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Hardy L. Brown

Putting Limits on Campaign Contributions is One Step in the Right Direction

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It appears lately that many local governments are trying to put limits on campaign contributions to county supervisors, mayors and city council candidates in order to curb corruption and elected officials not being responsive to taxpayers. The same might happen to school boards as well based on the contributions by builders of public schools of over thirty thousands dollars to Theresa Parra for the San Bernardino School Board. The federal and state governments have had little success to rein in big spenders only to have them spend it in other ways for the candidate or issue of their choosing which has led to “Occupy Wall Street Protesting” all over the world.

The ultimate way to rid corruption and greed from our political system begins with good candidates seeking office, educated voters, and unfortunately it takes money to educate the voters. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the city of Moreno Valley and developer Iddo Benzeevi pouring money around like water, to help elect people on the council and staff to do his bidding; and in San Bernardino City you have the Firefighters and Police Officer’s Associations doing the same. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors thanks to Janice Rutherford, are moving to limit campaign contributions to elected officials. The county has been plagued by several scandals over the past decades of elected officials violating the law and doing favors for people who contributed heavily to get them elected.

Voters expect elected officials to give some consideration, once elected, to the people that support them but they also expect them to represent everyone once they take the oath to defend the constitution and the jurisdiction under their authority.

In Moreno Valley for example, one developer wants the council to ignore all streets in the city so his street can be developed for something in the future not yet approved.

In San Bernardino County, it has been a series of giving funds to help develop special projects and in those situations came laundering of campaign funds and most have been removed from office and indicted for their crimes against the taxpayers.

In San Bernardino City we have seen the police and firefighters pay elevated while the citizens of the city hit new poverty levels. The citizens have also witnessed that the votes on the council and legal advice from the city attorney is in line with the contributions received from these two associations. The citizens also have said they could live with the pay if the firefighters and police officers lived in the city. In my opinion, they are always talking about “Community Policing Programs.” I would like to say to them that a real community-policing program is having “Police Live in the Community Program” that pays your salary.

To take a stab at the problem in San Bernardino, Councilman Rikke Van Johnson is proposing that the council look at term limits and limit the amount of campaign contributions a candidate can receive from people, from groups, or associations. While they are studying these issues they also want to look at the ward system representation of elected officials in the city. These are steps in the right direction and they must do something because taxpayers are frustrated with the direction of the city governments’ actions. When people become frustrated it has a tendency to eventually erupt into and outcry for drastic change and saying “enough is enough”.

I do not want to see that happen because in people’s haste to correct that kind or problem, some of the solutions are not workable for the long haul of governing.

It is my suggestion that all Inland Empire governments take a close look at their elected officials to ensure that the average John Doe citizen’s rights are protected and looked out for regardless of status or income of the supporter.

San Bernardino City is Not for Sale

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“San Bernardino city is not for sale by the citizens; however, some council-members and the city attorney appear to have been paid in full by the Firefighters and Police Association.”

What we have going on in the City of San Bernardino is the firefighters and police officers associations funding political campaigns for council members, city attorney and recently, has now sponsored the city clerk and if elected would carry their water or do their bidding at City Hall.

Already these two employee associations have made the following financial contributions to the following campaigns: Councilmember Al Jenkins of the 2nd ward was given $56,240 for his recent election of which $33,041 came from firefighters.

Council member Chas Kelley of the 5th ward has received $10,000 this year and $15,000 in 2010 from the Firefighters and $24,300 in 2011 from the Police Officers Association.

Council member Wendy McCammack received $4,000 from the Firefighters in 2010 and $2,200 in 2011and $10,000 in 2010 from the Police Officers Association.

City Attorney Jim Penman has received $4,000 in 2010 and $5,000 in 2009 from the Firefighters and $12,500 in 2011 from the Police Officers Association. Maybe they increased the amount this year because Penman is running as a slate with Amelia Sanchez-Lopez for city clerk, which is a two for one to control the records of the city clerk’s office. If one person controls the records and the legal office with the support of the employees in the police department they will control the city. The police chief would be rendered insignificant in the performance of his duties with backup of the city attorney. Penman has already demonstrated how he would govern if given the authority, ask the clergy.

These associations have pumped over $33,927 into John Valdivia’s campaign for the 3rd ward as of today with $24,178 coming from the firefighters and $9,199 from the police, which would give them four paid votes on the council.

The questions that comes to mind are why are they buying council members and what is at stake for them? The combined budget for these two departments is over $90 million dollars and they will carry over $40 million of that out of the city and into the communities in which they live. One can only imagine what $40 million dollars could do if it was invested in homes, shopping at local stores, taxes for schools, buying cars and other things that local citizens do in a city. If anyone is wondering why the city is dying, this is one of the reasons; people making a good living off of local citizens without contributing to the tax base of the city.

We have over 190 police officers and 140 firefighters earning over $100,000 a year in salaries which is 93% of the employees earning that kind of money. I am not against them earning the money but they are only taking without contributing anything to the city. It is like offshore corporate accounting or greedy Wall Street executives taking without giving. For example, only (12)6.7% of the fire department’s 179 employees and 11.9% of the police department’s 472 employees live in the city limits. Add to that, the racial and gender make up of the city in comparison to the department’s make up, is alarming. The fire department is 73.7% White and the police department is 60.7% White while the city is over 75% Latino, African American and Asian. It is even worse when it comes to the females; 98.7% of the employees in the fire department are male and in the police department the males make up 91.0% while females make up over 50% of the city. All of these taxpayers are paying for these employees to live well in other cities while paying nothing to the city where the people living below the poverty rate is 34.6% and children under 18 at 44.8%. The latest community survey from the census department said 47.7% are unemployed in the city while only 17% of Whites in the city live below the poverty level.

That is why these associations support the political campaigns of these council members and the city attorney so they can protect the $40 million for the other communities in which they live.

The citizens that I have spoken to say the city is not for sale but they do not say the same for some members of the council or the city attorney.

Black Voice News Endorsements

Riverside School Board

Patricia Locke-Dawson
Tom Hunt
Gayle Cloud

Perris School Board

Virnieca Green-Jordan

Banning School Board

Deborah Dukes

Alvord School Board

Ben Johnson

San Bernardino School Board

Margaret Hill
Lynda Savage
Juan Lopez
Mike Gallo

San Bernardino City Council

Rikke Van Johnson
Tobin Brinker
Jim Muliville
Larry Lee

City Clerk

Esther Jimenez

City Attorney

David McKenna

Black Voice News Election Endorsements for November 2011

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Riverside School Board
The election season is upon us and one name that will not be on the ballot for Riverside School Board is Lewis Vanderzyl. He is hanging up his tenure for retirement but his legacy of courage and leadership for education and the community will remain. At the height of the naming of Martin Luther King, Jr. High School for the district the CNN and other media outlets put the spotlight on a community in racial turmoil over the naming. Lewis led the school district and community to understand the value in the name and contributions of King to our nation. It is rare for school board members to stand out front on racially charged issues but Lewis demonstrated what leadership is about and set an example for others to follow; having said that, we now have to move on and elect others to follow.

We have three seats to fill and I am recommending Patricia Locke-Dawson, Tom Hunt and Gayle Cloud to fill them.

While Patricia is new at campaigning she is not new to the community or education. She has a good history of community involvement that will serve her well as a school board member. Her involvement with education is extensive having three children currently enrolled in elementary, middle and high school in the district. Most board members interest are different when your children are students, I know my interest was different.

With a district as divided as Riverside, it is refreshing to see a candidate committee to “provide a quality education to ALL students” as part of their platform.

Tom Hunt and Gale Cloud are seeking re-election and deserve re-election. They have provided leadership during these tough financial times while keeping student’s academic a top priority. Tom as president and Gale as clerk have helped guide the district during these tough times while maintaining steady growth in academics.

While I am a great proponent of inclusion of people from all groups, it appears as though the African American and Latino community has not field good candidates up to the challenge of seeking election. This has not prevented those elected from making sure all students get the resources needed for a successful experience in the district.

Perris School Board
For Perris School Board I am recommending our friend Virniecia Green-Jordan, who has served the children with distinction. She is an advocate not only in the district and community but at the state level with the California School Board Association and Black School Board Members Association. She understands that children cannot vote so she interfaces with state elected officials on their behalf to develop policies to improve education for everyone including staff. She might be known as the hat lady but she is also an advocate for children.

Banning School Board
Deborah Dukes is seeking re-election in Banning and deserves your support to help her provide a better education for our children. She wants all children to have the same kind of opportunities she is giving her daughter, Diondra now attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated from Banning High. Deborah is very active in her community serving on several organizations, boards, and as church administrator for 1st Missionary Baptist Church.

Alvord School Board
Ben Johnson is putting children first as he has done since serving on Alvord Unified School Board. His service to children and the community has earned him recognition as outstanding citizen award for Riverside county and volunteer of the year from JC Penney Points of Lights program. He has received other awards but his mission is to provide every child in the district with the opportunity to succeed by improving academic scores in a safe environment.

San Bernardino City Unified School Board
This November in the City of San Bernardino, the citizens will have the opportunity to set a new direction in the school district by electing four board members that will have the interest of every student, employee, group, and segment of the community in their heart. Our students can learn when the leadership shows concern and interest in a positive direction that develops an atmosphere conducive to learning.

To make that happen a board member must put aside their personal agenda of I want to help only one group of students by recognizing that all students are their responsibility. It is not an easy job but neither is it impossible. If our community is to move forward all students must be given the same opportunities that our public schools afford.

This is the 6th or 7th largest school district in the state of California with over 52,000 students. They say in its mission: “to provide academic instruction to each enrolled student sufficient to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding required to promote personal development to the fullest extent of the individuals’ potential.”

The only way to accomplish that mission is by working together as board members, giving clear direction to the superintendent with a commitment to every employee, student, and parent recognizing that not one size fits all students. Every board member brings their individual ideas to the board with the aim to integrate them into a workable policy that will accomplish their stated mission. Having said that, I am offering these four individuals that have demonstrated this as a way of living with their stated objective.

Margaret Hill has retired form the district as a teacher and principal. During her tenure she picked up the reputation of being a mother to all children. She would go to students’ home and get them. She would give them a lift home if need be. She would find them shelter if they needed it. She would give them food if they were hungry. I remember taking a group of clergy members to her school and I saw her give confidence to students who did not believe in themselves. Most people in Margaret’s position would retire and go traveling and be home with family; but no, Margaret sees children and says, I can help. She puts children first.

Lynda Savage is currently serving on the board and has contributed a lot to this district. I served with Lynda and know firsthand her commitment to students, staff, and community. Lynda knows how to work together with others to get the mission accomplished. Lynda, like Margaret Hill, could retire and leave others to fight for all students but being a trained educator she cares too much for a community that helps contribute to her families success. We need her level headed thinking to help guide these 52,000 students as they prepare for tomorrow. Lynda has always put the children first.

Juan Lopez is a new start on the horizon and will help develop this district into a shining example of what I know it can become. This young man is a product of the community and district and is now in a position to take the knowledge gained as District Representative for Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter. His experience can help explain the intricacies of Sacramento to fellow board members for the betterment of all students. Juan also has three children currently attending school in the district and his wife is a teacher, so education is a top priority in his family. Juan is a collaborative working young man and works well with all segments of the community and will foster an atmosphere of togetherness when it comes to diversity. Juan believes all students must be prepared with the skills to compete as citizens in this competitive society.

Mike Gallo an Aerospace Engineer has done some exciting things to engage children in education. Mike said, “we must inspire and engage our students with hands-on, applied learning strategies, from the onset of their educational journey, to equip them with the knowledge and skills that prepare them to participate in the American Dream and excel in the 21st Century Workplace.” Mike is correct, our students are in competition with children in other countries for jobs that will require a high level of education. His approach of bringing relevance and application of education to life experience is needed in our school system. His experience in the aerospace industry and community will assist the board to remain focus on providing the curriculum necessary to accomplish that mission.

San Bernardino City Council
The City of San Bernardino has four council seats up for election with three of them facing challengers. The council faces many challenges but the worst one is the antagonizing, uncivil behavior toward each other with a “I gotcha” mentality of Wendy McCammack. She serves as a mouthpiece for city attorney Jim Penman who would like to be the mayor or voting council member. Their actions and egos serve no purpose other than sending the wrong image to people who live here or would like to do business in the city. These two individuals support the police and firefighter unions who draw their pay from the city taxpayers but live in other communities.

Even though Chas Kelly votes with McCammack, his demeanor is not quite as disruptive as McCammack, maybe because his employer, County Supervisor Neil Derry is constantly under fire for poor decision-making and questionable friends. Chas and Wendy are advocates for the city to do business with local citizens while letting police and firefighters take millions of taxpayer’s dollars to other communities each and every day. They also undermine the leadership of these departments by always siding with the employees over the chiefs, which is no way to govern. Therefore I can not support either candidate for re-election.

Rikke Van Johnson of the 6th Ward has no challenger because he has done a good job while keeping the voters of his ward tied into the communication loop. Rikke also recognizes that he was not sent to be a mouthpiece for employee unions or to be intimidated by other elected officials like the city attorney. He has shown respect for all city employees and the contribution they make to the city regardless of position or department.

I first meet Tobin Brinker several years ago and was impressed with his commitment to children and the community. Since his election to the city council that opinion has not changed but has grown stronger from my observations of his actions at the council meetings. He has held his ground when it comes to addressing issues facing the city regardless of opposition from employee unions or the city attorney while being respectful of their opinion. The people of the 3rd Ward should reelect Tobin Brinker for the good work he does and the positive leadership he provides the city.

The residents of the 7th Ward can help the city by electing Jim Mulvihill as their representative. Jim is well educated and would bring a much needed civil demeanor to the council that will help move the city forward. In addition Jim has some great ideas to improve the business community image and increase traffic flow of customers. His urban planning training is what the city could use now to help with the redevelopment of a city that needs a facelift.

Elect Larry Lee for a change in the seat of the 5th ward. This life-long resident of the city wants civility at city hall with no new taxes or raising fees. He recognizes that with cooperation at city hall, we can bring jobs and people back into the city. He says to change the image of the city we must start with how we think about the city which includes beautification and safety of the streets. Larry is also a strong believer in volunteering as well as providing spiritual leadership to his church family. He has been married for over 40 years with children and grandchildren. Lee is a graduate of San Bernardino High School.

Rachel Clark is retiring from her position as City Clerk where she has done a fantastic job over the years. Since this is a position of record keeping of all actions of the city, I am recommending Esther Jimenez to replace her.

Esther grew up in San Bernardino with roots dating back to the 1800’s and currently is employed by Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter. Her training researching legislative legislation in Sacramento uniquely qualifies her as a keeper of records. She is well educated with an AA from San Bernardino Valley College and a BA from UC Riverside. Make Esther your next City Clerk in San Bernardino.

David McKenna has been out of politics for sometime but has tossed his hat into the race for city attorney. I know David from his days on the county board of supervisors and that as public defender for the county of San Bernardino. There is no doubt in my mind that David would make a good attorney for the city but would provide positive leadership to a department that has witnessed too much political accusations and intimidation toward others and the public from its current occupant.

The city is in dire need of a professional legal advisor who does no want to be the mayor or a non-voting council member. The city needs an attorney who can help close deals that leads to business development for taxes and employment of our citizens. The city is in need of an attorney that will work with homeowners instead of sending threatening notices of “we will take your land.” The city needs an attorney that will work with our faith-based community instead of taking them to court.

Penman has served long enough just as he said about Ralph Prince 24 years ago. The city is in need of David McKenna for city attorney.

President Obama, Where is the African American Stimulus Program?

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“It is not whining or complaining you hear from the Black community Mr. President but the growling of hungry stomachs of our children with unemployed parents.”

Last weekend President Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) annual closing dinner. The CBC is grateful to have the president come because for years they were not afforded that favor from the White House under other presidents other than Bill Clinton. So I know how grateful they are to have him come to address their prestigious overflowing crowd of proud African Americans.

President Obama gave a very good speech of what he has and is trying to do which was well received by those in attendance. However, it was his last few remarks that some took exception with when he said, “stop your whining and complaining” and let us get the job done of getting the country back on track. Everyone knew what he was talking about but some took it to mean be quiet while supporting what I am doing.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters responded the next day and said that she did not know who the president was talking about and some have criticized her for saying that. Maxine does not need anyone to defend what she says but like Bo Diddly sang in his song “I believe the wo-man is right.”

The Black voters gave President Obama over 97% of their vote and stood proud to do it and will do it again in the 2012 election. Since that time we have not marched, protested or made a fuss over what he has done. We know that he inherited a pure mess from President Bush and the cronies on Wall Street. We even agreed that he should help stabilize the economy and take care of National Security, and he got Osama bin Laden. We have watched congressman and now candidates call him a liar. We have listened to Rush Limbaugh say, “I hope you fail man-child Obama.” We have heard Senator Mitch McDonnel say, “I want him to be a one term president,” even if it means bringing the country to a stand still. Believe it or not that is the way some southern White men have been raised when it involves Blacks.

We have watched organized labor, our friends that marched with us during the great civil rights days of the fifties and sixties, argue for greater benefits and inclusion into the stimulus dollars. We have watched General Motors and Chrysler fight for stimulus money to keep them afloat. We have watched money flow from our treasury into banks, even when they did not want it, to keep them from going under. We have watched Wall Street executives make millions in salaries after we saved them, from a mess they created. We have watched President Obama try and comprise with John Boehner and Eric Cantor who wish him no good. We have watched other groups that supported him demand their attention, yet not a word from the White House to stop your complaining.

Mr. President let me tell you what you are hearing from the Black community. With the unemployment rate of only 8% for everyone and over 16.7% for Blacks, that is hungry stomachs you hear growling in the Black community. For Black men 20 years of age and over the unemployment is 18.0% and for our women of the same age it is 13.4%, that is hungry stomachs you hear growling in the Black community. For our youth 16 to 19 years of age, the unemployment rate is 46.5% nationwide, it is hungry stomachs you hear growling in the Black community. With 27.4% of Blacks living below the poverty level and more Black children being added each day, it is the growling of hungry stomachs that we hear in our community.

Is it your fault, not entirely, but you need to tell these say no officials you will not continue to go along with their agenda while another child goes hungry in America. I told my son during the debt ceiling fiasco that if you give in to them they would not give up but want more. I told him of the time my dad killed our dog for attacking a chicken. I asked my dad why did you kill the dog? He responded once it tasted the blood of the chicken it will keep on attacking, so I took care of it. What have the republicans done since? Attack, attack, attack and complain and whine about what they want. Those who received stimulus money before, what have they done? They are asking again. Each time you give, African Americans fall farther and farther behind.

So Mr. President what you are hearing coming from the Black community is growling stomachs waiting for our leaders and government propped up corporations to re-engage in employing African Americans or giving us some stimulus programs.

Another Senseless Killing of a 3-year-old child, Nylah Torrez

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“We have created an atmosphere which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.” -- Martin Luther Kind, Jr.

In November 2005, we witnessed the shooting death of 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw and in 2006, 11-year-old Anthony Ramirez, was killed by some reckless, careless, don’t care gang members getting revenge on someone but killing innocent children. Now in September 2011, we witness the shooting death of 3-year-old Nylah Irene Franco-Torrez, who was killed by the same senseless act of violence from a reckless and careless thug with a gun.

Once again we will hold car washes to bury the dead ones whose life has been cut short while the killer will be placed on the public budget for us to care for the rest of their life. If Mynisha, Anthony, or Nylah had been able to live into adulthood, maybe they could have found the cure to cancer or other agonizing diseases or been the parents of a line of children that we could all be proud of. But we will never hear of them again other than when something like this happens but family members will be asking questions until their death. To them I say only God has the final answer but I think there are some things we as citizens can and must do to reduce this type of killing.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 3% of gun related deaths in America fall into the accidental shooting category and 9 children are killed each day in America by guns. Most of these guns are in the hands of what we consider youth between the ages of 16 to 24 years, usually in urban cities. I am well aware of our constitutional rights to bare arms but those rights do not extend to all and local jurisdictions must find a way to enact and enforce gun restrictions within its city limits without violating the rights of legitimate gun owners. I would encourage citizens to meet with the new San Bernardino Chief of Police Robert Handy and have an open and frank discussion about this issue and the killing of innocent children by the hands of random gunfire.

Maybe a code of conduct can be developed in your neighborhoods and what to report when you suspect behavior of youth behaving badly. My dad and mom use to tell me “a idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and that is why we try and keep you busy with something to do. They knew I would be busy doing something good or bad. The same is true with our people today regardless of one’s age and put a gun in their hands and you have a recipe for danger.

The City of San Bernardino was just awarded one of America’s most playful cities because of its attention to parks and recreation facilities and they are to be commended for this honor. How to make it truly work is going to take the commitment of citizens to make it work. Citizens will need to meet with city leaders to explore ways to engage our people between 16 and 24 years. We know the unemployment rate is over 14.7% and higher for this age group so someone has to begin the dialogue of what can we do before another baby is gunned down by a stray bullet.

We must change the atmosphere where violence is the favorite pastime.

Dr. Albert Karnig has been good for our community

After 15 years at the helm of California State University San Bernardino, Dr. Albert Karnig is retiring. He said, “it is time to pass the torch to a new steward.” Knowing when to pass the torch is key in a relay race and the same is true in life.

Dr. Karnig has been good for the university and the Inland Empire community especially the African American population. He took over at a time when Blacks were not sure if the university was friend or foe. He reached out and brought us into the decision and planning process of the university. He was invited to speak at various congregations in the community to demonstrate education was important and that we had a place on campus.

He is not leaving right away but I wanted to recognize his announcement and let him know I appreciate what he has done. I also want to thank him for inviting my wife and I to dinner and the nice evening with the greatest blues singer Mr. B.B. King several months ago.

Dr. Karnig many people in the area can learn from your style of leadership in working in a community of diverse people and ideas. You and Marilyn have made our lives richer.

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