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Hardy L. Brown

When Good Citizens Do Nothing Only Then Can Evil Triumph

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Last Friday was a senseless killing of 26 innocent citizens in Newtown, Connecticut with twenty of them being children. This took place within a span of 10 minutes by a 20-year-old male with mental problems. They say he had enough ammunition for his automatic long 223 Bushmaster assault rifle and two-semi automatic glock handguns enough to kill all six hundred people at the school. These guns were legally purchased by his mother who he killed with four shots to the head before going to Sandy Hook Elementary school and shooting his way into the building and doing this evil deed.

What he left behind is for the living to try and understand. As the police try and put together the pieces and loved ones try and get a grip on their loss, we all pray that God gives us the strength to go on. We try and find solace in the scriptures of our faith as we turn to each other and religious leaders for comfort.

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Whenever thing happens in my life that I can’t find a rational answer, I turn to Romans 8:28 NIV; “And we know that God causes every thing to work together for good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” It is a hard scripture to swallow or get your mind around but I have comfort in it and try to move on with adjustments in my faith as I go; believing and knowing that he did not bring me this far to leave me.

As I make adjustments in my own thinking about this incident, I know that “a change is going to come” in this country about how we fund and support the gun industry and how we look and treat our citizens with mental disorders.

On the funding side, our California Teachers Association (CTA) is reevaluating their $461 million investment into the company that makes the 223-Bushmaster assault rifle used to kill teachers and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. It is reported that this amounts to one-sixth of all investors of Freedom Group the maker of the gun. I wonder how many other non-violent groups help fund companies whose only purpose is to kill and destroy.

A change has begun to take hold because people who were opposed to any changes in gun laws have said everything must be on the table for discussion because of children being slaughtered. President Obama, spoke about “all” children when he included children in suburban, rural and urban cities that are dying at a rate of 32 per day by guns but receive no media coverage. He has asked Vice President Biden, a longtime gun control advocate to spearhead an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence.

Even with this national slaughter of innocent lives we still have some who say guns do not kill but it’s people who pull the trigger. There is a popular television show on the western channel called “Dead Man’s Gun” and who ever gets this gun in their hands it transforms non-killers into mighty killers by empowerment of their nerves. It removes the fear of death that grips many of those from its contact. This is what happens to everyday people and especially those with mental disorders.

It is a recipe for evil things to happen when guns meet a person without the ability to reason in a normal way. It is even to powerful at times for highly trained officers. I have often written about police officers who use excessive force, thirty and forty shots when apprehending suspects that are unarmed, sometimes in the performance of their duty. Recently, we had a man with a known mental disability killed at the local university. I bring that up because of the mental disability issue.

It was when Governor Ronald Reagan closed down all of California’s mental institutions and let people self-medicate that this issue became a problem with the public. Now we have many families having to deal with a family member instead of having places that are trained to interact with a person who suffers from a mental disorder. Most normal people have trouble remembering to take their medicine on time and we expect others to take theirs. Who are we fooling?

We need to do what ever we can to keep guns out of the hands of those who want to kill, which is impossible. So if that is impossible we should remove the kinds of guns that cause so much damage in a short period of time, thus saving some lives.

One thing is for sure if Good Citizens sit back and do nothing the slaughtering of innocent lives will only escalate and evil will win.

Congress Inspire Us Instead of Falling Over The Cliff

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This past summer many Americans and people around the world watched in amazement as Nikolas “Nik” Wallenda fulfilled a life long dream by walking across Niagara Falls on a thin cable wire. We watched in excitement and expectation of what if he falls while hoping and praying that he would make it and spare us the fear that comes with him not succeeding. How was he going to navigate the heavy water mist that comes up from all that water falling over the cliff? How will he maintain his focus and not be distracted from people talking into his ear of his progress? I’ve been and seen Niagara Falls and it is beautiful and frightening at the same time. Well Nik’s dream came true and he did make it and when asked by Canadian authorities at the end of the walk, “why did you do it?” He responded, “To inspire people around the world.”

Why doesn’t congress inspire us and people around the world by agreeing to carry out the dreams of so many of us by reaching a deal before Christmas with President Obama and avoid sending us over a financial cliff.

First we have less than two percent of the population that would see their taxes go up and over sixty percent of the population hoping and praying for that to happen. Over fifty percent of us voted for the President in the election because he said that is what he would do and we want him to do it. So why not pass that tax hike on the rich, those making over $250,000 a year. So congress inspire us and make a deal.

Next we have the federal payroll tax that will go up if a deal is not reached. This tax will impact every employee in the country and will remove money out of the economy and will further bog down our slow recovery. Fifty seven percent of the population wants this tax extended, plus so many low hourly wage earners will feel it the worst and they have been hit the hardest during this recession. The Inland Empire communities cannot afford to have this payroll tax increase. With our double-digit unemployment in the area we need the few employees that are working to have money to spend. It’s these workers that pay local sales tax that goes into the cities general fund budgets to provide vital services to their citizens. Our cities are teetering on bankruptcy while some have already filed for financial protection under the courts. So congress inspire us and make a deal.

Now part of the hang up is what to cut from the budget of the federal government. They talk about social security and Medicare being placed on the table to be chopped up like butcher’s meat. When I was working during my employment years I paid into each system through payroll tax so it is not the government giving us seniors a darn thing, we earned it the old fashion way. We worked for it. When I became eligible for retirement, I was hoping it would not be tinkered with by a bunch of politicians who can afford their own retirement. So congress inspire us and make a deal.

For me, this is not an issue you toss around in Washington like a football making senior citizens upset. This only adds to our other anxieties and uncertainties while in our golden years. Over the past several years many seniors have had to forego food in order to pay for medicine to keep them alive when congress put the drug companies in charge of cost control. Some lost their retirement income (401K) by congress allowing Wall Street to take risky investments without over sight. When the housing value took a nosedive, like a tightrope walker falling off the wire, seniors lost money and some lost their dream home. Many are still recovering from congress not doing their job to govern and protect its citizens. Now you want to drive us off another cliff. Inspire us by raising the taxes of those fortunate enough to earn over $250,000 a year, extend the payroll tax, extend the unemployment benefits many of us paid into but never used thank God but our neighbors need.

Why don’t you representatives of the people take off your political party hats and put on your citizenship uniform and divert all the other chatter out of your head and do the right thing and inspire us. You and the rich have a safety net under you but 98% of the population does not. Inspire us by acting as responsible citizens that represent us.

Historic Week for Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown

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When the clock struck noon on December 3, 2012 in Sacramento, Cheryl Brown took the oath of office along with 79 other assemblymembers. Cheryl will represent the newly created 47th district and serve under the leadership of Assembly Speaker John Perez.

One reason this is historic is because Cheryl’s family came up from Georgia and North Carolina through Pittsburg, Pennsylvania before calling California home in the late fifties. As a teenager, Cheryl began her work experience cleaning rooms in Palm Springs hotels, picking onions in the agriculture fields in Perris, and as a store clerk at Harris Department Store in San Bernardino, along with her baby sitting jobs in the neighborhood.

I recalled her past as I sat beside her in the Assembly Chambers and watched her take this mighty oath of office to defend the constitutions of the United States and California. I said to myself, “where would you be without the Lord on your side?”

I was thinking of our four children, Lynn Renee Summers, Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, Hardy II, Regina Wilson and their families watching their mother take the oath of office with pride beaming from their faces. They were watching their role model still providing leadership for them to follow as citizens in this great state. They are proud of the recognition she is getting because others are now finding what they have known all of their lives. This was the first time many of them had ever been inside the capitol and now her name was on the door along with a picture hanging in the Legislative Gallery with other legislators who will now make laws for everyone to live by.

I also thought of her years of preparation in school by graduating from San Bernardino High School, San Bernardino Valley College and California State University San Bernardino with a degree in Urban Planning.

I thought of her years of volunteering on many civic boards and commissions in the city and county, especially the United Way and their member organizations and her favorite church membership at St. Paul AME where she serves as a Trustee under Pastor Larry Campbell.

I thought of her taking our idea of starting a family business with a newspaper that no one was reading and only five hundred copies being printed a week with no advertising. She took on the task of writing stories of people whose voices were not being heard and gave them life. It not only carries the news but it provides employment for family members and others in the community. One employee has been with her for over twenty years, not bad for a small business owner named Cheryl Brown.

I thought of my all time favorite movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. None of this would have happened to me and countless citizens if Cheryl had not been born and had not prepared herself for the opportunity that presented itself. Many people want to do big things but do not want to do the work, put in the time of not being seen where the real work is done and preparation necessary when the opportunity presents itself. Something I learned as a young Boy Scout Troop was our motto: Be Prepared.

I thought of the ones who supported her from day one and never doubted she would win the election. I thought of 95-year-old Mabel Kearney of Perris, CA., who gave all she had, $5.00 and said I am praying for you. Then there was Michael Teer, Realtor in Riverside getting his association to support her big time. Nancy Wilson, Hal Williams, Bill Cobbs from the entertainment industry supported their friend Cheryl and too many local elected officials from both political parties stepped forward against intimidation and said I know Cheryl and I am supporting her.

I thought of her many friends who gave whatever they could give, 75% of her primary election funds came from citizens in the Inland Empire.

One cannot forget the second half of the campaign when the California Legislative Black Caucus led by Senator Curren Price, decided to make Cheryl their number one priority and sent Sebastian Ridley Thomas to be her campaign manager. This young political guru worked 24/7 from June until the polls closed in November.

I saw many people and organizations call to congratulate her and visit her on Monday in Sacramento. I saw her take the time with a blind man that stopped by the office to learn if she was sensitive to people with disabilities. She called me over to share with him my story and he left smiling with joy that she knows his plight as well.

Yes it was historic for Cheryl and our family and a special tribute to her mother, Melba who was a part of the Los Angeles Democratic Party.

Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown, CONGRATULATIONS from me, your family, and Black Voice News Family.

Go Home, Lock Your Doors and Load Your Gun

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It was reported in the Sun Newspaper, that a meeting was held at the Arrowhead Country Club where 150 citizens met with Council Members Wendy MCCammack, Fred Shorett, Chas Kelley and Police Chief Handy and of course City Attorney, Jim Penman, was in attendance. The meeting was called out of citizens concern when a neighbor, (76-year-old White female) was murdered in her home. This also came on the heels of a cluster of murders numbering 40 and 41 throughout the city.

Crime has been a high concern in the city for several years and now the council is wrestling with bankruptcy and how to bring solvency to a cash strapped deficit budget. Some current council members have taken their marching orders from the rank and file police association and not the police chief but at this meeting it was the chief providing leadership and answering questions not the rank and file officers. This part of the city community has not had to holler about crime, at least murder as other sections have over the past couple of years but now it is clear we are all in the same boat and must find solutions that will work for all citizens.

This brings me to a statement made at the community meeting by the City Attorney “Go Home, Lock Your Door and Load Your Gun”, which is a coded, Mississippi way of saying shoot any Latino and Black person you see in your neighborhood first and ask questions later. For Mr. Penman’s information this is not the way to go after solving the problem and this neighbor was one of my son’s neighbors as well.

Mr. Penman’s response is similar to Mayor Al Ballard’s response back in the sixties to a public safety issue by placing guns on fire engines for firefighters when going into predominantly Black neighborhoods. That statement made national headlines but did nothing to help solve the problem. This is what Penman was hoping for but the citizens are having no part of that kind of grand standing. Our citizens want real suggestions from responsible leaders and not one who throws rocks during a crisis. Mayor Ballard’s actions did not solve the problems then and neither will this kind of vigilante style of government advocated by Penman.

We know for example that the passage of Assembly Bill 109 did release a lot of people from prison and we are not prepared to handle them nor citizens with no criminal record. We have no money to employ or train people for gainful employment but in my opinion, the city is suffering now from “A Lack of Courageous and Moral Leadership” which is different from the Ballard days. There were business leaders that could and did step up and come together with solutions. All industries and government agencies in the region put together programs that took youth and adults into employment opportunities.

Even the United Way had the service organizations put together programs that would serve all communities in order to reverse the negative trends and not a go home lock your door and load your gun mentality.

I want to commend the 150 citizens that took the time to come out and say they are concerned about crime and the direction of the city. But, these same citizens must evaluate their past actions of electing certain leaders to office that have helped keep the city from moving forward.

One of those leaders is our city attorney who prides himself on being the “watchdog’ but failed to recognize that he has neglected to see the financial crisis while increasing his budget at every opportunity. Penman’s antagonizing approach to the mayor and council has been a distraction for the past 24-years while supporting safety employee associations over management and the taxpayers’ interest by giving legal opinions that are tangled with a personal historical interpretation that serves his position in my humble opinion.

It is going to take bold elected and private leaders to come together and spell out what kind of community we are going to live in with our neighbors. It can be turned around but not with a city attorney making those kinds of irresponsible statements such as “Go Home, Lock your door, Load your Gun”.

Joe Baca is a Computer Virus in the Political Arena

We are aware of computer viruses and if not, here is the definition: “Computer viruses are small software programs that are designed to spread from one computer to another and interfere with computer operation.”

Hopefully you can prevent the virus from entering your computer by getting the proper anti-virus software installed on your computer. And even then you are told the best prevention is to not open any emails that you are not familiar with or don’t know the sender. However, have you opened an email from someone you know only to have them send you a virus?

What can a computer virus do; it might corrupt or delete information on your computer. It might attach on to your emails and travel to other computers and erase everything on their computer, which is why they warn you to not open unknown attachments. And once you get the virus from a friend you do not open their attachments again.

Well we will be faced with another election for state senator to serve out the unexpired term of Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. Currently we have Larry Walker Auditor/Controller for the County of San Bernardino, Former Assemblymember Norma Torres of Pomona both Democrats and Kenny Coble a Republican who said they are running. Unannounced at this time is Wilmer Amina Carter who is retiring due to term limits and defeated Congressman Joe Baca. Yes, Joe Baca is calling around trying to garner support and money for a campaign.

The Baca virus is knocking on doors but no one is clicking the mouse to let him in. He is sending out those who are attached to him but people are not opening any attachments from Baca. If you saw or read any of his campaign mailers then you know who is or was attached.

Remember what Baca did or did not do as an elected official and how he treated the people while in office. And please remember how your computer slows down before it completely shuts down, we do not want to infect our political offices with the Baca virus again.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Day

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Growing up as a kid in the late 50’s on a sharecropping farm in North Carolina, Thanksgiving Day was not a big thing because I worked in the field to gather corn to take to the mill. The weather was cold but one had to do what one had to do as part of the family. I now give thanks for that experience as I sit in the comfort of a home with all of the luxuries of our modern society.

One thing that has remained constant is being a part of a loving Christian family. My mother and father were Christians as were my in-laws who believed in sharing what little they had with others who they thought had less. My parents fought hard to get food and health care services for seniors in Jones County and Cheryl’s mother fought hard for educational opportunities in Head Start Programs and her father created a business that provided jobs in Los Angeles. They taught Cheryl and I how government should work to the benefit of others especially those who cannot fend for themselves.

This is one of the reasons I am so thankful this year because Cheryl will have the opportunity to carry on that family tradition of service to others as a state legislator in Sacramento. I said when she announced her candidacy that she was not running to get a job but to help create jobs for others and that has not changed. I thank God for her and I give Him all the credit for her victory. We laid out the strategy but He delivered many financial givers that we did and many we did not know along the way with an army of volunteers.

This campaign reminded me of the time when we were members of Delmann Heights Four Square Gospel Church and we wanted to expand the church building but had no money. We had only a few members that had jobs while the other members were on some type of government assistance. I remember telling then-pastor Rev. William Dillard that this was not an undertaking we should embark on. It was not until Sister Susie Walker, the mother of the church, convinced me that with God on your side nothing is impossible.

We received the approval of the Four Square Church administration in Los Angeles and they delivered the material to our site. And like a rain cloud coming up, many people came up from the poor neighborhoods of Delmann Heights to help build the church. People I saw as poor old drunks became journey carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and dry wallers looking for something to do, giving freely of their time, skills, and talents. Many mothers in the neighborhood looking for something to do came out to prepare food and serve the workers never asking for a dime.

God was waiting on us to trust in and on Him to build the building, just like He was waiting on Cheryl to step out on faith.

Let me give you an example of what Cheryl’s campaign faced: We faced the son of a sitting incumbent congressman with name recognition; we faced insufficient funding as compared to our opponent; we faced many who did not believe she could win and told her so before and after June.

In June Cheryl came in second with 13.16% less votes than her opponent, and Walter Hawkins, Corey Jackson and myself knew she needed between 38,726 and 44,500 votes to win the general election. By November, God gave Cheryl 50,899 votes and a 12.16% win over her opponent by a 11,161-vote margin.

As in Delmann Heights, God sent a full-time volunteer campaign manager by the name of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas from the Legislative Black Caucus and a host of unsolicited volunteers from Los Angeles and Sacramento. He sent outside funds to support her bid to represent the people of this great district. He also sent volunteers from every city in the district and throughout the Inland Empire.

This is just one of many stories of our personal experiences that make me know that when God gives you something to do, you must step out on faith in order to receive his blessing. Even the night before the election God delivered our newest grandchild Carter Wilson safely into the world, three weeks early. And even though he momentarily stopped breathing and had to remain in the neonatal unit, God allowed him to join the rest of his family at home before the end of that week. You must know that regardless of the weapons of odds, fear and doubt that is formed against you, with the Lord on your side you will never lose.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving from all of us at the Black Voice News.

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