STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR AUGUST 13, 2020
UNC SYSTEM FACULTY AND STAFF SUE FOR SAFER WORKPLACES
[RALEIGH] Faculty and staff have filed a lawsuit against the UNC System, claiming that they are made to work in unsafe environments because of COVID-19 when campuses reopen for the fall semester. They are demanding that in-person instruction not be allowed, and that all classes be held online. “Everyone involved in making the decision to reopen these campuses did so with the knowledge that it places these employees at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 than they would have otherwise been exposed to had the ‘status quo’ of limiting the number of students on campus and going completely on-line to start the Fall of 2020 had been maintained as it has been since March, 2020...we contend that the law does not permit the University of North Carolina system or the Governor to force these Employees to work in conditions that place them at an increased risk of getting sick, being unable to work, being hospitalized, and even dying,” said attorney Gary Shipman of Wilmington in a press statement Monday. Thus far, there has been no response from the UNC System.
JUDGE SIDES WITH GOV. COOPER’S COVID-19 AUTHORITY
[RALEIGH] A Wake Superior Court judge sided with Gov. Roy Cooper, saying that Cooper has the power to manage the COVID-19 restrictions he’s imposed without consultation of the Council of State. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is trying to unseat Cooper during the Nov. 3ed elections, sued the governor, saying he did not have the right to issue emergency orders during the pandemic without the ten-member council.
NHC BOARD OF COMMISSIONER APPROVE NAME CHANGE FOR HUGH MCRAE ROAD
[WILMINGTON] Just like Hugh McRae Park, Hugh McRae Road is no more. The NHC Board of Commissioners this week voted to change the name of the road previously named after the infamous white supremacist to
Freedom Way Drive. Last month, the board also changed the name of the park to Long Leaf Park, bowing to the demands of demonstrators in the aftermath of the George Floyd police killing.
FOR THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Behind the School Board Curtain
by Clyde Edgerton and Reverend Dante Murphy
In 1995 Wilmington, a young Black lawyer, Terry Richardson, heard that the New Hanover County District Attorney, Jerry Spivey, had publicly called a Black person the racial epithet “nigger.” Mr. Richardson and others went to work to remove Spivey from office. Never before had a sitting District Attorney been removed in North Carolina—but in this case, the attempt to remove was successful. Soon, an appeal came from Mr. Spivey’s lawyers, Tharrington Smith (the same law firm now representing the New Hanover School board in their fight against victims of child sexual abuse). Tharrington Smith argued that Mr. Spivey’s removal from office was illegal and that his use of the n-word was protected by the first amendment. But the North Carolina Supreme Court found that Mr. Spivey was removed legally and that his speech was not protected by either the U.S. or North Carolina Constitution.
The moral, ethical, and legal problem with use of the n-word—given facts of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and unspeakable injustices against Black people--arises when a White person calls a Black person the n-word.
Jump forward a quarter century to an on-going investigation at Pender High School in Pender County regarding a White employee’s use of the n-word. The employee’s defense may turn out to be: “That’s what they call themselves.”
How is the school board investigation going? Slowly—and silently. First, the school board itself is not investigating as it is authorized to do. Instead of using the board lawyer and calling people in to ask them questions under oath, they have opted to hire (with taxpayer money) an expensive law firm from Raleigh to do their bidding.
What many citizens do not realize is that powerful, expensive law firms advertise that they can fix things for school systems. That’s the specialty of some firms. Hiring them is not working toward an “independent” investigation. With lawyer-client privilege between the board and the law firm, and with laws allowing personnel files to be kept closed, school boards can pretty much keep the curtain closed to parents and citizens, especially if the school system—desiring to keep bad publicity in-house—decides against firing someone. A firing tends to open up things to the public. Next door to Pender County, in New Hanover County, recent retirements, resignations, transfers, and separations have kept wrongdoing behind a government curtain. (Note: In New Hanover County, recently, the former superintendent was able to “separate” with a $200,000 plus buy-out prior to the completion of an “independent” investigation by an out of town law firm. The firm was investigating the superintendent’s intimidation of a Black parent.)
But what if the Pender County employee didn’t directly call students the n-word—but only said the word to a cohort or wrote the word? That doesn’t reduce the need for termination. The policemen recently fired in Wilmington were not confronting Black people when either of them used the n-word. They were people in positions of governmental authority—like school administrators, school boards, District Attorney’s, and law officers.
Times are changing. Injustices related to racism are being tolerated less by all races as histories of cruelty and injustice become unveiled.
The case in Pender County is not a matter between adults, not a matter between children. This is a matter of an adult insulting children. And school boards, in their actions, need to set examples for children, parents, teachers, and administrators. Parents and children who have been wronged are watching.
Will the outcome of the investigation under question resemble the outcome from a quarter century ago? Or a century ago?
We have found moral outrage among Pender County citizens. Will we find moral backbone in their school board?
REP. ALMA ADAMS (D-NC-10
REP. ADAMS SEES TRUMP VOTER
SUPPRESSION; NORTH CAROLINA
FIRST TO MAIL OUT BALLOTS SEPT. 4TH
By Cash Michaels
With less than 90 days before the Nov. 3rd presidential elections, Pres. Trump’s handpicked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has displaced or reassigned over 30 top executives at the U.S. Postal Service, all in an effort to slow the nation’s daily mail delivery down in an attempt to disrupt voting by mail nationally.
Based on recent media reports, "Major operational changes" that "slow down mail delivery" are at the behest of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor.”
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) wants him fired.
“The United States Postal Service was established by our Constitution, and this year it will play an unprecedented role in guaranteeing our right to vote,” said Congresswoman Adams in a statement Monday. “However, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continues his unconstitutional sabotage of our Postal Service with complete disregard for the institution's promise of the 'safe and speedy transit of the mail' and the 'prompt delivery of its contents.'”
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have determined that allowing their citizens to cast they ballots by secured mail would be safest.
North Carolina, a so-called “battleground state,” is not only one of those states, but is scheduled to be the first state to mail out absentee ballots to voters on Sept. 4th - a full two months before Election Day.
But Pres. Trump has opposed that, making unfounded claims that voting by mail is rife with potential fraud and corruption, and accusing the Democrats of engineering it. In fact, he’s on record as calling the U.S. Postal Service “a joke,” adding that it will “ lead to the end of our great Republican Party.”
There is little evidence supporting that charge, and in fact, there is abundant evidence from states like Oregon that have voted by mail for years that voting by mail is one of the safest and most accurate ways of conducting elections, even with the USPS operating in the red for many years.
It does not receive funding from tax dollars, but has now asked for $25 billion from Congress.
The White House has stood firm against the appropriation.
As this election moves to voting from home due to the coronavirus, the Trump Administration is working to dismantle the United States Post Office itself,” barged Rep. Adams in a recent op-ed.
“My friend Maya Angelou used to say, ‘when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ The Postmaster General has shown us on multiple occasions he is working to dismantle a fundamental institution of our democracy. He needs to resign or be removed, now," concludes Adams.
PROF. IRVING JOYNER
COURT GRANTS PRELIMINARY
INJUNCTION AGAINST VOTER ID
LAW PUSHED BY REPUBLICANS
By Cash Michaels
A three-judge Wake Superior Court panel has issued a preliminary injunction Monday enjoining the Republican-led NC General Assembly “from implementing or enforcing the voter-ID provisions of Session Law 208-144…,” the voter ID law Republicans hurriedly passed in the waning lame duck special session in December 2018.
Monday’s preliminary injunction means there will not be a court proceeding in Holmes vs. Moore, a 2018 lawsuit filed to stop the voter ID law, before the Nov. 3rd, 2020 election.
Thus, there will be no voter ID requirement of those casting a ballot in less than 90 days.
It was last February when, in a 45-page ruling, a panel of three Democrat appellate judges unanimously ruled that North Carolina’s voter ID law was deliberately discriminatory towards African American voters. Thus, the judicial panel of Toby Hampson, John Arrowood and Allegra Collins issued a preliminary injunction temporarily shelving the law (Senate Bill 824) until trial.
The Appellate Court, which “…held that Plaintiffs have shown a clear likelihood of success on the merits of their discriminatory-intent claim, and absent an injunction, Plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm…”, remanded the case back to Wake Superior Court, “…with instructions to grant Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction,
The Republican defendants - House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger filed a motion for a rehearing after the Appellate Court ruling, only to have it denied in March.
Last February, Attorney Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law, applauded the appellate decision in the case.
“The Court of Appeals opinion in Holmes v. Moore is just another recognition by a “court of law” that the North Carolina General Assembly acted with continuing racial animus when it enacted the latest voter ID requirement,” Joyner said.