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Hardy L. Brown

Ashley: The Right Man For The Job

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Hardy L. BrownMarion Ashley has been passed the gavel to lead the Riverside County Board of Supervisors as its chairman one more time. If I had to make an analogy of Ashley getting the nod from hi s peers, it would be like the players of the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was playing giving the bal l to Michael. We are in the worst financial crisis the world, nation, state and local municipalities has ever seen.

In addition, Riverside is experiencing growth with the need to update its infrastructure of transportation, health care, water, education, environment, and the need for greater cooperation between governments.

When I look at his background and experience, Marion has been preparing himself for such a time as this. When I first met Marion several years ago, through the late Rev. Marvin Brown of Perris, I could tell that he was a genuine guy. For starters, he loves Riverside, his family and serving others. I will not list al l the organizations that he has been affiliated with but everything he has done was and is done with those three things in mind. So after talking with him and listening to Rev. Brown talk about him i t was easy to support him. After viewing his service as a supervisor, it is easier to congratulate him on being named chairman of the board again.

Penman’s Office Denied

The San Bernardino City Council voted 4 to 3 to deny legal payment to Andrew Roth for providing counsel to some female employees in the city attorney’s office of Jim Penman. This $3,200 invoice for the city to pay came about several months ago when a document came up missing and turned up in the city attorney’s office. When it was reported as a theft the police conducted an investigation with many saying a female in the city attorney’s office might be the one. No one knew which one so heavy accusations were slung around city hall. In the meantime, the female employees thought they had better get legal counsel while other employees were interviewed without council. Andrew Roth, the attorney the employees hired as their personal counsel, is married to Dianna Roth who works in the city attorney’s office. Now that the investigation is over with not enough evidence to proceed, the females are stuck with a legal fee of $3, 200, which they said the city should pay. The mayor and four city councilmember’s disagreed, so the request was denied.

I am in agreement with the decision to deny payment for their personal legal counsel. All the employees had to do was cooperate in the investigation instead of not answering any questions as directed by the attorney as stated by Mayor Pat Morris.

Council member Rikke Van Johnson said he voted to deny payment because in hi s opinion it was a conflict of interest for them to use Andrew Roth, since his wife worked for the city attorney.

Jim Penman said he saw this denial as a carryover of the mayoral election, which he lost to Pat Morris. Whatever the reason, the denial sends the message that the council is in charge of the city and not the city attorney.

Remembering A Friend

This past week I lost a longtime friend in Stephen Walker. He was the kind of guy that never sought the spotlight or wanted recognition for anything he did. For many years he lived in a small trailer in Mr. Crew’s backyard in San Bernardino California Gardens. He was born in Buffalo, New York and did not like being around family but to us he was family.

Steve was the kind of guy that would drive to San Francisco just to have a good seafood dinner and then turn around and drive back home. Or, he would buy a ten-pound bag of potatoes for Cheryl to make him a large bowl of potato salad so he could eat until he got really full.

Steve was also the kind of friend that if someone wronged you then they had wronged him as well. The last time I saw Steve was last year when he stopped by to see how I was doing and he made me a large pot of Gumbo, Steve Walker style. He told me, “Hardy I keep up with you through your newspaper.” Even though I would only see Steve every once in a blue moon, I will miss him.


Stay on the Line this New Years

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Hardy L. BrownFidelity Investments has several commercials where the message is stay on the line. The one that got my attention for this editorial for the year involves the African American lady telling her client when he is leaving her office his retirement plan looks good. As she opens the door for him this green carpet appears for him to walk on. So, as he happily walked down the street, his eyes turned to view the expensive cars which are tempting him to come in and buy. Not knowing she is watching, she calls out to him, stay on the line. He smiles and gets back on the green carpet.

As we move into the new year, many of us will set goals or resolutions we know are good and we start out with good intentions. Some will commit to lose weight, start a business, save money, be a better parent, a better student and the list goes on and on. There will be some who will pray for strength to keep their resolutions while others will prepare special new year’s meals like black eyed peas, chittlings, hog head cheese or other favorites as traditional good luck foods. Some of us are like the man in the commercial as soon as the first day is over we get back to business as usual while others will last longer. Unlike the commercial we will not have someone to stay behind us making sure we stay on the line.

Therefore let me offer you a few suggestions on keeping your goals. Write them down. This will help you know what you are committing yourself to do. Review the list daily or at another scheduled time to remind yourself. This is also part of your evaluation for any adjustments that might need to be made. Give yourself pep talks or read motivational scriptures, poems or stories that will inspire you. These are the things that say to you “if they could do it, I can too.” Now like the man in the commercial, who stopped to look at the cars, you too might stop or get off track. Just remember the trick is not to stay off but get back on track as quickly as possible.

Have a safe new year celebration and write down whatever you wish to achieve in 2010.

Happy New Year!


Don’t Lose Jesus During your Christmas Celebration

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Hardy L. BrownYou heard people say Jesus is the reason for the season. In the 2nd chapter of Luke, starting at verse 41 it tells the story of Jesus as a boy, when his parents were visiting Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. This was something they had done every year and according to the information provided, Jesus was twelve years old so he was not a small boy. Yet this year, Jesus was left behind. Now you can imagine, Joseph and Mary, the parents, having a good time at the feast within a celebrating atmosphere, the same as we do on Christmas. Even though these are two separate events of His life, our behavior tends to be the same.

In our current celebration of Jesus’ birth, we sometimes get caught up in the festivities of the celebration that we forget the initial beginning of the event. Today we sing about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, I’m dreaming of a White Christmas instead of Silent Night or Joy to the World. We no longer have a Christmas break from school but a winter break. We no longer have religious stories about Jesus’ birth on major television but we do have other secular stories of giving as the reason for the season. We have the family dinners of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, not to mention the numerous amounts of deserts to eat. We buy gifts for each other and especially the kid’s, oh don’t forget members of the family you haven’t seen all year. I cannot forget the holiday cheer of drinks to liven up the celebration. We have even gone so far as to say happy holidays or holiday season instead of Merry Christmas.

All of these things are good and they are outward signs of expressing love to one another, yet many don’t recognize the one who’s birthday we are celebrating.

Now think of what we would say about Joseph and Mary today if they had been celebrating for several days and then discovered one day later after starting home that they had misplaced their son. Then when they went back to look for him it took another three days.

You as believers have the opportunity to not make the same mistake as Joseph and Mary made. You can do all of the things that make you feel good while recognizing that Jesus is the reason for the season Just in case you have forgotten the story or would like to refresh your memory read Luke Chapter 2:1 to 24. It is wonderful accounting of our Savior’s birth and the reason God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son which no other gift can match. Take a few minutes during the celebrations to acknowledge Him and share it with your family. Then throughout the year as you reflect on the good times you shared with family and loved ones, you will not have to look very hard to find Jesus, the real reason for the Christmas Season.

Merry Christmas From The Black Voice News Family To Yours


Congressional Black Caucus Ten Commended for Protesting

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Hardy L. BrownLast week I wrote about the Black community being in a state of Depression based on the unemployment rate along with the unprecedented home foreclosures, high drop-out rate from our schools and other social indicators we use to measure the lifeline of people.

Having said that, I want to commend the ten African American Congressional members on the Financial Services Committee, who walked out of a meeting in protest because of under-funding to the African American community. Their protest held up the vote and sent a powerful message that we are tired of supporting the good health of others all the time and not speaking up for our own.

With that in mind I wish to point out that the Black Press has been discriminated against, ignored, and used as an afterthought by our federal government when it comes to advertising dollars. Back in 2000 then President William “Bill” Clinton singed Executive Order 13170 directing all agencies to take aggressive measures to ensure substantial participation in federal advertising when it came to minority and women businesses. The senate sub committee chaired by Senator John Kerry later did and investigation that discovered the Small Business Administration had taken little action to implement these policies under the George Bush administration. A report by the federal government given to the Standard Directory of Advertisers in 2001 showed the government spent $435 million dollars in advertising with none going to the Black Press. That year the government was ranked as the 45th largest advertiser in America.

In 2007 the federal government reported to Advertising Age that they spent $1.7 billion dollars in advertising and ranked 29th as and agency while ranking 13th in the category of industries. They spent money with everybody and everything but the Black Press. Being in 29th place puts them just behind private giants like Procter & Gamble, AT&T, General Motors, Walt Disney, Toyota and other leaders in the industry.

I know you are asking what does the federal government spends so much money on advertising since they have no products for people to buy. Have you seen those Army, Air Force, Marines, or Navy commercials on television? Or have you seen the ads in other venues like newspapers, magazines, billboards, and sides of buses? These are paid ads not public service announcements like they want us to place in our papers.

This also includes other educational messages they spend money on to make the public aware of when it comes to public safety, as well as drug related or health issues. Most of the money is tied up with large advertising and public relations firms in contracts that don’t trickle down to media outlets on the community level.

I agree with Representative Maxine Waters,” we can not sit back in silence while our people suffer”. I might add that the bonus money the fat cats on Wall Street will give themselves this year alone is more than the federal government has ever spent on advertising in the Black media. Even the protest walk out by these ten members was for a measly $4 billion dollars and that was to help 35 million African American United States citizens that was born and raised here.

One of the benefits that would come from those advertising dollars are jobs at these papers. The reason we cannot employ more people is lack of revenue. With a sizeable stimulus advertising contract over 300 reporters could be employed with a sales force to bring in private advertising to obtain other funds to make our industry grow. We are already self sustaining and have done so for almost 200 years, but with additional assistance from advertisers we could do much more in educating our public. We could help lift them out of poverty, reduce the drop out rate, increase employment, and improve the trust level between our people and the government.

We are not the enemy, nor are the special interest groups. We are hard working, faithful American that contribute to the general welfare and security of this great nation that sometimes do not trust us. To paraphrase what Danny Bakewell, Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, said “we are not asking for a bail out nor hand out,” we are seeking respect and reciprocity from what we have already given from our investment thorough taxes, blood, sweat and tears.

Black America in a Depression: In Need of a Stimulus Plan

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Hardy L. BrownLast week, The Black Voice News reporter Chris Levister reported that the African American community is suffering an unemployment rate equivalent to that of the great depression. This is an accurate picture of what Black America has faced since we had full employment during enslavement. At every turn since then people have developed policies that appear neutral and fair in writing but accurately discriminate in application. For the past sixty years, the Black unemployment rate has been double that of our White citizens whether in good or bad economic times with the current statistics bearing the same bad news. As reported by Levister, the unemployment of Whites is at 9.5% and Blacks at 15.7% with the overall rate standing at 10.2% for the nation.

According to the most recent report given to us Monday, the unemployment rate has shown a drop of 2 percentage points and according to my research assistant Christopher Kyle Davis the trend is that Whites have dropped to 9.3% and Blacks are at 15.6%. Whites are being hired at a higher rate than Blacks and if this trend continues, it will keep with the status quo in this country that is unacceptable to me. This still leaves the Black community unemployed at a rate double that of Whites. Here in the Inland Empire, the total unemployment rate is 14.6 percent. According to Levister, the unemployment rate of Black males between the ages of 16 to 24 is 34.5%; that is a travesty.

Now we have economists saying that the recession of the nation is turning the corner after the bailout of Wall Street where very few Blacks are employed even though our tax dollars were used to help them out. These same economists have said that the nation was in a recession when the unemployment rate hit 7 percent. Well the Black community has been in a recession for the past 50 years and is currently beyond a depression (if there is such a place) yet our policy makers refuse to address this issue in our community. We have made every effort to address the bankers, investors, stockholders, car makers, teachers, police, firefighters which are all special interest groups. Now I am sure you are saying Blacks are included in these groups however, we are not represented on par with our representation with the population. In all of my research on these groups, over the past several years, none have ever come close to their representation in the communities they serve. Yet the policy makers say to us “be patient” while the majority community is fixed. I think we have been waiting too quietly while the others are screaming and demanding they be saved.

I think we need to write up and demand our own stimulus program for the government to save our small businesses to provide employment in our community. Our inner cities and rural farmers are being left out of the current federal funding in a big way. I know of some funding of small programs but not at the level of other groups. We live in older homes that need weatherizing, cars that are older but due to high unemployment could not take advantage of the cash for clunkers program. Our businesses are too small to qualify under most small business loan programs and do not meet some of the required qualification barriers set in place by agencies. So we need our own stimulus program to meet our unique situation.

I urge congress to look at a domestic plan that will include a special stimulus package that will address this problem in the African American community. I urge our local representatives to request the administration use the unused stimulus money to help us develop short and long range plans that will become self-sustaining. Some of us still believe in the American Dream and the election of President Barack Obama rekindled that dream but we woke up in a nightmare of unemployment, foreclosure and lost savings that has continued to remind us of being kicked off of the sharecropping farm. Let congress reawaken that bright dream of prosperity and that “you can make it if you try” attitude we once had. To the Black community let us get busy and write down our ideas to expand our businesses by employing others. Let us collaborate and to combine our talents and resources to make an argument to show that we are serious. As the Black Press has said for almost two hundred years “for too long we have allowed others to speak for us” let our voices be heard.


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