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It is Time to End the Slush in Major College Sports

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(NNPA) It is not in all collegiate sports. Wrestling, hockey, track, lacrosse, etc. are not activities that involve illegal payment activity to athletes. Football and basketball are the two sports that involve the infamous “slush funds”. Currently, schools like Auburn, USC and Ohio St. are under suspension and/or investigation for transgressions involving student athletes and the athletic office. It appears to be just as rampant today as it was when I played football at the University of Wisconsin. It is sick and needs to be eradicated.

It evolved after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools could no longer discriminate against Black athletes. The smart coaches soon realized that not only was it the law it made a lot of good sense. Black athletes can jump higher, run faster, and hit harder than White athletes. That is not a racial statement but a biological fact. You cannot win a conference title, national championship or enjoy television revenues without a good sampling of Black athletes. At the same time television was going national and ad revenue was becoming immense. College basketball and football have become big business – a $4 billion business. Those with the best coaches and best athletes will reap serious money. Enough money to fund the other sports programs, build new stadiums and start notable endowments.

Recruiting great talent is paramount. Thus, enters the cheating. It was in full swing when colleges started recruiting me and my homies for football and basketball. Money handshakes, envelopes passed to us or our parents were becoming the norm back in the late 1960s. The predominance of schools did this and Arizona State University was probably the “slut” of them all. My cousin, an all American running back went there on a recruiting trip. He was not met at the Phoenix airport by a coach or athlete but by a prostitute driving a red corvette. She took him to a drive thru restaurant, got them burgers and milkshakes and then drove to a drive in theater. It was there in the passenger seat of the corvette that she took off her skirt and saddled his lap for wild sex. The next morning the assistant coach met him for breakfast and broke out a big smile and said “do you like the way ASU treats its athletes?”

We were having a ball - a different recruiting trip each weekend replete with cash money, big promises, cute chicks and notoriety by our local newspapers. The recruiting phase was the most fun. California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Arizona, etc. made a guy like me feel greatly wanted and special. I chose the Wisconsin Badgers and they took good care of me in many ways. My cousin decided to get real religious about this and resolved he would only go to a school that wasn’t trying to offer slush to him. He ended up going to Stanford. When he announced this to the Arizona State recruiter he was soon presented a Letter of Intent from ASU with 10 one hundred dollar bills next to it. $1,000 back in 1968 was a lot of money. Still, my cousin stood his ground and went to goody, goody Stanford. He became a collegiate all American and finished with his masters degree.

There were good honest coaches also. Sadly, they weren’t at the University of Wisconsin during this time. Ohio State had the great Woodrow “Woody” Hayes. He became terribly upset that Michigan St. was winning Big 10 titles and cheating at the same time. The image of poor Bubba Smith driving on campus with a new Buick Riviera and rumors of Coach Duffy Daugherty having a safe in his office for money distribution to his football greats was intolerable. Woody went after Michigan State, At the same time a Woody Hayes disciple, Bo Schembechler, became the coach of the University of Michigan. He won the Big 10 conference his rookie year, 1969, and he did it cleanly. After a football game, the players of both teams meet and talk about the hometown, high school days with the friends from the other team. We asked the Michigan guys how did they like their new coach. They said, “He’s real good but he took away our slush”. What!!! We all thought that was terrible.

Today, college sports need more Woody Hayes and Bo’s. It has gotten out of hand and the big problem is that these athletes like me and my cousin come from poor families with little to no resources. When a financial situation arises, they can help out the family or themselves by athletic office or alumni intervention – financial discretions. Each basketball and football player should receive a salary. If they were paid $30 -$40 thousand each year they wouldn’t be at the “trough” trying to get fast cash. That would probably end the cheating and the tolerance of what occurs today.

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

NNPA and NAACP Vow to Work Closer Together

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Recently there was an issue between the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the NAACP.

NNPA member publishers had become upset when they discovered that the NAACP had inserted multi-page Viewer’s Guide advertising for its 42nd Image Awards in several markets throughout the US, to the exclusion of African- American newspapers. Upon being informed of this “mis-step,” Chairman, Danny Bakewell called NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and suggested a meeting to discuss the issue.

NNPA publishers said they felt righteous indignation with the NAACP, as they viewed their actions as being contrary to their joint historical struggles. Since the inception of the Black Press and some 82 years later when the NAACP was born, the two had partnered unconditionally in the fight for freedom and equality.

Consequently, Bakewell invited NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous to attend an NNPA Board of Directors meeting in Washington, DC, to explain his actions. The meeting proved fruitful and initiated renewed commitments by each association to work closer together.

During the meeting NAACP President Ben Jealous said: “I am recommitting the NAACP to advocate for increased ad dollars and support for the Black Press. There is a long and storied history between the Black Press and the NAACP. I, like many of my predecessors, including WEB Dubois and Roy Wilkins, emerged from the Black Press. As an investigative reporter and editor for the Jackson Advocate—the most frequently firebombed Black community newspaper in the country—and former Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the mission and voice of the Black Press is something I personally hold in the highest regard. The NAACP and NNPA share the same mission: the liberation of our people. The Black Press is our voice and the NAACP is a voice for the Black Press. Together we can be a mighty force to speak truth to power.”

NNPA Chairman Danny Bakewell said that he appreciates the frank dialogue between the two groups, as it presents a better understanding of their respective operating procedures, one that will prevent any such “mis-step” in the future.

Bakewell continued, “The 200-member NNPA has always supported and will continue to give voice to NAACP efforts--with or without advertising support.

We give credit to the NAACP for their activities that create interesting copy and graphics. Publication of these events has kept the Black communities aware of the NAACP's actions and leadership team. The circumstance that initially brought us together ultimately proved to be a reminder of the interconnection of our missions, and our groups are closer today as a result. We will forge ahead with a new and profound commitment to work together.” Bakewell added, “I commend President Jealous for his honesty and his apology to the NNPA publishers.

We are brothers in the struggle against racial injustices, and as the NAACP fights the battles in the courts, it is our mission as the Black Press to illuminate the issues and keep our people informed.”

Christopher Fleming of the NAACP and Walter Smith of the NNPA authored this article.

When the Federal Government Embraces a Gangster Corporation

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(NNPA) The Construction Industry has a bad reputation. That reputation is well earned as we are constantly being informed of fraud, cost overruns, and safety violations related to big and small construction projects at a relentless and never ending rate. So, it was apropos when the federal government along with the State of New York decided to come up with a crime busting taskforce aimed at the construction activity within the region. They knew they were going after the five Mafia families but they also ended up with a big catch outside the typical organized crime membership. They took the “scalp” of the gigantic firm known as Tutor Perini.

The taskforce was comprised of members from Department of Justice, IRS, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of State Inspector General, and U.S. Department of Labor and New York City of Transportation. According to the New York U.S. Attorney’s office: “Following a four-week trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn yesterday (March 9, 2011) found Zohrab B. Marashlian, the former president of Perini Corp.’s Civil Division, an international construction services corporation, guilty of fraud and conspiracy to launder money. The charges arose out of Marashlian’s false representation to New York government agencies that Disadvantaged Business Entities (DBE’s) were performing work in connection with major public works contracts, when, in reality, Marashlian had non-disadvantaged businesses favored by Perini Corp. do the work.” Tutor Perini paid Marashlian $14 million in salary while all this was going on. Two days before Marashlian was to receive a multi-year prison sentence he committed suicide. A fellow employee is currently doing a long prison term for the same case.

Perini has been caught doing such things over and over again. They are absolutely ridiculous in California projects. It is like DBE fronting is a part of its business model. Overall, fraud appears to be a part of that model also. According to the Seattle News, some of the Perini headlines read: “In February, Tutor-Saliba and Perini agreed to pay $19 million to settle racketeering and fraud allegations in a San Francisco airport project.” “In 2004, Perini agreed to pay the federal government $998,500 to settle fraud claims in the construction of an embassy building in Venezuela.” “The companies are embroiled in an 11 year legal battle over $16 million in extra costs on a Los Angeles subway job.” “Perini sued for more than $170 million in cost overruns on three New York City projects during the 1990s before settling for about $22 million.”

Any Black-owned firm doing any of the above would be permanently banned from doing anymore federal contracting. But Perini? Oh no, it has actually grown exponentially in the government contracting field. How can this be? Well, the principal owner of Tutor Perini is Richard Blum, the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which oversees the U.S. Department of Defense. Since joining the U.S. Senate, Senator Feinstein and her husband have enjoyed billions of dollars in defense contracts. She voted for the Afghanistan War and their company is rolling in contracts directly related to the war right now. She voted for the Iraq war and their company has been rolling in Iraqi contracts ever since. American soldiers die and the Senator and her husband prosper handsomely and with reckless abandon. It got so ridiculous that when she became the Chair of the Armed Services Committee even her counterparts said that’s enough! It is bad enough that all this is apparent but do you have to be “Chair” while all this is going on? So, she stepped down from her Chair seat, but is still on the committee and the dollars continue to roll in at an ever growing pace.

She voted for the Stimulus Bill and Perini was showered with more federally funded contracts. President Obama even participated in this one. He kicked off the highway contracts from his Stimulus Bill with a press conference at a highway construction site in Virginia. There he was showing the world what the Stimulus money was doing in kicking off this major highway project. The contractor he put on display was Cherry Hill Construction. Who owns Cherry Hill Construction? Tutor Perini! There is just no shame.

Wait, it gets worse. The Minority Business Development Agency (U.S. Department of Commerce) has organized a public relations program that touts “MBDA Unveils First U.S. Global Construction Program for Minority-Owned Firms”. That sounds incredibly good. Incredible is the correct term as the instructor of the program is none other than Tutor Perini. Can you believe it! Sending minority firms for instruction by Tutor Perini is like sending maidens to a brothel – something real bad is going to happen. The above is certainly our business as every penny of the abuse and waste is our tax money. We need to clean this up.

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

Cigarettes: Killers that come in Packs

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By Kayla Cartwright –

“A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?"-Oscar Wilde

Cigarettes have a fire at one end, a fool at the other, and a bit of tobacco in between. 4-1/2 million teenagers smoke and more than a million will die from it. Smoking is a huge addiction that causes disease and steals many lives. Smoking may make people feel good but it’s an addiction that won't let go.

"But when I don't smoke I scarcely feel as if I'm living. I don't feel as if i'm living unless I'm killing myself," says Russell Hoban. “It's all a part of the huge addiction to nicotine, rat poison, and plutonium.”

Kristen Turlington started and she couldn't quit for seven years. Sadly it was too late for Pamela Laughin who died from emphysema and left to little girls without a mother. This addiction takes everything from people like their looks, money, friends, and their life.

Getting a disease is a big risk people take when smoking. Cardiovascular disease, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, and several other conditions related to kidneys, liver, and the pancreas are caused by smoking.

Lung cancer is the most serious people can get from smoking and most of the time the cancer spreads through the whole body shortening the lifespan of that individual. The tobacco in a cigarette consists of 400 toxic substances and 4,000 chemical compounds. Smoking causes chronic coughing, shortness of breath, premature aging, recurrent infections, and reduced overall fitness. If we lose the battle against tobacco we lose the war against cancer.

Are people really willing to give up their lives for a cigarette? Smoking kills more people than AIDS, drug abuse, and car accidents. People say smoking makes them look cool, sexy, and mature but will eventually cause them to lose their life. Not only do people kill themselves when they smoke but they kill the people around them too. More people have died from second and third hand smoke than the actual smoker.

Now that people know the truth about smoking will they stop? If people won't stop smoking for themselves, they should stop smoking for the people that love them and the ones they love. A cigarette is a killer that comes in a pack, gets people addicted, causes diseases, and eventually takes their lives. Smoking is a bad habit and cigarettes should have never been made, but it’s here and it’s their choice to smoke or not. Will they make the right one?

Kayla Cartwright, age 12 is a summer intern for The Black Voice News.

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.

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