The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch
1. A holiday wish for North Carolina pols and their pals (Commentary)
Well, the season of giving is upon us again, and while it’s clear that North Carolina ethics statutes prevent public servants and other “covered persons” from receiving any gifts that might influence their official actions, the law includes a number of – nudge-nudge, wink-wink – exceptions, so one hopes that perhaps there is a way to make the following list a reality.
For Senator-elect Ted Budd: A collector’s edition set of official Donald Trump superhero trading cards. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Budd will still be a U.S. Senator in the year 2029 – a point in time at which, the good Lord willing – Donald Trump will be a distant and almost forgotten dot in the national rearview mirror. Like old baseball cards, perhaps a little Trump-o-bilia can provide Budd with a measure of nostalgia for a time in which a right-wing politician could get elected to high office simply by packing heat, mouthing nonsense about immigrants, and flirting with coup plotters like Mark Meadows (see below).
For the Berger boys – Senator Phil Senior and Supreme Court Justice Phil Junior: The latest edition of the party game “Family Table Topics.” Since we know they would never discuss business…[Read more…] ===
2. New Durham Public Schools policy to support LGBTQ students wins accolades
Queer author and former DPS student says such a policy “would have made a world of difference in my childhood”
As a Durham middle school student in the late 1990s, Maximillian Matthews struggled to find his sexual identity. Matthews, who identifies as queer, was bullied and taunted. He felt unseen and unsupported by teachers, counselors and school administrators.
At age 12 or 13, while grieving the death of his father, Matthews considered taking his own life. He decided against it because he is an only child and didn’t want to leave his mother to grieve the loss of his dad alone.
His father’s death, the struggle with his identity and sexuality, along with not understanding what was happening to him emotionally and mentally, sent Matthews spiraling to a dark place.[Read more…] ===
3. A look at juvenile justice in North Carolina, three years into Raise the Age
Nearly 13,500 teenagers had their crimes adjudicated in the juvenile justice system; under the old model these youths would have pled their cases in adult courts.
In 2019 North Carolina followed the rest of the country’s lead and raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction for nonviolent crimes to age 18, meaning many 16- and 17-year old children would be spared punishment in the adult justice system.
Last year, lawmakers raised the “floor” of juvenile jurisdiction from age 6 to 10, so Kindergartners could no longer be sent to juvenile court for, to take an example from the Department of Public Safety website, stealing a candy bar from the checkout aisle.
New state data offer a glimpse into how these policies are playing out, three years into Raise the Age and one year into raising the ‘minimum age’ law.[Read more…] ===
4. New ‘must read’ report shines a light on women and poverty in North Carolina
Over 3.2 million North Carolinians are poor or near poor, and many more experience economic instability and challenges over time. We’ve described some of these communities and the hurdles they face, individually and collectively, in our prior research. With this report, we examine the ways that women in North Carolina are caught in the crosshairs of irreconcilable social and economic demands.
This state is not unique in this regard. But conditions in North Carolina strengthen the headwinds faced by women everywhere. The state’s failure to expand Medicaid, for example, deprives hundreds of thousands of women of health insurance. Without health insurance, women of working age can’t access treatments that would enable them to find or keep a job. Low wage work is more pervasive in North Carolina than in other states.[Read more…] ===
5. After substation shooting, federal regulator orders review of security standards
Recent North Carolina attack helps spur new national initiative
Less than two weeks after gunfire damaged two Duke Energy substations in Moore County, knocking out power to about 45,000 people, federal regulators have ordered a review of security standards at electric transmission facilities and control centers.
Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which sets and enforces reliability standards for the bulk power system in the U.S., Canada and part of Mexico, to review existing “physical security” rules for the components of the power system.
The order, which requires NERC to deliver within 120 days its report on the effectiveness and applicability of current standards and whether improvements are necessary, comes amid reports of similar attacks at other sites across the country.[Read more…] ===
6. Jody Greene’s racist comments cost Columbus County Sheriff’s Office military equipment
The Department of Public Safety has suspended the Columbus County Sheriff’s Department from participating in a program that allows law enforcement agencies to acquire surplus military equipment.
The suspension is the latest development for Jody Greene, the Columbus County sheriff who resigned, and then was re-elected, after making racist comments about his Black employees. Greene has obtained $3.8 million in surplus military equipment since he took office in 2018.
Those who participate in the Department of Defense Law Enforcement Support Program must abide by certain terms, Gregory Weavil, state coordinator with the Department of Public Safety’s Law Enforcement Support Services (LESS), wrote in a letter to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office dated Dec. 16.
“One of those conditions is to comply with anti-discrimination laws and regulations, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Weavil wrote…[Read more…] ===
7. Rev. William Barber to lead new center at Yale Divinity School
Rev. William Barber, former head of the N.C. NAACP, will lead a new center at the Yale Divinity School.
Barber announced the creation of the Center for Public Theology & Public Policy in a Twitter post Monday, saying it will “prepare a new generation of moral leaders to be active participants in creating a just society.”
Barber plans to step down from his leadership of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, which he has led for 30 years, and begin teaching classes at Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut, beginning with the new semester in January.
“I’ve been a pastor & moral activist for 35 yrs,” Barber wrote in a thread of posts. “I want to share what I’ve learned & lead research on the deep connection between theology & just policies.”[Read more…] ===
8. Climate change is forcing cities to rethink their tree mix
NC State researcher, other experts say a commitment to planning and species diversity have become essential
Cities need to plant more trees. But not just any trees.
As communities prepare for a massive influx of federal funding to support urban forestry, their leaders say the tree canopy that grows to maturity 50 years from now will need to be painted with a different palette than the one that exists today.
“You need a tree that’s going to survive the weather of today and the climate of the future,” said Pete Smith, urban forestry program manager with the Arbor Day Foundation, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that supports tree planting and care.[Read more…]
9. Weekly Radio Interviews and Daily Radio Commentaries:
Click here for the latest radio interviews and commentaries with Policy Watch Director Rob Schofield.
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