Original Commentary

Original Commentary

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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Now is no time to settle for inadequate half measures on gerrymandering

If there is a single brightest and most hopeful bit of news on the North Carolina public policy horizon these days, it has to be that our state could, at very long last, be on the verge of ending partisan gerrymandering. With a three-judge panel set to rule in the Common Cause v. Lewis litigation any day (a case in which much of the key evidence offered by legislative defendants was thrown out for being not credible), good government advocates are having to work hard to avoid a sense of giddy optimism about where the case is headed.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Ban weapons of war. Now.

Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for the madman responsible for the carnage in Dayton, Ohio to shoot 26 people, killing nine, including his sister, and wounding 17 more before he was killed by police.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Guns, the budget and gerrymandering highlight NC’s political dysfunction

It can’t have escaped many folks’ notice – even those, bless their hearts, for whom the really big news involves the onset of football season – that our political systems these days feature a whole lot of wheel-spinning and gear-grinding in the face of epic challenges. Psychopaths toting massacre-model firearms stalk public gathering places and wreak carnage on innocent people who happened to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time...

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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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Budget gridlock: Part of the right’s strategy for undermining state government

There was a fascinating exchange regarding North Carolina’s ongoing budget stalemate last week at a community meeting in High Point between State Rep. John Faircloth – a conservative Republican and co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee – and one of his constituents. The subject of the Q&A was Senate leader Phil Berger...

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Progressive Voices Top Story

In a nation beset by massacres, there’s only one side to be on

I have nothing particularly new, trenchant or poignant to say on our great, intractable gun debate, the latest slew of firearm massacres or our bigoted president’s dangerous rhetoric. My past thoughts on the numbing frequency of mass shootings and guns are here, here and here.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Puerto Rico’s youth teach the world a lesson in democracy

Just like every other Puerto Rican in the world, I could not sleep on Tuesday night, July 23. I sat in my bed looking at live feed from Old San Juan, thinking how the people of this tiny and humble island might have just taught the world the greatest lesson in democracy.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

NC leaders demonstrate right and wrong ways to deal with #MeToo issues

One of the more hopeful developments to take flower in American culture during the Trump era is the #MeToo movement. While women have been calling out and resisting predatory and inappropriate behavior by men since the beginning of time, there’s no denying that the emergence of Trump – that paragon of misogyny, sexism, malignant narcissism and exploitative inequality...

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Good money after bad: NC’s mushrooming appropriations to fake health clinics

Soon after I began working at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina in 2016, I found myself explaining to someone our concerns about anti-abortion fake clinics (aka “crisis pregnancy centers”) and the tax dollars they were receiving. “How much are they getting?”

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Editorial Cartoon

Lack of Coverage

Learn more about the inspiration for this cartoon. ...
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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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Progressive Voices Top Story

Pardon me if I’m skeptical of Treasurer Folwell’s motives in the current State Health Plan debate

There’s been a great deal of heat but not a lot of light in recent weeks surrounding state Treasurer Dale Folwell’s “Clear Pricing Project” for the State Health Plan (SHP) – an initiative that has led physicians and hospitals to leave the plan in droves. Here are some important truths about the issue that have not been widely reported – much less understood by many of the state employees whose lives stand to be disrupted. 

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Legislative hypocrisy on “pork” (and we’re not talking about hog farms)

It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time not that long ago in North Carolina in which Republican legislators were out of power and, alongside conservative advocacy groups, passionately promoting a “change” platform that blasted the incumbent Democrats for: 1) gerrymandering elections for partisan gain; 2) abusing power at the General Assembly...

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