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Hardy L. Brown

Black Voice News Editorial Endorsements for June 8, 2010

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Each election cycle I try to meet with or talk to as many candidates and supporters of candidates as possible. Thanks to email and candidates websites, I can and have garnered much information to form opinions on the candidates and issues in addition to meeting with them in my office. In some cases I have personal relationships with many of them due to my many years of community work. Some of the candidates are unopposed in the primary so therefore I will have no comments until the general election in November. However for some positions critical to the Black community, like education and the state’s attorney general positions, I will offer my recommendations.

Kamala Harris is seeking the Democratic nomination for Attorney General and I had the good fortune of meeting with her several months ago in my office. I was impressed with her background in crime prevention programs she instituted in San Francisco as the District Attorney. Of all the people seeking this office, she is the only one with a strong crime prevention mentality and a specific interest in our youth. For California, Kamala Harris would be a new kind of Attorney General.

To lead the offices of education as Superintendent of Schools in Riverside and San Bernardino County, I have to put the concerns of the children first, especially African American students. Each candidate vying for the position says that they are there for all children but in each county our children are lagging behind. Something is drastically wrong in the classrooms. Each county has its own set of circumstances that is unique to the county but each superintendent must be the drum major or cheerleader for education. Who is going to provide the leadership as we ‘Race to the Top’ in education by closing the academic gap, while reducing the dropout rate, and increasing the college going rate for all students?

In Riverside, we have Kenneth Young who currently occupies the County Office of Education Superintendent seat and his challenger, Dale Kinnear a dynamic leader at North High School who has the city of Riverside buzzing with optimism and hope.

According to some parents with children at his school, they have a new interest in learning. That is good news to me. I have also heard from Young’s supporters who are not as passionate as Kinnear’s, but they are impressed with Young’s management style. While Young currently occupies the position, our educational system needs a “Drum Major” leader to rally the community and push us to the top in education. Kinnear has an impressive record at North High and the trick will be to use his love for kids in an administrative position at the county level. I think Dale Kinnear can be that kind of leader for Riverside County.

In San Bernardino the decision is not that easy because I have a more intimate knowledge of the districts, politics, and background of all candidates seeking the position. Gary Thomas was appointed to the position three years ago to replace Herb Fischer but like Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle during the vice presidential debates, where Dan said he was like Kennedy, Lloyd shot back, “I knew John Kennedy and you ain’t no John Kennedy.” Well Gary Thomas is good but he is no Herb Fischer.

Then we have Arturo Delgado, Superintendent of Schools inSan Bernardino City Unified. The district has come under hard times for Black children and the same is true for the county schools as far as academic achievement and dropouts. Delgado has a seven member board of trustees to contend with which may have hampered his desire to seek some of the things he might have wanted to implement. He was able to start SANKOFA, a program specifically designed for African American students and according to his latest report the dropout rate has been going down and some low performing schools are slowly improving. But he hasn’t been able to fully sell this initiative to his staff nor has it received proper funding. It’s an interesting concept that has languished because there seems to be no passionate crusader at the district level.

In my opinion neither Delgado nor Thomas have demonstrated the Drum Major leadership role in education, but Thomas has the greatest potential to become one. Thomas has inherited a good staff assembled by Fischer so all they have to do now is engage the community in the vision of educating our children especially the lowest performing children. It is one thing to reach out and another thing to invite people in to the county school system and passionately engage them in the process.

Delgado on the other hand should elevate the academic performance of all children in his district beginning with educating the board of trustees that they were elected to serve all children not just a segment of the student population. I know it is a big challenge for him because some board members need to be replaced but educating them is not impossible. Then he and the president of the board should become Drum Majors for education of the district.

Therefore I recommend Gary Thomas for SB County Superintendent of Schools.

For District Attorney of Riverside County my recommendation is for Judge Paul Zellerbach. You know something is drastically wrong with the system when a judge resigns his office to help improve the image, effectiveness and professionalism of the criminal justice office of the county. We need someone with integrity and the skills to bring people together not divide us. We urge you to vote for Paul Zellerbach for District Attorney.

Mike Ramos has had his hands full trying to harness the corruption in San Bernardino County from high level elected officials. It is not easy to be a District in this county when the public keeps electing unethical supervisors who think they are above the law. However Ramos was elected for such a time as this being of Hispanic Heritage and a Republican. I say Republican because at this time the leaders have been from that party prior to them it was Democrats in the cookie jar. Ramos has done a good job in removing them from office and seeking justice on behalf of the people. We urge you to return Mike Ramos to District Attorney.

For sheriff in San Bernardino I am recommending Rod Hoops, he has already done something no other sheriff before him has done and that was promoting Ron Cochran to the position of Captain, a position no other Black person has held. He also believes in the community and its people, he told my staff.

Kamala Harris for Attorney General
Gloria Negrete McLeod for State Senate
Wilmer Amina Carter for Assembly
Gloria Romero for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Dale Kinnear for Superintendent of Schools
Paul Zellerbach for District Attorney
Stan Sniff for Sheriff

Gary Thomas for Superintendent of Schools
Mike Ramos for District Attorney
Rod Hoops for Sheriff


Gloria Romero for Superintendent of Public Instruction

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In the movie “The Music Man” starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, Preston sings the song “Ya Got Trouble -Right Here In River  City”. It is a song about the opening of a pool hall in the community and the negative effect it could have on the town especially the youth. In the real life of the African American community in California “we got real trouble”, trouble with a capitol “T” when it comes to the public education system and Black Students. The system is failing them in a big way in every category and it is not the children’s fault.

We must plead their cause and get help from as many sources and people who are willing to change the paradigm. We need friends who are willing to stand up to big teacher’s unions and political party leaders of the current system and “think out side of the box” to borrow another popular quote of the day.

That is why I want to recommend that we elect Senator Gloria Romero, democrat from Los Angeles as the next Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of California.

Senator Romero came from a family similar to many Black families, where her mother had only a 6th grade education yet, Gloria earned her PhD. and knows what a good education can do in transforming your life. She has said with emphasis that “California cannot fully compete in the 21st century economy unless we close the achievement gap for all students”, not some but all students.

To demonstrate her commitment to that, back in March she signed a letter with some of Los Angeles leading Black educators and civil rights organization’s addressed to the office of civil rights identifying its failure to focus on LAUSD’S low achieving Black students.

If that was not enough just two weeks ago she led a senate education committee hearing on a republican sponsored bill, with opposition of the California Teachers Association (CTA). They have since taken out television ads to villify and demonize her as anti union, nothing could be further from the truth.

Gloria has received the “Justice Award” from the California Faculty Association for her commitment to workers rights. She continues to be a card carrying member of the Faculty Union Association of California. What Gloria has done is started the legislative ball rolling to remove some of the barriers to good quality classroom teaching in our school system affecting our children.

Gloria is also taking flack within the Democratic Party from the senate leadership. We want them to know Gloria is not in this by herself and we support her 100 percent. We want Gloriato know we are standing with her in “pleading the cause of our children” in public education because “we got trouble - right here in California” with our current education system teaching Black children.

We therefore recommend you vote for Gloria Romero as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Rod Pacheco Afraid of Black Community

It was during the height of the 1999 weekly demonstrations after the shooting death of Tyisha Miller by four White police officers that then Assembly member Rod Pacheco came face-to-face with the Tyisha Miller Steering Committee. The protestors were returning back to city hall when they decided to stop by the Assembly members office located on University Ave. Pacheco was casually dressed and was surprised to see 50+ constituents crowding his office to ask him questions regarding police abuse and the shooting. Pacheco later moved his office without street access and sought the advice of Attorney Jack Clarke, Jr. on how he should proceed in working with the committee on this issue.

Now it seems as though District Attorney Rod Pacheco hasn’t changed taking it out on the Black community and their organizations by not meeting with them according to an article in the Press Enterprise. A candidate debate was recently held for incumbent Pacheco and candidate Paul Zellerbach.

Zellerbach showed, Pacheco was a no-show. In the article, Pacheco is alleged to have said the groups opposed to his 2007 gang injunction were involved in organizing the forum and that is why he was choosing to not participate. If this is true, then it is my belief that Mr. Pacheco cannot be impartial in administering justice to all the people of Riverside County, especially the African American community.

If my assessment of his actions is wrong, then I would like for the District Attorney to fully explain why he will not meet with the Riverside NAACP President Waudier Rucker Hughes or Jennifer Vaughn Blakely of The Group or other members within the African American community.

Mr. DA the NAACP and The Group are outstanding organizations led by two of Riverside’s finest citizens. The NAACP witnessed one of their very own, Thurgood Marshall sworn-in as a justice several decades ago. Would you have been afraid to meet with him? Yes, Mr. DA please come clean with all of us and tell us the real reason you are afraid of the Black community.

Proposition Recommendations

PROPOSITION 13 YES, to improve the safety of un-reinforced masonry buildings.

PROPOSITION 14 NO, the current system serves us well by having those members of party affiliation voting for their members. Open primaries will allow for political party manipulation in the primary.

PROPOSITION 15 NO, it is written that fees will be raised on lobbyists to fund political campaigns, however we know that loopholes are always found by the rich. The current system makes it hard for the little guy but we have found ways to win.

No need to change something we now know.

PROPOSITION 17 NO, to borrow a statement from former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, when was the last time an insurance company put something on the ballot to lower your rates? Never.

Yes on Proposition 16: 'Know the Cost to be the Boss'

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Proposition 16 is a straight forward proposition, basically giving the right to determine if local government can spend public money or incur public departments to take over private electric businesses. This issue came about when the legislature passed Assembly Bill 117 back in 2002 after our energy crisis. Citizens had high electric bills with rolling black outs due to out of state energy companies selling electricity to Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas and Electric. Cities like Riverside and Colton in the Inland Empire were unaffected by this crisis because long ago they created and owned their own utility company.

So after the passage of AB117, local governments were given the right to seek out their own electric company. However, they were instructed to follow certain guidelines: Transparency, conducting a feasibility study, and identifying political and administrative costs associated before it would be approved by the California Public Utility Commission. Some municipalities have thought about it but none have followed through primarily because of the cost associated with the guidelines.

Mind you, if some group approached your city council, itcould sound like a sweet deal but they would be playing with your money before you would know when the reduction in your electric bill would take effect, according to studies in Massachusetts and Ohio. So evidence exists that it could be a good deal for those who might want to jump into that business.

My current concern is with the voters being left out of the equation. There is room for public dollars to find its way into individual pockets during the non-transparency phase of the process. Not saying that any current city council anywhere would do such a thing but you never know about someone who wants to make a name for themselves by pledging to reduce your utility bills, if the city owned its own power plant.

So by passing Proposition 16 you are saying you want to be a major player in knowing what your elected city officials are doing if the issue ever comes up. You will be guaranteeing that everything is going to be fully explained to you ahead of time including cost against further savings and when the savings would kick in.

Being a former employee of Edison Electric Company, I can say without a doubt it would be great to own your own company but you just need to “know the cost to be the boss” as B. B. King said in his song. Vote Yes on 16.

San Bernardino City Should Request An Economic Impact Study On Outside Workers

Last week I suggested a few ideas to the city of San Bernardino about ways they can tackle its $24 million deficit. Well this week I have a follow up idea having to do with people who work in the city not making a financial contribution to the tax base of the city.

I would like for the mayor and common council to request Cal State University San Bernardino or Dr. John Husing do an “economic impact study” of employees who work in thecity but pay no taxes or fees back to the city.

I don’t know all of the things that go into such a study but when you think about the impact a yearly salary of $128,684 a household can have on a community: paying a mortgage, furniture, food, clothing, automobile, city tax, city fees, property tax, making community contributions to non profit groups and other things a citizen does in their community, it has a tremendous impact. Then we have a business that wants to do business in a city, they have to pay a business license fee based on a percentage of their earned revenues annually. I thought about this after a conversation I had with a city employee who said “look I provide you a service of safe protection”. Since they view their employment as providing a service we should and could tax that or charge a fee like we do other businesses.

When you think about it, we have people who pay transient or bed tax because they cost the city while using ourresources of water, electricity, gas, phone, streets and othercity paid services. These outside employees are no different.

Another thing is to re-look at the way we pay publicsafety employees by having their compensation packageregulated by the city charter. When this proposed charter change was put in the charter by the citizens, they had no idea the money would be taken out of the city by the employees. Police officers and firefighters resided in the city as next door neighbors, that is not the case now and the pay was not on par with surrounding cities.

So I am suggesting that the mayor and council request such a study on behalf of the taxpayers in the city.

SB955: Racing to the Top

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Last week, I listened in on a senate committee hearing under the leadership of Senator Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) where they were discussing SB955 authored by Republican Senator Bob Huff on education reform. Some ofthe key issues centered on teacher seniority for assignment, transfer, discipline, dismissal, grievance hearing and morelocal authority invested in school boards. These are very sensitive subjects when it comes to teacher associations and other unions and rightfully so, because they are the perceived foundation of unions. However, they are also the achilles heel of these organizations when looking at them from the outside because it appears good teachers get passed over and bad teachers are protected because of the seniority clause and cumbersome grievance procedures. The California Teachers Association spoke out forcefully against the bill and wants no change to the current set up.

As I listened, I heard nothing from the teachers that addressed my concern of the African American students who are suffering under the current system of teacher seniority for assignments in classrooms within the district. Currently we have over 454,000 Black students, 7.3% of the student population, with a statewide dropout rate of 32.0%, an academic achievement gap wider than the Mississippi River and getting wider each year. Blacks are scoring at 674 in the Accountability Progress Reporting (API) test where 800 would be the acceptable score. Black students out test Asians and Hispanics only in English with 33% passing compared to 24% for Asians and 27% for Hispanics. Also according to the Department of Education, we expel 20,883 and suspend 782,692 students each year so who is left in the classrooms for teachers to teach?

I heard nothing coming from the association to address the civil rights of students to get a good quality educationfrom competent teachers whose civil rights should not be violated either. I did hear from one of our senior publishers, a strong supporter of teachers, who said, he is sick and tired of teachers complaining about nothing but money while producing nothing in our classrooms. I agree with him because I advocated for the passage of Proposition 198 and higher teacher salaries back in the eighties. What I have seen is salaries with benefits going up and African American student achievement rates going down. I see a current teacher staffing pattern of Whites at 70.1% and White students at 27.9% of the population and Blacks comprising 4.3% of the teachers and 7.2% for students.

This is not an indictment that the color of one’s skin cannot teach another person of a different race but I wish to point out the inequities of who gets the financial benefits from our education system.

I am not against seniority because seniority should account for something but it should not be the only criteria for districts to make classroom assignments or layoffs due to budget constraints. We cannot forget the primary mission of our public education is to produce an educated and literate society.

I want to commend Senator Gloria Romero for leading the hearing, Senator Huff for authoring SB955 and passing it through the committee with bi-partisan support. I also want to commend Governor Schwarzenegger for his leadership in pushing for this issue to be discussed. As we race to the top in education, they realize, if we all don’t get there we fail as a state. It is my hope and support of SB 955 that as it moves through the legislature they keep the children at the top of discussions with the changes that are bound to occur.

Budget Suggestions for the City of San Bernardino to Consider

The City of San Bernardino is facing a deficit of $24 million and they do not want to raise taxes or fees and do not want to cut services or any combination of the two. I watched public access Channel 3 as some council members declared some departments off limits with a standard Republican echo of “no new taxes.”

Since the city manager indicated he will explore alternatives to help them decide, I have a few suggestions to offer.

I did hear them discuss a “transient tax” for people who stay in hotels, since these people do not live here but use our resources. Cheryl Brown suggested and I concur, that we institute a “working tax” for all city employees who work here but live in other cities. These employees use the city services but do not contribute to the tax base that citizens have to pay for. These people could be considered drain resources while not contributing to the general budget.

The city should consider “contracting out public safety services” to the sheriff’s office. I am sure they can provide high quality services cheaper than the current $68 million department. In a way we contract out the servicenow because 90% of the police staff live in other citieswith a combined salary plus benefits equaling $128,684 a year. Just to give you an example of where they live: 29 in Beaumont, 11 in Corona, 17 in Riverside, 10 in Fontana, 21 in Highland, 28 in Redlands, 16 in Victorville, 41 in Yucaipa and one as far away as Sacramento with only 34 living in San Bernardino. They pay no city taxes or fees and only contribute to citycouncil member’s re-election campaigns and those council members are saying they are “untouchable”. Sounds like a campaign promise being kept.

They can keep the police officers hired with “Measure Z Funds” since it is a “special tax” and layoff police officers whose salaries come from general funds. Next they could bring the “Impounding of cars” back as a city function instead of contracting it out to political partners.

Even though I detected displeasure and downright meanness in some of the comments toward the city manager and his staff they were doing their job by providing all possibilities to reduce the deficit. It is apparent thatsome of the council members want to handcuff the staff from doing their job and then blame them (staff) if it does not go in the direction of their personal liking. You will have to “raise taxes” or “cut services” everything should be placed on the table with no sacred cows. You will have to raise taxes or cut services. When people get hungry they will eat things they vowed never to eat, like the things you took off the table.

Dorothy Height and Benjamin Hooks: A Legacy of Commitment

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If you have followed my stories of growing up as a sharecropper’s son, I want to introduce you to another entrepreneurial side I remember of my father. He had a side profession of “Logging” (cutting wood for the paper industry) in the south. He would take me into the woods with him sometimes and of course this was to teach me the logging business. As you enter the woody area the trees are small and as you travel deeper into the woods for cutting you see medium size to very large timber. Occasionally I would see trees leaning because of hard wind and soft ground and some blown completely down to the ground.

I remember playing on a large fallen tree one time and asked my father what happened to this tree that made it fall. He took the gas powered chain saw he had and cut into the tree and explained the lifetime of the tree by the ring circles of the tree. This tree was here for about 70 years before it fell. It had seen some good years because the rings are steady and even in the bad years when it lacked getting enough water and sunlight to let it grow, it continued to grow and provide protection to others growing under it and I’m sure it provided room for birds and animals to live in and raise their families. Now it is gone to provide space for other trees to do the same.

I thought of that time when I heard of the passing on Benjamin Hooks and Dorothy Height. When I entered the civil rights movement in the sixties Dorothy Height and Benjamin Hooks were already larger than life trees in Black History. They had already encountered many racial epithets while drinking from colored only fountains in Richmond, Virginia, the birthplace of Height and Memphis, Tennessee the place of Hooks’ birth.

Like those trees both had good years and many lean years of shattered hopes and dreams. For example, Dorothy was accepted into Barnard College in 1929 but was denied entrance because of the schools unwritten policy of admitting only two Blacks at a time.

That did not stop Dorothy. She enrolled at New York University where she earned both a Bachelor and Master Degree.

That knowledge was used to fertilize the tree and the tree continued to grow removing racial discrimination laws, practices and stereotypical images about people of color and closed the gender gap for women. I was watching an episode on the television show several months ago about black and white ladies from the north going down south during the sixties selling Tupperware while conducting civil right meetings. I wonder where that idea came from? Well, none other than Dorothy Height and her “Wednesday in Mississippi” organization that brought White and Black women together for racial understanding.

She grew up to advise several presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Barack Obama. She accomplished so many things that made life easier for people thoughout the world. I remember listening in on conversations, here in San Bernardino, as she described to Lois Carson, Cheryl Brown, Wilmer Amina Carter and others, through the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) Pig Bank Program she envisioned for Swaziland, South Africa. Dorothy Height is Civil Rights Royalty and will be missed but her legacy will live on forever in the deeds she did.

Benjamin Hooks grew up getting hand-me downs as the fifth child on a totem pole of seven. He went to Howard University and earned a bachelor degree and went into the Armed Forces. He later earned his law degree from DePaul University and like the tree he kept on growing; he was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1956.

Rev. Hooks was a joy to be around because his mind was so sharp and witty with catches quotes. He kept us in stitches when NNPA (Black publishers) held our convention in Memphis back in the nineties. I was first vice-president and had to escort him and care for his needs along with that of Congressman Harold Ford Jr. at the time.

Hooks told a reporter of U.S. News & World Report during an interview; “I wish I could tell you every time I was on the highway and couldn’t use a restroom. My bladder is messed up today because of that, and my stomach is messed up to from eating cold sandwiches.”

Rev. Hooks, became a household name when he became Executive Director of the NAACP in 1976. He energized the organization by increasing membership and liquidating its debt. He was a leader in organizing sit-ins and voter registration drives that helped change the south.

Yes when I entered the forest of civil rights, I am glad I did not stay at the edge where things are small. Learning from my dad if you want to get the real timber you have to venture deep into the forest to meet large giants like Dorothy Height and Rev. Benjamin Hooks. Because of them we can drink from any fountain in the nation. We can sit at any public counter where food is served. We can stay at any hotel we can afford. We can vote for the person of our choosing. We can even run and be elected president of the United States because of their life’s commitment to withstand the harsh elements of racial discrimination. Now they are gone like the fallen trees, it is only to make room for others to grow. We will miss both of them and their leadership. Our nation is a better place because they stood as tall trees.

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