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Hardy L. Brown

Re-elect Josie Gonzales as 5th District County Supervisor

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By Hardy L. Brown

Josie Gonzales has surpassed my expectations of what one person could do as an Elected County Board of Supervisor. When you think of San Bernardino County’s image for corruption and growing tensions between race relations of Latinos and African Americans, Josie has quieted some of those fears down.

Before she was elected and taking the gavel as Chairman of the Board, we could hear everyday of another scandal erupting in the county government like a volcano spewing out hot lava. These scandals came from elected officials on the board or a high-level management staff being arrested. Chairman Gonzales buckled down to guide us through all of this uncertainty to give us confidence in our government once again. Her steady hand of justice has led to bringing those criminals to justice for the citizens of the county.

While all of that was going on, the community found issues with the allocation of grants coming from the First 5 agency as it related to race and service to children from birth to five years of age. Gonzales did not shy away from the problems but rolled up her sleeves, (so to speak) and with her vice chair Cheryl Brown, weighed in to do the heavy lifting of meeting with staff and community members. She made staff corrections, brought in a new staff, and changed policies to the satisfaction of the Commissioners and community thus restoring faith in the allocation of grants throughout the county.

If that was not enough on her plate, one elected member of congress from the area was beating the war drum of racial division between Blacks and Latinos for which Josie found distasteful and would take no part in. She withstood the darts thrown at her from some who like to bully and use strong-armed tactics to get their way. She rose above those petty political strategies and has brought us closer together as a people without denying her heritage or culture. As a matter of fact, people of different races light up when Josie enters the room, she brings joy and hope to those she touch.

One might ask how she does it. I believe it is from her deep belief in God and people. She does not mind sharing her faith while respecting your religious beliefs. She believes in the good of people until you show her another side, then she can be tough. She has a good sense of what it takes to be a good steward of the people’s money, something she learned from having her own business.

Join me in helping to re-elect Josie Gonzales to the 5th District County Board of Supervisors.

Judge Craig Riemer for Superior Court

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It was just several weeks that a conversation was taking place on elections and how we vote. In the conversation the position of judges came up and the consensus was that African Americans do not know them unless there has been a scandal, a breach of public trust, some type of unethical practice or racial bias shown in their decisions. Usually we rely on the opinion of our attorneys or Black employees who work in the legal system to give us some kind of insight into judges before we vote.

Having said that, some close personal friends from the community and legal judicial system introduced me to Judge Riemer. They spoke very highly of Judge Riemer. When you have friends like Judge Richard Fields, Judge Irma Poole Ashberry, Attorney Jack Clarke, Attorney Mary Ellen Daniels, community activists Jennifer Vaughn Blakely, Rose Mayes, Waudier Rucker Hughes, Katie Greene, Ofelia Valdez Yeager and Mayor Ron Loveridge giving me the thumbs up, it becomes easy for me to join the long list of endorsers of Judge Craig Riemer. These individuals I have known over the years and in some cases I knew their mothers, fathers and family members, so I value their opinions and include that relationship in making my decision.

Now I did do my own research on Judge Riemer’s decisions as a sitting member of the bench and none of the issues I mentioned in my opening paragraph came up so he has performed his duties with integrity and to the satisfaction of his peers. I also like the fact that he has a very extensive community service background as a boy scout leader, Sunday school teacher and leading our youth in mock trial training. Many people in our legal system forget community service as they advance in their careers.

Join the Black Voice News in supporting a man of integrity by re-electing Judge Craig Riemer to Riverside County Superior Court

Matthew Slowik and Lydia Wibert for Fontana City Council 

I have watched Fontana Council Members Matthew Slowik and Lydia Wibert conduct themselves at council meetings and they are individuals but work as a team when it comes to providing services to the citizens of Fontana which is very refreshing to see in elected officials. Maybe that is a big part in Fontana moving forward in the Inland Empire in growth of people and business development.

Matthew brings a long list of community service experience to the council and years of planning experience for his colleagues to draw on as they plan the cithy’s future. He has knowledge of education from serving on the Fontana Unified School District Bond Oversight Committee.

Wibert also brings many years of community service to the council and works very well as a team player for the citizens of Fontana. She served on the Parks and Recreation Commission for 22 years and as a police volunteer for 17 years. This experience gives her great insight on the needs of public safety employees with balance of family and youth needs in the city. She has 9 children of her own and is employed with the Fontana School District so we can understand her insight on teamwork.

Fontana is fortunate to have citizens like Matthew Slowik and Lydia Wibert, who are dedicated and committed to serve in the capacity as council member. They are great ambassadors and policy makers in performing their duties.

Re-elect Matthew Slowik and Lydia Wibert to Fontana City council

Promoting The Good In Your City Begins In The Council Meetings

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By Hardy L. Brown

This past Tuesday was an interesting day in watching the Riverside and Fontana City Council meetings. In Riverside, there were two items that caught my attention. One was on a proposal to promote the “Live in Riverside” program. This is where the city and all of its entities would talk up the various reasons for someone to live, buy homes, educate their children and shop in Riverside. Mayor Ron Loveridge told the council that the city is in competition with every city in the Inland Empire to attract middle and upper income families and businesses to do business with Riverside.

He also cited one city (I will not name) in the area that was having problems keeping their middle class at home.

Speaking in favor of this proposal was the Board of Realtors who cited schools as one of the main reasons people will purchase a home. Two things on my list are safety and the city’s image. Not everyone in attendance was in favor of the proposal but the council allowed their voices to be heard and after much discussion passed the proposal in a unanimous vote to give direction to staff for study and implementation.

Moving to the Fontana council meeting, I found them discussing billboards and advertising banners for small businesses in strip malls and individual stand-alone businesses. It was interesting to watch them interface with the staff making the presentation. All council members were respectful to each other and used common courtesy with staff. They even allowed the city manager to get information from the police enforcement division without getting frustrated with anyone.

When council members were not sure of how to express what they wanted, the staff was eager to share their thoughts to help flush out their ideas. The image of watching them in session was that they were a team, while having different thoughts on how to get it done. It was the team that gets the credit or in this case it will be the businesses and citizens of Fontana that will reap the benefits of this ordinance. The council also spoke highly of the need to work with and in partnership with the school district in providing funds to youth activities where possible. Mayor Acquanetta Warren spoke with pride about every council member attending the local championship game in Fontana.

Now mind you they do not always agree but it was how they disagreed with respect towards one another that impressed me. This is one of the reasons I am going to endorse Matthew Slowick and Lidia Wibert for re- election to the city council. They have served the city well with their knowledge and representation of the city in public, more on them at a later time.

Back to Riverside and the discussion on a responsible banking proposal suggested to them by a clergy group. They cited the need for banks to be good citizens when it comes to loans and working with citizens to keep their homes. All of us know how the banks have made out big time from home foreclosures and Wall Street bailout by our government. We have local citizens who are in trouble and the banks will not work with them, this does not equate to them as being good neighbors and I agree.

After many voices of support for this idea from the community, the council voted to have the staff research and draft an ordinance for the council to consider.

Again like Fontana it was the manner in which the discussion and interaction took place that gave the image of leaders working together for the good of the city.

Local NAACP ask for State and National Office to Assist with the Investigation of Police Shootings in San Bernardino City

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By Hardy L. Brown

Patricia Small, President of the San Bernardino Branch of the NAACP said it best, “It is about lives and police violence”. One of my questions to our community is “what is the value of your child’s life? How much would you settle for with the city after they report to you that your son has been shot nine times in the back by police and reportedly had a gun that was never found?” In the case of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller of Riverside, it was twelve times in the back while she sat unconscious in a locked car needing medical attention. How much would you settle for? Would you settle for $200,000, $500,000, $1 million or $3 million and sign a written confidential statement that no one did anything wrong if a police officer killed your son or daughter?

On the flipside of those questions is a sworn police officer that has been properly trained to make a split decision in the heat of the moment while thinking at the same time my life is at stake. This is a valid concern that the NAACP wrestles with each and every time a complaint is registered in their office. I know there are some dangerous streets in our society with people who will take a life if given the chance. I also know that we have some police officers who are quick to pull the trigger because of preconceived ideas that African American males and Latino males are violent with criminal records.

Walter Hawkins, Chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee said, “these shootings have gone on for a long time and for that reason the NAACP is investigating to see if race, training of officers and other things might be contributing to this pattern. The State NAACP did a report back in 2005 on police shootings and some of the same concerns were raised with some improvement in other urban areas, but for some reason San Bernardino has not improved.” I know that some officers spend their entire career and never shoot at or kill anyone, while some officers are repeat shooters. Only an investigation will let us know the answer to these concerns and get the proper protocols in place that will instill better relationships between the police and the communities for Blacks and Latinos.

Only a complete and thorough investigation by a community-trusted outside independent investigator can bridge the divide between the police officers and minority communities. Blacks and Latinos are the people who suffer from these shootings that our local District Attorney always find as legally justified in the eyes of the law. People of color in the City of San Bernardino make up over 75% of the population and the police department is comprised of 67.7% Whites. Not all police but some do have preconceived images of what they will do when standing in front of a Latino or Black subject. Some of you will remember when the police used the image of a Black man on their target range to shoot at. It was through protest and investigations that those kinds of practices were removed. I recall in 2007 where the police association endorsed Joseph Turner for city clerk. Joseph Turner had a questionable relationship with groups who hate Jews, Latinos, Asians, and Blacks so the public rejected him.

We must seek ways to move forward if we are to build a bridge over this divide and it will not be easy because the Black and Latino community has a long list of legitimate issues that must be addresses by the city council and police department.

WAG Asking The Federal And State Justice Departments To Investigate Police Shootings

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The Westside Action Group (WAG) took action Monday to invite U.S. Attorney General of the Justice Department Eric Holder and Attorney General for the State of California Kamala Harris to investigate the shootings of Blacks and Latinos by some officers in the San Bernardino police department.

Mr. A. Majadi of WAG pointed out quickly that their organization does not want to give the wrong impression by taking this action. “We are law biding citizens who recognize that not all police are doing this but we have a responsibility to the community to find answers to these shootings with satisfaction of our people,” he stated.

According to the San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman’s report to the city council, there are 23 open legal cases filed against the city of which he is requesting more money to hire outside legal counsel to defend the police. It was reported in the SUN Newspaper recently that a judge ordered the city to settle a case of Wrongful Death Police Shooting of Jerriel DeShawn Allen a 19-year-old African American. The family settled the case for $575,000 dollars, which is a small amount for a loss of life, if you ask me. No amount of money could replace any one of my children. Over ten years ago, the Tyisha Miller family settled their case for $3 million with the City of Riverside in the police shooting death by the police department, plus the officers lost their jobs.

If these police shootings are done by a repeat offending shooter or different officers perhaps WAGs investigation or any investigation conducted by the justice departments will uncover that information.

It is clear that the community is concerned about the safety of their family members as stated by Ratibu Jacocks a member of WAG as the discussion went from member to member.

Wallace Allen, Publisher of Westside Story Newspaper, offered one solution. He suggested the police be under a Citizen Police Review Board with subpoena power.

While WAG and other organizations wrestle with this issue the cost and image of the city will continue to be a problem. Just this past week, another council member took his oath of office and pledged to give the police what ever they needed. He joins three other council members whose political campaigns were funded by the police and firefighters association. In the past elections for the 2nd and 3rd Ward council seats, these associations provided 98.3% and 93.8% of their campaign money. Not only did they give the money they walked neighborhoods and did phone calling to voters.

These same officers have told me personally that they are afraid to live in the city because they fear for their safety yet, they are not afraid to walk these neighborhoods to sway voters. What would you do if a police officer or firefighter knocked on your door and said, “will you help me elect councilmember Jenkins, Kelly, McCammack, Valdivia and City Attorney Penman for good government?” As the television show announcer would say, “What would you do?”

In one report I read, only 11.9% of police and 6.7% firefighters live within the city limits while the others say they are afraid. Now I wonder why these officers are afraid. Is it because the city is comprised of over 75% Latinos, African Americans and Asians and the police officers are 60.7% White and 73.7% of the firefighters are White.

Now I am sure they will say that race is not part of the problem but I recall back in the day when the majority of Blacks and Latinos lived on the Westside of town, the police officers living in the city at that time said they were afraid to come to the Westside.

The new police chief should welcome any outside help he can get to root out any untrained officers and establish some new protocols and training in his department. I know he thinks he can turn this department around but other chiefs before him thought the same thing and they have moved on to greener pastures.

So I commend WAG for stepping up to the plate to initiate this investigation by the federal and state departments of justice, while celebrating 40 years of community service.

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BVN National News Wire