DURHAM, N.C.: Mayor leads protest against cross burnings

The Klu Klux Klan (KKK) has been operating just below the radar for years but that changed here May 25 when three crosses were burned in different locations within an hour. Flyers with a drawing of hooded Klansmen were found near the crosses.

The FBI, the state bureau of investigation and the Durham Police Department are investigating. Community outrage culminated in a “Unity” rally June 5 in the Durham Armory.

City Councilman Thomas A. Stith, joined by Mayor Bill Bell, told the crowd, “To go back to [race] relations as usual would be a missed opportunity.”

State Attorney General Roy Cooper told the mostly white audience, “As a white man I know I can’t begin to understand the personal experience of racial prejudice. But I do know right from wrong.”

Solomon Burnette, a 25-year-old African American, said that Black people knew that the KKK had been busy before the crosses were burned. “This [rally] is all well and good but [let’s] deal with people’s critical level needs,” he told the press, listing hunger, poverty, housing and racial equality as critical issues that need to be addressed .

CYBERSPACE: MoveOn.org haunts DeLay cronies

During the first week of June, the activist Internet group MoveOn.org collected 484,146 signatures on a petition demanding that Congress fire House Speaker Tom DeLay, who has been embroiled in a corruption scandal. Members hand-delivered the petitions to the offices of 195 Republican members of Congress. Newspapers in eastern Ohio, Republican Robert Ney’s district, are carrying regular stories about Ney’s ties to DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under criminal and congressional investigations for tens of millions in fees he collected from casino-owning Indian nations. Ney has hired a criminal lawyer to defend himself.

Other Republicans feeling the heat are Richard Pombo (Calif.), Tom Feeney (Fla.) and Charles Taylor (N.C.)

“The combination of gridlock and ethics indicate that the system’s busted,” said Rick Davis, former campaign manager for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), “and the system is the majority party.”

MARION, Ala.: Delta health care crisis deepens

Residents of this 12-county region voiced their life-and-death concerns at a town hall meeting here on health care May 31. More than 600 people attended to demand answers on issues such the lack of ambulance service and how to bring more doctors to the area.

“You can’t have two Alabamas — one that is prospering and one that’s not,” said Gov. Bob Riley, who hosted the meeting with Rep. Artur Davis.

Davis said that the lack of medical services cost his aunt her life when an ambulance had to travel to rural Hayneville from Montgomery when she suffered a minor stroke.

“We have 30 people in this area that must drive to Selma or Demopolis three times a week for dialysis,” testified Twynette Yeager of Marion. The town has no hospital and the nearest one is 50 minutes away, as is the nearest ambulance service.

Holly Lollar, spokeswoman for Kid One, an agency which provides transportation to get children to hospitals, estimates that 8,325 children live in households with no vehicle. Lollar expressed frustration at not being able to meet the need.

Testimony from the meeting will be presented to both the Alabama Legislature and Congress.

LOS ANGELES: ‘Living wage’ works

In 1997, when the Los Angeles City Council enacted a living wage law, corporations predicted massive job loss and economic crisis. In the first study of its kind, “Examining the Evidence” released June 2, the University of California has found that the law improved the quality of life for 10,000 workers, raising their pay on average by $2,600 a year. Of all the jobs affected by the legislation, only 1 percent suffered layoffs.

“This study offers compelling evidence that living wage laws can improve the quality of life for low-income workers,” said David Fairris, professor of economics at UC Riverside and co-author of the study.

In the past 11 years, 125 cities have enacted living wage laws. Currently, Miami, Phoenix, Memphis, Tenn., Little Rock, Ark., and Richmond, Va., are considering such ordinances.

The study is available online at goodjobs@goodjobsfirst.org.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).