Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

ff-9131. The NC GOP revealingly digs in as the damage from HB2 continues to mount

The official response by the North Carolina Republican Party to the decision by the NCAA to move seven championship events out of the state next year because of the anti-LGBT law HB2 was startling and offensive.

GOP spokesperson Kami Mueller said the NCAA decision was “so absurd it’s almost comical” and was looking forward to the “NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams.”

Mueller called the decision an “assault to female athletes across the nation” and then said, “I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor.”

It’s not clear what the horrific sexual assault scandal at Baylor has to do with a law that bans protections against discrimination for LGBT people but Mueller’s comments set off a firestorm of criticism for equating the two.

And Mueller’s comments weren’t just offensive. They were revealing too. [Continue reading…]

***Bonus Read: After loss of ACC and NCAA, Governor and House Speaker stand by HB2, Dems seek special session for full repeal

***Bonus Audio interview: Rep. Sgro: McCrory has “closed the door for business in NC” with HB2

edsupport2. An election year switcheroo on public education
After bashing teachers and public schools for years, the Right suddenly and dramatically changes its tune

Last week, one of the most prolific conservative voices on Twitter when it comes to North Carolina policy and politics (he’s authored more than 33,000 “tweets” in recent years that often echo and promote takes of various Art Pope Empire employees) posted a disturbing and remarkably cynical comment. Here’s what he said in response to another social media participant who had questioned the logic of how North Carolina pays teachers and touted a recent essay by the North Carolina Justice Center’s Kris Nordstrom entitled “Why NC is not measuring teacher pay properly (and how we should do it)” :

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

So, one might ask, why is this noteworthy? After all, it’s no particular news that social media websites are chock full of uninformed “trolls” who spew all sorts of hateful and nonsensical venom. Why should anyone care that a conservative blowhard is lobbing stink bombs at public school teachers?  [Continue reading…]

redwolf-913b-john-froschaue3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to scale back endangered red wolf program in NC, send some animals to zoos
At this moment, on millions of acres in northeastern North Carolina, 45 endangered red wolves are living much like their ancestors did hundreds of years ago: Hunting for deer and rabbits, hanging out with their mates, raising their kits.

But by 2018, a third of these wolves — the entire wild species — will be relocated from their native lands in five counties to just one: Dare, near the federal bombing range and in part of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The rest of the wild wolves, at least those that can be trapped, will be shipped to zoos throughout the United States to live in captivity.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it has failed to adequately protect the red wolf, which was declared endangered in 1967. Without a new recovery plan, the species will become extinct in possibly as few as eight years, and most certainly within the next 40. There are too few red wolves in zoos to sustain the species — about 225 — and even fewer in the wild.

“This is a better path for the red wolf,” said Cindy Dohner, Southeast regional director of FWS. “It’s not sustainable here.” [Continue reading…]

jk-coop-915c4. In one of NC’s bleakest food deserts, hope is on the horizon

A new sign went up this week at the once-abandoned shopping center on Phillips Avenue in East Greensboro.

That’s rare enough in one of the city’s poorest areas and itself cause for celebration.

But what the sign represents is much larger.

“Renaissance Community Co-Op,” it reads in bright red and green. “Healthy, Affordable, Community Owned.”

When it officially opens Nov. 5, it will be the area’s first real grocery store since 1998.

“No one would come, the stores just gave up on us,” said co-op President John Jones Wednesday. “But the community wanted it. They believed and they organized and it’s happening now.”

North Carolina is 9th in the nation in food insecurity according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which collects data on where people have the least access to fresh, healthy food.

Greensboro and High Point are, as a metropolitan area, one of the worst in the nation for food insecurity. [Continue reading…]

pv9195. New school year highlights NC’s ongoing failure to invest in child and community well-being

Every year as students from pre-school through college return to the classroom, North Carolinians have a window through which to see how our collective investments match up to the needs of communities.

Are classrooms crowded? Are children ready for Kindergarten? Do schools have the resources to deliver a 21st century education? Do parents need to provide more and more personal resources to fill the gaps?

In recent years, despite an economic expansion that provided an opportunity to improve the classroom experience, the needs of our children and our communities have been increasingly neglected. As Budget and Tax Center analyst Cedric Johnson highlighted recently, state per student spending in North Carolina this school year remains below pre-recession levels when adjusted for inflation. This is obviously bad news for our children, each of whom should have the supports and tools we know are necessary to foster achievement in the classroom and life. And this reality makes the promise and excitement of a new school year feel a little bit harder to realize.  [Continue reading…]

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling***Upcoming event: Thursday, September 22 -Crucial Conversation — An election preview with Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling

The 2016 election is headed into the homestretch and absentee voting by mail is already underway. Join us as we learn the details of where things stand and what the political world is likely to look like on November 9 with one of America’s premier pollsters, Tom Jensen of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling.

Register today.

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