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A third Caucus scholarship?

A granddaughter of state Rep. Earline Parmon may have also received a scholarship from a nonprofit affiliated with the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus.

Parmon declined to talk to a reporter today, but an announcement in an April 24, 2006, education column in the Winston-Salem Journal shows that a woman with the same name as her granddaughter received a $1,000 scholarship from the Black Caucus Foundation.

The following Winston-Salem students were recently awarded scholarships by Rep. Earline Parmon on behalf of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus: (snip)

Shalonda Ingram received a $1,000 scholarship. She studies at Winston-Salem State University.

Other articles confirm that the Winston-Salem Democrat has a granddaughter named Shalonda Ingram. A May 12, 2003, feature about Ingram notes that she studied at a charter school run by her grandmother, Rep. Earline Parmon, and a Nov. 6, 2002, photo shows Parmon hugging her "granddaughter Shalonda Ingram."

The daughter of state Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield and the son of Rep. Larry Womble also received scholarships from the Black Caucus Foundation.

Neither Ingram nor Parmon could be reached for comment.

Update: Ingram confirmed on Thursday, June 28, that she is Parmon's granddaughter. 

Another Caucus scholarship

The daughter of state Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield also received a scholarship from a nonprofit affiliated with the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus.

The Wilson Democrat said her daughter, Lenai Butterfield, got a scholarship to go to N.C. Central University, where she studied early childhood education, graduating in 2006, Mark Johnson of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Farmer-Butterfield said that there was no rule against it.

"The key thing is that if the foundation had criteria that families of legislators couldn't apply, we would have abided by that," she said.

Rep. Alma Adams, head of the Black Caucus, said she intends to release a statement on the scholarships tomorrow. The son of Winston-Salem Democratic Rep. Larry Womble also received a scholarship from the foundation in 2006.

Caucus scholarships

The head of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus will release a statement tomorrow on the recipients of its college scholarships.

In April, Rep. Alma Adams asked for an audit of the caucus' nonprofit foundation, after a previous chairwoman expressed concern that the group had spent too much money on an annual conference. A spokeswoman for the Greensboro Democrat said she would discuss some of the findings tomorrow.

"Any questions you have will be answered then," said Wanda Kay, Adams' research administrator.

To date, the foundation has not released the names of all scholarship recipients, but at least one is the son of a ranking member of the caucus.

Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat, was the foundation's second vice chair in 2006. The following year, his son, Jamaal, received two scholarship checks to attend Winston-Salem State University.

A spokeswoman for Womble referred all questions to Adams, but she noted that his son is not the only relative of a caucus member to have received a scholarship. Both Womble and Adams refused comment.

In 2005, the foundation gave out $54,318 in scholarships.

Spider-man

Rep. Larry Womble's Ferrari 360 Spider is attracting attention.

First, Greensboro reporter Mark Binker posted a few pictures of the Winston-Salem Democrat's silver convertible with an estimated $200,000 sticker price on his blog.

That led Red Clay Citizen to check on the retired educator's finances, including his state ethics form and his property tax records, saying they raised questions about how he could afford the car.

Now Winston-Salem Journal columnist Scott Sexton has talked to Womble.

"Slow day? You guys got nothing better to write about than my car?" Womble asked. "I've been driving an old 4-cylinder Corsica for 10 or 12 years, and nobody says anything about that."

According to Sexton, Womble used a variation of "beg, borrow or steal" to finance the car. After suffering health problems, he said he "just wanted a nice car."

Racial justice

A defendant who is sentenced to death could challenge the sentence on the basis of racial discrimination under a bill approved tonight by the state House.

House members voted 62-54 to approve the "North Carolina Racial Justice Act," which would create a procedure for defendants condemned to death to present evidence of racial discrimination, reports Mark Johnson of The Charlotte Observer. The defendant would have to prove that race was a factor in sentencing, which could include statistical evidence that capital punishment was imposed more frequently on people of one race over another.

"This is not a (death penalty) moratorium bill. We just want to make sure we are fair and we are reliable in what we do here in North Carolina," said Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

The judge in the case would hold a hearing on the claim of racial bias, and prosecutors could present rebuttal arguments. Opponents said the bill tries to circumvent juries and creates a quota
system in which prosecutors will be compelled to seek the death penalty against the statistically appropriate number of minority defendants.

"We don't punish people based on groups," said Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, the House Republican leader. "We don't exonerate people based on groups."

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Smokers Caucus

In light of the smoking ban failure, a reader asked Dome which legislators smoke.

Obviously, that depends on your definition. If the occasional celebratory cigar counted, some of us here at Dome might be classified as smokers.

But there are a few lawmakers who are known to light up.

We have learned from a reliable source in the smoking area in front of the General Assembly, that the following legislators are part of, shall we say, the Smokers Caucus: Sen. Steve Goss and Reps. Larry Womble, Earline Parmon, Linda Johnson and Daniel McComas.

Rep. Mickey Michaux reportedly quit smoking recently.

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