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Hardy L. Brown

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.

If You Don’t Know Your History, You Are Doomed To Repeat It

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There is a saying that we say all the time when we as a people want to make a point of importance: “If you don’t know your History you are doomed to repeat it.” As a matter of fact, a recent report came out last week that stated our students in public education were not taught enough history in school and most did not know how the country was founded. I read a report of a parent who asked his kid, “where is Mississippi located?” and the kid responded, “in Mississippi I guess.”

Even Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, got history wrong in Boston when asked about the famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn the citizenry that the British forces were coming. Palin said Revere was firing warning shots and ringing bells and telling the British you are not going to take our guns.

I cite this example because the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability is requesting that the city do an audit of the six years that Brad Hudson served as city manager. Brad Hudson has moved on to the County of Sacramento as the Chief Executive Officer. The RCPA wants the audit to look at his use of: discretionary funds, awarding of contracts to private businesses and developers, his hiring and firing practices over employees which they refer to as “whiten of city hall”, abuse of the Whistle Blowing Protection Act and to review the budget expenditures for the past six years. I did ask Deborah Wong, Vice Chair of RCPA, why they were requesting such an audit. She responded, “we are looking for more transparency and higher ethical standards in city hall,” as a short answer. One of the ways we can determine what we need to change is know exactly what has happened over the past six years, Wong also stated.

Over the past six years Hudson has bumped heads with the RCPA members with his secrecy of handling incidences involving police investigations. The RCPA was an out growth of the 1998 shooting death of Tyisha Miller, a Black teenager, by four White police officers, that led to a year long national demonstration. There was also the big incident that involved the now retired police chief of driving under the influence and wrecking his car and destroying public property. The RCPA was not involved in the investigation of this incident of special treatment. Another embarrassment was the policy Hudson brought to the attention for council members to get a car for personal use at tax payer’s expense.

Riverside City is a very diverse city compiled of 60.2% Whites, 47.8% Hispanics (a combination of all races), 7.0% African Americans, and 6.2% Asians and a public policy that express inclusion as its mantra for a good government. The RCPA is made up of a very good cross section of highly intelligent citizens that have demonstrated over the past two decades their commitment to the city. One has served as a police chief, another is a professor at the university, another on the board of trustees at the community college, and another president of the local NAACP Branch. These individuals are also heavily involved as leaders in their churches, so their thoughts and opinions are highly sought after and respected.

With the history of uncertainty and suspicion being left behind with the departure of Hudson, it would behoove the city to consider the request of the RCPA and conduct the audit. In doing so it will allow the new manager to confront these suspicions. If not, the new manager and elected officials might repeat and make the same mistakes as Hudson.

One thing I know is the community will not forget nor let an elected official forget what they think Hudson might or might not have done. If they do not see people of color being hired, it will be viewed as continued “whitening” of city hall. If contracts are awarded to questionable or credible vendors that the community is not familiar with, will draw unnecessary inquiries. If a legitimate reason arises for the RCPA not to have information during an investigation of a police incident against the public, under the current suspicion and mistrust, it will be blown out of context.

Let us learn from the lessons of the past and consider the request to have an outside firm conduct the requested audit by the Riverside Coalition of Police Accountability citizens. It will give the new manager a good objective place to start their tenure with the city instead of misinformation.

Has Al Sharpton Forgotten From Whence He Came?

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The Rev. Al Sharpton, denounced traditionally Black owned media as he spoke before a Black Digital Media organization recently. Sharpton implied the Black Press and Black owned radio is a thing of the past and that “the youth do not know when our weekly papers even come out and they get their information from electronic instruments.” He did not consider the great strides Black media has made just like other press into the digital environment. He has tossed the vehicle that brought him over under the bus.

Now mind you it was the Black Press who gave Sharpton his claim to fame by carrying stories on him and his National Action Network organization in New York. It was the Black Media who supported and defended him when the mainstream media described him in unflattering terms whenever a racial incident occurred. It was the Black Press that carried his weekly column in their newspapers at no cost to Rev. Sharpton. It was the Black Press that gave him a podium to speak on issues important to him during their annual conferences. It was the Black Press members of NNPA that would invite him to speak at local events to further his organization.

What Sharpton has done reminds me of the fable of an injured snake lying on the side of the road. A man comes along, picks up the snake, and carries him home to care for him. Then, after the snake returns to full health, it bites the caregiver. The caregiver asks why and the snake replies, you knew I was a snake. We are not calling Sharpton a snake because he has done a good job as a builder of our people. Sharpton once took on Wall Street, when Wall Street said they wanted clients not suspects. But now Sharpton turns and decides to bite the hand that fed him during the time that no one knew him other than those in the Black community who got their news from the Black Press.

What Sharpton is doing is no different than what other Whites and Blacks have tried over the two hundred years of Black owned media in America. First it was those who described the Black media as yellow journalism and only fit to wrap fish in on a Friday. Companies would not advertise their products or services to our readers, yet we published. They talked about our grammar and sentence structure or words that were misspelled even though the dailies made the same errors, yet we published. They burned our buildings and publications, yet we continued to publish.

What has the Black Press done in America since the Freedom Journal first rolled off the press in 1827 in New York where Sharpton lives? Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm wrote in their first editorial, “we wish to plead our own cause… Too long the public has been deceived by misrepresentation in things that concern us dearly.” This is true today regardless of one’s color who decides to speak out on what the Black Press is or is not doing, as Sharpton has done. The 2002 Miller Brewing Company Gallery of Greats focuses on the remarkable achievements of African Americans in the Black Press. The Gallery of Greats illuminates the success and contributions these honorees have made.

If Sharpton had done just a little research he would have found that many of our publications have websites and most have an online presence with Facebook and Twitter. Black Voice News has had an online presence since 1995 before our local daily paper and we currently have 35,000 unique monthly visitors and more than 500,000 page views with over 2.5 million hits monthly.

Currently our president Danny Bakewell has settled a agreement with Toyota USA to advertise with Black owned media. He was successful in showing Toyota the $2.2 billion that Blacks spend to purchase Toyota automobiles. And Toyota agreed to become a good corporate partner. Our papers can compare to any others. For the past twenty years, we have covered the Olympics around the world reporting on Black athletes. The NNPA sent a delegation to Nigeria and covered their national election back in the 90’s, headed by then NNPA President Dorothy Leavell from Chicago. President Tom Watkins of New York took a delegation of Publishers to Taiwan; Republic of China back in the 80’s to learn about trade opportunities. It was the Black Press that helped Louis Farrakhan pull off the only successful Million Man March in Washington DC when other media outlets did not believe there was even going to be a march. Over a million Black men showed up without any incident or disorderly conduct. In New York the Amsterdam News took aim at and got rid of a problematic mayor.

To my fellow publishers I say, a poisonous snake comes in all colors. We have rattlesnakes that are brownish or tan with diamond shapes on their backs and make a noise before they strike. We have cobras with a glossy black color and a head that flattens, making a growling or hissing sound when in a striking mode. Down south we have a snake called the White Oak and yes it is poisonous too and gives no sound before it strikes. People are like that some times. Those who look like you can get the closest, and the damage they cause, depends on how you react once bitten. Of course we have snake bite kits for those of us who get bit. The best thing is not to get a snake bite of any kind but that is almost impossible in this world where so many live. So when you find or see one you must take preventative action, such as staying clear or making a loud noise so the snake will move on.

As for Sharpton, I say let us keep him out of our papers and let him go into cyberspace with his newly found friends.

See Sharpton’s speech at: http://newsone.com/newsone-original/newsonestaff2/sharpton-black-digital-media/

You can also find more information at: http://www.blackpressusa.com

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