Friday, October 28, 2011

ANSWERING JOHN TEDESCO’S WAKEED BLOG RESPONSE PART 1

                                           TEDESCO
    
            I have been reading, with great interest and equal amusement, Wake School Board Vice Chairman John Tedesco’s response to my story, "“Chairman” Tedesco An Issue in District 3 Wake School Board Race."
           
            The detailed story, tracking Tedesco’s career in government over the past decade, raises the reasonable question of not only the District 2 school board member’s maturity, temperament and leadership abilities - all qualities that any decent elected head of a governing body should have in respectable measures - but also, what do we really know about John Tedesco after watching him in action after the past two years.

            Most importantly, the story asks, should the school board member we see today, be the next chairman of the Wake County Public School Board that parents, children and citizens can trust to lead with honesty, integrity and skill tomorrow, especially if Republican - Tea Party candidate Heather Losurdo defeats Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill in the Nov. 8th District 3 runoff?

            As most citizens who are paying attention know, the official outcome of that important contest will determine not only the balance of power on the Wake School Board, and the direction of the board for at least the next two years, but also who will indeed lead the board during that time.

            So a lot is at stake, no matter what the voters of District 3 decide, and it is my job, as a journalist, to accurately review, report and, yes, expose the record in that regard.

            To be blunt, Heather Losurdo isn’t the 800 lb. gorilla here.

            John Tedesco is.

            With fellow Republican board member Debra Goldman having already served as vice chair and still really not trusted by her GOP colleagues; Chris Malone leaving soon to run for the state House (though adding school board chair to his campaign flyers couldn’t hurt before he leaves); and Deborah Prickett not likely to be chosen over the current vice chairman to replace the dethroned Chairman Ron Margiotta; pure logic suggests that if the board Republicans hang on to their 5-4 majority after Nov. 8th, then John T. Tedesco will be the next chair.

            So despite Mr. Tedesco’s bloviated “Who me?” protestations to obscure the obvious political pot-of-gold he knows is in store for him if Losurdo wins, make no mistake, this runoff is as much about him and his leadership, as it is about the next Wake School Board.

            That was the premise on which I began to research my story. And because I did, and found both previously unknown pictures...
          Tedesco, as Borough Administrator of HighLands, NJ at a 2001 holiday party (courtesy Highlands Business Partnership website)
 ...and solid facts about John Tedesco - a public official of which all of us know really very little  - he accuses me of lying about, and “demonizing” him.

            If by “demonizing” Tedesco means I’m exposing what he’s up to, or what he really means, or a truth he’s not telling, then I plead very guilty.

            But he also uses my alleged “demonizing” of him as an excuse for not once in two years, sitting down, face-to-face, like men, and interviewing with me, taking the tough questions like a true leader of character and fortitude should. If I’m doing something wrong, or acting dishonorably, the best way to stop me and expose me is to confront me…with the truth, to my face, for all the world to see.

            Not hide from me. How could a “liar” damage you, if you have the truth, and can prove it?

            If by “lying” Tedesco means I’m deliberately setting out to deceive my readers about him and his actions, not a chance. You don’t last in journalism as long as I have in this market, or anywhere, for that matter, with that kind of behavior. In fact, it’s because I have relentlessly sought the truth about those elected officials sworn to serve the public, but do a better job serving their own interests, that I’m trusted to do my job, and have been so for over twenty-years.

I’ve learned during that time that when a politician starts screaming “liar” after I’ve exposed them, it’s their way of saying, “Ouch,” when I’m getting close to the truth.

            So I understand Mr. Tedesco’s overheated reaction very well. It’s typical.

            So let’s check the record and see if any of John Tedesco’s accusations against me and my story hold any water, shall we? This is part 1 of my two-part reply.

            Mr. Tedesco’s remarks and accusations from the 10-27-11 N&O WakeEd Blog are in red:

            Cash,
            I understand it serves you well to keep demonizing me. Try not to use so many lies with only a sprinkle of truth. Not that I could ever correct all your lies, but let's try a few.

            Actually, Mr. Tedesco, it serves my readers “well” to be kept informed about what you, and the rest of the Wake School Board are up to. When you make political speeches at Tea Party rallies regularly across the state, telling folks about instilling your “conservative values” into our education system...


             ...instead of good, sound apolitical instruction and guidance, believe me, it serves us all “well” to keep an eye on someone who is two weeks away from actually carrying through with his political agenda.
            By the way, your repeatedly stated angst about my reporting “so many lies” about you that it would be hard to “correct all,” is an old worn out rhetorical cover for the basic fact that you have no factually-based, truthful answer for much of what I’ve uncovered. For if you did, you would revel in knocking them ALL down, one-by-one.
            But we’ll do it your way, by looking at the “few” that you did brave to tackle.

            Outright lie #1. I NEVER attempted to take credit for a rise in 2008 graduation rates because it never happened. I have repeated numerously that our graduation rates declined 5 consecutive years in a row from 05-06. Only now in 2011 did they rise for which I credit our teachers, principals and students.

            Nice spin, but let’s go to the WCPSS website at http://www.wcpss.net/news/2011_august4_graduation_rate/ for the correct answer:
            The state defines the 2010-11 four-year cohort graduation rate as the percentage of students who entered the 9th grade for the first time during the 2007-08 school year and who earned a diploma by June of 2011. Students who transfer into a school on grade level are added to that school’s cohort, and those who transfer out are removed. Students who earn a certificate of completion are in the cohort, but are not counted as graduates.

            The students who graduated in 2011 “entered the 9th grade for the first time during the 2007-08 school year,” WCPSS says. That is one whole year before John Tedesco was elected to the board, and that is the last cohort anyone has figures on. Those students entered high school under the old student diversity policy, and matriculated under that policy even after the Republican-led board took office in December 2009.
            The record will show that the current board spent most of its time from 2009 to 2011 dealing with student assignment issues, doing very little at all to address student achievement. Indeed, the record will also show that the board’s Republican leadership was willing to put the accreditation of the system’s high schools at-risk in its fight with AdvancEd, almost rendering the hard-earned diplomas of the 2007-2008 class worthless to most universities after four years of hard work.
            So the improvements put in place over four years ago by Supt. Del Burns and Academic Officer Donna Hargens, per the curriculum management audit they conducted, bore fruit with the 2007-2008 class, that led to 2011’s much improved graduation rates.
            Did Tedesco try to take credit for this? He says he “NEVER attempted to,” but a posting on his Facebook page (which has now been render “unavailable”) and a Sept. 15th email from Tedesco titled “Dollars and Sense - Results Matter,” suggests otherwise.
            In a missive to “Friends,” Tedesco wrote:
            In 2009, the Wake County Public School System had just completed 5 consecutive years of declining graduation rates, broadening achievement gaps, climbing suspensions (21,000 in Wake led NC which is 4th in US), skyrocketing expenses, 24,000 students had been reassigned with the continued quota-based busing, and Wake had laid-off hundreds of our dedicated teachers.
            Our parents and tax-payers demanded better and elected a new board. At that time I was honored to join that new team with nearly 77% of the vote. The contentious status quo supporters loudly proclaimed the sky would quickly fall due to the new family friendly conservative leadership. Well, results matter.
            Two years later:
            We now have 165 schools serving approximately 147,000 children with 18,000 employees and a $1.5 billion budget. Graduation rates are heading up, suspensions are down, schools are safer, we are at an all time efficiency rate, and performance gains are being made for all children.
            This year graduation rates exceeded 80% posting the first gains in 7 years and placing Wake as number 3 in America of the nation's top 100 large districts. The 62% for African American students was a 6% gain over the past two years.

            Now I don’t know about you, but when someone writes that “Two years later” after he and his group came on a school board, the improvements “our parents and taxpayers demanded” are now coming into reality, I think most reasonable people would say, yes, he’s attempting to take credit.
            And just why would John Tedesco “attempt” to do that?
            Let’s go to the bottom of his email:

            We are grateful to the countless teachers, administrators and parents who help our schools achieve new heights every day. I am honored to serve as our Vice Chair along side of our Chairman, Ron Margiotta. I think we as a community owe Ron Margiotta a note of appreciation for his leadership in these efforts and a big thank you to the rest of our team as they stand strong as servant leaders (Deborah Prickett, Debra Goldman and Chris Malone).
            Be sure to tell all your friends of the School Board elections Oct.11th.  Keeping Mr. Margiotta and adding a couple of more board members who focus on students first this October can ensure that the best is yet to come.

            Notice how Tedesco shares “credit” with Margiotta and the rest of the board Republicans, but absolutely none of the board’s Democrats, as if they had nothing to do with any of the alleged “successes.”
            So yes, Mr. Tedesco, in your own writing, from your own email, you DID “attempt” to take credit for success Del Burns and Donna Hargens were responsible for long before you set foot in the system building!
            So much for “Outright Lie #1.”

            Lie #2. I was never FORCED to apologize to Mrs. Goldman for my inappropriate emotional moment. I chose to apologize to her publicly within 24 hours because that is what human beings do – they make mistakes and then seek forgiveness. I made a mistake and sought forgiveness out of humility.

            Extreme embarrassment is more like it, Mr. Tedesco. Your extraordinarily undignified outburst at a public meeting, rhetorically and relentlessly attacking and bullying a female colleague personally in front of television cameras and the public, raised very serious questions about your fitness for office and mental stability, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of even your staunchest supporters.

            The raw videotape of your Oct. 6th, 2010 incident where you called Debra Goldman “prom queen,” and “Ms. Pinky Hairdo,” an insensitive slur to a breast cancer survivor that you denied to WRAL-TV, even though they had you dead-to-rights on video saying it, also shows Chairman Margiotta finally barking “Enough!” to shut you down, and board members Carolyn Morrison and Anne McLaurin reacting in visible and audible disgust.

            I never said that anyone specific "forced" you to apologize (though I'm sure someone proverbially took you by the ear to read you the riot act). I said that you WERE forced to apologize, whether you’re honest enough to admit it or not, because you were in a no-win situation. No matter what Debra Goldman did, you knew (and I’m sure you were told) that what you did threatened your credibility, and the longer you allowed it to grow, the more your actions and behavior endangered not only your personal agenda, but the board majority’s political agenda.


            None of what I've laid out is guess work. It’s logic, Mr. Tedesco. You were the absolute villain on every TV station and in every newspaper and blogsite in the market. Your family, friends and neighbors saw it. The people in your church, where you profess to be a Christian, saw it. Heck, the Wake Republican Party saw it. You were radioactive! If you didn’t fix it fast, with full and unadulterated contrition, it would have been a complete disaster for you.
           
            And you knew it!

            I might also add that with little more than a polite smile and a “Calm down now John,” Debra Goldman had you where she wanted you. She was getting support and sympathy from people who didn’t even like her. Remember, Tedesco, her “treachery” of voting against the 16-zone plan you worked so hard on was supposed to be a campaign issue in 2011 (don’t bother denying it, I have Margiotta and Malone saying exactly that).

            After what she publicly did to you, you couldn’t possibly let Goldman win! In fact, forget 24-hours. For many months after, you still treated her like an outcast. The subsequent tapes from WPTF-AM’s Bill Lumaye Show prove it!

            So yes, you were FORCED, Tedesco, you had NO options BUT to be contrite a lot sooner than you had planned. You had no other options! Save that, “because that is what human beings do – they make mistakes and then seek forgiveness. I made a mistake and sought forgiveness out of humility…” masquerade for Halloween, where it belongs!

PART TWO FORTHCOMING!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“CHAIRMAN TEDESCO” SEEN AS DISTRICT 3 WAKE SCHOOL BOARD ISSUE

                                                        TEDESCO

by Cash Michaels
An analysis

            According to John Tedesco’s “Basic Information” on his Facebook page, the District 2 Wake School Board member touts himself as being “widely recognized for his leadership and accomplishments as a public servant…,” although he’s only been in elected office just short of two years. 
            On the "Our Leadership" page of The North Carolina Center for Education Reform (NCER), the nonprofit group that Tedesco was recently appointed president/CEO of, he is listed as a "proven public sector leader" and "transformative force."
             Per his Facebook "work info," Tedesco says he was once "city manager" from 2000-2002 of Highlands, a small town of over 5,000 by the  New Jersey shore.
              Tedesco again touts himself as once being a "city manager" on the NCER "Our Leadership" page, again referring to Highlands.
            Town officials there say his actual title was "borough administrator" (local newspaper clippings confirm this) and Tedesco's tenure wasn't as productive as he portrays.
            In fact, it was a failure.



    
 TEDESCO AS HIGHLANDS, NJ BOROUGH ADMINISTRATOR AT A 2001 HOLIDAY PARTY WITH LOCAL BUSINESSPEOPLE AND OFFICIALS (pictures from Highlands Business Partnership website)

            According to a Sept. 12, 2002 story in the local Asbury Park Press newspaper titled, "Council Lets Official Go," Tedesco was unceremoniously "relieved" of his duties, by a four-to-one vote of the Highlands Borough Council, on Sept. 4th of that year.
           "We need leadership in the borough," then Council President Robert M. Rauen, the senior member, is quoted as saying. "There was no one specific reason that the council came to the decision to relieve John of his duties."
             Though at least one councilperson, a friend sources say, tried to stick up for Tedesco, Rauen was adamant, and apparently the majority of the Highlands Council felt the same.
              "Leadership is the key at this point," Council President Rauen insisted. "This is a quality position, and we need leadership."
             In a letter upon his dismissal, Tedesco wrote that despite his "drive, passion and commitment for this community...all of my efforts could not combat the fact that I was naive to believe that hard work and progress could stand above politics as usual."
             The newspaper, like the town council, wasn't buying it, however. The Asbury Park Press reported that because the council, "...has had an issue with the timeliness of Tedesco's performance," it, the paper later continued, "... opted to relieve him of his duties immediately."
             "So, basically the issue with Tedesco was lack of leadership on his part and not completing tasks assigned by the council in a timely fashion," a well-placed source in Highlands who asked not to be named, said.
               Sources in Highlands say that Administrator Tedesco proved not to be qualified for the job, among other problems. And they dispute his claim that "politics" was the real reason for his dismissal, saying that though he was hired by an all-Republican council in 2000, at the insistence of a local prominent businesswoman, Tedesco was terminated by a bi-partisan board with a 3-2 GOP majority.
              The two council Democrats reportedly voted with Rauen and the Highlands mayor - two of the original officials who hired him in the first place - to show Tedesco the door, sources maintain.
              Not surprisingly, Wake School Board Vice Chair John T. Tedesco today, almost a decade later, does not tell that story of how he lost his job as "city manager" on his Facebook page, or anywhere else.
           But he insists on being seen as “widely recognized for his leadership and accomplishments as a public servant….”
          On that same Facebook page, the Republican-led board vice chair says he’s a “Garner family man…,” though he isn’t married (the divorced Tedesco is reportedly engaged) and has no known natural offspring. Indeed, Tedesco fancies himself on his Facebook page as a “true champion of children” and also having a “…unique background and expertise on educational issues [that] has earned him national recognition.”
            Apparently Tedesco is hailing his many “anti-liberal” speeches across the state at right-wing Tea Party rallies, trumpeting his role in helping to dismantle Wake Public School System’s once nationally recognized socioeconomic student diversity policy in favor of racially identifiable neighborhood schools. 
           One high-profile neighborhood schools critic, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, during a visit to Raleigh this week, said he “[didn’t]…think it [was] in the best interests of children or the community” because of the prospect of creating black and Hispanic high poverty, scarcely resourced, very expensive low-performing schools.
            Last January, in a Washington Post letter to the editor, Sec. Duncan fired one of the first shots at the Tedesco-backed policy, calling it “troubling.”
           And even satirist Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central gave Tedesco both rhetorical barrels when he blistered the young conservative in January, not only by name, but with Fox News footage of Tedesco justifying the Wake move to neighborhood schools.
                   
            "Luckily,” Colbert mocked, “Tedesco is part of a group of Tea Party-backed Republican school board members who recently voted for Wake County schools to go back to the old system of separate neighborhood schools to better teach the kids the three 'R's.”
 As Colbert deadpanned, the words "Readin', 'Ritin', and Resegregatin'" then flashed on the screen.
Indeed, Tedesco proudly defends publicly accusing past Democratic Wake School Board members of “sprinkling” low-performing black children throughout the system so that they would be “hidden,” and leaders such as Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker of “institutional racism” for supporting socioeconomic student diversity in the first place.
Tedesco has been accused by fellow board members, like District 4’s Keith Sutton, of stretching the truth about the Republican-led board’s accomplishments in student achievement, among other things, recently taking credit for a rise in 2008 graduation rates when Tedesco didn’t even get on the board until 2009, for instance.
And black leaders are still bristling after Tedesco, who is white, in a letter to a local white pastor, boasted he knew more, cared more and DID more, about educating black children than black leadership like the NCNAACP because of, among other life experiences, "a few ex-girlfriends who were African-American and Latino."
       Whatever the criticisms of his brash, over-the-top style that Tedesco claims have since rolled off his back, the vice chairman’s political fortunes are about to change, depending on how the Nov. 8th District 3 runoff turns out.
In the wake of the devastating Oct. 11th school board elections which saw four Democrats defeat Republicans, including Chairman Ron Margiotta, who was voted out of office after eight years, the outspoken Tedesco is just one election away of getting what his many critics say he must not have if Wake Public Schools are to turn away from the divisiveness of the past two years.
       The chairmanship.
       While partisans in the officially  nonpartisan District 3 North Raleigh runoff race between Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill and Republican-Tea Party challenger Heather Losurdo battle it out, the apparent bottomline is that if Losurdo wins, the board Republicans maintain their 5-4 majority, and Vice Chair Tedesco is favored to become chair, replacing the deposed Margiotta.
                                                HILL
        If Hill retains his seat for a second term, however, then the Democrats on the board regain the majority they lost in 2009 when Tedesco and three other Republicans were elected to join Margiotta in an historic overhaul of student diversity.
        A diversity policy that assured that black and Latino students had access to the same quality education and instruction that their white counterparts had in the system, and saw test scores soar a decade ago as a result.
        And while Democrats have gotten the message that the 3-4 percent of system busing for diversity per the previous policy is something many Wake parents are leery of if it threatens their child’s stability in school, new Democratic board members, set to be sworn-in in December, say allowing any student assignment plan, including Supt. Anthony Tata’s just approved school choice plan, to create more high poverty schools, is unacceptable.
         They believe that stability, proximity and student achievement can equally co-exist in the same plan, something that is not evident now.
         Translation - stopping Losurdo, a three -year resident who once lead the Northern Wake Republican Club and agreed with her husband that President Obama was “like a skunk,” means stopping Tedesco.
And stopping Tedesco from becoming Wake School Board chair, critics say, means preventing more high poverty schools.
        “We have already had several years of bad leadership--bad leadership that has caused our nationally recognized, award winning school system to come under the scrutiny of the Office of Civil Rights, and placed our high school accreditation in jeopardy,” Patty Williams, spokesperson for Great Schools in Wake Coalition, a nonprofit pro-diversity group, said.  “Tedesco is a political ideologue whose use of highly charged rhetoric and penchant for misusing facts (remember--he tried to justify resegregating our schools by invoking the 1954 Brown v. Board decision!) has divided our community.”
         “The recent election of three new members to the School Board was a cry for civility and common sense governance,” Williams continued. “It was a cry for a return for reasoned public engagement, thoughtful reflection, and a focus on student achievement--not merely assignment.  Tedesco as Chair takes our eyes off the prize--the 146,687 children who attend public school in Wake County.  And who could be more important than our children?”
Losurdo’s supporters have already hit the streets, and the airwaves, warning that if Hill is re-elected, the Republican neighborhood schools policy is doomed and there will be a “return to forced busing.”


They add that Supt. Tata’s school choice plan will be changed, and Tata himself will be shown the door, something that not one Democrat has ever uttered.
         No less than Tedesco himself, trying to directly link Hill with NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, a diversity advocate who has legally challenged the board, has been leading the scare tactics.
          “Hill and the winning Democratic school board candidates have talked about doing more to promote diversity in the new assignment plan"- and his allie (sic) Rev. Barber is calling for us to stop until we see if his buddy Hill can win a run-off on Nov. 8th so they can tinker with the new plan,” Tedesco posted on his Facebook page Oct. 17, the eve of the Wake School Board passing Tata’s plan 6-2, with both Hill and fellow Democrat Keith Sutton of District 4, voting to oppose.
         Hill has made clear that he supports the school choice plan, but voted against it because he felt key questions had not been answered or adequately addressed per assuring that all that could be done to prevent the creation of more low-performing, high poverty schools, was being done.
         If Hill isn’t reelected, supporters say, a Chairman Tedesco-led Wake School Board, will never address them.
         “If this new assignment plan has any hope of succeeding, the details must be worked out and shared with the public,” says Yevonne Brannon, chair of Great Schools in Wake Coalition. “Successful implementation of any new plan will require conscientious board members who are not afraid to ask tough questions that uncover the "devil in the details" and who will not lose sight of student achievement.”
         Others point to Tedesco’s aggressive behavior when he doesn’t get his way, as he did in October 2010 when, after fellow Republican Debra Goldman made it clear she would not support his 16-zone school choice plan, an angry, snippy Tedesco verbally attacked her during a board work session  in front of television cameras, calling Goldman “prom queen” and “Ms. Pinky Hair-Do.”
         He was later forced to apologize publicly for his behavior.
         Wake Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul, credited with steering the Democratic school board victories, wrote followers earlier this week in an email message titled, “Chairman Tedesco,” Recall that it was John Tedesco who vowed at a Tea Party rally to, “keep bringing conservative values to education.”  He declared that “We stand on the forefront of a new American Revolution … and I think it’s fitting that that revolution, again in 2011, begin with a tea party!”
          Chairman Paul continued,” Stephen Colbert best captured Mr. Tedesco’s vision for Wake County:  “take a successful school system, concentrate the poorest children into a handful of schools, and then allocate extra resources to address the problem created by this approach.”  In other words, he believes that only by breaking the school system can we fix it.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said it’s crucial for the voters of District 3 on Nov. 8th to “make their choice.”
        “I think they’re going to make the right choice,” Meeker told the Power 750 WAUG-AM radio program “Make It Happen” last week. “We can move forward as a community together, or we can get back to these partisan agendas, and have someone like John Tedesco be the chair.”
         “I think it’s a pretty clear choice,” Meeker concluded, referring to fellow Democrat Kevin Hill, “ and I think the people of District 3 will make the right choice.”
           John Tedesco has repeatedly been invited to sit down and interview with this reporter, but has repeatedly refused, instead accusing me of "demonizing" him and the work of the Republican-led Wake School Board.
                                                            -30-
             
             SPECIAL NOTE - JOHN TEDESCO RESPONDS TO MY EXPOSE'

        SPECIAL NOTE - HEAR MORE ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF A "CHAIRMAN" JOHN TEDESCO, AND WHY CERTAIN PEOPLE DON'T WANT IT, ON A SPECIAL EDITION OF "MAKE IT HAPPEN," 4 P.M THURSDAY ON POWER 750 WAUG-AM/POWER 750.COM, OR DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST STARTING AT 5 P.M.
           DOWNLOAD SEGMENT 1
           DOWNLOAD SEGMENT 2

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CONGRESS HONORS THE FIRST BLACK MARINES

  Houses Passes Bill to Award North Carolina’s Montford 
             Point Marines the Congressional Gold Medal

U.S. Rep. Brad Miller Pays Tribute to the Marines on the House floor
                


Washington, D.C. – Nearly 70 years ago, the first black Marines began training at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina because they were not allowed access on the all-white Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Marines for serving with distinction during World War II while enduring injustice at home.

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to a civilian or groups of civilians as the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

 Full text of remarks is below:

MR. SPEAKER, I RISE TO SUPPORT AWARDING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES. WE HAVE HONORED THE ARMY’S BUFFALO SOLDIERS AND THE AIR FORCE’S TUSKEGEE AIRMEN.  IT’S TIME TO GIVE THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES THE HONOR THAT IS THEIR DUE.

THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES FOUGHT AN ENEMY ABROAD AND INJUSTICE AT HOME. THEY SERVED WITH GREAT VALOR AND DISTINCTION, AND LOVED THEIR COUNTRY MORE THAN THEIR COUNTRY LOVED THEM AT THE TIME.

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT ORDERED IN 1941 THAT THE MARINE CORPS BE OPENED TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS, BUT THE MARINES CONSIDERED THEMSELVES THE MOST ELITE BRANCH OF OUR MILITARY, AND THE MOST TRADITIONAL, AND MANY RESENTED ROOSEVELT’S ORDER THAT AFRICAN-AMERICANS BE ACCEPTED.

THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES WERE HARDLY WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS.

THEIR SEGREGATED UNIT WAS STATIONED IN MONTFORD POINT, NORTH CAROLINA. THEY WERE NEAR CAMP LEJEUNE, BUT THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES COULD ONLY ENTER CAMP LEJEUNE IN THE COMPANY OF A WHITE OFFICER.  THEY WERE PASSED OVER FOR YEARS FOR PROMOTIONS THAT WHITE MARINES ACHIEVED IN WEEKS. WHEN THEY TRAINED WITH WHITE MARINES, WHICH WAS RARE, THEY WAITED UNTIL WHITE MARINES HAD EATEN BEFORE THEY WENT THROUGH THE CHOW LINE.

THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES WERE SENT TO THE PACIFIC THEATRE TO SERVE BEHIND THE LINES, NOT IN COMBAT FOR WHICH THEY WERE PRESUMED TO BE UNSUITED. NO ONE TOLD THE JAPANESE, HOWEVER. THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES SERVED IN SAIPANIWO JIMA ANDOKINAWA, THREE OF THE BLOODIEST BATTLES IN THE PACIFIC. THEY CAME UNDER INTENSE FIRE AND SHOWED GREAT COURAGE, WINNING THE PRAISE OF SKEPTICAL WHITE OFFICERS.

PRESIDENT TRUMAN FULLY INTEGRATED THE ARMED FORCES IN 1948 AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARINES SERVED SIDE-BY-SIDE WITH WHITE MARINES IN KOREA AND IN EVERY CONFLICT SINCE THEN. THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE OF THE MONTFORD POINT MARINES LARGELY MADE THAT POSSIBLE.

GENERAL AMOS, THE COMMANDANT OF THE MARINES, SAID HE WANTS EVERY MARINE, FROM PRIVATE TO GENERAL, TO KNOW THE HISTORY OF THE MARINES WHO FOUGHT AN ENEMY OVERSEAS, AND RACISM AND SEGREGATION IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

I WANT EVERY MARINE, AND EVERY AMERICAN, TO KNOW THAT HISTORY.

Butterfield Cheers Passage of Bill to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Nation’s First Black Marines

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) today applauded the passage of H.R. 2447, a resolution to award the Montford Marines, the first African American Marines, a Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.

“This year we celebrated the life and contributions of several great African Americans, such as Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Professor Derrick Bell and, most recently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a memorial on the National Mall,” said Butterfield, a co-sponsor of the bill.  “It is only fitting that we also recognize the more than 19,000 African Americans that enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during a time when they themselves did not have the freedoms they fought to protect for the nation.  This bill recognizes the Montford Marines’ significant sacrifices, patriotism and invaluable contribution to American history.”

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order establishing the Fair Employment Practices Commission, which, for the first time, allowed African Americans to enlist in the United States Marine Corps.  The first African American Marines were trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina and later served in World War II.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NCNAACP PRESIDENT SAYS “WE MUST FIGHT BACK!”

By Cash Michaels
Editor

            Saying that,” We live in a time now…” where the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Act, “…are under attack," NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber challenged this year’s state NAACP Convention in High Point to “fight back” against injustice and disenfranchisement.
                              REV. WILLIAM BARBER
            “The strategy to stop any effort at Reconstruction has always consisted of four direct actions:  Attacking voting rights, attacking tax revenue and government programs and agencies designed to promote social uplift, attacking public educational policy, and attacking or assassinating white and black progressive leaders,” Rev. Barber told those gathered Saturday morning in his “The State of Civil Rights” address, after recalling how the historic period of black political and economic achievement after the Civil War in North Carolina was systematically decimated by white supremacists.
Rev. Barber recalled how the NAACP was born in 1909 by both black and white abolitionists to fight racial injustice in the South, and promote civil rights in the face of increasing intolerance.
He said that spirit and commitment must be reclaimed, in the face of a conservative rollback of civil rights, and takeover of government nationally, and here in North Carolina.
Barber was especially concerned about concerted effort in at least 30 states across the nation to suppress the voting power of blacks, Hispanics and young people with voter ID laws.
“Because of the power, necessity, and potential of the black, brown, and progressive vote, we must fight any attempts to suppress, segregate, isolate, or steal this right,” said Rev. Barber. “Everything we fight for, equal protection under the law, educational equality, economic justice, access to healthcare, are all directly impacted by voting, we must fight any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, or steal the power, necessity, and potential of our vote!”
“We must fight the forces trying to suppress our vote, and cut to the quick of the consciousness of our people who refuse to vote,” the civil rights leader later said.
Barber warned about the efforts of right-wing entities like the Tea Party and the wealthy industrialists, the Koch brothers.
“What we see happening today is not just about us, but also about the hope and the future of our children.  We must take it personally and fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal the power and potential of our vote,” Rev. Barber said.
Because we understand this so-called debt crisis created by the ultraconservative extreme right-wing is not just an effort to stop President Obama but an attempt to finalize a forty-year strategy to undermine, underfund, and destroy every program, like Social Security implemented in 1935 or Medicaid in 1960’s, that furthers the cause of justice for all and has sought to uplift the forces of oppression from the backs of black, brown, and poor people, we must fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal our vote,” the NCNAACP president continued.
“One percent of Americans own forty prevent of [this nation’s] wealth, and the wealth gap between the rich and poor is wider and deeper than the Great Depression.  Because there are those who want corporations to control the political process rather than we the people,” Rev. Barber said. “We must fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal the power and potential of our vote.”
Rev. Barber also noted how the poverty rate in North Carolina is at its highest since 1981, with more than one in four African-Americans in the state in poverty, and black unemployment up nationally to over 16 percent.
Barber also blasted steep budget cuts to social programs by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, including almost thirty percent from public education and Health and Human Services; twenty percent from state universities and community colleges; and ten percent from the courts and public safety.
Rev. Barber also addressed efforts across the state to resegregate black students in high poverty public schools.
“Because public education is under attack -- bold and brazen ultra conservative school broad members across the state and country advance policies of resegregation that create high poverty racially identifiable schools that undermine quality education for all, in the name of neighborhood schools and with premeditative goals to dismantle public education as we know it,” he said.
The NCNAACP leader took time to also blast the state Republican redistricting maps which allegedly “stack and pack” black voters to minority-majority districts so that the GOP could retain power and control on Jones Street.
Rev. Barber wasn’t happy that only one African-American federal judge sits in North Carolina’s federal courts, though blacks make up 22 percent of the state’s population.
“There are thirteen seats on North Carolina’s federal district courts; four in the Eastern District; four in the Middle District and five in the Western District,” Barber said. “Only one African American sits on a North Carolina federal district court: When James Beaty, Jr. is eligible to retire in 2014, there will be no African American representation.”
Rev. Barber concluded his remarks with a call to social justice arms.
“Now is the time for us to come out, fight back, and show this nation that we, the sons and daughters of freedom fighters, make one promise to America, from which we will never retreat,” The NCNAACP leader said.
“When it comes to our rights, ordained by God and guaranteed by our constitution, we will turn back we will never, never, never turn back from the battle.”
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GOV. PERDUE, OTHER TOP DEMOCRATS, HAIL WAKE SCHOOL BOARD VICTORIES

EXCLUSIVE
By Cash Michaels
Editor

            Top Democratic Party leaders in the state, including Gov. Beverly Perdue, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Congressman Brad Miller, are hailing last week’s near sweep in the contentious Wake School Board elections that saw four out of five Democrats win convincingly, with one remaining contest slated for a Nov. 8th runoff.
            In an exclusive interview with the radio program, “Make It Happen, “ which will air this afternoon at 4 p.m. on Power 750 WAUG-AM/Power 750.com, Gov. Perdue, in High Point last Friday to deliver a keynote luncheon address to the NCNAACP, said she hoped that the Democratic victories would help put an end to the “embarrassing” controversy of the Republican-led Wake School Board’s efforts to end student diversity since 2009.
                                   BEVERLY PERDUE
            “I thought it was embarrassing for the state to have folks across the nation talking about what was going on in Wake County school system. We're better than that,” Perdue told “Make It Happen,” referring to Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert’s satirical ribbing of Wake County Schools on national television several months ago for dismantling its diversity policy in favor of what some said would be a resegregated neighborhood schools policy.
            “The fact that there was ever a discussion about eliminating diversity as part of the opportunity for kids really was troublesome to me,” Perdue continued. “You've got to remember I grew up poor and without a fair chance of going to a great public school. I don't know what would have happened to me.”
            Gov. Perdue added, “I do understand parents who want community schools. I do think that is doable with diversity, and so I'm very hopeful.”
                                   CHARLES MEEKER
            Outgoing Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, whose wife, Dr. Anne McLaurin, will be leaving the Wake School Board next month, also saluted the Democratic victories as a welcomed promise of change from the Republican rancor and contentiousness of the last two years.
            “It really is remarkable,” Mayor Meeker said, pointing to the loss of Chairman Ron Margiotta, in his “especially gerrymandered [Republican] district” in Southwest Wake, to Democrat Susan Evans, as proof that voters wanted an immediate change.
            “They rejected not only his style of politics - the secret meetings, the rudeness and all of that - but also the substance, pushing divisive issues, bringing in racial parts, trying to allow under-performing schools…all of that has been rejected by our citizens.”
            Meeker continued, “I hope we’re headed towards a much better day of school board policy, where they focus on student achievement, and not politics.”
            The victories of NCSU Prof. Jim Martin, Christine Kushner, and incumbent Keith Sutton - who crushed his Republican challenger Venita Peyton with 81 percent of the vote - added further proof that Wake’s voters did not like the direction in which Chairman Margiotta was headed.
                                       BRAD MILLER
      Congressman Brad Miller (D-13-NC) echoed the sentiments of Gov. Perdue and Mayor Meeker, applauding the Democratic Wake School Board victories.
            “I was very pleased with the outcome,” Miller told “Make It Happen.” “ I’ve been very disturbed, as I know [others] have been, as to what has happened to the Wake County schools.”
             “We [once] had one of the nation’s best school systems, and we’ve done it while promoting diversity,” Rep. Miller continued. “If you have a division between rich schools and poor schools, it’s going to continue to pull further and further apart, because the rich schools will have more support.”
            “So I’m very pleased with the result, and I hope it puts us back on track to have a nationally recognized school system that gives kids a good education, and prepares them for anything they want for themselves in the future,” Miller added, hopeful that diversity will also return as a feature of Wake County Public Schools.
      That remains to be seen, however.
      By a 6-2 vote Tuesday evening, and at the strong urging of Wake Supt. Anthony Tata, the GOP-led school board adopted a school choice plan to begin the 2012-13 school year, that gives parents options on where to send their children.
            Critics, however, are concerned that because of capacity issues, the plan may create low-performing, high poverty neighborhood schools like the one the board just opened, Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh.
            The school is only two months old, and already it is over 100 students beyond capacity, an estimated 77 percent free-and-reduced lunch, and over 50 percent low-achieving, costing over $1 million more per year to operate than comparable elementary schools in the system.
                                         KEVIN HILL
            Two of the board’s four Democrats - Kevin Hill of District 3 and Keith Sutton of predominately black District 4, voted against the plan, echoing the concerns of many at a public hearing the previous week.
            Though the plan passed, due, in part, to Tata insisting that implementation needs to begin as soon as possible, the prospect of it being halted looms large, pending the Nov. 8th District 3 race between incumbent Kevin Hill, and Republican Tea Party challenger Heather Losurdo, who came in second to Hill in the election when he fell short 51 votes short of winning 50 percent of the total.
                                 HEATHER LOSURDO
            Losurdo, who has admitted to supporting the right-wing Tea Party and agreed with her husband on Facebook that President Obama was just like a skunk - “black, white and everything he does smells” - has already officially called for the runoff.
Early voting for the Nov. 8th runoff in District 3 began today.
            If Losurdo wins the runoff, the GOP retain their five-member majority on the board, and Vice Chair John Tedesco takes over for the outgoing Republican Chairman Ron Margiotta.
            Already the Wake Republican Party, which claims that President Obama’s national campaign organization was really responsible for the GOP losses, and the local Tea Party group, have begun to drum up conservative support for Losurdo. Both Margiotta and Tedesco have pledged their support from the board.
            And, just as in 2009 when four Republican candidates swept the school board elections with the help of outside conservative groups, Losurdo’s runoff campaign is expected to see an influx of those dollars.
            “There was ample funding of the right-wing takeover behind those candidates two years ago, and [the Oct. 11th] election as well,” Cong. Miller noted.
            However if Hill wins, the Democrats will takeover the board majority, and have already indicated that they will change the school choice plan to address the public’s concerns about student achievement and low-performing schools.
            Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said it’s crucial for the voters of District 3 to “make their choice.”
            “I think they’re going to make the right choice,” Meeker said. “We can move forward as a community together, or we can get back to these partisan agendas, and have someone like John Tedesco be the chair.”
            “I think it’s a pretty clear choice,” Meeker concluded, referring to fellow Democrat Kevin Hill, “ and I think the people of District 3 will make the right choice.”
             The Independent Weekly of Durham endorsed Hill Wednesday.
            Gov. Perdue was also hopeful for a Democratic majority on the Wake School Board.
            “The work is not done yet,” she told Power 750 AM’s “Make It Happen.” “There is another election. We all are going to watch and be enthusiastically following. But I'm very hopefully that this will mean a time out for any school system in North Carolina that wants to go backward on kids who are at risk.”
“It's the wrong thing for this state,” Gov. Perdue concluded. “We're better than that.”
                                          -30-