In case you missed it, the recent featured article in the New York Times on discriminatory, race-based policing in North Carolina and, in particular, the city of Greensboro, has spurred a positive response. As the Times reported Wednesday:

“The police chief in Greensboro, N.C., has ordered his officers to stop pulling over motorists for minor infractions involving vehicle flaws like broken taillights, an action he called a first step toward eliminating ‘alarming’ racial disparities in traffic stops.

Chief Wayne Scott’s directive, issued Tuesday, followed an article last month in The New York Times that documented wide racial disparities in traffic-law enforcement in Greensboro, imbalances that were mirrored across North Carolina and appeared in some traffic stop data collected by half a dozen other states.

‘As your police chief, I am deeply disturbed by these issues,’ Chief Scott said at a Tuesday night City Council meeting largely devoted to discussion of the investigation by The Times. He said stopping vehicles for minor equipment infractions had a needlessly negative impact on minority drivers.

The chief also promised to better supervise young officers, a response to data showing that four times as many blacks as whites were charged with the sole offense of resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer after traffic stops and other police encounters. That, too, is alarming,’ he said.

Though encouraging, this is far from the end of the story on the matter. To get a more complete grasp on where things stand in our state with respect to this hugely important problem, please join us next Tuesday for a special Crucial Conversation luncheon, “The problem of race-based policing: can we finally overcome it?”  The event will feature three of North Carolina’s leading experts on the subject.

Frank Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor Political Science at UNC Chapel Hill. Prof. Baumgartner has conducted extensive research and written at length about the issue of race with particular focus on the death penalty and on traffic stops.

James Williams has served as the Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties since 1990. He has helped lead multiple efforts in and out of government to address the issue of racial bias in the justice system.

Harold Medlock is the Chief of Police in Fayetteville. Since assuming office in 2013, he has effected a transformation in how his department conducts business in an effort to end discriminatory targeting of people of color.

Here are the event details:

Click here to register

When: Tuesday, November 17, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or


Health careSometimes, journalists do their best and most important writing when they share trials and travails from their own lives. Such is the case this morning in the “Focus” section of Raleigh’s News & Observer in an  important story by Burgetta Eplin Wheeler entitled “The many agonies of our health care nonsystem.”

In the article, Wheeler uses her own college-age son’s recent and absurdly expensive experience in an emergency room to explain and expose the madness of America’s dog-eat-dog, everyone for him or herself health care system.

After documenting the crazy costs of his (insured) visit, she says this:

“A large reason it’s this complicated, costly and exasperating is because we refuse to just cover everyone. The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t have universal health care.

It’s unfathomable that critics seem unwilling to acknowledge that they are paying for others anyway. They are paying for it in headline-grabbing higher insurance premiums. They are paying for it in $100 IV bags in the ER. They are paying for it in Affordable Care Act subsidies.

And they are paying for it when a beloved son leaves $1 million in unpaid medical bills that must be absorbed in 100 hidden ways when a $1,000 colonoscopy might have saved his life had he been able to be insured.

“In the end, we still pay for this care,” Leslie Boyd said in a recent blogpost for WNC Health Advocates, an Asheville group she founded after the death of her son, Mike Danforth, from colon cancer at age 33. ‘My son’s surgeries, chemo and radiation cost taxpayers nearly $1 million, when we could have saved his life for about $1,000 a year. When you allow someone to go without needed preventive care and chronic disease management, they become very sick – and very expensive.’”

What’s, of course, must maddening about all of this is the blindness and disregard for facts that opponents of universal coverage continue to display. Here’s Wheeler: Read More


A Charlotte TV reporter appears to have gotten under the skin of some powerful state legislators (including House Speaker Tim Moore) with his energetic reporting about their incomplete campaign finance reports — enough so that one has to wonder why the lawmakers would be so concerned. This is from

“Republican members of the North Carolina House of Representatives were advised Wednesday to not speak with a WBTV reporter who is investigating Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) over his failure to itemize campaign expenses made with credit cards.

Investigative reporter Nick Ochsner began investigating Moore and two members of the North Carolina Senate in September following a review of campaign finance reports for all 43 Charlotte-area lawmakers.

FULL STORY: NC House Speaker Tim Moore amends five years of campaign reports after state audit

On Wednesday, Representative Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), who is the House Republican Conference Chair, emailed all Republican representatives instructing them not to talk with Ochsner.

“I wanted to follow up on the Speaker’s note from the weekend. If Nick Ochsner the reporter contacts you I urge you to not take his calls. If you did not know he applied to be Tim’s Comms Director,” Jeter wrote in the email. “If you are asked about your campaign finance report or have questions about your expenditures please reach out to Madison for help.”

Madison Shook handles fundraising for the House Republican Conference.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Click here to watch a cringe-inducing interview with Moore in which the speaker all but runs away from Ochsner and his camera operator.

Barney Fife

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The editorial page of Moore County’s The Pilot newspaper featured an excellent editorial this week on the brewing controversy/scandal surrounding Gov. Pat McCrory’s intervention to help a campaign donor and friend secure a prison contract. The editorial compares McCrory to the comic character Barney Fife from the old Andy Griffith show.

This is from “A Troubling Kind of Give-and-Take”:

“There sure was some wide-eyed optimism spouting from Pat McCrory when he ran for governor in 2012. He promised an end to politics as usual — a revolving-door relationship between elected officials and the lobbyists who earn their keep by getting fat contracts or concessions for those whom they serve.

McCrory pledged to end such lucrative pathways and hailed his Republican administration for its new way of doing things.

And yet, when just this very sort of pay-to-play relationship fell at the feet of the governor himself recently, what was his counterpunch? For a governor who prides himself on being a leader and man of integrity, did he own up to his failings?

Hardly. Instead, he tried to shoot the messenger. He took aim at The News & Observer of Raleigh and The Charlotte Observer for printing an investigative piece detailing how well he looked after his old Charlotte friends’ business ventures rather than the best interests of North Carolina taxpayers.”

The editorial goes on to describe the Guv as having acted “wrongly and unethically” in the matter and to lament his behavior since it came to light — that is, attacking the journalists who uncovered the matter:

“Predictably, McCrory followed up his denial with accusations that the liberal News & Observer was out to get him. But since the story was so well-sourced — with text messages and emails from McCrory’s own staff — the governor was left whining about photo composition and headline writing.

We are pretty sure that past Democratic politicians, such as Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue and Jim Black, offered the same blame-the-media strategy in the midst of their own pay-to-play scandals, and look how it worked out for them.

McCrory promised to be the new sheriff in town — but instead of Andy Taylor, North Carolina got Barney Fife, his shaky revolver hand and his single bullet.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.


If you are in Raleigh and have a chance tonight, check out this fine event hosted by the good people at Common Cause North Carolina:

Lawmakers, political scientists to talk gerrymandering during Holtzman forum

Gerrymandering — the practice of drawing electoral districts to advantage one political party over another — will be the topic of discussion when state lawmakers, political scientists and demographers gather on Nov. 11 for the annual Abe Holtzman Public Policy Forum.

From 5:30-8 p.m. in Caldwell Lounge at N.C. State University, a panel including state representatives Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake) and Grier Martin (D-Wake) will aim to provide greater clarity on gerrymandering, its impact and the possibility of reform.

Other members of the panel include NC State political science professors Andrew Taylor and Mark Nance, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities Vice President Allan Parnell and Catawba College Provost and Professor of Political Science Michael Bitzer. The event is free and open to the public.

Please RSVP by clicking here.

The Holtzman Forum is named after Abe Holtzman, a longtime professor of political science at NC State whose work focused on lobbying, political parties and the relationship between the president and Congress. This forum is in honor of his legacy of passionate and effective teaching and research that for 45 years improved the lives of generations of North Carolinians.