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Hardy L. Brown

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

Redistricting: African Americans Make your Vote Count in the I.E.

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The California Citizen Redistricting Commission is coming to the Inland Empire on Sunday at two o’clock to hear from us on the newly drawn political district lines for congress, senate, and assembly. It is crucial for you to speak up about how you feel or see these lines because they will represent your voice when it comes to public policy on education, business development, transportation, jobs, and healthcare by the ones you elect.

Every ten years new district lines are drawn for us to elect representation in Sacramento and Washington, DC. For the past two or three decades, the Inland Empire has only had one democrat at a time; George Brown and now Joe Baca, representing the two counties of Riverside and San Bernardino in congress. In Sacramento, the same could be said and for the last ten years, Riverside County has had no democrat elected in the senate or assembly. In San Bernardino, it has been different where democrats have represented the citizens of San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto and Fontana in Sacramento holding office as a senator and assembly member. Six years ago, San Bernardino elected its first African American, Wilmer Amina Carter to the Assembly. All of that could change with new district lines to dilute your numbers as a group of people and Carter cannot run because of term limits. Because of the increased number of people in the Inland Empire, we will have some new districts in congress and in Sacramento. These new seats will not have incumbents so every candidate will start from scratch.

What has happened over the past ten years when it comes to African Americans in California? We have moved around internally by leaving the urban cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles and set up housekeeping in Riverside and San Bernardino County. Not only has Riverside County become the state’s fastest growing county for all people but it is the same for African Americans.

According to the U.S. Census these cities of the Inland Empire gained in real numbers for African Americans in: Moreno Valley 32,493, Riverside 20,266, Corona 9,154, Murrieta 4,958, Perris 6,238 and Temecula 3,542 and San Bernardino 32,374, Fontana 13,329, Rancho Cucamonga 13,369, Ontario 13,676, Chino 5,040 and even though Rialto 16,104 is still the third largest city for African Americans in San Bernardino County they lost Blacks for reasons unknown. They were at 20,464 at the start of 2000 census. The total number of Blacks in San Bernardino County stands at 172,125 up 8.9% and Riverside County at 124,960 up 6.1 percent.

It will be important for Blacks of Moreno Valley and Riverside to ban together as communities of interest. They share many things in common. It would be the same for San Bernardino, Rialto, Colton and Highland when it comes to a singular political voice. We have so many problems needing to be addressed when it comes to educating our children, seeking employment, improving access to healthcare, business loans, and yes electing people to office with our interest at heart.

For our people, this redistricting is the way the political game is played by political parties, business, and cities of interest. I know many of my people especially those who attend church, do not believe in this process but I wish to remind them that when Jesus was born it was all about the census, Luke 2:1. So to them I say re-engage in the game, this is another step in the process to say who will represent your voice and set policies on where to spend your hard earned tax dollars.

Some of the things this commission must take into consideration when drawing the lines is section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act regarding race, contiguous territory, respect for community interest and natural or manmade borders. For example, If district lines for assembly were drawn to split in half the African American voters in the City of Riverside, their vote would be diluted, which might be a violation of the voting rights act. The same would hold true for any city.

According to the commission calendar they will convene a hearing for the Inland Empire area at the San Bernardino County Government Building, 285 N. Arrowhead Ave. (downtown) on June 19, 2011 (Father’s Day) from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. They want to hear from you. For more information visit their website at www.wedrawthelnes.ca.gov. So come out and let your thoughts be heard and make your vote count.

John Longville for 2nd Ward City Council

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The City of San Bernardino is having a special election on July 12th to fill the 2nd Ward council seat vacated by Jason Dejardine who resigned several weeks ago. There are three citizens who have tossed their names into the race: John Longville, the only Democrat, Robert Jenkins, and Jerry Martin, both registered Republicans. The office being sought is non-partisan; however the Republicans have been encouraging members to enter local public office in preparation for higher office. The 2nd Ward has a heavy democratic registration. I must admit I do not know Martin or Jenkins but I have known Longville for many years back in the days when he was on the staff of the late Congressman George E. Brown. I have followed his career in public service as councilman, Mayor of Rialto, assembly member in Sacramento representing our Inland Empire area, and his current service as a community college trustee.

Now I have not always agreed with John on his take on some issues but that has never deterred this loyal Democrat from saying, “sorry Hardy, this is what I believe we need to do for the citizens I serve.” John has an outstanding career of public service to the people he has represented over the years and would do the same for the citizens of the 2nd Ward.

One thing that John will bring to the council is a wealth of knowledge and know-how to access the state and federal government from his years in Sacramento. A city the size of San Bernardino needs to broaden its outreach and influence with these representatives. We have suffered over the years from a council that operates with blinders on hindering their sight from others. When you listen to some members currently on the council, they resent or reject the services we could get from other agencies when the opportunity presents itself.

I asked John if he has the support of the police and firefighter associations in San Bernardino and he responded no. I said you must have not agreed with them wanting all the money while they live in other communities. I told John that is great because they cannot vote anyway but they are seeking a council member to carry their water; meaning someone who will allow them to carry over $30 million dollars from our city and contributing nothing back in the way of taxes. I know they are financing Martin or Jenkins campaign with the money we pay them in their six figure a year salaries. So the citizens of the 2nd Ward need to consider two things before they give Martin or Jenkins their vote and that is their political party affiliation and the mouthpiece of the police and firefighter associations. It has been reported that out of the top 100 highest paid people in the city 75 are police and firefighters.

Another thing Longville will bring to the council is an understanding of educating a workforce with the skills and requirements to meet business needs in the city. His service on the San Bernardino Community College Board will help facilitate any conversation between San Bernardino City Schools, Valley College and employers.

I recall Longville being excited about getting the state to produce information in braille so the blind could read the information for themselves. The 2nd Ward is in need of having someone on the council with such sensitivity. This ward has more powerchair riders per block than any other ward with the worse sidewalk access than any other. Just visit Waterman Avenue to Sierra Way between Baseline and Highland on any day of the week.

I see Longville as a problem solver with the ability to bring people and agencies together to help. I urge the people of the 2nd Ward to Elect John Longville as their council member to help the city move in a positive direction.

What do they have to complain about?

I’ve been listening to national commentators give survey and poll reports talking about how unhappy white citizens are with the way things are going in this country. Then I look at the unemployment rate and theirs is the lowest. I look at the profits made by businesses owned by them and they are setting profit records. I heard one report that over 600,000 Americans traveled to England to witness the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. All you have to do is add up the airfare, new clothes, hotel costs, food and other related costs to see the money spent.

This they spent without even being invited to the wedding. If we, Blacks, had what they have, we would tell them to get a life.

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