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City Clerk Race: It's About Ethics, Not Politics

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Some would make the February 7 run-off election for San Bernardino City Clerk a referendum on current or past elected officials and have made it clear that they want me to do so also. But politicizing the Clerk’s office sells it short and diminishes the importance of true neutrality in providing San Bernardino residents the best possible service. It also belies my 25-year record of maintaining a healthy distance from elected officials in order to maintain professional independence.

First as a journalist and then as a public information and communications officer for public agencies, my only allegiance has been in letting the public know what its elected leaders are doing. My career choices have required that I maintain professional distance, take accurate notes, develop a firm backbone, thick skin and ability to speak for myself—all vital skills for the City Clerk.

Running for office is new to me, but managing people, projects and public information is not. I am the clear choice for City Clerk because I have the appropriate education, extensive communications experience and an unmatched passion for open government. My motivation in running for City Clerk is to post agendas, not promote or oppose one, even if it behooves me. That’s what ethics is about, and it’s what I’m about.

I came to San Bernardino in 1994 when I accepted a job as a reporter. The affordable housing, proximity to the mountains, and the people I met kept me here long after I traded my reporter’s notebook for a public relations job. And now I’m eager to use my skills and experience to benefit my adopted community. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, with a minor in political science. My graduate work in communications focus on open government and public records law—key aspects of the City Clerk’s job. Most notably, I am the only candidate with formal City Clerk training from the City Clerks Association of California.

Besides keeping the City Clerk’s office independent and local elections fair, I’d like to increase the volume of city records that are digitized, make them easier to find online and streamline the business registration process to allow business owners to apply for, get approvals, renew and pay for registrations online, saving them time and effort.

As the public’s main link to its government, the caretaker of its history if you will, the Clerk must treat everyone equally and be committed to fair elections and integrity in the official record. We cannot allow our city’s records to be managed by someone who favors one elected official over others. San Bernardino needs a City Clerk who values accuracy in the official record, and has the skills and independence to protect those records them from those who might not. I am that person, and I need your vote.

Directly related professional experience and educational focus, not any political alliances, are what will ensure the City Clerk’s office is run professionally, and—most importantly—independently—from other City Hall departments.

Therefore, in order to avoid even an appearance of collusion that might affect my ability to remain independent, I have not sought endorsement from elected officials or special interest groups—even those I agree with, and even though it may mean greater financial support. Ethics is doing the right thing even if it isn’t personally beneficial. I understand the constraints I place on myself in not seeking endorsement, and in maintaining my “independent” political party affiliation; abandoning these positions would make it easier for partisan groups to endorse me. It’s the way to win, people have told me. But I think we’re capable of something better in San Bernardino.

That is why you won’t find my name next to any other elected official in this city in this election, or any other. Instead, I’m asking you to consider my qualifications, consider my demonstrated commitment to independence, and then make the choice to support me, the clear choice for this most important position. Ballots come out the week of January 9; please vote and return them early.

Gigi Hanna is a candidate in the run-off for San Bernardino City Clerk. Her web site is www.gigihanna4sbcityclerk.com. If you’d like to add your name to her list of supporters please contact her at ghanna4sbcityclerk@gmail.com, or (909) 709-2019.

Letter to the Editor: Setting the Record Straight

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By Rikke Van Johnson,
6th Ward City Councilman, San Bernardino

For the record my last name is Johnson. Van is my middle name. I have been searching my family tree and so far have not found any Dutch ancestry.

Also, just to set the record straight Scot Spencer was already entrenched at the San Bernardino Airport when I was appointed to the Inland Valley Development Agency and the San Bernardino International Airport Authority. I’ll admit some mistakes have been made, but I believe that we are heading in the right direction.

There have been a number of letters about San Bernardino lately with a negative undertone. It’s alright for you to complain, but anyone can do that. If you truly desire positive change, why not present viable solutions after your complaint instead of just spewing out negativity. You will probably say that no one will listen. If you don’t try you will never know.

I understand that this would be hard for everyone to do because some of you have personal agendas. Either you have political aspirations; or you are caught up in all of the negative propaganda that has been presented and feel you need to add to it; or evil is your dwelling place and resides deeply within your heart; or all of the above.

Nonetheless to those who persist to emit negative noise, I’ll continue to pray that you will come from under that shroud of darkness. Instead of just complaining and expecting positive change to take place because of your complaints, I’ll hope that you will strive and work to make positive change.

Broadband Access for All: Connect Today, Change Your Tomorrow

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“Whether we’re talking about jobs, education, or health care…Broadband is now a basic requirement to participate in the 21st century economy.”
Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

(NNPA) Somewhere in the United States today, a student is unable to finish his homework, a father will not be able to find a job and a mother will not be able to seek proper medical treatment. Today, broadband is a basic need and provides information that is vital to the quality of life and economic stability. Unfortunately one third of Americans remain unconnected and they are overwhelmingly people of color.

The paradox of the Digital Age is that while technology has the capacity to bring people together and connect people to information, it simultaneously presents the threat of deepening the divide between society’s information “haves” and “have nots”, often referred to as the digital divide.

This dilemma was highlighted in a recent Commerce Department report which found that “Broadband adoption rates varied substantially between different racial and ethnic groups, with 81% of Asian and 72% of White households having broadband Internet access, compared to only 55% and 57% of Black and Hispanic households.” Major reasons for these disparities include lack of knowledge, the high cost of getting online, and the lack of an adequate computer. With so much of modern life tied to Internet access, these are barriers that must be overcome. As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski recently put it, “Closing the digital divide is about achieving the basic American promise of opportunity for all.”

The National Urban League has stepped up to meet this challenge in a big way. In 2010, we joined forces with the One Economy Corporation as part of a Broadband Opportunity Coalition (BBOC) focused on breaking down the barriers to people getting online and getting the information they need to improve their lives. The BBOC is comprised of other leading civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.

This effort is the outgrowth of efforts already underway by the non-profit One Economy Corporation. Since 2000, One Economy, under the leadership of Chairman Rey Ramsey, has been committed to ensuring that every person, regardless of income and location, can maximize the power of technology to improve the quality of his or her life and enter the economic mainstream. In April of last year, One Economy and the BBOC were awarded $28.5 million in federal stimulus funds to support that goal. We are supplementing the stimulus award with private sector matching support valued at $23 million for a total of $51.5 million.

This effort will bring broadband connections to 27,000 low income housing developments, promote digital literacy to 20 million people and offer digital mentoring for more than 235,000 at-risk youth. The National Urban League has also made the expansion of minority participation in the Information and Communications Technology Industry one of the pillars of our 12-point Jobs Rebuild America plan.

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama set the goal of enabling businesses to provide high-speed wireless services to at least 98 percent of all Americans within five years. We support that goal. Broadband access for all is essential to expanding opportunity, creating jobs, reducing our deficit and winning the future.

Marc H. Morial is the President and CEO of the National Urban League.

Newt Gingrich, Glib Opportunist

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By Eugene Robinson, Special Columnist
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American –

Can we please bury the notion that Newt Gingrich is some kind of deep thinker? His intellect may be as broad as the sea, but it's about as deep as a birdbath.

I'm not saying the Republican presidential front-runner is unacquainted with ideas. Quite the contrary: Ideas rain through his brain like confetti, escaping at random as definitive pronouncements about this or that. But they are other people's ideas, and Gingrich doesn't bother to curate them into anything resembling a consistent philosophy.

The week's most vivid example of Gingrich's intellectual promiscuity sent principled conservatives into apoplexy. Mitt Romney, his chief opponent for the GOP nomination, had called on Gingrich to return the $1.6 million in consulting fees he received from housing giant Freddie Mac. Gingrich replied that he would "be glad to listen" if Romney would first "give back all the money he's earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees" during his time as head of the investment firm Bain Capital.

If this were a column about Gingrich's hypocrisy, the point would be that he has been scorchingly critical of Freddie Mac while at the same time accepting tons of the firm's money. But this is about his shallowness – and the fact that in blasting Romney he adopted the ideas and rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street.

Republicans are supposed to believe that "bankrupting companies and laying off employees" is something to celebrate, not bemoan, because this is seen as the way capitalism works. Even in the heat of a campaign, no one who has thought deeply about economics and adopted the conservative viewpoint – which Gingrich wants us to believe he has done – could possibly commit such heresy.

Gingrich doesn't just borrow ideas from the protesters he once advised to "get a job, right after you take a bath." He's as indiscriminate as a vacuum cleaner, except for a bias toward the highfalutin and trendy.

Take his solution for making the federal government so efficient that we could save $500 billion a year: a management system called Lean Six Sigma. There's no way Gingrich could resist such a shiny bauble of jargon.

I won't argue with the corporate executives who say that Lean Six Sigma works wonders for their firms. But is a technique developed by Motorola to reduce the number of defects in its electronic gear really applicable to government? There's no reason to think it would be, unless you somehow restructured government to introduce competition and a genuine, not simulated, profit motive.

Another example is Gingrich's bizarre claim last year that "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior" was the key to understanding President Obama. Aside from being one of the stranger, least comprehensible utterances by a prominent American politician in recent memory, it was also completely unoriginal. Gingrich was citing and endorsing a hallucinatory piece in Forbes by Dinesh D'Souza. It was merely the idea du jour.

Gingrich finds it hard to watch an intellectual fad pass by without becoming infatuated. Do you remember Second Life, the digital realm? In 2007, he told us it was "an example of how we can rethink learning" and potentially "one of the great breakthroughs of the next 10 years." I know Second Life still exists, but have you heard a lot about it recently? Has it changed your world?

Gingrich didn't originate the idea of solving the health insurance problem through an individual mandate, but he supported it – before bitterly opposing it. Nor was he saying anything new last week when he made the offensive claim that Palestinians are an "invented people." His xenophobic views about the alleged threat to the United States from Islam and Sharia law are in conflict with earlier statements praising immigration and the melting pot as great American strengths. But for Gingrich, the word contradiction has no meaning. His discourse knows no past and no future, just the glib opportunism of now.

Eugene Robinson's email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

New Generation of African American Women Political Leaders Emerging

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“Fearlessness is what it takes for a woman to run for elective office, especially a black woman.”
Dayo Olopade, journalist, writing in The Root

(NNPA) Only 30 African American women have served in the United States Congress since Shirley Chisholm became the first in 1969. Today, of the 100 largest cities in America, only one has an African American woman mayor. But the impact that African American women have had as political leaders has far exceeded their numbers. In addition to New York Congresswoman Chisholm, our nation has been greatly improved by the service of women like Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas, Senator Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois, and Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio. Today, a new generation of Black women leaders is picking up the gauntlet and making their voices heard. Let me introduce you to just three of them.

On December 6th, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was sworn-in for a full-term as Baltimore’s 49th Mayor, becoming only the second African American woman mayor in the City’s history. Rawlings-Blake had served as City Council President since 2007, before her appointment in February, 2010 to finish the uncompleted term of the previous mayor. In 1995, at the age of 25, she became the youngest person ever elected to the City Council. Recently, the National Congress of Black Women named Rawlings-Blake a Shirley Chisholm Memorial Award Trailblazer. In her inauguration speech she outlined an ambitious agenda for a city that is struggling to attract both jobs and citizens in these tough economic times. She said, “Our number-one goal in the next ten years must be to grow Baltimore—strengthen our neighborhoods, create new jobs, and attract new people”

In November of 2010, Kamala Harris won a hotly contested state-wide election to become the first woman and the first African American Attorney General in California history. Prior to the election, she spent virtually her entire career as a courtroom prosecutor. In 2003 she became the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco. She is a recognized expert in criminal justice reform and is currently a leading voice in the national fight to require mortgage lenders to restructure underwater loans for homeowners facing foreclosure.

Donna Edwards became the first African American woman to represent Maryland in the U.S. Congress in 2009. She represents Maryland’s 4th District which includes portions of Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties. A lawyer and long-time community activist, Edwards previously served as executive director of the Arca Foundation and co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. It was there that she led the fight for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Andrea Dew Steele, founder of Emerge America, a non-profit devoted to training more women for elective office says, “We don’t feel as qualified as men; we’re not recruited in the same numbers; we feel turned off by the mechanics; we have persistent family barriers; and we don’t have the same networks as men.” Despite these obstacles, women like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Kamala Harris and Donna Edwards are fearlessly breaking through.

Marc H. Morial is the President and CEO of the National Urban League.

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