Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, has been tabbed as the next UNC system president.
LBJ Foundation / Flickr Creative Commons

The UNC Board of Governors makes their selection for a new university system president. 

Former U.S. Department of Education secretary Margaret Spellings is the president-elect, chosen to replace outgoing president Tom Ross who was forced to resign earlier this year. Spellings served in the George W. Bush administration.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department could implement no-go zones to prevent criminals from returning to the same areas.
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department is considering a policy that would preclude people who are arrested from returning to designated areas.

The measure is designed to reduce crime and other cities have instituted similar measures with carried successes. Opponents say the no-go zones raise constitutional concerns.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Political announcements abound. Attorney General Roy Cooper makes his gubernatorial bid official. The Democrat will face at least one primary challenger before the party’s nominee tries to unseat Governor McCrory.

Former GoTriangle leader and state legislator Deborah Ross announced her challenge for United States Senator Richard Burr's seat. She joins fellow Democrats Kevin Griffin and Chris Rey in their Senate bids. And Democratic presidential hopefuls faced off in their first debate on Tuesday.

When Ruth Reichl lost her job as 'Gourmet' editor-in-chief, she turned to, and found joy in, cooking.
Timothy Krause / Flickr Creative Commons

When Gourmet magazine, shut down six years ago this month, editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl was devastated.

The former Los Angeles Times food editor and New York Times restaurant critic did not know what to do next. Lost and uncertain about her future, Reichl returned to the one simple passion that always brought her joy: cooking. 

Rep. Mark Meadows
United States Congress

A surprise announcement by Representative Kevin McCarthy yesterday has left Republican House leadership in a bind.

McCarthy was the assumed nominee for the Speakership since John Boehner announced his resignation last month. North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows played a key role in Boehner’s departure.  

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

North Carolina lawmakers passed measures in the middle of the night on Tuesday after an eight-month long session. The final push ended the longest session of the General Assembly since 2001. Among the bills crammed into the session: immigration restrictions, the $2 million transportation bond referendum and a cap on light rail spending.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

When Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the role of Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate,” he did not imagine he would become a Hollywood star.

The theater actor was certain he bombed the screen test, so imagine his surprise when he landed the role that would catapult his career to unprecedented stardom. “The Graduate” became an instant classic. 

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

House Speaker John Boehner told colleagues he will resign in October. The Republican leader faced a rebellion in his own party from tea party members who say Boehner is not conservative enough.

Stock photo of a book
Horia Varlan / Flickr Creative Commons

When producer Sonja Williams began researching for the radio series, Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was, she found very little African-American radio drama from the 1940s. What little she found reinforced negative stereotypes.

A colleague eventually suggested she look into Destination Freedom, a series of weekly broadcasts created by journalist and activist Richard Durham that featured African-American leaders and heroes of the day.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Gov. Pat McCrory said this morning he will sign the budget compromise the state Senate approved this week.

The House is expected to give the $21.7 billion spending plan final approval tonight or tomorrow morning before it heads to the governor's desk. 

Judy Wicks
Gene Smirnov

For most entrepreneurs, finding a competitive advantage means a way to beat out the competition. But for restaurateur Judy Wicks, discovering how much clients embraced her sustainable practices made her want to share them with other restaurants.

Host Frank Stasio talks with entrepreneur and author Judy Wicks about her book, “Good Morning, Beautiful Business” (Chelsea Green Publishing/2013) and her ideas about the potential for a compassionate economy.

Ron Rash
www.wcu.edu

Ron Rash is a critically acclaimed novelist who has won many accolades for his five novels, including Serena and World Made Straight.

When Rash penned his most recent work, he began with a single image: dead trout in a stream. From there, he knew he wanted to craft a narrative about hope and he used the relationship between a sheriff and a park ranger to do just that.

Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck with (L-R) Becca Plumlee, Sophia Woo and Sunny Lin
Jeremiah Alley / Food Network

When Sophia Woo worked as an accountant, she spent many of her free nights and weekends making food. Her friends loved her culinary treats, especially the dumplings. She left her day job and joined a high school friend in building a food truck.

Their success caught the attention of Food Network producers and now they are competing in the sixth season of “The Great Food Truck Race,” a competition between seven trucks across Route 66.

Doctor payoffs
Mike Licht / Flickr Creative Commons

Physicians earn their livings from patient care, but for many, fees are not their only source of income.

New data released under the Affordable Care Act shows how much individual doctors receive from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Several physicians in the Triangle receive thousands of dollars.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Triangle Business Journal reporter Jason deBruyn about the fees and access to the data.

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

School is back in session for the new year but assessment of last year's grades is ongoing. The report card for statewide performance in the 2014-2015 school year is out.

The Department of Public Instruction released their findings yesterday: graduation rates are up but fewer schools are hitting their targets.

  Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with WUNC education reporter Reema Khrais about the test results.

Charmaine McKissick-Melton at a ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society.
Chi Brown / NCCU Office of University Relations

In 1963, the Durham School Board extended the desegregation of schools to elementary school students. Third-grader Charmaine McKissick-Melton and her brother, Floyd Jr., were two of the first African-Americans to integrate North Durham Elementary School.

NC General Assembly
Jorge Valencia

Republican leaders in the state house and senate have finally reached an agreement on at least part of the state budget.

They have made a deal that sets the budget at $21.735 billion. They still need to iron out agreements on state employee raises and funding for teaching assistants.

  Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol bureau chief Jeff Tiberii about the latest.

Jason deBruyn, Triangle Business Journal
Triangle Business Journal

The FDA approved the first-ever drug for female sexual dysfunction. The Raleigh-based company, Sprout, is behind the libido pill.

  This morning, Valeant Pharmaceuticals announced it is buying Sprout for $1 billion. Some hail the FDA approval as a victory for gender equality but critics say the many risky side effects outweigh the benefits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield pen
frankieleon / Flickr Creative Commons

The Affordable Care Act was designed to give more access to healthcare at lower costs. But the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, has requested a rate increase of more than 34% for patients enrolled in the ACA plans.

The company says it needs the additional revenue to offset increasing costs. The request, along with increase requests from other insurers, will be considered by the North Carolina Insurance commissioner.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

Seventeen GOP presidential contenders took the stage last night in a two-tiered appearance on Fox. Did the event help or hurt poll leaders Donald Trump and Jeb Bush?

Plus, the debate over Planned Parenthood funding continues on the Hill.

And Jon Stewart ends his 16-year run on The Daily Show.  

A Polished Soul

Aug 5, 2015
Image of Michael Rae Anderson
Michael Rae Anderson

Michael Rae Anderson grew up in poverty and in an abusive household. As an adolescent, he saw his peers with new cars and plenty of money earned by selling drugs.

Anderson began selling drugs and guns as a teen. A fight over drugs ended with a shooting and Anderson was charged with first-degree murder. He took a plea and served 17 years on a life sentence.

Gavel
www.stockmonkeys.com / Flickr Creative Commons

The trial of a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer in the shooting of 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell is underway this week.

Wes Randall Kerrick is charged with fatally wounding Ferrell, who had been involved in a car accident and knocked on a door for help. The resident of the home told officers she believed Ferrell was a burglar. Kerrick shot Ferrell 12 times.

Image of Nnenna Freelon, who stars in 'The Clothesline Muse'
Chris Charles

Clotheslines were once a part of everyday life for most American families. Women would often gather at community clotheslines, and neighbors in high rise buildings chatted over shared clotheslines hanging between their apartments. 

The new multimedia theatrical production “The Clothesline Muse” explores the history and culture of the clothesline, and looks at what it can tell us about changing community structure and relationships.

Image of Sydney Scherr, who is a jeweler and professor now working with victims of sex trafficking.
Sydney Scherr

For many victims of sex trafficking, the struggle continues after escaping the industry. Without skills to earn a livelihood, they may turn to prostitution.

Jeweler and professor Sydney Scherr started a project to teach sustainable jewelry design to victims of sex trafficking. She leads groups of students to instruct and create designs through simple techniques so that they can earn a living. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Scherr and two students involved in the project: Ezatul Mazwe Muhammad Arif and Hanson Foong.

Wind Energy In NC

Jul 16, 2015
Wind turbines
Martin Pettitt / Flickr Creative Commons

A stretch of land that was once called “The Desert” by locals is now the site of a potential new economy in North Carolina: wind energy.

And the market for the energy produced by the wind farms already has a buyer: Amazon. Meanwhile, the legislature continues to debate environmental deregulation measures.

Pages