Billy Ball Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Why North Carolina needs state leaders, not the Koch brothers, to save public education

Public education advocates in North Carolina are ablaze these days, after a report from The Washington Post in late January teased a nebulous plan hatched by the conservative Koch network to spend boatloads of cash on a massive, as-yet-unnamed, K-12 initiative in five states. If North Carolina is one of the five, state leaders and the Kochs are...

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When will Republicans’ patience with President Trump run out?

Republicans, we need to talk. Not about the shutdown. I get the ceasefire, I get that the air traffic slowdowns may have finally spooked the president and D.C. Republicans, even if only for a temporary respite.

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With election fraud investigation underway, Mark Harris should take a seat and wait

Hurry up and wait. That’s the message for Republican candidate, Baptist minister and aspiring track star Mark Harris this week, who asked a Superior Court judge to do what North Carolina’s election honchos won’t – suspend disbelief and declare him the victor in Congressional District 9.

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UNC’s Carol Folt, no longer silent on Sam

At long last, we’ve learned who UNC Chancellor Carol Folt is, just in time to say farewell. Folt’s impending departure – marking the second time in a matter of months that a top UNC chief cut ties with a reckless and feckless Board of Governors – made for a stunning bit of political drama Monday.

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In $1.9 billion bond, Speaker Moore sounds a tardy alarm on school infrastructure

When Charlotte teacher Justin Parmenter shared a live video to Facebook last week of his leaky, saturated classroom roof, he said his students were trying to concentrate on a quiz.

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The case for gridlock or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the veto

When Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly reconvene next week, they’ll return to a colder Raleigh. Not an inhospitable place, mind you. Those golden doors into the House and Senate chambers in Raleigh still open for them, these benefactors of a grimly gerrymandered map that’s past due for its day in a North Carolina courtroom. And their ruthlessly efficient leadership will hold all of the keys, maintaining a throttle grip on the legislative committees that can advance or shun prospective bills at will.

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In District 9, investigators should heed the truth, not the clock

Hope you made a wish on that shooting star. I’m talking about that fleeting moment last week, when Democrats and reluctant Republicans seemed to agree on the need for a new election in North Carolina’s mud-varnished 9th Congressional District.

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With the supermajority doomed, North Carolina should reconsider Medicaid expansion

Despite the manufactured panic of the migrant caravan, despite the midterm’s so-called “referendum on Trump,” despite the nation’s nonsensical gun laws, despite an election that often seemed a direct rebuke of misogynist GOP leaders and policies, the pollsters told us the 2018 election would begin and end with healthcare.

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A requiem for the GOP supermajority, and other post-election thoughts

Ever been to a funeral where no one had anything nice to say about the dearly departed? That’s the feeling today, with North Carolina now weeks away from burying the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly. North Carolina voters handed down a good many split decisions in these elections, which like it or not, were always going to be skewed to the right by GOP gerrymandering.

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