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Hardy L. Brown

Political Fallout from the Election In San Bernardino

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After watching the first meeting of the city council after the election on November 8th, it is clear there will be those seeking revenge on behalf of some of the winners. This is the way of politics in America, like it or not, even on the local level. And, based on the attitude of Wendy McCammack toward the city manager and Jim Penman’s statements on the new council, it is clear the new staff will face a rocky road from them.

I have it from a reliable source that San Bernardino City Manager, Charles McNeely, might be leaving his post at the beginning of the year. McNeely, the city’s first African American top administrator, has brought openness with a management style that gave objective business recommendations to the council for public policy based on researching the issue.

McNeely has also integrated the workforce from top to bottom to reflect the diversity of the community that resides within. He has taken personal insults from some elected officials, who were re-elected, while making presentations to the city council at council meetings. From my observation, some of the attitudes from some council members and city attorney have bordered on disrespect for the city manager and other department heads hired to manage the city. One thing these council members have in common is that they are all supported by the police and firefighter associations who will control the council members in March with the addition of John Valdivia.

The question you might ask is why would he leave? It is clear to me that after the elections, the council will take on a 4th member that will not agree with the direction being offered by McNeely. This new council also might become problematic to the new chief of police Robert Handy. In my opinion, the last police chief left or was pushed out by the association, some council members, and an argumentative city attorney, who has not changed his approach to being the city’s legal council. Penman warned the council at its last meeting, if his budget request to pay and hire outside legal firms to handle cases were not honored by the current members, in March it would be.

It is a fight that I am certain any sane person, McNeely included, would not want to engage in everyday and tarnish a good reputation of public service to many communities. I will hate to see anyone pushed out of a job but it is a double whammy loss to the Black citizens of the community. The other fallout could be the people he brought to the city could exit as well thus creating more uncertainty in the direction of a city in need of stable leadership.

This is politics and the citizens of San Bernardino that did not vote can only blame themselves for not being more involved with the election. The city is in need of a community police force and firefighters that pay taxes. I was watching an old western movie the other day titled “The Return of Daniel Boone,” starring Wild Bill Elliott. The town was reeling from some citizens that took property from homeowners. During the auction of one property, the auctioneer said, “every good citizen pay their taxes and those who do not, are well, not good citizens.” Well those citizens who work in the city but pay no taxes like the police and firefighters are good citizens to other communities but not to San Bernardino.

We will watch and see what the real political fallout will be. It is my hope that they will focus on governing and moving the city forward.

I Will Give You Thanks Forever

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Thanksgiving Day is set aside to give thanks for the many blessings God has given us, for he has brought us over many rough and winding roads last year. Some of us take it for granted because we are still above ground even though the economy or our personal finances might be a little sluggish. Even with the good and bad of our situation I want Him to know I will love Him forever.

Psalm 30
New International Version (NIV)
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; 
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 
7 LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; 
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:

“What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? 
Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving from the Black Voice News Family.

Firefighters and Police Associations Control San Bernardino City Government

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“Perception is Reality” is said over and over throughout our daily conversation these days in America. We use it when people believe something to be true or not or when there is evidence to support their belief. Now that the election is over in the City of San Bernardino, it appears to me that the firefighters and police officers associations are now in control of the city council and the city attorney after spending over $100,000 for those candidates. I know these elected officials will say their support will have no influence on their vote but I have witnessed these associations receive more support than the chiefs who are hired to manage them.

With the election of 3rd Ward Council member John Valdivia, he will join Chas Kelly, Wendy McCammack, and Robert Jenkins giving them a majority vote on the council. All of them are independent thinkers but will sing to the same tune when it comes to compensation and benefits for the police and firefighters at the expense of other departments and services within the city.

One could argue that the citizens had a chance to be heard and they did, while less than 10% made the effort to vote in the election. If we did not have a vote by mail opportunity, the voter turnout would have been even lower because 7.7% cast their vote that way and only 2.3% went to their local polling locations. So the other citizens will have to live with what less than 10% of the population wants to happen in the city.

Now we will see what the police and firefighters will put forth as an agenda to govern the city while working within a struggling economy and budget deficits. It will take some working together if the city is to move forward but it will be difficult from the battle lines that have been drawn from prior years of political wrangling by the city attorney and some council members and the mayor.

The city is facing an unemployment rate of over 15%, with over 34% living below the national poverty rate. The city also faces a decline in revenue because businesses and middle class income citizens are leaving and setting up housekeeping in other cities like the police and firefighters. The police and firefighters are responsible for moving over $40 million out of the city each and every year so it will be interesting to see what they recommend in solving the budget problems. It is clear to me that if something is not done with city charter section 186 and the 100% pension paid by taxpayers, the city is headed into bankruptcy and everyone will lose. Section 186 should be a collective bargaining issue that is negotiated during contract session and not an automatic pay raise based on other communities with greater financial resources; that is what collective bargaining rights are all about.

It will be interesting to see what this group recommends for other departments within the city to do when it comes to reductions in spending or how to attract business development. It will be interesting to see what happens when the chief of police takes a policy stand contrary to what the rank and file officers think. Will they take a no confidence vote on the chief and be supported by council members? My perception is the associations and four council members will take the position that every department can sacrifice except public safety. The other perception is the city attorney will offer legal opinions that will support the police and firefighters arguments due to the financial political contributions to his campaign.

The reality is the police and firefighters are paid well for the service they render to the city. Over 90% of them take $40 million in salaries and benefits to live in other communities because they believe it is not safe for them or their families. They also have taken some of that money to support or buy council members to make sure there is no interruption of the taxpayer’s money to them. This is not a perception but reality, all you have to do is review the candidates’ campaign reporting statements, watch budget discussions of council members, and see how they vote on their issues.

So once John Valdivia takes the oath of office along with Chas Kelley, Wendy McCammack, and Jim Penman it is my “perception of reality” that the firefighters and police officers associations will be in control of the City of San Bernardino.

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 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.

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