Happy Friday, everyone! (Even if it is April 1, which means your Facebook feed will be clogged with dumb fake stories, and oh God is that annoying.) Let’s get to it.
1. This is getting redundant: the fallout over HB 2 continues apace.
Yesterday, the INDY reported that Fullsteam, the Durham brewing company, asked to be removed from any state promotional programs that feature it. We also learned that Braeburn Pharmaceuticals was rethinking building its next manufacturing facility in Durham because it “believes in fair treatment and equality for all individuals,” which is something North Carolina no longer does.
Just two weeks ago, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced, with Gov. Pat McCrory speaking in support, that the company would establish a manufacturing and research facility in Durham Co. […] The company had planned to bring 52 new jobs to the area in the next five years, along with an investment of nearly $20 million in the site.
But wait, there’s more. In today’s Charlotte Observer, a group of fifteen Duke health care professions penned a blistering op-ed denouncing the new law.
In a blatant act of malice and ignorance, the N.C. General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory have set the state of North Carolina back decades. As physicians and health care providers who care for members of the LGBT community, we find this legislation deplorable and truly irresponsible.
House Bill 2 was drafted to discriminate against the transgender community – human beings whose sex assigned to them at birth and their gender identity do not conform to societal expectations. Every human being has a gender identity and a sexual orientation. Every human being is equal and should have equal protection under the law. This is not just our position as medical and mental health providers, it is the truth and constitutionally and ethically correct.
And more: in what amounts to an impeachable offense in this state, our lawmakers have also put future NCAA events at risk.
Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert made it clear that House Bill 2 puts the state at risk of hosting future NCAA events, most notably the basketball tournament, which North Carolina has hosted 17 times in the past two decades and will again in 2017 and 2018.
HB2, which prevents local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances, has been decried by critics as open license to discriminate, especially against the LGBT community. Emmert said that as the NCAA selects sites for the 2019-22 tournaments, a process that begins in June and runs through November, HB2 would hurt North Carolina’s chances of hosting again.
“For the universities and colleges that are members of the NCAA, diversity and inclusion is one of the benchmark values that every one of those institutions adheres to,” Emmert said. “So this is an issue of great importance for us. … The experience that our student-athletes, teams, universities, the fan base has, in any one community, is a consideration in where we determine to play these games.
“In that context, as I’ve made clear in many cases, here in Texas and I’ve chatted with (Gov. Pat McCrory) about this, it will most certainly be one of the variables considered when the committee makes these decisions where to play these games. It simply has to be. It’s far too important to all of our member schools.”
Amid this rising tide, McCrory met with a group of LGBT folks yesterday, where he said he’s “consider” ideas to “make this bill better.” (By this, he presumably means tweaking, not repealing.)
Representatives of Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina came to the Capitol building to deliver a letter signed by more than 100 businesses, including Wells Fargo, Facebook, Apple, Citibank, Bank of America, American Airlines and Starbucks. […]
The House Bill 2 opponents were greeted by McCrory’s chief of staff, Thomas Stith, who allowed three representatives to meet with the governor in his office. One of them was a transgender woman, Candis Cox.
Media was not allowed to attend the meeting, and the three who participated wouldn’t say what McCrory told them in response to their demands.
Amid a barrage of criticism from major businesses and Democrats, North Carolina’s new LGBT law might get some tweaks when legislators return in late April.
Gov. Pat McCrory said in a video statement this week that he’d be open to “new ideas” for the law, although he provided no specifics. […]
So far, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger haven’t joined in McCrory’s call for “solutions.”
“Sen. Berger has received a number of questions this afternoon regarding whether he has an appetite to make changes to House Bill 2,” spokeswoman Shelly Carver said in an email. “An overwhelming majority of North Carolinians we’ve heard from support the bathroom safety bill. So the short answer to those questions is no.”
This genie’s not going back in the bottle, Pat.
2. Another pretty solid jobs report.
U.S. employers notched another solid month of hiring in March by adding 215,000 jobs, driven by large gains in the construction, retail and health care industries.
Despite the jump, the Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent from 4.9 percent. But that increase includes some good news: more Americans came off the sidelines to look for work, though not all found jobs.
The figures suggest that employers remain confident enough in their business prospects to add staff, even as overall growth has slowed since last winter. Many analysts estimate that the economy grew at a 1 percent annual rate or below in the first quarter. Continuing job gains indicate that employers may see the slowdown as temporary.
Steady hiring is also contributing to higher pay, which rose a modest 2.3 percent from a year earlier to $25.43.
3. The Atlantic throws shade on Durham’s resurgence.
DURHAM, N.C.—By some measures, the price of housing in this growing city is still a steal. Median home values in the area remain below the median price for homes across the country. And rent here is cheaper that in most cities, too.
But look around at the trendy bars and coffee shops cropping up across downtown, the cranes and construction work on nearly every corner, and it’s a good guess that Durham’s affordability may soon be a thing of the past, just like the city’s status as a working-class, tobacco-manufacturing town.
That’s a troubling proposition for families that have lived and worked here for generations, getting by on blue-collar salaries. The growth in those kinds of jobs has largely dried up, replaced by openings at start-ups and biopharmaceuticals. And the cost of living is getting higher, to boot. The revitalization of downtown Durham, which had long been largely abandoned a little more than a decade ago, was widely applauded, bringing money and jobs but not really coming at anyone’s expense. But now that the surrounding neighborhoods—traditionally black and working-class—are becoming whiter, richer, and pricier, the changes are resulting in real harm to long-time residents.
A bit later in the piece:
A big part of Durham’s problem is that though this wave of revitalization, which started downtown and is trickling outward, was sought after and carefully planned, it seems that no one thought about or planned for the very real dangers that inviting an influx of investment and revitalization to the area might bring.
Even among longtime property owners, holding onto housing in Durham is becoming a challenge. The city only assesses taxes every eight years, which means that property taxes haven’t been adjusted in many now-popular areas with much higher home values. The city council has now realized that waiting so long to re-evaluate properties can be a problem during growth periods, because instead of acclimating to gradual tax hikes as property values grow, owners are blindsided with a substantial increase all at once. There’s talk of shifting the schedule to every four years, but that likely won’t help those who are hit with a tax bill they’re ill equipped to pay in 2016.
“We’re seeing displacement and there doesn’t seem to be a point where this is going to stop unless we do something about it,” says Jillian Johnson, a city councilwoman. “It seems like the natural market curve prices a huge number of people out of Durham very quickly, and I think the process is accelerating.”
Really, if you’re at all interested in Durham redevelopment, go read the whole thing. It’s an important, thought-provoking piece.
4. Lying cop allows drunk drivers to go free.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman dismissed more than 100 driving while impaired cases this week after a sheriff’s deputy was found to have lied on the stand.
Freeman’s actions came after District Court Judge Jacqueline Brewer disqualified Wake sheriff’s Deputy Robert Davis, a member of the DWI Task Force, as a witness.
Freeman said because Davis had been untruthful in some cases that he was no longer competent to testify in any of them. Davis, who worked at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years, was fired last week by Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
That’s it for today. Enjoy your weekend!