Letter to editor: It Depends On The Change In Rocky Mount Whether It Is Good Or Bad

In response to Mary E. Ward “Change Good For Rocky Mount” depends on what the change one looking for.

I found the opening sentence to be quite interesting, “Taxpayers who are residents, business owners and homeowners have a right to expect city government to make the best decisions for the greatest good of everyone, not just to benefit a cadre of individuals’ personal agendas. I was lost when at the beginning you say taxpayers who are residents what that got to do with anything? If they own property they ought to be concerned and have a voice in what goes on in Rocky Mount whether they can vote or not.

This council has been more transparent than any other council dating back to my following the council since the late 80’s. I am not a resident but have been actively engaged in Rocky Mount politics as an advocate, member NAACP, Democratic Party and have worked in Rocky Mount for the past 32 years and 8 months.

Law enforcement offices/departments can be found short of officers across the state at any given time because of various reasons.

This council has directed more resources in Edgecombe County side of Rocky Mount than any other council.

Who have complained about the noise from the train track over the years?
It is sad that you and those who think like you feel you get to choose that Crossing at 64 is now the best location for progress but where were you when we were fighting trying to get businesses there? The perfect location for the hotel is downtown at the Event Center and walking distance of the downtown area.

It is about race and power in Rocky Mount and that is something that you ought to be able to relate to because you have been an educator and know what is real and what is perceived. However if you feel Rocky Mount does not have a race problem then you are ignorant to the facts.

Rocky Mount is diverse. When the diverse who are taxpaying citizens like you begin to speak diverse rather than acting on the script of what has been played out in the media, the better off Rocky Mount will be.

Curmilus Dancy II

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Letter to the Editor: In response to A.E. Green “City officials must earn public’s trust”

The downtown hotel project is about race, location and personal agendas by those who do not want to see any positive growth on the Edgecombe side of Rocky Mount.

Will you provide one case that council members have had the need to recuse themselves from voting on something that was a direct financial involvement? I have not seen this happen and I have videoed many of their meetings over the years.

It is folk like you who create conflict, create tension and distrust when you say the very appearance of what you perceive to be a problem but do not give one fact when it comes to the council members real estate is legally bought or their business lawfully operated. Name one case that makes this a fact and not a perception. You say the city do not need anymore negativity. It is not the city who are creating it it is the haters.

What is the bad news coming from the public officials? Why are the employees leaving? The newspaper has been blamed because there has been some haters who have created a narrative for the newspaper to follow. The papers are reporting the news created by the haters.

You say Wilson is coming out on top because they have hired some of Rocky Mount employees. Well those employees have and can be replaced.

Wow, you concluded “Residents of Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties can only do so much to advance the metro area on their own in business and in civic organizations without continued negativity coming from public officials negating the benefits of their work and preventing others discovering what we already know to be true: that Rocky Mount is a great place to live with even more potential.”

What negativity? Which council members have negated their work? Which council members have prevented others from discovering what you know to be true? What is the truth?

I do agree that Rocky Mount is a great place to live with even more potential. This council has shown what potential is and that is the progress they have made on the Edgecombe County side.

Curmilus Dancy II

Letter to the Editor: Trust council to do the right thing – Rocky Mount Telegram

Note: Read the entire article on The Rocky Mount Telegram and the comments at the end.

Over the past several weeks there has been an attack on Rocky Mount City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney.

When Small-Toney was up for the next city manager, there was lots of feedback from some in the community that did some research on her background. But does a person deserve a second chance? Everyone wants a second chance.

Since Small-Toney has been in Rocky Mount I have observed her and she seemed to have been professional about what she was saying. Some things are documented but then one must be able to align the documented up with the policy and procedures to see if she is out of compliance. I don’t know what is to be true or false so I will have to rely on the response from the council as to how they move forward with or without Small-Toney. I will fact check all sides if the resources are made available. What I will not do is to act on emotions without having all the facts.

I am having a flashback with all this activity because I am reminded of how white folk were in charge and black folk were not given jobs or promotions just because they were black. What I do know is the Rocky Mount City Council used to be majority white. The department heads used to be majority white. Times have changed but sadly some folks have not because some white folks have a problem with working under black folks’ authority. (Read more)

Letter to editor: Thank You Lindell John Kay & Amelia Harper For The Article, “Studies give conflicting views of city”

You say, “Rocky Mount is either one of the safest cities in North Carolina or one of the worst places to raise a child in the United States, depending on which recent study is to be believed.”

What tickles me is those folk who are consistently trying to discredit the Rocky Mount City Council and Mayor I am going to see if they are going to talk about the school system’s role in the report, “Metro area schools may also be underfunded. The Nash-Rocky Mount school district spends only about $8,400 per pupil annually, about $2,300 less than is typical one nationwide. The report based its ranking on preschool enrollment figures of 33.4 percent, the graduation rate of 82 percent, the population with access to areas for activity at 53 percent and the 2015 violent crime rate of 423 per 100,000, which was considerably above the average national rate of 373 violent crimes per 100,000, according to the report.” Now this is something that can be easily found out by challenging the school system by seeking answers when it comes to school issues.

I don’t want to get into the crime reporting because you said it best, “Studies of this type from third-party business websites pop up from time to time with differing methodologies and varied results based on cherry-picked statistics.” I feel a forum could help with helping to better understand what is real and what is perceived by the statistics and the people who have ties to Rocky Mount.

I would love to see more discussion in a forum on the following, “A Telegram investigation this summer revealed crimes in the city have been underreported to state and federal authorities during Moore’s watch.” I would love to see the investigation discussed and to see what was reported and the total number of cases to see how much of an impact on the city. I think that something need to be done to bring some closure to the issue so that the new chief will be able to come in and be effective without having to have this investigation findings to keep coming up but not forgotten.

I find the following to be very, very interesting, “City officials are searching for a new police chief. When asked whether the new chief’s priority will be crime prevention or lowering crime statistics, those officials would only say that the new chief will work to make Rocky Mount a safer community.” What kind of question is that? The new chief should come in with one thing in mind and that is to follow the mission for serving as chief of Rocky Mount which is:

We, the members of the Rocky Mount Police Department, are committed to providing the highest level of police service. We will improve the quality of life in the community by building partnerships that reduce crime, maintain order, and create a safe environment while upholding the laws of North Carolina and the United States Constitution. We adhere to the principles of integrity, professionalism, respect, and fairness. See what the Rocky Mount Webpage say about integrity, professionalism, respect, and fairness at http://www.rockymountnc.gov/departments___services/police.

I have heard several folk say that the outgoing Chief James Moore is a smart man and is unique in his own way. I agree after attending a meeting a couple of years ago whereby I took off work to attend about law enforcement and the community that was held at the BTW Center. I found out then he was unique in some of his comments especially after he responded to my comments on that day. I felt he had an issue with my comments as he addressed me in some kinda way. I videoed the meeting but can’t remember the details at the moment.

I have heard several folk say that the outgoing Chief didn’t work close enough with other local law enforcement agencies. I have heard some officers from the different agencies including Rocky Mount itself that said Chief Moore was unique. These officers felt that Chief Moore should have done more collective policing and the times when they did that many times he was not out with them unlike the other agencies top man.

Chief Moore has retired so it is time to move on and focus on hiring a new chief. The new chief need to be held accountable for his actions as well. However what folk need to understand is that the new chief along with police officers need to keep the mission of the Rocky Mount Police Department in mind at all times. Folk need to understand that the new chief cannot stop crime if they are not in present during a crime. Folk need to understand that it is the role of the chief to enforce the law after a law has been committed and would hope that the crime will be reported as it and not sugar coated to make the statistics look good.

In my opinion there should be more talk about the funding of the school system and the crime situation in Rocky Mount in some type of forum and to me this is where the Rocky Mount Human Relations Commission should be the lead however they could ask for partners from other entities.

Now as the search for the new chief go on, let us welcome the interim chief Willie Williams to lead the Rocky Mount Police Department until someone is hired. Former Chief Willie Williams bring a wealth of knowledge and professionalism to the table. The last time I was in his presence while he was working he was at NC Central head of their security on the campus when my daughter was in college. I know Chief Williams will do a fa bu lous ta stic job until the new chief is hired.

Curmilus Dancy II
Pinetops, NC

Letter to editor: Rocky Mount Racial Issues But It Is Okay As Long As Folk Talk About It

It is obvious that Rocky Mount has been divided between the tracks you have a Nash side and an Edgecombe County side.

It is obvious that many white folk moved out of the city limits of Rocky Mount moved West towards Raleigh oh but just outside of Rocky Mount to Nash County. What one would call is white flight I believe. Well why did they move? But don’t think that it is all whites that moved because many blacks have moved in that direction also. I don’t think anyone is mad with them.

My problem is these folk made some choices but I think some of them have a problem with the choices of some of the folk who still live in the city. Some of these folk who live in the city want to see the city progress but those who have moved want to micromanage what those who still live in the city does. Those who have moved want things done when they want it done, how they want it done and where they want it done. Some complain about taxes. Well everything comes with a price.

During the 1st Rocky Mount City Council Meeting for the month of November in the Committee of the Whole Meeting it was a presentation done by the Rocky Mount Human Relation Commission to further address the racial divide and future issues that may arise in the city. It is amazing that the naysayers who are against everything that the Rocky Mount City Council/Government does, they didn’t talk about that presentation in the local paper and on local tv simply because they don’t want to deal with racial issues. But there was no emphasis put on the presentation in the paper so therefore since these folk don’t attend the meetings, they don’t know all that really goes on in the meetings unless I video them and share them on YouTube. I did but again no discussion on it.

The Rocky Mount Human Relations are putting together a group of folk that will receive some training to deal with racial issues. I think this is going to be a good thing. The HRC should be the leader in the city to host discussions on racial issues. In my opinion this has not been done over the years as a priority. It will be interesting to see how the naysayers will only continue to participate in the discussions about racial issues by just doing it commenting on articles in the local paper or on the local tv along with some other social media sites. Many of these folk hide behind code names because they are not bold enough to stand on what they believe in publicly. So will these folk attend the HRC meetings? Absolutely not because they will not be able to hide behind code names and use codes to push their racial agendas.

Although the Confederate Flag/Monuments was a hot topic recently, that is not a new issue but just like other issues that are not dealt with they continue to come and go.

I would say that although there are many racial issues in Rocky Mount I strongly feel the Rocky Mount Council/Government is the main topic of the racial divide. It appears that some folk have serious issues with the council being a 4 – 3 black majority. These same folk have a problem with black folk being in top positions within the city. But what is wrong with that? Over the years I have always heard go to school and be productive. These folk have met the criteria so why they can’t do their jobs without unnecessary criticism being thrown at every move they make?

I strongly believe that the majority of the folk in Rocky Mount isn’t against the Rocky Mount City Council/Government but they just don’t comment for fear of the negative comments that they read after they do something to enhance the city.

It is past time that some folk get over the fact that the measure of progress in the city should not be measured by the racial makeup of the Rocky Mount City Council/Government but should be measured by their works.

Curmilus Dancy II, Blogger
Pinetops, NC

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME” by Gardenia Hobbs

This article was posted in the Rocky Mount Telegram titled as “Progress On Racial Equality Front Meets New Challenges In 2016.”

“THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME”

As I pause and reflect on this country’s promise of justice and equality for all I am reminded of the many barriers that have negated the fulfillment of this promise. Are we destined to continue dreaming an impossible dream? Are we destined to continue living in a country where justice and equality will never be on one accord? Indeed, there is much truth in the old adage “the more things change the more they stay the same.”

Legislation has all but put an end to forced racial segregation yet actions and attitudes remain unwavering. Racial stereotyping is just as prevalent today as it was yesterday. In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that abolished the Jim Crow Laws and invoked the commerce clause which outlawed discrimination in public accommodations. Today we are seeing new laws enacted like HB2 that give rise to discrimination anew and religion being used to justify the unjustifiable.

In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed to rectify inequities in voting rights. In 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of this act citing there was no longer a need. After that ruling the restructuring of voting rights went into overtime. Today we are not asked to count marbles in a jar or read parts of the Constitution but the obstacles of acquiring a voter ID and getting to a polling place is just as daunting.

The Brown v. Board of Education decision was handed down on May 17, 1954 and from that day forward opponents started working feverishly to find ways to circumvent the law. Following this decision home schooling increased, church schools, charter schools and academies started opening at an epidemic rate. Today public schools are being robbed of funding and are just as segregated as they were before the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Affirmative Action was first introduced in the issuance of an Executive Order to create the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. By Executive Order, President Lyndon B. Johnson developed and enforced this order in 1965. From the outset there was strong opposition. Under the guise of reverse discrimination there has been one lawsuit after another. Today, the Affirmative Action Program has been stripped of its original intent and is but a fading shadow.

In 2009 the Tea Party was formed and from day one its members went after President Obama with a vengeance and gave birth to the slogan “taking our country back.” Tea Party members have depicted President Obama in every racist format possible and engaged in verbal racial confrontations even with African American members of Congress. Instead of rebuke the organization has been embraced as if it were mainstream and candidates seeking elected office have been elated to get its endorsement. To the contrary, when Black Lives Matter organized in 2013 critics wasted no time calling the organization racist and a terrorist group. This comes as no surprise because down through the annals of time when people of color have dared to speak out about injustices or challenges the system they have sometimes paid the ultimate price or have been labeled as trouble makers and radicals. Is it the expectation that people of color should suffer peacefully and accept things as they are without question?

In 1968 George Wallace ran for president on a segregationist platform. Today we have George Wallace in Donald Trump, a man who freely expresses racist views and is a Mister “Cure-all” without a how. It is appalling to hear members of the Republican leadership criticize his racist remarks on one hand and endorse him on the other hand. Obviously, for them, it’s all about winning at any cost and sacrificing self-respect is a price worth paying.

John F. Kennedy said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” So, as long as minds and attitudes reject change, it is not unreasonable to expect that “the more things change the more they will stay the same”.

Gardenia B. Hobbs, Rocky Mount, NC

Nash Rocky Mount Schools Split Controversy: Letter to Editor by Pastor James D. Gilliard

The Watch Dog: agree totally with this letter. Fabuloustastic!

I am writing to express an independent, informational, and intellectual view of the
current threat to the Nash Rocky Mount Public School system. As a politically
unaffiliated, bi-racial pastor to over 3,000 people (including 1,100 K-12 children
active in Nash Rocky Mount Public Schools), I am quite vested in this issue. As is the
case with most political decisions, it is easy for the emotion of any subject to veer us
away from sound decisions that are in the best interest of all involved.

Taxes and The Common Good
Everyday as Americans and North Carolinians, our property, sales and utility taxes
are used to fund programs, services, institutions, and infrastructure that we either
benefit from directly or indirectly. Nash County residents may not directly benefit
from the funding formula that supplements the education of children living in
Edgecombe County, but do benefit indirectly as there is a link between education
and job creation for a region.
• I have yet to make a call to 911 or to use ambulance services since I have
lived here, as I am certain many of you reading this also have not, yet millions
of tax dollars are earmarked for these vital emergency services.
• Most of my books are electronic, so I never go to the public library, yet taxes
are used for this critical public institution.
• There are many residents of Nash County who have never used the highways
or buildings their taxes help build.
• There are retirees who have never had a child in the school system, yet a
portion of their taxes and utilities are used to supplement the funding of our
school system.

I doubt the Nash County Commissioners who are aggressively asking for a “fairness
of funding” want to establish a precedent of an “al-a-carte” taxation system where
we all get to direct our taxes only to the services from which we directly benefit and
away from those which we indirectly benefit.
It seems that a reminder of our origin as a nation is appropriate. The manifesto on
American Capitalism is Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, where he explained
that human involvement in economics is to “advance the interests of the society.” To
follow this new ideology being espoused by the Nash County Commissioners would
mean the GI Bill that enabled 10 million Americans to receive housing and education
benefits would have never been funded. Anything that is good and necessary for a
civilized society to thrive, like public education, is good for us all.

Collateral Damage
The removal of 1,800 children from the Nash Rocky Mount Public School system has
a potential consequence for which none of us, particularly the Nash County
Commissioners, are prepared. Eighteen hundred children equates to 12.5% of the
current NRMPS system. Any businessperson will tell you that reducing any
institutional capacity by 12.5% results in a ripple effect and like throwing a pebble
in the water you never know how many ripples will be created. Here are some
potential ripples:
Reduction of Title I, II, and III Federal Funding. It has been wrongly
communicated by the Nash County Commissioners that “the funding will
follow the students.” This is only partially true. The funding is both volume
and percent weighted. Funding will follow, but it will be much smaller
funding. There will also be a delay in this smaller funding as it is awarded in
blocks of 24 – 30 months, so services will need to be offered to children
without any funding being immediately available. This funding effects direct
services of children as well as professional development of teachers. The
anticipated loss to the remaining NRMPS system could be as high as $10
million annually. This is a classic example of voting against one’s own
interests as all the remaining children will live in Nash County and this will
create a net loss to the very system they claim to represent.
Loss of Existing Jobs. Reducing the capacity of NRMPS will require reorganization
and the inevitable loss of jobs to teachers and support staff. In
laymen’s terms, every 10 students create a job. The simple math of the
impending legislation by Representative Jeff Collins (at the request of the
Nash County Commissioners) could easily result in the loss of 180 jobs. It
seems our elected officials could better use their time creating jobs and not
removing jobs. The argument that those teachers would simply move to the
Edgecombe County School System is implausible as there are still over 50
licensed teacher vacancies within that system and for many teachers living in
Spring Hope, Middlesex, and Bailey, it would be just as close to drive to a
school in Wake County as it would some schools within Edgecombe County.
Loss of Support to Teachers and Staff. Aside from being a pastor I do not
know of a more difficult profession than teaching. We as a community should
be actively advocating for our teachers in the classroom and the principals
and staff that support this vital public institution. Instead, our
Commissioners are deliberately creating an environment that is filled with
contention and division rather than support and encouragement. Everyone
cares about job security and high morale and our teachers deserve no less.
Loss of New Jobs. Education along with Transportation, Health, Leisure,
Quality of Life, Taxes, and Housing remain major recruitment tools for new
companies and emerging economies. Dismantling our school system will
greatly harm our efforts in attracting new companies and in establishing the
“twin counties” as a “bedroom” community for those working in Raleigh,
Durham, and Chapel Hill. This inability to bring new companies and firms to
our community will hinder our ability to expand our tax base and to produce
an even greater economic impact to our region.
Re-classification of Athletic Programs. Rocky Mount Senior High alone
will likely lose 400-450 students. This loss to the ADM (Average Daily
Membership) will result in less competitive athletics and a loss of college
scholarships for countless young people for whom sports remain a viable
opportunity for a secure future due to a potential change in division status.
School Closing. There has been no study conducted by the Nash County
Commissioners ensuring there would be no school closings as elected
officials are not generally trained in the logistics and technicalities in the
actual running of a school system. Conventional wisdom at least forces us to
consider that by reducing the NRMPS by 1,800 students, it may not be
financially feasible to continue operations at the same level. This is
particularly the case since the NRMPS system is experiencing a five-year
decline in enrollment with a proven history that reduced capacity results in
school closings. An educated guess based upon school size and location
would deduce that Northern Nash High School could possibly close due to
this legislation.
The Children. It is said that often we leave the best for last. Who is
advocating for our children? Yes, as North Carolinians, ALL the children are
OUR children. We are a community. We are a region. When I moved here
from Philadelphia 11 years ago, I was introduced to the “twin counties.”
What a way to treat your twin! 1,800 children moving out of NRMPS is more
children than Camden, Gates, Clay, Swain, and Washington County Schools
have enrollment. This is equivalent to an entirely new and different school
system being created with no plan, no structure, and no infrastructure. It is
setting ALL of OUR kids up to fail as the remaining NRMPS kids will be faced
with the sobering reality that it was their parents who stripped down the
ability of the NRMPS system to meet the categorical needs of the children in
programs like IB, AP, AIG and ESL. The education of our children should be a
collective concern. We must endeavor to provide every child in our region
and our state with every opportunity to advance and to actively contribute
back to society.

I invite all of us to use our heart and our brain as we make decisions. My heart is for
ALL of our children and my brain tells me the loss of 180 jobs, the net loss of
millions of dollars to our school system, the potential closing of a school, and the
loss of college athletic scholarships is hardly worth the savings we as Nash County
residents will realize. It is my hope an agreement will be reached but despite the
outcome, we should all agree that no group of people should be allowed to play
politics with our children.

James D. Gailliard
Nash County Resident
Pastor, Word Tabernacle Church