LaRoque found guilty on all 12 charges

More details will follow later, but the instructive parts of this story have been available for some time now, and there's more to this than just a greedy man getting caught with his hands in the till.

Economic problems that plague our rural areas are unique and extremely difficult to address. There simply isn't enough capital already in place to generate the type of growth that could end up being self-sustaining, which is why the federal government created and funds various programs to invest in those areas. Sometimes these efforts succeed, and sometimes they fail, but that's the nature of business. And for many communities, these programs may be their last chance:

Additional charges filed against LaRoque

What goes around comes around:

Four new charges were filed against him this month, including concealing “material facts,” materially false, fictitious and fraudulent representation, and two counts of making and subscribing a false tax return, according to online court records viewed Wednesday.

And it seems the Kinston Free Press can't shake its infatuation with the local lordling. This relatively short article drops in the word "alleged" no less than five times, and this is downright artistic in its praise:

Black farmers finally granted relief

Less equal than others in the eyes of the government:

We went to the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to try to get a loan. My father, my mother, my grandfather and we were denied because of our race,” farmer Troy Murray said Monday. Murray said he wonders why the settlement took so long. “Why did it wait until we lost everything?” Murray said.

Sometimes the wheels of justice move so slow they become dangerous to those who are waiting. If you want to learn more about the Pigford case and subsequent settlement, here's a clearing house for associated documents.

Why isn't Washington paying what it owes to black farmers?

For many, the scandal surrounding Shirley Sherrod's dubious ouster from the U.S. Agriculture Department was the first they'd heard of civil rights battles over farm policy, particularly the landmark Pigford case focused on redressing decades of discriminatory policies against African-American farmers.

Filed in 1997 by North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford, the class-action lawsuit against the USDA led to two momentous victories for the plaintiffs: In 1999, the black farmers reached a settlement with the government for over $1 billion.

However, many black farmers never had their cases heard because they filed late - over 73,000 petitions that became Pigford II. (The reasons for the late filings have been blamed on inadequate notice being provided, extenuating circumstances like hurricanes, and, according to one of the judges, bad lawyers for the farmers, "bordering on legal malpractice" [pdf].)

Civility and respect still matter in small towns

Yesterday, I was honored to host Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Hamlet, NC for a continuation of President Obama’s Rural Listening Tour. Over 600 of our concerned citizens took time from their day to participate, ask questions and tell members of the Administration as well as myself, what Washington can and should be doing for our rural communities.

Some of the press in attendance seemed almost shocked at the civility and respect shown by attendees.

Civility and respect rule at bipartisan town hall meeting

Breaking a pattern of raucous encounters across the country, more than 600 people Monday attended a town hall meeting marked by civility, substance and even bipartisanship.

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