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The week’s Top Stories on Policy Watch

1. Call Trump’s migrant caravan panic what it is: Out-and-out racism.

One day, these figures – President Trump and his cohorts, the muck-brained minions of Fox News – will distance themselves from their own words and actions.

They will hedge and equivocate with other political controversies. They will suggest that 2018 was a less enlightened time, that the real-world consequences of their partisan-minded manipulations of the Central American migrant caravan – a winding stretch of desperate folks seeking jobs and safety – was murky at best.

Do not allow Trump and his followers such a luxury.

Document and attribute every word, every half-cooked assumption, every bone tossed to the dogs of the alt-right. Don’t let them forget what they said and did, because the marginalized Latino immigrants that such calamity is meant to intimidate will never forget. [Read more…]

2. The 2018 election: Fear on trial

It would be an understatement to say that a lot of very different issues and individuals will impact the outcome of the 2018 election that climaxes next Tuesday. Here in North Carolina, there are more than 200 different congressional, legislative and judicial races, multiple local bond proposals and, of course, a slate of six controversial constitutional amendments to be decided. The decisions voters render will go a long way toward deciding the future of healthcare, the federal and state courts, public education, tax policy, human rights and the very nature of our democracy itself.

All that said, it’s clear that one phenomenon looms larger than any other two years after the election of Donald Trump: fear.

And, no, the fear at issue is not the fear that many Americans confront on a daily basis as they contemplate the reality of having a narcissistic serial liar backed by a delusional and increasingly well-armed army of extremists ensconced in the White House. The fear in this case is the anxiety and dread that have become the stock-in-trade and lingua franca of Trumpism.[Read more...]

3. State health plan board member disagrees with Folwell, opposes denial of coverage to transgender people

Last week, transgender North Carolinians and their families spoke out against the decision by state officials to deny coverage of treatments for transgender people from the NC State Health Plan.

Now, at least one member of the health plan’s board of trustees — the only one other than state treasurer Dale Folwell yet to respond to Policy Watch inquiries — is speaking out on the issue and urging a change.

“The core issue for me is that we have a group of State Health Plan members who have reached out to us for help,” said Kim Hargett in an interview with Policy Watch. “The goal of the state health plan is to help our members. At this point, it warrants looking for ways to help them.”

Hargett, a teacher at Marshville Elementary School in Union County, is one of two members of the board appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper. [Read more…]

4. NC recovery courts training encourages reducing stigma, equal access

One of the major themes at a statewide conference this week for recovery court personnel was stigma.

“It’s important to smash the stigma in all settings, but especially this one,” said Donald McDonald, Executive Director of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina. “Stigma keeps us from doing our best work for the people we serve.”

There are currently 49 recovery courts in 22 counties across North Carolina designed to work with people in the criminal justice system who have a substance use disorder. There are specialized family drug treatment courts, adult and youth drug treatment courts, DWI courts, mental health courts, veterans treatment courts and a tribal court. [Read more…]

5. This Week in Pollution: Living near industrialized hog farms could shorten your life

Won’t you (not) be my neighbor? Residents living within three miles of dense areas of industrialized hog farms are more likely to die sooner and suffer from chronic disease than people who don’t.

A study by by Duke University scientist Julia Kravchenko defined high density as at least 215 hogs stuffed into four-tenths of a square mile — 249 acres. Hog farms in North Carolina usually house between 1,000 and 10,000 hogs on even smaller plots of land.

In these rural zip codes, rates of kidney disease, asthma, anemia, cervical and uterine cancer, low birth weight, and high blood pressure during pregnancy were all higher than the US and North Carolina average. Death from all causes ranked eighth in the nation. [Read more…]


6. Stymied by questions about process and community backlash, state takeover of Goldsboro school delayed

Supporters of a controversial takeover program in struggling North Carolina schools hoped for a speedy approval of their latest project Wednesday. Instead, dogged by questions about process and a fiery local backlash surrounding a Goldsboro elementary, they’ll have to wait until at least next month for a resolution.

Members of the State Board of Education voted Thursday to delay a decision on Carver Heights Elementary in Wayne County until next month at the latest.

“You don’t have community support there,” board member Tricia Willoughby told leaders of the hotly-debated Innovative School District (ISD), a GOP-spearheaded program that would allow private groups, including for-profit companies, to temporarily seize control of up to five struggling public schools in hopes of boosting performance. [Read more…]

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