Monday, October 30, 2023






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

O’Linda Watkins-McSurely has been a faithful NAACP member for 30 years. She served as the chair of Women in NAACP (WIN) from 2005 to 2017, assistant secretary of the NC NAACP for ten years, and president of the Moore County NAACP chapter #5421 for 26 years.

She is also a Life Member.

Her credentials as a devoted NAACP member and freedom fighter are without question, those who know Watkins-McSurely, and have worked with her, say.

So imagine Mrs. Watkins-McSurely’s surprise when she received an Oct. 25th letter from NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson, stating that after her hearing, she had been suspended for five years.

“What hearing?” Watkins-McSurely thought to herself as she read the  troubling letter.

According to Johnson’s missive to Mrs. Watkins-McSurely, “Following your request for a hearing, a panel of three NAACP Board members was convened and a hearing was held on June 21, 2023. You participated fully and actively in the hearing.”

The national NAACP letter to Mrs. Watkins-McSurely continued, “Following the hearing and the panel’s deliberations, the panel submitted its findings and recommendations to the Committee on Membership and Units of the NAACP National Board of Directors. The committee subsequently made recommendations to the full NAACP Board of Directors.”

If the fact that the NAACP letter from Derrick Johnson claiming that she “…participated fully and actively in the hearing” wasn’t stunning enough, Watkins-McSurely was further floored to learn from the NAACP letter that the national NAACP Board of Directors, at its October 21st meeting, voted to accept the recommendation of its committee, and “…suspend (Watkins-McSurely) for five years for noncompliance with regulations and Bylaws for Units, failure to adhere to cease-and-desist as provided by the Office of the General Counsel, making defamatory statements against the National NAACP, and the North Carolina State Conference NAACP, and other conduct which is inimical to the Association.”

“At the completion of the suspension, you must petition the committee and request reinstatement of your membership,” the national NAACP letter concluded.

O’Linda Watkins-McSurely is clear that she has never taken part in an NAACP hearing to answer the charges brought against her as cited in the NAACP letter. Indeed, as an NAACP member of long and good standing, the Bylaws and Constitution cite that she is entitled to due process, just as in a court of law.

As far as Mrs. Watkins-McSurely is concerned, she never got a hearing, thus, never got due process. And yet, after 30 years as a faithful member, she is drummed out for five long years.

Why did this happen in the first place?

According to a Sept. 15th letter from her attorney and husband, Alan McSurely, to NAACP General Counsel Janette McCarthy Wallace, Mrs. Watkins-McSurely received a call on Sept. 9th from an executive assistant at NAACP Headquarters asking if she still wanted a hearing. Watkins-McSurely replied that she would have her attorney respond after they had time to study the case file.

What case was she referring to?

Reportedly, the national NAACP office took umbrage with Ms. Watkins-McSurely appearing on local television news coverage distributing food to elderly people in Moore County in early December 2022, after two electric power stations were knocked out by gunfire.

Allegedly, the national NAACP office did not appreciate Ms. Watkins-McSurely identifying herself in connection with the NAACP while appearing on television news coverage, and threatened to suspend her accordingly.

The Sept. 15th attorney’s letter to the National NAACP documents, however, that as of that date, Mrs. Watkins-McSurely still did not have her hearing on the matter.

In fact, her husband/attorney Alan McSurely wrote, “I hope we can hold the promised Hearing to “this matter” [the National NAACP] used as a basis to try to remove her from her Life Membership and her NAACP work, the center of her life.”

This reporter emailed Carmen Watkins, senior vice president, Field Operations & Membership,  and Quincy Bates, another top ranking NAACP official, asking them how is it possible Pres./CEO Johnson could send Mrs. Watkins-McSurely stating that she took part in a membership hearing that determined her suspension, when, in fact, she and her attorney deny that a due process ever took place.

This reporter also requested either written, audio or visual confirmation of O’Linda Watkins-McSurely ever being present at a hearing where her membership was at issue.

There has been no response from the national NAACP by press time.

Mrs. Watkins-McSurely isn’t the only long serving NAACP official to be suspended long-term without a hearing.  In March of this year, we exclusively reported on the long-term suspension of Ms. Sylvia Barnes, long time NC NAACP secretary. Ms. Barnes was adamant that despite a letter from Pres./CEO Johnson alleging that she was, she never had a due process hearing before being let go.

The same pattern has happened to other veteran NAACP members across the state, our reporting has determined.






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

There is nothing the 14-member NC Judicial Standards Commission (NCJSC) would rather see than NC Associate Justice Anita Earls’ federal lawsuit against it just go away.

Make no mistake, that’s what their attorneys are expected to ask for in federal court in Greensboro today as Justice Earls’ motion for a preliminary injunction was scheduled to be heard.

Called “Justice Earl’s First Amendment Case” the NC Supreme Court’s only African-American, and one of two Democrats on the seven-member court, is demanding that the NCJSC cease investigating her for interviews and speeches she’s given over the past year critical of the state High Court’s Republican majority and it’s management of the court.

Earls maintains she has a First Amendment right to speak out if she determines something is wrong with North Carolina’s highest court of justice.

“Since the Commission’s investigations into me, I have been constrained at all times to subject my public speech to internal scrutiny and self-censorship in a manner which I never previously did,” Earls stated in court papers.

I find myself constantly engaging in self-censorship,” Earls continued. “This has occurred at a Democratic Party event, at the law school class I teach at the University of North Carolina, at a meeting with the Governor’s Pages who came to learn about our court, and even at church.”

        Apparently Earls is not alone in her free speech beliefs. According to published reports, at least 16 civil rights organizations  - including the NC NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the League of Women Voters NC - and 20 legal ethics experts from distinguished law schools like Georgetown, Cornell and Northwestern, have filed legal briefs in support of her case.

“The Commission’s investigation is …improper because it violates Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights,” the legal experts separate brief declared.

“As an elected official, Plaintiff has the right, and indeed the obligation, to speak on matters of public concern, as she did here. The chilling effect imposed by this investigation on Plaintiff’s speech—and on the speech of other judges who seek to fulfill their ethical obligations through commentary that may be critical of the judiciary itself—cannot withstand the strict scrutiny mandated for a state’s restrictions on core political speech like that at issue here.”

The NCJSC is having none of those plaintiff’s arguments, however.

It filed motions in early October seeking to dismiss Earls' lawsuit, and stop her petition for a preliminary injunction. In papers submitted to federal court, NCJSC denied it was denying Justice Earls her right to free speech with its investigations, and there is a judicial code she is expected to maintain while serving on the bench.

That code prohibits her from demeaning the court in anyway, th NCJSC maintains.

“…[N]o judge should make unsupported accusations that a colleague is making decisions based on prejudices or biases, rather than the law and facts,” the NCJSC stated to the court.

It is not known when the federal court will rule after today’s hearing.



Monday, October 23, 2023


                                                                 REP. VALERIE FOUSHEE
                                                               REP. DON DAVIS




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Say goodbye to the 7-7 North Carolina Congressional delegation split, mandated by court-appointed special masters in 2022 after the then Democratic-led State Supreme Court ruled that the Congressional redistricting map drawn by the GOP majority legislature was unconstitutional. 

With passage of the new voting maps for the state's 14 congressional districts, the North Carolina Congressional delegation will be a “10 Republicans versus 4 Democrats” split for the 2024 elections, especially now that a Republican-led State Supreme Court threw out the earlier ruling, and has given the green light to whatever the GOP majority legislature wants.

The 10-4 delegation would stay in force until after the 2030 Census. 

The party with the most congressional seats, most likely controls the Congress for the next several years, political observers say.

The state Senate Redistricting Committee decided such on Monday during hearings, abandoning plans to adopt an 11-3 delegation split. Technically, because one of the four Democratic-leaning districts is drawn so competitively between a Democrat - Republican breakdown, the GOP might still get its 11th Congressional District after the 2024 elections.

That congressional district belongs to Democratic Congressman Don Davis of Greene County, who is Black. The way his First Congressional District has been redrawn, he still has an advantage, but not much.

Still, political observers say expect a lawsuit under the U.S. Voting Rights Act to challenge this voting map change.

Congresswoman Valerie Foushee of Orange County, also an African-American, faced being drawn out of her congressional seat initially and being double-bunked against Davis, but survived in the latest 10-4 map approved by the Senate Redistricting Committee.

At least three white congressional Democratic incumbents - Wiley Nickel of Wake, Kathy Manning of Guilford and Jeff Jackson of Mecklenburg - are primed to be unseated under the new map.

Under the proposed 10-4 split, Republicans would maintain that advantage, even if voters statewide are divided 50-50.

That same is true if the majority of voters choose Democrats to lead in the state legislature, according to a Duke University analysis of the latest legislative maps project titled “Quantifying Gerrymandering.” In fact, if Republicans win 50% or more of the statewide vote, they would cash in with more than 60% of the legislative seats in both the state House and Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue complained that the GOP legislative redistricting maps targeted Blacks, but mostly targeted Democratic female lawmakers who spoke out frequently, changing their districts to make re-election more difficult.

"A reasonable person would have to conclude that there's some sort of animus you have against women," Sen. Blue told the Senate Redistricting Committee Republicans Monday.

If the new GOP legislative maps are approved, Republicans could easily maintain their supermajorities against gubernatorial veto.

An unhappy Gov. Roy Cooper did not spare the rod.

"Enabled by the State Supreme Court’s partisan reversal of constitutional law, Republican legislators have rolled out their latest illegal maps that show gerrymandering on steroids. Drawn in the back room and armed with their new law that keeps their plotting secret, they have used race and political party to create districts that are historically discriminatory and unfair," he said in a statement.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton opined, "…drawn by Republicans behind closed doors, [these voting maps] are a jarring example of the worst kind of politics. Republicans feel like they have the state court's rubber stamp to hand-pick their voters -- instead of giving North Carolinians the power to choose the best representatives for their communities. Diluting our voices, specifically the voices of people of color, to entrench power is a manipulation of our democracy.” 

And Twelfth District Congresswoman Alma Adams, who was not affect by the new Republican Congressional maps, still blasted the effort.

“I am disappointed that North Carolina Republican leaders continue to show unfairness with recently revealed redistricting maps,” said Adams.

       “Working behind closed doors without any valuable and meaningful input from Democratic colleagues, stakeholders or the public is both punitive and unfair!"

In a recent News & Observer op-ed penned by UNC Law Professor Gene Nichol, he took note of the bold manner NC Republican legislative leaders are flexing their absolute power.

        “They seemed to have found their sweet spot — using state powers to favor themselves and their friends and to handicap and marginalize their enemies. Permanently.”

According to a story Monday in the Raleigh News and Observer, “With conservative-dominated state and federal courts unlikely to rein in the worst abuses of political mapmaking, Republican gains from the maps — if approved — are likely to continue for years to come. “It looks like, as we would have expected, that the deck is pretty stacked,” said Irving Joyner, an N.C. Central University law professor who’s been active in fights against racially discriminatory maps in this state for years.”

           Republican Reps. Destin Hall, Sarah Stevens, and Jason Saine, said in a statement about the state House redistricting map, “This map adheres to established redistricting principles and complies with all legal guidelines. We look forward to voting on this proposed legislation.”

           Gov. Cooper has no veto power over the voting maps once passed. 

  Candidate filing begins December 4th.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The North Carolina Black Alliance has joined forces with Democracy North Carolina, and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina (LWVNC) and other groups in filing federal lawsuits to stop implementation of Senate Bill 747 (SB 747) and its ?undeliverable mail provision.”

The Democratic National Committee and the N.C. Democratic Party  filed an earlier lawsuit against all of the provisions of the 43-page SB 747, arguing that it “ …is a direct assault on the “most fundamental” right to vote,” and that “…the changes it adopts would make it much harder for some North Carolinians to register to vote, would allow ballots by same-day registrants to be rejected without any notice to the voter or any right to challenge the rejection, would permit an influx of intimidating and largely unconstrained poll observers into voting places, and would require the discarding of absentee ballots that are returned even a minute after the polls close on election day (no matter how far in advance of the election voters place their ballots in the mail). The U.S. Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, and multiple federal statutes prohibit these myriad efforts at vote suppression, which will disenfranchise many North Carolinians.”

“The plaintiffs allege that the Undeliverable Mail Provision violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment and places an undue burden on the right to vote in violation of the First and 14th Amendments,” according to attorney Marc Elias, representing the DNC and NCDP. “The plaintiffs request that the court declare the provision unconstitutional and prevent its enforcement.” 

Democrats hope that a federal judge will issue an injunction against SB 747 and all of its provisions, preventing it from being implemented before the 2024 primaries and general elections.

The ramifications of the law, if allowed to go into effect, go well beyond North Carolina, a key election battleground state, election experts agree

Republican legislative leaders immediately filed motions in federal court to intervene on behalf of defendants in the case to protect their law, which they claim protects voters from alleged, unproven abuses they claim occurred during the 2020 election.

North Carolina voters deserve to know their elections are safe and secure,” said Republican House Speaker Tim Moore in a statement. “Thankfully they can have that confidence now that we have overridden the Governor’s veto of this common sense elections bill.” 

According to plaintiffs, the measure titled, “An Act to Make Various Changes Regarding  Elections Law,”  “…impedes the right of young people to register to vote and have their ballot counted when using same-day registration.”

The LWVNC alleges, “ SB747 places the fate of a ballot cast using same-day registration on whether a single piece of mail reaches that voter. If that piece of mail goes undelivered — by accident, negligence, or otherwise — the voter’s ballot is thrown out and their registration is canceled, with no notice provided and no opportunity for the voter to be heard. The North Carolina General Assembly enacted SB747 despite well-documented difficulties for young voters, including college students, to have their mail delivered reliably.”

          Black, Latino and young North Carolinians are more likely to have mail returned as undeliverable due to housing insecurity, having a college campus address or living in multi-generational households, according to the lawsuit,” reported Axios.

“Unfortunately, we have witnessed a consistent effort from our state's leadership to create countless barriers for our voters, more specifically naming one of our most vulnerable populations, young adult voters,” said Jovita Lee, Program Director for North Carolina Black Alliance. “We have a duty to ensure that our young voters, especially those who attend our Historically Black Colleges and Universities that have been historically impacted by legislation such as this, can equitably access the ballot box and fully participate in our democratic process, per their given right.” 

“Whether your vote gets counted should not be a random game of chance,” said Jeff Loperfido, Chief Counsel for Voting Rights at Southern Coalition for Social Justice (representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit). “But that’s precisely what this new same-day registration scheme does, by taking control out of the hands of the voter and leaving the fate of their ballot to the whims of election officials and the US Postal Service.”

          After both chambers of the NC legislature passed SB 747 on August 17th, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure. Republican lawmakers in both the state House and Senate then overrode Cooper’s veto on October 10th, spurring the lawsuits on the same day.

Gov. Cooper has also filed suit against SB 512, which would take the governor's appointment powers to state and local election boards, giving those powers to state lawmakers. Cooper called the bill “a blatantly unconstitutional power grab.”

It’s likely all of the separate legal actions against SB 747 will be consolidated into one federal lawsuit in the near future. Again, the hope is that a federal judge will issue a temporary injunction stopping implementation of SB 747 before the 2024 elections.


Monday, October 16, 2023







By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Last week, in the race for governor 2024, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson made the biggest headlines, but for all of the wrong reasons. In what should have been a grand display of patriotic solidarity with America’s closest ally in the Middle East in the aftermath of the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks, instead turned into what many political observers called a cheap and insincere “stunt” by a politician who is on record as to not having nice things to say about Jewish people.

Meantime, state Attorney General Josh Stein held his first gubernatorial campaign event at the C.C. Spaulding gymnasium of Shaw University at 10 a.m.on Tuesday, Oct. 10th, not filling the space as maybe his campaign had hoped, especially with Gov. Roy Cooper on program. If Stein was hoping for a large African-American turnout for his event since it was being held in Southeast Raleigh, he did not get one, begging the question as to why he held the rally on the campus of an HBCU at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning while most Black voters are working, in the first place.

And close to where his Democratic primary rival, former state Associate Justice Mike Morgan, has lived for 39 years.

Calling it “…an orchestrated, manufactured gathering disguised as a “rally” on the Shaw U campus, Morgan mocked the Stein campaign, saying "...others join me in shaking our heads over this made-for-TV and social media exhibition." 

“The Stein camp has developed this pop-up mirage in an obvious response to my recently announced candidacy in order to try to create an impression that I don’t have sufficient support in my own community to win this race,” Justice Morgan, who joined the governor’s race in September, continued, adding that he and his family have lived, worshipped, shopped, volunteered and served in Southeast Raleigh for almost four decades.

“My community, and others like it all over this state, knows that there is a big difference between my opponent and me when it comes to credibility and authenticity among the people to whom this “rally” is aimed. North Carolina’s state motto is “To be rather than to seem.”

Morgan then continued to go for Stein’s political jugular by concluding, “My opponent will use his wealthy war chest to buy time to show images over and over again from his staged extravaganza in an effort to seem like he is the people’s choice for Governor, when in fact I continue to be the real candidate for Governor who continues to demonstrate every day a commitment to all North Carolinians.”

Justice Morgan ended his campaign missive simply with his name, “Mike.”

But even the few African-American state officials present at the Stein rally said they remained committed to supporting his candidacy because they believed he had the resources and party following to ultimately defeat Republican Mark Robinson should he become the GOP’s likely gubernatorial standard-bearer in 2024.

The low turnout for Stein’s rally, estimated by reporters who were there at around 100 was not missed by Robinson’s campaign, which showed contrasting pictures  of his announcement weeks early at Ace Speedway in Elon where an estimated 1,000 showed up to cheer him on.

The Black Republican, a self-proclaimed conservative “cultural warrior,”didn’t wait long after Stein’s event to invite the media to the legislative auditorium two days later to reportedly exercise authority he said the state Constitution gave him to be “acting governor” while Gov. Cooper was away on a trade mission to Japan.

Robinson proclaimed last week as “Solidarity with Israel Week,” and then last Friday at sunset through Saturday at sunset as “a day of prayer.”

“We honor and mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks by Hamas and their allies against Israel and her people,” Robinson said, declaring that North Carolina stands with Israel. “These terrorists have launched an unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Israel, they’ve taken hostages and murdered innocent civilians including American citizens.”

In reaction, a spokesperson for Gov. Cooper told WRAL-TV, “This stunt by the lieutenant governor and attempt to undermine our state’s democracy is harmful to North Carolina’s reputation and a reason he should never be trusted with real responsibility.”

Editorialists across the state couldn’t agree more.

"Seldom would the word “acting” be more appropriately applied than to the latest role of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson as “acting” governor of North Carolina," opined a Capital Broadcasting Company editorial. "And the reviews are in."

It didn’t take long for press outlets to dig up Robinson’s documented past of posting anti-Semitic social media posts that displayed a disregard, if not disrespect for the Jewish community, something he would not apologize for, and in fact, denies was anti-Semitic.

“The 1977 version of “Roots” is one of the most vile things ever filmed, “ Robinson once said about the history-making television mini-series that was produced by a Jewish company. “It is nothing but Hollywood trash that depicts the ignorance and brutality of the goyim, and the helplessness and weakness of the shvartze (blacks),” Robinson continued..

At another time, Robinson once stated, “I’m not being fooled into believing that the Nazis are a threat to anyone.”

Even the North Carolina Democratic Party couldn’t resist bashing Robinson’s “acting governor” routine, issuing a press release stating, “Capitalizing on a tragedy to aid your own political campaign in abhorrent. Cut the act, Mark.”

In a recent Civitas poll of likely GOP primary voters in North Carolina, Mark Robinson has 49%, followed by State Treasurer Dale Folwell at 5%, and former Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker at 4%. Two other lesser known challengers register less than 1% each.

41% of likely GOP voters polled are undecided.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Even though a state court has ruled that voter photo I.D. can be used for North Carolina elections starting with municipal elections already underway, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP has filed a motion that its federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s voter I.D. law should be heard at trial in February 2024.

According to a motion filed in the United Sates District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on Oct. 12th by the NAACP NC against Alan Hirsh, chair of the NC State Board of Elections and defendants , the civil rights organization wants a trial commencing the week of February 5th.

According to the motion, the state board defendants and legislator-intervenor-defendants oppose the motion, with the state board defendants saying that they believe “…any decision on the trial date should be left to the sound discretion of the Court.”

The case revolves around the NAACPNC’s challenge to the NC General Assembly’s 2018 Voter ID law (S.B. 824), asserting that it was enacted “with racially discriminatory intent and impermissibly deprives Black and Latino voters their fundamental right to vote.” 

Implementation of SB 824 was delayed because of injunctions by both state and federal courts, but currently those injunctions have been vacated, allowing the voter photo ID law to be in effect for local municipal elections across North Carolina.

The NAACPNC is clear in its motion that setting an early February 2024 trial date “…will allow the Court to issue a decision on this matter well before the 2024 general election, clarifying the requirements for voting sufficiently in advance to allow for voter education, as well as the preparation of election materials and training of election workers.”

Ultimately, the NAACPNC hopes it wins its case against voter ID early enough to stop it well before the important 2024 presidential and gubernatorial elections.

Such a decision may or may not come in time to affect the March 5th primaries, however. NAACPNC believes a trial “…will be completed substantially in advance…” of the March 5 primaries.

The case was actually set for trial going back to January 2021 and January 2022, only to be delayed by appeals. Per the January 2022 trial date, defendants sought and got a stay of all proceedings. That stay was not lifted until last July. 

The trial motion was submitted by attorney Irving Joyner for the NAACPNC, along with attorneys Penda Hair, Caitlin Swain, Kathleen Roblez and Ashley Mitchell of Forward Justice, in addition to attorneys James Cooper and Jeremy C. Karpatkin of the Wash. D.C. firm of Arnold & porter Kaye Scholer LLP, and John C. Ulin of Troy Gould of Los Angeles, Ca. for the plaintiffs.


Sunday, October 8, 2023


                                               HOUSE MINORITY LEADER ROBERT REIVES



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Believe it or not, the Republican-led NC General Assembly is once again in the process of redrawing voter district lines statewide to determine both Congressional and legislative districts for the 2024 elections. Hearings were held in Raleigh, Hickory and Elizabeth City two weeks ago where citizens came forward to offer their viewpoints about, if not criticisms of, the redistricting process, hoping to impress upon Republican state lawmakers the need to make it much fairer.

Many complained that they felt the process was being rushed, that state lawmakers already knew how they were going to redraw the voting maps without public input, and that there was little transparency to what was being done.

History suggests those citizens may have good reasons for concern.

Democratic House Minority Leader Robert Reives recently wrote in a News and Observer newspaper op-ed, “Redistricting is one of those issues in politics that does not seem too important until you dig into what the power to draw the maps really is. It is the power to protect yourself and your party from being accountable to voters.

The redistricting process is supposed to take place every ten years, and yet the last time voting districts were redrawn was  last year when the Democratic High Court majority ordered redistricting maps made by the GOP-led legislature redrawn by court-appointed special masters because they were found to be illegal extreme partisan gerrymanders.

The subsequent special master voting maps produced an evenly split 7-7 Congressional delegation, which many felt best reflected North Carolina political reality as a purple state.

But Republicans then won the majority of state Supreme Court seats last November, 5-2, and then immediately reversed the former Democratic-majority’s finding that the previous maps were unconstitutional because of extreme partisanship.

That opened the door for Republicans to now redraw the voting maps again, but this time, without fear of the GOP-led state Supreme Court countering what they do. Citizens and observers say they now expect the new voting maps coming will be anything but a fair representation of North Carolina’s partisan split.

“I strongly suspect that on the congressional seats, which are now split 7-7, that the Republicans are going to draw something to give it more like 9-5,” Rep. Abe Jones, a Raleigh Democrat and a member of the House Redistricting Committee said after a hearing, told NC Newsline.

But this time, especially with the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruling that it has no role in partisan gerrymandering cases, there will be little anyone can do about it.

And, according to Minority Leader Reives, the situation is even worse.

“Deep in the recently-passed budget was a provision excluding redistricting communications and drafting documents from being part of the public record,” wrote Reives in his recent N&O op-ed.  “Public records laws already allow legislators a lot of discretion on what to release, but redistricting was one bright spot that allowed both the public and the courts, when necessary, to understand the deliberations behind the map-making process. Moving forward, redistricting in North Carolina will be veiled in even more secrecy than before.”

The new Congressional redistricting maps are expected to be ready shortly for legislative approval, followed by the legislative maps by the end of the month.

Both redistricting maps need to be completed and approved before December 4th when candidate filing begins for the March 5, 2024 primaries.




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The level of murder, arson and vandalism against certain racial, ethnic or religious groups in and across North Carolina has risen so dramatically, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now decided to mount a public advertising campaign warning against the prevalence of hate crimes.

According to the FBI Office in Charlotte, incidents of hate based on bias in North Carolina have exploded, up almost 50 percent from 2020 to 2021, with 185 incidents reported by local law enforcement agencies in 2020, to 273 in 2021.

Hate crime incident stats in North Carolina for 2022 are expected to be released shortly.

Nationally, according to the FBI, reported hate crime incidents increased 11.6% from 2020 to 2021.

The nature of the latest hate crime incidents is so troubling - from bomb threats made against a  Jewish synagogue in Durham recently, to racial slurs with a weapon yelled at a Black man in traffic - that the Charlotte FBI is launching its advertising campaign not only to bring awareness about the current status of hate crimes, but also encourage the public to report incidents of hate bias to the FBI.

It was just last May when Pres. Joe Biden told graduates during a Howard University commencement ceremony in Washington, D.C. that white supremacist hate is “the most dangerous terrorist threat’ to the United States.

“No one should be targeted because of how they look, where they’re from, or any part of their identity,” says Robert M. DeWitt, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina. “Hate crimes have no place in our country, our state, or our communities. We encourage victims to report hate crimes to the FBI. We are here to listen and to help.”

The Anti Defamation League has also been tracking an increase in antisemitic and white extremist incidents across North Carolina and the nation over the past five years, including the targeting of electrical infrastructures for attack, to white supremacist propaganda flyers being distributed in mixed race neighborhoods.

For 2022, the ADL list of North Carolina cities reporting hate crime incidents include Raleigh with 20; Charlotte with 12; Clayton with 9, Asheville with 8; Greensboro with 7; Durham with 5; Cary with 4; Smithfield with 4; Hendersonville with 4; and Chapel Hill with 3.

The FBI’s anti-hate crime ad campaign will include social media messages, as well as billboards in Charlotte, Raleigh, Lexington and Laurinburg.

The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

If you believe that you are either a victim of, or witness to a hate crime, please report it to 1-800-CALL-FBI, or submit a tip to




Sunday, October 1, 2023






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Deborah Dicks Maxwell, the current president of the NAACP NC, and first woman ever to be elected, won re-election in a landslide victory Saturday during the state conference’s 76th annual convention in Wilmington.

Ms. Maxwell, who was first elected in 2021 when she defeated incumbent NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman amid controversy, defeated challenger Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County Chapter of the NAACP, 73.53% (100 votes) to 26.47% (36 votes) on the last day of the three-day convention.

Rivers was seen as someone reportedly hostile to Maxwell’s leadership of the civil rights conference, as was Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter President Rev. Corine Mack, who was defeated by Courtney Patterson for conference first vice president, 34.81% (47 votes) to 65.19% (88 votes).

Maxwell and Patterson were elected to two-year terms via the controversial Election Buddy system employed at the convention to elect a new slate of state conference Executive Committee officers.

Ms. Maxwell had previously served as president of the New Hanover County NAACP, the host county of this year’s convention.

        She told The News and Observer of Raleigh that "...she won a second term despite the earlier rancor by focusing on what’s important — issues such as voting rights, health care and education."

         “Just working collaboratively with people,” she told The N&O. “The cause is the same regardless of who’s at the helm.”

     Even though Pres. Maxwell surrounded herself with an impressive display of political leadership during the convention, including such personages as Gov. Roy Cooper, former Senior Associate State Supreme Justice Mike Morgan, and State Atty. Gen. Josh Stein to name a few, her one-term tenure as NAACP NC president is considered by many observers to be unremarkable in terms of its political activism.

There has been no continuation of the Moral Monday or Historic Thousands on Jones Street coalition building major demonstrations that marked the previous leadership terms of NC NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber or Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. 

And Maxwell has said very little in opposition to the regressive policies of the Republican-led NC General Assembly.

Whether her quiet style of civil rights leadership in the face of mounting challenges like anti-critical race theory protests in the public schools or the legislature passing new laws to remove the governor’s election board appointment powers will stay intact, remains to be seen, but with the 2024 gubernatorial and presidential election campaign seasons now underway, what role the NAACP NC will play in protecting the right to vote  will be closely watched.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Let’s say you own a small private business, and one of your customers is the state of North Carolina. It’s not much, but it is a contract that can help your business grow.

Well be forewarned - as of this week, the state of North Carolina can come into your office, home, or wherever you keep your business records, and conduct an exhaustive  search for documents without a warrant or court permission.

All it takes is an anonymous tip from anyone alleging fraud, abuse or corruption, and no court of law is involved.

Don’t believe it? Then take the time to call the new Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations (JLCGO) - a new bipartisan investigative group of state lawmakers who will have the authority to probe allegations of fraud, mismanagement, or fiscal malfeasance in state or local government agencies, or even nongovernmental entities that receive state funding either directly or indirectly.

The JLCGO - which originally was just a study group -  was slipped into the new, recently passed $30 billion state budget, and almost immediately caught the attention of Democrats in the state House and Senate. 

Republican legislative leaders were quick to say the drastic change to JLCGO is needed because of the state’s poor response to hurricane emergencies. It is true that years after hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018, there are still North Carolinians who had their homes destroyed who are waiting for Gov. Cooper’s administration to either rebuild their properties, or help them in other meaningful ways.

Apparently hearings about the problems failed to uncover satisfactory answers from administration officials. Republicans say their questions were “stonewalled.”

“Why is it taking so long for these people to get back in their houses? What’s taking so long. So, when our Gov Ops committee went in and started asking these same questions, they were stonewalled as well,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

Questions were also asked about the use of federal funds that were dispersed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and if much of the money earmarked to help the needy actually did.

“It’s not a partisan thing. It is something that is designed to assist the General Assembly and all members of the General Assembly in carrying out our constitutional obligations to oversee the money that’s being spent,” said Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger. “We think this is an appropriate step to take in order to carry out our constitutional obligations.” 

But instead of looking specifically into those instances of alleged mismanagement, the Republican-led General Assembly created the JLCGO with broad powers that Democrats feel may violate citizen rights and constitutional protections.

Rep. Allison Dahle (D-Wake) said the JLCGO is designed to become a “secret police” for the state, and could potentially be misused to carry out grudges against state or local agencies, or even nongovernmental entries like private businesses that do business with the state and receive state money.

She called it a “scary, scary step.”

Sen. Graig Meyer (D- Hillsborough) also warned during budget debate that the JLCGO, in addition to a new law that allows state lawmakers to ignore requirements of the state records law, will ultimately lead to a “dangerous level of intrusive and dark government.”

The JLCGO is currently comprised of 42 legislative members from both parties that is co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Berger and House Speaker Moore, who recently announced that he will not be running for re-election in 2024.