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Weekend reads: EPA’s new drinking water standards, defunding DEI, Mark Robinson’s troubled waters


Weekend reads: EPA’s new drinking water standards, defunding DEI, Mark Robinson’s troubled waters

Apr 14, 2024 | 9:02 am ET
By Clayton Henkel
Weekend reads: EPA’s new drinking water standards, defunding DEI, Mark Robinson’s troubled waters
NC General Assembly (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

300 water systems in NC, including mobile home parks, exceed new PFAS standards

EPA administrator Michael Regan
EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced new drinking water limits for several types of the first-ever regulations for the compounds. He announced the rules in Fayetteville at the Hoffer Water Treatment Plant. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

By Lisa Sorg

EPA implements new legally enforceable standards for five toxic compounds, plus a mixture

More than 300 water systems in North Carolina, including a six daycare centers and dozens of mobile home parks, exceed the EPA’s new drinking water standards for PFAS, according to new data released this morning by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

DEQ has sampled more than 530 small public water systems over the past two years. Of those previously sampled, 42 municipal utilities have detections above the new maximum contaminant levels. Additionally, approximately 270 small and disadvantaged systems have detections that exceed the new MCLs. [Read more...]

Bonus read: EPA to formally regulate PFAS in drinking water for the first time

UNC-Chapel Hill Trustees could begin to defund DEI efforts

The UNC Old Well
The “Old Well” on the UNC Chapel Hill campus (Photo: UNC)

By Joe Killian

The dismantling of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at UNC-Chapel Hill could begin in earnest as soon as this month, say two members of the university’s board of trustees. Trustees will likely meet this month in a yet-to-be-scheduled special meeting, finalizing the campus budget before forwarding it to the UNC System Board of Governors for final approval.

“I think the best way for the board to move forward is to advocate for the removal of all DEI funding from the UNC-Chapel Hill budget,” Trustee Dave Boliek, chair of the board’s Budget, Finance and Infrastructure committee, told NC Newsline. “I’m going to advocate that that be the case.” [Read more…]

After years of work, North Carolina clears backlog of untested rape kits

Attorney General Josh Stein at a podium
NC Attorney General Josh Stein announces that the backlog of untested rape kits has been cleared. (Photo: Office of the NC Attorney General)

By Clayton Henkel 

When an individual is sexually assaulted, there is a hope the offender will quickly be caught and the victim will see justice. But in 2017, a review by the North Carolina Justice Department revealed that there were thousands of untested rape kits at local law enforcement offices across the state, essentially just gathering dust. A dearth of scientists at the state’s crime lab only made matters worse.

When it was learned that 16,000 rape kits had gone untested, a bipartisan effort led by Attorney General Josh Stein and legislators of both major parties made it a priority to marshal the resources needed to test the evidence and clear the backlog.

On Tuesday, Stein gathered with law enforcement, legislators, victim advocates and survivors to celebrate a major turning point. [Read more...]

NC Board of Elections rejects complaint about duplicate voter registrations, but wants cleaner rolls

Weekend reads: EPA’s new drinking water standards, defunding DEI, Mark Robinson’s troubled waters
Elections officials are discussing what more could be done to clear voter rolls of duplicate registrations. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

By Lynn Bonner

The State Board of Election decided unanimously that North Carolina is complying with the Help America Vote Act’s requirement to remove duplicate voter records from the statewide registration database.

Still, some board members said Thursday that elections officials could do more to clear the rolls of duplicate registrations. Board members began to discuss ways to add drivers license numbers to existing voter registration records to more easily identify duplicates.

“Cleaning up the rolls is extraordinarily important,” said Board Chairman Alan Hirsch. [Read more…]

Bonus election news:
* An Army veteran running for Congress as an independent makes it onto the ballot

* Republican National Committee courts election conspiracy theorists to help watch polls

Charter Schools Review Board approves second one-year opening delay for two planned charters

a drawing of a generic schoolhouse and the words "Charter school"
Image: Adobe Stock

By Ahmed Jallow

Two planned charter schools won approval from the state Charter Schools Review Board on Monday to delay opening until 2025. The two schools, GO BIG in Mecklenburg County and Nalanda Academy in Wake County, are seeking these delays for the second consecutive year.

Charter schools requesting a second one-year delay require approval from the review board.

The board also took note of the fact that six other approved charters that had planned to open this fall now intend to delay opening until 2025 — something that does not require board approval. [Read more…]

Bonus education news:
Biden administration announces $7.4B in student debt relief; 8,100 in North Carolina to benefit

Troubled waters for Mark Robinson (commentary)

Mark Robinson
Mark Robinson addresses supporters the night of his victory in the GOP gubernatorial primary. (Screengrab from campaign’s YouTube channel)

By Rob Schofield

New tax disclosures, latest polling, GOP stiff-arms have put the Lt. Governor in a tough spot

Even in the current tumultuous political times, Mark Robinson’s rapid rise from an obscure former factory worker with a rather checkered personal past to the highest-ranking Republican in North Carolina state government has been a remarkable one.

Six years ago, Robinson was an unknown citizen with zero experience in public service or politics. Amazingly, however, all that changed overnight — a change so rapid that Robinson himself uses only a single sentence on his gubernatorial campaign website to summarize his entire political career prior to being elected Lt. Governor:[Read more]

Students for Justice in Palestine files civil rights complaint against UNC-Chapel Hill

A photo of the UNC-CH bell tower.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

By Joe Killian 

UNC-Chapel Hill is facing a federal complaint filed on behalf of students and faculty members who say the university has systematically discriminated against Palestinian students and their allies in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and subsequent Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Palestine Legal filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice April 5, on behalf of graduate student Kylie Broderick and professor Elyse Crystall, a member and faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine respectively. In a letter and 95-page collection of exhibits, the group outlines what it says is preferential treatment of Israeli students and their allies and targeting of pro-Palestine students and groups from the attack late last year, through campus protests around the conflict and continuing to the current day. [Read more.…]

Hating on our babies: North Carolina’s shortsighted, cheapskate childcare policies (commentary)

Children at a child care center.
U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross read to children at Raleigh Nursery School on Thursday as part of an event designed to raise support for better public funding for child care programs.(Photo: Lynn Bonner)

By Rob Schofield

If there is one basic thing that an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians of all incomes, political parties, races, religions, and regions have in common in these divided times, it’s this: a love of babies.

Oh sure, some folks aren’t naturals when it comes to holding infants, or making baby talk, or changing diapers, but for most people, the predisposition to be drawn to and care for helpless and innocent infants and toddlers is a powerful force. Millions of years of evolution have helped assure that the instinct to love and protect babies is something that most adult humans find irresistible. Our elected leaders regularly name laws for babies lost to crime or disease.[Read more...]

‘Education changes lives’: Reentry council hears about prison education efforts

A photo of the Raleigh Police Law Enforcement Training Center
The Joint Reentry Council met at the Raleigh Police Department Law Enforcement Training Center on April 10, 2024, to discuss education programs offered in state prisons. (Photo: Kelan Lyons)

By Kelan Lyons 

As Brooke Wheeler sees it, offering educational programming to those in North Carolina prisons isn’t just helping the incarcerated. Education is transformational not just for those behind bars, Wheeler said, but for their children, their parents and their broader communities.

“As we help individuals make changes, we help one person make change, that has a generational impact,” said Wheeler, the Superintendent of Education Services for the state’s Department of Adult Correction.[Read more...]