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Hardy L. Brown

Who Will Pay For, Build and Ride the High Speed Rail Train Of California?

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“Blacks cannot afford to be left standing at the station”

The price tag of building the high speed rail system in California has already gone up in cost from $39 billion to $98 billion and not one shovel has been put into the ground nor engine built to move the train. There is no doubt that in order to build such a system the taxpayers will have to foot the bill with private corporate partnerships and labor unions touting it will create jobs. There is also no doubt that it will put a jolt into the economy and provide another option of travel from southern to northern California with stops in between when completed. This is a mass undertaking that is going to take every ones cooperation and involvement if it is to go without a glitch or protest.

Now that we know who will pay, the next question is who will build the train and where? According to several reports, the Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese are the only ones sitting at the table ready to bid on the contracts to build the engines and everything related to the coaches that will carry the passengers. It will be a boom for them because the jobs will not be in America and they have experience by having a High Speed Rail System.

This problem is one that must be discussed before it becomes a major problem with the taxpayers who will shell out the money. It will become a major issue in the African American community where the unemployment rate is the highest and they receive the fewest business procurement opportunities.

Now the California Alliance for Jobs is one organization hoping this project success has as its Mission “to improve the livelihood of the men and women of California” and is made up of the following groups; Associated General Contractors of California, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3, Engineering & Utility Contractors Association, Northern California District Council of Labors, Association of Engineers and Northern California Carpenters Regional Council.

In a news release of November 1, 2011, others that are supporting this are Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Jim Earp, Executive Director California for Jobs, Maureen Hays, Chair of High Speed Rail Task Force, Jim Wunderman CEO of Bay Area Council, Al Smith, Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Julian Canete, CEO of California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

So now we know who will pay and who will build or hope to build, and who is being ignored or left out of the process to gain any financial return on their investment of taxpayer’s dollars -- the African American community. All of the previous mentioned organizations and elected leaders are friends of the Black community but in their haste to get this project off the ground, have ignored to include any Black elected officials or organizations around the table for inclusion before policies are made and established. I know it is an oversight that I am happy to point out so it can be corrected. I suggest they consider contacting the president of the African American Elected Officials, Mayor John P. Shoals of the League of California Cities African American Caucus.

Many years ago, America imported people form China to help build the railroad tracks and now China is in a position to contract with America to build the trains that will roll over those tracks. That is the possibility when we do business with other countries. If the American government would contract with many Black American firms like they do with other countries, it would change the economic dynamic in the Black community towards a positive direction.

Now when it comes to riders, they have not finished all of the studies to determine that portion of the analysis. I am sure if they do not have enough riders they will then offer the poor and seniors government subsidized discounts to help keep it afloat.

One of the downfalls of the project might be if the trains are built in another country, it will prevent the continuation of follow up business when it comes to repairs and replacement of trains.

While the Black community should support this project, they should fight to have a seat at the table to project some financial benefits to correct the many problems that plague our community.

Do Not Forget Election Day, November 8th

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All elections are important and this one is no different for the candidates or voters. I have expressed my opinion on the candidates of my choice but would like to point out a few things more on a few of the issues at stake in the City of San Bernardino.

I read in the October 31st edition of The Sun newspaper a statement by challenger John Valdivia of Tobin Brinker for the third ward council seat. Valdivia was asked “what is the most pressing problem in your ward and what have you done to address the problem? He started with bring jobs in the 3rd ward and concluded with this statement. “I am committed to our local economy and shop local, eat local, and encourage others to do the same in our city, San Bernardino.”

The hypocrisy of that answer is Valdivia is funded by the police and firefighters who work in the city and live in other cities. These two groups export over $40 million dollars each and every year to other local cities where they shop in local businesses, eat in local restaurants, buy homes from local realtors, pay local property taxes, support local schools, and support local chambers of commerce.

So Valdivia’s program sounds like a good economic program for other cities of the Inland Empire but will do nothing to help the citizens of the 3rd ward if his outside funding supporters have anything to do with his policies.

The other candidates to watch out for are Jim Penman and Amelia Sanchez.

These two are so closely joined at the hip that they even put their names on the same yard signs as independent City Attorney and City Clerk, which are two separate public positions. Again this is being funded in part by the police and firefighters association because Penman gives legal opinions on police and firefighters pay, pension, and grievance issues and you know who keeps the official records for the city, yes, the city clerk.

Riverside School Board
PATRICIA LOCKE-DAWSON - 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 & GAYLE CLOUD- Tom Hunt and Gayle Cloud are seeking reelection 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 Gayle as clerk have helped guide the district during these tough times while maintaining steady growth in academics.

Perris School Board
VIRNIECIA GREEN-JORDAN - 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 - 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 - 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
MARGARET HILL
- 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 - 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 - 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 - 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
RIKKE VAN JOHNSON - 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.

TOBIN BRINKER - 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.

JIM MULVIHILL - 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.

LARRY LEE - 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.

San Bernardino City Clerk
ESTHER JIMENEZ - 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.

San Bernardino City Attorney
DAVID MCKENNA - 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.

Our Government of the People is in the Voters Hands

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November 8th is Election Day and the voters will have the opportunity to change the policy direction of school boards and city governments. In our schools we have some high dropout rates that need to be reduced. We have achievement gaps that need to be closed. We have a low college going rate of graduates that needs to increase. We need to have more students graduate with higher academic achievements that will meet entrance requirements of our universities and California State Colleges and a skill set that will make them employable. We need to do a better job of preparing our students for the life they face and school board members are the beginning of that process.

We have city governments in need of leaders that can help attract and build a community that every citizen can thrive. We need cities where people are respected by their elected officials, city employees regardless of ones economic status or educational level. We need cities where people are safe and businesses look forward to doing business with their neighbors. We need cities where the elected officials put aside personal differences for the good of the city. We need cities where elected officials give great thought to the policies being made and the impact it will have on the service being provided.

We need city employee associations that understand it is the public that pay their salaries and expect good service from them. We need city employees to understand that no one group of employees deserves all of the funds while other services are eliminated.

In the City of San Bernardino, the firefighters and police must understand that you might buy elected officials but it is the taxpayers who ultimately pay the bill and once they say enough is enough, the party will be over. Once the voters recognize the city is on a collision course with bankruptcy they will demand a repeal of Charter Section 186 of salary guarantee and one hundred percent city paid retirement pension plans. Once the voters understand that you get 100% pay while out on disability and cannot be ordered back to work but can still work a part-time job with another employer, your paid council member will not be able to save you.

I say to the voters of San Bernardino that over 40 million dollars of your money is given over to other city governments by firefighters and police officers who say they are afraid to live in a city where they work. They say they are committed to community policing but my plan is for more “police and firefighters living in the community”. To me this is the best community safety program you could offer.

For the past two months, candidates have been going to coffees and town hall meetings with citizens to tell their story and ask for their vote. Some citizens have already caste their vote while others will do it at the polling booth. As always we like to offer you our recommendation of candidates we think will provide good leadership for the people:

Riverside School Board
Patricia Locke-Dawson
Tom Hunt
Gayle Cloud

Perris School Board
Virniecia 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 Mulvihill
Larry Lee

San Bernardino City Clerk
Esther Jimenez

San Bernardino City Attorney
David McKenna

 

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

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