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Winston-Salem chronicle. (Winston-Salem, N.C.) 1974-current, November 05, 2015, Page A6, Image 6

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OPINION _____?__? . ? i The Chronicle 617 N. Liberty Street 336-722-8624 a 41 \ Ernest H. Pitt Publisher/Co-Founder DONNA ROGERS Managing Editor elaine Pitt Business Manager Our Mission The Chronicle is dedicated to serving the residents of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County by giving voice to the voiceless, speaking truth to power, standing for integrity and encouraging open communication and lively debate throughout the community. Truth should be transparent Truth from page At community, and rightly so. Far too many of our elderly citizens have lost their life's savings, property and other valuable assets under questionable circumstances. And if that isn't outrageous and painful enough, when our gov ernment, funded by taxpayers, allegedly aids and abets these crimes, then it certainly hits a sore nerve in our community that has been an open wound for generations. So when The Chronicle became aware of the fine legal work done by local attorney Reginald D. Alston, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the estate of the late Mary Ellen Brannon Thompson, we knew the issues raised, and the facts therein confirmed, had to be brought forward for the entire community to see. To be fair, the ultimate allegation in the lawsuit by Ms. Thompson's estate, that her assets had been squandered, has still to be proven in a court of law. But the facts that have brought us to this point, facts confirmed by no less than the N.C. Court of Appeals, should have any rational person asking serious and tough questions of our Forsyth Clerk of Courts Office and die woman elected by the people to manage it, Susan Frye. Now Frye wasn't the Clerk in 2007 when many of the alleged fraudulent actions in the suit took place, but she's zealously defending them now. Big mistake. According to its website ( ty-hall-of-justice/), "The Clerk's Office provides administrative support for the judicial operation of the Forsyth County Courts ..." That means all administrative support for our county court system must comport with state statute, and longstanding rules that codify legal procedure in doing the pub lic's business. But according to a February 2014 ruling by the N.C. Court of Appeals on aspects of this case, our Clerk of Courts Office was pretty much making up its own rules when it came to determining whether Mary Ellen Brannon Thompson, the retired nurse with the $1.4 million estate in property and cash, indeed required a guardian to handle her estate mat ters. Legally, Thompson was first supposed to be found incompetent if warranted, and then the Clerk of Court appoints a guardian for her estate. But the reverse happened ... the guardian, local attorney Bryan C. Thompson (no relation), was appointed first, and only then, two days later, did the clerk issue a court order declaring Mary Thompson incompe tent. The state Court of Appeals shook its head at this, because that meant Bryan Thompson's appointment was illegal then in the first place, since Mary Thompson had not yet been legally declared incom petent. To make matters worse, none of these orders from the Clerk's Office then had been file stamped with date and time, as legally required to make them official. All of this happened in 2007, so in the inter vening years until the day Mary Thompson died in October 2014, the lawsuit alleges that attorney Bryan Thompson was managing her estate affairs illegally. And estate attorney Reginald Alston contends that his probe reveals this has happened in many other cases over the years. To add insult to injury. Clerk Susan Frye, who admitted previously in 2014 that this was " inadvertent error" needing to be corrected, now defends all of this, saying these procedures were pretty much the practice back then, but she's cleaned them up now, so no worries, no fraud. No fraud? We'll let a judge or jury decide that. But the people's verdict is in: our Clerk of Courts Office is too vital to our city, county and community, to allow an elected official to play fast and loose with the facts. We call on the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the N.C. State Auditors Office (which conducted a financial audit of our Clerk's Office in September 2014 and found internal con trols there so lacking, the report stated that while it didn't find evidence of fraud, the likelihood of fraud if new procedures weren't implemented, was great); and any other applicable state (or federal) agency, to hold the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court Office accountable for how it has, and continues to conduct the people's business. What we know so far is totally unacceptable. rwinn Manual wtfj Mifepr"1? [RoO mm CHRONICLE EDITORIAL WSSU students, parents need security after fatal shooting The festivities surrounding Winston-Salem State University's Homecoming weekend were going fine until early Sunday morning, when a student was found dead and another hurt on WSSU's campus. They had been shot. The" gunman had not been found as of Sunday. It was a sad Sunday morning in Winston-Salem as prayers were said for the families of the dead and injured. Prayers were said for those who currently attend and work at the university, also. While police say there is not a threat of an active shooter on the Winston-Salem State University campus, the shootings have shaken the secure feeling on campus. The Chronicle joins those who mourn and applaud police for quickly finding a suspect in the crime to ease the concern of students and their parents and guardians and employees of WSSU. "On Oct. 15,1 called upon my opponent, Roy Cooper, to debate the issues of this campaign before the people of this state." Spaulding Cooper Cooper appears to be dodging debates in gubernatorial race By Ken Spaulding Guest Columnist North Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding held a press conference in Durham on Monday, Oct. 26, during which he made the following statement: 1. On Oct. 15,1 called upon my opponent, Roy Cooper, to debate the issues of this campaign before the people of this state. 2. Today, I have received no word from his campaign that he is willing to debate me. 3. If Roy Cooper is afraid to debate me, then how in the world is he going to stand up to the Republicans and their sitting gover nor? 4.1 wish to share with you just a I few additional steps of progress and support for the importance of debates in the Democratic Primary. 5. The Fayetteville Observer has stepped forward and had the courage and fairness to recognize my candi dacy and to call for pre-primary debates. The Indy Weekly has for some time called for the give-and-take between Roy Cooper and me. 6. Now Time Warner Cable, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters, have agreed to spon sor a debate that will be carried statewide. 7. Now, it's time for Roy Cooper to show some degree of respect for the people of this state and agree to stand eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe and debate the issues, which are so important to North Carolina. 8. Roy can run, but he can't con tinue to hide. Our party needs strong and new leadership because "busi ness as usual," and "more of the same" have all led the Democrats to constant defeats. 9. The establishment of the Democratic Party has handpicked Roy Cooper and they control Roy Cooper, so I call upon the establish ment to instruct Roy Cooper to par ticipate in a series of debates. North Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding of Durham is an attorney who is a former legislator and state Board of Transportation member. i We Welcome Your Feedback Submit letters and guest columns to let before 5 pm. Friday for the next week's publication date. Letters intendedfor publication should be addressed "Letters to the Editor" and include your name, address, phone number and email address. Please keep letters to 350 words or less. If you are writing a guest column, please include a photo of yourself, your name, address, phone number and email address. Please keep guest columns to 550 words or less. Letters and columns can also be mailed or dropped off at W-S Chronicle, 617 N. Liberty St., W-S, NC, 27101; or sent via our website, We reserve the right to edit any item submitted for clarity or brevity and determine when and whether material will be used. We welcome your comments at our website Also, go to our Facebook page to comment. 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