Ben Bradford


Ben Bradford is a city kid, who came to Charlotte from San Francisco by way of New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Prior to his career in journalism, Ben spent time as an actor, stuntman, viral marketer, and press secretary for a Member of Congress. He graduated from UCLA in 2005 with a degree in theater and from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2012. As a reporter, his work has been featured on NPR, WNYC, the BBC, and Public Radio International.

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The North Carolina House of Representatives has begun debate of a new version of the budget. It contains several changes from the version introduced earlier this week, including a $40 million reduction to film incentive grants over the next two years, and changes to renewable energy policies, House leaders said at a press conference.

The exact changes weren’t immediately clear, because the language hasn’t been widely released. Usually, budgets must be published 48 hours before a vote. Rules committee chairman David Lewis said this one will operate on a shorter timeline.

Charlotte’s City Council appears no closer to a consensus on how to fill a hole in the city’s budget deeper than in any year of the recession. City Manager Ron Carlee has proposed a complex mix of expense cuts and fee increases. But a key part of his plan hinges on raising property taxes while lowering a garbage fee that homeowners pay—it’s a complex scheme that hasn’t gained traction with the city council. The council once again debated that and other parts of Carlee’s plan Monday for more than an hour without obvious progress. Mayor Dan Clodfelter called a halt.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for its handling of coal ash, which led to last year’s Dan River spill and violated the Clean Water Act around the state.

After another meeting to discuss the budget proposed by Charlotte city manager Ron Carlee, no clear consensus exists among the city council about a core component of the proposal: to raise property taxes while lowering overall costs for most residents.

Elliot Brown / Flickr

Duke Energy and a group of environmental and solar industry groups have announced several programs to expand solar power in South Carolina, a state where little currently exists.

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Mecklenburg County’s 2011 property tax revaluation found property values were so high—and it drew so many complaints—that state lawmakers required an outside appraiser to go back and redo it. Since then, most of the emphasis has been homeowners getting tax refunds or, more recently, the hole it’s carved in the City of Charlotte’s budget. But for a small, but sizeable, portion of county homeowners, the revaluation redo has created another big problem.

Mike Linksvayer / Flickr

About forty protesters rallied outside Duke Energy’s headquarters, chanting “Up with solar, down with coal,” as shareholders left the annual meeting. The clash between environmental advocates and Duke Energy about solar energy and fossil fuels also extended inside the meeting, even the demonstrations.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Charlotte city council members expressed mixed feelings about city manager Ron Carlee’s proposal to raise property taxes as part of the solution to the upcoming budget deficit.

After a battery of tests on private drinking water wells near coal ash ponds around North Carolina, health officials have cautioned many residents against drinking from those wells. But officials are hesitant to draw a link between contaminants in the wells and the nearby coal ash ponds.

City Manager Ron Carlee has recommended the Charlotte City Council raise property taxes, as one part of a multi-faceted solution to deal with a budget gap larger than in any single year of the recession. But most homeowners would actually pay less, Carlee says.