Monday, March 11, 2013



By Cash Michaels

            HAPPY 11th ANNIVERSARY – A couple of years ago, my wife and I had to go to court because someone was trying to lie and cheat us, and we decided not to take it lying down.
            When it was my turn to take the stand (indeed the only time I’ve ever had to testify in a court proceeding), the lawyer for the other side called himself testing my memory about what I heard these folks tell my wife.
            Then, in the midst of questioning me, said lawyer, thinking he was Perry Mason or something, all of a sudden asked me, under oath, what date my wedding anniversary was.
            Right there, in open court, in front of the judge and jury.
            Now most married men, unless they’re concentrating on it at the time, don’t remember their wedding anniversaries right off.
            I do, however, because Markita and I have two.
            But to make sure I heard “Perry Mason” over there clearly, I asked him to repeat the question.
            “What is the date of your wedding anniversary?” he asked, smiling like a Cheshire cat, thinking that the next words out of his mouth would be, “ So you expect us to believe that you remember word-for-word what was said at that door between your wife and the plaintiffs, and you can’t even remember your own wedding anniversary?”
            Sorry Perry, but NOT today foolboy!
            “Actually, our wedding day is June 15, 2002, but the day we got legally married was right here in the Wake County Courthouse on March 22, 2002,” was my unexpected answer, followed by a lion in the jungle grin.
            “No more questions …for this witness, Your Honor,” the exasperated “Perry Mason” wannabe declared.
            By the way, one of the reasons why I remembered that conversation in the doorway between the plaintiffs and my wife at our house is because I had secretly recorded it.
            After they took the stand, and lied both their crooked behinds off, our attorney introduced the cassette tape into evidence, played it in the courtroom, we won the case, and the rest is history.
            So imagine what would have happened if I didn’t love my wife enough to remember our anniversary, coming up on number 11 next week? It certainly impressed the jury, I’m sure!
            Anyway, Happy 11th Anniversary and much love, Markita. Thank you for so many years of happiness. And here’s hoping we don’t have to run into that foolboy Perry Mason-wannabe ever again!
            HONORED – Even though I had a horrible cold, it was a pleasure to drive down to Charlotte last Saturday morning to speak before the National Association of Black Journalists Region III Conference at Johnson C. Smith University.
            I was asked to talk about “A Journalist’s Role in History: The Wilmington Ten,” and I was very proud to do so, plus show a brief video of the pardons ceremony.
            So I want to thank WRAL-TV anchor/reporter Ken Smith for inviting me, my colleagues in the Triangle Association of Black Journalists for having my back, and all of the great television, radio and newspaper journalists from across the South to attended and enjoyed the session. Thanks for the great hospitality.
            THE TROUBLE WITH TRUTH – Recently there was a big controversy over the Lifetime cable TV movie, “Betty and Coretta,” the fictionalized story about Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King, the widows of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. respectively, and how they formed a common bond, and grew as leaders in their own right after the assassinations of their husbands.
            The controversy surround the fact that the producers did not consult with either the Shabazz or King families to at least get their facts straight, and they did this deliberately because, quite frankly, they didn’t want to get their facts straight. The producers wanted the most dramatic story possible, so they used certain facts in the public record as a guideline, and then just made up the rest.
            The same was said about “Argo,” this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture. Though based on an extraordinary story about how the CIA sneaked Americans out of Iran in 1979, again, there were scenes in the movie that did not happen, like the famous police chase at the airport, for example.
            Indeed, many of the movies that have come out in recent years about famous people and events are so riddled with inaccuracies deliberately – films like “Ray” about singer Ray Charles; “Malcolm X” starring Denzel Washington; heck even the recent “Lincoln” by director Steven Spielberg, fudged the facts for dramatic effect.
            And that’s what makes the recent headlines about the family of late singer Marvin Gaye asking actor Jesse L. Martin (of “Law and Order”) not to portray Marvin in an upcoming film.
            The family says because they don’t like the direction the film will take, and how it will portray the life of one of the greatest legends in music history, they don’t want it made. Singer/actor Lenny Kravitz bowed out, and they’re encouraging Jesse L. to do the same.
            Here’s my problem with all of this. As a journalist, and a producer of films, I would want the family to be involved in the project, for the simple reason that I wouldn’t want them publicly against it. Plus, I feel they have some right to help shape what ultimately comes out.
            But at the same time, as the producer and filmmaker, I want the artistic freedom to express what I feel is important about the subject, my vision. If someone else wants to explore another area of the same subject, they can be my guest. But if there is something that I know, and want to chronicle, either dramatically or otherwise, then I should have the right to do so.
            By the way, I’m talking movies, not documentaries, which, in my opinion, must give us a complete fact-based accounting of a subject or event without excuses.
            I understand the fictional filmmaker wanting to dramatically craft something his or her way. That is freedom of expression, and that’s important.
            But then I also understand the family’s zeal to protect the legacy of a loved one.
            So I don’t know what’s going to happen with the Marvin Gaye movie. If you read David Ritz’s book, “Divided Soul,” the autobiography of Marvin Gaye, then you know that the singer’s volatile life of drugs and sex and dysfunction really doesn‘t need a dramatization because the bare facts are explosive enough.
            But let’s see what happens. Whatever happens, I just hope it does justice to the legend.
            And I hope Jesse L. does it.
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.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

"NO TO VOTER ID" - As NC NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber (left) listens, attorney Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, speaks during last week's press conference concerning the new voter photo ID law that Republican leaders in the state Legislature want to pass. Rev. Barber calls it "the new poll tax"to limit the voting rights of people of color, women, the elderly and youth [Cash Michaels photo]

by Cash Michaels

            No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

                                                The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment

            Progressive and Democratic opponents call it the “sales pitch,” the so-called “deliberative, responsible and interactive” process House Republicans say they have put in place regarding a new state voter photo ID law that they could pass anytime they want, thanks to their supermajorities in the NC General Assembly.
            Once the law is in place, argue groups like the NC NAACP, the Republicans can legally suppress the votes of blacks, Latinos, and other groups  in future electionswho lean Democrat, but don't necessarily have photo IDs.
            The state Board of Elections estimates there are at least 600,000 registered North Carolina voters without official government photo identification.
            The GOP counters that the number is much, much less, and that voter fraud at the polls, regardless of how negligible it is, must be fought vigorously in order to protect the “integrity” of the system. Thus, the month-long process examining the proposed legislation.
            Indeed, hearings began Tuesday on the measure, featuring arguments both pro and con. While proponents argued that "common sense" demanded voter ID as an important safeguard, opponents noted previous GOP attempts also cut One Stop/Early Voting periods, eliminate Sunday "Souls to the Polls" voting, and fail to us federal dollars to expand the number of voting sites at election time.
            The GOP assures that its voter ID efforts will make for better elections.
            But there is one issue the Republicans admittedly haven’t yet figured out how to get around - 
what to do about the ones who vote by mail? Their mail-in ballot is just as legal as the one cast in person, and yet, such a law would have no way of requiring the same photo ID standard, say critics.
            In many of the over 30 states with voter photo ID laws, like Arizona and Georgia, voters are not required to show anything when submitting their ballots via the post office. And yet, Republicans in those states have said little, and done nothing, to address the inequity, leaving themselves open to constitutional challenge.
            Constitutional because, legal experts say, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution specifically requires the no state, “… shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
            Some constitutional scholars, like UNC-Chapel Hill law Professor Gene Nichol, say that unless NC Republican lawmakers come up with a way to put the same burden of identity proof on mail-in voters that they insist in-person voters carry, then any NC voter photo ID law is heading to federal court.
          "Equal application is a demand in constitutional cases, and absentee-by-mail balloting is a strong potential challenge to the new photo voter ID laws,” Prof. Nichol says. “The state would have a significant burden of justification."
Conservative supporters of North Carolina’s proposed voter photo ID law don’t see the looming constitutional question.
          “North Carolinians are already required to show ID (though not necessarily a photo ID) when voting for the first time under certain conditions,” says John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank. “There is precedent, in other words, for treating some voters differently than others with regard to voter ID requirements.”
 Hood continued, “I also believe that other states with ID requirements have had them upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years, suggesting that an equal-protection argument against such requirements might face an uphill climb.
          Hood added that he personally believed that there should be ID requirements placed on absentee mail-in ballots, like sending a copy of one’s driver’s license back with the ballot.
         “I believe several states already require proof of identification before issuing or counting absentee ballots,” Hood said.
That maybe because many states are increasingly discovering that if there is any voter fraud that has proven to be worthy of concern, it is not happening at the polls, but through the mail.
        According to a New York Times story last October titled, “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises,”  noted, with absentee balloting dramatically on the upswing - accounting for upwards of 20 percent of the total vote all across the nation - so is the opportunity to commit voter fraud.
        “…[V]otes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show,” The Times report noted after an investigation. “Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting.”
        The Times story added, “While fraud in voting by mail is far less common than innocent errors, it is vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention, election administrators say.”
        Rep. David Lewis [R-Harnett], co-chair of the House Elections Committee, says that absentee balloting is actually safer because the “professionals” in the local county boards of election offices give close scrutiny to each and every mailed-in ballot that comes in, paying particular attention to the signature.
        But critics ask how is that different from when voters have to sign in when they vote in person, acknowledging that if they’re committing a fraud, they are committing a felony.
       In both instances, the voter’s signature, certifying that they are who they say they are, is the only verification of identity. To require addition photographic evidence for one, and not the other, runs contrary, they say, to equal protection.
      During a press conference last week, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber blasted what he saw was an overall attack on voting rights, calling the proposed voter photo ID bill “the new NC poll tax” on voters of color, women and the elderly. 
      “This is what hypocrisy looks like,” Barber said. “The multi-racial, re-emerging Southern Freedom Movement in North Carolina is what democracy looks like.”



            [RALEIGH] Blasting Gov. Pat McCrory for signing  the bill top stop Medicaid expansion, and the GOP-led state Legislature for failing to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit, and slashing unemployment benefits, state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller this week accused the Republicans of carrying out a “systematic war on the poor.” “From raising taxes on our working families, to rejecting quality healthcare for North Carolinians, what we’re seeing play out here is a philosophy of taxing the poor to feed the rich—it’s an unfair and unbalanced approach to so-called ‘fiscal responsibility,’” Voller said. 

            [RALEIGH] If some GOP lawmakers have their way, no longer will personal information about a gun owner’s permit be made available publicly by local sheriff’s departments. North Carolina is one of ten states where gun permits are currently public looking to change course. Currently, 28 states keep gun permit info private.

            [RALEIGH] Hospitals across the state are up in arms over a Republican-sponsored bill that, if made law, would allow for same-day surgery center that did routine operations to be established. Sponsors say the centers would ultimately be cheaper, but the NC Hospital Association says there would be no savings.  The bill pushes for more competition to drive down surgery costs. The state restricts the number of surgical rooms.


            Congressman David Price will be at Chavis Community Center in Southeast Raleigh on Saturday, March 16, 2013 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Individuals experiencing problems with Social Security disability, veteran, Medicare, IRS issues, etc., can come and speak directly with the congressman. Congressional staff will be on hand to set up casework for constituents that have concerns. For more information, contact Sonia Barnes at 919-859-5999.

            As expected, state Sen. Neal Hunt [R-Wake] filed a bill last week that not only gives county commission boards across the state ownership and control of local school system buildings and properties, but would also, if passed, deny any real say in school construction, unless asked. The bill grew out of growing tensions between the Democrat-led Wake County School Board and GOP-led Wake County Commission Board. The bill is expected to sail through the state Senate and House. Wake School Board Chairman Keith Sutton called the bill a "power grab."

            By a 6-2 decision, the Wake School Board appointed board veteran Bill Fletcher to fill out the remaining term of Debra Goldman, who left the county several weeks ago. Fletcher, a Republican who lives in Cary, served on the board back in the1993 to 2005, and also ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent. He says he still backs diversity in student assignment.

           Supporters of Shirley Venerable, a 10-year veteran of the City Of Raleigh's Sanitation Dept who was fired 18-months ago, rallied in front of City Hall Monday, and vowed to come back every week until City Manager J. Russell Allen gives her her job back. Venerable was accused of threatening a supervisor, a charge that she denies. The NC Public Service Workers Union says the Raleigh Civil Service Commission is stacked against workers when grievances come before them. The Raleigh City Council said it will look into that charge. Meanwhile Venerable's home is in foreclosure, and her daughter has had to leave college.

                                                            - 30-



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