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Check back for regular updates on Art Pope’s presence in the news.

Feb
28
2019

Art Pope backs Gerrymandering Reform

Categories: In the Headlines
Art Pope, a former legislator and a supporter of independent redistricting committees, backs legislation titled the “FAIR Act,” which would put map-drawing standards directly into North Carolina’s constitution to lessen concerns about independent redistricting committees. The News & Observer: Opinion, Monday, February 25, 2019  NC leaders once backed gerrymandering reform RALEIGH Ten years ago this month, a group of state legislators filed a proposal to take politics out of drawing legislative and congressional districts. Their bill sought an independent redistricting commission — four Democrats, four Republicans and three people unaffiliated with the two major parties — to draw the lines. The goal was to end gerrymandering: No longer could parties use software to game the system and ensure a legislative majority. They’d be banned from carving communities in half along racial or partisan lines, or drawing a safe district to ensure their re-election. The bipartisan group sponsoring the bill included Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett. They were back-benchers in the minority party in 2009, but now they hold the most powerful posts in the legislature. The independent redistricting bill was filed in February 2009 and, like countless other attempts, went nowhere. Democratic leaders felt certain they’d win another majority in 2010 and have the power to gerrymander the districts yet again. So they threw the bill in the trash. Fast-forward a decade. Democrats have been out of power since a Republican wave in 2010, thanks in part to GOP efforts to draw districts that favor their party. The Democratic Party now makes independent redistricting a top priority. But now it’s Berger, Moore, Brown and Lewis who keep throwing redistricting bills in the garbage. Still, the ever-hopeful proponents of redistricting reform think this year might be different. The GOP’s majority has grown narrower as North Carolina’s urban areas become more liberal, and there’s a chance a big “blue wave” against President Donald Trump in 2020 could put Democrats in charge of drawing the next maps. A redistricting commission proposal — similar to the 2009 measure — already has more than half of all House legislators as co-sponsors, including about a dozen Republicans. It would likely pass if brought to a vote, but there’s no indication that Moore and Lewis will allow that to happen. Skeptics of the independent commission idea question whether the group would really keep politics out of their deliberations. That’s not a legitimate concern, because the bill would require at least two members of each group on the commission — Democrats, Republicans and people who are neither — to support the final plan. But there’s an alternative for the haters, and it even has the seal of approval from Republican mega-donor Art Pope! This one, unveiled last week as the “FAIR Act,” would eliminate the concerns about a redistricting commission by putting the map-drawing standards directly into the state’s constitution. The constitutional amendment would ban all consideration of partisan and election results statistics — “any data that could reasonably determine the voting tendencies of a group of citizens,” explained the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson. The districts would have to be “reasonably compact” and keep counties whole when possible — no more weird snake-like monster districts allowed. The legislature’s nonpartisan staff would do the heavy lifting of preparing maps, with legislators still responsible for approving the final project. And by putting the rules in the constitution, voters would be approving the plan, and future legislatures couldn’t easily circumvent the requirements. “The most important thing we can do at this point in time is to get people to have confidence in our government again,” said Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham and the lead Democrat behind the bill. Both the amendment and the commission proposals are solid starting points for a debate on gerrymandering. But the debate can’t happen unless Republican leaders let the bills have hearings and votes — something they’ve refused to allow in recent sessions. My guess is the bills won’t move unless we get to the summer of 2020 and see polls forecasting a big win for Democrats. But Berger, Moore, Lewis and Brown would be wise to have a heart-to-heart chat with their younger selves, who backed the 2009 bill. If this was a good idea then, why not now? Don’t repeat the mistakes of the General Assembly’s last Democratic leaders — don’t wait until you’re out of power to change your mind. Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service. Follow him at NCInsider.com or @RaleighReporter. Write to him at ccampbell@ncinsider.com Source: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article226649879.html
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Jan
31
2019

Art Pope named in the 2019 Power 100

Categories: Roses
2019 Power 100 by BusinessNC: Tuesday, January 29, 2019   ART POPE “Art” of the deal 62, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, VARIETY WHOLESALERS Henderson  See others in the Power 100 here: https://businessnc.com/2019-power-100/
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Sep
20
2018

Pope Foundation Honors Retired President Sawyer With New VGCC Award

Categories: In the Headlines
WIZS, September 10, 2018 -Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College The Pope Foundation has created a new Academic Achievement Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College in honor of retired Variety Wholesalers, Inc., President Wilson Sawyer of Raleigh. The scholarship will award $500 per year to a deserving student enrolled at Vance-Granville. Priority will be given to students who are employees of Variety Wholesalers (home store, distribution center or retail stores) and members of the families of those employees. Preference will be given to students who are pursuing a degree in Business Administration. “Our business roots in the area go back many years and we are proud to call Henderson and Vance County ‘home,’” said James Arthur “Art” Pope, chairman of Variety Wholesalers. “Wilson never lost sight of our customers and our promise to deliver great value and prices. We’re grateful for his friendship and dedication over these many years. We hope this scholarship inspires a new generation of leaders who share Wilson’s commitment to service.” “There are two reasons I’m excited about this scholarship,” said the honoree, Sawyer. “Number 1, if it helps folks in the company that helped me for many years, that’s a plus. Number 2, I’m a big supporter of the community college program and I think it’s important to encourage folks to start their education here.” Sawyer knows about the community college experience first-hand, he said. His daughter was a student at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford before transferring to a four-year institution when the family moved to Raleigh. “She excelled in college and I think it’s because of the basis that she got at the community college.” His daughter is now a school teacher, he said. Following a lifelong career in retail, Sawyer retired as president of Variety Wholesalers in February.  He started his career in the Maxway store management program, rising to hold various roles. When Variety Wholesalers acquired Maxway in 1990, Sawyer stayed with the company as president of the Maxway division. After years of leading multiple store brand divisions, he was named president and chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers Stores in 2003. When Bruce Efird joined Variety Wholesalers Stores as president in 2017, Saywer moved to holding company leadership. He remains on Variety’s board of directors and is assisting the company in an advisory capacity. “We are excited that the Pope Foundation and Variety Wholesalers have chosen to honor Mr. Sawyer with this new scholarship,” said Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund. “Both have been stalwart supporters of our students and the college through contributions to scholarships and activities such as our golf tournament which also benefit students.” “I’ve been so impressed with the community support that has come to my attention since becoming Vance-Granville’s interim president,” added Dr. Gordon Burns, who assumed the new role in mid-August while VGCC searches for a permanent president. “This gift from the Pope Foundation will continue to honor Mr. Sawyer and help students each and every year, serving as a reminder of the importance of a community and its institutions getting involved in the education of our citizens. We are so grateful.” Founded in 1986 and located in Raleigh, the Pope Foundation makes grants to advance individual freedom, personal responsibility and encourage opportunity for all North Carolinians. The Pope Foundation’s lifetime giving totals more than $145 million directed to over 400 nonprofits. The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers, Inc. The new scholarship will add to the more than 9,000 scholarships that have been awarded to students since 1982, funded by interest earned on the Endowment Fund and Scholarship Program. Scholarships have been established by individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff to assist deserving students. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business, industry or organization with a lasting gift to education. In the Fall of 2017, Vance-Granville awarded scholarships to 306 students. Source: https://wizs.com/pope-foundation-honors-retired-president-sawyer-new-vgcc-award/
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Sep
18
2018

Pope Foundation Establishes Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College

Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College, September 10, 2018: The Pope Foundation has created a new Academic Achievement Scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College in honor of retired Variety Wholesalers, Inc., President Wilson Sawyer of Raleigh. The scholarship will award $500 per year to a deserving student enrolled at Vance-Granville. Priority will be given to students who are employees of Variety Wholesalers (home store, distribution center or retail stores) and members of the families of those employees. Preference will be given to students who are pursuing a degree in Business Administration. “Our business roots in the area go back many years and we are proud to call Henderson and Vance County ‘home,’” said James Arthur “Art” Pope, chairman of Variety Wholesalers. “Wilson never lost sight of our customers and our promise to deliver great value and prices. We’re grateful for his friendship and dedication over these many years. We hope this scholarship inspires a new generation of leaders who share Wilson’s commitment to service.” “There are two reasons I’m excited about this scholarship,” said the honoree, Sawyer. “Number 1, if it helps folks in the company that helped me for many years, that’s a plus. Number 2, I’m a big supporter of the community college program and I think it’s important to encourage folks to start their education here.” Sawyer knows about the community college experience first-hand, he said. His daughter was a student at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford before transferring to a four-year institution when the family moved to Raleigh. “She excelled in college and I think it’s because of the basis that she got at the community college.” His daughter is now a school teacher, he said. Following a lifelong career in retail, Sawyer retired as president of Variety Wholesalers in February.  He started his career in the Maxway store management program, rising to hold various roles. When Variety Wholesalers acquired Maxway in 1990, Sawyer stayed with the company as president of the Maxway division. After years of leading multiple store brand divisions, he was named president and chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers Stores in 2003. When Bruce Efird joined Variety Wholesalers Stores as president in 2017, Saywer moved to holding company leadership. He remains on Variety’s board of directors and is assisting the company in an advisory capacity. “We are excited that the Pope Foundation and Variety Wholesalers have chosen to honor Mr. Sawyer with this new scholarship,” said Eddie Ferguson, director of the VGCC Endowment Fund. “Both have been stalwart supporters of our students and the college through contributions to scholarships and activities such as our golf tournament which also benefit students.” “I’ve been so impressed with the community support that has come to my attention since becoming Vance-Granville’s interim president,” added Dr. Gordon Burns, who assumed the new role in mid-August while VGCC searches for a permanent president. “This gift from the Pope Foundation will continue to honor Mr. Sawyer and help students each and every year, serving as a reminder of the importance of a community and its institutions getting involved in the education of our citizens. We are so grateful.” Founded in 1986 and located in Raleigh, the Pope Foundation makes grants to advance individual freedom, personal responsibility and encourage opportunity for all North Carolinians. The Pope Foundation’s lifetime giving totals more than $145 million directed to over 400 nonprofits. The Pope Foundation receives its support from the Pope family, owner and operator of the Henderson-based Variety Wholesalers, Inc. The new scholarship will add to the more than 9,000 scholarships that have been awarded to students since 1982, funded by interest earned on the Endowment Fund and Scholarship Program. Scholarships have been established by individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff to assist deserving students. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business, industry or organization with a lasting gift to education. In the Fall of 2017, Vance-Granville awarded scholarships to 306 students. For more information, the Office of the Endowment can be reached by calling Endowment Specialist Kay Currin at (252) 738-3409.
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Oct
10
2017

Art Pope Defends Free Speech, Addresses 1975 UNC Campus Event

In 1975, a young UNC student by the name of Art Pope opposed the idea that a single student could disrupt a speech brought to campus by the Student Union. Recently, a present-day UNC Chapel hill student uncovered the 1975 news story and shared his thoughts with The Daily Tarheel. His Letter to the Editor is below. Art Pope responded with his thoughts, pointing out that students should not celebrate the overturning of a speaker ban and applaud the efforts to ban other speakers. It was and remains a First Amendment issue. Daily Tarheel – Letter to the Editor:  10/1/2017, 11:26PM Art Pope’s racist history with UNC   TO THE EDITOR: In January 1975, a campus organization called the Union Forum used student fees to bring the National Information Director of the KKK to campus. His name was David Duke. Black students at the time were outraged. A press release from the Black Student Movement read in part “The mere sanctioning of the spread of Duke’s decadent philosophy is an unforgivable display of latent racism. Many have construed the argument of objectivity out of proportion. It is such “objectivity” that allows racial oppression even to this date. We as Black people feel divinely justified (if not obligated) to repress the rejuvenation of the Klan philosophy at its very on-set.” Shortly after Union Forum Director Jim Conrad introduced Duke to the stage, black and white students began to protest. Despite attempts from University Officials, Student Body President Marcus Williams, and even Duke himself, the students refused to leave or to be silent until David Duke left the building and his podium and microphone were removed from stage. They disrupted his speech. In the aftermath of this protest, The Daily Tar Heel received over fifty letters offering opinions in favor of and in opposition to the actions students took that day. But one freshman from Raleigh was especially perturbed. So much so, that he decided to sue the then President of the Black Student Movement, Algenon Marbley, in undergraduate honor court for “disruption”, a charge that could’ve led to Marbley being expelled from school. The freshman from Raleigh who brought the suit, who tried to get the BSM President kicked out of school for disrupting a speech on campus by the KKK, was Arthur “Art” Pope UNC ’78. Now, Art Pope is one of the most prolific funders of the Republican Party in the State of North Carolina. A Party that continues its assault on civil rights and against black, brown and trans people to this day. Does Arthur Pope still believe the KKK have a legitimate claim to first amendment protection when they speak and recruit students at campus sponsored events? Someone should ask him when he visits campus Tuesday as part of the Institute of Politics’ Fellows Program. Graham Memorial Hall Room 035. Starts at 5:15. Andrew Brennen Political Science Junior   Daily Tarheel – Art Pope Replies 10/8/2017, 10:28PM Art Pope responds to letter to the editor  TO THE EDITOR: It is unfortunate that the The Daily Tar Heel chose to further inflame the growing polarization and extremism in our society by publishing a letter to the editor by Andrew Brennen, Oct. 2, with the false and malicious headline, “Art Pope’s racist history with UNC.” I have no racist history, and Mr. Brennen’s letter did not accuse me of racism. What Mr. Brennan’s letter did ask was whether I believe that David Duke and the Klu Klux Klan “have a legitimate claim to first amendment protection” at campus sponsored events. My answer is that I stand by the quote attributed to Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Today, and in 1975, I vehemently disagree(d) with Duke and the KKK. Just seven years before, in 1968, a Federal Court rightfully overturned the state’s “Speaker Ban Law,” which banned known communists from speaking at UNC. You can’t celebrate the rejection of the speaker ban while embracing a ban on Duke. It is wrong and unconstitutional for a democratically-elected legislature (and for that matter, a single self-appointed student), to decide who should be banned from speaking, rather than letting each UNC student decide what he or she wants to hear.   James Arthur “Art” Pope President and Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation Class of 1978
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