In this issue:
The U.S is now two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic and while we have thankfully made tremendous progress since the hell of those dark and chaotic early days, many of the most disturbing events from that period haven’t receded all that far in the rear-view mirror.
It seems like just yesterday that hospitals and morgues were overflowing, even as then-President Donald Trump was promising that the crisis would magically “disappear” by Easter of 2020, and he was issuing a seemingly endless series of scientifically invalid observations and statements.
Then, of course, were the rancorous protests of the misguided “reopen” advocates, who demanded an end to the application of proven public health practices, like face masks and social distancing, even before scientists had worked heroically to produce and deploy vaccines and therapies. [Read more…]
A new federal Inspector General’s report found that ReBuild NC couldn’t provide “reasonable assurance” that $2.5 million in Hurricane Matthew disaster relief funds had been “properly spent,” according to an audit dated Sept. 16 and published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If the state can’t provide documentation for those expenditures, it must repay those funds to HUD.
HUD gave $236.5 million for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief to ReBuild NC, also known as the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency. More than four years after the appropriation, thousands of people remain out of their homes.
Construction delays are so severe that a state government oversight subcommittee held a hearing last week about ReBuild NC’s mismanagement of the program.
ReBuild has spent $145.3 million — or 61% — of its Hurricane Matthew HUD allocation. Nearly 10% of that money has been spent to house hurricane survivors in motels, apartments, and with family or friends. [Read more...]
The latest polls show that the gap between Cheri Beasley and Ted Budd continues to narrow, while the candidates’ differences on key issues have sharpened ahead of what could be their one and only debate.
Budd, who avoided debates during an extended and contentious GOP primary, agreed to go toe-to-toe with Beasley, who faced nominal opposition and no debates in the Democratic primary, on Oct. 7. The event will air on Spectrum News and be moderated by Tim Boyum.
Both campaigns are benefiting from a fresh infusion of outside spending, including $3.4 million for Budd from Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership PAC and $1 million for Beasley from Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer’s campaign account.
Although the race is clearly tightening, it hasn’t received as much national attention as other key Senate races in the 2022 cycle.[Read more...]
State education leaders are looking to retool the state’s controversial A-F performance grading system that North Carolina began using nearly a decade ago.
The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) launched a survey Thursday in partnership with EdNC, an online news agency, that asks parents, teachers and others for advice about how to best evaluate schools. The survey will remain open until Oct. 10. The results will be posted publicly.
School performance grades are mainly determined by student scores on state end-of-grade and end-of-course tests. Eighty percent of the grade is based on student proficiency on state tests and 20 percent on the academic growth students experience from one year to the next.[Read more...]
State Sen. Dan Blue of Raleigh, the Senate’s Democratic leader, said he wants the state to waive income tax on forgiven student loan debt, countering the position of Republican Senate leader Phil Berger.
Berger told reporters Tuesday that the state would not waive income taxes on forgiven student loan debt, WUNC reported.
North Carolina is one of a handful of states that will tax student debt relief, according to the Washington Post.
Shaletta Ryans went to court Monday afternoon without even having to leave jail. She appeared in a Guilford County courtroom via a live video feed, her image beaming onto five computer screens in front of prosecutors, a public defender and a judge. She didn’t say much, but the courtroom’s speakers rattled with the sound of chains, the cacophonous soundtrack of jail.
Ryans had been charged with second-degree trespassing, a low-level misdemeanor that could have landed her in jail for up to 20 days. She’d allegedly overstayed her welcome on a hospital’s grounds. The public defender in the room, John Nieman, said he thought it was a “sin” to charge someone with a mental illness for intruding on a hospital. Left unsaid and unanswered was a question: where else was Ryans supposed to get help?
The charges didn’t stick. Judge Angela Foster told Ryans she would get out of jail after her hearing. But if the hospital tells her to leave the premises in the future, Foster told Ryans, she must leave.[Read more...]
Chemours – the billion-dollar company responsible for contaminating the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of people in the Lower Cape Fear River Basin, the company that is challenging the EPA’s scientific findings that GenX is toxic, the company that after 28 months has yet to submit a revised corrective action plan to clean up polluted groundwater beneath at least seven square miles around its Fayetteville Works plant, the company that recently was fined $305,000 for environmental violations by the state of North Carolina – plans to expand.
Chemours wants to increase its production of PFA, a type of fluoropolymer, at Fayetteville Works in northern Bladen County, near the Cumberland County line.
PFA stands for perfluoroalkoxy alkanes. They belong to the PFAS family but have a slightly different molecular structure. The chemical industry has claimed that PFA, the fluoropolymer, is a “polymer of low concern.”
David Crabtree, former long-time reporter and anchor at WRAL, was made CEO of PBS NC Thursday after a unanimous vote by the UNC Board of Governors. Crabtree has served as interim leader of the organization for the past five months.
The board broke precedent in hiring Crabtree, who will make $275,000 per year in his new role, by not conducting a national candidate search. Such a search isn’t required for the organization’s top executive – but it has been standard protocol for decades.
UNC System President Peter Hans told the board Thursday he was glad he could lure Crabtree away from WRAL to take on the interim role in April. The original plan was to do a national search for candidates, but Hans said over the last few months he rethought that. [Read more…]