Thursday, November 16, 2017


                                               BISHOP DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II


            In an exclusive interview, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, currently president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of  “moral, workers rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates…” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.
            Dr. Barber gave his permission Sunday for the news of his Vatican visit to be released now. He received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.
            “[The Pope] wants to bless this movement, and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Barber said then, indicating that he would give his permission for it to be revealed in November.
Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down in October after 12 years as president of the NCNAACP, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.
It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor’s People’s Campaign caught the attention of not only national, but international social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world reknowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.
Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1500 from Italy, Poland and France.
The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “ a great sin.”
"It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it," Pope Francis said. "God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good."
Dr. Barber’s organization, Repairers of the Breach, “…seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in the framework that uplift’s our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country,” it says on it’s website.
“Our deepest moral traditions point to equal protection under the law, the desire for peace within and among nations, the dignity of all people, and the responsibility to care for our common home.”


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Covington V. State of North Carolina has announced that she will run for the NC Supreme Court in 2018.
            Anita Earls, founder and executive director of the Southern Coalition for Justice,  told supporters and reporters gathered in front of State Democratic Party headquarters in Raleigh Nov. 15th that she, “…passionately believe in the importance of the right to vote, and that an independent judiciary is crucial to the balance of powers necessary to maintain democratic government of, by and for the people.”
            Earls is already known as one of the most dynamic civil rights attorneys in North Carolina, if not the nation. She has consistently worked with the NCNAACP and other social justice groups, challenging the Republican-led NC legislature’s voter suppression laws, and unconstitutional voting districts, as later determined by the federal courts.
            North Carolina’s civil rights community was one hundred percent behind Earls’ announcement.
            Anita Earls is a tremendous jurist, a profound litigator and deeply committed to the principles of justice for all,” said Bishop William Barber, former president of the NCNAACP. “She has been a champion for the full constitutional protection of women, minorities, blacks, the poor and entire human family.”
            The current NCNAACP president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, concurred.
            I don't know of anyone more committed to bending the arc of the universe toward justice than Attorney Anita Earls.” Rev. Spearman said. “Whenever I have been in her presence to hear her offer legal opinions, insights or otherwise, the contributions of Attorney Earls have been like a plumline -  ethically balanced and judiciously centered.
“Hers is a superior legal mind.”
One of the NAACP attorneys who has been in the trenches with Attorney Earls over the years has had a front row seat to witness her legal prowess, and deep commitment to justice.
“Without a doubt, Attorney Earls is a Constitutional Law scholar,” says NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee. “She possesses the intellectual breadth of knowledge and the judicial demeanor necessary to ensure North Carolina citizens that she will be an impartial arbiter of the many rights and privileges which citizens entrust to our appellate courts to decide.”
 “Her ascension to the Supreme Court will be a loss for the many citizens who encounter Civil Rights and Constitutional law issues, but her expertise is needed on our State's court,” Prof. Joyner added.
On the day of her announcement, attorney Earls had already garnered the endorsements State senators Angela Bryant and Floyd McKissick, Jr., Congressman and former Associate NC Supreme Court Justice G. K. Butterfield, Linda Wilkins-Daniels, chair of the African-American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party, and former NC Gov. Jim Hunt.
“…[T]he qualification I hope voters will most evaluate is whether I can fairly and faithfully apply the law equally to everyone whose case comes before the Court,” Earls said during her Nov. 15th press conference. “ I believe my record demonstrates that I have an unflinching dedication to the principle of equality before the law.  I ask for your support in November 2018…”
Earls has served on the North Carolina Board of Elections, She’s taught at Duke University, UNC – Chapel Hill, and the University of Maryland.
If Earls were to win a seat on the state’s highest court, she could conceivably join incumbent associate justices Cheri Beasley and Mike Morgan, making for three African-Americans on the NC Supreme Court at one time.
The Republican-led state Senate is leaning towards changing the rules governing judicial elections in 2018, having Supreme Court justices serving only two-year terms, instead of the customary eight. That means everyone on the court now would have to run for re-election in 2018.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Just over three months from now, the North Carolina NAACP, this time led by it’s new president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, will hold it’s next Historic Thousands on Jones Street Moral March and People’s Assembly on Saturday, February 10th, 2018 in downtown Raleigh.
            According to the civil rights organization, “HK on J,” as it’s more commonly known, is made up of a coalition of “…more than 125 North Carolina NAACP branches, youth councils and college chapters from across the state, and members of over 200 other social justice organizations.
            In previous years, upwards of over 100,000 participants marched across downtown Raleigh to rally in front of the state Capitol on the Fayetteville Street Mall.
            Next February, Rev Spearman the promised the largest turnout “…since our inception [12 years ago].”
            Spearman added that the NCNAACP will go on a statewide tour of local NAACP branches over the next several weeks to promote the HK on J People’s Assembly, and mobilize participants.
Consequently, such a tour will also give Rev. Spearman the opportunity to introduce himself as the new state conference president.
“There is no better time to accelerate our resistance, than it is right now!”  the NCNAACP leader told reporters, while surrounded by branch and conference members.
“It is time to resist, insist and persist,” Spearman continued, adding that a lot of time over the next couple of months will be confronting the “recent attacks [by the Republican-led NC General Assembly] on the independent judiciary, which more broadly speaking is another frontal attack on we, the people,” Rev. Spearman declared.
Spearman went on to charge that the attacks on the state’s judiciary have been going on since 2011, and, “…it actually puzzles me that a roguish government such as ours, be allowed to continue making unjust laws, issuing oppressive decrees,…and withholding justice from we, the people.”
“We must hold them in contempt,” Rev. Spearman continued, rhetorically asking if GOP lawmakers continue legislating against the will of the people, and succeed in co-opting the courts, citizens will have nowhere to turn for legal relief.
“We must rise up and resist,” the NCNAACP president demanded, reminding all that no less than the US Supreme Court declared that the 2011 redistricting maps instituted by the Republican-led legislature were unconstitutional, and yet were used at lest six times for legislative elections since.
“They have no business legislating on our behalf,” Spearman declared, to applause. He said the only way to stop them was to make sure that citizens got out on Election Day 2018 and vote.           


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The special master appointed by a federal three-judge panel several weeks ago to redraw redrawn legislative maps submitted by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in August, has finished a first draft of his maps, and is now asking both plaintiffs and defendants in the Covington v. State of North Carolina case to review them, and offer their observations or criticisms now, prior to the court’s Dec. 1st deadline for completion.
            The federal court rejected the previous maps because it has “serious concerns” about at least nine voting districts were still legally problematic. The court appointed Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily to first review the redrawn maps, and if he concurred with the problems, redraw them to remove any racial gerrymandering or other unconstitutional features.
            On Nov. 13th, Persily issued his preliminary maps for both House and Senate Districts.
            According to Persily’s report accompanying the draft maps, “…the Court has ordered the Special Master to redraw Enacted 2017 State Senate Districts 21 and 28 and State House Districts 21 and 57 in order to remedy those districts’ violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It has also ordered redrawing of Enacted 2017 State House Districts 36, 37, 40, 41, and 105 because the General Assembly, in redrawing those districts in the 2017 Plan, may have violated the provision of the North Carolina State Constitution prohibiting redistricting more than once a decade.”
            Of particular concern to African-Americans on the state Senate side was the manner in which the GOP has redrawn Senate District 28 in Guilford County, currently represented by state Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford).
            In September, Sen. Robinson expressed frustration that her district was unnecessarily drawn as a majority-minority district.
The courts specifically looked at my District 28 and commented on its composition.  Republicans are intent on protecting Senator Trudy Wade (a white Republican from Guilford) for whom they created a district by packing 28.  I expect that the only remedy will be in the courts.”
Per his proposed redrawing of Senate District 28, Special Master Persily writes, “…the Court struck down the 2011 version of Senate District 28 and continues to harbor constitutional concerns as to racial predominance with regard to the district’s 2017 configuration. As expressed in the Special Master’s draft plan, the newly configured district is a compact district -- almost a perfect circle… The newly drawn district is contained almost completely within the city (CDP) of Greensboro, and is made up of whole precincts.”
At press time, neither plaintiffs attorneys nor Sen. Robinson had a reaction to the Special Master’s redrawing of the district to relieve the “stacking and packing” of black voters there, so they wouldn’t influence electoral races in surrounding voting districts.
In order for Persily to meet his court mandated deadline of Dec. 1st, he has ordered both plaintiffs and defendants in the case, “…to submit to the Special Master proposed objections and revisions to the Special Master’s Draft Plan by November 17, 2017.
 “In particular, the parties are encouraged to include in these submissions suggestions as to how incumbents shall be unpaired without degrading the underlying features of the plan, as specified in the Court order,” the Special Master’s Order continued. “The parties shall also then specify any disagreements they have as to which incumbents are seeking reelection in 2018. Reply briefs shall be submitted by November 21, 2017… In their replies, the parties are encouraged to identify which proposed changes of the plaintiffs and defendants, if any, are jointly supported by the parties.”



Monday, November 13, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            FELLAS...DON'T DO THAT!– I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that ever since women and actresses started pointing fingers at Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of all sorts of sundry sexual assaults many years ago when they were just beginning in the entertainment business, the proverbial damn has broken wide open, and all of a sudden, almost every male celebrity out there has been accused of sexual assault of some sort.
            From Mr. Sulu from “Star Trek” (actor George Takei) to former President George H. Bush (yes, the wheelchair-bound George Bush), to even the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey, star of Netflix’ “House of Cards” has literally been cut out of his next movie, “All the Money in the World,” which is due out on Dec. 22nd. All of Spacey’s scenes in the movie are being reshot with actor Christopher Plummer. This has never happened before.
            And all because Spacey admits to trying to seduce a young 14-year-old male actor over 30 years ago.
            No one is making light of this. The issue of sexual assault by celebrities and powerful men in both Hollywood, Washington, DC, and yes, even way down in Alabama, where the Republican candidate for the US Senate, a former state Supreme Court Justice named Roy Moore, allegedly molested or attempted to molest teenage girls while he was a 30-year-old assistant district attorney.
            Oh, and did I mention that comedian Bill Cosby is scheduled to be retried April 2, 2018 for allegations that he drugged a woman not his wife, many years ago, and had sexual relations with her without her consent? He was originally scheduled to be retried this month after a hung jury in his first trial last June.
            Boy, is he lucky the darn thing has been postponed for a couple of months. Lord knows finding a “fair” jury in this muck, even in Pennsylvania, would be near impossible.
            The fact of the matter is this crime has been going on in our country since the beginning of the nation. Powerful men, imposing themselves sexually on young, defenseless females, either at work or at school. Yeah some females dress provocatively, but that is NEVER a reason to sexually assault them them.
            We all learned from the infamous Mike Tyson rape case. The heavyweight boxing champ went to the room of a beauty contestant after hours, apparently by invitation. But after things got hot and heavy, she said “no,” but Mike apparently wouldn’t take no for an answer, and he raped her.
            Mike was sent to prison for his crime, and that’s when we all learned that no matter when, NO means NO!. Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant learned the same lesson years later, except that thanks to some skilled attorneys, he only paid some money, and lost some commercial endorsements.
            Its as simple as this – men have to learn how to respect women in this society. A consensual relationship is one thing. As long as folks are OK with each other, there are no issues.
            But the #metoo women of today are sending a message loud and clear – KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF, AND RESPECT ME, OR ELSE!



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Nov. 10, 1898 – The day heavily-armed white supremacists in Wilmington attacked the African-American community at the behest of leaders of the North Carolina Democratic Party, killing many, forcing others to flee their homes and businesses, and overthrowing the local city government at gunpoint – the only coup de ta in American history.
            The attack ushered in the racist Jim Crow era, not only across the state, but across the South, for almost a century afterwards.
            Last weekend, 119 years after that fateful, but historic date in North Carolina history, the people of Wilmington, black and white, came together again for their annual 1898 Massacre Observance Program sponsored by the New Hanover Chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus, this time at Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church.
            Among the many speakers was Wilmington native state Rep. Rodney Moore (D – Mecklenburg), and after giving a historical accounting of how the white supremacists over a century ago used violence and discriminatory laws to cripple the black community, Moore then likened that to what many of his Republican colleagues in the NC General Assembly have been doing in recent years with voter suppression, unconstitutional redistricting, and other political tools to hold the African-American community back.
            “Even today, brothers and sisters, the spirit of Jim Crow lives in modern day North Carolina,” Rep. Moore said midway through his prepared remarks.
            “The white supremacists of the Democratic Party of 1898, have morphed into the North Carolina Grand Old Party of today,” Moore continued. “Today, they use voter suppression schemes like voter ID, cutting early voting days, and trying to make it harder for people of color, the elderly, and our youth to cast their ballots, and exercise their most fundamental right, as citizens of this state and nation – the right to vote.”
            Responding to expressions of agreement from the audience, Rep. Moore continued, “They have made a mockery of the electoral gains that African-Americans have made by using a redistricting scheme that has packed and stacked black legislators into majority-minority districts, insuring a permanent minority.”
            “They have continued to cut funding for education, refuse to expand Medicaid to cover over 500,000 citizens of the state, who badly need access to affordable [health] care, and lifesaving services,” the Mecklenburg state representative continued.
            “They continue to propose regressive tax policies that have the effect of what I call, “Robin Hood in reverse.” They take from the poor and the most vulnerable, and to give tax breaks to the rich and well-to-do in our state.”
            “We are living in a modern-day America, where there continues to be unequal justice in our courts. Police brutality against people of color is still being perpetrated in our communities. We give our political loyalty – 96 percent of the time -  to one party, while not having a presence in the other to challenge for real change and recognition of the critical issues that face African-Americans, from either side.”
            “We need to learn the political game so we can start winning. We are not players because we do not understand the rules. This is unacceptable in 2017. It’s time to wake up. Time is truly running out!”
            Then Rep. Moore switched gears, and asked what are African-Americans doing to support each other in Wilmington, and elsewhere?
            “Are you supporting opportunities for black businesses to flourish in our cities?” he asked rhetorically. “Are we actually participating in the public policy debates in our cities that shape and structure our lives on a day-to-day basis?”
            Stressing the importance of local elections, like city council and school board elections, Rep. Moore urged the African-American community to get more involved, and make more of a difference in their present and future.
            “We have to be inspired to go out [and vote] every election cycle,” Rep. Moore said. “It’s time to wake up. It’s time to wake up.”

By Cash Michaels

            As the US Senate begins debate, and the full House votes this week on the new GOP tax reform package Pres. Trump and Congressional leaders have been pushing, with mixed results thus far, both of North Carolina’s African-American Congress members have made it clear to count them in the opposition.
            U.S. Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), in scathing statements, don’t see Republican tax plan as helping the taxpayers who need the relief the most – the middle-class - and fear that, once again, the rich will be the primary beneficiaries if the plan is passed.
            “The Ryan-McConnell tax plan isn’t tax reform, it’s a tax cut for the wealthy that leaves working families behind,” said Congresswoman Adams. “This bill, cobbled together by Republican leadership under the cloak of darkness, repeals key deductions that families depend on such as medical expense, student loan interest, state taxes, and personal exemptions, to pay for a 15% tax cut for corporations. To make matters worse, this plan borrows from our future by adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit in the next decade, saddling future generations with more debt. This plan is bad for the middle class; I urge my colleagues in the House to stand with American families and vote against this disastrous plan.”
            In a letter last week to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Rep. Adams outlined her district’s tax priorities, citing making education affordable, “…safeguard retirement investments, promote entrepreneurship, and protect cultural institutions.
            All of the above are critical, Rep. Adams says, to “…create a pathway for the middle class.”
            This plan is a one-sided measure that provides cuts for corporations on the backs of the middle-class,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Millions of hardworking families and local businesses need real tax relief but the GOP plan falls short. We cannot afford the partisan antics that have plagued this conversation any longer.”
Both the House and Senate have differing plans they hope to have passed before Thanksgiving next week, so that Pres. Trump can sign a compromise measure into law before Christmas, a timetable most observers consider extremely hopeful at best.
            Republicans tout their tax plan helping middle-class families with expanding the child care tax credit, lower income and corporate tax rates.
            But Democrats aren’t so sure other details of the proposed tax plan wouldn’t do more harm than good.
            Congressman Butterfield took to the House floor, last week, to voice his dissention to the so-called “Tax cuts and Jobs Act.”
            In a statement, the First District congressman said, While the GOP gives multi-trillion dollar tax giveaways to the wealthiest and corporate America, Republicans are destroying key tax benefits for middle class families.
·       Rep. Butterfield blasted the fact that if passed, the GOP tax plan would dismantle state and local tax deductions, thus “…imposing an unfair double tax on middle class families, driving down home values, and endangering local governments’ ability to fund law enforcement, schools and health services.” 
The GOP tax plan would also eliminate student loan interest deductions and
·       lifelong learning credits – “…destroying a key deduction for young graduates and workers getting the job training they need to succeed in the 21st century economy, while preserving special giveaways for the wealthiest.”
And if all of the above wasn’t concerning enough, Rep. Butterfield says, the GOP
·       tax plan would also eliminate medical expense deductions – “…destroying a key deduction claimed by nearly 9 million American households, which helps families with children with disabilities, long-term care needs, a need for expensive fertility treatments, and many others,” and impose new limits on mortgage interest deductions – “…assaulting the dream of middle class homeownership in communities across America.”
Both representatives Butterfield and Adams also railed against the fact that
 Republican leadership has scheduled no public hearings, keep much of the details of the tax reform plan out of public view until the last minute, and kept Democrats at arms-length so that there cam be no collaboration in constructing the bill.
            Rep. Adams demanded better.
            “This is absolute no way for Congress to legislate,” she told Speaker Ryan in her Nov. 9th letter. “I urge you to return to regular order and conduct Congressional business in a manner befitting American dignity and encourage good legislation.”


            [WILMINGTON] The Fayetteville-based chemical company already under investigation for allegedly released the toxic chemical Gen x into the Cape Fear River, the New Hanover County drinking water supply, now has to answer for an apparent spill last month of dimer acid fluoride, which, once it touches water, is transformed into the equivalent of Gen X. Chemours, the DuPont subsidiary under fire, has ten days, by order of the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality, to explain how much of the chemical was spilled into the Cape Fear, and for how long, or else face stiff fines. Regulators determined the spill after levels of Gen X in their testing spiked.

            [DURHAM] Despite earlier reports from a defense attorney that all felony charges against the seven protesters who toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier on August 14th, the Durham District Attorney countered that claim, stating that those felony charges are staying in place. DA Roger Echols said that three of the 12 people charged had charges dropped against them last week, but seven of the remaining defendants will face more court proceedings on Dec. 5th.

            [ROCKY MOUNT] James Moore, once a deputy police chief in Wilmington, has announced that he is retiring effective jan.1, 2018 as the police chief of Rocky Mount. He has served as chief in Rocky Mount since 2012. During his tenure, Chief Moore oversaw a five-year decline in overall crime in the city, the longest continuous drop on record.




Monday, November 6, 2017



            At press time Tuesday night, incumbent Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo won re-election in a landslide Tuesday for his sixth term, defeating challenger Todd Zola, 85 to 15%, becoming one of the longest serving mayors in the port city’s history.
Meanwhile, for City Council, incumbent City Councilman Kevin O’Grady led all candidates in the nine-candidate race, followed by  incumbent Councilman Charlie Rivenbark, and Rev. Clifford Barnett, pastor of Warner Temple AME Zion Church, edged out Deb. Hayes for the third open seat. Rev. Barnett replaces councilman Earl Sheridan, who chose not to run for re-election.
            Rev. Barnett, now the only African-American on the council after Sheridan leaves,  said his win is a testament to the need for diversity on the council, and wants the city to be a better place for all of Wilmington’s citizens to live and work. One of his priorities is to advocate for affordable housing for those who work in the city.

            [RALEIGH] At press time Tuesday, incumbent Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, an independent, won a fourth-term to lead the Capital City in a runoff against hard-charging challenger Democrat Charles Francis, who had the support of Raleigh’s black community. McFarlane won 58 to 42%.. Mayor McFarlane said this coming term may be her last.
            In Durham, City Councilman Steve Schewel outpaced former City Councilman Farad Ali, 60 to 40%. Ali had the endorsement of outgoing Mayor Bill Bell, - who has served for the past 16 years - and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. 

            In Charlotte, Councilwoman Vi Lyles, a Democrat, jumped out to an early lead over Republican Kenny Smith, and kept it to become the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of the Queen City. Lyles had a lion’s share of the vote, 58 to 42% percent.

                    Ed- REV. BARNETT WINS A SEAT

            Congratulations to Rev. Clifford Barnett, pastor of Warner Temple AME Zion Church, for winning a seat on the Wilmington City Council Tuesday night, winning behind incumbents Councilmen Kevin O’Grady and Charles Rivenbark.
            Rev. Barnett now replaces Earl Sheridan as the only African-American on the City Council. Sheridan decided not to run for re-election after three terms.
            This was a tough one for us in Wilmington. Out of three black candidates running, Rev. Barnett came through. That means, in terms of representing the African-American community of Wilmington at the council table, Rev. Barnett is there as our voice. And one look at his community involvement, especially with the children of our community, tells you he is certainly up to the job. We might not agree with him on every issue, but we know his golden heart of service is in the right place.
            And it needs to be, and long before swearing in, the community needs to sit down with Rev. Barnett, and refresh him on our issues – economic development in the black community, affordable housing for low-income families in the face of increasing gentrification; the need for more African-American police officers, NOT, as we noted last week, more riot gear and military equipment.
            How can we get more black small businesses downtown where the money is being made, and how can those businesses get access to needed capital to succeed? Other cities right here in North Carolina have found the answers to those questions, why can’t Wilmington?
            Attracting more employers here so that more people can get jobs and work their way out of poverty…and YES, clean water. What can the city do to ensure that ALL residents of the port city have clean, unpolluted water to drink, cook and bathe in?
We could go on. The bottom line is, our community MUST come together NOW, roll up our sleeves, and work hard towards making sure that our issues are addressed by Mayor Saffo and the entire new City Council.
An ALL Democrat Council, by the way, so let’s see just how responsive they are.
            With three African-American candidates vying for three open seats in a nine-candidate race, the writing is on the wall. We have to learn how to poll our resources, and concentrate our votes to get the best representation possible for OUR interests. Because in the end, that’s what all of this is about…making sure that our interests as a community are heard, seriously considered, and answer as positively as possible.
            Rev. Barnett can’t do it alone, obviously. He has to bring a majority of the council around to his way of thinking, and from what we’ve seen, he has the respect of many. But that also means that WE, us, our community, can’t raise hell about an issue we want City Council to address, and then not show up in strong numbers to support our City Council representatives who are pleading our case.
            If we want progress, we have to support each other, for only then can we come together and advocate for what’s just and correct for our community.
            Congratulations,. Rev. Barnett, on your impressive win Tuesday.
            And now, community, the work really begins!

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A special master, designated by a federal three-judge panel, is currently tasked to review redrawn NC legislative maps in the Covington case to confirm if nine specific districts are legally problematic, and if so, redraw those so that the maps are constitutionally compliant by Friday, Dec. 1st.
            But Republican legislative leaders, who didn’t want a special master appointed to redraw the maps they submitted to the court in September, are not only blasting the decision and the special master chosen, but one GOP lawmaker in particular, House Majority Leader John Bell IV, was recently recorded allegedly telling a Republican fundraiser in Goldsboro not only that the GOP will lose the redistricting case, but that there was “corruption” between the plaintiffs and the judges.”
            “I feel like we’re probably going to lose our case on redistricting. It doesn’t look good,” Rep. Bell, who represents Craven, Greene, Lenoir and Wayne counties, was recorded telling the attendees at the Lenoir-Wayne Republican Men’s Club GOP fundraiser at the Walnut Creek Country Club Oct. 24th.
            According to NC Policy Watch, a nonprofit progressive state news and commentary website, the NC Democratic Party released the audio of Bell’s remarks. He has not responded to press inquiries about them.
            “When you talk about corruption, let me tell you something; did you ever see the plaintiffs and the judges hanging out with each other?” Bell is heard asking his audience.
            And then Rep. Bell say something that many observers are already surmising – that the Republicans might sacrifice the 2018 mid-term elections, just to appeal what they already suspect will be a negative verdict to the US Supreme Court, where they feel, because of the 5-4 conservative slant, they would have a better chance to hold onto their legally problematic legislative districts.
            “I feel that they’ll actually, the Supreme Court, will agree with us,” Bell said.
            Rep. Bell’s alleged remarks are just the latest indication of Republican legislative leaders hitting the panic button over the federal court’s appointment of Stanford law Prof. Nathaniel Persily of California. Persily has previously served as a special master, and redrawn districts in New York, Maryland and Georgia.
            It is Persily’s job to correct the nine legislative districts – four Senate and five House – that the judicial panel has deemed to be legally problematic.   
The four Senate districts still reflect the racial gerrymandering evident in the original 2011 NC legislative redistricting maps rendered by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, and ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
The five House districts were redrawn by the legislature in September, but didn’t have to be because they weren’t racially gerrymandered. Since they weren’t part of the original 28 legislative districts under court order to be redrawn, then doing so was in violation of the state Constitution. Persily will now have to return those five House districts to their original boundaries.
Through their attorney, Phil Strach, Republican leaders told the court in a motion that it was premature to appoint Persily to redraw anything before an official ruling is handed down on the previous version of the maps (they were deemed legally problematic, but not officially unconstitutional yet) before the GOP had yet a third chance to correct whatever mistakes they made the second time.
But the three-judge panel said no, adding, “The State is not entitled to multiple opportunities to remedy its unconstitutional districts.”
With Dec. 1st the target date for Prof. Persily to deliver new maps, it is apparent that the three-judge federal panel wants to get them into the hands of both the plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys for review and comment no later than January, and use whatever time is needed prior to the February filing date for legislative primary candidates to begin filing for office, to finalize the maps.
The expected monkey wrench from the Republicans is that they will immediately appeal to the US Supreme Court, which, given past experience, would take it’s time to render a decision, thus pushing the May primaries back, if not the 2018 fall general elections.
One thing is certain, political observers agree, is that North Carolina Republicans do not want to lose the current electoral advantage that the 2011 legislative maps gave them, and would rather delay the 2018 elections until they got a favorable US High Court ruling, as state House Majority Leader Bell said, than try to compete with objectively drawn voting districts that the special master is likely to produce.



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Keeping yet another campaign promise from his 2016 candidacy, Gov. Roy Cooper last week issued and signed Executive Order #25 “…to create jobs and expand economic opportunity for historically underutilized businesses in North Carolina.
            The governor also used the Nov. 2nd occasion to announce members of his new Governor’s Advisory Council on Historically Underutilized Businesses, with appointments from the Triangle to the Piedmont, and beyond.
            “Diverse businesses are engines for our economy and we need to encourage their growth and development,” Governor Cooper said. “We have minority business owners to thank for creating thousands of new jobs in communities both urban and rural, and we must nurture their success.”
            Gov. Cooper had proclaimed October, “Minority Enterprise Development Month,” paying tribute to businesses, corporations and financial institutions owned and operated by people of color and women statewide, for their contributions and achievements in the face of daunting odds and barriers.
            According to the US Dept. of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, there are approximately 183,000 businesses owned and operated by people of color and women across North Carolina. They account for over $16.1 billion in sales revenue, and employ over 129,000 North Carolinians annually.
            In turn, the NC Dept. of Administration’s Office of Historically Underutilized Businesses is the agency that seeks out and promotes black, women-owned and other businesses of color in the state, to business with state government in terms of procurement of goods and services. The “HUB” Office, as it’s commonly known, works to make sure that qualifying businesses meet state requirements to contract with state agencies for a variety of needs.
            “Investing in the growth and development of small and minority owned businesses creates opportunities for individuals to improve their quality of life and the communities where they live,” Secretary Machelle Sanders said. “I have directed the HUB Office team to explore new and improved ways to deliver effective and efficient services that will spur economic growth.  Most importantly, we will foster meaningful and substantive inclusion of historically underutilized business across North Carolina to strengthen our state."
            Per the Governor’s Advisory Council on Historically Underutilized Businesses, among the 21-members appointed by Cooper were Cornelius Lambert of Greensboro, the former owner and Executive Vice President of CoMor Corporation, an IT and computer networking firm, and a Board Member for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce; Ms. Iris Reese of Durham, the president of Fusion Multicultural Marketing; and Andrea Harris of Raleigh, the founder of, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Minority Economic Development. At the age of 23, Harris became the executive director of a community organizing group in Henderson, and she was the youngest community action agency director in the nation at the time.