Tuesday, March 26, 2013





            [ROCKY MOUNT]  No African-American has ever been appointed a federal District Court judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the NCNAACP wants that changed. The civil rights group is lobbying Republican US Sen. Richard Burr [R- NC] to join with Democratic US Sen. Kay Hagan, also of North Carolina, in submitting a list of African-American candidates to Pres. Obama for his consideration. NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber says he has tried to meet with Sen. Burr about this matter for the past five years, and even sent three certified letters to him that went unanswered. Barber says that while Hagan has met with the NCNAACP, Burr has refused. Barber vows that if Sen. Burr continues to refuse, the NCNAACP will deliver list directly to the president.  No word from Sen. Burr’s office on whether he will meet with the NCNAACP.

            [RALEIGH] State Senate Bill 306, which seeks to restart capital punishment in North Carolina and repeal what is left of the gutted Racial Justice Act, is moving forward in the state Legislature after the Senate passed it on Wednesday, and sent the bill, sponsored by Sen. Thom Goolsby [R-New Hanover] to the House. If it becomes law, the measure would speed up the legal cases that have stopped the death penalty in North Carolina since 2006, and completely take the Racial Justice Act, which stopped racially-biased death penalty cases, off the books. The NCNAACP blasted the bill, saying that, “To know the system is racially biased and yet proceed without addressing these issues is to engage in the sinful act of state sponsored murder…”

            [WASH., DC] US Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) announced her support for same-sex marriage equality this week, a day after the US Supreme Court heard arguments on whether California’s Proposition Eight ban against gay marriage was constitutional. Hagan said, “We should not tell people who they can love, or who they can marry.” A decision by the High Court is expected in June.

            As the US Senate takes up gun control legislation today, cities across the nation, and in North Carolina, join in a “National Day to Demand Action,” sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Moore Square Park, 200 South Blount Street in Raleigh, gun violence survivor Kim Erickson Yaman and Jen Geurin Ferrell, founder of Forward Americans, lead a candlelight vigil against gun violence. The public is invited to attend.

            Students from across the 16-campus UNC System demonstrated at the state Legislature in Raleigh Wednesday against a Republican proposal to cut “one or two” of the campuses in a budget-saving move. The NC Student Power Union, the group organizing the demonstration, said it opposes the proposal, in addition to the over $130 million that Gov. Pat McCrory cut from the UNC System in is budget proposal last week. McCrory also wants to raise tuition for out-of-state students by over 12 percent.

            A teacher’s assistant at Leesville Road high School has been arrested and charged with four counts of having sex with a female student there. Javon Lerail Walker, 25, was arrested after school official caught wind of the alleged relationship, and called Raleigh police to investigate. He is under $200,000 secured bond in the Wake County jail. Walker was hired last September.


By Cash Michaels

            The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party says if state Democrats stand any chance of taking back the NC General Assembly in 2014, they have to start organizing, fundraising and strategizing now, even though the recently drawn redistricting maps, favoring Republicans, makes it difficult.
            “To be a Democrat and to believe in our values, you have to be involved every day, and in every election,” Chairman Randy Voller told the Power 750 WAUG-AM program, “Make It Happen” during an interview that airs today.
             “We need to actually get involved this fall in local and municipal elections, elect people who believe in our values, believe in community-building, believe in holding people accountable …on the issues that matter to us”
            Voller, who said the GOP redrew the voting districts so that the Republicans could pick their voters, not for the voters to pick their politicians, continued,” And we’re going to have to get involved next year, starting in the primaries, all the way through the general [elections], and continue to do that.”
            Voller, who also serves as mayor of Pittsboro, says Democrats may not be able to take back both the state House and Senate in one election cycle, so Democrats must devote themselves to slow, incremental change over the next 2 to four years in order to gain back control.
            “We’re going to have to win this back over a couple of cycles,” he says.
            That means holding the Republicans accountable for all that they’re doing now that Voller and others believe is turning the clock back on the tremendous progress that was made by the Democrats when they were in control.
            “You can be a surgeon and use a scalpel, or claim to be a surgeon and use a meat cleaver,” he maintained.
Chairman Voller says he’s leading a state party that is working for more jobs, expanded business opportunities and prosperity for all through thoughtful investments and good policies, while the Republicans are the party of austerity, cutting government to the bone so that the wealthy can benefit more.
            “These are tricky times with what’s going on at the General Assembly,” Voller said.  “I think they refer to it as, “The nightmare on Jones Street.”
Since the Republican-led NC General Assembly went into session two months ago, North Carolinians have seen the expansion of Medicaid denied to 500,000 poor citizens, the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families repealed, the estate tax on the wealthiest North Carolinians repealed, and unemployment benefits severely slashed.
            Policies now being discussed include lowering the corporate and personal income taxes on the wealthy while extending state sales taxes to 130 more services, including legal services. Experts say that shifts the tax burden from the wealthy to the working class.
            Repealing what's left of the NC Racial Justice Act, the 2009 law signed by Gov. Beverly Perdue to stop racially-biased death penalty prosecutions, and also re-instituting capital punishment (which is currently under legal challenge), is also on the GOP legislative menu. 
            Republicans are also seriously discussing closing “one or two” campuses in the 16-campus UNC System as a cost-saving measure. Most likely on the chopping block is either one of the smaller historically-black universities in the system, or UNC-Pembroke.
            Chairman Voller says it is a contradiction for the Republicans to be giving tax breaks to the wealthy in the state, but continue to cut education for the neediest students.
            The prospect of closing a UNC HBCU has been broached before, but now that the Republicans have majorities in both legislative houses, there’s little doubt they can do it if they want.
            Plus GOP state lawmakers are suddenly attempting to micro-manage certain cities and counties that have apparent Democratic leadership.
            Republicans are taking the Charlotte – Douglas Airport from the city of Charlotte, and putting it under a regional authority, even though no one requested the change.
            GOP legislators are also changing ownership of Asheville’s water system, again, without request.
            “It’s a perpetuation of a rural-urban divide…,” Voller says, noting that many GOP rural lawmakers are the ones targeting these Democrat-controlled urban areas, believing that there won’t be a lot of political damage to them to do so.
            “They’re bigfooting our cities,” Voller says. “This is about power and control. I don’t think it has anything to do with what’s best for our citizens.”
            And a bill that would remove ownership of school properties from the school board, and transfer it to the county commission board, is speeding through the Legislature for passage. The measure will affect every county in the state, even though it began as a retaliatory effort by Republicans against the Democrat-led Wake School Board after Supt. Tony Tata was fired.
            The tension between the Wake Board of Education and the Wake Board of Commissioners has also spawned another Senate bill that would change Wake’s nine-district school board elections and shorten the terms of all five Democratic members in order to allow Republicans to retake the board. That measure is on a slower track in the state Senate.
            “It’s purely political,” Chairman Voller says.
“I don’t know why a legislator feels that the minute they are elected, that they have to go up there and release a smorgasbord of ideologically-run legislation,” said Voller. He adds that while Republicans claim Democrats did the same things when they held power, it’s not true that they managed power in the same, heavy-handed way.
            State Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake), when he served as House Speaker in the 1990s, always made sure he gave the Republican minority a meaningful place at the table to give their ideas a fair hearing.
            That runs counter to the legislative process today, where the Republican majority rushes key pieces of legislation through committees without allowing for much input from opposing views.
            GOP lawmakers’ recent appointments to the UNC Board of Governors, for example, were virtually all Republicans, sparking cries from Democrats for “more balance.”
            “It was incredibly partisan, and if there was a Democrat in the group, I’m not aware of it,” Chairman Voller said.
The practice is so bad that when the Republicans do allow a deliberative process, as with the recent voter photo ID hearings, Democratic critics charge that’s it’s only for show and to cover their bases in case they’re taken to court.
There are reports that several moderate Republicans in the Legislature are concerned with the rapid pace and scatter-shot nature of lawmaking by their party.
            On Tuesday, for example, when the state Senate passed a bill that would essentially renege on the $68 million lease deal the NC Council of State made with the city of Raleigh last December to turn the Dorothea Dix campus into a park, Wake County’s two Republican senators, Neal Hunt and Chad Barefoot, voted against it, saying that though they disagreed with the deal because they felt the state was being cheated, they still supported the park concept and believed a contract is a contract.
            A large turnout of Dix Park supporters during a public hearing Monday helped both Hunt and Barefoot, made up their minds to side with the supporters, and Chairman Voller says citizens and Democrats need to do more of the same heading into 2014.
            “I think the [Republicans] are essentially playing with people’s lives, and  lot of people are going to be hurt. This is mean-spirited and ill-advised,” Chairman Voller says. “People are getting tired of this, and you’re going to see a shift back.”

STUDENTS AGAINST VOTER PHOTO ID - A delegation of Shaw University students with state Rep. Yvonne Lewis-Holley (D-Wake) at the recent House Elections Committee hearings on voter photo ID [photo courtesy of Common Cause NC]

Students from local HBCUs oppose Voter Photo ID
Masac Dorlouis
Special to The Carolinian

Students from Saint Augustine’s and Shaw University usually view each other as rivals, but both put their quarrels aside on Tuesday, Mar. 12, to come together and voice their concerns on the impact of a voter ID bill.
Many were in attendance for the first public hearing regarding the idea of passing a photo voter ID law, hosted by the Republican House Leadership. All members of the public and organizations who have long opposed this bill were given the opportunity to share their concerns.
Johna Mitchell and Malcolm Richbourg—students at Saint Augustine’s University—as well as Nathan Weeks—Shaw University, sacrificed time during their spring break to illustrate how such a law would make it harder for students, in particular, to vote.
“Out of the 12 months in a year, I spend only one back in Maryland,” Nathan Weeks said. “Is not my Maryland photo identification suffice?”
 A voter ID bill adopted by the General Assembly but vetoed by Governor Beverly Perdue in 2011 allowed for public university ID's to be used but not ID's from private colleges and universities.
These students were accompanied by several others who came to participate in the voter ID civic activities.
There was an educational meeting on voter ID that began at 1:30 PM at First Baptist Church. Once the meeting hosted by a collaboration of community organizations such as the NC NAACP, Blueprint NC, and Democracy Matters ended, everyone in attendance marched in procession to the front lawn of the NC General Assembly where a public display of opposition took place.
When asked why he felt it was important to attend the hearing, Arthur McKoy, a student at Shaw University responded, “In the end it does not matter who we vote for, it matters that we have the right to do so. We should not have to fight scratch and claw for what is promised to us by the fifteenth amendment, but we are here ready to fight.
Editor's Note - Masac Dorlouis is the college campus coordinator for Common Cause NC, a non-profit, nonpartisan issue advocacy group.

By Cash Michaels

            HAPPY EASTER – We hope everyone and their families enjoy the Easter holiday this weekend. Easter, of course, has a special meaning in the Christian church, that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after his crucifixion. It is a story of hope and redemption for us all.
            So no eating too much, and no calling into work Monday morning complaining of a tummy ache. And ladies, Lord have mercy, be careful with those wide, wide, wide brim hats. I can’t see the preacher when you wear those things.
            GUN CONTROL – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, a community which cannot protect its children, especially the youngest of the young, isn’t worth fighting for.
            Recently we’ve been hearing sad and tragic stories of literally babies being fatally shot by young punks who have no value for life. A six-month old child in Chicago, fatally shot repeatedly as she innocently sat in her father’s lap in a mini-van, just because of some gang squabble.
            At her funeral, the minister said, “She deserved better.”
            Every child in our community who has lost their lives to gun violence deserves better, a BETTER, safer community, but we as a community have done precious little to stop the scourge of gun violence.
            What are we doing? Who do our streets belong to? Where are the men in our communities to ensure that people can walk the streets safely?
            The police, you say, where are the police? Well first of all, are you working with the police to make your streets better, and if not, why not?
            Secondly, unless the police actually live on your block, they can’t be there 24/7, but the neighbors on you block are. They see things. They know things. But if they are coming together to do anything, then guess who owns your community?
            Certainly isn’t you!
            It’s one thing when teenagers get into a raging gun battle in our neighborhoods. It’s totally unacceptable and must be stopped.
            But when innocent, defenseless babies are being blasted to death by cold-blooded murderers – I don’t care what their age or color may be – then we’ve gone far, far beyond anything even close to tolerable.
            And yet we seem to surrender ourselves to tacit tolerance when we hear about the next gun tragedy, and the next, and the next. It seems as if nothing shocks us anymore. Nothing moves us to want to do anything to stop the madness, cease the slaughter of our youngest, on which we’ve placed most of our hopes and dreams.
            We’ve accepted it. It’s no wonder we even show up at the funerals of these dead babies who have been taken from this earth by other “children’ who look just like them.
            March in the streets all you want protesting the police “Stop and Frisk” program, where blacks and Hispanics are exclusively targeted by the cops to be stopped on the street and searched for weapons just because they’re there.
            I agree that it’s unconstitutional and wrong. I agree with all of that. But when we as a community don’t bother to even lift a finger to do something to stop the wanton slaughter of our own, then we’ve opened the door, like it or not, to the police and anybody else, to come into our neighborhoods and do what they want.
            We complain about it, but what are WE doing to combat the problem?
            This is serious. How can we demand that others respect our community, respect our rights, when we don’t have the courage to respect ourselves enough to protect our own streets, our own children?
Having a gun in your own home is not enough.
Working together to make sure that there is a blanket of security and safety in your neighborhood and community, THAT’S what we need more than ever.
And it’s what our children so desperately deserve.
Just don’t think about it, DO IT!
WILL, WILL, WILL – I like actor Will Smith. Most of us do, since many of his movies always seem to be box office smashes. He’s likable, has loads of charm, and at times, like in “Ali,” has put forth extraordinary performances.
But this latest nonsense of his, about he not wanting to do the movie “Django Unchained” because he “needed” to be the lead, is embarrassing to say the least.
As you know, “Django” starred Jamie Foxx, who continues to amaze me with his versatility in dramatic roles ever since he won a Best Actor Oscar a few years back for “Ray” (the story of singer Ray Charles). It is the fictional story of a slave who is looking for his wife.
Director Quentin Tarantino says when he wrote the story, he had Will Smith in mind originally for the role, and approached him with it. Smith originally said he turned it down because of a schedule conflict, but all of us knew there had to be more to it than that, especially given Will’s repertoire of science fiction and fantasy flicks like “Men in Black” and “I Am Legend.”
Rarely does Will do anything that requires real acting, and “Django would have required exactly that.
So now that the film has been successful, and been honored with Oscars, what does Will say? He didn’t do it because he wouldn’t have been the star?
Bull! Will didn’t do it because he was afraid. Smith has enough big box office hits under his belt where he can afford to do one flick where he’s not making funny faces or stupid jokes.
It’s called ACTING, Will, not signifying! So what if Leonardo DiCaprio (who by the way, DID NOT MIND ONE BIT that he wasn’t the “lead”) is playing the villain? If you can act, and have strong crew with you (like Samuel L. Jackson, who ALSO was not the lead), then you make YOUR part shine.
To put yourself above the story, above the material, is beyond silly, and selfish!
This was not a good call, Will. You certainly have the right to pick your projects, and give your reasons for doing some and not others.
But to come out and say you didn’t take a role because you were not the lead, tells me you need to be brought down to Earth by something or someone fast! Some of the most memorable roles in movie or television history have been done by fine actors and actresses not in the lead.
Apparently being a fine actor is not what you seek, Will.
By the way, I understand your next flick is one where you and your son are stranded on a deserted planet?
Good going, Will, good going!
HATING DIONNE – Recently it was reported that legendary singer Dionne Warwick has filed for bankruptcy in New Jersey, owing over $10.7 million in penalties and interest on back taxes, but having only $25,500 in assets. Warwick, 72, says the back taxes were due to financial mismanagement by a former manager.
Some folks have been hating on Dionne, saying that she once made great money, lived the good life, and now is paying the price for it. They don’t believe that her finances were mismanaged.
My question is, “Who did this woman hurt or kill?” Why are folks gleeful that this once superstar is down on her luck?
No, Ms. Warwick is not a member of my family, nor a personal friend. Yes, I adore her music, and always have. But that has nothing to do my feeling that she doesn’t deserve to be ragged just because she’s now down on her luck. Does that mean we should always treat people who properly earned their own money this way when they get old and have lost it all? Are we so smug just because we’re still getting Social Security or a pension?
I pray that Dionne is able to settle all of this, and live out the rest of her days peacefully.
Actually, I wish that for anyone in the same boat, which could be any of us.
MACHO ANDERSON – I must admit, while I watch Anderson Cooper from time to time on CNN, he’s not one of my favorite journalists. In fact, I could go through life without ever seeing another Anderson Cooper report, and be fine and dandy.
But I have to hand it to him, last Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Cooper did something I could never, EVER see myself doing in a million years – go scuba diving looking for crocodiles in an African river.
Heck, I use to fear walking to a South Carolina restaurant at night while vacationing for fear that alligators from a nearby river would be out at night along the path (several of the locals told me that was the case).
Cooper went diving in the caves at the bottom of a river in Botswana, looking for crocs, and finding several, even coming face-to-face with a few with nothing more than a steel rod in his hand. Based on what we saw onscreen, the encounters were close, yet all the crocs did was look long and hard at Anderson, decide he might not taste that good, and then skirt off.
Still, the fact the Cooper went down in those dark caverns, not being able to really see clearly (as clearly as when he went diving a year ago with great white sharks), is worthy of note. What got me was when he had to turn his head away from the crocodile to talk to the camera over his shoulder as the massive creature watched him from about eight feet away.
I could never turn my head in that situation, let alone be down there in the first place.
So Anderson Cooper, you, sir, have my admiration. No question, you have more brass than I ever imagined.
Now let’s see how good you are with the Republicans in Congress. That will take real courage!
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.

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