Jorge Valencia

Capitol Reporter

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. 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. 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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Health
9:17 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Underage Drinking Starts As Early As Age 11, NC Alcohol Officials Say

Credit Flickr user Steve Mclaughlin

The North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is preparing an advertising campaign against underage drinking.

According to an ABC survey, up to 40 percent of children in North Carolina have consumed alcohol before they get to the ninth grade.

ABC Chairman Jim Gardner says part of the motivation behind the campaign is another, more stark, statistic.

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Law
8:49 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Can Vehicle Search Consent Forms Diminish Racial Bias? Ask Fayetteville, NC

Credit Cindy Cornett Seigle / Flickr/Creative Commons

On Thursday, the Durham City Manager will present the City Council with a recommendation that police officers be required to get consent in writing before searching a vehicle. This is part of a response to months of debate over reports of racial bias in the Durham police department.

Durham Deputy Police Chief Larry Smith would have to implement such a process. Smith recently presented to the city council two examples of how a consent form works now and how a search would work if an officer were required to get consent in writing. 

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Politics & Government
9:37 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

The NAACP Says This TV Ad Is Confusing North Carolina Voters

Sen. Phil Berger 'Protect Voter ID' advert
Credit Sen. Phil Berger

The North Carolina NAACP is calling on state Senate Leader Phil Berger to stop broadcasting an ad about a new voting law. The civil rights organization says the ad is misleading and could keep some from voting.

It's a political campaign spot airing on TV stations in the Triad. And it gives Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) credit for a 2013 law that changed many rules about voting in North Carolina.

"Now," the narrator says, "thanks to Phil Berger, voters must show a valid ID to vote."

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Health
8:36 am
Wed September 10, 2014

NC Medicaid Spending Was In The Black For The First Time In Five Years

Credit Flickr user Neff Conner

North Carolina health officials say the state Medicaid program has a positive cash balance for the first time in years.

For years, the state health insurance for people who are poor or disabled has cost tax payers more than expected. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

But that wasn't the case last year. Aldona Wos, the state secretary for Health and Human Services, says the Medicaid budget was in the black.

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Environment
8:34 am
Wed September 10, 2014

NC Governor Won't Block Coal Ash Bill... But He Won't Sign It Either

On Feb. 2, about 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled from a Duke Energy facility into the Dan River, north of Eden, N.C.
Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

Governor Pat McCrory says he'll allow a coal ash management plan to become law without his signature.

The governor says Duke Energy needs to take action as soon as possible. It needs to take care of the coal ash that's in ponds across the state. But that doesn't mean the governor is happy with the plan.

"I am letting the bill become law without signing it because there are major deficiencies that need to be corrected," he said in a recorded statement.

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Law
9:36 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Durham City Council Wants To Require Police Officers To Get Written Consent For Searches

Durham Police headquarters
Credit Durham Police

Members of the Durham City Council are trying to address concerns that police officers disproportionately stop and search black men. Four of the seven members gave their support on Thursday afternoon for requiring officers to get a driver's written consent before searching his vehicle.
 

City manager Tom Bonfield has suggested officers should be required to get consent in some recorded form - either video, audio or writing - but Mayor Bill Bell says that overcomplicates things.

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Politics & Government
8:56 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Environmental Advocates File New Lawsuit Against Duke Energy For Coal Ash Pollution

Credit Waterkeeper Alliance

Officials at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources have filed suits and threatened to fine Duke over coal ash contamination.

Attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center are focusing on plants in Chatham, Rowan and Wayne counties. Attorney Frank Holloman says the toxic hexavalent chromium has been seeping from the Buck Steam station in Rowan County.

"All of these are substances you do not want in these quantities, in your drinking water, in your body, in what your children eat or drink, or for that matter in your fish and wildlife."

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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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