AP-NC Newswatch

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September 26, 2019
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September 26, 2019
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT


NAACP women to demand action on sexual harassment
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Women from the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP are traveling to the organization’s national headquarters in Baltimore to demand the removal of a member who they say harassed a former employee.
Ana Ilarraza-Blackburn says the group will leave Greensboro on Thursday and pick up members in Durham before going to the national headquarters to demand the removal of the Rev. Curtis Gatewood. A former employee of the state chapter, Jazmyne Childs, said at a news conference Wednesday that Gatewood sexually harassed her.
Gatewood says he never sexually harassed anyone.
Ilarraza-Blackburn is the Latino immigrant liaison for the state chapter. She says no one at the national office responded to the women’s letters so they’re going to Baltimore.
Gatewood is running for president of the state chapter, challenging the incumbent. The election is Oct. 5.


NC insurance commissioner says Blue Cross CEO should resign
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s top insurance regulator says the chief executive of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina should resign after his impaired-driving arrest in June.
Commissioner Mike Causey told reporters on Wednesday president and CEO Dr. Patrick Conway has shown a “lack of leadership and professionalism.” He also said the Blue Cross board tried to conceal what happened. Causey says he didn’t learn about it until last week after a media report.
Conway was charged with driving while impaired and misdemeanor child abuse following a June crash in Randolph County. No one was injured, but Conway’s two daughters were in the car.
The board’s chairman wrote this week that Conway had completed a substance abuse treatment program and that board members were satisfied he could keep providing strong leadership.


U of North Carolina’s interim president to keep role for now
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – The interim president of the University of North Carolina system will stay in the role for now.
News outlets report Bill Roper announced Wednesday that he isn’t seeking the position permanently, but will stay in it through June 2020.
Roper said in a statement that the time frame will give him a chance to reach the goals he laid out when he took on the interim position in January. Roper succeeded Margaret Spellings, who left the $775,000-per-year role in December 2018 after fulfilling just over half of her five-year contract.
Roper also said the clear time frame will give the school system time to plan for the next successor. Roper’s announcement comes just after the chairman of the system’s Board of Governors resigned , citing job demands.


Audit questions ag department hotel expenses during NC fair
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – An audit says North Carolina government budget rules were broken when taxpayer funds paid for Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and two of his top lieutenants to stay in Raleigh during the annual State Fair.
The report from State Auditor Beth Wood’s office released on Wednesday says Troxler, his chief of staff and the fair manager incurred $22,000 in hotel rooms, meals and other expenses over five years.
All three of them live at least 60 miles from Raleigh, and Troxler’s chief deputy says he signed off on the expenses because it’s critical fair leaders are close by during the 11-day event. But auditors say there’s no exception for that in the budget rules.
The state budget director, however, granted a waiver last month for the Agriculture Department going forward.


Spill reported from North Carolina chemical company site
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A spill at a chemical company industrial site in North Carolina prompted three water providers to issue alerts and suspend drawing water from the Cape Fear River to prevent their supplies from being tainted.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports the approximately 30-gallon (113-liter) spill came from Kuraray Americas, one of three tenants at the Chemours-managed site about 100 miles (160 kilometers) upstream of Wilmington.
Although quickly contained, the utilities shut down the intakes on Wednesday, in part to prevent contamination of their supplies.
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality says it’s investigating the extent and cause of the spill. A Kuraray Americas spokesperson said in a news release that the spill resulted from the escape of a plasticizer used in making windshields into a storm drain uncovered during construction.


17 states sue feds over Endangered Species Act lawsuit
SEATTLE (AP) – Seventeen states are suing to block Trump administration rules weakening the Endangered Species Act.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, follows a similar challenge filed last month by several environmental groups, including the Humane Society and the Sierra Club.
The new rules begin taking effect Thursday. They for the first time allow officials to consider how much it would cost to save a species. They also remove blanket protections for animals newly listed as threatened and make it easier for creatures to be removed from the protected list.
The administration and congressional Republicans have said the changes improve the law. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said they ease “the regulatory burden on the American public” without sacrificing conservation goals.
Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson called it “death by a thousand cuts” for the law.


Lawmaker urges FAA to consider pilots’ skills globally
A key lawmaker is calling on U.S. regulators to take into consideration the skill level of pilots around the world and not just the United States when making improvements to Boeing’s grounded airplane.
Rep. David Price, D-N.C., also said Wednesday he wants assurances that the Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing its practice of delegating some work to employees of aircraft manufacturers. Price chairs a House subcommittee that approves FAA funding.
Daniel Elwell, the No. 2 official in FAA, agreed during a hearing that the agency needs to consider that planes certified in the U.S. fly all over the world.
Pilot skills and training have emerged as key issues in the investigations of deadly crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max airliner in Indonesia and Ethiopia.


Raleigh Police identify dead kidnapping suspect in woods
ZEBULON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina have identified a kidnapping suspect who was found dead in the woods after an hourslong police chase.
News outlets report 23-year-old Hugo Yaret Cortes-Ramirez died Tuesday after leading Raleigh police on a chase by car and foot.
Police say in a statement that officers attempted to pull over Cortes-Ramirez’s vehicle, which was reportedly involved in a kidnapping. They say he fled from police and later jumped out of the car and escaped on foot.
The statement also says that Cortes-Ramirez shot at police while running into the woods and an officer returned fire. Police say Cortes-Ramirez was found dead in the woods with a pistol in his hand and the kidnapping victim was unharmed.
It’s unclear how Cortes-Ramirez died. An investigation is ongoing.


AP-WF-09-26-19 1020GMT