Thursday, December 19, 2013


EDITOR'S NOTE - I've just my last newspaper work for the year for both papers. I will use the next two weeks to continue work on the Wilmington Ten documentary. I will return to newspaper work on Monday, Jan. 6th.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Kwanzaa!


By Cash Michaels

            When the seven Wake School Board members who voted against Chairman Keith Sutton serving a second term were asked to explain why, they cited “an internal board decision” and “the need for the board to come together” as cryptic reasons justifying the removal of their accomplished leader.
            Ironically, when Sutton, as chair, also made key decisions on a need-to-know basis, because of the mounting challenges that threatened to cripple the school system over the past year, those same board members who refused to better explain their actions when they dumped him, took offense.
            In an exclusive interview with The Carolinian Newspaper, Sutton says as chair, he had to play the cards that were dealt him, given the situation.
            New Chairwoman Christine Kushner, and outspoken board member Prof. Jim Martin, charge that Sutton’s “style of leadership” left many board members on the sideline during important decisions.
            Sutton counters that when he could, he did ask members to join him at meetings with the Wake County Commissioners or the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, or other groups.
            There were even times when he asked then board Vice Chair Kushner to fill in for him at various meetings.
            But many times, the protocol called for chairman-to-chairman communication, especially during meetings about the school construction bond, or legislative lobbying efforts to stop the Wake Commission Board takeover.
            “If it’s a meeting of the chair of the Wake County Commission Board and the Wake Board of Education chair, then that’s what the meeting is for,” Sutton said. “When that was the nature of the meeting, that’s what I did.”
            Sutton adds that his critics forget that as school board chair, he was automatically an ex-officio member of the Chamber of Commerce board or Wake Education Partnership board, in addition to all of the standing school board committees.
            “So I disagree with the Lone Ranger characterization,” he said, adding that there were times when it just wasn’t practical to call eight board members when a pressing decision had to be made, so he took chairman’s prerogative.
            For instance, after the board approved up to $100,000 be allotted for the interim superintendent to hire a lobbyist to fight the Wake Commission Board’s legislative effort to take control of WCPSS properties, board members wanted to submit names of lobbyists they felt should be hired.
            But Sutton knew, based on media reports, that the commissioners had already hired former NC GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer, said to be the #1 ranked lobbyist on Jones Street, to lead their charge, and by that time in the legislative session, most of the best lobbyists had already been hired elsewhere.
            Sutton made decision to act immediately, without board input, to secure one of the top lobbyists still available he knew could get the job done of protecting the school board.
            The timely decision paid off, and the Republican-led Legislature refused to set a precedent allowing a county commission board to take control of a school system’s properties just because it controls the funding.
            It was one of many big victories for the Wake Board of Education under Chairman Sutton’s administration.
            “To me, that’s providing leadership, that’s providing direction,” Sutton now says, looking back. “I don’t see that as being the Lone Ranger. I see that as being a leader."
            Regarding promoting passage of the $810 million school construction bond, Sutton says he certainly worked overtime doing his share traveling the length and breath of the county, speaking before civic groups and in churches. But he adds that it was at each Wake School Board member’s discretion to do exactly the same thing in their respective districts. They did not need an invitation to essentially do their duty getting their constituents to support the bond, Sutton says.
             Though he makes no apologies for the positive results his “style of leadership” produced, Sutton does admit that he isn’t perfect, and, looking back, more mollifying tactics could have been used..
            “There are some things that I could have done differently,” Sutton says. “Perhaps picking up the phone and making one extra call. Or calling someone and saying, “Hey, let’s go to lunch and let me tell you a little bit more of what I’m thinking,” or “Here are some ideas I have,” or “Let me hear your thoughts.” Certainly, perhaps, I could have done that a bit more on occasions, or reached out [more] to board members and have them feel more included or a part of the team in naming the task force, or going out to a meeting, or helping to promote the bond."
            “But I think, at the end of the day, when you look at the results that we were able to accomplish [as a board], we were able to do a lot, and again, I’m proud of that,” insists Sutton.
            So how does he now go forward working with seven other board colleagues he clearly has lingering differences with? By being professional, Sutton says.
            “As an elected official representing District 4, representing the parents of Wake County, I’ll continue to comport myself in the same professional manner that I have done, that folks expect. I will continue to advocate for the things that are important to me and my district, my constituents, my community, and to the county”
            Sutton says on many of the issues – be it school suspensions or high poverty schools – he and the rest of the board basically agree.
            “I don’t see the board going in a radically different direction,” Sutton says. “We’ll continue in the same direction, we’ll continue to work on these issues, and I feel that most of us will support many of them.”
            “It will be how we move forward.”
            During the last Wake School Board meeting of the year last week, Chairwoman Kushner announced her picks for board committee chairs.
            Ironically, Keith Sutton was given the one job, beyond being board chair, that he has proven he could do – leading the new governmental relations committee.
            It was a tacit admission on Kushner’s part that because of her well-known leftist politics, dealing directly with the Republican right-wing leadership of the Wake County Commissioners and the state Legislature, would be a fruitless endeavor.
            Kushner had little choice in choosing Sutton, who built bridges with the Republicans to get the $810 million school construction bond passed, and stop the attempted GOP school property takeover, something neither she, nor any other Democratic board member could do.
            This new, and obviously important job, the chairwoman decided, now calls for a different “style of leadership.”



            [ASHEVILLE] According to AAA Carolinas, over 2.8 million North Carolina travelers are expected to traverse the state during the 12-day Christmas/New Year’s Day holiday season, from Dec. 21st to January 1st. The average state traveler is expected to drive at least 50 miles during that time. The average gas price statewide is $3.23 per gallon, about the same as last year. The cheapest gas can be found in Raleigh at $3.16, while the most expensive price is in Boone at $3.30.

            [RALEIGH] Once again demonstrators with the Moral Monday Movement were at the Halifax Mall behind the state Legislative Building Monday, calling on Gov. McCrory to call a “Special Redemptive Session” of the NC General Assembly to “…rescind laws that deny Medicaid to 500,000 poor North Carolinians and unemployment benefits to 170,000 families.” McCrory has repeatedly refused, calling the challenge “out of the question.”   


            [RALEIGH] Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho is holding firm, without apology, to remarks he tweeted over a week ago bashing the Affordable Care Act. “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined,” Rucho tweeted December 15th.  The remarks caused national controversy. State GOP Chairman Claude Pope called the Rucho tweet “highly offensive,” adding the conservative senator “should apologize.” But Rucho has refused saying that he only told the truth. “People need to open their eyes. [Obamacare] is a serious problem,” Rucho said.


            Amid allegations of improper spending, and an inexplicable situation where Durham School Board members were led to believe false budget figures, Durham Supt. Eric Becoats announced his resignation, effective Dec. 31st. He will be paid almost $300,000 in a one-time severance payment. Becoats joined DPS in 2010, but in recent years, controversy surrounding his personal use of a school system bus for family, and thousands of dollars in personal spending using a system credit card, led to further scrutiny of his management. When an audit determined that there was $19.7 million in the school system budget when Becoats told the board there was only $4 million, the school board moved last week to separate itself from the superintendent. In his resignation letter, Becoats thanked the Durham School Board for allowing him to serve.

            Armed Durham police in riot gear ended a tense standoff with over a hundred protesters in downtown Durham last week when they fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The demonstrators marched to Durham police headquarters to protest the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, an Hispanic teen that police say fatally shot himself in the back of a police cruiser, even though he had reportedly been searched and handcuffed by the arresting officer. Huerta’s family believes that Durham police killed the young man. At least two people were arrested during last week’s demonstration, the second to have turned violent in the past month.

            North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell in November for the fourth month in a row, according to the state Commerce Department. But North Carolina also lost approximately 6,500 jobs during that same period. The jobless rate for November was 7.4%, down from 8% in October, and 2% in the past year. Analysts caution that the fall may be due to people simply stopping their search for work. North Carolina has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation.


By Cash Michaels

            MERRY CHRISTMAS – From all of us and our families, to all of our faithful readers. Those of us who practice the Christian faith know that first and foremost, we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the message of love, peace and good tidings across the world.
            That, is the true reason for the season, and shall always be.
            HAPPY KWANZAA - As always, Dec. 26th to January 1st are the seven days of Kwanzaa, a holiday period that is unique to the African-American community, which celebrates the seven African-based principles of hard work and fruitfulness.
Those principles are:
                                    Umoja (Unity)
                                    Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
                                    Ujima (Collective work and responsibility)
                                    Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
                                    Nia (Purpose)
                                    Kuumba (Creativity)
                                    Imani (Faith)
Since it was founded in 1966 by Prof. Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa has exploded worldwide, reminding those of us of African heritage that, with the exception of GOD, our families and communities come first.
At least that’s the way we look at it at our house.
No matter, have a happy and fruitful Kwanzaa!
            NEVER AGAIN – Never again in this life do I want to even see, let alone hear the name Marion Suge Knight. Yes, the same Suge Knight who is the notorious rap music producer, founder of Black Kapital Records, and co-founder/former CEO of Death Row Records, who has also been in trouble with the law from time to time.
            Apparently the man has trouble thinking of himself as an African-American.
            Indeed, anything having to do with Africa the man prefers to turn his back on.
            You see, Mr. Knight says he’d prefer to be known as the n-word.
            Lord have mercy…all that marchin’, all that struggle, and this man prefers the gutter to the glory.
            In an interview with the celebrity shlock website TMZ, Knight made his preferences known.
            "You know, it depends on how you say 'n---a' and what you doing with it. When you really look at it, a lot of people say 'the N-word' and a lot of people use it as a situation they're scared to say something about it. A lot of times people say 'the N-word,' right? I like that better than 'African-American,' we not from Africa, we Black."
            It's all about paying dues to the experience, Knight continued. "If somebody use the word 'n---a' and they hang around n----s and they use the word 'n---a' that's one thing, but I still don't feel certain people can say it to me."
            On the TMZ website there’s apparently a video of Suge Knight waxing eloquently more about his N-word preference.
            Suge Knight is offended when people call him African American, because he's NOT African. On the other hand, he doesn't have a problem with the word, 'Ni**a,' " Suge says it's offensive to label all Black people African American. And he goes further ... he thinks it's ridiculous that only rappers can use the word, 'Ni**a.' He thinks if it can be used by some, it should be used by all.
            Then TMZ conducted an online poll (naturally) and asked folks if they preferred the term “African-American” or the n-word, and n-word led by 56 percent at presstime.
            I don’t ever want to see this man’s name again anywhere around me. He has long produced music that has poisoned the minds of our young people, and now he’s touting this nonsense of self-hatred.
            And I thought the Tea Party was our main concern.
            Please, help us Lord!
            SCANDAL – I am still amazed how black women love the ABC-TV show, “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington as “Olivia Pope.” For sure, the story of a powerful black woman carrying on a torrid love affair with a white president of the United States has captured the high imagination of a lot of soap opera poisoned wannabes who apparently believe that their “real” Prince Charming is not a black man, but some mythic white president who can’t keep his pants on long enough to walk out the front door.
            What bothers me about the show when I happen to be stuck in the same room with it while my wife is watching (Hi Honey) is that “Scandal” can’t find the decency to come up with a decent black male character who can last long enough to show that we do exist.
What about the brother on Olivia Pope’s staff, the one in the suit talkin’ fast every week?
            Used to like him, until he saw fit to crawl under the sheets with a Congresswoman’s daughter a few episodes ago.
            What about the politician who was engaged to marry Olivia Pope? Her daddy had him killed, you’ll recall, saying that he wasn’t good enough.
            Anybody else? Apparently not.
            What’s sad is that the show is produced and written by Shonda Rhimes, creator of the very successful “Grey’s Anatomy,” also on ABC. Rhimes is a black woman. Apparently showing decent brothers is bad for ratings.
            Oh well. This is why we must produce our own movies and TV shows, and create the outlets to show them on. Must they be commercially successful? Yes, but it can be done.
            Or else we’ll never be able to control our own images.
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” ( 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.
And coming in February 2014, the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions documentary presentation of, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

Parents urged to read with their students over the holiday break

Wake County Public School System officials are urging parents of young children to keep their students involved in reading over the long winter break, which begins December 20 for traditional schools.
Students who are not engaged in their normal instructional routines for extended periods are subject to losing some of their literacy skills.
At a news conference on December 19, Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore told reporters, “At no time in the history of our school system is it more important for students to move forward in their literacy skills, especially third graders.”

The reason for the reminder is North Carolina’s new law known as Read to Achieve. The new law requires that all third graders read at or above grade level as measured by the N.C. End of Grade test.
Third graders who do not read at grade level face the possibility of a mandated six-week reading camp sponsored by the school system. If parents decline the camp, the student will be held back. Moore noted that literacy is a foundational skill for all content areas.
To avoid reading loss during the break, parents should ensure children have access to books and other reading material appropriate to their age and skill levels, encourage their children to read on their own, with family members, and even to read stories to their pets.

Passage Home Enters 2014 as Wake County’s Community Action Agency
Federally funded Community Services Block Grant Received
RALEIGH, N.C. — Passage Home—a local nonprofit seeking to break the cycle of poverty in the communities it serves in Wake County—has announced the receipt of $814,514 in federal funding from the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), increasing its capacity to reach into eastern Wake County. The funding establishes Passage Home as a Community Action Agency (CAA), a title typically designated to only one organization per county.
“The CSBG means everything in terms of its purpose and implementation,” said Wake County Commissioner James West. “And it comes from Passage Home’s proven track record in working with low-income individuals, reducing poverty and enhancing people’s quality of life.”
The CSBG, an annually renewable multi-year grant, provides state funding to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities across the country. The federal government entrusts the states to allocate this funding. After a competitive application process, North Carolina granted funding to Passage Home. The funds, coupled with the CAA recognition, will enhance Passage Home’s family self-sufficiency and youth outreach programs. Plans are already underway to use some of the funding to open a new family self-sufficiency site in Wendell, N.C., operational by July 1, 2014.     
“The CSBG designation is an affirmation of the state and county’s confidence in Passage Home’s ability to be a good steward of the federal dollars that assist communities through poverty reduction,” Passage Home CEO Jeanne Tedrow said. “Further, it recognizes Passage Home’s success in reducing the cycle of poverty among families we serve in support of our mission.”

As a direct result of receiving the CSBG grant, due to the statutes tied to becoming a CAA, Passage Home has restructured its board of directors as a tripartite board, comprised of elected officials, private sector representatives and representatives of the populations Passage Home serves (those living at or below the poverty line). Each section of the board is made up of nine individuals, totaling 27-persons as a governing body.

 Founded in 1991 and headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., Passage Home is a 501(c)(3) community action agency that fights poverty and homelessness in Wake County by developing people, developing places and strengthening communities. Through its network of corporations, congregations, and community organizations, Passage Home focuses on two core services: family self-sufficiency (people) and economic development (places). The company is comprised of 29 full-time employees, 10 part-time employees and more than 500 volunteers. For more information, visit, like Passage Home on Facebook and follow @PassageHome on Twitter.

Death penalty becoming increasingly rare, new year-end report shows
As public support sinks, executions and death sentences
are at historic lows in N.C. and nationwide

Durham, NC - The death penalty’s sinking popularity is resulting in fewer executions and death sentences, nationally and in North Carolina, a new year-end report shows.

Nationwide, there were just 39 executions in 2013, a 10-percent decline since 2012, according to a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center. It was only the second year since 1994 with fewer than 40 executions in the United States. Executions were carried out in just nine states, with Texas and Florida accounting for nearly 60 percent of them.

Also in 2013, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish the death penalty.

“The death penalty is becoming an increasingly irrelevant component of the U.S. justice system,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a resource center based in Washington D.C. “Yet, taxpayers spend millions every year on a punishment that is used in only a tiny handful of murder cases. The few who are executed are, in most cases, severely mentally ill or people who were sentenced under outdated laws that do not meet modern standards of justice.”

2013 was North Carolina’s seventh year without an execution, and juries sent only a single person to death row, the first death sentence imposed since 2011. In 2012, for the first time in the modern era of the death penalty, no one was sentenced to death in North Carolina.

The year’s single death sentence came in the case of Mario McNeill, who rejected a plea offer that would have spared him execution and refused to allow his attorneys to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase of his trial.

For the past decade, North Carolina has averaged fewer than three death sentences a year, a sharp contrast with the 1990s, when more than two dozen people were often sent to death row in a single year.

The number of 2013 death sentences nationwide, 79, was also near historic lows.

“When death sentences become as rare as they are now, it’s a clear sign that the people of our state have lost faith in the death penalty,” said Gretchen M. Engel, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a non-profit law firm in Durham that represents death row inmates and a member of the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “Juries are rightly shying away from a punishment fraught with errors and bias that sometimes sends innocent people to death row.”

Despite the North Carolina legislature’s efforts to resume executions and end inquiries into bias in capital sentencing under the Racial Justice Act, voters made it clear in 2013 that the death penalty is no longer necessary in North Carolina.

February poll of North Carolina voters, including moderates and conservatives, found that nearly 70 percent favored replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole if offenders are forced to work and pay restitution. A national Gallup poll released in November showed that public support for the death penalty has reached a 40-year low.

Support for the death penalty is eroding even in groups that have traditionally been strong advocates. This fall, North Carolina became home to the newest chapter of the growing national group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, an alliance of political conservatives who say the death penalty is a wasteful and inefficient program that puts too much power in the hands of the government.

Also this year, another innocent man was released from a North Carolina prison. Larry Lamb spent more than 20 years in prison for murder before persuading a judge that he deserved a new trial. Lamb was serving a life sentence, but his co-defendant, Levon “Bo” Jones, was sentenced to death for the same crime. Jones was exonerated in 2008, one of five innocent men released from death row since 1999.

Another man, Joseph Sledge, is fighting for his freedom after DNA testing of evidence that had been lost for decades revealed that he was not a match. Sledge has been imprisoned for 35 years and has always maintained his innocence.

Engel said, “The public is realizing that a justice system that makes these kinds of mistakes cannot be trusted to carry out executions.”