Newswire: McDonald’s sued for racial discrimination by 52 Black former franchisees

By: Dee-Ann Durbin, AP

McDonald’s restaurant

More than 50 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners are suing the burger chain, saying the company steered them to less-profitable restaurants and didn’t give them the same support and opportunities given white franchisees.
The 52 plaintiffs, who owned around 200 U.S. stores before being forced to sell them over the last decade, are seeking compensation of $4 million to $5 million per store, according to the lawsuit. The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, where McDonald’s is based.
According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s steered Black franchisees to stores in inner-city neighborhoods with lower sales volumes and higher security and insurance costs. The company would provide them with misleading financial information or push them to decide quickly when a store became available, the lawsuit says.

Once Black franchisees owned a store, they would be asked to rebuild or remodel within a shorter period of time than white franchisees without the rent relief and other financial support given to white franchisees, the lawsuit says. Black franchise owners were also denied the chance to buy more profitable stores in better neighborhoods, it says.

As a result, the plaintiffs averaged sales of $2 million per year. By comparison, McDonald’s average U.S. store brought in $2.7 million annually between 2011 and 2016 and $2.9 million in 2019, the lawsuit says.

“Revenue is determined by one thing and one thing only: location,” said James Ferraro, the Miami-based attorney representing the plaintiffs. “It’s a Big Mac. They’re the same everywhere.”

Ferraro also noted that the number of Black McDonald’s franchisees has fallen by half over the last two decades. The chain had 377 Black franchisees in 1998; it has 186 now. At the same time, the number of franchised restaurants has more than doubled to 36,000.

McDonald’s Corp. denied the allegation and defended its history with Black franchisees.

“These allegations fly in the face of everything we stand for as an organization and as a partner to communities and small business owners around the world,” the company said. “Not only do we categorically deny the allegations that these franchisees were unable to succeed because of any form of discrimination by McDonald’s, we are confident that the facts will show how committed we are to the diversity and equal opportunity of the McDonald’s System, including across our franchisees, suppliers and employees.”

McDonald’s has a troubled history with Black franchisees. In 1969, activists boycotted four McDonald’s in Cleveland until the company sold them to Black owners. In 1983, a Black franchise owner from Los Angeles sued the company for discrimination; McDonald’s eventually paid him $4.5 million.

In 1996, McDonald’s leadership acknowledged that Black franchisees weren’t achieving parity with their white counterparts and resolved to make changes. Don Thompson, the company’s first Black president and CEO, served from 2012 to 2015.

But charges of discrimination continued. In January, two Black McDonald’s executives sued the company. They claimed McDonald’s shifted advertising away from Black customers, graded Black-owned stores more harshly than white ones and implemented business plans that had a discriminatory impact on Black franchisees.

At the time, McDonald’s said it disagreed with the characterization of its actions. It noted that 45% of its corporate officers and all of its field vice presidents are people of color.

Newswire: The sports strikes against racism have not been coopted

By: Dave Zirin, The Nation

The Washington Mystics each wear white T-shirts with seven bullet holes drawn on the back protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida, on Wednesday., Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
 

The story of the 2020 wave of sports strikes against racism is already one of both inspiration and cooptation. It’s also a story that is being written in pencil, not pen. In other words, it’s a story that still does not have an ending, and we should be wary of anyone who thinks they have an ironclad analysis of where all of this is headed. But to even have a sense of where it might go, we need to understand why it detonated in the first place.
It starts by understanding the impact of the police murder of George Floyd—which has led to the most important social uprising in decades and the largest series of marches in the history of the United States, a social uprising that’s been met with terrible violence thanks to this president, his cohorts in the police, and the violent white militia movement.
The NBA and WNBA players argued back in June about whether to play in this Covid-free bubble or if they should just sit out the season so as not to distract from the demonstrations in the streets. They did, of course, decide to go back and, as part of the deal, the owners and commissioner Adam Silver incorporated Black Lives Matter into their messaging, with “BLM” written on the court, players kneeling during the anthem, and slogans written on the uniforms. Call it woke capitalism. Call it woke marketing—if you like. It was corporate symbolism in the model of so many companies that put out statements against racism following Floyd’s killing.
But after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, that contradiction became too intense. Players in the NBA and the WNBA—which have led on all of these political questions—felt like chumps. They were in a figurative and literal bubble away from their families and friends, living in dorms, saying to one another, “Here we are playing with BLM on our uniforms and nothing changes.”
That led to the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to play Wednesday in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Other NBA teams followed suit. Then the WNBA teams announced that they would be sitting out, which was stirring, but not surprising. Then Major League Baseball joined the strike, which really was stunning given its conservative history and paucity of Black American players. Then Major League Soccer and, gobsmackingly, the National Hockey League. Naomi Osaka, the tennis star of Japanese-Haitian descent, also bowed out of her tournament and tweeted the following, which summed up so many of the feelings across the sports world:
Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman/And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.
She continued, adding hashtags: Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I’m exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will it ever be enough?
The sports media largely called these “boycotts.” But they are not boycotts. They are strikes. These athletes are not consumers but workers, and they were withholding their labor in protest of police murder and white supremacy. Some people on the left have cynically rolled their eyes at this. After all, as they say, these are very wealthy people. They’re not real workers… What could they really accomplish? (This dismissiveness, unfortunately, mirrors the racist drivel from Jared Kushner and his implication that the players’ efforts are somehow inauthentic because of their wealth and fame.)
This analysis, in addition to ignoring that racism affects all Black and brown people and not just the poor, misses three objectives that the players have already achieved:
• Recentering the conversation around Jacob Blake and not on “anarchists” burning cities and all the ways the right has tried to reframe what is happening.
• Capturing people’s imagination about labor striking for Black lives.
• Giving a sense of hope during a period of profound sadness and helplessness—from the Kenosha shootings to that feeling that we marched after Floyd’s murder yet here we are. Nothing changes.
That is all incredibly important. Especially the second point. As I wrote before, I received half a dozen calls from labor folk asking how to contact the players. It raises a challenge to labor officialdom to no longer be on the sidelines in the fight for Black lives.
But the radical potential of this moment also means that within hours of these strikes, the forces of cooptation were also working overtime. Sports owners, who tend to be to the right of Ghengis Khan, were scrambling to show their support for the players. Entire teams started putting out statements and talking about action plans that came out of conversations between management and labor. Instead of players striking, it was teams announcing that they would not be playing: “labor and management against racism!” The Baltimore Ravens are a great example of this, putting out on the team letterhead a statement decrying racism, calling for the arrest of Breonna Taylor’s killers, all with the aim—at least for now—of appeasing some fed-up football players whose season is supposed to start in less than two weeks.
The players in all the leagues, in an absence of a lead from the broader labor movement, have been left operating in a vacuum, trying to wrest concessions from ownership to join the struggle for Black lives. As one could imagine when dealing with billionaires, this had led to tamping down of demands, with much of the energy being channeled toward the November election and electoralism, most notably an agreement to open up stadiums as voting centers.
There has also been a great deal of publicity about the appearance of President Barack Obama, who spoke with LeBron James and Chris Paul, encouraging them to go back to work, use their platform through playing basketball, and start a social justice committee. This is Obama trying to neutralize a struggle and channel it in a safer direction, less likely to offend the white majority, and less likely to spread.
But the intervention of Obama has also led to an analysis that this is a story that has ended with cooptation, of selling out. That is wrong. Again, this is a story written in pencil, not pen. We still don’t know where this is going. We need to understand that this situation is on a knife’s edge. The players now have incredible leverage to use their spotlight, to extract concessions from management, or to go back out on strike again, especially if police and militias aren’t brought to heel. And of course, they haven’t been.We don’t know where this is heading. Instead of decrying this for what it isn’t, we need instead to be holding up these players’ example to inspire the rest of the labor movement to act with similar urgency at this political moment, and not expect athletes to do it for us. What we can also do, though, is acknowledge that any action that lays down a gauntlet and challenges the labor movement to act should be seen as a step forward. Striking for Black lives is now on the table, not as an abstraction but as a goal worth fighting for.

In Eutaw Municipal elections: Runoff for Mayor between Raymond Steele and Latasha Johnson

By: John Zippert
Co-Publisher

Raymond Steele
Latasha Johnson

In yesterday’s City of Eutaw Municipal elections, 1,219 voters cast ballots. There were five candidates in the Mayor’s race. Incumbent Mayor Raymond Steele led with 403 (33%) votes, Councilwoman Latasha Johnson came in second with 359 (30%) votes; Joe Lee Powell received 257 (21%); Sandra Walker 183 (15%) and Queena Bennett Whitehead 17 (1%).
There will be a runoff election on October 6, 2020 between Raymond Steele and Latasha Johnson for Mayor.
In Forkland, Incumbent Mayor Charlie McAlpine was reelected with a vote of 216 to 60 for Rev. Michael Barton.
In the Eutaw City Council races, there will be a runoff in District I, where Valerie Watkins received 115 (44%) votes to 107 (41%) for Chondra Mayes and Ke’Undra Quintez Cox received 38 (14.6%). The runoff also scheduled for October 6 will be between Watkins and Mayes.
In District 2, LaJeffrey Carpenter received 160 (69%) votes to 70 (30%) for Bryant Snyder, Jr. and was reelected to the Eutaw City Council. In District 3, Tracy Hunter, who was unopposed was elected to that seat.
In District 4, Larry Coleman received 110 (51%) votes in defeating incumbent Councilwoman Sheila Smith with 105 (49%) and will take the seat.
In District 5, Jacqueline Stewart with 120 (52%) votes defeated Rodney Wesley with 109 (48%) capturing this seat.
When the Mayor and Council are seated and sworn-in, for a four-year term, on November 10, 2020 there will be four new council members with only LaJeffrey Carpenter returning.
In Forkland, in the only contested city council race, for District 3; Alonzo Thomas with 48 votes won with Preston Davis receiving 25 and Willie Sashington getting 9 votes.
The Mayor’s position and city council races were not contested in the Towns of Boligee and Union, so the same officials have been reelected for another term.
1,219 (49.7%) of voters out of 2,450 registered in the city turned out to vote in the first primary on August 25, 2020. “We will need to work hard to raise the turnout for the Municipal Runoff on October 6 and the important November 3rd General Election for U. S. President, Senators, Congress and other offices,” said Carol Zippert, Greene County Chair for the Alabama New South Alliance.


SOS continues the struggle for Medicaid Expansion with demonstrations in Montgomery

SOS members kneel in prayer placing banner saying “Black Lives Matter
and Expand Medicaid” in the street in front of the State Capitol.

The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy has continued its fight for Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature to Expand Medicaid especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
On August 6, 2020, on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, about 50 members of SOS held a demonstration and press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
Despite the presence of over twenty Montgomery Police Department officers, SOS members carried a banner saying “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid” and placed the banner in the street in front of the Capitol, where its members had previously been arrested in July for writing those same words in the street with yellow spray paint.
On August 20, 2020 SOS members held a “Shout Out to Save Lives” in front of the Governor’s Mansion in the Garden District of downtown Montgomery. When SOS demonstrators arrived at Noon, the police had barricaded the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Governor’s Mansion for 400 feet.
SOS set up its speaking podium on the sidewalk in viewing and hearing distance of the Mansion and began our shout-out for Medicaid Expansion despite the barricades and the police insistence that we move our cars that were parked across the street from the Mansion or risk having them towed.
Former Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, who also serves as Co-Chair of the SOS Health Committee, said “Health rights are the Civil Rights issue of our times. In this time of COVID-19 there is a need for great Federal and state support of health care for all people but especially people of color who are dying at disproportionately higher rates.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of the Ordinary People’s Society in Dothan, Alabama and an advocate for prisoners, said “I do not understand why Gov. Ivey and the State Legislature is ready to accept money from Federal sources for building prisons and every other purpose but will not accept funds to expand Medicaid. We must also work to release prisoners from jails and prisons so they will not contract the coronavirus.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “An Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) poll released three weeks ago shows a majority of the people of Alabama – Democrats and Republicans and Independents –support Medicaid expansion. Alabama is one of only 12 states in the nation that has failed to act. The people of Alabama know we need Medicaid expansion and want Medicaid expansion in Alabama NOW. All it takes is leadership.”
Greene County Health System Board Chair and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert said: “There is a reason why the Alabama Hospital Association has been campaigning and fighting so hard for the expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid expansion will not only save lives and improve the health of those Alabamians who need and should be getting health care in our state. It will also save Alabama hospitals, both rural and urban, which Alabama has been killing at an alarming rate. Every time a hospital closes in a community, all people with insurance as well as those without insurance are detrimentally affected, and too many times this results in failed health and death. This is wrong, and Governor Ivey is a murderer for intentionally refusing to expand Medicaid. All it takes is leadership to end this wrong.”
Since July 23th, 2020, 13 Alabamians have been arrested by the Montgomery City Police for civil disobedience misdemeanors to save lives in our state, improve health in Alabama and secure justice for people in Alabama. They include: Kumasi Amin with Black Lives Matter; former Tuskegee Mayor and state Representative Johnny Ford; Community Advocate and Civil Rights activist Karen Jones; attorney and Civil Rights activist Faya Rose Toure; Board Chair of the Greene County Health Systems and Co-Publisher of The Greene County Democrat John Zippert; Stef Bernal-Martinez with the Poor People’s Campaign; attorney Ellen Degnan with the Southern Poverty Law Center; Judson Garner with Black Lives Matter and SOS; Yomi Goodall, a community leader based in Montgomery and Selma; Alabama Law Professor Emerita and attorney Martha Morgan; Hank Sanders, an attorney and former 35-year Alabama State Senator; Dana Sweeney with Alabama Appleseed; and Queen Tate, a film specialist.  
Law enforcement, after calling their superiors, originally assured the peaceful protesters at the Capitol on July 23rd that no one would be arrested. Then hours later City Police issued two arrest warrants for Black leaders Karen Jones and Johnny Ford that night. When SOS pointed out the next day the Montgomery City Police only issued writ of arrests for two Black people, instead of summons as advised by the Governor in her 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Proclamation, and also not for the White man who painted “Expand Medicaid” on a small patch of pavement with no traffic in front of the Capitol at the same peaceful event.
The next evening three more writs of arrest were issued, including for John Zippert. Those five, who learned of their arrests from the media and not the City Police, voluntarily turned themselves in on signature bonds on July 27th and were held in a jail with City employees and inmates who were not masked for more than five hours. 
 Nine additional misdemeanor arrests were made on July 30th by the Montgomery City Police, with five of those arrests being for people simply standing on the pavement in front of the Capitol and nothing more. While in custody on July 27th, only two individuals who turned themselves in on misdemeanors were strip searched – Black women Karen Jones and Faya Toure. During the later July 30th arrests, the City started strip searching White man Judson Garner but suddenly halted that.
City Police also threatened to arrest two Whites on July 30th for legally parking in a public parking space only after they realized they were with members of SOS. Similar intimidating actions by the City of Montgomery Police continued today even though all protestors were peaceful. The City again said, as they did on July 23rd, that no arrests would be made today, and no arrests have been made and no arrest warrants have been issued thus far. SOS and the other groups will continue their work to ensure Medicaid is expanded in Alabama so no one else has to needlessly die due to inaction by Alabama elected officials.

Newswire : Cameroon reconsiders plan to strip last intact forest in central Africa

Tool using monkey in the forest

Aug. 17, 2020 (GIN) – Good news is rare for those toiling to save the environment, but this week environmentalists could finally share the excitement of a hard-won success.

The government of Cameroon just announced it was canceling plans to log some 170,000 acres of the Ebo Forest, home to hundreds of rare plant and animal species, including the tool-using Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, the western gorilla and giant frogs.

The decision to save the forests followed organized pressure from indigenous communities, conservation groups and scientists.

In addition to its rich biodiversity, the Ebo Forest, located in southwestern Cameroon, is culturally and societally important for the Banen Indigenous people, who consider it their sacred ancestral home.

The Banen were ousted from the forest in the 1960s, but settled just a few miles from its borders and still rely on it for food and medicine. The community has fought for decades to return to their native villages.

“We have always lived in harmony with this forest and its diversity, but people just want to make money,” Chief Victor Yetina, a ruler among the Banen, told The Guardian newspaper. “Much of our history can still be found [in the forest]. You can still find our cocoa plantations, even after 60 years. Our dead are buried there.”

The clock to save Ebo began to tick in July, when Cameroon Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute signed a decree that turned half of the Ebo Forest into a “forest management unit,” allowing the government to sell logging concessions.

But on August 11, Ngute, at the direction of President Paul Biya, withdrew the decree, suspending any logging plans, according to the news site Afrik21. President Biya also ordered a delay to reclassify an additional 160,000 acres of the Ebo, which could have potentially opened up even more forest for logging.

The government’s “intervention to halt the imminent destruction of this unique forest is hugely welcome,” said Bethan Morgan, head of the San Diego Zoo’s Global Central Africa Program who has worked to protect the forest’s great apes, in a statement.

“We hope that the international community will seize this opportunity to work with the government of Cameroon to make Ebo a showcase for long-term conservation in harmony with very challenged communities.”

Newswire: ‘Uncle Tom’ trends on Twitter after RNC trots out Black men to deny Trump’s racism

By Bruce C.T. Wright, NEWSONE

Of the three Black speakers at the Republican convention Black people at RNC From left: Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, Herschel Walker and Sen. Tim Scott. | Source: Getty Images / Getty



Whether through sheer coincidence — or not — “Uncle Tom” was one of the top trending topics on Twitter Tuesday morning following the opening night of the Republican National Convention (RNC) that featured several Black men making the case for Donald Trump to be re-elected.
More than 6,000 “Uncle Tom” tweets were posted following speeches from Democratic Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones, former professional football star Herschel Walker and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott. They each took turns trying to dispel any notion of racism in America or among its leadership despite Trump’s repeated personal demonstrations to the contrary.
“The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave their mental plantation,” Jones, who has been called an “embarrassment” to Democrats, said Monday night at the RNC. “We’ve been forced to be there for decades and generations. But I have news for Joe Biden: We are free. We are free people with free minds.”
Walker, who was one of Trump’s employees when he played in the USFL — another of Trump’s failed business ventures — said his “soul” was hurt when he learned people called the president racist.
“I take it as a personal insult that people think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist,” Walker said Monday night with a straight face during his official endorsement of Trump’s re-election.
Not to be outdone, though, Scott, the sitting U.S. senator who has previously dared to broach the topic of race with his commander-in-chief, said that Trump gives citizens the best chance “to live the American dream.”
For brevity’s sake, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of Trump’s treatment of Black people in America: a decades’ long streak of discrimination that pre-dates his White House stint; repeated attacks against Black women, in particular; and referring to white supremacists in part as “fine people.” The president is racist by the very definition of the word, making the speeches from Jones, Walker and Scott both predictable in the context of Black Republicans and disingenuous whether they truly believe the words they told America or not.
If that’s not proof enough, Vox created a whole comprehensive timeline of Trump’s racism for readers to refer to in case there is still any confusion.
To be clear, the term “Uncle Tom” comes from a fictional slave in the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” written by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852. Over the years, the character became synonymous with subservient African Americans who sell out their people to curry favor with white folks.
Republicans on Twitter took it upon themselves to try to change the “Uncle Tom” narrative on social media Tuesday morning.
You, the reader, can decide whether Jones, Walker and Scott fit the criteria for such a designation.
Prior to the RNC’s start, Scott was the only Black person who was listed on the convention’s official schedule of speakers. However, what might be more telling than the RNC’s overtures to Black voters was its invitations to people who have been accused of having a racist agenda.
That includes: Nick Sandmann, the MAGA hat-wearing teenager who found himself at the center of a racially charged confrontation with a Native American elder and Black Hebrew Israelites at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., last year; and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the married couple of lawyers who brandished and aimed guns at nonviolent Black Lives Matter protesters marching peacefully past their home in St. Louis in June.

Newswire: More police shooting of Black Men sparks protests as “Knee Off Our Necks” March is scheduled for Saturday

By Hazel Trice Edney

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. (Credit: family photo.)


(TriceEdneyWire.com) – A 29- year-old Black man remains in stable condition today after being shot seven times in the back by a White police officer for unknown reasons on Monday, Aug. 24.
Jacob Blake, shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin policeman, was reportedly leaving the scene of an altercation between two women as police followed him on foot, one holding a gun to his back. Blake had reportedly broken up the fight between the two women.
When Blake attempted to get into the driver’s seat of the car where his 8, 5, and 3-year-old sons were seated, the officer with the gun grabbed the back of his t-shirt; then opened fire, appearing to shoot Blake seven times in the back.
According to reports, Blake was paralyzed from the waste down after undergoing several surgeries but remained in stable condition. Two of the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigations.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, Trayford Pellerin, was shot to death by police at a gas station on the Evangeline Thruway, on Friday August 21, 2020. Peaceful protestors returned to the same gas station over the weekend, Some of the protestors continued to march to block the major highway through Lafayette. Police in riot gear then attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Wisconsin’s governor called on the National Guard in anticipation of possible violent protests. This incident comes after a summer of heated protests after the killings of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor both killed by police. It also comes just before the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” march this Saturday, August 28, “citing racial climate as the urgent need to still mobilize.”
Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, along with Attorney Benjamin Crump and the Families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and others will convene with NAN, NAACP and others for the march on Washington in protest of police brutality. For more information on this march, go to https://nationalactionnetwork.net/commitment-march-get-your-knee-off-our-necks/.
Protestors quickly hit streets around the country as the Blake family pleaded for peaceful demonstrations only. Despite their pleas, buildings were set afire in Kenosha. Nothing was mentioned of the shooting by President Donald Trump during the first day of the Republican National Convention. Democratic Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden issued a statement.
“This morning, the nation wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force,” Biden said. “This calls for an immediate, full and transparent investigation and the officers must be held accountable.”
DNC Chairman Tom Perez concluded, “A bullet in the back. A knee on the neck. When will it end? Yet again, our nation is hurting. Yet again, Black communities are hurting. Our hearts go out to Jacob Blake and his family as we pray for his recovery. Sadly, we know he is not the first to be viciously gunned down by law enforcement. He is one of countless Black Americans who have suffered at the hands of bigotry with a badge.

Candidates forum held for Eutaw city elections

By John Zippert, Co-Publisher

Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA)
Endorsements for
Municipal Election – August 25, 2020
Sandra Walker – Mayor of Eutaw
Charlie McAlpine – Mayor of Forkland
Valerie Watkins – Eutaw City Council District 1
La’Jeffrey Carpenter – Eutaw City Council – Dist 2
Sheila Smith – Eutaw City Council District 4
Rodney Wesley – Eutaw City Council District 5


The Eutaw Garden Club, a voluntary group of city residents that has been working to beautify and clean the Courthouse Square and surrounding streets, held a forum on Saturday for candidates for Mayor and City Council, in the upcoming August 25 municipal elections to present their views and answer questions from voters.
The program was held outdoors on the Old Courthouse Square lawn with masks and social distancing for both the candidates and audience. Iris Sermon, 911 and Emergency Management Director served as mistress of order.
Four of the five candidates for Mayor of the City of Eutaw – Latasha Johnson, Joe Lee Powell, Sandra Walker and Queena Bennett Whitehead were present, addressed the crowd and answered questions. Incumbent Mayor Raymond Steele did not attend and missed the opportunity to discuss his record and respond to questions.
City Council candidates were also present and gave remarks and responded to questions. Among the Council candidates who were present were: for District 1 Ka’Undra Q. Cox and Valerie Watkins, Chandra Mayes did not attend; for District 2 LaJeffrey Carpenter spoke but Bryant Snyder Jr. did not attend; for District 4 Sheila Smith and Larry Coleman were present; and for District 5, both candidates Jacqueline Stewart and Rodney Wesley attended.
The District 3 Council race is uncontested and Tracy Hunter, the only candidate who qualified, will be elected, unless challenged by a write-in vote. She did not attend the candidates’ forum nor did she submit a statement of her candidacy to this newspaper.
Sandra Walker, candidate for Mayor, who is endorsed by the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA), said she was humble and hard working and would not accept a salary as Mayor until the finances of the city were straightened out.
She said the first thing she would do is have an audit made of the City finances and do a budget to make sure the city government knew what direction they were moving forward in.
Walker said she had been attending City Council meetings and other agency and committee meetings for a year to prepare herself to serve as Mayor. She agreed with outsourcing the management of the city’s water department until problems with the system’s pipes, meters and billing system can be corrected.
Walker said she would hire a grant writer to help the city raise more funds from state and Federal sources to support activities, projects, equipment and programs like the Carver School community center. She was concerned that the city’s streets and infrastructure were “band aided but not really fixed”.
She said that she would work to develop a good relationship with the City Council members and other boards and agencies. She said she was open to raises for the police and city employees but she wanted to be sure that they all worked hard and did a good job for the people.
Latasha Johnson, who is currently District No. 1 Councilwoman, said she was running for Mayor because “I am tired of the same voices being heard and the Mayor lying to the people about the water system and the finances of the City.”
Johnson pledged that if she is elected, she will have an audit and a budget and allow the citizens of the city to see the finances. She also said that she would work closely with the City Council to achieve greater unity.
She said her priorities included working with the City Council, straightening out the water system, paying the police and staff more and providing them with updated equipment, so they could do their jobs more effectively.
Johnson said she thought that the City and the County government were going to collaborate on buying and making the Carver School into a community center to serve the full community. “Next thing, I knew, Mayor Steele had run down to the Board of Education and bought the school; without telling the Council about his plans.”
Johnson said she was supportive of cleaning up and improving the downtown areas but felt all areas of the city should receive attention and improvement.
Joe Lee Powell, who is currently representing District 3 (Branch Heights) on the City Council is also running for Mayor. Powell said he is a “proven leader with 16 years’ experience and training in all areas of municipal government.” He said he would organize a citywide Advisory Council to assist him in governing the City of Eutaw.
Powell said that he plans to hire a financial person to help develop a budget and make sure the city follows its financial plan. He said he wants to remodel the National Guard Armory for the police department and other city agencies.
Powell said the downtown area is the gateway to the city and the county. There are too many empty and dilapidated buildings around the Courthouse Square, including the old Courthouse itself. “We need to seek funding to fix up the city. We also need to raise pay for all of our employees, including police, on an annual basis and get them the equipment they need to be effective.”
Powell supports the Water Management Associates contract to oversee the water department and plans to issue regular reports to the Council and the public on the status and finances of this and other city departments.
Queena Bennett Whitehead, who is also running for Mayor, qualified that, “I have a residence in Eutaw at 107 Second Avenue, but I also have a home in McCalla and two in Tuscaloosa, which I won’t be giving up.”
Bennett said she “would help to make things better in the city and do the things that are needed to improve. I feel the citizens are shut-out and do not know what is happening in city government. I hope to change that.”
Bennett said her priorities were: to get the crime rate under control, to bring jobs to the city and improve the water system and other city services.
Candidates for City Council also spoke and answered many of the same questions as the mayoral candidates.
In concluding the meeting, Iris Sermon urged everyone to vote on this coming Tuesday, August 25, 2020 for the Mayor and City Council positions. She also reminded the people present that they can join the Eutaw Garden Club by coming out on Wednesday afternoons at 6:00 PM to help beautify the downtown areas of Eutaw.

Bingo distribution totals $379,643.45 for July 2020

On Friday, August 14, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $379.643.45 from three licensed bingo gaming operations in the county. The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge and Palace.
The recipients of the July distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Fire Department, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,924.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,500; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,133.33.
River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $110.165.19 to the following: Greene County Commission, $29,286.06; Greene County Sheriff’s $32,332.50; City of Eutaw, $8,861.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,712.25; Greene County Board of Education, $10,059, and the Greene County Health System, $11,975.00. Sub Charities, each $1,085.73.
Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $154,533.28 to the following: Greene County Commission, $41.086.68; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $45.360; City of Eutaw, $12,432; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $5208.00; Greene County Board of Education, $14,112 and the Greene County Health System, $16,800; Sub Charities each, $1523.20.

Newswire: German offer of $12 million for genocide reparations is rejected as “unacceptable” by Namibian leader

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, German military forces, called Schutztruppe,


Aug. 17, 2020 (GIN) – The Namibian government has turned thumbs down to a German offer of US$11.8 million ($10 million Euros) as reparations for Germany’s genocidal extermination of indigenous Herero and Nama people from 1904-1908.
The reparations offer for mass killings by Germany in the colony known as German South West Africa were “not acceptable”, declared President Hage Geingob, adding that the figure was “an insult to Namibia.”
Geingob’s retort was affirmed by Claus Stacker, editor at the German news service DW. “The figure is so shameful and ridiculously low that it in no way resembles a serious offer of reparations,” Stacker said. “Ten million euros can in no way be the result of five years of interrupted negotiations over the mass murder of the Herero and Nama people exactly 116 years ago.”
“One thing remains clear and cannot be glossed over,” he continued. “The negotiations must be concluded and an official German apology is long overdue.”
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, German military forces, called Schutztruppe, exterminated hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in present-day Namibia through starvation and thirst in the Omaheke Desert, through forced labor, sexual violence, medical experiments and disease in concentration camps. The goal was to rid the colony of people viewed as expendable and thus gain access to their land.
“This genocide, the first of the twentieth century, was a prelude to the Holocaust in both the ideology of racial hierarchy that justified the genocide and in the methods employed,” the Museum entry reads.
“Historians estimate that approximately 80,000 indigenous people were killed in the genocide. While these numbers are difficult to confirm, this figure represents about 80 percent of the Herero people and 50 percent of the Nama people. “
In 1985, the U.N.’s Whitaker Report on the crime of genocide concluded that the German massacre of the Hereros qualified as genocide and was one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the 20th century.
In July 2015, the German government and the speaker of the Bundestag officially called the events “genocide” but refused to consider reparations.
A half century after Germany’s war on the Herero, the all-white government of South Africa extended its brutal policies of segregation to Namibia. Decades after the country gained independence, the Herero are still fighting to regain what they once had.
This week, in a related development, the East African nation of Burundi announced it will seek reparations from both Germany and Belgium in the sum of $42.6 billion for damages done during colonialism and for the return of historical artifacts and archive material believed stolen by the two European countries.
From 1890, Germany colonized Burundi, which became part of German East Africa. After WWI, the country was ruled by Belgium, until it gained its independence in 1962.