Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Free speech policy, controversial conservative academic on the agenda for UNC Board of Governors meeting

The UNC Board of Governors is holding its last meeting of 2017 Friday, where the latest of its many recent controversies is expected to come to a crescendo, even as the next is cued up.

The full board is expected to vote on a controversial new speech policy that civil liberties advocates, students, staff and faculty groups worry could chill speech and discourage certain types of protest on UNC’s 17 campuses. [Continue reading…]

***BONUS READ: UNC Board of Governors: Some speech is “more free” than others

2. Stretched regulators to state lawmakers: We have no idea what’s in most closed NC landfills

Just south of Candler off the Pisgah Highway is a lovely piece of property on Little Piney Mountain Road. Wooded, with creeks nearby, it would be an idyllic retreat for those who love the bucolic hills and valleys of western North Carolina.

Yet part of this same land was the site of the old Buncombe County Landfill, where before 1983, trash from the area was dumped into an open pit.  [Continue reading…]

3. Delayed action by state Superintendent creates big hurdles for legislature’s mandated audit

When Joni Robbins, a section chief in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, closes bidding next week for an upcoming audit of the state’s top K-12 agency, state leaders will have a little more than four months to find a vendor and begin work on a weighty review of the department’s operations.

But past and present leaders in the state’s public schools say they worry about the speed and depth of the deep-dive, organizational review led by Superintendent Mark Johnson’s office, which comes with a report due to the legislature by May 1..  [Continue reading…]

***BONUS READ: Task Force on Education Finance Reform meeting shows need for new approach

4. Maps, mayhem and merriment: Where things stand with North Carolina redistricting

If the General Assembly were an army, their troops would be spread too thin.

Lawmakers made a tactical decision this year to redraw judicial district boundaries. On another battle front, they’re trying to correct several previous mapmaking mistakes: Unconstitutional legislative and congressional redistricting, the latter of which they’re still disputing in court. [Continue reading…]

***BONUS READ: Democrats protest Senate committee meeting after GOP ‘silences’ Governor’s speaker

5. Plutocrats on the march: Trumpists prepare to raze another vital common good law

It’s hard to keep up these days with the flood of poisonous ideas spewing from Donald Trump’s junta by the Potomac. At times, it seems as if Trump is not just a pal and admirer of Vladimir Putin, but that he is, quite literally, attempting to institute his own American version of the corrupt kleptocracy that the Russian dictator has constructed from the rubble of the old Soviet Union. Pick a public policy topic (any topic), type in a quick web search, and one can almost invariably and instantly find several ways in which the Prevaricator/Predator-in-Chief and his cronies are trying to undermine and/or sell-off our American democracy.

Perhaps it’s because of this point – the fact that we can still, at least, search online and keep track of most of the skullduggery Trump is up to – that one of the president’s currently extant initiatives rates as among the most frightening. The subject is the somewhat difficult-to-grasp, but massively important issue of “net neutrality” – the idea that Internet service providers must treat all websites the same when it comes to the speed and quality with which they connect web users to them. [Continue reading…]

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