Up front: October 2013

The session


That the 2013 General Assembly was historic cannot be denied, so it was only fitting that we assembled a team of veteran journalists to assess its handiwork and provide some per- spective on what the honorables had wrought as it relates to business. But it was not until I tallied these four guys’ tenure covering Tar Heel commerce, politics and government that it struck me: Their 116 years of experience, if laid out in a long line, would stretch back to 1897. That’s when Daniel L. Russell took office. He was North Carolina’s last Republican governor until Jim Holshouser was elected 75 years later. Adding mine to that line takes it back to before the Civil War, nearly to the date the GOP became a national party.

Except for three years in the Army and one doing public relations for the Association of American Railroads, Jack Betts has covered local, state and national politics since 1968. His jobs included Washington correspondent, Raleigh bureau chief, editorial writer and columnist, primarily for the Greensboro Daily News and The Charlotte Observer, where he retired in 2011 as associate editor. He also edited N.C. Insight for the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research and was inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006. Who better to trace how a half-century’s agenda for economic development has suddenly shifted (page 54)?

When he was but a wee wonk, John Hood was writing for national conservative journals, and he launched his newspaper column about state policy and politics in 1987, two years before going to work with the John Locke Foundation. He’s its president and chairman, which gives him special insight into what’s going on in Raleigh. (Art Pope, whose family’s foundation is the think tank’s primary benefactor, is Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director.) You may want to reassess your opinion as to the session’s winners and losers after reading his piece, which begins on page 57.

In 22 years with the Winston-Salem Journal, Ken Otterbourg was a business reporter and editor, covered state government from its Raleigh bureau and later became the paper’s managing editor. Now a freelance writer, his work appears in Fortune and other national publications. He’s always been interested in advertising, so he jumped at the chance to mull the value of the state’s brand, which the governor says needs fixing. See page 60 for his views on how to do it.

Scott Mooneyham has covered politics for 25 years, the last 16 in Raleigh with The Associated Press and now as editor of The Insider, the multimedia news service that focuses on state government. But he had never seen anything like this session, which made picking the 10 most important pieces of business-related legislation to come out of it especially challenging. Turn to page 52 to compare his choices with yours.

The work of this crew is no stranger to readers of this magazine. John, Scott and Ken are contributing editors, John and Scott writing monthly columns, as Jack once did. Their wealth of experience provides the kind of in-depth insight that has long been Business North Carolina’s specialty.


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