Sometimes the big story gets lost in the back pages over time. We keep the related stories all in one place so you can see how they progress. Check our CJ Series with each new twist and turn and stay up to date on all the background information in the big story.
News of the 2007 General Assembly.
2011 General Assembly
The first Republican majority in more than a century takes charge of the legislature.
2013 General Assembly
For the first time since the 19th century, Republicans will control both the executive and legislative branches of state government. Carolina Journal will cover the doings of this initial legislative session under full GOP control here.
Air Quality in NC
Contrary to the alarmist press releases of self-styled environmental groups, the quality of North Carolina's air is good and getting better, even as industry expands and vehicular traffic increases across much of the state. Flawed reporting and biased standards contribute to the gap between perception and reality.
Alcoa/Yadkin River Trust
The Easley and Perdue administrations want the state to seize four hydroelectric dams in central North Carolina that have been owned and operated by Alcoa Power Generating Inc. since 1917. Alcoa had a federal license to operate the dams from 1958-2008, and the state wants Washington to deny renewal.
All About The Hagan Grants
Several businesses owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's husband, son, and other family members received federal energy grants. One grant, of $250,644, came from the Obama administration's stimulus program; the second, of $50,000, was from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program. The money was used to make energy improvements and install solar panels on a building owned by a Hagan family company, while another Hagan family company handled the installation. Meantime, the senator or her husband consulted a powerful Washington-based Democratic attorney for ethics advice about the grants. Read all of CJ's coverage in this series.
Follow the John Locke Foundation and the Center for Local Innovation's Coverage of Amendment One - North Carolina's tax increment financing scheme.
America's Founding Principles
The John Locke Foundation’s four statements of principle summarize some of the foundational concepts of the American experiment: that we are a land of liberty, a constitutional republic, a free market, and a free society.
Stories on the Campbell family of Elizabetown: D.M. "Mac" Campbell, member of the DOT board, and McQueen Campbell, chairman of the NC State Board of Trustees.
The John Locke Foundation and Carolina Journal are highlighting state government policies that promote cronyism. Cronyism covers a host of government activities by which an industry or even a single firm or speculator is given favors and support they could not attain in market competition. Examples include regulations helping favored businesses, laws restricting new competitors from entering a market, government-sponsored cartels and monopolies, mandates requiring consumers to buy government-favored products, and tax breaks targeting specific businesses.
North Carolina's Medicaid program has won awards for its alleged efficiency and effectiveness. But a growing number of critics say the good news is an illusion, and that the modified fee-for-service program Community Care for North Carolina is a money pit that begs for review if not overhaul. Carolina Journal's reporting and analysis of the challenges facing the federal/state health insurance program for the poor is here.
Center for Climate Strategies
A nonprofit environmental advocacy group, the Center for Climate Stategies, staunchly believes global warming must be reduced through reductions in human-caused carbon dioxide emissions and controls another nonprofit organization that advises a climate action panel started by the N.C. Division of Air Quality.
North Carolina's General Assembly has created the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change, which is to examine whether the state should enact policies that would reduce the production of greenhouse gases. Also advising the Legislative Commission is the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG), which is under the guidance of the Center for Climate Strategies, a subsidiary of a global warming advocacy group based in Pennsylvania.
Covering the 2004 Elections
Carolina Journal editors and columnists are closely following the issues, events, and personalities of the 2004 election cycle, including articles on John Edwards' presidential quest, congressional and legislative primaries, the North Carolina governor's race, and local races in many of the state's largest counties.
Covering the 2006 Elections
The 2006 election cycle will be the first in 12 years in which there is no gubernatorial, presidential, or senatorial race to drive the statewide political coverage. Democrats hope they can accomplish in 2006 what the GOP did in 1994.
Covering the 2008 Elections
Believe it or not, the 2008 election cycle is approaching rapidly. Check here for the latest coverage of North Carolina contests and commentary about state and national political candidates and issues.
Covering the 2010 Elections
The 2010 cycle promises to be one of the most competitive and fateful mid-term elections in recent memory. Read about North Carolina’s upcoming races here.
Covering the 2012 Elections
Voters will decide whether to give Republicans their seal of approval after the GOP took control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century. Gov. Bev Perdue's surprise decision to forgo a re-election campaign opens up the race for the executive mansion. Elections for other state offices, local positions, and Congress promise plenty of interest. And the Democratic National Convention hits Charlotte. Check here for frequent news and analysis about this crucial political campaign.
Covering the 2014 Elections
North Carolina will feature a U.S. Senate race that could determine the partisan balance of power in Washington, along with 13 congressional contests, and races for 170 state lawmakers, four Supreme Court justices, three Court of Appeals judges, and hundreds of county commission seats. Check here often for profiles of candidates, campaigns, and events by CJ staff.
Covering the State Courts
Few news sources pay close attention to the day-to-day workings and decisions of North Carolina’s appellate courts. But Carolina Journal does — and you’ll find a diverse array of important cases and issues presented without legalese.
A private company's longstanding attempt to build ethanol plants in Eastern North Carolina has led to a growing scandal involving allegations of political pressure, corruption, campaign finance irregularities, government waste, and abuse of power reaching to the highest levels of state government.
Early Childhood Programs
State sponsored early childhood programs in North Carolina include Smart Start, More at Four and Bright Beginnings. Federally sponsored programs include Head Start and Even Start. Follow the progress of these programs in North Carolina.
One of the hottest debates in North Carolina surrounds how to promote economic development in the state. Some advocate targeted tax breaks, government subsidies, and other incentive policies while others say that low overall taxes, reasonable regulations, and good public services are the right approach.
Stories on congressional and legislative races.
Frank Ballance's Foundation
Longtime state senator and now Congressman Frank Ballance is in hot water because of revelations by Carolina Journal and others of questionable programs and record-keeping at a nonprofit foundation he helped to create and to fund with millions in state taxpayer money.
Interviews that have appeared on Carolina Journal Radio.
Getting Jobs Data Right
Politicians try to spin jobs reports for partisan gain. CJ's reporting, led by Don Carrington, former deputy director of the N.C. Employment Security Commission's Labor Market Information Division, helps separate fact from fiction.
Golden LEAF/tobacco funds
Golden LEAF has operated often as a political slush fund. Along with the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, these operations distribute North Carolina's share of the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies. As much as $2.6 billion in unaccountable spending is involved. Check here for updates on the boondoggles these funds underwrite, along with legal and legislative attempts to rein in the spending.
Gov. Easley / Marina / Cannonsgate / Fundraising
Gov. Mike Easley was the subject of a complaint, now dismissed by the N.C. Board of Ethics, over his relationship with owners of Southport Marina, Inc., who received a long-term lease to operate the state-owned marina. Opponents of the lease called it a "sweetheart deal" for Easley's friends. Meanwhile, business partners of those involved with the marina also own a coastal development called "Cannonsgate," where Easley purchased a valuable lot at a seemingly bargain price. Easley's campaign was fined $100,000 by the State Board of Elections in October 2009. He accepted a guilty "Alford" plea on a felony charge in November 2010. Easley's successor Bev Perdue was fined $30,000 by the Board of Elections for illegal unreported campaign flights in August 2010.
Gov. Perdue's Aircraft Providers
In the wake of the State Board of Elections' investigation of campaign flights provided to former Gov. Mike Easley and the 2008 candidates for governor, Board of Elections investigators found reporting irregularities and some illegalities from the 2008 Perdue for Governor campaign. The board fined the Perdue committee $30,000 in August 2010. But other questions remain unanswered.
Governor's School of NC
In June 2005 the taxpayer-funded Governor's School of North Carolina conducted a seminar called "The New Gay Teenager," named after a book with the same title, which outraged the parents of some students because they were unaware of the subject matter being taught in the seminar.
Jim Black's 'Sweetheart' Settlement Deal
To satisfy half of a court-imposed $1 million fine, disgraced former House Speaker Jim Black was allowed to surrender two parcels of real estate in Mecklenburg County with a tax value of under $150,000. Carolina Journal investigates the settlement deal.
Legislative Slush Funds
In 1997, Carolina Journal led the way in uncovering a secret $21 million slush fund used by legislative leaders to reward political allies and distribute pork, often in violation of law. Now, the practice has returned to Raleigh big-time — and CJ is hard at work uncovering abuses of law and the public interest.
In 2013, Pat McCrory became North Carolina's third Republican governor since the 19th century and the first to govern with a General Assembly under Republican control. <i>CJ</i>'s reporting on the administration's policies are collected here.
N.C. Sustainability Center
Henry C. McKoy, an assistant secretary in the N.C. Department of Commerce, devised a scheme to divert unspent federal community development funding to the North Carolina Sustainability Center, a nonprofit he controlled before joining the Perdue administration. After the scheme was reported by <i>Carolina Journal</i> and the <i>News & Observer</i>, Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco asked McKoy to resign, but he refused. Follow the latest developments in this series.
Natural Gas in Northeast NC
In 1998 voters approved $200 million in bonds to extend natural gas to 22 northeastern counties. State Senate leader Marc Basnight’s influence apparently enabled political allies to manage most of the available funds. None of the money is likely to be paid back and the pipeline project isn’t expected to be economically feasible for decades, if ever.
North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching
Carolina Journal investigates a taxpayer-funded retreat for public school teachers with all the bells and whistles of a mountain getaway.
North Carolina vs. TVA
Investigations by Carolina Journal reveal inappropriate reimbursements to third-party lawyers and possible pressure applied by the attorney general's office on the state's air quality division.
North Carolina's Northeast Partnership, a regional economic development agency established by the General Assembly in 1994, almost immediately afterward declared itself a private nonprofit organization and therefore not subject to public records laws. Funded almost entirely by state government, the partnership's leaders have allegedly sought to boost their own financial stakes in private companies by attempting to obtain state economic incentives for those companies. These efforts have been helped through their ties to State Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight.
Obamacare in North Carolina
The federal Affordable Care Act becomes law Jan. 1, 2014, and will affect residents of every state differently. Carolina Journal is reporting extensively on the impacts of the new insurance mandates, fees, and taxes on the quality and cost of health care in the Tar Heel State.
Articles about transparency, public records, and other issues important for North Carolinians who want to keep tabs on the operations of state and local government.
In 2013, the General Assembly passed and Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a measure allowing students from low-income families to receive as much as $4,200 in state funding to use for tuition in private schools. The program was challenged in court immediately by the state's teachers union and other members of the education establishment, arguing that the use of public money to subsidize private education violated the state constitution. Carolina Journal has followed the dispute from it inception, so check here for the latest developments.
These are the Carolina Journal parodies that appear on Page 28 of every issue of CJ.
A fingerprint technology company promoted by State Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight received money from the state’s Tobacco Trust Fund.
Randy Parton Theatre
In February 2007 North Carolina officials approved the state's first usage of tax increment financing, or TIFs, with the creation of the Carolina Crossroads development project in Roanoke Rapids, with the Randy Parton Theatre as the centerpiece. A series of Carolina Journal stories have unearthed several unconventional arrangements and relationships between government and private enterprise.
North Carolina House and Senate redistricting plans.
Regulating School Nutrition
State lawmakers have targeted everything from juice boxes to homemade lunches as they issue regulations intended to improve the food youngsters eat at school. CJ not only investigates the rules but also looks at whether limiting families' choices results in healthier children.
Revenue Department Audits Large Families
Carolina Journal investigates a policy by the N.C. Department of Revenue to audit families that claim a large number of dependents on their tax returns.
School Lunch Fraud in NC
Data from North Carolina school districts suggest that some parents lie about their income when applying for the federal government's free and reduced-lunch program. But food nutrition officials have banned districts from verifying income beyond a narrow 3 percent window. Carolina Journal investigates why and explores how much F&R lunch fraud could be costing taxpayers.
Officials at WakeMed Health and Hospitals fear that Rex Healthcare, owned by the UNC Health Care system, is trying to take away some of its profitable practices. In 2011, WakeMed proposed purchasing Rex from UNC for $750 million. UNC doesn't want to sell, but top Republicans in the General Assembly are intrigued by the idea of limiting UNC's ability to compete with private health care providers. Read about the controversy here.
Six Simple Tools
Reforming state government in North Carolina is a monumental task, but the first step to accomplishing it is to break the problems down into smaller, bite-sized ones. This series presents the basics on how to make government smaller, taxes lower, schools better, neighborhoods safer, travel faster, and our freedom greater.
Photo slideshows by <i>Carolina Journal</i> photographers.
Spotlight on Speaker Black
Dark clouds are gathering over the political organization of House Speaker Jim Black. Stories about Meredith Norris, Kevin Geddings, investigations, lobbying laws, and investigations are accumulating.
North Carolina's tax system is more than a half-century old, and talk of updating it to reflect changes in the ways the state collects revenues is expected to intensify in the 2013 legislative session. Several proposals are under consideration, so keep up with the debate by referring to these stories.
Tax Refund Fraud
"Stolen Identity Refund Fraud" affects an untold number of innocent taxpayers, costing federal and state taxpayers billions of dollars. In short, criminals file fake tax returns in the name of a taxpayer, but do it before the real taxpayer gets around to it. Then, the IRS and state revenue agencies, in efforts to provide good service, send refund checks to the criminals before they learn from employers if the refunds actually were warranted. Carolina Journal discovered fraud operations using federal and state tax refunds sent to phony individuals addressed to homes in Durham and mail boxes in Sampson County. As more information comes to light, CJ will update stories here.
Taxpayer-Funded Abortions in N.C.
Carolina Journal investigates counties and the UNC system as they use taxpayer funds to pay for local and state employees' elective abortions.
The Citizen-Soldier Support Program
North Carolina's congressional delegation has poured $10 in taxpayer funds into a UNC-Chapel Hill program that's produced few tangible results. A Carolina Journal investigation reveals how the Citizen-Soldier Support Program has misappropriated funds to irrelevant activities and paid fat salaries to its employees with little oversight or accountability.
The Climate Registry
In 2007, North Carolina joined the Climate Registry, a California-based nonprofit that seeks to persuade companies, organizations, and state and local governments to report their greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of reducing climate change. Carolina Journal investigates the state's financial relationship with the nonprofit and potential conflicts of interest among air quality officials.
The Currituck Ferry
An expensive "solution" to getting a few dozen kids to school on the Outer Banks has proved to be a complex scandal, complete with malfeasance and a federal criminal investigation.
The Global TransPark
A boondoggle from the start. This series records what is possibly the largest government waste and failure in North Carolina state history, a failed cargo-airport project that has brought false hopes but little impact to Kinston and Eastern North Carolina.
Who's Who at the Board of Elections Hearings
The State Board of Elections is conducting public hearings in response to a formal complaint filed by Democracy North Carolina in June 2004 alleging illegal campaign activity.
Democracy North Carolina is a nonpartisan watchdog organization committed to a range of campaign-finance reforms that include improving disclosure of the flow of political money.
At least 60 persons have received subpoenas to bring records and appear in person to answer questions.
Who's Who at the Easley Hearings
A list of the participants at the state Board of Elections' October 2009 hearing investigating alleged campaign finance violations by former Gov. Mike Easley.