Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, Managing Editor, joined Policy Watch in January 2016. In his 15+ years as a North Carolina reporter, he’s covered public schools, state and local politics, courts, the environment, criminal justice and immigration for publications like The Independent Weekly, The Sanford Herald andThe Monroe Enquirer-Journal. During that time, he’s won more than two dozen state, regional and national awards for his reporting and writing, including recognition for investigative reporting, commentary, and news features. In 2018, he won first place from the N.C. Press Association for political reporting. And his 2014 reporting on the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, which earned him a national award for “media impact” from The Media Consortium, exposed the mistreatment of a North Carolina inmate with mental illness in solitary confinement. His reporting led to ongoing reforms in how the state handles prisoners with a mental illness. Billy is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism.
billy@ncpolicywatch.com
919-861-1460

Billy Ball's articles and posts

Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Wallowing in the mire: The UNC Board of Governors hits another low

“The hymn in church yesterday,” Dan Gerlach, the embattled former ECU interim chancellor, tweeted Sunday. “‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…’ And it will.” Whether you’re inclined ...
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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

North Carolina lawmakers: Time’s up to write an education budget, pay our teachers

Next week is Halloween. Shortly after that comes the holidays. Which is to say that the N.C. General Assembly is more than nine months into its deliberations in Raleigh, and they still haven’t delivered this squealing baby -- in other words, a budget that appropriately funds North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school children.

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Amid Trump’s lies, what to do about a problem like Facebook?

When the journalist Michael Kinsley wrote in 1984 that a gaffe “is when a politician tells the truth,” perhaps he saw the future. Kinsley could not, however, have foreseen our current political climate.

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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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News Top Story

Monday Numbers: How a Trump administration rule change threatens food stamp access in NC

If there is a strategy to President Trump’s administration – and really, who knows if there is? – it may be a kind of sleight of hand.  Take the immense stakes for North Carolina and many states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s consideration of a rule change that threatens access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as “food stamps.” 

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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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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

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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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

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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