Author

News

A working group of UNC’s Board of Governors will be meeting tomorrow and Thursday to hear presentations from 34 centers and institutes from across the university system.

This week’s meetings is part of a system-wide evaluation of academic centers and institutes by the board of governors, and a final report will make recommendations about whether any centers should be dissolved or have state funding reduced.

The meetings, which are open to the public, begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Spangler Center, UNC General Administration Building, at 910 Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill.

The state legislature paved the way for up to $15 million in cuts in last year’s budget by requiring that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and campus leaders “shall consider reducing State funds for centers and institutions, speaker series, and other nonacademic activities.” (Click here for more background on the review.)

Several of the centers scheduled to make presentations this week include groups that provide services or study issues affecting minority or disenfranchised groups of North Carolina residents. Those include groups like the Center for New North Carolinians at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the Center for Civil Rights; the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, all on the Chapel Hill campus.

 

The schedule of presentations is below:

 

Centers Institutes Working Group Agenda Dec 10 and 11.pdf by NC Policy Watch


N.C. Policy Watch will be at the meetings Wednesday and Thursday, and you can get updates via Twitter at @SarahOvaska.

News

The University of North Carolina’s board of governors has narrowed its probe of centers and institutes for possible closures down to 34 groups.

The Republican-led state legislature paved the way for up to $15 million in cuts in last year’s budget by requiring that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and campus leaders “shall consider reducing State funds for centers and institutions, speaker series, and other nonacademic activities.”

The review – which began earlier this year with 237 centers from a variety of academic disciplines– is led by a working group of members of the UNC system’s Board of Governors.

The 34 remaining groups are spread across the university system’s 16 campuses, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University have the most groups still under review.

The centers flagged Friday by a working group from the UNC Board of Governors will hear presentations next Wednesday and Thursday before making final recommendations about shutting down any of the centers or reducing state funding. Of the 34,  seven of the groups are already under examination at the campus level for possible closure.

The Board of Governors will separately review the nine centers and fields that work in the marine science fields in the beginning of 2015.

Several groups that concentrate on providing services or studying issues that affect minority or disenfranchised groups of people remain under review by the UNC Board of Governors. Those include groups like the Center for New North Carolinians at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the Center for Civil Rights; the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, all on the Chapel Hill campus.

Gene Nichol, the outspoken head of the poverty center, has rankled members of the UNC Board of Governors concerned about Nichol’s vocal criticisms of policies under Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican majority in the state legislature. (Note: Nichol is on the board of the N.C. Justice Center, the non-profit that house N.C. Policy Watch, but he did not have any role in the reporting or writing of this post.)

Jim Holmes, the UNC Board of Governor’s member leading the review effort, reiterated that the review isn’t aiming to weed out controversial centers.

“Everyone is looking at this like there’s some agenda,” Holmes said. “I can assure you, there’s not.”

Groups under review may be terminated, lose state funding or could continue operating as it is or be folded into an academic department, Holmes said.

Holmes also said Friday that the group wants to create a new “public advocacy” policy for centers that re-state the limits and type of political or partisan activities UNC employees can engage in during work hours.

Read More

News

There’s an interesting article today from North Carolina Health News about fast-food workers who make too much to qualify for Medicaid in North Carolina but make too little to afford health care on their own.

North Carolina is one of several states that declined to expand coverage of Medicaid in the state, after the state legislature passed a law in early 2013 preventing  expansion that Gov. Pat McCrory signed.  The situation has left hundreds of thousands of low-income workers unable to afford health care on their own and without access to the federal subsidies that would make health care more affordable.

Among those people are a 35-year-old Durham man whose worked for a decade making pizzas at Dominos.

From the article, by Hyun Namkoong:

The Feb. 15 deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage on the federal Healthcare.gov website is quickly approaching, and low-wage workers like DeAngelo Morales and Isaac McQueen are stuck between a rock and hard place.

McQueen, 35, a father of two, has worked at Domino’s Pizza for 10 years as a pizza maker. He says he doesn’t qualify for subsidies offered under the Affordable Care Act. He also doesn’t qualify for Medicaid after North Carolina declined to expand the program to adults who make more than 49 percent of the federal poverty level, which works out to $9,697 a year for a family of three.

“I [make] too much money,” he said with an ironic laugh.

McQueen said there was a plan on the federal health insurance exchange that cost $80 a month, but he couldn’t afford it.

Instead, his health insurance plan is based on hope and faith.

“[I’m just] hoping and praying to God I don’t get sick, because I can’t afford any substantial medical bills,” he said.

 

You can read the entire piece here.

 

News

The August death of a Bladenboro teenager found hanging from a swingset in a rural part of southeastern North Carolina is continuing to attract national attention.

Journalist Katie Couric recently profiled Lacy’s death, as part of her new reporting project with Yahoo and as the nation reacts to recent decisions not to pursue criminal charges in the deaths of two other black men, Eric Garner of New York and Mike Brown of Ferguson, Mo. (Click here to watch Couric’s video report.)

Lennon Lacy, 17, found dead in Bladenboro in August.

The Guardian, a newspaper based in London, wrote about Lacy’s death in October.

Lacy’s Aug. 29 death has been treated as a suicide, and local authorities have said they don’t have any evidence that he was killed.

But Lacy’s parents have said the high school football player showed no prior signs of depression at the time of his death.

The teenager, who is black, was found near a predominantly-white trailer park in the small town in Bladen County. Lacy, a star high school football player, had been in a romantic relationship with a 31-year-old white woman at the time of his death, and his family now question whether he could have been killed by someone angered by the interracial relationship.

The family, backed by the Rev. William Barber II of the North Carolina NAACP chapter have asked for a federal hate crime investigation into Lacy’s death.

Read More

News

North Carolina’s privatized economic development group already has a new leader, less than two months after the group officially launched in October.

Christopher Chung,  38, an experienced economic developer from Missouri, will begin Jan. 12 leading North Carolina’s job recruitment efforts.

Christopher Chung

Christopher Chung

He will replace Richard “Dick” Lindenmuth, 62, a business executive hired last January to help shift North Carolina’s job recruitment efforts from the state Commerce Department to the new privatized set-up.

Chung, who has led Missouri’s version of the privatized economic development efforts since 2007, was announced Monday through a press release from the economic development group, and came as a bit of a surprise.

An Ohio native, Chung holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and Japanese from Ohio State University and oversaw $80 million in financial incentives when leading Missouri’s public-private partnership.

UPDATE: Details were released Monday evening about Chung’s compensation. He will make an annual salary of $225,000, and can earn additional bonuses of up to 25 percent of his salary if he meets benchmarks that the economic development partnership board will make in January. Public money will be used for $120,000 of his salary, in line with the legislation that created the partnership. Chung’s moving expenses will also be covered, and he’ll be given a car once he arrives in North Carolina.

The new 17-member board for North Carolina’s economic development partnership held its first meeting on Nov. 15 at its Cary headquarters and made no mention about the potential hire during the open session of the public meeting.

Lindenmuth, who made $120,000 a year as the CEO of the partnership, will continue working with the group on a contract basis working on projects that will include expansion of high-speed internet services to rural parts of the state, data analysis and recruitment of veterans to the state, according to Monday’s press release from the economic development partnership.

Richard Lindenmuth

Richard Lindenmuth

With most of his career spent managing or consulting for troubled companies, Lindenmuth came to the job with no economic development or public sector experience. An N.C Policy Watch investigation published earlier this year found that he’d been scrutinized by a federal bankruptcy judge for padding his expenses to a company in bankruptcy proceedings.

N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker applauded Chung’s hire.

“The Partnership is off to a strong start and is working closely with us to bring in new jobs,” Decker said, according to a news release from the partnership. “They have enjoyed strong leadership from day one, and now have in place a CEO and Board of Directors that will help ensure an excellent first year of economic growth in 2015.”

N.C. Policy Watch requested, but was not immediately provided, information about Chung’s salary , as well as details about Lindenmuth’s proposed contract work and his pay. (See update above for details about Chung’s salary)

North Carolina, through legislation passed this summer, shifted its tourism, marketing and business recruitment divisions in October to a the newly-created Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. A central piece of Gov. Pat McCrory’s jobs plan, the public-private partnership is funded with $16 million in public funds and less than $500,000 in private donations. The quasi-public method of economic development has had mixed results in other states. Supporters say moving economic development efforts outside of state government allows for more effective recruitment of new employers while detractors point out that other states have seen conflicts of interest and a pay-to-play culture emerge.