DESPITE TRICKS, VOTER PHOTO
ID BILL MOVES FORWARD
By Cash Michaels
After proving that the Republican voter photo ID bill is contrary to the NC Constitution regarding qualifying voters to vote, Durham Rep. H. M. Mickey Michaux promised Republicans Wednesday that he “…will fight to the death” against what he says is an attempt at voter suppression.
But despite strong opposition by various activist groups, including the NCNAACP, the Republican-pushed voter photo ID bill that would require all registered voters in North Carolina to brandish a government-issued photo identification when casting ballots moved closer to passage Wednesday after the state House Elections Committee heard debate from Michaux and others.
Gov. Pat McCrory has already indicated that he will sign the voter ID bill once it gets to his desk.
House Bill 589, as the voter ID measure is better known, is just one of many “assaults on voting rights,” many critics like the state NAACP and NC Democratic Party charge, that the Republican-led NC General Assembly is moving quickly to codify this legislative session.
Bill sponsors say it will now go to the House Finance Committee, and then hit the House floor for a full vote by Wednesday or Thursday of next week. They also say that thanks to new calculations that have been adopted by the state Board of Elections, there are only just over 300,000 registered voters in the state without official photo ID, not the original over 600,000 that NCBOE had estimated.
Of that number, Republicans say at least 115,000 are voters who haven’t cast a ballot in the past five years, meaning that only just over 200,000 may actually need new voter ID cards, not 600,000.
Critics charge that as the bill gets closer to a full House vote, Republican leaders are doing their best to soften the image of the legislation, and make it bulletproof to legal challenge, so that it looks more like a law to stop what many agree is nonexistent voter fraud, instead of what critics say is a partisan attempt at voter suppression against Democratic leaning groups like blacks and young people.
Democrats are also pointing at a pending Senate bill that would tax parents of dependent college-age children who choose to register to vote at their universities, and not their home addresses.
There is also Democratic consternation about another House bill that would cut the One Stop/Early Voting period down from two weeks to eight days; eliminate same day registration; stop Sunday “Souls to the Polls” voting that African-American churches favor; and end straight ticket voting which is favored by Democrats.
Starting in 2016 under the voter ID bill, voters would be able to display drivers licenses, state employee ID’s, tribal cards, veteran cards issued by the federal government and public university student IDs. Older photo IDs of up to ten years will also be accepted, even if expired. For voters who are over 70 but haven’t updated their identification cards, they’ll be able to use the card they used at age 70, no matter how much older they are.
After it was made clear that it is unconstitutional to charge anyone for a voter ID card, Republican lawmakers Wednesday announced that they were removing a requirement for those voters who couldn’t afford one to sign an affidavit to that effect. They will receive theirs free of charge from the state.
Those voters without photo ID will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted only after they go to their local election board with the proper photo ID afterwards. Mail-in ballots would require only a signature and either a Social Security or driver’s license number.
The bill even touts the eventual use of facial recognition technology.
GOP sponsors still have not given a final estimated price tag, though it’s assumed that if early voting is cut, those savings that Republicans say are needed, would go to help pay for new voter ID cards.
Students with the NCNAACP Youth and College Division, among others, were present at the meeting to voice their opposition.
Critics are also up in arms that at last week’s last four-hour public hearing, the Wake Republican Party and conservative Voter Integrity Project were able to get their members signed up to speak before anyone else knew, and then had their speakers read from scripts at the hearing, citing instances of alleged voter fraud.
But afterwards, Jay DeLancy, director of the Voter Integrity Project, issued a statement on their website admitting that some of the information in those scripts, “ may be inaccurate.”
“While we regret this human error and apologize for any embarrassment it may have caused to the presenters and to election officials, we caution the public against losing sight of the undeniable fact that North Carolina’s voter rolls are so corrupted that, without an effective voter ID law, it will be impossible to know who is really voting."
Critics say Republican lawmakers should discount the “fraudulent” testimony by the Voter Integrity Project speakers.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 4-18-13
RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO FIRE CITY MANAGER ALLEN
In a surprise move Wednesday, the Raleigh City Council announced that it will not renew the contract of longtime City Manager J. Russell Allen. Allen had been serving the city for the past 12 years, and has overseen its tremendous growth. In a statement, the council said, “Just as Raleigh has grown and changed, so have the skills needed to manage and grow the city,” adding, “We are excited and look forward to the new possibilities and insight that a new city manager will bring us…” For his part, Allen, who hired the city’s first African-American female police chief, among his other accomplishments, said in a statement that he was “honored and proud” to have served as city manager, and was “confident in the city’s future.” There was no word at presstime Wednesday as to why Allen was fired.
FEDERAL COMPLAINT ALLEGES DURHAM PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUSPENSION POLICIES “HARM” BLACK AND DISABLED STUDENTS
According to a complaint filed with the US Education Dept.’s Office of Civil Rights, Durham Public Schools’ suspension policies “harm” black and disable students more than others, say published reports. Two groups, Legal of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services Project and the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project of UCLA, filed the action this week detailing the alleged federal violations against two black Durham students. However, the complaint if formally filed on behalf of all disabled students ‘who are unjustly harmed by the district’s suspension policies.” A spokesperson for Durham Public Schools says it has not seen the complaint yet.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS FIRST NC OPPOSES SCHOOL VOUCHER BILL
A state House bill which would spend $90 million in taxpayer money in subsidizing parents who want to send their children to private schools would hurt public schools, say members of Public Schools First NC, a nonpartisan advocacy group. House Bill 944, better known as “The Opportunity Scholarship Act,” if made law, would provide up to $4,200.00 in taxpayer money to students to attend private schools. Yevonne Brannon, chair of Public Schools First NC, says the bill is a “blatant” attempt to divide communities and privatize education. Supporters say the measure helps parents get their children out of failing schools. Studies have shown nationally that overall, students who leave public schools to go to private institutions on vouchers don’t fare any better.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 4-18-13
CONCERN ABOUT SENATE BILL WHICH WOULD DENY FELONS VOTING RIGHTS FOR FIVE YEARS AFTER RELEASE
[RALEIGH] There is controversy over state Senate Bill 721 which, if it becomes law, would exclude a person with a felony conviction from voting for at least 5 years after he or she has completed his or her criminal sentence. And even after that, a local elections board would have to unanimously vote to restore those voting rights. The NC Second Chance Alliance is calling on citizens to lobby the NC General Assembly against this bill on Tuesday, April 23rd, from 9a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information go the its website at www.ncsecondchance.org
NC BLACK SUMMIT FOCUSING ON TECHNOLOGY AND JOB CREATION
[RALEIGH] The Eighth Annual NC Black Summit, a conference of North Carolina black elected officials and activists kicking off April 25 – 27, will focus this year on “Technology and its Impact on Job Creation,” as well on education, economic development and government efficiency. Sponsored by the Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials, the Summit will also honor the NC Black Publishers Association for its role in the pardoning of the Wilmington Ten during its banquet at the North Raleigh Hilton Friday, April 26th. For more information visit www.ncblacksummit.org
STATE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE BACKS REMOVAL OF CLASS SIZE LIMITS
[RALEIGH] On a party line voter, Wednesday, the Republican-led state Senate Education Committee voted to remove state-imposed limits on class sizes, saying that doing so gives public school systems across the state more flexibility with their resources. Democrats countered that removing the limits on the number of pupils per class will negatively impact the quality of learning if classes get too big. The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING - President Barack Obama receives an update on April 15th Boston Marathon explosions, in the Oval Office the day after. At press time, three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were confirmed dead, and over 150 injured. Pres. Obama called the bombing "an act of terrorism" and has vowed justice against whomever is responsible at presstime Wednesday, authorities said an arrest was "imminent.' Seated, from left, are: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor; Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Attorney General Eric Holder; Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; and FBI Director Robert Mueller. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
BOSTON – This week our nation was deeply wounded. Innocent people, including a child, were murdered and severely injured. Lives were changed for the worse. People fell victim to hate. This is a time for prayer and resolve. It is a time for clear thinking, and real feeling. There are some who say, "Well why should I care?" Why? Because by only the grace of GOD go any and all of us. None of us knows whether the next tragedy will be at our shopping mall or movie theater or place of worship.
Or the school our children attend. That means those of us who truly believe in justice, believe that what happened today wasn't deserved by anybody. It was an evil, vicious act of hatred that we must all stand together against. Let's all ask GOD to give each of us the strength and courage to know in our hearts what is wrong, and deeply pray for those today who were hurt by it. A sad week indeed.
NO SENSE – I heard the same thing after the Newtown, Conn. shootings, and heard it again this week. Why are we, as black people, grieving for other people’s tragedies, when no one grieves or does anything about ours?
It’s a twisted kind of moral equivalency because the deaths and injuries in well-publicized acts of terror usually have one thing in common – their victims were at random, and could have been anybody….including us.
In fact, if you look back over the death and injury lists of major terrorist events like 9/11, or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, or this week with the bombings at the Boston Marathon, you’ll see that black and brown people were impacted as well.
Even though radical Muslim terrorists were responsible for 9/11, we also know that Muslims were among the many victims who died on that day.
And we also know, as Rev. Al Sharpton at one time famously said, that the 9/11 hijackers didn’t send any warning to black and brown people to get out of the Twin Towers or the Pentagon before they arrived.
Their intent was to kill Americans. Period!
Yes, many of the acts of foreign terror on our shores are said to be retaliation for what our military has done in other lands, and some say are still doing, namely killing innocent people with drones and bombings in pursuit of terrorists.
I get that point, and agree that that shouldn’t be happening.
But that doesn’t mean I should feel it’s OK if someone blows up the house next door on my block. To play moral equivalency with injustice – better known as “an eye for an eye” – is easy to spout off when it’s not specifically your eye that’s on the line.
Yes, we should speak out, loud and clear, when we oppose policies by our government that are responsible for the loss of innocent lives here, overseas, anywhere. That should be stopped. We need to do a better job of targeting our proven enemies, and ONLY our enemies. We, as a nation, have a right, as a manner of self-defense, to attack those who have, or continue to plan to do us harm.
But we all know, because our faith informs us so, that when we begin to excuse acts of terror on us because of what our government does elsewhere, then we lose any and all moral standing. The rightness of our cause for justice, as a people, rests on the indignities historically done, and not rectified, to our humanity.
If we, out of holding a grudge, begin to morally justify the suffering of others, then we as a people lose the moral standing that has been the foundation of our being.
Let’s protest the wrong in the world, especially as it impacts other peoples of color, yes. But let’s stop morally justifying terroristic pain and suffering here because of what we may abhor our government is doing elsewhere. What’s wrong is wrong, and that should always be the point.
Whether it’s in an Afghan village, or an elementary school in Newtown, or at the Boston Marathon, all innocent people should live their lives in peace, safety and security.
MAKE IT HAPPEN THIRD ANNIVERSARY – Mark the date down, Thursday, April 25th, 4-6 p.m., one week from today. The live two-hour third anniversary “Make It Happen” on Power 750 WAUG-AM and www.myWAUG.com. We’ll be broadcasting live from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, and we want you to join us in the live audience. So come on out and join us!
NCIS FINALE - Yep, I’m one of the over 20 million people who tune in to “NCIS” on CBS every Tuesday evening. The police procedural about a Naval investigating team has been the number one drama on television for the past five years, and it’s just finishing up its tenth year on the air.
Most NCIS fans know that the show grew out of another old CBS series, “JAG,” the hit show about Naval attorneys with the Judge Advocate General’s Office.
In that series, actor John M. Jackson portrayed Admiral A.J. Chegwidden, the boss. Jackson left the series before it ended in 2005.
But now comes word that in the season finale of “NCIS” on Tuesday, May 15, Jackson returns as Chegwidden. The character has retired from the US Navy, and is now a private attorney for a big Washington, DC law firm.
But when the characters of NCIS get in legal trouble for seeking revenge for the assassination of character Ziva David’s father, Chegwidden comes to the rescue.
CBS is touting the NCIS season finale as a “nailbiter.” We’ll see.
But one’s thing’s for sure is that it will be good to see grouchy Adm. Chegwidden back in the saddle again.
SCANDAL – I still haven’t made up my mind about the ABC-TV hit Thursday night series, “Scandal” starring actress Kerry Washington as a black female Washington, DC crisis management expert who fixes the problems of the powerful, but is hopelessly in love with the married president of the United States.
Black folks love the show because it shows a sistah with a lot of power doing her thing.
And it also shows homegirl dumping a black US senator who loved her, for fooling around with the white prez, and then one of his military intelligence lackies whom that same prez sent to spy on her.
So in short, if you’re a black male in this show, you have nothing to look forward to by way of hooking up with homegirl star of the show.
Again, black folks love and watch the show, which is produced by Shonda Rhimes, the black female executive producer of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” and it is apparently doing well in it’s second season. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and it’s well acted and slickly produced.
But I must admit that the show makes me a bit uncomfortable. Especially after seeing something on Facebook earlier this week which in effect challenged how we as a people can criticize black rappers of exploiting black women in their music, but then love and praise a TV show where white men are exploiting this black woman every week?
Fair question. We ask (if not demand) better images of ourselves in the movies and on TV, but then don’t really support those projects when they come out (last weekend’s Jackie Robinson film, “42,” which opened to a $27 million box office, was a notable exception).
But when stuff that some say reinforces negative stereotypes hits the screens, we’re all lined up to pay our money to see or hear it.
So I don’t know. I have to leave this one to you to decide.
I wish the folks at “Scandal” well. I just wonder if we could ever truly be successful in entertainment without selling ourselves short.
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.