Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Vague reopening plans are forcing UNC staffers to choose between their jobs and their health

Until recently, Meg Miller was the “house mother” at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house on Columbia Street, just off the UNC-Chapel Hill campus across from the Carolina Inn. She started as a cook but over 25 years her duties expanded to managing the property, doing all the purchasing, and working with a staff of two to keep the house safe and clean for decades of “Dekes.”

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

State transportation officials grilled at Senate hearing over damning audit

If the North Carolina Department of Transportation's financial practices were a highway, it would be a steep mountain road knotted by switchbacks and imperiled by landslides — and one with few guard rails. DOT overspent its budget by nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in 2019, according to a performance audit of the department's expenditures released by the State Auditor this month.

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COVID-19 News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: Polling on Trump’s, Cooper’s response to the pandemic

As April turns to May, North Carolinians continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic as best they can. A new poll, released last week, gives some insight into how they believe their leaders are dealing with it. The poll, conducted by Meredith College includes approval ratings for President Donald Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper, opinions on the state’s general direction and peoples’ views on reopening schools and businesses.

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COVID-19 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

COVID-19 crisis spawns another dangerous epidemic in NC: A spike in domestic violence

It was nearly 4 a.m. and Jennifer had been pretending to sleep for two hours. She tried to ignore the sound of her own heartbeat, which pounded faster and harder than seemed possible, so she could hear her husband next to her on the bed. Was he sleeping? Was he sound asleep? When she was sure he was, she quietly slipped out of the bedroom and down the hall to retrieve the garbage bag she had hidden behind the washing machine that afternoon.

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Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Fetzer courts controversy again with new effort to shape ECU Board of Trustees

Tom Fetzer had a problem — again. It involved East Carolina University — again. Fetzer, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, inserted himself into yet another hiring decision about the school. This time it was the question of Van Isley’s appointment to the ECU Board of Trustees.

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COVID-19 Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Pandemic bringing changes to higher education that could be long-lasting

Some say “new normal” at UNC could feature more faculty input, fewer applicants, depleted budgets and an expanded commitment to online instruction This week Eric Muller dialed in to a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty leadership video conference to wrestle ...
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COVID-19 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

COVID-19 reignites dark memories for those who survived the AIDS epidemic

Twice a week, Brad Batch goes on a walk with some friends in Raleigh. The Wednesday and Sunday outings are about more than just getting some fresh air. They’re an important and communal part of his week — a chance to get out of the house, have a laugh, catch up with people over coffee. But last month Batch, who is 67, told the group he wasn’t going anymore — at least until the COVID-19 pandemic was over.

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COVID-19 News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

“Shockingly large numbers” of positive virus tests found at troubled Orange County nursing home

The man, known in federal documents as Resident No. 1, was wearing his hospital gown, underwear and socks, lying on top of some rocks in a drainage ditch. The ditch had a small amount of water in it, and part of his gown was wet. About three feet away sat his shoes.  On a March morning a year ago, the sun was just coming up, and the man, with his arms folded across his chest, was looking up at the sky.

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COVID-19 Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

College students, professors adjust to COVID-19 life

A disciplined collegiate rower, Lindsay York is used to a structured, yet social life. Last fall, the High Point native moved 1,100 miles away to attend Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she settled in well. “I have a rowing scholarship and that kept me busy from when I first got there,” York said. “I’m used to waking up at five in the morning, getting a workout done, going to classes, then getting another workout. I had a very tight schedule. But I also developed my own little Des Moines family, my friends and my team atmosphere.”

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COVID-19 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

PW exclusive: What it’s like to get tested, wait, worry and adjust to the new normal of a COVID-19 world

“I’m not going to lie to you,” my doctor told me last week. “This is going to be unpleasant.” She then pulled the longest medical swab I’d ever seen from its sanitary seal, explaining she would need to insert it deep into my nasal passage, very nearly into my throat, to get a proper sample.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Virginia takes a giant leap on LGBTQ equality – will NC follow suit?

It’s been a historic month for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in Virginia. With Democrats in control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in 26 years, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has signed a raft of LGBTQ protections. Among them: the South’s first ban on so-called conversion therapy, expanded hate crime legislation, protections for transgender students in public schools and a law paving the way for local governments to pass their own anti-discrimination laws.

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Higher Ed News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

UNC campuses struggling to make do as state budget impasse nears ninth month

As temperatures fell last week, a few inches of snowfall led to school closures and hot chocolate in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. A few hours west, in Cullowhee, the atmosphere was a bit more anxious. Students, staff and faculty at Western Carolina University were trying not to think about the outdated and failing steam plant that provides heat and hot water on campus. It’s one bad winter – perhaps one bad cold snap – from the kind of complete failure that would shut down the campus.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

ECU trustees: Speaker Tim Moore seeking chancellor’s post

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is seeking the open chancellor’s position at East Carolina University, two members of the ECU Board of Trustees confirmed to Policy Watch this week. “He is interested, he is pursuing it and there’s a lot of conversation about it,” one of the board members said in an interview with Policy Watch.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

As 2020 election approaches, “fake news” goes viral in North Carolina

"Satirical" Facebook site seeks to promote Trump's re-election When Jonathan Jones saw a Facebook post about a bodybuilder befriending a man with Down syndrome, it caught his attention because it purportedly happened at the north Durham gym he frequents. “It said it came from ‘North Carolina Breaking News,'" Jones said. “And I’d never heard of that.”

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC judge scraps UNC’s controversial “Silent Sam” settlement

An Orange County Superior Court Judge effectively scrapped the UNC System’s legal settlement with the NC Sons of Confederate Veterans Wednesday, saying the group had no legal standing to sue for ownership of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument and $2.5 million for its care. Judge Allen Baddour initially signed off on the consent judgement in the case, but when the agreement was challenged by students, faculty and alumni he said he would take another look at the details of the case.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Trustees express concern at being “drafted” by UNC Board of Governors to support GOP state budget

Fear of political retribution drives some campus leaders to play ball, keep mum When the UNC Board of Governors weighed in on the state budget stalemate last month, it didn’t just take a side in a partisan political fight between a Democratic governor and the Republican majority in the legislature. It asked the individual boards of trustees of all 16 UNC universities and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to follow suit. This week a half-dozen trustees from those schools told Policy Watch they are uncomfortable wading into the partisan fight, but fear Republican legislative leaders will remove or fail to re-appoint them if they don’t follow orders.

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