Original Commentary

Original Commentary

Setting the Record Straight Top Story

Four initial takeaways from the Robin Hayes corruption case

This has been another remarkable week in North Carolina. Once again, a dark cloud of corruption has descended upon and enveloped the state’s politics as federal prosecutors unsealed an extraordinary grand jury indictment of one of the state’s best known politicians and a trio of well-heeled businessmen.

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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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

House Speaker needs to take action regarding lawmaker accused of domestic violence

By many of the usual political metrics, State Rep. Cody Henson ought to be an up and comer. Henson, a young (he was graduated from high school in 2010) Republican from western North Carolina is an ex-Marine with a winning smile. His biography on the website VoteSmart.org reports that he was an infantry machine gun team leader in the Marine Corps Reserve who then found work as a call center supervisor with a global marketing company.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Hidden history: How NC’s education system overlooks harsh realities of Natives past and present

In February, a stare-down between a Native American man beating a drum and a white teenager in a MAGA hat caused a national stir outside the Lincoln Memorial. Three years ago, President Trump began calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”

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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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Latest school testing proposals are emblematic of NC’s failed public ed policies

There’s an old adage – often attributed to Albert Einstein and/or Mark Twain – that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Neither Einstein nor Twain ever had occasion to review the effectiveness of North Carolina’s K-12 education policy, but it seems likely...

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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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Other Voices Top Story

New brief: The educators who care for NC children are struggling

A new release from NC Child highlights the plight of many who work in early childhood education: no access to health coverage. Statewide, one in five early childhood educators lacks health insurance, and in some rural North Carolina counties those numbers may be even higher.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Getting real about the minimum wage

A new and promising push to raise North Carolina’s minimum wage gets underway today. Lawmakers and advocates will convene a press conference at the General Assembly this morning to announce the introduction of House Bill 366 – a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next five years and index it to inflation thereafter. A Senate companion bill will be introduced shortly.

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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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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Gov. Cooper’s extremely moderate budget proposal

Gov. Roy Cooper is an enormously skilled politician with a top-flight staff and many years of experience in the state policy wars, so it probably makes some sense to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the budget negotiations he will conduct with Republican legislative leaders over the next few months. One imagines that Cooper understands well what will push the right and wrong buttons – both for GOP leaders and the public at-large – and, ultimately lead to the best outcome when the final deal gets done sometime this summer.

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