Friday, October 19, 2012


By Cash Michaels

            Black voters beware! Now that One Stop Early Voting/Same Day Registration (Oct. 18 through Nov. 3rd) has begun for the Nov. 6th elections, there are people who are assigned to aggressively approach African-Americans at the polls in North Carolina, and openly challenge they right to vote. Their mission is to disrupt the process so much, that less and less black voters will want to put up with the hassle.
            Who are these people so determined to personally suppress the black vote in North Carolina? They are called “poll watchers.”
            And they are members of the right-wing Tea Party movement.
            Nonpartisan groups like the NC NAACP and Democracy NC are already warning black and Hispanic voters across the state not only to watch out for Tea Party poll watchers at their polling places, but be ready to skillfully handle them by knowing their rights.
            According to “Abridging the Vote: True the Vote in North Carolina,” a new report by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind published by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights of Kansas City, Missouri, “Under North Carolina state law, ‘only an individual registered to vote in a precinct may challenge a voter at that precinct on Election Day.’
            So if your right to vote is challenged by someone as you’re making your way into the polls to vote, exactly what should you do?
            According to Bob Hall, executive director for the nonprofit, nonpartisan Democracy NC, the one thing you don’t do is get upset. That’s what the poll watcher wants in order to create a scene and disrupt the area.
            “People should not be intimidated,” Hall says. “We need to be careful and aware.”
“We have the same rights and procedures we had in 2008,” Hall added. You don’t need to present a photo ID when you go vote. The bill to require registered voters to show a photo ID before voting was vetoed.”
            Instead, Hall suggests you politely tell the poll watcher to come with you into the polling place to settle the matter. Once inside, you want to speak to the chief polling judge, a ranking official there who hears voting disputes.
            “The temper issue is important,” Hall says. “Don’t lose your cool.”
            Once you and the poll watcher are in front of the chief polling judge, you answer any questions the judge asks, one of which will be for you to verbally confirm that you are who you are listed as on the voting rolls, and you live at the address listed as well.
            You may not have to show identification, but in case you do, be ready.
            The poll watcher, on the otherhand, will have to prove that he/she indeed does legally live in that precinct. If that checks out, if the chief polling judge has determined that you, in fact, are properly registered to vote in that precinct as you maintain, then the challenge against your right to vote is moot, and you should be able to proceed without further complication.
            So even though voter ID is not the law in North Carolina, be prepared for anything when you go to vote.            
            According to the “Abridging the Vote” report, the idea of Tea Party poll watchers began in Texas in 2009 with the group, King Street Patriots True the Vote, in reaction to the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.
            In August 2011, that group changed its name to “True the Vote, Inc.”, and began branching out to at 27 states in an effort to begin influencing statewide elections.
            Regularly, there would be a close relationship between leaders in spinoff groups, and their local Republican Party, the report adds.
            It was at it’s first national summit in Houston Texas, the report continues, that True the Vote “rolled out their plan to block the vote” of African-Americans and other Democratic leaning voting blocs, instructing activists, “…in tactics on how to overload election officials, slow the vote and block participation.”
            “True the Vote has purchased voter rolls from state and counties, then circulated the lists to their gaggle of unsupervised volunteers, who are urged to challenge the registrations of voters that they think may be improperly registered,” the report continues.
“The True the Vote “work at the polls” entails training volunteers to be poll watchers - people who go out on Election Day and aggressively challenge the registration, the identity, or the eligibility of prospective voters.”
            The “Abridging the Vote” report by Burghart and Zeskind adds, “To “fix what needs fixing” (as one Tea Party official said) True the Vote has also pushed legislative efforts to further restrict access to voting, including stringent new voter identification laws.”
            “In practice, the True the Vote strategy has deterred people from registering to vote, created and atmosphere that frightens voters from showing up at the polls, overloaded election officials with baseless challenges, and slowed the vote by gumming up the process,” the report continues.
So how does all of this play out in North Carolina?
              The report cites two Tea Party-affiliated groups here - North Carolina True the Vote, and the Voter Integrity Project (VIP).
            Though it claims to be a nonprofit organization on its website and solicits donations, VIP is registered as a for profit business with the NC Secretary of State’s office. By being for profit, VIP is able to legally shield who contributes to it.
            VIP has already made news in North Carolina, first, by challenging the registrations of more than 500 Wake County voters last June, and then again in August, when VIP presented over 30,000 names of voters to the NC Board of Elections (BOE) that they said had died, and whose names could still be used in voter fraud.
            BOE officials, at great expense in time and resources, checked all of the names, and not one had ever been used to cast a fraudulent vote.
            NC True the Vote, meanwhile, has sent “volunteers” all across the state to mount their voter suppression operations.
            According to the “Abridge the Vote” report, “[NC] True the Vote has been able to attract the highest levels of volunteers in the areas of the state with the highest levels of African-American population.” Indeed, the report continues, of the top twenty-five NC counties with black populations, NC True the Vote has volunteers in 24 of them.
            As of Sept. 30th, NC True the Vote had 286 volunteers in just 60 counties, the report continues, with at least 30 percent of them directly affiliated with Tea Party factions.
            The counties with the most True the Vote volunteers include Wake - 71; Guilford - 22; Mecklenburg - 19; Forsyth - 17; Durham - 15; Henderson - 11 and New Hanover with 6.
            Of the top ten counties with high populations of Hispanics, NC True the Vote has volunteers in nine of them.
            As of Oct. 1st, at least eighteen True the Vote activists have already signed up as Wake County GOP Poll Observers, Runners and Greeters, the report states.
            The report also notes that in counties with extremely low black and Latino populations, True the Vote only has one volunteer.
            Democracy North Carolina, the AFL-CIO, and the national and state NAACP, and other progressive groups, have committed to monitoring Tea Party activity and illegal poll challenges.
            “We are fully committed not only to turnout the vote,” said NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, who announced last weekend the kickoff of the “Million Voters March 3” to deliver one million black, brown and progressive voters to the polls statewide, “…but to fight and stand against any effort to suppress, depress, stifle, or discourage the power and potential of the black, brown and progressive vote in any way.”
            “Our members will be poll watchers and we will have a coalition of lawyers to defend and protect our rights,” Rev. Barber is quoted in the report as saying.
            Editor’s note - If you have any problems while trying to lawfully cast your ballot, call Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, at it’s toll-free hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). For answers to most questions about where, when and how to vote, go to the special website: Voters can preview their own ballot, find the nearest Early Voting site, and check their registration status.
            In addition, because of the new redistricting plan adopted this year by the NC General Assembly, your voting district lines may have changed. You may even get a different ballot from your neighbor who lives down the street because of how the new district lines zigzag through neighborhoods. About two million voters live in precincts divided by district lines and you’re 50 percent more likely to live in one of those split precincts if you’re black. So check with your county board of elections, or call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to confirm what your voting district is, and where you should vote.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


                                          NC LT. GOV. WALTER DALTON

By Cash Michaels
[published in The Carolinian Newspaper 10-4-2012]

             Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is adamantly opposed to photo and government-issued voter identification, his gubernatorial campaign says. He sees them as attempts at voter suppression, and if elected, Dalton would veto such as his “line in the sand.
Indeed, Dalton’s campaign spokesman, Schorr Johnson, told the Daily Tar Heel newspaper on Sept. 12th, “Dalton does not support a state voter ID law due to exaggerated statistics about voter fraud.”
“ Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem,” Johnson concluded.
         The lieutenant governor even repeated the same line during his Oct. 3rd debate with Republican opponent Pat McCrory.
But if elected governor, Dalton, a moderate Democrat, admits he would be “open,” Johnson told The Carolinian this week, to a compromise measure with the Republican-led NC General Assembly, requiring some form of non-governmental voter identification in order to cast a ballot.
“He is open to supporting some form of identification (such as a utility bill and multiple other forms), similar to [the] current law for registering to vote,” Johnson wrote in an email reply for comment.
Though less restrictive than what state Republican leaders really have in mind, black leaders say they’re opposed to any unnecessary barrier between the voter, and the ballot.
“Voter ID in any form is a Trojan horse backdoor effort to voter suppression,” Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, said in response to Dalton’s stated willingness to compromise. “We should be identifying a progressive vision for our future as a state rather than trying to find ways to ID voters that have already been qualified to vote.”
So why is Dalton willing to horse-trade on a sensitive issue like voter ID at the same time he’s trying to attract as many black votes as he can get?
Being at least 12 points behind Republican gubernatorial opponent Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte who says he would sign a voter photo ID bill into law if elected, could be one reason.
And paying close attention to polls that have consistently shown a considerable majority of North Carolinians being for voter ID, could be another.
 The most recent WRAL-TV poll, released just this week, shows that 69 percent of those surveyed agreed that some sort of certifiable voter identification should be required at the polls when casting a ballot, with more Republicans than Democrats agreeing.
That poll flies in the face of the current official position of the NC Democratic Party (NCDP).
According to the NCDP 2012 Platform under “Fair and Open Elections and a Strong Party,” under “Voting Rights” the party’s position clearly states, “…We (the NCDP) oppose laws that require identification in order to vote or register to vote, which create discriminatory barriers to the right to vote and disenfranchise many eligible voters.”
During its state convention last summer, delegates passed Resolution #61, which stated in part, “Voter fraud is nearly non-existent in the State of North Carolina” and “North Carolina elections have adequate safeguards against fraud, and function in a way that promotes confidence in the accuracy of their results.”           
When asked if the NCDP was “flexible” on voter ID, just as long as it did not involve photo or government identification, Walton Robinson, NCDP Communications Director replied, “The NCDP Platform position on Voter ID is the official position of the party. Our first priority is stopping any efforts to suppress or obstruct the voting rights of Americans. Period.”
“Beyond that,” Robinson continued, “…we are encouraged that the courts have, thus far, stuck these laws down in other states,” referring to recent rulings striking down or changing voter ID laws in Florida, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, and just this week, Pennsylvania.
The Carolinian checked with the Obama campaign and asked the same questions amid rumors that the president may also be “flexible” on voter ID.
Ironically, there is very little showing President Obama publicly stating any position on the topic, thought his White House is on record on August 30, 2012 as saying, “…this administration believes it should be easier for eligible citizens to vote -- to register and vote. We should not be imposing unnecessary obstacles or barriers to voter participation.”
And yet the Democratic candidate for North Carolina governor says he’s “open” to a limited form of voter ID.
Dalton has said as recently as just last month that he could “embrace” the Republican-sponsored voter ID compromise measure that was discussed during the last legislative session, but failed to ever get to the floor.
In fact, in March 2011, House Republicans offered the first of two compromises on voter ID, the first being the use of just a voter registration card or “other forms of identification.
The NC Legislative Black Caucus, however, wasn’t buying it.
“Any type of ID required to be shown each and every time can have a chilling effect,” caucus chairman, Sen. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham) told the Charlotte Observer then. “Any obstacle to the polls we think is unjustified.”
When the GOP-led NC General Assembly did pass a voter photo ID law in 2011, saying that it was needed to ensure the “integrity” of the voting process in North Carolina, Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed the measure, seeing it as a disguised attempt to suppress African-American and Hispanic voters, in addition to the youth vote, all prime demographics for President Obama’s 2012 re-election bid.
When House Republicans failed to override Perdue’s veto because Democrats refused to go along to make up the 72 votes needed, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), then announced that a compromise measure would be devised in the short session to get the law in place.
“The compromise measure being negotiated would allow voters to show a broad range of documents to prove identity, including bank statements, utility bills or any government documents with name and address,” The News and Observer reported in its June 5, 2012 story. “Voters without such documents would be required to show that their signature matched their voter registration form.”
Speaker Tillis was certain that a deal could be reached, and said as much.
Twenty-one days later, however, any hope of voter ID compromise this year in time for the 2012 elections was dead.
“The speaker asked me to try to strike a balance to ensure the integrity of the election system ... but I could never strike that balance,” Rep. David Lewis, the House elections committee chairman, told the N&O in its June 26th story regarding his negotiations with House Democrats. “It was going to have to be a substantially watered down version and the more I moved in that direction, the more I risked losing the members of my caucus.”
But to hear Lt. Gov. Dalton tell it, he would have found common ground with the Republicans.
“Voter ID, not photo ID,” the Democratic candidate at first replied, then going on to immediately contradict himself in the next sentence.
“I do not favor voter ID. I have said there is a compromise bill out there that was talked about, and I think, you know, I can embrace that,” a tape of the broadcast shows Dalton saying, with him then adding in contradiction, “I really don’t think [voter fraud] is a problem though.”
Dalton’s voter ID contradiction is important because just last week his campaign kicked off an “African-Americans for Dalton” Youtube commercial suggesting that McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte, didn’t understand black people or their issues.
One of the black lawmakers featured in Dalton’s ad is NC Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Sen. Floyd McKissick, who maintained in 2011 that, “Any type of ID required to be shown each and every time can have a chilling effect. Any obstacle to the polls we think is unjustified.”
In Dalton’s new ad, McKissick is seen calling Republican Pat McCrory, "a politician who doesn't understand why I'm upset about voter ID."
This week, the Dalton campaign garnered endorsements from the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, apparently with neither group realizing that Dalton was not one hundred percent against voter ID as many had assumed.
Dalton’s campaign would not say why he would be open to any compromise on voter ID given its firm statements to the contrary, apparently realizing the political downside of publicly drawing attention to the policy contradiction while currently losing in the polls to Republican opponent Pat McCrory.
Campaign spokesman Schorr Johnson would only say what  “Governor” Walter Dalton would do if elected.
“If he is elected, [Lt. Gov. Dalton] will hold any voter ID bill that came across his desk to an extremely high standard of protecting the right to vote and has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to requiring photo ID,” Johnson wrote in an email response.
Johnson continued, “I was also making you aware of the current law on the books (which Dalton supported) that requires identification to register to vote and for first-time voters at the polls when they vote (which can be utility bills, etc.). [Lt. Gov. Dalton]  is not seeking to change those laws, either. The only type of voter ID law that he might not oppose would have to be consistent with this--but he's not going to initiate it. And again, no photo ID.”
When pressed as to what that means, Johnson later added in a separate reply that Dalton would, “… not act without a lot of outreach to those who might be concerned about it.  If all parties were on board, he might consider it.”
When still pressed as to why the lieutenant governor, if elected, would consider any voter ID bill at all for any reason, Schorr Johnson replied, “He is not espousing any compromise bill. But he would only consider it if came to him as a way to prevent the photo ID bill from becoming law (through a veto override)--and would only do so after receiving lots of input from those who are concerned about the bill.”
Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis has assured that, assuming the GOP remains in control of the General Assembly this fall, a new attempt to pass a voter ID law would be made in the next long session in 2013.
If Pat McCrory is elected in November, then both he and Tillis guarantee it will become law.
But what happens if Walter Dalton is elected instead?
Depending on whether the Republicans are able to increase their majority in the House would determine if they’d be able to pass a voter photo ID law on their own without Democrats. If they’re able to deliver 72 votes without Democrats, Tillis can then override any veto a Gov. Dalton could muster, thus not needing to compromise what they really want.
But if Democrats were to increase their numbers in the state House, thus lessening the GOP majority, then, theoretically, there would be nothing to compromise because Dalton could easily veto the bill without fear of override.
So why would he be willing to compromise at all, or even telegraph that now?
His campaign either can’t, or won’t say.
“As Governor, [North Carolina] will have a strong ally in protecting the right to vote,” Johnson concluded.
Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, was not so sure.
“Voter ID in any form is a Trojan horse backdoor effort to voter suppression,” He told The Carolinian. “The NAACP does not compromise the values of the 15th amendment or the Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has fought for 103 years in every political climate for the full an unabridged right to vote.”
“This is where we continue to stand for all Americans and North Carolinians,” Rev. Barber continued, “and we call on Republicans and Democrats to stand with us on this noble principle.”
 “We endorse the current law of signature attestation with a five-year felony if you engage in fraud. The focus of this election should be jobs, addressing poverty, securing labor rights, educational equality, health care, addressing disparities in criminal justice system, and expanding and protecting voting rights.  We should be identifying a progressive vision for our future as a state, rather than trying to find ways to ID voters that have already been qualified to vote.”
Lt. Gov. Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory have been invited to address key issues during the upcoming NC NAACP State Convention in Raleigh later this month.
Thus far, only Dalton has agreed to attend.



By Cash Michaels


[published Sept. 12, 2012 in The Carolinian Newspaper] 
            Republican former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory confirms that if he’s elected North Carolina’s next governor, and the GOP-led NC General Assembly finally passes a voter photo identification law, it will get his signature.
            “Absolutely,” McCrory, who is leading Democratic challenger Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton by double digits in the most recent polling, told The Carolinian Newspaper Wednesday during a phone interview.
            “To get into the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte [last week] you needed an ID. To buy Sudafed in North Carolina you need an ID. To get into the Governor’s Mansion you need an ID,” McCrory said, seemingly dismissing concerns made across the country in other voter ID states about voter suppression.
            Two weeks ago during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., NC House Speaker Thom Tillis was quoted as telling the NC delegation that if the Republicans hold on to their majorities in both state houses, and McCrory is elected governor, that lawmakers would pass voter ID law, and that he would sign it.
            Noting how Gov. Beverly Perdue has successfully vetoed  GOP efforts, thus far, to make voter ID law, McCrory left no doubt that he would do what Tillis said, and more.
            “I’d also draft a bill where …you could show your utility bill to prove that you live in the residence [from] which you’re voting,” he continued. “There are gaps in the voting records right now that are just wide open for abuse and corruption, just like there are gaps in campaign finance laws which our current governor [Perdue] broke when she ran against me in ’08.”
            McCrory went on to justify voter ID because Gov. Perdue, he said, was “hiding illegal flights.”
            In fact, members of Perdue’s 2008 campaign were indicted for not disclosing a number of campaign flights, but the governor herself was never accused, charged or proven to be aware of what was going on.
            If a “Governor” McCrory were to sign a voter ID measure, it would not be until 2013 at the earliest. North Carolina would then join over 30 other states that have passed laws requiring photo identification at the polls, and lessened the opportunity for early voting.
            Critics, including US Attorney General Eric Holder, have charged that because voter ID laws have been passed primarily in states with Republican governors or Republican-led legislatures, that they really are just mechanisms for voter suppression among majority Democrat populations like African-Americans, Latinos and young people.
            Last month, a federal district court in Washington D.C struck down the voter ID law in the state of Texas, while a state judge in Pennsylvania upheld what is said to be the toughest voter ID law in the nation. Both cases are being appealed.
            McCrory says voter ID needs to be the law of the land.
            “There is so much money in politics right now [that] if you close your eyes to the potential of corruption, you’re being naïve, and voter ID is one way to do that. It’s got to be a fair and reasonable voter ID bill, and I would definitely approve it, and I think it’s needed. I think over 85 percent of the people in North Carolina agree with that.”
            When told that, thus far, the evidence of widespread voter fraud in North Carolina and across the nation is virtually nonexistent, McCrory replied, “ If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it. But there is so much money on the ground right now being paid by both political parties, on the ground, if you don’t think there’s corruption in voting, you’re naïve.”
            McCrory then brought up Chicago as being “well known for corruption in voting,” as well as “other cities and areas in the United States that are well known for corruption because of the big money.”
            “We better protect ourselves here in North Carolina.”
            Schorr Johnson, communications director for the Walter Dalton campaign, reacted to McCrory’s remarks.
            "Pat McCrory and his allies in the legislature want to disenfranchise people and take away our most sacred right, the right to vote.  Walter Dalton will stand up for this right and veto any attempt at requiring a photo ID to vote,” Johnson wrote in a statement.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



By Cash Michaels
An analysis

            When Wake Schools Supt. Anthony Tata was fired Sept. 25, 2012 after 20 months by the Democrat-led Wake School Board, howling Republicans both on the board, and off, lost control in more ways than one.
            “This is a big mistake,” declared a visibly angry Republican board member Chris Malone, who is running for the state House. “It’s a political mistake, and the result - both out there and in here - it’s going to be felt for a very long time.”
            “It is an epic failure of this board,” said Republican board member John Tedesco, who is running for state superintendent.
Tata, a retired US Army Brigadier general and well-known right-wing anti-Obama pundit who was hired by the Margiotta GOP-led school board in December 2010, was the last vestige of any real control over the affairs of the school system that county Republicans had, which is why the Wake Republican Party, and right-wing leaning Wake County Taxpayers Association, in addition to the four GOP school board members, railed to high heaven once the exit deal was done.
“I grieve for our children,” cried an emotional Debra Goldman, who served as board vice chair in 2009 when the Republican-majority, led by former board member Ron Margiotta, took power and proceeded to ramrod their neighborhood schools agenda through, causing a national scandal.
            The setup was simple. The Democratic majority, led by veteran school board members Kevin Hill as chairman and Keith Sutton as vice chairman, could basically vote in any policy that they pleased, but they needed Tata as superintendent to shape that policy, and then carry it out.
            To ensure that Tata, whose right-wing politics and Tea Party sympathies were well known when he was hired by the Republican board in 2010, was left alone, the Republicans in unison loudly warned the community that the Democrats would immediately fire the retired general once they took over.
            That bought Tata time. All he needed to do was show that his school choice plan worked, and that Wake parents and business community were happy. The Democrats, he and the Republicans assumed, were now too afraid to touch him.
What the board Republicans like Deborah Pritchett, Debra Goldman, Chris Malone and John Tedesco never realized was that when Tata did veer off course numerous times with unforeseen operational failures to his school choice, school registration and school bus planning, Democratic patience, especially of the new board members like Jim Martin, Susan Evans and Christine Kushner, began to really run thin.
            That was especially after Tata, in an extraordinary move last February, publicly attacked Evans and Kushner because of their past association with the liberal group Great Schools in Wake Coalition. He was later forced to apologize for an act that many said he should have been fired for then.
            Board Republicans never dreamed that Chairman Hill had the brass to pull the trigger on Tata’s job. They saw him as weak, and an education wonk who embodied everything they wanted to replace in public education.
            Still stunned by their board minority status after last fall’s decisive Democratic five-seat sweep, the board Republicans decided early on to make life hell for Hill and his new majority, fighting and threatening him at every turn, and counting on Supt. Tata to make their cherished school choice plan - which was hurriedly passed last fall before the elections by Margiotta’s GOP majority - work.
            In turn, Tata, sources confirmed, became dictatorial behind scenes, firing those in Central Office who differed with him based on their professional experience, and bringing in new people at high salaries to maintain the firm grip he felt he needed to stay in control.
            What the GOP members didn’t realize was that Tata’s profound inexperience in education would soon not only be very evident when the poorly devised school choice process began to implode, creating more high poverty schools and eliminating promised choice for many parents, but his temperament from years of military training, served to scare career senior staffers, and school principals, into submission.
            What The Carolinian had been hearing for months from Wake School System personnel, and those close to them, was finally confirmed publicly by both Chairman Hill and Vice Chairman Sutton Wednesday in a press conference to allay community fears.
            "It was becoming increasingly clear that, while [Supt. Tata] did well at calming the waters when he arrived … he might not be the right person to lead our school system going forward," Chairman Hill said, adding that the relationship between Tata and the board was becoming “increasingly strained” and progress towards moving the school system forward were “severely hampered” as a result.
            In short, Central Office had become a basket case under Supt. Tata.
            Hill denied accusations that the firing was political, saying that if that were true, it would have happened last January immediately after the Democratic majority took over. Despite reservations, Tata was given a chance to work out the kinks of a school choice plan that many feared would result in more high poverty schools.
            When problems evolved with student registration, and projections showed that expensive racially isolated schools would result, the Democratic majority pulled the plug on school choice, directing Tata to have his staff devise a base assignment plan instead for implementation in 2014.
            The school bus debacle that saw thousands of students stranded at bus stops for weeks at the beginning of the traditional school year, along with hundreds more parents from Southeast Raleigh crowded into the central office in Cary, forced to register their children there instead of their neighborhood school, made it clear that Tata’s inexperience in leading the 16th largest school system in the nation was a major concern.
            When Tata then forced senior staff veteran Don Haydon, who was in charge of school transportation, to resign after, by Tata’s order, over 50 school buses were taken out of the fleet, causing massive problems, the board Democrats had seen enough.
            Despite the constant excuses made for Tata’s mounting problems, the Democratic majority fired Anthony Tata, freeing him up now to go back to his right-wing punditry, bashing Pres. Obama and authoring military novels with erotic passages.
Calla Wright, president of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children issued a statement in reaction to Tata’s firing saying, “Do you feel it is necessary for a school system to have a leader who does not have any educational experience? Under his leadership we have acquired Walnut Creek [Elementary School as] a high poverty school in Southeast Raleigh.  Based on recent test scores and the mission of this school, these students are suppose to be equipped to exceed in middle school.  How can this happen when we look at the [low] test scores of last year's fifth graders?”
            Also in a statement Wednesday, the NC NAACP commended the Democrat-led Wake School Board, “…for the poise and grace with which they handled the difficult issues raised by…,” Supt. Tata’s job performance.
            As is the case with the rest of the public, because this is a confidential personnel matter, we do not know all the factors that went into this decision and cannot speak for the board,” NC NACP Pres. Rev. William Barber said in a statement. “We do know leadership is important. If any school system, business or organization is not functioning at its fullest potential and carrying out the best practices towards the fulfillment of its primary mission and vision--leadership must be held accountable by the governing board.”

By Cash Michaels

THE N&O AND THE WAKE SCHOOL BOARD - One of the reasons why folks have a problem with The News and Observer newspaper here in Raleigh is because there are times they don’t know their behinds from their box-empty brains, yet have the gall to be arrogant about it.
Take the recent firing (and deservedly so) of Wake Schools Supt. Anthony Tata.
The editorial scribes at the N&O think it is such a terrible crime, and unjust action, by Chairman Kevin Hill and the board’s Democratic majority. The parents, children and community (I might ask which “community” by the way) will suffer, the N&O assures.
The Democratic board majority must be held responsible for putting partisanship before public responsibility, the N&O opines.
Lord, please, give me a break!
Read some of this N&O garbage:
“…Hill and his colleagues have done everything possible to prove they are partisan, culminating with a party-line 5-4 vote this week to fire Superintendent Tony Tata after less than 20 months on the job.”
                                                           John Drescher
                                                           N&O Executive Editor
                                                            Sept. 28, 2012
            “The five Democrats who voted to oust Tata, who was hired by a Republican-majority board 20 months ago, pinky-swear that politics had nothing to do with it. Appearances, however, can be everything.”
                                                                 Burgetta Eplin Wheeler
                                                                 N&O columnist
                                                                 Sept. 27, 2012

            Kevin Hill, the board’s veteran chairman, is a particular disappointment for letting the firing go forward. Hill himself had said in July he hoped Tata would remain in the job. As leader of the Democratic faction, he should have impressed upon his colleagues the value of moving beyond partisan rancor.”
                                                                 N&O Editorial
                                                                 Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012

It’s clear the N&O editorialists haven’t been reading their own newspaper’s reporting, for if they did, they would have known that Chairman Hill has had his hands filled with trying to get the Republican minority - still angered not only by the fact that their dearly beloved chairman, Ron Margiotta, was dethroned in last year’s election, but also that their GOP neighborhood schools agenda for Wake was demonstrably rejected by the five-seat Democratic sweep - in line to forget the past, and work together to move the school system forward.
The fact that none of them showed up last weekend for a work session on a proposed new student assignment plan should tell you something.
            And doesn’t the fact that three of the four GOP’ers still on the board are running for other public offices BEFORE THEIR TERMS END confirm the notion that they have no intention of working with Chairman Hill and the Democratic board majority?
            Where was the N&O editorial demanding that they resign if they didn’t want the job anymore?
            Doesn’t the evidence of John Tedesco, Debra Goldman, Deborah Pritchett and Chris Malone’s collective disruptive behavior, and open disrespect towards the Democratic chairman, tell anyone with eyes and ears that getting their partisan way always has been their first priority, and serving ALL of the children in Wake County Public Schools somewhere else on their collective agenda?
            Where was the N&O’s editorial demanding that the GOP board minority cut the crap?
            Tedesco’s remark about, “I wouldn’t trust this school board [majority] with my lunch money,” a clear dog whistle to the Republican-led Wake County Commission Board and GOP state lawmakers to deny any funding requests from the school board’s Democratic majority. Where’s the N&O’s incisive, “You’ve gone too far” analysis of that?
            And doesn’t the well-documented erratic behavior of Supt. Tata towards the Democratic majority also prove his complicity in all that’s gone on? If he was so genuine in wanting the partisan waters calmed, then why didn’t he try to get his fellow Republicans on the board to cool it?
            Where were the N&O editorials asking the board’s Republicans to fall in line, especially after Chairman Hill repeatedly made grand gestures, despite documented sharp criticisms from the liberal base like Great Schools in Wake Coalition and the NCNAACP, to give Tata and his failed school choice plan a chance to succeed?
            We’ll give N&O editorial page editor Steve Ford a little credit for suggesting in his Sunday column that it’s hard to find any partisan fingerprints on what the Democrats did in firing Tata, given the timing and less than artful (meaning it wasn’t politically slick) way it was handled.
            Still, Ford made us gag when he wrote, “ Tata turned out…to be a good listener and someone who seemed comfortable with the educational terrain.”
            Gee, then why isn’t he still there, Steve? While Tata the politician gave all of the airs of being a good listener and comfortable with the educational setting in public, our sources behind the scenes confirm what Hill and Sutton said.
            The man was only interested in his way, and made senior staff and principals put upon for his severe lack of being collaborative, a serious flaw given that the school janitor had more experience than Tata did.
The only N&O columnist who seemed to have his head above ground for this one was Barry Saunders, who rightfully chided Susan Bryant, chair of the Wake County Republican Party, for issuing this call to arms in her emailed newsletter two weekends ago titled, “War at the School Board”:
“…the radical extremists who have taken over the Wake County School Board are preparing to fire our great Superintendent Tony Tata, and we have to do everything we can to stop them.”
“Face facts,” Saunders wrote in his Sept. 24th column, “ not only are the Democratic board members not radical by any rational definition of the term of the term, but they didn’t “take over” the school board as far as it is known. [They were] all democratically elected.”
The fact that Bryant, who is admittedly and unabashedly a right-wing zealot, is heralding “our great Superintendent Tony Tata” in a mass Republican email countywide, while bashing the “radical extremists who have taken over the Wake County School Board” is incontrovertible evidence that the “partisan rancor” the N&O editorial alluded to last week was anything but Democrat-inspired.
You’ll find no such thing from Chairman Hill, or Vice Chair Keith Sutton. Ever since the Democrats swept the board elections a year ago, they have sought to bring calm, taking flack for moving slowly and seeking compromise on issues they didn’t agree with Tata and the GOP on.
Keeping Tata on, and giving him a chance, as he requested, to carry out his flawed school choice plan, was one of those painful compromises they caught tremendous heat for.
And, as has been well documented, Tata and his plan not only failed miserably, but when he knew he was failing, he began to act erratically, all of a sudden attacking Democratic school board members publicly, issuing a public statement accusing them of affiliating with the liberal child advocacy group Great Schools in Wake Coalition.
What astounds me about the N&O editorial “thinking” (if that’s what you call it) is that it was clear from the very beginning when the Democrats took over that the Republicans had decided to make trouble. You could track their intentions like a wounded deer in the snow.
And it was also clear that Supt. Tata, once he realized that his beloved school choice plan, was screwing up royally to the point where parents, realtors, and even the mayor of Raleigh were complaining, took off the “Mr. Nice Guy” robe and began striking out at his Democratic bosses who he felt superior too (listening to Debra Goldman and John Tedesco will always get you in trouble).
Tata might have gotten way with it, except that when his school choice registration plan, and school choice school bus plan also collapsed in holy horrors, (and remember, unlike last fall’s traditional school rollout, which was already set in stone by administrators as Tata was still learning what he was supposed to be doing, he was completely in charge of this fall), it was extraordinarily clear that this retired US Army Brigadier General did not have the requisite experience to truly run a school system.
Where was the N&O editorial being honest with Wake County parents about that?
This isn’t partisan for me. I truly don’t give two taps past a farmhouse darn what party my school superintendent, or school board members are. Really don’t want to know. Do you know who taught me that?
Wake County Public Schools, who, until 2009, enjoyed true nonpartisanship on its board and in its school leadership.
Indeed, I’ve been surprised to learn after the fact exactly who belonged to what party in past years. And it can be arguably said that many of Wake’s best years academically were during that time, and contributed to the outstanding growth of our entire region.
But when Republicans were elected in 2009 to take over the board, and ramrod their neighborhood schools policy in (something they failed at), that’s when everything changed, and Democrats had no choice but to engage them to wrest power back.
Once Dems got it, they tried to calm things down, but the GOP refused, vowing to disrupt and disturb ever chance they got.
The GOP cared less that Tata’s choice plan (the one they hurriedly passed last year before the new board could take over) would create more high poverty racial identifiable schools.
Tata repeatedly promised that he would fix what was broken about the choice plan, but no fix was in sight.
For anyone, ANYONE to think that Supt. Anthony Tata - a Republican, and Tea Party sympathizer; author of erotic military novels; Fox News analyst; possible future candidate for the US Senate (GOP has been grooming him the entire time he’s been in office, which is why he’s worked so hard to get known and appreciated); and declared hater of the Democratic president of the United States - was not going to eventually show his true colors and ignorance of what it takes to be a REAL public school superintendent, I’m sorry for them and the N&O.
The man NEVER taught a class, NEVER worked under a principal or as a principal. He spent 18 months as chief operating officer of the infamous Washington, D.C. public school system, where he was in charge of ordering desks, blackboards and frozen pizzas.
Hardly the kind of leadership that 16th largest school system in nation needed, or should have wanted.
Tata was the last vestige of the dysfunctional Margiotta era. He was chosen for a political statement AGAINST what was considered the liberal doctrine of socioeconomic (SES) student diversity. No other school system in the world exemplified that doctrine like Wake County, and the Republicans wanted it brought down, no matter what!
Tata was devoted to proving that school choice trumped SES, and when he was ordered to do otherwise, he balked.
It was clear, once Chairman Hill, Vice Chair Sutton, and the rest of the Wake School Board who were being honest, realized Tata’s pattern of behavior amidst the system’s failures, that they couldn’t wait. They had protected him long enough. The public had maintained trust in Tata because they didn’t know.
But the board’s majority knew his failures, and inability to lead without rancor. They moved immediately to put a spiraling situation out of its misery, like the crippled horse that it was.
That’s the story the N&O editorialists have been ignoring, so much so that in the end, they erroneously call Hill and the Democrats “partisans” for their actions.
The editorialists at the News and Observer should be ashamed of themselves. I understand that after three tumultuous years since the GOP takeover, there has been a longing for peace and stability. I get that. The parents of this county get that.
But any intelligent person who truly paid attention had to know that as long as the Republican minority could open their mouths, and they had one of their own as superintendent, there would be no peace.
Only a struggle for power.
N&O, your jade editorials have been shameful!
The case is clear.