Daily Journal

12.22.14
Region No Longer Sets Pace

As North Carolina policymakers continue to advance their own reform agenda, they should look far beyond the Southeast if they want to find best practices to replicate here.

CJ Ticker

  • The N.C. Supreme Court upholds the state's congressional, legislative election district maps.
  • N.C. Supreme Court upholds congressional, legislative maps drawn by 2011 General Assembly, rejecting challenges from liberal groups.
  • N.C. Commerce Secretary Decker resigns; DENR Secretary Skvarla moves over to Commerce.
  • Latest N.C. employment report contains "excellent" news.
  • N.C. Supreme Court decides to bypass the Court of Appeals and address the lawsuit challenging new opportunity scholarships.
  • The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restores same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting for North Carolina's November election.
  • JLF report calls for reduction or repeal of N.C.'s capital gains tax.
  • Gov. McCrory rejects special session dealing with economic incentives. Video here.

Other Opinions

12.22.14
Preservation tax credits

Tom Campbell writes that the historic preservation tax credit appears reasonable. In a disposable, throwaway culture this credit encourages people to honor and preserve our past.


12.22.14
2016 election

patrick Gannon writes that an early poll suggests that North Carolina will again be a battleground state in the 2016 presidential race.


12.22.14
Cuba policy

Rob Christensen writes that one can only wonder what Jesse Helms would be saying today about the decision of President Barack Obama to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana.


12.19.14
Grading idea flunks

The Durham Herald-Sun thinks that kind of stark single-character assessment is a bit simplistic when assessing movies or restaurant meals. It certainly is addled when applied to a complex institution like a school.


12.19.14
440th Air Wing

The Fayetteville Observer says that the agreement not to deactivate the 440th Air Wing without a review process comes as welcome news for the besieged unit and the community.


12.19.14
Facts: Stubborn, Bothersome, Necessary
Far too often, the dictates of passion and the pursuit of the political win today trample the dispassionate concern for truth.

Media Mangle

10.21.14
Steer Clear of Government Editor‘s Pen

Journalists fall short of long-established standards when they allow officials to peruse and even edit their reports.


9.23.14
Don‘t Let the Narrative Trump The Facts

You’d have thought by now that the news media would have learned the hard lessons of prejudging a story or a situation before all the facts are in.


9.17.14
When the Price of Access Is Too Steep

Media outlets should think twice about maintaining cozy relationships with murderous regimes.

Carolina Beat

12.18.14
Health Care Winners and Losers

Lead Story

Common Core Commission Secures Short-Term Funding

December 22, 2014, By Barry Smith

photo-fpo-leadRALEIGH — Legislative leaders will allow the Academic Standards Review Commission to operate with temporary funding from the Department of Administration. When the General Assembly convenes in January, lawmakers say they’ll give the commission an operating budget so it can hire staff and conduct research.

12.19.14 - Friday Interview: Positive UNC System Reforms

photo-fpo-leadRALEIGH — College students are heading home for the holidays, but the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors continues its work. The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy believes the BOG has plenty of opportunities to improve North Carolina’s 16-campus university system. Jane Shaw, president of the Pope Center, discussed UNC system issues with Donna Martinez for Carolina Journal Radio.

12.18.14 - Board Of Education Backs Charter School Replication

photo-fpo-leadRALEIGH — The State Board of Education approved a report to the General Assembly at its Dec. 4 meeting advocating a fast-track charter school replication process for charter schools that can demonstrate three years of proven academic and financial success. The process eliminates a year of planning normally imposed on new charter schools, and mandates a decision on approval in no more than 150 days.

Editorial Cartoon

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Headlines

12.22.14 - In state’s prisons, life means life, NC Supreme Court rules

RALEIGH — A 65-year-old Fayetteville man convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison in the 1970s will stay behind bars for the rest of his life, according to a N.C. Supreme Court ruling. The justices, in a 4-2 ruling, reversed a decision last year by a three-judge N.C. Court of Appeals panel that supported a Cumberland County Superior Court judge’s decision that a life sentence for inmate Bobby E. Bowden did not necessarily mean he would be imprisoned until his death.


Related Prison & Death Penalty Articles:
N.C. juries bring three death row sentences in 2014
NC prison officials asked for inmates’ silence after killing
DPS seeks $20M for prison mental health
NC prisons seek staffing help to deal with mentally ill
Prison captain fired over inmate death wants job back
Murder probe exposes more problems at Lanesboro prison

12.22.14 - N.C. jobless rate lowest since April 2008

WINSTON-SALEM — Another significant drop in the state’s jobless rate — 0.5 percentage points to 5.8 percent in November — is likely to stir further debate about how much economic stock should be put into employment data. The rate is down from 7.2 percent in November 2013 and is at its lowest level since 5.4 percent in April 2008 — about five months before North Carolina and the country began to experience the full brunt of the economic downturn.


Related NC Economy Articles:
NC jobless rate falls to 5.8%, lowest since May 2008
More trade could benefit Cubans and North Carolinians
Across the ocean, discerning customers take to Silky Pork
From snorting pig to global product
On the farms, a killer virus invades
Tour may become the big cheese for makers of fromage

12.22.14 - EPA won’t regulate coal ash as hazardous waste

CHARLOTTE — The first federal rules on coal ash from power plants, released Friday, set the bar generally lower than North Carolina did in responding to Duke Energy’s February spill into the Dan River. The Environmental Protection Agency said it will regulate coal ash as solid waste, such as municipal garbage, instead of as a hazardous waste. Ash contains elements that can be toxic in water.


Related Energy Articles:
Rules Review Commission approves fracking standards
Group wants Duke to slow plants building
NC WARN wants regulators to investigate power market manipulation
Gas pipeline fails to energize debate over its route
Ash-pond repair raises concerns for Lake Norman
Duke to repair leaky pipe at coal ash dump near Charlotte

12.22.14 - Pittenger carves global niche in Congress

CHARLOTTE — He’s traveled from Tripoli to Tokyo, from Doha to Delhi. He’s met with ambassadors, foreign secretaries, prime ministers and presidents. Last month, he reached out to the pope. U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger has carved out a niche in his first term that’s taken him around the globe and brought dozens of foreign diplomats to Washington.


Related NC Delegation Articles:
Burr says CIA interrogations did help prevent terror attacks
Rouzer meets with city, business leaders
Adams makes key vote, key discovery in first month
Richard Burr plans scrutiny of CIA
Burr says he will not hold hearings on torture report
Hagan says Obama should have praised economy

12.22.14 - Asking the wrong questions about NC politics

RALEIGH — Well, that didn’t go quite as expected. In late December 2013, I penned, with help from an @NCCapitol colleague, a column purporting to look at North Carolina’s “five big political questions for 2014.” Such pieces tend to occupy that interstitial news space around the end of the year when political critters aren’t doing much but we journalists are expected to have something intelligent to say about them anyway. As it turns out, we at times overestimate our intelligence.


Related NC Politics Articles:
McCrory accuses AP of ‘malice’ in stock payout reporting
McCrory focused on energy, Medicaid, IT in 2015
McCrory launches assault on Associated Press
Analysts question McCrory’s payout disclosure
Carolinas politicians get payouts from broker
Tom DeLay calls Obama ‘Marxist’ and a gift to GOP

12.22.14 - McCrory to propose new NC road-building sources

RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory and North Carolina legislators praised each other for the new method they approved last year to fund transportation projects they say is based not on who you know but more on reducing gridlock and creating jobs. The result, the state Department of Transportation says, is efficiencies to fund 300 additional projects in its first 10-year road-building proposal released this month under new evaluation formulas.


Related Transportation Articles:
JLF: Transportation priorities for North Carolina
Wake schools warn about end of driver’s education funding
New I-485 lanes set for opening in south Mecklenburg
Two thinkers give Wake transit planners a few things to ponder
Triangle businesses chip in to recruit Paris or Frankfurt RDU flight
I-26 Connector: A plan to get it done?

12.22.14 - NC planning school report card changes

ASHEVILLE — Western North Carolina teachers will be using a new, 10-point grading scale for freshmen next fall, but some parents and school officials say the state should implement the change for all high school grades next year. The state Board of Education approved a plan to start using the scale in fall 2015. The grading scale for high schools would be gradually phased in, starting with next year’s freshmen class.


Related Education Articles:
JLF: Rethinking Common Core state standards
Wake County hoping to identify more gifted students
CMS considers rethinking role of homework
Two virtual charter schools on track for North Carolina
NC to review virtual charter offerings
Budget woes resolved for state academic panel

12.22.14 - Hearing allows public to weigh in on revised NC abortion rules

RALEIGH — A long-awaited rewrite of North Carolina’s abortion clinic regulations was praised and criticized by activists on both sides of the controversy at a public hearing on Friday, setting the stage for a likely repeat of the debate in the state legislature next year. About 80 people attended the hourlong hearing on the Dorothea Dix Hospital grounds.


Related Health Care Policy Articles:
Charlotte patients take control with virtual care
Study calls for NC Medicaid expansion
Year-end rush on doctors’ offices intensifies
Battling Rx drug abuse means taking a closer look
NC pharmacists try to boost health and cut costs
Groups critical of cuts to tobacco prevention programs

12.22.14 - As Asheville looks to regulate Airbnbs, B&Bs keep watch

ASHEVILLE — As demolition crews tore into the BB&T parking garage with sledge hammers and heavy machinery last week, many area bed-and-breakfast owners said they were more worried about what was being done with pen and paper at City Hall. Competition from another downtown hotel at the old garage site is predictable. What the city has planned for regulating short-rentals has been anything but.


Related Regulation Articles:
Order seeks reduction in beach insurance rates, hike for inland areas
Lawmakers consider easing rules for mortgage lenders
NC bans gas chambers at animal shelters
Grandfathering tobacco innovation gets GOP support
E-cigarette tech takes off as regulation looms
Raleigh City Council draws debate lines on Airbnb rentals

12.22.14 - Fayetteville police officers to wear cameras on uniforms

FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville’s police chief hopes to have about 250 patrol officers equipped with body cameras by the end of next year. Chief Harold Medlock said a pilot study that began earlier this year using five officers with body cameras has been successful. “I’ve been convinced for the past 16 months our department needs to move in this direction,” Medlock said.


Related Police/Public Safety Articles:
Council backing DPD protest arrests
Lawsuit: Asheville police must release protest videos
Moore to file racial profiling ban
Be warned: IRS scam is proliferating in North Carolina
FBI to probe Bladenboro teen’s death
Accused CMPD officer’s hearing draws angry onlookers

12.22.14 - Emails show NC faced long odds vying with SC for big companies

CHARLOTTE — North Carolina officials want to close the gap with South Carolina and other states that offer larger incentive packages and lower tax rates to lure companies – sometimes causing Charlotte to miss out on hundreds of jobs. But emails and documents obtained by the Observer under a public records request show the state has hurdles to overcome if it wants to keep up with South Carolina and other rivals:


Related Economic Development Articles:
Mercedes-Benz USA mulling headquarters move
More details released on proposed job recruiting agency
JLF: N.C. film incentives are good old-fashioned corporate welfare
Selling Charlotte: New economic development director touts city
Cities joining forces for jobs
Chung to lead Economic Development Partnership of NC

12.22.14 - Charlotte patients take control with virtual care

CHARLOTTE — At her south Charlotte home one night in September, Beth Straeten got her kids to bed and grabbed her iPhone to download a new app. Within minutes, she was talking face-to-face with a physician assistant. As Straeten described the poison ivy rash on her arms, PA Dimple Joshi sat across town at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, in front of two computer monitors. On one, Joshi could see Straeten and on the other she could read Straeten’s medical record.


Related Health Care Policy Articles:
Hearing allows public to weigh in on revised NC abortion rules
Study calls for NC Medicaid expansion
Year-end rush on doctors’ offices intensifies
Battling Rx drug abuse means taking a closer look
NC pharmacists try to boost health and cut costs
Groups critical of cuts to tobacco prevention programs

12.22.14 - NC Stop Torture Now asks McCrory to investigate state’s role

RALEIGH — In the wake of the Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture, a group tracking the North Carolina ties wants Gov. Pat McCrory to investigate the state’s role in the practices. N.C. Stop Torture Now held a rally Friday and delivered a binder full of information to McCrory’s office. The group’s letter asks the governor to launch a State Bureau of Investigation probe “into the use of state and county facilities in support of the RDI program.”


Related Military & Security Articles:
440th Airlift Wing’s inactivation halted, for now
Tillis to fight to keep Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing
Army report looks at effects of potential cuts
Funding for 440th Airlift Wing set to end in March
UNC-CH legal team take up cause of tortured ex-prisoner
Pentagon proposes crackdown on high-cost loans for service members
The Locker Room ~ John Locke Foundation's Statewide Issues Blog
Selling The Dream
Investor Ploitics
Locke, Jefferson, and the Justices
Equal Rights for All
Free Choice for Workers, A History of the Right to Work Movement
Jesse Helms - Here's Where I Stand