Stephen LaRoque

Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, has been a busy dude — in his six months back in Raleigh, he has introduced more bills than any other legislator in the N.C. House or Senate. He’s pretty much delivered on all his campaign promises (or attempted to deliver on them) since taking office.

In the past couple of weeks, though, he’s put on his “piss them off” hat as he’s taken shots at the NAACP and its N.C. president; he’s also had a pretty interesting exchange with an unemployed woman from Goldsboro. David Anderson did a fine job chronicling both of these in a story in today’s FP.

The NAACP story made the front of the N&O and WRAL.com (both links are now down, though); the exchange with the Goldsboro woman made the Huffington Post.

Here are my quick thoughts on this (and yes, I’m probably writing my Sunday column about this … so check it out then): While I think the NAACP is arguably one of the most important organizations in our country’s history, its effect has waned in the past few years. With race relations improving (note I said “improving,” not “perfect,” which it is far from being in America), the NAACP has lost more and more of its power.

In fact, many young African-Americans — even blacks who are my in age range (in their 30s and 40s) — scoff at the NAACP now; I know — I have black friends who have wondered aloud (in person and on Facebook) about the impact of the NAACP.

Is there a place for the NAACP in our time? Hell yeah! The minute an organization as important as it disappears from the landscape, that’s when the racists and KKK-types come back out in force.

And let me add this — there may never be another Martin Luther King, one of the greatest Americans of all time. The black leaders who had the disadvantage of following him (the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, etc.) will never have the character, drive and cult of personality MLK possessed.

While I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with LaRoque’s take on the NAACP, I think he is spot-on with some of his points.

As for the Goldsboro woman — that entire situation is pretty messed up. I will defend LaRoque on this (although he, frankly, needs no defense): all he did was try to help her!

Here is their entire exchange (I’ve inserted XXXXXXXXX to differentiate between their emails):

From: Cinnamon Treadway [mailto:cinnster@live.com]

Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:10 AM

To: Rep. Larry Bell; Rep. Stephen LaRoque; Rep. Efton M. Sager; Sen. Louis Pate

Subject: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Dear Leaders:

I know you have heard it a thousand times if you’ve heard it once.  But I have to make my voice heard.  I am one of the 45,000-50,000 individuals now cut off from unemployment benefits.  We have already been evicted from our home and are currently in the process of moving in with my parents; that is my husband and my 2 daughters, in a small 2 bedroom brick home.  We are on our way this morning to apply for food stamps, which I have never had to do in my life and am absolutely mortified. I have a degree from the University of North Carolina with a BA in English, and even after hundreds, if not thousands of resumes, phone calls, etc., I have had 4 interviews in the last year and a half and none have panned out.  We are on the verge of losing our only vehicle, which we have paid on for 3-1/2 years now, and it is about to be taken from us, leaving us with no transportation to get our children to school, much less get to work should we find jobs.  I am begging you on behalf of our family, before we lose absolutely everything, to please work out a compromise and pass the extension of these benefits to give us more time to try to help ourselves.  We are not just “riding” out the benefits.  I assure you I look every day in the paper, online, by word of mouth, to try and find something to help support my family.  My husband works his butt off but even he cannot support 4 people on 8$ an hour, a car payment and house payment to pay, school, books, sporting events the children are involved in.  I cannot stress enough how much we need YOU right now.  We need you to understand and to help us.  We are begging you to please work together so we can put an end to this mess this has become.  Please reinstate the extended benefits NOW, as soon as you can, so that people like us will not lose what we have left, what we have worked for for years.  All it takes is for both sides to not be hard-headed and realize that it is the time to put that aside and help these people, who are real people.  What if it were your daughters and sons, who had not enough food to eat, nowhere to go, no car to drive, no way to clothe their children?  Please think about how the shoe would feel on the other foot.  Please help us.

Sincerely,

Kathryn D. Treadway

252 Long’s Plant Farm Road

Goldsboro, North Carolina 27534

(919) 778-2787

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 10:39:13 -0400

From: Stephen.LaRoque@ncleg.net

To: cinnster@live.com

Mrs. Treadway,

I appreciate your email explaining your personal situation.  I’m sorry that you have been unable to find work. Since you live in Wayne County I would like to suggest that you look into job openings in our area.  We have a new chicken processing plant in Kinston named Sanderson Farms and they currently have 191 openings available according to the web site link below.  Goldsboro Milling is a local Wayne County company that may be hiring but I don’t know that for sure.  Please contact these companies and apply for a job.  I have included a link for employment opportunities below the link for Sanderson Farms. Have you registered with the local temporary agencies?  Please let me know the results of your contacts with these companies.

http://www.jobsonline.net/profile/account_creation.html?GCID=&KEYWORD=&detail_code=&location=Kinston%2C%20NC%2028504&search=sanderson%20farms&source_code=&tp_campaign_id=87&traffic_id=&zip=28504

http://www.employmentspot.com/jobs/Goldsboro,North-Carolina/

Rep. Stephen LaRoque

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 

From: Cinnamon Treadway [mailto:cinnster@live.com]

Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:56 AM

To: Rep. Stephen LaRoque

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

The last thing I need, sir, is another politician acting as if the problem is that I am not applying for jobs.  I can assure you this is not the problem.  When I applied at Sanderson Farms, they were so inundated with applicants that the NCESC (whom I was told to go through) literally wrote my name on a piece of paper with HUNDREDS of other names and disinterestedly told me they would “call me if anything came open”.  To say they’re are 191 job openings is a joke. I have no experience in that field and for every 200 job openings there are 2000 people applying for that one job, if not more.  What are the chances of a woman whose only experience is that of a secretary being hired at someplace like Sanderson Farms or Goldsboro Milling?  You people are a joke. You act as if it were that easy.  Like oh, just go find a job, here’s a list.  How about this sir.  How about you find someone willing to hire me and then send me a list of those names.  I’ve been applying and getting rejected for over a year.  Maybe with your money and influence, you would have a better chance. The problem is, the politicians can pass this bill with no skin off their back- it is federal money.  It costs the state nothing.  But in order to forward their own agenda, they continue to discredit and ignore the people who voted them into office.  Do not think for an INSTANT that we will forget what the republicans are doing.  Not an instant. I have voted republican for most of my life, but this blatant disregard for people’s lives all while you live your life of luxury and really couldn’t care less about your fellow man says it all for what you stand for.  Stop giving the little song and dance of “well we sent the budget through and a fix for the unemployment gap, but the mean ol’ governor veto’d it”  Do you actually think that anyone besides a few crackheads would not be able to see through what you have done?  You are dishonest sir.  You and your party promised to represent us when we needed you and you have failed miserably.  I sincerely hope karma comes around to bite you in the butt when election time comes.  I have a feeling it will.  Have a great day sir.

Kathryn Treadway

(919) 778-2787

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 11:19:21 -0400

From: Stephen.LaRoque@ncleg.net

To: cinnster@live.com

I was trying to help you with suggestions.  Most anyone can find a job if they can pass a drug test and are physically able to work.  I have tried to find people to do yard work but it seems most are too good for manual labor.  Based on the tone of your email it is not difficult to see why you can’t find a job.  With the attitude and rancor you have just exhibited I would Not expect anyone to hire you.  It is offensive for you to say with my “money and influence”ť I would have a better chance of finding a job.  You don’t know me or my financial condition.  I am self-employed so I risk my financial condition everyday trying to earn a living.  When I was unemployed, I went out and found a job — Any Job.  I wasn’t bad mouthing elected officials and making threats towards them; I didn’t have time because I was busy looking for work.  It’s not my fault you are out of work and it’s not my fault you don’t have extended unemployment benefits.  I didn’t Veto the Bill, your governor did.  Place the blame where it belongs.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

From: Cinnamon Treadway [mailto:cinnster@live.com]

Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2011 11:40 AM

To: Rep. Stephen LaRoque

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

For your information sir, I can pass a drug test and am not opposed to manual labor.  If your yard happens to be within 20 miles of Goldsboro, by all means I’ll be over there with a rake and shovel first thing tomorrow morning.  But there you go, stereotyping.  If “anyone” could find a job, sir, then we wouldn’t have an unemployment rate of over 9% now would we?  The tone of my email is based on the fact that I have had no income for 6 weeks. To say the least, I’m a little stressed.  Try placing yourself in my shoes for an instant and imagining having no money or benefits for 6 weeks.  I am not too good to work anywhere.  I have applied at McDonald’s, Ihop, Jiffylube, Wal-Mart, even Tire services places, etc.  The fact is sir, you don’t know me either.  And the problem is, none of you are WILLING to know any of us.  You act like we are just lazy.  Easy to say when, like you say I am, you make presumptions about me.  Your darn right I’m angry.  Angry that instead of passing a clean bill, you attach it to a budget that has nothing to do with it, and then to keep yourselves from looking like the total jackasses that you are, you moan and groan that you did the best you can and it’s “our governor” who is holding it up.  It’s hogwash.  You know it, and I know it, and so do a lot others.  I haven’t threatened you in any way, shape or form. My point is, the bill for extended benefits is already there.  All it it needs is a clean bill to pass.  It is not state’s money.  Why not just pass it and end the suffering of thousands of people?  If you’re truly interested in helping me find a job, then why would you not ask me about my level of experience, my education, etc, rather than just googling it on the internet and finding a few job availabilities in Wayne County and emailing them to me?  That’s all you did. My attitude is not always like this. I certainly wouldn’t go to work acting angry, but I guarantee you if my boss told me sorry, you won’t get a paycheck for 6 weeks, then yeah, my attitude might become a bit more harsh. But you’re darn right I’m fed up at this point with the he said/she said BS that is going back and forth between the Dems and the Repubs.  No one cares that people are LOSING everything.  All it is is this little game that the good ol’ boys are playing.  And I have voted republican for years. Never again.  And I type over 65 words a minute, so if you honestly think this little 5 minute email conversation is somehow keeping me from looking for work, then you are bananas sir, simply bananas.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 11:51:46 -0400

From: Stephen.LaRoque@ncleg.net

To: cinnster@live.com

If you really meant that you would be willing to work in my yard, then plan to come tomorrow morning.  I’ll pay $8 per hour.  Let me know if you are serious.

 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

From: Cinnamon Treadway [mailto:cinnster@live.com]

Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2011 11:56 AM

To: Rep. Stephen LaRoque

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Sure, where do you live?

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: RE: Please reinstate unemployment benefits now.

Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 12:11:54 -0400

From: Stephen.LaRoque@ncleg.net

To: cinnster@live.com

2264 Springwood Lane, Kinston.  It is located in the Branchwood Subdivision on Paul’s Path Road.  My phone # 252-560-3399. If you can be there at 9:00am.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To stephen.laroque@ncleg.net

From: Cinnamon Treadway (cinnster@live.com)

Sent: Thu 5/26/11 12:24 PM

To:  stephen.laroque@ncleg.net

Okay, will do.  What do I need to bring?  Any tools/rake, gloves, etc?  What would you suggest?

My take: Treadway showed up Friday morning … but only worked an hour. LaRoque told David she spent most of the hour on the phone talking to media outlets in between pulling plants out of pots. She has not returned David’s calls.

While I can emphasize with Treadway’s stress level — she’s already lost her home and is on the threshold of losing the lone family vehicle — I struggle to understand her rancor with LaRoque. Instead of sending her the simple “Thank you for writing” email, he took the time to try to help her — to the point of having her come to his home and working for him!

Again — I can’t imagine what she and her family are going through right now … but why attack a person who is trying to help you?

The lesson LaRoque has probably learned from this is that it’s better off not to help at all than to get pulled into something like this.

His main mistake here was responding in like tone to her — there was absolutely no need for his “With the attitude and rancor you have just exhibited I would Not expect anyone to hire you” comment. He probably should’ve just dropped it when she came back with barrels blazing. But as I’ve gotten to know him in the past decade — that’s not his MO. He’ll defend his decisions to the death … and ultimately, that’s what it probably going to end up bringing him down.

BlueNC.com, a very popular left-leaning blog, has taken up the cause against LaRoque and it’s just the beginning — it’s pretty nasty over there with some of the posts and comments. I figure by the time the statewide Democratic machine gets through with him (on this and his NAACP position), any hopes of a statewide office — which I assume he has his eyes on in the future — might go by the wayside.

Then again, it was the statewide Dems that thought race-baiting in his 2010 race against Van Braxton would be successful … and we saw how that worked out. He’s beat them once and — as demonstrated above — he’s not afraid to back down from a fight.

The irony of all this? David’s Free Press Sunday centerpiece this week is going to be on LaRoque; he is spending all day tomorrow with LaRoque in Raleigh, shadowing him and talking to GOP and Democratic leaders about LaRoque’s influence and the splash he’s made to this point in his current term.

Stay tuned. This is going to get more interesting before it’s over with.

Some post-vacation nuggets…

Not your typical MNR since I’m playing catch-up from a fantastic vacation last week with the HB.

Since I’m playing catch-up at work, I’ll update this post pretty much all day, so come back all day, y’all!

IT’S A GREAT WEEK TO BE A CAVAHOO

I had the honor of being in attendance as a fan at Sunday’s ACC baseball tournament championship game between Virginia and Florida State at the Durham Bulls Athletic Complex. The God-fearing, flag-waving Cavaliers of Thomas Jefferson’s university defeated the Seminoles, 7-2, thanks to three home runs.

I had a blast; since it was last minute, I ended up going by myself but it worked out awesomely as I sat in the Virginia parents’ section right behind the Cavahoos dugout. In fact, if you watched the game on Fox Sports South (and thanks to our good friend Steve Lovick for the text!), you could see me on TV.

I’ve been a Virginia fan since I was 10; I’ve been to dozens of UVa football, basketball and baseball games but never personally witnessed an ACC championship — until Sunday. Yep … it was pretty special.

And what made it even better was that UVa beat FSU — the alma mater of one of my worst bosses of all time. No, I won’t divulge his name here, but he is easily the biggest douchebag you would ever have the dishonor of knowing. So … that made it THAT much better.

Virginia got the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament and will host East Carolina, St. John’s and Navy this weekend in Charlottesville.

To make this week even better, the Wahoos won the NCAA men’s lacrosse national championship yesterday, defeating Gary Williams University, 9-7.

On vacation …

Howdy, y’all: I’m on vacation this week on beautiful Emerald Isle with the Hot Blonde and an ever-changing cast of characters all week. While I’ll try to keep some updates flowing up here (go Hawks and Blue Devils tomorrow night; congratulations Parrott Academy softball team!), I’m probably going to get my smoking-hot tan on and sleep about 16 hours a day this week.

Anyhoo — have a good week and I’ll be back up full-time next week. Feel free to get on this post and yap to your heart’s content … except for Heelsfan, who had to bring up on my Facebook page about the Tar Heels sweeping Virginia this weekend in Chapel Hill. Dude … too cruel!

ALSO: Help me wish the HB a happy birthday today! She’s XX years old today but doesn’t look a day over XX. Love you, baby!

All they do is win — go NL, SL, APA and track athletes!

It was quite a night for our three area playoff teams last night:

  • Behind a record-setting home run effort by junior Brian Hardy, the North Lenoir Hawks battled past Rocky Mount, 11-4, in the third round of the 3A baseball playoffs. Hardy homered twice last night and now has a school season record of 12 dingers this season. The Hawks play at Eastern Wayne Tuesday night for a berth in the 3A Eastern Regional championship series against either Asheboro or NE Guilford
  • The annual South Lenoir-Whiteville playoff game (the fourth in the past five seasons) went to the Blue Devils, who hammered the Wolfpack, 10-2, as Paul Mills, Austin Smith and Eddie Hawkins led the way. The Blue Devils host North Brunswick on Tuesday in the friendly confines of Paul Novicki Stadium for a berth in the 2A Eastern Regional championship series against either Randleman or South Granville
  • The undefeated Arendell Parrott Academy softball team beat down Fayetteville Christian School, 11-1, last night in Fayetteville to advance to today’s semifinal game against a school from my old stomping grounds, Gaston Christian School. When the Patriots win that game , they’ll play for the state title at 3 p.m.

My take: Congratulations to coaches Jim Montague, Troy Eason and Matt Beaman for all their success last night! It’s crazy that as small as Lenoir County is, that there is this much baseball/softball talent in our area. Let’s send some good mojo to Fayetteville for the Patriots to bring a title home today and then support those young men from Deep Run and Wheat Swamp on Tuesday!

On top of all this, there are track athletes from Kinston, South Lenoir and Greene Central competing in the 2A state championships in Greensboro today with opportunities to bring back more state titles to our area. Keep those kids and coaches in mind today, too!

Also: big time props to Ryan Herman for his tremendous job covering these runs this spring. I’ve been in this position before — maybe not even to this degree, though! — and he’s doing a great job keeping our readers up to the minute on all these title runs (all at The Free Press’ prep website, freepresspreps.com). Keep up the great work, dude!

Morning News Report; May 20, 2011

COPLES INVESTIGATED BY NCAA

Former Kinston star and current UNC defensive lineman Quinton Coples has been questioned by the NCAA for being at a post-draft party given by a pair of former Tar Heel teammates who missed all of last season after being gigged by the NCAA.

My take: I’m just laying this out there — I’m an unapologetic Q supporter. I’ve watched this kid since he was in the seventh grade and I know he’s a heck of a young man with a great mother.

I’m hoping with all my might this is just the NCAA — the monolithic out-of-touch machine it is — just over-reaching its grasp here. If it’s more (for instance, if Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn have dragged Q down to their level), there’s another story. Quinton has worked very, very hard to get to this point in his career and it’s going to be sad if simply attending a party thrown by older teammates WHO FREAKING KNOW BETTER make him lose parts or all of his senior season.

More coverage of this from the News and Observer of Raleigh, CBSSportsline.com and the Wilmington Star-News. I know our Ryan Herman is working on a local angle of the story, too, so stay tuned.

ARMSTRONG ACCUSED BY FORMER TEAMMATE OF DOPING

Retired cycling superstar Lance Armstrong used illegal substances while he was competing, according to a former teammate. Armstrong has denied it again.

My take: It’s this simple — Armstrong has never failed a test. Did he cheat to cover it up? I’m not sure we’ll ever know. But have you ever seen this much smoke without a little fire?

And if he did, how much does it change what you think of him?

GARNER KID MOVES ON IN ‘IDOL’

A Garner 17-year-old, Scotty McCreery, has advanced to the final two-some on “American Idol.”

My take: Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the show — I’ve watched a total of about five minutes in the show’s span — but this is a pretty good story. While hanging with the HB last weekend, I caught some of WRAL CBS-5′s coverage of his homecoming in Garner — and it was pretty cool.

I might have to break my viewing record and see if the kid can win it all next week (it is on next week, right?).

The iPod shuffle

Gone (New Mix) — U2

Dreams — Van Halen

Chain Hang Low — Jibbs

Un-Break My Heart — Toni Braxton

My Way — Elvis Presley

P.S.: Here’s David Hall’s story on the ECU baseball mess; although the Pirates don’t name former North Lenoir star Sthil Sowers directly in their official report, it is implied by the school.

UPDATED AGAIN: ECU baseball given a year of probation

East Carolina University athletic officials will hold a presser at 3 p.m. today to discuss self-reported NCAA violations.

My take: I have no idea what sport this applies to, but our David Hall will certainly be there. More details here as they come …

UPDATE 4:20 P.M. — FROM ECU MEDIA RELATIONS:

ECU accepts NCAA penalties for self-reported violations

East Carolina University announced today it has accepted athletic program penalties imposed by the NCAA for self-reported academic fraud violations in 2010, including a reprimand and one year of probation.

“ECU is embarrassed by the unacceptable academic fraud committed by a few student athletes who acted on their own volition,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard.  “We have implemented numerous corrective actions and we will continually improve our practices with the intention of being one of the best universities in terms of academic integrity and compliance.”

The terms of probation do not prohibit postseason play in any sport. No recruiting sanctions, scholarship reductions or monetary penalties were imposed.

In spring of last year ECU investigated and reported to the NCAA academic fraud violations by athletes on the baseball and women’s tennis teams. The NCAA news release, posted on its website Thursday, May 19, stated the violations involved four baseball student-athletes and one women’s tennis student-athlete. While working as an academic tutor in the athletics department, the involved women’s tennis player wrote papers for the four baseball players, who submitted the work as their own, the NCAA stated.

The release said the academic fraud included writing a paper for two of the student-athletes, eight papers for another plus a PowerPoint presentation for a fourth student-athlete.

The NCAA accepted ECU’s investigation of the violations and its findings rather than conducting its own inquiry. In its letter informing ECU of the penalties, the NCAA noted it chose to reduce the term of probation from two years to one because of ECU’s response and because of immediate steps the university took to improve compliance.

Those practices include:

•           Hiring an additional senior compliance officer. Jamie Johnson, formerly of Rutgers University, began work in February. Johnson reports directly to the chancellor.

•           Student-athletes are no longer hired as tutors in the Student Development Office within the athletics department.

•           The Division of Academic Affairs, not athletics, oversees the Student Development Office.

•           More rigorous training for tutors, and student-athletes, that clearly defines behaviors that constitute academic fraud and violations of academic integrity. The consequences of such violations are explicitly spelled out.

ECU, its coaches and its employees did the right thing at a difficult moment, Provost Marilyn Sheerer said at a press conference.

“The record shows we responded quickly, investigated vigorously, immediately self-reported violations and took decisive corrective steps without being asked,” Sheerer said.

“We have great confidence in baseball coach Billy Godwin and women’s tennis coach Tom Morris and in the integrity of the programs,” Sheerer said.

Terry Holland, ECU director of athletics, said, “This has been a traumatic event for our athletic program that has negatively impacted the lives of young student-athletes and embarrassed us all. While the athletics department’s response was immediate and appropriate, as recognized by the NCAA, it is critically important that the safeguards and guidelines implemented to educate our student-athletes are sufficient to prevent future problems.”

Conference USA gave ECU a vote of confidence.

“We are pleased with the way this difficult situation was managed,” said Britton Banowsky, C-USA commissioner. “The university took swift and decisive action to not only address the immediate issue, but put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again. Their response was excellent.”

Chancellor Ballard chairs a special UNC Task Force on Athletics and Academics examining ways to strengthen athletic programs and ensure the academic success of student athletes. The Task Force is set to make recommendations this summer.

The terms of probation for ECU require the baseball team to vacate 17 games in which the athletes participated while ineligible. The women’s tennis team will vacate eight matches. ECU will be required during the year to notify all baseball and women’s tennis prospects that the school is on probation. It also must provide a compliance report to the committee on infractions. And, it must file a letter from the chancellor at the end of the probation period affirming that athletics policies and procedures conform to NCAA regulations.

The NCAA news release and infractions report are available on its web site: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/enforcement/resources/resources+homepage

My take: This very, very likely includes former North Lenoir star Sthil Sowers, but that is something David Hall is working on for his story for tomorrow’s Free Press. I’ll post his story in tomorrow’s MNR…

UPDATED 4:45 P.M.: Here is a link to David’s brief, which will be fleshed out in a story for Friday’s paper…

Morning News Report; May 19, 2011

T-MINUS TWO DAYS AND COUNTING

Yep, Doomsday is just two days away as the end of the world begins Saturday at 9 p.m. local time, according to some guy who missed his original prediction in 1994.

My take: Yep … I have a pretty strong feeling this kook is going to be disappointed again.

WAKE STUDENT MAKES RAPE ACCUSATION AGAINST DEMON DEACON PLAYERS

Maggie Hurt, a former Wake Forest band member, accused former Demon Deacon basketball players Jeff Teague and Gary Clark of forcing her into oral sex on NBC’s “Today Show” this morning. She alleges it happened in Miami two years ago after Wake was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament and that WFU swept the allegations under the rug.

Miami police and Wake officials investigated and cleared the players.

My take: It appears to me there’s really nothing here — so why did NBC feel like it needed to bring this out into the open? The two players are threatening to sue for slander – and I have no problem with that whatsoever.

NORTH LENOIR, SOUTH LENOIR BASEBALL ADVANCE TO THIRD ROUND

The baseball teams from South Lenoir and North Lenoir took care of business Tuesday night to advance to the third round of the 2A and 3A playoffs, respectively.

My take: I was wondering if North Lenoir could get past Northern Nash — and the Hawks came through with flying colors (see what I did there?). Swansboro was a bit of a nemesis to South Lenoir this year, but the Devils also stepped up when it counted.

Now, the Hawks travel to Rocky Mount, which will be a whale of a game Friday. Although I’ve only seen NL once this year, you can’t help but feel maybe this is another of those Montague runs that are going to take the Hawks a couple more rounds.

South Lenoir is also on the road to a true playoff rival, Whiteville, a team that eliminated the Blue Devils in 2007 and 2008 in the fourth round of the state playoffs – by identical 4-3 scores. Last year, though, South Lenoir redeemed itself with a second-round victory at home over the Wolfpack. Should be a hell of a game in Whiteville Friday.

In softball, Ayden-Grifton was the only local team to advance to the second round; but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw some props to former South Lenoir softball pitcher Taylor Hussey and the James Kenan Tigers for their incredible upset of previously undefeated East Columbus in Tuesday’s first round. Hussey and the Tigers entered the game as a wild-card at 9-12 while EC was 18-0. No matter — Hussey struck out seven, only gave up three hits and led the Tigers to a second-round matchup at Hobbton. Good luck, Taylor!

The iPod shuffle

Me, Myself And I — De La Soul

Compton’s N The House (Remix) – N.W.A.

(I) Get Lost — Eric Clapton

Lucille — Kenny Rogers

Sweet Hitch-Hiker — Creedence Clearwater Revival

P.S.: Check out Jon Dawson’s crazy take on the (former?) mess in Maysville with his usual J-Dizzleness added to it.

Morning News Report; May 18, 2011

POOLE GETS A YEAR IN PRISON

Kinston native Ruffin Poole was sentenced to a year in prison after an investigation into his former boss, N.C. Gov. Mike Easley, revealed he used his political position in a land deal. He was also fined $30,000 in the conviction.

My take: Probably received what he deserved in this mess, but there are two things that bother me here — Easley basically got off scot-free and the way some people are so ecstatic that Poole “got his.”

Easley is going to go down in history as one of the worst governors in state history for his shady dealings. And while I don’t know Poole personally, it really irks me that people are so happy to see someone go down like this. It appears to me Poole was the fall-guy for Easley; while he might have gotten an illegal kickback (and if so, then he deserves the prison time he’s about to endure), I can’t believe Easley is going to be free the whole time … with a $1,000 fine. Ridiculous. Wonder if Poole’s old boss will visit him in prison?

NCCU COMMENCEMENT SPEECH WAS FROM YOUTUBE

The commencement speech delivered by a North Carolina Central University student at last week’s ceremony wasn’t his own — he picked up major parts of it from a YouTube video without crediting the source, a Binghamton (N.Y.) University student.

Understandably, the folks at NCCU are pretty irritated about this.

My take: Evidently, the NCCU graduate said he was stressed and forgot to credit the Binghamton University speech — but it’s still plagiarism if you fail to give credit. More than anything, I bet he never forgets to do THAT again.

CLEVELAND GETS NO. 1 PICK IN NBA DRAFT

At last night’s NBA Lottery, the Cleveland Cavaliers got the ping-pong ball that earned them the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft. They acquired the pick from the L.A. Clippers this season when they traded Baron Davis to the Clips.

The last time Cleveland got No. 1? The Cavs picked some slob named LeBron James.

My take: Likely they’ll take Duke’s Kyrie Irving in June — and that’s not a bad deal for either team. Cleveland also has the No. 4 overall pick; although this is going to be a weak draft, it should help rebuild the worst team in the NBA last year.

The iPod shuffle

Original Of The Species — U2

Never Scared (Radio Mix) — Bone Crusher

Fins — Jimmy Buffett

Until The End Of The World — U2

Little Earthquakes — Tori Amos

P.S.: Here’s the story Justin “The Kid” wrote about his experience behind-the-scenes Saturday night at the K-Tribe game. Good job, dude!

Morning News Report; May 17, 2011

Busy day of news, so you’re going to get more for your money this a.m.!

WAKE FOREST PLAYERS TO BE ACCUSED OF RAPE

A former Wake Forest student will appear on Thursday’s “Today” show on NBC to detail an alleged rape by members of the Demon Deacons basketball team before an NCAA first-round tournament game in 2009.

My take: If this is true — and this is America, y’all (innocent until proven guilty, etc.) — it would go a long ways towards us understanding how an ACC program that was No. 1 midway through the 2009 season became one of the worst in the NCAAs less than two years later.

I know I’ll be watching this …

STATE GETS GOOD GUARD

Former Raleigh Word of God swing guard Torian Graham, a flat-out playa, has announced his intention to play at N.C. State in 2012. He’s a top-25 player nationally — but will probably climb the ratings this season.

My take: Graham played in the Glaxo last year — and was a monster. My only concern: in the last 1-plus years of prep basketball, he’s been enrolled at three high schools — Durham Hillside, WOG and now Pace (?) in Chapel Hill. As reported here by the great Dave Telep, Graham isn’t sure where he’s going to play his senior season. So … he could attend four high schools in a two-year period.

JERRY LEWIS RETIRING FROM MDA TELETHON

After 45 years of raising millions of dollars for muscular dystrophy and ALS, comedian Jerry Lewis will retire from hosting his trademark telethon in September.

My take: As campy (and sometimes unwatchable) as it had become, you knew Lewis’ heart was in the right place. Kudos to the man for helping untold thousands of people with his talent — and all the telethons his influence spawned.

AH-NOLD HAS A LOVE CHILD

Arnold Schwarzenegger has confessed to having a love child with a former household staffer. It happened 10 years ago and the former California governor and action movie star has provided for the child’s care.

My take: Well, now we know why Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver separated last week.

ROMNEY RAISES $10 MILLION FOR CAMPAIGN … YESTERDAY

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised $10.25 million for his campaign yesterday.

My take: I don’t care who you are — that’s pretty freaking impressive. How much will it help him in the muddied Republican field? That remains to be seen, but $10 million in one day can’t hurt.

PREP SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS BEGIN; BASEBALL CONTINUES

South Lenoir, Greene Central, Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior all begin their respective softball preseasons today on the road at Elizabeth City Northeastern, Swansboro, Dunn Midway and Pender County, respectively, today. The undefeated Arendell Parrott Academy opens the playoffs against Winston-Salem Calvary Baptist at home today.

On the prep baseball side of the ledger, five teams play in the second round, including two home games at South Lenoir (vs. Swansboro) and Ayden-Grifton (vs. Perquimans). North Lenoir travels to Nash Central, Jones Senior visits Dunn Midway and APA hits the road to Westchester Day School.

My take: Other than APA’s softball team, it’s going to be tough for one of our local teams to make the second round, although I’d never count a Lisa Smith-coached South Lenoir team out under any circumstances.

And how weird is it not to see Heather Carson’s North Lenoir Hawks in the playoffs? She is arguably one of the best coaches — in ANY sport — in our area and it’s incredible to think she doesn’t have a team in the postseason.

As for the baseball playoffs, I think South Lenoir is likely the only team to survive tonight. North Lenoir has a good chance at Nash Central, but it depends on which Hawks team shows up. A-G has a hard game tonight while playing on the road for Jones Senior and APA is going to be tough.

Regardless — good luck to all our local teams today!

KILLEBREW SUCCUMBS TO CANCER

One of baseball’s all-time greats, Harmon Killebrew, passed away today at home from esophageal cancer. He was 74.

My take: Admittedly, he played before my time, but if you’re any kind of baseball fan, you know he’s one of the best.

The iPod shuffle

Emotional Rescue — The Rolling Stones

A Day Without Me — U2

Rope — Foo Fighters

I Should Have Known — Foo Fighters

I’m A Believer — The Monkees

Afternoon News Report; May 16, 2011

TRUMP, HUCKABEE WITHDRAW FROM 2012 RACE

This morning, Donald Trump withdrew while Mike Huckabee did the same over the weekend from the 2012 presidential race.

My take: I can understand Trump dropping out; he didn’t really have a chance as much as he probably thought he did.

But Huckabee creates more of a problem for the GOP — I would’ve considered him a front-runner for the Republican bid.

SUNS PRESIDENT COMES OUT OF CLOSET

The president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns revealed he is gay.

My take: And so what? Rick Welts did a great job helping run the NBA for years before joining the Suns.

I’m really looking forward to the day — much like NBA Commissioner David Stern said in the linked story – when news like this is unremarkable.

MY COLUMN ON THE MESS IN MAYSVILLE

Here is my Sunday column on the way the town of Maysville raped the open government law last week.

My take: I’ll admit I’m not one who understands politics — but I do know this: the way the Maysville mayor and his town council treated our reporter and open government last week was unconscionable.

But as I mentioned in the column — Mayor Harper and Maysville get a re-do tonight when they hold another meeting. Let’s see how they do. Hopefully, they won’t have a repeat of last week’s debacle.

The iPod shuffle

While My Guitar Gently Weeps — The Beatles

Speak To Me/Breathe — Pink Floyd

Hotel California — The Eagles

Closer — Nine Inch Nails

Cinderella Man — Eminem