News

Watch what happens when Charlotte’s Mayor announces the city will not repeal its anti-discrimination ordinance (video)

At Monday evening’s council meeting it was all applause for Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts when she announced the city would not consider repealing the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Legislative leaders and Governor Pat McCrory have said that before they would consider a special session to address the economic fallout from House Bill 2, Charlotte would need to revoke its protective ordinance.

But Mayor Roberts has made it clear that HB2 can be repealed without the city removing its non-discrimination protections. Earlier in the day, Roberts told the media:

“We appreciate the state wanting to find a solution to the challenges we are facing and applaud the governor for recognizing the state should overturn HB2, which the state can do at any time without any action from the City of Charlotte.”

Last week, both the NCAA and the ACC announced plans to pull championship games from North Carolina because of the discriminatory nature of HB2. Neither sporting group mentioned the Charlotte ordinance.
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Commentary, News

Gov. McCrory’s better judgement calls…and has to leave a message

The News & Record, the Greensboro paper that twice endorsed Gov. Pat McCrory, today published a satirical piece in which McCrory’s better judgement leaves him a phone message.

From the piece:

“I realize you’ve been out and about on the campaign trail, but I’m starting to take this personally. Are we OK? You haven’t been returning my calls. It’s been a long time. I thought we were tight.

Uh, Pat? Please pick up if you’re there…”

Read the whole thing.

 

NC Budget and Tax Center

New research points to critical role of unemployment insurance in lessening hardship from job loss

JP Morgan Chase has a study out that shows the powerful role of unemployment insurance based on a review of a unique dataset:  their customers’ financial behavior.  The findings are particularly telling for North Carolina where policymakers have moved in the opposite direction of modernizing the system, dismantling many of the best practices the state had in place when they overhauled unemployment insurance in 2013 (and many that the JP Morgan Chase study highlight as important).

As we have written about in many other spaces, the result of such changes in North Carolina has been an unemployment insurance system that is providing too little support for too few weeks to too few of the state’s jobless workers.

The JP Morgan Chase study is important to providing further evidence that job loss without unemployment insurance takes a greater toll on consumer spending—the key to America’s economic engine.  Here are key findings:

  • Unemployment insurance softens the drop in family income from job loss to just a 16 percent drop compared to a 46 percent drop in monthly income without unemployment insurance.
  • The higher wage replacement that a state provides through unemployment insurance the lower the drop in spending. Unemployment insurance payments reduce the spending drop associated with job loss by 74 percent.

Read more

Commentary

Honoring Rodney Ellis, a champion for children

Image result for Rodney Ellis ncaeOver the weekend, former NCAE President, teacher, and civil rights leader Rodney Ellis was laid to rest in his hometown of Winston-Salem. The hundreds in attendance whose lives he touched are testament to the lasting impact Rodney had on those who were fortunate enough to know him during his remarkable life.

Rodney was the voice for teachers at a time when their value came increasingly under attack, serving to continuously remind us that the commitment teachers have made to serve our future generations must be honored rather than denigrated. His advocacy for teachers was intertwined with a staunch commitment to the value of public education as the means to uplift the lives of impoverished children, a commitment he upheld each day as a teacher at Philo-Hill Middle School.

Those who believe in the principles for which Rodney stood face seemingly long odds right now in the fight against the dismantling of the public school system, but the example his life set shows that these obstacles can and will be overcome. And we can take solace in the fact that Rodney’s values will continue through the countless people whose lives he made better. Though much too short, his was a life well-lived and an example to tens of thousands who follow in his footsteps.

Environment

EPA fines Syngenta $1.2 million for selling misbranded pesticides, failing to keep study records

sygenta expertFor three years, Syngenta sold mislabeled pesticides and herbicides to consumers and farming supply stores hundreds of times in at least six states — even while the chemical company was paying fines for previous similar environmental violations.

Syngenta, whose U.S. offices are based in Greensboro, was fined more than $1.2 million by the EPA for allegedly selling pesticides that were misbranded, had outdated labels and for failing to maintain records related to pesticide studies, as required by the federal government.

The EPA announced the consent agreement with Syngenta, which does not include an admission of guilt, on Friday.

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“The repackaging, sale and distribution of unregistered and misbranded pesticides is illegal and puts people and the environment at risk,” Anne Heard, EPA acting regional administrator for the Southeast, said in a prepared statement.

The pesticide industry consistently tells consumers that the products are safe, as long as the label directions are followed. That assumes, of course, that the labels are correct.

According to the consent agreement, Sygenta allegedly sold and distributed pesticides whose labels were outdated by as many as nine years. In Iowa, Michigan, Kansas and Missouri, vital label information was missing: precautionary statements and directions for use, storage and disposal.

The affected pesticides were Touchdown Total, Dual II Magnum G, Lexar and Expert, which is classified as a restricted use chemical because of its toxicity. Its label promises “down to the roots burndown” of 170 weeds. The active ingredient is atrazine, a widely used weedkiller, which often seeps into groundwater and is a common contaminant in drinking water.

The EPA released a draft report in May concluding that atrazine not only pollutes water but poses a serious risk to birds, mammals, fish and frogs.

Syngenta also allegedly failed to maintain records or raw data on required EPA pesticide/fungicide studies at two contracted laboratories. The soil testing was related to Abound Flowable Fungicide , which is used on wheat and oats.

And finally, Sygenta sold 19 pesticides to 222 refillers without proper records or repackaging requirements. Registered refillers, such as agricultural supply stores, can repackage pesticides in refillable containers. The pesticide must be labeled without any changes, except for the refiller’s EPA tracking number.

More than $766,000 was levied in civil penalties, with another $437,000 for a four-year Supplemental Environmental Project — essentially, an employee retraining program.

“We promptly implemented measures to address the alleged violations and confirm we are in compliance with the relevant requirements,” Syngenta announced on its website. “We will continue to review our business record keeping, systems and practices internally, as well as externally with customers and contractors, to ensure compliance” with environmental rules.

However, Syngenta already has been penalized for similar violations over the past 10 years. In 2012, the company paid $102,000 in penalties for selling and distributing mislabeled pesticides. In 2010, Syngenta was fined again –$9,000 — for the same reason.

And in 2006, the EPA fined Syngenta Seeds $1.5 million for selling and distributing seed corn that contained an unregistered genetically engineered pesticide, Bt 10.

In 2008, it was fined $284,000 for several violations, including worker protections at its research facility in Hawaii.

Preston Peck, policy advocate for Toxic Free NC, told NCPW that the most recent fine is “hardly a strong message” for Syngenta, which was just acquired by ChemChina for $43 billion.

Peck has been outspoken critic of the NC Pesticide Board, which last week, named a Syngenta ecotoxicologist , Jay Overmyer, to its advisory panel about neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide known to harm honeybees. Syngenta also manufactures neonics, as they’re commonly known.

A Bayer toxicologist, Dave Fischer, is also on the six-member panel.