COMMUNITY COMMITS TO SAVE YWCA
By Cash Michaels
If there was any doubt as to Southeast Raleigh’s commitment to help resurrect the recently closed E. Hargett Street YWCA, all one had to do was attend Monday’s night’s packed meeting at Martin Street Baptist Church.
Still stunned by the abrupt shuttering of the 110-year-old institution last week, civic and elected leaders, joined by community activists and concerned citizens, gathered in hopes of not only garnering more information about how and why the closure took place, but also, what was being done to reopen the 554 East Hargett Street facility; continue its vital programs for community elders and youth; and how to compensate the Y’s employees who were dismissed, without pay, with less than 24-hours notice.
Already pledges are being made to assist that effort. Still, the displaced workers say they want answers from the Y management and board of directors.
One of the workers, Crystal Hayes, director of the Y’s Racial Justice Initiative, called the Y’s board members “cowards” for their , “…criminal decision to shut us down.”
“You hired us for our expertise in doing social justice work,” Hayes angrily said. “But be clear about something, we are taking names and making a list, so the very people you hired to do this work, we’re not going to forget this, and we’re not going to be quiet about this, and we’re not going to be silent about this.”
Hayes added that, “there was a way to do this with dignity and grace, and you (the board) failed miserably.”
Area institutions, like Martin Street Baptist Church, have joined together to take up the slack in many of the programs and services that were formerly offered by the Y.
District C City Councilman Eugene Weeks said that the city of Raleigh will look into what it can do to assist in maintaining some of the services.
Wake School Board Vice Chair Keith Sutton, who also represents District 4 where the Y is located, said that several schools will provide after-school services to those students who were enrolled at the Y.
The Hargett Street Y, part of the national YWCA USA organization based out of Washington, D.C., was, according to its mission statement, “dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people…,” was a major center of survival and enrichment services in Southeast Raleigh, if not the city of Raleigh itself.
It offered hundreds of older citizens and young people a variety of fitness, nutrition, health, mentoring, job training and cultural/academic/community enrichment programs which promoted the diversity that the Young Women’s Christian Association had historically become known for.
It also promoted various community forums and efforts dealing with health and education.
Because the Y was nonprofit, all of its services were dependent on grants, donations and funding from the United Way.
Sources have confirmed to The Carolinian that the YWCA Greater Triangle, as the East Hargett Street Y was formerly known, was indeed in dire debt, so much so that the board’s attorney advised that the facility be immediately shutdown, and employees laid off February 29, because there was no money to pay them.
To continue to operate, knowing that Y employees couldn’t be paid, would have opened the board up to charges of criminal negligence, sources say, which is why the shutdown was so abrupt.
But if published reports are correct, the Y board had known since last October how much trouble it was in. Several employees had been laid off and services trimmed. Grants and other funding that had been applied for, did not materialize.
Why didn’t the Y board, knowing weeks, if not months ago what the possibilities were, devise a plan to deal with the evitable, instead of allowing the situation devolve to the breaking point of suddenly, without warning to any of the many senior citizens or young people served by the Y’s programs, shutting down?
Since the shutdown, The Carolinian has tried to reach Y Executive Director Folami Bandele and Chairwoman Maria Spaulding for comment, with no response by press time.
On her Facebook page, Ms. Bandele, who public records show worked an average 52 hours per week at the Y, expressed thanks to her friends for their support during the difficult aftermath.
On March 6, the day after the community meeting at Martin Street where she was among those Y officials being criticized, Ms. Bandele wrote, “Sad today as the shock gives way to grief. Please continue to hold me in your prayers and pray for restoration of all that has been broken and for healing and reconciliation among all who have been impacted so that we may move forward in peace and harmony and in service to our community.”
But hours later, Ms. Bandele, apparently angered after hearing some of what went on at the meeting, wrote, “Continually amazed by the flagrant self-promotion, opportunism, outrageous lies and over blown sense of indignation. Is there no shame? SMH (scratching my head). Trying to hold on to my faith in God and not in people.”
Bandele’s last post was, “Just thinking: If we all have the same goal, then why can't we find common ground and work together? And if we can't work together, then do we really have the same goal?”
Public records show that the Y, which operated for over 110 years in Raleigh, has been losing money for years. For fiscal year 2010, the last records available publicly, total revenue raised from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 was $840,865.
Expenses for that same period, however, were $1,684,933, virtually twice a much as revenue raised. Revenues declined approximately $250,000 between 2009 and 2010, records also show. Net assets dropped from $3.2 million to $2.35 million.
The bleeding, records show, has been going on for some time.
Immediately prior to Monday night’s meeting, members of the YWCA Board, led by board Chairwoman Maria Spaulding, met with several community leaders, including Rev. Earl Johnson, president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and pastor of Martin Street Baptist Church, at the church for an hour.
A Carolinian reporter, unaware of the gathering beforehand, walked in on the last few minutes of discussion and taped part of it.
Concerns were being raised that the community would not be allowed to access the East Hargett Street address because of legal concerns. Spaulding said it was a “major nightmare for us and a major liability” when board members saw on TV that a Sunday evening vigil that was planned for outside of the building, ended up as a meeting inside.
The building entrance was padlocked afterward the Sunday meeting, thus preventing any further access to the facility. The immediate problem was that a community meeting had been announced for the Y for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Hargett Street location, and people were already arriving there to find the building locked.
Rev. Johnson agreed to go over and have that meeting moved to Martin Street Baptist for the evening.
And as for what happens next, Maria Spaulding told community leaders, “The next step is to have a community leadership meeting…where we can talk about the needs, and what the priorities are, and then for you to talk about what kind of proposals you have in terms of the continued services of the Y.”
That meeting was supposed to take place soon, if not this week, further conversation indicated.
Another unidentified board member sitting with Ms. Spaulding at the table, expressed “… the gratitude for your support and willingness to help us continue to work through the challenges.”
When told by community leader Yvonne Lewis-Holly that the outpouring they’re seeing is because, “…we’ve got to stop this bleeding of services” in Southeast Raleigh, Ms. Spaulding replied, “ But we also have to find a way to financially support those [services].”
[CAN WE DO A TWO-COLUMN SHADED BOX WITH A PICTURE OF THE Y EMPLOYEES INSIDE ABOVE THE TITLE (OR BELOW) THE TITLE]
LETTER FROM THE FORMER YWCA OF GREATER TRIANGLE EMPLOYEES TO YWCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
MARCH 2, 2012
We, the undersigned former staff of the YWCA, write to you with heavy hearts, righteous anger, and a call to action.
The manner in which you terminated programs and staff was unconscionable, incompetent, cruel, disrespectful and unjust.
You gave one day’s notice to our community’s elders in the Golden Oaks program, the after school families, pregnant and parenting teens, Healthy Beginning moms, interns, volunteers, and staff. You did not consult program participants or staff. You have no idea what mayhem and heartache you caused. You committed an act of emotional and psychological violence against the very community we all promised to honor and serve.
You left many seniors without their one reliable hot meal for the day. You robbed them of their daily inspiration and camaraderie. You left parents and guardians scrambling to find childcare for their young ones. You shamed the legacy and name of the YWCA, planted seeds of doubt and suspicion, and pulled the rug out from under thousands of community members.
You forgot that this YWCA really belongs to the members and is accountable to the community, particularly in Southeast Raleigh.
This is what we ask of you, for now:
ς Save our programs. ς Save our jobs. ς Pay us what you owe us. ς No matter what, the YWCA building must be saved and used for the good of the Southeast Raleigh community. ς Immediately find a space in Southeast Raleigh for the elders to meet every day. Make sure they get free transportation and a hot, healthy meal. Apologize to them. ς Find space for the children in the after-school programs. Find transportation for them. Find donated snacks for them. Apologize to them and their families. ς Find programs for pregnant and parenting teens in Wake County and women of color at risk for low-birth weight and infant mortality. Deliver donated goods to them. Apologize to them. ς Apologize to the community for your fiscal and ethical negligence. Make amends. ς Pay your debts starting with staff salaries.
ς Participate in high-quality training about serving on a non-profit Board of Directors, particularly on fiduciary responsibilities and management and fund development. ς Get high-quality training on equity and anti-oppression. ς Take responsibility. Help the community fix this.
We respect you as individuals and honor your humanity, but we’re deeply hurt and disgusted by your behavior.
We ask you to take responsibility and accountability for your decisions.
Many YWCA workers would like to have a private meeting with you very soon. With great sadness and high expectations that you will do what is right,
Omisade Burney-Scott; Bridgette Burge; Julia Dawson; Linda Davis; Sasha Gomez; Corrine Hall; Crystal Hayes; Ashley Hicks; Gerry Lewis; Katie Lowek; Olivia Mudd; Soloman Rahim; Olivia Robinson; Sophia Smith; Shelia Williams.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE ON UNC-TV
[RTP] The three leading Democratic candidates for governor will face off in an hour-long televised debate on WUNCTV Tuesday, April 17 at 8 p.m. The debate, which will be broadcast throughout the state, will feature former Congressman Bob Etheridge, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, and Orange County Rep. Bill Faison. Three lesser known Democratic candidates have not been included. More debates will be scheduled prior to the May 8 primary.
BENNETT COLLEGE PRES. MALVEAUX LEAVING MAY 6
[GREENSBORO] Saying that five years is long enough, Bennett College President Julianne Malveaux has announced that she is leaving the historically black college for women effective May 6. Malveaux, a noted columnist, pundit and author, took over the school on 2007. “Leading Bennett College has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said, in a statement. “In my five years at the college, we have embraced Bennett’s historic commitment to create an oasis where women are educated, celebrated and transformed into 21st-century leaders and global thinkers.”
REP. BUTTERFIELD MOURNS THE LOSS OF CONGRESSMAN DONALD PAYNE
[WASH., D.C.]NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield mourned the loss of his friend and colleague, NJ Rep. Donald Payne, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who died Tuesday after a long bout with colon cancer. He was 77.
“It is with deep sadness that I express my condolences to the family and staff of Congressman Donald Payne,” said Rep. Butterfield in a statement Tuesday. “Donald Payne was an effective leader who tirelessly served the people of New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, and citizens of the world, for more than twenty years. Donald was known for his unwavering commitment to equal education, human rights, and improving international relations. His influence went beyond his district lines and crossed international borders. With rare courage, he often risked his life to travel to African nations to promote social justice. Above all, Don was more than an accomplished statesman; he was my friend. I pray his extraordinary legacy will give comfort to his loved ones and all of the people whose lives he touched at home and abroad.”
-30-TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
$1.25 BUDGET PROPOSED FOR NEW WAKE SCHOOLS BUDGET
Having to compensate for a severe loss of federal funding, Wake Schools Supt. Anthony Tata proposed a $1.25 billion budget for fiscal year 2012-13. The proposal seeks $8.8 million more from the county commission, and will give teachers a 1 percent raise, and $500.00 bonus to administrative personnel. The budget must be approved by both the school board and the county commissioners. In related news, the Wake School Board approved bonus pay from federal funds for teachers at Walnut Creek Elementary School and Longview School in SE Raleigh. And approximately 75 percent of families who chose a school under Wake's new school choice plan got their first choice, Supt. Tata reports.
BARBER, SCHOOL BOARD DEMONSTRATORS PLEAD GUILTY
Over 20 of the thirty demonstrators who were arrested and charged for protesting the neighborhood schools policy of the then Republican-led Wake School Board in July 2010, pled guilty in Wake District Court last week, and were remanded to community service. Among them, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, who ironically will spend his 40-hours of community service time at the African-American Cultural Complex in Raleigh. Rev. Barber and others attended Tuesday night’s Wake School Board meeting, their first one since their arrests in 2010.
DURHAM D.A. PERMANENTLY REMOVED FROM OFFICE
After several days of testimony, suspended Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline was officially removed from office by a Superior Court judge. Cline, 48, was accused of making unsubstantiated and damaging claims against Durham Senior Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. Cline maintained that her claims against Hudson were “absolutely true.” She says she will appeal the ruling. Cline is the second DA in state history to be removed from office.
NEW DATA FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS EDUCATIONAL INEQUITIES AROUND TEACHER EXPERIENCE, DISCIPLINE AND HIGH SCHOOL RIGOR
Special to The Carolinian
Minority students across America face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school curricula, and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers, according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
In an event at Howard University attended by civil rights and education reform groups, federal education officials today released new data from a national survey of more than 72,000 schools serving 85% of the nation’s students. The self-reported data, Part II of the 2009-10 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), covers a range of issues including college and career readiness, discipline, school finance, and student retention.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the CRDC findings are a wake-up call to educators at every level and issued a broad challenge to work together to address educational inequities.
"The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves, but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change. The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that,” Duncan said.
Among the key findings are:
• African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled.
• Students learning English (ELL) were 6% of the CRDC high school enrollment, but made up 12% of students retained.
• Only 29% of high-minority high schools offered Calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest black and Hispanic enrollment.
• Teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues in teaching in low-minority schools in the same district.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali said that for the first time, this survey includes detailed discipline data, including in-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-related arrests.
“These new data categories are a powerful tool to aid schools and districts in crafting policy, and can unleash the power of research to advance reform in schools,” Ali said.
Part II of the CRDC also provides a clear, comparative picture of college and career readiness, school finance, teacher absenteeism, student harassment and bullying, student restraint and seclusion, and grade-level student retention.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
OPRAH WITH WHITNEY’S DAUGHTER - Have to give talk queen Oprah Winfrey credit. She will not allow any grass grow under her feet when it comes to getting a top-notch interview. This Sunday at 9 p.m. on Oprah’s OWN cable channel, homegirl speaks exclusively with the sister-in-law and brother of the late Whitney Houston.
Good, we’ll finally find out how they feel about Whitney’s ex-hubby, “Bad Boy” Bobby Brown.
But as an extra-added attraction, Oprah also speaks with Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina. As you know, Bobbi, 18, has reportedly been going through some tough times since her mother’s untimely death on Feb. 11th. Hopefully Oprah can get to the bottom of it all.
BAD WEEK FOR RIGHT WING - Gee, if last week were to be noted in history, it certainly has to be noted for how the right-wing agenda almost came completely off the rails.
First, Andrew Breitbart, the Tea Party faux “journalist” who enjoyed making up lies about decent people like Shirley Sherrod (remember how he edited an NAACP video to make her out to be a racist, which certainly proved false after the whole video was played), and saying nasty things about Sen. Ted Kennedy after he died of cancer.
Breitbart dropped dead at age 43 for unknown reasons, and before the ink was dry on his obituary, he was being hailed as the consummate American “hero” on Fox News and elsewhere.
There was even the suggestion that President Obama had Andy knocked off because Breitbart allegedly had some damaging videos of the president that he was about to reveal.
Kinda makes you wish Breitbart was still here so that we could all marvel at how badly edited those showstoppers are.
Meanwhile, as right-wing America was in deep, deep sorrow over the loss of one of their champions, radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh is telling tens of millions of listeners that a Georgetown University Law School student named Sandra Fluke is a “slut” and a “prostitute,” all because she wanted to testify before a Congressional committee about the right of women to have contraception.
Limbaugh just didn’t say something in the heat of political passion. For three straight days last week, he targeted this young woman with some of the most vicious, evil and blatantly untrue charges in a full-throated effort to destroy not only her credibility, but her.
Limbaugh even said that Fluke’s parents “would not be proud of her.”
To say that Limbaugh, a disgraceful political commentator and entertainer (if you call what that clown does “entertainment”) went far, far beyond the bounds of decency and reasonable political debate would be an understatement.
By all accounts, Limbaugh set out to defame and destroy that young woman, and as a result, as of presstime this week, at least thirty high-profiled advertisers (according to Keith Olbermann), and two radio stations, cut their ties with Limbaugh’s radio program, finding his remarks way too toxic for their clientele.
Geico, the insurance company with the green talking reptile (I know what you call it), issued this statement:
In 2004, GEICO instructed our affiliates not to run our ads during Rush Limbaugh’s program. This week an ad was placed incorrectly on the show.
We do not place ads on Rush’s program. We do not sponsor the show. We have repeatedly alerted our partners that our ads are never to run during his program. If this does not change rest assured that we will remove all advertising from this radio network.
Good for them, and the little green guy.
Liberal commentators are having a field day going after him, and Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are running like the plague away from the controversy.
Last Tuesday, President Obama told reporters:
"The reason that I called Ms. Fluke is I thought about [my daughters] Malia and Sasha, and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil, thoughtful way. And I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they are being good citizens. And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her.”
“We want to send a message to all our young people that being part of democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate, and we want you to be engaged and there's a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you're a private citizen."
Well said, Mr. President.
If Sandra Fluke could just wait five years and give me time to attend and graduate from law school, I would give anything to file the largest defamation of character lawsuit in the history of mankind against Rush Limbaugh. Homeboy came up with a limp and worthless “apology” last weekend to Ms. Fluke primarily because his advertisers headed for the hills, and his attorneys told him she owns him like an ex-wife owns a cheating husband.
And as a result, the controversy has backwashed onto the Republican Party, which has always seen Rush as a powerful spokesperson that they never cross.
Well, thanks to that dumb strategy, they own him now, and everything that he says.
And the GOP is not happy
Add to that that presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney is looking weaker by the moment, and it was a bad week, indeed, for the GOP.
WHY THE REACTION TO RUSH NOW? - On August 10, 2010, Rush Limbaugh called First Lady Michelle Obama, “Mooch-elle, Mooch, Mooch, Mooch-elle Obama."
On January 19, 2007, Limbaugh told his radio audience, “The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons.”
And on January 13, 2010, Limbaugh was quoted as telling millions of radio listeners regarding the Obama Administration’s response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, “They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility, with the black community, in both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.”
Reportedly, beyond those three quotes, Limbaugh has many, many other racist and sexist jokes.
But in over twenty years of broadcasting, most people paid it no mind, saying dismissively, “Oh, that’s just Rush being Rush.”
So what was different in the Sandra Fluke episode?
Easy, Limbaugh forgot one of his the rules, rules that allowed him to get away with murder on the air for years.
Rule#1 - Always say mean and nasty things about “them.”
Given Limbaugh’s predominately white, staunchly conservative audience and following, the “them” referred to means anyone who doesn’t fit the profile of Rush’s primary base of support. Namely blacks (except for conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas and Walter Williams), white liberals, “feminazis” and anybody else labeled as subversive by the Limbaugh culture.
Rule#2 - Always mix silliness with your meanness, sexism and racism.
It’s been the secret of his success for decades. Make sure that folks get such a big laugh in your over-the-top mischaracterization of “the enemy,” that the fact that you’re actually dehumanizing them isn’t really noticed.
Rule#3 - Always tell your audience that you are in a “war” to reclaim America; always twist the truth so that it resembles what your audience already believes, and really wants to hear.
Rule#4 - Always convince your audience that they are always right, and the “enemy” is always wrong.
Finally, Rule#5 - There are no rules governing what you say or do on the air, just as long as you’re fighting for what you believe is right for America.
He replaced meanness with viciousness in going after Sandra Fluke, making her not only the “enemy,” but someone who deserves the highest contempt conservatives could muster. None of what Limbaugh said was funny or cute or innocent. His highly charged sexual references about Fluke were designed to destroy, not tease.
Someone with Limbaugh’s talent and high level of success should have known that going after a non-celebrity made Fluke instantly identifiable with most young American women - Republican and Democrat.
To publicly and deliberately refer to Fluke in gutter terms, and to publicly suggest that she tape herself in lewd acts so that taxpayers can see where their money was going for health insurance, was a crucial miscalculation, because most American women were already identifying with her, and liking her.
They didn’t see the monster that Limbaugh was assuring them existed. They saw a young, educated, well-mannered student that any parent would be proud of. There was nothing threatening or unknown about Fluke.
It didn’t take long for Limbaugh’s audience to figure out that of all of the people Limbaugh has criticized relentlessly, Sandra Fluke was the least deserving of his wrath. And yet, the more they listened, the more he went after her, drawing sympathy to her cause, not Limbaugh’s.
If there was one rule Limbaugh clearly forgot, it’s be careful when you attack a woman in public. Unless she is well-known and already is seen as carrying lot of baggage, we don’t like assaults of any kind on females in our society.
Limbaugh didn’t care. He thought he was above the rules. He thought he had enough of a support base nationally to cheer him on no matter what he did or said.
Well, welcome to the real world, El Rushbo. The people seemingly have had enough. They tolerated you in the past, until they saw and felt his ugliness viciously directly towards one of their own.
Limbaugh will weather this storm. But it may be too late. He’s done too much damage not to be burned.
And burned he will be!
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.