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BAD NEWS ABOUNDS FOR OBAMA, BLACKS
By Cash Michaels
If there is one thing President Barack Obama shares with the African-American community this week besides racial heritage, is the bad news that has come with it.
Here in North Carolina, outraged black Democratic lawmakers stood shoulder-to-shoulder battling Republican redistricting plans that they say “stacks and packs” black voters into majority-minority districts, thus assuring GOP domination in both houses of the NC General Assembly for at least the next decade.
“Instead of trying to amass a district or districts that are going to put you into power for the next decade, we ought to try to be more fair and more competitive,” State Rep. H. M. Mickey Michaux [D-Durham] angrily said during debate Tuesday, adding that the Republican plans were “unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.”
Rep. Joe Hackney [D-Orange], House Minority leader, joined Michaux in blasting the GOP.
“This bill moves us backward in social progress, in racial progress, in North Carolina, and I think you’re doing that for partisan political purposes,” Hackney said. “And I think you know exactly what you’re doing, and I think you know exactly why you’re doing it, and I think it’s reprehensible.”
The Republican redistricting maps for the House, Senate and Congress all passed despite Democratic lobbying, thanks to the GOP’s majorities in both state houses.
That was not the case in the state House when Republicans tried to override Gov. Perdue’s veto of their voter ID law. Despite their majority, the GOP wasn’t able to attract the 72 votes needed. But they strategically kept the bill alive to try again.
Critics have called voter ID legislation an attempt to suppress the Democratic-leaning black and Hispanic votes before the 2012 elections.
For African-Americans nationally, a startling report from the Pew Research Center documenting US Census data showing how the wealth gap between whites and blacks has widened to “an historic high,” writes the Washington Post, with whites holding a net worth 20 times larger than that of African-Americans.
Since 2005, while the median net worth of whites has declined only 16 percent because of the recession which officially ended in 2009, blacks were hard hit with a 54 percent decline.
Black families fell from a median net worth of $12,124, to a shocking $5,677.
In contrast, white families only dropped to $113,149 from a high of $134,992.
It’s the biggest decline since 1984, when data was first collected.
Pew researchers say the housing bubble burst during the recession forced many blacks to lose their homes, their main wealth asset. Indeed, housing equity accounts for 59 percent of African-American net worth, in contrast to just 44 percent for whites, who are more likely to diversify their net worth with stocks and bonds.
Ironically, the wealth gap between whites and blacks has exploded, while the income gap has decidedly narrowed, researchers say.
That sobering news didn’t go down any better with the new reports showing that the rich in America, despite hard economic times are getting richer at the expense of the poor. According to the Washington Post, in 2008, “…the wealthiest 10 percent earned almost the same amount as the rest of the country combined.” Their wealth rose to 56 percent form 49 percent.
Even within the African-American community, the gap between the richest and poorest blacks widened, the report said.
Meanwhile, because of a tough, prolonged economy and severe dearth of jobs, the president’s support among African-Americans has taken a sharp tumble. After his historic election in 2008, Obama’s black support was well over 90 percent. But because many are questioning his economic policies’ failure to create more jobs, what was 77 percent black support last October, is now “…just over half of those surveyed,” according to the least Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Obama’s problems aren’t softened at all by the continuing wrangling with House Republicans over meeting the August 2 deadline next week to raise the federal debt ceiling to avert economic default. Because of the House Republican Tea Party faction’s recalcitrance in agreeing to any deal with Obama and the Democrats that also increases tax revenues while cutting trillions from the federal budget, the standoff is seen as another partisan tactic to hurt the black president politically before the 2012 re-election campaign.
But Tea Party members aren’t the only people dissatisfied with the president’s performance. White liberals in the Democratic Party, fuming because Obama is willing to sacrifice cutting entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security to appease his GOP adversaries, want him challenged in a primary.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, nonetheless gave voice to the frustration of many progressives when he told the Los Angeles Times, “ I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”
Indeed the Washington Post - ABC New Poll showed liberal support for Pres. Obama’s economic policies, once at 53 percent, have plunged another 22 percent. As Obama ramps up for the 2012 elections, he had a lot to overcome even within his own base, if he is to be victorious.
If that’s not bad enough, Pew researchers had even more bad new for the president. According to their polls, the Republican Party is making big gains among young whites, and the poor.
Among whites, the GOP now has a 13-point lead over Democrats, as opposed to just a 2-point edge in 2008. Democrats once had a seven-point lead among whites below age 30 in 2008. Today, the Republicans have an 11-point edge in that same demographic.
And even among whites earning less than $30,000 annually, the GOP leads by four points. Democrats once owned that group by a whopping 15 percentage points.
WILL VENITA PEYTON CHALLENGE SUTTON FOR DISTRICT 4?
By Cash Michaels
Though there have been rumors, thus far, only incumbent District 4 Wake School Board member Keith Sutton has filed to run to represent Southeast Raleigh in the October elections. Though the names of at least two community activists have been bandied about to challenge Sutton, an incumbent who was appointed by the board in 2009, thus far none have emerged. Doing so would be difficult, given the thousands in campaign funding that would have to be raised, and tremendous dedication in time and energy required just to run between now an October.
Sutton, a black Democrat, has a strong headstart in organization and fundraising, plus the backing of the Wake County Democratic Party, even though the school board race is officially nonpartisan.
But there is one intriguing possibility that political observers are watching, and her name is Venita Peyton.
What’s so intriguing about Peyton? She’s a former Democrat turned black conservative Republican who has expressed undying support for the Republican-majority on the Wake School Board, and has bashed Wake’s previous socioeconomic diversity policy on her blog, “Outside the Box.”
There’s no question that if the Wake County Republican Party, which is backing incumbent Ron Margiotta in District 8; Heather Losurdo in District 3 and Cynthia Matson in District 5, wanted to put an exclamation point on its mission to have a super-majority on the school board, then defeating the board’s only African-American with a black Republican would definitely do the trick.
All Peyton, Southeast Raleigh’s most visible and vocal black Republican, would have to do is say the word, and file for office before August 12th, and the race is on. And unlike Sutton, who has never run for public office before despite working on many political campaigns in the past, Peyton is well experienced in asking folks to elect her.
On several occasions, however, they never did.
Peyton, a Virginia native, has unsuccessfully run for Raleigh mayor, Raleigh City Council, state House District 33, and Wake County commissioner since the late 1980’s. In the past, she has garnered the support of conservative groups like Called2Action, WakeCares and the NC Education Forum.
The July 17 entry on her blog titled “Raleigh NC 2011: Where Political Parties Fail,” shows that Peyton is still very much interested in local politics. Based on her past experience of several unsuccessful campaigns, Peyton gives an insightful tutorial to would-be and wannabe candidates on what to consider before making the important, life-changing announcement.
“We admonish people to vote without realizing that many don't vote because of the candidates,” she writes. “They view that no matter who wins, that their lives won't change. Sometimes the nonvoters have been right.”
Why would Peyton fit right in with Chairman Margiotta and the GOP school board majority? For starters, she apparently can’t stand Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP. Barber, because of his tough opposition to the GOP’s neighborhood schools policy and NAACP federal bias complaint against the Wake School Board, is consider public enemy #1 by the Republican majority.
“It’s obvious now. NC NAACP Pres. William Barber is not concerned with the children in the Wake County Public School System,” Peyton wrote in a factually erroneous diatribe on her blog June 19.
“He constantly proclaims problems with reassignment, yet has not offered any data to support his theory of re-segregation,” Peyton continued, ignoring the numerous reports warning about the prospect of more under-resourced high poverty schools under a neighborhood schools policy.
Peyton later added, “Is William Barber’s agenda about advancing minorities, the NCNAACP or just William Barber?”
Other blog entries that solidify Peyton’s conservative credential include, “What Liberals Won’t Say About Education”; “Baby/Voter ID in Raleigh (Peyton supports Voter ID)”; and “Tata Won’t be Whipping Boy in Raleigh NC,” where Peyton expressed her unbridled support for Wake Supt. Anthony Tata.
Peyton’s occupation is listed as a real estate broker and owner of Greater Raleigh Real Estate Inc.. She is also the former chairwoman of the east Raleigh Citizens Advisory Council.
Peyton has a BS in public administration from Shaw University, and a Master’s Degree in public administration from NC State University.
Interestingly, as part of her 2008 bio when she ran for Wake County commissioner, Peyton said one way she would change government would be to “…seek legislation allowing county school boards to be appointed rather than elected,” though she didn’t specify what body or public official would do the appointing.
She may not hold that same belief now, given that the Republicans currently have the majority on the Wake School Board.
NC Board of Elections records show her address in the Southeast Raleigh 27610 zip code. Observers say if Peyton runs at all, she might wait until the very last day, August 12, to file.
The Carolinian emailed Venita Peyton Tuesday via her blogsite requesting an interview. She had not responded by press time.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
COUPLE ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH MURDERING, DISMEMBERING MOTHER
Raleigh police have arrested and charged a couple with the murder of a mother of two who was allegedly killed and dismembered in Wake County, and whose body parts were placed in coolers and transported in a rented U-Haul and dumped in a creek near Houston, Texas. Grant Ruffin Hayes, 32, and his wife, Amanda, 39, were arrested in Kinston and charged with the murder of Laura Jean Ackerson, 27. Authorities believe Ackerson was murdered because of a bitter custody battle over the two children she and ex-boyfriend Grant Hayes had.
SHAW UNIVERSITY AWARDED ALMOST $50,000 IN DONATIONS
After a tumultuous end to the spring semester, Shaw University is starting the new school year off on a high note. On Wednesday the historically black university in Raleigh received to substantial donations, one for $24,700 for scholarships from Mack Sowell Jr., the other for $25,000 for tornado disaster recovery from the West Raleigh Rotary Club. Shaw officials say recovery efforts since a tornado tore through the campus last April have been going well, and classes are expected to start for the fall semester on time.
CANDIDATE FILINGS BEGIN FOR SCHOOL BOARD, CITY COUNCIL RACES
From now until Aug. 12th, candidates for the Wake County School Board, Raleigh City Council and other races are filing for office. On Monday, the first day of filing, District 4 school board member Keith Sutton joined his District 3 colleague Kevin Hill signed up to run in the Oct. 11th elections. Also filing, District 8 candidates incumbent Ron Margiotta, and challenger Susan Evans. In District 5, Jim Martin and Cynthia Matson; and in District 6, Christine Kushner and George Morgan. Heather Losurdo filed for District 3 to oppose Hill on Tuesday.
For Raleigh City Council, Nancy McFarlane filed for mayor, Russ Stephenson for re-election to at-large, and District C’s Eugene Weeks also filed. Weeks will see opposition from Lent Carr.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
NORTH CAROLINIANS WORRIED ABOUT DEBT CEILING FAILURE
[WASH., D.C.] After President Obama urged Americans Monday night to call their members of Congress and lobby for a resolution to the partisan standoff over raising the federal debt ceiling by August 2, the phones rang off the hook at the offices of North Carolina Republicans representatives Renee Elmers, Walter Jones and Sue Myrick. Thousands of emails also crashed congressional websites. Constituents are angered that GOP Tea Party members of Congress like Elmers are vowing not to raise the federal debt ceiling unless Pres. Obama agrees to trillions in budget cuts with tax increases.
LULA CRENSHAW, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST, DIES
[FAYETTEVILLE] Long time Fayetteville civil rights activist Lula Crenshaw died early Wednesday morning, according to published reports. Ms. Crenshaw was the past president of the Cumberland County Democratic Party, and helped lead the fight to establish a park in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Blue Street. Hse is remembered as someone always willing to help others.
JUDGE CLEARS WAY FOR MACON COUNTY SCHOOLS TO OPEN AUG. 4
[RALEIGH] An administrative law judge ruled this week that the Macon County Public School System can start the school year early on August 4. Judge Joe Webster granted the system a waiver from the North Carolina law mandating a 10-week summer vacation because it wanted to start a weekend reading program three-weeks early. Doing so allows Macon County Schools to schedule weeklong remedial reading programs later in the school year. On Monday, Ashe, Avery and Madison county school systems also start early. Most of North Carolina’s 115 school districts start their year on August 25.
NC UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR JUNE RISES TO 9.9 PERCENT
[GREENVILLE] As goes the nation, so goes North Carolina when it comes to an ever-rising unemployment rate. The state jobless figures jumped to 9.9 percent in June from May’s 9.7 percent, according the NC Employment Security Commission. Part of that is due to state and local government layoffs in June. Employers in the private sector, afraid of economic uncertainty, are also proving to be reluctant to hire, officials say.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
HONORING MS. MURRAY - If there is one person, apart from my own family, that I simply love and adore without question, it has to be Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray, who has been a stalwart of our community for virtually half a century. Ms. Murray is still going strong with her Vital Link is Crosslink schools, community volunteerism, and her weekly community affairs radio program, “ Traces of Faces and Places” heard every Saturday morning from 9-a.m. until 11 a.m. on WSHA-88.9 FM.
That’s why on Saturday, August 6th, the community will come together to honor Ms. Murray, and her invaluable half century of work in this community, during her 80th Birthday Gala and Community Appreciation Banquet, The Grand Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention & Civic Center, 6 p.m. in Downtown Raleigh. Renowned jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal will provide the evening’s entertainment, and proceeds go to help Ms. Murray’s nonprofit culinary school. For more information, contact Bruce Lightner at 919-833-1676.
THE PRESIDENT’S PROBLEM - As this is being written Tuesday of this week, President Barack Obama is walking a political tightrope that could cost him his presidency.
And it’s just what the Republican Party wants.
With less than a week to go, the possibility of the United States government defaulting on its bills, because Tea Party members of the GOP majority in the US House won’t allow the federal debt ceiling to be raised, is very real.
Their “reasoning” (if you want to call it that)? Runaway government spending has to stop once and for all, they say. Tea Party candidates were elected to Congress last November with that expressed mission, in addition to doing all they could to stop President Obama’s so-called “socialist” agenda.
So to make sure they got EVERYBODY’s attention, the Tea Party in Congress pulls this stunt - threatening NOT to raise the debt ceiling unless they get their way on cutting trillions from the federal budget without raising any additional revenue.
And just why are they acting this way? Because, according to the Tea Party and their minions, Obama is not only a socialist, but a terrorist sympathizer, as far as they’re.
In short, he is NOT an “American,” however they define that.
So that’s what’s driving this willingness to kick our nation’s economy off the cliff deliberately, provoking credit agencies and bond markets to downgrade our nation’s AAA rating.
Here’s the problem with this Tea Party cowboy attitude - it’s as phony as a three-dollar bill.
If Pres. Obama is a “socialist” - meaning expecting government to do everything for everybody - then so is every Tea Party member on Medicare and Medicaid, government-run programs. And while it’s true that Medicare must be restructured in order to be sustained for future generations, that does not mean it should be ended just because a crazy group of Paul Revere-wannabes says so.
Truth be told, Obama has been telling the truth (those these folks have been calling him liar). Runaway spending saw the light of day in recent years during George Bush’s eight tumultuous years - two wars, Medicare B prescription drug law and the Bush tax cuts - all established on borrowed money.
Truth be told, in the eight years that Dubya was in office, and his tax cuts were in force, the American economy produced a scant 3 million jobs (per the Wall Street Journal - http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/01/09/bush-on-jobs-the-worst-track-record-on-record/). And many of those were federal government jobs.
Even in a struggling economy, Obama has created and/or saved at least 2 million jobs since he took office in 2009.
Truth be told, the only reason why Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package hasn’t had more positive impact on the US economy is because, according to most economists, it wasn’t big enough to do the job (a third of it was just tax cuts).
But imagine what the Tea Party howls would be like if that package was bigger.
And, of course, the Tea Party folks despise Obama’s health care reform law, which they see as more runaway spending that must be stopped.
While I don’t agree with them in anyway, I do believe (and I’ve said this before) that the president’s biggest mistake thus far has been pushing health care reform while most Americans were still struggling with a falling economy. In my opinion, he needed to put greater focus on growing jobs and fixing the economy, all the while passing incremental changes to healthcare.
Obama’s mission on health care cost him Congress in the November 2010 midterms, I believe, and look what’s come of that now. I know many will disagree with me, but I’m convinced that if the president stayed with rebuilding the economy, he would still have a Democratic majority in the US House.
I think he also underestimated just how cold and calculating the Tea Party and GOP would be.
So Pres. Barack Obama has to some way save the nation in the face of right-wing intransigence. And he has to do so in a way that restores that “hope” he campaigned on. With his re-election just over a year from now, Obama can expect his enemies on the right to risk everything to destroy him. They’ve already pulled out the playbook on voter ID and other voter suppression methods, so it is definitely “all hands on deck” when it comes to the GOP mission to stop Barack Obama.
Then add insult to injury - the president’s base is none to happy with his willingness to deal away federal entitlements, and wanting to find peace with the Republicans, knowing that none is possible.
A Washington Post - ABC News poll this week found deep fissures in the president’s base of Democratic support. Liberals and blacks - the party’s most loyal voters - have softened considerably when it comes to approving of Pres. Obama’s leadership.
That’s not good. When 2012 rolls around, those base supporters will stay home if they are that dissatisfied with the president.
Obama’s only way out, besides standing strong against the Tea Party, is getting this economy back on track so that the private sector jobs can start flowing again. That is going to be an impossible task between now and November 2012, but Obama is tough enough to meet the challenge.
Obviously whether he wins or loses has a lot to do not only with where the country is economically, but which Republican he faces for re-election, and how much the GOP-led Congress ties his hands legislatively so that he can’t claim any election year victories.
So Pres. Obama has some real trouble and challenges on his hands.
As we black folk always say when a “brotha” is fighting as hard as he can, “Pray for him!”
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.