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Hardy L. Brown

Mama always told me I had a Hard Head

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Last Saturday night around ten o’clock I got out of my comfortable lift chair to do my last walking routine with my walker and get into my power chair in preparation for bed. For the past several years, I have always leaned forward while walking but just as I was within a few feet of the power chair, this time I decided to straighten upright and unfortunately lost my balance and began falling backward. Realizing that I could not correct the backward movement, I decided to just relax and fall in a sitting position where I rolled backward and bumped my head lightly on the hardwood floor.

Cheryl came running from another room and found me on the floor. Wanting to know if I was all right, I told her the best I could that I was okay but now the task was in helping me up off the floor. I knew that was impossible so we finally called 911 for assistance. They came and helped me up while checking for any injuries and offered to take me to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Fontana if necessary.

I told them that we would go to Kaiser to make sure no bones were broken or that there were no internal injuries. My son Hardy, who had just arrived to help, noticed a slight bruise on my head so we wanted to get it checked out.

Once at Kaiser, the emergency room doctor decided they should do a CAT scan of my head and x-rays of my pelvic area to be sure nothing was wrong (after all I am 69-years young). After the first scan, he wanted to take another one a few hours later and have a neurological surgeon read the scan for certainty. In the meantime, I laid in bed, talked with the nurse, and waited for the results while hooked up to monitoring equipment.

I could not help but think of my first few years of employment at Kaiser Fontana when there were few employees of color. Now, here I was being cared for by an Asian doctor, Latino nurse and a White female administering the CAT scan. This in my estimation was what the Equal Opportunity Employment laws and Affirmative Action Programs at Kaiser helped to produce.

Around 5 a.m., the doctor came back into the room and said everything was all right and the CAT scan indicated I still had a brain and everything was just fine.

That is when the thought occurred to me and I told Cheryl my mama had always told me I had a hard head when I was growing up. Now there was empirical medical evidence to say ‘mama was right’.

As a boy I was always doing things that they told me not to do such as leaving the yard and playing with cousins down the street without permission. I would get punished every time and turn around and do it again just as soon as the pain went away. Now one lesson I’ve learned from this incident is I am not going to try standing tall while walking but will forever lean forward. That sounds like a political statement from one of the presidential candidates.

Now the one I have to listen to is my wife, Cheryl when it comes to not trying to do something different without assistance. My mother also told us, “A hard head will make a soft bottom”. Mom was always right. I am doing just fine and in closing will refer you to read Rev. Larry Campbell “Moment in the Word” this week to be able to understand the role of humor in times like these.

The Political Conventions Are Over, What Are You Going To Do

When I was issued my discharge papers from the emergency room early Sunday morning, I also thought of this political season. I had been in the emergency room for seven hours, which is the most expensive area of medical care and where most people arrive from accidents or medial emergency.

It hit me when the discharge staff told Cheryl that will cost you five dollars for the visit. I had two Cat Scans, pelvic X-ray, lab work, doctor visits, nursing care and housekeeping services and it costs us five dollars.

Many seniors do not go to the hospital to be checked out when they fall because they have no medical insurance and Romney wants to repeal “The Affordable Health Care Act” which gives them coverage. Maybe I should say Romney wants to repeal parts of it now that the public is in favor of “Obama Care” and the benefits it provide many Americans.

Now I don’t know what the actual cost of my visit last Saturday night was, or the political persuasion of the people who cared for me, but $5 for the visit and the peace of mind it brought to my family is invaluable.

Congratulations Lynn and Tim

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Congratulations Lynn and Tim

Our daughter Lynn Renee Lee got married this past Friday to Tim Summers and the family celebrated in the family tradition of food and dancing. They took a few days off to celebrate in Palm Springs but is back to work duties at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana this week.

At the wedding her granddaughters and nieces were a part of the ceremony and later took over the floor while dancing to every piece of music played. The crowd’s favorite dance, young and old was the “waddle” with myself being the only thing missing on the dance floor. I was not the only one because a few others could not get their bones and muscles to straighten out as well.

As I watched our grand kids dancing, I thought the rhythm has been passed down to the next generation of the Brown and Minter offspring mixed with Lee, Hinds, Martin, and Wilson families.

To the newlyweds, I salute you and wish you good health and happiness for the rest of your life. To Tim, I say welcome to the family.

The City Council Must Act With Integrity To Gain Public Trust

The San Bernardino City Council members have a big problem with trusting the management staff they employ however, the council does not have the same problem with the employee unions that contribute to their campaigns.

The city is facing bankruptcy court with adopting a plan to demonstrate that the city has money deficits and is willing to make cuts of $46 million in the budget to illustrate the problem is real. They asked the managers to bring them a plan to get the city in financial order of which the mangers have done. But now we have council members who are taking the position of not in my ward or leave the employees alone and fire the managers. From my math of the city’s problem, if they eliminated every department and manager with the exception of police officers and firefighters, they would still have to lay some of them off.

So my question to this council is if you do not cut in the ward you represent, then which ward should receive the cuts? If you layoff all of your management staff who will be in charge of the city, the employee association? Who will answer the phones, pick up trash, clean city hall, repair streetlights, repair streets or other basic services required by taxpayers? I hear council members Wendy McCammack and Chas Kelley always talking about revenue generating ideas, but I hate to inform them citizens will not pay one more cent to the city unless you act responsible as a trustworthy body.

You want to lay off all of the employees that live in the city and pay taxes while protecting employees who live in other communities and contribute nothing to the city finances. You want to contract out the refuse services but not even discuss other services to outsource. This is irrisresponsible behavior to me as a business owner and taxpayer.

Why should citizens “trust you to do the right thing” when you say get rid of Dorothy Inghram Library and keep a newer one in my ward. Even suggest to use CDGB money for a non-blighted library or continue to support employees that do not live in the city and pay no taxes of any kind.

For the council’s information, some citizens are talking about not paying their utility taxes and the entire council should resign in disgrace. They know that their utilities can not be cut off as long as they pay the utility company and the property owner will be stuck with any liens of non-payment.

Let me suggest to the council, stop trying to be managers of the city and treat your management staff with more respect while approving public policies that would make you appear to be responsible leaders.

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.


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