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Speakers in red berets don’t hold back

“La Res” turned out in earnest Monday
Vehement. Vitriolic. Vicious.
Men and women donning red berets held nothing back at the podium in a packed commissioners’ room.
Turning out to support the aims of “La Resistance,” those in red berets decried the financing for West End Plaza.
A handful of speakers also spoke to support commissioners’ decision to finance the purchase of the mall.
The advocates urged commissioners to stand their ground against the newly formed, and angry, group sporting the berets and T-shirts reading “stopthemalltax.com.”
Commissioners sat in their seats attentive while being verbally bombarded behind the semicircular desk — next to me while I tried to digest and Tweet.
The mantle of government seems to be especially heavy sometimes.
Whether cursed or blessed by the rule stipulating commissioners don’t respond to comments put forth by public speakers, all five had to remain mum through the whole session.
Meanwhile, red berets ripped into all of them.
I could just picture all the words in the thought bubbles above commissioners’ heads.
Some supporters of the commissioners’ decision to submit a request for the LGC’s approval of funding were snickered at.
Rowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jim Sides threatened to kick everybody out after an “outbreak” composed of muffled laughter reverberating while a mall supporter spoke.
“If there is one more outbreak, we will clear the room and the speakers will be in here one at a time speaking to the commissioners,” Sides said. “We will maintain order and decorum or you will leave.”
Louis Bodak, a member of La Resistance, said he suspects the county commissioners are “cooking the books” when it comes to West End Plaza figures.
That’s a pretty big allegation.
“The majority of people in Rowan spoke on May 6, 2014. Listen closely, we the people of Rowan County, in a resounding majority do not want you to borrow any money from the LGC or anyone else in that matter,” Bodak said.
Bodak next targeted Sides.
“I had a sign during the parade in the fall that said “No Mall,” and the other person that was with (Sides) waved at me — smirking at me. I think you remember that,” Bodak said. “(Sides) made a quote — ‘I am right where God wants me to be doing what God wants me to do.’ Well brother, he answered your prayers and your grandkids’ (prayers). You’re fired.”
Mike-o Martelli, another member of La Resistance, talked about getting his “Hindu idols and Buddhist idols and great treasures from African culture and Native American culture and Aboriginal culture” at the new Global Treasures store the county is bringing into West End Plaza.
“I noticed on their website, they had a statue of the Hindu god Ganesh — the Hindu god that represents tearing down barriers and is often involved in new beginnings,” Martelli said. “I think I would like to go down and buy that to celebrate the barriers that were torn down just a couple weeks ago in the primary election and to celebrate the new beginning that we will be ushering in this November.”
Just four months in as a Post reporter covering politics and county government, sometimes I feel like I have somewhat of a thousand-yard stare.
Seventy-three people showed up Monday to speak against the mall financing versus nine supporters.
Commissioners voted to limit both sides to five speakers apiece.
With commissioners’ scheduling of a second public hearing for June 2, I’m sure even more people will turn out. I might have to leave “early” to make any kind of deadline.
On May 16, Wake County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood laid down a permanent injunction against a state law passed in July ending career status for teachers.
School boards across the state struggled with how to apply the law and address the issue in their respective districts.
The law in effect would end career status for experienced teachers and offer a $500 bonus to the top quarter of teachers demonstrating proficiency.
N.C. Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, said the state is facing a crisis in terms of teacher pay.
“The legislature foolishly cut funds to pay teachers. Now, many of our best teachers are taking second jobs or leaving North Carolina just to make ends meet,” McLaurin said. “This is one of the primary reasons I voted against last year’s budget.”
McLaurin said the law would only benefit a quarter of the state’s public schools teachers “while leaving the rest behind.”
“We can’t fix this crisis by pitting our teachers against one another,” McLaurin said. “Most of our educators are excellent professionals who care deeply for their students. All teachers deserve a competitive salary and the ability to provide for their families.”
State laws “have no business” picking winners and losers in the classroom, McLaurin said.
“I hope to work with my colleagues in Raleigh to make education a priority and raise teacher pay to the national average,” McLaurin said.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th District, targeted Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki this week.
Hudson, an outspoken supporter of veterans, said the VA’s failures are “astounding and shameful.”
“President Obama can claim he’s ‘madder than hell’ and hold all the press conferences he wants, but the American people deserve substantive action now,” Hudson said. “Secretary Shinseki has had a long and distinguished career and I am very grateful for his service to our county, but it has become clear that he has lost the trust of the public and it is time for him to step aside to allow new leadership to come in and clean up the department.”
On Thursday, Hudson joined other lawmakers in co-sponsoring H.Con.Res.98 to call President Obama to immediately demand Secretary Shinseki’s resignation.
The effort was made to ensure Shinseki’s resignation so lawmakers “can move forward and finally offer the care that our brave men and women deserve.”
“I will continue to work tirelessly to address the serious issues at the VA to ensure that our heroes are treated with dignity and respect,” Hudson said.

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