NNPA STORIES -
TRUCK DRIVER CHARGED IN DEATH OF SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL
[HARRELLS] The driver of a tractor-trailor truck has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a seven-year-old child in Sampson County who was killed by the vehicle allegedly driven by the suspect. Alyiah McKenzie Morgan, 7, was struck and killed on US 421 as she exited a legally stopped school bus. The State Highway Patrol says the driver of the truck, Johnny Allen Spell, 37, kept driving and never stopped after the accident, until he was found home and arrested. His is charged with DWI, felony hit and run, and felony passing a stopped school bus. Witnesses say the truck, which was hauling lumber, came up behind the stopped school bus, and then went around it, striking the child.
STATE HOUSE PASSES VOTER
PHOTO ID BILL
By Cash Michaels
With five Democrats joining them, the Republican majority in the NC House Wednesday once again passed a voter ID bill that requires, if now ratified by the state Senate, that all North Carolina voters produce official government photo identification when casting a ballot on election day.
House Bill 589, known as the “Voter Identification Verification Act,” passed 81-36 along party lines, with the exception of the five Democrats who voted with Republicans. Gov. Pat McCrory has always vowed to sign the bill once the full Legislature passes it.
Those five Democrats were Rep. William Brisson (D-Bladen); Rep. Ken Goodman (D-Richmond); Rep. Ken Waddell (D-Columbus); and Rep. Paul Tine (D-Dare).
The House version would begin in January 2016 in time for the next presidential and gubernatorial elections.
Democrats, along with progressive activist groups like the NCNAACP, have blasted the voter ID legislation as an attempt by Republicans to suppress the Democratic leaning votes of African-Americans, young people and the elderly. They pointed to other efforts like redistricting; shortening One Stop Early Voting; and ending same-day registration, “Souls to the Polls” Sunday voting and straight-ticket voting; in addition to a bill to punish parents of college students who register to vote at their schools and not in their home counties, as proof.
Republicans countered that voter ID was necessary in order to prevent voter fraud and maintain the integrity of the electoral system, even though there is very little evidence of voter fraud in the last number of statewide or local elections.
"We know voter fraud exists elsewhere, and we should not think we're immune," said Rep. Larry Pittman (R- Cabarrus)
The House GOP notes that they conducted a “transparent” process of numerous public hearings, and changed the bill several times to take into account the criticisms and concerns of those who opposed it.
In the crowded House gallery, NCNAACP Pres. Dr. William Barber watched the proceedings along with members of the NAACP Youth and College Division, some of whom reportedly had tape over their mouths as a symbol of defiance and voter suppression.
Rev. Barber vowed to have the law, when passed, challenged in court. He also promised more nonviolent civil disobedience.
House Democrats worked feverishly, but ultimately in vain to offer amendments to lessen the blow of photo IDs, but all but one were defeated. The one that did pass allowed tribal photo ID’s for Native Americans to be allowed at the polls.
This is the second time the Republican-led House passed a voter ID bill. The first one in 2011 was vetoed by then Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue.
The bill passed Wednesday will costs taxpayers $3.7 million to pay for possibly 200,000 registered voters statewide who, according to NC Division of Motor Vehicle records, do not have a driver’s license, as well as educate the public about voter ID.
Under this voter ID measure, those who vote via mail-in absentee ballot, will not be required to show a photographic identification. They will just sign the form, apply their Social Security or driver’s license number, and send it in.
House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), defended passage of the voter photo ID bill.
“North Carolinians consistently and overwhelmingly support photo ID requirements for voting,” Tillis said in a statement. “This bill not only responds to the opinions of our constituents but also provides individuals without photo IDs with an opportunity to acquire them at no cost. This common-sense measure will protect the integrity of the ballot box and restore confidence in our election system.”
But NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber disagrees, saying that voter ID is just one of many repressive changes the GOP-led Legislature is imposing.
"Our legislature is launching an attack on education, voting rights, the poor and the sick," Rev. Barber said in a statement. "This attack comes from the policies of the old south which requires a clear moral response, in the deepest tradition of the nonviolent movement to inspire public outcry and protest. When legislatures work to limit the voices in one group for political gain it is bad for our communities, North Carolina, and our country. It is a moral imperative that our elected officials act in the best interest of all constituencies. We encourage leaders in the faith community to engage their members and implore those officials to act as one for the sake of all. Just one person without a voice or influence is a detriment to his or her state."
RACE REASON BEHIND WAKE
SCHOOL BOARD REDISTRICTING
To hear State Sen. Neil Hunt (R-Wake) tell it, the reason for changing the Wake School Board voting districts is to maximize voter participation and make sure that every voter in the county has a representative on the board.
But just before the NC Senate passed the local measure Monday evening that, if the state House agrees, will change Wake’s current nine voting district setup to just seven, with two at-large districts that all voters would in, state Sen. Dan Blue took to the Senate floor and charged that racism was really the driving factor in the GOP wanting the redistricting.
"It really ought to offend you to," Blue said of Sen. Hunt’s bill. "It offends me to the quick. It makes me want to yell. But I think that at some point race has to stop playing a role in what we do."
Pointing to District 4 ( Southeast Raleigh, Knightdale and parts of Garner) as Hunt’s proposed maps would redraw them, Sen. Blue said they would “peel out black parents and black citizens,” adding that the maps would “pack them into a single district.”
Blue said the Republican bill would hurt “a great school system” and urged lawmakers to reject it, but it passed 33-17.
All Senate Democrats voted no.
Sen. Hunt later told reporters that Blue’s remarks about racism were “absurd.”
Wake Democrat Sen. Josh Stein also joined Sen. Blue is charging that race was a key element in Hunt’s redistricting plan.
This is an affirmatively race based district Sen. (Neal) Hunt has that is the basis for one of his super-regional districts," Stein said. "He is racially polarizing the electorate for school board purposes. That is outrageous."
Tuesday night, the Democrat-led Wake School Board defiantly passed a resolution, 7-2, rejecting the state Senate measure, and reaffirming the current election map, which ironically was created and adopted by the former Republican-led school board in 2011 for the expressed purpose of maintaining the GOP-board majority then.
Their map backfired, however, when Democrats stunned them by sweeping all five open board seats, capturing the majority. When two of the four remaining Republicans on the board left earlier this year, the Democrats expanded their majority to seven.
But it was the firing last September of former Wake Supt. Anthony Tata that angered Republican leaders on the Wake County Commission Board, who then reportedly enlisted Sen. Hunt to sponsoring a bill that dramatically changed the school board election districts to usher back in a Republican majority.
Hunt also sponsored a bill allowing local county commission boards to takeover and manage all school system properties, saying that since they have to fund their purchase them, they should have ownership.
Keith Sutton, chair of the Wake School Board, has called both bills “a power grab.”
The Wake redistricting bill comes as the state House now debates the $3.7 million voter ID measure. Floor debate began Wednesday after the House Appropriations Committee signed off on it by party-line vote. Debate, and a final vote, was expected today, and House Republicans are expected to pass it.
Critics, like the NCNACP and the NC Legislative Black Caucus, have charged that voter photo ID is how Republicans plan to suppress the votes of blacks and young people.
The GOP counters that voter photo ID fights voter fraud and maintains the integrity of the voting process. Republicans dismiss claims that North Carolina does not have the requisite number of voter fraud cases to merit requiring voter photo ID.
RALEIGH NATIVE CANDIDATE FOR
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION HONOR
By Cash Michaels
A Raleigh native has been selected for a prestigious Congressional candidacy in public health.
Barbara Baylor, a Shaw University alumna who was married to the late Rev. Ralph C. Baylor, has been selected as the 2013 American Public Health Association’s candidate for the renowned Brookings Institution’s Congressional Legis Fellow.
The Brookings Institution is a private, nonprofit organization, founded in 1916, committed to independent research and innovative policy solutions.
Ms. Baylor is currently working in a House Congressional office for one year, focusing on legislative and policy issues dealing with gun violence, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, among others.
Baylor lives by the words of the noted health specialist Dr. Guy Stuart, who once said, “Only some things are health-directed, but everything is health-related. As a public health practitioner, she believes that a “bottomup” approach to improving community health and wellness is the most effective strategy. That means the patients must be empowered, and establish their own networks to be better served.
Baylor has a Master's Degree in Public Health from the Department of Health Behavior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Shaw University in Raleigh. She is a member of the Theta Chapter, Delta Omega Honorary Public Health and formerly Certified as a Health Education Specialist. Barbara was also a member of (SOPHE) the Society of Public Health Education. Ms. Baylor has over twenty-five years of public health practitioner experience. Her early experiences in public health began as a Health Educator at the Wake County Department of Health in Raleigh, NC. During her ten-year employment at the Department of Health, Barbara advanced to become the Director of Health Education followed by the Minority Health Program Manager. She was later hired, as a full-time Health Education Instructor at North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C. Baylor has been a member of APHA for over twenty years. Currently she serves as the Chair of APHA’s Equal Health Opportunity Committee and is a past Chair of the Caucus on Public Health and the Faith Community.
Ms. Baylor is currently employed by the national offices of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Cleveland, OH, a mainline progressive Protestant denomination with 5,300 churches nationwide and over 1.2 million members. Baylor has served for fifteen years as the Program Minister for Health Care Justice in the Division of Justice and Witness Ministries. She provided leadership and guidance to the United Church of Christ in identifying and understanding the political landscape of health care reform as well as some of the emerging and unresolved social and political ideologies related to this issue. She recommended public policy positions for the UCC on health and health care issues and encouraged an understanding of health and health care as issues of social and economic justice. In this position, Ms. Baylor traveled nationally and globally to learn and understand how social, economic and cultural conditions affect health and health outcomes. Additionally, Baylor served on numerous boards and committees of several national, state and local organizations that work on health care reform and other health and health-related issues.
The two children of Rev. Ralph and Barbara Baylor, JaMelia Baylor Stroud and JeMal Baylor, are now married and currently living in Georgia.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 4-25-13
DR. MAYA ANGELOU RECOVERING AT HOME
[WINSTON-SALEM] Author and poetess Dr. Maya Angelou is recovering at home after a “brief hospitalization” her doctors say. Angelou, 85, the author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” has been ordered by doctors to forego any travel for at least three to four weeks, forcing her to cancel a planned appearance at Butler University in Indianapolis previously scheduled for this evening. Dr. Angelou authored the now classic poem, “And Still I Rise.”
STUDENTS AT ELIZABETH CITY STATE UNIVERSITY TARGET OF SENATE BILL
[ELIZABETH CITY] A controversial state Senate bill that would penalize parents of college-aged dependent children who register to vote at their schools, instead of their home towns, was inspired by an ongoing situation where Republicans want to stop students at Elizabeth City State University from voting locally, a liberal website reports. The Progressive Pulse says the lead sponsor of the bill that would deny parents tax deductions for those dependent children is Sen. Bill Cook, a Republican who represents Pasquotank County. The GOP there recently had 56 students living on the campus of the historically black ECSU removed from the voter registration rolls there. Only two of those students were able to have their names restored after appeal.
GOP LAWMAKER FORCES COLLEGE RADIO STATION TO DUMP TALK SHOW
[SANFORD] A radio station owned by Central Carolina Community College was reportedly pressured by a Republican legislator to suspend a talk show after he was criticized on. WDCC-FM indeed stop airing “The Rant,” a weekly public affairs program that featured three former Sanford journalists, after a legislative assistant to NC Rep. Mike Stone wrote Central Carolina President T. E. Marchant on April 3rd, asking him about the station’s programming, budget and source of funding, much of which comes from the NC General Assembly. Marchant denies talking directly to Rep. Stone about the matter, saying that the show was placed on “indefinite suspension” because of other issues. The hosts insist that everything they discussed about Rep. Stone on the air was factual.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 4-25-13
WAKE SCHOOL BOARD TO CREATE OFFICE OF DIVERSITY
On Tuesday the Wake Board of Education agreed to direct staff to amend the budget for the purpose of creating a new office that will monitor the school system’s efforts at diversity, and making sure that all students have access to the resources they need to learn. Board members say diversity must be reflected throughout the school systems efforts, not just in student assignment. A first reading of a revised student assignment policy designed to prohibit high concentrations of high poverty students in schools is scheduled for May 7th. Target ranges will be set by staff per development of assignment plans.
CNN ANCHOR NCCU COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER MAY 11
Fredricka Whitfield, an awardwinning correspondent and weekend news anchor for CNN, will be the commencement speaker at North Carolina Central University 2013 Spring graduation exercises May 11, 8 a.m. at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium. Whitfield is based out of CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. She has previously been honored by Sigma Delta chi, The Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press; and she is also the recipient of a 2005 Peabody Award and 2007 Emmy Award.
NEW CHAVIS PARK CAROUSEL OPENS
The Chavis Park carousel, first opened in 1916, was finally reopened last weekend by Raleigh city officials. With Mayor Nancy McFarlane and at least 100 others on hand, the lights and music that entertained generations of children before the ride broke down and was mothballed years ago, were heard and seen in a completely refurbished facility. The cost to put the carousel back on line was $2 million. City officials say the opening is part of a 10-year plan to revitalize the Chavis Park neighborhood.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
EVIL – There are those who insist that we should have “compassion” for the teenage Russian terrorist who allegedly, along with his terrorist brother, set off two homemade bombs at the Boston Marathon last week. After all, he is only 19, they say, and we, as Americans, must stand tall and strong to make sure his rights as a citizen (he became one on September 11th of last year), are protected.
To ALL of that, I say BULL!
Our system of justice will protect the rights of young Dzhoklar Tsarnaev, as it is designed to do, and should. But that doesn’t mean the rest don’t have the right to express righteous outrage at the many lives he and his brother took, and destroyed.
I proudly admit that the Boston Marathon bombing – which killed three and injured over 200 – has touched a nerve in me. I was especially moved by the wanton murder of eight-year-old Martin Richards, a young boy who, along with his sister and mother, was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last week, waiting for his father to finish the race.
The young boy wanted to give his dad a loving hug, tell him how proud he was of him for finishing the race, and give his father some ice cream. What parent wouldn’t want to have such a fine boy as a their child?
And then, without warning or reason, young Martin is blown to bits, along with two other people. Tens of others have arms and legs blown off, lying on the Boston street, stunned beyond imagination as to what just happened.
The people who rightfully are tasked to apply “reason” to all of the above are the investigators, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, and the criminal justice system. They now have the responsibility to sought all of this out, move forward with the charges leveled at the surviving terrorist, and make darn sure (because the whole world is watching) that the process of determining what is fact, and ultimately, what is the truth, is indeed fair.
That’s their job, and I expect them to do it.
But that’s not my job as a citizen.
The terrorist suspect has certain rights as an American citizen.
I have First Amendment rights to passionately express how I feel about him and his rights. And I also have the right to cheer my government on as it takes legal steps to ensure that this monster’s reign of terror is over.
There are those who say we must protect his rights in order to ensure that our rights are protected if any of us get into the same situation.
That’s beyond stupid.
First of all, I don’t know anybody who is so evil, so heartless, so filled with inhumanity as to plant bombs for the sheer purpose of killing anyone. For that matter, I don’t know anyone coldblooded enough to grab a semi-automatic weapon and shoot up a movie theater, shopping center, or, yes, even a school.
So I doubt that many, if any, of the people in my circle will ever get themselves caught up in a terrorist plot, with hundreds of cameras capturing their movements, and plenty of people giving eyewitness accounts of their terrorist actions.
No, the terrorist’s lawyers will defend him vigorously, so I don’t have to worry about that.
What I am worried about is the next tome I take my young daughter to the movies, or a public event. How safe is it? What, and who am I seeing that gives me pause, not because of their religion or color of their skin, but by their actions?
And that’s why I am extremely passionate about this case. Because as of April 15th, 2013, something precious has been taken from us and our children. Mind you, we should always be vigilant. But now it seems we almost have to adopt a police state mentality just to protect ourselves.
That’s the way the people of Israel have to live, with the expectation that a bomb could go off in a restaurant, aboard a bus, or even on a playground, any moment of the day.
I vehemently resent being made to live that way now, and I vehemently resent the people who are allegedly responsible for it.
And even though I’m a devout Christian, I vehemently resent the cowardly way these terrorists wantonly killed people, then hide behind Islam as their excuse.
Islam is an honorable religion with millions of followers. The overwhelming number of its practitioners are peaceful, GODfearing people who abhor violence. For anyone to plant bombs, kill people, and then claim that “Islam told me to do it” is committing a vicious blasphemy.
In fact, this is no different from those so-called “Christians” who blow up abortion clinics and shoot abortion clinic doctors. For the record, I’m against abortion, and always have been. But that doesn’t mean I approve of “Christian” terrorism (meaning people hiding behind that faith just to justify their unchristian actions).
So don’t come to me with this “compassion” and “reason” stuff for the alleged perpetrator. This isn’t the Central Park Five case where investigators had no evidence. This isn’t the Wilmington Ten case where prosecutors had to racially stack the jury to guarantee convictions.
This is the Boston Marathon bombing case. The evidence speaks for itself. The criminal justice system will handle the reason and process part. I, and others like me, will handle the outrage part.
So the only question here is, will justice be done?
THE MEDIA – Some of my colleagues in the media last week were beyond reprehensible in their behavior and unprofessional actions during coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. John King at CNN going on TV with the utterly false report that authorities had not only captured a suspect, but that the suspect was “dark-skinned.” Unless King’s purpose was to racially profile someone we had absolutely no other description of, that was the most ignorant and racist act of unprofessionalism on the air last week.
Then there was the NY Post, which published a picture of two men at the Boston Marathon under the title of “Bag Men,” strongly hinting that they were the suspects the FBI was looking for.
They weren’t, and when confronted with the truth, instead of fessing up, the Post doubled-down on their falsehood.
These were just two of the many egregious acts on the air last week, acts for which there can be no excuse for. On the flip side, hats off to the local Boston media, both television and the Boston Herald newspaper. They knew their communities inside and out, knew where to look for answers, and covered the immediate aftermath of the bombings with respect and dignity. Indeed, when the national networks couldn’t find anything to report, they went to the local Boston media for their coverage, and it was fascinating.
Many people fail to realize that when an extraordinary incident like the bombings take place, the situation is so fluid, it’s hard to get a bead on exact information for some time beyond what we know has already happened. And yet, an information vacuum is created that television feels it needs to fill as soon as possible because they don’t want you changing the channel looking for something no one knows. Thus, that’s why you get the sometimes over-the-top coverage that you get – the TV station doesn’t want to admit that it doesn’t know anymore than it did ten minutes ago.
There’s nothing messier to see than a work in process, and in the aftermath of a major catastrophe, that’s exactly what we see on television news.
LAW ENFORCEMENT – I have nothing but tremendous praise for all of the law enforcement involved in the Boston Marathon bombings case. From the FBI down to the Boston and Watertown police, and even the MIT police officer who lost his life, they moved quickly to identify the terrorist suspects, and moved decisively to capturing them.
But I can’t laud law enforcement without also pointing to the tremendous support that came from the public in assisting the investigation. Without the public’s cooperation, this case would not have been solved in the manner that it had.
And yes, the people of Boston who immediately cared for the wounded after the bombs went off, that was a beautiful thing to see. In a day where our country is being torn apart by ignorant partisan bickering, it was good seeing Americans helping one another when in dire need.
That was good, indeed.
OBAMA AND PATRICK – Something that was very unusual during the events of last week. Two of the primary leaders were African-American chief executives. Obviously Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and then of course, President Barack Obama. Both leaders were sturdy in their poise, and clear in their leadership, giving the people of Boston, and the nation, the strong sense that authorities were doing all they could to find the marathon terrorists, and would indeed have them brought to justice.
What was striking to me was that while these two black leaders were prominent at the top, I didn’t see that many black police officers or FBI agents. Yes, there were a few, but so few that when I did see one, I was surprised. Some may ask why was this important? Because anytime our country is involved in a major endeavor, as a citizen, you always want to be represented on the righteous side. You want to feel that indirectly, you are making a contribution.
Don’t believe me? Then let’s try the flipside.
How many black people reading this column said to themselves once they heard word about the marathon bombing, “Hope it’s not one of us [responsible]?”
Translation – If we’re so worried about being represented negatively when bad news comes, then you know it’s important to us to be represented positively.
Since I know little about the Boston or Waterford police departments, I can’t say what the deal is. But seeing Gov. Patrick and President Obama leading the way made me proud.
I hope it doesn’t take another tragic loss of life for me, or any of us, to see that again.
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.