MLK Memorial Foundation announces plans for August 28 MLK Memorial dedication
OPRAH SAYS “GOODBYE” - After twenty-five years as the “Queen of talk shows,’ Oprah Winfrey signed off of her successful nationally syndicated talk show on Wednesday, tearfully thanking her millions of fans around the world. Winfrey will now concentrate her time on developing her fledgling OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) on cable television, and may even star in a Broadway play.
NCNAACP Pres. William Barber
“O’BAMA” SAYS CHEERS IN IRELAND - President Barack Obama tips a brew in an Irish pub during his visit to Ireland earlier this week. The president and First Lady visited a village were ancestors of his late grandfather grew up. He was welcomed warmly, and joked that he was part of the family there.
REV. BARBER, PROTESTERS, ARRESTED AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY
By Cash Michaels
Saying that North Carolina was a “state in emergency” because of drastic budget cuts by the Republican-led General Assembly, the president of the NCNAACP and six others openly challenged NC House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, to meet with them, interrupting a House session at the Legislature Tuesday.
NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, NCNAACP Second Vice President Rev. Curtis Gatewood, and five others were arrested by state Capitol Police and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and second-degree trespassing. All seven were held in jail overnight, and released on $12,500 bond Wednesday morning at 2 a.m.
The “State in Emergency Seven,” as they’ve been called, chanted, “ Fund education, not incarceration,” and “save our children, don’t cut education,” stopping House proceedings.
In past weeks, Rev. Barber has blasted the Republican-led state Legislature for “draconian” cuts to the budget that would detour hundreds of millions from public education K-12 and cut the UNC System by as much ad 15.5 percent.
The proposed cuts would eliminate 20,000 jobs across the state, including thousands of teachers and teachers’ assistants.
The NCNAACP leader decried GOP measures that would cripple One Stop Early Voting, repeal the NC Racial Justice Act, and require citizens to display a voter ID at the polls.
Barber was also critical of GOP leadership blocking federal unemployment benefits to at least 45,000 out-of-work citizens in an effort to force Governor Beverly Perdue to comply with their budget cuts.
Perdue has refused, blasting the GOP for making the unemployed “hostages,” and has promised to veto any budget bill she disagrees with.
According to a NCNAACP press release about the incident, “Barber and the other leaders were on their way to a mass rally in the Legislative Auditorium, attended by over 350 people from across the State. When Barber and the other leaders were dragged out of the legislative chambers, and off to jail, other HKonJ and NAACP leaders stepped up and led a People's Hearing where over 30 North Carolinians gave short reports on how the budget bills and direct attacks on public services to the poor and disenfranchised will devastate their families and neighbors.”
The NCNAACP press release continued, “Tillis later told the protesters that they needed to show more respect for "my house." Several protesters reminded him that this was the People's House--this is "Our House," they said.”
"I think it's sad that Rep Tillis said it's his house," Rev. Barber told reporters after bonding out of jail. "It's not his house, it's the people's house, and the people will be heard."
In a release from his office Tuesday, Speaker Tillis said, “Today’s disruption was one of the most disrespectful displays I have witnessed during my tenure in the House of Representatives. It was a clear violation of the rules of the House, and those rules will continue to be enforced to ensure safety and dignity in the people’s House.”
Tillis told reporters Wednesday that Rev. Barber owes “his chamber,” according to press reports, for disrupting House proceedings the previous day. He said he will not meet with Barber now because of the Capitol police investigation into the incident, but may meet with other representatives of the NCNAACP.
Previously, Tillis alleged that a meeting had been set with Rev. Barber, but that the civil rights leader had canceled. Barber alleges that he has requested a sitdown with Tillis and the GOP leadership at least three times, and had been rebuffed each time.
Published reports said state Rep, Larry Womble (D-Forsyth) went to the Wake County jail Tuesday night to make sure Rev. Barber and his colleagues were all right. Womble reportedly told reporters that he supported what Rev. Barber did.
"The cuts that the General Assembly is calling for, at least on the Republican side - education, health care and jobs - will affect North Carolina in a very negative manner," Womble told The News & Observer. "I think (Barber) is trying to call attention to this. I believe he is justified."
Those arrested and charged with Rev. Barber include Rev. Curtis Gatewood, HKonJ Coordinator; Rob Stephens, Associate Director of the Anti-Death Penalty Project; Rev. Kojo Nantambu, President of Charlotte NAACP; Timothy Hodges, Past President of Johnson County NAACP; David Lamotte, NC Council of Churches; and Rev. T. Anthony Spearman.
Rev. Barber has previously participated in acts of civil disobedience when he and others protested during two Wake County Public School Board meetings in April and July of last year. On both occasions, Rev. Barber was arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing. No court dates have been set.
WAKE’S BLUE AND GREEN ASSIGNMENT PLANS FALL SHORT
By Cash Michaels
If Wake School Board District 4 school board member Keith Sutton is correct, and the board adopts either of the two proposed student assignment plans Supt. Anthony Tata unveiled this week, then low-performing schools with significant free-and-reduced lunch populations could be a thing of the past.
“Those plans take into account the use of student achievement in determining how we assign students,” Sutton, who represents predominately-black Southeast Raleigh on the board, told The Carolinian last week. “So, we will not have free-and-reduced lunch anymore.”
“Those days are gone.”
But it maybe a bit early to pop the champagne corks. The proverbial “blue” and “green” Wake assignment plans are admittedly nowhere near finished, and may not be until late June. Feeder patterns for both middle and high schools have yet to be determined, hindering parents who have gone online to figure out what would work best for their children.
Both plans are touted as offering student achievement, stability and proximity, in compliance with the board’s neighborhood community-based schools policy.
The reaction to the incomplete presentations at the school system’s website has ranged from confusion to anger, with some parents commenting that Tata should have not have presented anything if it wasn’t ready.
Tata counters that the two plans are only “samples” to give parents an idea of how each student assignment could work, as opposed to would work. The public’s input will be factored into any final details and fine tuning before the plans are presented to the board in late June.
Touted as the best of nine proposals that Supt. Tata’s task force developed after the Republican-led Wake School Board failed to do so all last year, the plans offer two rather simple alternatives.
Parents either get school choice or school predictability.
The blue plan, based in part on the school choice model of Massachusetts consultant Dr. Michael Alves, offers parents an array of school choices in which they can enroll their children.
The green plan offers base school assignments according to a family’s address, so every child automatically has a school assignment.
Four of the five school board Republicans like the blue plan because of the choice feature. They say it gives parents the power to decide, not the school system.
Debra Goldman, the fifth GOP board member, has not indicated her choice of late, but in the past she’s been insistent on parents having a base school assignment.
Three of the four Democrats on the board are open to either the blue or green.
District 4’s Keith Sutton, the fourth Democrat, prefers the green plan.
“I think that it just makes sense that we assign students based on their address. It just makes sense that if you’re after a stability and proximity model, then you want an address,” he said.
Sutton added that his problem with the blue school choice plan is management, given Wake’s size and 143,000 student capacity.
Sutton added that using student achievement as a tool could ensure that the proper resources equitably go where they are academically needed, contrary to high poverty school situations where low-performing, high poverty students are dumped in a failing school with scant resources and second-class administrative support.
Many of the proponents of neighborhood schools are bashing the green plan, saying that it isn’t much different from the old socioeconomic diversity plan’s node system of assigning students.
There will be several public hearings on the proposed plans next week, and they’ll all start at 6 p.m..
The will be nine hearings, one for each school board district.
On Tuesday, hearings will be held at the high schools of Enloe, Millbrook and Athens Drive. On Wednesday - Panther Creek High, and on Thursday - Wake Forest-Rolesville, Garner, Sanderson, Cary and Holly Springs.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
DISTRICT C COUNCILMAN WEEKS WILL RUN IN FALL ELECTION
District C Raleigh City Councilman Eugene Weeks has announced that he intends to run for election this fall to the seat he was appointed to last year. Weeks, a long time civic and community activist, was selected by the City Council in October 2010to serve out the unexpired term of Mayor Pro tem James West after West went to the Wake Commission Board. Councilman Weeks says he has served the citizens of Southeast Raleigh as an advocate for improved city services and economic development.
CONVICTED DURHAM COUNTY MAGISTRATE RESIGNS
Facing evidence and press reports of a prior criminal record, an embattled Durham County Magistrate who had been suspended, has now resigned. Magistrate Sam Biers issued a letter of resignation, claiming that he is a victim of false reports. “"As a result of the scurrilous and false complaints against me, I am forced to resign as a State of North Carolina and Durham County magistrate and freely state that I will never apply for a North Carolina magistrate position again," he wrote. Biers was accused of having a false birth date on his employment application to hide a prior criminal history in Michigan.
IBM LAYS OFF DIVISION EMPLOYEES IN RTP
The tough economy has forced one of the world’s most prominent technology companies to lay off a number of employees at its Research Triangle Park headquarters, and other locations. IBM reportedly handed out pink slips to workers in its hardware and global business divisions. Other cuts are in New York, Minnesota and California.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
FEDS TO SEEK INDICTMENT AGAINST JOHN EDWARDS, REPORTS SAY
[CHAPEL HILL] Published reports say the US Justice Dept. will seek criminal indictments against former Senator John Edwards for alleged misuse of campaign funds during his 2008 presidential campaign. The two-time presidential hopeful allegedly use campaign funds to pay off his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Edwards, 57, may seek a plea bargain to avert a trial.
WILMINGTON CRIME RATE DROPS DRAMATICALLY
[WILMINGTON] Rarely is the crime rate rarely is the crime rate something to brag about, but that’s what port city officials are doing. According to the latest FBI crime statistics, between 2009 and 2010, rapes and robberies and assaults in Wilmington dropped by an impressive 11 percent, the lowest since 1998. Mayor Bill Safo credited the Wilmington Police Dept. for its work. Nationally, violent crimes dropped just 5.5 percent.
LAWMAKERS SEEK TO CHANGE STATE EDUCATION LEADERSHIP
[RALEIGH] If a new bill in the Republican-led General Assembly is made law, the state superintendent of Public Instruction will have real authority, and the Legislature will have more control over the state Board of Education (SBOE). A House committee passed a measure Wednesday that would float a public referendum for voters on the May 2012 ballot to change the state constitution. Those changes include making the state superintendent chair of the SBOE; give the supt. more authority; give the Legislature four appointments to the SBOE and the governor eight, and shorten the SBOE terms for members from eight ears to six. Democrats oppose the bill, saying Republicans simply want more control over the state Dept. of Public Instruction.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
GOODBYE OPRAH - It has been an historic 25 years that all ended Wednesday in solemn fashion.
Oprah Winfrey said goodbye to the millions of fans of her daily syndicated talk show around the world. The Monday and Tuesday “surprise” spectacular shows from the United Center in Chicago were nonstop excitement with stars and tributes galore (good job, Oprah producers). We may never see anything like it again.
To see much of the emphasis on Winfrey’s philanthropy and love of education was particularly touching.
And Wednesday’s final moments, with Oprah dedicating the show to her tremendous fans, were heartfelt.
No matter what you think of Oprah (and she is a controversial figure in the black community, given her billions and influence), you cannot deny her power and influence. She is not only the most powerful black woman in entertainment, but the most powerful woman in show business…PERIOD!
Now Oprah has to make her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) cable channel, which opened shop five months ago, as successful as her brand. It is struggling right now, so much so that Oprah fired the CEO.
We have no doubt that “O” will turn it around, and we should be proud of all that Oprah Winfrey has accomplished.
GOOD GOING, SCOTTY - This is being written before the new American Idol is crowned, but all of us here in the Triangle are very proud of Scotty McCreery of Garner for the fine performances he’s delivered making his way to the very top this season as a finalist. Scotty is a student at Garner Magnet Middle School.
CHICAGO CODE - I like good, tough cop shows, so when Fox premiered “The Chicago Code” last February, I was pleased with what I saw in the pilot.
Towards the middle of the show’s run, the plot - about a black female Chicago police superintendent’s efforts to bring down a corrupt black Chicago City alderman (masterfully played by Delroy Lindo) - the stories got soft, and the show lost viewers.
But the last three episodes, including last Monday’s season finale, was edge-of-the-seat stuff. Problem is the suits at the Fox Network didn’t want to wait that long, and canceled the show on May 15.
It’s a shame because “The Chicago Code” definitely has more life in it, and deserves more than one season to get its full footing. Jennifer Beals, who made the classic 1983 flick, “Flashdance,” portrayed Chicago Police Superintendent Teresa Colvin, and Irish actor Jason Clarke as Det. Jared Wysocki (this guy hides his accent well).
These talented actors deserve another bite at the apple. I hope one of the cable networks - TNT or USA - pick up this fine show.
DELUSIONAL - I won’t use her name, because her Facebook messages to me were not public. But the words, thoughts and feelings of this conservative Republican female are instructive. What this woman wrote to me after I appeared on WRAL-TV’s “On the Record” last weekend was as ignorant as her right-wing politics has proven to be.
What I found even more fascinating is that because I expressed a pretty widely held view (I’ll tell you what that was in a moment), I was the one, according to this woman, spewing “hate and anger.”
Here’s the background.
As you know, the Republicans in the state Legislature passed a bill blocking unemployment benefits extension to now 45,000 workers who need the money desperately, not because there is a problem with the system, but rather to force Gov. Beverly Perdue to agree to a 13 percent from her proposed budget spending levels.
In effect, governor, if you want these people to get their money, you’ll do what we tell you. Perdue, naturally, vetoed the bill.
On WRAL-TV’s “On the Record,” I called what the Republicans did not good governance, but “hostage-taking.” I went on to say that it was “unconscionable” what the GOP was doing, and all it was was hardball politics.
Another nefarious term for what the Republicans have done is blackmail.
In my opinion, most sensible people would agree. In fact, Rep. Carolyn Justice, a Republican from New Hanover County, told her hometown paper she’s urged her leadership to release the money and find another way of dealing with the governor.
And Rep. Justice said she isn’t the only Republican who feels this way.
So I’m not the only one who feels that a very serious line has been crossed here by the Republicans.
But apparently that conservative Republican woman who emailed me on Facebook, let’s call her “June,” saw things a bit differently:
“I wanted to respectfully talk with you about your comments on "On the Record" tonight. I am very frustrated that Republicans are being blamed for this when Perdue is the person who vetoed. It is interesting that Republicans are accused of Hostage situation when Democrats have put us in that position for years. It is difficult to see the other side of the "elephant". It is unfortunate that Democrats cannot see that this is what has been done to the others of us for years.”
“Just because we want fiscal responsibility, all Republicans are not hard hearted and against human rights. But we are fed up with government waste!”
Naturally, after looking “June” up on Facebook to see exactly who I was dealing with, I responded:
“Ma'am, respectfully, but Gov. Perdue didn't target 37,000 (now 45,0000 working people) and use them as bargaining chips to get her way. The Republicans did. Perdue has to face the fact that they have majority in the Legislature, and will use it.
And the GOP has to realize that she has veto power, and will use that.”
“For the Republicans to exploit innocent people who've done nothing wrong...IS WRONG! If the Democrats had done the same thing, I would be twice as hard because they're supposed to know better!”
“We can't have government by hostage-taking. The Republicans are playing politics, trying force the governor to do what they want.”
“You are supposed to be a woman of Christian faith. Is this how Jesus would have us conduct our business? If Democrats have done everything wrong, does that justify what the GOP leadership is doing in holding up those benefits for those families?”
“This is wrong! I called it what it is. Hostage-taking! What the GOP is doing is criminal to those workers! The voters, especially the Christian ones, will remember.
Have a good evening!”
“June,” not surprisingly, not only wasn’t pleased, but accused me of calling her names:
“Whatever happened to loving your neighbor? As your neighbor, I believe I am the one who has been held hostage by huge government spending. At least I try to understand the other point of view, but you are spewing hatred. My Christian faith tells me to love my neighbor, and treat others the way I would want to be treated.”
“That doesn't always mean opening the government purse. I do believe the people should receive their benefits, but Gov. Perdue is quite capable of revoking her veto. Don't you think we were "held hostage" in your words by Democrats for all of those years when they were doing things we didn't like-like swindling their way into a state education lottery that -surprise, surprise- gives less than it should to education? Why are you so blind that you cannot see another person's point of view WITHOUT calling names?”
Mind you, this woman calls me “blind,” but I’m the name caller. So I responded:
“Ma'am, "loving your neighbor" doesn't mean denying hard working people unemployment benefits THEY PAID INTO THE SYSTEM! Just because injustice may have been done to you (and I'm sorry about your experience) DOES NOT mean others should be treated unjustly as well.”
“I can't believe you would want people to do business with YOU in this fashion - threatening other innocent people just to strong-arm you to do what they want, regardless of how right or wrong that something may be.”
“Is THIS the new GOP justification for cutting the size of government? And you can actually sleep at night knowing hard working people who want to work badly are being denied funds they PAID INTO THE SYSTEM just because someone wants to play political games with the governor?”
“Excuse that kind of behavior if you want, ma'am, but good Christian decency won't allow me to condone hostage-taking!”
“This isn't question of fairness, but of decency! Wrong, is WRONG, and I won't hide behind the false front of "fairness" when I see absolute injustice.”
“I'm sorry you don't, or can't, agree”!
Believe it or not, “June” and I went on and on.
I don’t deny that the Democrats have certainly made their share of mistakes in governing, but when have they pulled the mess that the state GOP is pulling now? Those benefits are federal dollars, NOT state, so the money isn’t the issue.
When we govern by blackmail, when we govern by hostage-taking, not caring that we’re directly hurting tens of thousands of innocent families, we’ve lost our moral compass.
If the Dems were ever to pull this stunt, it would be NO justification that the Republicans did it first!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.”
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.