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Hardy L. Brown

Loose Lips Sunk McChrystal's Ship

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This past Sunday Rev. Larry Campbell, pastor of St. Paul AME Church of San Bernardino preached from the book of James chapter 3 about our untamed tongue. He used as a subject “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” And of course one of his examples was General Stanley McChrystal who was relieved of his duty by President Barack Obama. While neither the scripture nor Pastor Campbell went into detail on why we do what we do, the tongue does do that to us from time to time. In the case of McChrystal, according to to published reports he and his staff were contacted by a writer of an article for corrections on the article before printing.

So it is clear to me that what McChrystal said about President Obama not being prepared or uneasy in the presence of military brass is truthful to the general.

I have listened to television and radio commentators talk about the incident trying to make sense of why McChrystal did or would do such a thing. Some agree, while others disagree with the general as well as him resigning or being fired. None of these commentators are Black which of course leaves me to draw my own conclusion as to why McChrystal said what he said and others scratching their heads as to why an intelligent and trained military man would do such a thing.

Verse 10 of James 3, gives us a clue as to the capabilities of the tongue with regards to praise and cursing from the same mouth. We as people are not like plants where if you plant a fig tree you will get figs. Paul in Romans 7:21, also gives us another way to look at humans when he wrote “when I want to do good, evil is always present.” We as a people want to do what is right but sometimes wrong wins and based on historical data of white and Black relations in America, evil won out.

General Stanley McChrystal’s action is rooted in a deeply held belief by many in America that a Black man has no rights or authority that they have to live by or take orders from, even as president of the United States. That was how seven of the nine members of the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case back in 1857. We still have many people who think that way today and McChrystal has not had to confront his deeply held position until he came face to face with Obama handing out the orders. There are many people in America like McChrystal and that is why the commentators are having a hard time trying to figure out why McChrystal would mess up his career over a stupid comment. Many people have had to come face to face with that situation not only in the military but in corporate America when the supervisor is of color.

McChrystal has studied the history of the military and he knows how Blacks were treated, first with not allowing us to carry guns and then not having White soldiers under the command of Black officers. I am sure he was taught at West Point how to follow orders especially from the Commander In Chief. But, like most people when you think you are in a safe zone with others who think like you, you will do and say what you really think. Even the reporter who wrote the story thought he had better let them review this before it goes to print. I’m sure the reporter was thinking I want to make sure I write what they said and capture the true meaning of what was said. By this time McChrystal was thinking the public would say I am right and join with me in belittling President Obama, after all he is a Black man who happened to get elected president.

But just like back in 1857 with the Dred Scott decision some people (believe it or not Republicans) were outraged and elected President Lincoln and he signed the “Emancipation Proclamation” that abolished slavery in America in 1863. That single act also gave birth to the KLAN and some racist politicians in the south joined the Democratic Party. These racially motivated politicians did not change political parties until President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act Bill. Then the racially motivated Southern Democrats rejoined the Republican Party where they reside today. It is safe to say that McChrystal was banking on them to join with him since they are pro military with a cowboy maverick mentality. However, since the story was done in public, in writing, for the world to see they could not stand behind him and lose our form of government. If they were to support him we would no longer have a civilian Commander in Chief but military controlled government.

So back to the pastor’s message that “Loose Lips Sink Ships” it is also true that what is in you will come out when confronted with the right circumstances. It is equally true that loose lips will not only sink ships but will also get you fired by the president of the United States.

 

California Utilities Must Do More

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The Greenlining Institute of San Francisco released its annual Supplier Diversity Report of private utility companies in California regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. This report gives out letter grades to companies like a school report card given in public schools to students, from A to double FF. Then in the comment section they make notes on improvements needed or improvements from the last reporting period. It is a great way to keep companies on their toes if they care about their image or if they are serious about the management objectives set by law some twenty years ago. The companies agreed to award at least 15% of their procurement contracts to minority, women and disabled owned companies. Needless to say after 22 years all have fallen short but some are not even trying as identified by the report card.

The overall grade assigned to Verizon is an “A” along with AT&T, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas which is owned by Sempa. Receiving a “D” is Edison and PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric). Coming up with a "F" is Cox Communications and Sprint.

In the detail of the report it is broken down by the disadvantaged groups covered by law and the rule of General Order 156 enacted in 1988 by the California Public Utilities Commission. I am interested in the spending done with the African American group as outlined in the report.

Southern California Gas received an “A” for doing 5.7% business with the African American community; AT&T received a “B” for 5.1%; Verizon received a C for 3.9%; PG&E received a C for 3.7%; San Diego Gas & Electric a “D” for 2.1%; Sprint received a “D” for 2.1% and Edison a “F” for 1.8% which is lower than the last report.

None of them are at parity to what these groups spend in electric or gas payments or in phone bills or cable bills each and every year. Combined the so-called minority population in California is almost 60 percent, yet these companies spend less that 8% combined of rate payer monies with us and even less with African Americans.

Now it is not all their fault but the system of owning the right kind of business to do business with them can be improved by these companies. It starts with employment into the company and then beginning a company supplying the raw materials or services the company needs or uses. I remember the late Al Yzaguirre began his career as a meter reader with Edison and went on to open his electric business. He could not get the people at Edison to give him small contracts even though they were referring other ex-employees’ businesses. The same was true with Mike Darby who started his own business. In my opinion, Blacks and Hispanics who work for these companies are not afforded the same procurement opportunities when they leave or retire.

None of these utility companies produce lawyers yet they contract out for services. None of them own insurance companies yet they contract out with them. None of these companies own food companies yet they contract out for catering services. None of these companies own a public newspaper yet they advertise all the time. They contract with public relations and advertising agencies all the time yet they own none. I cite these services because I know we have some of these businesses in the Black community.

I can attest to Edison, PG&E and Verizon doing some positive things in the Black community and with Black media but it is nothing in comparison to what they spend in other communities. I can also add the Black Press has done some positive things for them such as presenting a positive image at hearings as well has putting on some worthy events for them to partner with, so the relationship is not one sided.

Now while these companies might, and I say might, purchase a table or two at your annual dinner it is nothing compared to the millions they spend at the country clubs or on fishing outings or business conferences with other groups. They have private booths at sporting arenas even sponsor propositions to convince voters to vote.

It is high time that these utility companies take the General Order 156 to heart and put forth every good faith effort to reach this goal of 15% before the public rises up and demands that the spending or procurement opportunities are in line with our population let alone what we spend with them.

They can begin immediately with doing more business with known businesses owned by African Americans.

If you want to read the full report click: http://www.greenlining.org/resources/pdfs/greenlining:st.supplierdiversity2010.pdf

Is Racial Discrimination Widespread in Jury Selection in California?

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I am asking this question because of an article I read in the Arizona Informant Newspaper published by the Campbell family of Phoenix quoting Bryan Stevenson from the “Equal Justice Initiative” on a study they completed stating that race was still a consideration in jury selection in several southern states where the study was done. He cited the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which involved equal protection under the law that Republicans initiated and passed. In that same year, the US vs. Cruishank case was brought before the Supreme Court where hundreds of Blacks were massacred by Whites. The court ruled the civil rights laws were unconstitutional because Blacks had no rights and threw out the case, thus none of the Whites involved served any time in jail. In that case it was an all White jury nine White male Supreme Court Justices, who decided the outcome of the trial. It was not until 1964 with the passing of the Civil Rights Act that we as Blacks got legal equal protection under the law. The same law that Rand Paul of Kentucky says he would like to take away again if elected to the United States Senate, in 2010.

Now we have the case of Oscar Grant, the young Black man shot in the back while lying on his stomach in hand cuffs by a White police officer in Oakland. They requested the case against the officer be moved to Los Angeles because they do not believe the White officer would get a fair shake in Oakland which is in Alameda County. There are 187,802 or 12.9% Blacks in the county and 108,121 or 29.8% in the city of Oakland. In Los Angeles County we have 867,971 or 8.8% Blacks with 370,718 or 9.9% residing in LA City. When you combine the two counties together that is over 1 million Black people. This case is the first of its kind in California where a police officer is being charged with murder. The officer said he was reaching for his tazer or stun gun but accidentally pulled his revolver and shot Oscar. The attorneys have made their selection of people to sit on the jury with the judge’s approval and not one is Black or Latino. I refuse to believe they could not find one Black out of a million to sit on the jury.

The trial of this case has just begun so no one knows what the verdict will be but the handwriting is on the wall that he will be found not guilty.

The other reason for the question is my wife received a call Friday from a local law school graduate regarding a bad experience he was having in the Riverside court. This is typical treatment for Blacks in Riverside’s court system. One court building was moved from a community with a high concentration of Blacks and Hispanics into a middle class White community even though the people using the court were Black and Hispanic. Several years ago we did a few stories on court cases where Blacks were purposely excluded from performing their civic duty. I have heard of similar complaints in San Bernardino County.

There are some interesting reasons to deny Blacks from jury selection the study found. Things like “low intelligence”, “wears eye glasses”, “walked in a certain way”, “dyed their hair”, and countless other reasons. They also found that some district attorney’s offices explicitly train prosecutors to exclude racial minorities from jury service and how to mask racial bias to avoid a finding of discrimination.

I am reminded through my former work in Affirmation Action that even though the rule, policy or procedure has the appearance of a neutral application but always has a negative outcome it is still discrimination in most instances.

We have a new opportunity in Riverside to remove any practices of this kind with the election of a new District Attorney. Judge Paul Zellerbach will be assuming his new duties soon and we should meet with him to assure that none of these practices are in the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

We want a district attorney who will tell any law enforcement officer “do your job and bring us the evidence to support your case.” We want a district attorney that will tell his staff “do your home work on every case because we do not want to convict anyone by using a racially biased jury.” We want a district attorney that will represent the law and all citizens of the county regardless of race, gender, religion, status or political affiliation when it comes to jury selection.

Training for Any Political Office Seekers or Workers

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There is no better time for persons interested in seeking office or helping people to get elected to attend training sessions offered by the San Bernardino Democratic Party and Citizens of the Inland Empire. I have had some good people seeking office come by my office wanting advice on what they should do to get their campaigns off the ground. Some have had no idea on what to do while others know a little bit but have no idea on raising money, getting to the media, how to frame their issues, how to organize a staff and most of all waiting till the last minute to seek advice.

The San Bernardino Democratic Party contact information is Carol Robb at (909) 889-9255 or cell (909) 835-7278. The session will be held at 136 Carousel Mall in Downtown San Bernardino on June 20th from 12 noon to 3pm.

The Democracy for America session hosted by Corey Jackson of Citizens of the Inland Empire will be held at Cal State University of San Bernardino. The sessions will be conducted on July 10th and 11th. Corey’s contact information is (909) 645-8534. To view a video on training, visit www.democracyforamerica.com/training.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in local politics as a candidate or working in someone’s campaign sign up for these sessions. This can make your input into candidates more valuable and gain respect from the people you are trying to help. Take it from me when people believe you know what you are talking about they listen. A lot of concerned people go to candidates and offer ideas only to become frustrated because no one listens to them. Once you have an idea of how campaigns are organized and run you become aware of what the candidate is trying to do and what it takes to get elected.

For example Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner have spent almost $100 million during the primary campaign trying to get the Republican voters to vote for them. Most or all of the money went to television, mailers to Republicans, renting space for events, and high priced consultants. The Democrats have not spent much because many had few challengers during the primary but that changed after Tuesday.

We have some people in the Black media with a mostly Democratic readership wondering why they did not advertise with us. It is clear to me as a former office holder and seeker of public office why we have not reaped any of their spending during the primary, however that will be different during the general election in November. Why? Because the Republicans will have to reach our readers to get their message out and the Democrats will want to hold on to their voters.

If the Black voters think or feel that the Democrats are taking them for granted, they will bolt to the other candidates especially if the Republican candidates reach out to them in a big way. Tom Bradley lost his shot at the governorship when his advisors told him that Blacks are going to vote for him so he didn’t have to run a campaign in their community. By Bradley heeding this advice, the Black voters did not turn out in big numbers, which Bradley needed to offset the number of Democratic voters not ready for a Black Governor of California.

The San Bernardino Teachers Association did not endorse my first term for school board because they had listened to so called experts before talking with me. But they did have the late Royce Bell, political committee chairman meet with me at Denny’s on South “E” Street during the campaign to ask me why I was running. I shared with him why and how I was going to do it with the finances to make it happen. He went back to the committee and told them I knew what I was doing and that they should give me some money even though they had endorsed someone else. They did not only give me some money during the election but gave me a birthday party after the election to help pay off campaign loan obligations.

By you attending these workshops you become better informed on how to seek office and how to help lead your community to develop better office holders. It will not require that much of your time for the benefits you will gain. If you are a member of your church’s social action committee or NAACP political action committee or any social action group, it would be beneficial to have someone attend. If you are thinking about running for school board, city council, water board or to lead your organization this is your opportunity to get information on how to do it.

June 8th is Election Day Next Tuesday

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We should be excited about election day coming up next Tuesday because we have the opportunity to participate in our democracy. We can vote ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on issues for or against candidates seeking office. I remember listening to my parents with their brothers and sisters discussing the people they were going to vote for and the reasons why and now I am doing the same thing, only I don’t have to pay poll tax or take a test. We have overcome so much in our democracy to get the right to vote so please do not let the opportunity escape you this Tuesday.

I want to thank the many readers who have commented to my wife that they look forward to reading my election voters guide during each election. I also want you to know we cherish the trust you have placed in us so we work even harder to reach out to candidates who share our values in our pursuit of happiness.

There is a chance history could be made in the 63rd Assembly District if Acquanetta Warren-Harrison of Fontana, wins the Republican Party primary, where she will run against Rene Wickman of Redlands, a Democrat. It would pit two African American females against one another in this heavy Republican registered district. Something unthought of a few years ago here in the Inland Empire. The Republicans could help overcome the racial image of this district if they elect Acquanetta as their nominee.

I have added a few new endorsements to my previous list: my friend Jerome Horton to the Board of Equalization in Los Angeles, Janice Rutherford for Supervisor in San Bernardino and Barbara Chavez and Fran Givens to the Democratic Central Committee.

My recommendation for statewide office and local office are as follows:

STATE OFFICE:

Kamala Harris for Attorney General
Gloria Romero for Superintendent of Public Instruction
Gloria Negrete McLeod for Senator
Wilmer Amina Carter for 62nd Assembly District

RIVERSIDE COUNTY:

Marion Ashley for County Supervisor
John J. Benoit for County Supervisor
John Tavaglione for County Supervisor
Dale Kinnear for Superintendent of School
Paul Zellerbach for District Attorney
Stan Sniff for Sheriff

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY:

Janice Rutherford for 2nd District Supervisor
Gary Thomas for Superintendent of School
Mike Ramos for District Attorney
Rod Hoops for Sheriff

62nd District Democratic Central Committee

Barbara Chavez
Fran Givens

Proposition 13 – YES
Proposition 14 – NO
Proposition 15 – NO
Proposition 16 – YES
Proposition 17 – NO

Riverside City Council Listen to the People

There is a cloud of suspicion still hanging over Riverside City Hall’s elected officials and the Riverside Police Department after allegations of Chief Russ Leach driving under the influence last February. The handling of the incident appears to the public that the chief received special treatment by his staff and the policymakers in the city. The chief was stopped at 3 am in the morning smelling of alcohol, no lights turned on, the front end of the car was smashed in, and his front tire was shredded from driving it several miles on a flat. The officers decided not to give him a sobriety test nor arrest him but elected to take him home. The officer who made the decision to take him home is now in charge of the police department.

Now the mayor and council are facing questions from citizens on the Eastside of town concerning the selection of a new chief. I agree with the Eastside Citizen Think Tank Committee that a halt should be put on the selection of a new chief until the clouds have become clear on what happened during the Chief Leach incident.

When these citizens led by Mary Figueroa reviewed the history of our police department, it conjures up memories of how they handled other incident investigation.

Transparency and inclusiveness are the political words of the current generation and the mayor and council should take heed to them. The Black and Latino communities perspective on police matters are brought on by years of personal experience of favoritism and promises of secret investigations that are never reported out to the public by well meaning elected officials.

So we urge the council to report out to the public so the city can move forward and select a chief to lead the police department. Without the report, selecting a new chief will only continue this divide of mistrust between the citizens and the people the police are supposed to protect and serve. Do the right thing by the people and not put handcuffs on the new chief without doing what the people want. Blow this cloud away while you can.

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