By Alan Pitts, Political Analysis, Community Activist and Organizer, Disabilities Rights Advocate, Artist, Adult
Anonymous thanked City Attorney Zollicoffer for his most informative letter. You know the letter that any Vance County High School graduate should have no trouble digesting without any additional need for further questioning. What could be more American, ‘accepting as true everything that a politician tell you.’ You probably make a pretty good Nazi if only they made a fancy hat big enough, to match your crisp, starched khaki uniform and shiny black, thigh-high, goose steppers. As far as the identity of Wind, [the author of a response to comments posted on the conversation regarding the Voting Rights Suit against Henderson,] Anonymous you’re over thinking this whole thing. You don’t cut it out, you are going to give yourself a noise bleed. If you want to know who Wind is, find the nearest exit, go outside, face east and ask the Wind. I’ll be happy to tell you what it is that you want to know about me and the other Plaintiffs since you’re so curious. And, if you promise to eat your Barakcoli before chopping down another Tea Party Biscuit , I ‘ll tell you why Zollicoffer’s letter [FOR MEN ONLY] is a complete crock of Bullsh–t and is just another example of how City Hall thinks we’re all pretty stupid out here. Actually some among us, really are, as evident by your most recent post.
But I digest. You are obviously quite thirsty for knowledge, LOL. I am a middle age African American home and property owner. My maternal grandparents were the late Pearl and Stanford Holding who were large land holder in Granville County in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Some of the land used to flood out the area now known a Falls Lake belonged to my Grandmother and was confiscated under eminent domain belonged to my grandmother. My grandparents’ prosperity did not set well with some of their less fortunate white neighbors. Their family home was firebombed in 1958 after being told by the KKK not to build their house within view the road, now know as Bruce Gardener Road in Credmore. This event received national attention and was the subject of an Article published by Johnson Publication’s Jet Magazine. Shortly thereafter, my grandfather passed away under mysterious circumstances. He was found crushed under the weighty back tire of his old, red Ford tractor after working alone in one of the fields he was harvesting. My grandfather believed in standing up for what he believed to be right. He taught his children and grandchildren, to stand on truth. To embrace truth, even when it is inconvenient. A lie can only stand when ignorance is allowed to go unchallenged.
In February 2010, I suffered a massive stroke followed by two smaller strokes known as TIAs. With the help of the extremely qualified and caring professionals at Mariah Parham Medical Center, UNC Hospitals, DeVita Dialysis Clinic and Vance Family Medicine, including Dr(s). Vu and Kamil, nurses Sandy, Yuly, Inja, Jaimie, CNA Alice, and Dialysis Nurse Linda, I was able to regain much of the function lost by the initial stroke. Unfortunately, the ordeal did effected my memory, coordination, eyesight and speech, consequently causing my kidneys to fail. Each night I’m on my knees thanking our Blesseth Lord for Romney/Obama Care.
Seneca Nicholson-Pitts is my precious wife of 30 years and the mother of our three sons. She is also the mother of our two dogs; Woody and Tinklebell. Our oldest is currently a law student working a full time job to put himself through school in New Jersey. Our youngest is a 4th Grader in a gifted student program at Aycock Elementary School. My wife has been a teacher for years and like almost every teacher I’ve ever meet, she represents the best of what society has to offer. Teachers are special people. You don’ get into that type of work for money. My wife has taught at VGCC and Job Corp and has served as a School Board member in Harrisburg, Mississippi where she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. See has served as the Regional Director of Parents as Teachers. Most recently, she was the Vice President of the Aycock PTA. Like my mother, who was also a teacher, I have seen her on many occasions go into her pocket and buy something for one of her students: Book bags, books, writing material, pens and pencils, sanitation napkins, shoes, socks, homemade birthday cakes etc. I’ve seen her change lives with her selflessness, and that’s no bull. I say it without hesitation and the greatest of sincerity, she is the best person I know and I tell her all the time that I’m lucky to know her. Because I feel so fortunate to have found such a great life partner, I wish that everyone would have the opportunity to find their special someone, their soul mate, regardless of their race, color, creed or sexual orientation. For that reason, I believe that citizens must go forward with the eyes open wide [unlike blind mice] and scrutinize the conduct of government particularly local government. These are critical times in the history of a great planet. The choices are stark. We hear all the time talk about leaving our kids a boat load of debt. What about making sure they are left a planet where flowers can grow, the air is fresh and sustaining and there is no worry of super storms where it’s raining and snowing and thundering and lightening and the sun is shining and a full moon is out, all at the same time. Or if our oceans will overtake us. Eye wide open my dear friends.
My wife is currently working the Early Vote Coordinator for the National OAO Campaign. Her office is at 219 S. Garnett Street, Henderson and she along with Charles Douglas, Hannah Davis and all the volunteers, invites any and everyone having any questions about the ballot, ballot issues, registration, early voting, poll locations, logistics or to talk about our law suit, to drop by our office which is also the current home of the Vance County Democratic Party. Have a doughnut and a cup of coffee on us. BTW Mitt Romney does drink coffee [he thinketh it be the devil’s brew] and a few months ago, he did not know what a doughnut was. And he wants to be our President LOL.
Read my lips: We are not blind mice. We are insulted when such mouth breathers spew this type of hateful and racist rhetoric. It implies that we are ignorance and are being lead astray by some nefarious overlord. That because of our low information and low intellect others have to do our thinking for us. In actuality, the people who are the most uninformed are the people who believe that its perfectly okay to cancel a regular election. Canceling an election sounds more like something that Moammar Khadafy would do. That is, if he was still engaged in the ancient, time honored art of breathing. Consider the ramifications. If you cancel or delay an election, the period between the time when the election was suppose to be held and the time of the eventual election, City officials are performing the duties of office without having been elected. Whose interest can they represent under this quandary. More than likely, if an official found him or herself in this situation, they would be there to represent their owe interest. Not to mention, any newly elected official would have had part of their term served by someone who was not elected, exposing the city to all type of liability and possibly invalidating any contracts and business that the City has engaged in. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Prior to my illness my wife and I worked as vendors of Supported Employment Service for the State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Our Community Rehabilitation Program was called Northern Carolina Supported Employment, LLC and we specialized in finding in gainful employment for persons who have been classified a Most Significantly Disabled (MSD). Our offices were in the Gateway Center but we were not a part of the Gateway Community Development Corporation. (GCDC.) It might be wroth noting, [since it was inferred by Deception, a the Class A knucklehead who I, for obvious reasons, have renamed Closet Crusader, that our law suit was motivated by the downfall of Gateway Community Development Corporation,] that the GCDC was represented by Mr. Zollicoffer’s law firm right before it lost it’s non-profit status and it’s Director Gary Morgan stepping down, according to Anonymous [who I call the Cloaked Dope,] so that he could peddling Section 8s. My memory may not be what it use to be, but I know a dog whistle when I hear one.
Yes, it is true that we did fall behind on last years property taxes. I don’t feel bad about that when I see two full news paper pages on names in the Daily Dispatch of property owner in Vance County in the same shape. We are all struggling out here. That’s why it so good to know that we have a President that has our back. Households today are fortunate not to be underwater or having their mortgages in foreclosure. Even so, I do not, and we do not consider ourselves victims or deadbeats. We are like many Vance County residents struggling to keep our heads up after the great Bush Recession/Depression. You remember, the one where Bush let all of his rich buddies hold the keys to the treasury and in the middle of night, they moves all of our money offshore and places like Switzerland and Telaviv. Leaving us holding a bag full of worthless securities. On the brighter side, both the Cloaked Dope and Closet Crusader should be happy to hear that my family and I am enrolled in a payment program to bring our taxes up to date. My wife is in a similar program to pay off her student loans. We have never attempted to avoid or evade these obligations. In the words of the legendary Benny 4 Eyes, the original wiseguy, “there are two things in life that are certain, death and taxes.” Unless I die before the taxes are paid by me, which is entirely possible, taxes will always eventually be paid. And I’m sure that that will hold true for Daryl Von Williams.
Be that as it may, for the record, I am not an attorney and because of such, I could not have been disbarred. But if it makes you happy, I believe that if I were an attorney, I’m sure I would have been disbarred. Primarily because, unlike the three numb nuts mentioned in the title, I can’t lie to myself. And no, there is no attorney working with us or on our behalf. To call me and my wife and Ms Von Williams deadbeats and blind mice is simply a weak attempt to discredit the message or in this case, the allegation of violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To be personally attacked by Anonymous, a/k/a the ‘Cloaked Dope‘ and his bare bottom side kick, ‘Closet Crusader‘, is a salacious scheme orchestrated by Zollicoffer and his crooked cronies to cast Plaintiffs’ honorable and selfless efforts to root out the rampant corruption in our City Hall as a vile and malicious assault on justified public policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. And some of you wouldn’t know the truth if it rolled off the blessedth lips of dear Mother Theresa.
Speaking of Mother Theresa, Daryl Von Williams is also a saintly woman and to the best of my knowledge, has no association with GCDC. Ms Von Williams is a dedicated educator and the Director of the Vance County Learning Center. She has tirelessly provided educational opportunities for ‘at risk students’ who, for whatever reason, did not make it in public school. She has been a back stop, a firewall that has prevented many of these kids from going over the end. I give testimony to her noble and selfless endeavors. She goes about her work with very little financial reward. But it is not in the capacity of Program Director or teacher that Ms Von Williams has participated in this law suit. Like my wife and myself she is a concerned citizens who cares about the future of our society and democracy. This suit is not about money, it does not allege any monetary damages and does not seek o recover a single penny. All fees and cost to date, have been paid by the three Plaintiffs. To suggest she should be run out of town for her activism is outrageous and likely has more to do with a lingering racial animus than a concern that the system is being gamed by three hapless blind mice. Oh did I mention, like Mitt Romney, Daryl Von Williams runs a food bank. Except that the goods she collects and distribute are for real people, really needing her help. Mitt Romney collects goods can goods and other items from the public for no other reason than a photo op.
Did you forget that it was Daryl Von Williams who worked with Federal Prosecutors and Attorney General Roy Cooper to bring down a notorious criminal by the name of Donald Gupton who would eventually plead guilty to ripping off hundreds of first time Henderson home buyers. The majority of which being poor and African American. I call it stealing their dreams.
About 6 years ago our local headlines, including those printed by the Daily Dispatch, were filled with the escapades of a brazen and notorious scam artist by the name of Donald Gupton. Although I had no personal dealing with Donald Gupton, the home I purchased at a HUD auction was one of the properties involved in one of the infamous mortgage fraud scheme implemented by Gupton and co defendants. When I began negotiations with one of the big two reality agencies to by our family home, a few days before closing, an attorney who had worked with Donald Gupton on many of the questionable transactions mentioned above, by the name of Lori Renn, pop up on the scene. Although we didn’t hire her we ended up paying for her at closing. She advised our buyer’s agent that the closing could be held in her office rather than us having to go all the way down to Raleigh. She began modifying certain instruments to reduce the value of our purchase [which we paid cash for] and kick back land and money to her cronies, who happen to be the original owners. And she was supposedly working as our lawyer. That was just one of many schemes that Gupton was complicit in. Because of these fraud, involving 450 properties in Vance County, my property title is still clouded and I have land on my property deed that I can’t use until a Federal Judge signs an Order. And we are going on 5 years now. What does any of this have to do with our current conversation you ask? Let me explain. When Mr. Gupton appeared for sentencing after pleading guilty to dozens of fraud counts in the United States District Court, he carried with him a letter from Henderson City Attorney John Zollicoffer, Jr.. That letter, set out a three page case for the decency of Mr. Gupton and argued that to send him of prison would be a gross miscarriage of justice. That this man has done so much for the City of Henderson. Forget about the 100s of families that were left in financial ruin and some even homeless. Again the majority of such families being African American. This while acing in the capacity of our City Attorney. Can you say, conflict of interest. Tin ear. Despite the Letterman’s best efforts, Chief United States District Court Judge Flaggigan unceremoniously sentence Mr. Gupton to 5 years in a federal prison followed by 36 months of supervised release. The light sentence due in large part to his cooperation with federal prosecutors in convicting several of his business partners who all received greater sentences in-spite of the fact that Gupton was the ring leader. So much for Zollicoffer’s integrity of his proclivity for letter writing.
Regarding the Lettermen’s most recent letter appearing at this blog, which any thinking person should consider an insult to your intelligence, it takes two contrasting position; (1) He states that to defend this suit is costly, yet (2) he states the claims are frivolous. Defending a frivolous suit shouldn’t cost much and certainly wouldn’t require representation by outside council. Particularly where neither of the Plaintiffs are represented by council and the suit is not for money. Zollicoffer is the City’s attorney, paid by the tax payers. Why didn’t he represent the the good people of Henderson, isn’t that what he’s pay to do. It seems like if he could take the time to write a letter to a federal judge begging for leniency for one of his criminal confederate, at the very least he could had wrote the judge in this case outlining how in his belief that the City had followed applicable law and that our suit is indeed frivolous. Nothing in that letter is a part of the federal suit. The only defense that the City or the county has put up in this case is that the service of process was ineffective. In other words, that the City, including Zollicoffer, did not receive copies of the papers in the standard manner. Which we deny. And so far it appears that the court is willing to accept that service was proper. There is a reason why they have not made the arguments that the Letterman make in his letter about the suit. You see, they could just say those things on this blog. In open court they would have to prove what they say. And they are not in a position to do that. The Letterman states that the suit boils down to three local ordinances passed unanimous by the City Council. For the record, election law is not controlled by local ordinance, it’s controlled by state and federal statute, and to a small degree, based upon common law.
The unique set of circumstances in this case may well take the court into uncharted territory. It is this uniqueness that underscores the public importance of this action and the need of a three judge court. Such circumstances being, while engaged in a campaign of deception and misinformation, directed against the public and the United States Department of Justice. The Mayor, City Council of Henderson North Carolina and their appointees developed a scheme to change its election laws without §5 preclearance from the United States Justice Department (“DOJ”) as required under the Voting Rights Act. If you are not familiar with the concept of pre-aproval, or pre-clearance it means simply that you must get approval before hand. Neither the City or the County did that. They in turn, canceled a regularly scheduled municipal elections, remain, unelected, in power, change the City Charter to permit political and racial gerrymandering at a time when each of them were unelected. This being done without prior notice to the citizens of the City of Henderson and Vance County, also done without public input. This scheme having either the intent or the result of disenfranchising African American voters and candidates for office in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Plaintiffs’ case and the request for emergency preliminary injunction hinges on the question of if Defendants had the legal authority to cancel the October 2011 Henderson, North Carolina, Municipal Elections. To best understand Plaintiffs’ claim you must examine the statutory scheme [NCGS §163A-23.1] upon which Defendants rely as their authority for their extraordinary waiver of the citizen of Henderson’s right to vote in a regularly held election. In 2009 the North Carolina General Assembly amended NCGS §163A-23 to include subsection .1. The added section reads in pertinent part:
§ 160A?23.1. Special rules for redistricting after a federal decennial census.
(a) As soon as possible after receipt of federal decennial census information, the council of any city which elects the members of its governing board on a district basis, or where candidates for such office must reside in a district in order to run, shall evaluate the existing district boundaries to determine whether it would be lawful to hold the next election without revising districts to correct population imbalances. If such revision is necessary, the council shall consider whether it will be possible to adopt the changes (and obtain approval from the United States Department of Justice, if necessary) before the third day before opening of the filing period for the municipal election. The council shall take into consideration the time that will be required to afford ample opportunities for public input. If the council determines that it most likely will not be possible to adopt the changes (and obtain federal approval, if necessary) before the third business day before opening of the filing period, and determines further that the population imbalances are so significant that it would not be lawful to hold the next election using the current electoral districts, it may adopt a resolution delaying the election so that it will be held on the timetable provided by subsection (d) of this section. Before adopting such a resolution, the council shall hold a public hearing on it. The notice of public hearing shall summarize the proposed resolution and shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation, not less than seven days before the date fixed for the hearing. Notwithstanding adoption of such a resolution, if the council proceeds to adopt the changes, (and federal approval is obtained, if necessary) by the end of the third business day before the opening of the filing period, the election shall be held on the regular schedule under the revised electoral districts. Any resolution adopted under this subsection, and any changes in electoral district boundaries made under this section shall be submitted to the United States Department of Justice (if the city is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965), the State Board of Elections, and to the board conducting the elections for that city.
(b) In adopting any revisal under this section, if the council determines that in order for the plan to conform to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the number of district seats needs to be increased or decreased, it may do so by following the procedures set forth in Part 4 of Article 5 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes, except that the ordinance under G.S. 160A?102 may be adopted at the same meeting as the public hearing, and any referendum on the change under G.S. 160A?103 shall not apply to the municipal election in the two years following a federal decennial census.
(c) If the resolution provided for in subsection (a) of this section is not adopted and:
(1) Proposed changes to the electoral districts are not adopted, or
(2) Such changes are adopted, but approval under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, is required, and notice of such approval is not received, by the end of the third business day before the opening of the filing period, the election shall be held on the regular schedule using the current electoral districts.
(d) If the council adopts the resolution provided for in subsection (a) of this section and does not adopt the changes, or does adopt the changes, but approval under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, is required, and notice of such approval is not received, by the end of the third day before the opening of the filing period, the municipal election shall be rescheduled as provided in this subsection and current officeholders shall hold over until their successors are elected and qualified. (1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1012, s. 2; 1999?227, s. 4; 2000?140, s. 34; 2002?159, s. 52; 2009?414, s. 1.)
The North Carolina General Statute sets out a formula for canceling and rescheduling a regularly held election of a political subdivision which elects the members of it’s governing board by districts and, where recently released federal decennial census information reveals that such districts are so significantly out of population balance, that to hold such election under such conditions would render the election illegal. The statute does not state what would constitute an imbalance of such magnitude. However, a plain language reading of the statutory scheme reveal that the first sentence of the statute prescribes a triggering mechanism for the application of the statute. That being, the receipt of the federal decennial census information. With this information in hand, the City Council is then required (1) first, to “evaluate the existing district boundaries to determine whether it would be lawful to hold the next election without revising districts to correct population imbalances.” Id. NCGS §163A-23.1. (2) Secondly, if finding, based upon the census information, that a revision of the district bounties is necessary to comply with the law, [one person one vote] then the City Council is then required to perform a calculation determining, if after ample opportunities for public input has been afforded, if the changes can be adopted, and if required, federal preapproval can be received three business days before the opening for filing or declaring a candidacy. If determining that the all of the above can most likely not be done before the date specified, then (3) the city council is required to make a third determination [also based upon federal decennial census information] “finding that the population imbalances are so significant that it would not be lawful to hold the next election using the current electoral districts[.]” (emphases added). Which is an extremely high bar. (4) And, after a public hearing on the matter, then, and only then does the statute allow the City Council to adopt a resolution delaying the election so that it will be held on the timetable provided by subsection (d) of the section.
Keep in mind, that the operation of the statute is dependent upon a point and time when City Council members become aware of the latest federal decennial census information. Not until such time, the statute is inapplicable to the common affairs of a political subdivision within the State of North Carolina. According to Zollicoffer, the City did not receive this information in usable order until July 20, 2011. But the election was officially canceled in March of 2011.
Of similar note, an election could not be found unlawful if there is no available evidence showing that the population of certain political districts are out of balance. If that were not the case, a voter or candidate could claim any past election unlawful by the fact that new decinnial census information retrospectively indicate that a ward or district, at some time in the past, was out of balance with the other wards. Also, the Vance County Board of Elections, the entity responsible for conducting the election, made no request for preapproval. Furthermore, they advertised that election as a primary when it was a plurality election. I brought the matter to the attention of the Board of Election and they made no corrections to the Notices they were posting.
Finally, it is important to distinguish that the State of North Carolina did not, and does not need preclearance from the United States Department of Justice before administering the above specified, recent enactment. However, neither the City of Henderson nor Vance County are free to administer NCGS 160A-23.1 without first obtaining preclearance from the United States Department of Justice pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.§1973 et seq. Again, if you are not familiar with the term pre-cleanance, it means simply before the fact. At the time when taking these actions there was no available evidence to suggest that the wards were out of balance. The steps taken were based upon speculation, not evidence or the census. And by the City’s own admission, the wards were not out of balance. They were within almost the exact same balance as the were 10 years prior when they admitted there was no need to modify the ward boundaries.
Voting Rights Act of 1965; 42 U.S.C.§1973 et. seq.
The Fifteenth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” U.S. CONST. amend. XV, § 1. Yet 95 years after the Amendment’s ratification, the struggle for the realization of this constitutional guarantee was far from complete. See H.R. Rep. No. 89-439, at 2439 (1965). In 1965, literacy tests, poll taxes, and other devices were still being “widely used” in certain regions of the country as part of “a calculated plan to deprive African Americans of their right to vote.” Id. at 2443. When traditional litigation proved ineffective to counter “those determined to circumvent the guarantees of the 15th amendment,” id. at 2441, Congress decided that “the wrong to our citizens is too serious — the damage to our national conscience is too great not to adopt more effective measures than exist [that day.]” id. at 2442. Hence, almost a century after the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — with Section 5 at its core — in order “to make the guarantees of the Fifteenth Amendment finally a reality for all citizens.” Allen v. State Bd. of Elections, 393 U.S. 544, 556 (1969). Congress reauthorized the Act four times (in 1970, 1975 and 1982), and the Supreme Court upheld each reauthorization against constitutional challenges. See Nw. Austin II, 129 S. Ct. at 2510.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 “was designed by Congress to banish the blight of racial discrimination in voting.” South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 308 (1966). Although the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed African-American citizens the right to vote as early as 1870, southern states quickly responded by creating a series of voting qualifications and devices to perpetuate black disenfranchisement. See id. at 310-311; see also H.R. Rep. No. 89-439, at 2439-40. None of this new voting legislation mentioned race on its face, but it was nonetheless “motivated entirely and exclusively by a desire to exclude the African Americans from voting.” H.R. Rep. No. 89-439, at 2443, 2451. Southern states imposed poll taxes, which disproportionately burdened African-Americans as a result of their comparatively lower incomes. See id. at 2451-53. They enacted literacy requirements as a precondition to voting “based on the fact that as of 1890 . . . more than two-thirds of the adult African American [in southern states] were illiterate while less than one-quarter of the adult whites were unable to read or write.” Katzenbach, 383 U.S. at 311. And they adopted alternate tests, such as grandfather clauses and property qualifications, in order to “assure that white illiterates would not be deprived of the franchise.” Id.
All of this seems like the distant past, but at the same time it is today. With the unveiling of your un-American, Tea Bagger’s Movement, promoting minority voting restrictions, restrictions on women reproductive right, the denial of reason and truth, the denial of history and evolution, the denial of climate science etc., the hands of time are being rolled back. It is citizens like the so called Three Blind Mice who stand as a back stop to the historical advancement of institutionalized ignorance. So to the Cloaked Dope, his side kick, Closet Crusader, the one and only, Out to Lunch Letterman Jolly Zollicoffer and for everyone else who believes that our federal constitution is for white men only, this clubbing is for you. You and the broke down, lazy, dishonest nag* you rode in on.
* Broke down, lazy, dishonest nag: Sarah Palin.
cc: Daily Dispatch