by YES! Staff

Committee requests subpoena of former Journal reporter The Silk Plant Forest Citizen Review Committee passeda resolution Monday requesting the Winston-Salem CityCouncil issue a subpoena for former Winston-Salem Journalreporter Phoebe Zerwick related to the committee’sinvestigation of police procedure in the 1995 Silk PlantForest-Jill Marker assault case. The committee also askedthe city council to subpoena all notes and documentsrelated to a five-part investigative series written byZerwick for the Journal about the case in 2004. The committeehad previously requested Zerwick appear to testifyabout her interview with former Winston-Salem policeDetective Donald R. Williams. The Journal declined thecommittee’s request. Committee members suggestedthat Zerwick’s published interview with Williams, the leaddetective in the case, indicates he might have withheldevidence from Smith’s defense team. The city council hasalready used its subpoena power to compel Williams totestify about police procedure. On Monday, Assistant CityAttorney Al Andrews said Williams will probably give histestimony before city council sometime in June. In otherdevelopments, Lt. Joseph Ferelli and Sgt. Chuck Byrum,the two investigators assigned to assist the committee,said an independent handwriting analyst had determinedthat there was a “high probability” the statement given topolice by Kalvin Michael Smith was his handwriting. Theanalyst’s findings contradict the testimony of former policeDetective Randy Weavil, who has claimed that he wrotethe statement as Smith dictated to him during a policeinterrogation in January 1997.— KTB Winston-Salem City Council A measure that could eventually provide funding forlight-rail service between Greensboro, Winston-Salem andHigh Point cleared its first hurdle April 22. The NC Housepassed House Bill 148 by a vote of 77-40. The bill wouldallow metropolitan counties to assess a half-cent sales taxfor intermodal transportation needs. It would require localapproval by referendum, and would give the ResearchTriangle Park and Piedmont Triad regions the opportunityto offer new transportation options, Winston-Salem CitySouth Ward Councilman Dan Besse said. The passage ofthe bill fits perfectly with the city council’s 2009 legislativeagenda. Besse said the council met with NC Reps. Bill Mc-Gee (R-Forsyth) and Larry Womble (D-Forsyth) on April20 to outline its priorities. “At this point, there’s no fundingmechanism for this type of project,” he said. “If Winston-Salem and Greensboro wanted to build a passenger railsystem between the cities, this would be the way to findthe local share of funding. There’s substantial fundingavailable at the state and national level.” Besse said thecouncil also discussed annexation bills currently makingtheir way through the General Assembly. The councilsupports a bill that would make “modest modifications”to criteria for annexed areas, but opposes the annexationmoratorium bill proposed by Rep. Larry Brown (R-Forsyth).Brown said he’s not concerned that the city councilopposes his bill, which would place a moratorium onmunicipal annexation until June 2010. “We’re not electedto represent cities; we’re elected to represent citizens,”Brown said.— KTB
Wade misses chance to help ally District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade, a Republicanand a member of the Greensboro City Council’s conservativefaction, missed an opportunity to get her pickappointed to the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority at theend of council’s April 21 meeting. District 1 CouncilmemberDianne Bellamy-Small, a progressive rival whorepresents predominantly black southeast Greensboro,got Lee McAllister appointed to the board by a voice votebefore Wade realized what happened. Wade protested,“Gwen Alston was also interested in that from my district,and I would like to put her name up.” Wade’s pick is thewife of Democratic Guilford County Chairman Skip Alston,with whom she once served on the county’s governingbody. The Simkins PAC, a consortium of black leadersincluding Alston that distributes its endorsements in theblack community at election time, gave Wade the nod in2007, even though her opponent, Sandy Carmany, wasa staunch supporter of former City Manager MitchellJohnson’s handling of Chief David Wray’s resignation inthe wake of allegations of racial profiling within the force.Wade insisted on an electronic vote. McAllister was approved6-3, with only Wade, Mayor Yvonne Johnson andat-large Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw voting againsthis appointment.— JG Forsyth Democrats study The Forsyth County Democratic Party agreed duringthe its county convention on April 18 to study a proposalto petition the Winston-Salem City Council to make twoof its seats at-large seats. The proposal — put forth byFrank Eaton, the chairman of the Forsyth County YoungDemocrats — created a good deal of controversy. “Peoplewere furious about it,” Eaton said. “Older African-Americanmembers of the party were very unhappy.” At-largeelections have traditionally been used to disenfranchiseblack voters, and typically make municipal campaigns tooexpensive, which narrows the field substantially, Eatonsaid. But the election of Barack Obama has signaled a seachange in electoral politics, and making two of the eightcouncil seats at-large seats would help level the playingfield for younger candidates, Eaton said. At the moment,Winston-Salem is divided into eight wards. Eaton’sproposal would divide the city into six wards and add twoat-large seats to the council. Eaton said he researched thehistory of minority representation on the Winston-SalemCity Council and discovered that in 1947, Kenneth R.Williams was the first African-American candidate to beata white candidate in a municipal election in the South inthe 20th century. Eaton attributed Williams’ victory to amassive voter registration drive of African-American RJReynolds workers. “Barack Obama just won Winston-Salem,”Eaton said. “If he ran for city council he would win. Itshows an African-American can win an at-large an electionin this city.”— KTBResolution against 287(g)The Greensboro Human Relations Commission willconsider a resolution opposing the 287(g) program on May6. Marikay Abuzuaiter, a member of the subcommitteethat drafted the resolution, said that it states that 287(g)has not been very successful in other cities where it hasbeen implemented and has resulted in incidents of racialprofiling against members of the Latino community. Consideringthat the Human Relations Commission chargedthe subcommittee with drafting the resolution, Abuzuaitersaid she was confident the commission would approveit, after which time it would go before the city council forconsideration. “287(g) is supposed to be for someone whois arrested for doing something terrible,” said Abuzuaiter,who has declared her intention to run for city council. “Thecommunity belives that if there tail light doesn’t work,then they’re going to be taken downtown and checkedfor immigration status. That’s belief. The resolution isthat we do not want something like this. We are a diversecommunity…. We do not want our citizens fearful aboutreporting crime.”— JG
Rakestraw’s political patrons Greensboro at-large Councilwoman Mary Rakestrawfiled an amended campaign finance report with theNC Board of Elections on April 13 disclosing the namesof 13 contributors who wrote $100 checks to her 2007campaign for city council. The amended report was filedafter Andrew T. Murphy of the Stand Up GreensboroPAC requested an official inquiry into the councilwoman’scampaign finance reporting. The contributions, whichwere all received in October 2007, came from DerekAllen, a real-estate and development lawyer withBrooks, Pierce, who frequently argues rezoning casesbefore the council; Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes,like Rakestraw, a Republican; Mark Austin, founder ofthe Greensboro Landlords Association; Jonathan Coker,an employee of Signature Property Group and a memberof the executive committee of the Greensboro LandlordsAssociation; Robert N. Hunter Jr., who is now a judgeon the NC Court of Appeal; Nancy Vaughan, wife of NCSen. Don Vaughan; lawyer Peter Evenson, a directorof the Tuggle Duggins law firm; the NC Home BuildersAssociation PAC; lawyer Marshall Hurley; Dan O’Shea,general manager of the Triad market for Fairway OutdoorAdvertising; Sandra Sandler of Greensboro, listed as a donor to Swift Boat Vetsand POWs for Truth; and Robert Young.— JG
Greensboro anti-peddler An ordinance proposed by District 3 Councilman ZackMatheny that would have prohibited door-to-door sales,begging and other soliciting after 6 p.m. went down indefeat in a 7-2 vote by the Greensboro City Council onApril 21. District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade was theonly one who supported Matheny’s proposal. The votecame after council heard comments from an Oak Ridgedoor-to-door salesman, who said he derives 50 percentof his business selling food products in Greensboro. Thesalesman said most people are not home before 5:30,that he eats into his savings during the winter monthswhen people are broke and the sun sets around 5:30 p.m.,and that he makes up his revenue in the summer monthswhen there are more hours of daylight and people arethinking about grilling out. If Greensboro passed suchan ordinance, he said, he would expect other Triadmunicipalities to follow suit, and his livelihood wouldeffectively be destroyed. Matheny amended his motionto prohibit soliciting after 7 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. “Theproblem with the 7 p.m. time is the hours between 7 and8 are very productive,” the salesman countered. “The goodLord closes the business day, from my point of view, whenthe sun goes down, and that’s the way I’d like to keepit.” Matheny countered “I’ve continued to get complaintsand concern about people walking through neighborhoodsand the increase in crime in the neighborhoods,from retirees, from single mothers….” He promised tokeep trying to get a resolution passed to further regulatepeddling.— JG Free health screening
In celebration of the Cinco de Mayo holiday, the GuilfordCounty Department of Public Health will provide free andconfidential testing for HIV and syphilis, along with freecholesterol screenings, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 the Super G Mart at FantaCity International ShoppingCenter. Call 336.641.7777 or 336.299.6242 for moreinformation.— JG