Tuesday News: Blue behavior matters


RALEIGH POLICE'S HANDLING OF PROTESTS BEING EVALUATED: An external review team hired by the City of Raleigh will present findings to Raleigh City Council members Tuesday afternoon. The review comes months after the protests, which peaked in late May and early June. Beginning the last weekend in May, some peaceful protests turned to riots in downtown Raleigh. Buildings were set on fire, the windows of businesses were shattered, and damages were even reported at North Hills and Triangle Town Center. Months later, some downtown businesses are still boarded up. In September, Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown presented after-action report to city leaders, acknowledging miscommunication between protesters and police led to the use of tear gas. Raleigh police also released around 500 videos of the protests that occurred between May 30 and June 1.

THE NC GOP'S PALTRY $335 CHECKS ARE STILL BEING SENT OUT: The automatic checks to individuals who qualified by filing their 2019 state income taxes started being mailed out by the Department of Revenue the week of Oct. 19, and continue for the following four weeks. That means the last batch of automatic checks are being mailed right now. The checks are mailed to the address listed on your 2019 tax return, or to a new one if you updated your address by Oct. 14. For people who did not claim a child tax exemption on their tax return, the original deadline to apply for the grant was Oct. 15. The Department of Revenue is processing those applications now. Those checks will start being mailed out in mid- to late November through Dec. 15. If someone filed an amended return or filed an original return between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, those are included in that late fall batch, also. Although it uses federal money, North Carolina parents are receiving it because it was part of state legislation. Republican leaders in the General Assembly came up with the idea.

MORE EFFORT NEEDS TO BE PUT INTO DIVERSIFYING PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER RANKS: The report says the Republican-controlled General Assembly could take a leading role in promoting diversity through ordering education officials to provide alternatives for teacher licensing exams and by expanding monetary incentives to students at historically Black universities. The authors cited the Teaching Fellows Program, which gives forgivable loans to students attending five public or private colleges or universities, as well as training to become science and math teachers. Recipients are required to repay the loans or commit to teaching for four years in public schools. None of the five schools are historically Black colleges and universities or institutions known to serve minorities. The legislature this year passed a law expanding the number of universities to as many as eight, but didn't specifically direct which should be added. The report recommends legislators pass another law requiring at least one historically Black or minority-focused college be included. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, who leaves office at year's end, took issue with several portions of the report and recommendations.

SECOND CHANCE ACT GOES LIVE ON DECEMBER 1ST: “Knowing they can go out with a skill or talent and they can actually have a chance, that they didn’t have before because of this cloud over their heads,” Cherry Lassiter said. “I call it a cloud, but really, it’s just there, there is a stigma there.” The new law, Senate Bill 562, or better known as the Second Chance Act, is designed to fix this. The law is split into two parts. The first part takes effect on Dec. 1. It allows for the expungement of misdemeanors that aren’t classified as A1, which often have to do with assault or other serious injury crimes. “The part I am most excited about is the misdemeanor convictions,” Cherry-Lassiter said. “Previously…if you had more than one misdemeanor conviction, you could not get those expunged, due to the law. That changed. Now if you have more than one misdemeanor convictions, you can get those non-violent convictions expunged up to seven years after the most recent conviction.” The second part of the law, which takes effect late next year, has to do with felony dismissals. In North Carolina if someone gets a felony dismissed, the dismissal itself is still visible. A dismissal signals that there was once a felony, which can affect a person’s chances of securing employment, housing or other necessities. The new law renders dismissals completely invisible. Those hoping to take advantage of the law, but might not have access to representation, can find the toolkit at southerncoalition.org, where they can download it. The toolkit features detailed instructions on how to navigate the new law.

REPUBLICAN ELECTED OFFICIALS STAND BEHIND TRUMP'S ASININE CHALLENGE OF ELECTION: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans on Monday backed President Trump’s efforts to contest his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, despite the lack of evidence of significant fraud and sharp rebukes from election officials who defended the integrity of the vote. McConnell (R-Ky.) said from the floor of the Senate that the president is “100 percent within his right” to pursue recounts and litigation. McConnell did not repeat Trump’s baseless assertions that fraud had cost him the election, but he said he had met with Attorney General William P. Barr earlier in the day and supports the president’s right to investigate all claims of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, other GOP officials also rushed to bolster Trump’s case, including the two U.S. senators from Georgia, who demanded the resignation of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, after his office said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the state. And the Republican attorneys general of about a dozen states threw their support behind a legal effort pending before the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out mail ballots in Pennsylvania that were received after Election Day — a small number of votes that state officials said would not be enough to change the outcome. In Nevada, the Trump campaign and Republicans have already lost two attempts to get courts to order changes to ballot counting in Clark County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold. State and federal judges rejected their demands for emergency intervention, citing a lack of evidence of any widespread voter fraud. In response, Trump allies made a slew of new unsubstantiated allegations. On Sunday, Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union claimed “thousands of examples of voter irregularities,” including a “Biden-Harris van” at the Clark County vote-counting center in which ballots were “opened with letter openers, and ballots were filled in and resealed.”



On the subject of teacher diversity...

there is much that needs to be done, but we have to be careful about how it's done. We can't expect much from our current legislature, who won't even raise teacher pay to make it more attractive as a profession for anyone (including minority prospects) and are undercutting public education at every point. They may have finally expanded the Teaching Fellows program, which is fine since it promotes proper teacher education and certification for those who might otherwise not be able to afford it, but we can't let some of these other recommendations that have been put forward go through. In particular, the watering-down of the profession by the use of "alternate routes to certification" is a classic move toward the "any warm body" method of teacher recruitment. This has never produced good results and there's no reason to think it will now either. We need to make teaching in NC a respected profession again (and one where it's members can act like professionals and form unions) in order to attract and keep a diverse body of teachers in our schools.