Scuttlebutt: Developments across the Triad and beyond

by YES! Weekly staff

Donnan wins Democratic labor commissioner runoff Winston-Salemresident Mary Fant Donnan, a program officer at Z. Smith ReynoldsFoundation, trounced John C. Brooks in a run-off election for theDemocratic primary race for labor commissioner on June 24, securing62.9 percent of the vote. Donnan took 90.9 percent of the vote in hernative Forsyth County. She will face incumbent Republican CommissionCherie Berry in the November general election. Donnan served as apolicy analyst under popular Democratic Commissioner Harry Payne in the1990s, while rival Brooks headed the Labor Commission from 1977 to 1993. – JG 26 members of MS-13 indicted Afederal grand jury in Charlotte returned an indictment against 26members of the El Salvador-based gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also knownas MS-13, on June 23. One of those indicted, Alejandro Enrique RamirezUmana, is alleged to have carried out a double murder at LasMarisqueria Jaroschitas restaurant on High Point Road in Greensborolast December. The 55-count indictment charges the gang members withmurder, selling cocaine and marijuana, robbery, possessing illegalfirearms and extortion, among other offenses. The gang reportedlyoperates in urban areas of North Carolina, including the Triangle andCharlotte. The charges stem from an investigation by the FBI "SafeStreets" Gang Task Force, according to an announcement by the USJustice Department, with assistance from federal and local lawenforcement organizations, along with the El Salvador National CivilianPolice. According to the announcement, one of the gang’s leadersallegedly directed gang members in the United States from prison in ElSalvador and received money wired from US members. – JG Hail to the new chief ScottCunningham was sworn in Friday as Winston-Salem’s 13th police chief.The ceremony was held at City Hall at 10 a.m. and carried live on WSTV13 – the municipal equivalent of C-SPAN. Cunningham takes over forretired Chief Patricia Norris, who accepted a job as police chief atWinston-Salem State University two months ago. Cunningham spent thefirst 20 odd years of his professional policing career climbing theladder in Tampa, Fla. He ditched a job as Cary’s police chief in 2007after only two and a half years. Cunningham said he left the Cary jobbecause it wasn’t a good fit and promised Winston-Salem residents alonger stay in the Twin City. – AK Truth activists meets with city of Greensboro Membersof the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project have recently metwith Greensboro Human Relations Director Anthony Wade and members ofthe city’s human relations commission to discuss recommendations to bepresented to the city council, according to minutes from the project’sJune 24 meeting. The Greensboro Truth and Community ReconciliationCommission released a report in May 2006 on the 1979 Klan-Nazikillings, including the recommendation that the city and policedepartment issue public apologies, and then disbanded. Weeks later,then-Mayor Keith Holliday informally requested that the human relationscommission address the report. The vague and unofficial directive wentnowhere. Since then, the separate truth project has hosted a number ofcommunity forums to discuss various aspects of the 1979 killings. – JG Triad named among top 50 regions most likely to lose air service TheBusiness Travel Coalition, an organization advocating for air travelconsumers, released a study on June 25 identifying the Triad as one of50 large markets most likely to lose air service as high fuel pricesforce airlines to go out of business, merge or shrink. WhileRaleigh-Durham International Airport and Charlotte-DouglasInternational Airport did not warrant mention in the report, airportsin Asheville, Greenville, New Bern and Wilmington joined Piedmont TriadInternational Airport on the at-risk list. The study concluded "that ifoil prices stay anywhere near $130/barrel, all major legacy airlineswill be in default on various debt covenants by the end of 2008 orearly 2009. The implication is that several large and small airlineswill ultimately end up in bankruptcy, and of those, some will be forcedto liquidate." – JG Miller: Hold up funding for FBI data-mining program Rep.Brad Miller, a Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 13thCongressional District, requested that Congress temporarily withholdfunding for the FBI’s National Security Analysis Center in a June 16letter to Rep. David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who chairs the HouseAppropriations Committee. Miller, who chairs the Investigations &Oversight Subcommittee said the FBI failed to answer a number ofquestions posed by the Government Accountability Office, including whatthe center’s purpose and scope would be, what types of records anddatabases it would use, and how it intended to ensure compliance withprivacy laws. In an letter to the GAO earlier this month, Miller andJames Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) wrote that the proposed FBI center bearsa "striking resemblance" to the Defense Advanced Research ProjectAgency’s Total Information Awareness program, which Congress terminatedin 2003. The two congressmen wrote that the center would create 6billion records by 2012, or 20 for each person in the United States.They cited a report for the libertarian Cato Institute by Jeff Jonas,who warned that "predictive" counterterrorism data mining efforts runthe risk of "flood[ing] the national security system with falsepositives – suspects who are truly innocent." – JG Schools cry foul on state education funding TheNC Department of Public Instruction raised concerns this week that aconference budget distributed June 23 by the NC General Assembly’sJoint Education Appropriation Committee would shortchange publicschools by $80.5 million in funding that would otherwise pay fortransportation fuel, bonuses for teachers and assistants, and at-riskstudent services and alternative schools. A recent statement releasedby Guilford County Schools noted that Linda Garrou (D-Forsyth), theSenate’s chief budget writer, said the upper house would restore some$20 million for fuel and bonuses. The statement also noted thatGuilford County Schools already faces a $2.6 million shortfall afterthe Guilford County Commission approved only $10 million of the $12.6million increases requested for public schools when the county budgetwas approved on June 19. – JG The price of justice Abill proposed by Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) would increase theamount of money wrongfully convicted North Carolina citizens areeligible for upon release. The state currently pays exonerated inmates$20,000 for every year spent behind bars and caps the total award at$500,000. Harrison’s bill would increase the award to $50,000 a yearand would bump the cap to $750,000. Inmates cleared of their crimeswould also receive free job training and tuition for community collegesand public universities. Â’­- AK’­’­