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Joe Baca: What's On Your Agenda?

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During the debate of the Health Care Reform Bill that President Obama signed into law last week, I was surprised by one communication I received from the Obama administration. That was a request for me to contact Representative Joe Baca because Joe was not on board in supporting the passage of the bill. I knew why some Democrats were holding out because of their belief that federal dollars should not be used to fund people getting unwanted pregnancies aborted. They are not against abortion but truly believe no tax dollars should assist any people with these preventable consequences in life. I do not know why Joe was holding out. Was it to move the agenda on getting immigration issues as the next agenda item? Was it to get jobs as the next agenda item since his district is hovering around 15% unemployment with Blacks even higher? Or was itto increase the funding in education since Black students are at the bottom of all measurable indicators in public education? As of today, we do not know what Mr. Baca was doing to generate President Obama to send us that letter.

Well since the passage of the bill, I received another letter from the president for us to thank Joe for his support on the passage of this historic Health Care ReformBill that will benefit so many people in his district.

So Joe you got back on the good side of President Obama by finally supporting the bill. I even saw you on television, searching him down for his autograph at the signing of the bill but that still leaves me asking thequestion: “why were you holding out?”

Let us be upfront: there are many problems facing African Americans in your district and we would like tohear from you on what you are proposing to do to helpthem. President Obama has addressed the health care and educational loan program, what’s on your agenda?

City Manager: Sound Practice if Done Right

This past week I received an overview from San Bernardino City Manager Charles McNeely about a workshop he prepared for the mayor and City council. The overview he presented is a sound one based on currentbest practices used in other cities around the country.

The one part that struck me was on treatment and respect of elected officials toward one another and their properroles as elected officials.

Currently, we have some city councilmembers who think they should be able to walk up to any employee and give directions to the staff. Imagine each of the seven council members giving individual direction to a department head just after the city manager had given them instruction on a policy that was passed by four votes. You would have three losing council members saying this is what I understood the policy to be.

According to the overview I heard and the agenda I saw, the workshop was to address this issue.

If the council learned nothing else but how to be civil toward one another they will be miles ahead in gettingthe city on the right track. I recall my days on the school board and the year-long board member trainings we undertook funded by the Danforth Foundation. There were a lotof good things we learned but some of the most important ones had to do with respect of one another, how to make policy, letting the superintendent implement policy and direct staff, and you were only a board memberwhen in session unless directed by the authority of the board.

I commend the city manager and council members fortaking the time out of their busy schedules to attend and participate in this workshop with the hope that they will understand what is being offered.

Richard Kimball, A Quiet Giant

This past week we lost someone I met back in the 70’s when I ran for city council, his name was Richard Kimball. He was a reporter for the Sun newspaper and themeeting occurred in my living room as he interviewed me on why I was seeking office. He was a quiet man with an unassuming demeanor that allowed you to freely express yourself. I must have impressed Richard because he took my words and painted a picture for the readers to understand and believe.

Richard followed my career in and out of politics even when he was promoted to Editorial Page Manager. I have always said make friends before you need them and it came true with me and Richard Kimball. When I ran for school board and went before the editorial endorsement board there was Richard Kimball leading the interview? When I sent in op-ed pieces, I sent them to Kimball and he never promised nor did I ask him to print them but he did. The late John Hobbs would always tell me, Hardy The Sun loves you. He did not know the relationship between Kimball and me.

When Richard retired, The Sun lost its institutional memory chips on the history of the community and especially to the African American people of San Bernardino.

The last time I spoke with Richard it was at a parade with his good friend Jim Smith and they wanted me or my son to join the Native Sons organization. Since I was born out of the state I did not qualify and Hardy II was then living in Ohio. Yes, the community has lost a quiet giant.

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