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State of Black America Town Hall to Explore Jobs of the Future

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(NNPA) Next Thursday, I invite you to join the debate about the number one issue facing the nation – the deep and persistent jobs crisis that has been especially devastating in urban communities of color. As part of the National Urban League’s annual Legislative Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., we will convene a free State of Black America town hall meeting on March 31st, from 10 a.m. to noon at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium.

A panel of notable policy experts, scholars, and journalists will lead a public dialogue about ways to end the jobs crisis in our communities. But, the most important voices invited to this meeting belong to you – the student struggling to pay college tuition, the father who lost his job six months ago and is wondering if he will ever be able to support his family again, the single mother having to choose between child care and health care for her kids.

The great recession has seen a loss of more than eight million jobs. Many of those jobs are in declining industries and may never return. According to a recent CNN Money news report, “Home building lost nearly 1 million jobs since the start of 2008, while the auto industry shed 300,000 manufacturing jobs due to plant closings. The finance and real estate sectors lost more than 500,000 jobs.”

Unfortunately, many of those lost jobs are never coming back.

That is why the discussion about bringing jobs back to urban America must focus on ensuring that people in our communities are educated, trained, and have access to the jobs of the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2008 and 2018, the industries projected to produce the largest number of new jobs are health care and social assistance, and professional and business services.

And, nearly half of all new jobs created during those years will require some type of post-secondary education. Because of high dropout rates and low college graduation rates in communities of color, it is projected that 70 percent of prime working age African American adults and 80 percent of Hispanics will lack the requisite education for almost 40 percent of projected new jobs.

Clearly, immediate action is needed to turn this picture around. The National Urban League’s 12-point Blueprint for Quality Job Creation offers several powerful remedies, including a plan to boost minority participation in emerging Broadband and Green Industries. We also call on Congress to reform, revise, and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act to focus on preparing and retraining workers for 21st century jobs by targeting young adults with less than college education as well as high school dropouts and older workers whose jobs were eliminated by the recession. We must also do more to reverse troubling recent trends in minority high school dropout and college enrollment rates.

These are just some of the ideas that will be discussed at the March 31st town hall meeting. We need your input too. If you can’t attend in person, the event will be webcast live at www.nul.org beginning at 10am ET.

You can also join the conversation on Twitter@NatUrbanLeague using # SOBA11 or on Facebook.

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

Letter to the Editor

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Mayor and City Council Members, Our Charter Review Commission Does Not Reflect Our City

A key item at our March 3, 2011 meeting was a discussion of the charter review process and the work of the commission. In reviewing the makeup of the members of the Charter Review Commission it became apparent that the members were primarily all White.

Members of The Group expressed concerns regarding how this could happen, especially in a city where Mayor Ron Loveridge is constantly speaking about how Riverside promotes diversity and inclusiveness.

Our concern is not directed at the individuals appointed commissioners. They are to be commended for their offer of service to our city. Our concern is the insensitivity and lack of respect shown by you when it turned out that the members of the commission reflected only one segment of our community.

Our members, by majority vote, directed that a letter be sent to the mayor and city council requesting that you expand the membership of the Charter Review Commission to reflect the city’s ethnic diversity, young adult population and geographic representation. One way to accomplish this would be to appoint a similar size group as the previous commission.

If there were a lack of qualified candidates to serve, you could have: A) responded by extending the application period; B) worked with established community groups such as Latino Network, The Pick Group, Riverside African American Historical Society, Riverside Branch NAACP, League of Women Voters and The Group.

We are requesting that you take the preceding concerns under consideration and seek to remedy this issue.

Jennifer Vaughn Blakely
Chair, The Group

A Federal Government Too Big to Manage

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(NNPA) We have a big problem. Our deficit (total debt) is approaching $14 trillion and it is still growing by the interest it accrues alone. Worse yet, the debt holders are nations such as China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia, who have no interest in a “happy landing” for our future. Our nation is running on risky business and the future for our children and grandchildren does not look bright at all. It is imperative that we begin to address this problem straight up and not try to ignore or go into denial as Congress and the White House appear to be doing. We don’t address a federal deficit with a budget that goes into the red itself. Increasing the deficit does not improve the deficit. Any third grader could figure that out. We need leadership that will take us through the pain of shrinking our spending and correcting our economic plight.

Where do we go? That is rather obvious. We have to cut our annual spending. The federal government is too big and wasteful,--no debate there. We have been talking about it for decades. Let us start doing something about it. The solution lies in shrinking the federal government. The so called “good government job” is quite expendable, as we correct our economic dilemma. As President Thomas Jefferson stated, “the government that governs least, governs best”. This nation was built on four federal agencies: The Departments of Justice, Treasury, Defense and State. Anything else should be evaluated for its actual effectiveness and the original four should be shrunk to necessity and remove the largesse.

The prime candidate for cutting is the U.S. Department of Education, which is the most wasteful and ignorant agency the federal government has. Those of us who were educated before this agency was established in 1979 did all right. Those of us who came afterwards have been damaged on a global competitive level. The irony is that a federalized education authority has come into our local communities and trumped the advice and management of our education delivery system and destroyed what was once the pride of America: A great education system. It just doesn’t work.

The ED is weak in structure to begin with. There are only 5,000 employees, which makes it the smallest federal agency. However, it is gobbling up a “lion’s share” of the annual budget. In 2009 it spent $32 billion and $56 billion in 2010 and the estimated portion for 2011 will be $71 billion. But wait, it gets worse! The Stimulus Bill (the biggest boondoggle in American history) added $102 billion in 2009; $51 billion in 2010, and $23 billion in 2011. That is $335 billion in three years. What do we get for it? A third world educational system. Obviously, this should be the first agency to receive a big cut, in fact, ax the whole agency. That will cut our deficit by $1 trillion dollars during the next 10 years.

As we start to look at cutting our superfluous agencies that do nothing to progress us forward but drain our money we should evaluate the four original agencies. The Department of Defense should certainly be looked at as it accounts for almost half of our total budget. We take too many things for granted with this agency.

World War II ended 66 years ago and the Korean War ended 57 years ago. So, why do we still have 36,000 military personnel in Japan, 52,000 in Germany, and 29,000 in Korea? Let’s not forget the 9,000 in Italy and another 9,000 in Britain. The need for these personnel is nonexistent and we should bring them home and save the billions of dollars we spend on it. We must conclude the never ending struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan and cut hundreds of billion dollars from our annual budget.

As I sit here at my home work desk and come up with viable solutions to our deficit crisis, it appears to me that people, who are certainly capable of addressing this solution, for some reason, do not. Are they in denial or are they “chicken feathers without one gut”? Now is the time for true leaders to come forward and address this very critical situation we find ourselves in. It is not going to go away until we kill it. The sooner we kill it, the better the future will be for our great country. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to correct it. This world has proven to be a place for the strong. The weak will suffer and die away. I think we should decide to remain the strong. Let’s get out of this mess y’all.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org. www.twitter.com/nationalbcc

Toyota Motor Company Disrespects and Devalues Patronage of their Black Consumer

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(NNPA) I have recently been shocked and appalled by ads that I and other Black publishers saw in several major newspapers (The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.) confirming that Toyota spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise in white mainstream daily newspapers “THANKING” their general market consumers for their loyalty and patronage to Toyota during their time of major controversy and concerns over the safety of Toyota’s vehicles.

Thanking their customers is a smart move on Toyota’s behalf and one that I applaud. However, we can’t overlook the fact that Black people represent almost 10% of Toyota’s American market share, and with a $1.2 billion annual advertising budget it is not unreasonable for the Black Press to always expect to have a stake in Toyota’s advertising (including Black advertising agencies). Nevertheless, Black newspapers were left off Toyota’s latest marketing campaign, sending a clear and direct message that the Black consumer is still being taken for granted and Black people are still being disrespected and undervalued.

This is disappointing behavior from a company who was all too eager to send us their press releases and ask us to write stories and editorials to influence Black America to stay with them in their time of trouble. But now that Toyota’s pain has been essentially eased (for now) by a report issued by the Federal Transportation Department and NASA that found no faults with Toyota’s electronic accelerator controls, the Black press has once again been forgotten along with the Black consumer.

Toyota should note that it is going to take more than a passing grade on a Federal Transportation report card to bring back the consumer safety confidence enjoyed (for years) by Toyota from American consumers prior to one of the largest vehicle recalls in U.S. history.

So when the decision was made to advertise in mainstream newspapers from coast to coast “THANKING” their customers for their loyalty, where was Toyota’s loyalty to the 10% of African- American consumers? DON’T WE ALSO DESERVE A GREAT BIG THANK YOU?

Historically, there has always been an imbalance between what goes out of the Black community and what comes into the Black community relative to retail goods, services and representation. Despite the fact that the buying power of America’s Blacks is reported to be roughly $1 trillion this year! And it is highly doubtful that Black-owned businesses will report revenue numbers that are the same and/or reap any of the benefits proportionate to our buying power.

However, the question still remains, why is Toyota undervaluing the Black consumer and showing our community such blatant disrespect?

Tried, True, and Tested — the NNPA (Black Press of America) remains the gatekeeper for reaching the Black community. Corporations and advertising agencies wanting and needing to reach the African-American consumer must understand the relationship of the Black Press with Black people. They must remember to place their advertising messages on the pages of Black newspapers throughout America, and Black consumers will respond in kind (Black advertising agencies could help them with this).

The days of being silent and complaining among ourselves regarding these unethical and immoral business practices are over.

When Toyota wanted our help, it had no problem seeking all 200 Black newspapers in America to do just that. Their message to Black people was — PLEASE HELP US, WE VALUE YOUR BUSINESS. We do not want Toyota to use us for editorial coverage and then overlook us with their advertising dollars.

Black newspapers are not afraid to demand fair representation and a seat to dine at Toyota’s table, especially when their food is purchased with approximately 10% of Black consumer dollars.

We are not interested in fighting with Toyota however, Toyota has enjoyed healthy African- American consumer support, and despite last year’s set back we have remained loyal. If you want to thank Black consumers for our loyalty and keep our business, do it on the pages of the Black newspapers that Black people READ, RESPECT, TRUST AND OWN!!

As Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, I represent 200 Black publishers throughout America. I am challenging Toyota’s Chairman and CEO to do the right thing and meet with me to discuss the future of their relationship with Black consumers and whether or not we, as Black newspaper publishers, should continue supporting Toyota or should organize a campaign to take the African American’s brand loyalty to Toyota elsewhere. WE WILL NOT BUY WHERE WE ARE DISRESPECTED….THAT IS A PROMISE!

Danny Bakewell Sr. is the Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, parent organization to more than 200 independently owned Black newspapers.

Stop the Lies about the Financial Meltdown

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(NNPA) “I pledge…Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable, and energy efficient housing on fair terms.” One of the National Urban League’s four I AM EMPOWERED goals.

No, President Obama was not born in Kenya. Superman is not real. And, there is no Monkey-man roaming the streets of Hoboken scaring the daylights out of little children. Some urban myths are nutty. Some are funny. But some, like the one about mortgage loans in low and middle income urban neighborhoods being the cause of the financial meltdown can be downright dangerous.

Since this assertion was first made several years ago, the National Urban League has called it for what it is – a weapon of mass deception, shifting blame for the economic crisis from Wall Street where it rightfully belongs onto the backs of hard working African American and Hispanic homeowners, who for decades were routinely refused home loans and a fair shot at the American Dream. Leading economists have agreed with us, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke; FDIC chairman, Sheila Bair; and Nobel Prize columnist, Paul Krugman. And now, a new study by the congressionally established Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission conclusively states that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), established in 1977 to prevent redlining and spur homeownership in urban neighborhoods “was not a significant factor in subprime lending or the crisis.”

Undergirding this myth is the claim by some that the CRA requires banks and thrifts to make loans to unqualified low-income and minority borrowers. They contend that a higher default rate by those borrowers caused the housing meltdown. Aside from the fact that the law clearly states that CRA lending must be consistent with safe and sound banking practices, there is no evidence that CRA caused lenders to make risky subprime loans that contributed to the crisis. In fact, most subprime loans are not made to minorities or low income borrowers. Between 2005 and 2007, 58% of higher costs loans were made to White borrowers, and fewer than 30% of subprime loans in 2006 were made to low and moderate-income borrowers.

According to Commission chairman, Phil Angelides, “The debate about the role of the CRA should now be over…We found that this crisis was avoidable and was caused by widespread failures in financial regulation, dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance, excessive risk and borrowing, government officials ill prepared for the crisis, and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.” In short, Black, brown and poor people, aggressively spurred on by the CRA did not cause our economic meltdown. This has been a yarn spun by some who wish to shift the blame from Wall Street to Main Street.

The latest to use this as a weapon of mass deception is Florida freshman congressman, Allen West who, speaking at a February Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, singled out the CRA as the cause of the housing crisis. He added, “If government gets out of the way of the private sector, it would not have happened in 2008.”

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission disagrees and so do we. With millions of people out of work, instead of clinging to discredited ideological theories, our policymakers should be focused on creating jobs and making sure that more citizens are able to realize the American Dream of homeownership.

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

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