Kirk, Clarence, Val…and Wesley

Not much has changed in two years.

There’s still a chain link fence around the Market House, and Kirk deViere has some work to do to keep his N.C. Senate seat.

Former District Court Judge, Clarence “Ed” Donaldson, and former City Council member, Val Applewhite have filed to run against deViere in the upcoming Democratic primary.

Donaldson lost to deViere in the 2018 Democratic primary, running under his given name “Clarence”:

Donaldson will appear on the ballot as “Ed” this time around. Fool me once?

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to face Wesley Meredith (R), who also filed this week.

Meredith has been longing for his old seat for the past four years. He’s lost to deViere twice now, but perhaps Meredith believes that a nation-wide Republican surge in response to the floundering Biden Administration will give him an advantage in 2022. He may be right.

This is a good time to remind folks that in 2018, I predicted the result of the Meredith/deViere race within a few hundredths of a percentage point:

Might be time to get the calculator out again.

Cumberland’s Congressional Power Diluted Again

For as long as I can remember, Cumberland County has been chopped up into various Congressional Districts. This limits our influence in Washington and our ability to elect “one of our own” to Congress.

Due to recent court rulings, the legislature was forced to redraw the Congressional map, and for a short while, it looked like we might finally get our chance.

Our new “District 7” looked like this:

It was essentially the “Cape Fear River” District, and it was competitive. Either a Democrat or a Republican could win it. As a proponent of moderation in a time of partisan insanity, this was a dream.

Like most dreams, it was too good to be true. The courts got involved again and re-drew the re-draw.

The map now looks like this:

Fayetteville is split in two. My every-other-day running loop is now in two congressional districts:

The new District 7 and District 9 are not “competitive.” A Republican will win each, easily.

What It Means

Fayetteville’s voting power in Washington will remain diluted for the foreseeable future. It will be difficult for a Cumberland resident to win one of these seats. Our best hope is a local Republican with resources and political savvy, and perhaps a boat to ride up or down the Cape Fear River and make a big enough splash.

Staff Emergency in Cumberland Schools???

The Cumberland County School Board has a communication problem. It’s not about their methods. As a parent of public school children, I get a text message, phone call, and email from the school system almost nightly. The problem is their messaging. They never really tell you what’s going on. A perfect example was this week:

On New Years Day, the School Board announced an emergency meeting for Tuesday, the day before school was set to resume on Wednesday. Most of us found out on Facebook. Their plan is to shut down all the schools again. They tell us it’s just for three days. The reason is Covid. I’m guessing that a lot of the staff of Cumberland County Schools, like a lot of other Cumberland County residents, caught omicron in the recent wave.

The recent updates from the school system say that “no decision has been made,” so the parents of students in Cumberland County will get about 24 hours notice as to whether they’ll need child care for their kids this week.

People are understandably upset, but they don’t get to express their frustrations. The Board is not allowing public comment at the meeting.

Prior to the vote, the Board is going to go into a closed session to get advice from their attorney. This meeting shouldn’t be behind closed doors. Instead, it should be live-streamed for every parent to see. Here’s what they’ll be discussing in that room:

New Law Governing Covid School Shutdowns

A few months ago, the N.C. Legislature amended our laws, both restricting and empowering school systems to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Click “download” to view the entire document:

The Board plans to close schools under the following section:

(b) A public school unit in a county that has received a good cause waiver, as provided in G.S. 115C-84.2(d), for the school year may use up to 15 remote instruction days or 90 remote instruction hours when schools are unable to open due to severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations and may use that time towards the required instructional days or hours for the school calendar. All other public school units may use up to five remote instruction days or 30 remote instruction hours when schools are unable to open due to severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations and may use that time towards the required instructional days or hours for the school calendar.

Notice that the word “Covid” is not in the section above.

Now read this section:


SECTION 3A. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C-84.3, as enacted by this act, a public school unit shall have the authority to make day-to-day decisions for the 2021-2022 school year concerning whether shifting individual schools or individual classrooms that are providing in-person instruction to temporary remote instruction is necessary due to COVID-19 exposures that result in insufficient school personnel or required student quarantines. A public school unit shall report any shift by a school or classroom from in-person to temporary remote instruction as provided in this section to the Department of Public Instruction within 72 hours of the shift and shall return to in-person instruction as soon as personnel are available or the required quarantines are complete.

Notice the difference? If you have a staff shortage due to Covid, you’re supposed to address it on an individual school or individual classroom basis. You then get the kids back into the closed school or closed classroom as soon as you can. You don’t shut the whole school system down!

It’s really that simple.

Why don’t we try following this brand new law and see if it works?

It’s time we take what we’ve learned and push forward as best we can.

The real emergency in our school system is the damage we continue to do to our children with our one-size-fails-all approach to the pandemic.

2021 Recap

Every December, I like to do a post that features the most-read stories on Cross Creek Divide for the calendar year. I don’t know how you feel about 2021, but it flew by for me. Most of us put politics to the side while we tried to gain some sort of control back in our daily lives. Omicron wrecked all that, and now we face more unknown.

On top of that, the City of Fayetteville has a leadership crisis. Our local politicians didn’t accomplish much, choosing instead to yell at and censure one another rather than come together for the betterment of our community. I chose not to write about this drama. It doesn’t deserve your attention.

We can only hope that 2022 will improve. A lot of new folks have decided, for whatever reason, to enter the political fray. You’re going to see a lot of new names up and down your ballots this year, and this is a good thing. I hope you’ll value a person’s ability to cross partisan and racial lines as you assess their credibility as a leader. We can’t keep fighting all the time.

Now, for the top three posts of 2021:

Basement Bailouts for Prince Charles Holdings: Our city council bought up more of the unfinished parking deck that your tax dollars paid to build.

Mayor Colvin Ignores His Own Reality: A look at the racial arguments against the “Vote Yes Fayetteville” movement to bring At-Large seats back to the Fayetteville City Council.

The Carolina Cabinet With Nat Robertson: I was on the radio back in May with Nat Robertson and we discussed a lot. At one point, I argued that Donald Trump should take credit for the vaccine and encourage his supporters to get it. This was the headline in the Washington Post last week:

Happy New Year. As always, thanks for reading.

-Matt Richardson

The List Keeps Growing in NC-04

A few weeks ago, former Fayetteville Mayor, Nat Robertson, announced that he is running for Congress in the new 4th District.

He’s got some company:

Here’s a map showing the new 4th District in pink:

Redistricting in N.C.: New maps approved, favoring GOP

A Republican Primary featuring Robertson and Szoka will be an intriguing political battle.

It also scares me a bit.

To win the primary, they will have to appeal to rural, white voters in Harnett, Johnson, and Sampson counties. This is farm country, and these are Trump supporters. Many have shouted “Let’s Go Brandon” in the recent past.

There’s a hatred simmering under the surface in America right now, and a lot of politicians are fanning the flames for personal gain. Here’s one of them, also running for Congress in North Carolina:

Madison Cawthorn - White Nationalist | TMB

Szoka and Robertson have always been able to stay above the partisan fray. They’ve built consensus in their respective arenas and each has done a great deal of good for Cumberland County. I’ll just say it: both men are statesmen and either would represent us well in Washington.

I just hope they don’t lose their souls trying to out-Republican one another. We’ve got enough of that going on right now.