NNPA STORIES -
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 5-30-13
JURY SENTENCES CONVICTED CHILD KILLER TO DEATH PENALTY IN FORTY MINUTES
[FAYETTEVILLE] At presstime Wednesday, the jury in the Shaniya Davis murder case chose the death penalty for the five-year-old child’s convicted murderer, Mario Andrette McNeil. McNeil, a drug dealer, was convicted last week of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual offense of a child, human trafficking and sexual servitude. He was acquitted of first-degree rape. Prosecutors on Wednesday told the jury that McNeil deserved to die. McNeil offered no defense. Prosecutors said he had displayed no remorse for his crimes. The jury got the case at 12:20 p.m., and by 1 p.m., delivered its decision.
RACIAL JUSTICE ACT REPEAL PASSED BY PANEL, HITS HOUSE FLOOR FOR VOTE
[RALEIGH] Despite the best efforts of advocates for the original law, a state House panel on Wednesday passed a repeal of the 2009 Racial Justice Act, sending the measure on to the NC House or ratification. The law, before it was gutted in 2011, allowed defendants in death penalty cases to challenge any racial bias on the part of prosecutors in capital punishment cases. Republicans weakened the law in 2011. When the GOP took complete control of the Legislature this year, the state Senate passed the repeal measure sponsored by Republican New Hanover Sen. Thomas Goolsby. The House is now poised to ratify the repeal, and send it to Gov. McCrory for his signature.
SCHOOL VOUCHER BILL PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE
[RALEIGH] A controversial measure that would provide monetary vouchers to parents to take their children out of public schools and send them to private institutions has passed a state House committee, and at press time Wednesday, looked likely for passage on the House floor. Opponents say the bill drains much needed funding from public schools. Others say the move is a political ploy by Republicans to slowly dismantle the state’s public school bureaucracy. Advocates counter that the measure offers parents, particularly poor parents, school choice. Statistics show that children who attend private schools with vouchers don’t do any better than children who stay in public schools.
WHO WILL BE WAKE’S
NEXT SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT?
By Cash Michaels
In August, one of three finalists who collectively impressed Wake County school system board members, personnel, students, as well as citizens this week with their respective experience and vision, will officially take over as the next superintendent.
The choice that Wake School Board members reportedly made Wednesday afternoon between Supt. Dana Bedden of the Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas; Supt. James Merrill of Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia Beach, Va.; and Deputy Supt. Ann Clark of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System in Charlotte, will be formally unveiled at next Tuesday’s board meeting.
Most observers The Carolinian spoke with after Tuesday night’s finalists community forum at Memorial Auditorium agreed that Bedden, Merrill and Clark were all impressive in their answers to audience questions, and the range of expertise they all displayed on a wide variety of education issues.
“They were all very impressive,” said Dr. Robert Bridges, former Wake Schools superintendent.
What was also very apparent after Tuesday’s forum was that whichever finalist is ultimately chosen, that person will unquestionably have more qualifications and experience for the job than the man they’re replacing – former Wake Supt. Tony Tata - a retired US Army brigadier general who had no classroom experience when he was hired by secret process by the then Republican majority in 2010.
Republicans then made clear that they did not want an educator to head the school system, but rather someone with business or military experience. Under Supt. Tata’s leadership, both the school choice student assignment plan and the school bus transportation scheme to go with it proved to be disastrous, leaving thousands of students both not in the schools their parents wanted them in, or school bus service to even get there.
In addition, Supt. Tata, a well-known Tea Party sympathizer with strong loyalty to the previous Republican board leadership, openly attacked Democratic board members when implementation of his school choice strategy fell apart.
Tata, now serving as secretary of the NC Dept. of Transportation under Republican Governor Pat McCrory, was fired by the Democratic majority of the Wake School Board last September after a tumultuous eighteen months. Dr. Stephen Gainey, who took over as interim Wake superintendent after Tata’s termination, is leaving the system to take another superintendent’s position July 1st.
An acting superintendent will takeover until August, when one of the three finalists will be installed.
Tuesday evening, Wake School Board Chairman Keith Sutton said the community leaders and citizens have responded positively to the wide-open process the board instituted in rolling out the three finalists to everyone, and allowing them to meet people and express their views.
Sutton added that he hopes the hiring of the new superintendent allows the Wake School Board to have a fresh start rebuilding trust and support in the community.
CASH IN THE APPLE 5-30
By Cash Michaels
BLACK MUSIC MONTH – June is Black Music Month, but one question – where is Black Music today? Where are all of the “great” black artists of today? I am searching for the answer, because as far as I’m concerned, the folks who are producing black music today aren’t producing much of anything at all.
And that’s real sad!
THE PRESIDENT’S DILEMNA – To say that President Barack Obama has been “catchin’ hell” lately is an understatement. The press are mad with him because of the Associated Press/Fox News monitoring scandals; the Republicans are, have, and always will be mad with him for everything from Benghazi, to the IRS scandal, to Obamacare, to …well, just being him.
And some black people, who have supported this president solidly in the last two presidential elections, seem to be upset with him for “lecturing” them during his recent commencement address at Morehouse College. Apparently every time Obama gets before a black audience, he feels obligated to read us the riot act about raising our children right, getting a good education, and fathers staying home with their families.
There’s a school of thought out there that Obama is really talking to us, but simply assuring white liberals that he’ll never pass up the opportunity to tells us what they are so desperate to say to us themselves, but wouldn’t dare.
The bottomline is Pres. Obama clearly didn’t bargain for a lot of this going into his second term. No, he wasn’t expecting wine and roses, especially with the Republicans still commanding half of Congress and raising cane in the other half. But to have everyone angry at him at the same time is not something he planned on either.
What all of this acrimony does is create a climate where it’s hard for the president to move on much. He still wants to accomplish something, still wants to cut a deal with the Republicans to further cut government spending and move the economy forward (good luck on that), but with scandal after scandal brewing, his ability to use the power of his office is somewhat crippled.
Mind you, the president’s personal poll numbers remain remarkably good. A majority of the American public still likes Barack Obama personally. They just don’t like some of his policies.
Here’s my take – this president is one of the toughest I’ve ever seen in the job. More importantly, I’ve learned to trust him for the most part, even though there are some things that he’s done, or at least been responsible for, that have driven me up the wall (especially when he allowed the Republicans to use him for batting practice).
Pres. Obama should keep his head up, make clear to the American people, as he started to last week, that his administration will do whatever it takes to keep the country safe from terrorist attacks, and take the fire from all quarters as long as he is doing everything necessary to save American lives.
In my opinion, there is a good reason why a man who hates war as much as President Obama does, is slow to wind down the war in Afghanistan. There is a reason why he sees the need to maintain drone strikes in Pakistan, even though innocent civilians have been hurt or killed.
And there is a reason, though many civil libertarians have been outraged, that the Obama administration has targeted American citizens in foreign lands who are allegedly working with terrorists to kill Americans here at home.
I have to believe, because this far I’ve seen little reason not to do so, that Barack Obama is operating in the best interest of the nation with some of the controversial things his administration has done. I believe so because unlike Ronald Reagan, or George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton, is not tied to some good ole’ boy cabal that is using him to get Middle Eastern oil. He is very much the outsider, and always will be.
That tells me Obama is doing what he feels is right, not what his so-called “friends” are telling him to do.
Now am I comfortable with the IRS targeting political groups?
No, certainly not (though a lot of those Tea Party groups are a phony as a four-dollar bill).
And am I comfortable with the US Justice Dept. grabbing the phone records of the Associated Press in search of the leaker of sensitive information concerning an evolving bomb threat aboard an US bound international flight?
No, but I understand why it happened, and wished Justice officials had gone to a judge to approve the grab.
And finally, do I have a problem with the government targeting Fox News reporter James Rosen after he got a State Dept. official to sneak classified information out to him, NOT because it was important to reveal per the national interest, but solely because, according to court documents, Rosen simply wanted an exclusive to break with the on conservative news network to further bash the Obama Administration with?
Actually, no I’m not, and here’s why. The guy who got the classified documents for Rosen has been charged for doing so. But Rosen, who was once the target of a criminal probe, is not.
Let me ask you. If the average American citizen asked a State Dept. employee to smuggle classified information to him, that citizen would also be charged.
If a foreign national asked a State Dept. employee to smuggle classified information to him or her, that foreigner would definitely be prosecuted, and many rightfully have.
But if a reporter does the same thing, all the Washington press corps has to do is raise their voices, and he gets off scott-free? And before folks start bringing up the Pentagon papers and other instances of the press reporting based on government documents, remember the difference here. In those cases, the documents were already gotten, and just simply brought to the press.
Rosen actually asked a government employee to get classified documents for him specifically. As a citizen and a reporter, I have a big problem with that, and I know many of my “esteemed” colleagues will not be pleased by that.
As I’ve said before, while I understand that government can be overzealous in keeping secrets from the public, the press can be overzealous as well in wanting to reveal everything it can about what the government is up to.
If something the government is doing is a clear violation of established law or policy, then I’m all for shining as much light on it as possible.
But if no such tension exists, and revealing a government operation puts lives at risk, or compromises an on going need for secrecy to protect sources, then I’m not interested in reporting the information. I never want to hurt the innocent with my reporting.
Rosen just wanted a big scoop for his jive time “news” network. Serving the “public good” was never a consideration on his part, and certainly not on the part of the clowns who run Fox News, and keep Hannity and O’Reilly in their cages.
So while the president and Us Attorney General Eric Holder are catching much flak for the Rosen affair, I don’t have a problem with it given the facts that are known thus far.
Well some will say, “You should stand up for James Rosen and Fox News’ First Amendment right as a news gathering organization.”
Fox…a “news gathering organization”…really?
I’ve never seen them EVER stand up for other news groups. In fact, they’ve done nothing but ATTACK other journalists they consider to be “liberal.” So please forgive me if, when Fox’s hands are caught in the cookie jar, I’m not leading the bandwagon in their defense.
So Mr. President, keep your head up, and do what’s needed to keep us safe. And on behalf of all of us Americans who enjoy staying alive, thank you.
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.
Zimmerman’s Attorney Seeks to Discredit Trayvon Martin
By George E. Curry
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – After an effort this week to delay, George Zimmerman will on trial as scheduled June 10 for the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and it is clear from court filings that part of the defense strategy involves depicting the 17-year-old dead Black youth as a troublemaker and pot head.
On Tuesday, a Florida Circuit Court judge denied Zimmerman’s defense motion to mention young Martin’s alleged drug usage, suspension from school, text messages or past fights during opening statements. But if the defense can show relevance during the course of the trial, Judge Debra Nelson said she might reconsider.
Judge Nelson has also denied a defense request to take jurors to the scene of the shooting.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.
Martin, unarmed, was shot to death in Feb. 2012 by Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, in Sanford, Fla. Martin, a Miami native, was visiting the area in central Florida with his father at the time and was returning to a residence after walking to a nearby convenience store. Zimmerman, 29, has tried to portray Martin as the aggressor, despite ignoring instructions from a police dispatcher that he not follow the youth in the rain. He has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Mark M. O’Mara, co-counsel for Zimmerman, filed a motion last Thursday seeking court sanctions against the State Attorney’s office for not turning over evidence that he said might help Zimmerman’s defense.
According to the motion, the State of Florida had ignored previous defense filings seeking any evidence that might reflect favorably on Zimmerman or negatively on Martin in preparation for going to trial.
In his petition, O’Mara said, “The State was fully aware at that time that there was information resident on Trayvon Martin’s cell phone, including pictures of Trayvon Martin in possession of at least one weapon, pictures of marijuana plants, pictures of Trayvon Martin smoking marijuana, pictures of marijuana blunts, and texts discussing, securing or purchasing firearms, and bragging about being involved in fights, etc.”
According to documents released by defense attorneys, prosecutors recovered a photo of an African American holding a Smith & Wesson handgun from Martin’s cell phone. It was not immediately clear whether the person holding the weapon was Martin. A second photo shows the handgun and a clip on top of a soiled mattress.
The defense is also seeking to introduce a photograph of Martin, dressed in a white undershirt, giving two extended middle finders to the camera.
In addition to other photos of marijuana, the defense also wanted to introduce certain text messages recovered from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone. Some of the texts are related to Martin being suspended from school for fighting and his mother’s decision to kick him out of the house.
“My mom just told me I gotta mov wit my dad,” said a message sent in Nov. 2011. “She just kicked me out:(.”
A text message from his father said, “Show them that you a good kid and you want positive things around you. Be a big brother and not a DONKEY…LOVE DAD.”
Prosecutors asked Circuit Judge Nelson to forbid the defense from introducing the texts. But O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, said: “If they had suggested that Trayvon is nonviolent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant.”
Per Judge Nelson’s ruling, those text messages will not be referenced in the defense opening statements, but if they are proven relevant during the trial, te judge said she will reconsider their use.
Attorneys for Martin’s parents, who are divorced, said in a statement: “Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because (of) the way he looked?” they said. “If so, this stereotypical and closed-minded thinking is the same mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of his car and pursue Trayvon, an unarmed kid who he didn’t know.”
After the judge’s rulings Tuesday, Martin’s parents were pleased, accusing Zimmerman of putting their dead son on trial.
NOTE – this story was updated by Cash Michaels
The Legacy of Freedom Symposium Complements Exhibit
The exhibition Freedom Coming, Freedom for All, open through June 16 at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, will be complemented by The Legacy of Freedom Symposium on Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1. The free symposium examines President Abraham Lincoln’s reasons for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, the resulting constitutional amendment that abolished slavery, and the overall impact of the change on legal and academic communities.
The symposium will include a guest speaker, panel discussions, freedom songs, and historical re-enactments, followed by Q&A sessions. Symposium hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 31 and 9 a.m. to noon on June 1. To register for the symposium, visit www.ncfmp.org.
The Legacy of Freedom Symposium is sponsored by the North Carolina Freedom Monument Park and the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
May 31 Symposium Highlights
Friday’s lineup includes a keynote address by United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield, two panel discussions and a dramatization.
● Congressman Butterfield of Wilson had a 30-year legal career as a civil rights attorney, a North Carolina Superior Court Judge and North Carolina Supreme Court Justice before he was elected to represent North Carolina’s First Congressional District on July 24, 2004.
● A panel discussion will center on implications of the Emancipation Proclamation on the nation, “free people of color,” enslaved individuals and American Indians. Panel participants are scholars Dr. Jeffrey Crow, Dr. Valerie Johnson and Dr. Freddie Parker.
Another panel discussion, The Process of Freedom, will focus on the long, arduous road for the fight for freedom and its complications during the 20th century. Participating scholars are Dr. Reginald Hildebrand, Dr. Karl Campbell, Dr. David Dennard and Dr. Blair Kelley.
June 1 Symposium Highlights
● Saturday’s program opens with choruses of freedom songs.
● A panel discussion titled Human Rights and the Constitution will be moderated by attorney and North Carolina Central University professor Irving Joyner. Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Milton F. “Toby” Fitch, and retired North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard will discuss how the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment led to freedom and the process of securing constitutional rights for all.
The exhibit Freedom Coming, Freedom for All is presented by the North Carolina Freedom Monument Park and the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit features the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which is on loan from the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Major sponsors of the exhibit are PNC; North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; Mechanics and Farmers Bank; News & Observer; Radio One; Spectacular Magazine; and Epiphany Public Relations of N.C., LLC. Additional support is provided by National Archives; North Carolina Department of Resources; North Carolina African American Heritage Commission; State Archives of North Carolina.