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Hardy L. Brown

Celebrating a Legacy of George Brown, Jr. and a History of People who Labor in America

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By Hardy L. Brown

This past Sunday, a few family members and quite a few friends of the late George E. Brown, Jr gathered at the home of Bill and Gloria Macias Harrison to celebrate the life and legacy of Brown and reminisce about his contributions to women and this community. In addition, they gathered to promote the project of archiving his work as a public servant at the University of Riverside library.

His wife, Marta Macias Brown was there to meet and greet the 60 plus loyal people in attendance.

I first met George in 1972 at Frank Tillies’ home in Rialto where George and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, told the story of their first meeting as roommates at UCLA, integrating the dorms for the first time.

I went on to work on his many campaigns and was working on staff when he passed in 1999. Our daughter, Paulette also spent a summer as an intern on his staff in Washington, which was a life-changing experience for her.

It was great seeing some of the people in attendance that I have not seen in a long time. Former San Bernardino Mayor Judith Valles, former San Bernardino City Council Member Betty Dean Anderson, Rabbi Hillel Cohn, Wanda Scruggs, Community College Trustee John Longville, Colton School Board Member Robert Armenta, longtime stafferBobbi Johnson, Dr. Ernie Garcia and others.

The reason I am happy to celebrate George Brown’s legacy and Labor Day together is because they go together like peanut butter and jelly or chicken and waffles or red beans and rice, take your pick. People argue about who started the labor celebration but one thing is clear and that was on Labor Day George Brown was always there to celebrate with them. He fought hard for their rights to organized and negotiate while recognizing that business owners created the jobs and had a right to earn a profit for taking the risk.

Labor employees during his public service tenure understood Brown because Brown understood them. He understood what it took to labor in the fields, wait on tables, empty bedpans, teach in the classroom, fight fires or be a construction worker. He saw dignity in a person willing to give a hard eight hours of work for a decent wage to care for a family.

Today we have some politicians and some labor organizations that exhibit an entitlement attitude and could learn from a Brown’s legacy. Currently we have a public that is hard on both politicians and labor because of this attitude but most citizens do not reflect the vast majority of the public. Why, because most of us have relatives or close friends that are nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, healthcare workers belonging to organized unions.

Our eldest daughter, Lynn Renee Lee is a healthcare worker and a member of the United Steel Workers of America and I am proud of her. She has traveled all over the country in recent years organizing workers in the USWA Union.

Like her and George Brown I believe that without unions we would not have many of the benefits we enjoy today. Being able to take a rest break and lunch time did not just happen. Having eight-hour work days did not just drop out of the sky. Having a safe work environment did not just come about from the generosity of big business or big government? It came about after organized labor took to the streets and elected representatives like George Brown to help make public policies. We do have some in office and seeking office that do not understand business owner create jobs not the other way around. If business owners fail jobs disappear from the community.

I guess Brown took a page from Henry Ford’s playbook when it comes to wages, the employees must earn enough in salary to buy the products they are making. Somehow, that kind of thinking got lost in the past few years in Washington. The rich has gotten richer while the middle class hourly wage earners have lost in wages.

So I close by saluting George Brown and organized labor on this Labor Day Weekend and thank Bill and Gloria Macias Harrison for hosting such a wonderful event to celebrate his legacy.

Celebrating Forty Years of Service by Honoring Others

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The Black Voice News turned 40-years-old this year and celebrated Saturday with some people who have given their lives to serving others in the Inland Empire. They came together to pay tribute to a community that has generated a good life of faith, family, and friends and reminisce of the struggle and success of what it takes to build a good community.

For The Black Voice News it was an opportunity to reflect on the beginning of a dream by college students trying to find their voice in a world that seemed to not know they were there making a contribution to society. It was also a time for the Brown family to reflect on the last 32-years of publishing and witness the second and third generations of the family carrying on this vital media to the community.

I recall seeking a business that our family could work together and give the children the opportunity to gain skills and work ethics that our fathers and mothers had given us. This was not easy because our first business was an employment consultant business specializing in civil rights and affirmative action programs.

Thanks to Cheryl helping the late Sam Martin, owner of The American News and the Black Voice News, he decided to sell us this Riverside based community weekly paper. Thanks to our oldest daughter Lynn Renee for caring for her siblings during the many times on Wednesday nights we would be gone working on deadline.

One of our earliest stories that made headline news was getting the then Black History Queen to ride on the San Bernardino City Rose Bowl float in Pasadena.

Another story involved a controversial statement made by Dr. Tony Evans, former President of California State University, San Bernardino concerning African Americans inability to learn.

We had many stories pertaining to political breakthroughs of the first Blacks elected to school boards, city councils, and as mayors, discrimination, police abuse, the O.J Simpson trial, birth and death announcements, anniversaries in the community and historical events like hosting the National Newspaper Publishers winter conference and the Booker T. Washington Family Reunion.

These are memorable events but none comes close to the unfortunate shooting and killing of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller during the Christmas holiday of December 1998. This event took on a life of its own that lasted through a year of weekly protests and brought national and international attention on police abuse in Riverside and throughout the nation.

The Black Voice News was at the center of reporting and documenting the story each and every week. Our newsstands were taken off the street by city officials and the KKK left pamphlets in some of the remaining stands as a warning of what could happen if we continued printing.

During those times we found many friends that helped us get through the tough times like Ira and Lavonza Grey, Charles Ledbetter, Sylvia Martin-James, Rose Oliver, Mayor Ab Brown, as well as advertisers such as auto dealers Chuck McVay and Lenny Woods, as well as Steve Garcia of Anheuser Busch.

One cannot forget current advertisers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and the many churches and small businesses who rely on us to get their message out to you our readers.

On Saturday we did highlight 40 people and I want to give you a sampling of the kind of builders we have in our community. Rev. Art Forbes came to Riverside working for the largest private employer in the Inland Empire at that time, Kaiser Steel as a community relations representative. He had a company car and expense account plus access to the company budget to support community activities. He interfaced with other business leaders that many of us had not heard of or have the means to influence their decision.

I first saw him in action at a United Way board meeting where dollars given by employees from companies in the community are allocated out to many community organizations. His concerns were about service and having Blacks and Latinos serve on these various boards. He was a leader and the best organizer anyone had ever encountered and would not back down from his ideas.

This led to Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Hospital, which is how the community knows it, coming to him to lead the Comprehensive Health Care Program providing service to low income families in a seven mile radius of Fontana. Art hired a staff of Latinos and Blacks from the community and began a process line of them entering a career in the health care field at Fontana and the regional office in Los Angeles.

He brought Rev. John Woods in as Regional Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator that led to many discriminatory barriers being removed from the personnel process. Many minorities who are now employed at Kaiser and other industries in the area are standing on the shoulders of community builders like Art Forbes, John Woods, Dr. Lulemae Clemons Kaiser’s first Black Education Director, Richard Webster, first Black Housekeeping Director, and Charly Marshall, RN one of the founding members of the United Nurses Association at Kaiser.

These individuals took on the challenge and built a reputation for others to enter the career of their choosing without the obstacles of overt discrimination.

I want to thank our staff Lee Ragin, Jr., Ashley Jones, Anna Wenger, Susan Morris, Bette Cook, Christopher Allen, and Richard O. Jones or contributors Chris Levister, Dr. Ernest Levister, Dr. Joseph Bailey, Juanita Barnes, Pastor Larry Campbell and a host of volunteers who work tirelessly each week to produce the paper. And a special thanks to our daughter Paulette and son Hardy and their children Alexander Hinds our webmaster and Jordan Brown our newest writer for wanting to build a better product for you to enjoy each and every week.

During this weekend’s past event, I was humbled to see the turnout of friends, guests and community builders who took time out of their day on a Saturday morning and look forward to celebrating with them at our annual gala December 1, 2012 at the historic Mission Inn Hotel.

San Bernardino City Unified School Board Should Rethink A Bond Measure at this Time

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I have been paying much attention to the city government financial problems and political elections like many people, while only blinking at school districts. I read the SBCUSB agenda and did a double take when I saw they want to ask the citizens to pass a bond measure. The last stats I read indicated that district-wide, student enrollment was declining, the poverty rate in the city increasing, unemployment rate in the Inland Empire rising and businesses leaving the city, which tells me this is not the time to take on a bond measure.

As a former school board member and a strong supporter of education, I would caution the Board to have a very good reason before they move forward with this action. Another concern of mine is who will be involved with underwriting these bonds. Will minority firms be involved or will it be business as usual? This must be a part of the discussion because of the make-up of the community and student body.

With the city council facing bankruptcy and voters hesitant to trust or reluctant to increase any forms of fees to help; it is going to take some working together by both entities before bringing any new taxes before the voters. So it is going to require our local leaders to identify their needs and decide do we need a bond measure or more city revenues? It is the citizen’s government with you elected as our representatives.

 

San Bernardino City Council Must Get Its Act Together Right Issue – Wrong Time

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By Hardy L. Brown

I was surprised and appalled at a mailer I received over the weekend from the firefighter and police association regarding the city’s recent bankruptcy filing.

I was appalled that they would attack the mayor while taking the position that they have not contributed to the financial troubles of the city. They say this while taking over $40 million annually out of the city in salaries and benefits each and every year. The mailer was to serve their personal agenda and soften up the voters on this financial problem facing the city.

Then equally appalling was the city council spending almost two hours discussing an issue to put a charter replacement measure on the November election cycle instead of how we are going to handle this bankruptcy problem in the city. While I am in favor of changing some parts of the charter, this isn’t the time to talk about it. It is the right issue, being discussed by this council at the wrong time. It is this kind of wrong timing that has kept the council, mayor, and staff from taking care of business in the past.

Mayor Morris described the government of San Bernardino as “habitual chaos or ungovernable” when asked by council member Chas Kelley for his opinion.

To give you another example, the council and city attorney wasted more precious time discussing how to get minutes approved from who makes and seconds motions. They have several months of unapproved council meeting minutes, that are tied up in the city attorney’s office and now he does not have time to review them. Now I don’t know why the city attorney would have to approve them since they are council minutes and the meetings are recorded.

More time was wasted because one council member wanted to tell the elected city clerk how to reduce her work force based on a disgruntled employee who was laid off. The city charter gives all the authority with this matter to the city clerk but this councilmember wanted to run that department instead of discussing the bankruptcy.

More time was wasted when a member of the public decided to threaten one of the council members with a letter of recall if he did not support the motion of putting the charter change on the ballot. I agree with the councilman for not bowing or caving into threats by a single individual.

Of course with our form of government, the public is allowed to add its voice. So twenty-two citizens spoke, offering their thoughts on the issue.

When the dust settled and everyone was exhausted from the discussion, the council voted 4 to 3 not to place the issue before the voters in November, which is a good thing at this point.

It is true that section 186 of the city charter governing police and firefighter pay is out of the control of the council and must be looked at if we are going to hold elected officials accountable for governing the city. However, my issue is not the pay but the fact that all of the police officers and firefighters moved out of the city and want me to continue to support their standard of living while they do not contribute to the tax base.

If they moved back into the city and more Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and women were hired I would not have a problem with Section 186.

Now I agree with the police and firefighters that they are not totally to blame for the city’s financial crises because the mayor, council, and city attorney are to blame by not paying attention to the business of the city. They have been too busy talking about all the right issues at the wrong time just like at the last meeting.

As council members, they must decide whom and how expenses will be cut, while looking at ways to increase revenues to make the city solvent. The citizens will not agree to any tax generating proposals if they do not get their act together.

Don’t Fall for the Lies of Baca and Miller

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Vote McLeod and Dutton for Congress

An article appeared in the July 25th Press Enterprise regarding two politicians in congress, Republican Gary Miller and Democrat Joe Baca describing how they now want to work together. Now they have been in congress serving several years in Washington for a combined 18-years and during that time never took the time to work together. But now that the voters of the Inland Empire have said they want to dump ineffective non-cooperating elected officials, these two carpetbaggers say they want to work together. If you, the voters, want to believe that I have some sand I want to sell you in the desert.

Joe Baca is running in a district he does not live in nor knows anything about against Senator Gloria Negrete McCloud who is a very effective state legislator and has lived in the area all of her life. Many who know Baca, know that at times his tactics may seem to be that of a bully who intimidates his opponents to get people to support him and his family members. This bullying strategy works only for a short period of time and now Baca’s time has run out. He is not sure if he can trust those who say they are with him so now he is trying to reach out to the Republican voters, where Gloria has built a good reputation of providing services to all she represents. Baca said in the article, “The voters want to see us working together.” Now Baca has found a new partner in Miller who wants Democrats and African Americans to vote for him. Mind you, Miller has done everything in his voting power to vote against President Obama’s programs for the past four years.

On the other hand Bob Dutton, though a Republican, is from our community and knows the community. We have worked with Dutton and I know firsthand Dutton will work with us. Both will try and tell you freshman in Congress cannot get anything done. Well the Tea Party freshman have proven that statement wrong. Plus Baca has been there and still cannot get anything done.

Dutton and McLeod will be a breath of fresh air and create a real spirit of working together for the people of these two congressional districts that serve the communities of Redlands, Highland, San Bernardino, Colton, Grand Terrace, Rialto, Fontana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino and Pomona.

Let us not fall for the political “rope-a-dope” being spewed by these two carpetbaggers. Make your vote count. Give it to Dutton and McLeod.

San Bernardino County: Eminent Domain Idea for Homeowners A Great Idea

Many citizens in San Bernardino County are upside down in their “American Dream” home because of some irresponsible dealings from lenders and their eagerness to own a home compounded with the financial market collapse. With the help of a Republican and Democratic administration the lending institutions were bailed out with a promise to provide relief to homeowners. That has not happened so the county and cities where these homeowners live are caught in a pickle of not being able to sell or in some cases make the high note due to being unemployed from layoffs. Then the lending institutions are evicting the owner and thus leaving an empty house to be vandalized by people who take fixtures and appliances for other homes they are working on in other locations. This creates blight and property value loss for the local governments who do not have the financial resources to do anything about the problem.

So the county of San Bernardino is proposing to use the eminent domain law to seize underwater mortgages and resale the property back to the owner at a refinanced payment schedule that the homeowner can pay. It makes perfectly good sense to me since big business has used these tools for years to turn blight around in local communities.

Kudos to County Supervisors and CEO, Greg Devereaux for forming a joint powers agreement between Fontana, Ontario and the county to move forward on this idea.

The Perfect Financial Storm For San Bernardino City Bankruptcy

King Pharaoh had two dreams one about seven fat and seven lean cows and another about straw stacks tied in bunches; not knowing the meaning of the dreams, Pharaoh sought the interpretation from Joseph. You can read the story in Genesis 41. Joseph told him that the land would experience seven good years and then seven bad years for growing food and for them to put away enough food to last during the drought.

Now from what I have been able to gleam from my memory and from San Bernardino city records, many warnings or interpretations of the city’s finances have been given to the decision makers. Instead of putting away for a rainy day fund, they elected to spend it as expenses went up and revenues went down each year.

They borrowed from other accounts and would pay it back as funds became available from general revenue. However at each official meeting, the mayor, council members, city attorney, and employee groups were only interested in their personal projects or livelihood. They were so busy that no one paid attention to the erosion of people with good incomes and businesses moving out of the city, property values going down, sales taxes decreasing, federal government in financial trouble, state government taking back money and changing the way they interact with local government, pension funds escalating, giving contracts to out of town vendors, no active plan to grow the city all under the watchful eye of the citizens of the city. The storm was coming and no one heeded the warning signs offered by paid staff who took their position serious. Instead they were forced to take the, “we are paid to tell you but we will do as you tell us” position.

Now city leaders find themselves in a position of having to make some drastic cuts in staff and services to the citizens they took an oath to serve and defend. To add to their problems, the citizens positions are varied however they agree on one thing: everyone or group must participate in the pain. No sacred cows in the city. We all might disagree on how to cut but everyone must give back. It might come down to contracting out for police, fire, refuse. It might mean libraries and parks partnering with the school district and non-profits for recreation. It might mean having to partner with other local government to provide required services at a cheaper cost.

The citizens will be waiting to see what is put on the chopping block before they will agree to any revenue enhancements of taxes or fees. As with Pharaoh who took the counsel of a man in prison, the city council did not heed the warning of the people and they paid over $200,000 a year to advise them, go figure.

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