Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scofflaw councilman no stranger to controversy

This week I wrote about an Alamance County man named William "Bob" Hupman, who owes the state of North Carolina $2.2 million in back taxes. The Mebane city councilman tops the state revenue department's list of people and companies that owe more than $500 million in delinquent taxes.

The article brought Hupman some unwelcome attention.

One Triad TV station found that he also owes the IRS $4 million. It found a federal lien filed in 2004.

Another station interviewed people around Mebane. Councilman Ed Hooks told WFMY the city is powerless to kick Hupman off the council. "I can't explain it, I think it's a phenomenon that is... strange," he said. "In other cities he would have been voted off immediately."

Hupman, who faces re-election this year, has had more than tax problems.

Last month, the N.C. Attorney General's office decided not to pursue charges against him after reviewing findings from an SBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. A woman reported the allegations to the Mebane Police Department last May.

In 2007, a Mebane man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of trying to run over Hupman in his car. The driver was originally charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

"I'm a thick-skinned son-of-a-gun," Hupman told a reporter recently.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jeff Katz's new gig won't be Mecklenburg GOP chairman

Mecklenburg County Republicans will elect a new chairman Saturday. But the best-known candidate has dropped out.

Jeff Katz, the conservative talk show host fired in December by WBT radio, had expressed interest in the job but has pulled out, according to current chairman Lee Teague.

His departure leaves Chris Emmanuel and Rob Bryan vying for the party's top spot.

Nearly 400 people have registered for the convention, which will be held Saturday morning at Butler High School.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dole manager: Godless ad was 'Hail Mary'

Marty Ryall, who ran Republican Elizabeth Dole’s Senate campaign last year, confirms what many people suspected about the so-called Godless ad – that it was a desperation move by a campaign that knew it was losing.

Ryall writes about the ad in a cover story for Politics magazine. The headline: “Our Hail Mary Pass, Why we ran the Godless ad and what I’d do differently.”

The ad that ran in the final days was the most controversial of the campaign. It sought to tie Democrat Kay Hagan to a group of atheists who want to remove references to God from the public arena. It showed Hagan’s photo while a woman’s voice said “There is no God.”

“Many in the media, especially on the liberal side, were
quick to point to the ad and claim it backfired, costing
Dole the election,” Ryall writes. “Nothing could be further from the
truth. When a football team is trailing by 7 points and
throws a “Hail Mary” on the last play of the game, they
don’t lose because they failed to complete the play, they
lose because they were down 7 points and time was running
Ryall recites the campaign’s problems. It burned through too much money early and then faced an onslaught from outside groups. In addition, there were Dole’s weaknesses, including her effectiveness rating, the time she spent outside North Carolina and, of course, the Obama turnout effort.

In the final week, he says, Dole was on “a losing trajectory” and had to do something with “shock value.” The only thing he would have done differently about the Godless ad was to cut the “There is no God” quote at the end since it gave Hagan a ready line of attack.

“So, in the end, the “Godless” ad had little impact on the
election. The Obama campaign’s decision to target North
Carolina and turn out the Democrat vote was far more
damaging. …. I would argue that had we run the ad
sooner, and without the voice at the end, it would have been closer.
However, that is all hindsight. The risk was huge and not worth
taking until it was evident we could not win without it, and
that was not clear until about 10 days out. Had the ad run
about 20 days out, it may have made it closer, but the data
we had at that time did not warrant taking such a large

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lynn Wheeler: Unlikely Civil Rights pilgrim?

You might not expect Lynn Wheeler to be making a Civil Rights pilgrimage through the South. But that's exactly what she's doing.

Wheeler, the former Republican member of the Charlotte city council, is accompanying former NAACP chairman Julian Bond on a seven-day tour called “In the Footsteps of the Movement.” She's even blogging about the trip for Qcitymetro, a new Web site that caters to African Americans in the Charlotte area.

Even Wheeler says she's an unlikely candidate for the trip.

"I grew up in the ‘60s on a plantation outside of Richmond, Va." she wrote. "I
attended an all-white, all-girls high school and college. To top that off, I
was a Richmond debutante and spent my summers at the all-white Country Club
of Virginia, where my parents were members."
Today the group on Tuskeegee, Al., where they heard from Fred Gray, the lawyer who worked with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King during the Montgomery Bus Boycott days. Travelers, who each paid $3,200 for the tour, also have heard from the likes of movement veterans such as Rep. John Lewis.

"It's compelling, it's riveting, it's emotional," Wheeler said today by phone. "I just wanted to go. I've been obsessed with the Civil Rights movement for some time. And what a better way to learn about it than to have Julian Bond lead the way."