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Minorities Have Even More At Stake!

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By Tunua Thrash and Michelle Romero –

California has not even had a chance to fully implement 2008's Proposition 11, which called for the formation of a Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative districts, and already voters have given the commission more power. With this November's passage of Proposition 20, the commission will now be charged with drawing congressional districts as well.

This happened despite the fact that the commission's members hadn't even been chosen yet. As mandated by Prop. 11, the California Bureau of State Audits is in the middle of selecting 14 ordinary Californians to serve on the state's inaugural Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The thousands of original applicants were narrowed to 36 finalists, from whom eight commissioners were chosen by lottery Nov. 18. Before the end of the year, these eight members will select six more from the remaining pool of finalists.

Originally charged with drawing and adopting redistricting maps for state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization seats only, the commission's newly expanded role makes it even more vital that minority communities stay involved in this process.

For more than a year, The Greenlining Institute, in collaboration with other groups that focus on good government and the rights of communities of color, has monitored the selection of the commission members. The good news is that the first eight chosen show potential to reflect our state's ethnic diversity, but so far there is only one African American and one Latina. Geographically, large parts of the state, including Orange and San Diego Counties, the city of Los Angeles and most of the Central Valley, have no representation so far.

The just-picked commissioners should address these gaps when they choose the final six members, and the final makeup of this unelected and arguably unaccountable body is yet to be seen. The real question is, will they draw fair lines for the diverse communities of California?

As the most populous state in the union, California has the largest delegation in the U.S. Congress; whether or not it will grow even more powerful will be determined by the Census 2010 count. It also currently has one of the most diverse delegations. The Citizens Redistricting Commission stands to be a powerful force in determining the outcome of California elections for the next ten years.

Redistricting, a seemingly obscure topic previously understood and known by an elite few, is now squarely in the hands of the California citizens. The governor, state legislators and congressional representatives will have no authority in the redistricting process. And it's important: The lines dividing congressional and legislative districts decide who represents us and whether our communities have a real voice in government.

Voters have made their position clear: We don't trust Sacramento politicians and would rather the work of redistricting be done by 14 fellow Californians, even if we don't know who they are yet.

Voters' distrust of Sacramento was further underscored by the vote on Proposition 27, the ballot initiative to eliminate the commission. Prop. 27 would have returned redistricting authority to the state legislature, but it was rejected overwhelmingly by voters, who were highly skeptical bof its lead backers - California congressional and state elected officials. The results offer another reminder to officials that the public expects and wants more from our democracy: a chance to participate in turning our state around for the better.

While we at Greenlining were not convinced that the redistricting commission was ready for the additional responsibility of drawing congressional districts, we agree with California voters that now is the time to embrace government reform.

Having given the commission so much power, we need to make it work for all of our communities. We need you to join us as we advocate for greater community engagement in the political process and for increased transparency in how redistricting bdecisions are made.

Never before in our state's history has there been this sort of chance for ordinary Californians to shape the outcome of elections.

We will be working with communities around the state to make our voices heard as the Citizens Redistricting Commission does its work. Please join us at www.greenlining.org/initiatives/ourdemocracy.

Tunua Thrash is Director of Innovation and Michelle Romero is Redistricting Fellow at The Greenlining Institute, www.greenlining.org.

 

DNC Abandons Black Voters and Losses the House

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(NNPA) At the funeral of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald Brown, President Bill Clinton made an announcement stunning to some but obvious to us. And, that was had it not been for the Black vote, he would not have been elected president in l992 and re-elected in l996.

In the recent critically important mid-term elections, officials of the Democratic National Committee either ignored this political fact or simply took the Black vote for granted. The results were a disaster for Democratic house members.

Why did the Democratic National Committee fail to mobilize and maximize the Black vote in the mid-term elections? This is a salient question because it is, or should be, obvious that in a close election the turnout of Black voters will be the difference between victory and defeat.

One answer to this question is the fact that the Democratic National Committee invests the bulk of its resources in reaching out to voters it was unlikely to get and didn’t get while largely ignoring the most loyal and traditional base of the party, Black voters.

It’s not as if another path wasn’t suggested. I personally, on behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (Black Press of America) and our more than 200 Black publishers nationally, produced proposals for aggressively reaching the Black voter nationally. However, despite my discussions with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, he and his DNC trusted minions turned their backs on us (the NNPA) and Black voters.

The only support we could count on was DNC Political Director, Clyde Williams, who respected and understood the value of the NNPA advertising campaign, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and other advocates such as Congressional Black Caucus Chair, Barbara Lee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Whip James Clyburn, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and National Urban League President Marc Morial.

However, the DNC staff followed their own ways---a little here, a little there, but not enough to make a significant difference and far too late.

Teaching voters is a complicated exercise in this digital age, with the need to reach people everywhere they consume media. As the saying goes, all politics is local. And the fact is, on the grassroots level the people most likely to vote are those who use and trust the media that responds to the needs of their community on an ongoing basis---the Black Press (NNPA).

Particularly for candidates at the state and local level, support of the community and its businesses send a tangible message to voters that the candidate is willing to invest resources in the communities they hope to represent. The candidate needs to ask for our vote but in order to make that point effectively, the outreach must come early and often, with backup resources.

Without question, President Obama has the right vision and the best plan to move America forward, but the Democratic National Committee must do better in helping him get his message out to the people, particularly Black people, to ensure that we are inspired to vote. The DNC must also value our vote. I believe, in reality, the Democratic “shellacking” could have been avoided. The Obama Administration, in a very short time, has had enormous successes---health care reform, the extension of unemployment benefits, and more---that touch lives in a substantial way. But who would know a story that hasn’t been effectively communicated.

Democrats can’t expect to win if the message of former President Bill Clinton doesn’t ring clearly in their ears and brain. They also can’t expect to win if they don’t or won’t go into the Black community and ask Black people for their vote.

When you look at the election, where Democrats advertised, went into the Black community, campaigned and asked for our vote, we won. The two best examples of this fact are California and Massachusetts however; there are a host of other critical states where candidates did not advertise, go into the Black community or ask the Black voters to come out and vote, and they lost. Democrats can’t expect to win, if at the end of the day the verdict for Black Voters is ignoring them or taking them for granted. The strategy of “too little, too late” is not a viable and winning strategy.

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. is Chairman of the NNPA and Executive Publisher of The Los Angeles Sentinel.

Being Hustled By the State NAACP President

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I was collecting my notes to write how the statewide candidates for political office ignored the Black community and was prepared to talk about how Jerry Brown wanted the Black vote but was taking us for granted because he didn’t buy advertisements in any of the state’s Black-owned newspapers.

There are no Black-owned television stations in California yet, so newspapers are the media of choice for those wishing to reach the Black community. Then I saw a few articles in a couple of papers about how Jerry Brown had visited Black Churches in Los Angeles and Compton. But I was still miffed about why the Black Press was being ignored by the politicians running for statewide office and those campaigning for the Propositions.

As the former President of the West Coast Black Publishers and a member of the California Black Media, I called Vernon Whitmore, the new president of West Coast Black Publishers, and Hardy Brown, president of California Black Media, to inquire and neither had gotten any advertisements either, but the information that they had led to one woman Alice Huffman.

Alice Huffman is President of the California NAACP and president of a public relations company called A.C. Public Affairs. I found out that her company shares luxury office space with the NAACP in Sacramento, CA. I also found out her company got a contract to promote Proposition 19 to the tune of $100,000.

It is not clear as to how much she got to represent a total of twenty items including the Propositions. Her contract included the Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s race and Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Controller, Board of Equalization, and Propositions 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27.

I don’t know what Huffman promised these organizations but I think they got screwed, and so did the Black Press. There are more than 20 Black-owned newspapers that cover the African American community in California. That number includes twelve that are California members of the West Coast Black Publishers Association. They are: the Bakersfield News Observer, The Globe Newspaper Group, Inglewood Today, Los Angeles Sentinel and LA Watts Times, The Sacramento Observer, Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley Journal, Precinct Reporter and Tri County Bulletin, Riverside Black Voice News, San Diego Voice and Viewpoint, and the Tri County Sentry.

These are part of the California Black Media membership list: Bakersfield News Observer, Black Voice News, California Advocate, Globe Newspapers, Inglewood Today, Inland Valley News, L.A. Focus, L.A. Sentinel, L.A. Watts Times, L.A. Wave Newspaper, Long Beach Times, Oakland Post, Our Weekly, Pace Newspaper, Pasadena Journal, Precinct Reporter, Sacramento Observer, San Diego Monitor, San Bernardino American, San Francisco Bay View, Sun Reporter, Tri County Sentry, and the Westside Story.

If Alice Huffman told those folks that she represented the African American community, she lied to get their money. The NAACP should be angry because Huffman’s actions used them and set up an apparent conflict of interest operation that makes it look like the NAACP organization, that prides itself in not endorsing candidates, could potentially lose their tax exempt status. The Huffman operation is clearly a for-profit operation based on her representations, or misrepresentations, that she covers the whole African American community.

It is my understanding that only three or four Black-owned newspapers got the advertisements to run in their newspapers, the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Sacramento Observer, the Precinct Reporter (San Bernardino), and Huffman’s own produced eight page tabloid called, The Minority News. This item was inserted into those newspapers, presumably, that she chose and also mailed to a number of NAACP members. I got one when I acquired a copy of the Los Angeles Sentinel.

It’s only a matter of time before someone turns this over to the State Attorney General because of the appearance of impropriety.

Let us not forget the TEA PARTY got rid of the Acorn Operation and the Republican Party operative, Breitbart, got Shirley Sherrod fired because of the appearance of impropriety.

Why is the state NAACP and the national NAACP under new Chairman Roslyn M. Brock and Executive Director Ben Jealous letting the Huffman operation place the NAACP status in jeopardy?

Am I mad? YES. I operate a legitimate media operation that is, like most newspapers, struggling to survive. Meanwhile people who hustle the community operate out of luxury offices using the NAACP as an apparent front.

How many more years will Huffman be allowed to get away with this?

This is a matter for the Attorney General because it stinks, smells of fraud, and is a conflict of interest.

At press time, Ms. Huffman could not be reached for comment.

Joe C. Hopkins is Publisher of The Pasadena/SGV Journal News.

Thank You from Fontana School Board Member Sophia Green

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By Sophia Green –

I would first like to recognize those who made it possible for me to serve our children and their families, for that is the mission of every school in Fontana. I would like to thank everyone who helped me achieve this goal¸ including my supporters, donors, endorsers, and my family. I would not have been able to accomplish this without the help of each and every one of you. I am humbled by all the good wishes and the supportive words of wisdom.

I would also like the public to know I will do my very best, but I need your help. I am asking each of you, every student, your families and the entire community to do your part. Together, we will continue to create the schools we need to ensure the promise of a bright future for every chi ld. Together, we wi l l accomplish this dream. My mission is to realize the goal of a high quality education for all of our students, and my desire is that every child has the opportunity to become a productive, successful citizen of this great city and nation.

On November 2nd, Fontana citizens proved that they can elect people of character and integrity, that they care about having moral and ethical leadership for our schools.

In spite of some attempts towards creating division and mistrust, YOU spoke clearly in casting your votes. We all heard that Fontanans will no longer tolerate narrow minded views about people based on race, ethnicity, and religious or political bel iefs. What we heard on November 2nd is a call to tolerance, and a call for new leadership. We also heard a demand to cast aside the shadows of tyranny and oppression that have been hidden from public view. I promise to provide that leadership for every member of this community, including the teachers, administrators and classified staff who serve this district. Through my role on this board, I intend to build trust, to be honest and to demand transparency in this district. I need your promise to practice the same values, and to be involved in our schools.

To accomplish these goals, we must have open and honest communication. Please feel free to contact me, and feel secure in sharing your experiences and concerns. Every person’s comments, recommendations and concerns are important to me. Together, we can foster the climate of moral and ethical education that is essential for creating the best schools in the nation. I am looking forward to serving every person in this community for the next four years. It is a privilege and an honor to collaborate with the entire board to achieve the goals of graduating every student prepared for life.

Sophia Green was elected Nov ember 2nd to serve on the Fontana School Board.

President Obama Selling Out Blacks for Union Favor

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(NNPA) Yes, this is certainly a milestone for unions. For decades they have shoved money under the noses of Black elected officials and their bidding was represented by such officials, despite the policy being against Black interests, employment, and the well being of the entire Black community. Some unions like the UAW, Steelworkers, Communication Workers, and Postal Workers have enjoyed participation of Black employees and the harmony of the Black community. However, we cannot look at this in such a collective manner; the construction unions among others have been racist, Jim Crow, and predatory on the Black working class and the Black community as a whole. They have bought off national organizations before, but never have they owned someone at the White House. JFK, Nixon, and Clinton have made deals with them but not a carte blanche takeover of the U.S. labor market. Despite the racial animist of some of these major union segments President Obama has opened all the doors to them and we, Black people, are at an incredible risk.

It’s as if President Obama is in charge of the labor movement. When his people are presented with the facts that Black employment, especially Black business, will suffer under this policy, they just don’t care. They more or less say “so what”. Black business owners and Black workers, there is a “Darth Vader” sitting in the White House and he isn’t White. Blacks are at the bottom rung of every economic statistic in our nation and he is aiming to make it worse. We have unemployment approaching 30% and he smiles as his policies aim to make it more than 50%. Don’t count on the Congressional Black Caucus to deal with him on this issue as 80% have conceded and will march behind him simply because of their allegiance to the party. Many will have their political careers spiral into oblivion during the next few election cycles, but they are willing to go down for this disgusting and treasonous cause.

An example of this cavalier attitude against Blacks and Hispanics in favor of unions was the Chicago Olympic Proposal. It was so rich in Union only projects known as Project Labor Agreements that it was clear Black and Hispanic employment would not reach 10% in the construction of the Olympics in a town that is 55% Black and Hispanic. The proposal was replete with the destruction of various Black and Hispanic neighborhoods for the sake of real estate investors and the greedy unions. It stunk and the Brazilian Olympic Committee noticed it immediately. They put out the word throughout the National Olympic Committee officials. When the competition started they couldn’t wait to disqualify the U.S. proposal because of the racial and cultural damage it would do to the city of Chicago. It was the most shameful moment for the U.S. in the history of the World Olympics.

Equally disgusting is President Obama’s Southern Strategy. Like Ronald Reagan’s strategy before him, he has decided to disregard the well being of southern Blacks and find any kind of way to let unions into the southern labor market and then allow them to work and organize political cells for his political future. Yes, the South has been mostly Right to Work states, which do not allow union only projects. Consequently, Black employment in construction is three times higher in the South than in states that allow Union Only projects. President Obama wants to destroy that so that his union cronies will be happy.

He is secretly working on major projects in the South, such as nuclear facilities, that will create many high paying jobs. As he maneuvers to make this happen, he will declare these mighty projects Union Only. Thus he would bring his union cronies from the North into the southern market and transfer his northern union workers to come and organize local union shops and help proselytize Democratic Party policies and candidates. In other words, he wants to turn the “Red States” of the South into “Blue States” for the benefit of unions and his party and to the detriment of Blacks and long–term White residents. Yes, he wants to turn the South into Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago , etc. with its sky high Black and Hispanic unemployment, but also with union largesse that feeds the pockets of his party.

America, your President is wrong on this one and it will hurt your children, grandchildren, and destroy your legacy. The time has come to say “It was nice that you are Black but destroying our economic base is not in the deal. Straighten up or check out.” I know it hurts but wrong is wrong and we must be strong enough to fight wrong whenever it comes before us and by whoever presents it. Your future depends on it.

Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (r). Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org

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