Commentary

67031In North Carolina, Latina women earn 46.3 cents to every dollar earned by a white male, according to analysis released by the National Women’s Law Center. The analysis, based on newly released Census data, ranked North Carolina in the top ten states with the smallest wage gap between men and women but found that NC has the sixth largest wage gap for Latina women. The wage gap for North Carolina women is 17.2 cents while the wage gap for Latina women is over three times as wide at 53.7 cents. African American women fall somewhere in the middle with a wage gap of 37.3 cents, more than twice that of women overall.

The disparity between the pay of males and women of color is particularly disturbing as the minority workforce in North Carolina continues to grow and as minority women are more likely to become the breadwinners of their families. Based on the wage gap between white males and Latina women, the difference in lifetime earnings over a 40-year career would be over a million dollars. It is clear that these wage differences have long-term consequences that hinder wealth accumulation for minority women. Women of color between the ages of 35 and 49 have been found to have a median wealth of merely $5 compared to the $70,030 accumulated by white men in that age group.

Compared to the wage gap for Latina and African American women, overall women in North Carolina do face a significantly smaller wage gap but that is nothing to get excited about. In fact, it is disturbing that over 70 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed, women in North Carolina are still earning less than men, only 82.8 cents to every dollar. Clearly, the laws we currently have on the books don’t do enough to close the pay gap, and any politician who thinks otherwise is plain wrong.

News

EARLYBy all accounts, the battle to keep an early voting site open at Appalachian State University has been a success.   Early voting there continues to be strong, with 2155 votes cast as of yesterday.

But other small victories in the war against voting rights have occurred elsewhere throughout the state.

Take Lincoln County, for example.

The board of elections for this mid-size county (population 79,000) near Charlotte unanimously approved an early voting plan that initially included three sites spread across the county, but reduced total hours offered from a required 320 to 219.

Consistent with its response to the many counties seeking a reduction of early voting hours, the State Board of Elections sent the plan back with the proviso that a reduction required additional hours added  outside of the regular work day to accommodate voters.

For Lincoln County, that meant adding hours to its site in Lincolnton, the county seat (state law requires satellite locations outside of the county board offices to have the same hours).

That didn’t sit well with the Lincoln County board.

“The majority of the board felt that this was a blatant attempt to impose a highly partisan plan,” Charles Newman, one of two Republicans on the three-person board, told the Lincoln Times in this article. “In order to comply with that plan, the only way we could have done it would be to extend the hours at the Lincolnton location, which would have been favorable to the Democratic Party.”

Coincidentally, Lincolnton has 13 percent of the county’s total population but 31 percent of its black voting age population.

(Source: Southern Coalition for Social Justice)

(Source: Southern Coalition for Social Justice)

So what did the county board do?

Instead of adding hours in Lincolnton, the board members cut them — from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. — extended hours at the satellite locations, and sent the state board a nasty letter, in which they called state board member Maja Kricker “inept.”

As quoted in the Lincoln Times, the letter added this:

“The attached plan is submitted with some regret because in our county BOE’s opinion, the initial plan was submitted and subsequently rejected due to the self-indulgent view of (State Board of Elections member) Maja Kricker, (who believes) she knows more about what is best for Lincoln County than we, the County BOE members, who work, live and vote in Lincoln County.”

(In a phone interview, Kricker told the Lincoln Times that her guidelines were not politically motivated, but rather a way to increase voter turnout in Lincoln County by offering hours outside of the traditional workday.)

And though the state board took issue with the “disrespectful” response from Lincoln County, it approved the new plan with reduced hours by a vote of 4-1 in late August.

That left Lincolnton voters — unable to vote early there because of work commitments — hanging dry.

With early voting on the horizon, several of them filed a lawsuit on October 6 in Wake County Superior Court — seeking an order requiring the county and state boards to adopt a new plan.

And on October 14, 2014, the county board finally accommodated them with a new plan – now in effect — having hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays in Lincolnton (and on one Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).

(It bears noting that despite the improved plan, Lincoln County is one of only two counties in the state that has no early voting site open past 5 p.m.  The other is Northampton.)

“We are pleased that in response to our lawsuit, the Lincoln County Board of Elections adopted a revised early-voting schedule that provides for the Lincolnton one-stop site to remain open during regular business hours throughout the early-voting period,” John O’Hale, an attorney representing the voters, said. “The voters who brought this lawsuit all have demanding work schedules—whether as a teacher, an emergency-services director, or a coach.  The Board’s revised schedule is a much-improved arrangement for all of the voters of Lincoln County, but especially for hard-working voters who need to use the Lincolnton one-stop site due to their jobs or family schedules.”

NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Income Data 2013

Below are the five key findings from the Budget and Tax Center’s analysis of the new 2013 poverty and income data from the US Bureau of the Census.

  1. The state is making no progress towards eliminating poverty. North Carolina’s high poverty rate (17.9 percent) remained statistically unchanged in 2013. This means that there has been no progress towards alleviating poverty (as measured by the official poverty measure) since before the recession hit. One in five North Carolinians lived in poverty, equating to less than $24,000 in income per year for a family of four. North Carolina has the 11th highest poverty rate in the nation. High rates of hardship persist because of the state’s ongoing job shortage and the rapid acceleration of low-wage work that fails to provide a pathway to the middle class.
  2. Children are the state’s poorest age group—and children of color, especially those under age 5, face shamefully high rates of poverty. One in four Tar Heel children lived in poverty in 2013. Poverty maintains the fiercest grip on children of color, with rates approaching, and in some cases, exceeding 50 percent for certain communities of color under age 5. As North Carolina shifts to being a state where a majority of residents are people of color, persistently high poverty rates among children of color will harm the state’s economy in the long run.
  3. Where you live shapes your access to economic opportunities. A large and growing body of research shows that where one lives can determine if one has access to the educational and employment networks that can pave a pathway to the middle class. Of the 40 counties in North Carolina for which 2013 data is available, the average poverty rate in rural counties is 2.3 percentage points higher than the average for urban counties. With that said, the pockets of deepest hardship exist primarily in inner-city urban areas in the state. So even within a county that is thriving overall, economic hardship can—and often does—vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood.
News

A Camden County teacher was briefly suspended  following accusations she told several of her high school students she’d like to kill black residents.

Cynthia Ramsey, a math teacher at Camden County High School, is accused of telling a group of students that “if she only had 10 days to live that she would kill all black people,” according to a mother of one of the students who spoke with WAVY, a Norfolk, Va. television station.

Camden County is located in the northeastern corner of North Carolina.

The teacher, who is white and was not reached for comment by the television station, was suspended with pay for a few days, but is now back in the classroom while school authorities continue to look into the matter. The school board is expected to discuss the matter at their Nov. 13 meeting, according to the WAVY report.

Marianne Russell of Camden County schools told N.C. Policy Watch that Ramsey, who has been with the school district for 14 years, was suspended with pay from Oct. 15 to 27. Russell said she could not say whether or not Ramsey had returned to the classroom.

The Camden County sheriff also looked into the incident, and handed off his agency’s findings to the local prosecutor.

National outlets like Salon, The Root, and RawStory have picked up versions of the story.

 

 

News

EARLYWith early voting drawing to a close on Saturday, the number of people voting in person and taking advantage of the convenience of early voting is approaching 700,000.

Associated Press’ Gary Robertson reports:

State Board of Elections data show nearly 690,000 people had cast ballots from the start of early voting Oct. 23 through Wednesday at centers in all 100 counties. It closes Saturday afternoon.

Democrats have cast 49 percent of early in-person votes this fall, compared to 47 percent in all of early voting in 2010, according to the board data. Republicans comprise 31 percent of this year’s vote and unaffiliated voters are at 20 percent. During 2010, Republicans cast 36 percent and unaffiliateds at 17 percent.

If you’re stumped about what’s on the ballot or who to vote for beyond the race at the top of the ticket, be sure to check out the 2014 North Carolina Voter Guide, where you can see a side-by-side comparison of every  candidate in all 100 counties.

Also take time to listen to our recent radio interview with Brent Laurenz, Executive Director of the nonpartisan North Carolina Center for Voter Education who discusses the voter guide and the future of public financing:

For a list of early voting times and locations, click here. To find your correct polling place for Tuesday, November 4th, click here.