WAKE SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR
SUTTON FACES CHALLENGES
By Cash Michaels
He’s been chair of the Wake County Board of Education since December, but District 4 representative Keith Sutton has been handed a full plate of challenges already, and then some.
Tuesday evening, Sutton led the board in approving seeking a General Assembly lobbyist to counter legislative efforts by the Republican-led Wake County Board of Commissioners not only to take control of all school system buildings and properties, but also change school board elections from nine districts, to five district and five at-large.
Sutton, who was first appointed in 2009, and then elected in a landslide in a Southeast Raleigh landside in 2011, said the school board was now forced to “defend” itself, given that the commissioners were seeking to take over responsibilities that the voters elected the school board to oversee.
Observers see the GOP commission board move as purely political, given that the Wake School Board will be dominated by Democrats for at least the next three years.
Currently there are six Democrats, led by Sutton and Vice Chair Christine Kushner, on the school board, and two Republicans. Former Wake principal Thomas Benton, a Democrat, was voted on Tuesday to take the unexpired term of Republican Chris Malone, who left to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Former Wake School Board Vice Chair Debra Goldman, abruptly resigned her seat last week after announcing that she is moving to Wilkes County to head up a nonprofit group there. Goldman’s tenure, since she came on the board in Dec. 2009, has been marked by infighting with her board colleagues, accusing Malone of robbing her home, and a failed run for state auditor.
Chairman Sutton says the board will work to fill Goldman’s unexpired term, which ends this November, as did Malone’s, by next month.
Other issues filling the new chairman’s plate include overhauling the system’s antiquated school bus transportation system, implementing a new diversity address-based student assignment plan, getting a schools security assessment from a special task force headed up by Wake County Sheriff Donny Harrison, and hiring a new schools superintendent to replace the fired Anthony Tata, who was terminated last September amid turmoil.
Tata, who was only on the job for eighteen months, has since been appointed secretary of the NC Dept. of Transportation by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Sutton must also deal with a thus-far unfounded complaint to AdvancED, a school accreditation agency, from a local conservative group that is rooted in retaliation for the firing of Supt. Tata last year.
All of this amid the backdrop of now even further strained relations with the Wake County Commissioners regarding developing a new school construction bond referendum for at least 23 new schools that are needed to meet a projected student population growth.
HK ON J 7 TO TARGET
‘CRUEL AND UNUSUAL’ GOP
by Cash Michaels
If ever the state needed the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly, it needs it now, says HK on J 7 convener, Rev. Dr. William Barber.
The NCNAACP president is beckoning ever citizen concerned about the aggressive “cruel and unusual” direction of the Republican-led state Legislature to join thousands of others from across the state this Saturday for the Seventh Annual HK on J march and rally through downtown Raleigh to the Legislative Building, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in front of Shaw University.
The theme for this year’s assembly – “Mobilizing to End Poverty and Economic injustice.”
And given what Republican lawmakers have already set forth as their agenda since starting the session last week, in addition to what was done to stop the expansion of Medicaid and cut unemployment benefits this week, Rev. Barber says the people can’t wait any longer to have their voices heard.
“It is more necessary than ever because of the cruel and unusual quadruple attack on labor rights, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and voting rights that will have devastating impacts on the poor and working people,” Rev. Barber says. “And beyond attacks on unemployment, Medicaid and voting rights, they are considering tax "reform" which would cut corporate income tax and force North Carolinians in these difficult economic times to pay higher sales tax, carrying the burden of the state budget on their backs.”
At an effort at long overdue tax reform, GOP lawmakers have proposed eliminating the personal and corporate income tax, compensating for it by raising the state sales tax on services, and especially on food, from 2 percent to eight percent.
Critics say this would be a regressive tax that would especially hit the poor the hardest. Even Gov. McCrory’s Deputy Budget Director Art Pope, a conservative businessman and Tea Party supporter, says the GOP sales tax plan would be problematic and unfair to lower-income families.
The state House moved quickly to adopt cutting weekly unemployment benefits from $535.00 per week, done sharply to $350.00 a week, in an effort to pay back a $2.4 billion loan from the federal government. It is now in the hands of the state Senate.
The Senate, meanwhile, moved quickly to distance itself from the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as it is more commonly known, by voting to stop any expansion of Medicaid, thus denying at least 500,000 low-income North Carolinians access to those services. Gov. McCrory asked the Senate to slow down before making its quick decision, but it seems that the House will have to decide whether to give McCrory the time he asked for.
He is scheduled to address both houses of the General Assembly later this month.
And all eyes are on Senate Bill 10, introduced this week by Republican Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, which, if enacted, would sweep members of state appointed boards and commissions, including the NC Utilities Commission, the NC Turnpike Authority, and even eliminate special judicial appointments, so that both the governor and the legislature could appoint people “who are more like-minded and willing to carry out the philosophy of the new administration.”
Critics are calling this a “power-grab” the likes of which North Carolina has rarely seen before.
All of this, plus a voter photo ID law that is definitely expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.
“Seeming insensitive to the lives of everyday people, we hear a strange tongue being spoken by legislators who are supposed to be working for the good of the whole. They have suggested in debate, for example, that the poor don't need health care, every county should take care of their own, the federal government giving back billions of tax payer dollars to help the poor is a violation of state's rights, and unemployed people will get jobs if we take their unemployment insurance and give it back to corporations, etc.,” Rev Barber says.
“The governor somehow supports the unemployment cut but even he had to say to the legislators - wait a minute, slow down and look at what you are doing - when he began to consider the impact of Medicaid cuts."
“In just one week we have seen a revival and renewed commitment to implement policy rooted in the regressive policies of states rights, classism, racial discrimination, and economic injustice,” Rev. Barber continued. “These things are old south mentality. They may have the votes but we have the voice and we must dramatize these shameful actions for all North Carolinians and even the nation to see in hopes that they will change. And if not mobilize in hope that the people and voters will challenge them in their home districts and become educated for when they have to judge these elected leaders later at the ballot box.”
“The trajectory of this public policy direction is mean-spirited and extreme,” Barber maintains. “It is not only morally unconscionable and constitutionally inconsistent, but economically insane. We can do better than this!”
Rev. Barber concluded, “This is why our multi-ethnic, economically-diverse, anti-racism and anti-poverty, HKonJ People's Assembly and Poor People's March and Mobilization this Saturday against the action of the General Assembly is more necessary now than ever before.”
The night before, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, leader of the recently pardoned Wilmington Ten, will help lead a pre-HK on J7 Worship Service at Rush Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Raleigh, 554 East Cabarrus Street, staring at 7 p.m. The public is invited.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 2-7-13
PITTSBORO MAYOR ELECTED NEW STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN
Randy Voller, the mayor of Pittsboro, was elected the new chairman of the embattled NC Democratic party last weekend by the State Executive Committee, edging out former Congressman Bob Etheridge. Voller was the grassroots choice, and succeeds David Parker. Voller promises to fight hard against the Republican legislative majority.
FORMER STATE SEN. R.C. SOLES TO GET HIGHEST NC HONOR
[WILMINGTON] Former State Sen. R. C. Soles, who left the NC General Assembly years ago amid controversy and a criminal investigation, is scheduled to receive The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of North Carolina’s highest civilian honors. Published reports say Soles will receive the honor Feb. 11th during a special luncheon at the NC Museum of Forestry.
GET READY TO PAY YOUR CAR REGISTRATION AND PROPERTY TAX TOGETHER
[CHARLOTTE] Because people are more likely to pay their property taxes before their car registration, as of May, North Carolina law will require that drivers pay both at once. It’s called “tag and tax, and the state Division of Motor Vehicles will begin sending out notices to motorists of the new rule. Motorists will pay the DMV the total bill covering their tags and property taxes. It took eight years for all 100 counties in the state to gear up for the change.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 2-7-13
DURHAM MAYOR LAUDS CRIME DECREASE
The overall Durham crime rate went down in 2012, says Mayor Bill Bell, but more must be done to make the Bull City safer. In his annual State of the city address, Mayor Bell lauded the fact that crime dropped 7.5 percent, with homicides decreasing a whopping 19 percent. Bell says, “the community can do better.” The mayor also indicated that Durham needs to do more to grow its tax base by attracting more industries, and getting current business owners to improve their properties.
FEDERAL JUDGE STILL NOT PLEASED WITH WAKEMED SETTLEMENT
Apparently US District Court Judge Terrence Boyle has lost faith with federal prosecutors in their handling of the WakeMed Medicare fraud settlement, and has decided to craft his own. Wake Med Hospital was charged with fraudulently billing overnight stays to Medicare for patients who had actually been discharged same-day. WakeMed agreed to pay $8 million, and the feds agreed to defer prosecution for two years, and drop charges thereafter if the hospital corrects its actions. Judge Boyle balked, however, saying the hospital was getting off easy. He says he may write his own settlement.
CASSANDRA DECK-BROWN CHOSEN NEW RALEIGH POLICE CHIEF
Cassandra Deck-Brown, who has served as interim Raleigh Police Chief, has been officially chosen by Raleigh City Manager J. Russell Allen to permanently serve in that capacity, effective February 1. Chief Deck-Brown, who has been with the Raleigh Police Dept since 1987, is the first black woman ever to lead the department. Chief Deck-Brown says she is a strong believer in community policing. Look for her interview in next week's Carolinian Newspaper.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
HK ON J 7 – Before we say or do anything else, once again mark your calendars now for this Saturday, Feb. 9th, for the Seventh Annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street – the People’s Assembly March and Rally. This year’s theme is “Mobilizing to End Poverty and Economic Injustice.” Gather in front of Shaw University on South Street in Raleigh at 9:30 a.m., then march down to the NC Legislative Building on Jones Street at 10:30 a.m. to rally for justice.
And the night before, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten, will be the keynote speaker during a pre-HK on J 7 worship service at Rush Metropolitan AME Zion Church, 554 East Cabarrus Street in Raleigh Friday, Feb. 8th at 6 p.m.
For more information, go to http://www.hkonj.com/, or call (919) 682-4700.
SUPER BOWL – What a great game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. It had everything, including the unexpected, namely the 34-minute blackout at the New Orleans stadium. It was a strange episode indeed, but CBS is to be commended for handling it properly, turning its sideline crew in to straight newsmen reporting what was going on, and how it was affecting the players and the fans.
Oh, and by the way, the Beyonce’ halftime show was a television spectacular.
The 49ers made a game of it after the lights came back on, and after being blown out in the first half, you honestly didn’t know how it all was going to end until the final seconds, which is the way a great game is supposed to be.
Good thing the Super Bowl wasn’t on Fox. They would have called the lights-out incident a terrorist attack, or found some way to blame Pres. Obama.
BAD CRITIQUE – One of the most touching moments of Sunday’s Super Bowl was the singing of “America the Beautiful” by the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School from Newtown, Conn., where 26 people, 20 of whom were first-graders, were all shot to death by an unhinged madman.
The singers were great, and they were soon joined by superstar singer Jennifer Hudson, who added her own special touch.
Some critics, apparently feeling that the kids didn’t need much help, blasted Hudson for her style of soulful singing, which was in contrast to how the children sang America’s song.
First of all, there was nothing wrong with the way Jennifer Hudson sang her song. Some folks just don’t like good soul singing. That’s their problem.
But those dummies also forget, Jennifer Hudson also lost family to gun violence just a few years ago. So she and the Sandy Hook students were one family in singing from the heart about their hope that America can, and will do better when it comes to gun control.
ALI – Last week there was published report in the London Sun titled, “Stricken Ali could be dead in days,” which went on to state, allegedly based on an interview with the former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali’s younger brother Rahman, that Ali, at 71, was in such bad shape from Parkinson’s disease, that he had only months, if not days to live.
Well here’s the problem – Ali’s family told the Associated Press that the champ was not “close to death,” and in fact, was at home in Arizona watching the Super Bowl with his Baltimore Ravens regalia on. And they also provided a picture of what seems like an alert 71 year-old swinging his fists as if in the old glory days of his boxing career.
One of Ali’s daughter later confirmed this.
So what’s the story here? Why did Rahman allegedly tell a British newspaper that his famous brother was near death, and also that Ali’s wife of 26 years, Lonnie, was tearing the family apart? Why talk to a British paper at all, when there are plenty of US newspapers, and TV networks, that would have taken the story, if true?
One thing’s for sure, don’t ever trust a British newspaper for even the funnies. They lie so much, I wouldn’t wrap fish in them for fear of infecting the poor lifeless things. Those papers are that rotten.
“BETTY AND CORETTA”: I, too, want to join with others who give Lifetime Television credit for having the guts to air a daring television movie last weekend titled, “Betty and Coretta,” starring Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige . The production about the unique relationship between Dr. Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, and Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was halfway decent (the actor who portrayed Malcolm X was way too soft, almost cute with those dimples), and I thought it was a brilliant idea to have legendary actress Ruby Dee narrate the story.
But there were problems, naturally.
One of the first was Mary J. Blige’s performance. She is a great performer, her nine Grammy are testament to that. But that’s in singing. Her acting, especially for such a powerful role as Dr. Betty Shabazz, badly needed work, though homegirl tried. Blige, who was the film’s executive producer (meaning she was a boss on the movie) could barely keep up with Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett, who can enthrall us effortlessly with her interpretation of Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, and yes, Coretta Scott King.
Actor Malik Yorba brought something to the table in his brief portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his scenes with Bassett’s Coretta King have chemistry.
That was all of the good stuff.
The rest of the time I watched this film I kept asking myself, “Did the King and Shabazz families sign off on this?” The answer is no. The producers of the film admit to not consulting with the families, meaning that a good deal of what we watched was fictional.
One of the reasons why the producers didn’t is because they knew the families wouldn’t like what they were doing, some of the dramatic licenses they were taking with the memories and portrayals of their loved ones. Thus, we saw Coretta King talking extensively about her husband’s alleged infidelities, which really wasn’t needed. We saw the film out and out accuse Nation of Islam leader Min. Louis Farrakhan of the murder of Malcolm X.
Yes, history tells us that Betty and her children believed that, but there’s still so much we don’t know that the leap over facts felt very uncomfortable to watch.
So while I enjoyed the film, it made me itch. Dr. Betty Shabazz and Mrs. Coretta Scott King were two dynamic women whose legacies deserve nothing but the truth. The film was inspired by the truth, but didn’t always tell it. And that’s sad, that’s very sad.
To be fair, most films about famous people stretch the truth a bit for dramatic effect. But some stories, if told properly, have all of the requisite drama needed without making up stuff. “Betty and Coretta” deserved that kind of treatment.
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 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.