Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, Managing Editor, joined Policy Watch in January 2016. In his 15+ years as a North Carolina reporter, he’s covered public schools, state and local politics, courts, the environment, criminal justice and immigration for publications like The Independent Weekly, The Sanford Herald andThe Monroe Enquirer-Journal. During that time, he’s won more than 20 state, regional and national awards for his reporting, including first place awards for education reporting and news feature reporting in 2016. His 2014 reporting on the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, which earned him a national award for “media impact” from The Media Consortium, exposed the mistreatment of a North Carolina inmate with mental illness in solitary confinement. His reporting led to ongoing reforms in how the state handles prisoners with a mental illness.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1460

Billy Ball's articles and posts

Original Commentary Other Voices Top Story

The trouble with ICE

Six years ago, long before #AbolishICE, and long before Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) touched off an international uproar by separating undocumented families at the border, federal immigration agents had already stirred up outrage in North Carolina.

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Original Commentary Other Voices Progressive Voices Top Story

After Kennedy, after Trump, progressives rage

“Let us be enraged about injustice, but let us not be destroyed by it.” – Bayard Rustin This Anthony Kennedy news. Last week’s departure of America’s most important swing vote—perhaps the last foxhole against Trump’s most virulent attacks—read like a funeral dirge for liberal and moderate Americans.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Legislators wallow in special interest override of governor’s veto

Leaders in the N.C. General Assembly seem to exist in the permanent state of an editorial cartoon.

If so, picture the 74 House lawmakers and 37 Senate lawmakers—mostly Republicans, a few Democrats—who voted this week to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the N.C. Farm Act of 2018 as musclebound boars, holding clothespins to their snouts, wielding a judge’s gavel they are wholly unqualified to hold.

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Original Commentary Other Voices Top Story

New voter suppression proposals echo North Carolina’s dark past

Would that North Carolina lawmakers had been so direct as “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a virulent white supremacist from South Carolina who, in February 1900, told his colleagues on the U.S. Senate floor that the South’s methodical disenfranchisement of African Americans was, in fact, some sort of triumph.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Allegations of sexism, partisanship follow local election board’s disqualification of Berger challenger

On May 25, the news headlines read that Democratic state Senate candidate Jen Mangrum had been disqualified from her bid to unseat Sen. Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful state lawmaker in North Carolina. Republicans had challenged Mangrum’s residency in Berger’s district near the Virginia line, and a panel of election officials from Berger’s Senate District 30 voted on party lines to oust Mangrum...

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Original Commentary Top Story

GOP leaders seek to poison school safety bill with partisan attack on the Affordable Care Act

The practice of loading down noncontroversial legislation with divisive and partisan provisions is an all-too-common phenomenon at the modern North Carolina General Assembly. When former North Carolina senator Angela Bryant unloaded on this year’s class-size funding ceasefire, the characteristically blunt Democrat...

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Education Top Story

Bill to allow municipal charters becomes law despite bipartisan opposition, specter of resegregation

On Wednesday, members of the N.C. House of Representatives were prepared to cast a vote on town-run charter schools with major ramifications for the future of public education, but Rep. Kelly Alexander’s mind was on the past. In the late 1950s, as Alexander explained, some North Carolinians were urging state lawmakers to pursue predominantly white sub-districts, an attempt to assuage the budding uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 order to desegregate public schools in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Wedding cake ruling is more likely a detour than a roadblock in fight for equality

The U.S. Supreme Court, it seems, is not without a sense of cruel irony.

Surely, we can find a better way to ring in Pride Month than Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: a decision from the nation’s high court Monday that found a Colorado commission erred...

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Education Top Story

Education budget shocker could alter the fundamentals of NC school funding

When GOP leaders in the General Assembly unveiled their privately-crafted $23.9 billion budget Monday night, the biggest surprise wasn’t its proposals for teacher pay or another round of tax cuts.

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News Top Story

Democrats: Berger-Moore budget process may quash debate, amendments

When N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger addressed reporters last week, they boasted that negotiations on the state’s estimated $24 billion budget were “far ahead” of years past. According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would all but quash debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

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