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2009 Stimulus: Changing the landscape of the Inland Empire

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Half or more of Native Americans, Latinos and whites surveyed think the U.S. economy is on the “wrong track,” while African Americans and Asian Americans were more confident in the government’s handling of the economy.

Despite the gloomy perspectives, the poll found a sunnier outlook for the near future, with 66 percent of all those surveyed rating themselves as “optimistic” about their own finances in 2010.

The poll tried to gauge Americans’ first-hand experience with stimulus-funded programs at the state and local level. Little more than a third of Latino, Asian-American and white respondents were aware stimulus funds helped save the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters in their communities. Fifty-two percent of black and 41 percent of Native American respondents were aware as well.

More than half of Blacks and Native Americans were also aware of stimulus-funded projects in their communities, such as construction of roads, ports, bridges and tunnels. More than 40 percent of Asian Americans and whites surveyed and just 30 percent of Latinos knew of such improvements.

On the other hand, just a quarter of all those polled knew about “green jobs” having been created in their communities even though the stimulus includes a large investment in creation of such environmentally related jobs.

Perhaps the biggest problem revealed by the survey was in what it showed about the stimulus’s impact on small businesses, which are a traditional source of employment and neighborhood stability. Although the Small Business Administration has stimulus funding to bolster debt-ridden enterprises, roughly three-quarters or more of those surveyed from all ethnic and racial groups said they were unaware of any small business in their communities benefiting from a SBA loan.

“Our poll shows the Obama administration has not done a good job of informing Americans about the economic opportunities that currently exist because of the stimulus package,” said NAM Executive Director Sandy Close. “The Recovery Act has made billions of dollars available for extended unemployment benefits and health insurance for laid off workers. It has appropriated money for small businesses and arts organizations. It has prevented thousands of teachers from being laid off and kept firehouses from closing. Our poll shows that across the racial and ethnic spectrum most Americans remain unaware of the actual impact on their communities.”

The survey was conducted by Bendixen & Associates and was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 individuals comprising a representative sample of U.S. residents.

Over the next few months follow Linnie Frank Bailey’s stimulus news stories in The Black Voice News.

Inland Empire'€™s Needy Families Come Together To Give Thanks

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This holiday season the San Bernardino and Riverside Salvation Army Corps both plan Thanksgiving dinners to help the needy families of the Inland Empire.

The San Bernardino Corps will serve dinner from 11 am to 2 pm on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, at its Corps headquarters building, 746 W. Fifth St.

“We’re serving a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, vegetables and pie,” said Capt. Nancy Ball, co-director of the San Bernardino Corps.

San Bernardino County Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales has donated 10 of the turkeys, although it could use more, as the crowd can typically go through 20 turkeys and 20 sliced hams. The Inland Empire Job Corps is donating 300 pies created by its culinary students – 100 pumpkin, 100 apple and 100 cherry.

The Riverside Thanksgiving dinner takes place Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Most of the food for this event will come through donations the Riverside Corps acquires via KOLA radio station’s “Fill the Van” event, which took place Friday, Nov. 20.

The annual Thanksgiving meals bring in hundreds of families and individuals who do not have the means to provide themselves a Thanksgiving dinner.

People come from all parts of the Inland Empire for the celebrations.

The San Bernardino event alone has served close to 900 people in one year.

At both Corps, the hungry families are joined by hundreds of volunteers for the day who help prepare the food and serve meals to the families. An estimated 125 volunteers helped the San Bernardino Corps in 2008.

“Thanksgiving should be a special day for everyone not just for those who can afford it,” says Capt. Ball.

To receive information about the dates and times for the dinners at other corps besides San Bernardino and Riverside, or to volunteer, give them a call at 1800-SAL-ARMY or 1-800-725-2769.

California Wellness Foundation Announces 2009 California Peace Prize Honorees

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Brian King, a former gang member and drug dealer, started a faith-based program in partnership with law enforcement, city leaders, and schools to provide services and support to at-risk youth in southwest Fresno. A refugee from Cambodia, Phalen Lim became an integral leader in an agency that combats gang violence and promotes cultural pride and understanding in Santa Ana. Olis Simmons applied her extensive experience in developing systems and programs that foster community wellness to create a youth leadership development center in East Oakland that prepares low-income youth of color for leadership and successful careers.

On October 28, The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) will honor these three community leaders with its 17th annual California Peace Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco. In recognition of their efforts to prevent violence and promote peace, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000.

“The honorees are representative of thousands of unsung heroes who work with youth to prevent violence in communities throughout California,” said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. “This year’s honorees also show that perseverance through hardship can help build essential leadership that makes our state healthier and safer.”

Brian King - As co-founder and chief executive of Fresno Street Saints, Brian King has come a long way from his days as a gang member and drug dealer in Chicago. Fresno Street Saints, a faith-based organization that seeks to restore southwest Fresno as a safe and healthy community, provides services and support to at-risk youth and their families.

The organization’s services include gang prevention and intervention programs that offer educational enrichment, youth employment training, grief counseling and family leadership development.

“What we’re doing is taking back these streets and directing resources right to the people, especially to the youth,” said King. “The community leaders and resources must be as visible and as accessible as the gangs are, or the gangs will continue to win.”

Phalen Lim - Escaping genocide, disease and starvation in Cambodia, Phalen Lim made her new life in Santa Ana, California.

Lim and her family sought help from The Cambodian Family (TCF), an agency that provides health, employment and youth services to the refugee and immigrant community of Orange County. Originally a client — and then a volunteer — she is now a youth program director for TCF, working primarily with Cambodian and Latino youth.

“Youth can identify with people who have lived in the same neighborhood, gone through similar struggles and made it,” said Lim.

“I am a very strong believer in leading by example.”

Pechanga Turns Up The Heat With Hottest New Games

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Pechanga Resort & Casino has just installed 15 brand new slot and video games (comprised of several dozen machines) as well as an exciting blackjack side bet at its 200,000 + square-foot casino.

Ensuring that the casino stays at the forefront of gaming technology and innovation, the latest machines have taken to the floor and 18 Buster Blackjack tables are now among the impressive inventory of 3,400 slots and 130 table games, plus the 54-table Poker Room.

“We know that our guests like to try the hottest new slots, so we have one of the country’s best selections of cutting-edge games, featuring the latest releases from all the top manufacturers,” said Buddy Frank, Vice President of Slot Operations at Pechanga. “But they also like the classics and their old favorites. With our large floor, we can do both very well. In other words, we have the perfect machine for just about anyone.”

Slot players drawn to the most state-of-the-art technology can now test their luck at such games as Atronic’s 8-foot tall, three-reel progressive machine, Return of the Sphinx; IGT’s hyper-visual, 5-reel, 30-line, bonus-packed penny machine, Star Wars; Shuffle Master’s virtual-dealer Vegas Star Roulette; and Aristocrat’s fully loaded movie-themed game, Jaws, complete with the film’s classic soundtrack song, among others.

The tables have also turned for blackjack players at Pechanga where, in addition to classic casino games and Pechanga Craps, 18 Buster Blackjack tables have recently been introduced. This new side bet, in which the player wagers $1-50 that the dealer will bust, is in addition to the regular blackjack bet and pays out up to 250 to 1, depending on how many cards it takes for the dealer to bust.

“The best variations on traditional games are those that give players more chances to win,” said Mike May, Pechanga Vice President of Table Games. “Buster Blackjack is an exciting addition to our casino floor because now, not only can you bet on beating the dealer, but you can also bet that they will bust and win, even if you lost your hand. You will also make an extraordinary payout when low cards are being drawn on that bust.”

SCE Offers Tips to Reduce Wasted Energy Usage

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Southern California Edison (SCE) wants to warn its customers about the “energy vampires” throughout their homes and businesses. Common household devices and appliances still draw electricity even when they are off or in “sleep” mode. And that additional energy use can result in higher electricity bills.

Consumer electronics account for about 15 percent of all residential electricity consumption.

Electric devices – such as televisions, stereos, phone chargers, DVD players, computers, and microwave ovens – can be energy guzzlers. Simply plugging the devices into a power strip and turning it off (or unplugging the appliances completely) can save up to 5 percent on the average bill.

SCE encourages its customers to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR symbol when shopping for electronics and appliances.

The iconic blue star signifies that the model is among the most energy-efficient of its kind. ENERGY STAR-labeled products usually are competitive in terms of price and performance compared to less efficient models.

Some other facts to consider:

· ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs and set boxes use up to 30 percent less energy than comparable electronics that do not carry the energy-efficient label; home-entertainment equipment such as DVD players use up to 37 percent less. If all TVs sold in the United States met ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to about $1 billion annually, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars.

· A computer monitor with the ENERGY STAR symbol uses about 22 percent less electricity; a PC up to 33 percent less. If each computer and monitor in homes across the nation were to go into energy-saving “sleep” mode when not in use, more than $1 billion in annual energy costs would be saved.

· Telephones with the ENERGY STAR label use up to 58 percent less energy.

· As many as 2.4 billion external power adapters are in use in the United States – that’s about eight for every person.

These external power supplies contribute to about 12 percent of the national electric bill. Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified external power supplies, and use power strips as centralized turnoff points once finished with use of the equipment.

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