Tuesday, October 18, 2016


By Cash Michaels

            WHO DID IT? – I think all freedom-loving people can agree that the firebombing of the NC GOP headquarters in Hillsborough last weekend was a dastardly act of terrorism. If anyone has bad things to say about the Republican Party, make no mistake that the line forms behind me. But that doesn’t mean that blowing up the place just because it is associated with the GOP justifies throwing a Molotov cocktail in the place. Deadly violence of this nature for any reason outside of a declared foreign war is abhorrent. It’s also cowardly.
            Black people know all too well how cowardly, having experienced white supremacists firebombing the homes and businesses of civil rights workers and their supporters. Ask that NAACP field office in Colorado in January 2015 that was set ablaze suspiciously.
            I’m like other folks…I want GOP ideas fairly defeated at the polls, not through violence and bloodshed. We still have to live together in the long run, folks, so whatever fights we have should be fierce and hardhitting, but not violent.
            And one more thing….not enough is being said about that group of Democrats. Independent of the state party, who went online and raised thousands of dollars to help the NCGOP repair the damage to their office. That was something I was proud to read, that in the midst of a hardfought and pivitol general election, their decency overcame their partisanship. That’s the way most of us used to be. I hope we can return to those kind of values.
MATTHEW – Needless to say, while the world of politics is going crazy around us, the real world beckons for our undivided attention.
            The extraordinary flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew that has destroyed homes, businesses and whole towns, has dramatically changed the lives of thousands of people, forced to evacuate their homes for the high, safe ground.
            Specifically we’re thinking about the Edgecombe County town of Princeville, the oldest town incorporated by African-Americans in America. We almost lost Princeville in 1999 when it was flooded when the Tar River broke through the levies after Hurricane Floyd. That was 17 years ago.
            Now, in the wake of Matthew, Princeville has been flooded again, and all of the town’s residents have been evacuated. They are temporarily living in hotels and emergency shelters, their money running low, their prospect for finding a new place to live even lower. Their homes and businesses are underwater. All they have is hope, and us.
            Let’s certainly do what we can to help all of the victims throughout eastern North Carolina impacted by Matthew, but let’s pay particular attention to what’s happening in Princeville.
            The community stood by them once in 1999, and we can do it again.
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.


  AERIAL SHOT OF FLOODED PRINCEVILLE (courtesy of NC Emergency Management]

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As massive pumps displaced 4 million gallons of flood water per day from the Edgecombe County town of Princeville, and hundreds of evacuated families from there and other impacted communities continue to worry about where they are going to live next , state lawmakers are strongly urging Gov. Pat McCrory to convene a special session of the NC General Assembly as soon  as possible to appropriate the critical recovery funds thirty-one central and eastern North Carolina counties need in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
            “I do think there should be a special session at some point,” says Democratic House Minority Leader Larry Hall (D-Durham), “which should be as soon as reasonably possible.”
            But the governor and Republican legislative leaders refuse, saying there is enough in the state emergency fund to tide the impacted flooded areas over until state lawmakers reconvene in January, pointing to the projection that swollen rivers will recede by Oct. 24th.
            Indeed, McCrory seems to literally contradict his own remarks from Oct. 11 in a press release from the Governor’s Office online when he was quoted as saying, “Our state continues to make progress responding to the devastation from Hurricane Matthew but dangerous conditions persist. We will continue doing everything possible to fight for all available resources to help people recover."
            But later on that same webpage appears the sentence, “The State Budget Office and emergency management officials do not expect those funds to be exhausted before early 2017.” And further down in that same press release from the Governor’s Office appears, “…if needed, the state’s rainy day fund is at an all-time high of $1.6 billion.”
            Apparently Republican leaders in the NC General Assembly convinced the governor that the small disaster relief fund, which is reportedly under $20 million, would be quite enough for now        
            “[It would be] imprudent to try to determine long-term needs until floodwaters recede and immediate threats to safety are controlled,” a joint statement from House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said.
            Democrats wholeheartedly disagree.
            Last week, as flood waters and power outages continued to ravage homes, businesses and farms, state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue [D-Wake] and other Senate Democrats called on McCrory and Republican leaders to move quickly to address the emergency.
            “…[W]e as state leaders, need to act now to provide immediate relief and assistance to communities directly impacted by the storm,” Blue wrote in an Oct. 12th letter to McCrory.
            Sen. Blue ended his missive to the governor with this cautionary, “To wait on federal assistance without taking immediate action at the state level puts people’s safety and livelihoods at further risk.”
State Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram (D- District 3), who represents many of the areas affected, including Edgecombe County, also wrote Gov. McCrory urging quick action.
            “Now that President Obama has declared a state of disaster for almost a dozen eastern counties, I urge you to call the General Assembly for a Special Session for the purpose of putting additional appropriations in place to expedite and begin the long road of recovery, disaster clean-up, rebuilding, and relief efforts.”
            Sen. Smith-Ingram goes on to state that despite approval of federal storm assistance, “…the impact of Matthew was so significant, state aid is imperative [now].” She furthered that “…preliminary estimates already exceed the balance in the state Emergency Response Fund…”
            That “balance,” legislative sources say, is just $12 million (the Governor’s Office placed that figure closer to $18 million in its Oct. 11th press release), and Democrats like senators Blue and Smith-Ingram say that amount is clearly nowhere near what is needed in eastern North Carolina counties like Nash, Robeson, Cumberland, Bertie, Chowan, Tyrell, Washington, Wayne, Columbus and Edgecombe, among others that were hard hit with massive flooding, downed trees, and crumbling roads.
            According to state statute 166A-19.42 under the State Emergency Management Act, the governor has authority over that fund to give financial assistance based of Type I, II, and III classified disasters.
            In Type I, the governor can render emergency assistance to disaster victims by way of grants to individuals and loans to businesses for temporary housing, repairs to dwellings, replacement of personal property, and other associated losses, including funeral expenses and public assistance.
            In Type II and Type III, the governor can render emergency assistance up to $25,000 per family in housing repair, replacement or relocation grants.
            The fund also allows the governor to cover the startup costs of first responder teams, and whatever supplies and equipment that is needed.
            But again, in the aftermath of Matthew, Democrats say $12-$18 million isn’t nearly enough.
            If a reference point is needed for state lawmakers to determine what the possible total cost could be, they need look no further than Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which caused massive flooding and destruction in Edgecombe and other counties, costing North Carolina  $836 million in disaster relief funding, even with federal assistance.
            A special session was called to appropriate that funding, albeit three months after Floyd hit. Democrats say given the high level of suffering, loss of homes, businesses and farms, in addition to lives (at least 25 at press time) in the aftermath of Matthew, faster action is required now.
            “…[T]he effectiveness of the relief will ultimately be the ease with which it can be delivered or accessed by those in need,” says House Minority Leader Larry Hall.
During last week’s gubernatorial debate with Democratic challenger Atty Gen. Roy Cooper, Gov. McCrory proudly touted that over $1.6 billion was budgeted away in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund.” But it takes legislative action by the NC General Assembly to touch any of that fund because its deliberately unallocated to any agency or program, thus the call for McCrory to immediately convene a special session as soon as possible to determine how much more beyond the emergency fund is needed now. 
Based on news reports and interviews with officials involved in the disaster  relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, that price tag will be considerably more than Floyd .
What has not also been said is that federal assistance will cover up to 75 percent of what the state spends in recovery efforts, according to that same state Emergency Management website that also quoted Gov. McCrory. So there’s little reason not to use rainy day funds.
“In the days and weeks ahead, it is critical that our state leaders thoroughly document the needs in these communities and pursue innovative approaches to meeting those needs. There will be gaps in available federal assistance and it will be incumbent on North Carolina to come up with the ways to provide relief to those that may be initially left out of the recovery,” said Bill Rowe of the NC Justice Center, a Raleigh-based progressive think tank.
The population of the small town of Princeville, considered the oldest incorporated town founded by African-Americans in the nation, is more than weary of the flood waters Matthew has brought. Many of them experienced the same dire dilemma in 1999 when Hurricane Floyd dumped heavy rains on an already swollen Tar River that separates Princeville from neighboring Tarboro. The subsequent flooding forced the town’s 2,000 residents to flee for their lives for emergency shelters in schools and nearby hotels, or out of the area with relatives, with little more than the clothes on their backs.
History has repeated itself again 17 years later with Matthew. Sen. Smith-Ingram says FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is imploring impacted victims to file with the agency as soon as possible, noting that they have 60 days from the disaster declaration (roughly Dec. 9th). They should call 1-800-621-3362. But many of the survivors are poor and elderly, and don’t have bank accounts that FEMA can automatically deposit needed funds in. They normally go to check cashing places with whatever public assistance they get.
Tarboro High School has served as an emergency shelter for many. Those who have been able to afford to, have stayed in area hotels and motels, afraid that when their money runs out, they and their children will be kicked to the streets.
Princeville Elementary School was found under six feet of water. Classes have been relocated to different facility.
The Salvation Army and American Red Cross are working with NCDisaster Relief.org (www.ncdisasterrelief.org) to collect donations for all in need who have been affected by Matthew, but various church organizations, included the General State Baptist Convention and affiliated churches, are in the process to collecting donations to help the people affected through the region, including Princeville.
On Tuesday, Princeville town leaders, led by Mayor Bobbie Jones, walked into their town for the first time in a week, holding hands, to survey the damage. They vowed that Princeville will be rebuilt again based on the hard work their community is known for.
"And we'll do it together,":Mayor Jones said.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The NCNAACP has sent out nonpartisan “Talking Points” for voters and prospective voters taking part in the November general election, reminding all about what changes in North Carolina election law since the recent US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down parts of the 2013 voter ID law that sought to suppress the African-American vote.
            Early voting begins today across the state until Saturday, Nov. 5th, the last Saturday before the November 8th election. You can find information about your County’s Early Voting plans by calling your county, or going to NC NAACP’s website: NCNAACP.org, or to NCVoter.org.
            During the entire Early Voting Period “Same-Day Registration” will be available, which allows voters to register and vote on the same day. If you are an eligible voter, it is your right to be heard in this election. Go during the Early Voting period to make sure your vote counts. NOTE: If you are registering for the first time, bring a document to confirm your identity and current address, such as bank statement, utility bill, paycheck, document from a government agency, or driver’s license. All voter’s voices should be heard this Election.
First, there is NO PHOTO IDENTIFICATION requirement in North Carolina this election.
Back-Up Safeguard for Votes Cast on Election Day -  If you go to the wrong precinct on Election Day  (Nov. 8th) or have a problem at the poll, you have a right to vote with a provisional ballot and to make sure that it is counted.
On Election Day, Tuesday November 8, polls are open 6:30AM to 7:30PM. If you are in line by 7:30PM, you must be allowed to vote. You should vote at your precinct, not an early voting site. For help: Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE!
Voting by People with Fully Served Felony Sentences -  In NC, you can register like a new voter after serving a felony sentence, including all probation or parole. No extra documents or process is required. A civil fine, restitution or misdemeanor does not block your right to vote.
Assistance -  A near family member may help you vote! Voters with a disability or reading hardship can receive assistance from anyone who is not an employer or union agent. Curbside voting is available for people with disabilities.
Straight Party Voting is not available this election. Voters will need to mark their choice for every race and flip the ballot over to indicate your choice for local races. If you make an error on your ballot, ask for a new one!
You Can Review the Ballot In Advance & Write Down Your Choices - You can review your ballot ahead of time, and bring a written aid to help you in the voting booth or an electronic aid on your phone. Just remember: no photographs are allowed within the voting area.
Sunday Voting: At least 22 counties currently will offer at least one day of Sunday Voting: Those counties include Anson, Buncombe, Catawba, Craven, Cumberland, Durham, Greene, Guilford, Hoke, Hyde, Lenoir, Mecklenburg, Person, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Vance, Wake, Wayne, and Wilson.
Absentee ballots that allow voters to vote by mail are already available to North Carolina voters and will be available until November 1. Your ballot must be delivered back to the elections board by Election Day. Read the instructions carefully.


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