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Some Believe Layoffs are Political Payback

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CHARLOTTE (AP) — Some state agriculture officials believe recent layoffs in a department agency may have been political payback for its run-ins with the son of House Speaker Jim Black.

Black calls the accusation silly and unfounded.

Four people in the state Structural Pest Control Division lost their jobs July 31st.

The division has had almost annual run-ins with James Black Junior since he took over the family pest-control business, Black Pest Control, in the late 1980s.

The younger Black's business has been fined thousands of dollars in the past decade for various problems found by state inspectors or reported by consumers. He says 99 percent of his clients are pleased with his work.

House leaders say the pesticide division job cuts were justified because of recent declines in complaints from consumers and the number of inspections performed.

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