Tuesday, September 19, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            As you may know by now, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic candidate for president, has written a book titled, “What Happened,” released this week.
            As to be expected, Ms. Clinton is doing a heavy round of media interviews to promote (read that as “sell”) her book, giving personal insight into what it felt like to lose to controversial Republican candidate Donald Trump, putting up with all of his nastiness and sexism, and how she felt the presidency was finally hers…until the very last minute.
            I know that’s what many of us thought, given how routinely Trump seemed to be self-destructing leading up to Election night.
            But, as we all know (and still lament), Clinton lost the presidency in the electoral college, losing key states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that normally went Democrat.
            And as you may also know, there’s currently a federal investigation underway to determine exactly how much the Russian government influenced the 2016 presidential election so that Clinton would lose, making Trump the victor, and whether or not they did so in collusion with the Trump campaign. There has been plenty of smoke  by way of evidence, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post, and it seems it’s just a matter of time before Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller issues a report outlining what he’s found per his investigation.
            It should be no surprise that Hillary Clinton has been following the Mueller probe very intently, especially since she was on the receiving end of shenanigans Trump and the Russians were allegedly up to. But it certainly was a surprise to read that Ms. Clinton is willing, eager and able to officially challenge Trump’s 2016 victory of Mueller’s evidence is compelling enough to warrant so in her mind.
            Let’s remember something….Hillary Clinton is NOT Al Gore, who graciously decided after the US Supreme Court effectively gave the 200 election to Republican rival George W. Bush, and with it, the presidency, not to contest it for the good of the nation.
Gore knew then that doing so would literally tear the nation apart, and he didn’t want to go down in history as a sore loser.
            But Hillary Clinton’s case is way different.
            The United States, thanks to the unqualified madman we have in the Oval Office, is already at civil war. People are more at each other’s throats than ever before, with most of us simply not believing that anyone in their right mind would want Donald Trump for president. His style and behavior have proven to be clearly beneath the dignity of the high office that he holds. Trump is an embarrassment to the American people, and before the world. He is an apologist for white supremacists and warmongers. He is steadily inching our nation towards a nuclear war with North Korea, another emerging nuclear power with a certified nut for a national leader.
            So those who warn that we would see civil war in the streets if Trump is perp-walked out of the White House in handcuffs after he’s impeached, hey, what would you suggest? Let him stay and ruin our children’s future some more? Please don’t tell me you’re afraid of people being more at each other’s throats than they are now, because, just like a bad marriage, the real problems right under the surface will always bubble up in the end.
            We can’t escape what’s coming.
            And if Hillary can legally get a court, based on compelling evidence, to rule that the 2016 presidential election was a fraud thanks to the Russians and Trump campaign scheming together to make it so, then I’m all for it.
            The last nine months have been frightful under Trump, and there’s more to come the longer he stays.
            None of this is over by a longshot, folks. So strap yourselves in, because the we are in for a REAL rough ride!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            According to new data from the US Census Bureau released on Sept. 14th, more than 1.5 million of 10,146,788 North Carolinians still languish in poverty with lack of access to good well-paying employment, inadequate education or skills training, affordable and decent housing, limited access to public transportation, and other important resources to lift themselves and their families out of their dire condition.
            Though, according to analysts, there have been small improvements to their condition between 2015 and 2016, 15.4 percent of North Carolinians lived in poverty in 2016, making less than $24, 600 a year for a family of four.
            Specific numbers of North Carolinians living in poverty by race were not available at press time Tuesday, though it is known that 23.5 percent of African-Americans statewide live below the official poverty line of $24,600 for a family of four.
            In Forsyth County, according to those US Census Bureau statistics, 18.1 percent of its 371,511 residents were living in poverty as of July 1, 2016. Blacks are 27.4 percent of the county’s total population.
            The median household income between 2011 and 2015 was $45,471, per capita income per the last 12 months was just $26,674 by 2015 standard.
            Guilford County, by comparison, had 15.7 percent of its 521,330 residents living in poverty as of July 1, 2016. Approximately 34.6 percent of Guilford’s population is African-American, compared to 22.2 percent statewide.
            Median household income (in 2015 dollars) in Guilford County between 2011-2015 was  $45,651. Per capita income in the prior 12 months was $26,762.
            On the coast, New Hanover County saw 17.3 percent of its 223.483 population in poverty by July, 2016. African-Americans comprised just 14.2 percent.
            Median household income (in 2015 dollars) between 2011-2015 was $50,088, and per capita income in the 12 months prior $29,880.
            Finally, in Durham County, 17.1 percent of its 306,212 residents were in poverty by July 1, 2016. Blacks were 38.3 percent of the total population.
In 2015 dollars, median household income between 2011-2015 in Durham County was $52,503, and per capita per the preceding 12 months was $30,268.
According to the NC Budget and Tax Center, a progressive arm of the nonpartisan NC Justice Center in Raleigh, North Carolina’s poverty rate is 1.4 percentage point higher than the national, and has the 13th highest in the nation; North Carolina’s poverty rate did decline by one point over the past year, but is 1.1 percent higher than when the Great recession hit in 2007; 6.7 percent of North Carolinians live in extreme poverty, below less than half the poverty line of bout $12,300 a year for a family of four.
In order to grow a stronger and more inclusive economy for all of u in North Carolina, lawmakers must boost public investments to connect people to good-paying jobs, health care and education from early childhood to throughout their careers, said Alexandra Sirota, director of the NC Budget and Tax Center.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As the three-judge federal panel reviews the newly redrawn NC redistricting maps it ordered from the NC legislature, opponents aren’t waiting to weigh-in on what the court’s next move should be.
            Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and Edwin Speas, Jr. of Poyner & Spruill LLP, attorneys for plaintiffs who originally sued the state ultimately proving that 28 of 170 legislative districts in the 2011 NC redistricting map were illegal racial gerrymanders, filed a legal brief in federal court last Friday alleging that at least 12 of the redrawn state House and Senate districts resubmitted to the court are now either racial gerrymanders, or are in violation of the state’s Constitution.
            At the top of the list for racial gerrymandering is Senate District 28, which state Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), an African-American, represents. The three other districts are Senate District 21 in Cumberland and Hoke counties; House District 21 in Wayne and Sampson counties and House District 57 represented by Rep. Pricey Harrison, again in Guilford County.
            “Race predominated in the drawing of these districts lines, and Defendants (legislature) offer no compelling governmental interest to justify those districts,” the plaintiffs’ Sept. 15th brief to the court contended.
Two weeks earlier, Sen. Robinson of District 28 said, “The courts specifically looked at my District 28 and commented on its composition.  Republicans are intent on protecting Senator Trudy Wade (R-Guilford) for whom they created a district by packing 28.  I expect that the only remedy will be in the courts.”
Rep. Harrison, a white Democrat representing House District 57, was equally as resolute that the continued racial gerrymandering would not stand.
I believe the maps will be challenged and may have a hard time passing muster with the federal court. I do not know if that will affect the 2018 elections, but we will be spending more taxpayer money defending the indefensible.”
If the federal judicial panel agrees with the plaintiffs, Rep. Harrison and Sen. Robinson may now get their wish.
            In addition, several other legislative districts were found by plaintiffs to be unconstitutionally redrawn, in that “…the plain language of the state constitution prohibits mid-decade redistricting.” The Constitution also prohibited violation of its Whole County Provision, and plaintiffs contend that several House districts are drawn crossing county boundaries.
            Plaintiffs recommended to the court that the redrawn maps by GOP lawmakers be thrown out, and replaced with proposed legislative maps the plaintiffs have submitted for the 2018 mid-term elections.
            If the court disagrees, plaintiffs ask that a court –appointed special master be employed to “…redraw the districts in these limited county groupings.”
            “We are asking the court to step up and do what the legislature has continually failed to do — give North Carolinians fair districts that do not discriminate or violate the state constitution,” attorney Earls said in a statement.
            On that same day, the NCNAACP filed an amicus brief to the court supporting the plaintiffs’ position that the legislative redraws should be thrown out because they “…remain tainted with race discrimination…,” and a special master be secured to do the job properly.
            In its brief, the civil rights organization faults the Republican decision not to use race as part of its criteria in redrawing legislative districts as a primary reason why they’re still unconstitutional, as earlier determined by the US Supreme Court.
            The Legislative Defendants have thus returned to the court following a “remedial” process that never directly addressed the race discrimination that infected its prior maps, indicating once again that, as this Court has noted, it “does not appreciate the need to move promptly to cure the unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in the 2011 districting plans,”” the NCNAACP brief stated.
            The General Assembly cannot sufficiently demonstrate to this Court that the enacted plans cure their egregious purposeful racial gerrymander through the bare assertion that, by prohibiting any consideration of race data, they have created color-blind remedial maps with no explanation of how these maps actually cure the violations. The NC NAACP thus respectfully requests that the Court reject the General Assembly’s proposed maps and appoint an independent special master to draw fair remedial maps that properly consider race and fully remedy the violation in accordance with federal and state law.”
            Republican legislative leaders have a week to respond to both the plaintiffs and NCNAACP briefs.
        Meanwhile on Tuesday, NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) sent a letter to heads of US Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to “reject” Pres. Donald Trump’s nomination of North Carolina  Republican attorney Thomas Farr to a lifetime appointment as federal judge for the Eastern District ,”… because of his dismal record in opposition to voting rights and workers’ rights.
            Farr's hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20th. 


                                               REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Editor’s note: During the upcoming 74th Annual NC NAACP Convention in Raleigh, current president, Bishop Dr. William Barber will be stepping down after 12 years, and a new president will be elected between Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP Chapter, and Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Third Vice President of the NCNAACP.
            During separate interviews, both candidates were asked the same six questions about their respective visions for the state conference if either is elected to lead. For a final question, they were asked to determine what they want rank-and-file NCNAACP members to further know about them that they feel is relevant.
            When necessary, both candidates’ answers have been truncated for conciseness.
            Last week we interviewed Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle. Today, we continue with Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. Next week we talk with outgoing NCNAACP Pres. Bishop Dr. William Barber II.
            Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Third Vice President of the NC NAACP; senior pastor of St. Phillip AME Zion Church in Greensboro; and president of the NC Council of Churches, has been a member of the NAACP for 53 years. As a young man, his father got memberships he and his sisters, telling them to keep them up because “you will be fighting for justice for the remainder of your years.”
During that time, Rev. Spearman, 66, has also served as chairman of the NCNAACP Religious Affairs Committee, and president of the Hickory Branch of the NAACP.
            Now he says it’s time to vie for the presidency of the civil rights organization he’s given most of his life to, and lead it towards further establishing the values and justice he’s sworn to uphold. Rev. Spearman is married with three adult children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
Why should you be elected as the next president to lead the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP?
            “I find the NAACP continues to be a very relevant organization in which I’m glad I have cast my energies towards. I have been a staunch supporter of the Forward Together/Moral Monday movement, and the second arrestee of the [first] Moral Monday. I’ve been involved in civil disobedience on three separate occasions. And so I’m very invested in the NCNAACP and the work thereof, and I’ve seen a great deal of merit in the work of Dr. William J. Barber II, and want to see this movement continue that has been started over the course of the 12 years that he [has] served in leadership.”

What do you think of Bishop Dr. William Barber’s leadership of the NCNAACP over the past 12 years, and, if elected, how do you intend to build on it?
“I’ve been very much a part of Bishop Barber’s leadership during that time, and it began with the HK on J Movement…I was there at the inception of that, and then as it kind of grew into the Forward Together/Moral Monday Movement, I was very much a part of that movement. Candidly, Dr. Barber and I have become very collegial, and have really held one another up in many of the things that have come before us as the twelve years have unfolded.”
 “My ideology is very, very similar to the ideology of Bishop Barber, and what the NAACP lifts up as what they call “game-changers,” I lift up as a five-point justice vision. When we talk about pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability, and educational equality that ensures that every child receives an appropriate education, and health care, and fairness in the criminal justice system, and protection of all kinds of rights – voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights…all of those are right at the cutting edge of the things I would think we need to continue in terms of having the kind of ideology that’s going to help us to make some ground so that we can continue to move forward together and not take one step back.”

As NCNAACP president, how will you continue the fight for voting rights?
            “ One of the things that have been in the forefront of my mind is how to frame doing what I hope to achieve once I’m elected, should I be elected. I’ve been kind of obsessed with the thought of what I call a transforming and understanding of “R.I.P.” which is the acronym we generally use for “rest in peace.””
“I’m plagued with why do we wait until someone dies to say or think that we want them now to rest in peace. So I’ve been toying with the idea of how do we transform our understanding of R.I.P., and help to translate it from a death wish to a justice gift.”
“Three of the points that I am very, very bent on achieving or working on as we do the work come forth with the acronym R.I.P. :
1.                    Respecting our vote –everything we face as a people is predicated on the right to place ballots in the ballot box. Like watchmen on the wall, we have to continue to be vigilant and make sure that we hold back all that the [NC] General Assembly seeks to do to continue to suppress our vote. And I genuinely believe that they will continue to throw forth some monkey wrenches to do just that.
2.                    Inspecting the root cause of poverty – The NCNAACP went around the state in 2011-2012 putting a face on poverty. For me, that was the cutting edge of what we need to do. You’ll recall that during the 2016 elections, there was no talk, no conversation, no debate whatsoever about poverty, no talk about racism, and I believe that we as a people must be very intentional about talking about poverty, bringing it onto the radar, and then keeping it on the radar so that people are talking about it. And if no one else is talking about it, then we need to be talking about it as a people, and strategize on how we are going to be dealing with it to make sure that others understand how important it is to us as a people.
3.                    Protecting our youth – We’re dealing with the militarization that Dr. King has always talked about, and always have in the forefronts of our minds the things that this so-called democracy is supposed to stand for.

How will you work to get more young people involved in the NC NAACP?
“I have developed two nonprofits – one I established back in 2006 when I was pastoring in Hickory, NC. Now we’re doing business here in Greensboro as “The B.R.I.D.G.E. Program” which is “balancing relationships, instilling dignity, growth and empathy.” The formation of that nonprofit happened while I was the education chair of the Hickory branch of the NAACP, and a teacher contacted us about five African-American students who were failing. I built a program around these young men – Students Moving A Step Ahead -  and took them to Detroit, Michigan for a weekend, and immerse them in higher education…and came away from that experience with these young men now thinking about going to college, as opposed to prior to that, they didn’t think about it at all.”
“There were some successes that were done, and we did that for about three years, but I came to terms with the fact that it seemed to me to be a little too late.  So I started another program,…and we were able to partner with the Hickory Housing unit, use this curriculum, and had some major successes on gathering young people together, giving them some cultural awareness, and helping them develop a love for their culture. By leaps and bounds, there were improvements in their lives.”
“I would use that same kind of practice in trying to get young people involved in the NCNAACP. I’ve been working on ways to be able to present them with something we can intergenerationally involve these young people. The Scriptures tell us we are to impress upon the children, spend time with the children, we’re going to make sure that we interact with the children on  24/7 basis, thereby we will not be afraid of our children. I think the fear that we have in engaging with our children prevents us from keeping the children around us.
Next week, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NCNAACP, exclusively looks back over his 12-year tenure as he prepares to step down.


            [RALEIGH] A Wake County Democrat who came ran twice for lieutenant governor but fell short, has announced that she will now make a run for the US Congress. Former NC Rep. Linda Coleman says she has filed paperwork to challenge three-term Republican incumbent Congressman George Holding in the 2nd Congressional District in 2018. Holding is known for his ultra-conservative views, and support of Pres. Trump. Coleman is also a former educator, Wake County commissioner and once led the Office of State Personnel. She lost her bid for lieutenant governor to Dan Forest in 2012 and 2016. She will face businessman Sam Searcy and veteran Wendy Ella May in the Democratic primary.

            [RALEIGH] “Slow down” was the admonition from judges and attorneys Tuesday during a second judicial redistricting hearing conducted by Republican House member Justin Barr (R-Stanly). Burr has filed House Bill 717, which calls for lawmakers to redraw judicial and prosecutorial district lines, most likely during the upcoming special session beginning Oct. 4th. Many judges have expressed concern that the process will be more political than remedial. Democrats charge that Republicans are pushing this now in order to elect more Republicans as judges. Meanwhile the state Senate is leaning towards appointing more judges, as opposed to electing more.

            [RALEIGH] According to the website Glassdoor, among the 25 top, the fourth best city in the United States to find employment is Raleigh, and Charlotte is ranked #24. Glassdoor ranks the number of job openings, median base salaries, median home values and overall job satisfaction, according to local employers.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017


                                                     REV. DR. PORTIA ROCHELLE

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Editor’s note: During the upcoming 74th Annual NC NAACP Convention in Raleigh, current president, Bishop Dr. William Barber will be stepping down after 12 years, and a new president will be elected between Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP Chapter, and Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Third Vice President of the NCNAACP.
            During separate interviews, both candidates were asked the same six questions about their respective visions for the state conference if either is elected to lead. For a final question, they were asked to determine what they want rank-and-file NCNAACP members to further know about them that they feel is relevant.
            When necessary, both candidates’ answers have been truncated for conciseness.
            Today we begin with Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle. Next week, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.

She celebrated her 65th birthday on Sept. 5th, but as far as Rev. Dr. Portia Rochelle, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP is concerned, she has plenty of fire and commitment in her to lead the over one hundred branches of the NC NAACP as it’s next president, if elected. And she’s working hard to make that happen. Having served as branch president for the past nine years, and having worked for North Carolina state government for the previous 30, Rev. Rochelle says she’s fully prepared to lead North Carolina’s most prominent civil rights organization.
A widow since 1993, Rev. Rochelle has two children.

Why should you be elected as the next president to lead the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP?
“Because of the firsthand experience that I have had in working with the [Raleigh-Apex] branch here in Wake County. We’ve had to tackle numerous issues, and we are at the forefront of most issues that occur here in North Carolina, whether we desire to be or not. The general public calls on us, and that has given me a vast amount of experience as far as working through civil rights issues with the community, and the people injustices are being done to. I’ve had nine years of experience, and I feel that I can do it on the state level.”

What do you think of Bishop Dr. William Barber’s leadership of the NCNAACP over the past 12 years, and, if elected, how do you intend to build on it?
“He’s set a great example. Bishop Barber is a teacher. He is one that has a vision, makes sure that you understand that vision, makes sure that you understand that vision and your place, your role and your value in making the vision come forth. So I believe that whoever succeeds …follows that role model, will do great.”
“Some people are kind of shy as far a doing what they should be doing at the branch level, and I think that if we keep that model that he has set, to teach others, to let them know that they’re valuable in the movement, that they’re necessary in the movement…we need key players in the movement. Everyone needs to be able to a justice movement. Bishop Barber has set a good example of that, and I plan to build on that, build on the infrastructure. There are some branches that need more training, they don’t always have the opportunity to come to the state convention or attend the national. But I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to all of the training at all of the levels.
Plus, quality time with Dr. Barber, with him teaching me, and him answering all sorts of questions that I had when I first started. So the next successor has to be patient, and be willing to teach those that are prepared to lead this organization.

As NCNAACP president, how will you continue the fight for voting rights?
“We should never stop. It’s been a continuous fight and does get frustrating for the citizens we are working with, but in the movement we cannot get tire, we cannot get frustrated. We must continue to encourage our people to not keep silent and to not stay home and get mad because they don’t like the way elections are finished.”
“If you’re mad, fight back. How do you fight back? Become informed voters. Teach your family, your neighbors, how to become informed voters. Know what you’re voting on, know the issues, know the people that we’re voting for, know what they stand for. Don’t just wait and show up on voting days for someone to give you a list, and you go in and mark those names. Know who’s running. Know what they have to say about issues that are affecting your life.”
“So voter education is what I’ll be concentrating on. Teaching our people to learn …you know, it’s more than just marking a ballot.”

How will you work to get more young people involved in the NC NAACP?
“That’s a good question, because I’m dealing with that now. Many of the young people are raising families, many of them are feeling that the NAACP is irrelevant. So we have to constantly teach them the history, and how the NAACP is relevant to them.”
“Some say we’re outdated, we’re not functioning, but they don’t know what we’re doing. They need to take time to get to know us. Let us introduce ourselves to you, so you’ll know what we’re about, how we got started, and what we’re doing. We’re doing more than marching and protesting because we don’t like a particular law. That’s very important to do, but you have to fight back by showing up at meetings, and know what’s going in your community.”
“I plan to do a social justice school to teach people how to be involved in the social justices issues in your community. I plan to do the same thing with churches. We need to have people in place where community meetings are going on – the school board, Board of Elections, county commissioners. All of these things affect our lives, and if we’re not there to give our input, then we’re going to be left out. And it’s going to be too late, so we have to get involved. That’s what I want to teach the millennials – you have to get involved! You can’t just sit back and pass judgment, and say that our rules are too stringent, or we take too long to do something. You’ve got to understand whey we don’t just run and jump and do something. You’ve got to learn not to just jump out there and be ignorant. You have to investigate, then see if you need to make a stand, see if you need to make a statement. And you’ve got to learn how to be patient. Learn the importance of strategy, and why that strategy is there to protect you and the community.”

Next week – interview with NCNAACP presidential candidate Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            When the Republican-led NC General Assembly reconvenes for it’s second Special Session of the year on Wednesday, October 4th at 12 noon, expect judicial redistricting to be front in center. That point was made clear this week when the House Select Committee of Judicial Redistricting gaveled in Tuesday to begin the process of determining how North Carolina’s District and Superior Court maps will be changed.
            Because Republicans are pushing for this, Democrats are naturally concerned as to why, and why now.
            “I am extremely concerned about the HB 717 judicial maps that force District Court judges of the same political [party] to compete in a primary,” state Rep. Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth) recently said. “That equates to worse. It’s called double bunking.”
            Also on the redistricting chopping block, prosecutorial districts, from where local district attorneys are elected, and serve.
            All of this is the result of a surprise bill, HB 717, introduced in June right before the end of the regular long session by Rep. Justin Barr (R-Stanly). Because there wasn’t much time to properly hold hearings or debate the measure, it was put on hold until either the planned August or October Special Sessions. Given that the August session was mostly taken up with redrawing the legislative districts maps because of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, the upcoming October Special Session is the chosen time for judicial redistricting to come front and center.
            According to the proposed judicial/prosecutorial redistricting maps released Tuesday, among the Superior Court district splits are Forsyth, Guilford, Wake, Durham, New Hanover, Mecklenburg, and Pender, among others. Some observers say they look very similar to the racially gerrymandered legislative maps that were ultimately thrown out but the federal courts.
            Burr readily admits that the maps were done in secret, as to protect them, ironically enough, from judicial scrutiny.
            “They would have fought me,” Burr told WRAL-TV in July. He added that the reason for redistricting the judicial districts is because of a “longstanding imbalance” of Democrat judges to Republicans historically. “This is about making good policy, he said.
            Democrats in the legislature counter that this is about redrawing the district lines in order to elect more Republican judges to the bench, increasing the likelihood of winning more court decisions for GOP policies, especially with Democrats now holding the majority on the state Supreme Court.
            Rep. Burr has called it “correcting gerrymandered districts.”
No one from the judiciary or state conference of District attorneys in North Carolina was consulted in the drawing of the maps, Burr confirms. However, under constant pressure, Rep. Burr did travel throughout the state, speaking with judges and district attorneys about the need for the redistricting.
            Burr has said that race was not considered among the criteria used to redraw the judicial maps. Only geography, caseload, population, and resources.
The last time judicial districts were changed was 62 years ago, and most experts agree that the time to refresh them is long overdue. But they caution that the process should be handled by an established nonpartisan body to ensure that all North Carolinians have equal access to the state’s court system, regardless of where they live in the state, not for partisan advantage.
Unlike congressional and legislative redistricting maps, there is no ten-year mandate to redraw judicial districts. congressional and legislative redistricting is predicated on the change in US Census population figures, which are taken every ten years.
            Constitutionally, those districts are also governed by the “one-man-one vote” principal which seeks to make every congressional and legislative district equal in population, + or minus five percent.
            But with judicial districts, there is a question as to whether any constitutional mandate exists. And there is also question as to whether the 1965 Voting Rights Act applies to judicial redistricting as well.
         According to Judge Marion Warren, director of the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), said during Tuesday’s select committee hearing that he’s had some Superior Court judges who were “incredibly upset” complaining to him about the proposed judicial “gerrymandering.” Judge Warren did maintain that the AOC did not draw the proposed maps.
            Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), a former Durham District Court judge for 18 years, said during the hearing that she talked to 20 District Court judges, and “…not one agreed with the maps.”
            And some Superior Court judges have generally said they are willing to allow the redistricting process to “play out,” but others are “very upset” with what they see the maps do, like double-bunking sitting judges.
The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting is expected  to meet again on Thursday, Sept. 21st. There is no word as to when the state Senate will address this matter.


By Cash Michaels

            GOOD HEALTH! – Let’s cut right to the chase. Am I in good health?
            Well, the question is relative. I’m certainly in better health. A little about my health history, and no, I’m not ashamed that I probably should have died before now because of the careless and reckless way I’ve been treating my body all of these years.
            First the good part – I’ve never smoked ANYTHING (I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to deliberately inhale smoke through my nose or mouth). I still remember being a child in the crib, and seeing my mother’s fancy 1950s cigarette box with built-in lighter on her dresser (never saw her smoke in person, however), and how, once she realized that the cigarette box caught my attention, she put it out of sight, and made sure that she never smoked in front of me in life.
            And I also remember years later hanging in Ditmas Park in Brooklyn, NY with my friends, and all they did was smoke and drink, and I never did. In fact, when we would all be sitting on the park bench watching the girls in hot pants walk by, and my boys would pass the reefer joint down the bench so that everybody on the crew could get a “blow” (it was more like a suck though), I would always say “no thanks,” and let the “brotha” on my left pass it straight to the “brotha” on my right.
            And when I would get a dirty look about it, I learned to immediately say, “Nah, man, …more for you, more for you!”
            Both “brothas” always like hearing that.
            Hard liquor? Never! Now when we went out to the clubs on Friday and Saturday nights, we always stopped by liquor store and got some sweet MD20/20 or Fuki Japanese plum wine! I never drank “Mad Dog” (is what we called it), but I’ll never forget being at a club in Queens, having met this nice girl named Martha (I called her “Marti”), an making the mistake that night of drinking too much Fuki, and saying some dangerous things to her that would have gotten any other guy shot!
            But Marti could tell that I wasn’t a drinker, and that I was kinda cute, and decided she wanted to meet the “real” Cash, and so we dated for a couple of years after that. And no, I NEVER drank Fuki or anything else around Marti, or anybody, ever again. That whole bit ended my drinking career. But at least it got me Marti…for a while.
            So to this day, never drank hard liquor, never smoked a cigarette or weed, and have never, EVER taken illegal drugs! I’ll never forget when I moved from Brooklyn to Durham, NC in August 1981, folks were so amazed that I was from New York and didn’t have any of those vices, they weren’t sure what to make of me.
            But I did have other health vices for sure. I loved sugar, loved cakes with all the icing I could muster, loved fried foods… jut loved food PERIOD, and didn’t care how much of it I ate. I was an emotional eater. That caused my weight to yo-yo like crazy. One day I was Denzel Washington; the next I was worse than Mo’nique (before she lost all of that weight, but kept all of her mouth).
            I’ll never forget after Hurricane Fran in 1996 after the power went out, I was drinking so many sweet fruit drinks, my girlfriend at the time forced me to go to Duke Health Clinic in Durham to get tested because I was sick to my stomach, but didn’t want to see a doctor. That’s when I found out that my blood sugar was 830! Doctor told me to my face I should be dead, and told me straight that I will be by the weekend because my high sugar was breaking down the organs in my body. She sent me immediately to Duke Hospital to have them bring my sugar down through IV. I cried and cried, and cried, but I thanked my girlfriend for loving me enough to fuss me to the doctor’s office.
            Since then my health has been up and down, highlighted recently by the stroke in my left leg in November 2014 (still rehabbing from that), and of course the acute leukemia diagnosis in March 2016 (I’m in remission now, and hope to stay that way).
            In the past few months, I prayed and prayed, realized that I was killing myself, and decided, with GOD’s blessing and grace, to change my attitude about life, my future, and me. Thus far, I’ve lost over thirty pounds; I no longer eat breads, sweets (except fruits): eat a romaine salad a day with a protein (fish or chicken), and plenty of water.
            I exercise at the gym Monday through Saturday to build muscle in my legs, and improve my walking. I attend church every Sunday and Wednesday now without fail. And I work hard to be happy, ridding myself of all of the dark things that made me succumb to the negative.
            So yes, I’m healthier now in more ways than one, but6 am I in good health. No. I’m still morbidly obese, but I working on it. I am under 290 pounds for the first time in years, and I’m headed towards 270. Once I get there, I’ll see how I feel, and then go to 250. Ideally, I’ll stop at 220 pounds.
            The bottom line is at age 61, I owe this physical, spiritual and emotional transformation to myself, and two my children. I want to see my youngest daughter graduate from the high school she just started. I want to see my oldest daughter make it big in television production as she’s striving to do.
            I need to be alive and well and SEE IT ALL, and with GOD’s blessing, I will!
            COUNT ON IT!


            [WILMINGTON] The State Attorney General’s Office and Chemours, the plant that has been discharging the chemical GenX into the Cape Fear River for years, apparently polluting the drinking supply for the New Hanover county region, entered into a consent order agreement in Bladen county Superior Court last week. The deal compels Chemours to officially cease the discharge of GenX and byproducts of another chemical, Nafion, into the Cape Fear. Chemours also agreed to provide the state with confidential documents about its chemicals. The company moved quickly to comply because there was evidence that it misled the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality per its discharge permits as to what it was releasing into the Cape Fear. Local officials consider the consent order a “positive development.”

            [CHARLOTTE] In a primary election surprise Mayor pro tem Vi Lyles defeated incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. With only an eight-percent citywide turnout, Lyles, a former city budget director and assistant city manager, won in every section of the Queen City. She will now face Republican Kenny Smith in November.

            [RALEIGH] Based on information released this week by the US Census Bureau, the rate of North Carolinians without health insurance dropped to an historic low of just 10.4 percent in 2016. Ironically, that rate would have been even lower had the Republican-led NC General Assembly had extended Medicaid coverage to over 500,000 of the more than one million North Carolinians who don’t have health coverage. The Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2014, has dropped the number of uninsured in North Carolina from a high of 15.6 percent.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017


By Cash Michaels

IRONIES OF IRONIES: At the time of this writing (Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.), former Pres. Barack Obama had not written a response to his successor’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Obama stated during his administration, otherwise known as “DACA.”
“DACA offered protection for young people who were brought to the United States as young children, the vast majority of whom know no other home than the United States,” NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) said in a statement Tuesday. “Today, President Trump has failed to “show great heart” to the hundreds of thousands of young people whose lives are now in peril with the announcement that his Administration will end the DACA program.  All DACA recipients grew up in America, are registered with our government, and have passed extensive background checks.  More than 95 percent of DACA recipients are in school or in the workforce.”
“I am saddened by President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program because it will devastate lives, tear apart families, and disrupt our local communities.  I am an original sponsor of bipartisan immigration reform legislation that would create a path to permanent legal status for Dreamers, and I call on Speaker Ryan to do the right thing and immediately bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Thus far we’ve heard a lot of lip service from Republicans, who are supposedly up in arms about Trump’s dumping of DACA too, so let’s see what happens. But back to Obama.
Recently there’s been a lot of desperate talk about Pres. Obama climbing bad into the rhetorical political fray, commenting from time to time about the outrageous and outlandish behavior of Pres. Trump.
Lots of people now see Obama as a principled man of reason who is highly respected. There are even some who wish openly that he would come back as president of the United States (he can’t, thanks to the US Constitution).
While some literally beg for Obama to come back to the national limelight to sort of balance the scales, there are others who counter that the 44th president of the United States should stay out of the limelight, no matter how tempting it may be to want to cuss Donald Trump out in that very special way that only an ex-president and a black man could.
The naysayers say if Obama were to climb right back into the lion’s den of political inequity, that might be exactly what Trump wants. Outside of “Crooked Hillary” there’s no one Trump would love to get into a public rumble with than the man Trump once openly accused of having a phony birth certificate.
Having someone special to consistently bash is Trump’s stock and trade. He’s got to have someone on a daily basis – be it the media (specifically CNN), the Democrats, or of course, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
And that’s probably the reason why Barack Obama, clearly a dignified man, should not publicly engage in a peeing contest The Donald. What is there for him to gain? How would doing so be healthy for his legacy? Who does Obama lead now who would benefit in the end?
More importantly, the former president has earned his time off. He’s sacrificed tremendously for the eight years he spent in office, and deserves, long with his wife Michelle, to live an enjoy life.
Sure Obama can tweet every once in a while, even playfully bait Trump, to remind him who the real president is.
Oh look, it’s 3 p.m. Tuesday, and a statement from the ex-president just came across the wire regarding Trump’s dumping of DACA!
“What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray.  What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation.  That’s how America has traveled this far.  That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”
Amen, Mr. Former President. Amen.
And thanks!

                                                          ATTY. ANITA EARLS

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            To many legal experts, it’s hard to believe that Republican legislative leaders deliberately redrew new voting maps for the state House and Senate – as ordered by a three-judge federal court – without incorporating race as one of the nine criteria guiding the process. Afterall, it was the abusive, and according to the US Supreme Court, illegal use of race by Republican mapmakers in drawing the 2011 redistricting plan that earned the ire of the federal court – namely the stacking and packing of black voters into 28 of 170 districts across the state in order to severely weaken their influence in legislative races, thus giving the GOP super-majorities in both houses.
            Legal experts considered it “…the worst racial gerrymander in the country.”
            So unpacking the problem by totally ignoring the abused element does little to render a satisfactory, let alone legal solution, many observers are saying, and they expect to hear that from the three-judge panel now that the redrawn maps have been submitted for review.
            “It might be that you’re sending a message to this three-judge panel that you don’t take judicial letters very seriously, and that is not a message that I want to be part of,” Dan Blue, Senate Minority Leader (D-Wake), told Republicans during Senate debate last week. “If you haven’t solved [the racial gerrymander], the three-judge panel will solve it for you.”
“The Voting Rights Act requires consideration of race in certain circumstances so as not to ‘dilute’ the political power of racial minorities,” Illya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies with the Cato Institute, and editor-in-chief of the Cato Institute Supreme Court Review, told the conservative Carolina Journal.
At least 40 counties in North Carolina are legally under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, requiring that black voters in those counties be able to elect their own representatives. Republicans say that’s what they were making sure was done with the 2011 maps, but the courts countered that they went too far.
Legislative Republican leaders, like Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), co-chair of the House Redistricting Committee, insists that federal court order on the redrawing of the districts was clear. "The only way to comply," Lewis said, "is not to consider race in that process.”
“What the court said is in writing, and it’s not really open to interpretation,” countered Anita Earls, founder and executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and an attorney representing the plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the GOP’s 2011 legislative maps in Covington v. the State of North Carolina.
“The notion that [Republicans] have some understanding that the court told them not to look at race, that’s just not true,” she maintained. “It’s really just lying. It’s in this alternative universe where we can say whatever we want to and facts don’t matter.”
Earls continued that in its order to draw districts the court said, “Any district that you draw at greater than fifty percent black, tell us why you believed it was necessary to draw the district at that percentage black. There’s no way this legislature can comply with that order unless they look at race. So this notion that we don’t want to look at race because the court told us [not to]…that’s just open defiance of what the court actually did tell them to do.”
“This theme that [Republicans] are going to be “colorblind,” well we’re not foolish. Those of us who’ve been advocating for racial justice have long known that this notion of “being colorblind is the way that you remedy discrimination, and reverse the decades of racial discrimination that black people have experienced in this country…,” well, we know that that’s a lie,” atty. Earls said.
 “And that is the lie that they’re perpetuating, right now today, as they try to assert that they’re not looking at race, and the court told them not to look at race.”
Earls maintains that now even the redrawn maps are “…illegal under the state and federal constitutions.”
Earls says Guilford and Cumberland counties are at least two on the new Senate legislative maps where race “…continued to dominate.” On the House side, both Wake and Mecklenburg county districts were redrawn, but should not have been because there was no legal authority to do so.
Atty. Earls is reluctant to predict what exactly the three-judge federal court will ultimately do once it reviews the newly submitted GOP maps for review (the court could order a special master to redraw them), but she did promise one thing.
“What I can predict with certainty is that the plaintiffs in this case, and the plaintiffs in the NAACP [redistricting] case pending in state court, are committed to pursuing vindication of their rights as long as they can.”
She added that the extreme partisan gerrymandering the Republicans engaged in hasn’t been ruled illegal yet (the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Wisconsin case about that in October), but she’s glad that a large coalition of progressive groups have come together to help fight the North Carolina case on that same issue.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Now that Congress is back in session, there are plenty of issues that lawmakers must address, including raising the national debt ceiling; financial relief for Texas after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey; and paying for that wall Pres. Trump still insists Mexico will ultimately underwrite…one way or another.
            But amid that spoken agenda, is intense behind-the-scenes strategizing on the part of the 49-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to have Republican President Donald J. Trump impeached.
            “When members return to Congress in September, the CBC will have a robust discussion on #Impeachment,” an August 22nd tweet from the CBC announced.
            Impeaching a US president is the process in which a legislative body (constitutionally the US House) formally levels serious charges (indictments) against a sitting commander-in-chief. It is the first step towards the removal of a president from office. If a president is to be removed (or effectively convicted of said charges), then the US Senate votes accordingly. The most recent president to be impeached was Bill Clinton in December 1998, but the Senate acquitted Clinton in February 1999.
            While things went sour fast between the CBC and Pres. Trump shortly after he took office in January, it was Trump’s moral equivocation between armed white supremacists and mostly unarmed counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. on August 12th – a violent confrontation which resulted in the alleged murder of a counter-protester with a car driven by a neo-Nazi – that convinced members of the CBC, along with many Democrat and Republican colleagues, that neither Trump, nor key officials in his administration, possessed the moral standing to lead the nation.
            And several days later, when the president doubled-down on his position by calling white nationalists “fine people,” the outrage from the CBC could not be contained.
            “You can make an argument based on pure competency and fitness to serve, and that’s the conversation the caucus will have,” CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), told reporters during a teleconference two weeks ago, noting that the CBC was also committed to ridding white supremacists from the federal government, and certainly from the Trump administration.
             “I never thought I would see the day when the president of the United States would openly defend white supremacists,” Rep. Richmond later said in a statement. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to hold this president accountable.” 
North Carolina’s two black congresspeople were also outraged, and joined the CBC chair in saying so.
            “President Trump has tragically become the divisive demagogue we feared he would be,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) in an August 16th statement, in which she also called Trump’s comments “erratic and despicable.”
“Upon election, he took a sacred oath to represent every American, regardless of race, religion, or creed yet sadly President Trump has failed at this most basic responsibility. Instead of being a steady leader in a time of national crisis, he has recklessly turned to the podium to once again make a mockery of the Presidency and of the citizens he swore to serve.” 
“We can no longer justify or tolerate these actions,” Rep. Adams continued. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what this President has failed to do. It is time for us to stand united and resolute in our efforts to fight racism, bigotry, and hate. In the absence of a true leader, Congress must step up and defend our progress, unify our nation, and hold this administration accountable.” 
Rep. Adams’ Tar Heel colleague, Rep. G, K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), the immediate past chairman of the CBC, was equally disturbed.
“I was disappointed that President Trump waited two days before specifically condemning the Charlottesville terror attack and the violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups,” Butterfield said in an August 15th statement. “His failure to not immediately and powerfully condemn these terror groups by name was a clear message that he is supportive of or indifferent to their cause based on ideology or politics, either of which is unacceptable for an American president.”
Members of the CBC had met with Trump in March after he was inaugurated, but in June, they decided to cancel a followup meeting, saying that not only did they not see any evidence that he had acted on any of the important issues they had initially discussed, but that there was evidence of White House policies that would “affirmatively hurt Black communities.”
One such example was a followup conference the president is planning to have with the presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities soon. The first was held last February.
Both representatives Richmond, and Adams, who is the co-chair of the HBCU Bi-partisan Caucus in Congress, asked Trump to cancel that gathering in the aftermath of his controversial comments about Charlottesville.
Richmond said the president’s remarks showed he has little concern for the welfare of black students or their communities.
“Not only do I think it should be postponed, it shouldn’t have been happening in the first place,” Richmond told reporters. “This White House isn’t serious about improving our HBCUs…They brought all those HBCU presidents to town, they took a picture in the Oval Office, and then they did nothing.”
Adams had equal condemnation.
"HBCU leaders came to the White House in February and presented a substantive and well-thought-out agenda with specific action-items for the administration to pursue immediately. Almost 180 days later, nothing has happened and no response has been given. It would be more productive to hear from the President directly or from his Secretary of Education about what progress they are making on the HBCUs' request before asking Presidents to come back to Washington for another photo-op.
Rep. Adams added, “I call on the President and [Education] Secretary DeVos to postpone this year’s conference until a serious effort has been made to advance issues important to HBCUs and their students.”
Apparently, due to a large number of cancelled appearances by HBCU officials, the conference, while is still scheduled, has been “downsized,” published reports say.
There were Democratic Party calls for Pres. Trump to be shown the door long before Chairman Richmond and the CBC joined the fray. Both Texas Rep. Al Green and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (who recently spoke to the Durham Committee of the Affairs of Black People) have called for the impeachment of Trump (Green has actually drafted articles of impeachment on charges of obstruction), based largely on allegations of campaign collusion with the Russians stemming from the 2016 presidential campaign. An ongoing US Justice Dept. investigation is still probing those allegations.
“Am I concerned about high crimes and misdemeanors? Absolutely,” CBC Chair Richmond told reporters two weeks ago. “Am I concerned about this president’s fitness to serve? Absolutely.”
When asked last week if they agreed with their CBC chairman about the need for Pres. Trump’s impeachment, Congresswoman Adams said, “Like many people, I, too, am beginning to question if this President has the moral compass and capacity to lead.”
And Rep. Butterfield added, “It seems like a daily occurrence that Democrats, Republicans and the entire world are shocked by the president’s impulsive, divisive and dangerous behavior. “
“As investigations move forward regarding the Trump Administration’s ties to the Russian government,” Rep. Butterfield continued, “the evidence of unlawful collusion and the need for removal of this President appear to increase by the day.”


[WILMINGTON] Gov. Cooper’s administration filed suit Tuesday against Chemours, the Dupont-owned chemical company found to be allegedly polluting the Cape Fear River with GenX and other pollutants, from its Fayetteville plant upstream effectively poisoning the region’s water supply. It is believed that both companies have been discharging chemicals into the Cape Fear for nearly 40 years, though the practice was only made public this past June.
            Chemours was informed by letter from the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that its permit to operate will be pulled in 60 days unless it stops its “ongoing misrepresentations and inadequate disclosures” pertaining to the dumping of GenX  and other chemicals into the Cape Fear.
            Researchers are still trying to determine what the long-term effects of drinking the contaminated water are.
            While in recent Special Session, the Republican-led NC General Assembly appropriated $435,000 to help state agencies further investigate the GenX crisis. However Democratic lawmakers blasted the move, suggesting that it wasn’t nearly enough to adequately deal with the problem.
            Ass all of his was unfolding came evidence that the DEQ under then Gov. Pat McCrory in fact knew about the GenX pollution problem as recently as November 2016, but said nothing to the incoming Cooper Administration about it.
            According to published reports, Sec. Donald van der Vaart was in charge then before Gov. Cooper appointed Michael Regan as his successor. According to an Aug. 14th letter from DEQ and the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services to state House nd Senate leadership in November of last year, ““the previous administration” received a research report from the EPA and NC State University scientists regarding the Cape Fear watershed. This study, conducted in part by NC State professor Detlaf Knappe, showed GenX was present in the Lower Cape Fear and in untreated water at the Cape Fear utility. In 2013, the researchers found average levels of 631 parts per trillion of GenX in 37 samples of untreated water,” NC Policywatch recently reported. “The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority received the same study in May 2016, according to the letter.”
            Emails between officials in the McCrory Administration about the GenX pollution report have also been released.