about Mr. Biden’s prospects in the primary and fear that Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are too liberal for the general election.