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Hardy L. Brown

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.

Are Some Still Fighting The Civil War In America Over Affordable Health and Immigration

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By Hardy L. Brown

With the way some governors and congressional people are reacting to the United States Supreme Court ruling that The Affordable Health Care Act is constitutional indicates to me that we are still fighting the Civil War in this country. Those individuals call it “Obama Care” which I read as code for race. This ruling came on the heels of an earlier decision by the same court to strike down parts of the State of Arizona’s passage of a very restrictive immigration law aimed at our Latino brothers and sisters in this country.

It has become crystal clear that most Americans have come to grips with these two issues and agree that the court was correct in both decisions. We all know that our health care delivery system is broken and must be corrected. Even those who still say that they want to repeal what the president, congress, and the court has said is legal say the system is broken and needs repairing.

We all know people who need care and cannot afford it. We all know families who have had to remove children from their health plan because of age before they are established and the child can’t get established. Your child comes out of college in their early twenties trying to get a job with benefits but those jobs have been outsourced to other countries. If Kaiser Foundation Health Plan had made us drop my son, Hardy II before he had gotten established, we would have gone to the poor house when he broke his leg and was hospitalized for a month. He had just graduated from Wilberforce University and not employed when the accident happened near Cal State University, San Bernardino. There is no way we could have covered the financial cost of his excellent care at Kaiser in Fontana.

Yet we have governors from the poorest states in the country saying they will reject the coverage for the people in their state. These states have high populations of African Americans, Latinos and people living below the poverty level and sadly do not vote in high numbers. I think these leaders need to consult with their providers of health care in their state and question the wisdom of denying health coverage to their citizens.

Regardless, the Affordable Health Care Act passed by congress and signed by President Barack Obama is the law of the land in America.

With the U. S. Supreme Court taking the thunder out of the State of Arizona’s Immigration Law in essence saying that only the federal government has the right to make and enforce immigration laws, this did not sit well with these same people.

Now I will admit something needs to be done about people coming into the country illegally, it has become a complicated problem. I know a young lady that had to be deported back to Mexico and it is a horrible thing to see that happen. She was a good college student and involved in community activities to assist children. Then there are others that work in agriculture on large farms to help harvest the food we eat, while others get legal visas and when they expire never go back home. No one political party or group of people have an answer that will satisfy everyone but we must treat every group with respect while we work toward a solution. We cannot deny our neighbors basic human rights if they are in need. We can not stop and ask people for legal papers and identification just because we suspect they are here illegally.

Yes the more things change the more they stay the same and the decisions by the United States Supreme Court and the reactions by some who vow to not abide by the law, only highlights that. They should ask themselves are they still fighting the Civil War?

Grooming Our Youth For Health Care Careers

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By Hardy L. Brown

I recently read a Sun Newspaper editorial about this effort by several local educational institutions and health care provider organizations getting together to encourage or steer students into the health care field. Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and UC Riverside School of Medicine; Cal State San Bernardino and Western University of Health Sciences and Cal Poly of Pomona and Western University are also partnering to get students to become interested in the many careers in the huge health care industry. This is one industry that will need many skilled providers as our Inland Empire population grows older and in need of better health care.

As a retiree from Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program’s, Personnel Department, a health care recruiter, and twelve-year trustee on the San Bernardino Unified School Board I know firsthand that these kinds of partnerships are necessary. They need to begin at the elementary level before limits are set in the students mind. I remember when my wife Cheryl, and the children were returning home from a doctor’s visit in the pediatric clinic at Fontana. My daughter Paulette was telling us she wanted to become a doctor. Hardy, II responded very quickly to that notion by saying girls cannot be doctors. When asked why, he had not seen any female doctors care for them and girls in his estimation could only be nurses. Hardy was four and Paulette was eight at the time and Kaiser did not have any female doctors in the pediatric department, which has since changed due to Federal Equal Opportunity Laws and Affirmation Programs which Kaiser enacted aggressively during the seventies and eighties. Paulette did not pursue a career in medicine but earned her doctorate in English at UC Riverside.

During my tenure as a school board member, I brought the idea to the board of reopening Muscott Elementary school as a health care magnet and changing the name of the school to Dr. Howard Inghram, an African American native of San Bernardino who practiced medicine for fifty years in the Inland Empire. I had Community Hospital of San Bernardino which was located across the street to adopt the school and the United Nurses Association Union of Southern California to also adopt the school.

The school boards focus was to begin at an early age to get children interested and knowledgeable about personal health issues and a career in this growing industry. Most people only think of doctors and nurses when they think of health care but there are many good paying positions in the industry and we have shortages in many. This leads to health care institutions importing workers from other countries to care for us while our own neighbors go unemployed. This never made sense to me so these partnerships are a step in the right direction. These imported workers provide good care but sometimes we have culture clashes between patient and provider not to mention labor issues where a union exists for employees. These two issues can be avoided by training our own while alleviating the high unemployment rate of our citizens.

I recall the first open house and seeing students dressed and acting as medical professionals and parents as patients getting care from students. Each classroom was recreated as a department of the hospital such as lab, pharmacy, x-ray, medical records, doctors’ office and the cafeteria. Of course as people changed in administration and boards, that focus changed but is still needed as demonstrated by these new partnerships. I would encourage every school district to enact such a focus on personal health and health careers in their district. Children learn by seeing and doing that which is relevant and believable to them. Thanks Sun for taking the time to highlight this issue of “grooming students in the health care careers” as an editorial.

Rodney King Can We All Get Along?

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By Hardy L. Brown

None of us know why we are born into this world but happy we were after we live in it for a while. We struggle to find our place and legacy worthy for someone to recognize and to remember. Now I am sure Rodney King was floundering around to find his place, when on March 3, 1991 his legacy found him. King and some friends were returning home around midnight when he had a run in with the Los Angeles Police Department. King had been drinking and true to the history of some White police officers, they overreacted to the actions of an African American man.

What happened to Rodney King that night had been repeated thousands of time throughout America’s history to Black men and no one believed their story. Some of us have experienced abusive behavior from officers who wanted to show us who was boss. Only this time, what transpired over the next fifteen minutes, was Rodney King’s destiny being recorded by a witness. George Holiday was still up that night and had a video camera and decided to record the beating that took place and now etched in our memory.

Even with that video footage the Black community did not react violently only to say this type of treatment goes on all the time. Many people thought King had this beating coming to him after the police leaked that King had a criminal record. The system tells all of us, criminals have no rights that the public should believe so what is the big deal, especially if the person is poor, African American or Latino.

But then charges were brought against the officers and the trial was moved out of Los Angeles into Simi Valley where an all-White jury of King’s peers found the officers not guilty in 1992. That is when all of the frustrations minorities felt bubbled to the surface and spread across Los Angeles and afterwards, America. No one could believe that after the jury saw the video that had been aired around the world that the four officers could or should not be found guilty for their actions. I recall President George Bush, Sr. and Mayor Tom Bradley say I cannot believe the verdict. The video does not lie is what Mayor Bradley said.

This is when Los Angeles erupted into a fiery furnace and left some 53 people dead and billions in property damages that Los Angeles is still in the process of rebuilding.

Now back to King, he did not ask for this legacy nor did he know it was coming, it was thrust upon him. Some have tried to say now that he was a civil rights leader. He was not. King was not active nor to my knowledge even a member of the NAACP or any other civil rights organization. It seems King’s purpose for being born was to shed light and truth to a problem that has and continues to plague relationships between police and our community.

But then Rodney King was asked to try and quell the riots where he said on camera to the world “Can We All Get Along?” He went on to say we should not make it hard for our older and younger people in the community.

My question to us today after King’s death is, can we all get along? In our communities can we find common ground to coexist and thrive? Can we improve our race relations with each other? Can we improve police relations with the community? Can we improve better relations between Democrats and Republicans? Can we improve relations between teachers, students and parents? King asked back in 1992 if we can just get along and the question remains the same; can we all get along?

Hoping the City of San Bernardino Find its Moral Compass

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The City of San Bernardino is trying to understand and get a handle on the rash of homicides that have happened in the city, making it the murder capitol of the nation during the month of May. According to reports, it is difficult to lay blame on any one thing such as gang warfare, unemployment, or out of school youth.

Some of the victims are from other cities and adult aged and the incidents are happening in every area of the city. The city council had the police department give a special report to them and keep them up to date as they investigate these homicides.

In addition to these problems, the city is still faced with budget problems like every city in the nation, which will hamper or limit preventative solutions. However, they must unite as a council and move forward in trying to govern a city with many issues.

They city has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state as well as the highest poverty rate in the nation. They have public safety employees associations that they must find consensus with if they are going to solve the long-term budget deficit problems. Other city departments are beginning to feel the pinch of no money for their services. One must ask the questions: What is a city with no parks? What is a city where streets are unclean? What is a city with no libraries? What is a city where street light are out at night? What is a city where all other services are not there when you need them? It is not a city.

From observing the interaction of all council members, some are still bent on keeping certain departments out of budget conversations but I don’t see how. The state and nation has budget woes that trickle down and further impact local government. And we have a voting public that is reluctant to approve any increase in taxes until they see better cooperation between political parties and a fairer system on who gets the money.

So it will behoove all elected officials to begin looking for more win-win solutions before the baby is thrown out with the bath water and everyone will wonder, what happened to the baby when the house becomes quiet. The city will not become quiet it will get very noisy. I remember going to East St. Louis when they ran out of money and the council was not working together. The streets were lined with trash left at the curbs from no pick up by the city. Streets were dark from no replacement of lights that needed replacing. The city parks were overgrown with weeds, and police calls went unanswered.

I know each council member thinks they have the answer but they must work together before the city can move forward. I told my pastor several weeks ago that the city appears to have lost its moral compass. When I was in the Boy Scouts I learned of the importance of a good compass pointing to the true north when you wanted to head in a given direction. To me the true direction is to put the city’s citizens first and the personal agendas of others second. This is what taking the oath of office is all about once you are elected to office.

At each council meeting, someone from the clergy opens it with prayer and they pray for unity over the deliberation but once the deliberations begin, personal agendas come out and divisions set in on the votes. Let me say to them find common ground on the critical issues of the city and put the moral compass as your guide so the city can thrive once again.

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