Thursday News: Head in the sand


COASTAL REAL ESTATE BROKERS CONTINUE TO FIGHT SEA LEVEL RISE WARNINGS: All along the coast of the southeast United States, the real estate industry confronts a hurricane. Not the kind that swirls in the Atlantic, but a storm of scientific information about sea-level rise that threatens the most lucrative, commission-boosting properties. These studies warn that Florida, the Carolinas and other southeastern states face the nation’s fastest-growing rates of sea level rise and coastal erosion — as much as 3 feet by the year 2100, depending on how quickly Antarctic ice sheets melt. “This is very concerning,” said Willo Kelly, who represents both the Outer Banks Home Builders Association and the Outer Banks Association of Realtors and led a six-year battle against state sea-level-rise mapping in North Carolina. “There’s a fear that some think tank is going to come in here and tell us what to do.”

UNFUNDED MANDATE FROM STATE FORCES WAKE COUNTY TO SEEK $1 BILLION SCHOOL BOND: The $1 billion bond, which would be the largest yet for the school district, would entail a 3.25-cent increase to the county's property tax rate, which would add about $81 to the annual tax bill for the owner of a $250,000 house. Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson called the billion-dollar mark "the magic number," saying commissioners would try to stay below that figure. "Our voters in the past have supported these bonds. They understand the importance of these bonds," Hutchinson said. Some of the school construction needs were created by a state law mandating smaller class sizes in early grades, which district officials said created the need for about 9,000 more elementary school seats. "That is a significant impact to our elementary capacity that we're going to have to figure out some way to manage, and building new schools is a part of that," school board member Bill Fletcher said.

AS USUAL, TWO DIFFERENT STORIES EMERGE AFTER MEETING WITH TRUMP: President Donald Trump on Thursday denied an assertion by the Democratic leaders in Congress that they had an agreement to preserve protections for young immigrants living illegally in America and to bolster U.S.-Mexico border security, but without his coveted wall for now. "No deal was made last night on DACA," Trump said in an early morning tweet about the program put in place under the Obama administration program. Trump contradicted the characterization of a private White House dinner on Wednesday night by his guests, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats on Capitol Hill. In their statement, Schumer and Pelosi said: "We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides."

TRUMP SPINS THE "ENEMY" ROULETTE WHEEL AND LANDS ON COLOMBIA: U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening that he may decertify Colombia as a partner in the war against drugs unless the South American nation reverses a record surge in cocaine production. The shock rebuke for Washington's staunchest ally in Latin America came Wednesday in the White House's annual designation of nations it deems major drug-producing or drug-transit zones. Colombia, the source of 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S., has long been a fixture on the list, which was unchanged from last year. But not since the late 1990s, when contributions from the Cali cartel funded the campaign of Colombia's then-President Ernesto Samper, has the country's commitment to fighting narcotics trafficking been called into question by Washington.

THREE FEMALE DOCTORS SUE HOSPITAL OVER GENDER-BASED PAY INEQUITIES: The lawsuit says that a male coworker, who worked as a hospital pediatrician, was paid “substantially more” than the three female doctors for doing the same job. The doctors are suing their Concord employer, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, which does business as NorthEast Physician Network, and is an affiliate of Carolinas HealthCare. The lower pay for the three female doctors shows Carolinas HealthCare System has a “pattern and practice of paying female physicians less than similarly situated or even less qualified, male physicians,” the lawsuit says. Other male pediatric and general hospital doctors were also paid more than the three female doctors because of their gender, the lawsuit says. In addition, the female doctors were made to cover less favorable shifts more often than similarly situated male physicians, the lawsuit says.