Monday, July 29, 2019


                                         NC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE PAUL MARTIN NEWBY

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

An African American former member of the NC Supreme Court has now joined in the fray to blast Republican Associate Justice Paul Newby for his recent, unprovoked verbal assault on his six Democrat colleagues on the state High Court, saying that the conservative jurist’s attack was “…a threat to the rule of law.”
Patricia Timmons-Goodson, currently the vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was an associate justice on the NC Supreme Court from 2006 to 2012. Prior to that, she also served as an associate judge on the NC Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2005.
In 2012, Justice Timmons -Goodson stepped done from the state’s High Court, allowing then Gov. Beverly Perdue to appoint then District Court Judge Cheri Beasley to finish out her term.
Today, Beasley is Chief Justice, appointed to the post in February of this year by Gov. Roy Cooper. Justice Newby, the court’s most senior member and only Republican on seven-member body, angrily blasted Cooper for the appointment, and vowed to oppose Beasley for the seat in 2020.
It was at a July 13th Republican fundraiser that Newby was recorded excoriating his six Democrat colleagues as “AOCs,” the moniker given socialist Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, who is loathed by President Trump, conservatives and the Republican Party for her progressive socialist policies.
“Well, folks…,” Newby continued jokingly, according to the tape recording,”… we got six. It’s six to one…I’m the last man standing.”
Later in his remarks, Justice Newby warned, “Keep your eyes open and your ears open for the next eighteen months, and see what kind of judicial activism occurs on your North Carolina [Supreme] Court.”
Former Justice Timmons-Goodson, in an op-ed piece that ran in the Raleigh News and Observer last weekend, called Newby’s remarks “troubling,” and challenged her Republican former colleague for his indiscrete attacks on his colleagues.
It is hard to watch a current justice who wishes to lead the judiciary and justice system of our state publicly ridicule those with whom he works each day,” she wrote. “It is hard to watch our state’s high court undermined from within.”
Not long ago judges campaigned with civility,” Timmons-Goodson recalled, noting she is a 28-year veteran of the state judiciary, and a five-time candidate for judicial office. “They emphasized experience, integrity, fairness, and impartiality. Times have changed. But the need that judges campaign with dignity and reserve has not.”
“Newby’s statements about his fellow justices stepped over the line,” she continued. “A charitable reading is that the remarks highlighted philosophical differences between Newby and the other justices. A fair reading is that the remarks were not intended to be positive or a compliment in any way to his colleagues.
Noting the need for a return to the tradition of judicial collegiality, Timmons-Goodson concluded, “The Supreme Court of North Carolina is our state’s highest court, the court of last resort. To perform its constitutionally mandated function the court operates as a collegial body. Authority is vested equally in each member of the Court. Every justice is involved in every decision. Thus, cooperation, respect and trust are necessary to accomplish the work of the court.
Has Newby violated any established code of conduct for North Carolina judges? According to the NC Code of Judicial Conduct, Justice Newby seems to be in clear violation of Canon Two -  “A judge should…conduct him or herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Justice Newby has not responded to press inquiries about his July 13th remarks.
Neither Chief Justice Beasley, or any of the other Democrats on the state Supreme Court, her responded to their Republican colleague’s remarks about them.
However, Chief Justice Beasley has made it clear that she is running to retain her seat in 2020.

HISTORIC BLACK VOTING PERCENTAGES - Over 17 million Democrats voted in the 2008 primaries between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with Obama garnering upwards of over 90% of the black vote in some states. Will the black vote turn out like that again. in 2020? [file photo]

FROM 1976 TO 2020
By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

NBC News has released a new study documenting how the black vote was pivotal in many key and historic Democratic presidential primaries and elections since the election of Jimmy Carter, and how it could remain so going into the 2020 election.
Especially in North Carolina.
“Journey to power: The history of black voters, 1976 to 2020” gives “…a record of the black vote for each competitive presidential campaign…” using exit polling from states that have significant African American voting populations.
“…[T]oday black voters [have] emerged as a muscular political force,” the report, written by author and MSNBC analyst Steve Kornaki, says, adding “…In 2020, they are likely to account for at least one out of every four ballots cast in the [Democratic] party’s presidential primaries, more than tripling - and perhaps even quadrupling - the share they accounted for just a few decades ago.
Beginning in 1976, just over a decade after the 1965 Voting Rights Act was signed by then President Lyndon Baines Johnson, exit polling tells the story.
Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter faced competition for the Democratic presidential nomination from civil rights leader Julian Bond (who dropped out early due to a lack of support), and other white Democrats. But because Gov. Carter was known as a moderate Democrat who appointed many blacks to his administration, he was very popular with black voters in the South during the primaries, garnering large percentages, including 71 percent in Florida, 76 percent in Indiana, and 90 percent of African American voters in North Carolina.
That support would factor into Carter’s win for the presidency.
Four years later when Pres. Carter was running for re-election, his relations with black leaders became strained because of a bad economy. He faced a strong challenge from Sen. Ted Kennedy, who courted black voters on the strength of his brothers - Pres. John F. Kennedy and Sen. Bobby Kennedy’s legacy. 
Ultimately, black Democratic voters chose Carter, but he was ultimately defeated by California Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan. By this time, the white Southern and Northern blue collar vote had turned against Democrats.
In 1984, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson makes a run for the White House, depending on black voters to flex their power and catapult him to the Democratic Party nomination.
Against the advice, and support of established black leadership, Jackson runs, fueled by black animosity towards the conservative Republican Ronald Reagan.
In the early, whiter Democratic primary states, Jackson pulls measly single digit numbers, but in the multi-state Super Tuesday contests that swept through the South, Jackson racks up anywhere from 50 to 86% of the black vote (in North Carolina, Jackson gets 83%, and 25% of the total vote overall). Former Vice Pres. Walter Mondale ultimately wins the nomination,  but badly loses to Reagan’s re-election effort.
Still, with the Jackson candidacy, the power of his black voter showing gives the civil rights leader new standing in the Democratic Party, and leverage he uses again in 1988 when he makes his second bid for the White House, announcing from Raleigh, NC.
This time, Jackson consolidates his black supporters, and makes a grab for white voters as well to create a ‘Rainbow Coalition.’ "My message is transcending ancient barriers," Jackson said then. "Whites all over the country have opened their hearts to me.”
In the South, and particularly in North Carolina, white Democratic moderates like Gov. Jim Hunt were lining up behind Tennessee Sen. Al Gore. However, black voter registration drives in states like Alabama and Georgia delivered Jackson over 95% percent of the black vote (In North Carolina, 95% of the black vote also went to Jackson).
But up North in New York City, controversy over Jackson’s ‘Hymietown” remark about New York City Jews exploded, denying Jackson the broad support he yearned, and ultimately propelling Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis to the nomination. Vice Pres.. George H.W. Bush would ultimately defeat Dukakis behind the racist “Willie Horton” freed black convict campaign.
1992 saw the governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, overcome personal sexual controversies, and friction with Jesse Jackson, to attract large shares of the black vote (including 77% in North Carolina, which was low compared to states like Texas (86%, ) Indiana (82%) and Alabama (86%)) in the Democratic primary, to go on and defeat Pres. George H. W. Bush in the fall.
In 2000, because of their strong loyalty to two-term President Clinton, black voters got behind his vice president, Al Gore, in impressive numbers ranging from 74 to 94% from New York to Texas. But ultimately, it was the U.S. Supreme Court that “selected” the next president, George W. Bush, after an election controversy in Florida.
2004 saw black voters dismiss two black candidates - the Rev. Al Sharpton and Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate.
Black voters instead went with the party’s nominee, Sen. John Kerry, who ultimately failed to unseat Republican incumbent Pres. Bush.
2008 saw perhaps the most aggressive play for the Democratic black vote in history during primary season between favored frontrunner, NY Sen. Hilary Clinton, and the fresh-face young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
Obama had made a name for himself after delivering a stirring “One America” speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Entering 2008, there was no question that Sen. Clinton had the support of black leadership, and certainly a lion’s share of the black vote, in her back pocket.    
24 points behind (and 40 points behind Clinton with black voters), few gave Obama a chance.
But coupled with a brilliant campaign strategy that was not only inspirational (“Yes we can”), but aspirational, Obama whittled down Clinton’s overall lead with impressive wins in the lily-white Iowa caucuses against Clinton and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. That sent a strong message to the black Democrat-rich South Carolina, who embraced Obama with 78% of their vote, reverberating throughout the primary season to the decisive May 6th, 2008 North Carolina contest that saw Obama garner an amazing 94% of the black vote over Sen. Clinton, effectively cinching the Democratic nomination, and making history becoming America’s first black president.
After two terms of Pres. Obama, the presidential race was wide open again in 2016, with now former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen as a sho-in for the nomination in her bid to make history as the first woman president of the United States. 
Clinton was up against a weak field, but eventually would be tested by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Seen as being supported by Pres. Obama after she left the administration, Sanders would prove to be no match for Sec. Clinton when it came to black voters. In North Carolina with African Americans, Clinton got 80% of the vote compared to Sanders’19%.
It was the same sad story Democratic primary after primary for Bernie Sanders when it came to the black vote.
But in November 2016, Clinton ultimately lost to Republican Donald J. Trump for the presidency. According to the New York Times, eleven percent of black voters who supported Obama in 2012, stayed home in 2016  instead of supporting Hillary Clinton.
As the Democratic candidates for 2020 continue their debates this week and in September, the black vote is already shaping up as being critical, with top candidates Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren vying aggressively for it.
Former Vice Pres. Biden, thus far, has the lion’s share of the black vote, because of his many years of serving with Pres. Obama, but Sen. Harris is working hard to chip away at that with her overtures to black sororities and others.
Ultimately, the Democratic Party nominee will need every black vote available to unseat Republican Donald Trump next year.
To read the full NBC News report, go to


[CARY] Robert Cordle, the chair of the State Board of Elections has resigned  after telling an off-color joke about cows and women to open up the session Monday in Cary in front of over 700 election board officials from across the state. Cordle tendered his resignation to gov. Cooper after the incident, stepping down Tuesday. The governor's office says a replacement will be forthcoming, but meanwhile an important SBOE vote is pending today concerning certification of voting machines with paper ballots for the 2020 elections. 

[RALEIGH]  It’s been about a month since the Republican-led NC General Assembly passed its $24 billion budget, but Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it because it does not expand Medicaid to almost 500,000 needy North Carolinians. Republicans are trying to convince enough Democrats to vote with them to override Cooper’s veto, but thus far, it’s not happening.

[RALEIGH] A 71-year-old white Raleigh woman, caught on tape calling a group of black women “stupid niggers” during a Happy Hour at a local restaurant because they were allegedly loud, then told a local TV station that she was not sorry, would not apologize and would do it again. Nancy Goodman, the white woman, has been banned from the restaurant for using the racist slur. She says the black women were “the rudest individuals I’ve ever seen.”



Tuesday, July 23, 2019



[WILMINGTON] -  Lawyers representing the victims of a former New Hanover County School System teacher are suing the system, and asking a judge to allow a class action lawsuit representing all known victims in the case. Former teacher Michael Kelly pled guilty to 59 charges, including indecent liberties with a minor, on June 25th. By raising the case to class action status, all of the victims will be entitled to victim’s compensation. Attorneys also want the NHCS System administration replaced, alleging that they knew about Kelly’s crimes for years, and did nothing about him. Kelly was once cleared by a NHCSS probe.

[RALEIGH] Transgenders in North Carolina can now legally use the public bathroom in government buildings they most identify with, according to a federal court ruling Tuesday. “We are thrilled to obtain some clarity and relief for transgender North Carolinians who have been suffering under H.B. 2 and [the replacement] H.B. 142 for years," said Irena Como, acting legal director of the ACLU of North Carolina, in a statement. "While this part of the court fight may be ending, so much urgent work remains as long as people who are LGBTQ are denied basic protections from violence and discrimination simply because of who they are." Republican legislative leaders said they are reviewing the ruling.

[CHARLOTTE] The chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept says he is now willing to listen to proposed changes to his agency’s use of deadly force policy, according to members of the city’s Citizen Review Board. Chief Kerr Putney reportedly is interested in how to de-escalate confrontations between police and armed suspects. Putney asked the eleven-member board to begin work on drafting new policy in June, hoping to unveil it by this fall. Chief Putney is under no obligation to accept the proposed policy change.

                                              COUNCILMAN DR. JUSTIN HARLOW
                                           CHARLOTTE MAYOR VI LYLES

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

In the aftermath of Monday night’s Charlotte City Council vote to condemn  “all hate speech, bigotry, racism, and discrimination” by President Trump, the Queen City is now emotionally bracing itself for possible vehement protests in August 2020 when the Republican National Convention comes to town.
Several citizens wanted the council that if it did not rescind the invitation to the RNC to convene in the city in 2020, they were effectively “putting the lives of citizens of color in danger.”
“Let’s call racism what it is,” demanded one public hearing speaker.
By a 9-2 vote Monday night, and after passionate arguments on both sides of the issue, the City Council made it clear in a nonbinding resolution that it abhorred not only the recent controversy at Trump’s July 17th campaign rally at East Carolina University, where a raucous crowd, apparently responding to the Republican president’s racially-charged tweets targeting Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), chanted “Send her back, send her back…,” but previous “racist and xenophobic” language by Trump since he came to office in 2017.
“Whereas, in June 2017, President Donald Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all hav AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, and…in August 2017  [Trump] called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. …”very fine people”…on May 16, 2018, [Trump] referred to undocumented immigrants as “animals”…on July 14, 2019, [Trump] suggested that four minority United States congresswomen, all of whom are American citizens and three of whom were born in the United Staes, should “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came…[and] on July 17, 2019, [Pres. Trump] held a rally in Greenville, NC where his supporters chanted “Send her back” in reference to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar…,” the resolution read, in part, listing several instances of what the author, Councilman Dr. Justin Harlow, felt were clear examples of past statements and behavior Trump was likely to bring to Charlotte next year.
“…[T]he Council seems it imperative to condemn such racist and xenophobic language that only serves to stoke fear of others and perpetuate division everywhere based on ethnicity, religion and/or race,” the resolution continued.
All nine of the Council Democrats, some of whom assisted Dr. Harlow in composing the document, lamented before the vote how Trump’s racist behavior did not comport with the kind of welcoming environment the Queen City has worked hard to establish for all who live and work there.
Saying that Charlotte is a “city of immigrants,” the Council’s Democrats, including Mayor Vi Lyles,  stressed how important it was for the condemning resolution to be passed unanimously. 
However, the council’s two Republicans refused to support the measure, joining their colleagues in criticizing the president’s racial tone, but adding that the council was overstepping its bounds stepping into a national controversy.
I don’t personally endorse the way the president has chosen to conduct himself,” Councilman Ed Driggs said. “But he didn’t create the tension that we’re experiencing ... He’s the result of the tension.”
Prior to the vote, the city attorney warned that the council could not now rescind the contract it signed inviting the RNC to convene in 2020, risking severe legal ramifications if it did.
At press time Monday evening, neither the national Republican National Committee, nor the North Carolina Republican Party, issued a reaction to the Charlotte City Council’s condemnation resolution.

                                                 CHIEF JUSTICE CHERI BEASLEY
                                  JUSTICE NEWBY AT JULY 13TH GOP FUNDRAISER
                                   ASSOCIATE JUSTICE PAUL MARTIN NEWBY

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

If there was any doubt that the 2020 race for NC Supreme Court chief justice has already begun, look no further than remarks reportedly made by Associate Justice Paul Newby - the only Republican on the state Supreme Court -  during a recent “campaign address” at a Wake County conservative GOP fundraiser. 
“What do you think the most dangerous branch of government is ?” Justice Newby asked the partisan, predominately white crowd at the Annual Red, White and BBQ Fundraiser, Saturday, July 13th. “The judicial branch is the correct answer.”
Imagine seven ‘AOCs’ on the state Supreme Court,” the conservative justice continued, as the crowd audibly booed the thought. “AOC” is popular shorthand for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the controversial liberal Democrat congresswoman from New York, who is loathed by President Trump, conservatives and the Republican Party for her progressive socialist policies.
“Well, folks…,” Newby continued jokingly,”… we got six. It’s six to one…I’m the last man standing.”
The “six,” the conservative justice was referring to were his six Democrat colleagues on the NC Supreme Court, apparently suggesting that each were as liberal as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
A tape of Justice Newby’s remarks was given to Raleigh TV station WRAL-TV, which then reported and posted the ten minute recording.
Later on the tape, Newby is heard making reference, though not by name, to the newest Democrat associate justice who was elected last year, former civil rights attorney Anita Earls.
“In 2018, the left put $1.5 million to get their ‘AOC’ person on the court,” he is heard saying.
A political consultant for Newby told WRAL-TV that he wasn’t referencing anyone in particular, only pointing out “ideological differences.”
“I lose sleep at night thinking, what would it be like if we had no one to hold accountable those that want to cause social change through our judicial branch,” Justice Newby told the GOP crowd, alleging that it was part of a “…long-term strategy by [Pres.] Obama and his inner circle to stack the state Supreme Courts….”
“Keep your eyes open and your ears open for the next eighteen months, and see what kind of judicial activism occurs on your North Carolina [Supreme] Court,” he cautioned.
Justice Newby, who said “Our rights come from God…and no governmental authority shall interfere with those rights…”,  went on to warn the GOP audience that only four votes on the seven -member state Hight Court are needed for decisions. He urged them to elect Republicans to the three open seats on the state High Court in 2020, one of which will be his as he seek’s the Chief Justice slot.
“Do you want a government…of the judges, by the judges, and for the judges?” Newby further warned the audience., as they said, “Nooooo!”
Ironically, Newby actually preceded Pres. Trump’s controversial Twitter complaint about those complaining about America by a day, saying that “…I will buy you a ticket to leave…” for America’s critics to go somewhere else.
Why was a purportedly impartial Republican conservative jurist of the state’s highest court making such highly partisan remarks in the first place? Again, it was a GOP campaign fundraiser, sponsored by the East Wake Republican Club, not just for Justice Newby, but for three other conservative 2020 Republican hopefuls like gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, U.S. Rep. George Holding, and Congressman Ted Budd.
Rep. Budd, from Greensboro, was given “The Spirit of Jesse Award,” named after the late, racially - divisive U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R - NC), and a Sig Sauer P365 handgun was raffled off at the event where “…fellow Republicans who are trying to return our country to the founding principles that made America great …” gathered.
Newby’s sharp partisan public references caught the attention of several court-watchers across the state, who wondered whether it was judicially appropriate. I am not sure if the comments violate the Code of Judicial [Conduct] as it could be deemed as campaigning.,” Irving Joyner, attorney and professor of law at North Carolina Central University School of Law, said. “It seems to run close to the line by painting a highly partisan label to the upcoming elections where he is pitted against Chief Justice Beasley. We are looking into the comments.”
It was last February when Newby, the court’s longest serving associate justice, bitterly complained after Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, made history by choosing Democrat colleague,  Assoc. Justice Cheri Beasley, the first African-American woman, to serve as chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court.
An outraged Newby issued a Twitter statement after the choice was announced, saying, “Sadly, today Governor Cooper decided to place raw partisan politics over a non-partisan judiciary by refusing to honor the time-tested tradition of naming the Senior Associate Justice as chief justice,” Newby opined. “The governor’s decision further erodes public trust and confidence in a fair judiciary, free from partisan manipulation.”
During his July 13th GOP fundraising remarks, Newby called Gov. Cooper “…a political creature” who does not do “…what is right for the state.”
Chief Justice Beasley, when asked about her Republican colleague’s reaction just prior to her taking office March 1st, replied, “ “Let me be clear …I will indeed be seeking election in 2020, and I’m excited and I’m ready to go. I am very comfortable with who I am as a person. I am comfortable with the fact that the governor has placed his confidence in me and that I’m equipped to do this job.”
There has been no response to Justice Newby’s July 13th broad brushed, highly partisan remarks against his Democrat colleagues, especially from Chief K=Justice Beasley.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The last time North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) said anything about the possible impeachment of President Trump, it was May 19thwhen she issued a statement which ended, “Impeachment is not off the table.”
Adams was one of those who, because of the findings of the Mueller Report, felt that Trump “…has demonstrated a clear disregard for the rule of law and must be held accountable.”
Since then, the Mecklenburg district congresswomen has held her fire, agreeing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to maintain a steady process of factfinding  before formally voting to congressionally indict the controversial commander-in-chief.
But last weekend, that may have changed once Trump took to Twitter again, and spewed what many have described as “racist” attacks on four of Rep. Adam’s Democratic colleagues – four progressive women of color – effectively, but falsely saying that they were not American citizens because of their constant criticisms of his administration.
“It’s been more than twenty-four hours since the President’s hateful, un-American tweets…,” Adams said in a statement issued Monday,”…and there has been no apology. Instead, the President has doubled down on his dangerous rhetoric, proving that he is a racist who is unfit to serve.”
Adams was closer to calling for Trump’s impeachment as she’s ever been, calling him “…a racist who is unfit to serve,” and what he said during a public event at the White House Monday, didn’t help matters. “They hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion.” That diaribe followed an explosive tweet on Sunday where the Republican president accused Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tiaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) of “racial hatred,” demanded that they apologize to the nation, the state of Israel and him.
Earlier in his weekend tweetstorm, Trump demanded that all four congresswomen of color “go back to your own country.”
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came?” he opined.
However, all are American citizens. Pressley, Tiaib and Ocasio-Cortez were all born in the United States. Rep. Omar is a naturalized citizen.
The four congresswomen, known in the Washington press corps as “The Squad,” did not allow Trump’s divisive broadsides go unanswered.
"This is the agenda of white nationalists,” Rep. Omar told reporters Monday during a press conference at the Capitol. “Whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it's reached the White House garden.”
So it is time for us to stop allowing this President to make a mockery out of our Constitution. It is time for us to impeach this President."
At that same presser, Rep. Pressley chimed in.
"He does not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that that office requires and that the American people deserve," Rep. Pressley said. "That being said, I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond to not take the bait. This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern, and consequence to the American people."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (D-NY) promised that Trump’s attacks will not dissuade them from their goals for the nation.
"I am not surprised when the President says that four sitting members of Congress should 'go back to their own country' when he has authorized raids without warrants on thousands of families across this country,” she told reporters. “I am not surprised that he used the rhetoric that he does when he violates international human rights and takes thousands of children away from their families." 
"We can't allow hateful actions by the president to distract us from the critical work to hold this administration accountable to the inhumane conditions at the border that is separating children from their loved ones and caging them up and illegal horrific conditions," she said.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A three-judge Superior Court panel last week agreed with the nonpartisan group, Common Cause NC, and allowed 35 pertinent files from the late Republican mapmaker Thomas Hofeller to be used in a court case this week where the 2017 legislative redistricting map drawn for the GOP legislative majority by Hofeller is being challenged as unconstitutional.
            Hofeller died in 2018. His computer files containing his work for NC Republican legislative leaders, and in this case, Rep. David Lewis, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, are the main exhibits in the Common Cause NC lawsuit charging that even though Democrats in 2018 elections won more votes, Republicans, with Hofeller’s expertise, created skewed voting districts where they won more seats, effectively making it impossible for Democrats ever to win back their majorities.
            That three-judge Superior Court panel – judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite, and Alma Hinton – will listen to at least two weeks of testimony which started Monday. If Common Cause NC and the NC Democratic Party win the case, the Republican-led NC General Assembly will be required to redraw the current voting districts in time for the upcoming 2020 elections next year.
            Democrats expect that those new districts would be fairer, and thus, they would win a majority of the seats. If that happened, then that would mean that the Democratic Party would be in charge of redrawing the legislative voting maps for the next ten years after completion of the 2020 U.S. Census, which reapportions districts after a national headcount, thus giving them a better opportunity, they hope, to maintain their majority if they should win the lawsuit, and the 2020 elections thereafter.
            The meat for the case for Common Cause NC rests with the Hofeller files, of which only 35 of 75,000 found on hard drives turned over to Common Cause NC by the deceased GOP mapmaker’s daughter pertain to the 2017 NC legislative maps.
            If published reports about the files are accurate (they had not been introduced into evidence at press time before this story) the files would prove that Republican legislative leaders, and specifically Rep. Lewis, lied to a federal court in 2017 about whether the redistricting maps drawn were already completed. In fact, they were, plaintiffs attest, but GOP legislative leaders maintained that they weren’t, thus delaying a special election.
            But Common Cause NC also maintains that unlike the recent U.S. Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering case, where the High Court’s 5-4 conservative majority ruled that federal courts have no place in the political election questions managed primarily by states and their courts – thus allowing North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandered 13 congressional districts in favor of Republicans to stand – This legislative partisan gerrymandering case is different because North Carolina’s Constitution specifically outlaws the kind of partisan gerrymandering being allowed in this case.
            Voting precincts were split, established boundaries were violated, and “malevolent intent” in denying voting populations their state Constitutional rights was employed.
            Attorneys for Lewis and the General Assembly counter that the files were not part of the maps Hofeller drew for the NC General Assembly, and should have no bearing on the case. They further defend the 2017 maps, saying that they passed constitutional muster then.
            Whatever happens with this case, a ruling is not expected for sometime, and whatever the decision, it is expected to be appealed to the NC Supreme Court.


            [RALEIGH]The NC Supreme Court’s only Republican associate justice  reportedly has criticized  the other six associate justices, all Democrats, in a campaign speech last weekend. 
            According to WRAL-TV and a tape they reportedly received of the remarks, Justice Paul Newby told a Wake County audience that his six Democratic colleagues are very much like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, the controversial Democratic congresswoman who was recently targeted by Pres. Trump, along with three other newly elected congresswomen of color, with racist remarks. “Imagine seven ‘AOC’s’ on the State Supreme Court,” Justice Newby reportedly said. 
            Newby was angry when Gov. Roy Cooper chose colleague Cheri Beasley, a black woman, as chief justice over him. Newby has announced that he will challenge Beasley for her chief justice seat in 2020.

            [WASHINGTON, DC]  Eight out of ten Republican members of North Carolina’s thirteen-member Congressional delegation did not vote along with their three Democrat colleagues Tuesday evening when the U.S. House voted for a resolution formally condemning Pres. Donald Trump for his racist “go back home” tweets directed at  four Democratic congresswomen of color. Trump, who held a “Keep America Great” rally in Greenville Wednesday night, maintains that his tweet last weekend and subsequent remarks were not racist, saying, “I don’t have s racist bone in my body.” Only four Republicans in the House voted to condemn Trump for his remarks.

Monday, July 8, 2019


By Cash Michaels

            In contrast to a decade ago, not much is reported these days about the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) across North Carolina, particularly in communities of color.
            But that doesn’t mean that those rates have changed much, especially in the African American community, which continue lead in virtually all identified categories when it comes Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and AIDS infections.
            Historically, what has been most alarming about the high rate of HIV/STD infections in the African American community is the high number of young people denoted, usually because of transmission of viruses either through illicit sexual activity, or use of illegal drug implements. 
            While there are treatments, there is no cure for AIDS, or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
            The North Carolina HIV/STD First Quarterly Surveillance Report for 2019, issued by the Communicable Disease Branch of Epidemiology Section of the Division of Public Health, NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, is based on reporting by local county health departments across the state. 
            From January to March 2019 there were 1,490 newly diagnosed cases of Chlamydia among black/African American males in North Carolina, along with 3,138 cases for black/African American females.
            That compared to just 607 cases for white/Caucasian males, and 1,827 white/Caucasian females.
            The only other group to list the highest among American Indian/Alaska native, Hispanic/Latino, and Multiple Race per both genders was Unknown with 2,119 and 3,863 respectively.
            Chlamydia, which can only be detected through screening, can cause infertility in females if not treated early.
            From January to March, 2019, there were 1,343 black make cases of gonorrhea, and 1,083 black female cases reported in North Carolina (the highest among all known ethic groups), compared to just 370 white male and 517 white female cases. 
            Gonorrhea, if not detected early, can cause infertility and sterility.
            Per early syphilis from January to March 2019, while black males comprised 258 cases statewide, white males were only 86 cases. Black females were 48 cases, but their white counterparts only comprised 10 cases during that same period.
            Interestingly, the “Unknown” category only listed just five cases of syphilis male, and zero cases female.
            When it comes to newly reported cases of HIV/AIDS, the report for the first quarter of 2019 list the total number cases by county.
            Per HIV infection in North Carolina from January – March 2019, by far Mecklenburg County led the six major counties with 65 cases, followed Wake with a reported 31; Guilford with 25; Durham with 1; New Hanover with 11 and Buncombe County with just 4.
            Per AIDS cases in North Carolina from January – March 2019, again, Mecklenburg county led the six major counties in the state with 15; followed by Guilford with 13; Wake with 9; Durham with 4; Buncombe with 2 and New Hanover with 0.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Last week, in a disappointing ruling for many, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4  in Rucho v. Common Causenot to weigh in on the “extreme” partisan Republican gerrymandering of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts, saying effectively that federal courts should have no role in what are essentially politically decisions.
            But on July 15th, the N.C. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the partisan gerrymandering of North Carolina’s legislative districts. And Democrats who are still licking their wounds from last week’s disheartening federal decision are hoping for, if not expecting, a more positive outcome.
            If partisan legislative districts in the NC House and Senate are struck down because they violate the NC Constitution, new districts could be in force for the 2020 elections, giving Democrats hope of reclaiming the majority in the NC General Assembly.
            Republicans have been able to maintain a majority in the NC legislature since 2011 because of the way voting districts were drawn. Common Cause v. Lewis, the case before the state Supreme Court where the nonpartisan Common Cause NC is suing NC Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), the architect of North Carolina redistricting, challenges that.
“Now the fight against extreme partisan gerrymandering that undermines democracy moves to state courts and the ballot box,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, in a statement. “The battle is far from over.”
Nothing bars the North Carolina Supreme Court from banning blatant partisan gerrymandering from our state elections,” says Rick Glazier, executive director of the NC Justice Center. “Ongoing litigation challenging partisan gerrymandering of our state’s voting maps should proceed with deliberate speed to finally, firmly end gerrymandering in North Carolina.”
North Carolina Republican legislative leaders are, understandably, a bit nervous, The North Carolina Supreme Court is comprised of six Democrats – three of whom are black - and one Republican. So unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, where Republicans enjoy a 5-4 majority, partisan advantage for the GOP in Common Cause v. Lewis, is virtually out the window.
            So last week, filled with glee that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandered GOP-leaning congressional to remain (10 out of 13 are Republican), Lewis told reporters that Democrats needed to stop going to court litigating against voting districts they can’t win.
            Rep. Lewis even urged Common Cause to drop its pending lawsuit in the state Supreme Court, in consideration of his considering nonpartisan redistricting reform in terms of a nonpartisan commission.
            On Monday morning, a week before the case is scheduled to be heard, Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, issued a press release effectively saying dropping the suit was a possibility….but at a high price.
            “If Rep. Lewis is sincere about pursuing redistricting reform, he can start with the 2009 ‘Horton Independent Redistricting Commission’ bill, which he, along with now Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, sponsored at the time,” Phillips said in the release. “That bill called for adoption of a state constitutional amendment creating an independent citizens commission to draw North Carolina’s legislative and congressional districts free from partisan politics, with full transparency and robust public input. That was their proposal, which we supported.”
            Phillips continued, “So, we call upon Rep. Lewis and his fellow Republican legislative leaders to enact a true citizens redistricting commission now, and only after passing into law a gold-standard model of reform would we consider his request.”
            Lewis, however, seemed unmoved.
            In a tweet later Monday, Rep. Lewis replied, ‘“The only commission bill filed in the House would let Democrats pick roughly 2/3 of the commission,” he wrote. “Not a good basis for a conversation and far from a ‘gold-standard.'”
            The case, Common Cause v. Lewis, is heard Monday in State Supreme Court.


            [DURHAM] U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield joined hundreds of thousands of mourners across the nation Tuesday, in paying tribute to Durham architect Phillip Freelon, 66, who died of complications from ALS. 
            “I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of a man of great vision and talent, North Carolina’s own, Phil Freelon,” Butterfield said in a statement. “Well-known for his architectural genius, creating projects across the country with a targeted focus on the story-telling of the African American experience; he was able to culminate some of his greatest work as he thoughtfully and solemnly crowned the expanse of the black experience through his vision and execution of the widely popular Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.”
 “A celebrated architect, artist, husband and father, Phil Freelon will forever be immortalized by his incredible contributions to the state of North Carolina, his indelible mark left throughout the city of Durham and his monumental impact that continues its far and wide reach. Phil Freelon was a true treasure who will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.” 

            [RALEIGH] After seven black Democrats helped to pass the Republican-led legislature’s $24 billion budget last week, only to have Gov. Cooper veto it because it had no funding for Medicaid expansion, the House GOP ha been trying since Monday to override Cooper’s veto, but has failed to muster up enough Democrats to help. The governor met with Republican legislative leaders Tuesday morning in hopes of a compromise, but both sides agreed to disagree. The House worked Wednesday to pass a budget stopgap measure to keep state government in operation. Democrats are confident they will be able to hold the line not to help override Cooper’s veto.