Monday, June 2, 2014



By Cash Michaels
An analysis

            By this time next week, we’ll know the NC House’s budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, and while there are clear indications that there will be differences with the state Senate’s and Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget adjustment proposals, one thing can be automatically expected – improving the quality of life for North Carolina’s poor, disabled and elderly will not be a budget priority.
            Especially under Republican – controlled state government.
            Controversy is still simmering how the state Senate’s proposed $21.2 billion budget adjustment would eliminate automatic Medicaid funding for 15,000 eligible poor people, many of them elderly with disabilities.
            The Senate budget proposal is easily the most cynical and damaging spending plan in modern history,” wrote Chris Fitzsimon in his NC Policy Watch column last week, “…and if you think that’s hyperbole, try to come up with one that’s worse.”
            Ironically, Gov. McCrory, a Republican, agrees with progressive Fitzsimon, telling the NC Council of State Tuesday, “ We have some very serious concerns.”
            Medicaid is a $13 billion health insurance program for North Carolina’s poor, one-third of which is covered by the state, the other two-thirds by the federal government. Under the Republicans, North Carolina has refused to extend Medicaid to approximately 500,000 poor residents, despite assurances that the federal government would pick up the entire cost initially.
            Published reports note that because of proposed budget cuts by the Senate to Medicaid, and programs like Meals on Wheels and daily eldercare, many of the elderly and disabled may find themselves without proper nutrition, individual training, and even homeless.
            Assisted living facilities will now be forced to release many of the disabled and elderly patients who are currently covered by the targeted programs that provide vital services.
            Republicans counter that with the Medicaid population growing, the state can’t afford to expand it, and must implement reductions in order to prevent costs overruns from exploding out of control. Senate Republicans say they have added $2 billion to the program since 2011, paying mostly to cover costs overruns and hiring more staff. They say those affected can apply to the federal Affordable Care Act for assistance. The GOP noted that it added $206 million to Medicaid despite cuts to specific needed programs.
            No public hearings were held prior to the unveiling of Senate budget.
            NC House is busy drafting its budget proposal now, expected to unveil it next week. It is expected to further cut taxes for the state’s wealthy while also reducing Medicaid for the poor.
            For the past two weeks, the NCNAACP-led Moral Monday movement has pressed Gov. McCrory and Republican state lawmakers on cutting Medicaid, and how that has impacted the state’s poor and needy.
            This week, eleven Moral Monday protesters who sat-in at Gov. McCrory’s state Capital office Monday, demanded to speak to him about the harm being done by failing to expand Medicaid, before they were arrested. On Wednesday, The NCNAACP conducted a “Medicaid Lobbying Day,” visiting with lawmakers to impress upon them the need to repeal their 2013 law which refused to accept federal funds to expand the heath insurance program in the state.
            “Around 2,800 people will die each year in this state as a result of legislative leaders’ refusal to expand Medicaid,” NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber said.



            [WINSTON-SALEM] The family of Dr. Maya Angelou has planned for a private memorial service for this Saturday, June 7th, 10 a.m. at the chapel of Wake Forest University, where the acclaimed scholar, poet, author and actress taught for many years. Television personality and close friend Oprah Winfrey will speak during the service, which will be closed to the public, but streamed online. Dr. Angelou died last week at the age of 86.

            [CHARLOTTE] Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon pled guilty to one count of corruption in federal court Tuesday, and faces up to 20 years in prison. He will be sentenced at a later date. Cannon, who was elected to office last November, was bagged by federal authorities after taking $48,000 in cash from undercover agents to influence city business. But Cannon copped to taking $2,000 from a strip club owner in January 2013. Authorities say Cannon’s guilty plea doesn’t end their federal prosecution.

            [RALEIGH] A provision to close Elizabeth City State University because it had lost over 20 percent of its student enrollment in the past four years was removed from the NC Senate budget proposal last week after the NC Legislative Black Caucus and other advocates for the UNC System historically black university blasted Republican senators. ECSU Chancellor Charles Becton thanked supporters, and pledged that the school is addressing its many problems.

            [RALEIGH] Republicans in the state General Assembly are not too pleased that many of the lawsuits filed against some of their past legislation have been struck down as unconstitutional by various judges. So in a provision included in their recent $21 billion budget proposal, the GOP want three-judge Superior Court panels to hear all cases involving lawsuits against their legislation, and for any appeals to go directly to the Republican-led state Supreme Court. Democrats counter that the provision is outrageous, and just proof that the Republicans are sore losers when court cases don’t go their way. 


            The Wake County Public School System will award diplomas to 9,472 students in 25 ceremonies through June 12. The Class of 2014 earned $95.6 million in scholarships, had 1,730 qualify for the North Carolina Scholars program and more than 1,600 honor graduates. Ten high schools had senior classes with 500 or more students. Enloe Magnet had 586. Panther Creek had 576. Millbrook Magnet had 558.Holly Springs had 539. Garner Magnet had 530. Leesville Road had 524. Apex had 522. Wakefield had 510.  Cary had 505. Green Hope had 502. The 9,472 WCPSS graduates this year compares with 9,128 last year.       

            Wake County Public School System teachers are generally satisfied with the working conditions in their schools, but the level of satisfaction is slipping compared to previous years and relative to the North Carolina average. The results of the 2014 Teacher Working Conditions Survey were presented to WCPSS school board members Tuesday. About 89 percent of WCPSS teachers – more than 9,000 total – participated in 2014. The survey results show more than 80 percent of teachers are satisfied with a majority of the working conditions included in the 85-question survey. The working conditions that scored the lowest were related to time, resources and professional development for teachers. In addition, the results support earlier data showing an increase in the number of teachers who expect to leave the profession. Wake commissioners this week voted to increase the teacher pay supplement, but without raising taxes, and using the school system’s reserve funds.

            The prospect of making over $12,000 more in salary and benefits was enough to attract hundreds of teachers from across North Carolina to come to Raleigh last Saturday to hear more at a job fair sponsored by the Houston Independent School District of Texas. Teachers in North Carolina are the 47th lowest paid in the nation. Many are frustrated that the Republican-led state Senate is currently offering an 11 percent pay raise, in exchange for firing teachers’ assistants, and eliminating teacher tenure. NC teachers currently make, on average, $30,000 annually, while teachers in Houston make $46,000 to start. About 350 signed up for the job fair.


STAR-STUDDED - The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis (second from the left), is joined by Phyllis Bergman, president of the Diamond Empowerment Fund (left) singer Chaka Khan (center) and music  mogul Russell Simmons during a benefit gala to raise $1.3 million in scholarships for African students in Las Vegas last weekend.

Special to The Carolinian Newspaper
Las Vegas, Nevada, June 2, 2014 – On May 29th, 2014, on the eve of the opening of JCK Las Vegas, the world’s largest diamond and jewelry trade show, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F) brought together a unique mix of the international diamond jewelry industry, government officials from diamond producing nations, government dignitaries and celebrities.  In D.E.F’s first U.S. based gala event, the organization raised over $1 million dollars to benefit its global mission. D.E.F supports initiatives and programs that help diamond communities throughout the world. (
Guests were treated to an intimate performance by music icon Chaka Khan while mingling with celebrities including Jaime King, Otis Williams of the Temptations, Denise Nicholas and pop music artist Mair. The emcee for the evening was Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., civil rights leader and D.E.F. advisor.
Phyllis Bergman, D.E.F’s President of the Board stated,  “Tonight, the monies that we raise will be used not only to enable D.E.F to support our existing beneficiaries, to add new ones & to insure D.E.F's growth, but to continue to be a progressive and socially conscious organization focused on supporting the good initiatives carried on in all the countries in the world that benefit from the diamond and diamond jewelry business. We will bring this message to consumers globally under our new ‘Diamonds Do Good’ platform”.
By Cash Michaels

WISE UP – According to the Online Slang Dictionary, the definition of the term “diva” is:
One who behaves as a goddess or queen. A diva is a celebrated female singer, similar to a “prima donna” (which literally means “first lady”). Bothe the terms “diva” and “prima donna” are now used disparagingly for someone who acts overly entitled.
And that’s why I personally feel sorry for most divas. Many who haven’t earned the moniker feel that they “have arrived,” and that their feet, if not other select body parts, should be kissed eternally…just because they breathe.
That’s why I truly, truly hope that the up-and-coming divas of the world begin paying close attention to the life and work of Dr. Maya Angelou.
Now there, there was true greatness.
Nothing phony about Queen Mother Angelou. Every accolade she received upon her passing last week in Winston-Salem was well earned, well documented.
Could Maya Angelou put on airs?
Heck, she was one of the best, but the prolific award-winning poet, author, singer, dancer, actress, educator, journalist, lecturer, scholar and civil rights activist
earned the right, something that today’s divas don’t even think about doing.
            When Maya Angelou stepped into a room, her very presence changed the atmosphere. Why? Because everyone knew – young and old – that this was a personage of substance. They knew that she came from nothing, and through hard work, commitment and vision, developed herself into one of the singular scholars of the human condition who ever had walked the Earth.
            Dr. Angelou continuously, and consistently sought what she called, “ the human truth.”
I had the honor of interviewing her twice during my career, the last being in the fall of 2014 during the presidential election. I remember Dr. Angelou asking rhetorically what would the nation be like if everyone was treated equally with respect and opportunity. The idea of that one day happening excited her to know end. She felt it in her blood and bones. The possibility of that happening in her lifetime was intriguing, though there was no doubt in my mind that she knew there were forces afoot equally committed to making sure it never happened.
But she pressed on anyway, watching the right-wing of this nation attempt to tear down our first black president with hate. Dr. Maya Angelou never gave up on the power of hope and love.
Some didn’t like the fact that Dr. Angelou appeared to hold herself out a someone special. Well BREAKING NEWS, folks…she was! You don’t accomplish all of the great things that she has over her lifetime, or have lived the sometimes brutal life that she had, without realizing that GOD had put you here, and had given you a unique gift, to do His work with.
And she was smart enough to realize that in this world, there will be those who will seek to undermine you, and ultimately attempt to tear you down. If you have paid your dues in life, then you are obligated to protect GOD’s investment. So Dr. Angelou demanded respect from those who didn’t really know her, or have worked with her.
So if she didn’t embrace you as a close, dear friend, then it was “Dr. Angelou” to you. If you dared to address her as “Maya” without permission, you were read the riot act, and rightfully so.
Maya Angelou knew who she was, and what her gifts of insight and humanity meant to the world. This was a phenomenal woman who had nothing to prove to anyone but GOD. So the respect she demanded, was respect well-earned.
But there was something that her critics missed when they seize on that as solid evidence that Dr. Angelou could be just as pretentious as any low-rent divas out here today – Maya Angelou felt obligated to give that same great respect to whomever she held court with.
In our interview last fall by phone, I was addressing her as “Dr. Angelou” left and right, inside and out. But she was addressing me as “Mr. Michaels” with the same commitment of respect. When I, because she speaks in passages with a brief pause, mistakenly interrupted her, and apologized and asked her to please continue, Dr. Angelou was gracious as well, and was willing to allow me to continue if I needed to.
As a colleague who had also interviewed Dr. Angelou said to me last weekend, she was one of the few people who made you feel better after to speaking with her.
That’s what the divas of today don’t understand. No one cares what you think of yourself. We do care about what you’ve done for others, what your meaningful contributions to the world have been, continue to be, and your willingness to share that wisdom with the world.
Every time I see First Lady Michelle Obama, I see a young woman and leader who uses the power of her office to call attention to the needs of our nation’s children. I see someone who remembers what it was like to grow up in Chicago amid hardworking parents, and wants struggling families to have an equal chance to succeed in America.
I see someone who literally has a loving hug for every human being she comes in contact with.
Michelle Obama is among the most powerful women in the world, but she is definitely no cheap diva.
So that’s why I especially feel sorry for the divas of the world now. You don’t have the gravitas or wisdom of a Dr. Maya Angelou; or the love and commitment of a First Lady Michelle Obama, or the vision of an Oprah Winfrey.
All you have is attitude, and fear…fear that one day everyone will tell you that you impress no one, because you haven’t done the humanitarian work of a truly great woman. If all you have, at whatever age you have it, is borderline sex appeal, a funky attitude and mouth, then you’re wasting our time.
And sadly, wasting yourself.
Do the work of true great women, and the world will never tire of singing your praises.
Keep doing what your doing, and the world will never tire of ignoring you, and the millions of others in our community just like you.
Dr. Maya Angelou wouldn’t want that.
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment