Editorial: GOP setbacks & Urban League

Editorial: GOP setbacks & Urban League
March 01
00:00 2014

Editorial: GOP setbacks

That private school voucher check isn’t quite yet in the mail.
A Wake County Superior Court judge last week halted a law that would have provided thousands of North Carolina families with up to $4,200 in public money to help cover the cost of private school. Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that such use of public money is unconstitutional.

It was the latest in what we hope will be many more blows that will be dealt to Republican lawmakers in Raleigh. They threw caution (and the constitution) to the wind when they passed the voucher program and other short-sighted bills over the last two sessions.

Clearly, North Carolina Republicans are following a national playbook co-authored by the Kock Brothers and the Tea Party. The pummeling of the public school system, the push for voters to show IDs at the polls – none of it is novel; it’s all been taken, page-by-page, by national groups big on money but short on mind.

In a separate court case – one challenging the state’s voter ID law – a judge last week questioned why the GOP lawmakers who pushed through the law don’t want to turn over their communications with national right-wing groups. Is it because they would show these lawmakers to be nothing more than puppets and pawns of the real power brokers – people miles and states away who don’t know Durham from Dunn or Wilmington from Wilson?

Editorial: Urban League

The Winston-Salem Urban League is attempting to move on and write new chapters in what has been a successful story for the poverty-fighting organization.
Today, Don Williams assumes the role of interim president and CEO of the agency, less than a month after Keith Grandberry, who had led the agency since 2006, made an inscrutable exit.

On paper, it’s easy to see why the Urban League’s board went with Williams. The longtime Army reservist spent the bulk of his professional career in human resources offices at major corporations. He has ties with the Urban League as well; he was chairman of the agency’s board of directors for three years.

So, will Williams be busy putting ducks in order, cleaning house, patching holes to keep the ship afloat or all of the above? The answer is anyone’s guess. Outwardly, the agency appeared to be fulfilling its mission – and then some. Granberry had forged bonds with local corporate leaders. He relied on these unions to keep the Urban League brimming with job fairs, career seminars and workshops and classes for senior citizens (a growing demographic in today’s workforce). Grandberry had also taken those efforts statewide, taking advantage of the closure of the Urban League office in Raleigh.

But Grandberry is gone, and no one knows why. He has said very little about his departure, other than that he left of his own volition. Board Chair Evelyn Acree has been equally tight-lipped. Such silence isn’t symptomatic of an amicable split. If the agency and Grandberry did not part amicably, then what caused the shake-up? Is there something amiss at an agency that means so much to so many?

The need to be discrete about personnel matters and the obligation of nonprofits to be transparent often collide, but the public – whose support and money are the engines that keep nonprofits running – should never be completely shut out.

We hope the issues that led to the leadership change at the Urban League (if such issues exist) are mutable and that Williams receives the support that he needs – from employees, board members and the community – to continue the serious and essential work the Urban League has long been engaged in.

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