NNPA STORIES -
PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION FOR HBCU'S
Presidential Proclamation -- , 2012:
GOP LOSES CONTROL
WITH TATA’S FIRING
By Cash Michaels
When Wake Schools Supt. Anthony Tata was fired Tuesday after 20 months by the Democrat-led Wake School Board, howling Republicans both on the board, and off, lost control in more ways than one.
“This is a big mistake,” declared a visibly angry Republican board member Chris Malone, who is running for the state House. “It’s a political mistake, and the result - both out there and in here - it’s going to be felt for a very long time.”
“It is an epic failure of this board,” said Republican board member John Tedesco, who is running for state superintendent.
Tata, a retired US Army Brigadier general and well-known right-wing anti-Obama pundit who was hired by the Margiotta GOP-led school board in December 2010, was the last vestige of any real control over the affairs of the school system that county Republicans had, which is why the Wake Republican Party, and right-wing leaning Wake County Taxpayers Association, in addition to the four GOP school board members, railed to high heaven once the exit deal was done.
“I grieve for our children,” cried an emotional Debra Goldman, who served as board vice chair in 2009 when the Republican-majority, led by former board member Ron Margiotta, took power and proceeded to ramrod their neighborhood schools agenda through, causing a national scandal.
The setup was simple. The Democratic majority, led by veteran school board members Kevin Hill as chairman and Keith Sutton as vice chairman, could basically vote in any policy that they pleased, but they needed Tata as superintendent to shape that policy, and then carry it out.
To ensure that Tata, whose right-wing politics and Tea Party sympathies were well known when he was hired by the Republican board in 2010, was left alone, the Republicans in unison loudly warned the community that the Democrats would immediately fire the retired general once they took over.
That bought Tata time. All he needed to do was show that his school choice plan worked, and that Wake parents and business community were happy. The Democrats, he and the Republicans assumed, were now too afraid to touch him.
What the board Republicans like Deborah Pritchett, Debra Goldman, Chris Malone and John Tedesco never realized was that when Tata did veer off course numerous times with unforeseen operational failures to his school choice, school registration and school bus planning, Democratic patience, especially of the new board members like Jim Martin, Susan Evans and Christine Kushner, began to really run thin.
That was especially after Tata, in an extraordinary move last February, publicly attacked Evans and Kushner because of their past association with the liberal group Great Schools in Wake Coalition. He was later forced to apologize for an act that many said he should have been fired for then.
Board Republicans never dreamed that Chairman Hill had the brass to pull the trigger on Tata’s job. They saw him as weak, and an education wonk who embodied everything they wanted to replace in public education.
Still stunned by their board minority status after last fall’s decisive Democratic five-seat sweep, the board Republicans decided early on to make life hell for Hill and his new majority, fighting and threatening him at every turn, and counting on Supt. Tata to make their cherished school choice plan - which was hurriedly passed last fall before the elections by Margiotta’s GOP majority - work.
In turn, Tata, sources confirmed, became dictatorial behind the scene, firing those in Central Office who differed with him based on their professional experience, and bringing in new people at high salaries to maintain the firm grip he felt he needed to stay in control.
What the GOP members didn’t realize was that Tata’s profound inexperience in education would soon not only be very evident when the poorly devised school choice process began to implode, creating more high poverty schools and eliminating promised choice for many parents, but his temperament from years of military training, served to scare career senior staffers, and school principals, into submission.
What The Carolinian had been hearing for months from Wake School System personnel, and those close to them, was finally confirmed publicly by both Chairman Hill and Vice Chairman Sutton Wednesday in a press conference to allay community fears.
"It was becoming increasingly clear that, while [Supt. Tata] did well at calming the waters when he arrived … he might not be the right person to lead our school system going forward," Chairman Hill said, adding that the relationship between Tata and the board was becoming “increasingly strained” and progress towards moving the school system forward were “severely hampered” as a result.
In short, Central Office had become a basket case under Supt. Tata.
Hill denied accusations that the firing was political, saying that if that were true, it would have happened last January immediately after the Democratic majority took over. Despite reservations, Tata was given a chance to work out the kinks of a school choice plan that many feared would result in more high poverty schools.
When problems evolved with student registration, and projections showed that expensive racially isolated schools would result, the Democratic majority pulled the plug on school choice, directing Tata to have his staff devise a base assignment plan instead for implementation in 2014.
The school bus debacle that saw thousands of students stranded at bus stops for weeks at the beginning of the traditional school year, along with hundreds more parents from Southeast Raleigh crowded into the central office in Cary, forced to register their children there instead of their neighborhood school, made it clear that Tata’s inexperience in leading the 16th largest school system in the nation was a major concern.
When Tata then forced senior staff veteran Don Haydon, who was in charge of school transportation, to resign after, by Tata’s order, over 50 school buses were taken out of the fleet, causing massive problems, the board Democrats had seen enough.
Despite the constant excuses made for Tata’s mounting problems, the Democratic majority fired Anthony Tata, freeing him up now to go back to his right-wing punditry, bashing Pres. Obama and authoring military novels with erotic passages.
Calla Wright, president of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children issued a statement in reaction to Tata’s firing saying, “Do you feel it is necessary for a school system to have a leader who does not have any educational experience? Under his leadership we have acquired Walnut Creek [Elementary School as] a high poverty school in Southeast Raleigh. Based on recent test scores and the mission of this school, these students are suppose to be equipped to exceed in middle school. How can this happen when we look at the [low] test scores of last year's fifth graders?”
Also in a statement Wednesday, the NC NAACP commended the Democrat-led Wake School Board, “…for the poise and grace with which they handled the difficult issues raised by…,” Supt. Tata’s job performance.
“As is the case with the rest of the public, because this is a confidential personnel matter, we do not know all the factors that went into this decision and cannot speak for the board,” NC NACP Pres. Rev. William Barber said in a statement. “We do know leadership is important. If any school system, business or organization is not functioning at its fullest potential and carrying out the best practices towards the fulfillment of its primary mission and vision--leadership must be held accountable by the governing board.”
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
CITIZEN INPUT IN NEXT HIRING OF NEXT RALEIGH POLICE CHIEF
With Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan set to retire Oct. 1, city leaders are giving citizens a chance to have some input into who the next police chief should be through a survey on the city’s website. Some of the questions ask what skills the next police chief should have, and what kind of leadership style they’d like to see. The deadline for survey responses is Oct. 11th. Chief Dolan has been on the job since Sept. 2007. Raleigh Deputy Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown will serve as interim chief until a permanent one is hired.
STATE AND LOCAL SAT SCORES DROP
Because more students are taking it, Scholastic Aptitude Test college entrance exam scores have dropped nationally, throughout North Carolina and in the Triangle. Statewide, the combined average for math, reading and writing scores fell six points from 2011, from 1475 to 1,469. In the Triangle, Wake schools dropped three points to 1,063. The highest scoring school system was Chapel Hill-Carrboro at 1194. The lowest, Durham Public Schools at 951. North Carolina has a higher percentage of students taking the SAT, at 68 percent, than many other states. Nationally, scores have dropped by two points.
RALEIGH POLICE SEEK MECHANIC AND FARMERS BANK ROBBER
Raleigh police are still investigating a robbery Monday at Mechanic and Farmers bank at 13 East Hargett Street. A black man, described as about 6 foot 1 inch, wearing dark coveralls, a cap, sunglasses and work gloves, reportedly passed a note to a teller, then left the bank, with stolen money, by a waiting taxi cab. The robber was dropped off near the State Capitol. If you have information about this robbery, call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
TWO SHERIFFS CAUSING MCCRORY CAMPAIGN PROBLEMS
[CHARLOTTE] Despite leading by double-digits over his Democratic challenger in the race for governor, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory is having difficulty with the endorsements of two lawmen. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson, a Republican, has been alleged to condone the racial profiling of Latinos by his department, according a recent report by the US Justice Dept. Sheriff Johnson coordinated security for the McCrory campaign when it came to Alamance County.
Meanwhile, the McCrory campaign has refused a request from State Sen. Floyd McKissick [D-Durham] to remove a campaign ad featuring former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay from the airwaves. In the ad, Gay says though he’s a Democrat, he’ll support Pat McCrory over Democrat Walter Dalton for governor.
Sen. McKissick’s complaint was that Gay, after losing re-election in 2010 by 24 points, blamed his defeat on blacks who voted for his “unqualified” African-American opponent, who was an SBI agent.
In his letter to the McCrory campaign, McKissick said the Wayne Gay ad, “…triggers a racial cue that has no place in this campaign.”
A McCrory spokesman called Sen. McKissick’s complaint, ‘ just another desperate attack from the Perdue-Dalton smear machine.”
FLAGS FLOWN AT HALF-STAFF HONORING STATE CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF
[RALEIGH] Gov. Beverly Perdue ordered flags on state building throughout North Carolina flown at half-staff Wednesday in honor of State Capitol Police Chief W. Scott Hunter. Chief Hunter died last week reportedly of a long illness. He was 49. Hunter was funeralized Wednesday at Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, and buried in his home state of Columbia, S.C. He is survived by his wife and three children. Chief Hunter had served since 2003.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
YE OF LITTLE FAITH - Was reading an interview with master filmmaker Michael Bay, who has given us the mega-successful Transformer movies, and is preparing “Transformer 4” now, even though after “Transformer 3,” he had promised not to do anymore.
What folks may not remember is that back in 1995, Bay got his start doing “Bad Boys” with comedians Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two tough Miami police detectives tracking down a murderer.
The film was a surprise smash, not only because of the over-the-top performances by Smith and Lawrence - who were still doing their respective TV shows at the time - but also the extraordinarily stylish way Bay shot and cut the film.
So during this interview, Bay was asked if, given the economy, and where major motion pictures are today, if he, as a first-time director, could get “Bad boys” even made today.
“God, I don't know. I mean, [the studio] didn't believe in "Bad Boys." One of the reasons, because black movies didn't travel overseas. And "Bad Boys" was the first movie that made a lot of money with two black stars.”
And Michael Bay reminds us that “Bad Boys” was made before Will Smith exploded into one of Hollywood’s top movie stars.
“Yeah, well, he had just done "Fresh Prince" and [the episodes] weren't playing that overseas, I think,” Bay recalls. “It might have been in syndication. But I know the studio didn't believe in the movie. The way they treated it, they certainly didn't believe in the movie. I mean, I was ready to quit the business -- but I loved working with the guys. But then, bam, I was everyone's friend when the movie became a hit.”
The rest is history. “Bad Boys II,” the sequel, was successfully made a few years later, and now a “Bad Boys III” is being talked about.
I hope Michael Bay is onboard for that. His style of filmmaking is one of the best.
TED AND BILL - last week on the NBC News program “Rock Center” (horrible name for a news show, by the way), Ted Koppel, who we all remember from the old ABC News program “Nightline,” did a piece on cable news television, and how it has dominated, if not changed and fueled the fiery, and some would say even broken political discourse in this nation.
Koppel, a journalist that many of us have a profound regard and great respect for, believes that cable shows like O’Reilly, Hannity, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann (when he was on), do more to hurt politics with their extremely opinionated shows that castigate the other side of the argument.
I guess Ted would prefer that these shows, let alone the cable channels that they’re on, didn’t exist.
Sorry Ted. As much as I can’t stand Fox News and their constant conservative lies, they have a right to be on, as does MSNBC, their liberal counter balance.
Koppel would prefer that the three major news networks, in addition to CNN, would handle all of the important political discussions, and that’s that.
But that kind of monopoly is why we got Fox News in 1996 in the first place. There was a significant amount of conservative audience who felt that their side of the issues were not being expressed enough in the mainstream media. They found a willing home in Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.
Years later, when Fox began becoming a real power in shaping political opinion, Keith Olbermann at MSNBC decided that he would lead the liberal charge with “Countdown.”
And thus, the cable wars began.
Yes, they got vicious at times, and one can argue that it created a toxic political atmosphere which makes it hard for Democrats and Republicans to reason with one another, but let’s not fool ourselves, it was always going to happen.
Look at talk radio figures like divisive conservatives figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The pump had been primed for political talk TV for over a decade or more before it happened.
Also, let’s not forget that on the most popular news television show in history - CBS’ “60 Minutes” - it used to feature “Point-Counterpoint” with conservative columnist James Kilpatrick and liberal writer Shana Alexander. It was a very popular feature, which was followed by the equally entertaining “Crossfire” on CNN.
Now, Mr. Koppel, if you’re reading this, this is the bone I have to pick with you, respectfully, sir.
When it is clear that someone is lying through their bloody teeth, and when I say “clear” I mean factually proven, instead of saying so, folks in non-opinionated major media would prefer act as if it isn’t happening.
Take veteran NBC newsman Tom Brokaw. A couple of weeks ago, after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blasted Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus to his face about GOP efforts to suppress the black vote for Pres. Obama by implementing voter ID laws in key states, in addition to various racial “dog whistle” remarks about Pres. Obama’s birth certificate and his base of voters being essentially welfare recipients, Brokaw, not wanting to seem as if he were attacking Priebus as well, disagreed with Matthews, saying that he wasn’t sure if what Chris was saying was the case.
Brokaw was protecting his credibility, for what it was worth, at the cost of the truth, which Chris Matthews boldly championed.
When we, as journalists, with all of the facts, can’t call a spade a spade, Mr. Koppel, then what good are we? Who are we protecting, and why?
One more point - during his appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s program, Koppel had to put up with Billo declaring that Fox News is a superior news operation during the day, and only does original opinionated programming for three hours at night.
If this wasn’t a family newspaper.
If you’ve watched Fox News during the day, then you’ll agree with me that the “news” people are anything, and I mean ANYTHING, but “fair and balanced.” They are so anti-Obama they can’t contain themselves.
So Bill O’Reilly is either fooling himself, or lying through his teeth.
The genie is out the bottle, Mr. Koppel. Yes, we agree that the primary reason why conservative and liberal TV even exists is because they both make a lot of money. No question.
But at the end of the day, partisan TV, just like partisan radio and newspapers, let’s the air out of the balloon so that we can continue to yell, scream and holler about our differences.
Unfortunately it’s who we are.
It’s not who we wish to be, but it’s who we are.
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.myWAUG.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.
HIGH POVERTY RATE REMAINS IN NC
by Tazra Mitchell
Special to The Carolinian
Millions of North Carolinians continue to struggle with the lasting effects of the Great Recession, said a new report released this morning. The latest U.S. Census data show that North Carolina’s poverty remained high at 17.9 percent in 2011, statistically unchanged from 2010.
The poverty rate jumped more than 25 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, according to a report from the Budget and Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. Nearly 1.7 million North Carolinians were officially in poverty in 2011, and more than 737,000 lived in deep poverty, meaning they earned half or less of the annual poverty-level income for their family size. North Carolina’s poverty and deep-poverty rates are the 13th highest in the nation.
The data indicate that the modest but significant improvement in the economy hasn’t been enough to reverse the state’s job deficit, high unemployment rate, and rapid growth of low-wage work, resulting in unshared economic growth and prolonged economic security, the report said.
“Unemployment is predicted to remain high over the next several years, suggesting North Carolinians may be facing another lost decade of shrinking income growth and high poverty,” said Tazra Mitchell, public policy fellow with the BTC and author of the report. “It is important for policymakers to continue to invest in policies that bolster economic security and spur broadly shared economic growth for all North Carolinians.”
Certain geographic communities continue to be hit harder by the enduring effects of the Great Recession, the report said. Rural counties continue to have some of the highest rates of poverty compared to their urban counterparts. Nine of the 10 highest county-level poverty rates were in rural areas, with the highest county-level rate in Robeson County, where 1 in 3 residents live in poverty.
In addition, the report finds that the poverty rate for children in North Carolina was above the state rate at 25.6 percent. Communities of color also experienced higher rates of poverty, with 28 percent of African Americans, 34.9 percent of Latinos, and 27 percent of American Indians living in poverty. The racial disparity is even more pronounced among children, with the poverty rates for African American, Latino, and American Indian children soaring 2.5 to 3 times higher than the rate for white children. Women and people with lower levels of educational attainment also experience higher poverty compared to other groups.
Reversing the trends of poverty and decline in shared economic growth requires long-term investments in economic policies that can generate jobs that offer a living wage and benefits, the report said. North Carolina policymakers must be careful to not dismantle any work supports that help alleviate poverty, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, or reduce support for critical safety net programs that help provide food, housing and energy assistance for struggling families.
“Cutting important government services that people rely on in order to close budget shortfalls is not the way to turn our economy around and lift our working families and their children out of poverty,” Mitchell said. “We need to take a balanced approach that includes new revenues so we can invest in our state’s economy and provide help for those who need it most.”
Tazra Mitchell is a Public Policy Fellow with the NC Budget and Tax Center in Raleigh