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Hardy L. Brown

Another Senseless Killing of a 3-year-old child, Nylah Torrez

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“We have created an atmosphere which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.” -- Martin Luther Kind, Jr.

In November 2005, we witnessed the shooting death of 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw and in 2006, 11-year-old Anthony Ramirez, was killed by some reckless, careless, don’t care gang members getting revenge on someone but killing innocent children. Now in September 2011, we witness the shooting death of 3-year-old Nylah Irene Franco-Torrez, who was killed by the same senseless act of violence from a reckless and careless thug with a gun.

Once again we will hold car washes to bury the dead ones whose life has been cut short while the killer will be placed on the public budget for us to care for the rest of their life. If Mynisha, Anthony, or Nylah had been able to live into adulthood, maybe they could have found the cure to cancer or other agonizing diseases or been the parents of a line of children that we could all be proud of. But we will never hear of them again other than when something like this happens but family members will be asking questions until their death. To them I say only God has the final answer but I think there are some things we as citizens can and must do to reduce this type of killing.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 3% of gun related deaths in America fall into the accidental shooting category and 9 children are killed each day in America by guns. Most of these guns are in the hands of what we consider youth between the ages of 16 to 24 years, usually in urban cities. I am well aware of our constitutional rights to bare arms but those rights do not extend to all and local jurisdictions must find a way to enact and enforce gun restrictions within its city limits without violating the rights of legitimate gun owners. I would encourage citizens to meet with the new San Bernardino Chief of Police Robert Handy and have an open and frank discussion about this issue and the killing of innocent children by the hands of random gunfire.

Maybe a code of conduct can be developed in your neighborhoods and what to report when you suspect behavior of youth behaving badly. My dad and mom use to tell me “a idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and that is why we try and keep you busy with something to do. They knew I would be busy doing something good or bad. The same is true with our people today regardless of one’s age and put a gun in their hands and you have a recipe for danger.

The City of San Bernardino was just awarded one of America’s most playful cities because of its attention to parks and recreation facilities and they are to be commended for this honor. How to make it truly work is going to take the commitment of citizens to make it work. Citizens will need to meet with city leaders to explore ways to engage our people between 16 and 24 years. We know the unemployment rate is over 14.7% and higher for this age group so someone has to begin the dialogue of what can we do before another baby is gunned down by a stray bullet.

We must change the atmosphere where violence is the favorite pastime.

Dr. Albert Karnig has been good for our community

After 15 years at the helm of California State University San Bernardino, Dr. Albert Karnig is retiring. He said, “it is time to pass the torch to a new steward.” Knowing when to pass the torch is key in a relay race and the same is true in life.

Dr. Karnig has been good for the university and the Inland Empire community especially the African American population. He took over at a time when Blacks were not sure if the university was friend or foe. He reached out and brought us into the decision and planning process of the university. He was invited to speak at various congregations in the community to demonstrate education was important and that we had a place on campus.

He is not leaving right away but I wanted to recognize his announcement and let him know I appreciate what he has done. I also want to thank him for inviting my wife and I to dinner and the nice evening with the greatest blues singer Mr. B.B. King several months ago.

Dr. Karnig many people in the area can learn from your style of leadership in working in a community of diverse people and ideas. You and Marilyn have made our lives richer.

Second Go Round of Jobs, Jobs, Jobs from Washington

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President Barack Obama has sent a bill to congress outlining the need to save and create new jobs in America and to help jump start the economy and put people back to work. I have not read the bill yet and will wait until later to do so, after our representatives start tearing it apart. I know something will come out of it but my concern is who will get the jobs at the local level once it passes and the money starts flowing. At that time democrats, republicans, and independents that don’t care for President Obama or government intervention gets Obama religion and seeks the money.

Since 2008 until now, we have printed over thirteen stories not including editorials on the stimulus funding and how African Americans were left out of jobs in the Inland Empire. And, this time around, something must be done to correct this problem. With the overall unemployment rate holding steady at 14.7% and somewhere between 18 and 20% for Blacks and our youth between ages 16 and 24 years old at 40 percent something has to be corrected.

It is incumbent upon every organization that cares about this injustice to have meetings with local elected officials ahead of time to identify problems and seek solutions early. I would also suggest meetings with local union leaders who supply workers at prevailing wages. I know the AFL/CIO Central Labor Council (CLC) of San Bernardino and Riverside, Laurie Stalkner would be more than happy to meet with interested organizations to discuss this issue. The CLC organization was founded to “give workers a voice” in the political process. I know because I once belonged to the United Steel Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of America. I was also an active member of A. Phillip Randolph Institute working with Albert Casey in San Bernardino.

After those meetings it would behoove these community organizations to seek out the unemployed and brief them on what is happening and prep them to be ready. As for youth, go to the schools and places where youth congregate and inform them as well for summer jobs. In my experience in handling the summer employment program at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana you can not wait until school is out to look for employment, start early.

Now I know from experience that people do not like to give up information because they want to reward their friends or family members when it comes to giving out jobs or contracts. So you will have to draw up a plan to make them include you. That is where knowing that these are federal funds and Prop 209 is out of the window and the Office Of Federal Contract Compliance kicks in to play. This is where a civil rights lawyer should be hired to file injunctions against any agency that denies or will not hire African Americans or give those contracts.

I mention contracts because according to the last American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Department, there were over six thousands Black owned businesses in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Most of them are in the service industry but there were some in the trades and construction. The African American Chamber of Commerce and the NAACP should get busy and try to identify those contracts and also inform them on how to compete for contracts with the government. The Small Business Administration is a good agency to begin that task.

When you read articles written by Black Voice News reporter, Chris Levister, you understand that this is serious business reflecting the days of the civil rights movement. So let us get busy before the bill becomes law and if it does not we will be better off from gathering the information and knowing how the system works.

Parents of Colton School District and Crossing Guards

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A new school year has started and some of the districts are struggling from tight budgets and some services have been placed on the cut list like crossing guards. The Colton Joint Unified School District has cut this service from its budget and now parents are trying to find ways they can help their small children safely cross busy streets and intersections while going to and coming from school. The district has been able to save $244,854 a year with the elimination of crossing guards.

According to an article in The San Bernardino Sun, some parents are volunteering while others have gone to the cities of Colton and Grand Terrace only to be told their financial troubles are the same, no funds. In Fontana, they were told they paid half of surrounding districts crossing guards cost, however, the parents do not have their half in Colton.

The parents who are volunteering are finding that the “liability issue” is another barrier to them wanting to do the service.

This situation caught my attention because I never thought of this as an issue until I was faced with it as a school board member. It is a serious problem for a parent faced with sending their small child to elementary school and they have to cross a major four-lane street in two directions or cross a busy street during rush hour in the morning.

I would encourage the parents to organize a meeting of all decision makers such as school board members, city council, business leaders, service organizations to find a way to help the children of the community get to and from school safely.

It was this issue that prompted me to seek meetings with the city council when I was a school board member. For you see, they had responsibility for the streets and parents paid for all our services through taxes. What I found out was everyone was concerned about the safety of children in the city and a win-win solution was found. Everyone knew a child hit by a car was more costly than any savings or bad publicity in the city. Just think about it. Is a child’s life worth only $244,854? Parents do not give up and officials take another look at your budgets.

I Am Open To Hear What LULAC Is Saying About Redistricting In The County

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) came to town last week and held a small news conference in front of the county government building, to express their concerns over the newly proposed drawn five supervisorial district lines. Their concerns centered around not having all five districts having a majority, over 50.1% Hispanic population instead of the three districts. Joining LULAC at the news conference was Congressman Joe Baca, Sr.

They cited that the newly drawn lines were in violation of the voting rights act that African Americans fought so hard to pass in the 60’s from a determined White minority of people who did not want us to have a voting block. It was during the civil rights movement that many Blacks marched, were beaten, put in jail, bitten by dogs and killed to have this right to vote and not be gerrymander about in any district. I say all of that to say I can understand why and what LULAC is saying. However, we only have five supervisorial districts and the Latino population is over 50.1% in three of them without dividing up cities, communities of interest or in my opinion violating any groups voting rights.

Now I might be missing something that LULAC is seeing and I am open to hear what that is so no ones rights are violated. We only get the opportunity to draw these lines for governance every ten years so we want to get it right because Blacks have been a victim in the past from special interest and segregationist seeking power as elected officials.

Moreno Valley: Iddo Benzeevi Has No 'Skin' In The City Game

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Warren Buffett coined the term “skin in the game” when referring to Wall Street investors using their own money to buy stocks in the companies they are running. Meaning, executives can talk all they want about confidence but confidence is putting one’s own money on the line just like outside investors.

Recently the Moreno Valley City Council voted to push through a proposal to improve the value of 200 acres of land owned by developer Iddo Benzeevi by shifting $75 million of the city’s street improvement funds to improve streets for a large medical complex on his undeveloped land. The city, like most cities, is strapped for cash so they are deciding to forgo street repairs or improvements anywhere else in the city until this idea becomes a reality. The reality is uncertain since nothing has been approved and this would be years down the road. Councilman William Batey, II was the only dissenting vote stating that he couldn’t support neglecting other parts of the city to benefit one development. Now the citizens of Moreno Valley can sit by and wait until the potholes become so large on their street or they can complain and address this issue now before the people who are making the decisions by attending the Moreno Valley city council meetings. Chances are if you wait, many of the current city council members will not be there when the large potholes appear in the streets and the current city manager will negotiate a good financial settlement to leave and go to work for the developer. The new council will say we don’t have the money to fix your streets because the other council obligated all of it to improve streets for a medical center that may or may not be built. The new council will also say why didn’t you complain then?

I guess I could contradict myself and say that this developer has put some skin in the game in a way…through his funding of entitles like the “Moreno Valley Taxpayers Association” for hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch negative attacks on council members who are not his advocates and support the races of council members who will be sympathetic to his interests. Now some of these city council members are putting $75 million of taxpayer money into street improvements to benefit this developer’s vacant property for an unapproved medical complex. According to an article in The Press Enterprise project leaders have implied that Kaiser Permanente and UCR School of Medicine are partners in the project. The response from these entities is that they are not in partnership with this project, but they had nothing to say against it either. The mayor and council members are trying to sell this idea by aligning themselves alongside reputable medical institutions but in my opinion it does not pass the smell test.

That is why it is important that the citizens of Moreno Valley go to the next city council meeting and ask the hard questions: How many of you have received money from this developer? Was the developer on the selection committee to hire the city manager? Why would you take all of the street improvement money to improve his property? How much money has he contributed to the development of the land? When will this medical center complex be completed? What is the approval process? Who and what agencies would have to approve such a project? When and how will my streets be improved if all the money is given to improve that area of the city?

One thing is clear to me, the only people with any skin -- $75 million -- in this game are the taxpayers and they are not playing ball. The cities of Bell, San Jacinto, and Vernon could be pale in comparison to what is about to happen in Moreno Valley.

School Days are Here Again

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“Up in the morning and out to school, the teacher is teaching the golden rule; American History and Practical Math, you studying hard and hoping to pass. Working your fingers right down to the bone, the guy behind you won’t leave you alone. Ring, ring goes the bell, the cooks in the lunch room ready to sell. You luck if you can find a seat, you’re fortunate if you have time to eat. Back into the classroom open your books, even the teacher don’t know how mean she looks.”

These were part of the words to a song written by rock & roll legend Chuck Berry back in the late fifties.

It has been some time since I had the back to school blues, but a few weeks ago I was invited to come down to opening day at Hardy Brown College Prep (HBCP) to greet the returning kids as well as my great grand daughter Jadin Lee, who was beginning her first day. It did bring back memories as I saw kids, parents, and teachers eager to return to learning. I heard from one parent who said she gets up at 4am in the morning, catch a public bus and ride from Pomona to San Bernardino so her child could get a good education at HBCP. That sounds like a lot of students I knew back home who had to ride the school bus because they lived on farms a great distance from the school that was across the street from my house. Boy, I said to myself, this parent and others I met had one thing on their mind and that was to give their child the best opportunity to succeed in life by being involved in the education of their children. Who says parents don’t care; these parents do.

Then I went into the classroom of Mrs. Harrison-Compton, one of the most exciting and energized teachers I have ever seen. It was a surprise visit so when she and the kids saw me they greeted me with all smiles and immediately wanted to show me what they were doing. Their energy gave me energy as they called out my name. Ms. Harrison-Compton gets her students to write me during the year and tell me what they are learning as well as ask how am I doing. I also heard her children scored very high last year as did all of the students at HBCP.

I shook hands and greeted a lot of parents and students on that day as they returned to school. I want to take this time to welcome all parents, students, and staff back to another year of school in the Inland Empire. My wife told me she saw community activist, Dorothy Grant of Fontana last week and Dorothy is at the school named in her honor everyday encouraging students to stay in school. When grand-moms and grand-dads stay involved with the family and education like Dorothy Grant does, students do better.

Let me add that no matter how bad the picture looks when it comes to school data there are a lot of good things going on as well. When you meet a teacher like Mrs. Harrison-Compton, a principal like Ms. Lundy and parents that are willing to board a bus at 4 am in the morning to take their child to school, good school days are here again.

Chuck Berry’s last verse was; “Soon as three o’clock rolls around you finally lay your burden down. Close up your books, get out of your seat, down the hall and into the streets”. That was wishful thinking then as well as now. For some, this was the way things were, but for most it was home on the farm doing chores before night fall and then get your homework done. For the students at HBCP for example, you don’t get out of school until after four and school is not a burden.

So to all those who care about education I say welcome back to another year of good old school days as we prepare for tomorrow.

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