Ed- NOV. 3RD, 2015 ELECTION
Next Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, the citizens of Wilmington will once again go to the polls to select a mayor and three candidates for the City Council to lead our city through the next two challenging years.
We say challenging because with all of the political, social and economic uncertainties surrounding us now, if citizens don’t make the right and reasoned selections for leadership, we may all be faced with issue after issue overwhelming us, and severely impacting our quality of life.
Here in the black community, beyond the standard issues that affect all Wilmingtonians, we have vital concerns about policing, economic development, affordable housing and more jobs for our families who should be working. And that’s why municipal elections are infinitely more important than any other, because the results determine whether those street lights in front of your house get fixed and when; the quality of the water you drink; and who is holding the police accountable for their behavior in your neighborhood.
So, if you haven’t already done so through early voting, make the time and take the time Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, to go to the polls, and vote to elect our next City Council. You and your single vote can, and will change the course of history for Wilmington, but you must cast it. It’s one of the only real ways to still be heard.
Polls open in Wilmington/New Hanover County at 6:30 a.m., and close at 7:30 p.m.. You are not required to have photo identification for this election, but have it with you just in case an unexpected issue arises.
Per the candidates running for City Council, Mayor Bill Saffo is unopposed for re-election. As indicated earlier, there are three open council seats, with eight candidates all in contention for them. The top three votegetters will be elected.
Out of the eight, The Wilmington Journal, after careful consideration, endorses Hollis Briggs, Jr. for Council.
HOLLIS BRIGGS, JR.
The Journal isn’t endorsing Hollis Briggs, Jr. solely because he’s black. It has been well established, thanks to Dr. Ben Carson and others, that “skin folk aren’t necessarily kin folk” when it comes to the issues that still plague our community. So a candidate for office these days has to show us more than just his or her pigmentation to capture our support.
They have to know our community, has a deep connection to our issues, and be able to lead, on the council in this case, in the direction of solid solutions.
That’s why we endorse Hollis Briggs, Jr. He is of our community, and has demonstrated a commitment to finding solutions to our issues. We want that kind of leadership at the table representing us.
It was no accident that The Journal sent out a very specific three-question survey sheet to all of the City Council candidates except one (who we had trouble getting reliable contact information for in a timely fashion). We wanted to see who among the seven would take the short time allowed, and respected our community that much, to respond to our inquiry.
We were pleased that Hollis Briggs, Jr., John Presswood and Paul Lawler indeed took that time, and we thank them for it. And out of those three, Mr. Briggs shown through.
On the question of choosing between our city’s current at-large voting system, or switching to a district-based voting system, Mr. Briggs said “let the people decide,” not the partisan lawmakers in Raleigh who have a habit of sticking their noses into local business they have nothing to do with.
We like that response.
On should the city of Wilmington have a citizen complaint review board to hold the police department accountable for its actions, Mr. Briggs said he believes a review system is needed. That’s a step in the right direction , and hopefully, if elected, Briggs can lead the way towards working with citizens on devising a solid proposal with teeth that the community can get behind.
And what more can the city do to promote economic development in our poorer communities? Beyond the common sense answer of attracting more investment to those communities to spur the growth of more jobs and small business opportunities, getting small businesses onboard in giving those who have paid their debt to society a chance to earn their way back into the social fabric of our community with jobs makes all of the sense in the world. Too many are not allowed to rebuild their lives after making stupid mistakes in their teen years. Briggs says providing more opportunity for ex-offenders uplifts the entire community, and rightfully so.
Hollis Briggs, Jr. is a “man of the people” who has a long, productive history in our community, which means he’s one of us. He’ll give a strong voice for our concerns, and hear us when we need to be heard. He has the support and the respect of other committed leaders in the community.
The Journal recommends that when you go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, make sure you cast your ballot for Hollis Briggs, Jr. for Wilmington City Council
FOR THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
THREE COUNCIL CANDIDATES
ANSWER JOURNAL’S QUESTIONS
By Cash Michaels
When The Wilmington Journal sent three questions to seven of the eight candidates running in the Tuesday, Nov. 3rd election to fill three open seats on the Wilmington City Council last Monday morning, the paper asked that they respond by 2 p.m. Wednesday with their answers regarding a civilian complaint review board; district versus at-large voting and improving economic development in the port city’s African-American community.
Over forty-eight hours later, by deadline Wednesday, only three of the seven candidates contacted responded – Hollis Briggs, Jr., John Presswood and Paul Lawler. Candidates Neil Anderson, Margaret Haynes, Deb Hays and Alvin Rogers did not.
The Journal was unable to find reliable contact information for candidate Frank Madonna to forward questions in time for publication.
These are the questions posed to the candidates by The Journal this week:
- What are your feelings about going to a district election system as opposed to the current at-large system of elections Wilmington currently has?
- Many of Wilmington’s African-American citizens feel it is time for the city to establish a Civilian Complaint Review Board with subpoena power to have greater oversight and accountability over the city’s police department. Do you support this, and why or why not?
- What more should the city be doing to promote further economic development in our poorest neighborhoods?
These are the answers The Journal received from three of the candidates unedited:
HOLLIS BRIGGS, JR.
DISTRICT VOTING – Although most cities that are the size of Wilmington have Districts, I think the question should be brought to the ballot and let the people decide. Currently the state Legislature has intervened in the city of Greensboro and created districts. So the question remains who will draw the lines, and with the present make up in the state Legislature, I dare not trust them drawing the lines to represent the citizens of Wilmington fairly.
CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD – I would like for the city to look into some sort of review system. Currently State Representative Rodney Moore is working on House Bill 193 that would give the proposed board subpoena power. However Councilman Earl Sheridan is proposing to form a Human Relations Board that would somewhat have the same function as a Citizens Review Board.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – We can do a lot to promote economic development in all of our neighborhoods. First I think the city should recommend to employers that they relax their criteria for hiring nonviolent offenders making a reentry into society. It does not seem fair that most offenders are punished twice and are never able to return to the work place which causes them to repeat the same action that got them incarcerated previously.
DISTRICT VOTING - I am in favor of leaving the at-large system in place. If elected, I would be accountable to all the citizens of Wilmington and not just those in my district. I think the voters can replace members of council if they will come out and vote. The real issue I see is the lack of voter turnout for Wilmington City Council elections. This election directly impacts your life so please come out and vote. If you want to see better paying jobs, improved transportation solutions, and a better response to our crime issues then vote this November 3, 2015. Make it a point to vote and bring a friend to vote. Vote Presswood to “Move Wilmington Forward”.
CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD - I think it is time to involve more citizens in our city government. I would be in favor of some form of Civilian Complaint Review Board. The issue of subpoena power and oversight would have to be determined by the North Carolina General Assembly. I am also in favor of establishing a Civic Group System that is directly linked to the city government. This would allow city council to gain the insight and participation from more citizens in Wilmington.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - The Wilmington City Council needs to place more emphasis on increasing the number of better paying job opportunities in Wilmington. We have a limited manufacturing base in this city to support the small and medium size businesses that already exist here. I am in favor of recruiting more light (clean) manufacturing jobs to Wilmington. The key to reducing the crime rate is to give people opportunities to improve themselves by having access to good paying jobs. The citizens of Wilmington need higher paying jobs to provide their own housing, food and financial security. This city needs to improve the transportation network that is set up for a small town versus the growing city that we have today.
We need to reconnect our rail line to Raleigh by a more focused and unified effort with surrounding county leaders to request the state and federal funding. We need to lobby for Amtrak to provide future passenger rail service from Wilmington to Charlotte and Raleigh. The City of Wilmington should also encourage the New Hanover County government to develop and expand a broad range vocational training program within the county school system. This would allow young men and women to graduate with the work skills required to participate in today’s economy.
DISTRICT VOTING - The NC General Assembly been imposing districts on local governments North Carolina. Greensboro and Wake County were both converted to districts against their will. That would be bad for Wilmington. Right now all Wilmingtonians can access all city council members because all Council members represent all of us. I don’t want to give up that right.
CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD - Public safety and our troubled youth should be on top of everyone’s concern for Wilmington. Most of the kids are okay. They’re going to school and getting jobs. Our mission should be to find ways to reach out to the ones that aren’t on a success path and give these kids some hope and opportunity. Street lights to light up our neighborhoods, better after school activities, improved police/neighborhood relations can all help. But we also need to bring in the churches and nonprofits that can reach out in ways that government cannot reach. One City step is recreate the human relations council as Mayor Saffo has proposed. It provides a forum to present concerns. This is a practical action that can be taken now. It is unlikely that the general assembly will authorize a civilian review board in the near future. We need to focus on solutions that Wilmington can take now.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - A key to making Wilmington even better is to bring more, better jobs here. Our people need more opportunities. We can do that be using our potential in the tourism business and in the technology sector. By attracting history tourists we will see better opportunities for our lodging, restaurant, retail and attractions and for their employees. Similarly, we have a growing technology sector that will create businesses headquartered here and employing people here. There may also be potential in the new specialty and organic foods businesses that Wilmington and SE NC can encourage. Those are actions that Wilmington can take and take now.
FOR PROGRESS EDITION -
MS. MARGARET ROSE MURRAY,
MOTHER OF THE COMMUNITY
By Cash Michaels
Her life’s work has been education. She has four abiding “C”s in life – children, cooking, communication and community. And now in her mid-80’s, Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray is still a deeply beloved figure in Southeast Raleigh after more than five decades of selfless work she and her family have given.
Those who have known the Baltimore native throughout the years, can testify to Mrs. Murray’s deep commitment not only to education, but human rights and youth development.
Mrs. Murray studied education at Morgan State College in the 1950’s, and earned an associate degree from Knox Business Institute in 1955. In later years, Mrs. Murray would earn degrees and certification in early childhood education, in addition to a Master’s Degree in African-American history from Virginia Theological University.
She is already revered for operating The Vital Link is Crosslink Private Schools in both Southeast and Southwest Raleigh. Founded in 1964, they are early, elementary and middle grade education facilities where black children are taught not only their ABC’s and 1,2, 3’s, but also about important figures in black history, to give young students pride, and help develop healthy self-esteem. So successful have the Vital Link schools been since they were opened over forty years ago, that former students have grown up to marry, and then later send their children there to get the same education.
Mrs. Murray is also well-known for almost 30 years of hosting the popular Saturday morning radio program, “Traces of Faces and Places” on the old WLLE-AM, and in later years on Shaw University’s WSHA-FM. The show, which started in 1980, was a weekly mix of community news and black history that both educated, informed and inspired.
And several years ago, Mrs. Murray, along with her daughter, Rhonda and late son, Isaiah, founded Marrkens Development Center, which provided students instruction in the area of culinary arts.
The center was named in part in honor of her late husband and lifelong partner, Imam Kenneth Murray-Muhammad, who died in May 2005 at age 78.
“He was a quiet leader, but a powerful leader,” Mrs. Murray recalls, adding that the magic of their over half-century together was that they never insulted each other’s intelligence, or took one another for granted.
Murray-Muhammad always lovingly called his wife, “Ma.”
The couple married as teenagers, though their families initially disapproved. In a 2005 interview with the News and Observer, Mrs. Murray said after 57 years, “I don’t think it was a mistake.”
“Brother Kenneth,” as he was known then, was the first to bring the teachings of the Nation of Islam (NOI) to North Carolina in 1957, with the intent of opening schools and mosques in the African-American community. All he had was $20.00 in his pocket, but Murray-Muhammad was a brilliant man who knew how to work with his hands, and make a lot out of nothing.
“Boy that was a venture,” Mrs. Murray, who joined her husband a year later, recalls. “It was really a venture.”
The Murrays came up in the NOI in the 1950s and sixties along with Minister Louis Farrakhan, Min. Wallace D. Muhammad, and later, a young brash boxing heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali.
Bro. Kenneth was an accomplished businessman, jazz musician, and talented artist who took time to paint pictures in his shed near his home. As a minister of the Islamic faith, Imam Murray-Muhammad was also the first Muslim to voluntarily counsel prison inmates in the state.
The Murrays also established the Business Building Society to help black businesses grow in the community, and the Green Light Pages, a directory of black businesses for the community.
Mrs. Murray has also devoted over 30 years to volunteering to mentor young women incarcerated at the NC Correctional Institution for Women. Known to them as “Sister Deen,” Mrs. Murray has counseled hundreds of women there, many of whom served their sentences, and left prison to lead more productive lives.
And in the midst of it all, the couple raised three children - Rhonda, Kenneth Jr. and Isaiah.
In September 2009, Mrs. Murray was proudly inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the community. She has worked for many causes, including the O. A. Dupree Scholarship Fund, the Garner Road YMCA, and “Save Our Shaw” University campaign. Mrs. Murray has been the recipient of numerous community service awards, including UNCF Fundraising Award, and the Raleigh Women’s Center Rosa Parks Award.
If Mrs. Murray has a distinctive trademark, besides her joyous laugh and bright smile, it is the sign-off to her popular radio program every week.
“There is an art to living,” she tells her audience, “and the foremost part, is giving.”
CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 10-29-15
By Cash Michaels
THE JOKE HEARINGS – On Sept. 11, 2012, a US compound in Benghazi was assaulted by terrorists, and four Americans, including a US ambassador, lost their lives. Clearly the facility lacked the necessary security to ward off the attack. The US government admittedly made mistakes in that regard, and those four Americans paid with their lives.
The US Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton, ultimately took responsibility for the disaster.
Nine Congressional hearings and investigations later, the Republicans in the GOP-controlled US House of Representatives want Clinton, now a former secretary of State and current Democratic candidate for president of the United States, to take more than just responsibility. They want to hang the whole episode around her neck like burning neck brace so that her presidential candidacy goes down in flames, and they have a clear shot at winning the White House in 2016.
That’s what that joke House committee on Benghazi hearing was last week. Eleven pure hours of House Republicans trying to pin something, anything on Clinton, hoping that it would stick.
It didn’t work, and Mrs. Clinton – a former First Lady, former US senator and former secretary of State – never flinched or gave the rascals an opening. Indeed, if she could have cussed on TV, I’m sure she would have had some choice words for the salivating congressmen who aggressively jockeyed for position to be the “one” who ultimately brought “the great” Hillary Clinton to her knees.
But it never happened.
And that may be one of the reasons why, while CNN and MSNBC carried the entire eleven-hour hearings from first gavel to last, old grumpy right-wing Fox News, not seeing any real political blood on the floor (especially Hillary Clinton’s), decided to bug out early from the proceedings, in favor of their regularly biased programming.
Mind you, because the hearings were not confirming every lie, every blasphemy, every smear that Fox News has ever broadcast concerning Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in connection with the Benghazi attack, the good folks at Fox decided “there’s no news here,” took their toys and went home.
The time for pretending that Fox News doesn’t have an agenda is long over. They are an unofficial arm of the Republican Party, even if some of the leading GOP presidential candidates, like Donald Trump, refuse to bow down at the alter of Fox on occasion.
That’s why it’s always important for me as a reporter to tune into Fox from time to time so that I can keep up with the right-wing spin on the news of the day Just when you thought you had heard it all, or that surely they aren’t willing to go that far, Fox will surprise with some of the crazy rhetoric they try to sell.
That makes Fox stupid, but also dangerous.
A NEW INDY PLEASE - May I tell the producers at Disney that they are plum crazy if they don't open their eyes and realize that folks don't want to pay good money to see a 70-year-old Indiana Jones. You gave us that already in the last film, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls,” and it sucked. Now Chris Pratt (from "Jurassic World") would be the perfect choice, but no more Harrison Ford...please! He’s too darn old now. Give the guy a rest, and the franchise some fresh blood!
GREAT CONCERT – Once again, singer Lynnette Barber brought down the house Sunday during her tribute concert to gospel great Mahalia Jackson. Thanks to everyone for coming out Sunday to Lincoln Park Holiness Church in Raleigh for the program. And we’ll look to see you again in the coming years.
DR. JOCKO – Earlier this year I got the unique chance not only to meet, but to conduct the last interview with radio disc jockey legend Ray Henderson, better known as “Dr. Jocko” of the old 570 WLLE-AM. There’s no question that Ray was a man of history, given that WLLE (also known as “WiLLiE”} was Raleigh’s first black-formatted radio station, and he was one of the first personalities on their.
Well as you may know by now, Ray Henderson died in Detroit in March. He had a graveside burial in Oakwood Cemetery, but his gravesite, right next to the legendary J. D. Lewis of WRAL (Ray’s mentor) has no headstone. So a fundraising effort, headed up by Thad Woodard, the former head of the NC Banking Association, and Jimmy “JJ’ Johnson, former air personality at WLLE-AM, has begun to raise $2,000.00 to get Uncle Jocko is proper headstone by Thanksgiving.
So for any amount you can spare, please make your donation out to “Oakwood Cemetery,” and in the memo line at the bottom left of your check, please write “Ray Henderson Memorial.” Kindly send your donation to Thad Woodard, 616 Lakestone Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.
Honoring Ray “Dr. Jocko” Henderson is honoring part of our proud
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.waug-network.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).
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.
NNPA STORIES -
ATTY. KEN SPAULDING
SPAULDING SAYS COOPER “CAN’T
HIDE” FROM DEBATING HIM
By Cash Michaels
Attorney Kenneth Spaulding, Democratic candidate for governor, says neither his opponent, state Atty. General Roy Cooper, nor Cooper’s gubernatorial campaign, have responded to his October 15th call for pre-primary debates thus far, adding that “Roy can run, but he can’t continue to hide.”
Spaulding wants to have at least three debates with Cooper.
“If Roy Cooper is afraid to debate me, then how in the world is he going to stand up to the Republicans and their sitting governor,” Spaulding told reporters Monday during a press conference in Durham.
This is the second time that Spaulding has called for debates with Cooper, without a direct response.
“It’s time for Roy Cooper to show some degree of respect for the people of this state and agree to stand eye to eye, and toe to toe, and debate the issues which are so important to North Carolina,” Spaulding added.
The Democratic primary race to determine who will be the party standard-bearer to face Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled for March 15th, 2016.
Despite the governor’s touts of a “Carolina comeback” in the state economy and jobs, both Democratic candidates believe that McCrory and the GOP-led state Legislature have hurt progress in North Carolina. Spaulding says, “We cannot afford to have the state turn back anymore.”
Atty. Gen. Cooper finally announced his candidacy for governor on Oct. 14th, ending what some observers had joked was “the worst kept secret” in North Carolina. He told supporters at Nash Community College in his hometown of Rocky Mount that it was a time for a change from the Republican policies of Gov. McCrory.
Cooper is generally seen as the state Democratic “establishment” candidate, with broad support from most of the party powerbrokers and contributors.
Atty. Spaulding, on the other hand, announced his 2016 intentions to run for governor in 2013, and has spent much of that time traveling the state, introducing himself to the people, and promising to fight for the needs of working people if elected governor. Spaulding portrays himself as the anti-establishment Democratic candidate, touts his independence, and believes that what he lacks in a huge campaign war chest, he more than makes up for with his outreach to voters statewide.
“The establishment of the Democratic Party has handpicked Roy Cooper, and they control Roy Cooper, so I call upon the establishment to instruct Roy Cooper to participate in a series of debates,” Spaulding said.
To buttress his challenge, Spaulding indicated that newspapers across the state, including The Weekly Independent in Durham and The Fayetteville Observer have called for debates between the two gubernatorial candidates. He also said that Time Warner Cable News and the League of Women Voters have offered to sponsor a debate to be carried statewide. Time Warner Cable has reportedly confirmed that it has sent letters to all of the candidates for governor offering debate time on its air.
“Our party needs strong and new leadership because “business a usual” and “more of the same” have led the Democrats to constant defeats,” Spaulding declared.
Having once served as a state representative from Durham, Spaulding says he feels Cooper’s record as state attorney general should be explored, charging that Cooper’s office failed to fight in court for teacher tenure; fought in court for private school vouchers against the interests of public schools; and is representing the state in defending the controversial voter ID law.
Cooper’s defenders say it is the job of the state attorney general’s office to represent the state, and particularly the NC General Assembly, when controversial issues are litigated. Spaulding, “disagreeing strongly” counters that the attorney general has discretion as to which cases his office will take up.
Cooper has also been criticized for not retrying a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer that fatally shot Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed African-American man injured during a car accident in Sept. 2013, after the judge declared a mistrial. The prosecutor from Cooper’s office has said after the jury deadlocked, they re-evaluated their chances of winning a retrial, and determined they couldn’t win. The officer has since reached a monetary settlement with the city for back pay.
“What [Cooper] is doing is trying to hide his record, and I will not let that be done,” Spaulding vows.
Cooper’s campaign, when asked earlier in October by the press whether the candidate would indeed debate Ken Spaulding, replied that “…there would be plenty of opportunities for Democratic voters to meet and hear the candidates.”
FORSYTH CLERK OF COURTS OFFICE,
OTHERS SUED IN ALLEGED FRAUD CASE
By Cash Michaels
Special from The Winston-Salem Chronicle
The estate of a deceased African-American retired nurse is suing the Forsyth County Office of Clerk of Superior Courts, several local attorneys, and two insurance companies, alleging “a pattern and practice of fraudulent acts taking place…” that resulted in the loss of over $1.4 million in the deceased woman’s assets, the Winston-Salem Chronicle first reported last week.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 20th in Forsyth County Superior Court by attorney Reginald D. Alston of Winston-Salem, on behalf of the estate of Mary Thompson through administrator Calvin Brannon, her brother, is asking for compensatory and punitive damages from seven defendants, some in excess of $25,000 each.
This case, if successful, could point to an alleged pattern of questionable practices in the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Courts Office involving various clerks in the Special Proceedings and Estate Departments, where allegedly otherwise competent people were being erroneously, and illegally deemed incompetent and “funneled to personal and estate guardians for personal gain,” sources say.
Several other alleged cases re currently being investigated.
In North Carolina, state statutes mandate that when an adult is legally determined to lack the mental and/or physical capabilities to care for themselves and their finances, they are, after a “special proceedings” hearing by the county Clerk of Courts Office, appointed a general guardian or an estate guardian (either a person, agency or corporation that petitions the Clerk) to oversee whatever personal affairs deemed necessary until such time that adult is capable to regain control.
It is during these quasi-judicial special proceedings hearings that sworn testimony is taken from all interested parties to present evidence, and legally determine if the adult in question is indeed incompetent, and in need of assistance from a guardian appointed by the Clerk.
Those involved usually include a legal representative for the adult (otherwise known as a guardian ad litem, appointed by the Clerk), a medical expert to determine the level of competence after examination, any “next of kin” who may oppose the claim of incompetency, and the person who has made application to become that adult’s guardian, whose duties are defined by law, especially in matters of health and finances.
According to the lawsuit, in March 2007, retired nurse and businesswoman Mary Thompson “…was free to live and manage her own affairs… until her niece, through “…the misuse” of the woman’s business power of attorney, “…deceptively placed Thompson” in a Kernersville nursing facility, even though she had “… no [legal] authority” over Ms. Thompson’s health care.
The suit further alleges that the niece knew of Thompson’s $1.4 million in assets in Forsyth and Rowan counties, in addition to various monthly Social Security and retirement payments. Thompson moved to revoke the business power of attorney to stop her niece from further unauthorized action, but in April 2007, the niece filed for a special proceeding in the Forsyth Clerk of Courts Office to have her aunt “…declared incompetent coupled with a request that [the niece] be declared the guardian of [Thompson’s] estate.”
The suit states that even though Thompson’s “next of kin” – Brannon and his sister, Carolyn Davis - were notified of the niece’s guardianship application and no medical evidence proving incompetence was ever presented, Thompson was declared incompetent by the Clerk’s Office on May 3, 2007 per a later discovered signed document , something her two siblings knew nothing of until six months later because they were never informed of a rescheduled special proceeding in the matter.
Years later, that Clerk of Court ruling was deemed “legally inoperative” by the state Court of Appeals in February 2014 because there was no record of the mandated special proceeding taking place with the next of kin present; and the May 3, 2007 document declaring Thompson incompetent was never filed stamped, again as legally required in order to prove that it was properly entered into the court record.
Thus, Mary Thompson should not have been declared legally incompetent, the appellate court said, and all actions thereafter were invalid.
But the allegations didn’t stop there.
The suit then alleges that inexplicably, an attorney named Bryan Thompson (no relation to Mary Thompson), who documents show has been appointed guardian in many other incompetency cases listed in Forsyth County Court records, had someone in the Forsyth Clerk of Courts Office to, “…sign [an estate] guardianship appointment in his favor on May 1, 2007 without giving notice to Mary Thompson and her next of kin as it is required…” by state statutes. The suit further claims that atty. Thompson knew that his “…guardianship appointment in his favor was fictitious…[and] used it to fraudulently obtain possession and control over the assets of Mary Thompson in May of 2007.”
Also of note, according to the suit, atty. Thompson was erroneously appointed guardian to Mary Thompson on May 1, 2007, even though the Clerk’s Order of Incompetency was not issued until May 3, 2007, which is legally impossible since incompetency must be legally established first prior all guardianship appointments.
The suit also contends that the appointed guardian ad litem who was supposed to represent the legal interests of Mary Thompson, attorney Fred Flynt, “failed” to act in any way to protect her legal rights.
Calvin Brannon, Thompson’s brother representing her next of kin, filed motions in March 2012 declaring that attorney Bryan Thompson’s guardianship was invalid, but a Superior Court judge ruled that Clerk of Court Susan Frye was proper in denying those motions.
The February 2014 NC Court of Appeals ruling reversed the Superior Court judge’s order, finding that all of attorney Thompson actions regarding the estate of Mary Thompson “…were without legal authority.” But in October 2014, Mary Thompson died, and attorney Bryan Thompson, according to the estate lawsuit, “…did not return the assets that he took by fraud from Mary Thompson valued at $1,486,415.49.”
Brannon’s lawsuit seeks all of his sister’s assets returned to the estate, and holds liable attorney Thompson; Office of the Clerk of Court; guardian ad litem Fred Flynt; along with two insurance companies on the bond issued to protect Mary Thompson’s assets as required by law; and two other attorneys for their alleged roles in what the suit maintains was a case of fraud.
In an article on the lawsuit appearing in the Winston-Salem Journal this week, Forsyth Clerk of Court Susan Frye countered that her office "did nothing illegal."
“Everything was handled in a professional manner,” Frye told the W-S Journal Monday. “And all laws have been followed. There was no fraud.”
In an article on the lawsuit appearing in the Winston-Salem Journal this week, Forsyth Clerk of Court Susan Frye countered that her office "did nothing illegal."
“Everything was handled in a professional manner,” Frye told the W-S Journal Monday. “And all laws have been followed. There was no fraud.”
An attorney for Bryan Thompson told the paper that his actions were "...accounted for and approved by the court."
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS 10-29-15
NC STATE PROBES MOCKING “COUNTRY VERSUS BLACK CULTURE” PARTY
NC State University officials are probing an off-campus party held last Thursday titled “CMT versus BET,” where students dressed up mockingly either as figures from country music culture or black music culture. Members of the school’s Diversity Advisory Committee say they’re sad that the event was held, adding that clearly the importance of diversity on NCSU’s campus needs to reach more students.
COUNCIL HOLDS HEARING ON COLLEGE PARK REDEVELOPMENT TUESDAY
This Tuesday, November 3rd at 7 p.m., the Raleigh City Council will hold an important public hearing on the redevelopment of the College Park community near St. Augustine’s University. There is concern that there will be gentrification of the historically black neighborhood, with traditional residents being moved out in favor of upper middle-class newcomers who could afford newer housing. City officials say the redevelopment has been planned since the late 1990s
VOTER REGISTRATION – EDUCATION TRAINING NOV. 8TH
Politica NC, a nonprofit advocacy organization and You Can Vote NC, a project of the People’s Alliance Fund is sponsoring hands-on voter registration and education training for volunteers in preparation for the 2016 elections on Saturday, Nov. 8th, from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Cameron Village Library, 1930 Clark Avenue in Raleigh. You can RSVP for the training by going online to http://www.youcanvote.org/voter_registration_education_training?recruiter_id=2761.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 10-29-15
JUDGE ALLOWS NCNAACP VOTER ID CHALLENGE TO GO FORWARD
[WINSTON-SALEM] A federal judge has rejected attempts by lawyers for the Republican-led NC General Assembly to dismiss a legal challenge to North Carolina’s voter photo ID law, and has ruled that a trial focusing on that provision will be held in January 2016. State lawmakers made a sudden, unexpected change to the 2013 stringent law that required a government-issued photo identification for all voters starting in the 2016 elections. The change, made last July, softened previous restrictions, allowing provisional voting without an ID. Attorneys for the state argued that should be enough to have the lawsuit from the NCNAACP and others dismissed, but US District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder disagreed, suggesting he sees merit in the NCNAACP’s argument that still maintaining the requirement for photo ID is unconstitutional and discriminatory under North Carolina law, especially towards African-Americans.
STATE’S EIGHTH GRADERS FARING POORLY; FOURTH GRADERS IMPROVE
[GREENSBORO] Eighth graders in North Carolina are not doing as well on national math and reading tests as they did two years ago, according to a report released Wednesday by the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). That same report, however, showed that North Carolina’s fourth-graders have improved their reading national test scores by four points, while their math scores remained the same. Still, the state’s eighth-graders scored at the national average for math, but three points lower in reading. North Carolina’s fourth-graders scored higher in both math and reading than the national average.
UNC BOARD CHAIR RESIGNS AFTER SPELLING CHOSEN AS SYSTEM PRES.
[CHAPEL HILL] The chairman of the UNC Board of Governors resigned this week after leading a contentious process in the selection of Margaret Spellings as the new UNC System president. Chairman John Fennebresque stepped down Monday amid severe criticism of how Spellings selection was recently conducted. Spellings previously served as US education secretary under Pres. George W. Bush. UNC Board Vice Chair attorney W. Louis Bissette, Jr. will serve as acting chairman until the state Senate choses a successor to finish out Fennesbresque’s unexpired term.