Billy Ball Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary

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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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Amid the budget showmanship, North Carolina’s budget will surely suffer

North Carolina’s legislative leaders have finally – in one big, bursting feat of Houdini-like showmanship – liberated themselves from truth and context. Their mastery of the mummers play was a revelation Tuesday, in their ruefully insincere keening that we, at this late budgetary hour, have arrived without input from Gov. Roy Cooper –

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Dear North Carolina lawmakers, can the budget theatrics

There’s a scene in “The West Wing” – liberals’ sweaty, Emmy-hording ode to progressivism – in which President Bartlett, facing a budget bait-and-switch from his erstwhile Republican nemeses, shuts down the government. Bartlett – a hopelessly fictional hero, ...
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Billy Ball Commentary Defending Democracy Top Story

The case of the vanishing budget: How N.C.’s secretive budget “process” is bad for the public good

If, in this precise moment, you’re wondering where North Carolina’s multi-billion dollar budget is, the same one that sets crucial policy and spending parameters for state agencies, that dictates classroom funding levels for 1.5 million schoolchildren, that sets pay levels for thousands of state employees, retirees and teachers, it’s in the same place it’s always been.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

A eulogy: For the abortion bill whose supporters dared not speak its name

Sometime in the latter hours of debate over an abortion bill that North Carolina Republicans insisted was not about abortion – even as the words “abortion” and “abortion victims” were uttered some fourteen-thousand times Wednesday – Speaker Tim Moore descended from his perch at the forefront of the state House chamber to debate.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Lawmakers misfire with plan to expand NC’s ill-conceived voucher program

“Governor Cooper is failing when it comes to helping minority students. Don’t let him take away your Opportunity Scholarships,” reads the Raleigh billboard, the latest conservative spittooning of the Democratic governor. Sounds heinous, if true, but the truth is truly, extraordinarily, squishy in this instance.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Damn the politics, impeach Donald Trump. Now.

When Yoni Appelbaum, a senior editor at The Atlantic, wrote in March that President Trump should be impeached, perhaps, for the writer, some doubt remained even then as to the president’s ultimate guilt or innocence. “Impeachment is a process, not an outcome,” he wrote. “A rule-bound procedure for investigating a president, considering evidence, formulating charges, and deciding whether to continue on to trial.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Teachers to march again in Raleigh, but some lawmakers seem to be missing the message

We know Sen. Phil Berger, perhaps the most powerful lawmaker in North Carolina politics, can speak. If there’s a piece of legislation in the last five to ten years that advanced without the Big Berger’s caustic input, I can’t name it.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

After sweeping order, an end to coal ash in NC? All bets are off.

North Carolina’s coal ash problem didn’t begin in February 2014, when a corrugated pipe at a Rockingham County Duke Energy facility vomited 39,000 tons of coal ash and about 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River. The documented dangers of the coal byproduct predated even a one billion gallon spill in Kingston, Tennessee, six years prior, a spill large enough to fill thousands of Olympic swimming pools.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

On Medicaid expansion, John Kasich is unchained in North Carolina

John Kasich insists he’s a free man. Free from politics? Free from partisanship? Free from Trump? Certainly not free of ambition – the former Ohio governor all but acknowledged last week that he hasn’t ruled out another run for president.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Change comes again to the UNC system, but not to the Board of Governors

Everyone’s taking a powder in the UNC system these days. Everyone, it seems, but the powerful individuals on the UNC Board of Governors, an onerously large pack of political hellraisers and right-wing combatants who’ve sullied the “crown jewel,” North Carolina’s decorated and bedeviled university system.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

On Sunshine Week, newspapers cope with the dark clouds in their future

It’s Sunshine Week, and things have never been gloomier for the newspaper industry. This year’s annual celebration of public information has been more funereal than most, and I’m the sort who enjoys a rote walkthrough of public records law.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

How a high school basketball controversy in Charlotte encapsulates inequality in North Carolina schools

When a West Charlotte High basketball player excoriated the “B.S.” that grifted a home court playoff game from his school this week, his palpable anger made sense on many levels, just one of them actually involving sports.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

The state of the state? Divided, volatile and—maybe—on the rise

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Monday address to both chambers of the legislature – the “State of the State” – was, of course, pageantry. Not that it’s entirely low-stakes, that it doesn’t mean something for the governor, strolling into chambers so dominated by his nemeses in the Republican Party...

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

What was missing at Superintendent Johnson’s private education summit

There was much talk this week and last about state Superintendent Mark Johnson’s Tuesday night limelight, the “big” announcement you might have missed because you, like most of North Carolina, were not invited. Public education advocates buzzed with speculation, or was that trepidation?

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Trump may be on the ropes, but ICE is building its own wall

Surely, it would be folly to suggest that ICE’s hardened reputation as a home-wrecker was earned by the Trump administration alone. Our bloviator-in-chief may be fond of the anti-immigrant dog-whistle, and his Quixotic obsession with a doomed border wall...

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