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Hardy L. Brown

Health Care Reform

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President Barack Obama, an African American male and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a White female did something last Sunday and Tuesday that for 100 years no White man in those positions has been able to do. They got passed and signed into law a comprehensive Health Care Reform Bill that became law when he finished signing it Tuesday morning in the Oval Office. This is historic in every way one can look at it; first time Black President, first female speaker, unifying a fractured democratic membership against a Republican Party that only knows how to say NO. They did it against the news media round table expert pundits who for the past three years have been wrong when it comes to guessing what Obama or Pelosi can or can not do.

They said Obama would not get the Democratic Party nomination, wrong. They said he would not win over John McCain, wrong. They said he could not get the stimulus package passed, wrong. They said he could not get the military to follow him, wrong. They said he had too much on his plate and was taking on too much to soon, wrong, They even predicted that the health care bill was defeated because Obama nor Pelosi could not get the votes, wrong. And now that it is the law of the land, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC are still saying it is not over because the Republican Party of NO has some angry members. Just because a few people say they do not want the new law does not mean they speak for all Americans. And to that I say they are wrong again.

Why do I say that they are wrong? Back in 1970 when I got involved with a government funded comprehensive health care program at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana there were many physicians and employees against the vision of the late Dr. Raymond Kay. They argued with him and in some cases did not want to see or treat the patients. Then they found out the program could help their non health care covered family members and personal home keepers who met the criteria and qualified for coverage. I received calls and visits from them with conversations about how wonderful the program was. The same thing is going to happen with this Health Care Reform Bill. When your Johnnie or Sue graduates from college this year and cannot get a job and is under 26 years of age, they can stay on your health coverage. Nothing is more personal than having your child living at home with no coverage. There are other provisions in the bill that will make it hard for the political party of NO to repeal but they will try.

In the Inland Empire we had Congressman Joe Baca vote YES while Ken Calvert, Mary Bono, Jerry Lewis and David Drier all voted NO. I know Mary Bono received almost $65,000 from insurance companies for her campaign but not sure about the other NO votes.

We must ask them in the coming months why they voted NO while working to not return them to Washington.

Let us take a few minutes to bask in happiness onthe passing of this historic legislation in our nation's history while rolling up our sleeves to defeat the party of NO.

It is hard to stop doing something when it’s good to you

Betty Wright sings a song titled “It’s hard to stop doing something when it’s good to you.” That is what Tiger Woods’ response should have been when the lady from ESPN asked him why he didn’t stop. That is one reason we now have so many overweight people in our society today. It is hard to stop eating food when it tastes so good to you. It is hard to stop drinking coffee when it taste so good to the very last drop. It is hard to stop smoking when its good to you up to the last drag of the cigarette. The same is true in politics when it comes to saying NO like the Republicans.

Some people though are able to control their urges better than others while some need a wake-up-call to happen to them before they get the message, like in Tiger’s situation. Tiger did not create this problem or similar situation. King David had this problem as did his son King Solomon. In the case of Solomon he just married all of his, somewhere around 900 concubines.

In the past men have made the rules while women were made to be the quiet one in these situations, well that has now changed because of sexual freedom.

So men must learn to stop doing something just because it is good to you.

Look for Your Census Questionnaire & Be Counted!

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Census Bureau Director, Robert Graves visited the home of James Madi son our nation’s fourth president and the primary author of the constitution, according to a press release from Graves’ office. Graves stressed in the closing paragraph his obl igation is to “ensure that we get it right.” I agree that we should get it right, however everyone feels that way but does not behave that way.

In the beginning we were counted but not invited to participate as counters. In many parts of the country we outnumbered the people doing the counting yet when money was returned to the states, counties and ci ties the counters received and controlled all of the funds. As the years rolled by we have gained the right to count ourselves while the money still comes back to those who control the states, counties and cities. However wi th the responsibility to have the citizens count themselves shortages have plagued the states, counties and ci ty governments but not the responsibility of providing services to these uncounted people.

To tackle this problem census budgets were increased to make extra efforts to reach and educate all citizens on the importance of “getting it right with an accurate count.” The census staff has hired outreach workers to comb the neighborhoods of these hard to reach citizens. They put millions of dollars into elaborate television ads and everywhere they think people are looking or reading. They start months in advance of the questionnaire being mai led out to you. Before the education process administrators know who is likely to respond, by race, sex and income to the questionnaire in the greatest numbers and who or where people will not respond, creating an undercount for that government.

The governments want to get it right because it means dol lars into their budgets to provide required publ ic services to the citizens they represent and to others who will represent them in elected positions. Over the past forty years I have had an interest in the census data and how they spend the money to get the word out and how government and businesses use thi s information. Thi s year has caught my attention because the census people started early by spending millions of dollars to educate a population that they know will return the questionnaire, while wai ting to the last minute to reach out to the hard to reach populations.

As always the community has to argue, fuss and fight with the census staff to get assistance so “we can help get it right.”

This has happened locally in Riverside and San Bernardino counties but has been corrected. The problem with this approach to a long standing issue is they always wait until the last minute to do what should have been done when the campaign is first launched. They cast disparaging remarks on this population for being poor, uneducated, not caring and parasites on society, yet these same gatekeepers of funds do nothing to engage this community in building up their businesses. For example, one of the local gatekeepers told my staff members the only thing we wanted was advertising dollars. Yet he was going to spend advertising dollars in another media to reach the population that lives in the neighborhoods we serve, whi le he sends press releases for us to print for free.

The thing that got me was he says it is about money whi le they col lect, allocate and spend our money with each other and never offer one minute of time without getting paid.

Now this is an issue for local elected offi cials to investigate because their staff members are doing them a disservice. I would suggest the Riverside County Board of Supervi sors si t down wi th their staff and ask what happened and what i s going on.

They already know that certain groups and populations do not trust the government because of past experiences. Some employees of other departments wi thin our government have misused information collected thus creating distrust but not the census department.

In my opinion, census workers in the field can be trusted because they try to get local workers to go door to door. It is gatekeeping bureaucrats that create tension and mistrust.

Having said that, I still want to extend my personal invitation to all our readers to fill out the census questionnaire that came in the mail this week and mail i t back in. It is important to our community and as for our government in the two counties, it will amount to close to one billion dollars for these areas:

social services for needy families, medical care for the underserved, land use development, public safety and education. If we are not counted it means underfunding of these services when we seek out assistance. It also means that when businesses get ready to expand we will not be a part of their consideration. The same is true for Blacks who consider going into business with you in mind.

So mail your 2010 Census questionnaire so we can move forward regardless of how we have been treated in the past.

California Teachers Happy over Loss of 'Race To The Top' Money

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The state of California was denied federal funding on “Race to the Top” in education and as usual the teachers association and some professional educators are saying that is alright. We have Black students lagging at the bottom of every category of every indicator of a successful education and they say that is alright that we did not get funding. Now when it comes to their salaries they scream that it is the money that counts. In doing a quick survey of Black publishers in California they are fed up with these associations wanting more money with our support with no accountability for educating our kids.

In a front page article by reporter Chris Levister, she quotes the head of the California Federation of Teachers Association Marty Hittelman as saying; “I won’t say that I’m in sorrow of California losing it. There wasn’t a great deal of support. The teachers union had opposed for example, basing teachers evaluations on standardized test they say are flawed”. Now mind you last year when these same teachers got lay off notices and President Barack Obama sent federal stimulus money to save their jobs not one peep came from them about lack of support.

As a matter of fact these teachers were out stirring up the community that our children would be harmed if teachers were impacted.

Let us take a look at who is impacted. The staffing of teachers in California is 70.1%white with only 27.9%ofthe students being white. You can see who gets the money but what about accountability and what is happening in our schools when it comes to African American students.

Black students make up 7.3% of the student population with 4.3%of us as teachers. According to the Department of Education African American students score (674) at the bottom of the Accountability Progress Reporting, Performance Index Report. The California High School Exit Exam places Blacks at 23% passing Math and 33% passing English Language Arts. They list our adjusted dropout rate at 32.9%which is 10%higher than the closest group. In some districts the dropout rate for Blacks is greater than 50 percent. Then when you look at over20,700 are expelled and over 770,000 are suspended each year, the question is who is in school to teach?

Now I am not teacher bashing but taking a realistic view of how African Americans are being treated in our educational system as students, teachers, and taxpayers, we are getting the short end of the stick. For your information when I ran for the school board I was the leading champion for higher teachers’ salaries. So I support teachers.

All I am saying teachers is you cannot have it both ways when it comes to receiving federal monies: you accept it when it comes to saving 72% white teachers jobs but refuse federal dollars when it comes to saving African American children.

Somebody Has to Pay for the Census

We are in the last inning of informing our communities to make sure to fill out their census form and mail it back in so federal dollars can return to our community. As always the people in charge get millions of dollars to educate the public on how important it is to be counted. And as always they pay people in non-Black communities and then in a last ditch effort come to us with a request to volunteer our services or provide free space to get the word out. They even go to local churches and ask the clergy to motivate and rev up the congregations to fill out the forms.

In the majority community they buy ads in papers, magazines, on television, sides of buses, billboards, sporting events and any place someone can think of. One thing I have learned in my dealing with public and private organizations is when you want something done that they are not currently doing somebody has to pay for it. When I was on the school board and came up with an idea, Dr. E. Neal Roberts would say where is the money? Somebody has to pay for it.

On my job at Kaiser everybody had ideas but top management would respond, sounds good but somebody has to pay for it.

In my personal budget when something needed to be done that was not a part of the budget the question I ask is: who is going to pay for it? The census wanted a spot on television during the Superbowl the commissioner said in response, who is going to pay for it, and the census did.

Locally we had some advertising dollars come into the counties of Riverside and San Bernardino specifically designated to be used in ethnic media where undercounts have always occurred that had not been reached by other means. Well, some well meaning staff person decided that they would send press releases to the Black Voice News and other community publications while taking the money and spending it in radio and even at the Date Festival. Then they told us they had no information on us when we contacted them. My question to them is how could you locate us for press releases and not for advertising?

Once again you pay to get the word out in high response communities then want us to volunteer and give our business up for free. Somebody has to pay for it.

Now what these county employees are doing is a disservice to the county’s policymakers because when the federal reallocations are done they will not have enough funds to provide for the people needing the services. Somebody has to pay.

Ray Smith, Riverside Public Information Officer, when questioned why we were not brought in on the plan earlier said staff was doing the plan but his office on Tuesday said they had to confer with the committee, he had no explanation. He also said that Latinos are considered the hard to count in Riverside. He was informed that the only legally adjudicated Black newspaper in the County is The Black Voice News to which he just said they would be placing ads after the Census forms hit.

That makes me believe there is an undercurrent to make sure Blacks are not counted and then blame it on those same Blacks.

Jose Medina for 64th Assembly an Educational Leader

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Jose Medina has been an active citizen in the Inland Empire for many years seeking no recognition but serving his community anyway he could. He has been active in education as a teacher, school board member, community college trustee and volunteer in countless other civic activities with the last being Barack Obama for President. As a leader in education for several decades, one might ask why recommend Jose for the Assembly.

For starters we have term limits and that has resulted in many inexperienced individuals being elected into office which has led to a short learning curve. Then we have an educational crisis in our state and the Inland Empire especially when it comes to Black and Hispanic children. We need state policy makers with practical experience of local decision making that understands the intricate needs of districts in the community which is not based on political party affiliation.

Currently we have too many politicians making those kinds of decisions.

That brings me back to Jose’s experience as a teacher, school board member, community college trustee and an activist in our community to solve problems. On the political activist side, Jose was one of the very first supporters of now President Barack Obama in this area. He did not waver in his support nor did he wait to see what the polls indicated or who was supporting who. You might ask how I know; well he came to my office with the Obama statewide coordinator to discuss the campaign, well before the California primary election. Jose then went out to other states to work on behalf of Obama, and Jose has done this kind of thing all his life. With some of the racial issues that sometimes surface between our people, it is never an issue with Jose Medina.

Jose will also bring a sensible approach when it comes to restoring fiscal responsibility to spending our tax dollars. He understands the legitimate needs of our most valuable citizens, small business owners and the need to expand our economic and transportation corridors in the Inland Empire.

I urge you to support Jose Medina for Assembly in the 64th District.

A New Atmosphere At San Bernardino City Council Meeting

This past Monday at the San Bernardino City Council meeting I could not believe what my eyes were seeing nor what my ears were hearing.

They were discussing agenda item 19 concerning a program to help ex-offenders get back into the mainstream of society once released from prison. In past meetings, this topic would bring animated gestures and accusatory remarks from certain corners of the council at each other.

At the end of this particular discussion I was surprised when Councilmember Wendy McCammack said she was in support of this program with a smile on her face. I don’t know what has happened to change her support but her demeanor and attitude was a very welcome sight.

One might speculate that the recent election is over with two new members who spoke with civility and support for this type of approach to solving a community problem.

One might speculate the city attorney, Jim Penman who lost to Mayor Morris, was not sitting at the table during the discussion. One might speculate that Wendy will have to seek re-election next year and by the people sending Morris back, it is clear what direction the citizens want the city to go. I am sure you have your on speculations but whatever the reason, it was a surprise and welcome sight.

Setting the Stage for this Year's Campaign Season

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Another political season is upon us that will require our decision to vote on people and issues that will serve our interest in the public arena.

When it comes to candidates none of us have found a fool-proof way of voting for someone who will do everything we want. However if you are like me you seek to talk with as many of them as you can while reading as much about them as possible. You also read the propositions to better understand what is presented before you as well as who is behind them.

Sometimes they sound good but in reality not practical or worth the money, let alone of benefit to the African American community.

What we try and do hereat the Black Voice News is what I described above and offer you our opinion on who will represent our best interest in the office the candidate is seeking.

So until the primary election in June and the general election in November I will be offering you our endorsements aswe make decisions on various positions.

Wilmer Amina Carter for Assembly A Proven Leader

The citizens residing in the 62nd Assembly District have been well served by Wilmer Amina Carter as their Assemblymember. She has demonstrated the training and political leadership she acquired while working with Congressman George Brown and that is working with everyone including the opposition party. She has conducted many hearings in the district to garner information before making a vote while publishing timely newsletters to keep us informed.

Having been a small business owner herself she understands and has supported legislation to increase our participation in the vendor programs of the state.

Her commitment to our young people is evident in her staff and the recognition she has given to academic and leadership achievement. She reaches out to a diverse constituency by supporting and attending the many functions in all communities.

Now while I have focused on her ability and skills to work with a diverse population and across political lines, Amina is busy a legislator writing, reading and supporting many bills onthe following committees: education, health, transportation, budget, utilities, commerce, census and select committee on higher education.

Even with her busy schedule whenever the Black media owners in California are visiting in Sacramento, which is twice a year, she always finds time to meet and inform us on the latest issues.

Return Wilmer Amina Carter to the 62nd Assembly District seat.

Stan Sniff for Sheriff: A Committed Leader

Several years ago the Black Voice News and Riverside County Sheriff Department under then Sheriff Bob Doyle, started a program to change the perception of how African Americans inRiverside County viewed law enforcement and to recruit more of us into the profession. (I shared with Sheriff Doyle that because of our long history as adversaries and not that of protecting and serving so it must be a longtime commitment from the departmentand us to make a change.) Well Doyleretired and we have a new sheriff in town.

Not knowing Sheriff Sniff I proceeded to observe his actions, and talk withhim and others who interacted with him. I must say he did meet with my staff to commit and continue the relationship and program of reaching out to the Black community not just with words but with dollars. In my conversations with him he is trulysincere in his desire to keep the county safe and in a much better place on race relations and employment than where he found it.

He has made some strategic promotions within the department and can be seen consistantly engaged with the community. It is refreshing to see the sheriff at NAACP events, church functionsand at the past Black Voice Foundation gala, Sheriff Sniff attended rather than sending a representative.

Sheriff Sniff is respected by his peers and supported by hisstaff. He leads the county by example.

I urge the voters of Riverside to keep Stan Sniff as our sheriff.

The Black Farmers are going to get their money

At last, the Black Farmers of America might just get the $1.7billion, from the Federal government for years of racial discrimination by the department of agriculture. We have followed this story for 40 years when it was brought to our attention by Cheryl’s cousins in Sanford, North Carolina. Then we met andtalked with the organizers several times after that. I met withSecretary Blocker in the Clinton administration to talk about the issue after the courts ruled in the farmers favor but did not force the money to be paid. Well it is long overdue but it looks as if it will be completed under President Barack Obama’s Administration.

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