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Hardy L. Brown

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.

Richard Roth for Senator of the 31st District

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By Hardy L. Brown

“I believe there’s one thing our elected leaders can take from our men and women in uniform: public service needs to be about working together to get the job done. It is time to end the partisan games and focus on the critical mission for Riverside County, creating a climate for real job growth.”

This is a statement made by Richard Roth who is seeking your vote to represent the people of Riverside, Moreno Valley and Corona. Richard is a fellow Democrat and knows from his business, community service and service as chairman of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, President of the Monday Morning Group, and Riverside Community Hospital board, the needs we have and issues we face in our community. He is a retired Air Force officer with a law degree specializing in employment law. His legal training arms him with the knowledge that businesses have a right to make a profit while employees have a right to organize in the work place.

Richard’s reputation for fairness with employees has earned him the endorsement of the municipal employees association’s (AFSCME) Political & Legislative Director Willie Pelote. He has earned the endorsements of Senator Curren Price, Senator Rod Wright and the California Legislative Black Caucus, which also demonstrates the level of Richard’s commitment to diversity. Like me, they recognize that in order to reduce the 12.6% unemployment rate in our community and bring businesses with sustainable family jobs to our region, it is going to take someone like Richard working with every elected official regardless of party affiliation and local jurisdiction to make that happen. Senator Price in a written statement said: “…Roth is enthusiastically supported by the California Legislative Black Caucus because his election will advance the economic recovery of the Inland Empire where African Americans live, work and play in significant numbers."

Join me in supporting Richard Roth for Senator in the 31st District.

Another Senseless Killing Spree in America

The recent shooting and killing of 12 while wounding 58 people in Colorado by shooter James Holmes has captured the attention of America and caused many to ask the question why? How could a person do that? Where did he get that many weapons with that much ammunition to do that much damage in a few minutes time? This unbelievable incident has caused the public airwaves to be crowed with the conversation focusing on public security, mental health, and gun control.

It has also brought our attention man’s commitment to be “our brother’s keeper” in times of crisis regardless of race, gender, religion, age, politics or status in life, the things we usually get bogged down with in our intellectual entanglement of living everyday.

We need to celebrate the courage of those who tried to save others as we try and make sense of this tragic incident and work to create an environment to minimize these things from happening in the future. It is humanly impossible to prevent these types of events from ever happening because I cannot for the life of me understand why Cain killed Abel. Cain had the whole world at his fingertips so he could have just kept on farming or left home if he despised his brother so much. That murder case is still being debated by biblical scholars around the world, so when we find the answer to that one, we might have the answer to this one.

My prayers are with the families and the people of Colorado.

Joe Baca Jr.’s Past Voting Record In Sacramento Is That Of A Job Killer

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In my editorial last week, I recounted what happened at a recent local democratic central committee meeting when Joe Baca Jr. tried to intimidate me during his allotted two-minute speech, where he faced fellow 47th assembly district candidate Cheryl Brown (and in the interest of full disclosure my wife). He mistakenly attacked me because of my actions in his attempt to attack her as his opponent.

His other comments during his two-minute remarks were about his experience as a teacher, law enforcement employee, and his promise to help create jobs. Like the newsperson that I am, I decided to check out his statements. I was unable to locate his teaching credential on the State of California’s credential website. This does not mean he does not have one, but perhaps he has a special credential as a substitute teacher or a different designation. I just couldn’t find it. And while he was employed with the probation department, that lasted only for a short time. I’m sure he left for a good reason since those are such good jobs.

However, the most interesting finding to me was his actions as a 2-year legislator in Sacramento opposing legislation that would have brought jobs to our area. His record shows that in the year 2005, Joe Jr. voted against job creation bills 60% of the time and 71% of the time in 2006. He voted against manufacturing jobs 81% in 2005 and 90% against them in 2006. His voting record as a past legislator indicates Baca Jr. is a “job killer” and not a creator of jobs.

To quote Laurie Stalnaker of the Central Labor Council of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties as she addressed the San Bernardino City Council on July 2,“what we need are sustainable family jobs in our community. While I am not speaking on behalf of businesses I am addressing the issues of businesses leaving and taking jobs with them,” she concluded. Stalnaker understands that we need leadership to address this area’s high unemployment by attracting businesses with good paying jobs.

At that same meeting, Judi Penman of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce spoke before Stalnaker about the need of creating an atmosphere conducive to attracting businesses and seeking ways to keep businesses from leaving the city. She knows a dysfunctional government creates a climate that is detrimental to job creation and elected leaders must be able to work together in a non-threatening environment.

Now with the City of San Bernardino facing possible bankruptcy it is very critical for the citizens to look at all of those individuals seeking office for their potential to help them address this issue. We must ask ourselves who has the personal skills and background of working across political divisions and business experience to help attract and develop businesses to this area with jobs to sustain families.

An active member of the San Bernardino and Riverside Chambers of Commerce Cheryl Brown has a proven track record of helping businesses develop in San Bernardino County as both a planning commissioner for over a decade and small business owner for over three decades. As a planning commissioner for the county of San Bernardino, utilizing her training as an urban planner, Cheryl was instrumental in approving several major developments in the county including the California Speedway. And as a small business owner with offices in both San Bernardino and Riverside, Cheryl has been recognized by outside entities for her business leadership including her recent acknowledgement as an outstanding Inland Empire family business at the Spirit of the Entrepreneur program hosted by Cal State San Bernardino’s College of Business and earlier this year being honored by the Inland Empire chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners with its coveted Legacy Award.

The Inland Empire cannot afford to take a chance by reelecting a ‘job killer” to represent us in Sacramento. Our local city and county governments need someone they can count on. Someone they can talk to who understands the issues. They need someone who will properly represent them and fight for all citizens of the Inland Empire.

Whose Interest Does Baca Serve?

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By Hardy L. Brown

The moment my wife Cheryl announced her candidacy for the newly created 47th State Assembly District last year, I understood I could not be my usual candid self when it came to criticizing her opponents in my weekly editorial in this newspaper. While there were many instances that warranted criticism, my small editorial board would suggest a different course, and I was able to get through the primary election in virtual silence.

As a community newspaper publisher, I have been known to have a word or two to say when our elected officials make decisions that I believe are detrimental to the community we represent as well as words of praise when they do well. For decades I have interviewed candidates for the highest statewide offices to those running for local school boards and water boards. I am not swayed by the party affiliation, race, or gender. For 12 years I was an elected member of the San Bernardino Unified School Board of Trustees, governing one of the largest school districts in the state of California, so I understand the sense of civic duty and commitment to citizens that a person must possess to be a good elected representative. I call on that experience as part of my decision making process. I also talk to individuals who offer endorsements to learn more about the merits of the candidate.

With that said, this past weekend something happened that has caused me to lift my silence, primarily because Joe Baca Jr., the other democratic opponent in the race for the 47th, decided to attack me personally and the newspaper I own in an open meeting. I endorsed Bill Batey for Assembly and John Tavaglione for Congress, both Riverside area Republicans where my paper is headquartered, and according to Mr. Baca Jr. that angered the Democratic Speaker of the Assembly.

Now I do not recall this paper being paid for by the Democratic or Republican Party so I do not answer to any political figure, no political party, and no surrogates representing any one party. The last time I checked, none of them signed checks for my company nor do they pay any bills. In fact, they can’t even claim to advertise at any level of significance. Baca Jr’s tone was clearly one of intimidation, unfortunately a political tactic he learned from Baca Sr. who has been known to threaten anyone who doesn’t follow his wishes.

Both Bacas should understand that intimidation doesn’t work with me. Just ask George Pepper, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He tried the same tactics back in the 80s when I first bought the paper and worked at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana and openly advocated for good healthcare jobs for people of color – Blacks, Latinos, and Asians.

As a lifelong registered Democrat who owns the Black Voice Newspaper, I am free to endorse anyone I think will bring the best policies to our community regardless of political party, race, gender, or union membership. And in the case of Bill Batey, I have known him for years and he has been instrumental in championing policies that have brought new industries and jobs to Riverside County in his position on the March Joint Powers Commission. I also have known John Tavaglione and his family for decades and respect their multi-generational commitment to economic development and public service. I recall when the Tavaglione’s supported Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley for governor but the San Bernardino Democratic Central Committee at the time wouldn’t support him because of race. I remember clearly, the late Bob Minnick warned them that race should not be a factor in their decision, but they didn’t listen.

I see similar problems with the San Bernardino Central Committee of today and I hope the state party leaders will not join in on local political party politics. Unfortunately, it is controlled by Baca Sr. and serves his family’s interests instead of the party’s interests. Too bad there are no Bob Minnick’s to stand up and speak out now.

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