Background: Over the weekend, a minor dust-up erupted when it was reported by left wing partisan media outlets that NC Governor Pat McCrory (R) was “spending $230,000 on renovation” on the 1800-s era estate, including plans to add marble counter tops. At a time when state government is scaling back spending on public assistance programs, this naturally sent the hyperventilating activist left here – desperate for the latest “heartless Pat” talking points – into a frenzy. In reality, the money had NOT been spent, and in fact the $230,000 was an ESTIMATE, not a bill. No work had been done. Left-leaning WRAL, which helped hyped up the story, provided clarification (bolded emphasis added):
We’re talking about six bathrooms that total up to 560 square feet, including a 240-square-foot master bathroom.
“There’s evidence of mold growing significant enough to require renovation work,” said Chris Mears, a spokesman for the Department of Administration, which put together the repair list.
There has been roughly $6.8 million worth of work on the 122-year-old mansion since Gov. Mike Easley [D] took office, according to a summary provided by Mears, but none of that work dealt with the bathrooms.
“The last time they (the bathrooms) were renovated was under Jim Holshouser,” Mears said. Holshouser was governor from 1973 to 1977.
In a memo detailing the required work, Bill Sears, a private architect working for the state, said existing floors and fixtures need to be removed, and the electrical outlets need to be upgraded to modern standards.
And because the mansion is an historic house, some custom work will be required to preserve historic features. For example, Mears said, one bathroom was retrofitted when President Franklin D. Roosevelt stayed at the mansion. Those retrofits, he said, will need to be preserved.
The $230,000 figure is only an estimate. The project will be put to bid.
So what did we learn here?1) The $230,000 was not SPENT. 2) The $230,000 was an ESTIMATE written as part of a detailed list OF THINGS NEEDED TO BE DONE compiled by he Department of Administration, not Gov. McCrory. 3) The catalyst for the renovations are continuing safety/code issues that have changed since the prior 2nd floor bathroom reno done in … the 1970s. 4) Because of the historic nature of the building, custom work must be done to keep it looking, well, “historic.” 5) That over $6.5 MILLION in reno work done to the mansion was done primarily during the Easley (D) administration (around $250,000 was done under Perdue -D, who was McCrory’s predecessor). Left wing dum dums responded that the multi-million $$ Easley reno was due to … gasp … safety issues, and of course in that case NO STONE SHOULD BE LEFT UNTURNED. When they were informed that the renos done to the mansion had to do with a lot more than just “mold issues”, you heard crickets in response. Of course.
Not wanting to be left out of the “outrage!!!” picture, the Associated Press wrote this ridiculous piece on the “controversy”- which I’m sure the left-wing Charlotte Observer eagerly republished – that notes the Governor’s office’s response to initial (false) reports, but notice the skepticism the AP inserts into their piece over the cited safety reasons for the proposed bathroom reno (again, bolded emphasis added by me):
RALEIGH, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory has decided against spending up to $230,000 in taxpayer funds remodeling bathrooms in his private living quarters at North Carolina’s Executive Mansion.
McCrory spokesman Kim Genardo issued a statement Saturday saying the scope of the work would now be scaled back.
“The governor has firmly communicated to the Department of Administration that not one penny of taxpayer dollars will be used to remodel or upgrade any of the six bathrooms in the living quarters,” Genardo said. “Only a very limited amount of funds will be used to repair potential code violations, treat dangerous mold and fix broken faucets.”
Genardo did not immediately respond when asked which specific building codes the bathrooms violated. Old houses typically are grandfathered from having to meet the same requirements as newer homes.
The Associated Press reported Friday on plans to remodel six bathrooms in the Republican governor’s private living area at the historic downtown Raleigh manor. The bathrooms were last remodeled in the 1970s, but are in working order.
A written estimate showed more than $100,000 of planned work to the master bathroom, including new marble, woodwork, bath fixtures and a ventilated water closet.
A memo justifying the upgrades listed problems that included the lack of water-efficient commodes, cracked tiles, worn countertops, inadequate electrical outlets and concern there might be mold growing behind the walls. There was no mention of testing to determine whether the mold is toxic.
Can you believe this? Unreal! Let me break down what the Associated Press is insinuating here:
In spite of the fact that the Gov’s office has said the bathroom reno would be done only to bring the bathrooms in the historic mansion up to code and to fix potentially hazardous mold issues, the AP is skeptical there are building code and mold issues … hey, the bathrooms are “IN WORKING ORDER” so how on EARTH could there be mold/code issues… even though, according to other reports, MILLIONS were spent during the Easley (D) administration to fix … safety issues related to mold – just not on the second floor. And, hey, older buildings “typically” don’t have to meet the safety codes of newer homes, so why should the Governor spend ONE DIME on this?? And is the mold REALLY toxic? INVESTIGATE NOW!
This is what passes for “journalism” these days. False narrative setting by the liberal mainstream media by way of misleading information, amplified by desperate leftists. Mountains made out of molehills. Deliberately. Pathetic.
Sidenote: A Facebook friend wrote this in response to the initial reports on the reno. which I thought was worth repeating:
If you’ve ever reno’d an older home, you’ll see how $230K for six bathrooms in an historic building (remediating in an environment where life/work continue and bringing up to code) is a realistic estimate. I’d ask those who compare the State’s Governor’s Mansion to ‘most people’s homes’ what they’d suggest? We could always sell the buildings. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, though.
This is an argument – along with the federal shutdown – for reducing the property owned by government. As for the mansion, though, you must maintain it if you’re going to have it.
In other words, when reno needs to be done on a historic home, you can’t cheap out on it. And while the optics of renovating the governor’s mansion during tough economic times are certainly not good, the devil – as they say - is always in the details. Too bad the Associated Press and opportunistic Democrats sick over being out of power after 100+ years of total control of this state don’t get that.