NC Policy Watch's the Progessive Pulse

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Stories and voice that matter | A blog from NC Policy Watch
Updated: 1 hour 43 min ago

When life gives you coal ash, make coal ash art

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 07:39

Caroline Armijo was feeling relaxed, her mind open, during a guided meditation class when she was visited by a creative muse: Why not take coal ash, the source of misery for so many people in her hometown of Walnut Cove, and fashion something beautiful from it? Now Armijo, an environmental activist and a mixed-media artist, ...

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White supremacists, rumors and demonstrators in Durham

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:00

Back in August, after demonstrators brought down a Confederate statue outside the Old Durham County Courthouse, a rumor spread that the Sons of Confederate Veterans — or was it the Klu Klux Klan? — would be rallying in downtown Durham. What happened next was fascinating – a huge, counter-protest movement materialized which turned the afternoon ...

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Organizations file motion challenging constitutionality of court costs

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:48

North Carolina lawmakers decided earlier this year that they would make it burdensome for judges to waive court fines and fees for poor defendants. A group of non-profit organizations are now challenging that decision. The motion filed Monday in Wake County Superior Court disputes the constitutionality of court costs and is the product of a working ...

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The best op-ed of the weekend

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:18

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the essay that ran in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by Andrew Stettner of the Century Foundation highlighting North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system that was gutted by conservatives in response to the Great Recession. Here are some excerpts from “NC should restore unemployment ...

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None of NC’s 39 Superfund sites apparently need “immediate, intense attention” from EPA

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:30

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced on Friday 21 Superfund sites that need “immediate, intense attention” — and none of them is in North Carolina. These targeted sites, scattered throughout the U.S., include old tanneries, smelters and dumps that contain radioactive waste. Granted, it would be difficult to single out 21 sites, considering nationwide there are ...

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Last week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 05:00

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. ...

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N.C. Supreme Court to hear court battle between State Board of Education, Superintendent

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 14:06

The N.C. Supreme Court will hear a pivotal court battle between the State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, WRAL reports. The case concerns a 2016 law passed by the GOP-controlled General Assembly weeks after Johnson, a Republican, defeated the state’s longtime superintendent, June Atkinson. Lawmakers sought to boost Johnson’s power ...

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Cases of Durham protesters who brought down Confederate statue continued to next year

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 13:29

If you’ve been following our continuing coverage of the controversy surrounding Confederate statues in the state, you’ll be interested to read that the cases of eight protesters accused of toppling a statue in Durham this summer have been continued. From the story at INDY Week: “Cases for eight people accused of toppling a Confederate monument in ...

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Now is the time to rebalance the state’s unemployment insurance system

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 10:24

New research from The Century Foundation released today finds that the recovery of Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds nationwide presents an opportunity to rebalance the approach taken during the Great Recession and its aftermath. The approach taken in several states, including North Carolina, included significant changes that reduce the weekly unemployment insurance amount, the duration of ...

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Burr and Tillis wage class warfare on behalf of the 1%

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 07:34

If you’re looking for the most accurate summation of the GOP tax legislation working its way through Congress and the scandalous actions of North Carolina’s two U.S. senators in aiding and abetting the massive rip-off that’s being perpetrated on average Americans, be sure to read Professor Gene Nichol’s scathing op-ed in this morning’s edition of ...

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

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:41

That faint echo you hear of of crickets chirping is the sound emanating from the offices of North Carolina’s conservative think tanks on the subject of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The ACP is one of the most important environmental and economic development stories in North Carolina right now and has been for some time. Energy ...

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

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 12:59

Tensions between the State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson boiled over again Thursday, moments after Johnson explained plans to follow through on a 2018 audit of the state’s top public school agency. “I think what the General Assembly is looking for is accountability, accountability for the money that is sent ...

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Growing the deficit will lead to immediate cuts to core programs in our communities

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:06

Congress follows several deficit-control mechanisms that govern tax and spending decisions in any given year to ensure that the deficit does not increase and spending is arbitrarily constrained. PAYGO, funding caps and are all in play now that the House and Senate have both voted to grow the deficit by at least $1.4 trillion over ...

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U.S. House passes first major gun bill since Las Vegas…and it makes things worse

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 07:08

You’ve got to hand it to the Trumpists running the U.S. government; just about every time you think they’ve hit rock bottom, they pull out their shovels and start digging the national hole a little deeper. As Rebekah Entralgo of Think Progress reports, the latest outrage involves guns. In the first major legislation to move ...

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NC DEQ delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline air permit, requests more info on toxic pollutants

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 18:49

Benzene, a known carcinogen, would be emitted from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s compressor station, prompting state environmental officials to delay its decision on its air permit. NC Department of Environmental Quality is asking the ACP, LLC, owned primarily by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, for more information about the station’s projected benzene emissions, as well ...

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State Board of Education weighs charter’s contract with former state legislator, charter advisor

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 15:15

Members of North Carolina’s State Board of Education are expected to discuss in open session Thursday one Charlotte charter’s ethically knotty contract with a new charter management organization led by a former state charter advisor, a former state lawmaker and a longtime school choice advocate. As noted in a Charlotte Observer report in August, the ...

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Charges dropped against UNC professor who protested Silent Sam

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 14:38

Dr. Altha Cravey, a tenured professor of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill, has never been afraid to take a stand. A regular at campus protests, Cravey has been thrown out of  University events for holding up protest signs and criticized for helping to disrupt meetings of the UNC Board of Governors to oppose their policies. Cravey doesn’t ...

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Next up in Congress, cuts to programs that deliver opportunity, strengthen economy

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:04

Congressional Republicans are rushing to get their tax bill to President Trump’s desk before the end of the year. At the same time most Americans have clearly shown that they are not in favor of this tax bill, and for good reason. The proposed tax plans in Congress are simply the first of two steps ...

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Mark Johnson’s budget advisor played part in funding issue he’s now criticizing while part of the McCrory administration

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 12:26

In case you missed it this morning, be sure to check out Education Reporter Billy Ball’s fascinating story over on the main Policy Watch site (“Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending”). The story highlights the latest bit of maddening behavior from the state’s perpetually befuddled Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark ...

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Yet another dire warning about the GOP’s effort to rig the state courts

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 07:33

A Greensboro News & Record editorial tells it like it is with respect to the ongoing effort of legislative Republicans to remake and rig the state courts. The editorial comes in response to a public event that took place in the Gate City last week with the help of N.C. Voters for Clean Elections. After ...

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