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Hardy L. Brown

Blacks, Latinos Must Seek Solutions to Section 186, Employment in San Bernardino

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There is a growing concern from taxpayers around the nation, states, counties and cities that pay for government employees is out of line with the private sector salaries and something must be done to correct this imbalance. While I am an advocate for public labor unions to get as much as the market or employer can bear, I am not an advocate of automatic salary increases that are out of the control of elected officials to openly negotiate such as San Bernardino City Charter Section 186, which states:

“There is hereby established for the city of San Bernardino a basic standard for fixing salaries, classification and working conditions of the employees of the police and fire department of the city of San Bernardino, and the mayor and common council in exercising the responsibility over these departments vested in them by this charter shall hereafter be guided by and limited by these provisions:” of Classification, Basic Salary Schedule and Special Provisions.”

These are items normally found in “collective bargaining agreements” and open for negotiations by the mayor and council at the end of a contract. What has happened in San Bernardino is the voters have given away the right of their elected officials to control and effectively manage these departments when it comes to cost.

When the voters passed this charter change most of the public safety employees lived in the city and their neighbors wanted them to be adequately compensated for the position they held.

When the Police Officers Association was first organized they had benevolence and social issues for the citizens they swore to protect and serve with integrity as their focus. Contrast now with their main mission or focus is to protect Section 186 of the City Charter, according to their mission statement. It is not about the people but about their pay and retirement into upscale communities.

Just like they have made money, so should the community. We have enough good reasons, for another example; the Pew Research Center just released a report Tuesday that said “Wealth gaps rise to record highs between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics.” The median net worth of households for Whites in 2005 was $134,992 compared to Hispanics at $18,359 and Blacks at $12,124. Since then there has been a drop for everyone with Whites falling to $113,149, a 16% drop, Hispanics $6,325 a 66% drop and Blacks $5,667 a 53% drop per household. The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer.

The only thing left for the voters to do is change the charter section 186, stop paying sales tax or shopping in neighboring communities for the things they need or want. I am reminded of the California Eagle Newspaper in Los Angeles, published by Charlotta Spears Bass, when she ran a weekly ad telling Blacks “Do not shop where you can’t work”. So my question to the Black and Latino community, why pay sales tax to a city that does not want you to work in the police or fire department and the majority of staff live in other communities. I am aware of what the city is trying to do in diversifying its public safety departments, but it has not been done and some in the department do not want it to happen. I am also aware that some people have a way of sabotaging the well intentions of good people and then say we tried. The city has known for years that Blacks and Latinos have not been welcome in these departments, yet the have been slow to respond. I am sure some will say now that part of the reason to not move fast will be the economy.

So the Latino and Black communities needs to keep and apply the pressure until the numbers change and people have security in their jobs. Let us take a look at the city manager position. He is African American and every chance Jim Penman, Wendy McCammack or Chas Kelly get they take a stab to demean, embarrass, and challenge his competence or authority. They are trying to get him to leave, I know because I’ve seen these tactics before.

There are a lot of things going on in the city and Blacks and Hispanics cannot lose sight of the things that will improve their pursuit of happiness and employment is one of them.

Blacks are on the Move to Riverside and San Bernardino Counties

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“On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends. And I can’t wait to get on the road again. Goin’ places I’ve never been, seein’ things I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again, on the road again.”
Willie Nelson

In California, African Americans are on the move again according to the U.S. Census Department. Over 54, 000 left the state to greener pastures because the gold in them there hills has been hard to find and those that found it moved so they could keep it. For the 2,249,404 left behind or decideding to stay, they like making music with their friends so they migrated from the large cities into places like Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

San Bernardino County is now home to 176,123 Blacks, a gain of over 20,000 and Riverside county now has 124,960 an increase of 28,528 calling Riverside their home.

This is the way things are shaking out in the two counties and cities when it comes to where we live:

San Bernardino County
176,125 (8.9%) of the population

San Bernardino City - 32,374 - (16.3%)
Fontana - 17,902 - (9.7%)
Victorville - 16,792 - (16.4%)
Rialto City - 16,104 - (16.4%)
Rancho Cucamonga - 13,696 - (8.1%)
Ontario - 13,676 - (8.0%)
Apple Valley - 7,405 - (10.8%)
Colton - 5,978 - (11.8%)
Chino - 5,046 - (6.3%)
Upland - 4,962 - (6.5%)
Highland - 4,893 - (9.6%)
Upland - 4,962 - (6.5%)
Adelanto - 4,820 - (17.9%)
Hesperia - 4,333 - (5.2%)
Barstow - 3,813 - (15.6%)
Redlands - 3,746 - (5.4%)
Chino Hills - 3,454 - (4.7%)
Montclair - 1,397 - (3.9%)

Riverside County
124,960 (6.1%) of the population

Moreno Valley - 32,493 - (17.7%)
Riverside City - 20,266 - (7.0%)
Corona - 9,154 - (6.2%)
Perris - 6,238 - (12.0%)
Murrieta - 4,958 - (5.3%)
Temecula - 3,542 - (3.5%) Hemet - 2,782 - (4.0%)
Palm Springs - 2,321 - (4.9%)
Lake Elsinore - 2,176 - (4.7%)
Desert Hot Springs - 1,864 - (8.2%)
Norco - 1,821 - (6.8%)
Banning - 1,726 (6.0%)
Indio - 1,445 - (1.8%)

Since the 2000 census 49,305 more Blacks call the Inland Empire home and most came from Los Angeles County which lost 68,436 during this ‘on the move again’ movement. This gives us an opportunity to make music together and share the richness of the culture of others. For example: over the past fifty years Native Americans, Latinos, Whites and Blacks have learned to form political coalitions to elect each other into office for the betterment of the community. And now that a new census has caused new political lines and districts to be drawn, it will give us a new opportunity with new people to continue that tradition.

Also this movement has produced internal movement within each city. To give a few examples: In Riverside, Blacks were living with a majority on the eastside, in San Bernardino a majority on the Westside, in Fontana a majority on the North side of Baseline and in Rialto on the bench area. That has changed with people living throughout the cities thus changing who and how one might get elected to political office.

After we get to know one another and make music together it will be time to get on the road again. Let us work together to improve our schools for the betterment of our children. Let us improve our neighborhoods with beautiful landscaping, increasing our property value. Let us become better informed about our local government before we need them. Let us create activities for our young people. Let us support our local businesses creating jobs in the community. Let us work together and make our communities a better place to live, so the need to move will be reduced.

Mr. Penman, Confrontational Government Is Not The Same As Self-Serving Behavior

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Last week’s meeting of the San Bernardino City Council officially kicked-off the political campaign of City Attorney Jim Penman as he is seeking re-election. The mayor and city council meeting is designed to conduct the business of the public, not personal political agendas of elected officials. However, in my opinion people like Mr. Penman and others take advantage of the kindness of the mayor and council members when called upon to speak.

Early in the agenda, council members have time so they can make announcements that might be of interest to their ward constituents. Over the years they have extended this privilege to others like the chamber of commerce, city attorney, city manager and city clerk. All of them have shown respect towards the mayor and council with the exception of one, Mr. Penman.

This past meeting he decided to accuse the mayor, who was absent, mayor pro-tem and several members of the council of being corrupt and referenced a county grand jury report that had absolutely nothing to do with the council meeting agenda. When Mayor Pro-Tem Fred Shorett asked Mr. Penman to stick to the agenda and narrow his comments, Penman became argumentative and attempted to give a history lesson of the constitution and the greatness of the founding fathers for confrontational government. Penman was reminded by the local president of the NAACP that her recollection of the founding fathers were that they were also slave holders, which did not bode well with Mr. Penman. In my opinion, one of the reasons Mr. Penman likes to reflect on the founding fathers is because his birthplace is Mississippi one of the largest slave holding states in the union. Remember the saying…you can take the boy out of the country but cannot take the country out of the boy.


Also Read: Tea Party and Conservative Republicans Want To Put African Americans in Slavery


Some might wonder why Mr. Penman takes on this confrontational and argumentative behavior at a meeting designed for the mayor and council members. Penman has outside supporters and sponsors like: former mayors Evelyn Wilcox and Tom Minor (who is also a retired police chief); retired police chiefs B. Warren Cocke and Ben Gonzales; former council member Betty Anderson; the San Bernardino Police Officers Association; and the Central Labor Council of San Bernardino County so Penman is not pulling these bizarre antics alone, that serve no good for the city’s image.

I am well acquainted with Penman’s supporters because I have at one time worked with and supported them. However they appear to be stuck in a time of the past and do not want to move forward and let the city become what it could become as the county seat. I know why the police association wants Mr. Penman to behave that way as it takes the attention away from the fact that only 34 out of 304 police officers live in the city while we pay them each on average $128,684 a year of our money.

What Mr. Penman is offering is definitely not legal advice to anyone and I am recommending to the mayor and city council some steps they should take:

1. Remind everyone this is a public meeting for the mayor and council;
2. Do not allow anyone to give public announcements during the council meeting other than at the public comment 3 minute section on the agenda;
3. Whenever a council member raises the question “is the action before
us legal”, a consensus (majority) of the council members should request a written request be sent to the city attorney for a written legal opinion on whether the action taken is an appropriate legal action, within their authority and law before being implemented by staff;
4. If the city attorney interjects himself into the discussion and does so in a confrontational demeanor he should be ruled out of order and if he continues he should be placed under arrest by the chief of police, your sergeant of arms, and escorted to jail for disorderly conduct at a public meeting. (Former mayor and now supporter of Penman, Tom Minor can tell you how to do that since he came off the dais during a council meeting to wrestle a public speaker for disorderly conduct.)
5. Make it known that the three-minute public speaking period will not be used to make political campaign statements for or against any candidates. Any one who violates this directive of the council, the microphone will be ordered off as the speaker continues to speak. This is a public meeting of our elected mayor and council members and they are within their authority to implement these rules and procedures to conduct the business of the public in an orderly manner.

If the city attorney wants the public to know something he can do it in another way but not at the city council meeting, where he is currently taking up precious time to toss disparaging allegations and accusations at innocent council members even when they are not present.

It is a meeting of the mayor and council and they should take charge of it and conduct the people’s business of the city.

Tea Party and Conservative Republicans Want To Put African Americans in Slavery

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“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two parent household than an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African American President.”

This statement was part of a “Marriage Vow” agreement signed by presidential candidates Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Senator Rick Santorum from a group called “The Family Leader” comprised of Conservative Republican Tea Party members in Iowa. The statement implies Blacks were better off under slavery where they were forbidden to marry or have a say over their children. They slept in slave quarters on dirt floors and had to cook and heat from open fireplaces. Their offspring were sold off at the will of the slave master, who sometimes was the father of the kids. Women like Bachmann stood by with no power to prevent the rape of Black women or selling of her husband’s children. Now they go around talking about a history they refuse to learn about deliberately want to change to suit their mission.

A White man asked me a similar question when I was working at Kaiser Steel in 1961 in the Electric Weld Pipe Mill. We were sitting in the shack where everyone took a coffee break, and out of the blue he said, “Brownie” (that is not my name and no one called me that). So I braced for his next words which were, “…wouldn’t you rather be a slave and not have to worry about anything.” I fired back, “how would you like to be my slave and I tell you when to get up go to work and go to sleep, take your wife, and there is nothing you can do about it?” Quickly realizing I was the only Black in the shack, I got up and walked out because everyone was stunned by the question and my quick response. To my surprise, the other White men in the shack hated the question and reported him to the plant superintendent. They transferred the man and told me to forget him because they did not feel that way.

People pushing this conservative agenda are touting our “founding fathers” who participated in legalized slavery in America have one thing on their mind and that is to make slavery legal again in America. You hear them say “we have to take back our country”. Take it back from whom? One African American gets elected president and appoints two non-White females to the U.S. Supreme Court and you want to take the country back. The last time I looked the majority of elected people in congress were White. The people running Wall Street that got all of the stimulus money were White. All of our governors are White but one. The major institutions in America are run by Whites. So who are they talking about taking it back from?

We have seen the cartoons and other derogatory things portraying President Obama and they reflect on all of us of color. We all heard a congressman call President Obama a liar while he was addressing them in the House of Representative. Obama has had more threats on his life than any other president, why? Now we have this group with the support of Bachmann and Santorum encouraging them on. Bachmann, a lawyer, has now come out and said, “slavery was horrible and economic enslavement is also horrible” and denounced the group. Lawyers know you read over any document before you sign it, so she knew what she was signing.

One of my friends at Kaiser Permanente, Ceasar Meriwether, told me the story of when he got promoted as payroll supervisor. This position had the authority and power to audit payroll and expense reports of managers. It was common knowledge that when management wanted to get someone the first place they looked was at expense reports. Ceasar had never been invited to go deep sea fishing with any of his peers before even though he had been in the department for a long time. So when he got the invitation, he told his wife before leaving home. “I don’t care what they tell you I did not fall out of the boat?” Meaning, it was not an accident if for some reason something happens to him and they said he fell out and drowned.

I am telling you today, I don’t care how much or many times they denounce something they said or signed, the bottomline is they want to see us in slavery again. But just like the man who asked me the question in the coffee shack at Kaiser Steel, he did not expect his fellow countrymen to come to my rescue. Bachmann and others in the Tea Party Conservative Section of the Republican Party did not expect the voters to ever elect an African-American especially one named Barack Obama. So they are out to take OUR country back and do what the founding fathers did make us less than human. What they are doing is not by accident but keeping the race card front and center on everything they do and hoping their fellow citizens will join them.

Racism, Sexism Still Alive and Operating in SB City Fire Dept. with Some Employees

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Last week, The Black Voice News headline article read: “Fire Cadet Program Under Fire, Flyer Called Racist” as a flyer was hung by someone inside the SB Fire Department which brought back memories of when I worked at Edison in the sixties. If you have not seen the flyer, it can best be described as a cartoonish depiction of a Black man with braided hair, an older overweight White man standing in front of a fire truck and an overweight White female senior citizen dressed in a yellow raincoat with unflattering pictures of the deputy commander of the fire department, Councilmembers Rikke Van Johnson and Virginia Marquez, and SB City Manager, Charles McNeely citing professionalism in action on it.

The city council voted unanimously with the support of the fire department leaders for a cadet program to bring diversity to the department and encourage hiring local residents. Currently we have only 8 of the 179 fire department employees living in the city for which they earn between $87,523 and $160,183 annually when you toss in overtime and benefits. Benefits which translates into between $12 million to $27 million of our taxpayers money leaving the city each year taken out by our so-called professional firefighters.

Now I know that not every person in the fire department is responsible for putting up the poster, so I am not blaming everyone who works there but likewise they can not blame all of us with the same brush of uncaring irresponsible citizens as they have done in the past. If we are good enough to pay your salary then we are good enough for you to live amongst us. If the police use the excuse they fear for their lives because of people they might arrest, what is a firefighters reason? If the city is good enough to work in, it must be treated the same when it comes to residence.

To borrow a quote from a citizen of Greece recently; “it is like a man milking a cow but refusing to feed her. Eventually there is no more milk to give”. The firefighters have taken all of our money from the community and refuse to help feed the tax base and the Blacks and Hispanics are at the point of not feeding the city anymore.

The reason it brought back memories of Edison is, my supervisor, David Olson (a White male), degraded a picture of us and pinned it to the bulletin board. Edison’s top management asked me to become a scoutmaster and I in return recruited Al Ysaguire, Frank Palomino, Rubin Amador, Don Griggs and Pete Baeza all minority employees of Edison to help me put on a camporee for boys in the community. The picture had us standing with some boys sitting in front of us and I was dressed in my scout uniform. Rubin worked outside on a line crew with little contact with the public so he sported one of those handlebar mustaches. David Olson took the liberty of drawing a circle around Rubin and me and wrote Poncho Villa and his Raiders with other unflattering comments. Needless to say we objected and complained and Olson was relieved of his supervisory duties and was transferred out of the area.

There must be a racist and sexism bug in the air because several months ago we had a lady out of the Orange County Republican Central Committee post a picture of President Barack Obama as a watermelon eating man and others posting unflattering pictures of him as a monkey ready to shoot on sight. Last week, Mark Halprin was on MSNBC Morning Joe program and said “I thought he (President Obama) was a d—k yesterday,” referring to the president’s press conference. On the same network Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut and David Schuster said Hillary Clinton was “pimping her daughter, Chelsea” during the 2008 presidential campaign. I bring these examples up because some men are threatened by others seeking our rights in the job market that have been denied in the past because of our race and gender.

This flyer and expression by Whites is nothing new in America’s war of belittling us as a people or treating us less as than human. It is their way of informing society; do not take them seriously because they are flakes and clowns. The message in the picture hung by some fire department employee(s) is; this is the kind of unprofessional service you will get from Blacks, Hispanics and women. Whoever did it is a throwback to the days of no Blacks or Hispanics as receptionists or secretaries in the public eye or front office and women could not be firefighters. They did not want us as meter readers, phone repairmen, highway patrol officers or any service job that places “those unprofessional unsavory persons” in contact with the White public.

When you look at the Fire Department workforce it is the last department where racism and sexism has a stronghold. Currently there are 179 employees in the fire department with only 10 Blacks, 31 Hispanics, 12 women and 1 Asian; in a city that has 32,374 Blacks; 113,669 Hispanics; 98,913 women and 7,614 Asians according to our U.S. Census Department. Likewise, there are just 49,645 White males including boys in the city. One of my questions is why should these citizens of the city keep on feeding the cow while White men take and drink all the milk in another community?

I am requesting the city council direct the city attorney to investigate the flyer incident and bring his findings back to the council. I am also suggesting that any Black, Hispanic or woman that has applied for employment with this department contact the NAACP. I am also suggesting that the NAACP file complaints with various state and federal agencies that have responsibilities for investigating discrimination or compliance revenues over how federal dollars are spent in the city.

I am requesting information under the freedom of information act, on specific personnel functions such as, recruitment plans & processes, firefighter position qualifications, the number of applicants applied for employment over the past ten years, the applicants rejected, applications (no names) of those hired, how promotions are awarded, who has been promoted over the past ten years and who is being trained currently to replace the chief after he retires. According to the last report the chief made to the council, he is currently doing succession planning for his position. I want to know how and who were selected for this training?

We will not be mocked or made fun of any more by those we pay.

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