NNPA STORIES -
AFTER EIGHT YEARS, CHARLOTTE
BLACK BUSINESSES DOWN ON CIAA
By Cash Michaels
By any measure, Charlotte is known as the city where business is done.
The banking capital of the Southeast, the Queen City prides itself to be “Atlanta-lite” – a black-run city that knows how to build business. And with last year’s Democratic National Convention putting Charlotte on the world map as a major destination location, there is no question that the city will be heard from again for years to come.
But if an article in the Charlotte Observer is any indication, when the nation’s premier black college sporting event, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Basketball Tournament, returns for its eighth year Feb. 26th to March 2nd, while the swanky hotels and restaurants in Charlotte’s flashy downtown will roll in black gold, local African-American businesses will, once again, see little, if any benefit at all.
“If the [CIAA] moved its annual…basketball tournament from Charlotte, what evidence would remain in the black business community – aside from some party pictures – that we had ever hosted the popular event?” is the way Glenn Burkins, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, and former business editor for The Charlotte Observer, began his Feb. 20th article titled, “Black Business and the CIAA” on his Qcitymetro.com website and in the Observer.
In his story, Burkins said he put that question to local city and business leaders, including Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.
Foxx is African-American.
“They spoke of the tournament’s obvious impact on the city as a whole, but when pressed to give even one example of how it had helped black business owners, the conversations stalled,” Burkins wrote.
He went on to note how, after Charlotte had won the rights to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, city and business leaders, led by Mayor Foxx, determined that the event deserved a “legacy” approach, meaning that it should have a lasting economic imprint on the city for many years after, similar to what the Olympic games do for a host city.
“An online business directory was built. Business workshops were organized. Even a special business liaison was hired. But eight years after Charlotte first hosted the CIAA, where is that same focus?” Burkin asks.
The CIAA Tournament came to Charlotte after leaving Raleigh in 2005, and ironically, African-Americans in the Triangle, which at that time boasted of three of the 12 CIAA historically black member colleges and universities, voiced the same concerns. Even more troubling is that black business leaders in Winston-Salem – the city which hosted the popular tourney for many years until the tens of thousands of fans and black college alums grew bigger than the city’s facilities could hold – say the same thing.
The CIAA games did little for the local black business bottomline.
Burkin writes that over the eight years the CIAA has drawn thousands of black visitors to the city, local black businesses have continuously questioned how the black collegiate Division II sports conference “seeks and awards” contracts. The carpet is always rolled out for major corporate sponsors like Ford Motor co. and Coca-Cola Bottling Co., but when it comes to some of the 20,000 local Charlotte black businesses, many of whom lack access to much needed capital, getting a slice of the pie, the going is rough.
Burkin confirmed to The Carolinian via phone interview Wednesday that few officials he spoke with, including Mayor Foxx, could give him a straight answer on why local black businesses get the brushoff from the CIAA.
And new CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter was not made available for Burkin to interview.
But most stunning was a response Burkin got from Mike Butts, the executive director of Visit Charlotte, the sales and marketing arm of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA). Butts also chairs the CIAA Host Committee.
“Butts…said the issue of economic empowerment [of local black businesses] never comes up during any of the meetings he’s attended,” Burkin writes. “That admission might be less appalling if an estimated 180,000 people – nearly all of them black – didn’t flock to Charlotte each year to attend CIAA events, if the CRVA didn’t give $1 million a year (about $500,000 of that in tax dollars) to the CIAA, and if the annual tournament didn’t pump tens of millions of dollars into the city’s economy, most of it going to uptown hotels and bars.”
It was former CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry who brought the CIAA Tourney to Charlotte from Raleigh years ago.
Kerry, 63, abruptly resigned in November 2011, is credited with the tremendous of the CIAA from the time he took the reigns in 1988. Allegations of improperly funneling money to an employee of the CRVA dogged him in his final years, according to published reports.
In 2014, the CIAA will entertain bids for its next host city, and is likely to attract suitors from Atlanta, Ga. and Pennsylvania. But the question is, now that it has new leadership, will the black collegiate conference continue to turn its back on the black business community no matter where it’s located, or will it support the community that historically has always supported it?
NCNAACP BLASTS MCCRORY, GOP LEADERSHIP
By Cash Michaels
Accusing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP-led NC General Assembly of creating “health care apartheid,” the president of the NCNAACP, in an open letter issued the morning after Gov. McCrory’s first State of the State address Monday evening, urged the new governor not to sign a controversial Senate bill which stops the expansion of Medicaid to 500,000 more poor people in the state.
Republican supporters of the bill say the state’s Medicaid program is a mess and inefficient, with a recent state audit showing cost overruns in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
McCrory agrees, saying that once the bill gets to his desk, he’ll sign it.
But critics of the measure, which includes many on the medical industry, say the problems with the state’s Medicare system can be fixed. With the federal government paying the full cost for the first three years, and 90 percent of the costs annually thereafter, plus an estimated 23,000 jobs and boost to North Carolina that could result, critics are dumbfounded that McCrory and the Republicans would be willing to pass up the opportunity.
They add that the conservative zeal to cripple Pres. Obama’s health care reform act is the true reason why Republicans oppose the Medicaid expansion.
To sacrifice the needs of the poor for the sake of partisan politics is unfair, many say.
“On behalf of millions of poor and working people in North Carolina, we reject your apparent eagerness to deny 500,000 low income North Carolina people access to health care they need now,” Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, wrote in his Feb. 18th missive. “You are creating two health care systems: One for the Haves. One for the Have Nots.”
Barber continued, “When you reject Medicaid expansion, you create disparate impacts on African Americans, other minorities, the poor, and the disabled. In a time when many have not recovered from the Recession, when many families are in desperate need of a social safety net, you turn your back on them--infants, young people, and the elderly. You do this aware that African Americans, Latinos and other people of color have a much lower insured rate than white North Carolinians. The rate is 7.7% lower for African Americans, 19.4% for Latinos and 4.6% lower for Asian Americans.”
Rev. Barber and other progressives are apparently going to be kept quite busy with criticism in the coming weeks, if not years that the Republicans are in power.
Gov. McCrory’s signing of the unemployment bill that drastically cut jobless benefits Tuesday made nationwide news. Under the measure, as of July 1st, weekly benefits are cut from $535.00 a week for 170,000 long-term unemployed North Carolinians, to just $350.00 per week, and the number of weeks would be put a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks.
McCrory and the Republicans say the law is needed to begin repaying over $2 billion the state owes the federal government. But critics say the poor and unemployed will suffer as a result.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobless workers thrown out of work through no fault of their own will face deepening poverty as a result of this decision,” said Jeff Shaw, Communications Director for the NC Justice Center.
“No state has ever cut unemployment benefits this sharply, this quickly. No state has ever turned down hundreds of millions in federal benefits the way this bill does. North Carolina’s legislature and Governor chose to permanently cut benefits, reduce employers' contributions over time, and reject $700 million in federal extended benefits,” Shaw added.
There are bills introduced that would also bring back payday lending, which critics note clearly exploits the poor, eliminating the estate tax for the wealthy, and raising the sales tax on food and services, which would disproportionately hurt the poor.
“The plans already on the table tell us that legislators are planning to rely on the sales tax to support their income tax reductions or eliminations,” says Alexandra Sirota, director of the NC Budget and Tax Center in Raleigh. “As such, these plans would shift the tax load to hardworking North Carolinians while providing tax cuts to the wealthy. Over time, this approach would also erode the state’s ability to fulfill the Governor’s commitment to support schools and infrastructure.”
For those in the progressive community, emboldened to do battle with the Republican agenda, there is no question that the social clock is being turned back.
“In N.C.'s rural areas, community hospitals provide care to those who cannot afford it,” wrote NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber in his open letter to GOP leadership. “But because of your rejection of Medicaid expansion, many of the rural community hospitals may have to shut their doors, eliminating the care to those who need it most. By expanding Medicaid, North Carolina would qualify for significant federal funds which would allow for these community hospitals to continue to provide needed medical care and provide for improved health care to young people, seniors and disabled citizens who need health care the most.”
“Please do as so many people in our great state have called on you to do,” Rev. Barber continued. “Please govern for the good of the whole, not just the rich few.”
STATE NEW BRIEFS FOR 2-21-13
GROUP FIGHTS AGAINST RETURN OF PAYDAY LENDING
[RALEIGH] Ten years ago, the then Democrat-led NC General Assembly outlawed payday lending in the state because poor people and military families were being charged outrageous interest rates on short-term loans. Now that the Republicans have taken over both houses of the Legislature, a bill has been introduced by Senates Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca to re-establish payday lending in North Carolina. Action NC, a grassroots social advocacy group, has mounted an email campaign to oppose the bill.
STATE DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN BLASTS GOP “WAR ON THE POOR”
[RALEIGH] With the Republican-led NC General Assembly passing bills to cut unemployment and stop the expansion of Medicaid, in addition to proposals to raise the sales tax and bring back payday lending, state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller blasted both GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, claiming that, “This is a war on the poor, and a war on the hardworking taxpayers of this state.” Wondering whether McCrory, a moderate, ever intends to confront the conservatives in his party, Voller added, “The question becomes at what point does Gov. McCrory stand up to this radical reactionary legislature.”
RALEIGH, DURHAM RANK IN TOP TEN BEST PLACES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
[RALEIGH] When it comes to the top ten best American cities for small businesses, Raleigh and Durham are considered among that number. According to the Business Journal, based on government data, the Capital City is number 4 with 24.91 per 1,000 people, and the Bull City is sixth among the top ten, with 22.56 small businesses for every 1,000 people. Salt Lake City, Utah is fifth. Denver, Col. is third, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is second, and the number small business city is Austin, Texas, with 23.3 per every 1,000.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 2-21-13
WAKE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH FIRM FLOATS SURVEY
McPherson and Jacobson, the search firm hired by the Wake County Board of Education in January, is seeking input from Wake County parents, students and system personnel and other community stakeholders on the qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent of the Wake County Public School System. The firm’s work will include developing a recruitment timeline, meeting with stakeholder groups, soliciting public input to create a profile of the district and recruiting candidates whose qualifications and attributes match that profile.
Please visit http://www.wcpss.net/superintendent-search/ to fill out the survey, and for more information and updates.
HISTORIC OBERLIN CEMETERY NOW OFFICIAL RALEIGH LANDMARK
Oberlin Cemetery, established in 1873, if not earlier, as a graveyard for slaves, was officially designated an historic city landmark by the Raleigh City Council Tuesday. Located at 1014 Oberlin Road, it is one of the few surviving landmarks of Oberlin Village, one of the largest freedmen’s conclaves in Wake County after the Civil War. At least 600 graves are contained in the cemetery, with various monuments displaying the artistic work of the period.
FREE SOUTHEAST RALEIGH COMMUNITY WORKSHOP FEB. 23RD
Voices Into Action is hosting a free community workshop for Southeast Raleigh residents on Saturday, Feb. 23rd, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church’s Johnson Building, to talk about ideas for programs or projects that would create opportunities for a healthier community. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and transportation and childcare is available upon request by contacting Kathryn at 919-513-2703 or info@voicesinto action.org.
CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 2-21-13
By Cash Michaels
RESPECT, SHAQ AND CHARLES, RESPECT – It must be real difficult being a has-been professional sports figure. The glory days are gone. The body just isn’t what it used to be. Heck, the mind probably isn’t as sharp either.
None of the above are meant to be derogatory. They are facts of life for all of us, regardless of our particular vocation in life, no matter what you did well in your prime. With few exceptions, as the years go on, all of us slowly, but certainly surely, begin to lose some of that which made us one of the best in what we did.
Professional athletes are the dramatic example of this. Because they performed in front of all of us, and brought us to our collective feet with heart-stopping displays of physical prowess that most of us have only dreamed of, we bestow upon them great honor, and respect.
Just last week, we celebrated the 50th birthday of Michael Jordan, and we did so because all of us agree that despite the turkey of a team he now owns, his time winning championships with the North Carolina Tar Heels, and then the Chicago Bulls, puts MJ in a class by himself.
He will always deserve our respect, if not our awe.
Indeed, anyone who makes it to the pros of any sport deserves our respect, because their unique abilities separated them from millions of others to the very top. That doesn’t mean they will ever reach greatness. Indeed, the majority of pro players never do. But the fact that they contributed to a legitimate team in professional sports, assuming that they were giving maximum effort, is worthy of note, and again, respect.
That’s why I couldn’t believe my ears while watching TNT Network’s coverage of the NBA ALL-Star Weekend from Houston, Texas last Saturday night. Specifically, former NBA superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, as part of the broadcast team, were remarking on the poor performances by various NBA entrants in the ever-popular slam-dunk contest.
Now, I will be the first to admit that this year’s competition was the poorest I’ve seen in years in terms of ability and imagination. Gone are the days of monster dunks by folks like Jordan, Dr. J and other masters of the power display.
This year, virtually everyone who competed had to push themselves beyond two or three tries just to finally get a dunk that would at least wake up the crowd, let alone go in the basket.
It was boring. Not because these guys didn’t try. They just weren’t that good.
But that doesn’t mean any of them deserved the treatment they got on-air from Shaq and “Sir Charles.”
Both blowhards talked of the slam-dunk competitors as nobodies, literally. Indeed, they both bragged on-air that they didn’t know who these guys were (with the exception of last year’s contest winner Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz).
It’s one thing to have some moron basketball announcer act that way. But when veterans of the game treat their colleagues – young professionals like they once were – like they just walked off the street for a tryout, that is a profound disrespect.
I’m not saying the dunkers’ lack of skill shouldn’t have been noted. That’s what basketball analysts do – tell us the what’s and why’s of what we’re seeing with sugarcoating it.
But when you start laughing on-air about the fact that none of the contestants have made enough of a superstar status yet for you to even know their names, that’s hitting below the belt. The majority of NBA basketball players aren’t known to the general public unless someone specifically follows a particular team.
Now if better-known stars like LeBron, and D-Wade and Kobe decide that they are too established to be competing in a slam-dunk contest watched by millions of people, then that’s their prerogative. But then who does that leave left? Lesser known NBA players ready to shine. So it’s natural that we wouldn’t know all of their names, but do former stars have to slam that in their faces?
So Shaq and Charles, as legends of the game, I personally expect more class from you guys. Do your jobs as basketball analysts, yes. Tell us what somebody does right and does wrong, certainly. Tell us what is actually happening in a game, or, if you can, what is supposed to happen next.
But don’t sit there on your 50-year-old faces and disrespect any NBA player as a nobody. That could change in a heartbeat, in one game.
Just ask Jeremy Lin.
FOREST GETS AN APOLOGY – Earlier this week, the owner of a New York City delicatessen apologized to Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker for an ugly incident that occurred last week.
Whitaker, an African-American, reportedly was frisked by a deli employee while there. When the employee realized Whitaker was clean, he asked him not to call the cops because he didn’t want to lose his job, so Whitaker didn’t, but the story got out, and the deli caught all kinds of hell and bad publicity.
The deli owner says now that the employee no longer works there, not because he was fired, but because he’s so embarrassed, he doesn’t want to come back. The owner assures all that the former employee is really a decent guy.
Well exactly how decent would he have been if it wasn’t a famous actor he was rousting, but Leroy Whitaker, or Hasan Whitaker, or “Homeboy” Whitaker?
Couple this with a widely reported story this week about an African-American nurse suing the hospital she used to work at because it acceded to the request of a white patient not to allow any black nurses to look after his white newborn; or the story of a white man slapping a crying black toddler on a plane, and you have to ask yourself if the world is growing even more crazy, or do racists just don’t give a damn any longer?
Well, at least Forest got his apology. Thank GOD for Academy Award winning black actors.
PRINCE MICHAEL GETS A JOB – So Michael Jackson’s son, Prince Michael, has gotten a job as a special correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight.” I honestly don’t know what to think about this. I’m not against it (and quite frankly don’t have the right to be), but I’m not necessarily excited about it either.
Clearly the young man has gotten the gig not because he has some great journalistic background. And when Prince Michael gets interview assignments, I have the funniest feeling the celebrities he speaks with will be more star-struck with him than he will be with them.
So clearly this is a gimmick by ET to not only hold onto its audience, but perhaps build up some younger viewers.
Let’s give Prince Michael, 16, at least a year to learn the job, and see if he sticks with it. Who knows, if Chelsea Clinton and one of Pres. Bush’s daughters can work for NBC News, then why not give one of Michael’s kids a shot?
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.