Tuesday, June 27, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            BUDGET OF DESTRUCTION – By the time you read this, the compromise budget for fiscal year 2017-18 will most likely have been vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, and that veto will have been overridden by both the Republican-led state House and Senate.
            In his remarks before wielding the veto pen, the Democratic governor called the $23 billion budget “small-minded.”
            The online dictionary defines “small-minded” as  “having or showing rigid opinions or a narrow outlook; narrow-mindedpettymean-spiriteduncharitableclose-minded…”  You get the picture.
            Yes, the Republicans tout the budget as giving teachers and state employees raises, providing disaster relief for folks victimized by Hurricane Matthew, and of course, tax cuts for the rich.
            But then there are the areas of this new monstrosity that defy decency. So much so, that even national news publications like Slate.com can’t believe what they’re seeing.

            “This week, the General Assembly’s Republican leaders released their final budget, which includes a brazen plan to thwart the governor in several ways,” reported Slate.com last week in a story titled, “North Carolina Republicans Are Trying to Strip the Governor of His Power to Challenge Laws.”

            “First,” the story continued, “… the budget prevents Cooper from using the governor’s office attorneys without the General Assembly’s permission. Second, the budget prevents Cooper from using “lapsed salary savings”—money saved when the state pays an employee less than it had budgeted—to hire outside counsel. These provisions effectively prevent Cooper from suing the legislature to halt unconstitutional laws. In order for him to do so, the General Assembly would have to give its permission to be sued, or Cooper would have to pay private lawyers out of pocket.”
            “Republicans also added a provision to the budget mandating that the legislature participate in any suit challenging a North Carolina law. That means the General Assembly can always step into a lawsuit against the state and defend the challenged statute, even though the governor cannot—unless the General Assembly allows him to, and permits him to use his attorneys,” the Slate.com story added.
            What kind of power hungry, demonic, mean-spirited four-legged animals in sear-sucker suits do we have making laws in our state? They will do anything to grab complete power, regardless of how North Carolinians voted last November.
            And of course, if you read our front-page story about the state budget, then you read how the Republicans eliminated a $200,000 African-American heritage monument that was originally planned for under Gov. McCrory, a Republican, and replaced it with a $5,000,000 appropriation for a $65 million “Civil War History Center” to be built in Fayetteville, replacing the Cape Fear Museum there.
            And get this – according to the fundraiser for the “center,” at least $27 million has already been raised, all but $7 million is public funding, from the city of Fayetteville, the county of Cumberland, and now, the state of North Carolina.
            So while other Southern states are getting rid of their symbols of the old Confederacy, North Carolina is steadily spending taxpayer dollars to help open a $65 million museum to celebrate the legacy of the Civil War, completely eliminating the African-American history monument that has been in planning for months.
            North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber says one of the best ways to determine what’s in a lawmaker’s heart is to take a look at his budget. That tells you what his priorities are, and are not.
            Rev, I think we got the message on this one, alright!

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Responding to a powerful “Urgent Personal and Public Appeal” not to leave office until the election next October of a new NC NAACP president, the current president, Rev. William Barber, says he’s decided to indeed stay until then because of emerging issues.
            I cannot and will not seek another term as state president, but for the stability of the movement in these transitional moments, I will stay with God’s help until a new president is elected to lead the NC NAACP in October, civil rights leader said in a statement Sunday.
            Rev. Barber was responding to a June 20th open letter sent exclusively to the Black Press across the state from sixteen members of the NC NAACP’s executive committee.
 When Barber announced in May that he would be stepping down by June to join the national Poor People’s Campaign, he indicated that the NAACP Constitution already spelled out the mechanism for who would be next in line to succeed him, namely the NCNAACP’s First Vice President Carolyn Coleman of Greensboro, unless she turned it down.
Publicly, Ms. Coleman, a highly respected civil rights veteran, had not indicated whether she would accept the interim position, or actually run for the NCNAACP presidency in October.
Thus far the only announced candidate is Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, NCNAACP Third Vice President, and a Greensboro pastor.
Citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down North Carolina’s 2011 legislative redistricting as unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering in 28 voting districts, and the Republican leadership’s refusal to immediately begin redrawing the districts and planning for special elections, the appeal to Rev. Barber made it clear that this was a time when his leadership is needed the most.
“It is the urgent duty of the social justice movement, including our NAACP State Conference and its many partners, to work full time on exposing the extremists’ contempt of the Court’s orders,” the June 20th open statement said.  “This is the reason for this Personal and Public Appeal to Rev. Dr. Barber.”
Among the signees were Rev. Dr. John Mendez of Winston-Salem; Rev. Nelson and Joyce Johnson of Greensboro; atty. Al McSurely of Chapel Hill; Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler of Charlotte; and Daphne Holmes-Johnson and Kim Porter of Winston-Salem.
“I was humbled by the personal and prayerful request that my friends and mentors within the NC NAACP made public this week,” Rev. Barber replied. “I did not make the decision to consider stepping aside from my elected position this summer lightly. I've been in deep prayer and fasting about my calling to help lead the new Poor Peoples Campaign. I know this is work I must help with and attempt to guide. Of this, I have no doubt. “
“But I also know that our work here in North Carolina is critical to the work of the new Poor People’s Campaign and a national Moral Revival.”
Rev. Barber went on to say that he had the support of his family, church, the chair and vice chair of the national NAACP,  and team at his own social justice group, Repairers of the Breach, as well as the national leadership of the Poor People’s campaign.
“I can do none of this work alone. With everything in me, I believe in "WE."  We are living in serious times, and because I have heard a call from people who are committed to these serious times, I'm willing to do my part.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper, calling it “small-minded,” vetoed the compromise $23 billion budget the Republican-led NC General Assembly passed last week. The NC Senate immediately voted to override Cooper’s veto, followed by the NC House Wednesday morning. The budget is now law, but Cooper threatens to file suit to stop it.
            In touting their budget plan, Republicans have pointed towards pay raises and more tax cuts as to why they feel it’s what’s best for North Carolina.
            “I was one of the House budget writers, and [I believe] the compromised budget [between Republican conferees of the House and Senate] meets many of the needs of the people across our state,” says Rep. Donny Lambeth [R-Forsyth]. “It provides teachers with an average approximate 10 percent increase over the budget period. It provides a cost of living increase for retired state workers, it gives state workers a $1,000 increase, it invests in our pre-K programs and reduces the wait list, it provides disaster funding, adds to our savings reserve, adds more funds for school construction and helps allow families to keep more of their hard earned money.”
            “So I believe this is a solid plan for allocating state funds to important programs in North Carolina that provides so many services,” Rep. Lambeth concluded.
            Naturally, Democrats got behind Gov. Cooper’s reasoning as to why the Republican budget is a big mistake.
            Governor Cooper is right to veto the Republican Conference budget,” said Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth). “I voted against this budget because it shortchanges our state, by prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy over education and our economy.”
            Rep. Ed Hanes {D-Forsyth] joined his colleague, Sen. Lowe, in his dismissal.
            “I could not bring myself to vote for this budget,” Hanes said. “There is a profound problem with the thought that for our state to prosper, we need to further lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy. We’ve substantially done that over the last years and stand at number 3 in the country for business. Further action shifts the tax burden onto the shoulders of the poor and the middle class.
            “Trickle down economics simply does not work,” Rep. Hanes concluded.
            Rep. Cecil Brockman, Democrat of neighboring Guilford County, also blasted the GOP budget, saying that it “…shows that their top priority is slashing taxes on millionaires who should be paying their fair share while leaving our hard-working families behind.
            In terms of the financial nuts-and-bolts, there was plenty about the new budget Democrats could quibble with, especially when it came to cutting taxes, money for education, and funding for economic development in poorer counties.
            But a closer look at the GOP budget yielded yet other bones of contention.
            By now it’s well-known about $10 million being slashed from the NC Justice Dept., headed up by Democratic State atty Gen. Josh Stein. The Republicans deny  it, but Stein charges that the cut is political retribution for him winning the office last November, and siding with Gov. Cooper against the Republican legislative majority on several voting rights cases.
            Stein says he may have to lay off at least a hundred state litigators as a result, which will ultimately hurt law enforcement.
            The GOP compromise budget also cuts $1 million from Gov. Cooper’s office, and limits his ability to hire independent legal counsel to sue the General Assembly when it challenges his authority. Cooper has hinted that he will indeed file a lawsuit as a result.
            I just became aware of this latest ill-advised political power grab by the North Carolina General Assembly,” said Irving Joyner, law professor at NCCU School of Law. “This action represents just another example of the destruction of democracy in North Carolina. These right-wing extremists, who presently control the General Assembly, are intent upon dominating every aspect of life in North Carolina and have gone to great lengths to destroy the "checks and balances" which the state constitution requires. These acts should be exposed and aggressively resisted.”
But among others, there is one situation in the voluminous pages of the GOP budget that is of particular interest to African-Americans across the state.
            According to the North Carolina Democratic Party, when Gov. Cooper originally issued his budget proposal several weeks ago, included was $200,000 one-time funding for an African-American heritage monument on state Capitol grounds.
            The proposed monument, originally planned for under Gov. Pat McCrory by the NC Historical Commission and the NC African-American Heritage Commission, was the subject of numerous public hearings across the state last year.
            "I can't think of a more appropriate way to recognize the contributions of African Americans to North Carolina's history than a monument at the State Capitol," McCrory said at the time.
Republican budgetwriters, however, discarded Cooper’s monument item, and instead replaced it by appropriating $5 million for a new Civil War museum in Fayetteville.
            “Civil War Museum” is the title of item#6 under Department of Natural and Cultural Resources on Page M5 of the “Joint Conference Committee Report on the Base, Capital and Expansion Budget (Senate Bill 257)”
            Provides $2,500,000 to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to begin the process of converting the Museum of the Cape Fear (in Fayetteville) into a Civil War Museum. There is an additional $2,500,000 appropriated to the Department upon verification of $2,500,000 in private donations towards the project. The revised net appropriation for this project is $5,000,000.
            According to David Winslow, president of The Winslow Group, Inc. of Winston-Salem, the primary fundraiser for the $65 million “NC Civil War History Center” since 2014, approximately $27 million (with the state money added) has already been raised, and most of that has come from public dollars contributed by the city of Fayetteville, the county of Cumberland, and now the state of North Carolina.
            Only $7 million from private donations.
            According to the company’s website, the museum is scheduled to open in 2020. Winslow says the “center” will be different.
            “We are about telling the whole story,” Winslow said by phone on Tuesday.  “We have partnered with Fayetteville State University in what we’re doing.”
            Still, it is not clear why Republican lawmakers cut $200,000 for a state monument to African-American heritage originally started by a GOP governor, only to give twenty-five times that much for a “center” focusing on the civil war, which most historians agree was fought over slavery.
            “Budgets show what you value,” said NC Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “Governor Cooper, through his budget, outlined how important it is that our state remember and honor our shared history. Republicans clearly feel otherwise – they’d rather give their offices an upgrade. I’m not sure the difference could be any clearer: Republicans value themselves and their power, while Governor Cooper wants to see our state remember on capital grounds our full heritage.”



            [RALEIGH] A Republican-sponsored bill to redraw North Carolina’s judicial districts has been withdrawn from consideration this session, but is expected to be brought back up in the next legislative session. Rep. Justin Burr (R-Albemarle) is the sponsor of HB 717, and says that  while he introduced the measure Monday, with the short session ending possibly this week, he feels there isn’t enough time for the bill to be properly vetted. Democrats and court officials opposed the bill, with Democrat charging it was just a GOP ploy to take control of the state’s judiciary.

            [DURHAM] The man who has served as interim chancellor ever since the untimely death of Debra Saunders-White last year, is now officially the 12th chancellor of North Carolina Central University. The UNC Board of Governors officially announced that Dr. Johnson Akinleye has the job. "Dr. Akinleye is a strategic thinker and no-nonsense leader," said UNC System President Margaret Spellings. "His distinguished career includes extensive experience in senior administrative leadership roles at public, private and church-affiliated institutions. He sees building a relationship with the campus and community leaders as a priority and he understands the need to maximize the full value of being in the Research Triangle.”
            "I accept the awesome responsibility as the 12th Chancellor for North Carolina Central University with humility," said Chancellor Akinleye. "I look forward to leading NCCU in a manner that honors our mission and to working closely with UNC General Administration to fulfill the university's system-wide mission and goals that accrue to the benefit of the citizens of the great state of North Carolina.”

            [DURHAM] A Durham County deputy, who also served as a school resource officer, has been charged with several sexual offenses involving a minor. Bond for former Deputy Chris Kelly has been set for $2.5 million. He was arrested on April 28th. Investigators found explicit video chat messages Kelly had with female students, along with letters. The father of one of the victims became suspicious when he saw images of the deputy on his daughter’s phone. He turned it over to law enforcement.


No comments:

Post a Comment