Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, worked at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020 — first as an education reporter and later as managing editor.

Billy Ball's articles and posts

Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

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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Education Top Story

“Lawyers, guns and money”: Stories that mattered to North Carolina schools in 2018

1. North Carolina superintendent trips over state laws, critics say North Carolina’s massive purchase of tablets, intended to boost tech for elementary literacy, came and went quietly in June, but the events preceding state Superintendent Mark Johnson’s move did not.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

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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Education Top Story

Facing state takeover, Wayne County schools leader won’t rule out a lawsuit

North Carolina state law would seem to provide just two options for Wayne County school leaders, close or accept the state’s takeover of a Goldsboro elementary school following last week’s reluctant vote by the State Board of Education. But, in an interview with Policy Watch Wednesday, Wayne County Superintendent Michael Dunsmore wouldn’t rule out a third option: File a lawsuit that challenges state officials’ handling of the Innovative School District selection process.

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Education Top Story

Facing stiff local opposition, State Board of Education hurtles toward school takeover vote Thursday

Michael Dunsmore, superintendent of Wayne County Public Schools, has one question for members of the State Board of Education as they mull a bitterly controversial proposal to seize control of a struggling Goldsboro elementary.

“If they vote Thursday to take my school over and Friday we close it, what do they do?” Dunsmore said Wednesday.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

After two years and a raft of allegations, investigation into Sen. Ralph Hise closes with a modest fine

For the better part of two years, allegations of myriad campaign finance violations have hung over state Sen. Ralph Hise, an influential western North Carolina Republican. But Tuesday morning, members of a key state elections and ethics panel unanimously agreed to a settlement that, as far as state election officials goes, closes the book with a relatively modest punishment.

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Top Story

Why Stacey Abrams spoke for North Carolina too

When Stacey Abrams finally delivered her reluctant concession speech last week, clad in the same purple she’d somehow made this most reliably red of states, it seemed an inevitable conclusion. Yes, Abrams’ platform, as bold and uncompromising a progressive vision as you’re like to see in the South this or any decade, had lit a fire in her state, supercharging a governor’s race in a place that hadn’t elected a Democrat – much less a Black woman – to the post this century.

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the impact of gerrymandering on the 2018 election

When North Carolina Democrats and Common Cause N.C. filed a suit in Wake County Superior Court last week, it was the culmination of roughly two decades of claims that the state’s top lawmakers had manipulated district lines for partisan advantage. A decade ago, Democrats were responsible. These days, Republicans are under intense scrutiny. Despite congressional maps that have been ruled unconstitutional, North Carolina elections in 2018 were conducted once again with gerrymandered districts.

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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

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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Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

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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