Commentary

During hurricane season, luncheon will examine the future of NC’s shorelines

Join NC Policy Watch  Thursday, September 17 for a very special and timely Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Managing North Carolina’s increasingly vulnerable shorelines – now and in the decades ahead

Featuring Prof. Rob Young of the Western Carolina University Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines

Click here to register

It’s hurricane season yet again and only time will tell what havoc this year’s expected onslaught will bring to North Carolina’s fragile coastal communities. One thing that is clear, however, is that merely following the standard procedure of trying to constantly “re-nourish” beaches by pumping in large quantities of sand from offshore is not a viable, long-term solution.

Indeed, in some (if not many) instances, coastal communities would be much better served to buy up vulnerable beachfront properties rather than trying to protect and/or repeatedly rebuild them. That’s the conclusion of a recent report from scientists at the Western Carolina University Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, entitled “Coastal Hazards & Targeted Acquisitions: A Reasonable Shoreline Management Alternative – North Topsail Beach, North Carolina Case Study.”

Join us on Tuesday, September 17 as we hear from one of the authors of the report and the director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Prof. Rob Young.

Click here to register

When: Tuesday, September 17 at 12:00 noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Junior League of Raleigh Center for Community Leadership – 711 Hillsborough St.

Space is limited – preregistration required.

Cost: $10 online, $15 at the door — admission includes a box lunch — scholarships available.

PLEASE NOTE – Online sign-up page will list the “pay at the door” option as “free,” but the actual, event-day cost is $15

Questions?? Contact Billy Ball at 919-861-1460 or billy@ncpolicywatch.com

Seats are sure to go fast – don’t miss this very special event!

Commentary

Justice Center raffling two tickets to tomorrow’s big hockey game in Raleigh

The North Carolina Justice Center is raffling off two front row tickets to tomorrow’s Carolina Hurricanes playoff game.

Each entry is $25 and can be purchased through 11:59 PM tonight (April 30).

The winner will be selected on Wednesday, May 1 by 10 AM.

Each $25 entry gives you a chance to win two seats, a $880 value!

Proceeds benefit the work of the NC Justice Center.

News

NC Policy Watch claims multiple NC Press Association awards

The North Carolina Press Association held its annual awards dinner last night and the NC Policy Watch team took home several awards for its work in 2018. Policy Watch was awarded second place in the prestigious “General Excellence” category for online publications. First place went to Coastal Review Online and third went to Carolina Public Press.

Other winners in General Excellence for  traditional newspapers included the Winston-Salem Journal, Fayetteville Observer, the Wilson Times, the News Reporter (based Columbus County), and the State Port Pilot (which is based in Southport).

In the individual award categories, PW journalists received the following recognition in the Online Division:

First place for “News Feature Writing” – Lisa Sorg

First place for “Election and Political Reporting – Billy Ball

Second place for “Photography, General News” – Lisa Sorg

Second place for “Serious Columns” – Rob Schofield

Second place for “Election and Political Reporting” – Melissa Boughton

Second place for “Beat Feature Reporting” – Melissa Boughton

Second place for “Education Reporting” – Billy Ball

Second place for “Editorials” – Rob Schofield

Third place for “News Enterprise Reporting” – Joe Killian

Third place for “News Feature Writing” – Lisa Sorg

Third place for “Investigative Reporting” – Billy Ball

Third place for “Editorials” – Billy Ball

Policy Watch Education Reporter Greg Childress was also recognized for his work last year for Raleigh’s News & Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun prior to joining the PW team with a First Place award in the category of “Deadline News Reporting.”

Commentary, News

Last week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending

Atkinson criticized Superintendent Mark Johnson in recent interviews with Policy Watch, nearly a month after Johnson slammed the K-12 bureaucracy for “disturbing” spending practices, including its alleged failure to dole out state cash in 2015 and 2016 intended to boost elementary reading proficiency.

“Are there any North Carolina lawyers who aren’t here?” asked Ed Finley, chairman of the NC Utilities Commission, as he prepared to preside over what is predicted to be a two-week slog: the Duke Energy Progress rate case.

“Mark does not understand or has not in all candor or transparency pointed out that a substantial amount of that unspent money would be a direct result of (local) school districts not using the dollars,” says Atkinson. [Read more…]

Bonus read: Tensions brewing as State Board of Education, Superintendent Mark Johnson clash again over DPI budget cuts

2. Atlantic Coast Pipeline sues NC landowners, asks federal court to allow “quick take” of properties

The Gardner farm in Wade, population 567, in Cumberland County has been in the family for more than 70 years. On these 960 acres, two generations of Gardners have raised grains, oats, barley, soybeans, and more recently, beef cattle.

But the Gardner family is now among several defendants in a federal case involving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ACP, LLC, which includes majority owners Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, filed several motions over the past week asking US District Court Judge Terence Boyle to allow them to use eminent domain to seize portions of the defendants’ property. However, what distinguishes this case is that ACP, LLC wants to take the property without paying the land owners first. This is known as a “quick take.”

Similar documents have been filed against five defendants, including owners of a strawberry farm, in Nash County. [Read more…]

Bonus read: Property rights crusaders nowhere to be found in Atlantic Coast Pipeline controversy

3. Five questions with Professor Valerie Johnson

Historical commission member weighs in on monuments, free speech

Valerie Johnson is the Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Greensboro’s Bennett College and chair of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. She is also one of only two Black members of the 17-member North Carolina Historical Commission, which must approve any proposed removal, relocation, or alteration of historical monuments on state property.

PW: Some were disappointed when the North Carolina Historical Commission delayed its decision on the Confederate statues in Raleigh until April. What can you tell us about what’s happened since then? I’m sure you’ve heard plenty from people on both sides since the delay.

Johnson: The committee still has to be convened, the subcommittee that was proposed. But [Gov. Roy Cooper] has appointed a new chair, Dr. David Ruffin. We’ll wait and see what happens under this new leadership.[Read more…]

4. Greed, conflicts of interest and using public services to get rich

Why North Carolina’s coal ash and mental health crises have a lot in common

Two of the biggest stories in the North Carolina policy world right now involve large, Charlotte-based institutions. Interestingly, though the two matters are seemingly unrelated, a closer look reveals a number of important commonalities in the controversies surrounding the state’s largest electric monopoly, Duke Energy, and its largest regional mental health provider, Cardinal Innovation Services.

Topping the list: greed and its tendency to undermine and provide major conflicts of interest in the provision of essential public services. [Read more…]

5. Pressure mounts on NC’s largest pork producer to clean up its act

Frenches Creek Finishing lies in the watery lowlands of Bladen County, near Lion Swamp, Conkill and Briary bays, and a chain of canals that drain toward the Cape Fear River and the sea

Owned by Murphy-Brown, the farm, which includes a nursery, can house more than 17,000 hogs, including the newly weaned and those ready for slaughter. It is also one of 11 industrialized swine farms named in a 2006 federal consent decree because their operations threaten the quality of the groundwater.

However, for nearly four years, Murphy-Brown has allegedly stonewalled an independent consultant’s court-approved visits to the farms. As established by the consent decree, the visits were intended to further assess each site’s conditions and waste lagoons to determine if an environmental clean up was necessary. Murphy-Brown argues that it “encouraged” the consultant to visit the site. However, the consultant could enter the property only with Murphy-Brown’s written permission. [Read more...]