Monday, July 8, 2013



By Cash Michaels

            CONGRATULATIONS – Congratulations to publisher Mary Alice Jervay Thatch of The Wilmington Journal in Wilmington, NC for being chosen 2013 Publisher of the Year by the National Newspaper Publisher’s Association recently during their annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Mrs. Thatch spearheaded the drive to get pardons for the Wilmington Ten last year, helping to make significant civil rights history in the process.
            Mrs. Thatch has worked hard, and sacrificed a lot to make the Journal a black newspaper that the community can be proud of. She more than deserves this honor. Congratulations.
BOX OFFICE DISASTERS – The summer is not even halfway over yet, and already movie studios are licking their wounds because of some big time failures at the box office.
            The most recent is Disney Studio’s $250 million “The Lone Ranger,” starring superstar Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. A high-priced tag flick like this is supposed to gross at least $90 million in its opening weekend, given all of the press and publicity.
            Instead, over the five-day July 4th holiday weekend, the masked man and his faithful Indian companion Tonto (Depp) barely scared up $49 million, while the animated feature “Despicable Me 2” rang the cash registers strong with $140 million for the same period.
            Just the weekend before, the highly-touted “White House Down” starring Jamie Foxx as the president of the United States, and Channing Tatum as a Secret Service agent wannabe who protects Foxx from terrorists, opened at around $28 million at the box office, even though it cost around $150 million to make.
            And, of course, folks are still talking about how actor Will Smith and his son, Jaden, fell on their family faces with the space drama, “After Earth,” which failed to get audiences in the seats, and also lost money as a result.
            When big movies like these go down, that usually means we’ll get less of them.  For sure, given these losses to the studios, the suits will take a harder look at scripts and budget requests, as well as start knocking stars’ multi-million salary demands down.
            Indeed, Disney had balked about the ballooning budget for “The Lone Ranger,” and had actually shut the picture down during production because of spiraling costs.
            Should have listened to the accountants, mouse-ear boys.
            The bottomline is with movie tickets going up and up, audiences are real picky about what they’ll pay top dollar to see. “Iron Man 3,” “The Avengers,” “Man of Steel,” “World War Z,” these flicks did well when released because audiences knew what they were getting. The marketing on these films was brilliant.
            The marketing was good on the failures too, and yet the audience decided, “No thanks.”
            Thank goodness for Redbox. Renting DVDs for a buck at the supermarket is a welcomed treat. If I’m going to pay to watch a bad movie, at least let me have all the comforts of home at my disposal.
           CNN TACKLES THE ‘N-WORD – The televised George Zimmerman trial is spurring a lot of discussion on social media, and I’m sure in the barbershops and beauty salons as well. And the recent controversy concerning cookmaster Paula Deen’s alleged use of the n-word has also caused a lot a talk.
          One of those public discussions has been the prevalent use of the n-word in popular culture, and why does it seem that it’s alright for black rappers to liberally use the ugly, racially-charged term, but when white Southern belle Paula Deen allegedly brandishes the slur, the whole world turns its back on her?
         That was part of the discussion last week during a surprisingly frank CNN special titled, “The N-Word” hosted by CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon. To their credit, CNN had a decent panel on to discuss the topic. But the one who stood out to me was actor LeVar Burton, known best from “Roots” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
         Burton talked about how anytime he’s stopped by law enforcement, he takes off his hat and sunglasses, lays them down on the seat next to him, rolls down his driver’s side window, and places both hands outside where the police officer can see them.
         Burton said that as a black man in America, he has to do this in order to make sure he doesn’t accidentally provoke the officer to react negatively.
        And we all know how that could end up.
       The discussion was deep and interesting, and I hope that CNN, as well as MSNBC and other cable outlets, also produce programs where the issues of race can be more deeply explored (to be fair, Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry does and excellent job every weekend on MSNBC).
       Good job, CNN (at least on this one).
      CNN’S “NEW DAY’ OLD STUFF – I believe that I have given CNN’s new daily morning show, “New Day” a fair chance to win me over. It’s been on the air for three weeks now, meaning that they’ve had long enough to get their act together.
            My verdict? Not worth the hype.
            “New Day” anchors Chris Cuomo (late from ABC News and “Good Morning America”), Kate Bolduan (formerly a WTVD-TV general assignment reporter, a CNN general assignment reporter and co-anchor of CNN’s “The Situation Room”), and news anchor Michaela Pereira (formerly the awardwinning cohost of “KTLA Morning News” in Los Angeles for nine years) try to keep it alert and lively, but the problem is we’ve seen all of this before by people who, quite frankly, are doing it better now.
            I mean, after all, there’s a reason why Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos are a solid Number One over at ABC’s “Good Morning America.” They’ve got the chemistry thing down right. No such chemistry exists on CNN’s “New Day.”
            Cuomo has always come off as a stiff truck driver from the Bronx. Yeah he’s good looking, but his personality is not that of a leader, like Matt Lauer over at NBC’s beleaguered “Today Show,” or even Charlie Rose at the up-and-coming “CBS This Morning.”
            Bolduan lacks fire and appeal of any sort, the kind that Soledad O’Brien brought to the table when she anchored the pre-cursor program to “New Day” called “Starting Point.” The show under O’Brien failed because CNN did little to promote it or beef it up, and yet some of the best political interviews during the 2012 presidential elections weren’t on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” but by O’Brien on “Starting Point.”
            It was O’Brien who got Republican Mitt Romney to admit that he wasn’t concerned about poor people, and she would routinely nail Republicans to the wall when they would come on her show and start some jive.
Since leaving CNN earlier this year, O’Brien has started her own production company, and been hired by HBO’s “Real Sports” and the new Al Jazeera news channel. Talk about landing on your feet.
            Kate Bolduan – who has no distinguishing qualities, she’s just there - couldn’t shine Soledad O’Brien’s shoes, let alone look at them in the window.
            And as for beefy Michaela Pereira (rarely do they assign full-figured women to anchor TV news programs), she is definitely a good-looking woman, is competent as the official news reader, and certainly adds some “color” to the daily program, if you know what I mean (Pereira is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists)? But when I watch her on the program, she seems like she’s sitting at the table watching Cuomo and Bolduan asking herself, “How did I get mixed up with these two?”
            Pereira has personality, but she’s not given the opportunity to truly display it on a program that so desperately needs it.
            What a waste!
            So I don’t see CNN’s “New Day” getting that much better down the road. All the razzle-dazzle with graphics and jazzy set means little if the chemistry between the hosts is off.
            Sorry, CNN, but “New Day” seems to be more of the same old stuff.
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.


            Blood and platelet donations were drastically down across the nation in June, so officials with the American Red Cross have put out an urgent call for new donors of all blood types. There were at least 50,000 fewer donations because of the transition to the summer vacation period. To find out how you can donate, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767, or go to

            First-term Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane filed for reelection Wednesday, saying that the Capital city has progressed over the past two years, and she intends to see that progress continue. McFarlane, a business owner, succeeded former Mayor Charles Meeker in the post. Raleigh city elections are in October.

            With the filing period opening July 5th, candidates for the Wake School Board are lining up. Republican incumbent Deborah Prickett of the Morrisville area has filed for a second term in District 7, but she will be challenged by newcomer Zora Felton. Former principal Tom Benton, who was appointed to the board earlier this year, has filed for election from the District 1 Wake Forest area. Out in Western Wake, Nancy Caggia, a 14-year veteran school volunteer and registered Republican, has filed for the District 9 school board seat. Filing period ends next week.


            [WADESBORO] Anson County authorities are saying the burning of a cross in the front yard of a Lilesville home last Saturday was racially motivated. Four teenagers, ages 16, 18 and 19, were arrested and charged with felony accessory after the fact, injury to real property and second-degree trespassing. Three of the four teens are in jail, while the fourth, a 16 year-old girl, is in the custody of her parents.

            [RALEIGH] Gov. Pat McCrory, finally finding an issue that he can standup to the GOP-led Legislature on, vowed Wednesday to veto the Senate-passed abortion bill, HB 695, that is now in the House, unless it is changed to his liking. During the 2012 gubernatorial campaign, McCrory made it clear that he would not sign any measure that restricted access to abortion services. The state Senate last week outraged freedom of choice activists when it, without warning, passed a bill that placed new restrictive requirements on abortion clinics. Hundreds of women protested, and on Tuesday, Secretary Aldona Woss of the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services asked a state House committee to slow down in ratifying the bill until her staff could review it and recommend changes.

            [CHARLOTTE] The Kroger grocery chain of Cincinnati, Ohio announced this week that it will purchase the upscale Harris Teeter supermarkets, but promises to keep all 212 HT stores open, and all of its employees in place. Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer in 31 states, will pay $2.5 billion for the HT chain, based out of Matthews, NC. Kroger closed two supermarkets in Southeast Raleigh last year.

MORAL MONDAY #10 - According to the NC NAACP, over 5,000 people attended last Monday's tenth "Moral Monday" demonstration on the Halifax Mall behind the NC Legislative Building, and 64 people were arrested when they refused to leave building on Capital Police direction. Many of the protesters against Republican policies this week were women outraged by the state Senate passing new limitations of abortion rights last week without notice. There will be a Moral Monday #11 next week. [photo courtesy of Michael Carmichael]



By Cash Michaels


            Vowing that they “plan to challenge” it, the NCNAACP this week blasted the decision by a three-judge Superior Court panel to uphold the 2011 Republican congressional redistricting map, which “stacked and packed” black voters into limited voting districts, as constitutional.

            In its decision, rendered Monday, the judges unanimously ruled that while race may have been a factor in the Republican redistricting maps, political partisanship was the primary factor, and that is not illegal.
            “Redistricting in North Carolina is an inherently political and intensely partisan process that results in political winners and, of course, political losers, the ruling read in part. “The political party controlling the General Assembly hopes, through redistricting legislation, to apportion the citizens of North Carolina in a manner that will secure the prevailing party’s political gain for at least another decade.”
The maps, which favor Republican majority reelection to the NC General Assembly and Congress, configure the North Carolina voting districts that will be in place until 2020
            The NC NAACP and other progressive groups that filed suit to have the maps overturned, were not pleased.
            “The NC NAACP is disappointed in the courts inability to accurately interpret applicable law, Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, said in a statement, calling the GOP redistricting plan “harsh, oppressive and racially divisive.”
            The court explained that the maps "do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law,” Rev. barber continued. “While the court does not disagree with the facts of this case they disagree with the application of the law. The North Carolina NAACP and our allies respectfully disagree. We contend that these maps were drawn unfairly and unnecessarily, and that the law is on our side.”
            “This ruling is a sanction on political re-segregation which we plan to challenge,” Rev. Barber concluded.
            The ruling is yet another blow to civil and voting rights handed down from the judiciary, progressive activists say, who are still reeling from the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down Section Four of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, effectively rendering preclearance of redistricting maps meaningless until Congress reinstitutes a governing formula.
            The three-member panel, consisting of Superior Court judges from different regions of the state – one of whom was an African-American female - issued a 171-page ruling which said, in part, ““It is the ultimate holding of this trial court that the redistricting plans enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 must be upheld and that the Enacted Plans do not impair the constitutional rights of the citizens of North Carolina as those rights are defined by law.  This decision was reached unanimously by the trial court.  In other words, each of the three judges on the trial court -- appointed by the North Carolina Chief Justice from different geographic regions and each with differing ideological and political outlooks -- independently and collectively arrived at the conclusions that are set out below.”
            Calling the redistricting maps “fair [and] legal,” Republican redistricting leaders Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Rep. David Lewis (R- Harnett) boasted that the court’s decision confirms what they’ve contended from the beginning.
            “This unanimous decision should put to rest the baseless arguments that the General Assembly engaged in racial discrimination during the redistricting process,” Rucho and Lewis said in a joint statement. “The court’s unanimous decision is a clear repudiation of the unfounded assertions of the plaintiffs, and is proof that the General Assembly followed the letter and spirit of the law in establishing new voting boundaries that are fair and legal.  We are pleased that the unanimous decision makes clear that the General Assembly protected the rights of minority voters, as required by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.”
            Many observers have been calling for the NC Legislature to create a nonpartisan redistricting board to draw the voting maps in an effort to take the politics out of it.
            Redistricting in North Carolina is and has been for over a hundred years a partisan political process,” said Jane Pinsky of the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, in a statement.  “It has always benefitted the party in power, punished the party out of power. It makes for a dysfunctional and polarized legislature and disincentives from working across the isle and in a broad, bi-partisan fashion.”
            Pinsky continued, “It is time to change the process so that partisan politics no longer play a role in North Carolina’s redistricting.  The North Carolina House of Representatives recognized this in May of 2011 with the passage of House Bill 824 which would have taken partisan politics out of redistricting beginning in 2021. With leadership from both sides of the aisle, including Speaker Thom Tillis, the bill passed the NC House by a vote of 88 to 27.  House Bill 606, which is currently in the NC House, would do the same thing.”
            “We applaud our political leaders who are putting of the good of the people of North Carolina ahead of partisan gain and urge them to move forward and pass House Bill 606 now,” Pinsky said, adding,  “We urge the people of North Carolina to let their elected leaders know that this matters to them.”

By Cash Michaels

            Raleigh police investigators are now scouring the financial records of the beleaguered Raleigh Business and Technology Center, Inc. (RBTC), looking for evidence of criminal wrongdoing, city officials confirm.
Amid recent published reports, and a stinging June city internal audit revealing years of alleged mismanagement to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, the city of Raleigh, which has contracted services with the nonprofit RBTC for training of business startups since 2000, and owns the facility at 900 S. Wilmington Street, has decided to close the thirteen-year-old Southeast Raleigh business incubator down by July 31st.
 In a July 3rd memo to Interim City Manager Perry James, Martin Petherbridge, the city’s Internal Audit Manager, wrote, “Our audit found evidence of contract non-compliance, program management issues and inadequate administration of the RBTC relationship and contract.”
“I was very shocked and dismayed,” District C Raleigh City Councilman Eugene Weeks, in whose district the RBTC resides, told The Carolinian this week. Weeks lamented that despite the great “positive work” that was being done at the RBTC, like the heralded Pacesetter training program for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, all of that is being overshadowed now by allegations of malfeasance and mismanagement.
Councilman Weeks added that within the past year, with the closing of the Kroger grocery store, and then the shuttering of the Hargett Street YWCA, to have this happen to yet another major Southeast Raleigh institution, is certainly not needed.
“To see this type of report come out is a shocker to me,” Weeks maintained.
It was after many years of discussion and lobbying that the Raleigh City Council, in partnership with Shaw University and St. Augustine’s College, established the RBTC in 2000 to help build small businesses in Southeast Raleigh, and throughout the city.
The RBTC incubator program trained entrepreneurs on-site, allowing them below market office rental rates, as well as sharing conference room facilities and a copy center. The program did so well that after two-years, the city contracted with RBTC to train budding businessowners who were not headquartered there in what became known as the Pacesetters program.
It is believed that at least fifty percent of the graduates actually spun off to open their own successful businesses.
All seemed well on the surface, but according to the city’s contract audit, the RBTC lost its tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service when it failed to file the required 990 form for the past three years.
Poor recordkeeping over recent years lost track of over $100,000 in disbursements, the audit also found, with $940.00 allegedly being given inexplicably to RBTC Director Robert Robinson, and over $18,000 to a trust fund. Another $40,000 in cashier’s checks also could not be explained.
Robinson is no longer with the center.
The audit also found tens of thousands of dollars going to at least two RBTC board members without any record of it in the board minutes. And almost $300,000 in RBTC funds paying for services from an organization with alleged close ties to another board member.
The RBTC’s current chairman of the board, retired Asst. City Manager Lawrence Wray, is quoted as saying that he was unaware of many of these allegations uncovered in the audit. Wray did indicate that he loaned the center $66,000 at one time.
In response to the audit, RBTC officials say they have reapplied for their tax exempt status; have put new safeguards and requirements in to ensure that all financial disbursements are accounted for and officially approved; all payment transactions will go through a tighter system of approval, and taxes will be paid on time, among other items.
The RBTC response, however, may be too little, too late.
According to a public statement by Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, as a result of the internal audit, the city of Raleigh “is not pursuing a contract for fiscal year 2013-14 with the RBTC, Inc.; is requesting RBTC, Inc. to vacate the city-owned facility as of July 31, 2013; and is notifying tenants of the city-owned facility that they may negotiate short-term lease agreements with the city for continuation of their current arrangements.”
In her statement, Mayor McFarlane added that the city, “… will begin a review of future uses of the facility that are consistent with the original City objective for a business incubator that is of value to the overall economic development of the city as well as the stakeholder community interest.”
Raleigh Police spokesman Jim Sughrue told The Carolinian that the criminal investigation, based on the internal audit, is proceeding.
The RPD’s investigation remains ongoing and is being handled by the Detective Division’s Financial Crimes Unit,” Sughrue said. “Many financial investigations required a relatively long time to conduct due to their complexity, and at this point I wouldn’t project a completion date. In terms of what detectives are looking for, at this stage, they’re simply gathering information and reviewing it. They will then follow the facts, wherever that may lead them.”
And if prosecutable evidence is found, city officials say, it will be handed over to the Wake District Attorney’s Office for charges.

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