GOP LOCAL ELECTION
BOARDS TARGETING STUDENTS
By Cash Michaels
Emboldened by the new voting restrictions passed by the Republican-led General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory last week, college students in North Carolina are now not just saddled with finding a new way to vote since their college IDs will not be accepted at the polls.
In some parts of the state, they’ll be lucky to be able to vote at all.
That’s because local county boards of election, now dominated by Republicans, are passing new restrictions on college student voting that critics say will serve to as an attempt to deter young voters from the polls in upcoming elections.
Why? Because young voters in North Carolina traditionally vote Democratic, an advantage, observers say, the GOP wants to eliminate to maintain their legislative grip for years to come.
House Bill 589, the voting omnibus bill that Gov. McCrory signed last week, not only cut the two week early voting period virtually in half, and instituted voter photo ID, but also required several forms of identification of college students who didn’t already have North Carolina issued identification, like a driver’s license.
The bill also eliminated the pre-voter registration program which allowed 16 and 17-year-old high school students to register to vote, just as long as they would be 18 before the next election.
That move also slashed the prospect of a steady stream of young Democratic voters for future elections, further suppressing their votes.
But now, in areas around the state where college students make up a significant voting population, GOP-dominated local election boards are voting to shut down early voting sites, consolidate voting precincts forcing hundreds of voters to deal with one site instead of three, and in an extraordinary case in Elizabeth City, disqualify an Elizabeth City State University senior from running for City Council, ruling that he has no legal residence in the city because he lives in the university dormitory.
The student, Montravious King, has been living and voting in Elizabeth City since 2009. But Pete Gilbert, the local chair of the Pasquotank County Republican Party convinced the local Republican-led board of elections on Aug. 13th to disqualify King, and promised to come back to have every student living on ECSU’s campus disqualified from voting for the same reason.
King, 22, is appealing that decision to the Republican-led state Board of Elections, whose members were appointed by Gov. McCrory.
Gilbert is encouraging other Republican Party county chairs across the state to take a page from his playbook, and go after disqualifying dorm-living college students in their respective counties.
NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, during a news conference in Elizabeth City Tuesday, called the local board of elections “an anti-democratic cancer” that needed to be investigated for its role in targeting King and other ECSU students in the denial of their voting rights.
Barber also noted that legally, it is the board of elections, not King, who is breaking the law.
In 1972, both the US and NC Supreme Courts ruled that college students of legal voting age had the constitutional right to participate in local elections where they are living while attending school. So the ECSU case is certainly headed to court under that premise.
Black students at Winston-Salem State University are keeping a close eye on what’s happening at ECSU. Recently, Ken Raymond, the chair of the Republican-led Forsyth County elections board indicated that he would push to have the early voting site on WSSU’s campus closed down, simply because he had heard rumors that professors were allegedly giving extra credit to students who voted.
No evidence was ever presented to back up those claims.
That Raymond backed off having a vote on the site shutdown this week as he had earlier promises, saying that it was too early to consider such. But given the make up of the board, critics know that a vote can be taken at any time.
And then there’s the city of Boone in Watauga County, where Appalachian State University is headquartered.
This week, the GOP-led county board of elections voted to eliminate the early voting site on the campus of ASU and force all early voting into one hard to get to location for ASU voters.
The meeting was contentious as citizens protested.
Afterwards, the Watauga County BOE chair had the board meeting minutes changed so that the contentiousness would not be reflected.
New Report Finds an Active School-to-Prison Pipeline in the Wake County Public School System
Special to The Carolinian Newspaper
RALEIGH, N.C. – Students exhibiting minor misbehavior may find themselves suspended and on a pathway to the delinquency and criminal systems if they attend Wake County public schools – particularly if they are African-American, have a disability, and/or are economically disadvantaged – new research shows.
In just the 2011-12 school year alone, the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) handed out 14,626 suspensions, thousands of which were for so-called Level 1 offenses such as attendance issues and “noncompliance.” And in a system where only 24.7 percent of the student population is African-American, more than 60 percent of the suspensions fell on black students.
The research, distilled in a new report entitled, “The State of the School-to-Prison-Pipeline in the Wake County Public School System,” was released on August 19, by Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS), a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. The report is based on data from the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year for which data is available.
“This is the most comprehensive school-to-prison pipeline report ever produced about a school district in North Carolina,” said Jason Langberg, an attorney for ACS and a co-author of the report. “What we found in reviewing thousands of pages of public records and analyzing extensive data was that the WCPSS does not have a comprehensive, coordinated approach to preventing misbehavior and intervening when it occurs.”
A spokesperson for WCPSS had no comment Monday because they had not read the report yet.
Some key findings of the report include:
- Long-term suspension rates in WCPSS were among the highest in North Carolina, in part due to the district’s severe shortage of alternatives to suspension (e.g., restorative justice, community service, and mandatory counseling).
- The district had a severe shortage of school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors, with ratios well below national recommendations.
- The alternative schools and programs within the WCPSS are highly segregated, low-achieving and punitive.
- The WCPSS had a massive security presence in its schools – including a Security Department staff, private security guards, and law enforcement officers – yet security personnel lacked adequate training, limitations and accountability, and inconsistencies existed among schools.
- Arbitrary suspension recommendations from an inadequate Code of Conduct are leading to inequitable applications. Nearly all long-term suspensions are recommended to extend through the end of the school year, so two students who commit the same offense may receive vastly different suspension periods depending on when they committed their offense.
Particularly troubling was the finding that the WCPSS is funneling students, particularly students of color, directly into the juvenile delinquency system at increasing and alarming rates. During the 2011-12 state fiscal year, school-based delinquency complaints increased by 23.5 percent from the previous year, with nearly three-quarters of those complaints being filed against African-American students.
“This report provides a clear overview of the state of school discipline in Wake County,” said Matt Ellinwood, a policy analyst at the Education & Law Project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “While some progress has been made in recent years, it is apparent that the WCPSS and districts across the state continue to adhere to punitive school discipline policies that are counterproductive in terms of improving student achievement and behavior rather than implementing research-based practices designed to prevent misbehavior and support the education of at-risk students.”
The report also found that while alternative education programs can be effective in managing students with academic or behavioral issues and can combat the school-to-prison pipeline, such programs in the WCPSS often work counterproductively. All WCPSS alternative schools operate as racially-identifiable, high-poverty schools. African-American students comprise 71.5 percent of the population and more than 75 percent of students come from economically disadvantaged families. The suspension rate for these alternative schools in the 2011-12 school year was almost 12 times the rate at the district-wide level, with 11.7 suspensions per 10 students. All alternative settings reported significantly lower end-of-grade (EOG) and end-of-course (EOC) exam passage rates than at the district-wide level. At the lowest end of the spectrum, only 5.1 percent of Longview school students demonstrated proficiency on all EOG exams, only 23.7 percent of students were proficient on all EOC exams, and only 10.5 percent of students graduated on time. For students suspended from a traditional school seeking an alternative learning environment, the WCPSS’s alternative programs fall short in providing adequate support and services.
Although the WCPSS has a massive security network (private security guards, school resource officers, WCPSS security staff, off-duty law enforcement officers and law enforcement officers who come onto campus for investigations), the report found there were few guidelines and accountability mechanisms in place. The lack of such accountability is troubling, given the reported increase in school-based delinquency complaints and the history of security personnel using TASERs, pepper spray and excessive force in Wake County.
Moreover, North Carolina is the only state that treats all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, so any time a school-based complaint is filed against a WCPSS student over age 16, the student goes straight into the adult criminal system. In an attempt to increase safety and security, the WCPSS is instead sending students directly into a school-to-prison pipeline.
“The data unfortunately show that the WCPSS still too often relies on pushing its most high-need students into low-performing alternative schools, out on the streets via suspension, or, at alarmingly increasing rates, straight into the court system,” said Jennifer Story, an attorney for ACS and co-author of the report. “We hope that this report will educate stakeholders about current problems and best practices and stimulate necessary dialogue and action.”
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 8-22-13
STATE JOBLESS RATE JUMPS TO 8.9 PERCENT
[GREENSBORO] If state leaders were looking for good news from the July unemployment numbers, they didn’t get it. The jobless rate for the state crept up to 8.9 percent, one-tenth of a percent higher than June, according to the state Dept. of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division. That ties North Carolina with Rhode Island in having the third worst unemployment rate in the nation, behind Illinois and Nevada – both with 9.5 percent. The national jobless rate in July was just 7.4 percent. North Carolina did add over 8,200 jobs last month, but that was offset by over 5,300 government jobs lost. Local jobless figures will be released August 28th.
SEN. ELLIE KINNAIRD, DEMOCRAT, RESIGNS FOR STATE SENATE
[CARRBORO] Saying that her energies now are best spent helping Democrats across the state get elected, State Sen. Ellie Kinnard [D-Orange] announced her resignation from her Senate seat Monday, effective immediately. Kinnaird, 81, served nine terms in the NC Senate. She is seen as a liberal stalwart who fought for women’s rights, and the rights of the poor. Kinnaird added that she would work to ensure that all who need voter photo identification, per the new law, will have them.
ALSTON RESIGNS AS CHAIR OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
[GREENSBORO] Former Guilford County Commissioner and NCNAACP Pres. Melvin “Skip” Alston has announced that he’s stepping down as chairman of the financially beleaguered International Civil Rights Center & Museum on Sept. 16th. Alston, however, will remain as a voting member of the governing board. Alston is a cofounder of the civil rights museum, which is the historic F. W. Woolworth store where four NC A&T University students challenged segregation laws in February 1960. Alston said his decision to leave is based on his business interests, and probable candidacy in 2014 for a state or federal office. A longtime figure of controversy in Greensboro, editorials in both The Greensboro News & Record, and the local African-American newspaper, The Carolina Peacemaker, virtually demanded that Alston leave the museum board as to not damage its progress.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 8-22-13
ASST. DURHAM POLICE CHIEF FILES EEOC COMPLAINT
A black assistant Durham Police chief has filed an EEOC complaint against Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez alleging racial discrimination for being passed over for promotion to Deputy Chief. Asst. Chief Winslow Forbes alleges in the three-page complaint that Lopez passed over him because he had complained about the chief’s negative treatment of black officers in 2011 and 2012. Forbes has 25 years with the DPD. At presstime, there was no response to the complaint from Durham city officials.
WAKE SCHOOL BUS ROUTING INFO ONLINE
Wake County parents can now keep up with their children’s 2013-14 bus route, and any changes. WCPSS has now posted that information at http://www.wcpss.net/parents/transportation/routes-and-stops.html. Just click on your child’s elementary, middle or high school, and the listing of bus stops per route number will appear. Parents are asked to bring their children to the bus stop in the morning at least ten minutes before its scheduled pickup.
HONOREES OF WCPSS HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCED
The six honorees to be inducted in the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame have been announced by the Wake Educational Partnership, to be awarded on Oct. 3rd at Marbles Kids Museum. Those to be recognized include former Wake Supt. Bill McNeal; Ann Goodnight on behalf of SAS Institute; community leader Sherry Worth; businessman Zach Clayton; David West, a graduate of Garner High School who now plays for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers; and Elizabeth Grimes-Droessler, WCPSS arts administrator. Special lifetime awards go to former Wake Supt. Dr. Robert Bridges, and former Raleigh Mayor Smedes York.
CASH IN THE APPLE 8-22-13
By Cash Michaels
THICKE VERSUS GAYE – When the person who should be sued, sues first in order to keep from being sued, then you know that something is wrong somewhere.
By now you know about the “reluctant” lawsuit filed by performer Robin Thicke against the family of soul singing legend Marvin Gaye to keep them from suing him because his monster summer smash hit, “Blurred Lines” sounds very, very close to Marvin’s old dance hit, “Got to Give it Up.”
Being from the old school of disco DJ music, the first time I heard “Blurred Lines,” the first thing I said to myself was,” Hey wait a minute, that’s Marvin Gaye!” And when I saw Thicke’s video, I was certain I was listening to a more contemporary version of Marvin’s great classic.
I even told my daughter, KaLa. She, of course, dismissed my contention that something was rotten in Robin Thicke-ville, but all of that changed when Thicke, along with “Blurred Lines” co-writers Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr., filed suit August 15th in a Los Angeles federal court against Marvin’s family, as well as Bridgeport Music, Inc., who owns the music to Funkadelic’s portfolio of hits.
Apparently folks at Bridgeport believe Thicke & Co. allegedly ripped off one of their songs, “Sexy Ways.”
In Thicke’s pre-emptive lawsuit, he alleges that Marvin Gaye’s family – specifically his three children Marvin III, Frankie and Nona – don’t even have standing regarding “Got To Give It Up” (meaning they had nothing to do with the song), let alone that he did not rip it off.
But you have to love how Thicke’s lawsuit opens. Get a load of this:
Plaintiffs, who have the utmost respect for and admiration of Marvin Gaye, Funkadelic and their musical legacies, reluctantly file this action in the face of multiple adverse claims from alleged successors in interest to those artists.
There are no similarities between plaintiffs’ composition and those the claimants alleged they own, other than commonplace musical elements. Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else’s composition.
Well that remains for a court of law to decide. Attorneys for the Gaye family and Bridgeport Music had not filed a response to Thicke’s lawsuit by presstime Tuesday, let alone file a lawsuit against him actually making the claims, but they’re coming.
The reason why this case is so fascinating is because it raises the question,” How much of someone else’ intellectual property can you use without their permission?” Thicke alleges that he and his crew didn’t use any of Marvin Gaye’s song, and yet clearly there are definitive elements of “Got To Give It Up” in “Blurred Lines” that cannot be by accident.
Don’t get me wrong…it can happen, and has with other songs in the past. But in this case, it’s not likely. Marvin Gaye was a towering performing artist who defined a generation with his musical genius. It’s simply hard to believe in the process of producing “Blurred Lines” that somebody didn’t hear the similarities and say something.
That is, unless they did it deliberately.
MSNBC FOLLIES – I will be the first to admit that being a television programmer can’t be an easy job. You’ve got to compete with other channels and stations, and figure out a way to not only attract the largest audience possible, but then hold that audience for the longest period of time possible. That’s what advertisers want, and ultimately how money is made.
That said, there are some things even I knew wouldn’t work programming-wise over at MSNBC.
When evening talker Ed Schultz was moved out of his 8 p.m. weeknight slot to the weekends a few months back, and replaced by super-sharp wonker Chris Hayes, I knew it wouldn’t work.
Schultz, a hardnosed “every man” whose claim to fame was standing strong for the middle-class and the working man, had an undeniable edge and in-your-face style that was the perfect counter to Bill O’Reilly over at Fox News.
But the suits at MSNBC had decided that the best way to counter O’Reilly was with someone intrinsically smarter. Problem was while Hayes is indeed sharp, he can also be too analytical, which is what always made him a good guest for ten minutes.
But as host of an hour-long show, that wears thin fast, because there’s little personality to carry the intellect. Schultz was never an intellectual, but he did have personality and common sense, and that combination made his show fun to watch.
Well apparently the wheels came off the master plan, because Hayes’ ratings at 8 p.m. have been gut-awful (even Anderson Cooper on CNN is beating him), and it’s affecting the rest of the prime-time lineup, which includes the brilliant Rachel Maddow (still the star of MSNBC) and Lawrence O’Donnell.
So this week it was announced that as of August 26th, Ed Schulz will move his show to 5 p.m. weekdays, and Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” will be seen only at 7 p.m. (It had been seen both at 5 and 7 p.m.). MSNBC suits hope that “Hardball’s” single-showing audience at 7 will give Chris Hayes’s 8 p.m. show more of a boost.
That’s not going to work. Hayes is Hayes. What would make much more sense is to move Ed Schultz back to 8 p.m. where his audience loves him most, and move Hayes to 5 p.m. But that won’t happen (for now) because that would be an admission that MSNBC was wrong to put him in the 8 p.m. nightly spot in the first place.
So let’s see what happens, shall we?
OLBERMANN – Keith Olbermann’s brand new ESPN2 weeknight show, “Olbermann” premieres Monday August 26th. From what I see, Keith is back in shape after a disastrous run at Current TV, and before that MSNBC. And the fact that he kissed and made up with ESPN is novel in and of itself, given to how folks simply hated the man there when he was top talent dog during the 1990’s. But even his detractors admit that KO is a great writer, and knows how to handle himself on camera better than anybody else. His bad attitude has always lost him jobs, but his skill as a commentator and interviewer has always saved his fanny.
Who knows, after ESPN fires him again, perhaps Keith will kiss and makeup with MSNBC…. in about a hundred years!
CONGRATULATIONS – Lots of folks doing great things of late, deserving
Congrats to director Lee Daniels and the cast of “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Indeed there is Oscar buzz already about stellar performances by Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, and the list goes on.
Congrats to filmmaker Spike Lee for surpassing the $1.25 million fundraising mark for his new film on Kickstarter. Thanks to contributions from fans, Lee will now be able to make the movie he wanted to make about….blood?
Congrats to former television journalist Allison Stewart on her new book, “ First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar – America’s First Black Public School.” The former MTV and MSNBC anchor writes about the legacy of Dunbar High in Washington, DC, and shares stories from some of its early graduates (good work, Allison).
AND FINALLY… - I don’t know what businessman and Def Jam rap music producer Russell Simmons was thinking when he posted a video of black history icon Harriet Tubman having sexual relations with her white “massah,” but the righteous backlash from folks like Spike Lee, Julianne Malveaux and the NAACP convinced him to take the blasted thing down, that he clearly was not in his right mind. Simmons has apologized, and word is he is working on a more constructive and inspiration video about the great Harriet Tubman.
But what in the world was he thinking?
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.