Billy Ball Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Latest Supreme Court battle a reminder that true LGBTQ equality is far from won

"The struggle for gay rights is over,” the writer James Kirchick wrote in The Atlantic in June. And just like that, you could almost smell the smoldering keyboards across the country.  I loathe sports metaphors, but if we were playing football, this headline still smacks of celebrating a touchdown on the opposing team’s 20-yard-line.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Finding the flesh and blood in NC’s politicized Medicaid war

North Carolina’s Medicaid coverage gap looks like Brenda Pernell, who went by “Miss Brenda” to her students and, until a heart condition killed her in April at the age of 52, treated her high blood pressure with vinegar.  It looks like Jessica Jordan, who inherited her father’s blue eyes and her mother’s fiery hair and who, lacking the coverage to pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment, died from an accidental overdose last May at the age of 32. 

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

In 2019, with student debt and tuition soaring, is UNC still the university of the people?

“I speak for all of us who could not afford to go to Duke,” Charles Kuralt once declared in 1993, in that inimitable oaken voice, during the UNC system’s bicentennial celebration. Kuralt, speaking to an august assemblage that included former President Bill Clinton and then North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, was in the midst of one of the regal monologues the famous newsman was lauded for in his 22 years at CBS News. 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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