Lisa Miller

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English. She covers several different areas with a focus on education. 

"The swingiest of swing states." That's what one political scientist dubbed North Carolina. Indeed, we've had some of the nation's closest presidential elections since the state went for Barack Obama in 2008 and then Republican for the next two elections. This time around, Democrats and Republicans are after what they agree is the demographic that could sway the presidential and statewide races. Politico's Michael Kruse looked at this dynamic in a recent article. He lives in Davidson and joins us now.

Gov. Roy Cooper says he wants to make sure hospitals in North Carolina don't get overwhelmed with patients. That's part of the state's strategy to keep the number of deaths from COVID-19 low. At a press conference last month, he went on to make this statement, which is catching some heat from Republicans:

"Some of these other states, some of their deaths can be attributable to the fact that they were having a hard time getting an ICU bed or a ventilator to a patient. We do not want that to happen in North Carolina."

North Carolina has the country’s second-largest collection of poorly maintained dams built in places where a failure could kill people. That’s according to reporting from The Associated Press that looked at the condition of dams across the United States. 

There are more than 2,000 lawsuits by cities and counties against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. A last-minute settlement this week involving two Ohio counties doesn’t put much of a dent in that number, but four state attorneys general hope a deal they worked out will, for the most part, end the litigation -- while giving communities their due.

Charlotte’s lack of affordable housing has some far-reaching ripples. Communities surrounding Mecklenburg County are growing faster, as people look farther out for homes that fit their budgets. That’s created some of the same problems Charlotte is grappling with – and some different ones too.

For the second time within a year, Dan McCready is running a general election campaign to represent North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District. The Democratic candidate spoke with WFAE’s Morning Edition. He said there needs to be bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that includes more border security - physical and technological barriers.

The general election campaign for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is on. In his first general election TV commercial Bishop says he is pro-gun, and said he doesn’t think gun control is the answer to reducing gun violence. In an interview with WFAE Morning Edition host Lisa Worf, he said solving mental health issues and building stronger families are important.

 


Graduation is this weekend at UNC Charlotte, but the occasion is bittersweet as the community continues to cope with the shootings in a campus classroom last Tuesday. UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phil Dubois spoke with WFAE’s Lisa Worf about plans to remember the two students killed in the ceremonies and how the university plans to make steps toward recovery. 

On Friday, a Wake County Superior Court Judge ruled two of North Carolina’s recent constitutional amendments - lowering the cap on the income tax rate, and requiring a photo ID to vote – are unconstitutional. Judge G. Bryan Collins ruled they are invalid because a gerrymandered state legislature placed them on the November ballot, where they won easily.

Dallas Woodhouse is the executive director of the North Carolina Republican party. He has attended each day of the state elections board's hearing into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District. He spoke with WFAE Morning Edition host Lisa Worf about the hearing.

Lisa Worf: N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse joins us now. Dallas, thanks for coming on.

Dallas Woodhouse: Hey, thank you.

Lisa Worf: So first....

Earlier this month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested about 200 people in a series of enforcement actions in Charlotte, the Raleigh-Durham area, and other communities in North Carolina. Most of them had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges or deportation orders, but about fifty were immigrants here illegally, whom ICE was not specifically looking for.

There’s a new person in North Carolina’s top parks job.

Kevin Bischof became superintendent of Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina's oldest state park, in October. With experience working at Burke County's Lake James State Park and at the highest peak east of the Mississippi, he understands that weather extremes can be intense.

About 40 Department of Motor Vehicles offices across North Carolina have seen especially long lines recently.

The filing period for North Carolina’s legislative seats begins in just six weeks. But election district boundaries are still up in the air. A federal court hearing in Greensboro this week may shed some light on whether judges consider efforts to redraw 28 districts to pass constitutional muster. 

UNC System President Margaret Spellings and her community college counterpart shared a stage in Charlotte last night with House Speaker Tim Moore. They fielded questions about how to make higher education more affordable and accessible. 

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is one of several Senate Republicans to question the timing of President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. 

One of the nation's largest gay rights groups plans to turn down $325,000 from Bank of America this year. That's because of the bank's role in brokering a compromise, which the group opposes, to repeal HB2. 

The North Carolina Board of Education and the new state schools superintendent sat down this week for their first meeting. Republican Board Chairman Bill Cobey introduced his new GOP colleague. There was no hint that Johnson and the board are locked in a power struggle.

The disagreement is over which one of them is in charge of the Department of Public Instruction. Republican lawmakers say it's Johnson. The board says it's them. That struggle will begin playing out in court soon. WFAE's Lisa Worf joins Morning Edition host Marshall Terry now. 

As of January 1, the Charlotte School of Law can no longer receive any federal loan money. In making the decision, the U.S. Department of Education says the law school has long been out of compliance with ABA standards and gave no hint of those problems to students.

Governor-Elect Roy Cooper was largely silent while Governor McCrory’s campaign and supporters filed complaints and demanded a partial recount in Durham County. But Cooper is now talking more since McCrory finally conceded this week. Cooper spoke to us today. We discussed House Bill 2, his plans for working with Republican lawmakers, legislative redistricting – and the timing of McCroy’s decision to concede.

It's looking more likely that Democrat Roy Cooper will become North Carolina's governor. By state law, Republican Governor Pat McCrory has the right to demand a statewide recount, if the margin is less than 10,000 votes. He got ahead of the game and made that demand last week before counties had finalized all votes. But as the tally stands now, McCrory doesn't have that right. The margin has expanded to 10,256 with results from nearly all counties official.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has officially asked for a recount in his re-election race against Attorney General Roy Cooper. The latest tally has him about 6,000 votes behind Roy Cooper as counties sort through complaints and certify election results.  McCrory said in his letter to the state Board of Elections he has "serious concerns of potential voter fraud emerging across the state." But what are the complaints and what is the validity of them?

A judge could rule Thursday whether to release CMPD video of an officer-involved shooting in June. That case was filed by WFAE last week. It's the first petition of its kind in Mecklenburg County since a new state law went into effect October 1. The law requires a court order to release body and dash cam video.

Throughout the week, pressure had been mounting on CMPD to release video of the fatal shooting Keith Scott. Now, there’s a new call that was heard Saturday night in non-violent protests uptown: Release all the video.

Early Saturday evening, CMPD released dashcam and body camera footage of the shooting. The footage included moments immediately before and after the shooting - and leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

The state's two virtual charter schools had a rough go of it their first year open. Both online schools received Ds on state school report cards. 

Students at North Carolina Virtual Academy and North Carolina Connections Academy struggled last year. Reading scores were better, but in math only about a third of students at both schools made passing grades on state standardized tests.  And neither school's students made enough gains throughout the year for the charters to make what's called "growth."

Some CMS schools perform extremely well, while others struggle. The same is true with charter schools throughout the Charlotte area. But compared with CMS, charters received a lower rate of As and a higher rate of Fs on this year's school performance grades. 

If you listen to the latest round of gubernatorial campaign ads, you’d either think teacher pay has skyrocketed or plummeted under Governor Pat McCrory. Neither is the case. There's also more to the story of a teacher highlighted in a Roy Cooper ad.   

Parents this month got their first chance to weigh in on proposals the CMS board is considering to diversify magnet schools. As part of that, they have to wrap their minds around demographics, transportation, and entrance lotteries for these schools. 

CMS has new guidelines on how to handle transgender students. It's up to these students to choose what they're comfortable with in regards to a slew of things, including bathrooms and locker rooms. 

North Carolina prisons will soon stop placing their youngest inmates in solitary confinement. That's one of many changes in the works for how the state prison system treats 16- and 17-year-olds. 

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