Governor Perdue – At Lunch with the Cary Rotary Club

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue joined the Cary Rotary Club for lunch on Tuesday at the MacGregor Country Club.

It was a casual and friendly gathering of about 100 Rotarians. There are 34,000 Rotary clubs worldwide, volunteering in communities at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio.

The Governor arrived at 12:15 and worked her way around the room, shaking hands and saying hello to everyone personally.

The crowd settled down to lunch. It was a normal Rotary meeting, except for the presence of the Governor of North Carolina. In honor of the Governor, a group of Boy Scouts presented the colors. I spotted them stressing out a little beforehand.

The audience said the pledge of allegiance and sang God Bless America. Plates were cleared and members made a few announcements. The Cary club has an upcoming golf tournament and is planning a cleanup on Black Creek Greenway.

Bev Perdue’s Cary Connection

Governor Perdue began with a few remarks about her Cary connection, mentioning her son and daughter-in-law who live in town.

She also talked about her great respect for Cary, highlighting a community where more than 60% are college grads and 20% have advanced degrees. “It’s the quality of the workforce that attracts companies to Cary,” Governor Perdue said.

State Economy

The Governor then turned to the economic condition of the state. She talked about painful cuts to bring the state budget under control, but reminded the crowd that North Carolina is “one of six states with a Triple A bond rating.”

Education

Governor Perdue brought the first two topics (Cary’s educated population and the economy) together with a third: statewide cuts to education budgets.

The Governor described how economic success is contingent upon “a pipeline of educated workers.”

“My parents didn’t go to high school,” Governor Perdue said, “and look at me – I’m the Governor of the greatest state in the union.”

She talked about the need for continuing advanced research at the state’s leading universities (concentrated heavily in the Triangle) as well as expansion of the Community College system, training mid-level workers for the current needs of the job market.

“Education is the key to North Carolina’s success,” said Governor Perdue.

Q&A

Governor Perdue, herself a Rotarian, paid close attention to the clock. The Cary Rotary Club meetings end promptly at 1:30.

She took questions from the audience about the economy, taxes, the UNC budget and her “toolbox” to attract large businesses to North Carolina.

This last question provoked a detailed response from the Governor. Missing from her toolbox of incentives, she explained, is a fund of upfront money that states can give companies for relocation. North Carolina has no such mechanism. South Carolina and Louisiana do.

“I’ve brought this up at the Governor’s conference,” Perdue said, “I think all the  governors should take a pledge to disarm.”

This is a recurring theme in the Governor’s message. I’ve heard her use the words “pledge to disarm” on other occasions at SAS and the Governor’s Mansion.

Governor Perdue fielded a couple of other questions, musing about a state venture capital fund and commenting briefly on redistricting.

Jerry

The meeting came to an end. The Cary Rotary Club presented the Governor with some gifts including a small Cary Rotary Club flag and some cards featuring the illustrations of Cary artist and Rotary Cub member Jerry Miller.

The Governor, who had greeted Jerry warmly when she worked her way around the room, told how she had bought a large print by Jerry Miller when she was first elected to public office in the state capital, what a talented artist and fine fellow he is…

“Tell them,” said Jerry, indicating his fellow Cary Rotarians, “they don’t know it!”

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Editor’s Note: The News & Observer covered the same event, but chose to focus on an off-hand comment by the Governor about suspending elections for two years so representatives wouldn’t be so concerned about their jobs.  It was, as the Governor’s office later said, hyperbole –  that is, an exaggeration. She was talking about the pernicious effects of government gridlock and partisanship. One suspects the N&O attends these events specifically to hunt for a “gotcha” moment.

 

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10 replies
  1. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Seriously? A sitting US Governor in a level tone talks about suspending elections and you don’t even include that in your story? Way to bury the lead.

  2. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    Matthew – Thanks for your comment but I respectfully disagree.

    I had the chance to speak to several people this morning at a Cary Chamber event who attended the luncheon yesterday. No one came away with the impression that the Governor was being anything but ironic. Everyone I’ve spoken to who was there thought the N&O story was just another distortion to gin up readership. Tellingly, they did not run it on their front page today, nor on the front page of the Triangle section nor the Cary News.

    If Governor Perdue introduces a policy initiative along these lines, I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I got it wrong. But if it doesn’t work out that way, I’ll stick to my story: the N&O doesn’t care what really happens, just what will excite and enrage the public.

  3. David
    David says:

    Even if the Governor’s comments were hyperbole, they were totally inappropriate and I feel represent the Governor’s true feelings as a liberal. This was not a gotcha moment for the press, this was a open mouth and put foot in moment for the Governor. When I read the press reports and her exact quote, I did not get the feeling of jest or using hyperbole to make a point. The people of the State of NC need an apology from the Governor.

  4. John Conklin
    John Conklin says:

    What was Governor Perdue thinking? Democrat or Republican off handed or not. It sure makes one think about the state of our education system. Her parents may not have had the opportunity to attend High School, but did she forget why it’s called The House of Representatives? You are elected to Congress as the voice of your constituents 2 years is a reasonable amount of time to do the job you were elected to fill. Anyone in Congress that is worried about their job should be replaced, simply because they have lost sight of the people they represent.

  5. Tom
    Tom says:

    Blame the News and Observer for the Governor’s stupidity. Nice touch. I guess Bush wasn’t around to take the blame.

  6. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    Tom – You bring up an interesting point. The story has become about perspective. We all ride into a story with some particular framing in mind. Mine was “Governor pays a visit to local club.”

    We’ve done similar stories on visits to town by Senator Burr and Representative Price.

    Not much of a story if you live in Apex or Holly Springs or Needham, Massachusetts, I realize. But it is news to our audience here in Cary.

    So what is a regional paper like the N&O to do? My framing is not a story for them. They come to the event with a very different perspective – find something controversial.

    I think this has to have a chilling effect on the willingness of elected officials to interact with the public in any kind of an informal, unscripted setting. That is a loss for voters of all stripes.

    I hope our elected officials continue to visit Cary. But they may want to dis-invite the major media if they are hoping for an opportunity to have candid interaction with citizens.

  7. Hal Goodtree
    Hal Goodtree says:

    John – Terms limits and length of service are two interesting issues as well.

    A couple of weeks ago in Cary, David Price (cited above) expressed support for the notion that “the voters can kick us out every two years.” He saw it as a counter-balance to the 6 year term of Senators.

    But the idea that a two year term is too short has been around for a while. It does seem as if Representatives are perpetually running for office.

    In any event, it’s not an issue anyone expects to appear on the ballot anytime soon.

    Gov. Perdue mused on length of service during a larger remark on the relative non-partisanship of North Carolina. That remark surprised me. She contrasted NC with states (44) that have not retained Triple A bond ratings.

    California’s a great place to visit, and Wisconsin is a beautiful state with lots of friendly, down-to-earth people. But I’m glad I live in North Carolina.

  8. John
    John says:

    With all due respect to you and to your governor, what she said was a very serious disregard for the system of government which was established by the people of this great land.

    To criticize those who point out the truth is to show less regard for it than those who err in their position regarding it. For it is the truth that sets us free.

    Suggesting, even in jest, that our system of government should be dismantled, reveals a serious flaw in thinking. Accepting that and defending it is just as serious. Our Constitution has been established to safeguard the God-given, unalienable rights of the people who are created in God’s image.

    Who would even suggest that it be dismantled? And why? Every man and woman in this country who loves freedom and the rights they have received from God should stand against any such suggestions. Without opposition, tyranny prevails. Freedom wasn’t free for those who died defending it.

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