Damon Circosta rates as a strong defender and clever playmaker who should help the Raleigh Goodmons in a tough league — the N.C. Future Development League — dominated of late by the Carolina Wingers. The Wingers are led by their point man, Paul "Skip" Stam, and by owner-manager Art "His Holiness" Pope.
But Stam can only go to his right, and he looks like he's lost a step or two over the years. Circosta is more versatile, and he's touted as a "next-generation leader" by his coach:
Raleigh, N.C. — Barbara Goodmon, president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, announced Thursday that Damon Circosta has been named executive director of the foundation, beginning April 2.
Circosta currently heads the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a non-profit whose mission is to inform and engage North Carolinians so that they may fully participate in democracy. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Law and a member of the State Bar of North Carolina.
“I am excited to join a North Carolina foundation that is active in the arts, education, public broadcasting and social justice. The Foundation has a proud history of taking a collaborative and inclusive approach to philanthropy, and I am thrilled to be a part of it,” Circosta said.
“Damon understands what the word 'community' means," Goodmon said. "He has a fine record of public service work and brings passion, skill, and energy to our Foundation. North Carolina is in good hands with next-generation leaders like Damon.”
The A.J. Fletcher Foundation was established by Alfred Johnston Fletcher (1887-1979). The Foundation recently moved offices to 909 Glenwood Ave., the former home of A.J. Fletcher. Fletcher’s grandson, Jim Goodmon, is board chair of the Foundation and president and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns WRAL-TV.
[Update, 10:15 a.m.: I just spoke with Doug McMillan, CEO of the YMCA of the Triangle. He said the YMCA is not a convener of the Thursday meeting nor is it looking to take anything from the YWCA. "We are coming to listen," McMillan said. "We are not leading."
[The YMCA has collaborated successfully with other organizations in East Raleigh, and that kind of collaboration may be possible with some of the programs the YWCA has been running, McMIllan added. But at this point, without much information about what the YW's specific programs are, he doesn't know how such a collaboration might work. "We want to be supportive," McMillan said. "We just don't know how best to be supportive."
[I have calls in to Craig Chancellor and Maria Spaulding, and I'll be writing a piece later for tomorrow's Indy.]
What follows is the original post from last night —
It's been a week since terminated workers hosted their meeting at Martin Street Baptist Church, and there's been no public word from the Board of Directors of the YWCA of the Greater Triangle. I was told by two reliable sources that, prior to that public session in the church last Monday, board members assured a small group of community leaders during a private session that they'd be getting together soon with the workers — soon meaning by the weekend.
Well, that didn't happen. But the YWCA board has called a big meeting in two days — apparently it's invitation-only — with United Way officials, the leadership of the YMCA of the Triangle, and some other dignitaries including a few Southeast Raleigh leaders. It's billed as "an important meeting to discuss the future of the organization. YOUR input and advice are critical."
But none of the terminated employees were invited, apparently, nor any of the YW's program participants, for that matter.
The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m.-12 noon in the auditorium at the Hospice of Wake County campus, which is located at 5980 Trinity Road in West Raleigh, on the other side of town and miles from the YWCA building.
The invitation came from YWCA board chair Maria Spaulding and United Way of the Greater Triangle CEO Craig Chancellor. Also copied up top were Doug McMillan, CEO of the YMCA of the Triangle, and Bruce Lightner, a Southeast Raleigh leader who co-chairs the Raleigh MLK Celebration Committee.
Lightner, in an email provided to one of the former YWCA workers, told a fellow invitee that he was asked to get involved by the Rev. Earl Johnson, pastor at Martin Street Baptist and the new president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association (RWCA), Southeast Raleigh's main political organization. "It is my understanding the meeting is called by the Triangle YMCA Board, Triangle YMCA Administrators and Triangle United Way Administrators," Lightner says in the email.
Lightner expressed concern that a closed-door meeting will simply add to the "mountain of distrust and animosity" that Southeast Raleigh feels toward the YW's board. It's time, he suggests, for the board "to have a community wide meeting and invite former YWCA Board Members, former YWCA Staff, other stake holders in the boarder community ... and citizens most effected by the YWCA's closing. Such a public meeting will go a long way in providing a vision and commitment to move forward with openness and transparency."
Johnson, when I reached him by telephone, said he's committed to keeping the YWCA open, but he said it may not necessarily be called the YWCA. "I do think there needs to be a change in leadership," Johnson said. "But you were at the meeting Monday. People spoke out strongly that it that they want it to stay [and reopen]. The community benefits are tremendous. I haven't heard anybody say, come shut it down."
One possible scenario I've heard is that YMCA may take over most of the YWCA's programs, though not necessarily its building nor its core mission. [And this — see above — is the impression that the YMCA's Doug McMillan is anxious to dispel.]
The building and adjacent lots owned by the YWCA are valued at upwards of $1 million, I'm told. But the YWCA is in debt to the tune of $500,000 or perhaps more. So YWCA board members may be anxious to liquidate the assets — the building — pay off the debts and go away.
If the YMCA takes over, however, two things will almost certainly be true.
Number one, whatever programs remain from the YW, the organization will not be led by women, let alone women of color, as the YWCA has historically been.
Number two, the YMCA is very unlikely to maintain the YWCA's mission, which is: Empower women, and eradicate racism.
To maintain the mission, the YWCA would need to be reconstituted as an independent organization with a strong board, led by women and housed in Southeast Raleigh. Where in Southeast Raleigh? Well, there's a perfectly good building on East Hargett Street.
The Rev. Lynice Williams was, as her friend Pete McDowell says, "a great activist and a wonderful person." She was recognized as a Citizen Award winner by the Indy in 1993, before our stories were digitized (hence, there's no link for it), and she continued to work for civil and human rights until shortly before her death.
N.C. Fair Share, started in 1987, was a part of many progressive coalitions over the years, including being a founding member of Democracy South, forerunner to current progressive watchdog Democracy North Carolina. The Rev. Williams served as a board member of the N.C. Council of Churches, was a co-founder of the N.C. Environmental Justice Network, and was a leader in many other organizations advocating for the rights of the underprivileged and for political and campaign finance reforms..
Her church, Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh, has established a website in her memory and for friends and family to offer their reminiscences.
It says in part:
Rev. Lynice Williams was a champion. She believed deeply and fought passionately for health care as she knew it to be a human right. She had deep love for our community. She insisted that those impacted by the problem be at the table to craft the solution. She was gracious and loving. She always had a smile to offer and a kind word of encouragement. The movement for justice and liberation and human rights has lost one of its Generals. She will be missed.
According to the website, services will be held on Saturday, March 17, at the church. The viewing will begin at 11 am and the funeral services will start at noon. Christian Faith Baptist Church is located at 509 Hilltop Drive.
Linda Coleman, one of the two candidates for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor, just did a conference call with reporters. She came out strongly against Amendment 1, the anti-gay state constitutional amendment. Her rationale, she said in answer to questions, is that it's a distraction from the real issues of jobs and education. But she added that she isn't just standing pat on the current law, which already bans gay marriages and civil unions. Coleman said the law should be changed to allow civil unions in North Carolina.
"I support civil unions," Coleman said. "We need to change the law to allow people to live together."
Amendment 1 is so poorly written, she said, that it threatens the laws that protect unmarried couples, whether gay or straight, in domestic violence cases, child-custody cases and the like.
Coleman also endorsed Gov. Perdue's call for a 3/4-cent sales tax increase for education.
State personnel director in the Perdue Administration, Coleman is a former state legislator and Wake County Commissioner.
The Coalition to Protect N.C. Families is out with a statement about the new Elon University Poll, which shows a majority of voters in North Carolina opposed to Amendment One, the anti-LGBT amendment to the state constitution on the May 8 primary ballot.
Amendment One would prohibit the state from recognizing gay marriages, civil unions or any other domestic partnership arrangements, whether between gay or straight couples. Only a one-man, one-woman marriage would count.
Oddly, the Elon Poll results are roughly the opposite of the poll taken less than two weeks ago for the J.W. Pope Citivas Institute, the Art Pope-funded conservative organization. Civitas hired a New Jersey polling firm that reported strong support for Amendment One.
The Elon Poll is nonpartisan and unaffiliated with any political group.
(One update/observation: Look at the way Elon asked the question. First, they ask about attitudes toward same-sex marriage and civil unions. Then they ask about the amendment. It's a unbiased question, but it's preceded by a question that causes people to stop and think. If you just ask, as the Civitas poll did, whether people support an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, a majority seem reflexively to say yes.)
From the Coalition:
NEW POLL SHOWS INCREASING OPPOSITION TO AMENDMENT ONE
Majority of North Carolinians Oppose Constitutional Amendment on May
8, 2012 Ballot
Elon, N.C. — A new Elon University Poll released today shows that a
majority of North Carolinians oppose Amendment One, a constitutional
amendment on the May 8, 2012, North Carolina primary ballot that bans
relationship recognitions and threatens protections for the state’s
The nonpartisan poll revealed that 54.2% of North Carolinians surveyed
either oppose or strongly oppose “an amendment to the constitution
that would ban same-sex marriage.” Only 37.8% polled were in any way
supportive of Amendment One. The poll also illustrates a dramatic
increase in the category of “strong opposition” to this type of
amendment from only one year ago, with 34% now voicing strong
opposition versus 21.8% in February 2011.
Overall opposition to Amendment One increased even further when North
Carolinians polled were asked whether they opposed an amendment to the
North Carolina constitution “that would prevent civil unions and
domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.” Nearly 57% of North
Carolinians (56.9%) polled opposed or strongly opposed an amendment on
“The Elon University poll is a clear sign that North Carolina is
AGAINST Amendment One,” said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for
Protect All NC Families, the coalition effort to defeat Amendment One.
“The more people learn about this poorly-written amendment and its
unintended consequences, the more they realize it will harm our
children, their families, unmarried women, and seniors.”
The Elon poll did not inquire about Amendment One support or
opposition based on unintended harms to all unmarried couples in North
Carolina, including a permanent ban on domestic partner benefits for
public employees, as well as how it could negatively affect
enforcement of domestic violence laws, child custody agreements and
end-of-life directives. A recent state panel tasked with explaining
Amendment One to voters found that there is significant debate among
legal experts about how the amendment might impact various legal
protections for public and private employee benefits as well as other
harms. The panel ultimately concluded that the state’s court system
would need to determine Amendment One’s lasting consequences.
“While the Elon Poll does not touch on the vast array of known and
potential harms of this type of overreaching legislation—harms that
were a reality in other states—it does mirror the momentum we’ve seen
in our work on the ground throughout the state,” said Kennedy. The
more North Carolinians know about Amendment One, the more support for
Remember when Herman Cain was the front-runner for president in the Republican universe?
Cain's the cornerman for Newt Gingrich these days, fyi.
A Gingrich-Cain ticket could dominate in the over-60 swingers demographic.
The news just came across our digits from the Wake GOP (with a subsequent note changing the site from Dorton to Kerr Scott):
On Thursday, March 22, the 2012 Wake County Republican Party Convention will be held at
Dorton Arenathe Kerr Scott Building on the NC State Fairgrounds. The program will include a keynote address by former Presidential candidate, Herman Cain.
All who registered for the Precinct Meeting on February 16, 2012 are eligible to serve as a delegate or alternate at the convention. Those who did not register for the precinct meeting may still attend the convention by registering as an observer.
To sign up as a delegate, go to www.wakegop.org and pay the $25 delegate fee online or print and mail the form along with a check to Wake GOP Convention, ATTN: Susan Bryant, PO Box 30608, Raleigh, NC 27622.
Sign up quickly because on March 17, the delegate fee will increase to $50. Admission for observers is $50 in advance and $75 at the door.
Place: North Carolina State Fairgrounds
Dorton ArenaKerr Scott Building - 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27607
Date: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Doors Open: 5:30 p.m.
Program with Keynote speaker Herman Cain: 7:00 p.m.
Don't blame me if there's no free pizza. I'd have it there, no question.
If it's Thursday, it must be time (6-9 p.m.) for the anti-Amendment One phone bank at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh. Bring your cell phone and, if you have one, your laptop.
From Tracy Hollister, whom you may remember from this story:
Phone Bank at UUFR for Coalition to Protect NC Families
Thu., March 8, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Use your cell phone to simply identify how voters will vote on Amendment One and recruit more volunteers. Hosted by UUFR's Task Force to Protect All NC Families and local chapters of PFLAG and HRC as well as the Triangle Freethought Society. A few people can also help by doing data entry on their laptops. Be sure to RSVP on the web site listed below.
@ Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Avenue
The good news, if there be such in the debacle of the Raleigh YWCA closing, is that the Southeast Raleigh community is rising strongly to insist that the facility and its programs be saved. That was apparent tonight as 200 people gathered — not at the YWCA, but as it turned out at the Martin Street Baptist Church a few blocks away — to voice their feelings and start to organize. "We were going in different directions," said Wake County Commissioner James West, talking about how hard times brought the community down. But with the news about the YW, West said, "We are coming together."
Said Rukiya Dillahunt, a retired school vice principal and activist in Black Workers for Justice: "The people united will never be defeated." After leading a chant with those words, Dillahunt vowed: "And we are going to save the YWCA on Hargett Street."
Those who came expecting to hear a plan to save the YWCA were disappointed, however. No board members of the YWCA of the Greater Triangle, the governing body that closed the building and terminated 14 employees on less than a day's notice Wednesday, attended the meeting. That fact ticked off the displaced workers. One, Omisade Burney-Scott, read aloud the outraged letter they directed at the board on Friday. Another, Crystal Hayes, called them "cowards."
Board members did meet privately with a small group of community leaders in a conference room at Martin Street Baptist before the public session began.
According to several people who were there, board members said they closed the YW abruptly after being warned by their "legal counsel" that they risked criminal charges if they continued to employ people knowing they didn't have any money to pay them. The lawyers also advised board members not to attend the open meeting last night and not to allow it to be held at the YWCA, as the workers and community leaders planned.
So, at the last minute, the open meeting was moved to the church, with organizers directing folks there as they arrived at the YW.
Because the board members did not address issues in public, the people who attended the meeting came away without any information about how deep the financial troubles of the YWCA go. I was told by a knowledgeable person that the organization's debt is $500,000 in round numbers. I can't quote the name.
Board members said in private that they intend to meet with the displaced workers as soon as possible, probably this week, and are working hard to find the money to pay them their back wages they're owed.
If details about the organization's debts were scant, though, organizing to get the details and begin to address them is moving ahead.
The Rev. Earl Johnson, pastor at Martin Street and the new president of the RWCA (Raleigh Wake Citizens Association), Southeast Raleigh's political arm, is among the leaders along with members of his church and members of First Baptist Church downtown.
City Councilor Eugene Weeks said he's talked with Council members, City Manager Russell Allen and Mayor Nancy McFarlane and they're "listening" for ways the city can help.
Keith Sutton, the district's representative on the Wake County Board of Education, said school leaders are working as a team to find after-school programs for the kids who were in such programs at the YW.
Several organizations have volunteered to host the YW's senior group, the Golden Oaks.
And Bishop M.S. Nesbitt of Deliverance Cathedral of Love got a big round of applause when she spoke toward the end of the meeting and promised that her church will write checks to each of the 14 displaced workers for $1,000 each.
Organizers are raising money to support the 14 employees who were terminated and who continue to be owed back wages. Those wishing to contribute should direct checks to ACRE (Action for Community in Raleigh), a nonprofit 501(c)3 group which has agreed to handle the donations and pass them through to the workers. The mailing address is:
331 W. Main St.
Durham, N 27701.
Write YWCA on the check. Contributions will be tax-deductible.
Last night's vigil (too windy for candles) produced an outpouring of stories about the importance of the YWCA to women, especially women of color, and to children and teens in Raleigh. About 60 people turned out in support of keeping the YW open — here's some background — but there were no specifics about how that can or should be done.
Tonight's community meeting, starting at 6:30, may start to fill in some of the details. No one on the board of directors attended the vigil. Perhaps one or more will be there this evening to draw the financial picture and detail the debts so that people can go to work on a reorganization and fundraising plan.
Oh, and a plan to pay the staff for work they'd done before they were shown the door — sans pay — on Wednesday. They were shown the door, but apparently a lot of them stayed to sort out the mess the board left behind with the older women and child-care clients scrambling to find other programs.
City officials have been invited to be there tonight, including Mayor Nancy McFarlane.
The meeting will be in the auditorium at the YW, 554 E. Hargett St.
I didn't know it, but before the YW on E. Hargett Street was built, the old YW was on E. Davie Street. The Raleigh YW organization dates from 1911, and originally there was "the black YW" on the east side of Raleigh and the "white YW" on the west side. The two merged in the '60s, and since then the YWCA of the Greater Triangle has made it a top priority to battle racism and empower women to be on the font lines of the fight.
Ruby Thompson, 80, said she remembers the earlier YW and depends on the new one. "This has been great for us," she told the group last night, "so great I wanted to cry. Y'all, we do need this place. We need it bad."
A former board member, Yvonne Holley, said she and others in the community are on the phone looking for information and figuring out what to do. "Hopefully, we can save it and make it better than it was before," Holley said.
Rukiya Dillahunt, a retired school vice principal and a leader in Black Workers for Justice, said the YWCA has played many roles for women like her over the years. "We learned arts and crafts. We learned how to be ladies. Most important of all, we learned our history."
Patty Williams, one of the leaders of the Great Schools in Wake coalition — the YWCA was among the very first to be in the coalition defending diversity in the schools after the '09 school board elections — had a good suggestion. The YWCA annually honors women in the Raleigh area for their community leadership. Hundreds of women, many of them well-heeled (in the money way :) have been so honored.
"Smart minds," Williams called them. Time for them to use their smarts to honor the YWCA, Williams said.