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Thursday, December 4, 2014

#FergusonEverywhere: Leaders and young folks debate how to move forward

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

We are mad as hell, we are sick of this happening and we need leadership.

This was the message brought to lawmakers and community leaders Tuesday night at Dupp & Swat, a local boutique and creative space in NoDa, as it hosted Going up on a Tuesday, an event in connection with #FergusonEverywhere, a nationwide response to cases of police brutality disproportionately affecting African-Americans.

The event began rather low-key as about 50 people watched a slideshow of photos from Ferguson, Missouri, by local photographer Alvin Jacobs Jr., and listened to his compelling stories from the front lines of the protests. By the time he finished, the diverse crowd had doubled in size.

The panel of local leaders included former city councilwoman Beth Pickering, N.C. Rep. Kelly Alexander, attorney Matt Newton, Corine Mack from the NAACP, N.C. Rep. Rodney Moore, community activist Robert Dawkins and Sam Spencer, the former president of NC Young Democrats. Each gave a brief overview of the success they’ve had working within the establishment and touted establishment objectives like petitions, supporting legislation (like the nondiscrimination ordinance being voted on by City Council on Monday) and bills they planned to introduce during the next General Assembly session. The crowd listened politely.

But when the question and answer period came, the young people in the audience turned up.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

With no indictment in Ferguson, are we back to square one on race?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM

If you happened to be twirling your radio dial here in Charlotte Monday night trying to find out what the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, had decided in the case against Darren Wilson — the police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August — you may have stumbled on me in the middle of a high-volume, four-hour-long “discussion” of that situation on News-Talk station 1110-AM WBT. The passionate responses I heard regarding the decision to not indict Wilson were as hot as anywhere else in the country. The only difference between what was going on here as compared to cities ranging from New York to Los Angeles was that, thankfully, ours didn’t escalate to the physically violent category.

Instead, what you would have heard fell into one of two general categories. The majority of the station’s predominantly conservative, white listeners lambasted me as a despicable "race-baiting liberal" who was just trying to stir up trouble like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. But according to many others who were persistent and patient enough to get through the jammed phone lines, I deserved to be congratulated for having the courage to demand that we deal with the problem of institutional racism rearing its head in this country again, which appears to be allowing cops get away with killing African-American men with impunity.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: New civil war erupts in South Carolina!

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 12:15 PM

This just in: In a startling move guaranteed to relaunch the Civil War (oh, sorry, please forgive us, make that “The War Against Northern Aggression”), U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel of Charleston, South Carolina, ruled Wednesday that godless homosexuals have the same right as heterosexuals to ruin their lives in legally binding contracts called “marriages."

Thankfully, however, that decision was immediately put on a one-week hold as South Carolina’s Attorney General filed an appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, even though that seems to be a lost cause, as the appeals court has ruled against those challenges in every other similar case so far. Still, residents of the state are counting on some illusive Higher Power to miraculously come to their assistance, insisting that the vote of a landslide majority of the people of the state banning gay marriages in 2006 should be the final answer on the issue.

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The School Board/Morrison drama continues

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 11:21 AM

One of the cardinal rules governing the norms of human social interaction is that if someone is trying to hide bad or embarrassing news from the rest of the community, that effort is doomed to fail. Sooner or later, the truth, or some version of it, is going to be revealed. So if any of the people involved with the debacle concerning the so-called resignation of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison thought they’d get away with a bunch of phony handshakes and gritted-teeth smiles as he ran out of town as fast as he could, well, you’ve got to wonder what they’ve been drinking lately.

Last night, the School Board’s General Legal Counsel, George Battle III, sent a scathing email to the members of the Board, which he also made public. By early evening, the letter had been posted on various personal Facebook pages. In it, he describes in some detail a series of events going back to September involving allegations of financial and budgetary shenanigans and disagreements between Battle and Morrison over raises for legal department personnel, as well as Morrison’s handling of other budgetary issues.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local TV station runs story on undocumented immigrants faking crimes for visa, offers one example of fraud

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 3:57 PM

In the mornings, I usually put on CBS This Morning in the background while getting ready for work. Out of all the morning news shows, I find it the least distracting. (Mostly) straight-up news without the gimmicks.

But yesterday, I was on another channel, and a promo for an investigative piece from the local station caught my attention. The words "undocumented residents" drew me away from the bathroom mirror and toward the TV. The words "what if those applications are bogus, and those people really haven't been victims of crimes?" turned my stomach.

I didn't get a chance to catch WSOC's broadcast live last night, but I found it online. The headline on the story reads: "Illegal immigrants faking crimes to stay in Charlotte."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veterans Day, politicians play, but we need to take care of business!

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:13 AM

If you needed any evidence that the 2016 elections campaigning has already begun (before the print is even dry on last week’s ledgers), you got it in flashing neon signs yesterday. Locally, you can thank Gov. Pat McCrory, and where the rest of the country is concerned, the Obama administration.

As is typically the case — and in advance of the state and federal recognition today of Veterans Day — both exhibited absolutely no shame in pandering to and using our servicemen and women as backdrops in pursuing their goals. Making patriotic-sounding announcements from a stage wrapped in red, white and blue, while military planes soar overhead, is always worth a few extra votes on Election Day, am I right?

From the White House, President Obama’s newly appointed head of the embattled Veterans Administration, Robert McDonald, announced Monday a top-to-bottom overhaul of the agency. This, after many months of headlines in which we learned that those who had risked their lives for our safety have been getting sub-standard health care, or worse, here at home. And in visiting the NC Veterans Home in Salisbury yesterday, McCrory announced the creation of NC4VETS, which he described as a “one-stop shopping” Web and print resource center to help provide vets with the information they need in figuring out what services are available across various agencies. (Pay no attention to the barely muffled guffaws coming from those vets over in the corner; they’re just a tad cynical after having been told help was on the way for at least the past four decades now.)

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Opening Day in North Carolina politics!

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 12:14 PM

If you’re sick of the negative political ads that have been dominating our TV airwaves for the past six months, we’ve got bad news for you — you haven’t seen anything yet. That’s because with the passing of Labor Day, we’ve reached the real Opening Day of the political season.

Everything that’s come to this point has just been pre-season training: raising money, calculating strategy, putting the teams in place. From this point on, though, things get serious. It’s too late for candidates to change up their game plans.

In North Carolina, the stakes are so much higher than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Arguably the fate of the entire world, at least in part, is in the hands of North Carolina’s voters.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Charlotte paying to live up to the NBA’s standards?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Here we go again. On Monday night City Council agreed to spend $27.5 million to “upgrade” the 9-year-old Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the Charlotte Hornets, “to the current NBA standard.” Let the uproar, the outrage and the political squabbling begin.

Well, maybe not. In fact, the “fight” appears to be over before it even began as City Council technically had to agree to the improvements — well, unless they wanted to get the lawyers involved. The city penned a contract with the Hornets nine years ago that contractually obligates us to “pay up” now, which leaves me and you holding the bag.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Really, senator? The coal ash bill is something we should be proud of?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Submitted for your consideration, this entry into the “most blatantly, obviously absurd statements by a politician in this election year” category: After the General Assembly finally ended what should have been a short session to handle a budget shortfall on Wednesday, in which it passed a bill to address Duke Energy’s third-worst coal-ash spill in U.S. history earlier this year — a bill that was mired for months in the highest drama, conflict and controversy — the senator who led the work on that bill, Republican Tom Apodaca of Henderson, told the Charlotte Observer, probably with a straight face, “This makes North Carolina the leader in coal ash management in the United States. I think we can go home proud.”

Really, senator? We’re now the leader in handling coal ash in the nation? And this bill — well, this law, assuming Gov. McCrory signs it, as everyone expects him to do — is something we should be strutting around about? Let’s take a moment to examine that assertion just a bit, shall we?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Photos of bloodied Palestinian children are 'flat-out propaganda'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Several hundred people gathered in Romare Bearden Park in Uptown Sunday afternoon to show their support for the State of Israel, which is in the midst of the latest flare-up in the long-standing, bitter, violent struggle with the Palestinian/Muslim/Arabs in that part of the world. Not far away, a smaller group — not that the size mattered — gathered to support the other side. This morning, the finger-pointing continued across the sea, as both sides accused the other of having been responsible for a bomb that went off near a hospital.

Before I share my thoughts on the conflict, you should know that I’ve lived nearly the entirety of my life in this Billy Graham/Jim and Tammy Faye/Elevation Church/conservative/evangelical Christian town as an outsider, a Northern-born Jew, bullied as a “Christ-killer” on the first-grade playground. I was criticized by the other side as a liberal, non-affiliated Jew (that means I didn’t belong to a congregation) who dared to ask publicly more than a quarter-century ago what almost every other Jew in town was asking privately — whether it was a good idea for the town’s Jews to build a “self-imposed ghetto.”

I was also the organizer of a series of interfaith discussions every Monday night on WBT radio when I worked at the station, which lead to me being labelled “The Anti-Christ” by the Rev. Joe Chambers (of “Barney-the-Purple-Dinosaur-is-Gay” fame), who then implored, via his 10,000-member mailing list, that my show, and the station, be boycotted until I was removed from the airwaves. As the director of programming at a non-profit community center, I organized a series of interfaith celebrations, as well as dialogues between Israelis and Palestinians.

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