Jorge Valencia

Capitol Reporter

Jorge Valencia joined North Carolina Public Radio's reporting team in 2013. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station in 2012. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun. On Twitter: @jorgeavalencia.

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Politics & Government
5:21 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Durham Council Members Want To Require Written Consent For Police Vehicle Search

The Durham City Council debated on Tuesday night to require police officers get written consent from drivers before being able to search a vehicle.
Credit Jorge Valencia

In Durham, members of the city council want to require police to get written consent from drivers before searching a vehicle.

The debate over vehicle searches stems from complaints that some Durham officers have unfairly targeted minorities.

Some residents and community groups say black men are often arbitrarily stopped and searched.

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Law
4:35 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Durham: New Policies For The Police Department?

Recently Durham City Council heard recommendations from the City Manager on how to improve police and community relations.
Credit Jorge Valencia

In Durham, the City Council could vote Tuesday night to change some policies for the police department.

At least two council members suggest the city manager's recent recommendations do not go far enough to improve the relationship between police officers and the community.

Durham Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden spoke on WUNC’s The State of Things Tuesday. She took issue with a recommendation which would allow officers to decide whether they need to get written consent before searching an individual.

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Politics & Government
7:30 am
Fri August 29, 2014

NC Officials Reject New Legal Action Against Duke Energy Over Coal Ash Ponds

Duke Energy's coal-fired Buck Steam Station in Rowan County.
Credit Duke Energy

Environmentalists say they plan to sue Duke Energy over coal ash pollution from power plants, after the state environmental agency said it does not plan to take new legal action against the utility company.

Lawyers at the Southern Environmental Law Center first said in early July that they wanted to file a lawsuit. They said Duke was violating the federal Clean Water Act at the Buck Plant in Rowan County, the Cape Fear Plant in Chatham County, and the H.F. Lee Plant in Wayne County.

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Environment
8:01 am
Wed August 27, 2014

NC Prepares To Fine Duke Energy For Pollution At Two Coal Ash Ponds

Duke Energy's 33 coal ash ponds and their operational status in 14 energy plants across North Carolina
Credit Duke Energy

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources plans to fine Duke Energy for groundwater contamination from two coal ash ponds near Wilmington.

State officials decided to fine Duke as they wait for the outcome of legal action against the utility company.

In lawsuits filed last summer, officials say Duke has illegally leaked toxic chemicals like thallium from coal ash ponds.

These are 33 basins across North Carolina full of ash left over from burning coal. Two of these basins are at the L.V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County.

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Politics & Government
4:41 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Report: This Former NC Lawmaker Now State's Most Influential Lobbyist

Harold Brubaker
Credit Wikipedia

The most influential lobbyist in North Carolina is former state House speaker Harold Brubaker, according to a report from the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

Brubaker, a Republican who represented Randolph County for 18 terms, counts Alliance for Access to Dental Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and 21st Century Oncology among his current clients.

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Politics & Government
4:24 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

NC Governor Will Sign Coal Ash Bill Into Law, But May Challenge It In Court

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Credit Zen Sutherland

Governor Pat McCrory says he plans to sign a bill to manage North Carolina’s coal ash ponds. But he may also challenge a key part of it.

The governor played a role this summer when members of the House and Senate were crafting the  plan. He made suggestions of his own on what to do with Duke Energy's 100 million tons of coal ash.

The bill is now on his desk. Over the weekend, on the talk show NC Spin, his support for it was cautious.

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Environment
6:29 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

NC's Fracking Rules: Public Comment Hearing Tonight In Sanford

A drill rig in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale.
Credit Ken Skipper, USGS

State officials are holding a hearing in Sanford today on proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing. Hundreds are expected to attend.

Fracking is a form of shale gas extraction, and it's controversial, among other things, because of it's a serious contamination threat to drinking water.

So as the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission shares its proposed rules for the industry, many people are interested. Earlier this week, hundreds packed an auditorium at N-C State in Raleigh.

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Politics & Government
9:05 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Durham City Manager: 'In Some Areas, Unexplained Racial Disparities Do Exist'

Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield presented his response to alleged racism in the Durham Police Department in a packed hearing before city council.
Credit Jorge Valencia

The Durham city manager presented the city council recommendations in a packed hearing on Thursday to improve the relationship between the police and minority groups.

It's a long-awaited response to an investigation by the city's Human Relations Commission on claims that the police targets minorities. In his report, city manager Tom Bonfield had some clear findings.

"Our review and the data tells us in some areas, unexplained racial disparities do exist," Bonfield said to the council.

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Politics & Government
8:36 am
Thu August 21, 2014

NC Lawmakers Approve Plan To Manage Duke Energy's Coal Ash Ponds

Credit Waterkeeper Alliance

The North Carolina General Assembly is sending Governor Pat McCrory a plan for Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. It could become the first legislation in the country to try to mitigate the pollution from ashes left over from burning coal.

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Politics & Government
8:44 am
Wed August 20, 2014

NC Lawmakers Compromise On Plan For Duke Energy's 33 Coal Ash Ponds

North Carolina lawmakers have been under pressure to pass legislation in response a February spill of more than 39,000 tons of coal ash from a Duke plant onto the Dan River.
Credit Riverkeeper Foundation

Top Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly say they’ve agreed on a plan to manage Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. The plan for Duke Energy's 33 ponds has been roughly six months in the making, but just weeks ago negotiations broke down between the senators and representatives who were writing it.

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