Monday, October 16, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            AFTERMATH – In the aftermath of the horrific alleged sexual harassment/abuse stories about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, it has been simply amazing how many women on social media – both on Facebook and Twitter – have adopted the hashtag moniker “#me too.”
            Suddenly, women from all over, young and old, black, white and others, are coming forward in their own way, admitting that at least once in their lives, they too were the victims of some man’s craven sexual abuse.
            On Monday on my Facebook page, I felt compelled to write the following to these women, whoever they were, wherever they were:
            I am simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of women here on FB who have adopted the "me too" moniker when it comes to being a victim of sexual harassment of ANY sort.
Yes, it was, and IS wrong, and should not have happened. As the father of two talented and gifted young ladies, I certainly don't want to see ANY female demeaned in ANY way, for ANY reason. As a father I don't tolerate it, as a Christian I won't tolerate it, and as a man, I CAN'T tolerate it. The most important human beings in my life in formulating who I am and have come to be, have been women, starting with my late mother, some of the best teachers I've ever had, close friends, and finally the two outstanding young women who pruodly know me as "Dad."
So I proudly stand with you, Sistahs of every color and creed, on this. You'll recall when the Bill Cosby controversy was raging, I didn't hesitate to hold him accountable, because as much as I loved the man, I knew, deep down, that the allegations against him were true.
The Weinstein controversy is shameful, but I believe it is just the tip of the iceberg. We have the same kind of degenerates in every facet of life, including, unfortunately, the church.
As men, we need to stand with our women in demanding a change in our culture. You see who is president....and we know his history. 
That tells ALL of us that we have a lot of work to do to make this nation a place that our children - female and male - can proudly and safely grow up in.
The chickens ALWAYS come home to roost, brothers and sisters.
I mean, just think about it…to treat ANY human being, let alone a female, as if she were just a possession ripe for the picking, regardless of her basic human rights, is sick, AND sickening. That kind of depraved behavior is certainly the product of a rotting culture. No man would approve of their mother being treated like a piece of meat by anybody. No man would tolerate their female child to be violated or used solely for the pleasure or exploitation of others.
So why do so many men…so many powerful men in particular, engage in this type of crass behavior? Because our culture, by and large, has allowed men to get away with it. Indeed, our American culture has openly promoted this gutter behavior.
To expect a woman, ANY woman, to sell herself to you for any reason, is wrong and ungodly. If a woman willingly gives herself to a man, that is her right. She should never be forced, pressured or blackmailed to do it.
American men, we’ve got to get ourselves together on this, and promote the dignity of our women.
Our children…ALL OF OUR CHILDREN….are watching!
Especially the females!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            North Carolina Republicans say the state’s judicial districts have not been fine- tuned in 60 years, and as a result, some districts have too many judges, while others have too few. It’s time to correct that imbalance so that all North Carolinians are treated “fairly and equitably,” Republicans say.
            “This gets them back closer to similar size districts,” says Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth).
            Indeed, there is general consensus that new district lines need to be redrawn, and the process of judges being elected or appointed deserves a long overdue look, with judicial input.
            But what state House Republican lawmakers have done per judicial redistricting in their third Special Session of the year goes beyond any “fine tuning,” Democrats, NCNAACP leadership and others insist. They see a plot by the GOP to systematically take over North Carolina’s court system so that more Republican judges and prosecutors can be elected, and Republicans ultimately have a better chance of winning cases involving legislative policy disputes, like voting rights and redistricting.
            “They’re bullies…,” declared Bob Hall, executive director of the nonpartisan Democracy: NC, a Durham-based issues-advocacy group that’s been monitoring what GOP legislative leaders have been up to.
            “They’ve gone after the executive branch, now they’re going after the courts, very deliberately and systematically.”
            It has been a burr in the side of Republican legislative leaders that they’ve spent over $10 million in litigation fees over the past decade, only to have their laws either overturned as being unconstitutional, or their power grabs struck down by both state and federal courts.
            A scheme to maintain a Republican majority on the state Supreme Court failed miserably last year, resulting in the election of Democrat Judge Mike Morgan, an African-American, and with that, a Democratic majority.
            Republicans still hold the majority on the NC Court of Appeals, but that isn’t enough. The GOP majority in both the House and Senate have put party labels back on local judicial races, and there are plans to add more seats to the state Supreme Court so that Republicans can return to the majority there.
With a new judicial redistricting plan that has even members of the judiciary up in arms, the GOP has laid out a scheme that many district and superior court judges, a good number of whom are both Democrat and African-American, in counties like Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg and Guilford, will be “double-bunked” in newly drawn districts, meaning they will have to face one another in elections in order to remain in office.
“They’re going to eliminate a lot of African-American judges, “ Hall with Democracy: NC insists. He added that a lot of the programs that counties shared that were alternatives for incarceration for many people,  would now be ended where there are large urban centers.
“It’s a conspiracy on a number of levels,” Hall continued. “They’re trying to find a way to elect more Republican judges; a conspiracy against African-American judges who have gained more stature and seniority; and it’s a conspiracy against the people who are served by the courts.”
Observers say it is no accident that the GOP judicial redistricting plan was concocted by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), a bail bondsman who stands to benefit from changing the court system. Burr, however, counters that the judicial redistricting is needed.
“This thing is a mess,” opined Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), one of the counties where black judges would be affected by the judicial redistricting if it passes when the legislature reconvenes next January.
“It sounds like the real goal is to shift things in the urban areas, pretty much guaranteeing that the number of African-American judges will go down dramatically – whether they’re intending that or not.”
            The hue and cry from Democratic and NCNAACP leaders is almost deafening.
            Based on what we have seen produced from the House plan on judicial redistricting, I am gravely concerned over the rejection of insight and input from the courts.,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) said Monday, noting that members of the state’s judiciary had no say in the Republican judicial redistricting maps.
 “It is critical for the health of the judicial system to support and encourage diversity on the bench and to promote the peoples’ right to a fair and speedy trial,” Sen. Blue continued.  “The plan pushed forward in the House erodes that diversity and obstructs justice.”
Published reports indicate that Republicans in the state Senate have a different idea on how judges should elevated to the bench, suggesting that they prefer the merit selection of judges by lawmakers, thus eliminating judicial elections. To give themselves more time to flesh out the details, the Senate passed SB656 last week, cancelling the 2018 judicial primaries. Gov. Cooper vetoed the law, but the GOP House and Senate overrode his veto with their supermajorities this week before going home.
“While some of the provisions of S.B. 656 were good steps toward reforming our judicial elections, the elimination of primaries is an unnecessary and chaotic step that will only hurt the public’s ability to choose justices,” said Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford).
Attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee, was scathing in his assessment of what the Republicans are up to.
Present efforts by the N.C. General Assembly to reconfigure judicial districts are, once again, designed by right wing ideologues to destroy democracy in North Carolina and further diminish the participation of African Americans, racial minorities and women in the State's justice process,” Joyner, who is also a professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law in Durham, continued. “The redistricting proposals have the goal of stacking the District and Superior Courts with people who are loyal to an ultra conservative political point of view and who will undermine constitutional protections that all people are supposed to enjoy in North Carolina.”
 “As proposed, the projected district lines will eliminate the judicial position in which African Americans have been elected and deliberately create districts which will force some African American judges to run against each other,” Joyner, who also called the Senate’s merit selection plan, “…just a further attempt to strip citizens of the right to vote and place the power to elect Judges in the hands of a few right wing legislators…”, said.
“What the General Assembly seeks to do now in the judicial realm is exactly what they unsuccessfully sought to do with legislative and congressional districts. The NC NAACP is preparing to challenge these unconstitutional districts in federal court as soon as they are enacted,” Prof. Joyner concluded.
The newly elected president of the NCNAACP, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman of Greensboro, echoed Joyner’s concern.
No matter which type of judicial selection process is used--Appointment, Merit Selection, or Election--a judiciary truly “Of, By, and For the People…” must be selected by a process as blind as possible to race, gender, or political affiliation. We advocate for a process that--in intent and effect--removes judicial selection from the control of anyone who would use the justice system for political advantage or racial discrimination,” Rev. Spearman added.
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), joined the chorus.
“The GOP clearly has designs on remaking our judiciary to elect more Republican judges, at a time when North Carolinians want less partisanship in our judiciary,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
“They had already eliminated our exemplary judicial public financing program. This year they added legislation making us the first state in a century to move to partisan judicial races.  They have reduced the size of the very busy Court of Appeals and then shifted some of the workload to the Supreme Court, presumably to justify packing that with Republican appointments (to undo the shift in balance caused by Mike Morgan's 2016 win).”
“This latest effort to redraw the local races by carving up blue (Democratic) counties while leaving similarly sized Republican counties alone is clearly an attempt to elect more Republican judges at the local level. It has been done hastily and without proper deliberation. And today's vote to eliminate the judicial primary (in anticipation of legislative selection) is a further assault on our judicial system and will likely lead to chaos,” Rep. Harrison concluded.
“Republicans are saying…] ‘We’ll make sure we remain in power,’ Sen. Lowe remarked, feigning what the ultimate GOP goal is. “And they want to make sure that they’ve got the right folks in place.”
Sen. Lowe added that people must take what’s happening seriously, and commit themselves to voting for a change in 2018.
House Republicans went home Tuesday after voting Monday night to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of SB 626, which canceled the 2018 judicial primaries. The Senate also ended its Special Session this week, scheduled to return Jan. 10th to decide ballot amendments on voter ID, and the appointment of judges by lawmakers for 2018.
“It’s a serious crime against democracy,” Bob Hall of Democracy: NC insists. “It’s a serious crime that [Republicans] are committing.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As a federal hearing in North Carolina’s own partisan gerrymandering case involving congressional districts commenced this week in Greensboro, a three-judge panel still reviewing redrawn legislative redistricting maps seemed to hint that they aren’t pleased with what Republican lawmakers came up with, especially with race not being considered in the equation, and have asked both the state and plaintiffs to recommend possible special masters who would ultimately redrawn fairer voting districts in time for the 2018 midterm elections.
            Day One of the partisan gerrymandering hearing saw expert witnesses taking the stand, testifying how much of an “extreme statistical outlier” the 2016 congressional maps dawn by Republican voting district mapmaker Tom Hofeller are.
            Hofeller also drew the 2011 NC legislative maps that were found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court because they “stacked-and-packed’ NC black voters into 28 out of 170 voting districts, thus lessening their influence in elections.
            In the case of the 2016 congressional elections, out of 13 NC congressional districts, Republicans were elected to 10 of them. Blacks were drawn into the First Congressional District, currently represented by Congressman G. K. Butterfield; the Fourth with Rep. David Price; and the Twelfth District with Congresswoman Alma Adams, all three Democrats.
            Expert witnesses testified that based on their studies, a 10-3 Republican majority congressional map had to be deliberate, given that, using the same information and calculations, they were able to come up with many more maps that allowed 7-6 Republican to Democrats, or 7-6 Democrat to Republican congressional combinations.
            Partisan gerrymandering is legal, unlike racial gerrymandering, but that could change per upcoming rulings.
            The North Carolina Leaguc of Women Voters and the nonpartisan group, Common Cause, are the plaintiffs suing  the state of North Carolina, claiming, similar to the partisan gerrymandering case in Wisconsin that the US Supreme Court s considering, that allowing Republican legislatures to draw partisan majorities deprives citizens of fair and equal representation in government, resulting in severely lop-sided electoral results.
            Observers say it should be impossible for a state like North Carolina, which is evenly divided politically, to still lave anything like a 10-3 Republican-leaning congressional delegation.
            The US Middle Court hearing in the 2016 partisan gerrymandering should hear final testimony today.
            Also in Greensboro last week, the federal three-judge panel currently deciding whether the redrawn 2011 NC legislative maps in the Covington v. State of North Carolina case submitted by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in late August pass legal muster, have signaled, as plaintiffs have charged, that the legislative effort has fallen short, and an independent “special master”  designated by the court may have to be brought in to redraw the redrawn maps.
            Nineteen state House districts and nine state Senate districts in the original 2011 redistrict maps were found to be racially gerrymandered by the federal courts. When Republican lawmakers finally redrew the maps this summer, they removed race as a consideration in the criteria, but plaintiffs suing the state countered that the new maps were just as bad.
            After a hearing and a barrage of questions for both sides, the court seemed to side with the plaintiffs that the state could not be trusted to correct their maps, and asked both sides to submit the names of three experts they all agreed could serve as special masters to redraw the maps.
            That list of names was due to the court Wednesday.
            Regardless of this court’s decision, observers say expect it to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, possibly eating up more time before the February filing deadline for legislative candidates for the 2018 midterm elections.


            [WILMINGTON] Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) filed suit in US District Court Monday against the chemical companies Chemours, and it’s parent,  DuPont, alleging that they knew the chemical discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River since 1980 would be hazardous to human health. Until recently, GenX has been released into the Cape Fear, the New Hanover County region drinking supply. CFPUA further alleges that Chemours and Dupont are in violation of several federal environmental laws as a result of the GenX discharge. CFPUA is suing for damages in excess of $75,000, the final amount to be determined when the lawsuit is heard at trial. Neither Chemours nor Dupont had an immediate response after the suit was filed.

            {WILMINGTON] The Wilmington City Council delayed a scheduled vote this week on purchasing $42,000 worth of riot batons, canister grenades and other riot equipment for the Wilmington Police Dept’s Mobile Field Force Team D (MFF-D).  Official say the riot equipment would help the force to disperse demonstrations.  Approximately 30 current officers will be assigned to the MFF-D. The council vote was delayed, however, to allow for more public comment on the purchase. Officials say the MFF-D would be paid for through funding of the N.C. Drug Tax. The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8th.

            [CLINTON] Sampson County authorities are investigating the shooting of an infant girl who fell victim to a random bullet which hit the child in the torso. Authorities say  shots were fired at 25 Bumpy Lane Tuesday night when two armed men approached a man attending a birthday party, and an argument commenced. As the man ran away, the two apparently fired shots, with one of the bullets striking the home, and hitting the child. The infant was eventually airlifted to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill for treatment.



Monday, October 9, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            A MIGHTY CHAMPION – Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week I spent covering the 74th Annual Convention of the NCNAACP at the Raleigh Convention Center (and just to make sure this doesn’t get missed, the very NEXT NCNAACP Convention will be IN WILMINGTON IN 2018, dates to be announced, so circle your calendar, Port City).
            The one takeaway from the confab I can claim is that we need our NAACP more than ever before. It is, in North Carolina, as it was when the world’s oldest and boldest civil rights organization was founded during the early 1900’s – diverse. Blacks and whites working together for a better, fairer, an more just America.
            The commitment and courage of NAACP members, particularly during this “age of Trump,” is without equal. That they continue to fight for freedom, justice and equality after so long in the trenches, is inspiring. And that fact that many of the brave “warriors of justice” that I saw and met are Life members is equally impressive.
            I feel I must warn the NAACP, though…even though there were a large number of young people present at the convention per the Youth Division, we still need to see more young people out front taking leadership roles. Yes, there are some, but you don’t get that impression on first look. That needs to be addressed.
            Fortunately, for the NCNAACP, and for us, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, now president emeritus for life of the state conference, has been moving firming in that direction since he took office as president back in 2005. Saturday night, as the rank-and-file membership voted in a dynamic new president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Third Vice President of the NCNAACP, Dr. Barber closed out his tenure during the annual Freedom Fund Banquet (keynoted by radio/television commentator Roland Martin) reminding everyone of what a true leader should be.
            I’ve known Dr. Barber actually even before he became NCNAACP president, and he’s always had huge presence, both literally and figuratively.
            Barber has never displayed fear about speaking truth to power, and being led by him indomitable faith in GOD. A young man in his mid-fifties, born just a few days after the historic 1963 March on Washington, Dr. Barber has faced his personal health challenges with amazing courage and dignity.
            In the beginning of his tenure, he had trouble walking because of a debilitating disease. Today, while he’s still managing aspects of his affliction, this bold leader is leading marches and rallies literally all over the country in the name of justice.
            Dr. Barber has been hailed as recently as this past weekend by none other than the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. Cory Booker (who, in my estimation, SHOULD run for the White House in 2020 – he’s got all of the boxes checked, in my opinion, to qualify for top national leadership) as one of our generation’s most outstanding national leaders on the scene today. And the beauty of it all is that we all have worked with him here in North Carolina, grow, and flourish against tough, tough odds.
            The list of Dr. Barber’s accomplishments as president of the NCNAACP are long and auspicious, if not extraordinarily impressive. But clearly, his leadership and advocacy in the mid-2000’s for One Stop/early voting and same day voter registration (which ultimately helped a young black man named Barack Hussein Obama make history as the first African-American ever to be elected as president of the United States), and then Barber fierce, nonstop battle against the Republican-led legislature passed restrictive voter suppression laws, along with illegal, unconstitutional legislative voting districts that stacked-and-packed African-Americans into a handful of minority-majority districts in order to limit their overall influence in races, have to stand out as among Barber’s greatest achievements.
            In closing, having known Dr. William Barber for many years, the one thing I’ve always appreciated about him is that as mighty and principled as he was and is, there is a big part of the man that is humble, and loving, and obedient to the cause. Dr. Barber prides himself on being a “servant-leader,” and most people don’t realize that sometimes it would be at the risk of hi own life. The many threats he’s faced, and the vile nature of them, would astound you.
            So we say “Thank You” Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, now president-emeritus of the NCNAACP, and permanent member of the NCNAACP Executive Committee. Your legacy will inform historians, and inspire freedom fighters, for generations to come.
            And on a personal note, GOD bless you and your family, my Brother. Job well done!


                              NEW NCNAACP PRES. REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [RALEIGH] The NCNAACP elected a new president last weekend to touts, “I’m woke, and I ain’t skerd,” letting advocates and adversaries alike know that just because Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II has finished his 12-year tenure as leader, doesn’t mean the state’s oldest civil rights organization will cease it’s aggressive battle for freedom, justice and equality.
            “If we’re going to be a justice organization, we’re going to be a justice organization,” the new president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, said to applause.
            “We’ve got work to do, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do the work fighting the real adversaries and enemy.”
            Rev. Spearman, who is also senior pastor of St. Phillip’s A.M.E. Zion Church in Greensboro, and president of the NC Council of Churches, thanked Dr. Barber for his leadership, calling the president emeritus, “ My predecessor, my friend and my mentor.”
            “And thank you to the NCNAACP for your vote, [and] your overwhelming support of me to serve as your state conference of branches president.”
Rev. Spearman, the NCNAACP’s Third Vice President for the past six years, hailed his opponent, Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, longtime president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.
            When he gave his acceptance remarks at the Freedom Fund Banquet, Rev. Spearman embraced Rev. Rochelle onstage, and remarked with pride how they both ran clean campaigns to win. However, Spearman also took time to publicly chastise, though not by name, several NCNAACP members who apparently worked behind the scenes to undermine the two candidates.
            “There are some of us who are in here tonight, who did their best to divide us, and cause a whole lot of hatred to permeate the NCNAACP,” Rev. Spearman admonished. “And I’m here to tell you all that I will not stand for that on my watch! You know who you are, and I want you to know that I know who you are too!
            The hundreds in attendance at the banquet wildly applauded.
            Prior to the election, Dr. Spearman vowed that he will continue down the path Bishop Barber set in terms of challenging  the state legislature over what he sees are repressive policies hurting the poor and communities of color.
            Also honored Saturday evening was the Greensboro NAACP Chapter, led by Branch Pres. Rev. Dr. Cardes Brown.
            Other 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention highlights includes an appearance by veteran civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, keynote remarks by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), whose parents hail from Hendersonville, NC, Freedom Fund Banquet remarks from national radio /television personality Roland Martin, and a poignant final “State of the State of Civil Rights address by outgoing president Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II.
            Next year’s NCNAACP Convention will be held in Wilmington in October 2018.

KEEP HOPE ALIVE - As outgoing NCNAACP Pres. Bishop Dr. William Barber listens, veteran civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson exults the audiences last weekend at the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh. {Cash Michaels Photo]

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            At last week’s 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh, legal activists fighting against illegal North Carolina voting laws and redistricting, warned that Republican-led legislative leaders are moving steadily, especially after they commenced their second Special Session last week, to establish judicial redistricting, and also merit selection.
            The warnings came as the NC House last week passed a law eliminating the 2018 primaries for all judicial seats across the state. Gov. Cooper vetoed the law Monday, but Republicans plan to override the Democratic governor’s veto.
            “It’s not just about Trump,” outgoing Pres. Dr. William Barber warned those gathered for the Voter Mobilization and Registration Session Friday. “The worst stuff happening is happening in our state Capital.”
            Over the strong objections of judges, attorneys and citizens statewide, the NC House passed House Bill 717 last Thursday night to redistrict all judicial officials in the state, including prosecutors.
            The state Senate prefers appointing judges as opposed to judicial elections through merit selection.
            Isela Gutierrez, Associate Research Director with the non-partisan, nonprofit  Democracy North Carolina, charged that judicial redistricting isn’t just about getting more Republican district and superior court judges elected to the bench, but, just as with legislative and Congressional redistricting, lessen the influence of black voters in overall elections.
            With the passage of HB 717, was also a new judicial redistricting map that Gutierrez alleged takes resources away from large black communities in Durham, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, Guilford, Northhampton, Granville and Robeson counties. Judges are taken from these areas, and they’re being moved to white communities.
            According to Gutierrez, judges of color are being targeted.
            Plus, 32 percent of all District Court judges are double-bunked, meaning that when elections are held, two judges – mostly Democrats – will have to run against each other. Fifty-three percent of black judges are District Court judges.
            And in addition, the 2018 judicial primary elections were canceled, giving both legislative houses a chance to fine-tune their respective plans in time for January 2018.
            But schemes to change the way judges are either elected of appointed to the bench are just the beginning,” legal activists warned. On the horizon from the Republican-led legislature, they say, is a “voter ID constitutional amendment.”
            Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and lead attorney in the Covington lawsuit which overturned the 2011 unconstitutional legislative redistricting maps (she has since argued that the redrawn maps  still harbor racially gerrymandered districts and should be thrown out again), warned at the NCNAACP Convention that the GOP is relentlessly pursuing more measures to gain tactical voting advantage while they still hold legislative majorities, with the voter ID constitutional amendment, “…possibly on the ballot in 2018.”
            “That’s going to take some rigorous fighting because we think they are going to combine it with a bunch of other constitutional amendments…”
            However, Earls warns that the voter ID amendment will be packaged with other, more popular amendments on the ballot, making it difficult for people to vote against it.
            “They might have a constitutional amendment that says, “Let’s get rid of the literacy clause in our state constitution. We all like that idea. They’re going to have a “Vote yes on all” campaign, and in addition to voter ID, they’re going to take away your right to vote for judges,” attorney Earls charged.
            “They want to have merit selection on the Constitution as a constitutional amendment in May, so that by 2018…November 2018, you will not be able to vote on which judge should sit in [NC Supreme Court Justice] Barbara Jackson’s seat.
            Justice Jackson, who is a registered Republican elected in 2010, is up for reelection in 2018. Her term ends December 2018. If merit selection is approved, voters would only get to vote “yes” or “no” on her reelection, no other choice allowed.
            Again, this method was thrown out in 2016 as being unconstitutional, by state Senate GOP leaders are hoping to figure a way around it.
             Attorney Earls reminded all that it wasn’t too long ago that GOP legislative leaders plotted to gain some advantage of the stare Supreme Court.
            “Originally they passed a law that had appointment and retention elections, but that was declared unconstitutional, but the legislature can’t change the Constitution. So Judge Michael Morgan (a Democrat) was elected to the state Supreme Court.”
“Then they tried the court-packing plan,” Earls continued. “That was pushed back against. And now they’re trying to take away our rights by having a constitutional amendment.”
“So with stealth, and step-by-step quietly, [Republican state lawmakers] are maneuvering to take away your right to vote."



            [RALEIGH] Voters in Raleigh and Durham are likely to be heading back to the polls on Nov. 7th to decide who will serve as their next mayor as candidates in Tuesday night’s mayoral election failed to garner the 51 percent threshold needed to win outright. In Raleigh, at press time, incumbent three-term Mayor Nancy McFarlane was waiting for challenger Charles Francis to call for a runoff. McFarlane garnered over 48% of the vote versus 36 percent for Francis. Francis told supporters Tuesday night that he wanted to wait until all of the votes were counted before calling for a runoff, but most observers believe that he will by the end of the week. A third candidate, a conservative Republican, finished third with just 14 percent of Tuesday’s vote.
            In Durham, the Nov. 7th runoff is automatic, as the top two vote-getters for mayor, Councilman Steve Schewel, with over 12,000 votes, and former City Councilman Farad Ali, with over 7,000 votes, will faceoff next month. Musician Pierce Freelon came in third with just over 4,000 votes. The ultimate winner will succeed outgoing Mayor Bill Bell, who has served since 2001.

            [RALEIGH] He hasn’t announced yet, but after a stirring keynote address during the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention Political Action Committee Luncheon last Friday, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) impressed many to the point that there was little doubt he may be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, if not later. Sen. Booker has North Carolina roots – his father was a native of Hendersonville, NC, and graduated from North Carolina Central University. Booker urged luncheon attendees not to be dismayed by the political turmoil in Washington, DC with the Trump Administration. “If this country has not broken your heart you don’t love her enough,” Booker said. He urged the audience to stay determined to make America what it should be – just to all, regardless of race, creed, gender or national origin.


Monday, October 2, 2017


By Cash Michaels

OUR COLLECTIVE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN CONTINUES – This is different. Yes, as a nation, we’ve had hurricanes, and threats of nuclear war, and forest fires, and destructive floods, and mass shootings before.
But we’ve never had them bunch together so closely in a span of a few weeks, if not months. And to top it all off, we’ve never had a leader as a president so emotionally inept as the blonde-hair clown we have in the Oval Office now.
            When the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. happened a few years ago, as a nation, we had an angry and frustrated President Barack Obama come out to the world, denounce Congress for its repeated failure to pass even a federal background checks law, let alone any other serious gun control legislation, and promising that he would never let up on lawmakers as long as he remained in office.
            26 human beings – 20 of them small children, were gunned down at that Newtown school shooting, and yet, regardless of tremendous pressure from Pres. Obama and the American people, the Republicans in Congress, clearly in the back pocket of the National Rifle Association, proudly did absolutely nothing to make guns harder to get in our society.
            And so now, fast forward to last Sunday night, and the Las Vegas mass shooting, where a lone, crazed gunman rents a hotel suite on the 32nd floor, brings 19 guns with him, some with a scope, some converted to automatic capacity with the power and capability of a machine gun, and literally sprays helpless people has they attend a country music festival downstairs several hundred yards away.
            As crass as it sounds, with 22,000 people in attendance below, the gunman was literally shooting fish in a barrel, ultimately killing 59, and wounding almost 530.
            Las Vegas is now in the history books for being the home of the deadliest mass murder in modern US history.
            And when our current president took to the airwaves, taking a break from criticizing Puerto Ricans “wanting everything done for them” after Hurricane Maria completely devastated their island (which is also an American commonwealth, thus making them citizens), sure he spoke in softer tones as usual, and of course he spoke yarns about Americans “coming together” and la-de-da-de-da.
            But did the blonde behind-cavity say anything about curbing access to dangerous firearms, like his predecessor insisted on to a deaf-and-dumb do noting Congress?
            Of course not.
            Heck, this Congress spend the last seven years, with a Republican majority, trying to get rid of Obamacare, and couldn’t do it. They aren’t worth the breath it takes to even think of their party’s name.
            So it seems like, as a nation, we simply can’t get a moment’s peace. Our collective nervous breakdown continues, and we have absolutely no moral leader that we can depend on to at least exhibit some common decency through it all.
            We all know this man’s heart – he doesn’t have one. And we all know that instead of trying to stop a looming war with North Korea, he’s more than willing to start one.
            We know that instead of trying to help the devastated people of Puerto Rico, he’s trying to kick them while they’re down.
            And we know that instead of saving face, and coming clean about how much he knows about the Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election that allegedly helped to get him elected, he’d rather play hide-n-seek with investigators until they haul his blonde backside out of the Oval in cuffs for the world to see.
            Thus far, we’ve seen a lot, folks. But something tells me, we’re nowhere near seeing it all yet!
            GOD help us!



By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Both candidates vying to succeed Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II as president of the NCNAACP during elections this week at the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh, say they will continue the special relationship the state’s oldest civil rights organization has had with the Black Press in order to keep the African-American community both informed about emerging issues, and empowered to confront them collectively.
 “I don’t know that I would do anything different from Dr Barber,” said Rev. Rochelle, “except always keep the community informed about the issues that we’re dealing with, and any statements we want to make on the issues, and continue to hold press conferences when needed, to get the information out to the general public. It’s important that the community knows the steps we’re taking on issues.”
When asked if he, too, will maintain the tradition that Dr. Barber so aptly established in working closely with Black newspapers to both inform and empower, Rev. Spearman replied, “Oh God, will I!”
“Everywhere I’ve been as a pastor in North Carolina, I have been a person who has advocated to our people how important it is for us to support the Black Press,” Rev. Spearman said. “I purchased Black newspapers for the churches I have been pastor of , I have a very good working relationship with [local Black newspapers]. I think that the Black Press and Black news is so vital to us as a people.”
“So yes,” Rev. Spearman added, “I would continue that.”
In closing, both Rev. Rochelle and Rev. Spearman had special messages for the NCNAACP members who they hope will vote for them as the next president.
            “Stakeholders are risk takers,” said Rev. Rochelle. “And I believe that if we’re going to be in a movement, we need to be totally involved. We can’t be part-time, or once-a-month leaders.”
            “We must be alert, and actively working in our communities at all times, not just when something ugly happens. We need to be prepared, our people, to be aware, to go to the legislature and be aware of what’s going on, what laws are being changed…all of those things are important in order to make sure that our people are informed, and knowledgeable about situations that are affecting them.”
            “We can be resources to help our people prepare to be up-to-date, and to be knowledgeable about things that are affecting them,” said Rev. Rochelle.
            For Rev. Spearman, he wants NCNAACP membership throughout the state to know that he is seasoned, experienced, and above all, is not afraid to take on the pressures and challenges of the state NAACP presidency.
            “I’ve been tellin’ folk, “I’m ‘woke,’ and I ain’t ‘skerd!’” I’m ready to go into this thing. If I were to make it into the leadership of the NAACP, I’m like a dead man. I’m already dead, you can’t kill me. I’m going to stand with my people, I’m going to do all that I can to be that catalyst for change. Whatever I need to do for them to try to do all that I can to protect them, that’s what I’m going to do.”
            “So call me “the late T. Anthony Spearman” if you have to, but that’s something that I genuinely believe.”
            Elections for NCNAACP offices, including president, take place Saturday, Oct. 7th during the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh.


By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            For Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NCNAACP, the last 12 years of leadership have indeed been challenging, but as he steps aside this week during the 74th annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh, where a new president will be elected, he looks back humbly, knowing that he’s leaving the state conference – which was $80,000 in debt when he took over in 2005 -  in better shape than he found it.
            “The one thing that people need to know about the NAACP is that it’s multi-faceted, and not a one-issue organization,” Dr. Barber said during a recent exclusive phone interview. “When you are a servant-leader, you have to be nimble; you have to work with a lot of personalities and issues all at the same time. Which is why one of the things I’ve shared with people running for president of the state conference … though it is a volunteer position, though you do not get a salary, you really better be in for full-time work, and full-time service. Especially in a state like North Carolina – the largest state conference in the South, and the second largest in the country (the NCNAACP was just recently awarded First Place at the national NAACP Convention for having the most membership growth in the nation in the past year).”
            Recently named president emeritus of the North Carolina state conference, and a permanent member of the conference Executive Committee, Dr. Barber recalls many battles he’s led the NCNAACP into, in the areas of education, civil rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, LBGTQ rights, affordable health care, criminal justice and economic justice, many of which ended in victory for the people.
            The NCNAACP’s many hard fought victories in voting rights, starting with the statewide establishment of One Stop/Early Voting/same day registration, and culminating, thus far, with victories in the US Supreme Court and federal courts in cases involving unconstitutional voter suppression laws and redistricting maps by North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly.
            Barber says these voting rights victories are historic, and resound far beyond the borders of North Carolina.
            “To be able to fight, and win against the worst voter suppression laws since Jim Crow, and the worst gerrymandering since the 19th century…now that’s huge!,” Dr. Barber exclaimed, noting that NCNAACP lawyers could not have won without a movement on the ground. “The cases that we’ve won here in North Carolina have literally shifted jurisprudence in this country.”
            Barber sees as even a bigger accomplishment bring building the “Forward Together” movement, a coalition of other multi-cultural, multi-racial groups in concert with the NCNAACP, all in lock-step on a variety of common issues with which to leverage their large numbers during appropriate events. Dr. Barber calls that “historic.”
            And what, perhaps, was the civil right’s leader’s greatest letdown during his twelve years at the helm?
            “I hurt every day that we’ve not been able to get Medicaid expansion (for 500,000 more needy people) won here in North Carolina,” Dr. Barber lamented. “For every 500,000 people, 2800 die every year, according to a recent Harvard study. That means that  over 10,000 people (here in North Carolina will have died  because of Medicaid denial in this state. And I always wondered if we did it differently, could we have put more pressure on…anytime you have a cause, and you’re in that cause because you want to make things better, it hurts. I think about those folk every day.
            But all in all, as Dr. Barber prepares to make way for new NCNAACP leadership, he cherishes that opportunity to have led one of the most dynamic state conferences in the nation. Now a considered a nation leader, he will join the Pootr People’s campaign to speak out against poverty.
            “It’s been my privilege to lead the NCNAACP, and now that I’m being requested to take this on the road, and all around the country, …it’s been my privilege,” Bishop Barber said.


            [WILMINGTON]  The Fayetteville chemical company, accused of discharging Gen X into the Cape Fear River, possibly contaminating the New Hanover County water supply, is now being sued in federal court in what may turn out to be a class action lawsuit for “…the loss in value and marketability of properties owned by Plaintiff and Class Members, the cost of remediating the properties owned by Plaintiff and Class Members from the toxic chemicals released from the Fayetteville Works Site, the cost of mitigating the contaminated water, and/or the cost of alternative water sources.” Chemours, the company, and its parent corporation, Dupont, are named. The suit was filed by Brent Nix of Wilmington, and seeks both punitive and compensatory damages.

            [RALEIGH] With the NC General Assembly now in special session, citizens are wasting no time giving state lawmakers a piece of their minds. Both parents and students from across the state demonstrated in front of the Legislative Building Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers repeal their mandate that reduced class sizes from kindergarten through third grade. Many schools are now forced to eliminate programs, and build new schools as a result in order to comply. Siblings are being separated from the same school, and are being reassigned to other schools. Lawmakers say they’ve already fully-funded the changes, and are blaming the local school systems for not budgeting the changes wisely.

            [RALEIGH] Judges, attorneys and citizens from across the state have all pleaded with Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) to slow down in his drive to have all North Carolina’s judicial districts redrawn. Burr claims Democrats hold an advantage with the current configuration, and that needs to be changed now, thus the special called session. Democrats indeed fear that this is just a scheme to elect more Republican judges to the bench from throughout the state. Judges say any changes  now will force their colleagues tp drive further distances to hold court, and ultimately would put a greater strain on the state’s criminal system.