News

McLennan: Unpredictable Trump puts McCrory, Burr in no-win situation (video)

When Governor Pat McCrory praised Donald Trump as the outsider that the country needs in the White House, he probably could not have imagined Trump would start a public feud with a Gold Star family, kick a baby out of a campaign rally, and complain the November’s election could be rigged.

Political scientist David McLennan of Meredith College suggests that’s a real problem for Gov. McCrory and Senator Richard Burr — neither knows what Trump will say or do next in the remaining three months leading up to Election Day.

“Trumps numbers, if they do continue to fall, that leaves Gov. McCrory and Senator Burr in a very difficult situation,” explains McLennan.

McLennan, who appears this weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon, believes that while McCrory and Burr want to appeal to the base, neither man wants to be in the position of having to justify Trumps’ actions.

On Thursday, Trump’s Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence was campaigning in Raleigh.

McCrory opted to head east – visiting Elizabeth City State University and attending the U.S. Coast Guard’s  annual picnic.

For a preview of McLennan’s interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

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This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Stan_Riggs4001. Leading coastal scientist resigns from key state panel in protest

It wasn’t just the political controversy over sea-level rise. Or the Coastal Resources Commission’s defense of a sea-level rise report.

Or state environmental officials, who are allowing 21 eight-bedroom houses to be built on ecologically sensitive and flood-prone land on Sunset Beach.

No, “it was really a slow drip drip” of politically driven decisions, Dr. Stan Riggs said, that ultimately drove the renowned marine geologist away.

A distinguished professor of geology at East Carolina University, Riggs resigned from the CRC’s science panel on July 25 over political conflicts about development and growth on the coast. He co-founded the panel in 1996.

“I believe the once highly respected and effective science panel has been subtly defrocked and is now an ineffective body,” Riggs wrote in his two-page letter.

Riggs also sent his letter to Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. Davis has not returned message seeking comment.

At stake in the state’s policy decisions are the millions of people who live, work and visit the coast, as well as sensitive marine habitats already jeopardized by development. [Continue reading…]

vouchers-62. More taxpayer funding for voucher schools that openly discriminate against LGBT students and parents

Bible Baptist Christian School in Matthews is one of 336 religious schools and private academies that receive taxpayer funding under the voucher program created by the General Assembly in 2013 and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The school collected more than $100,000 in public support for the 2015-2016 school year to pay for the education of 26 students who signed up for a voucher.

But not all taxpayers have access to the school.  Gay students and students with gay parents are banned from attending Bible Baptist Christian School even though their tax dollars support it.

That’s not an unwritten policy quietly enforced by the admissions office.  It is quite explicit that gay students and students with gay parents are not welcome.

Page 76 of the student handbook of the school includes a “Homosexual Conduct Policy” that makes it clear. [Continue reading…]

NC Poverty Research Fund3. “Radicalized concentrated poverty”
Disturbing new report on NC’s largest city is a must read for those who care about our state and its future

The city of Charlotte – bustling with activity, rapid growth and construction cranes and soon to be within shouting distance of a million residents – may seem an odd place to feature in a new report on poverty. The authors of “Economic Hardship, Radicalized Concentrated Poverty and the Challenges of Low Wage Work: Charlotte, North Carolina” acknowledge this truth right up front in their just-released study.

As Professor Gene Nichol and researcher Heather Hunt of the University of North Carolina School of Law and the N.C. Poverty Research Fund note in the opening paragraphs of their report, the city of Charlotte and its home county of Mecklenburg have a long and impressive list of things going for them – a fast-growing population, gleaming office towers filled with the employees of major corporations, giant medical centers, top flight universities, big league sports teams and an outsized share of the state’s wealth and economic output. [Continue reading…]

McCrory ASD4. Gov. McCrory signs off on charter takeover of low-performing schools

As expected, Gov. Pat McCrory has signed House Bill 1080, controversial legislation that will allow for-profit charter takeovers of several low-performing schools in North Carolina.

McCrory’s office announced the signing Tuesday, although the news was buried in a press release about the governor’s signing of legislation intended to help state officials keep track of veterans.

It’s unclear when the governor gave his seal to the bill. On Tuesday, staff at McCrory’s press office did not respond to Policy Watch’s inquiries about the signing.

The bill, which was opposed by most Democrats and public school backers in the state legislature, creates a statewide “achievement school district” for five low-performing schools. [Continue reading…]

604-chart5. Failing charter schools: Inadequate screening and oversight causing big problems for many NC families

Erinn Rochelle says she beat herself up for months after her sons’ charter school unexpectedly shut down during its first year of operation.

“Not only did I put my kids there, I recommended that school to my friends,” said Rochelle, whose children entered the brand new StudentFirst Academy in Charlotte in 2013. “Four or five of them decided to enroll their children there too, and it just makes me feel really bad. My name is tarnished.”

In spring 2014 with about a month left in the school year, StudentFirst was in debt by more than $600,000 and shut its doors, giving only a week’s notice. Rochelle scrambled to get her children into a public magnet school operated by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. [Continue reading…]

Bonus read:

BREAKING: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down NC’s Monster Voting law (Updated)

There are 83 pages to wade through — click here to do it yourself — but one thing is clear from the ruling today issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals: North Carolina’s “monster” voter suppression law has been struck down. These are the final two paragraphs of the court’s opinion: [Continue reading…]

Commentary, News

WATCH: NC NAACP president: We must “revive the heart of our democracy.”

NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber brought his Moral Monday message to Philadelphia Thursday preaching for the need to raise wages, improve labor conditions, enhance public education, and protect both LGBTQ and voting rights.

“We need to embrace our deepest moral values…for revival at the heart of our democracy.”

Click below to watch an excerpt of his speech before the
Democratic National Convention:

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Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

McCrory-Medicaid1. Misleading Medicaid rhetoric instead of expansion

One of the most frustrating things about this General Assembly session was once again what lawmakers did not do.

They actively chose not to join the 31 other states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, not to provide health care coverage for several hundred thousand low-income adults who are currently uninsured, not to create thousands of jobs over the next ten years and not to help struggling local hospitals stay open.

Gov. Pat McCrory has waffled some about expanding Medicaid but never come up with a plan. Legislative leaders have remained steadfastly opposed, putting their dislike of President Obama above access to health care for people they represent and the jobs expansion could create.

That doesn’t mean legislative leaders didn’t talk about Medicaid this year. They talked about it plenty, repeatedly touting the merits of the “reform” plan they passed last year and boasting of an unprecedented surplus in the Medicaid budget thanks of course to the decisions they made and the stellar management of McCrory’s Department of Health and Human Services. [Continue reading…]

wb-flag7192. Making our state and nation “safe again”
Despite claims in some corners, big talk, limiting rights and ever more killing machines are not the answer

The recent horrific episodes of murder and violence that have struck the western world have clearly sent shockwaves through the body politic. Whether it’s in the United States, France or any number of other nations, millions of people are rightfully horrified at the senseless killing and understandably fearful that they or someone they love might somehow fall victim – be it to a law enforcement officer with a racial or ethnic bias or a suicidal killer with a twisted worldview. Add in the festering divisions of race, religion and politics that afflict our society these days (and that the killings have helped accentuate) and it’s no surprise that so many people feel a profound sense of anger and sadness and a deep desire for normalcy and “safety.”

Given this backdrop, it’s also no surprise that elected leaders and politicians have been seeking to address the matter – some helpfully and some not so much. Lately, speaking at tragedies and comforting victims seems to be the main vehicle by which President Obama addresses the nation. In Congress, the mostly powerless Democrats got more publicity for their recent effort to force votes on the passage of gun safety legislation than just about anything else they’ve done in months. Meanwhile, politicians of both parties have been rattling sabers in an effort to appear tough vis-a-vis perceived threats – both real and imagined, foreign and domestic. [Continue reading…]

Secretary Donald van der Vaart3. Dissecting the McCrory administration’s defense of the new state coal ash law
A detailed look at what DEQ officials claim and what they leave out in their new video

The state’s coal ash crisis is under control.

That’s what the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality wants viewers to believe, in a recently released a five-and-a-half minute video on the agency’s website and YouTube channel.

In the video, Secretary Donald van der Vaart and Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder tout what they view as protective provisions in the new coal ash law that Governor McCrory signed earlier this month. However, while the presentation is in many ways factual, it’s not necessarily truthful. Omissions of fact, slippery language, and industry jargon combine for misleading reassurances that North Carolinians are protected by the full force of the law.

Van der Vaart plays the good cop, telling viewers that the law establishes firm deadlines for providing water connections to households and businesses with wells contaminated by chemicals and compounds found in coal ash. What van der Vaart doesn’t say is that Duke Energy has as late as the fall of 2019 to connect those households, and that he, as Secretary, has the power to extend deadlines to the utility. [Continue reading…]

Budget-squeeze1-4004. North Carolina’s incredible shrinking state budget

Short-changing public investments is no way to grow a state

[Editor’s note: North Carolina’s conservative elected leaders have changed their tune in recent months. After railing for years about “runaway spending” and having slashed state budget appropriations in virtually every area of government service, this year – an important election year – officials have suddenly started bragging about teacher pay raises and other efforts to boost essential services like mental health programs. Unfortunately, while the change in rhetoric is a welcome one, the hard reality is that it is only that – rhetorical. A look at the actual budget numbers reveals that appropriations for essential public services and structures will continue to slide in North Carolina.

In the coming days, fiscal policy experts at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center will release a detailed report on the Fiscal Year 2017 budget that was approved by state lawmakers last month and signed into law by Governor McCrory last week. [Continue reading…]

education-budget-4005. Why I won’t be accepting my teacher bonus

Dear Gov. McCrory and members of the North Carolina General Assembly:

This may not be a popular opinion, but it is one that is a matter of principle to me.

I will be receiving $2,000 in bonuses this year for having a certain number of students pass the AP English Language and Composition Exam for the 2015-2016. Many of you may think that it will somewhat ameliorate tensions with public school teachers like me. I do not think it will at all. I feel that it just exacerbates the real problem: lack of respect for all public school teachers.

I am not going to keep my bonus. To me it’s just academic “blood money.”

I have read about this provision of bonus money frequently in the summer. It’s in the budget that the governor is expected to sign this week, a provision adding bonus pay for teachers of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CTE, and 3rd grade. As the News and Observer reported last week: [Continue reading…]

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Payday-loan-store.jpg*** Upcoming event on Wednesday, July 28th ***

Crucial Conversation — Predatory payday lenders: Is North Carolina rid of them for good or will they make a comeback?

Predatory payday lenders: Is North Carolina rid of them for good or will they make a comeback?

Featuring Tom Feltner of the Consumer Federation of America [Register today…]

Commentary

Fouling out: Social media reaction to the loss of millions as #HB2 costs state NBA All-Star game