Saturday, December 31, 2016


By Cash Michaels

HAPPY NEW YEAR – My prayers join your prayers in hoping for all that’s holy that this is a blessed and peaceful new year, and that Almighty GOD will keep us safe.
MORE TO IT, ANTHONY – In a recent interview, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a self described “liberal elitist,” said it was the fault of folks like him that
white working class Americans were so angry this past presidential election, causing them to vote Donald Trump into office.
            Bourdain accused liberal elitists like himself of having “utter contempt” for these working class people. Upon seeing this, I responded with the following on my Facebook page:
            Here's my problem with this - I'm certainly NOT an elitist, very much believe in the common man and consider myself one of them. And yes, I've had my share of problems with uppity liberals who enjoy patting accomplished black folks like myself on the head and telling us, "You know, you really are very articulate!"
MEMO TO OTHER IGNORANT LIBERALS OUT THERE - only children are told to their faces that they're "very articulate," NOT grown men and women of color!
But the reason why so many of those "God-fearing, Bible-toting, gun-loving" folks are usually the butt of many jokes, is because many (not all) are also racist, and allow slicksters in the Republican Party to use their racial bias to convince them to vote against their own interests, and it's darn sickening to see!
These people are convinced that black folks "have all the rights they need and are trying to take mine." These people rally around the false cries of "taking BACK THEIR country" and "making America great AGAIN." These are the folks who swallowed the pure b.s. of a man who has done nothing but taken advantage of them by building his empire on cheap foreign labor. Even the so-called "christians" of the bunch voted for this man, believing that despite clear and indisputable evidence that the only "God" he believes in is himself, he'll give them an America based on Christian principles.
No, I'm sorry. The America I've worked hard to bring about is one where all men and women are respected and cherished, because they're children of GOD! Where unless the laws of man are violated, I do not sit in judgment of others, provided their words and actions do not threaten my freedom, to embrace my own.
And I certainly don't respect those who lie, and KNOW they're lying, just for the sake of obtaining more power, at the expense of my freedom, and the freedom of others. 
[On January 20th]…we are going to feel a cold wind blow across this land, and the people who will certainly be among those who will most suffer are those who were once again suckered to install people who, despite all of their claims to the contrary, do NOT believe in a free and just America, but rather an America where the power to dominate and rule with an iron fist is the coin of the realm, and the top priority of all likeminded. Decency, statesmanship, honesty will all become obsolete. The law will mean absolutely nothing! Fairness and sacrifice will mean nothing! Patriotism will be redefined by those who only wish to deceive, and have no interest in freeing people's minds and hearts.
No, I'm not letting true liberal elitists off the hook for their vulgarities, but the mindless minions who elected Trump, and have backed hate mongering right-wingers ever since Pres. Obama's election, have done more to cripple this country than anybody I can think of. In my book, I owe them NO apologies. My community has had to suffer for generations because of their ignorance.
As far as I'm concerned, if they're so darn angry about being so gullible and dumb to allow this country to drift towards the hell that they've created, then as far as I'm concerned, they might as well drift right along with it!



                                                               KRISTI JONES

By Cash Michaels

            Shortly after 12 midnight Saturday evening, Democrat Roy Cooper was sworn-in as North Carolina’s 75th governor.
            By Tuesday afternoon, keeping a campaign promise to form a diverse administration and Cabinet, Gov. Cooper announced his first two secretary-nominees. One of them, Michael Regan, is an African-American, and Cooper’s pick to head up the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality.
            Regan is a ten-year veteran of the US Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. and the Research Triangle Park until 2008. In February of that year, Regan served as National Director of Energy Efficiency and Southeast Climate & Energy Policy, and then Associate Vice President, US Climate and Energy & Southeast Regional Director, for the Environmental Defense Fund in Raleigh until July 2015.
            In September 2016, Michael Regan founded M. Regan & Associates in Raleigh “…to help organizations find transformational solutions for the most important energy, environmental and economic challenges.”
            Regan hails from eastern North Carolina, and is an alumnus of N.C. A&T University in Greensboro.
            "Michael Regan has the environmental background to know that protecting state resources is vital to our state's health and economic climate," Gov. Cooper told reporters Tuesday. "He also has the government experience and diplomacy to understand that working together is the way to get things done."
            Regan pledged to build a good working relationship with state lawmakers and industry, as well as the environmental community, which hailed his appointment.
            However, there are some Republican legislators who may have problems with Regan’s appointment, given that the Environmental Defense Fund and NC General Assembly have clashed in the past over laws that freed up many businesses from environmental regulation.
            Objections to Regan’s past stances on environmental policy might be raised when the state Senate begins its confirmation process of Gov. Cooper’s incoming appointed Cabinet officers.
            Members of the Senate will look forward to reviewing the qualifications of Gov. Cooper’s cabinet nominees and exercising their constitutional authority to vet them during the upcoming long session,” said Senate President Pro tem Sen. Phil Berger [R-Rockingham] in a statement.
            One Cooper administration appointee not needing Senate approval is Chief of Staff Kristi Jones, the first African-American woman ever to hold that position in North Carolina state government. Jones served in a similar capacity for many years under Cooper when he was state attorney general. When Cooper won last November’s election, Jones helped to head up his gubernatorial transition team, which included issuing letters to many of former Gov. Pat McCrory’s Cabinet and administration officers advising them that December 31st, 2016 was their last official day in office, and thanking them for their service.
            Gov. Cooper’s inauguration is scheduled for Saturday, January 7th in front of the State archives Building on Jones Street in Raleigh.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On January 4th, Wake Superior Court Judge Michael Rivers Morgan was sworn-in as the newest associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Morgan will serve an eight-year term on the seven-member court, and as a Democrat, his addition now shifts the court to a 4-3 Democrat majority.
            Supreme Court associate justices review court records generated during lower court proceedings to determine what errors in law, if any, occurred.
            To most political observers, and many Republican leaders, the expectation now is that Justice Morgan, 60, the only African-American male who will be serving, will automatically side with his party on partisan issues that come before the court.
            “Not true,” those who know, and have worked with Mike Morgan, say.  They laud him as a skilled legal practitioner who believes in fairness and impartiality, based on the merits of the case, not politics. It is this standard by which Morgan has built and maintained a stellar judicial career, they add, and by all accounts, he is expected to continue down this path while serving on the highest court in the state.
            A quick look at one of Morgan’s most high profile cases, particularly in Wake County where he has presided for many years, gives some sense of his judgment.
            In July 2016, Judge Morgan rejected a petition from Republican state lawmakers to either dismiss a challenge to the 2013 voter ID law that it violated the North Carolina Constitution, or send it to state three-judge panel for a decision. Instead, Morgan signed an order sending the case, which was different from its federal counterpart, to trial.
            The question before Morgan was what are the eligibility requirements to vote in North Carolina, according to the state Constitution, and did the voter ID law violate the Constitution by requiring state-issued photo ID?
            By effectively maintaining control of the case through trial, Judge Morgan indicated that he felt the constitutional challenge was valid. Conservatives disagreed, and tried to force Morgan off the case before trial started in September. The Civitas institute alleged that it was a conflict of interest because he was also running for the NC Supreme Court and would benefit from the exposure of such a high profile case. But Judge Morgan got the go-ahead from the NC Judicial Standards Commission, and refused to step down.
 In a statement from the bench detailing why he wasn’t stepping down during a court hearing, Judge Morgan did not name his accusers, or even say that he was running for another office, as to not be accused of using the court to campaign for office. The trial was ultimately postponed until the federal appellate court’s decision, and an appeal to the US Supreme Court was exhausted.
            “As a dedicated community member with a strong commitment to his church, Mike understands what ordinary families are going through and he has a track record of administering fair and impartial justice,” President Obama said of Judge Morgan in October right before the election.
           “He’s got the experience, temperament and judgment to serve the people of North Carolina on the Supreme Court.”
            Last week, colleague Orange Superior Court Judge Carl Fox called Justice Morgan “…fair, hard working and a conscientious judge with a wealth of experience.” Others in North Carolina’s legal profession have lauded Morgan for his integrity and being “beyond reproach.”
            I have known Justice Morgan since he became a lawyer in North Carolina,” says attorney Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, and chairman of the NC NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee. “He entered the legal profession with an outstanding reputation as a highly intelligent litigator and as a great person.”
“As a youth growing up in New Bern, he was properly seasoned as a tremendous human being by parents who expected and demanded the very best of conduct from him. Over the years, that reputation increased, and was shared by more and more people due to his outstanding legal advocacy which always evidenced an understanding of the law and the rights of people with whom he encountered.,” Prof. Joyner continued.
For the first time in North Carolina history, Justice Morgan’s addition to the state’s High Court, along with Associate Justice Cheri Beasley, who was elected in 2014,  means there are now two African-Americans serving there at the same time.
Even though Morgan is very much aware of the this historical significance, he said it was important in that his election added a valuable perspective to the court’s  deliberations – that of an experienced black male – which was certainly needed.
“In every respect, he was professional and exhibited a calming and knowing demeanor,” atty. Joyner continued about his colleague Mike Morgan’s legal career. This same calm and highly skilled demeanor followed and guided his work as a Superior Court Judge. His outstanding work was recognized by citizens as he was regularly re-elected to that position.”
Joyner ended by saying Justice Morgan was “the ideal person” to now join the North Carolina Supreme Court.



            [ROLESVILLE] The SBI is leading the investigation into why a Rolesville police school resource officer picked up a teenage female student at Rolesville High School Tuesday morning, and, according to a cellphone video posted on Twitter, slammed her bodily to the ground, before picking her up and taking her off. The student has been identified as Jasmine Darwin, and her friends say she was trying to break up a fight between her sister and someone else, when Officer Ruben De La Santos came out of nowhere and allegedly assaulted Darwin. The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave. Ms. Darwin was taken to the hospital Tuesday night by her mother.

            [FAYETTEVILLE] For the first time since 1994, Cumberland County has a new sheriff. The County Board of Commissioners named Chief Deputy Ennis Wright to the top post Tuesday, making him the first African-American ever to serve in that capacity. Sheriff Wright is a 23-year veteran of the Cumberland County force, a Fayetteville native, and retired US Army sergeant. He completes the unfinished term of long time predecessor Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler, who officially retired Saturday, Dec. 31st.

            [RALEIGH] Former state Sen. Josh Stein [D – Wake] was sworn-in as the new NC Attorney General Sunday at 12 noon. Stein, who used to work in the office under
predecessor-now Gov. Roy Cooper in the consumer protection division. “I’ll work closely with communities across the state to ensure that I’m hearing from North Carolinians about how best I can serve them,” Stein said in a statement.

            [RALEIGH] Last week, then Gov.-elect Roy Cooper filed a lawsuit calling the GOP-led legislature’s law combining the state Board of Elections and the State Ethic Commission in order to undermine his authority over the state elections process as unconstitutional. This week, the State Ethics Commission met, and decided to fight Cooper’s lawsuit with lawyers from the state Attorney General’s Office. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wake Superior Court today.


                                               CEO/CFO JOHN L. SWAINE


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
            Since it opened to the public on February 1, 2010, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM) in Greensboro has been besieged with more negative headlines than not.
            “Sit-in museum owes $933,155 in loan repayment by 2018.”
            “Audit reports debt and loss for civil rights museum; director disagrees.”
            “Greensboro civil rights museum owes $57K in property taxes.”
            Through it all, ICRCM CEO/CFO John L. Swaine has battled back, reminding all of the profound significance of the civil rights museum, the unique place in North Carolina, national and world history that it forever holds, and the tremendous economic and civic contributions it has made to downtown Greensboro and the state since its founding in 1994 by Melvin “Skip” Alston and Earl Jones.
            Even the former Chief Operations Officer, Bayard P. Love, in an open letter published locally in March of last year, stated, “In my opinion, the majority of local media coverage regarding ICRCM’s financial position has been unclear, at best.”
            “…[R]ecent and historic coverage has clearly misled consumers as to the true financial status, challenges and successes of the organization,” Love added.
            Owned by the private, nonprofit Sit-in Movement, Inc., the museum is listed as the top attraction for visitors to see in Greensboro by the travel website TripAdvisor.  As part of the United States Civil Rights Trail, ICRCM has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the National Park Service.
            As we have demonstrated persistence and success up to this crucial stage, against continuing odds, we will remain a dynamic presence in this historic place for the community and as a resource for educators, students, and lifelong learners,” vowed Swaine in a recent 2016 appeal letter to museum supporters.
            With a small, but dedicated staff of four full-time and seven part-time employees serving over 70,000 visitors from around the world annually, Swaine says given all of the obstacles the ICRCM has faced, it is committed, in the spirit of the movement, to “overcome.”
That means the museum will continue to boldly represent the proud civil rights legacy sparked by the courage of four African-American N.C. A&T University students - Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair (Jibreel Khazan), Franklin McCain and David Richmond - who defied segregation laws fifty-seven years ago, when they demanded service at the “whites only” lunch counter of the downtown F. W. Woolworth store – the very site and building where the ICRCM sits now, and where the original lunch counter is still on display.  
ICRCM has every intention of growing, and becoming even more of an international symbol of human dignity, and justice, Swaine promises.
            And yet, those obstacles have been significant.
            In a December 18, 2016 email response to officials with Duke Energy regarding a $19,781.38 outstanding utility bill, Swaine wrote, “As you are aware, a number of organizations have pulled back support for the institution, as a direct result of negative news coverage which has made it more difficult to seek support.” Swaine , who indicated that ICRCM had just sent in an $11,730.00 partial payment, asked that a scheduled utility service disconnection be postponed while he raised an additional $8,000 to forestall any further action.
            Swaine says the museum has paid Duke Energy, which now controls the facility’s electricity and gas, over $1.2 million for service through the years, but still squabbles when it comes to making sizable donations to the institution.
It vexes him that other well-known museums across the state are treated much differently by the corporate community, which gives”… large amounts of support to some similarly situated museums, and not others.”
            Because the ICRCM does not attract the big million dollar contributions like other facilities that do not share its uniqueness, Swaine says he spends most of his time fundraising, writing grants, and cutting costs where possible, all the while developing new programming to keep the museum alive and relevant. Swaine credits “employee and institutional enthusiasm” and commitment for keeping the doors open during tough times.
            “How do we take this institution, that really stands for something significant in this town [as] it attracts people from across the world who want to come to Greensboro for the sole purpose of studying human rights and civil rights. If any other city had an organization in its midst that attracted people from across the globe, they would put money there to make sure that it had what it takes to have a proper curatorial department, proper programming every month, have proper monies to operate,” said Swaine.
            “This is a challenge for me.”
            And it doesn’t help that there has been vocal opposition to the very existence of the ICRCM from politicians.
            During a 2015 Greensboro City Council candidates’ forum for mayor and At-large, then-mayoral candidate Devin King, who is black, alarmed many by suggesting that the civil rights museum be moved to the Greensboro Historical Museum, and the F.W. Woolworth building be instead used for commercial purposes.
            Referring to the museum, King, who eventually lost his bid, said “…there has been nothing but negative from it.”
            It also didn’t help when officials in the city administration, including the city manager (who serves on the ICRCM board) and Councilman Mike Barber, among others on the City Council, have also thrown shade on the viability of the civil rights museum. Mayor Nancy Vaughn even raised the prospect of the city taking the museum over.
The council gave ICRCM a $1.5 million forgivable loan in 2013, with the final payment installment now due by February 2018. Yet there has been controversy about the timeliness of the payments.
            “I see this place as being singled out, and it’s unfortunate that I have to say it, but it seems like [the ICRCM] is just being shoved to the side in anticipation of a shutdown,” the CEO/CFO says, noting how he’s always being asked about “how stressful” managing the museum must be by those who could easily write a check to help, but don’t.
            “I don’t think they would do this to any other organization,” Swaine said, later adding, “If you are not supporting the culture in your city, then how can you say that you are part of the social fabric?”
            The Virginia native recalls working with top educators in the Guilford County Public School System to design lesson plans for elementary and middle school students as an extension of the museum’s educational outreach, had the work endorsed by educational leaders from grade school to university, and even the state superintendent of Public Instruction, only to have a foundation which initially showed strong interest, to reject it for some dubious reason.
            Swaine, who joined the museum in 2009 first as a director of finance and administration, acknowledges that in earlier years ICRCM had a turnover in management, and some foundations and corporations still use that as a reason not  to generously fund its operations. But as a certified public accountant, he insists that every dollar raised has been accounted for, and proper austerity measures have been put in place to maintain costs at bare minimum, which is why he has been serving both as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the museum since 2014.
            In fact, Swaine was recognized in 2013 as one of Triad Business Journal’s Financial Executives of the Year when he was just the CFO. Still, it was one of the rare times local Greensboro media has lauded the ICRCM for much.
            As indicated before, a large part of the museum’s negative perception problems were because of inaccurate news coverage and inflammatory editorials by local media. Swaine says the major paper in the market has been the source of much of the confusion in recent years, but recently has moderated its stance, even issuing a public apology recently for incorrectly reporting that ICRCM owed “close to $26 million,” which was never true.
            “Many of these folks do not understand an audit or a balance sheet, or anything like that. They do not understand it,” Swaine said, noting that all of the museum’s current debts add up to less than $1.3 million.
            Indeed last August, the museum retired the $35.6 million in tax credits that funded the rehabilitation of the F.W. Woolworth building by paying off the annual $196,000 debt service.
            The ICRCM’s Carolina Bank loan is the biggest part of that $776,000 from a $4 million note in 2009.
            Recent local headlines that there are plans to purchase a second building, based on a profitable October, are untrue, Swaine says. The museum board has “never’ discussed purchasing more property in his presence, he insists. There have been discussions outside of board meetings about the need for additional office space, but those conversations have never reached board level.
            “I assure you, there is no intention to go out and buy another building,” Swaine insists, also knocking down recent reports of Rev. Jesse Jackson wanting to donate his civil rights papers once a new building was had.
            Several years ago, Swaine said Jackson raised the possibility during a museum walk-through with a former director, but nothing was ever formally discussed or finalized since then. Rev. Jackson also attended NC A&T University during the 1960s.
            “It’s taken long time to raise a little bit of money to meet short-term obligations,” Swaine says,” and we will be operating very responsibly.”
            What is a priority now, besides retiring lingering debt, is getting the ICRCM properly accredited, Swaine says. He also sees stabilizing finances, and attracting sizable endowments as key goals.
            For 2017, CEO/CFO Swaine sees increasing fundraising efforts based on having a strong handle on “expected costs” of museum operations.
            On Feb. 1st, the 57th anniversary of the Woolworth sit-in, the museum is planning for a local telethon. Its annual gala is scheduled for Feb. 4th where civil rights veteran Diane Nash, and Congressman G. K. Butterfield will be honored, among others.
Further staff training and growth are also needed as more exhibits and programs are developed and the civil rights struggles, and new social movements from around the world are explored. An international gallery is also on the drawing board for funding. All of this and more is planned for the “second stage” of the ICRCM’s founding as a national and international museum.
            “I want to grow the institution from the ground up,” says Swaine, “and have a firm foundation for every step that we take.”