by Matt Saldaña
Today, The News & Observer looks at a lawsuit alleging ethnic bias by the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, who denied a zoning permit to allow the non-profit Tri-County Community Health Council to build a low-cost health-care clinic in a remote area of the county. Tri-County provides comprehensive medical care to a largely Latino clientele who lack insurance, relieving the burden on local hospitals to provide emergency services. The lawsuit, filed in March, points to comments made by the Johnston board--which has stood by County Sheriff Steve Bizzell following his comments that "Mexicans are trashy"--shortly before denying the permit:
Before the vote, Commissioner Ray Woodall was one of several board members to question whether a petition with more than 1,000 signatures in support of the clinic included neighbors of the proposed site. Of the signatures with nearby addresses, Woodall said "many of the surnames made me wonder if they are renters or actual owners in that area." Most of the names in the area are Hispanic.