North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance's Pesident Demands An Answer As To Mayor Charles Meeker's Despotic Governmental Strong-arming Tactic
NORTH CAROLINA TAXI WORKERS ALLIANCE, INC.
A grassroots taxi coalition united for equality and taxi workers
rights and safety
Protecting Taxi Workers Rights
“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”. -Abraham Lincoln-
Mayor Meeker's despotic governmental strong-arming of strategic design to deny Raleigh's taxi workers/citizens to Petition Council for redress of a economically prejudicial magnitude to their way of life comes to NCTWA on the hills of a recent grievance detailed in a "PRESS RELEASE" produced and delivered to the Media and City Council on June 29, 2011.The saddest thing about his "monarch style of denial" to permit a segment of Raleigh's citizenry to Petition and peaceably address there concerns as American Citizens is the mere fact that this gross Constitutional violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America has been interjected at time when our Nation is gearing up to commemorate its' Independence and liberty for ALL procured under the same Constitution he seeks to ignore.
For this cause, in the interest of justice and council economy NCTWA hereby DEMANDS to be heard at Raleigh City Council's July 5, 2011 meeting at 7:00 pm on the issues presented in its' June 24, 2011 "Request and Petition of Citizens to the Raleigh City Council" that reads as follows:
"On April 5, 2011, NCTWA's Frederick Jones presented issues regarding taxi zoning, meter hike inter alia .
However, following that hearing City Council directed Russell Allen,
City Manager to submit a "RECOMMENDATION;" as such, having spoken to the
City Manager on June 21, 2011, he advises that no such recommendation
is forthcoming, thus, NCTWA's presented issues to Council has (stalled).
Furthermore, Lent Carr provided City Council with identified taxi zones
as was requested by Council---again, notwithstanding NCTWA's many
emails to Council, no acknowledgements has been made therefore, nor any
information as to the current statuses."
The First Amendment to the Federal Constitution provides:
Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Those words, as well as those of the other amendments making up our Bill of Rights, bind the federal government in chains in order that men may be free. They render the federal government powerless to make laws respecting God-given rights. If a right may be legislated in or out, it is no inherent right. It is a legislative permit.
governments always lay hold of the voices of the people either to
control or suppress it. They abridge freedom of speech and of the
press and deny to the people the right peaceably to assemble and to
petition for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment forever
inhibits the use of such means of reducing people to slavery.
Wherefore, it is hereby Demanded by every Citizen represented herein to be heard by this Council on July 5, 2011, by and through the representative voice of our duly Elected President, Lent C. Carr, II, and for such and further relief in the premises as may be just and necessary in the interest of justice and council economy.
"LET FREEDOM RING AND LIBERTY LIVE FOREVER"
Committed to Justice for All,
Lent C. Carr, II,
North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance, Inc.
NORTH CAROLINA TAXI WORKERS ALLIANCE, INC.
A grassroots taxi coalition united for equality and taxi workers rights and safety Protecting Taxi Workers Rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 28, June 2011
Raleigh, North Carolina’s Taxi Drivers Continues to Organize and Will Go Before Raleigh City Council on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 Re-Affirming Their Commitment to Their Cause of ActionFounded in 2011, on the inequality hills of Raleigh City Council’s broken regulatory policy and procedures regarding Raleigh's Citizens/Taxi-Drivers… at a time when our Nation has had one of the worst recessions and gas hikes this Country has ever seen; local cab drivers, headed by Frederick L. Jones, a local Cab Driver saw a need to have redressed the City’s most unbalanced and unfriendly Cab Driver’s policies the International Taxi Workers Alliance has seen in recent history. This egregious injustice prompted a sharp response from the community and the Labor Union’s newly Elected President/CEO, Lent C. Carr, II, thus the formulation of North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance, Inc.
Having followed every conceivable measure in which Raleigh City Council requested of them, even to the point of holding an emergency meeting with its' NCTWA's Board of Directors, cab driver members and concerned citizens to forgo what its' President coined as an "Imminent Strike;" NCTWA to this very date has not received the same reciprocated cooperation from the Raleigh City Council though NCTWA has graciously offered an olive branch of desired collaborative and cooperative partnership in addressing the many regulatory problems affecting its' cab drivers in this hard fought economic downturn in our City's history.
Although numerous emails, phone calls and provided information requested of Council has been submitted to Council, not one Council Member, representative therefore nor its' cab driver's inspector department has attempted to reach out to NCTWA, notwithstanding Council's directive that City Manager Russell Allen would provide it with a "report of recommendation." This sort of lack of and/or stalled response has been a practice of this Council for sometime now. Albeit, it is NCTWA's direct response to Council's stalled resolution tactic on this major issue to remind each of them that they were hired for the people, by the people and of the people to procure speedy and remedial solutions to whatever befalls its' citizenry.
Though this is the way that the People's City Hall is supposed to run, there are those who sit upon our perches who have for years attempted to obfuscate the true nature of their appointment in a way that is all together superficial and down right egregiously pompous. Such pretentious "king and queen like" behavior is exactly what the Raleigh City Council has been engaging in unchecked for far too long now; a behavior pattern that has usually been preserved solely for those citizens who's voices has been stifled out by special interest establishments and the very elite we seek to counter sitting right at the People's table in City Hall. This my fellow citizens is a practice that must be stopped and stopped NOW! To ignore one citizen is to ignore every citizen. That's not how a democracy works.
We are aware that a few council members sitting at our table are loath to remedy this egregious taxi driver's regulatory disaster for reasons of strategic design and even as a matter of our President's uncensored and populist approach to calling for change on such a serious matter that has plagued this city's cab drivers for years now, a plague that (following our Nations past recession) has forced some to reside in the very vehicle they are striving to make a living with. This is just unacceptable and inhumane to say the least. Will you join us at City Hall on July 5, 2011 as we call for justice?
North Carolina Taxi Worker’s Alliance, Inc. (NCTWA) is a member oriented labor union of NC’s taxicab drivers. We fight for justice, rights, fair wages, safety, respect and dignity for the over 800+ licensed men and women—with 794 steady drivers—who labor 12-hour shifts with little pay and no benefits or protection in the city's mobile sweatshop. Our members come from every community, garage, and neighborhood. We are one of thousands non-collective bargaining agent member of a Central Labor Council in the USA. We are also an intrastate based members’ branch of the 30-city, 3-continent (and growing) International Taxi Workers Alliance.
The Department of Labor ranks taxi driving as the most dangerous job in the country, with drivers 60 times more likely to be killed and 80 times more likely to be robbed on the job than other US workers. Drivers face discrimination at the hands of the police, harsh regulations, and Taxi and Limousine Commission courts devoid of due process.
As recently remarked by Lent Carr, President of NCTWA at a Campaign function for his bid for Raleigh City Council in 2011; “I ascribe to the fundamental belief that awareness grows that social justice and economic justice cannot exist independently of one another. Jobs with Justice seek to tear down walls between groups who have common interests but who may not have worked together before. In Atlanta, for example, this movement is taking shape in support of the Service Employees International Union's Justice for Janitors campaign and with the Teamsters' help for the homeless. This, my friend was Dr. Martin Luther King’s insightful prescription in the 60’s.”
NCTWA fights campaigns for structural change in the industry and supports individual drivers through comprehensive advocacy/services. We build driver power with unity, action and a democratic organization. Our work overcomes obstacles of independent contractor organizing, a politically influential and consolidated ownership, and a regulatory agency absent of any public accountability or labor voice. We are committed to a progressive and proactive, internationalist labor movement that stands in steadfast solidarity with workers' movements of the US and the world.
Join Us for an Important Raleigh City Council’s Meeting on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 @ 1:00pm NCTWA’s requesting Raleigh Cab Drivers to meet in the Chambers of Raleigh City Council located at: 222 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, N.C. 27601. Our numbers will show the strength and support of the issues we’ve been fighting so hard to have redress by Council. Your presence is essential. Please Sir/Ma’am prepare to be with us until we’ve addressed Council.
The NCTWA will
discuss and reaffirm its unwavering position that Council’s stalled
recommendation is unacceptable in which was supposed to be presented by the
City Manager Russell Allen’s Office as previously raised by NCTWA; a wide
range of issues ranging from taxi zone parking, , taxi meters, pertinent issues
of police targeting of cab drivers to wit, harassment and excessive ticketing,
and many more issues of grave concern. For additional information call
919-949-7162, or email us at: mailto:email@example.com. You may mail correspondences to NCTWA P.O. Box 28654.
NCTWA strives to meet workforce demands of lobbying for practical and equitable policy, regulations and legislations solutions for its’ North Carolina based Cab Drivers Labor Union Members, safety, respect, justice, fair wages, rights and dignity. The North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)(5) organization that fosters taxi drivers’ rights through education, community awareness and cab drivers representation.
***END OF PRESS RELEASE***
"second chance" at being a productive citizens does curtail crime and victimization in our communities.
As your candidate of "Change and a second chance" I applaud Mr Gaddy, a man who dared to believe and move out on faith, knowing that one man with a vision of a better America could defy all odds of the cynic and shape meaningful laws to help those who otherwise would have been just another statistic in the web of our Nation's judicial system with no recourse of a better tomorrow.
Indeed, I am the more energized today than before because of Dennis' success and selfless service that has provided a beacon of light for thousands of ex-felons who have so long desired to contribute to our Municipality, but for their past stigmatic criminal record. We march on and join hands with thousands who ascribe to the notion that a "second chance" plus community support equals a safer, vibrant, economically sound and productive community for the future growth prospects of this great City we call Raleigh, North Carolina.
While the Campaign to Elect Lent Carr for Raleigh City Council is excited about what we see in the arena of progressive rehabilitation that's taking shape in North Carolina, we are also keenly aware that there is more work to be done. This, however, we intend to champion when elected to the Raleigh City Council amongst so many other issues for real pragmatic remedial-solutions. We are committed to being that voice crying in the wilderness for those who've voices has been stifled for too many years now.
Our hats are off to you Mr. Gaddy; continue the work of the progressive new age change agent, for this is the only way that those who have been regarded as a sign-off will ever be able to redeem themselves, their communities and their nation in the face of prejudicial rhetoric. Job well done Dennis!
Lent Carr, II,
Candidate for Raleigh City Council 2011 (District C)
Read Email Below:
It was May 2005, about a month before I was released from 5 years 8 months incarceration. I was on the work release program and was allowed to help put together the first reentry roundtable--long before getting a seat at the legislative table and having a chance at help shape reentry legislation.
In 2005, we started out as an all volunteer organization. No staff, no office—just passion. Since then, over 2000 people who have found themselves entangled in the criminal justice system have walked through our doors, and we have helped many of them find jobs, housing, education, and human services; we have been able to pull together a like-minded team of formerly incarcerated speakers (CSI Speaker's Bureau) to share their message of empowerment of turning their "setbacks into comebacks", connected reentry grassroots groups through our reentry training institute, and most recently helped to get legislation passed that will make it easier for formerly incarcerated persons to secure employment.
I have included links below highlighting this work over the last 6 years. It has been a joy to do this work. The current (and great) CSI staff have made it possible to impact more and more people every year.
We need your help to continue this work. Please consider making a donation . After the CSI highlight links below, Please see information how you can contribute.
CSI Highlights from 2005-2011
CSI first Reentry Roundatable-2005
CSI and Second Chance Lobby Day-2011 (inclusive of video clip)
Bill will Remove Barriers to Former Felons Employment-2011
CSI's Formerly Incarcerated Speaker's Bureau-2011
CSI Newsletters -2011
Contributing to CSI is easy!
Your generosity helps to continue the work of Community Success Initiative. You can use your debit or credit card to make a tax-deductible donation today, at www.communitysuccess.org or you can still mail your check payable to Community Success Initiative PO Box 61114, Raleigh, NC 27661
Dennis W Gaddy
Community Success Initiative
PO Box 61114
Raleigh, NC 27661
AUDIO OF COLEMAN TEA PARTY SPEECH PROVES WHAT HE SAID; And This is the Man Who Endorsed Eugene Weeks? Hmm?
In the June 9th edition of The Carolinian Newspaper in part 2 of a story about RWCA members challenging the leadership of their president, Danny Coleman, we reported the following:
For instance, despite his strong backing of President Barack Obama, Coleman turned many a head in the African-American community on April 15, 2010 when he spoke at a right-wing anti-Obama Tea Party rally in Raleigh, and said that Americans should, “pay [for] your own healthcare,” a clear stab at the president’s health care policy.
That reporting was based on a YouTube video (which apparently has since been removed) of Coleman's remarks - what he actually said - at that Raleigh Tea Party rally.
Well last night, Coleman sent out the following missive to RWCA members:
RWCA Members and Friends,
I was stopped this evening by a friend asking me why I would speak to the Tea Party members at their rally in 2010 putting down President Obama’s Health Plan. He was citing the implication derived from a recent front page article with the picture of President Obama and myself. You know I don’t speak off the cuff so I shared with that individual and now each of you again the content of that speech just so I can set the record straight. By the way I was wearing my Obama hat, and even though I was warned that the hat was problematic I did not receive any threats. Even now I think it was a very good speech and the kudos received on behalf of the RWCA were from many in this community who you hold in the highest of esteem.
I don’t mind being the target of those that do not agree with me, it comes with leadership. You know where my office is and I am no stranger, no shrinking violet if you want to discuss anything, pro or con about what I think is important or about what you think is important. We have to work together if we are to successfully navigate the rough economic seas we are currently sailing through.
Now to buttress his case, Coleman attached a copy of the speech he purportedly delivered. I'm pasting it here for you to see, but I'll also highlight the healthcare passage:
Good afternoon to everyone present. My name is Dan Coleman, President of the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association.
Please bear with me. I am getting over a chest cold and I might have to stop speaking if congestion overwhelms me.
I am not here today to denigrate our President or Congress. I think they have huge tasks before them. I pray that God will give them the wisdom to know what those tasks are and the courage to address them in meaningful ways.
I am here today to tell you that I have failed. And this is how I have failed. I sat back and watched on Lou Dobbs how we were marching jobs out of the country daily. Every night Lou would give a list of the companies and the jobs that were being “outsourced”. Those daily reports lasted for years if my memory serves me well and I did not do anything. I was intoxicated with the ambrosia of home equity lines of credit, flipping houses, classifying some jobs as jobs American can not do. I was inebriated on the apparent trappings of the good life. I became a consumer forgoing my responsibility of being a producer.
Now I have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight and know that the jobs I was watching being “outsourced” on Lou Dobbs daily have crept up the food chain to the degree that my job is now threatened. My job is now considered a job Americans can not do. With that threat I am now looking around to blame any and everyone, forgetting that I sat back and did not do a thing.
Ladies and gentlemen I do not know what you were doing while we “outsourced” our middle class. I can not imagine you sat back and did what I did. Could it be that the ambrosia that intoxicated me, that anesthesized me to the degree that I could not see that I was cannibalizing our great consumer economy, foregoing any notion that you reap what you sow and substituting it with the good life that my home equity line of credit was providing me.
The Raleigh Wake Citizens Association has taken as its signature issue during this Great Recession a renewed commitment for full employment for every citizen of this great county of Wake we all call home. We feel strongly that “…Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits”1
Going forward I am going to hold myself accountable for marching the jobs back into the country as ceremoniously as they were marched out. I am going to do my utmost to have those companies that are “in-sourcing” jobs to be held in the highest esteem. Every day I am going to help redefine the jobs that Americans can not do. Doing these and other things will allow this country and especially this wonderful county to reap what it needs to keep our children educated, to keep law and order, to provide decent, safe and affordable transit options, to keep our drinking water clean, bountiful and affordable.
The intended consequences will be to have my fellow citizens’ flush with the necessary income to pay for their health care, to add to their retirement plans, to take their families on vacations, to keep food on the table and gas in the tanks of their cars.
So in conclusion I am asking each and everyone of you here today to help me and by extension the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association to undo what we let transpire earlier in the 21st century. I know now I am no longer inebriated with the trappings of my equity line of credit. The ambrosia that intoxicated me earlier is long gone.
I pray for myself with your concurrence thatGod grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Thank you, my name is Dan Coleman and I am here today representing the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association
Now even though the YouTube video of Coleman's remarks has apparently been taken down (if you find it, let me know), if you click this link, you can download the audio that I saved (I save everything for situations like this) so you can "read along with Danny" as he delivers his speech.
And if you listen carefully, you'll hear that not once or twice, but several times throughout that speech, Danny either changes or leaves stuff out, primarily because he knows he's talking to a Tea party crowd.
So FACT #1 - DANNY COLEMAN DID NOT DELIVER HIS RALEIGH TEA PARTY SPEECH AS WRITTEN, EVEN THOUGH, PER HIS EMAIL FROM LAST NIGHT, HE WOULD HAVE US ALL BELIEVE THAT HE DID!
That then leads us to FACT #2 - while it's true that Coleman never attacked President Obama (and said he wouldn't), and never attacked Obamacare by name, he did, in the remarks that he delivered, not the ones that he wrote, strongly inferred to that Raleigh Tea Party crowd that he agreed with them in their opposition to the federal government having anything to do with paying for health care when he said, "...other intended consequences will be to have you, my brothers and sisters, flushed with the necessary income...to pay your own health care..."
I don't know about you, but normally, when I do public speaking, I don't call folks "brothers and sisters" unless I really want to connect. Indeed, I don't personalize my message unless I want to assure the folks I'm talking to that I agree with them.
Notice the rousing applause, the biggest of the one or two Danny got at all during his over four minute speech, from this anti-Obama/anti-Obamacare Raleigh Tea Party crowd. Either he told them what they wanted to hear, or they mistook what what he said
Many of you may opt for the latter, that is until you consider that Coleman was at that Tea Party Tax Day rally at the state capitol WITH conservative Wake School Board member (and Tea Party favorite) John Tedesco, and Coleman has been openly supportive the board's Republican majority since they got on in 2009.
In a September 2010 Carolinian article I wrote titled, "RWCA Head Joins Tedesco, Wants Sutton Out," please note this passage:
It has been an open secret for years in Raleigh’s Democratic liberal political circles that Coleman marches to a different drummer, and admittedly so. Even on the RWCA website, Coleman calls his personal page, “Right of Center Blog: from the mind of RWCA President Danny Coleman.”
That RWCA website, which Coleman personally maintained, no longer exists.
The man even admitted to agreeing with the rabidly right-wing Lou Dobbs, who now works for Fox News Business Channel.
Dobbs, as many of you already know, is vehemently opposed to Obamacare!
It also strikes me that if what Coleman said was so innocuous and innocent at that Tea Party rally, then why not just say so, instead of sending out a written speech 14 months after the fact, that only serves to prove he had something to hide once audio of his actual remarks are revealed.
The man has outsmarted himself AGAIN!
So Coleman may still like and admire President Obama, but that doesn't mean he's fully supportive of the president's policies. The fact that Coleman would show up at all at an ultra-right-wing Tea Party rally KNOWING how they feel about the president, and publicly do so on behalf of the RWCA, even though it's a certainly that most of the membership, if they knew what he was doing, would not have approved, is telling in itself.
So, in closing, the mp3 file of Coleman's remarks doesn't lie. Forget what he wrote, because all that does is misrepresent the record.
The recording of his remarks is what the truth is.
Too bad Danny Coleman doesn't believe in standing by that!
Posted by Cash Michaels
To Build or Not To Build? This Is The Question Facing Raleigh City Council This 2011 Election Year PT. 1
"Was Council's Dereliction of Responsibility to Procure a Binding Contract for the Clarence E. Lightner Center with KlingStubbins a Naive Mistake, One In Which Cost the Taxpayers a Whopping $23 Million Dollars or Was It Downright Illegal?"
"The Building To No Where"
By Lent Carr- Free-lance Journalist/Writer
Talking with voters all over the City of Oaks regarding this psychedelic quagmire has (more than any other question) produced one pshaw question of unison... "why would a competent panel of Councilors vote to move forward on such an enormous project i.e. that of the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center without ensuring that a legally binding contract had been procured and put into place beforehand, especially where State law requires it!" ("All contracts made by or on behalf of a city shall be in writing")
To his credit, the Honorable Councilor Thomas Crowder following the ensuing melee caused by City Manager Russel Allen motioned the Council to have City Staff and the Raleigh City Council to adhere to State Law by entering into a written and otherwise binding contract with the other party when initiating future projects like that of the botched Lightner Center, amendments and change orders therefor.
Though Mayor Charles Meeker and City Manager Russell Allen was not in the least bit happy about such a motion being put forward, it was not lossed on the voters ear of disbelief that the newly seated Council Member selected, Raleigh City Councilman, Eugene Weeks dared to suggest that City Manager Russell Allen be held to an arbitrarily different standard than that of other Municipal City Managers of North Carolina with respect to following the strictures of State Law governing contracts made by or on the behalf of a city being put into writing.
As dubious as this contractual mess sounds, Eugene Weeks went on to state that by requiring the City Manager to obey the law is “micromanaging!” Surely Weeks couldn't have been serious; but he was! To the untainted ear it would appear that Weeks in his new political successor role as the fresh kid on the block representing District C has already shown that it is not beyond his ethical stature to circumvent the letter of the law.
True to his micromanaging stance, Eugene Weeks, Mayor Meeker and At-Large Councilor, Mary-Ann Baldwin voted NAY to requiring City Staff to follow the law with regard to NC General Statute requiring the City to enter into a written contract before divvying out taxpayers dollars for projects like the one in question that cost Raleigh's taxpayers a wopping 23-million dollars at a time when the City has been forced to cut programs from the budget as a result of economical shortfalls. Was this mere naivety or a blatant act to circumvent the law by those who make the laws for the rest of Raleigh's citizenry?
As the voters of the 2011 Election Cycle, you'll be taxed in being the judge of this 23-million dollar inquiry. Was Council's egregious decision to bypass NC General Statutes an illegal act to circumvent the Law? And, was Councilman Eugene Weeks' misguided rantings of "micromanaging" in contravention to well established Law, thus suggestively violable in nature with his and two other council members affirmative NAY votes disallowing contractual placement prior to project commencement a dereliction of his representative duties to protect the taxpayers/citizens of Raleigh and District C?
This my fellow citizen is the question; "TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD."
RALEIGH -- The legislature has given final approval to a bill that will allow formerly incarcerated people to earn a certificate that enables them to apply for professional licenses that convicted felons had been prohibited from getting.
The Senate unanimously passed the bill Wednesday, 50 to 0, about two weeks after the House approved it 116 to 1. It now awaits signature into law by Gov. Bev Perdue.
The legislation, sponsored by W. David Guice, a Republican from Brevard, aims to help keep former criminals out of trouble by removing barriers that prevent them from finding a decent job. Former offenders have about a 50 percent chance of returning to prison within three years of their release, according to the state's sentencing commission, costing taxpayers about $27,000 per inmate a year.
Steady employment is critical in determining whether a formerly incarcerated person will commit another crime or become a productive member of society, Guice said.
The legislation includes a number of conditions that former offenders would have to meet before they are granted a court-sanctioned certificate that makes them eligible to apply for professional licenses. Under current law, anyone convicted of a felony in North Carolina is prohibited from obtaining licenses for about 700 occupations, including barbering, nursing and pest control.
Dennis Gaddy, director of the Community Success Initiative, a nonprofit agency in Raleigh that lobbies the legislature on behalf of ex-offenders, said passage of the bill is "going to make a lot of things happen."
In addition to clearing away hurdles to employment for the former inmates, Gaddy said the new law would also make them more accountable by giving them more incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.
Gaddy also predicted that the new law would create new support programs for the formerly incarcerated: mentors, faith-based networks, new substance abuse and anger management classes.
Ultimately, Gaddy added, it's about helping the former inmates become productive.
"Jobs and licenses," he said. "That's the greatest deterrent there is."
The bill was co-sponsored by Elmer Floyd, a Democrat from Cumberland County, and garnered bipartisan support from lawmakers, law enforcement and nonprofit groups.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-4533
By Thomasi McDonald - Staff writer
House Bill 641, which was ratified today at the General Assembly, is awaiting signature into law by Gov. Bev Perdue.
The bill automatically becomes law after 10 days without Perdue's signature, Russell Miles, a legislative librarian said this afternoon.
The bill on Wednesday, passed overwhelmingly in the senate by a vote of 50 to 0.
Nearly two weeks before, the House also voted near-unanimously in favor of the measure by a vote of 116 to 1.
The measure, sponsored by W. David Guice, a Republican from Brevard, will aim to help stop former criminal offenders from repeating their crimes by removing barriers that prevent them from finding lawful employment.
Guice was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
Former offenders have about a 50 percent chance of returning to prison within three years of their release, according to the state's sentencing commission, costing taxpayers about $27,000 per inmate a year.
Guice earlier this week, noted that steady employment is critical in determining whether a formerly incarcerated person will commit another crime or become a productive citizen.
The bill, which was co-sponsored by Elmer Floyd, a Democrat from Cumberland County, garnered bipartisan support from lawmakers, law enforcement and non-profit groups that advocate on behalf of ex-offenders.
The legislation includes a number of conditions that former offenders would have to meet before they are granted a court-sanctioned certificate that makes them eligible to apply for professional licenses.
Under current law, anyone convicted of a felony in North Carolina is prohibited from obtaining licenses for about 700 different occupations, including barbering, nursing and pest control.
Dennis Gaddy, director of the Community Success Initiative, a nonprofit in Raleigh that lobbies the legislature on behalf of ex-offenders, said the passage of the bill is "going to make a lot of things happen."
In addition to clearing away major roadblocks towards employment for the formerly incarcerated, Gaddy said the new law will also make former inmates more accountable by giving them more incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.
Gaddy also predicted that the new law is will create new programs of support for the formerly incarcerated: mentors, faith-based networks, along with the creation of new substance abuse and anger management classes.
Ultimately, Gaddy added, it's about helping the formerly incarcerated become productive citizens.
"Jobs and licenses," he said. "That's the greatest deterrent there is."
email@example.com or (919) 829-4533
House Bill 641 aims to help stop criminals from repeating their crimes by removing barriers that prevent them from finding lawful employment. Convicts have about a 50 percent chance of returning to prison within three years of their release, according to the state's sentencing commission, costing taxpayers about $27,000 an inmate a year.
Under current law, anyone convicted of a felony in North Carolina is prohibited from obtaining licenses for about 700 occupations, including barbering and nursing.
"Even pest control. You can't even spray bugs if you get a felony in North Carolina," said Dennis Gaddy, director of the Community Success Initiative, a nonprofit in Raleigh that lobbies the legislature on behalf of ex-offenders.
The bill was sponsored by David Guice, a Republican from Brevard who cites a two-word mantra.
"Steady employment," Guice said. "That's one of the most critical factors in determining whether someone will commit another crime or become a productive citizen."
Guice worked for three decades as a chief probation and parole officer in Western North Carolina before coming to Raleigh to serve in the General Assembly three years ago.
Guice's bill is based on a recommendation of the Safe Street Task Force, a 2009 initiative to reduce the number of ex-offenders who commit crimes after their release from prison. The bill passed the House with overwhelming support last week and has been referred to a Senate judiciary committee.
Another sponsor, Elmer Floyd, a Democrat from Cumberland County, said it gives ex-offenders who are trying to straighten up "another tool in the toolbox."
"This is a step in that direction," Floyd added, "so that in the future there will not be as many roadblocks."
Gaddy, a member of the state committee that crafted the bill, said the bill is appealing to the Republican majority in part because of the economic challenges faced by the state.
"There's a push to stop building prisons. That's a big line item," he said. "Education and corrections are the two biggest line items."
Ajamu Dillahunt, an outreach coordinator with the liberal N.C. Justice Center, described the bill as leveling the playing field for ex-offenders by increasing the likelihood they will be hired for work, or at least called in for a job interview.
Optimism on passage
"Even with all of the debate on so many policy issues, the (legislators) are able to see how important this is at the moment," Dillahunt said. "There are fiscal issues, public safety concerns and the moral issue that everyone deserves a second chance. It's a perfect storm for getting this type of legislation passed."
The bill would allow convicted felons who qualify to petition the court for a Certificate of Restoration of Rights. The certificate doesn't clear their record, but it does provide tangible evidence that they are trying to put their lives back together and are determined not to return to a life of crime, said Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper, a supporter.
Before a petition can be considered by the court, victims of the ex-offender must be given a chance to participate in the process.
"If they have not been in trouble since their conviction, are gainfully employed or receiving educational training or trying to get a job, then the courts can grant their petition," Talley said. "It's not an automatic thing, but if they get it, they can use it as proof that says, 'Look, I'm on the right track now.'"
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-4533
By Cash Michaels
Editor’s note - In recent months, members of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association have raised serious questions about the direction of the esteemed civic organization, and the leadership of its president.
In last week’s Part 1 of The Carolinian’s examination, we look at those questions, including if the RWCA is being crippled as an effective community organ for progress.
In this week's Part 2, we focus on Pres. Danny Coleman's close relationship with the Republican-led Wake School Board, and why many RWCA members consider it a problem.
When the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association (RWCA) celebrated its 75th anniversary four years ago, members were brimming with pride, excitement and anticipation. The legacy of the powerful civic and political predominately-black organization, harkening back to 1932 when it was originally founded as the Negro Citizens Committee, was one of accomplishment and vision.
Members, including then-RWCA Pres. Daniel Coleman, envisioned the work continuing beyond political endorsements into education, health care and economic development.
"Until the day when we look at the population and don't see subsets, the role of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association will continue, Coleman was quoted as saying.
Fast-forward to today, however, and several RWCA members say they envision something very different.
Many of them tell The Carolinian they want their president out, and they want to vote him out now. But Coleman, they say, hasn’t held an RWCA meeting in over three months because he knows a significant portion of the membership will try to make the move when he does.
As reported last week, The Carolinian asked Pres. Coleman for an interview to balance the record, and even offered to submit written questions in advance. Coleman declined, choosing instead to submit an off-topic letter touting his leadership.
Members who’ve spoken to The Carolinian over the past several months not only point to allegations of irregularities with the organization’s finances and leadership structure, but also accuse Coleman of using the prestige of the RWCA to further his own political agenda.
They also allege that Coleman is misrepresenting the RWCA position on several issues.
For instance, despite his strong backing of President Barack Obama, Coleman turned many a head in the African-American community on April 15, 2010 when he spoke at a right-wing anti-Obama Tea Party rally in Raleigh, and said that Americans should, “pay for your own healthcare,” a clear stab at the president’s health care policy.
But it’s been the GOP-led Wake School Board’s neighborhood schools policy, which the RWCA opposes, that has caused the most tension between Coleman and his membership.
Since the Republican-led majority took over the Wake School Board in 2009, Coleman has been vocal, and at times, even forceful in his denunciation of the old student socioeconomic diversity policy that for the past ten years had delivered stellar achievement grades overall, and with it, national attention for the school system.
"We have to ask ourselves where is the benefit of an assignment policy based on economic diversity when the end result produces the worst scores in the system?" he wrote in a Sept. 2010 email to RWCA members. Coleman was referencing how black students, particularly those being bused from Southeast Raleigh to outlying schools in the county to prevent the occurrence of inner city high poverty schools, were not performing academically as well as their white counterparts bused into magnet schools in Southeast Raleigh.
Wake’s black and Hispanic students actually were doing very well on state end-of-grade tests from 2000-2005, before growth distracted school officials thereafter, and that academic progress plummeted. Republican school board candidates seized on that to win the majority in 2009, even though there has been significant incremental progress independent of their elections that they refuse to acknowledge
In a Sept. 2010 N&O letter to the editor, a defensive Coleman, siding with the Republicans, strengthened his call for neighborhood schools, even though he knew it was directly contrary to the majority will of the RWCA membership.
“How do you handle the data when it shows that the child from Southeast Raleigh, whether educated there or in the county at large, scores at the bottom of the charts?,” he wrote. “How do we examine this without being called re-segregationist or Uncle Toms?”
Attorney Irving Joyner, head of the NCNAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, didn’t waste time setting Coleman straight.
“It is clear that he misapprehends the distinctions associated between disparity in academic achievement for minority students and the need for diversity in assignments,” Joyner wrote in a letter to News & Observer education reporter T. Keung Hui.
“It is shocking that Dan Coleman is so out-of-touch with the thoughts and feelings of the African American community and the academic needs of our students,” said Calla Wright, president of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children, in a Sept 3rd press release.
“Anyone familiar with the decades of national research knows that student achievement falls as a school’s poverty level rises. Yet in essence, Mr. Coleman is making the claim that resegregating our schools will improve student achievement. No reasonable person believes that segregation is good for academic achievement—or for anything else.”
Wright concluded, “Mr. Coleman and others who share his views simply wish to condemn our most vulnerable children to a second-class education.”
And even Coleman’s longtime friends, like Raleigh businessman Bruce Lightner - who once made a motion at a September 2010 RWCA meeting for a vote of no confidence in Pres. Coleman, have had to read the riot act to him.
“…[B] e forewarned, it is now a matter of public record that you have been secretly meeting with Wake County Republican officials, even found it politically expedient to speak at a recent Raleigh Tea Party Rally and are perceived to have become the black community's confidant to [Wake School Board Chairman] Ron Margiotta and John Tedesco,” Lightner continued. “If this is how you want to roll ... more power to you. But as I hope you would expect ... I would be the first to call your hand if you try to chump off this community.”
When the NCNAACP made national headlines last July by marching in downtown Raleigh for student diversity, and then having four prominent members, including NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, arrested and taken to jail, unlike other black Raleigh leaders, Coleman was far from sympathetic.
“Begging white people to send their children into the inner city, offering them more than we offer those we send out only re-enforces the 3/5's doctrine, the manifest destiny and white man's burden concepts that memorializes the blacks are not equal to whites,” Coleman wrote in an email then, furthering his crusade against the magnet schools program.
Coleman may have his staunchest critics in the African-American community, but in the broader community and Republican circles, he’s lauded for standing alone.
“I applaud Dan Coleman, president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, for his courageous criticism of the Wake County socioeconomic diversity policy,” wrote Paul Kretzschmar of Raleigh in a Sept. 2010 letter to the editor of the News & Observer. “He knows he will be criticized by the Wake diversity leadership.”
Conservative blogs have also heralded Coleman’s singular stand against student diversity.
Last March in an email to RWCA members announcing the cancellation of the first of three subsequent meetings, Coleman wrote, “ I have enjoyed my two terms that may or may not be the constitutional limit of my service, and feel the RWCA has made great strides in representing the broader community’s interests.”
Members tell The Carolinian, however, that the interests of the African-American community is why they joined, and with crucial local school board elections coming this fall, what they need is clear, decisive leadership now so that RWCA can properly fulfill it role.
With Coleman canceling the last three meetings, they say, it may be too late.
For his part, Coleman has informed his members that any new election of officers won’t be held until this November. Because the first Nominating Committee chair, Michael Leach, refused to share his panel’s list of recommendations with the president last April (Coleman was not re-nominated for president on that slate) because he insisted that it be presented to the body first, Coleman appointed a new Nominating Committee chair to start the process again.
That has created more controversy. Though there is now a second report, the new Nominating Committee chair hadn’t been able to attend regular meetings in months before the cancellations, understandably because of family obligations, raising more questions.
Several RWCA members tell The Carolinian that they fully expect there to be a meeting June 16th, the third Thursday of the month as is custom. According to the RWCA Constitution, ten members present constitutes a meeting, and they say they will come, even if Coleman sends out a last minute notice of cancellation.
If it happens, it would be the first RWCA meeting held in over 90 days.
But what they can accomplish is not clear. The RWCA Constitution doesn’t provide a specific chapter and verse which allows for the immediate removal of any sitting RWCA officer, which some say would be embarrassing if one were ever criminally charged.
The agenda of that meeting, per a May 16th email from Coleman to membership, is “to be dedicated to the new WCPSS Assignment plan.” But expect there to be a battle over which report from which Nominating Committee should be ultimately heard, even though Coleman has said he wants it tabled until November.
With word that Coleman has started his own political action committee apart from RWCA’s M-PAC, through which he can endorse the candidates he chooses, and tensions high about his continued support for the Republicans on the Wake Public School Board, expect another rousing RWCA meeting like the one last September when Wake School Board member John Tedesco spoke, member say.That is, if there is one.
By: Cash Michaels,