Sunday, June 26, 2016


By Cash Michaels

            SO PROUD – To hear House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republicans tell it, the historic 25-hour sit-in on the House floor in Congress last week was nothing but a publicity stunt to raise campaign money. And truth be told, the Democratic Party, once it saw how successful the sit-in was turning out to be, did send out fundraising letters.  But let’s face it, if First Lady Michelle Obama beat the president at darts, the Dems would send out a letter just to get all of the female Democratic dart-throwing fans to pass the hate.
            No, what the House Democrats, led by Georgia Congressman John Lewis, last week was not some cheap publicity stunt to raise a quick campaign buck.  The sit-in they staged was a brilliant attempt to embarrass the Republicans for doing everything they can, especially after tragic mass shootings, to bottleneck the legislative process so that the Second Amendment right to bear arms would remain unfettered, unthreatened, no matter how stupid or crazy it may seem.
            Forty-nine innocent people are shot to death at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and Republicans talk around the fact that a crazed self-styled Islamist was able to legally by an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon after first being investigated by the FBI and then being taken off the international no-fly list.
            The solution to the average person seemed simple – pass a law making sure that if a person the FBI once investigated who falls off the radar is delayed in purchasing a gun until he or she is looked back into. And while we’re at it, why in the world would we allow average citizens the ability to purchase and own weapons of war that fire multiple rounds from a single magazine? Far too many military experts have stated that such gun belongs on the battlefield, not on our streets or in our communities.
            And yet, because the leaders of the National Rifle Association are greasing as many Republican palms as possible so that laws they don’t like are never passed, we have to deal with a GOP-majority Congress that is essentially bought and paid for.
            That is what John Lewis and the rest of the House Democrats were finally fed up with last week. The polls show that 90 percent of Americans want sensible gun control passed, and an amazing 85% of NRA members want the same thing.
            But since Republicans can’t seem to find their way to logical, reasonable solutions without a certain amount of drama, then the House Democratic sit-in was a necessary tool.
            Sure House rules governing decorum on the floor were violated. That’s what happens when the majority doesn’t want to listen to whatever common sense the minority is tired of begging for. And we should all be glad that the House Dems were more than happy to break them. Because if there’s one thing this 2016 election season has taught all of us, it’s that people are tired of business-as-usual. Folks now want fairness and what’s right, no matter what the cost. So if the so-called “Establishment” gets their collective noses rubbed in it in the process, then so be it.
            And that’s why whoever is leading the anti-establishment movement must be a person whose very history is a testament to the highest integrity and examples of personal sacrifice imaginable.
            That’s why choosing Georgia Congressman John Lewis was a stroke of genius.
            Having marched with civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a young man, and withstanding having his head beaten in by Alabama state troopers during the first march from Montgomery to Selma, there is simply no other member of Congress who can hold candle Rep. Lewis’ bravery and history.
            So to be led by such an icon, in a cause where 90 Americans a day are being killed by guns, is beyond important, and certainly doesn’t qualify as a cheap publicity stunt.
            So seeing Rep. Lewis lead the charge as Democrats took turns making key speeches asking the Republican House majority to just bring a gun bill on the floor for a voter, watching them lock arms singing “We Shall Overcome,” and finally going outside the US Capital Building to assure the gathering of supporters that one way or another, meaningful gun legislation will be achieved in Congress, was heart-rendering.
            We look forward to the Democrats picking up the fight where they left it after 23 hours last week when they return from their July 4th recess. Will anything be accomplished? We’ll certainly see. But we’ll now know for sure who is trying hard for change, and who indeed is happy with the status quo.
            Let’s just hope and pray that another mass shooting doesn’t happen in the meantime.
 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
Contributing writer

            Last week, in acts of civil and procedural defiance, House Democrats , led by iconic civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis [D-GA], sang “We Shall Overcome,” held hands together as they sat on the floor in the well of the US House Chamber, and delivered fiery speeches criticizing  the GOP House majority for doing nothing about  the scourge of gun violence in the nation.
            After 26 hours, the House Democrats broke for the July 4th recess as the Republicans had hours earlier, but promised, upon their return July 5th, to continue their protest “sit-in” until GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan allows a bill to be voted on that speaks to either banning semi-automatic weapons, or keeping people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns.
            So what will happen next week when Congress reconvenes?
            No one outside of the House Democrats can say, but North Carolina Congressman G. K. Butterfield [D-NC-1], who also serves as chair of the Con- gressional Black Caucus, makes clear that in light of the recent Orlando shooting massacre which took 49 lives, now is the time for Congress to step forward and do something about the flood of gun violence in the country.
            “Republican leadership has failed to vote even on common-sense legislation   that would expand background checks and prevent dangerous firearms from being sold to suspected terrorists. Enough is enough.”
            Rep. Butterfield continued, “ Now, more than ever, the issue of gun violence should transcend party lines. It’s time for the American people to demand new gun laws to make our country a safer place for all. We must take action.”
            Butterfield wasn’t the only North Carolina congressperson to join the House Democratic “No Bill, No Break” sit-in last week. His 12th District colleague, Rep. Alma Adams said, “There’s a difference between being concerned and being committed.”
            “We were not elected to only hold moments of silence; we were elected to act and legislate for the general welfare of the American people. It’s time for House Republicans to do their job  and bring these common-sense bipartisan bills to the floor.”
            The two bills in question that House Democrats want Speaker Ryan and the House Republicans to allow for an up-or-down vote are the bi-partisan King-Thompson measure to expand and strengthen  the background checks system, and the bi-partisan “No Fly, No Buy” legislation to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.
            House Republicans have reportedly voted 13 times to block consideration of “No Fly, No Buy,” saying that if someone is mistakenly placed on the “No Fly” list, their due process rights to challenge the assignment are denied, and their Second Amendment right to bear arms violated.
            House Republican Rep. Mark Walker [R-NC-6] of Greensboro called the Democratic sit-in “a disgrace to Woolworth’s, ” apparently referencing the historic February 1, 1960 sit-in at Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro by four North Carolina A&T students to end segregation.
            House Democrats were inspired by forty Democratic members of the US Senate, led by Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who filibustered their chamber days earlier until the Republican majority agreed to hold votes on four gun control measures. All went down in defeat, but observers say the votes opened the door to a possible meaningful compromise on a bill introduced by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
            North Carolina’s third House Democrat, David Price [D-NC-1] was also in support of last week’s sit-in, in addition to the “No Fly, No Buy” legislation. But Price’s Republican senatorial colleague from North Carolina, Thom Tillis, was anything but.
            “The business of the House is more important than the antics that we see going on there, and if it were my chamber, it would be cleared and people would be arrested, if that's what's necessary to get us back to the task at hand,” Sen. Tillis said on the Senate floor last week.
            But Rep. Adams disagrees.
            Gun control is not a partisan issue—it is a common-sense issue,” Rep. Adams says. “We cannot be guided by politics; it is wrong and irresponsible to suggest that the rights of law abiding gun owners are being compromised by tightened policies that can save lives. More than 30,000 people die each year in gun deaths.”
“ It is unacceptable to see the lack of leadership in Congress to bring meaningful gun safety measures to the floor of the House and Senate.”


by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            When the state Senate originally proposed several weeks ago to designate struggling Elizabeth City State University as one of three historically-black UNC campus schools to introduce a $500.00 per semester proposal for in-state students in order to boost enrollment, many critics suspected closing ECSU to be the true motive of the bill.
            There were concerns that the tuition discount would hit the schools hard, and even though they were promised at least $70 million in the upcoming budget to make up the difference, there were no guarantees in the years to come. Plus, critics alleged, then cheapened tuition could tarnish the image and reputation of the UNC schools involved.
 Protests rang up from black lawmakers, the NCNAACP, students, alums and supporters of ECSU, in addition to  Winston-State University and Fayetteville State University (the other two UNC System schools involved), forcing Sen. Tom Apodaca [R- Hendersonville] to withdraw his bill, complaining that his intentions had misunderstood, and he only wanted help the three black schools, in addition to UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina University, increase their enrollments.
Charging that his life had also been threatened, Sen. Apodaca removed his bill.
Fast forward to Monday evening when leaders of the state Senate and House announced that they have a $22 billion budget agreement ready for both houses to ratify this week, and Gov. McCrory to possibly sign no later than Friday in time for the new fiscal year beginning July 1st.
In as part of the new budget, the provision Sen. Apodaca said he would kill, a $500-per-semester tuition, this time involving just three schools  - UNC – Pembroke, Western Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University.
Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger said the schools were re-included because their chancellors asked to be. He added that ECSU was in “critical” need of the program because a March audit showed a sharp drop in enrollment, with only 232 students out of over 1186 freshmen admitted who actually enrolled.
Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, continues to criticize the move, charging that it is just a “shell game” to ultimately close ECSU down. Apodaca says the budget has $40 million allotted to help all three schools with any shortfalls next year.


As he promised he would, President Barack Obama will indeed join presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the campaign trial, and their first appearance together will be in Charlotte on Tuesday, July 5th. The president was suppose to appear with his former secretary o state in Wisconsin two weeks ago, but cancelled in the aftermath of the deal Orlando shooting massacre out of respect for the 49 killed. North C Carolina is a key battleground state where Clinton is seen running just two points ahead of her Republican challenger, businessman Donald Trump. Obama has been anxious to campaign for Clinton in order to defend his record against Trump's attacks, and improve Clinton's chances of succeeding him in office. This joint appearance comes just a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The last DNC was held in 2012 in Charlotte.


            [WASH., D.C.] Their decision won’t come in time to affect the November elections, the US Supreme Court has indicated that it will review North Carolina’s appeal of the US Circuit Fourth Court of Appeals decision that the First and Twelfth Congressional districts were drawn by the Republican-led Legislature with race as the primary factor, which was deemed unconstitutional. The appellate court ordered North Carolina to redraw the two districts, forcing the state to conduct two different primaries. The US High Court will review the case this fall.

            [RALEIGH] The NC House is expected pass the $22.3 budget proposal ratified by the state Senate Wednesday, possibly in time for Gov. Pat McCrory  to sign it into lawby Friday, July 1st, the first fay of the new fiscal year. The new budget includes a 4.7 percent raise for teachers bringing their average pay to this coming school year to $50,186. State employees will see a 1.5 percent bum p in their pay checks, an d state taxpayers get another income tax cut. The Democratic minority criticized  $35 million put aside to fund private school vouchers, and restrictions placed on a planned light rail system between Durham and Chapel Hill.

            [RALEIGH] By a 35-15 vote, the state senate this week approved the Achievement School District, where a special school superintendent hires a charter school company to take over five low-performing schools throughout the state in an effort to improve them. The House had earlier passed a different version of the bill, so the two sides must reconcile their difference now. Some Democratic senators tried to have their local school districts exempted from the law.



            Residents of the Waterford Landing community in East Raleigh were emergency evacuated Tuesday when workers installing fiber optic lines for faster internet service accidentally cut a major gas line in the neighborhood, forcing people to leave their homes. Utility lines are normally clearly marked in order to prevent such accidents, however there are indications that the markings for the gas lines may have been in the wrong place. Authorities are investigating.


            A Wake County grand jury has indicted Republican State Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of  Concord on three felony counts of  filing false campaign finance reports. The 69-year-old is accused of using campaign funds for personal benefit, including paying for credit cards. The criminal charges by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office followsa prolonged investigation by the NC Board of Elections.