Traffic safety agency moves slowly on driver complaints
DETROIT – People are waiting longer than they should for an answer when they petition the government to open an investigation into what could be serious safety problems.
The Associated Press reviewed all 15 petitions filed by drivers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 2010 and found the agency missed the legal deadline to grant or deny the requests 12 times. One petition from 2012 has yet to be resolved.
A 1974 law passed to make the agency move faster requires a decision within four months of receiving a petition. But even though the agency has fined automakers such as General Motors and Toyota millions for missing deadlines to disclose safety issues, there is no penalty when it’s tardy itself.
New jobs don’t pay as well as those lost during recession
The U.S. economy earlier this year recovered all the jobs lost during the recession, but those new jobs pay an average of 23 percent less than the ones lost in the downturn, according to an analysis released Monday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Job losses in the higher-paying manufacturing and construction sectors were largely replaced by jobs in lower-wage industries, including hospitality and health care, the report said.
It also found a continuing accumulation of wealth among the top 20 percent of the nation’s earners. From 2005 to 2012, the highest income bracket was responsible more than 60 percent of all income gains in the country, the report said.
By contrast, the bottom 40 percent of earners saw 6.6 percent of the increases.
“Our economic models project a further drift toward inequality in upcoming years,” said the report, prepared for the mayors group by IHS Global Insight. “Thus it is reasonable to conclude that the ongoing increase in income inequality is a structural feature of the 21st century economy.”
Ex-plant manager testifies peanut shipper ignored tests
ALBANY, Ga. – A Georgia food processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak shipped thousands of pounds of peanut products after learning its products were contaminated and cheated on testing, a former plant manager testified Monday.
Samuel Lightsey is a key government witness against his former boss, Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others.
He described documents to jurors that show Peanut Corporation shipped peanuts to companies in Missouri, Illinois and other points after receiving laboratory warnings that product samples had tested positive for salmonella. In other instances, the company cheated on safety testing by switching samples, Lightsey said.
The 2008-09 salmonella outbreak caused one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. Food safety investigators found more than 700 people across the country were infected and nine people died.
Kansas settles fraud charge over state’s pension system
WICHITA, Kan. – Federal authorities announced Monday that Kansas has agreed to settle a securities fraud charge accusing the state of misleading investors about the financial health of its public employee pension system in 2009 and 2010 – at the time the second-worst underfunded system of its kind in the nation.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that the state has consented to its cease-and-desist order to settle the case, without admitting or denying its findings. No financial sanctions were imposed.