News

Disaster unemployment insurance now available in at least eight NC counties

Here’s the news release from the Division of Employment Security:

The Division of Employment Security (DES) has announced that the following counties have been approved for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) due to the effects of Hurricane Florence: Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender. Additional counties may be added to the DUA availability designation at a later date.

Individuals from these counties who are affected by the disaster, and are unable to continue working, must file an application for benefits within 30 days from today – or, by October 17, 2018.

Workers who became unemployed as a direct result of the effects of Hurricane Florence impacting North Carolina, may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under the DUA program. Business owners affected by the storm may also qualify for benefits.

Workers or business owners meeting the following criteria may be eligible for benefits:

  • Individuals who are unemployed due to the disaster, and do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Self-employed individuals and small business owners who lost income due to the disaster.
  • Individuals who were prevented from working due to an injury caused by the disaster.
  • Individuals who have become the major supplier of household income due to the disaster-related death or injury of the previous major supplier of household income.
  • Individuals who are unable to reach their jobs or self-employment locations, because they must travel through the affected area and are prevented from doing so by the disaster.
  • Individuals who were to commence employment or self-employment, but were prevented from doing so by the disaster.

DUA is funded entirely by the federal government. Individuals need to file first for regular unemployment insurance. If an individual is determined ineligible for regular unemployment insurance, or has exhausted their regular unemployment insurance benefits, a DUA claim can then be filed. Individuals will need their Social Security number, copies of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA application is filed.

DUA is available for weeks of employment beginning with the week starting September 9, 2018, and may last for up to 26 weeks, as long as the claimant’s unemployment continues to be as a result of Hurricane Florence.

Individuals may contact DES by calling 1-866-795-8877 from 8AM to 5PM to apply for DUA benefits. If you have additional questions, you may email DES at des.dua@nccommerce.com or go to our website at des.nc.gov.

For an updated list of counties that have been approved, please visit the News and Highlights section at des.nc.gov.

Commentary

Editorial: Act now, not later, to prepare for future hurricanes

Be sure to check out this morning’s editorial on WRAL.com — “To ease future storm disruptions, now in Flo’s aftermath is time to plan and act.” As the editorial rightfully points out with respect to the response to Hurricane Florence: “…there is no better time to start logging lessons learned, determining the major needs to be addressed and what kinds of resources are required to both mend what is broken and make changes that will help lessen problems in the future.”

Here’s the fine conclusion:

“The unfortunate reality is that current leadership in the state legislature has been reluctant, too often outright resistant, to addressing long-term preventative policies that would discourage building in flood-prone areas or prevent development that would exacerbate flooding conditions.

Gov. Roy Cooper needs to act now – not in the midst of an emergency — to bring together the people and resources on the local, state and federal level — to develop comprehensive solutions to common problems that have emerged during hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Areas of focus should include:

  • How best to help those people and resources displaced by a natural disaster.
  • What needs to be done to be sure critical infrastructure and transportation arteries, such as interstate highways and railways, aren’t susceptible to flooding. There is little excuse that critical routes, such as Interstate 40 between Raleigh and Wilmington, face prolonged closure in a natural disaster.
  • Comprehensive review and updating of stormwater and dam-safety rules and regulations that put a priority on the protection of residents, businesses and the environment.
  • Updating regulations for the storage and disposal of animal waste, particularly from industrial-size hog and poultry production operations, so they are not vulnerable to overflow and spills.

Florence won’t be the last hurricane North Carolina faces. But there are realistic steps that can be taken to mitigate, if not avoid, several of the challenges faced in previous storms.”

Click here to read the entire editorial and here to read this morning’s Weekly Briefing which argues that we need a new and comprehensive societal commitment to respond to future storms and the climate change that will help fuel them.

Commentary

Former prosecutor: Kavanaugh vote must be delayed while sexual assault claim is investigated

We know that the natural disaster that continues to grip North Carolina remains at the front of everyone’s mind, but for those who have a few minutes for other matters, please take a look at the op-ed authored by former federal law clerk, prosecutor and author David Lat for the New York Times entitled “Delay the Vote — for Kavanaugh, for His Accuser and for the Court: Christine Blasey Ford deserves to be heard. And the judge deserves a chance to clear his name.”

At issue, of course, is the recent revelation by a woman who says she was the object of an attempted sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and another man at a party in the in the 1980’s. Here’s Lat:

“Her disturbing claims deserve further investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, even if it means delaying his confirmation vote. A delay wouldn’t just be for her sake, but for the sake of Judge Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court itself.”

After explaining how Ms. Ford has come forward to provide details of the event and that some have argued that, based on Kavanaugh’s denials, the confirmation vote should proceed, Lat says this:

“I respectfully disagree. The confirmation should be delayed until there is a full investigation, followed by Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, into Ms. Ford’s accusations.

She passed a polygraph test administered by a former F.B.I. agent, and her therapist provided The Washington Post with notes reflecting that Ms. Ford described the alleged incident in 2012. But her case is far from ironclad.

For example, she can’t remember or remains uncertain about many key details (including the year of the alleged incident); she told nobody contemporaneously (unlike many other alleged victims of sexual assault); and both Mr. Kavanaugh and his friend deny it. There is, as far as we know, no physical evidence. It’s a true “she said, he said” — or, rather, “they said,” since two people deny this incident ever happened.

But Ms. Ford should at least be heard, and not just because the #MeToo movement has made the importance of hearing out victims of alleged sexual misconduct even more obvious than it already was. The alleged perpetrator and witness should be heard from as well, and everyone involved should be placed under oath and subjected to aggressive questioning. (At least three Republican senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee — have expressed interest in hearing more about Ms. Ford’s account, but there’s no consensus yet on the preferred process.)…

The way in which Ms. Ford’s allegations came to light was, to put it charitably, deeply unfortunate. These claims should have been thoroughly and discreetly investigated weeks ago, by nonpartisan F.B.I. agents and bipartisan Senate investigators, in a way that protected Christine Ford’s privacy and Brett Kavanaugh’s good name. But here we are.

It is quite possible — or even likely — that hearings won’t prevent Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed given the equivocal evidence against him and, perhaps even more important, the number of Republicans and red-state Democrats in the Senate. But due process, which ought to matter when it comes to filling the critical seat on the highest court in the land, calls for nothing less.”

Commentary

Carolina Panthers owner defends kneeling players, blasts Trump

David Tepper – Image: Wikipedia

It was already apparent that the Carolina Panthers NFL team had accomplished a major upgrade in team ownership earlier this year when Pittsburgh billionaire David Tepper bought the team from fast food mogul/troubled and dirty old man Jerry Richardson, who made racist comments and sexual harassment a part of front office culture for many years. Now there’s additional evidence that Tepper is a true breath of fresh air in the Queen City. This is from a story this morning in the Charlotte Observer (“David Tepper: It’s ‘dead wrong’ to accuse protesting NFL players of being unpatriotic”) about an interview Tepper gave to CNBC:

New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said it’s “dead wrong” to accuse NFL players of being unpatriotic should they choose to protest during the national anthem.

In an interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner Thursday in Pittsburgh, Tepper was careful not to mention outright the name of President Donald Trump, who routinely slams NFL players who protest police brutality and racism during the national anthem. Kneeling during the anthem is a practice started by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the start of the 2016 season.

“It’s the biggest pile of bull-dingy ever. These are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men,” Tepper told CNBC. “It just makes me so aggravated and angry. OK? It’s just wrong. It’s just dead wrong.”

People should focus on what NFL players do in the community instead of what they do during the national anthem, Tepper added….

In the past, Tepper has been, as Wapner noted, “exceptionally critical” of Trump.

Before the 2016 election, for instance, Tepper slammed then-candidate Trump for failing to donate to relief efforts after disasters that struck New York, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, despite claims by Melania Trump that her husband is generous. “Trump masquerades as an angel of light, but he is the father of lies,” Tepper told CNBC at the time.

In the interview Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University with CNBC, on the new quad that bears Tepper’s name, Warpner tried several times to steer Tepper back into talking about the national anthem, which Warner, said “everybody is talking about.”

Tepper responded that there’s “a red-headed guy in D.C. that likes to talk about it. But I don’t want to mention his name right now.” Wapner pressed the issue further, coaxing Tepper with “everybody knows who you’re talking about.”

“Well I don’t know — Howdy Doody, who is that?”

Tepper went on to note that “justice for all,” is what fans should be focusing on.

Go Dave – give ’em heck!

NC Budget and Tax Center

New census data: High poverty rates persist in NC despite modest growth

The latest from the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

Last year, 1.47 million North Carolinians lived in poverty and struggled to make ends meet, according to new data released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. People and communities across the state still face barriers to getting ahead such as lack of access to good-paying jobs, unaffordable childcare, little access to public transportation to get to work, and inadequate education and job training resources.

Despite low rates of unemployment and improving GDP, far too many North Carolinians are being left out of the state’s economic recovery. In fact, 2017 marked the 10th year that poverty has failed to fall below pre-recession levels. In 2017, 14.7 percent of North Carolinians lived in poverty, living on less than $25,100 a year for a family of four. More than 1 in 5 kids in North Carolina are growing up in families that can’t give them a good start to in life because they are paid wages too low to afford the basics.

“Regardless of signs of economic growth, far too many North Carolina families still struggle to afford the basics,” said Brian Kennedy II, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “The fact that we’ve failed to drop below pre-recession levels after a decade of recovery is an indication of growing inequality and poor policy choices.”

The new Census data show that North Carolina’s families are still dealing with high rates of poverty, stagnant incomes, and widespread income inequality:

  • North Carolina’s poverty rate is 1.3 percentage points higher than the U.S. poverty rate, and it has the 14th highest poverty rate in the nation, including Washington, D.C.
  • The state poverty rate (14.7 percent) declined by less than one percentage point over the past year and remains just slightly higher than 2007, before the Great Recession hit.
  • The state’s median income ($52,752) increased by $2,168 from 2016. Despite this increase, the typical North Carolina household still makes $189 less today than in 2007, meaning there has no progress in raising middle class living standards for the average North Carolinian since the beginning of the Great Recession.
  • 6.5 percent of North Carolinians live in extreme poverty, which means they live below less than half of the poverty line—or about $12,500 a year for a family of four.

The data also show that poverty continues to hit some groups harder:

  • Communities of color face significant barriers in our state, including lack of access to quality education, housing segregation, and discrimination. The result is that they are more likely to struggle economically than whites. For example, in North Carolina, 22 percent of African Americans live below the official poverty line ($25,100 for a family of 4) compared with 10.6 percent of whites. Also, 27.1 percent of Latinx North Carolinians, 25.4 of American Indians, and 12.2 percent of Asian Americans live in poverty. This means that many aren’t sharing in our economic gains or able to fully contribute to the economic health of our community.
  • Children continue to experience higher rates of poverty than adults. In 2017, 21.2 percent, or 1 in 5 children, lived in poverty compared to 9.1 percent of adults aged 65 and older.
  • Women face higher poverty rates than men, 16 percent compared to 13.3 percent, respectively.

“Addressing poverty through proven policies that connect people to good jobs and reduce the harmful effects of hardship can boost our economy and improve the well-being of our state,” adds Kennedy.