Duke Energy Executive Compensation Cut Over Coal Ash Spill

duke_energy_ceoCHARLOTTE — Duke Energy’s CEO paid a price for the coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge.

An annual statement released ahead of the company’s May shareholder meeting says CEO Lynn Good’s $8.3 million compensation in 2014 was cut by close to $600,000.

The top financial officer and three other executives saw similar reductions in compensation tied to annual performance.

Representatives with Duke Energy say the executives were docked because the spill will cost the company more than $190 million in cleanup and legal fees, and fines.

Capital Tonight March 27: Bow Tie Caucus

Capital_Tonight_logoOn Capital Tonight: Potential presidential candidates are visiting North Carolina to test the waters and drum up support for a campaign in 2016. So what are voters looking for in a candidate? Joe Stewart and Frank Hill join the Bow Tie Caucus to tackle this elusive question. Watch the program here.

New Bill Could Put Dorothea Dix Property on the Auction Block

Dix_propertyRALEIGH — Bill Padgett, president of Dix 306, is one of the advocates fighting to keep the Dorothea Dix property deal between Gov. Pat McCrory and city leaders on the table.

“This 306, 308 acres sits between 55,000 faculty, staff and students at NC State, and a population of a million folks in Raleigh and the surrounding area. So we are the only place in the country that has the potential for a 21st Century destination park.”

Padgett said to lose an opportunity like this would be catastrophic. But it could be a reality.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 705 was filed. It would essentially block the current deal between the governor and the city and put the property up for auction.

Raleigh City Council member John Odom said, “We were hoping that nothing would happen like this because we thought we already had a proposal on the table that was pretty good, and so we were hoping that would go through. However, we were being realistic. We knew it might happen and here we are today.”

The city offered to lease part of the space to the state for 25 years along with a $52 million purchase price.

Their plan includes creating a large park, but if it goes to the highest bidder the land could be used as development space.

Odom said, “I am not sure the private sector is ready to participate in this. We shall see if that happens. Maybe the legislators know somebody is offering them more money than we have offered them.”

Padgett said he has been waiting to see the space used as a park for a decade, and he’s not giving up.

“This would be one of these amenities, once again, in the center part of our state, that makes North Carolina just a fantastic attraction in the future, of what it could be?  The potential is beyond imagination.”

- Amy Elliott

NAACP Protests NC Senators Over Opposition to Lynch Appointment

naacp_protests_osCHARLOTTE — Demonstrations will be held Monday to push for the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general.

The Greensboro native was nominated months ago but the Senate continues to delay her confirmation.

Demonstrators are expected to gather at the Charlotte office of Sen. Thom Tillis at 3 p.m. They want Tillis and Sen. Richard Burr to change their minds and vote to confirm Lynch. Both said last month they wouldn’t support her.

The Republican senators said they are concerned about “Lynch’s desire to lead the Department of Justice in the same manner as Eric Holder.”

If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Members of the NAACP have already met with Tillis and Burr once, and they say they hope the protest will make a difference.

Demonstrators will also gather at Burr’s office in Wilmington and Tillis’s Raleigh office.

Capital Tonight March 26: Former Sen. Rick Santorum

rick_sant1On Capital Tonight: Potential GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum talks with Tim Boyum about his past runs and his positions as he meets supporters in North Carolina. Sens. Tamara Barringer and Erica Smith-Ingram discuss the bills they are passionate about in our Lawmakers segment. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight Interview: Former Sen. Rick Santorum

Rick_SantorumPotential GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum talks with Tim Boyum about his past runs and his positions as he meets supporters in North Carolina. Watch the interview here.

Rick Santorum Makes Pit Stop at NC Legislature

Capital_Tonight_logoRALEIGH—North Carolina’s status as a swing state is getting some early attention by potential candidates on the national stage.

On Thursday, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum stopped by the legislature as ponders whether or not to throw his hat in the race again in 2016.

“I have gone through this once before, and I know how hard it is. A lot of the folks may not realize how difficult this is. So you want to make sure that if you are looking at it, particularly for a second time, you want to look at what you need to not just win a state or two. But have what is necessary to win the general,” said Santorum.

Santorum is in town to take part in a conservative conference taking place over the weekend, but carved time out to speak to state lawmakers about the issues important to him.

“I am looking out at folks across american and I see a tremendous amount of angst, frustration with politics and politicians, particularly in Washington DC because of our inability in Washington to get anything done,” said Santorum.

His visit to the legislature was a unique one—but one lawmakers, like Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican who invited him, say they are hopeful to see more political figures talk to them.

“These national campaigns do seek out the support of local elected officials, and so this was unique opportunity to have that back and forth with Sen. Santorum,” said Rep. Saine.

Santorum did take on some issues state leaders are grappling with—including whether or not to face sanctions from the national Republican party over its currently early scheduled presidential primary or if the state should reconsider and move it to a later date.

“The imperative to go early to have an impact, is probably not as high as it would have been maybe eight years ago or 12 years ago,” said Santorum.

Ben Carson will be in the Triangle this weekend for the Civitas Conservative leadership confernce and Ted Cruz will be speaking at the John Locke Foundation’s headliner lunch.

- Loretta Boniti

State Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Gas Tax Solution

gas_pump_0212RALEIGH—State lawmakers have reached a compromise on how to structure North Carolina’s gas tax.

Under the new proposal, the gas tax would almost immediately drop down to 36 cents per gallon, which is a cent and a half less than it currently is.  Next year, it would drop another penny, and then to 34 cents in July of 2016.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say this compromise and reduced gas tax revenue will encourage the state to come up with a new transportation funding plan for the state.

“The old funding formula, allowed for some pretty wild, volatile changes in what the tax rate would be. Which made planning for how your repair roads, repair bridges very, very hard,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.

“Leveling it off now at a reduced level, I think is fair. It is reasonable. It is indeed a tax cut. It could go further. And we’ve created the appropriate incentives. Now whether all Democrats will share that perspective, I cannot tell you. I do believe there will be Democrats in both the House and the Senate that will support the conference report,” said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham County Democrat.

Both the House and Senate still need to vote on this compromised plan before it is sent to the governor for consideration.

Capital Tonight March 24: Women in NC Politics

Capital_Tonight_logoOn Capital Tonight: A new report from Meredith College looks at participation of women in North Carolina politics and how much influence they wield in Raleigh and statewide. We talk with Profs. David McLennan and Susan Roberts. Our Insiders Malcolm Graham and Wayne King dish on 2016 presidential politics. Watch the program here.

Capital Tonight March 23: Energy Freedom Act

Capital_Tonight_logoA proposal in the state House aims to expand the renewable energy market by allowing residents and business to buy power from a third party – like a solar farm. But what does the power company think about this? We talk with Rep. John Szoka and Randy Wheeless from Duke Energy. Paul Woolverton of the Fayetteville Observer and Erik Spanberg of Charlotte Business Journal join the Reporter Roundtable. Watch the program here.