(7.15.04) NC Job Growth Revised Downward
RALEIGH — Last month, Gov. Mike Easley announced that North Carolina had gained 13,400 new jobs in May. The announcement was a noted departure from standard practice, and Easley took the opportunity to link his policies to the employment gain. But the governor may not be so eager to continue making the announcements. Revised numbers now show the job gain for May was actually 3,300, or 10,100 less than the governor reported. And while the preliminary data for June appear to show a large 35,000 gain, the overwhelming majority were in the government category — and these trends appear to stem from statistical quirks related to year-round schooling.
(6.30.04) Jobs Announcement Draws Scrutiny
RALEIGH — Gov. Mike Easley announced at a Currituck County groundbreaking ceremony Friday that an automobile auction will expand its Virginia-based auto wholesale operation into North Carolina. The governor’s comments at the event and in a press release are inconsistent with other information uncovered by Carolina Journal. The discrepancies include the reason the company chose North Carolina, the influence of financial incentives, and the number of jobs for North Carolinians. The company pursued the North Carolina site only after a 2001 extortion scheme to secure a site in Suffolk, Va. had failed.
(5.19.04) Ernst & Young Plays Both Sides
RALEIGH — Ernst & Young has become a player on both sides of incentives policy in North Carolina. The company established a cozy relationship with state officials through an incentives bill it helped create in 2001, the N.C. Economic Stimulus and Job Creation Act. The Department of Commerce hired Ernst & Young to study incentives in Southeastern states, and its findings were a significant contribution to the new bill. It was enacted into law in 2002. As the law was developed, Ernst & Young also advised Time Warner Inc. on how to extract incentives from the department, essentially working both ends of the issue.
(4.27.04) Ballance Helped Sex Offender
RALEIGH — U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance and Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams helped a woman avoid registering as a North Carolina sex offender as required by law and a federal plea agreement. Subsequent to her conviction as a sex offender, Ballance employed her as an instructor in a substance-abuse program run by an organization of which he was the chairman. The woman, Lisa Louise Hayes, of Warren County, was employed as a drug treatment specialist at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner from October 1991 until February 2001. In August 2001 federal authorities arrested her and charged her with engaging in a sexual act with a person who was in official detention and who was under her custodial, supervisory, and disciplinary authority.
(4.16.04) Ballance Pledged Money to Center
RALEIGH — U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance pledged $10,000 from the embattled John A. Hyman Memorial Youth Foundation toward the Buck Spring Leadership Excellence Center, a Warren County conference facility in the planning stages. The foundation, which Ballance chairs, has received more than $2 million in state money for substance-abuse programs. But last year, an investigation by Carolina Journal and a special review by State Auditor Ralph Campbell uncovered that the foundation often went for items unrelated to substance abuse. The pledge appears to have been unpaid, and the center remains far short of its fundraising goal.
(4.05.04) Jobs Grant May Have Skirted Law
RALEIGH — Gov. Mike Easley announced March 15 that officials had awarded a $7 million grant to Verizon Wireless and that the company would build a high-tech call center in Wilmington. Had he chosen to make the announcement at the company’s 17-acre building site in South Wilmington, he would have had to wear a hard hat and dodge bulldozers, because the project had already started. An investigation by Carolina Journal revealed that state officials might have violated state laws and guidelines in making the award. According to evidence found by CJ, the company had already committed to the site and had started the project before the state awarded the grant.
(2.26.04) Ballance Nonprofit Still Skirting Law
RALEIGH — Rep. Frank Ballance’s state-funded charity to help youths apparently has failed to file IRS tax forms required for nonprofit organizations. After inquiries by Carolina Journal, the John Hyman Foundation did eventually file the returns for 1994 through 1997, but no more recent reports are available. Based on IRS guidelines, the foundation’s fines for 10 years of not filing may be as high as $100,000. Ballance has refused to answer media questions on the Hyman matter during a recent tour of his 1st Congressional District.
(2.23.04) Lawmaker Asks Auditor for Probe
RALEIGH — State Rep. Russell Capps has asked State Auditor Ralph Campbell to investigate the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson, a nonprofit organization largely funded by the state. Capps cited reports by the Wilson Daily Times and Carolina Journal that documented OIC’s role in a 10,000-piece mailing for the Wilson County Democratic Party. Three former students of the OIC claim that as students, they helped OIC staff members prepare the mailing Oct. 31, 2002 just before the general election. The students were let out of class early and paid to help with the project.
(1.28.04) Politics Found at Tax-Funded Group
RALEIGH — Three former students of the state-funded Wilson Opportunities Industrialization Center claim they helped OIC staff members prepare a 10,000 piece mailing for the Wilson County Democratic Party for the 2002 general election, according to a Jan. 26 story in the Wilson Daily Times. The Wilson OIC, a tax-exempt nonprofit organization with an annual budget over $2 million, receives state, local, and federal funds. Independently, Carolina Journal has established that Rep. Norris Tolson participated in the project and confirmed the involvement of the OIC students and staff.
(11.05.03) Officials, Media React to Audit
RALEIGH — Newspaper editorial writers across North Carolina and law enforcement officials reacted swiftly to a state auditor’s report Oct. 22 that confirmed U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance operated a personal and apparently political slush fund behind the facade of a nonprofit humanitarian organization. One newspaper called for Ballance to resign his Congressional seat, while others excoriated him for mismanagement, a lack of candor, or for "chiseling" the taxpayers. A federal investigation of Ballance is reportedly continuing.