Archives for April 2023

Local News Roundup: CMS continues superintendent search as Gaston County’s superintendent resigns; Tricia Cotham sponsors private school voucher bill; NC legislature bill on trans athletes and more

On the next Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup…

The search for a new CMS superintendent continues, as the board receives candidate bios, and over in Gaston County, the superintendent resigns.

Plus, potential boundary changes in the southern part of the CMS district are cause for concern among many parents and students. We’ll bring you up to speed on those and other education headlines.

The North Carolina legislature advances a bill barring trans-athletes.

A new North Carolina bill would make drag shows where minors can see them, illegal. We’ll talk about what the bill, which was filed Tuesday, says.

Mecklenburg County’s air quality report came out this week, and we got an “F.” We’ll look into what the grade really means and what officials are saying.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and more, on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.


Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal
Mary C. Curtis, columnist for, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
Katie Peralta Soloff, reporter for Axios Charlotte
Ann Doss Helms, WFAE education reporter

Will Democrats raise the volume on expressing what they believe in?

Does this mean Democrats don’t have to be afraid anymore?

You know what I mean. Though Democratic politicians and the party itself stand for certain values and policies, sometimes, when they promote and defend them in the public square, well, they do it in a whisper. This is despite the popularity of many of these views, and despite the fact that the folks they are trying to persuade with cautious hedging were never going to vote for them in the first place.

It’s a problem Republicans traditionally have not had. No matter how extreme or unpopular the opinion, you have known exactly where they stand. Hit them with truth or logic, science or math, and you could bet they would double down. And it has worked; bluster and browbeating have the ability to drown out most everything else.

All that may be changing.

Dianne Feinstein’s Last Stand: Can the Democrats afford to let the California senator finish her term?

The 89-year-old Dianne Feinstein has stated she plans to retire at the end of her term, but her health-related absences have stymied the Democrats’ ability to confirm judges—one of the few things the party can actually do in a divided government.

Guest: Joe Garofoli, senior political writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, covering national and state politics.

Dominion Takes Fox News to Court: Can Dominion prove “actual malice”?

The defamation trial between Dominion Voting Systems and Fox News starts this week. Though Dominion uncovered a trove of texts and emails from people at Fox News who knew calling the 2020 election stolen was a lie, proving “defamation” is a high bar in the United States. Can Dominion win the case? And even if Fox News can win the legal case, is their reputation shot?

Guest: Erik Wemple, Washington Post media critic

Equal Time: How Black women, America’s invisible ‘saviors,’ can rewrite the narrative

With Black women rising to prominence in politics, the arts and every field in between, it could be said that it is their moment in history. But dig deeper and the picture is far more nuanced. When expectations are high and mothers still counsel daughters to “work twice as hard” to succeed, what is the cost? Is there enough attention paid to the concerns of Black women all day, every day, and not just when they are called on to “save the world”? And does the current, sometimes toxic political climate create additional stress?

In this episode of Equal Time, host Mary C. Curtis talks with Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler, associate professor of psychology and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, whose clinical interests include stress management and wellness. Based on her own experience, extensive work and research, she offers advice on resources and services that can help everyone, especially Black women, show up for community and family, while paying attention to their own needs.

Do Abortion Pills Actually Need FDA Approval?

A judge has revoked FDA approval of mifepristone. But the FDA could fight back – in more ways than one.

Last week a federal judge in Texas refuted the FDA approval for mifepristone, a pill used for medication abortions, which would suspend that approval across the country.

But some experts say – plenty of drugs don’t have FDA approval, and are still widely distributed… from baby formula, to multivitamins.

Guest: Rachel Rebouché, dean and James E. Beasley professor of law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law and faculty fellow at the Center for Public Health Law Research.

Tennessee’s House Divided: Days of public protest, open shouting from the Rotunda, and expulsions that broke on color lines

The Tennessee House, which has a Republican supermajority, voted last week on motions to expel three Democratic members for “disorderly behavior” after they led protest chants from the floor of the chamber.

Two Black lawmakers, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Justin Pearson—both in their late 20s and new to the House this session—were ousted. The motion to boot the other Rep. Gloria Johnson, who’s white, failed by one vote.

Guest: Melissa Brown, state politics reporter for The Tennessean.

Clarence Thomas’s Friends in High Places: Who is Harlan Crow and why is he the justice’s vacation benefactor?

A ProPublica investigation revealed that Justice Clarence Thomas has been gifted luxury vacations by Republican donor and billionaire Harlan Crow. For over two decades, Justice Thomas has taken private jets, gone on yachts and stayed at private resorts alongside powerful Republican donors, all funded by Crow. For the most part, Justice Thomas did not disclose these vacations.

The investigation raises questions on the legality of these types of gifts, as well as the lack of oversight and ethics standards for the Supreme Court. Did these vacations break the law? To what extent could Justice Thomas’s court rulings have been influenced by Crow and other people on these trips? And even if some of these gifts may not have been illegal, why doesn’t the Supreme Court have more oversight and ethical guidelines to prevent potential conflicts of interest?

Guest: Justin Elliot, reporter at ProPublica.

Local News Roundup: Tricia Cotham switches parties; NCDOT tells CATS to fully staff; Mecklenburg Commissioners frustrated at revaluations for golf courses; Leon Levine dies

North Carolina Representative Tricia Cotham announces she’s switching parties. The former Democratic representative from Charlotte has changed her party affiliation to Republican, giving the GOP a supermajority in the North Carolina House. We’ll talk about what happened.

More news about the Charlotte Area Transit system this week, as the North Carolina Department of Transportation conducts a surprise inspection and tells CATS the light rail needs more workers in the control room or risks being shut down. And we’ll bring you the latest on further investigation into the CATS derailment and its aftermath, including decisions regarding outside or third-party investigations into the matter.

Mecklenburg County commissioners react with frustration to revaluations of golf courses in the county.

Plus, the reaction from North Carolina lawmakers on the arrest and arraignment of former President Donald Trump in New York City this week.

And Family Dollar founder and Charlotte philanthropist Leon Levine has died. We’ll have a remembrance.

Guest host Erik Spanberg from the Charlotte Business Journal and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and more, on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.


Mary C. Curtis, columnist for, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter
Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter
Shamarria Morrison, WCNC reporter

Preventing Preventive Care: A federal judge has blocked a key provision of the ACA—who will step up to save it?

A federal judge has struck down a provision in the Affordable Care Act requiring private insurers to provide preventive care—screenings and the like—at no cost to patients.

But preventive care is a good investment for insurance companies and for national health. It’s something Americans already don’t get enough of — but is anyone willing to step in and save it?

Guest: Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent Kaiser Health News, host of the “What the Health” podcast