Thursday, December 17, 2015


By Cash Michaels

            MERRY CHRISTMAS – Here’s hoping that you and your family will have the most blessed Christmas there is this weekend. Despite all of the hoopla and fanfare, Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It seems like we get away from that meaning more and more each year, to the point where Christmas is becoming just about gifts and fun.
            At the same time, however, I see very little wrong with saying “Happy Holidays” to folks that you’re not going to see for a coupe of weeks. They know what you mean, and appreciate the gesture.
            I pray that for you and your family, Christmas is so much more than just gift giving, like coming together as a family, enjoying each other’s company, and vowing to come together more during the new year.
            So Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.  After all we’ve gone through this year, we all deserve a little jolliness, if you know what I mean.
            HAPPY KWANZAA - As always, Dec. 26th to January 1st are the seven days of Kwanzaa, a holiday period that is unique to the African-American community, which celebrates the seven African-based principles of hard work and fruitfulness.
Those principles are:
                                    Umoja (Unity)
                                    Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
                                    Ujima (Collective work and responsibility)
                                    Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
                                    Nia (Purpose)
                                    Kuumba (Creativity)
                                    Imani (Faith)
Since it was founded in 1966 by Prof. Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa has exploded worldwide, reminding those of us of African heritage that, with the exception of GOD, our families and communities come first. At least that’s the way we look at it at our house. No matter, have a happy and fruitful Kwanzaa!
            NEW LEE DANIELS PILOT AT FOX – Apparently hot black director Lee Daniels can do little wrong at Fox Television, which is happily going to the bank with his megahit “Empire.” Daniels is now reportedly pitching a new TV pilot starring Queen Latifah, tentatively titled “Star,” about an all girl’s group who tries top make it in the music industry.
            According to Variety, an entertainment news publication, “Queen Latifah will anchor the young cast, playing Carlotta, the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon who has an amazing voice and becomes a surrogate mother to the three girls in the group, even though she doesn’t approve of their musical dreams.”
            Reportedly the pilot for the proposed series is being shot in Atlanta, and it is not considered a spinoff from Empire, though I don’t see why not.
            So let’s see if this Lee Daniels production makes it to series next year. Better hit while the iron is hot, Lee.
            “SHOTS FIRED” – And since we’re talking about Fox Television, we understand that the network has now ordered episodes of a new series titled “Shots Fired” starring Sanaa Lathan, who many of us remember from the film “Love and Basketball.” She plays an investigative specialist who looks into “racially charged shootings in a small town in Tennessee,” again according to Variety. Now why Tennessee, I don’t have the faintest idea. Fox is calling this an “event series,” meaning that it will have  limited number of episodes (13 to 18) just like a cable series would have. What’s notable here, besides Lathan’s casting, is that the series is produced by Gina Prince Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood, who have done a few movies in recent years, but are best known as the producers of “New York Undercover” back in the 1990’s.
            Obviously, Fox is trying to capitalize on the recent spat of police killings of young African-Americans. I hope they handle it well, cause the subject is nothing to play with.
            SUTHERLAND IS BACK – Fans of the hit Fox series “24” are understandably saddened that star Kiefer Sutherland will not be returning to the role of agent Jack Bauer when the series resumes. But that doesn’t mean Sutherland isn’t returning to television. Word is that the actor will put down his gun and torture tolls to portray a fictional president of the United States in the upcoming thriller series, “Designated Survivor.” ABC-TV has made a straight-to-series order for the show about “…a lower-level Cabinet member who is appointed President after a terrorist attack during the State of the Union address kills everyone ahead of him in the presidential line of succession,” according to TV.Com.
            Not much chance of Sutherland being in lots of action here, though, as president, he could cause lots of action. We’ll see. Expect to also see this ABC series next year as well.
            HAVE A GREAT ONE – One more column to go before the New Year, so I hope you and your family have a happy and safe holiday season together.
''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” (
           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.

By Cash Michaels

            Those in the social activist movement got a one-two punch to their cause Dec. 18th when the NC Supreme Court announced two devastating decisions that effectively further rolled back gains achieved prior to the Republican-led takeover of state government five years ago.
            First, the state High Court decided, 4-3 along party lines, to ignore instructions from the US Supreme Court, and upheld for a second time the 2011 redistricting maps by the GOP majority Legislature which critics said unconstitutionally “stacked and packed” black voters statewide into a limited number of “majority-minority” voting districts. By doing so, critics charged, African-Americans weren’t able to influence in majority-white districts, and thus, were limited in voting for representatives of their choice.
            “That was not a surprise, though it was a disappointment,” said attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP’s Law and Redress Committee, and one of the litigators for the plaintiffs who filed suit against the GOP redistricting plans.
            Joyner said the Republican majority of the court “…was pretty much designed to uphold the Republican legislature and promote the [GOP] principle of staking and packing.” Joyner added that established case law against using race to primarily draw voting districts still stands, and he’s certain that the ruling will be reversed on appeal.
            That appeal will most likely not come in time to affect the 2016 elections, Joyner agreed.
            Defenders of the controversial redistricting maps, which effectively guarantee Republican legislative and congressional majorities until 2020, say the majority-black voting districts comply with the 1965 Voting Rights Act by ensuring that African-Americans are able to elect candidates from among their own ranks. But critics countered that by segregating black voters, Republican candidates were able to gain an advantage over white Democratic candidates where black Democrats had been removed.
            The state Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument and upheld the GOP maps in December 2014. But in April of this year,  the US Supreme Court, which had gotten the case on appeal, sent it back to the state High Court, instructing it to reconsider in light of how black voters were constituted in the redistricting plan. The state of Alabama had a similar controversy, and the US justices ruled against them.
            But after hearing arguments again last August, the NC Supreme Court dismissed whatever concerns expressed by the nation’s High Court, and upheld for a second time the 2011 Republican redistricting maps.
            Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, was not pleased.
            "This bad decision ignores the advice of the US Supreme Court,” Rev. Barber said in a statement. “We see it as a court decision straight down partisan line which seeks to uphold the unconstitutional racially drawn districts of the ultra partisan extreme NC legislature. A 4-3 decision.  We will Appeal to the US Supreme Court."
Republican legislative leaders issued a reaction cheering the decision, and then adding, “It’s time for these left-wing groups to stop wasting taxpayer money pursuing their frivolous and politically-motivated appeals and finally accept the will of the voters.”
            For the three-member minority, Justice Cheri Beasley wrote the minority opinion.
            For all the complexity of VRA jurisprudence, the bottom line is that the manipulation of district lines based on race to a greater extent than necessary to comply with the VRA is unconstitutional,” Justice Beasley wrote.
In it’s second blow to the social justice movement, the state Supreme Court vacated the rulings by a black Cumberland County Superior Court judge three years ago who commuted the death sentences of four convicted murderers to life in prison under the now defunct Racial Justice Act, because there was evidence of racial bias in their prosecution.
            The high Court ruled that Judge Gregory Weeks erred when he didn’t give prosecutors adequate time to counter arguments based on a statistic study on crimes by race in North Carolina.
            That study showed that more blacks than whites were sentenced to the death penalty in capital cases when their victims were white. The study also showed that black jurors were removed from juries hearing capital cases involving black defendants than whites.
            The Republican-led NC General Assembly repealed the Racial Justice Act in 2013 after just four years.
            Irv Joyner, also a law professor at NCCU School of Law, called the state Supreme Court decision “a travesty.”
            The Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham issued a statement saying, “The N.C. Supreme Court ordered new hearings in four Racial Justice Act cases because of legal technicalities, but did not overturn the key findings of these groundbreaking cases: that African-Americans have been systematically excluded from serving on capital juries, producing unfair outcomes for defendants on trial for their lives.”
            “We are confident that, no matter how many hearings are held or studies completed, we will win this case. The evidence of racial bias in jury selection is simply overwhelming and undeniable,” said Jay Ferguson, attorney for the defendants. “All this decision will do is add more delays and cost the state millions to conduct new studies and hold new hearings. We will be throwing more taxpayer money into a hopelessly broken death penalty.”
            “The powerful evidence that Judge Weeks found still stands,” said Ferguson. “Nothing the Supreme Court did today challenges that in any way. As a state, we cannot ignore this troubling evidence that racial bias infects the death penalty from the very beginning of the process. When we cannot even choose the jury fairly, we surely cannot ensure fair trials and outcomes for defendants facing execution.”


CRISIS IN SOUTHEAST RALEIGH - Wake Commissioner Jessica Holmes (left) listens as Wake County Revenue Dept. Director Marcus Kinrade explains how property values in South East Raleigh are skyrocketing as a result of redevelopment in downtown Raleigh. The concern is that many older residents could lose their homes because they won't be able to afford the property taxes. [ Cash Michaels photo]

By Cash Michaels

            Eight years ago in South East Raleigh, there were lots and properties on which the aging homes of elder and longtime residents stood. The value of the lots were pegged at between $25,000 to $30,000, with the older homes much less, and within the property tax value that residents on minimum and fixed incomes could afford.
            When the property reappraisal came from the county, folks knew pretty much what to expect.
            Today, however, thanks the tremendous development in nearby downtown Raleigh, the property values of those same lots under those vintage homes have now skyrocketed to between $70,000 and $80,000, according the Wake County Revenue Department, meaning that in 2016 those residents will be hit with huge property tax bills many simply cannot afford. Homes and properties that have been in families for generations, at tremendous risk, because of an economic boon that is helping others at the expense of those who will least benefit.
            That was the concern of various community leaders who attended a session Dec. 10th at the Wake Justice Center to discuss the evolving problem, and determine how best to put remedies in place to help those who will find themselves at risk of losing their homes because they can’t afford the inflated tax bill.
            Called by Wake County Commission Chair James West, and his colleague, Commissioner Jessica Holmes, leaders from the church, business, elected office, and housing assistance, came together to get a informational update from Marcus Kinrade, director of the county revenue department.
            The picture Kinrade painted wasn’t pretty.
            In the S.E. Raleigh study area within the boundaries of Oakwood Avenue/Milburnie Road; Wilmington Street; I-40/440; and Worthdale park north to Milburnie Road, there is dynamic sales activity that is driving up lot values within those boundaries, and while the overall market value is up five percent over 2008 values for lot and home, land values (lot only) are up a whopping 30 percent over 2008.
            The area in S.E. Raleigh where lot values have increased most sharply is the Southpark neighborhood – the one closest to all of the recent downtown redevelopment.
            The Wake County Commissioners are mandated by law to set the county property tax rates by June 30th, 2016, based of the most recent county property value reappraisal which is done every eight years and was just mailed to Wake residents Dec. 7th. That tax will be required to be paid by home and commercial property owners by Dec. 31st of next year.
            Wake property owners have been paying their taxes based on the rates set per the 2008 reappraisal. North Carolina law has required all counties to schedule their reappraisals at least once every eight years since 1976, and critics have said with the tremendous growth taking place in counties like Wake and Mecklenburg over the past decade, property owners are hit with tremendous tax bills they’ve not seen before.
            Of particular concern in SE Raleigh are so-called “home flipper” companies  who in 2015, according to county revenue department records, sold 299 properties, 5.7 percent of 5,194 tallied in the study area. The average sale price of the 240 properties sold without renovation (lot, foundation and framework) was $104,500.
            The average sale price of 59 renovated properties  [lot and new home built on it] in South East Raleigh in 2015 was $271,500 - $70,000 for the land and $201,500 for the home (at $152 a square foot).
            With median income for the SE Raleigh considerably lower than the city’s overall average of $62,313 (per 2014 US Census data), it is unlikely, say observers, that people who have been longtime residents of the community will be able to afford to stay. At the Dec. 10th meeting, this was called “unintended gentrification.”
            The question now is how can residents in the community be helped to deal with the ramifications?
            In Part 2, what can be done to assist SE Raleigh homeowners.



[WILMINGTON] The Port City has now been added to the national 2015 Mass Shootings List by the Gun Violence Archive and after a 16-year-old teenager was fatally shot Sunday at 11th and  Castle Street Sunday, with four others wounded. Shane Simpson, 16, was found lying dead on the corner after 11;20 p.m. by Wilmington Police. Reports say a dark-colored sedan pulled up, with shots fired on the group of teens standup there. None of the other injuries were considered serious. The list, which defines a mass shooting as four of more people shot and/or killed in a single event, notes that the Wilmington incident is the tenth since the Dec. 2nd San Bernadino, Calif. terrorist attack which killed 16 people. There have been 321 mass shootings in the US in 2015, the Gun Violence Archive says.

[RALEIGH] If ever there was a time to get your driver’s license renewed, between now and Dec. 31st is the time before fees rise at the NC Division of Motor Vehicles in Jan. 1st, 2016.And don’t count on the NCDMV website to take you right up to midnight Dec. 31st with the old fees, because it is scheduled to shutdown on New Year’s Eve at 9 p.m. in order to begin reprogramming for the new schedule by 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day. So whether it’s driver license renewal, vehicle registration renewal, ordering duplicates, requesting driving records, orders for personalized plates, and more, get it done now before the new year. Fee increases range from $1 to $8.00 or more.

            [FAYETTEVILLE] The US Department of Justice has made a series of recommendations to the Fayetteville Police Dept. in an effort to correct their use-of-force policies. After reviewing FPD records for 2013 and 2014,  in edition to interviews with police officers, community leaders and residents, federal officials determined that the department lacks accurate data maintenance. They also rejected the FPD policy of firing warning shots, indicating that innocent people could be struck. Federal officials also maintained that poor use-of-force tactics will ultimately render the officer involved responsible if something goes wrong if those policies are not corrected.


            [GREENSBORO] North Carolina added 11,400 nonfarm jobs in November, but the unemployment remained at 5.7 percent, where it was in October. Forecasters say the state’s economy looks good going into 2016, and they expect to see more full-time and higher paying jobs coming soon. North Carolina’s jobless figures are .7 percent above the national unemployment rate of 5 percent.

            [RALEIGH] As the candidate filing for the March 15th primary ended Dec. 21st, libertarian candidates for top offices added their names to the long list of office seekers. Sean Haugh of Durham is once again making a run for the US Senate. He earned of the vote in 2014 when he first ran. First-timer Lon Cecil of High Point registered to run for governor, along with state Libertarian Party Chairman J. J. Summerell, who is running for lieutenant governor. Libertarian candidates must earn at least two percent of the vote during a presidential year in order to maintain their official status in the state as a political party.



            Witnesses for the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the new election maps the Republican-led NC General Assembly drew in 2013 for Wake County Commission and school board races testified last week that race was the primary factor in determining the new lines. Republicans redrew District 4 comprised of South East Raleigh, parts of Garner and Knightdale so that it resulted in 54 percent black population, thus denying African-Americans to influence races in other districts. Lawyers for the GOP counter they were trying to get more Democrats into the district so that more conservative voters in the suburban and rural areas would have a voice. The presiding federal judge indicated that he’ll make his ruling by the end of this month.

            When Durham Police Officers begin wearing body cameras when they go on patrol, the footage will be considered part of a criminal investigation in use-of-force situations and not be made public, according to a recently announced draft policy announced by the DPD. But many Durham residents say that is unacceptable because there would be no transparency, and will only add to community distrust if video evidence of a police investigation into its own actions can’t be shown. The NC American Civil Liberties Union also pans the new body cam policy.

            Beginning February 1, Morrisville Parkway between Crabtree Crossing Parkway and Bristol Creek Drive/Quail Fields Court will be closed by the NC Dept. of Transportation in order for the town of Morrisville to complete work on a new railroad bridge. Motorists will be able to detour using NC 54, Cary Parkway, High House Road and Davis Drive. Go to for more details.

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