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To Our Leaders: Good Debate Without Action is Nothing

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Hardy L. Brown
In the book of James Chapter 2 Verse 20 the writer presents a philosophy “faith without works is dead,” which is what comes to my mind as I watch and listen to Congress, Sacramento and local governments debate our current economic crisis. President Obama has put before the legislative body a proposal to help stimulate our economy that will provide services to people in need, save people from getting laid off, put some back to work, help state governments from cutting services, help local governments from cutting services and keeping business flowing.

Some things I have noticed with all of the debaters are they all agree something must be done and all of them have cushy jobs with no threat of unemployment or lack of services as they discuss the issue. They all profess to have “faith” in the American people and our resolve to bounce back and overcome this crisis. I too believe God did not bring us this far to leave us.

Some say we should do nothing to help the economy, it will work itself out. Some say give breaks to those who have and they in turn will later help the poor. Some say we need a combination of both as they tell the public anything we do will take time. All of them are correct in their arguments but to the person that has lost unemployment payments, it doesn’t matter because they are in a depression. To the person about to lose unemployment payments it doesn’t matter because they too are in a depression. To the person who just got the lay-off notice it sounds good as their anxiety rises because they are now in a recession.  For elected officials, having to lay off employees is a horrible nightmare because they know the people being impacted by the decision. To the citizens hearing that police officers, firefighters, trash and library services are being cut, to them it is a terrible recession. To citizens hearing that teachers are losing their jobs puts parents in a panic mode because “little Johnny is not doing so well now.” The large businesses listening to the debate are saying they need people with jobs to purchase their goods and services.  The businesses providing food and service to the needy are saying they are short on donations so they cannot help.  This brings me back to the statement “faith without works is dead”.  All of them have faith and hope but some do not want to put it into action. For those elected officials who do not want to put action into the “stimulus recovery plan” then keep your mouth shut and let those who have faith in their actions move forward. To the lady who told President Obama in Fort Meyer, Florida, “I’m homeless living in my car. I need a home with a kitchen to cook food for my family, can you help?” That lady does not need more debate, she needs help now. There was a man in the same meeting who said “I was making $3,000 a month but I am now only getting $1,000 from unemployment. Can you make it easier for us to get other assistance without being told I make too much money?” He needs help now. Or the young man who is working in a low wage job but has no medical insurance needs help now.  To the congress and representatives in Sacramento I say the people could care less about your commitment to having debates and your principles. They could care less about your party affiliation or the next election. They are trying to understand why they cannot get help from their government that they gave to while working. They had faith in the system so they gave in hope of never needing the service. They want you to have the faith of Abraham to follow through on your faith. So please pass a “Stimulus Plan” and restore the “faith” of the people in our government by putting people back to work.

Tribute to Oliver P. Roemer
My Mentor at Edison

Many of you know of my employment with California Electric Company and then with Southern California Edison after the merger.  What you have not read or heard much about is the man who tapped me for my introduction into the power of position within a company and community service. Well the man I came to know at Edison was Oliver P. Roemer who was appointed Eastern Division Manager for SCE in Rialto on Pepper Ave. I was working as a chauffeur/garage attendant with the responsibility of caring for his transportation. It was out of that contact that he suggested to my boss that they offer me the opportunity to become Edison’s first African American Meter Reader.  With that under my belt he suggested that I become a scout leader with a troop at Muscott Elementary School on the Westside of San Bernardino.

I did not know that companies and individuals were interested in our communities with such care and resources to help. Mr. Roemer not only got me involved but allowed me to expand my involvement as the need presented itself for the good of the community. When the troop needed money and adult leaders to go to summer camp, Mr. Roemer helped raise the fees and got my supervisor to approve my time off with pay. When the United Way needed a spokesperson the tell company employees to give their fairshare under payroll deductions, it was Mr. Roemer who said get Hardy Brown to tell of his experience. I got the opportunity to help Mr. Roemer when he ran for the West San Bernardino Water District Board of Directors, an elected position.  It was a no brainier for me to help this civic minded individual who had done so much to change the face of Edison, the Boy Scouts and the United Way in the Inland Empire. Many people talked about helping the minority community but Mr. Roemer was a doer. It was under his leadership that many more Blacks were hired at Edison and later promoted. The thing I learned from him was civic responsibility of an individual and a company. Most companies today will purchase a table at your dinner but will not encourage their employees to get involved. Mr.  Roemer also understood that my immediate supervisor was not appreciative of my perceived status in the company and community, so he protected me without me knowing it. It was his example that I have carried all of my life with Kaiser Permanente and at the Black Voice News.  Well I got the news last week from Don Griggs that Mr. Oliver P.  Roemer had passed away in Davis, California. For many years he lived in Rialto with his family. To the family I say he was a great leader for the cause of business and individual responsibility, to community and neighbors regardless of one’s color, race or status.

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