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.

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Stephen LaRoque
North Carolina General Assembly

Stephen LaRoque, a former high-ranking member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting theft at a federal court in Greenville on Monday.

LaRoque, who resigned his house seat after he was indicted in 2012, entered a plea as part of a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, allowing him to avoid a trial originally scheduled for next week. He will pay $300,000 in restitution and faces up to 10 years in prison, the attorney’s office said in a statement. Sentencing is scheduled for May 12.

Joseph Sledge and his attorney Christine Mumma 1/23/15
Jorge Valencia

A man held in a North Carolina prison for most of his life was released on Friday, after a special panel found he had been wrongfully convicted of a double murder in 1976.

Following a brief hearing in Columbus County, a specially appointed three-judge panel found Joseph Sledge had proven he was innocent of the stabbing deaths of a mother and her adult daughter in neighboring Bladen County.

Photo: UNC School of Law
Photo by Caroline Culler

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, activists and former police officers will discuss the deaths of unarmed minorities at the hands of law enforcement at a forum at the University of North Carolina School of Law today.

The forum, organized by law school professors, will include three panels examining civil rights, self defense, and the use of force from legal, historical and activist perspectives, said Associate Professor Tamar Birckhead, one of the organizers.

The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Raleigh council members are continuing to debate how to manage the growing number of homes whose owners are listing on sites such as airbnb.com for short term rentals.
 

In a report he presented at a council meeting Tuesday, Raleigh Planning Director Travis Crane said the rental listings could represent additional income for property owners and the city, but can generate additional traffic and a parking crunch in residential areas.

Photo: Filming of Iron Man 3
Marvel

North Carolina will offer up to $10 million a year until 2020 to encourage video production companies to film in the state, as part of the new incentives package going into effect today.

The state's new grant program will give preference to filmmakers who use "economically distressed" locations or show attractions that could promote tourism to the state, according to guidelines drafted by the N.C. Film Office.

Flickr user Etolane

A North Carolina law that requires abortion providers to take a woman's sonogram and describe it to her in detail is unconstitutional because it violate's the woman's free speech rights, a U.S. appeals court said on Monday.

A three-judge panel on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond unanimously ruled that the state cannot require physicians to disseminate its message discouraging abortions. The ruling upholds a district judge's decision.

Illustration: Cadeceus
Flickr user takomabibelot

Dozens of people advocating for and against abortion rights filled a room at the North Carolina health department headquarters on Friday morning to respond to proposed rules that will apply to the 14 clinics that provide abortion in the state.

Photo: Death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in North Carolina since 2006.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety

About 12 percent of the inmates in North Carolina's prisons are mentally ill, state prisons administrators told lawmakers at a hearing this week.

Administrators, including David Guice, the commissioner for the state Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, said the they're starting a re-structuring of how they handle the roughly 4,600 mentally ill inmates. They're beginning to concentrate transfer some inmates and concentrate some services in some locations - instead of having them spread among the roughly 37,000 inmate population throughout the system's 56 facilities.

Photo: A Bed and Breakfast and a home on Bloodworth Street in downtown Raleigh's Oakwood neighborhood
Jorge Valencia

The Oakwood Inn Bed & Breakfast was built in 1871, and since 2001, Doris Juerkiwicz has been the owner and innkeeper. It was earlier this year that she heard about some brand new competition.

A woman ran the bell at Victorian-era house in historic Oakwood in downtown Raleigh, and asked Juerkiwicz if she remembered her.

"She said, 'I used to stay with you, but I'm staying at your neighbor’s now because I just can’t beat the price,'" Juerkiwicz remembers.

beer bottle
Gary Simmons / Flickr/Creative Commons

Almost twice as many middle and high school students compared to parents think that underage drinking is a serious issue, according to a survey commissioned by the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

"North Carolina has an underage drinking problem," ABC Chairman Jim Gardner said on Wednesday. "What’s worse: Our state’s children think underage drinking is a much bigger problem than their parents do."

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