Author

News

Comedian John Oliver took on (and sunk) the idea that state lotteries responsibly and effectively fund public education, when he focused on state lotteries this weekend on his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight.”

North Carolina’s education lottery got a substantial mention (at the 11:30 minute mark) when Oliver pointed out North Carolina spends less per pupil today then it did when the lottery started in 2006.

Take a look here.

 

And if you’d like to walk down memory lane with some of the reporting N.C Policy Watch has done on the state lottery, you can click here to read a 2012 report about how per capita lottery sales spike in some of the state’s poorest counties.

News

N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker says the $22.5 million fund to recruit business to the state is nearly empty, with enough money left to cover one additional jobs project, according to the Triangle Business Journal.

Decker was speaking to a group of commercial real estate developers at the Umstead Hotel in Cary when she made her comments about the state’s Job Development Investments Grants (JDIG) program.

Lawmakers did not fund the incentive program at levels desired by state commerce leaders, and Gov. Pat McCrory has said he is considering calling lawmakers back to Raleigh before their scheduled start in January for the long session.

From the TBJ article:

“And without JDIG, we will not be competitive,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker told members of Research Triangle chapter of NAIOP at its meeting Nov. 7 at the Umstead in Cary.

The JDIG program, since its inception in 2002, has been used by state economic development recruiters to sweeten the pot for companies that are considering a major investment in North Carolina that would lead to the creation of net new jobs in the state.

JDIG has typically been reserved for the largest new jobs deals, and pay-outs are only made after the company reaches a minimum job creation goal. Local companies that have been awarded JDIG grants include MetLife, Ipreo, Sygenta Biotechnology, Allscripts Healthcare and HCL Technologies.

Decker warns that the state is dangerously close to losing its chance to even negotiate on potentially large job-producing deals, including three big economic development prospects that are considering expansion and relocation options in the Triangle that could add another 4,100 jobs in region

You can read the entire article here.

News

A group of charter schools in the Southeastern part of the state will face disciplinary action if they don’t soon provide the salaries of school personnel hired by a private contractor to work in the schools.

The State Board of Education voted Thursday to place the four schools run by Charter Day Schools, Inc. – Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, South Brunswick High School in Southport and Douglass Academy in Wilmington – under financial noncompliance.

The designation means that the charter school group will have 10 business days to comply with the request for information. After those ten days, the schools will be held under a financial disciplinary status, and will have another 10 days before any fines or sanctions go into effect.

The state board would decide what sanctions to take against the charter schools, and could decide to levy fines against the schools, freeze public funding or seek revocation of the charter schools ability to operate in the state, said Alexis Schauss, the school business division at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Roger Bacon Academies, the company owned by conservative charter school founder Baker Mitchell Jr., has received millions in public funds as part of the company’s exclusive contracts to run four Wilmington-area charter schools.

Nearly 2,000 students enrolled at the four tuition-free schools this year, which draw down federal, state and local education funds. Mitchell also owns a company that leases land and school supplies to the public charter schools. Close to $9 million has gone to Mitchell’s companies over the last two years, according to the Wilmington Star-News.

Read More

News

A Camden County teacher was briefly suspended  following accusations she told several of her high school students she’d like to kill black residents.

Cynthia Ramsey, a math teacher at Camden County High School, is accused of telling a group of students that “if she only had 10 days to live that she would kill all black people,” according to a mother of one of the students who spoke with WAVY, a Norfolk, Va. television station.

Camden County is located in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.

The teacher, who is white and was not reached for comment by the television station, was suspended with pay for a few days, but is now back in the classroom while school authorities continue to look into the matter. The school board is expected to discuss the matter at their Nov. 13 meeting, according to the WAVY report.

Marianne Russell of Camden County schools told N.C. Policy Watch that Ramsey, who has been with the school district for 14 years, was suspended with pay from Oct. 15 to 27. Russell said she could not say whether or not Ramsey had returned to the classroom.

The Camden County sheriff also looked into the incident, and handed off his agency’s findings to the local prosecutor.

National outlets like Salon, The Root, and RawStory have picked up versions of the story.

 

 

News

The Independent, the alternative weekly newspaper in the Triangle, had an interesting piece this week about changes the N.C. Industrial Commission has faced under Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

The Industrial Commission serves as the decision-makers in workers compensation disputes and has become more hostile to injured workers and more friendly to business interests with matters before the commission, the article, “McCrory has been quietly skewing the workers’ comp system”claims.

It is worth pointing out that the Independent relined on anonymous sources for many of the political cronyism allegations raised in the article.

From the article:

[R]ecent appointments by Governor McCrory and changes by the General Assembly have left the independence of the commission in question. A number of sources that work in and around the commission—who preferred to remain unnamed because they feared retribution—described a political takeover and a deck that looked increasingly stacked in favor of employers and insurance companies. One source with business before the commission described an increasingly hostile judicial hearing environment for workers that will inevitably clog up the Court of Appeals, with the cost of treating injured workers shifting from employers to the taxpayers.

This summer, a small note in the General Assembly’s final budget bill reclassified the Industrial Commission’s 22 deputy commissioners, turning them from career civil servants into at-will employees who will either be reappointed or let go. The lives and careers of these administrative law judges were placed directly into the hands of the commission’s chair, a young McCrory appointee named Andrew T. Heath. The first group of deputy commissioners will be let go on Feb. 15, 2015, and have already begun to be replaced by more pro-business-minded Republicans. The deputy commissioners were the first line of recourse for workers with compensation disputes—the commissioners travel the state deciding cases between the injured worker plaintiffs and the insurance company and employers that don’t want to pay for their care. If the worker or employer appeals the deputy commissioner’s decision, the case is bumped up for a final decision by the six-commissioner Industrial Commission.

You can read the entire article here.