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Hardy L. Brown

Your Customers Can Get You in Trouble

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Most of us know and have used the statement, “the customer is always right” but in some instances it’s not always the case. In Saturday’s business section of the Press Enterprise the top story caught my attention, as did two other stories on that page. The top story headline was “Some patients won’t see nurses of different race”. The second story was “Black contractors group seeks hiring parity and the third was “Unemployment rate dip”.

The first story cited the request of a White father in Detroit, with a swastika tattoo insisting that Black nurses not be allowed to touch his newborn and the request was written on the patient’s chart. Of course the two Black nurses on duty read the note and wondered what were they to do if the baby needed care and no other White nurses were on duty with them. There were no compelling reasons stated with the note and of course the nurses filed a charge against the hospital for honoring this “racial preference” request from their customer.

This first story reminded me of a phone call I received from the head nurse at Kaiser Hospital’s maternity ward during my early days as the Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana. She said, “Hardy I have a problem, there is a young White girl here in labor and she does not want our Black doctor to help with her delivery and there is no other doctor on duty.“

I told her we couldn’t assign our services to members based on race, so she will have to go somewhere else for service because we cannot honor her request.

A few hours went by and I received another call which the head nurse informed me that it worked out quite well. As the baby moved closer to being delivered and discomfort came with pain the doctor’s race became less of an issue. The doctor did such a great job that she selected him to be her doctor after the delivery.

Now there are times when certain circumstances of race or gender might be a reasonable request from a patient or family member because of some traumatic life experience that is motivating the request, which must be evaluated and considered. If you are in the emergency room for care after just being beat up by a group wearing swastikas, you might reject the care from a health worker with those tattoos all over his arms and body.

Not fully understanding discrimination law at the time, I relied on my personal experience as the first Black meter reader at Edison. I came into the office after reading meters on my shift and my supervisor, Bill Slaven, called me into his office and said, “Hardy we received a call from a customer who told me he did not want any Negros coming on his property reading his electric meter.” Mr. Slaven said “I told him we would send a crew out to disconnect his service and he could sign up with another company for electrical service or he will accept whoever we send out regardless of race or sex.”I just wanted you to know customers do not tell us how to run our business.”

My experience has told me the customer is not always right and sometimes can get you into real trouble.

Black Workers Need Work Too

The second PE story involved Black workers in the construction industry protesting the lack of being hired on a state funded project worth $63.2 million to build a courthouse in Banning. The Young Black Contractors Association of South Central spokesperson Drexell Johnson said in the article that officials made a commitment to put a racially diverse pool of local laborers and contractors to work on the project but that has not happened. They have hired many minorities but none are Black.

Banning is a city in Riverside County that has a good reputation over many years in the Black community. The mayor, Debbie Franklin is African American and Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Botts is White and the city has a long history of inclusion of all races in public policy and the citizens elect minorities to the city council and to the school board.

I wonder what went wrong with the contractors in charge of this project to think that they could build without the Black community noticing or saying anything?

With the unemployment rate for Blacks doubled that of any other group in California, I can see why they would protest. If the contractor was using his on money maybe he could hire whomever he pleases, but since this is public money and being built for public use he is wrong. So I encourage him to get with the program and be more inclusive or not go after publicly funded projects.

President Obama's Bold Agenda – They Deserve A Vote

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In last week’s State of the Union address President Barack Obama laid out a bold agenda for congress to work on for the American people. He challenged congress to get it done for the people and not for any political party. He advocated for immigration reform, becoming a magnet for new jobs in manufacturing, building a “fix it first” infrastructure program, funding early childhood education, voting rights reform, passing climate change legislation, passing the Violence Against Women Act, increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00, and other issues. However, it was during his call for sweeping change on gun violence that saw the chambers erupt with a standing ovation as he called out the names of those killed or seriously injured by guns: Hadiya Pendleton, 16 years old of Chicago whose family deserves a vote, former Congresswoman Gabby Gilford deserves a vote, the families of Newtown where 20 children and six teachers were killed deserve a vote, the families of Aurora deserve a vote, the families of Oak Creek deserve a vote, the families of Blacksburg, Tucson and countless other communities deserve a vote.

I would like to add a few names to this list that deserve a vote for gun reform: Riverside police officer Michael Crain and San Bernardino Sheriff detectives Jeremiah MacKay and Alex Collin deserve a vote; Monica Quan and Keith Lawrence who were to be married deserve a vote for stricter gun regulations in America. While Christopher Dorner, with his law enforcement and military history, could have easily passed the background check, legislation that would make it more difficult for civilians to obtain assault weapons, could have possibly made a difference.

So I join President Obama, hundreds of law enforcement leaders, and surviving family members of lost and injured loved ones in saying these citizens deserve a vote.

The Leadership of San Bernardino is Misguided

The citizens of San Bernardino deserve better leadership at city hall. Everyone knows that the city has filed for bankruptcy and that means you do not have any money to spare. So what does the city attorney do? He asks the city council to hire a litigator for $6,000 a month retainer while guaranteeing him 25% of whatever he can obtain by taking people to court. If he is as good as the city attorney says he is, why not give him 30% or 35% of what he litigates without the retainer fee obligation. By the way the litigator currently works in the city attorney’s office and lives in Palm Desert. Enough for keeping the citizens’ tax dollars in the city.

The city council approved the request on a 6 to 1 vote while in their next breath asking for all citizens to buy local and shop in the city to help the city out. Fred Shorett was the lone council member that voted against this give away of public money. You may or may not know that currently the public safety employees take over $40 million dollars out of the city each year in salaries because they do not live in the city.

If the city is broke how could you agree to such a request by the city attorney if you do not have any money? It does not add up or make any sense. On top of that, the mayor and council are asking citizens to consider voting for an increase in their refuse pick-up fee. I am actually in favor of that proposal because of all the employees who work in this department that live, shop, pay taxes and send their children to schools in the city.

Before investors put up their money in stocks they first look at the company’s management team. If they have faith or trust in the company’s leadership they will invest in the stock. If the City of San Bernardino were on the stock market no one would invest any money based on the leadership from the mayor, council and city attorney.

They should be recalled, but it would cost the city money that could be used to provide what little service they are currently providing.

Complaints of Racism and The Dorner Manifesto

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Christopher Dorner gripped the Southern California law enforcement and its citizens like a plague, but came to a burning halt in a San Bernardino mountain community late Tuesday evening. After reading the Dorner Manifesto, I can say while many African Americans can identify with his allegations of racial incidents on the job, none can identify with the way he went about trying to resolve his complaint. Maybe Dorner had not heard of the NAACP, Black Press, or any of the state or federal agencies designed to look into such matters. It is apparent Dorner did not trust the internal complaint procedures established in the police department or the courts where he lost twice. From my personal experience, few employees trust internal complaint procedures unless they trust the investigator. Apparently, Dorner did not trust anyone so he took matters into his own hands with his military and police training.

Since Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck has stated he will reexamine the case and desires transparency with the intent of increasing credibility with the African American community, he should or must outreach using these long standing institutions of the NAACP and Black-owned media to carry his findings. Chief Beck did reach out through Pat Harvey, a longtime CBS broadcast journalist, for credibility with the Black community and that is a start for I know and trust Pat Harvey. However, one thing I have noticed from the press conferences called during the weeklong ordeal was the absence of African American police officers standing with police leadership in front of the camera. Having officers of color standing with him would have helped improve their image in the community.

I know that many of our younger generation African American citizens have tossed out these tried and proven institutions of civil rights that have brought us thus far in America. The Black Press has been “pleading our own cause” for justice in America since 1827 with the first publication of the Freedom’s Journal and currently over 200 publications nationwide, over 20 here in California and 10 in Southern California. They love to print these kinds of stories that help fight discrimination in public and private organizations. One of the publishers in Los Angeles County is in court almost every day fighting allegations of police abuse cases against Black citizens all over Southern California.

The NAACP, which is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, has been fighting discrimination and police abuse cases since 1909 throughout America. California has over fifty active branches with nine branches in Los Angeles County and 22 branches in Southern California.

If there is one thing these two organizations know how to do it is get the word out into the community after they do a preliminary investigation into the complaint. There are other organizations one could turn to in the Black community such as a religious institution for help with these kinds of issues.

I am not saying they always get the kind of results one might want, but they are there as a beginning alternative to taking matters into your on hands by killing innocent people. I am identifying these organizations for people seeking solutions to perceived or real acts of discrimination in the workplace.

Once a story has been printed and remedies are sought by the NAACP, a person has the right to sue an employer for discrimination. I am suggesting that our brothers and sisters take this path to address our grievances to help flush out the real culprit who is doing the discrimination inside these organizations. My professional experience from investigating discrimination complaints inside a large corporation is the same person’s name has a tendency to surface more than once.

Nothing we can say will undo what has been done, but I have a feeling others feel the same way but would never dip to that level to get relief. I am also suggesting that law enforcement management staff seek ways to investigate complaints and do more outreach into the African American community to improve the police image and make friends before you need them.

WAG: A Wonderful Organization and Meeting

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The weather was very nice Monday and Hardy II asked me to attend the Westside Action Group meeting held each week at the San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club on Ninth Street. I asked Justin Lee my grandson and caretaker if that was something he wanted to do. He agreed that it would be nice since he would like to leave the house as well. Most people do not know that when I leave the house it is more than a notion to get ready. It means eating and drinking water at a certain time because of my ALS/PLS swallowing condition, which is a slow process. Then I have to make sure the weather is really warm enough for me because what is warm to others might be cold weather to me and it makes my muscles stiffen if I am not properly dressed.

I also wanted to go in order to see my friends Don Griggs and Sylvester McGill and as it is the beginning of Black History Month, WAG is a big part of Black History in San Bernardino. When I arrived, they were in the middle of discussing one of our community’s biggest problems: saving our Black children, especially our boys. That has been a problem for us for some time and leading the discussion was A. Majadi, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club with others chiming in like Carolyn Tillman of San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office , Dina Walker of Blu Education, Hardy Brown, II of Black Voice Foundation with suggestions and comments. It was a very healthy debate and the WAG organization was doing what it was designed to do by offering a platform for open and honest debate by community members.

Our community does have many problems facing it with higher unemployment than any other group leading the top of the list. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for African Americans stands at 13.8% in California, our Black men are 14.5% unemployed and our women have a 13.2% unemployment rate. This is well above the 7% unemployment rate for Whites.

Oh yes, WAG was talking about our youth problems. Well our Black youth between the ages of 16 to 19 have a 37.8% unemployment rate of which the boys unemployment rate is highest at 43.3% and 33.2% unemployment rate for our girls. WAG and the community must see this as totally unacceptable. I know we have other issues that contribute to this lack of stability in families, not enough community resources, low expectations in schools, lack of government and private foundations understanding and outreach with credible community organizations in the Black community. We know that crime and high drop out rates in our community are other solid indicators of why WAG had to spend so much time discussing this critical issue in our community.

I was equally encouraged to hear A. Majadi talk about having a session this Saturday to explore solutions to help stop this downward spiral of our youth. This is refreshing because according to the newspaper headlines in the region the Inland Empire will be suffering with the highest unemployment in the state for some time to come.

Thanks Rialto for Putting Bloomington Residents First

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In some of my most recent editorials, I have been encouraging our local governments to reach out and work together toward the benefit of our citizens and taxpayers because of our shortage of financial resources. Well recently a press release came across my email that caught my eye from San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor Josie Gonzales of the 5th District.

It was about the Rialto City Council approving a recommendation brought to them by the Rialto Public Utility Commission to lower the sewer rates by 130% for 100 Bloomington residents that are on the city’s sewer lines. This will amount to an average savings of $55.00 a month for the residents of Bloomington. This is commendable for the city of Rialto to do since they are trying to find extra dollars to keep the city afloat like other local governments in the Inland Empire.

In the release Mayor Deborah Robertson said: “The City Council recognizes that this was an important issue in the Bloomington area who had previously paid three times the standard rate for their services. The city did it because it was ‘an important issue to Bloomington residents.’” There in is a lesson or guiding light for all public elected officials to follow when making policy, what is important to the people. It was not to the benefit of Rialto but it was to their next door neighbors in Bloomington.

Could you just imagine what Congress could do for America if they did what was important for the people instead of some special interest groups? They could make a common sense law that would get military assault guns out of citizen’s hands while leaving in place for citizens to own as many other guns that they could afford. They could make all citizens register their guns while making sure background checks are done on gun owners. This will not be a 100% guarantee that we would not have mass shootings but it would reduce the odds of many being killed at one time from some one deranged and hell bent on having their 15-minutes of fame.

This one law would help citizen to feel secure as they step out in the public arena in the pursuit of happiness in America while exercising their right to assemble peacefully in schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, sporting events or places of worship. This is an important issue to American citizens not for gun manufacturers who are only thinking about making money.

This is one time Democrats and Republicans should set aside the money from gun lobbyists and say enough is enough and do like the city council of Rialto and say this is important to and for the people. I know it takes money to run political campaigns but like I was told recently, not all money is good money. It might be legal money but not good for this issue at this time.

Maybe those policy makers for the making, selling, and owning military style assault weapons by every day citizens need to be shown the visual affects of what these guns can do to young children who have been shot and injured or killed.

To quote Marian Wright Eldeman of the Children’s Network since 1968 over 178,000 children have been killed by the use of guns and as reported on CBS News Monday night, 50 people were killed in Chicago this past weekend by guns.

Like Supervisor Josie Gonzales said of the Rialto City Council thanks for the “Leadership and cooperation with the county of San Bernardino—for the citizens of Bloomington resident.” I too say thank you for putting self interest aside and putting the citizens first.

I want to commend the City of Rialto for their leadership and showing the rest of us how to be Good Neighbors.

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