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
5:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Latest Complaint On Durham PD Says Investigators Make Inappropriate Payments To Drug Informants

Credit Durham Police Department

Durham city officials are looking into a complaint that police made inappropriate payments to drug informants.

An advocacy group says police paid informants and didn’t disclose it, which is required by law.

Attorneys from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice also say police unfairly target black and Hispanic people. The department denies any wrongdoing.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Durham Police Paid Criminal Informants 'Conviction Bonuses,' Attorneys Say

Credit Durham Police Department

An advocacy group says the Durham Police Department has been paying bonuses to crime informants for help in the conviction of suspects.

Attorneys from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice have obtained police records that they say show nine people were convicted in drug cases where an informant was paid for his testimony.

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Politics & Government
10:27 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Plagued By Money Drama, NC Democrats Try A New Fundraising Tool

North Carolina Democratic Party leaders are raising money to maintain the party headquarters at the historic Goodwin House on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh.
Credit North Carolina Democratic Party

The new executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party is looking to revamp how the party raises money -- as it faces more than a year of leadership turnover, fundraising troubles and distancing from the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

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Politics & Government
10:12 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Conservative Think Tank Gets UNC Prof’s Email Records, Says He Used Tax-Payer Money For Politics

Francis DeLuca (left), Gene Nichol
Credit LinkedIn, UNC School of Law

Officials at the University of North Carolina have given a conservative think-tank hundreds of emails from a professor who has been an outspoken critic of the state’s Republican governor and statehouse leaders.

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Politics & Government
10:03 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

North Carolina Lawmakers Look At How To Tax Fracking Companies

A rig and gas well operation on the Marcellus Shale in Scott Township, Pennsylvania.
Credit WCN247 via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are beginning to look at how they would tax the shale gas drilling companies for extracting gas from the ground in the state.

Members of the legislative commission that handles laws on energy heard Tuesday afternoon about how states that allow fracking charge companies for removing gas from the ground.

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Politics & Government
7:14 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Criminal Defendants In North Carolina Could Waive Right To Jury Trial

The old Jackson County Courthouse in Sylva, N.C.
Credit Jimmy Emmerson via Flickr

North Carolina will move one step closer today to allowing people accused of a crime to waive the right to a trial by a jury of peers and instead choose to be tried by a judge.

A proposed constitutional amendment, which is scheduled for a public hearing March 17 in Raleigh, would allow any criminal defendant except for someone facing the possibility of death the right to waive a jury trial.

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Law
4:18 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

North Carolina Wants New Drug For Death Row Executions, But Where Will It Come From?

The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, Calif. 2010.
Credit California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Prosecutors in Wake County are selecting a jury in a first-degree murder trial this week. It is the fifth case in North Carolina this year where a defendant could face capital punishment. But a series of lawsuits have blocked the death penalty for years in this state. And now, a little-known drug could become another obstacle.

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Politics & Government
7:57 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Why NC Lawmakers Want To Bring Fresh Apples And Broccoli To 400,000 People

More than 410,000 people across NC don't have easy access to fresh produce, according to a Duke study.
Credit Amber Carnes via Flickr

North Carolina lawmakers are looking for ways they can help get fresh fruits and vegetables to corners of the state -- urban and rural -- where they’re difficult to access.

Non-profit organizations and local governments across the country have for years identified areas known as “food deserts” across the country, but the House Committee on Food Desert Zones is the first effort by state lawmakers to address the issue.

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Environment
5:00 am
Tue February 18, 2014

What It Looked Like When Tons Of Coal Ash Drained From A Power Plant To The Dan River

An aerial view of the Duke Energy plant next to the Dan River, which in 2012 stopped using coal to generate power. The first of the two coal ash basins (center left) was built in the 1950s.
Duke Energy

On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 3, a security guard at a Duke Energy plant near the North Carolina-Virginia border noticed the water level in a reservoir pond was dropping quickly.

He told facility managers, and what ensued was a chain of relayed messages: First to environmental professionals working for Duke; then local authorities in nearby Eden, N.C., Rockingham County, N.C., and Danville, Va.; the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management; and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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Weather
6:56 am
Fri February 14, 2014

With Roads A Slushy Mess, Durham Man Will Give You A Lift On His Four-Wheeler

Jamie O'Briant of Durham, who says he gave rides to about 20 stranded drivers on his four-wheeler near Woodcroft Parkway on Wednesday, takes a break near a pile-up.
Credit Jorge Valencia

“Ready?”

That’s 25-year-old Jamie O’Briant. On Thursday, he turns on the engine to his 1997 Yamaha four-wheeler with a churn and sets out to deliver medicine to a friend nearby. Snow plows only carved a small channel up Woodcroft Parkway, so he’s driving on the side of the road to let cars pass. That’s when a guy trying to push a black Lexus asks him if he has a shovel.

 “I don’t,” O’Briant says. “But I’ll be happy to help.”

O’Briant gets off his four-wheeler. He leans up against the car. He pushes.

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