Vol. 28 No. 23 (2181 Edition)
May 28 - June 3, 2014
PRST STD - U.S. POSTAGE PAID RICHMOND, VA PERMIT NO. 639
Virginia vets have fewest Veterans Affairs facilities
By Kathryn Watson As scandals swirl surrounding the Department of Veteran’ Affairs, a new report finds Virginia ranks dead last in the nation for the number of VA hospitals per 10,000 veterans. A national study by Wallet Hub on the best and worst states for military retirees, published just in time for Monday’s Memorial Day, points out that Virginia have the lowest ratio of homeless veterans to total veterans, and ranks third in the country for the most job opportunities for veterans, right behind the District of Columbia and Maryland.
In Virginia, however, which boasts more veterans per 100 residents than any other state, the glaringly low proportion of Veterans Affairs health facilities to residents is a blight to Virginia’s 15th overall ranking. Virginia veterans have just .3 hospitals for every 10,000 veterans. “Health care really lags behind,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of the personal finance site WalletHub.com. “… It seems like there is a disconnect for sure between the number of residents and the kind of access they have to health care.” Papadimitriou said his company decided to gauge the best and worst
states for veterans based on metrics like job availability and health care because deciding where to retire is perhaps the most important personal finance decision a veteran can make. Wallet Hub dubbed Wyoming the most veteran-friendly state, while California ranks last. Generally, the study found red states are more friendly towards military retirees than blue states. While it’s still early in his term, Gov. Terry McAuliffe hasn’t announced any major veteran-related projects or policy proposals. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell took credit
for the veteran job figures in his 2014 State of the Commonwealth Address, delivered just before he left office in January. “We’ve made great progress making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the country,” McDonnell said in his prepared remarks. “We expanded the Wall of Honor at the Virginia War Memorial, provided in-state tuition for veterans, and created a job placement program for our veterans. We have shown our love and appreciation for the brave few that protect our way of life.”
Potential Va. government shutdown just tip of iceberg
Sen. A. Donald McEachin
By Sylvina Poole A $300 million shortfall in state revenue collections has put Virginia’s bond rating in jeopardy. A government shutdown brought on by the failure of lawmakers to agree on a budget could force the state to miss a July 1 bond payment, tarnishing the state’s reputation with investors. The report on the revenue drop, reported by Virginia Finance Secretary Ric Brown, has added pressure on lawmakers to break
the ongoing budget deadlock. Virginia lawmakers are frustrated with trying to reach an agreement regarding the state budget. The passing of the budget depends largely on reaching an agreement regarding health care reform for Virginia. State Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said that Virginia Senate Democrats and some Republican Senators have come together to construct a bipartisan compromise that closes the health care coverage gap for up to 400,000 Virginians. “I would ask the Republican delegates to stop their fear-mongering and distraction about a government shutdown and instead, come to the table to work with the Senate to find a way to offer working families the affordable accessible health care they deserve,” he said. Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) weighed in on the issue and is pushing for See “Shutdownˮ on pg. 2
Who is he?
Read all about him and his plans for moving a well-known institution forward on page 21
2 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
Local Boys & Girls Club locations set for closure By Sylvina Poole Several Boys & Girls club locations in the metro area are closing their doors by the fall, according to program officials. The three facilities slated for closure are the Central Club, the Randolph Club, and the Hopewell Club. This move is expected to impact hundreds of membership-families who depend on the services offered. For nearly 70 years the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond has served children between the ages of 6 -18. An estimated 250 members out of 2,200 currently on its rolls will soon have to search for other appropriate venues. Participants attending these clubs are
welcome to align themselves with club locations that will remain open, said club leadership. President and CEO Todd McFarlane explained that the strategic realignment of club operations resulting in expansion is necessary and timely. “Club staff will help families as much as possible to find an appropriate solution for their young people,” McFarlane said in a statement. “The Board of Directors made the strategic decision to realign our resources to focus on neighborhoods with the highest density of young people living in disadvantaged circumstances within cities of Richmond and Petersburg.”
Prayerful tangle in Chesterfield The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia wants the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors to cease its practice of only permiting “ordained religious leaders of monotheistic religions” to offer prayers before board meetings. ACLU, together with Americans United for Separation of Church, recently sent a letter to the board, saying that all faiths must have an opportunity to offer premeeting prayers in order for the policy to comply with the First Amendment. “The First Amendment requires governing bodies to allow everyone the chance to deliver prayers before official meetings,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “If they don’t, then what they’re doing is unconstitutional.” ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said that under the Constitution, all stand before the government as equals, regardless of religion. “Chesterfield County may not make theological distinctions among its residents,” she said. Chesterfields prayer practice was approved in 2005 by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in Simpson v. Chesterfield County upheld the board’s policy of opening meetings with an invocation given by invited local clergy whose names are drawn from an official county list. Almost all clergy who had delivered invocations represented Christian denominations, however, and the county denied a Wiccan’s request to be added to the invocation list on the ground that Wicca is “neo-pagan and invokes polytheistic, pre-Christian
deities,” and therefore it does not fall within “the Judeo-Christian tradition.” That claim led to a lawsuit sponsored by Americans United and the ACLU of Virginia. The board continues to exclude some faiths, according to the letter, even those that are monotheistic. For example, the county’s list of religious organizations invited to deliver invocations excludes the Chesterfield County Sikh congregation Richmond Gurdwara, even though, according to the group’s website, Sikhs practice “strict monotheism.” The letter notes that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case sponsored by Americans United, said local town boards have the right to open their meetings with Christian prayers. This ruling has given some the impression that policies need not be inclusive, but Americans United and the ACLU are warning that is a misinterpretation of what the high court actually said. “In Greece, the town allowed invited clergy to deliver sectarian invocations at Town Council meetings,” according to the letter. “Since most of the invited clergy were Christian, most of the prayers were Christian as well. The Court found that this was not by design; rather, ‘[t]he town at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver. Its leaders maintained that a minister or layperson of any persuasion, including an atheist, could give the invocation.’” The letter also asserts that the requirement that prayer-givers be ‘ordained’ is similarly problematic.
The focus of the Boys & Girls Club will concentrate on several key principles: “Over the next five years we will enhance our youth development opportunities to be more comprehensive, particularly with programming that provides more educational and work opportunities for teenagers. At the same time this realignment will allow us to be a part of the transformation of neighborhoods while giving young people who live in high-risk neighborhoods opportunities they need to succeed. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond wants to make sure that all neighborhoods become places where success is both possible and expected, said McFarlane.
Locations targeted for closure are: Hopewell Club, located within Harry E. James Elementary School; Central Club at 2601 Kensington Avenue; and Randolph Club at 910 South Harrison Street. The following clubs will remain open: in the East End, Clubs located at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Fairland Court; in North Side, the Capital One Club located in Providence Park; in Southside, located on Bainbridge Avenue ; and in Petersburg, location at Blandford Academy. Southside, North Side, and East End parts of the city are being eyed for Boys & Girls Clubs expansion sites, McFarlane noted.
Shutdown from page 1 a plan that is inclusive of measures that take into accoun the well-being of the poor. The passing of the budget hinges largely on a health care plan that provides coverage for all Virginians, especially the economically challenged. Nearly, one million people are without insurance in Virginia, an estimated 844,000. Under the Affordable Health Care Act, individuals would go to “exchanges” available online or by telephone to shop for affordable insurance coverage. States across the country were given the option of implementing their own exchange system or leaving the task up to the federal government. McClellan recently started an online petition which addresses this elephant in the room. It states: “This is too important to ignore. “Right now, Virginia legislators are embroiled in a battle over whether or not they will help 400,000 uninsured Virginians, 200,000 of whom are women. Virginia Democrats are determined to close the coverage gap for these women, but House Republicans want nothing to do with it. “Instead of coming to the table with a plan that will expand access to quality affordable care to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, many of whom are women in need of prenatal care, House Republicans are busy growing frat boy beards and spreading misleading facts to their constituents. This has to stop! “Closing the coverage gap and paying
Del. Jennifer McClellan
for preventive and early prenatal care for Virginia’s women save the Commonwealth big on the back end and it’s simply the right thing to do. “Join me today and sign our petition to demand a plan from House Republicans. “It’s time for House Republicans to stop their political games and get back to work for ALL Virginians,” the petition concludes. The initial health care controversy should have been resolved when state legislators reluctantly gave in to the federal government’s demand to begin the reform process in the latter part of 2014. That is when citizens were supposed to enroll for health insurance with coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. At that time, individuals were to learn whether they were eligible for subsidies to decrease the costs of insurance premiums or qualify for Medicaid, a federal-state administered program for the poor.
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 3
The Richmond Voice
Council member wants to “wipe the slate clean” on Shockoe Bottom plans By Sylvina Poole Richmond Councilman Chris Hilbert (3rd District) is calling on the mayor’s office to revamp plans for the controversial redevelopment of Shockoe Bottom. “I am calling on the city administration to wipe the slate clean and begin to solicit for Requests for Proposals (RFP) for the stadium location, revitalization of the Boulevard area, the Lumpkins’ Jail site and Slavery Musuem,” said Hilbert. Monies initially considered for the project recently was pulled out of the city’s capital budget for a future date, according to city officials. “No one opposes the revitalization of Shockoe Bottom or the the Boulevard. It is the location of the stadium that is the main sticking point; although recent changes to the plan involving land purchases to other involved parties is only making a bad situation worse. I have been told that proposal exists to substitute a parking garage for the stadium to mitigate the flood plain issues in Shockoe Bottom, which has
Councilman Chris Hilbert
not been embraced or knocked down,” noted Hilbert. The current process has gone on for way too long, Hilbert noted. “We still don’t have a final plan before us. There are more important issues facing our city, such as schools, infrastructure needs and the recent
spike in violent crime. Moreover, the discussion of the Revitalize RVA matter has been corrosive to our civic dialogue and has exacerbated the public's perception of the lack of transparency at city hall.” Hilbert feels that in order to restore public confidence in the system, “we must start over. I believe that an inclusive deliberative process involving diverse options and insights will be a welcomed opportunity to exit the current quagmire.” Charles Pool, a local resident who’s been critical of the Shockoe Bottom Revitalization plan has written several letters to members of council to state his skepticism. In his latest missive, Pool voices his concern over the mayor’s alleged “unseemly association with convicted felon Louis Salomonsky in the effort to acquire land to build the Shockoe stadium debacle. “Salomonsky was convicted of bribing a city councilmember and of attempting to defraud the city of Richmond of a rehab tax abatement. “Keep in mind that the secretary of Venture Richmond, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying for the mayor’s flawed Shockoe stadium plan, is a close business partner of Louis Salomonsky. Why is convicted felon Salomonsky allowed to drive policy for his benefit at Venture Richmond and City Hall to the detriment of the citizens of
Richmond? “The public was promised that all aspects of the Shockoe stadium proposal would be available in March, that the proposal would be withdrawn if land acquisition costs exceeded the $4,4 million figure, and that a complete Section 106 historic review would be undertaken of the Shockoe Valley site. All of these promises have been broken. “As City Council members, it is your responsibility to avoid any impropriety or appearance of impropriety and to uphold the fiduciary responsibilities of your office. Please do not take ownership of the mayor’s misbegotten Shockoe Stadium proposal that is mired in a corrupt and secretive process, benefiting cronies with secret no-bid deals and land swaps.” Tammy Hawley, press secretary for the mayor countered Pool’s claims with a statement: “The city will do the Heritage site. It will be competitively bid. he EDA will do the ballpark. It will be competitively bid too. That has always been the case. Private developers will do everything else. We can’t tell them how to do their private work.” Still, five council members, including Hilbert, have voiced their skepticism of the Shockoe project. Parker C. Agelasto, Reva M. Trammell, Charles R. Samuels, Jonathan T. Baliles, and Hilbert said they will vote against the proposal.
Does city’s South Side get a bad rap as a crime area?
By Sylvina Poole A year ago, local law enforcement leaders were boasting of a reduction in crime numbers across the city of Richmond when compared to previous years. This made residents exhale a sigh of relief as their communities appeared safer than ever before. But recently, with the string of homicides concentrated in one particular section of town, reassurance of better days ahead is questionable as it relates to crime and safety on city streets. Councilwoman Reva Trammell (8th District) will be a meeting on June 3 at 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Social Services Building, along with Councilwoman Michelle Mosby and the area’s police representative, to discuss crime. “I’m very upset about the increase in crime all over the city,” said Trammell. “I’m very thankful that the police officers and the community are still working
Councilwoman Reva Trammell
together harder than ever.” Last year at this time, Richmond Police Department (RPD) officials were battling crime as well as a widespread view that these incidences are more concentrated on the city’s South Side neighborhoods. A spokesperson for RPD spoke out about this at the time:
“Something important in our business is we do fight perception. South Richmond is a challenge when it comes to robberies especially in our neighborhoods which have a large Latino and Hispanic population. That’s something that we have struggled with for years just to make sure that we can get out there and take care
of those folks whether it’s because of the language barrier we just want to make sure that we are providing services equally across the board to all of our residents,” said Richmond Police Department Maj. Scott Booth. Like Maj. Booth, 5th District Councilman Parker Agelasto, who represent parts of South Richmond, agreed and felt that some areas of the city have received a bad rap in how the general public sees these areas. Agelasto has said he doesn’t believe that South Richmond is an area where most crimes happen. “In fact, a look at the police statistics would tell a different story. Likewise, Sector 211 including the area of Midlothian Village had the highest reduction in crime in the second quarter of this year,” he said at the time.
The Richmond Voice
4 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
New group wants to ‘keep the promise of archaeology’ in Richmond It’s an organization comprised of concerned citizens who have come together to “advocate for Richmond’s unique archaeological resources”. RVArchaeology recently held its first meeting with participants ranging from educators to community leaders, and other citizens who agree that archaeology is an essential tool for the research and interpretation of the city’s history and culture. According to a press release, Dr. Kim Allen, cultural anthropologist and organizer of the group, said the formation of the group emerged from recognizing the need to engage “archeologists into the public conversation about archaeology.” She convened the symposium “Before It’s Too Late: The History and Archaeology of Shockoe Bottom” during which participants discussed the history of slave-trading and industry in Richmond, archaeology at Lumpkins Jail, the Section
Dr. Kim Allen
106 federal review process, and how to conduct public engagement through archaeology. Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced his archaeology plan two days before the March 29 event. “The mayor’s announcement was a blessing,” said Allen. “It galvanized our
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efforts to have professional archaeologists, historians, preservationists, and scholars educate concerned citizens about what archaeology is and what it is not.” She sought the support of area archaeologists and invited two of them, Dr. Terry Brock (research archaeologist at The Montpelier Foundation), and Ellen Chapman (a doctoral candidate at the College of William and Mary), to serve on the steering committee for RVArchaeology. Allen also emphasized the assistance of Viola Baskerville, former state delegate, whose financial support made the symposium possible. The organization notes that its impact has already been noticeable in conversations about planned developments in Shockoe Bottom, such as during a recent public meeting on a Richmond slavery heritage museum. The organization also notes that many members of the public have emphasized the importance of using archaeology as a tool to explore, identify, recover and preserve elements of the city’s past that have in many cases been overlooked or forgotten. City officials have also recognized importance of seeking guidance from those with archaeological expertise, including Richmond City Council members who requested feedback
on the mayor’s archaeology plan. “There is enormous potential for important archaeological research to be conducted in Richmond, both in Shockoe Bottom and elsewhere, and we hope to work with city officials to improve the city’s care of its resources,” said Brock. Chapman and Brock note that they responded to Richmond City Council inquiries by soliciting feedback from local archaeologists regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of the city’s archaeological plan for Shockoe Bottom. A summary of their responses was sent to council members and the mayor’s office in April and was presented during the public comment period at the May 12 council meeting. Concerns particularly addressed the specifics and logistics of community engagement, the need for independent expert review of the project, and the lack of details regarding the timeline and methods for the excavation. To date, the organization notes that there has been no official response or comment from council memmbers or the mayor’s office to these concerns. RVArchaeology held a press conference on Tuesday, to discuss their concerns about the city’s commitment to archaeology , the results if which were unavailable at press time.
By Sylvina Poole The Richmond Guardian Angels organization is sponsoring its 3rd annual “Time to Live” Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. According to the local branch, this is not a typical 5-10-mile walk to raise money and awareness for a cause. Instead, the focus on breast cancer health will involve more personal interactions. The effort is described as a door-to-door, face-to-face walk to dissimilate breast cancer health information, including how to do self-exams and where to get free testing for the uninsured as well as to urge people to get mammograms. “We are there to inform people of the importance of early detection to help them chose hope over fear,” said Jo White, chapter commander of the Guardian Angels.
Several churches are designated as stopping points for the walk, including Bethlehem Baptist Church, 1920 Fairmont Ave.; 31st Street Baptist Church, 823 N. 31st St.; Ebenezer Baptist Church, 216 West Leigh St.; Fresh Anointing Cathedral, 3001 Second Ave.; Second Baptist Church, 3300 Broad Rock Blvd.; Good Shepherd Baptist Church, 1200 N. 28th St.; Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 3300 R St.; and 4th Baptist Church, 2800 P St. The “Time to Live” Breast Cancer walk is sponsored by the Richmond Guardian Angels, 7th District Health and Wellness Initiative, Capital Area Health Network, Cross Over Ministries, Susan G. Komen, VCU Massey Cancer Center and the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. For more information on the walk call 804-937-6836.
Guardian Angels kick off annual breast cancer walk
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The Richmond Voice
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 5
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC OF VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY’S REQUEST TO INCREASE ITS FUEL FACTOR CASE NO. PUE-2014-00033 On May 2, 2014, Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion Virginia Power” or “Company”) filed with the State Corporation Commission (“Commission”) its application (“Application”) pursuant to § 56-249.6 of the Code of Virginia (“Code”) seeking an increase in its fuel factor from 2.572 cents per kilowatt-hour (“¢/kWh”) to 3.018¢/kWh, or, alternatively, 3.218¢/kWh, effective for usage on and after July 1, 2014. The Company’s proposed fuel factor, Fuel Charge Rider A, consists of both a current and prior period factor. At the full recovery rate, the Company’s proposed current period factor for Fuel Charge Rider A of 2.819¢/kWh is designed to recover the Company’s estimated Virginia jurisdictional fuel expenses of approximately $1.9 billion for the period July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. At the full recovery rate, the Company’s proposed prior period factor for Fuel Charge Rider A of 0.399¢/kWh is designed to recover approximately $267.8 million in estimated under-recovered Virginia jurisdictional fuel expenses for the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014. In total, Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed fuel factor at the full recovery rate represents a 0.646¢/kWh increase from the fuel factor rate presently in effect of 2.572¢/kWh, as approved in Case No. PUE-2013-00042. According to the Company, this proposal would result in an annual fuel revenue increase of approximately $433.9 million when compared to the present fuel rate of 2.572¢/kWh, and when applied to the projected current period kWh sales. The total proposed fuel factor at the full recovery rate would increase the average weighted monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity by $6.46, or approximately 6.0%. However, Dominion Virginia Power states in its Application that it recognizes the impact of such an increase in fuel rates on its customers. To mitigate this impact, the Company offers in its Application an alternative mitigation proposal to the full recovery rate, under which the Company would waive its right to recovery of the full deferral balance over the current period in favor of recovery of this balance equally over two fuel periods. Specifically, the Company states that, if approved, its mitigation proposal would amortize the $267.8 million projected June 30, 2014 fuel deferral balance for recovery equally over the fuel periods of July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, and July 1, 2015, though June 30, 2016, a total of 24 months. As part of its mitigation proposal, Dominion Virginia Power would further agree that any incremental costs associated with financing the deferral balance over the extended period of 24 months, as opposed to 12 months, would be borne by the Company. Thus, under the Company’s mitigation proposal, Fuel Charge Rider A would contain the same current period factor of 2.819¢/kWh, but be comprised of a prior period factor of 0.199¢/kWh, designed to recover approximately $133.9 million, or one half of the Virginia jurisdiction’s projected June 30, 2014 fuel deferral balance. As such, Dominion Virginia Power represents that the proposed mitigated fuel factor rate would be 3.018¢/kWh, rather than the 3.218¢/kWh full recovery rate. The proposed mitigated fuel factor represents a 0.446¢/kWh increase from the fuel factor rate presently in effect of 2.572¢/kWh, as approved in Case No. PUE-2013-00042. According to Dominion Virginia Power, its mitigation proposal would result in an annual fuel revenue increase of approximately $299.5 million when compared to the present fuel rate of 2.572¢/kWh, and when applied to the projected current period kWh sales. The proposed fuel factor resulting from the Company’s mitigation proposal would increase the average weighted monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity by $4.46, or approximately 4.1%. In its Application, Dominion Virginia Power also proposes a modification to the Commission’s Definitional Framework of Fuel Expenses for Virginia Electric and Power Company (“Definitional Framework”). Specifically, the Company states that in the next several years there will be an increase in the natural gas percentage of the Company’s system energy from 14% to 29%, as new efficient gas-fired generation comes on-line, such as the Warren and Brunswick County Power Stations. The Company also states that natural gas prices tend to be more volatile than nuclear fuel or coal prices. Accordingly, Dominion Virginia Power believes it is prudent to expand its approach to securing the supply of natural gas necessary to fuel its power plants, by considering additional natural gas procurement policies and hedging to assist in promoting the reliability of fuel supply and rate stability for customers. To support expansion of its hedging activities, the Company proposes to add a new Paragraph (d) to the existing Definitional Framework to explicitly state that reasonable costs, gains, or losses arising from the use of derivative instruments to financially hedge fuel and purchased power are recoverable through the Company’s fuel factor. Specifically, the Company’s proposed Paragraph (d) states: “[t]he commodity costs referenced in items a., b., and c. above shall include any costs, gains or losses arising from the use of derivative instruments associated with such commodities.” The commodity costs referenced in items a., b., and c. of the Definitional Framework refer to fossil fuel costs, nuclear fuel costs, and purchased power costs, respectively. The Company believes that this change in the Definitional Framework is important and appropriate at this time for the hedging activities to continue to provide benefits for customers in the future, particularly given changing market dynamics. The Commission entered an Order Establishing 2014-2015 Fuel Factor Proceeding (“Order”) that, among other things, scheduled a public hearing on August 19, 2014, at 10 a.m. in the Commission’s Second Floor Courtroom located in the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, to receive testimony from members of the public and evidence related to the Application from the Company, any respondents, and the Commission’s Staff. Any person desiring to testify as a public witness at this hearing should appear 15 minutes before the starting time of the hearing and contact the Commission’s Bailiff. Individuals with disabilities who require an accommodation to participate in the hearing should contact the Commission at least seven (7) days before the scheduled hearing at 1-800-552-7945 (voice) or 1-804-371-9206 (TDD). The Commission also allowed the Company to place its proposed mitigated fuel factor of 3.018¢/kWh into effect for usage on and after July 1, 2014, on an interim basis. The public version of the Company’s Application, pre filed testimony, and exhibits are available for public inspection during regular business hours at all of the Company’s offices in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A copy of the public version of the Company’s Application also may be obtained, at no cost, by written request to counsel for Dominion Virginia Power, William H. Baxter, II, Esquire, Dominion Resources Services, Inc., 120 Tredegar Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. If acceptable to the requesting party, the Company may provide the documents by electronic means. Interested persons also may review a copy of the public version of the Company’s Application in the Commission’s Document Control Center, located on the first floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, between the hours of 8:15 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. In addition, unofficial copies of the public version of the Company’s Application, Commission orders entered in this docket, the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (“Rules of Practice”), as well as other information concerning the Commission and the statutes it administers, may be viewed on the Commission’s website: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. On or before August 7, 2014, any interested person wishing to comment on the Company’s Application shall file written comments with Joel H. Peck, Clerk, State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. Any interested person desiring to file comments electronically may do so on or before August 7, 2014, by following the instructions on the Commission’s website: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case. Compact discs or any other form of electronic storage medium may not be filed with the comments. All such comments shall refer to Case No. PUE-2014-00033. Any person or entity may participate as a respondent in this proceeding by filing a notice of participation on or before June 27, 2014. If not filed electronically, an original and fifteen (15) copies of the notice of participation shall be filed with the Clerk of the Commission at the address set forth above. A copy of the notice of participation as a respondent also must be sent to counsel for the Company at counsel’s address set forth above. Pursuant to Rule 5 VAC 5-20-80 B, Participation as a respondent, of the Commission’s Rules of Practice, any notice of participation shall set forth (i) a precise statement of the interest of the respondent; (ii) a statement of the specific action sought to the extent then known; and (iii) the factual and legal basis for the action. All filings shall refer to Case No. PUE-2014-00033. Interested persons should obtain a copy of the Commission’s Order for further details on participation as a respondent. On or before July 10, 2014, each respondent may file with the Clerk of the Commission and serve on the Commission’s Staff, the Company, and all other respondents any testimony and exhibits by which the respondent expects to establish its case. If not filed electronically, an original and fifteen (15) copies of such testimony and exhibits shall be submitted to the Clerk of the Commission at the address set forth above. In all filings, respondents shall comply with the Commission’s Rules of Practice, including 5 VAC 5-20-140, Filing and service; 5 VAC 5-20-150, Copies and format; and 5 VAC 5-20-240, Prepared testimony and exhibits. All filings shall refer to Case No. PUE-2014-00033. VIRGINIA ELECTRIC AND POWER COMPANY
OP-ED & LETTERS
6 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
Examining the NAACP’s role
It has been reported in the national media that the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP was going to present Donald T. Sterling, owner of the NBA Clippers, with a 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. As a result of negative publicity, the NAACP L.A. chapter president, Leon Jenkins, resigned. By John L. Horton Guest commentator Further, it was reported that the NAACP accepts large monetary donations from individuals, retailers, corporations and banks seeking “cover” in sprucing up their public images and community relations. Among these “donating” entities are WalMart, Fed-Ex, tobacco companies, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc. To many of its critics, the venerable NAACP has become an “empty shell” of its former self. As a 73-year-old African-American male and long-time supporter, I am deeply concerned about the continuity and viability of the NAACP in the 21st century. The venerable NAACP is at a crossroads of great magnitude. In the recent past, it has suffered from a leadership void, internal bickering, operational difficulties, stagnant membership, declining corporate support, ongoing IRS inquiry, among a host of internal and external ailments. Moreover, supporters and critics alike are questioning the NAACP’s very purpose and direction. Supposedly the NAACP has a paid membership of 300,000, or so, and an annual budget of approximately $28 million. In my opinion, these important numbers are too low for the NAACP to be meaningful and effective. Based on its outstanding civil and human rights record along, the NAACP should have several million dues-paying members, among
African Americans in particular. If it truly desires autonomy and flexibility, the NAACP must be able to “pay its own way” in terms of member participation and meaningful financial support. Only then will the NAACP be able to fulfill its leadership role(s) and organizational objectives for the 21st century. Only then will the NAACP be able to conceive and enact those “three arts of life and survival” for its core membership: (1) the art of cohesiveness (to recognize and neutralize “enemies” from within and without); (2) the art of commerce (to develop and improve upon the skills of labor, business, and trade); and (3) the art of capitalization (to effect and promote a competence in goods and service production, financial investment, and management techniques). This is the only way by which the NAACP will be able to adequately address the needs and ambitions of the alienated, impoverished and disillusioned people within our families and communities. As a grass roots activist and advocate, I respectfully offer the following suggestions to the (new direction) NAACP as some agendas and strategies to take a look at: - Concentrate on “Silver Rights.” Be concerned about competitive education, economic literacy, job training and entrepreneurial development. - Focus on “Golden Rules.” Be concerned about pay equity, saving, investing, venture capital and producing. Remember the old adage: “He who has the gold gets to make the rules. - Establish ways to get the business-civic community more involved by forming task forces and think tanks to deal with education, political and economic issues See “The
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Featured correspondent: Shaping young minds It is a part of Democracy that children be educated, and up to the Education Department to meet the requirements of doing so. The question and the problem presented is whether Richmond is equipped to assure that all not a percentage of our youth are well educated, preparing them for either future education or employment or service. As educators we must identify all and anything that interferes with children’s learning process, even if it happens to be a teacher or a parent. Next, let’s consider school as an alternative, interventionist, a chaperone, advisor, particularly for students, when the sole purpose is to educate. How can the education department in each of these roles guide, direct children more appropriately as to limit negative emotions, dysfunctional behaviors, open hostility, academic failure, unproductive delinquency etc., as much as possible? Simultaneously, we should encourage parents, provide them support if they need it to do their share in contributing to the goal of teaching all students to reach the level of above average to excellence I bet you think that I am presenting a herculean task, but if we actually care about the future, and the children, then this mission is worth tackling. These K-12 impressionable minds are so vulnerable, along with a lack of spiritual enforcement and reinforcement, that they may be subject to so much victimization, that we will overlook the vague, minute part until it is too late. For example how can a teacher who has spent every day for months with a child not know that he or she wouldn’t do well on the end of grade test? This scenario is obviously a reflection of the teachers and principals lack of concern or insight. I do not want to be too repetitive with my concerns, but I am certain you understand the message that I convey, and the See “Young minds” on pg. 7 importance to be on top of the game, in Production Denise Smith Administrative Specialist Tina Riddick-Harris Distribution Hakeen Ross Scott McCormick Kamau Islam
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May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 7
P.T. Hoffsteader, Esq.
The Richmond Voice
We are distressed by the federal government’s overreach and disregard for the Constitution. But what is the solution? Amending the Constitution is fraught with pitfalls. And, if Congress won’t abide by the Constitution we have now, why think they would respect an altered one? But we have the solution – the Tenth Amendment - state nullification. This is based on enforcing the Constitution, which dictates that the federal government may exercise only those powers that were delegated to it. The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Thus, nullification recognizes each state’s ability to nullify, or invalidate, unconstitutional federal measures. Nullification is founded on the fact that the sovereign states formed the union, and as creators of the contract, they have the ultimate authority to enforce the constitutional limits of the power of the federal government. It is based on upholding the Constitution and the founding principles of the Republic; it can be implemented by individual states, without having to first get other states on board. There are those who say that nullification is unconstitutional - that the so-called Supremacy Clause dictates that federal laws trump state laws, but the Supremacy Clause does not say that all laws passed by the federal government are the supreme law of the land. It declares the “laws of the United States made in pursuance of” (in accordance with) the Constitution are the supreme law of the land. In pursuance
thereof, not in violation thereof. None of the provisions of Obamacare, for example, are permissible under the enumerated powers given to Congress in the Constitution. If states would utilize the Tenth Amendment, in a matter of a few weeks, they could make null and void Obamacare, gun controls, government snooping into our personal lives, et al. All it would take would be for the state legislature to pass such a bill and the governor to sign it. Let’s use the Tenth Amendment. Sue Long North
The role from page 6
that affect “us all.” - Gather more resources, including monies, to deal with the multitude and magnitude of issues and obstacles that confront us a community and economic entity. - Implement effective strategies and methodologies on how to involve parents, particularly the "missing father” in the raising and nurturing of their children. - Create ways to plant the seeds of selfesteem and group empowerment early on, particularly for at-risk and disadvantaged children and families. - Contribute on an individual and communal basis your time, skills, knowledge, monies and leadership, allowing the “best and brightest and willing and giving” of us to come together, collectively, and make it happen for all of us. I find it fitting to end with the eloquent and wise words of Frederick Douglass, “...A man may not get all that he pays for, but he must certainly pay for all that he gets....” This, too, is the way now for the venerable NAACP.
Young minds from page 6 leading the future of America. I know a whole lot of adults I don’t want any child to grow up to be anything like, but that is a personal opinion saved for personal matters. This here is business. I love being a civil rights progressionist encouraging, intervening, teaching, mentoring, leading, exemplifying, writing and anything else to contribute to the assurance that American youth and America does not lag behind the rest of the world. For example why are students, in this day and time, have to complain about deplorable conditions at school? We know what black students have faced through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s in some of these U.S. cities, and now with a dramatic increase in black leaders and teachers, this should still not be a major factor in a society as advanced and affluent as ours. How can we proficiently, competently, equitably, and fairly prioritize the allocation of funds while emphasizing educating the students as the number one priority? Keep in mind any and every child in the right environment will have an equal opportunity to learn and excel. I feel most students have too many distractions in their young lives; why are the conditions of a classroom adding to this and what is going to be done about it? I am for rewarding success, performance, achievement, and triumph, but not at the expense of some over others. Where a lot of leaders fail at is rewarding failure, compromisation, and mediocrity when reprimand or probation is actually needed. There are approximately 22,457 students
or more in Richmond Public Schools, and this does not count private, charter, religious, and parochial schools (I think anyway). How would you feel if only 50 percent were receiving above average grades? I know as the head of a department I wouldn’t like that, and I would take immediate measures to improve those numbers. No one knows better than educators the percent of children that will be selfmotivated, eager and studious. These are the children that make everyone involved look good, but the most challenging requires the most effort and will truly test a teacher’s determination, ability, patience, and motivation. If the adults are thorough the children will have no other choice but to be thorough, and that is my visualization. I hate to say this but spend some quality time at some of these colleges and schools, at some of these businesses and even in the courtroom, and other government entities, then you will know where the failures have been, and why adults do not want to take account for them; since it is highly likely that they have also taken place in the classroom and home. We must emphasize proper education over everything else. K-12 education and parenthood are the foundations of all children’s knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and aptitude. This is why we can never take educating the youth lightly. It is up to you to direct these children’s future, and expect that it will be bright for them. Patrick O. Christian Richmond
8 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
Baptists in Virginia mark 300 years of ‘uncoerced’ faith Event celebrates the appeal for help from a small group of colonists to Baptists in Great Britain
By Robert Dilday ABP - In 1714, a small group of Baptists in Virginia asked their spiritual colleagues in Britain to send “messengers” to strengthen the fledgling religious movement in the colony. The result was the first documented Baptist congregation in Virginia. Three centuries later Baptists recently marked the anniversary of that event with a two-day observance in Richmond. “Our people have come a long, long way,” said historian Fred Anderson at a service of remembrance and thanksgiving. “From no people they have become a recognized people. From a despised people, they have become prominent contributors in every walk of life. … From one church have sprung an unknown number, certainly numbering around 3,000 churches and maybe — counting all the various groups of Baptists — perhaps even a million Baptists in Virginia alone.” Anderson, executive director of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies, was keynote speaker at the service, which also featured an organ recital of hymns familiar to generations of Baptists. Among them was “I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” the theme song of the Sunbeam Band, a mission education organization for children created in Nelson County, in 1886 which spread to most Baptist churches in the South. The remembrance service, organized by the two Baptist historical groups, was held in the pillared sanctuary of River Road Church, Baptist — a marked contrast to the log structure in Prince George County which probably housed Virginia’s first Baptist congregation. But those simple beginnings inspired a Christian movement ready to answer key questions of spiritual life, said John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. “Baptists emerged, in my mind, as a way for each believer to offer God their
own answers rather than having some religious organization answer them for us,” Upton, who also is president of the Baptist World Alliance, told participants at the remembrance service. “Baptists gave each believer a way to answer those questions in their many layers rather than just the surface ones.” In particular, he added, they urged believers to “come as you are and risk a personal new experience of faith — uncoerced.” The anniversary celebration continued the next day on the campus of the University of Richmond — founded by Baptists in 1830 to train ministers — with about 40 exhibits by Baptist agencies, institutions and churches.
Scattered beginnings The first Baptist congregation in America is generally thought to be First Baptist Church in Providence, R.I., organized in 1638. Some evidence also exists of a Baptist presence in Virginia in the 17th century, but the group was small, scattered along the south side of the James River, and faced legal restrictions imposed by the official Anglican Church. Looking for assistance, the struggling group sent a letter to the Baptist church in Canterbury — ironically, the episcopal seat of the Anglican Church — which passed the appeal along to the Kentish
Baptist Association in southeast England. On May 19, 1714, the association appointed two “messengers to go to Virginia with all convenient speed.” Later that month the general assembly of English Baptists endorsed the action, instructing the messengers to “preach the gospel where it is not known; to plant churches where there is none; to ordain elders in churches remote; and to assist in dispensing the Holy Mysteries.” One messenger died on the Atlantic crossing but the other, Robert Norden, arrived the following spring and by June 1715 had organized a church in Prince George County. The congregation worshipped in a private residence which the county court had approved as “a publick meeting house for these persons called Annabaptists.” The next year Norden wrote Baptists in England “of the promising prospect to plant the Gospell in those parts” and reported that he had “in a little time baptized and settled 18 Persons in Gospell order.” Norden died in 1725. A familiar fate Anderson said it’s uncertain what became of that first church, though some records suggest it was decimated by theological divisions and became extinct. “The first Baptist church in Virginia appears to have suffered the fate of many
Baptist churches — implosion from doctrinal controversy, the relocating of members and the gradual decline of what had been an active congregation,” he said. Virginia’s legal and religious establishment regarded Baptists as an “ignorant and illiterate sect,” and placed restrictions on their ability to preach and worship. In some places they were tolerated; in others, they were openly persecuted. The genius of those early Baptists, however, is clear, said Anderson: • Out of persecution they birthed the principles of religious liberty. • The essence of their polity was free and autonomous congregations. • They readily embraced a concept of world mission which took them beyond their small meeting houses. • A commitment to mission led inevitably to a wide array of Christian educational and benevolent organizations. • They turned out generations of welltrained, well-equipped laity and clergy. “Robert Norden was planting seeds of Baptist principles three centuries ago,” said Anderson. “Every phase of Baptist work in Virginia has sprung from those seeds. The seeds are still hidden in crevices and cracks and when conditions are ripe, suddenly Baptist principles and Baptist work blooms once more.”
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May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 9
The Richmond Voice
Keeping the Faith
Not slaves, but sons and daughters
There are some two million adopted children living in United States’ households today. These children arrive in their homes in a myriad of ways. Some are abandoned or surrendered to children’s services. Some have biological parents who are children themselves, and By Ronnie McBrayer are in no condition to parent. Some have been conceived under horrific conditions: Incest, rape, or some other impossible situation. Some are from the States; some from overseas; some come out of foster care; some come from an adoption agency; and some come from out of nowhere, it seems. But most all have this in common: They are loved. The adoptive parents who receive these children want them, and they want to provide a loving home for them. I have some experience with this. Two of those two million adopted children live under my own roof. They are teenagers now, and have always lived with the knowledge of their adoption. When they were younger, and I suppose they need to hear it even more as they move toward adulthood, I would tell them, “Everyone is born, you know. But not everyone is chosen. Not everyone has the honor of being selected; but you were.” Granted, this doesn’t settle all of their anxieties, and now in adolescence, they have all the existential anxieties of their peers, all the questions everyone struggles with – “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I in the world? How do I fit in? What is my identity?” – but those who are adopted often have these questions on steroids. Some questions, I tell my growing young men, will be answered now. Some answers will come in adulthood. But some questions, I caution them, may never be answered. Yet, they cannot let all the unanswerable questions of their existence rob them of these essential facts: They are loved. They are chosen. They are cherished – and they were cherished long before they were even conscious of such emotion. One of the New Testament’s more
powerful images, as it describes God’s concern for humanity, is, fittingly, adoption. The Apostle Paul is the champion of such language. “By his great love,” Paul said, “we were chosen for adoption into God’s family.” In Paul’s day, the most common form of adoption originated in the workplace. Orphaned children, in ancient times, were often forced into slavery. For a predetermined number of years, the child would give himself or herself to a tradesman – brick masons, farmers, artisans, and other trades that involved hard manual labor. The child’s hope was to make it to adulthood, and having learned a trade, he or she would then have a livable skill set. But sadly, the tradesmen would often wring the literal life from the child, and he or she would die from exhaustion or neglect, only to be replaced by another slave from the auction block. Thankfully, not all tradesmen were traffickers. Some became mothers or fathers. A person could adopt a childlaborer. This released the child from slavery and granted to the adoptee all the rights and privileges of family. This was a revolution of status, a radical change in one’s identity. He or she was no longer an orphan, but became a son or daughter. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “God’s love should make it plain; you are not his slaves. You are his children.” To recognize that you are loved and chosen by God might not squelch all of your anxieties or address all of your identity issues, but it is a good place to start. For if you know that God loves you, then you can make allowance for the things that you don’t know; if you understand that you belong to him, then you can live with those things that can’t be understood; and when you are certain of your acceptance, then you can accept all other uncertainties. I pray that these facts will serve as a grounding force for my sons as they grow into the lives that will become theirs. And yes, I pray the same for all of us. Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.
10 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
59 Virginia high school students awarded scholarships
The Comcast Foundation has awarded scholarships to 59 Virginia high school seniors through its annual Leaders and Achievers® Scholarship Program. The program, one of the Comcast Foundation’s signature community investment initiatives, recognizes students’ leadership skills, academic achievement and commitment to community service. Joined by Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring, the foundation recognized
the students at a special event held last week at the Virginia State Capitol. Fiftyeight of the 2014 Virginia Leaders and Achievers recipients received $1,000 scholarships. Keonna Knight, a senior at Richmond Community High School, was awarded a $10,000 Comcast Founders Scholarship – instituted in honor of Ralph J. Roberts, founder and chairman emeritus of Comcast Corporation – for a total of $68,000 awarded this year to Virginia
students. After a prize drawing, two students were also given iPads to use at college. “Each of these deserving students earned their scholarship by displaying a strong commitment to both the classroom and their community,” said Herring. “Higher education can open doors of economic opportunity and keeps our commonwealth competitive in a global economy.” Donna Rattley Washington, Comcast’s
VCU professor receives award
1st row L-R: Annette Smith Lee: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Darlene Hinton: Church and Dwight, Inc. and Johna Vazquez, a PCPS employee. 2nd Row L-R: Bob Franklin: Church and Dwight, Inc., Rev. David Teschner: Christ and Grace Episcopal Church and Dr. Joseph Melvin, superintendent, PCPS
Petersburg honors contibutors
Petersburg City Public Schools last week honored sevearl community partners for their support. This year, three community partners, have been recognized for their contributions. They include: 1. Christ & Grace Episcopal Church, which, since 2010, has sponsored reading camps to enhance student literacy for 3rd graders. 2. Church & Dwight, which launched a plant-wide school supply drive that resulted in hundreds of pounds of supplies for Petersburg students. 3. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (Delta Omega Chapter) whose members participate in mentoring programs, as well as, other activities that benefit Petersburg students. The organization also offers scholarships to Petersburg High School students. The community partner honors are part of the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) 2014 Business Honor Roll program.
Susan Gooden, Ph.D., (above) professor of public policy and administration in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and executive director of The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, has received a Fulbright Specialist Award with Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates for the summer of 2014. Gooden will work with faculty and senior administrators in the College of Sustainability Sciences and Humanities at Zayed University. “The award allows me to gain an in-depth understanding of their public administration program and to work with them on global accreditation standards,” said Gooden. “In 2013, the Network of Associated Schools of Public Policy Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) began offering accreditation of public administration programs based outside of the United States. This is the first public administration program in the United Arab Emirates, and one of few internationally, to work toward this
regional vice president of government and community affairs, added that in today’s high-tech businesses, advanced education and training are more important than ever. “Comcast is dedicated to helping students succeed so they can go on to deliver the next great innovation,” she said. The Comcast Foundation, founded in 1999, provides charitable support to its local communities and to “empower and enrich lives.” distinction. This presents an incredible opportunity within the profession.” The Fulbright Specialist Program promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions in over 140 countries worldwide. Niraj Verma, Ph.D., dean of the Wilder School, was one of Gooden’s nominators for the award and described her as outstanding faculty member who will be an asset to Zayed University. “Dr. Gooden is unusual in the way she straddles fields and bridges the gap between academia and practice. Her writing on social equity, for instance, displays passion and commitment while rigorously addressing scholarly issues,” Verma wrote in his nomination. Gooden teaches courses in public policy and administration, social equity and public policy analysis, research methods and social welfare policy. She is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. In addition to the National Academy of Sciences, which includes the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, NAPA is the only other congressionally chartered National Academy. She was recently elected vice president of the American Society for Public Administration, the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 11
The Richmond Voice
Rapid rise to the top for Rutgers University-Newark Debaters
A collegiate debate team barely six years old makes its mark
For 68 years, the National Debate Tournament has drawn top collegiate debaters from schools across the country. This year, for the very first time, Rutgers University-Newark sent a team to that tournament. Eighty schools were in the running when the competition in Bloomington, Indiana, began. By the time Rutgers debaters Chris Randall and Elijah Smith lost narrowly to the Georgetown team that would win the tournament, they had made it to the quarterfinals – the top eight. It was a significant achievement for a school that didn’t even have a debate team until six years ago, and it followed a 201314 intercollegiate debate season in which Randall and Smith placed an impressive fifth in the country – the first all-African American duo ever to finish so high in an activity where white faces have long been seen as the rule. “It did take people off guard. It was shocking to a lot of people how a squad of students they'd never heard of before would just come onto the scene and do historic things,” says Christopher R. Kozak, director of debate at Rutgers UniversityNewark and the team's coach. Smith, who begins his senior year in the fall, started debating while he was a high school student in Newark, encouraged by a faculty member at University High School who saw debate as an outlet for his academic talents and curiosity. Smith’s first competitions beyond the inner city took him to a world he had not seen. “It was weird going to tournaments and not seeing people who look like you,” he says, “getting judged by people who don’t look like you, who don’t necessarily hold the same views or come from the same cultural tradition as you.” Randall, who also has just finished his junior year, was similarly drawn into debate while in high school in Baltimore. One reason he chose to attend college in Newark was that he had come to know Smith on the mid-Atlantic high school debate circuit, and was impressed both by Smith and by a growing debate tradition in Newark that Smith represents. The city of Newark also felt a lot like home. “Newark and Baltimore are in many ways sister
cities,” Randall explains. “I wanted energy like Baltimore’s.” Their backgrounds give both Smith and Randall experience with issues that they feel other debaters only know in theory. While most debate opponents are “well meaning and well intentioned,” says Randall, “their lives are so sheltered and safe that they can’t really wrap their head around people being un-safe. A lot of people who debate gun policy have never had a friend shot. You need to bring people to where you are in order for them to understand it.” Kozak says that Smith and Randall are especially skilled at cross-examination, asking questions that expose holes in an opponent’s argument that the adversary didn’t even know existed. “The way they win debates is their ability to directly engage the other team,” says Kozak. The coach adds that Smith and Randall have far more than life experience on their side. They also go to debates very well prepared. “The research they do is the equivalent of what is needed for a master’s thesis,” says Kozak, “so we have undergraduates doing the equivalent of graduate work.” Randall and Smith both say the rigor of debate has served them well in their Rutgers coursework. Smith, who is majoring in public service with a concentration in political science, says, “if you can research a 10-minute speech against Harvard University in 45 minutes, then you can write a five-page paper in two hours.” Randall, whose major is international relations and public service, is convinced that his experience has prepared him well for law school. Both champion debaters are already thinking about their common legacy. Smith and Randall are coaching high school debaters, as well as younger members of the Rutgers University-Newark team. “What I want to leave behind is a belief that because something is difficult does not make it impossible,” says Randall. “Difficult takes a day and impossible takes a week. I always try to teach kids that regardless of any advantages you don’t have, that disadvantage can be an advantage.”
Chris Randall and Elijah Smith of Rutgers University-Newark were the fifth-ranked policy debate team in the nation during the 2013-14 season. PHOTO: Shelley Kusnetz
Dual enrollment bill meant to help students afford college U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) is co-sponsoring the Supporting College Access and Success Through Dual Enrollment Act. The legislation, he said will help students earn college credits in high school in order to cut the cost of earning a college diploma. Kaine has long-supported dual enrollment programs as a tool to help bring down college costs for families. The Supporting College Access and Success Through Dual Enrollment Act would provide grants to states to expand programs that allow high school students to take college-level classes and earn credit that counts toward both high school and college graduation. Research has shown dual enrollment programs help reduce the cost and time necessary to complete a college degree. In Virginia alone, more than 28,000 high school students are already participating in dual enrollment programs.
“This legislation expands opportunities for students to get a head start on their college education and opens doors for families who didn’t think higher education was a realistic option,” said Kaine, whose office notes that he directed millions of dollars in student aid to ease tuition costs for Virginians as governor. “The rising costs of college and burden of student loan debt are hurting students long after graduation and we must start taking meaningful steps to make higher education more affordable for American families.” The Supporting College Access and Success Through Dual Enrollment Act has been endorsed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors.
12 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
Obama touts tourism plan at Baseball Hall of Fame By Jon Campbell COOPERSTOWN (Garnett) – President Barack Obama last week became the first sitting president to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, traveling to New York’s Leatherstocking Region to tout his administration’s plan to boost international tourism. Obama spoke to an invite-only crowd in the museum’s famed Plaque Gallery, where he stood among 300 bronze plaques commemorating the legends of the sport. The president also signed a memorandum directing members of his administration to develop a plan to cut wait times for customs processing at the 15 largest U.S. airports, a move he said will help the country’s reputation with foreign visitors. “We want to bring in more visitors faster and more jobs faster,” Obama said. “If they come into JFK faster, they come into La Guardia faster, then they can get to Cooperstown faster. And they can start seeing Joe DiMaggio’s glove faster. They can see Babe Ruth’s bat faster.” Obama’s trip to the museum was the first by a sitting president, though Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited before or after their terms. President Martin Van Buren, a former New York governor, visited the village of Cooperstown in 1839, 100 years before the museum opened its doors. Obama was guided on a brief tour of the museum by Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson and Andre Dawson, a 2010 inductee who played for the Montreal Expos and the Chicago Cubs. The president examined artifacts from the museum’s archives, including shoes worn by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, a ball thrown by President William Howard Taft and a bat signed by Babe Ruth. The bat was originally signed by Ruth to President Warren Harding, but was resigned to former New York Gov. Al Smith after Harding died before Ruth could give it to him. Before leaving the Hall, Obama signed the guest book: “Barack Obama; 1600 Penn Ave., Washington, D.C.; Go Sox!” Obama, a Chicago White Sox fan, donated a jacket he wore to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis, according to Idelson. The president’s trip to the Otsego County is his latest in a series of visits to upstate
President Barack Obama feigns throwing a ball during a tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The ball was originally thrown by President Taft, the first president to throw a first pitch. Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson is at left and Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is at right. PHOTO: Pete Souza/WH
New York, which included a two-day swing in August that took him to the Buffalo, Binghamton and Syracuse areas, as well as a stop for lunch in Rochester. He’s visited the Albany area three times since taking office in 2009, and recently gave a speech in the shadow of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, Westchester County. The president said baseball “describes our history in so many ways” and is symbolic of “all the obstacles that we’ve overcome.” “This hall has memories of two world wars that we fought and won,” Obama said. “It has memories of color barriers being broken; Jackie Robinson’s uniform, the record of his first season as a Dodger. It shows us the history of communities that we built across a new continent and the ways that we connected with our country and our world, and how women athletes started getting the recognition that they deserved.” The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum draws about 300,000 visitors annually and drives about $160
million each year into the Otsego County economy, according to the museum. Few of those visitors are from other countries, Idelson told reporters. But Major League Baseball has seen a higher rate of international players in recent years, and as some of them enter the Hall of Fame, the museum hopes to attract more tourists from foreign countries, Idelson said. Jane Forbes Clark, the chairwoman of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors, said the museum had invited sitting presidents to visit in the past. This time, the White House asked to visit, she said. “I think what happened was, we were always going to the White House,” she said. ”“We were taking the Hall of Fame and Cooperstown to the White House. And now, the White House has come to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made upstate tourism a top priority, hoping to entice the 54 million visitors each year to New York City to travel the rest of the state. He, along with partner Sandra Lee and two of
his daughters, made it to Cooperstown as Obama was speaking. Cuomo’s trip to Cooperstown was delayed by severe weather, as an apparent tornado touched down in Schenectady County, about 45 miles from the museum. “We’re so grateful that (Obama) picked Cooperstown to come and make this announcement,” Cuomo told reporters. “On a very practical level, it’s great publicity for Cooperstown, for the state of New York. So that was very exciting.” Obama’s visit drew hundreds of curious onlookers, tourists and protesters. “Middlefield and Cooperstown, the village inside of Middlefield, really symbolizes the community-based, local movement — the right to decide the future of your community,” said Helen Slottje, an Ithaca-based attorney that has defended Middlefield’s fracking ban. “Here’s a community that is really invested and figured out what it wants its community to look like and future to look like, and I think they have the right to make that decision,” she said.
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 13
The Richmond Voice
Principal photography begins on Keckley documentary Filmmaker Tim Reid’s Legacy Media Institute, based at New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, has begun filming of a dramatic documentary on the life of Elizabeth Keckley. Born in the Petersburg area, Keckley went from being an enslaved servant to become a valued member of the Lincoln White House. A dressmaker, activist, confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln, and author, she became a center of public controversy with the first “tell all” book ever written about life in the White House. The film will be shot on several of the actual locations where Keckley lived as a slave and once freed, she developed her much sought-after skills as a dressmaker. The documentary will be produced by Ken Roy, directed by Reid, and written by Elvatrice Belsches. The documentary is being funded by grants from the Cameron Foundation and the Dominion Foundation. April Marcell will portray Keckley and her actual daughter, Spring Promise, will portray Kecklye as a young woman. The completed film will premiere at the 2014 Legacy Media International Film Festival to be held in Petersburg, on Oct. 17 -19. The three day International Film Festival will feature an array of film and panel discussions, workshops, musical events, product and equipment presentations at a variety of venues in Petersburg and at New Millennium Studios. Screenings will include a complement of over 40 short and feature length films from a select group of directors and producers from over 10 countries. Music performances
Ask k Alma
Merging cancer and romance
Elizabeth Keckley circa 1861
and music’s relation to filmmaking and culture will be presented throughout the Festival. An opening night “Red Carpet” VIP celebration, Saturday Night Gala and Closing Night Awards Ceremony and Celebration are also highlights of the festival. Organizers note that tickets for the festival will be available in advance at several locations throughout the city and online at www.lmi-iff.org. “I look forward to bringing the story of Elizabeth Keckley home to where her incredible journey all began,” said Reid, “and I am excited by the opportunity to join the city in our mutual mission of promoting the appreciation for the rich cultural heritage found in this region.”
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My wife died four years ago after a long battle with lung cancer. We had been married more than 25 years, and I took care of her until the end. Now at age 62, I know I don’t ever want to marry again, but I met a special lady friend less than a year ago. We live in different states and meet on weekends at various vacation spots. She has never been married and wants to get married some day. Just recently, my friend found out she has cancer, stage 4. We are both devastated. I cannot marry her, and I don’t want to move to her state to take care of her. She has siblings and grown children and grandchildren. I have decided to break it off. I know what’s ahead, and I can’t go through that again. Does this make me a bad guy? B. Harris Norfolk, Va. Hello B., Thanks for your e-mail. Let me start by saying, I’m not here to pass judgment. Clearly, at your age, you’re fully aware of what you can live with and what you are capable of giving to a relationship. During your 25-plus years of marriage, you obviously developed a strong bond with your wife. That’s a blessing. A pot of
that kind of committed relationship boils over with love and support. That’s where you found the strength to be the caregiver your wife needed as she battled cancer. And that, my dear, is what’s missing from this current relationship. You’ve yet to build a bond. You’ve made up your mind, and I applaud your honesty in recognizing the reality of your current situation. No, your choice does not make you a bad guy. My only suggestion is this: When you end it, disconnect completely; sever all ties of communication. Since you’ve decided not to support your lady friend during this most difficult time, don’t stick around offering her a false sense of hope. That, my friend, would make you a bad guy.
***** Want advice? E-mail questions to email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma *****
14 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
Breast cancer: One young woman’s brave fight for life By Kelly-Ann Brown TEWire (PHILADELPHIA) - She lay in bed restless, anxious and exhausted. It was 4 a.m. in the morning and Shakiea McCook couldn’t sleep. The entity disrupting her rest would not let her go. Her 5-year-old daughter was sleeping peacefully and their dog was barking relentlessly. In hopes of calming her mind, she took the dog outside and got a head start on her day. While in the bathroom, she casually examined her breasts. That’s when she felt it. In her left breast, stubborn and unmoving, there was the lump that would change her life forever. Though panicked over what it could be, she resolved to get the answer. As a woman, she understood her body and had no doubt that something was off. That morning she made an appointment with her doctor for the next day. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in the United States. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women who live to be 80 years old will develop cancer in her lifetime. However, there are staggering differences between the instances of new cancer cases and the survival rate between white women and African-American women. Though white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, overall, African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer, according to U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. McCook, a processing associate from Philadelphia, Pa., was only 27 years old when she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. A tumor was found in each breast: the left was stage three and the right was stage two. She recalls her initial concern: “Dying,” she replied with no hesitation, “Not being here for my daughter.” At 27, most women are not concerned with the possibility of having cancer and all that it entails. In fact, the chances of such an occurrence is extremely low, with only 5 percent of breast cancer cases occurring in women under 40 years old, according to statics from Cleveland Clinic. After the results from her needle laceration, her doctor was not satisfied with the inconclusive results. Unable to
Shakiea McCook’s number one concern was not being there for her daughter
determine whether the growth was benign or malignant, McCook’s doctor ordered a biopsy for further cell and issue sample and a BRCA gene test to conlcude if she carried a hereditary mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. Her biopsy revealed that she did have breast cancer. The results of her genetics test proved she also had a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation, concluding that her cancer was hereditary. The risk of a woman developing breast cancer with a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation is 55-65 percent and 45 percent respectively - and McCook had both. “Because I tested positive for both, a mastectomy was highly recommended… [that way] the chances of getting it again are decreased.” After being urged by family and friends to seek a second opinion, McCook made an appointment with the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. The second diagnosis not only gave her certainty about her condition, but helped her choose the
facility she would go to for treatment. “When I met the team at Fox Chase I knew that’s where I belonged. It just felt right,” she said. Finding the appropriate treatment facility is extremely important to a patient’s wellbeing. Experts agree a patient’s trust and comfort with the treatment facility can alleviate the some of the stress associated with treating cancer. Considering the stages of her cancer, McCook’s team at Fox Chase decided she would need aggressive chemotherapy before a mastectomy would be performed. “My biggest concern was not being here for my daughter. That’s how I felt. What if it didn’t work? That’s what hurt me the most; nothing meant more to me than that,” she said. In addition to raising her daughter, McCook had also started a new job and was concerned with taking time off for treatment while trying to establish herself at a new company. The company gave her the option to take
time off. But she said she “needed to feel as normal as possible…So I decided to work and still go through treatment, which is one of the hardest things I could have done. If I knew then what I know now, I definitely would not have made that decision.” Preparing for the physical and mental toll that chemotherapy would have on one’s body is impossible, mainly because some of the reactions are unpredictable. “After about two weeks I started to lose my hair,” said McCook. There has always been a debate on the definition of femininity and womanhood; what makes a woman a woman and who decides. Many carry different views regarding whether the loss of features such as breasts and hair, translates to a loss of womanhood. Although physical attributes are not the determining factor in a woman’s femininity, it does not make the loss of such features any less traumatic. “The two things I loved [about my appearance] were the two things I lost,” she said quietly. “I felt embarrassed. Growing up West Indian [you’re told] your beauty was your hair…and here I am without my beauty.” She began to realize that chemotherapy had many side effects: including fatigue, nausea and vomiting, dry skin, cracked nails and possible nerve damage according to cancercare.org. McCook felt like she was experiencing all of them at once. Though she expressed her concern, her doctor did not want to reduce treatment and run the risk of the cancer spreading. The side effects were “inhibiting me from doing normal things,” said McCook. “One morning I tried to button up [my daughter’s] uniform and I started crying because I couldn’t do it. She told me it was going to be okay and took her time and did it herself…We both had to grow and learn at the same time.” After extensive treatment, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, McCook has been cancer free for three years. She continues to have follow-up appointments every three to four months. Expressing that her experience has opened her eyes to so much. “Life is too short and you just have to be happy… I just want to grow old, get married and live life.”
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 15
The Richmond Voice
Report: Climate change putting Va. historical sites at risk Four Virginia sites are included in the report, “National Landmarks at Risk,” that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released last week. The report surmises that rising seas, flooding and worsening wildfires are putting at risk landmark historic sites around the United States. It also details threats to 30 landmark historic sites, including places where the “first Americans” lived, the Spaniards ruled, English colonists landed, slavery rose and fell, and gold prospectors struck it rich. According to the report, the Virginia sites—all at risk due to sea level rise, evermore damaging storm surges and stronger North Atlantic hurricanes—include Jamestown, Fort Monroe, NASA’s Langley Research Center and NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (right). “Virginia is home to some of the historic sites that will be the hardest hit by sea level rise,” said Adam Markham, director of climate impacts at UCS and report co-author. “It is a tragic loss for the nation that most of Jamestown is likely to be submerged by rising seas and Fort Monroe, which played a crucial role in the fall of slavery, will likely become an island unto itself within several generations.” The waters surrounding the 1607 settlement of Jamestown have been rising twice as fast as the global average. As a result, the shoreline along North America’s first permanent English colony is eroding and river water is pushing through the soil and beneath the island, imperiling a trove of buried, centuries-old artifacts. The threat is so dire that archaeologists are reconsidering the practice of leaving artifacts buried for future generations to discover because that could risk losing them forever. Just down the Virginia coast, in Hampton, Fort Monroe, one of the most iconic sites in the history of U.S. slavery, also is at risk. The fort was built in the early 1800s on Old Point Comfort Peninsula. That location also marked the beginning of the African slave trade in America. In 1619, a Dutch ship traded “twenty and odd” Africans in the possession of its crew to English settlers at Old Point Comfort for food. Some 242 years later in 1861, three enslaved African Americans escaped to Fort Monroe. General Benjamin Butler refused the demand to return the men to their owner, instead declaring them “contraband of
war.” Butler’s decision inaugurated the long overdue demise of slavery in the Commonwealth by spurring 10,000 more black men and women, over the course of the Civil War, to seek shelter behind Union lines at Fort Monroe, which became known as “Freedom’s Fortress.” “The history of our ancestors speaks to us from Fort Monroe and we should act with all deliberate speed to ensure their stories and the site’s precious natural resources are not destroyed by the adverse impacts of climate change,” said Alan Spears, historian and director of cultural resources for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Future generations deserve the benefit of unimpaired resources and will rightly judge us by our ability to protect and preserve these special landscapes in perpetuity.” The other sites in Virginia represent more modern “firsts,” according to the report. NASA’s Langley Research Center, also in Hampton, where breakthrough aeronautics and scientific research was conducted, is threatened by sea level rise and increased flooding. The agency is building a new complex called “New Town” on the Langley campus as far away from the shoreline as possible. Meanwhile, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and Wallops Island, the site of more than 16,000 rocket launches, have sustained nearly a foot of sea level rise since they opened in 1945. NASA has described the secluded island, which adjoins a secure airspace with no commercial traffic, as “irreplaceable.” The space agency built
seawalls and added millions of cubic yards of sand to protect the facility, but the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 underscores that it will be a constant struggle to protect this site. In other parts of the country, historic sites are being affected by rising temperatures, worsening wildfires and extremely heavy rain events, especially those that occur after a wildfire has swept through a vulnerable area, according to the report. “You can almost trace the history of the United States through these sites,” said Markham. “The imminent risks to these sites and the artifacts they contain threaten
Energy company offers programs and tips to help residential customers save money Energy company Dominion Virginia Power is offering customers multiple ways to save money on their energy bills this summer. Programs with financial incentives offer customers ways to complete home-energy audits, upgrade mechanical equipment and tune up their heating and cooling units. Low and no-cost tips help save energy and lower bills. “Making minor adjustments at home can result in big savings on your energy bill,” said Gianna Clark, vice president of customer service. “Dominion offers rebates that can cover the cost of having a contractor evaluate your home’s energy efficiency.”
to pull apart the quilt that tells the story of our nation’s heritage and history.” The Society for American Archaeology, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the archaeological heritage of the Americas and the world, issued a statement today in conjunction with the report release, calling for more attention to be paid to preserving endangered archaeological sites, marking the first time the organization has sought to draw public attention to the damage climate change is causing. To slow the rate of change and give archaeologists, historic preservationists and land managers more time to protect these sites, carbon emissions must be reduced, according to the report. “Cutting carbon emissions significantly and quickly can slow the pace of sea level rise, limit the temperature increases, and slow the expansion of the wildfire season,” said Angela Anderson, director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS. In addition, Congress should fund President Obama’s proposed Climate Resilience Fund, which could be used to help municipalities and businesses become more resilient to climate change. “The fund could also be used to help protect and preserve the nation’s iconic and historical landmarks and irreplaceable archaeological treasures that are being destroyed by sea level rise, wildfire and flooding,” said Anderson. The Home Energy Check Up Program allows customers to complete a home energy check up and receive a personalized report showing the potential cost savings they could earn by implementing energysaving measures. Participating contractors collect home energy consumption data to recommend and install energysaving improvements including compact fluorescent light bulbs, efficient faucet aerators and showerheads, replacement air filters for air conditioners, door weatherstripping and smart outlet strips. The program reimburses customers up to $250 in qualified energy-saving improvements. “They actually repaired some things that will save me money,” said Alan Lipford, a Dominion Virginia Power customer from the Richmond area. Lipford recently took advantage of the Home Energy Check Up. “There is no downside. It’s a win-win situation.
16 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
ACTIVITIES & MEETINGS
Mount Tabor Baptist Church revival
Mount Tabor Baptist Church will hold its spring revival Thursday and Friday, May 29-30. Both days will feature a 7 p.m. worship service with Dr. Marquita Burton of Antioch Baptist Church in Susan, as speaker. The Antioch Baptist Church Choir will also be in attendance. On Friday, Rev. Alvin T. Armstead, pastor, First Union Baptist Church Dill Rd. will speak and the First Baptist Church Choir will also be in attendance. Mount Tabor Baptist Church is located at 2011 Fairmount Ave., Richmond. For more information, call 804-643-0903.
El DeBarge at Hippodrome
RVA Grooves summer night concert series continues at the Hippodrome Theater with El DeBarge on May 30. As in the previous three years, guests enjoy an exciting variety of live music inside one of Richmond’s most popular entertainment venues. This summer’s concert lineup caters to all music lovers and features several familiar forces in jazz, R&B, hip hop, rock, and folk. From its origin, RVA Grooves has highlighted the region’s most talented innovators through an eclectic concert series and accompanying television show. Every year, the concert series draws fans from as far as Washington, D.C., Hampton Roads, and neighboring cities in and around the region to historic Jackson Ward to partake in the RVA Grooves experience. Ticket prices range from $15 to $30 and are available online at www.rvagrooves.com!
The Richmond Voice
Railroad safety task force
Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran and Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne will co-chair the interagency Railroad Safety and Security Task Force, and that the panel will conduct its first meeting on June 4, 1 p.m. at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Chesterfield. The task force is a step toward ensuring that Virginia is doing everything it can to keep railroads and the communities around them safe, and that the state is prepared to respond to incidents like the recent derailment and fire in Lynchburg. The Railroad Safety and Security Task Force will include representatives from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP), the State Corporation Commission (SCC), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia State Police (VSP). The task force will solicit input from industry stakeholders, local governments and members of the public and produce a report of recommended state and federal actions to prevent railroad accidents and ensure that Virginia is prepared as possible to keep communities safe in the case of a future incident.
Calling all history lovers
RVArchaeology will have its next meeting at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 31, at the Black History and Cultural Museum located at 00 Clay St. in Jackson Ward. The meeting is open to those who share a commitment to archaeology as a tool for identifying and preserving Richmond’s historical and cultural resources. For more information about RVArchaeology, go to www.RichmondArchaeology.webs. com or contact RVArchaeology@gmail.com.
Broad Appétit (www.broadappetit.com), the region’s largest food event, celebrates seven years of local culinary excellence on June 1. This highly anticipated “smorgasbord in the street”, will once again feature Richmond’s most popular local dining establishments. The public can taste signature dishes from 70+ of Richmond’s finest local restaurants from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. The 100-400 blocks of West Broad Street (between Henry and Adams) will serve up prepared food in addition to fresh Virginia produce, cheeses, herbs, artisan breads and confections straight from local organic farms and specialty food providers. The event also will feature several of Virginia’s finest craft beers and wine on tap. Admission is free, with each restaurant offering $3 small plate offerings of their signature dish, a dessert or a healthy option. A $5 combo plate is also offered by most.
Mothers Support Group Session
The Motherhood & Co-Parenting Initiative is conducting a free 10-week Motherhood Support Group for moms who are Richmond residents. The Support Group uses the highly successful evidence-based “Young Mothers and Parenting Curriculum” developed by Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and the National Partnership of Community Leadership (NPCL). The curriculum is divided into four components: Personal Development, Life Skills, Responsible Parenting, and Healthy Relationships. The weekly Mothers Support Group will take place 6 – 8 p.m. beginning June 4 at Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Rd., Richmond. Children age two and older are welcome. Dinner and childcare will be provided. For more information and to register, call 804-321-6761.
Only submit the who, what, where and when. We reserve the right to edit all submissions for space, clarity, style and grammar. Flyers will not be accepted. E-mail events to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Richmond Voice
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 17
Democrats may block the president’s judicial nominees By Freddie Allen WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Democrats and civil rights advocates continue to express concerns over two of President Barack Obama’s federal judicial nominees for Georgia’s northern district who have suspect civil rights backgrounds. In a package deal with Republican United States senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson from Georgia, President Obama nominated Julie Carnes and Jill A. Pryor to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court, Leslie Abrams to the United States court of the Middle District of Georgia, and Michael Boggs, Mark Cohen, Leigh May, and Eleanor Ross to the court of the United States Northern District of Georgia. If confirmed, Abrams and Ross would become the first Black women to serve lifetime appointments as federal judges in Georgia. But Democrats and some progressive groups have objected to the nominations of Boggs and Cohen. Recently the United States Senate judiciary committee held a hearing for the nominees where Democratic senators grilled Michael Boggs, who is currently a judge on Georgia’s appeals court, over his voting record while he served in the Georgia state legislature. When questioned about his votes against removing the Confederate battle emblem from the Georgia state flag, Boggs said that although he found the Confederate symbol personally offensive, he said that his constituents wanted the opportunity to vote on any changes to the state flag. Boggs also voted for legislation requiring doctors to list how often they provided abortion services. When senators questioned him about the public safety concerns associated with publishing such a list following decades of violence against doctors who performed abortions, Boggs said that at the time of the vote, he was unaware of that history. The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, a pro-choice advocacy group, said that they also found “personhood” legislation that Boggs supported during his time as a state legislator that the group said “is one step away from overturning Roe v. Wade.” A day before the hearing on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) said, “Here you have the architect and the attorney that defended photo ID
voter suppression laws in Georgia, the very same laws the president is fighting all across the country” nominated to the federal bench in Atlanta where most of the black people are. To have this being done by the first African American president is shameful, it’s painful, and it hurts deeply.” Scott continued: “The president should have stood up to those Republicans and said, ‘No, I can’t do this to my people. You wouldn’t do it to George Bush. You wouldn’t have done it to Bill Clinton. Why are you doing it to me?’” George State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who championed the law to change the state’s flag, said he doesn’t hold the vote over the Georgia state flag or any one vote against Boggs. Brooks, who has served in Georgia’s House of Representatives for more than 30 years and was president of Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO for two decades, said that Boggs voted with him “90 percent of the time,” helped him secure funding for the Morehouse College School of Medicine and worked to the reform the state’s criminal justice system. Brooks also said that Cohen’s civil rights record has been misrepresented in the media. When white students sued the University of Georgia over the school’s freshman admissions policy that used race as factor, Cohen scored a court victory in 2001 for affirmative action proponents who supported the university’s program, according to Brooks. Nearly a decade later, then Georgia state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, asked Cohen to defend Georgia’s photo identification law for in-person voting that many voter’s rights advocates say discriminates against blacks and the poor. Brooks said it was a move that likely provided Baker, who is black, political cover. Brooks called Boggs and Cohen friends and said that he had no reason to oppose their nominations. “This isn’t the perfect deal, but I trust the president,” said Brooks. “If [the president] had a different hand of cards, the package would look different, but he’s doing the best that can do under these circumstances.” Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the
Michael Boggs and Mark Cohen
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said that President Obama held his nose and nominated Boggs and Cohen and assumed that the civil rights groups and Democrats in the Senate would go along with his decision. “The problem with that is that the advocacy groups believe that the president should fight harder to get the nominees that he wants. The president has a lot of power to make horse trades with people on things other than appointments,” said Berry. “There are always things that Senators want. Obama made the deal but some think the price is too high, said Berry. In an interview with BuzzFeed, an online news portal, Majority-leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he can’t support the Michael Boggs nomination. “Unless I have a better explanation, I can’t vote for him,” said Reid “This is a lifetime appointment. He’s said some things and made some decisions I think are not very good.” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an initial critic of the nominations, had been unusually quiet recently, which some saw as an indication he may be reversing his position. Through his press secretary, he turned down requests from the NNPA News Service for comment. Georgia Rep. David Scott had some strong words for Lewis. He tweeted, “if this is true, then Rep Lewis is a turncoat who has betrayed African Americans, women and gays.” However, Lewis later broke his silence. “I have tried to refrain from making
public statements out of respect for my colleagues and the Senate process,” he said in a written statement. “I believe it is important to allow each candidate to be evaluated according to his or her own merits and to allow the Senate judicial nomination process to take its course. “This willingness to permit due process is all that I have indicated in any conversation I may have had with my colleagues. I did not at any time indicate my support for the Boggs nomination or say that he had the backing of the African American community in Georgia.” Lewis said, “Based on the evidence revealed during this hearing, I do not support the confirmation of Michael Boggs to the federal bench. His record is in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career, and his misrepresentation of that record to the committee is even more troubling. “The testimony suggests Boggs may allow his personal political leanings to influence his impartiality on the bench. I do not have a vote in the Senate, but if I did I would vote against the confirmation of Michael Boggs.” Berry, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said she would rather see the seats empty instead of having Boggs and Cohen in the pipeline later for higher appointments. “I don’t believe that castor oil taste better when you put orange juice in it,” said Berry. “If it’s bad medicine it’s bad medicine. I hope that the Democrats will refuse to support these two people.”
18 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
The Richmond Voice
Houston family wants end to racial profiling
By Cierra Duncan HOUSTON (NNPA) – Police shooting victim Robbie Tolan and his family want to see justice done, while ending the assault on young black men. “We all experienced this as a family, as a community, and as a culture but my prayer is that we have not missed the meaning,” Tolan said during a recent press conference in Houston. “This is bigger than Robbie Tolan. This is bigger than Trayvon Martin. This decision has undoubtedly been a blessing.” The Tolan family was joined by their new attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon’s family. Crump made reference to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently reinstated a civil rights lawsuit filed by Tolan, who in 2008 was shot and seriously injured by a white police officer outside the Bellaire, Texas home he shared with his parents. Police said they thought Tolan was armed and had stolen a vehicle.
Bobby and Marian Tolan and son, Robbie, are joined by attorney Benjamin Crump in Houston. PHOTO: Cierra Duncan
Study: In states with no drugtesting, blacks lose out on jobs By Frederick H. Lowe TEWire - Pre-employment drug tests are fairly common throughout the United States, but in states where companies are not required to drug test potential employees before hiring them, the available jobs go to white women instead blacks, although more white women than black women are being imprisoned for drug use. “I find some evidence that employees substitute white women for blacks in the absence of drug screening,” Abigail K. Wozniak, associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame, wrote in paper titled ‘Discrimination and The Effects of Drug Testing on Black Employment.’ The National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., published the paper in May. “The evidence on employers substituting white women when testing is not available is suggestive,” Wozniak wrote in an email message in response to this story. “Unfortunately, I don’t have more details beyond what was in the paper.” White women 20 years old and older have the lowest unemployment rate and black men 20 years old and older have the
Abigail K. Wozniak
highest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wozniak does not delve into this issue, but The Sentencing Project released a study that reported that more white women than black women are being incarcerated in state and federal prisons for property crimes related to illegal and prescription drug use. “I think your question---do employers know the facts and ignore them without
testing or do they really not know---is an intriguing one and deserves more research,” she added. Wozniak notes that drug testing in the U.S. labor market began in the early 1980s, driven by the fact that workplace accidents in which drugs were alleged to play a role were occurring, the development of accurate and inexpensive screening devices were readily available, rising public anxiety over the prevalence of drugs in society and federal incentives for workplace drug testing. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order requiring that federal agencies adopt testing to establish “drugfree workplaces.” The 1988 Drug Free Workplace Act went further, requiring federal contractors to adopt comprehensive anti-drug policies. By the late 1980s, grounds as to which employers could require testing were wellestablished by the courts, notably with a major U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1989. Anti-testing states have small black populations compared to pro-testing states, which have large black populations. Most of the testing states are in the South and Midwest. And most of the anti-testing states are in the Northeast. According to the 2006-2007 Guide to State and Federal Drug Testing Laws,
“The Supreme Court said that this [case] should go to a jury,” Crump said. “If this could happen to a model family like this, it could happen to anyone here.” Marian Tolan, Robbie’s mother, said “I want laws changed. There are laws against racial profiling but they are not being enforced. It’s time for that to change.” Crump said it was “incredible” that the Supreme Court even heard the Tolan case because of the overwhelmingly high number of cases they are presented with. He then said it is “miraculous” that the court ruled in their favor. “It is historic when you get a unanimous decision from the United States Supreme Court,” Crump said. “For all nine justices to agree that what happened was wrong… all glory goes to God.” Crump said that every mother would be “proud to call Robbie their son” and that
See “Tolan” on pg. 21 14 states require employers to test job applicants for drugs and seven are anti testing. More whites use drugs than blacks but that belief is not shared by by employers. Their own racial prejudices coupled with news reports and so-called reality television shows depicting police arresting mostly blacks for drug-related offenses have led most people to believe that African-Americans use drugs more than whites. The reality is much different from the reel news. From 1990 to 2006, 13 percent of whites and 12 percent of blacks reported some drug use in the past month. Less-skilled blacks and less-skilled whites reported drug use of 19 percent, the report said. Police, however, have developed a set of perceptions in which they disproportionately target blacks, which has become part of the mindset of small business owners and corporate America. “In a survey of hiring managers, there is a belief that blacks are more likely to fail a drug test and they cite evidence that even black youth overestimate their down drug use relative to whites. They also cite a 1989 survey in which 95 percent of [hiring survey] respondents described the typical drug user as black,” according to the report.
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 19
The Richmond Voice
Black Americans changing attitudes on clean, green living By Jazelle Hunt WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A recordhigh 356 temperatures were tied or broken across the contiguous United States in 2012, marking the warmest year ever in American history. Over that same peiod, widespread droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, snowstorms, and superstorms put a nearly $110 billion dent in the economy. And according to environmental activists, that’s something everyone, including blacks, should be concerned about. “If natural disasters happen, or heat waves, or prices go up for food and gas, then African Americans get the short end of the stick in those situations,” explained Bruce Strouele, director of operations for Citizens for a Sustainable Future, a thinktank dedicated to improving quality of life for African Americans through sustainable development and environmental justice. “When you look at research on sustainable development, before it can even take place you have to be economically situated to make those improvements. For a lot of our people it seems out of reach, or like it’s something that’s not for us.” But it is. Studies have shown that poor people and people of color are most vulnerable to pollution and its climatealtering effects. For example, research from the University of Minnesota released last found that people of color are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than Whites, with the most stark disparities in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey. But despite being disproportionately affected, experts say many African Americans are uninformed about or uninterested in sustainability, let alone climate change. However, Strouele thinks that climate change and sustainability becomes more relevant when framed as an economic issue. “Sustainability may look different for our community. When we talk about Black sustainability we have to talk about issues that are more practical… some may be focused on high-speed rail, but for us it might be as simple as getting fresh food to people in the community,” Strouele says. “So we focus on aspects that do relate, like food deserts, breastfeeding, and other little things that not only lessen your carbon footprint but also improve your health.” Recently, President Obama turned
his “pen-and-phone” power toward the deepening climate change crisis with a new climate change plan. The goals include maximizing sustainable, affordable and low-income housing, and reducing energy costs for ordinary Americans. The plan directs the Department of Interior to approve permits for 100 megawatts of renewable energy capacity across federally-subsidized housing by 2020. Federally subsidized housing includes public housing, multi-family buildings using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, apartments and homes that accept Section 8, housing choice vouchers, etc. This is enough energy to power 10 such households for an entire year, without ever using costly fossil fuels. (In the United States, a majority of utility companies generate electricity and heat by burning coal). Today’s upgraded homes usually use renewables as a supplement for traditional energy, instead of a replacement. Additionally, the plan sets aside a $23 million Multifamily Energy Innovation Fund, which offers grants to rental developers, universities, and organizations to test out new ways to make cost-effective, clean energy more commonplace. A separate $250 million fund program will offer loans and grants to help rural utility companies upgrade the homes and businesses they serve. On a more privatized level, the administration is expanding its Better Building Challenge to include multi-family housing developers. With this initiative, developers are challenged to build more affordable and low-income housing with a commitment to sustainable and green living. The developers must publicly commit to a 20-percent reduction in energy use across their properties by 2020. Improving sustainability standards in affordable residential development also improves their quality, according to Bryan Howard, legislative director for the U.S. Green Building Council. Howard advocates
for clean energy and sustainability among the nation’s lawmakers. “In states that have taken an aggressive approach to adding sustainability, it enhances the quality of housing in those states. It’s not only sustainability, but walkability, healthiness—like making sure there are air filters, because there’s a high level of asthma and respiratory problems in public housing—making sure public housing isn’t situated in discarded areas of town,” he says. “I think the issue of sustainability has been a
gateway conversation to start permeating discussions around public housing…and starting to address some of these issues.” It provides an opportunity for developers…to talk to the communities about their needs and what they want out of new development projects.” Further, the president’s plan strengthens federal efficiency standards for household appliances. In short, these efforts not only cut national pollution, but also cut energy bills for all Americans. The Obama administration says it has already upgraded 1 million homes for energy efficiency, saving families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills per year. Howard explains, “When we talk to people about wanting to save money on heat bills…people respond to that more than talking about climate change directly. It’s far more interesting, as opposed to [climate change], or something that may not feel as directly impactful.”
20 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
Analysis: OK executions reveal secrecy, inhumanity
By Andrew Scot Bolsinger TEWire- The state of the flawed state of executions in America was by no means a secret, but it took a botched attempt in front of a tweeting reporter and witnesses to bring the true depth of this problem into the public eye. Though Oklahoma prison officials tried to pull the curtain to block the view of those watching a man who was supposed to be killed quickly and humanely as required by the law quiver, shake and try to speak, the truth of the situation can’t be hidden following the botched execution April 29. The secret drugs don’t work, the process is broken and people are dying grizzly deaths right here in America. What’s worse is many saw this coming, including a death row inmate Reggie Clemons, interviewed weeks before the death of Clayton D. Lockett. Oklahoma has ramped up its killing machines in recent years. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the state has executed 14 inmates in the last three years, more than any other state than Texas. Those statistics will forever now have an asterisk by it for 2014 following the execution of Lockett. Does he count now as number 15? He didn’t technically die by execution. He died much later in a nearby hospital where doctors tried to save his life from the unknown chemicals pumped into his system. He died of a heart attack brought on by the actions of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections that were so flawed it tortured him but did not kill him. The Lockett execution had already been delayed briefly over the drugs being used. Prior to the execution the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that two death row inmates are not entitled to know the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them. The court also lifted a stay of execution that it had granted earlier in the week. According to published reports the back and forth court battle placed Oklahoma's two highest courts at odds and prompted calls for impeaching justices on the Supreme Court. In this highly politicized mess, Oklahoma pushed ahead its plans to execute two prisoners on the same day. While Charles Warner, who has maintained his innocence, awaited his turn in what he thought was the final hours of his life, Lockett lay squirming on the execution table. According to a reporter on the scene, about 34 minutes after the execution was
scheduled to begin, Lockett was still conscious, NPR reported. “He was lifting [his] head at [7:39 p.m. ET] and he was still alive and DOC closed [the] curtain and stopped it,” reporter Cary Aspinwall tweeted. Death row perspective News of the botched execution spread quickly through death row, according to Missouri death row inmate, Reggie Clemons, who said it was the center of conversation. “I think people here are mostly numb because of the executions that had started up here again” Clemons said. “A lot of people were hoping that there wouldn’t be any more executions in the state of Missouri. It’s an emotional shock for people who were beginning to experience the executions of those who they came to know.” Before Oklahoma’s botched execution Clemons has spoken out. In an April interview, Clemons pre-empted questions to draw attention to the status of Oklahoma’s death penalty ruling. He noted that Missouri has the same laws that conceal the drugs it uses to administer lethal injection. Oklahoma also concealed the drugs used in its botched execution attempt. “The thing that is scary to me — and that’s one of the reasons there is a petition out there called ‘Capital Consequences’ in memory of Rachel King. The petition is attempting to challenge the legality of the death penalty in its practice and implementation. And what this lethal
The Richmond Voice injection really is – is that in order to continue executing people they are hiding what’s involved and what the practices are. Imagine if other areas of government start to do that, like a police, where they don’t have to tell you what they do. It’s a dangerous precedent their trying to set,” he told me. He said that secrecy laws make it impossible to challenge in court. Clemons has the unique perspective of experiencing the lead up to an execution while still being alive to talk about it. He was just five days from his own execution date when he was given a stay because of the potential inhumanity of lethal injection. That stay proved critical to Clemons. By the time Missouri’s courts lifted the stay, evidence suppressed for years in Clemons case was finally made public. Michael Manners, a judge appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to review the case, issued a scathing report of police and prosecutorial misconduct in Clemons’ case. “There was shoddy police work almost beyond comprehension,” he said. “When I said shoddy I meant they took a path of least resistance, closing an investigation early as it was the easiest thing to do.” Manners ruled that Clemons confession was the result of hours of police coercion and suppressed evidence. Clemons said police beat him; a medical examiner gave testimony in support of this claim. All of this had yet to be made public when Clemons’ execution date approached. Clemons has steadfastly maintained his innocence, even pushing to be tried for rape charges filed against him but never pursued. “I don’t know nothing about any murder,” Clemons told me in two hours of wideranging interviews about the circumstance of his crime. “I didn’t rape nobody, I didn’t rob nobody, I didn’t murder anybody. That I do know. I can say that is absolutely true.” It took nearly two decades for DNA evidence to be admitted into court, evidence that fails to connect Clemons. While all of this pile of evidence remains under scrutiny of the state Supreme Court, Clemons remains on death row. He uses his time as a fierce opponent of the death penalty. In my first interview with him the first words out of his mouth were focused not on his freedom, but the injustice of the death penalty. “I want to educate people about the Death Penalty in the state of Missouri and how it’s operating right now,” he told me in March. Clemons was asked what it was like being five days from execution. He offered a small slice of what it may have been like on April 29 for Turner, whose execution has been stayed until the drug problems
can be worked out, according to published reports. “I had a lot of faith that if God wanted me to get a stay I’d get one,” Clemons said. “Whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands. I was more concerned about my family than I was myself with me being executed. If I am executed the pain would be relatively short compared to what my family would have to live with.” Clemons may well have his case overturned and be found innocent. It’s hard to imagine how any court could not see the need for a retrial based on Judge Masters’ ruling if we still have a shred of innocent until proven guilty within our criminal justice system. If police beatings, suppressed evidence, shoddy police work don’t constitute a measure of doubt it’s hard to say what does. If he is found innocent, the only reason he is alive is because of the legal maneuvers that questioned the validity of lethal injection. His co-defendant has already been executed. The problem of innocence Innocence is the tip of the sword for those against the death penalty. Our system is designed to ensure that all doubt of innocence is removed before an execution and yet this is widely ignored. A study by the University of Michigan released just last week found that between four and five percent of all those executed were likely innocent, at the very least. “As for the 4.1 percent who were exonerated, the researchers think that’s probably an undercount, as there may be more death row inmates whose cases have not yet been identified and overturned,” Forbes reported. Still another factor in the death penalty equation is the uneven application of its practices. Since 2010 just seven states – Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Alabama and Mississippi -have conducted nearly 90 percent of all executions in the country. Texas alone with 68 executions far outpaces the 23 performed by all the other 43 states combined. As such, the work of seven states – and as we’ve seen played out in the Oklahoma courts the past three weeks – in highly politicized rulings have created a de facto national policy on executions that falls far below the constitutional standards. Oklahoma may have tried to pull back the curtain during a failed execution and its courts may have ruled that the process itself can be shrouded in secrecy, but executions in America are subjected by law to the highest standards of proof, standards that have failed to be adhered to in too many cases.
May 28 - June 3, 2014 • 21
The Richmond Voice
New NAACP president: My strength is among the grassroots TEWire - Underscoring the fact that the NAACP has been a grassroots organization for its 105 years of existence, new NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, last week, said that has been and will continue to be his strength. “The NAACP, as a matter of history, tradition, culture, political effectiveness and advocacy, is a grassroots organization. The power and the promise and potential of the NAACP lie not at the headquarters in Baltimore, but at the branches and state conferences. It is there that I have quite a bit of experience in terms of state level advocacy,” said Brooks. The NAACP National Board of Directors announced its selection of Brooks, an attorney and social justice advocate, on May 17. He is the 18th chief executive leader of the national headquarters, replacing interim leader Lorraine Miller, who served since Benjamin Todd Jealous ended his fiveyear tenure late last year. Brooks will be formally introduced to NAACP members in July during its annual convention in Las Vegas. “We are proud to welcome Attorney Cornell William Brooks as our new president and CEO,” said Roslyn M. Brock, NAACP board chair. “Mr. Brooks is a pioneering lawyer and civil rights leader, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the association. We look forward to leveraging his legal prowess, vision and leadership as we tackle the pressing civil rights issues of the 21st century.” Brooks, 53, is currently president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, based in Newark. He points to his work with this urban research and advocacy organization as being among the places where he cut his teeth in grassroots advocacy. He described working with “mayors, with council people to cast – what the New York Times called – ‘model for the country legislation,’” he said, describing his work on policies affecting people who have served time in prison, but who desire to drop their descriptions of exoffenders in order to become “taxpayers, homeowners, mothers, fathers, and responsible members of this community and this Republic. That’s where I cut my teeth – at the state level, helping to secure
state level legislation to help address the foreclosure crisis in New Jersey.” Brooks said although he has done most of his work at the state level and local level, he is also “more than wellequipped” to do the significant federal, legislative, and judicial work that is required by the NAACP. “I started off my career at the Federal Communications Commission, at the Justice Department, at the national Lawyers Committee [for Civil Rights Under Law]. Having spent 20 years in civil rights and social justice advocacy, being well aware of the issues around income inequality around the juvenile and criminal justice system, and work force development.” These are among what the NAACP often calls its “bread and butter” issues. Brooks notes that he started his career as a federal litigator in Texas, Florida and Ohio on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Lawyers Committee. “So, I certainly have an appreciation for the national landscape in terms of civil rights litigation. But, where I have done most of my work is in the very place where most of the work of the NAACP has been done. That is at the state level and the local level.” Brooks said he would immediately start talking to and listening to the NAACP’s membership and board as he forms a vision for the organization’s future. “The NAACP has put together a very thoughtful strategic plan in terms of game changers for all Americans and civil rights” that Brooks said he will study as he prepares to lead. Those game changer issues include economic sustainability, education, health, public safety/criminal justice, and voting rights/political representation. The announcement of Brooks’ appointment came as the nation celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U. S. Supreme Court. That was the landmark decision that outlawed legal segregation in public schools. Brooks said that decision is a threshold for him. “As a graduate of both Head Start and Yale Law School, I am a beneficiary, an heir and a grandson of the Brown verses Board of Education decision, whose 60th anniversary we just noted. And as such I am indebted to the legacy of the NAACP.”
Poll: 30 percent planning to oppose President Obama in midterms By Frederick H. Lowe TEWire - African-Americans are being urged to vote in numbers like never before in November’s midterm elections to help Democrats keep control of the U.S. Senate, and a recent Gallup poll should give them added incentive. Some 30 percent of registered voters told Gallup they will vote for a candidate in November’s elections opposed to President Barack Obama. An equal number said the same thing before the 2010 midterm elections in which Republicans and Tea Party Republicans took the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats. The poll also reported that 24 percent of voters said they will support the president. However, 43 percent of voters said their vote will not be a reflection on the president. Some 64 percent of Republicans said they will vote to oppose President Obama compared to 54 percent of Democrats who
will vote to support the president. “This indicates one of Obama’s problems: Only slightly more than half of Democrats are motivated to vote in support of him, while almost two-thirds of Republicans are willing to vote against him. Some 31 percent of independents say they will vote to oppose the president compared to 11 percent who support him,” Gallup reported. African-American groups are pushing to get out the vote to protect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has benefited blacks, but Republicans have sworn to repeal it if they win control of the Senate. Republicans also have blocked increases in the minimum wage and many of President Obama’s appointees. The results are from an April 24-30 Gallup poll in which 1,336 registered voters 18 years old and older were surveyed by telephone. The voters live in all 50 states.
Tolan from page 18 there was no reason for him to be shot and his family to be victimized. The Tolans say that their faith has helped them as they continue to pursue justice. Robbie was a 23-year-old aspiring pro baseball player when he was shot. His father, Bobby, played in the major leagues. “Our pastor constructed a prayer just for this case and the Supreme Court,” Marian Tolan said. “In that prayer we prayed for each Supreme Court justice, we asked God to give them a clean heart so that they can do His will. “From the beginning, I’ve asked God to use this case for change. God saved Robbie for a reason. This decision has placed us in a position to bring that reason forth.” Extended family, community members, church leaders and elected officials gathered in support of the Tolan family. “There are a lot of people who can be inspired by the dogged determination that has been exuded by the Tolan family,” said Kirbyjon Caldwell, pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church. “We have to change these laws. This is not just about what happened six years ago. This is still happening today.” U.S. Congressman Al Green (D-Texas) said there cannot be a law that allows police to shoot an unarmed person on their own property and go unpunished.
“I agree with the Supreme Court that it is important that this case be reviewed again,” said Green, whose district sits in Houston. “The circumstances of this case, the shooting of an unarmed young man in his parents’ yard, are deeply troubling and raise many questions. I trust that after a just review, a jury will be able to sort through the facts and come to a just resolution.” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she and Green will meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ask for an investigation in the case based on civil rights violations and any “criminal aspects” in the case. She urged the community to unite behind the Tolan family and support them as they pursue a new trial. “We must leave this place and demand a new trial for Robbie,” Jackson Lee said. “The trial he never had.”
22 • May 28 - June 3, 2014
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