Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Cash Stuff for Sept. 20, 2012

                                          DR. PATRICK WOODEN

By Cash Michaels

            In an effort to galvanize his support base in the black church in the midst of growing headlines that African-American pastors, angered by his personal endorsement of same-sex marriage, were telling their communities not to vote in November, President Barack Obama spoke with many black ministers from across the nation Monday evening, urging them to stick with him.
            Meanwhile a local pastor says he pulled a controversial radio ad he’s featured in that blasted Pres. Obama for several weeks. That ad was paid for by a right-wing group that has made removing Obama from office one of its top priorities.           
            Last weekend there were numerous stories about black pastors announcing that they would tell their congregations not to vote for Pres. Obama in November because of his May 9th announcement that, after much thought and consultation with friends and family, he personally supported the right of gay people to legal join in matrimony.
            The president said then that he realized there would be those who vehemently disagreed with him and he respected that.
            For the Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black Southern Baptist, the president’s respect was not enough.
            “[On Election Day], I plan to go fishin’, “ Rev. McKissic told the Associated Press.
            Many of the ministers are telling all who would listen not to vote for Republican Mitt Romney either, primarily because he is a Mormon, which is seen by some in the Christian black church as a racist cult because of it’s long history of discrimination, a history the Mormon church never apologized for as have the Southern Baptist.
            What is becoming more and more evident is that several of the black pastors most prominent in telling African-Americans to sit this presidential election out are being backed by the right-wing lobbying group known as NOM - the National Organization for Marriage.
            Earlier this year, it was reported that Mitt Romney’s PAC secretly donated $10,000 to NOM in 2008, and uncovered NOM documents by a federal court in Maine revealed, “The $20 Million Strategy for Victory”, devised in 2009, which not only focused on “defeating the pro-gay Obama agenda” during the 2010 mid-term elections, but declaring that, “a pro-marriage president must be elected in 2012.”
            NOM documents also talked about “Sideswiping Obama” by raising issues like pornography and social radicalism.
            NOM has been connected to conservative anti-Obama black ministers like Rev. William Owen, founder and president of the Memphis-based Coalition of African-American Pastors.
            Rev. Owen launched a petition drive last May to get the president to “change his views” on same-sex marriage. He openly accused Obama of “taking big money from the homosexual community,” adding the president “sold out.”
            Owens was later quoted as saying that Pres. Obama “condoned child molestation.”
            On August 27th, NOM issued a press release boasting that it was launching radio ads in North Carolina “encouraging African-Americans to say ‘no more’ to President Obama.
            “We urge all North Carolinians to join Dr. Wooden in rejecting the anti-family policies of President Obama this November,” stated Brian Brown, NOM president.
            The “Dr. Wooden” in question is Dr. Patrick L. Wooden, pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh.
            Wooden has long been known for his conservative political stances, and is credited as helping to lead the statewide passage of Amendment One, the Republican-sponsored amendment to North Carolina’s state Constitution, outlawing same-sex marriage, even though it was already codified in state statutory law.
            According to the NOM press release, the group spent $34,000 in the Raleigh media market purchasing airtime for :60 second radio spots featuring Wooden delivering the following message:
            "It was the African American community that helped [President Obama] win here in North Carolina, But President Obama has turned his back on the values of our community with his strong endorsement of the homosexual movement. We worked hard to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment this past May. With the strong support of the African American community, the amendment protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman passed overwhelmingly. The very next day, President Obama came out for homosexual marriage. Now his campaign leaders are working to deny North Carolina's ability to define marriage, and they want to overturn our state marriage amendment altogether. Join me in saying 'no more' to President Obama."
            The ad ran during the weeks of both the Republican National Convention, and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
            In an interview, Dr. Wooden said he pulled the ad after God told him that it had achieved its purpose.
            If getting people upset for two weeks as listeners tuned into their favorite FM gospel station was the goal, then Wooden certainly achieved that, as Facebook was flooded with complaints about the ad.
            Dr. Earl Johnson, pastor of Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh, and president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association in Raleigh, held a press conference just last week, blasting Wooden and any minister who would implore the black community not to vote this election.
            Wooden said he was not paid any money to voice the ads by NOM, adding that he as not pushing Republican Mitt Romney’s candidacy.
            Only that, in Wooden’s opinion, President Obama had turned his back on the black community with his same-sex marriage stance.
            NOM promised on its website that if the Raleigh campaign featuring Dr. Wooden was successful, it would replicate it across the state since North Carolina was, “a key presidential swing state.”
            Monday night’s conference call with the president was headed up by African-Americans for Obama, and People of Faith for Obama - two auxiliary groups associated with the Obama for America campaign.
            Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood, Second Vice President of the NC NAACP, joined the call, “…to ensure President Obama receives justice and the people not be misled by any particular ministers and organizations… as we approach the most important election since 1860.
            Rev. Gatewood had sent a letter to Dr. Patrick Wooden, criticizing him for voicing the Nom ads.
            Indeed the NCNAACP issued an open letter last week about, “…clergy who are trying to confuse African-American voters on [the] wedge issue of marriage equality.
            Making it clear that as a nonpartisan civil rights organization, the NAACP doe not endorse candidates, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber told The Carolinian that the black community must be wary of those who try to suppress their vote through their faith.
             “When you look at the Scriptures, the issues that people of faith ought to be concerned about in the public square are how do we treat the poor; how do we treat children; how do we treat the sick; and how do we treat those who are on the margins of society - how do we treat the vulnerable?” Rev. Barber continued.
            “To be the paid puppets of the ultra-right …is s disservice to our community.”
            Rev. Derrick Harkins, Democratic National Committee Faith Outreach director, was on the call, and says the president talked to black clergy about the continuing the work that his administration began when he tool office, “…and the incredible importance of the faith community in all of that.”
            The president also emphasized the importance of registering voters before the early voting deadlines in some states, and getting out the vote.
            “The worst thing we can do is become complacent,” Rev. Harkin recalls Pres. Obama saying to the ministers during the conference call.
“How dare anyone say to somebody that you ought not exercise the franchise that people literally have breathed their life’s effort and life’s blood into for us to have, and especially now when we have the opportunity to continue the work that we’ve begun,” Rev. Harkins said.
“Follow the money; follow the support,” Harkins added, noting that right-wing like NOM are also part of the matrix of conservative groups that have successful pushed for voter ID laws in at least 30 states.
            Critics say these laws are really voter suppression tools to keep a certain percentage of mainly black and Hispanic voters - part of Pres. Obama’s most loyal Democratic base - from successfully going to the polls on November 6th.
            Harkins said groups like NOM are using black ministers, even though the majority of NOM’s agenda is contrary to the interests of the African-American community.
            And the DNC minister added that while some black preachers act as if Pres. Obama had betrayed their trust with his same-sex opinion, in fact, most of those preachers never were true supporters of the president to begin with.
            “They’ve been card-carrying Republicans all along,” Rev. Harkin said.
            “A lot of people say that in 2008, we changed the guard. And in 2012, we’ve got to guard that change.”


            [RALEIGH] Less than a year after it adopted a school choice plan that has proven to be to be problematic, the Wake School Board Tuesday unveiled a proposed new plan for 2013-14 that would promote diversity, stability and some choice. A key component is going back to an address-based system so that every student has a base school, unlike what is in force now that caused three weeks of school bus problems. Hearings have been delayed until more details on the new proposal can be ironed out. Yevonne Brannon, chair of Great Schools in Wake Coalition, says, “This plan is still a neighborhood [schools] plan.  Mostly based on proximity.  If you are poor or live in low performing node...you can only get out by choosing out...the Board of Education has not put into the plan yet assigning some children out...the gutsy moral and right thing to do.”
            Meanwhile, Don Haydon, who was in charge of Wake Schools’ busing system, has resigned and been put on paid leave until Dec. 31. Haydon had been with the system since 2002.

            [WASHINGTON, DC] Thanks to a $228 million federal grant from the US Dept. of Education, historically black colleges and universities across the nation are able to improve key areas of academic and staff development. The ten HBCU’s in North Carolina shared in over $29 million of the grant, with Bennett College and Livingstone College each getting over $1.4 million; St. Augustine’s University and Johnson c. Smith University getting over $1.6 and $1.8 million respectively; Shaw University receiving over $2.4 million; Elizabeth City State University and Fayetteville State University getting over $3.4 and $3.8 million respectively; and North Carolina Central University, Winston-Salem State University and NC A&T State University receiving over $4.0 million, $4.3 million and $5.2 million.

            [GREENSBORO] If you feel that you have been the victim of racial profiling by law enforcement in North Carolina, the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wants to hear from you. The nonprofit legal group has posted two complaint forms on its website for citizens to file their bad experiences. In turn NC ACLU attorneys will file suit on behalf of victims. A Feb. 2012 report by a UNC professor indicated that Hispanic drives 96 percent more likely to have their cars stopped and searched than white drivers. Blacks were 77 percent more likely than whites. The forms can be found at http://www.acluofnorthcarolina.org/.

            [BURLINGTON] The Alamance Sheriff’s Dept. “routinely” targeted Latinos for discrimination, according to a two-year investigation by the US Justice Dept. The feds charge that Hispanics were the subjects of unwarranted arrests, with the goal being to “maximize deportations.” The 11-page report charged Sheriff Terry S. Johnson and his deputies with violating the constitutional rights of US citizens and legal residents without probable cause. The sheriff says the report is political. Recommendations include negotiating a settlement, or else the feds could sue.

                         DEREK HODGE II AND HIS FATHER, DEREK SR.

By Cash Michaels

            In 2013, there will be a graduate at Southeast Raleigh High School who will choose North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro as the historically black institution of higher learning to attend.
            And there will a $1000.00 scholarship waiting for that student, thanks to another Southeast Raleigh High graduate who went on to NC A&T.
            His name was Derek E. Hodge II.
            In April 2008, Derek Hodge of Wendell, a junior at NC A&T, was fatally shot during a robbery at his off-campus apartment.
He was killed on his mother’s birthday.
His murderer was captured, tried and convicted of second-degree murder in May 2011 after pleading guilty, and is currently serving 21 years in prison.
            For Derek Sr. and Eva Hodge, it changed their world. The last time they saw Derek alive is when he came to spend that Easter with them shortly before his death.
            “[Our son’s murder] …it really took something from us,” Derek’s mother told The Carolinian. “When you send your child off to school, this is the last thing you expect to happen.”
Derek was a charming and “…incredible young man,” the proud couple fondly remembers, with dreams of making the world his oyster. Derek majored in business and marketing, with a side interest in real estate.
            “He was a very smart young man,” his father said. “There wasn’t anything Derek couldn’t do. He had a great future ahead of him, and we were very proud of him.”
            His mother says there was always one school he wanted to attend, and that was Derek’s first choice, NC A&T.
The Hodges say even though his dream was cut short, but that didn’t mean Derek’s promise couldn’t be fulfilled by other worthy students who shared the same vision and drive.
“There was just no way we could go on [allowing] our son’s legacy and the memory of him die,” Eva Hodge said. “That’s why we wanted to be able to help other young people that had those dreams and aspirations to do more.”
So last December, the Hodges setup the Derek E. Hodge II Memorial Scholarship Foundation to annually award $1,000 scholarships specifically to graduates of Southeast Raleigh High School who have been accepted to attend NC A&T University.
            Next Saturday, Sept. 29th, the foundation will present the Inaugural Black Tie Sponsorship Banquet, the first official fundraiser for the cause, at the Crabtree Valley Marriott in Raleigh at 6 p.m. NFL legend Lin Dawson is the keynote speaker.
            “This will be Derek’s voice…by creating the foundation,” Eva Hodge says.
            Derek’s father says thus far, the support has been “outstanding” since the young man’s death, though the family says they’d hoped to see more from the Aggie community. They not suggesting that Aggies don’t care, but rather that many don’t know about the foundation, and what it’s doing in Derek’s name.
            “This is the inaugural event, and I know it’s going to grow with the help of the Aggies,” Derek’s mother assured.
All donations for tickets and sponsorships are tax deductible.
            For more information about the foundation and the gala benefit, email at info@ derekhodgefoundation.org, or visit the website at www.derekhodgefoundation.org.


By Cash Michaels

JAKE TAPPER DOESN’T VOTE - A couple of years ago when he was still occupying the eight o’clock hour on MSNBC terrorizing conservatives, Republicans and Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann went on ABC-TV’s “The View” and told the audience that while its no secret that he is a liberal, and certainly leans Democrat (though Keith was always willing to give President Obama a piece of his mind when he felt it warranted), that surprisingly, he doesn’t vote in elections.
"It’s the only thing I can do that suggests even that I don’t have a horse in the race,” Keith told a befuddled Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg in 2008.
In a statement to a publication called “Portfolio,” Keith continued, “I know it’s very idiosyncratic, but I would feel just a little hesitation, just a little drag on the airflow, if I went to criticize somebody, especially a president, for whom I had voted. It is driven by the same thing that used to make me keep my distance from the athletes I covered. I don’t want anything, even that tiny bit of symbolic connection, to stand in between me and my responsibility to be analytical and critical." 
Now it’s no secret that I love Keith Olbermann, and I am so, so sorry he’s not on television now (and won’t be for the foreseeable future), weighing in with his incisive commentaries and insights during this most important election year (you’ll recall he got fired from Current TV last year).
But Keith is wrong, DEAD wrong, just as ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper was dead wrong last Sunday when he told viewers of ABC’s “This Week” that he doesn’t vote either.
To make sure I wasn’t wrong, I sought to confirm that nonsense, and there it was, in a 2009 interview with the conservative publication National Review, “He says he doesn’t vote in presidential elections to help preserve his objectivity.”
And this isn’t limited to just Keith and Jake.
Apparently if you make it to Washington, DC as a journalist, and get hired by some major corporation to harass the White House (regardless of which party is in control of it), then you are expected to protect that corporation (NBC, ABC, CNN, etc) by swearing off of voting.
Mind you, it’s not a “requirement,” but it sure helps your editors back at the shop sleep easier at night knowing that your name won’t be showing up as being registered to do anything but drive a car.
Listen to the point of view of Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. from a 2004 response to the question being posed to him.
“I decided to stop voting when I became the ultimate gatekeeper for what is published in the newspaper. I wanted to keep a completely open mind about everything we covered and not make a decision, even in my own mind or the privacy of the voting booth, about who should be president or mayor, for example.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Downie, as a colleague and fellow practitioner, I respectfully disagree.
Being a journalist is my job, but it cannot, and should not, define my citizenship, or the obligations thereof.
Nothing else in life that’s worthwhile commands any of us NOT to take part in the very fabric of our civic responsibilities.
If, as a reporter, I cover stories of police brutality, does that mean I should never dial 911 if I’m in trouble?
If, as a reporter, I do a story about racism in our local fire department, does that mean I should never call them if my house is in flames?
If, as a reporter, I do a story about corruption in government, does that mean I should stop paying my taxes?
Gee, this opens up all kinds of questions. Was it a mistake on my part to ever get married and have children because I didn’t properly warn my family that I will never vote for or against anything that would effect our quality of life as members of the community?
To me it makes absolutely no sense for a journalist to get on television, supposedly as a trained and experienced professional, report and advise the community about the world around them as people whose judgment and experience we should trust and respect, and then cop out and tell folks, in order to make sure you trust, I give up my rights as a citizen.
I find myself more likely to trust someone who I know is doing their job, regardless of what their personal beliefs or political leanings are. THAT, to me takes great strength and character.
Now does that mean I don’t have my own rules as a journalist? Not at all, because I certainly do.
I learned a long time ago that I can’t have membership in virtually any community organization. When I joined certain community groups, I soon found that some of their members were up to no good, and that put me in the precarious position of having to weigh the loyalty of membership, with the responsibility of my job to the community.
It also didn’t help when members of that group, knowing I was a reporter, expected me to be quiet because I was a member. That situation was untenable, so I learned never to allow that to happen again.
And I haven’t. What I’ve done instead is work WITH groups, not as a member, but as a separate entity, this way I can maintain safe distance in those events in which I have no choice but to report on that group.
I had that happen a couple of years ago when a top official of an organization I certainly support and work with, was undeniably doing something he had no business doing. Since I wasn’t a member, it was nothing for me to pick up the phone and do my job to hold him accountable.
That’s the way I want it, and need it to be.
The only group I’m a “member” of is the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project. My job is to coordinate the effort to bring about pardons of innocence from Gov. Beverly Perdue for the ten civil rights activists who were falsely convicted 40 years ago.
Why can I be a member of that, and nothing else?  Doesn’t such a controversial effort conflict with my role as a journalist?
First of all, the effort is sponsored by the press - the National Newspaper Publishers Association, of which The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal are members.
As the Black Press, we all agreed that the plight of the Wilmington Ten has gone on too long. The facts of their innocence, and their frame-up by the state, are very clear. A federal court has ruled accordingly, but for political, and perhaps racial reasons, the state of North Carolina had not for the past forty years.
Knowing these facts, it was incumbent on the Black Press to speak up and demand justice when no one else would.
That’s what the Black Press has always done, and will continue to do.
Thus the Pardon Project, and my involvement with it.
As a black journalist, my role is a bit different from the standard journalist. Yes, I report the facts as I find them, and make sure that they are reported in the appropriate context relevant for accurate understanding.
My bias is built into the job upfront - I support my community.
But that does not mean, and never will mean, I won’t hold leadership in my community accountable when they screw up, even if I’ve voted for them.
Being a black reporter also means I never tell you whom to vote for. Oh, I run my mouth about what the politicians are up to, and whether they should be trusted or not. I may even reflect the general feeling in the community, pro or con, about certain candidates.
But I’ll never say, “I’m voting for X, and you should too!”
Not my place. I expect you to consider all arguments and facts from all sides (you should be consuming more than one news source a day) to make up your own mind.
Finally, as you can imagine, even in the Black Press, there is a variety of thought about all of this.
Years ago, many black newspaper publishers were also members of various civic and community organizations, or openly backed certain political candidates. They didn’t have a choice. The community needed the leadership, and newspaper people were in the business of shaping minds and hearts to confront the oppression their readers faced every day, especially in a segregated society.
Today, many black publishers till maintain memberships in civic organizations, mostly out of tradition and deep commitment to the cause. I have no beef with any of them, as long as if the fork in the road comes, and there’s an unforeseen conflict, that the community we serve, and vowed we will always serve, gets the benefit.
So to Keith (who essentially wore out his welcome at MSNBC because - GASP - he gave money to two candidates), Jake and anyone else to holds to this high-minded ideal that in order to properly serve society, you have divorce yourself from it, good luck.
I try, in my career, to never tell folks they should be doing something that I’m not doing, or have no intention of doing. That is blasphemous and hypocritical, and quite frankly too easy to do.
If I have any credibility at all as a journalist, it’s because, by and large, I stand on what I say, and make sure that the community which I serve sees that. They don’t have to know whom I vote for, because that is my business as a citizen.
Just as long as they see me taking my citizenship seriously, then they know it’s up to them to do the same.
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.



            Beginning tonight, the League of Women voters and WakeUP Wake County are sponsoring a series of candidate forum focusing on the race for Wake County commissioner and state superintendent of Public Instruction.
            All forums are at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m.
            The first four forums are for seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
            Wake County is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, elected at large to serve four-year terms. Terms are staggered so that, every two years, three or four Commissioners are up for election. The Commissioners enact policies such as establishment of the property tax rate, regulation of land use and zoning outside municipal jurisdictions, and adoption of the annual budget. Commissioners meet on the first and third Mondays of each month.
            Tonight, the first forum will be held at the Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Rd in Garner.
            On Thursday, Sept. 27th, the second forum will be held at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin Street in Raleigh.
            On Thursday, Oct. 4th, the third forum will be held at Kirk of Kildaire Church, 200 High Meadow Drive in Cary.
            On Thursday, Oct. 11th, the fourth forum will be held at Temple Beth Or, 5315 Creedmoor Road in North Raleigh.
            Candidates for the Wake Board of Commissioners include Caroline Sullivan and Dale Cooke in District 4; incumbent James West (running unopposed) in District 5; incumbent Betty Lou Ward and Paul Fitts in District 6.
            And on Monday, Oct. 15th, the forum for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Avenue in Raleigh. 
The North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction is the elected head of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction , serving a four-year term, and oversees the public school systems of the state. The Superintendent is currently an elected member of the North Carolina Council of State, and also serves as a member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, the body which holds most of the authority over elementary and secondary education in the state.
Candidates for that race include incumbent state Supt. of Public Instruction June Atkinson, a Democrat; and Republican challenger John Tedesco, currently serving on the Wake School Board.
For more information, contact Tappan Vickery at tappan@wakeupwakecounty.org or 919-859-2177. See video of the forums you missed at www.wakeupwakecounty.org.

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