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Hardy L. Brown

The Political Season is Once Again Upon Us

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The political season will get into full swing beginning the first week of March until June 5th as seasoned candidates and some new faces work hard to earn your vote. The Inland Empire will see many seeking to provide our area with positive leadership that will give us a clear and respectful voice in Washington, Sacramento and in city council chambers around the region. Some will be running to remain employed, while others will be seeking a job at taxpayer’s expense. Some will be running to keep a family name alive. It will be up to the voters to select those candidates who will represent the best interest of the people because we have many needs in the Inland Empire.

We have witnessed what can happen with just the stroke of a pen, as we saw redevelopment disappear from the control of local government back into the hands of Sacramento. We have seen our unemployment rates and health care benefits and cost go up and down by many decisions in Washington. We have neighbors whose homes have gone into foreclosure while others are just holding on by a thread. We have heard and seen some political candidates want to rid employees of the right to organize into unions or blame organized labor for mismanaged companies or governments.

We have some public schools that have not performed up to higher standards or the dissatisfaction of parents with children in under-funded schools with some seeking solace in chartered schools with some success. We also have noticed that not all charter schools are into educating children but seeking to bring money into private pockets so parents have to investigate before signing up their children.

We have witnessed racism creep into national campaigns with Governor Jan Brewer pointing her finger in the face of President Barack Obama and sexism with an all-male panel discussing what is best for women and their family planning programs. On the local level we have heard of some who believe that the last name is the only thing a voter should be interested in and not what a candidate can do for the people. However, we are getting feedback that these ideas are losing because people are interested in getting a job, better schools, and access to better health care at affordable cost and greater opportunity to create a business to serve our communities.

The Black Voice News will have endorsements in some major races during the primary while we will wait until the general election in others. We will gather as much information about the people seeking office as possible to help you the voters make an intelligent decision before voting day.

So get ready to engage yourself in order to help Build Better Communities through our election process. Some things you can do to help build a better community is register to vote, volunteer in a campaign and contribute to the candidate of your choice. If some tell you that your vote does or will not count tell them that just this month Gigi Hanna, a candidate for city clerk, won her election by two votes in the City of San Bernardino. Every vote does count and will be counted.

Register and vote.

Is San Bernardino A Killing Field For Some Police?

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A couple of weeks ago an article appeared in The Sun newspaper that read, “Lawsuit settled over SB police shooting.” The family of Jerriel DeShawn Allen, a 19-year-old African American youth who was killed by police, settled with the city of San Bernardino for $575,000 which saved the city from going to trial. Believe it or not the article stated that the judge recommended they (the city) settle because it was a bad case for the city. DeShawn was shot 13 times and the police said he had a gun which was never found. It brought back memories of the Tyisha Miller shooting in Riverside who was shot 12 times by four White officers that cost the city $3 million to the family.

I had heard of other shootings in San Bernardino by watching the council meetings and listening to SB City Attorney Jim Penman, expound about needing more money to defend police abuse cases. Then this past week, I read another article where the new police chief wants to organize a team of leaders to fight crime in the community but no involvement from the citizens of the community.

This prompted me to go to the Internet and look up some information on police shootings and abuse incidents in San Bernardino that I was somewhat familiar with. I found some and now wonder how many of these incidents involve the same officer or officers.

These names of cases came to light: Jonneshia Reese, police used excessive force in 2005; Arlene Brooks, police killed in 2006; Jamora Allen, police killed in 2007; Terrell Markham, police used excessive force; Edward King Jr., shot by police and the officer said he had a gun which was not found; Cedric May, police killed in 2009; Francisco Joaquin, police used excessive force; Donavan Parker, police forced his way into the man’s apartment. The man was handcuffed and placed into the officer’s car before the officer recognized the man was telling him the truth, that he was blind. So instead of taking the man too jail, he took the man to the hospital so as not to be embarrassed. James Brown, police used excessive force; Mason, killed by police in 2009; in the shooting case officers claim that the victim had guns or was reaching for a gun that they never found or has been reported.

In all of these cited police abuse incidents, they carry a set aside monetary cost of nearly $2 million to the citizens of the city. As soon as these families find out they can get more in these wrongful deaths of police killings, the settlements go up. Police in New York killed Arlene Brooks and it cost over $4 million to settle. In the case of Tyisha Miller, it was Johnny Cochran that made the price tag go up.

I know that the city will try to prevent the public from getting all the information on police involved shootings, misconduct against citizens, use of excessive force against citizens, or officers that have been involved in repeated shootings against the public but I am still going to request it. If the public pays the salaries then the public has a right to know who the bad employees are and what is being done to correct that behavior to reduce the cost to the city.

We have a right to know who is defending or protecting overzealous or untrained staff members running around our city with badges and guns. We pay the officers, they live outside the city, they fund political campaigns of elected officials, these officials pay outside law firms to defend them and the taxpayers pay for all of it.

Now as a former police commissioner I know that officers have to make split second judgments but to use the same excuse of the victims were reaching for a gun and said weapon never being found is old. I want to know why it is that some officers work a lifetime and never pull their gun at civilians let alone shoot while other officers shoot civilians on a regular basis? Then to have the District Attorney’s office always find the officer justified in their actions is getting old as well. I take that back, I am aware of one incident where the DA took the officer to trial, this officer was Black.

I am aware that the clergy association is implementing a coalition to tackle this issue in the city. It was the clergy in Riverside that took up the justice banner for Tyisha Miller and brought about much needed reform in that police department with outside help from the U. S. Justice Department and then California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

It is time for the City of San Bernardino to establish a citizen’s police review or accountability board with responsibility and authority to oversee police actions and to replace the current police commission. To Police Chief Handy, I do not think your new initiative of experts will do what you want it to do without citizens from the community if you want to get rid of the police-killing field.

Unbowed and Unbought Sam Martin

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My earliest memory of my friend and mentor in the newspaper business Sam Martin goes back to the late sixties. Sam would come by my house on California Street and take pictures of my Boy Scout troop for the paper. Over the years, the friendship grew into a partnership of him selling the Black Voice News to my family in 1980, which is one of the three papers he help found.

During that time, I learned that Sam was a major proponent of believing we should have control of the vehicle that communicated information to our people and community.

He would tell me that during the political season people will say things that might be against your people and without the newspaper, it can go unchallenged and become the truth of our people even if false. He also told me some people will offer you wealth for your paper’s opinion and you have to remain unbought and never bow down to pressure.

Another thing I learned from this self taught man was you are never too old to learn. Sam taught himself how to operate every technological change in the printing of a newspaper including the modern computer. He developed his own pictures back in the day. Part of the reason for this self-training was one time we were printing a story that our contracted White typist thought we should not print and she did not want to type it for us. Needless to say, that week, we did it ourselves.

On many of the issues that came up during the late sixties, seventies and eighties, Sam could be found in the mix of them offering advice. His business and political contacts in the Inland Empire were many and he shared them with me. By Sam being the first African American on the San Bernardino County Central Democratic Committee, he had history with many people. It was because of his political involvement that the name of the memo graphic newsletter printed in his garage became the name of the Precinct Reporter Newspaper.

Sam was a co-founder of the Precinct Reporter, The Black Voice News and founder of the American News that we own today. His daughter Mary Martin Harris along with her husband Clifton publishes the paper from Victorville to carry on his legacy.

This is not a bad legacy for a man from Mississippi, during the time Blacks could be lynched for trying to print a paper, then raised in Needles and moving to San Bernardino uneducated, but still having the desire to help a community that was not fully receptive to independent thinking people like Sam Martin. Sam Martin was a man who was unbowed and unbought.

Brother Winfred Breland A Gentle Giant

A gentle giant was called home last week. I say a gentle giant because Brother Winfred Breland owner and operator of Breland Bus Lines was a mainstay for those who loved to travel by bus. I served with him on the Steward Board, singing in the choir at St. Paul AME Church in San Bernardino.

Brother Breland could be in a room with you and you would not know he was there unless he knew you. He could be funny with close friends and when he would speak it was from experience as he spoke with much thought and wisdom.

I recall many times my wife Cheryl would call Brother Breland for a trip to Sacramento for the youth or a political visit to the capitol on behalf of an issue. The church used him as their own personal bus service when asked to visit other churches in Los Angeles or San Diego.

Another reason he is a giant is because he took the risk to start his own business which his son carries on to this day. His example to me and others to follow, is to go into business while looking for a job. Find something you love to do and try and make a living out of it like Brother Breland. He loved to drive and his passion turned into a business which he be passed down to his family.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

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Our lives are built around sending signals to one another and the same is true of animals. When a boy wants the attention of a certain girl, he will first send a signal that he is interested and the same is true of girls wanting the attention of a certain boy. When a baseball coach wants his base runner to take a pitch or steal a base, the coach will send a signal by way of an arm movement to paint a picture to the base runner.

Before the walls of Jim Crow laws of legal ‘Separate but Equal’ was ruled unconstitutional in the United States, I was raised under those societal rules and some Whites were masters at sending signals to their neighbors of how and what they thought of Negroes.

They would only have you come to their backdoor when you came to their house. They would put up two drinking fountains to drink from: one for “Coloreds” and the main one reserved for Whites only. They would forbid colored people from trying on clothes before they bought them for fear Whites would catch something. They would not let Blacks swim in public pools or use the same beaches. Even at drive-in movies, Blacks had to park their cars on the last two rows even if no Whites were at the drive-in. The back of the bus was where we had to sit when riding public transportation and the ultimate signal of what they thought of us was being called boy regardless of one’s age.

We have some people who still believe like United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney did back in 1857 when he ruled that “being of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the White race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the White man was bound to respect”. Now, that is a very powerful picture and signal which some people like Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona still believe.

With that picture in her mind she decided to create a more modern version by pointing her finger in President Barack Obama’s face. What she was saying by doing so was; “I know your mother was White. I know your White grandparents raised you and fought in the war to keep freedom alive in America. I know that you went to our best schools like Harvard and was president of the Harvard Law Review. I know that you were elected to the state legislature of Illinois and into the United States Senate. I know that you ran a very successful campaign and were elected to the highest office in this great country. I know that you were given a country on the brink of financial ruin and saved us. I know you did something President George Bush tried to do but did not and that was getting Osama Bin Laden. I know that you now dine with Kings, Queens, Presidents and other heads of state but to me you are still just a ‘N’ and boy.

We have seen many signals over the past few years. We had a congressman call the president a liar in a joint session of congress during a state of the union message. We see the Tea Party Representatives in congress saying make President Obama a one-term president by any means necessary. We’ve seen the racist caricatures in popular magazines.

It is too bad that some people will not face reality, that we, as a people, will not go away just because they believe we have no rights they have to respect as American citizens, even in the position of President. The picture tells it all.

President Obama Set the Right Tone for Leadership

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President Barack Obama went on the hill to the House of Representatives for the third time to deliver his State of the Union Address to the people of America. I noticed something different in him that was not in his previous two addresses. If you remember the first time out, someone yelled from the congressional galley “you are a liar”. Obama carried on with his speech as though nothing had happened but the whole world knew it was disrespectful for a congressperson to heckle the president. Yet Obama went on trying to work across the aisles with a group of people who did not want to work with him. The second year, congress was even more determined to not work with him as the “tea party people” dug in their heels led by Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia; who took the position don’t work with President Obama on any issues. Their motto “Make Obama a one-term President” at all costs even if the country comes to a stand still.

I saw in President Obama’s posture and tone a confidence with or without you, I am going to lead this country for the good of the people. You can call me names like ‘food stamp president” like Newt Gingrich has in order to motivate the racially conscious people of his political party that cannot stand Obama. You can make fun of Black Americans who have helped build and protect this country like the Red Tail Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, yet I am going to lead.

His tone and message was: there is something wrong when a billionaire like Warren Buffet pays less taxes than his salaried secretary. There is something wrong in America when Wall Street millionaires mess up the country’s finances, sending millions of middle class citizens into poverty, get a bailout by the remaining taxpayers and do not want government to regulate them.

There is something wrong in America when we pay or give tax breaks to corporations for taking jobs out of the country yet allow them to sell their products in America. It is time we give tax breaks to companies that want to start and expand their companies here at home because American workers are still the best and most productive workers in the world.

It is time we invest in the education of our young people without them being burdened with enormous debts after finishing college. We cannot send our citizens into harms way and when they return home ignore their mental, physical, and employment needs. We have cared for our veterans in the past with the GI Bill and we will do it again, with or without you congress. Obama reminded them that our military forces are the greatest in the world by citing that special units who went after and took out Osama Bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda making Americans safer.

He informed them he will not retreat from every American having access to health care or having citizens removed from insurance plans at the whim of executives. Every American deserves to be paid a decent wage and women paid equal pay for doing the same job as men.

His tone reminded me of when I played baseball and faced a new fastball pitcher who struck me out my first two times at bat. In between innings, I studied his motions, arm delivery and how he treated other batters. Needless to say my third time up there were two men on base and we were down one run in the eighth inning. I unloaded with a triple down the right field line. I did not try and pull him but went with the flow of his power. In the case of Obama he went with what they know and understand: I will use my power as president to care for this country with or without you. I will use executive authority.

If you want to send me bills that meet the needs of the American middle class and poor, I will sign them and this is not class warfare he stated. I was impressed with the tone and substance of his message.

Gigi Hanna for City Clerk

Voters of San Bernardino do not forget to return your vote by mail ballots for Gigi Hanna for San Bernardino City Clerk before February 7th.

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