Like many members of the General Assembly, Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been getting lots of calls and emails from unemployed people urging legislators to break their logjam with the governor and release jobless benefits for tens of thousands who have been without it since mid-April.
But in an angry email exchange with one Goldsboro woman on Thursday, LaRoque said most people can find work as long as they can pass a drug test and are physically able. He said he couldn’t even find people willing to do yard work at his 3 ½-acre home in Kinston, where he recently removed 80 trees and had debris to clean up.
The woman, Kathryn Treadway, said she’d do it, and showed up this morning ready and willing. Treadway, 35, worked about an hour before deciding it was too hot for manual labor, according to LaRoque and interviews with Treadway published by The Huffington Post and N.C. Policy Watch. LaRoque, a Republican, paid her the $8 an hour agreed upon.
“I think if you really want to work you can go out and find work,” LaRoque said in an interview with The N&O later today, recounting his own childhood lawn-mowing enterprises. “I’ve had a hard time finding reliable people willing to do yard work. It’s frustrating.”
Treadway’s point, though, was that the legislature has allowed up to 46,000 people to go without extended unemployment benefits because the payments are tied up in a budget dispute with the governor. She had emailed LaRoque that her family of four had been evicted and were moving in with her parents, and about to apply for food stamps. She said she has sent out hundreds of resumes and phone calls, but she and her husband have been out of work since last year.