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 two dozen state, regional and national awards for his reporting and writing, including recognition for investigative reporting, commentary, and news features. In 2018, he won first place from the N.C. Press Association for political reporting. And 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 is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1460

Billy Ball's articles and posts

News Top Story

Monday Numbers: How a Trump administration rule change threatens food stamp access in NC

If there is a strategy to President Trump’s administration – and really, who knows if there is? – it may be a kind of sleight of hand.  Take the immense stakes for North Carolina and many states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s consideration of a rule change that threatens access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as “food stamps.” 

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

After deflating charter school report, NC must confront the failures of school choice

Surrounded by the labyrinthine performance metrics of North Carolina’s charter school sector, Comment 12, a Pepto Bismol-colored side note to a 2016 report for the North Carolina legislature, is easy to overlook. The report dryly notes that, while charters may be more likely to earn an “A” than traditional schools, they’re more likely to earn an “F” as well, fitting for a K-12 movement often argued in the extremes.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Another year, another monster storm: Our leaders must act on climate change

I was almost 16 years old in August 1998, when Hurricane Bonnie – traveling at a sluggish six miles per hour, about the speed of a brisk jog – cut up the North Carolina coastline. But my memories of the night it chewed up my hometown are indelible.   The pine trees bent and broke, the power transformer on the corner gave off a mechanical cough and exploded with a shower of incandescent sparks, and the house...

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Mark Johnson’s wasteful reading test saga continues

When North Carolina officials put a stop, at least for the time being, to a badly mishandled contracting process for a new K-3 reading test operator Tuesday, it’s as if they read the writing on the wall.

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Billy Ball Commentary Defending Democracy Top Story

In N.C., the last days of gerrymandering can’t come too soon

Today we wait. We wait for the judges, who retired to their chambers weeks ago in the Common Cause v. Lewis case, a case that asserts political gerrymandering is a betrayal of the “equal protection” provision of the North Carolina constitution.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

In the age of social media, Donald Trump’s bigotry blooms on the Internet

The notion that social media is a funhouse mirror, distorting our features beyond recognition, is not a new one. But there is a case to be made, in our hyper-politicized country and state...

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

In the IStation saga, Mark Johnson’s failings get a big stage

If North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson ever fizzled in his lustrous perch in DPI’s corner office, his sharpest critics surmised, he would be failed by his extraordinarily limited bona fides. After all, when it comes to Johnson’s background – two years in a Charlotte classroom via Teach for America...

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

The big scam: Why North Carolina should dump virtual charter schools

Linger long enough in Raleigh’s legislative lagoon and you’ll find there are three kinds of lawmakers: The pragmatists: Take a photo if you spy one of these. Theirs is an isolated, lonely caucus, and their agenda is a more nebulous sort. Find the logic, find the rationale for a proposal and you may have an ally here.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Monday Numbers: Don’t be fooled by the raw numbers. ICE is seizing more undocumented immigrants without criminal records.

The right-wing wallflowers of The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, with an almost palpable sense of frustration, that President Trump’s promised weekend roundup of undocumented immigrants did not materialize.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

What else is in the mysterious Hofeller files? A few (satirical) ideas…

Between his work for Republican redistricting leaders in the N.C. General Assembly and the Trump administration, the late mapmaker Thomas Hofeller could have been privy to a veritable legion of party secrets, many of them none too flattering to our political leaders.

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