NC JUSTICE NEWS: Poverty Summit + Suburban Poverty Growth + LaRoque in Court

August 7, 2012

POVERTY SUMMIT: A Convening and Call to Action

After traveling over 2,000 miles to 27 communities across North Carolina, the Truth and Hope Poverty Tour is convening a summit to report on what we heard in conversations with thousands of North Carolinians across the state.

Join us on Saturday, August 11 to hear and bear witness to the stories of our neighbors’ lives, and to create a plan for change. The event will be held at Opportunities Industrialization Center at 402 East Virginia Street in Rocky Mount from 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

A press conference in advance of the event will be held on Wednesday, August 8 at 10:00 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 101 S. Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh.

The event is hosted by the NC State Conference of the NAACP, the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the NC Justice Center, AARP North Carolina, and the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at N.C. Central University. Call 1-866-626-2227 for more information.

LAROQUE IN COURT: Kinston Rep. makes first court appearance

N.C. Policy Watch reported Monday on Stephen LaRoque's first court appearance on charges of stealing federal funds:

"LaRoque, 48, of Kinston, was named in an eight-count federal indictment last month, accused of money laundering and embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from two economic development non-profits, the East Carolina Development Company and Piedmont Development Company. The non-profits took in $8 million since 1997 as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to seek to combat rural poverty by offering loans to struggling small businesses. The non-profit serves as middle man for the anti-poverty program and manages the loans to businesses on behalf of the USDA.

But LaRoque is instead accused of using the non-profits to partially finance his own lifestyle, including buying $5,000 reproduction Faberge eggs for his wife, an ice-skating rink, a car and a Zamboni ice resurfacer. (Click here to learn more about the indictment.)"

Read more of the article at N.C. Policy Watch. Reporter Sarah Ovaska first wrote about LaRoque in her piece “Public money, personal gains” in August 2011.

SUBURBAN POVERTY: Suburb poor pop. grew more than urban areas

Suburban poverty rose sharply and dramatically during the 2000s, in turn shifting the economic landscape of suburbia in North Carolina.

A new report from the Budget and Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center, found that the number of poor people living in the suburbs grew by an incredibly 40 percent between 2000 and 2006-10. The poverty rate is now at 13.2 percent in these areas. Although urban residents are still more likely to be poor than suburban ones, the suburbs' poor population grew 13 times more than in urban areas.

Why the dramatic contrast? Urban areas have historically had the biggest number of North Carolinians who are poor. Yet such areas are also well-equipped with safety-net programs like homeless shelters, food and emergency assistance, and job training programs. Far fewer of these programs and other non-profits are located in suburban areas. Those that are located in the suburbs were unprepared to address the dramatic rise in demand for services during the Great Recession.

Now, the report said, it will be critical to strengthen communities' safety nets if we're going to rebuild North Carolina's economy.

END TAX CUTS: It's time to end Bush-era breaks for the wealthy

We’re working with a national campaign, Americans for Tax Fairness, to ensure that North Carolina’s Congressional delegation votes for working families rather than the wealthy when they consider whether to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire completely or only for middle-class Americans.

Last week, the U.S. Senate took the right step for hard-working families and our deficit by approving a bill that would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the richest 2%. On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Bush tax cuts. As in the U.S. Senate, there will be a choice:

  • House Speaker Boehner will propose that everyone get a tax cut – including a $150,000 tax break, on average, for people who earn more than $1 million a year. Their bill also will raise taxes on 25 million mostly middle- to lower-income families.
  • Minority Leader Pelosi will propose that everyone get a tax cut on income up to $250,000 – but that the tax cut ends there. The richest 2% would pay more on income above $250,000, and the nation would save nearly $1 trillion.

Take a minute to call your U.S. Representative using our partner Americans for Tax Fairness’ line: (888) 744-9958 and demand that he or she vote to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%. Your member of Congress needs to know that you don’t approve of middle-class taxpayers who play by the rules getting stuck with the tab because wealthy Americans are not paying their fair share. The richest 2% are using their campaign contributions and lobbying dollars to get tax breaks they don’t need and we can’t afford. We need you to stand up and be the voice for the rest of us.


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