Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates

Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Author of new book on tragic 1991 Hamlet chicken plant fire: Little of substance has changed

Twenty six years ago, one of the worst industrial accidents in U.S. history rocked the tiny town of Hamlet, North Carolina.

Twenty five workers died and 55 were injured when a grease fire broke out at the Imperial Food Products plant, which made cheap chicken tenders for chain restaurants like Long John Silvers. The victims, mostly black and female, struggled to get out of the building but found the doors locked from the outside. The plant’s owner, Emmett J. Roe, kept the doors padlocked and the windows boarded because he thought his low-wage workers might steal chicken.

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Another Historical Commission member weighs in on monument removal

New member and descendant of Confederate leader says “In this case, you have to take a stand.” When David Ruffin was appointed to the North Carolina Historical Commission in July, he thought it would be “a fairly non-controversial assignment.” Instead, when Ruffin attends his first meeting as a board member on September 22, he’ll step into one of the state’s largest controversies – the question of how to deal with Confederate monuments on state property.

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State Historical Commission members stake out divergent positions in Confederate monuments controversy ahead of September meeting

When the North Carolina Historical Commission meets on September 22 to take up the controversy over Confederate monuments on state property, Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson will bring a unique perspective to the debate. Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women's Studies and Director of Africana Women's Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. She is also one of only two Black members of the 17-member commission, which must approve any proposed removal, relocation, or alteration of the monuments.

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The Confederate monuments controversy: What the law says; what historians say

Chapel Hill became the latest front in a battle over Confederate monuments Tuesday night, as hundreds gathered to protest the statue of ‘Silent Sam’ on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

The statue of a Confederate soldier, erected in 1913 as a tribute to UNC students who fought for the South during the Civil War, has drawn controversy for decades. But in the wake of deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, VA and the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last week, the push to remove the statue has taken on new urgency.

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Election officials still silent on Hise investigation at five-month mark

State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement refuses to disclose any details of probe into alleged campaign violations by powerful state senator

Five months after an initial complaint, the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is still investigating the campaign finance problems of State Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) and refuses to make any material related to the investigation public under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Hotly contested local races set to take the political stage in NC

Across the state, this year’s historically crowded municipal elections have drawn new types of candidates.

Young candidates. First time candidates. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates.

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Harm reduction expert: NC can and must do better in attacking drug crisis

When reporting on the opioid crisis in North Carolina, a few names come up a lot. Robert Childs, executive director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, is one of them.

With staff in Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Durham, Greensboro and Greenville, the coalition is respected by active drug users, those in recovery, people working in rehabilitation, law enforcement and politicians on both sides of the aisle.

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First time candidates, many progressives crowding local races

When filing for North Carolina municipal elections closed last week, one thing was obvious: this year, there won’t be many uncontested races.

“This year there are definitely more candidates than we’re used to seeing,” said Gary Simms, elections director for Wake County.

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From pills to heroin in Wilmington

When Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention or STOP Act into law last month, he called it an essential tool in the fight against an opioid epidemic now gripping the state.

The law imposes limits on the prescription of opioid pain medications - no more than a five day supply of the pain medications on an initial visit.

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Opioid crisis hits Wilmington area hard; lack of public resources hinders response

Wilmington is bustling this summer.

Downtown, horse-drawn carriages take tourists along the riverfront the city advertises as “America’s best” where they drink at local pubs, eat seafood, sip cold brew coffee in cafes that also sell designer shoes and limited-edition t-shirts.

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NC’s response to opioid crisis is too little, too late says lawmaker with personal expertise

Opioid overdoses took 1,200 lives in North Carolina last year – part of an 800 percent increase since 1999 whose body count has now surpassed 12,000.

So when lawmakers approved the final state budget late last month, many expected the bipartisan concern would lead to significant funding to combat the opiate problem.

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Campaign finance investigation of Senate Elections Committee chair continues

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) has yet to fully explain missing donor information and what appears to be a misappropriation of around $10,000 by Hise himself.

The campaign finance violations have drawn the ire of voter rights advocates and activists, including a billboard campaign to publicize Hise’s problems and pressure him to recuse himself from the legislature’s efforts to restructure state and local elections boards. Hise, a four-term Senator who chairs the powerful Senate Select Committee on Elections, has said little about the controversy.

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Bill to deregulate concealed carry poses political dilemma for GOP

Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro sets itself apart in a number of small ways - fast and friendly service, an intimate small business feel, Christian messages packed with your receipt for a pair of earrings or luxury watch repair.

And then there’s the message, painted on the glass next to the front door beneath the business hours.

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Law enforcement officers voice concern as NC House considers allowing concealed guns without permits

As an omnibus gun bill heads to a full vote of the N.C. House today voters, gun control groups and some of the state’s most popular Republican sheriffs are all saying it goes too far. House Bill 746 ...
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State treasurer responds to criticism of state health plan audit

When Charles Kurzman received a letter last month announcing an audit of the State Employee Health plan, it didn’t much worry him.

A similar audit had been done back in 2010 and Kurzman, a professor of sociology at UNC, had provided information about his dependents and kept everyone in the family insured.

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Industry-backed cellphone tower bill advances despite consumer concerns

A bill to limit local regulation of small cell towers is moving to a full House vote, despite concerns over health effects and local control of tower sites.

House Bill 310, backed by the communications industry, is a first step to the creation of 5G wireless networks throughout North Carolina. But such networks would rely on millions of small cell towers rather than fewer large ones. The bill would allow companies to install them in public right of way areas.

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