Items from across the Triad and beyond
Parmon backs Adams in quest for congressional seat
President Obama’s announcement that he plans to tap US Rep. Mel Watt to direct the Federal Housing Finance Agency has opened the floodgates for ambitious African-American Democrats in Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston-Salem who are interested in filling the possible vacancy in the 12 th Congressional District.
More than half of the registered voters in the district, which snakes along Interstate 85, live in Mecklenburg County, which encompasses Charlotte, while voters in Guilford and Forsyth Counties combined account for about a third of the electorate. Should Watt be confirmed for the federal post by the US Congress, his congressional seat will be filled through a special election.
NC Rep. Alma Adams is among those who have confirmed plans to file for the seat. The veteran state lawmaker indicated she is not overly concerned about Charlotte’s demographic advantage in the contest.
“The main thing is going to be for people to get to the polls and vote,” she said. “That’s the challenge for anyone in a special election.”
NC Sen. Earline Parmon, a Democrat who represents Winston-Salem, has committed to back Adams’ candidacy.
“I’ve had conversations with former Congresswoman Eva Clayton and a lot of others,” Adams said. “And Sen. Parmon — that’s absolutely correct. We’re going to be working together.”
Parmon confirmed her support for Adams. “I had really considered it myself, and talked with a few people but after doing my research I learned that the portion of votes in the district from Forsyth County is very minimal,” Parmon said. “I started looking at who would I like to represent the district. Adams is a very seasoned legislator. She’s a female and she’s outside of Charlotte, where the opportunity is greater just based on the numbers of voters in that county. I just felt like Rep. Adams would be a great representative because she has an understanding of the issues. She would most closely articulate the concerns that I have had I decided to run.”
At least two state lawmakers from Charlotte have also said they are interested. Rep. Rodney Moore and Sen. Malcolm Graham both said Monday that they have formed exploratory committees.
“I think it’s a good time for me because I have shown in my two terms that I’m very pragmatic,” Moore said. “I’m able to work across the aisle and I have a lot of qualities that will help create consensus. We need to change the direction of Congress around. We need people who are able to work together and stop this partisan gridlock in Washington, DC. We need someone who’s going to come up with something fresh and new.”
Graham emphasized his ties to the Triad, noting that wife was born and raised in High Point and that his daughter is a student at Winston-Salem State University.
He formerly oversaw the Triad chapter of the Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Council, a nonprofit that helped minority-owned firms do business with major corporations such as Reynolds American and Burlington Industries.
Both candidates said they plan to actively campaign in the Triad and are not taking the northern tier of the district for granted.
Others who have been mentioned as potential candidates in various news accounts include NC Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford); Rep. Ed Hanes Jr. (D-Forsyth) and George Battle III, who serves as general counsel for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Parmon said that it’s important that the next representative of the 12 th District come from the Triad, adding that any potential candidates from Forsyth County shouldn’t feel slighted that she’s backing someone from neighboring Guilford.
“I think we’re big boys and girls now, and politically we need to look at the reality of where we may get the best opportunity to elect someone from the Triad,” Parmon said. “We need to put petty politics aside. Only 7 percent of the voters of the district are in Forsyth County. I think Guilford County has something like 25 percent. We would be realistic to try to unify to get that representation. It’s not anything personal.”
WINSTON-SALEM COUNCIL: MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS IN SANITATION DEPARTMENT UNFOUNDED
The Winston-Salem Council voted unanimously on Monday to adopt a resolution stating that the city manager and city attorney found no evidence to substantiate allegations of forgery, perjury, unaddressed incidents of sexual harassment, failure to respond in a timely manner to a medical situation and retaliation in the sanitation department.
The statement was issued in response to remarks made by several current and former employees to council in a public comment period during a Feb. 18 meeting.
The formal statement indicated that council was prohibited due to state personnel privacy law and a federal healthcare privacy law from disclosing additional information, but directed the city manager to try to obtain written authorizations from affected employees so that additional details of the investigation could be released at a later time.
“We are very willing and anxious to provide the information,” Mayor Allen Joines said. “We take those allegations very seriously.”
The city council met twice in closed session in recent months to discuss the matter.
“We did a thorough investigation,” City Manager Lee Garrity said after the vote. “It did take several interviews. This all had to be reviewed by the city attorney. The city council members had questions. And then we had to determine what the city council could and couldn’t release.”
Victor Bethea, a sanitation laborer who was among the current and former employees who addressed council in February, declined to comment on council’s formal statement.
Bethea explained to council members how he had been implicated in the firing of another employee, Angelia Byrd, the driver for his crew.
“In reference to Ms. Byrd I was the person that they forged his name on false accusations about her that I did not state or did not write a statement to,” Bethea said during the Feb. 18 city council meeting. Garrity told YES! Weekly in late March that no forgery had occurred, and that the matter had arose because of confusion on the part of Deputy Sanitation Director Randy Britton during a hearing for Byrd to appeal her termination.
Donald Gore, a sanitation driver who complained that he had suffered a minor stroke after driving a truck that lacked air conditioning on a hot summer day, said he wasn’t surprised by the council’s stance.
“I expected that,” he said. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles. That’s the way the ball bounces. That’s the way it’s always been and the way it’s going to be.”
He added that some issues of concern have been addressed. For example, employees have better access to gloves and the department is doing a better job of making sure trucks are in good working order.
Gore said he would be happy to authorize the release of any of his personnel information that is relevant to his complaint.
“As far as that particular incident, sure,” he said. “I don’t have any issue with that. I made public when I said it. And it’s a matter of record. As far as that is concerned I think that would be fine.”