Tuesday, October 25, 2011


by Cash Michaels
An analysis

            According to John Tedesco’s “Basic Information” on his Facebook page, the District 2 Wake School Board member touts himself as being “widely recognized for his leadership and accomplishments as a public servant…,” although he’s only been in elected office just short of two years, and was once “borough administrator” of a small town in New Jersey for the same period of time.
            On that same page, the Republican-led board vice chair says he’s a “Garner family man…,” though he isn’t married (Tedesco’s reportedly engaged) and has no known children. Indeed, Tedesco fancies himself on the page as a “true champion of children” and also having a “…unique background and expertise on educational issues [that] has earned him national recognition.”
            Apparently Tedesco is hailing his many “anti-liberal” speeches across the state at right-wing Tea Party rallies, trumpeting his role in helping to dismantle Wake Public School System’s once nationally recognized socioeconomic student diversity policy in favor of racially identifiable neighborhood schools, an action US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, during a visit to Raleigh this week, said he “[didn’t]…think [was] in the best interests of children or the community” because of the prospect of creating black and Hispanic high poverty, scarcely resourced and very expensive low-performing schools, as in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and elsewhere.
            Last January, in a Washington Post letter to the editor, Sec. Duncan called the Tedesco-backed policy change “troubling.”
             The “national recognition” Tedesco was definitely not referring to was also last January, when satirist Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central blistered the young conservative, not only by name, but with Fox News video of Tedesco justifying the Wake move to neighborhood schools.
            "Luckily,” Colbert mocked, “Tedesco is part of a group of Tea Party-backed Republican school board members who recently voted for Wake County schools to go back to the old system of separate neighborhood schools to better teach the kids the three 'R's.”
 As Colbert deadpanned, the words "Readin', 'Ritin', and Resegregatin'" then flashed on the screen.
Indeed, Tedesco proudly defends publicly accusing past Democratic Wake School Board members of “sprinkling” low-performing black children throughout the system so that they would be “hidden,” and leaders such as Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker of “institutional racism” for supporting socioeconomic student diversity in the first place.
Tedesco has been accused by fellow board members, like District 4’s Keith Sutton, of stretching the truth about the Republican-led board’s accomplishments in student achievement, taking credit for a rise in 2008 graduation rates when Tedesco didn’t even get on the board until 2009, for instance.
And black leaders are still bristling after Tedesco, who is white, in a letter to a local white pastor, said he knew more about educating black children than they did because of his many past black “ex-girlfriends.”
            Whatever the criticisms of his brash, over-the-top style that Tedesco claims have since rolled off his back, the vice chairman’s political fortunes are about to change, depending on how the Nov. 8th District 3 runoff turns out.
In the wake of the devastating Oct. 11th school board elections which saw four Democrats defeat Republicans, including Chairman Ron Margiotta, who was voted out of office after eight years, the outspoken Tedesco is just one election away of getting what his many critics say he must not have if Wake Public Schools are to turn away from the divisiveness of the past two years.
            The chairmanship.
            While partisans in the officially  nonpartisan District 3 North Raleigh runoff race between Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill and Republican-Tea Party challenger Heather Losurdo battle it out, the apparent bottomline is that if Losurdo wins, the board Republicans maintain their 5-4 majority, and Vice Chair Tedesco is favored to become chair, replacing the deposed Margiotta.
            If Hill retains his seat for a second term, however, then the Democrats on the board regain the majority they lost in 2009 when Tedesco and three other Republicans were elected to join Margiotta in an historic overhaul of student diversity.
            A diversity policy that assured that black and Latino students had access to the same quality education and instruction that their white counterparts had in the system, and saw test scores soar a decade ago as a result.
And while Democrats have gotten the message that the 3-4 percent of system busing for diversity per the previous policy is something many Wake parents are leery of if it threatens their child’s stability in school, new Democratic board members, set to be sworn-in in December, say allowing any student assignment plan, including Supt. Anthony Tata’s just approved school choice plan, to create more high poverty schools, is unacceptable.
            They believe that stability, proximity and student achievement can equally co-exist in the same plan, something that is not evident now.
            Translation - stopping Losurdo, a three -year resident who once lead the Northern Wake Republican Club and agreed with her husband that President Obama was “like a skunk,” means stopping Tedesco.
And stopping Tedesco from becoming Wake School Board chair, critics say, means preventing more high poverty schools.
            “We have already had several years of bad leadership--bad leadership that has caused our nationally recognized, award winning school system to come under the scrutiny of the Office of Civil Rights, and placed our high school accreditation in jeopardy,” Patty Williams, spokesperson for Great Schools in Wake Coalition, a nonprofit pro-diversity group, said.  “Tedesco is a political ideologue whose use of highly charged rhetoric and penchant for misusing facts (remember--he tried to justify resegregating our schools by invoking the 1954 Brown v. Board decision!) has divided our community.”
            “The recent election of three new members to the School Board was a cry for civility and common sense governance,” Williams continued. “It was a cry for a return for reasoned public engagement, thoughtful reflection, and a focus on student achievement--not merely assignment.  Tedesco as Chair takes our eyes off the prize--the 146,687 children who attend public school in Wake County.  And who could be more important than our children?”
Losurdo’s supporters have already hit the streets, and the media, warning that if Hill is re-elected, the Republican neighborhood schools policy is doomed and there will be a “return to forced busing.”
They add that Supt. Tata’s school choice plan will be changed, and Tata himself will be shown the door, something that not one Democrat has ever uttered.
            No less than Tedesco himself, trying to directly link Hill with NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, a diversity advocate who has legally challenged the board, has been leading the scare tactics.
            “Hill and the winning Democratic school board candidates have talked about doing more to promote diversity in the new assignment plan"- and his allie (sic) Rev. Barber is calling for us to stop until we see if his buddy Hill can win a run-off on Nov. 8th so they can tinker with the new plan,” Tedesco posted on his Facebook page Oct. 17, the eve of the Wake School Board passing Tata’s plan 6-2, with both Hill and fellow Democrat Keith Sutton of District 4, voting to oppose.
            Hill has made clear that he supports the school choice plan, but voted against it because he felt key questions had not been answered or adequately addressed per assuring that all that could be done to prevent the creation of more low-performing, high poverty schools, was being done.
            If Hill isn’t reelected, supporters say, a Chairman Tedesco-led Wake School Board, will never address them.
            “If this new assignment plan has any hope of succeeding, the details must be worked out and shared with the public,” says Yevonne Brannon, chair of Great Schools in Wake Coalition. “Successful implementation of any new plan will require conscientious board members who are not afraid to ask tough questions that uncover the "devil in the details" and who will not lose sight of student achievement.”
            Wake Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul, credited with steering the Democratic school board victories, wrote followers earlier this week in an email message titled, “Chairman Tedesco,” Recall that it was John Tedesco who vowed at a Tea Party rally to, “keep bringing conservative values to education.”  He declared that “We stand on the forefront of a new American Revolution … and I think it’s fitting that that revolution, again in 2011, begin with a tea party!”
            Chairman Paul continued,” Stephen Colbert best captured Mr. Tedesco’s vision for Wake County:  “take a successful school system, concentrate the poorest children into a handful of schools, and then allocate extra resources to address the problem created by this approach.”  In other words, he believes that only by breaking the school system can we fix it.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said it’s crucial for the voters of District 3 on Nov. 8th to “make their choice.”
            “I think they’re going to make the right choice,” Meeker told the Power 750 WAUG-AM radio program “Make It Happen” last week. “We can move forward as a community together, or we can get back to these partisan agendas, and have someone like John Tedesco be the chair.”
            “I think it’s a pretty clear choice,” Meeker concluded, referring to fellow Democrat Kevin Hill, “ and I think the people of District 3 will make the right choice.”


            At least six children and one adult have tested positive for E. coli infection in Wake County, and state health officials are trying to determine if there are any more cases. Two children are still in intensive care, while two others have been released from the hospital, Renee McCoy, spokesperson for the state Division of Public Health, says. E. coli is a potentially lethal bacterial food infection caused by animal feces, and it can be spread. Officials are trying to determine if all seven cases in Wake are linked.

            More bad news for NC State Wolfpack fans. When it comes to graduating its student athletes, N.C. State University ranks last in the 12-member Atlantic Coast Conference to do so, according to a new report released this week by the NCAA. Based on a six-year measurement of all of its member institutions, Duke University and Boston College top the ACC graduation list with 97 percent of its athletes walking the state, while NC State mustered only 74 percent. Even worse, NC State’s federal government graduation rate is just 54 percent, the worst in the ACC as well. NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow says the school must improve, and it will.

            A former cadet at the state Highway Patrol training academy in Raleigh is suing two of the trainers there for allegedly being responsible for “serious” injuries she says she suffered, and then allegedly demeaning her with curse words instead of getting her medical attention. In an Oct. 12 civil complaint, former cadet Jennifer Martin, now private police officer in Franklin County, alleges the 2008 incident resulted in a broken thighbone. She’s seeking a jury trial and more than $30,000 in damages. The state Highway Patrol hd no comment on the lawsuit.


     FIRST BLACK MARINES HONORED: This week, Congress honored the first black US Marines who trained at Montford Point, NC, as seen in this April 1943 photo. Read more in the State News Briefs [US Library of Congress photo]

            [WASHINGTON, D.C.] Nearly 70 years ago, the first black Marines began training at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina because they were not allowed access on the all-white Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Marines for serving with distinction during World War II while enduring injustice at home. US. Rep. Brad Miller [D-NC-13] said in combat, “They came under intense fire and showed great courage, winning the praise of skeptical white officers.” Congressman G. K. Butterfield [D-NC-1] said, “It is only fitting that we also recognize the more than 19,000 African Americans that enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during a time when they themselves did not have the freedoms they fought to protect for the nation.  This bill recognizes the Montford Marines’ significant sacrifices, patriotism and invaluable contribution to American history. “The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to a civilian or groups of civilians as the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

            [LOUISBURG] Former Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green was indicted this week by a grand jury for two felony counts of embezzling a total of $200,000. If convicted, Green faces over 40 years in prison. Green, first elected in 2006 and reelected last November, left office “for health reasons” last January. He allegedly took over $200,000 in county money designated for a federal drug probe for his own personal use. A search warrant in the case indicates that Green admitted his alleged crime to investigators.

            [DURHAM] The state NAACP this week sent letters to elected officials expressing its concern more black judges have not been appointed to the state’s federal district courts, and that victims of North Carolina’s decades of forced sterilizations should not only be compensated generously, but as soon as possible by the state.
            In an Oct. 25 letter to US senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP called on them to address, “to address the embarrassing and pernicious history of African-American appointments to North Carolina's Federal District Courts…,” and, “demand they nominate an African American to serve as a federal District Court Judge in the Eastern District, where roughly half of the state's African American population resides and where every county with a majority African American population is located, as well as ensure equity in future appointments across the state.” Currently, there is only one black federal district judge in the state, and he’s slated to step down in two years.
            In an Oct. 24th letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue, Speaker Thom Tillis, and state Sen. Floyd McKissick, chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, Rev. Barber urged not only that state leaders “quickly move forward in authorizing compensation to individual [eugenics] victims as soon as possible,” but also, that the victims, “…be compensated at the highest amount that our moral conscience and justice demands.” Barber added that the state should identify more victims of the estimated over 3,000 surviving, and move the compensation process forward, “immediately with the goal of having the payments made by the end of the year.” The state’s Eugenics Task Force, which Gov. Perdue appointed, backs compensation, as does the governor, Speaker Tillis and the Legislative Black Caucus. Perdue has not made a final recommendation, however, as to how much per victim. The General Assembly may take up the matter next year.


                                 [photo courtesy Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker]

                                 MOST BLACKS SIT OUT "OCCUPY" MOVEMENT

By Cash Michaels

            THE TRAGEDY OF GADDAFI - Well, they finally buried what’s left of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.
            No, we’re not making light of this. Actually it’s as tragic as it gets. A military tyrant who ruled with an iron fist in an oil rich African nation, guilty of torturing thousands upon thousands of his own people, and even guilty of sponsoring terrorism that claimed the lives of American citizens.
            Oh, make no mistake, there are those, even in this country, who defended Gaddafi as a visionary leader who provided for his people. And indeed, the Libya government did provide amazing services to its populace.
            But that didn’t justify having government snipers on building rooftops firing on unarmed demonstrators a few months ago, just because the people decided they had had enough of Gaddafi’s 40-year rule.
            So the Libyan people rose up, a civil war broke out, the United States and NATO forces began bombing Gaddafi’s forces to allow the outgunned rebels a chance to take over their country.
            And when the smoke cleared, Gaddafi was a fugitive in his own land.
            That is, until they caught him in hiding last week, dragged him out, beat and tortured him mercilessly, and then, kill him.
            The pictures and video have been brutal. Gaddafi, once a powerful, boastful, flashy ruler who once wanted drooled relentlessly after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (he invited her to his private tent, but she refused) was a pathetic, bloody, defeated figure of a man when his own people finally caught up with him.
            After storing his decaying body in a shopping center freezer for a few days, they finally buried Gaddafi somewhere in the Sahara with a modest ceremony.
            Iraq’s Saddam Hussein met a similar fate after his people hung him.
            Former president of Egypt got chased out.
            And we all know what happened to Osama bin Laden.
            So in the era of Barack Obama, it just doesn’t pay to be a Middle Eastern/African dictator or terrorist, does it?
            It just goes to show that when you act like a tyrant, and think that power is yours forever, GOD has other plans for you.
            Did you hear me, Republicans? Pay attention, now!
            HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - At long last, our brave men and women serving in Iraq are coming home by the end of this year, as promised.
            President Obama made the dramatic announcement last week, paying tribute to the unselfish valor, courage and sacrifice of those who served. The fact that the Bush Administration sent tens of thousands of fighting forces to Iraq for little just cause has no baring on how proud we are that whatever job they’re given, they do with pride.
            Our military men deserve to be home. Over 4,000 were killed in Iraq, thousands more injured. And an untold tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis were killed as well.
            The job is done now. The Iraqi government has made it clear that they don’t need us anymore. So send our sons and daughters back to where they belong.
            Here. Home.
            And we certainly agree with the president. When they come back, we should have jobs ready and waiting for them. Sure our economy is in the pits, and good jobs are hard to come by.
            But our returning military have put their collective buts on the line to defend this nation when called, without question. To bring them home, only to have them struggle to feed their families, would be an absolute disgrace.
            The president wants to fix that. The Republicans, apparently, want to play games with even this, just so that he doesn’t “get the credit.”
            That’s how dirty and cynical our government has become. That’s why average citizens are “occupying” Wall Street, Raleigh, Charlotte, San Francisco, and at least 80 other cities across the nation and around the world.
            Fighting to make sure that our returning military men and women are gainfully employed is the right thing to do, and all of us should fight to make sure it happens.
            What do you say?
            SHADY CAIN - The more I see GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, the more I see a shady con man who really has no intention of being president, but does have every intention of making such a big splash on the national political scene that someone will want to hire him to be their TV star.
            Fox News, for example.
            A lot of people outside of Atlanta don’t realize that besides being a former pizza company executive, Cain was a right-wing radio talk show host on WSB-AM until February of this year. So the black darling of the Tea Party nation already knows how the game is played. He just wants a bigger stage, and bigger bank account on which to play it.
            Why be so hard on Herman Cain? Shouldn’t we all be proud that a black Republican is leading the pack of GOP presidential pack? Normally, yes. It would truly be historic if a black Republican nominee could challenge a black Democratic president.
            But I think African-Americans, at least, would want someone who doesn’t fumble with every other question he gets from the press. We would want someone whose economic plan is transparent enough that it makes sense to the average person (beyond its name “9-9-9”).
            And most importantly, we would want someone who doesn’t play convenient “supremacy” games with his own community. Calling black people “brainwashed” just because we voted for Barack Obama in 2008, is not the way to win support for your own penny-a-pound-joke-for-a-presidential campaign.
            But it IS a way to send a message to white Tea Party supporters that you’re more than willing to criticize even your own publicly if it ultimately gets you what you want.
            That’s the definition of a sad sellout. Almost every time a black Republican opens his or her mouth, we see this “sellout” syndrome.
            It’s a disgrace, and that’s why so many of us look at Herman “Shady” Cain with dismay.
            Trust me, he better enjoy the ride. Cause his train is about to come to it’s last stop!
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. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

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