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Rodney King Dies at 47

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Police Beating Victim Who Asked ‘Can We All Get Along?’

Circumstances surrounding his sudden death remain a mystery

Chris Levister

Rodney King, whose 1991 videotaped beating by the Los Angeles police became a symbol of the nation’s continuing racial tensions that subsequently led to a week of deadly race riots after the officers were acquitted, was found dead Sunday in a swimming pool at the home he shared with his fiancée Cynthia Kelly in Rialto. He was 47.

Rialto Police Capt. Randy De Anda said Tuesday that authorities have found no signs of foul play. Coroner's officials completed their autopsy of Mr. King on Monday. An official cause of death was deferred pending toxicological tests, expected within six weeks. The investigation into Mr. King’s sudden and unexpected death continued to raise more questions than answers as Rialto police tried to unravel why the avid swimmer was found lifeless at the bottom of his pool early Sunday.

Investigators remained tight-lipped about statements made by a next-door-neighbor who claimed she heard King “sobbing uncontrollably before hearing a splash.” Police say Ms. Kelly, called 911 at 5:25 a.m. after finding Mr. King at the bottom of the pool. Authorities say Kelly’s description of the incident during a frantic 911 call is consistent with the investigation.

Neighbors say the couple kept a low profile but questioned how King “an avid swimmer” could have drowned in his backyard pool.

“He built that pool himself and inscribed the dates of his beating and the riots on two of the pool tiles,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. “He loved the water. He was an accomplished swimmer. Swimming was his way of getting away from it all.” Mr. King was catapulted onto the international stage after his brutal beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was captured on video tape and broadcast worldwide. The trial of four White officers charged with felony assault in the beating ended after a jury with no Black members acquitted three of the officers on state charges; a mistrial was declared for a fourth. The verdict sparked one of the most costly and deadly race riots in American history.

At a press conference on the third day of the riots King’s magnanimous statement “People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?" helped staunch the violence and sealed his iconic legacy.

“People look at me like I should have been like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks,” he told the Los Angeles Times in April. “I should have seen life like that and stayed out of trouble, and don’t do this and don’t do that. But it’s hard to live up to some people’s expectations.” Mr. King still walked with a limp and several of his scars were visible. His best outlets for relaxation, he said, were fishing and swimming. He published a memoir in April detailing his struggles, saying in several interviews that he had not been able to find steady work. Mourners gathered at Leimert Park in South Los Angeles Monday evening for a community tribute organized by Project Islamic Hope.

“His life is one for the history books,” said Executive Director, Najee Ali. “He was not the heartless thug portrayed by police and the media,” said his former high school teacher Linda Heeley. Heeley who attended the tribute remembered Mr. King as a ‘kind, humble man who will be remembered for his good and bad’. “He taught a nation to look in the mirror and forgive,” she said.

“I realize I will always be the poster child for police brutality,” Mr. King said, “but I can try to use that as a positive force for healing and restraint.” He said he had once blamed politicians and lawyers “for taking a battered and confused addict and trying to make him into a symbol for civil rights.” But he was unable to escape that role. On Sunday, the Rev. Al Sharpton, said in a statement, “History will record that it was Rodney King’s beating and his actions that made America deal with the excessive misconduct of law enforcement.” Mr. King said he was essentially broke, though he said he received an advance for his book, “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption,” published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the riots.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, is a nationally acclaimed journalist, media critic and the author of nine books about the African American experience. In his June 17 blog “The Tragedy, Triumph and Tragedy of Rodney King,” Hutchinson wrote: “The tragedy was those few brutal, savage, and violent moments that catapulted King, a marginally employed, poorly educated, ex-con, into a virtual global household name. It cast the spotlight on one of the nation’s deepest sore spots, police abuse, brutality and misconduct against African-Americans, minorities and the poor.”

The triumph Hutchinson wrote was that King lived long enough to see the issue of police misconduct especially that of the LAPD, become the focus of intense discussion, debate, and ultimately reform measures that transformed some police agencies into better models of control, accountability, the reduction of use of force violence, and more emphasis on community partnership. “The recent spate of police shootings of young unarmed Black and Hispanic males in some cities under dubious circumstances shows that the job of full police reform is still very much a work in progress, with room for backsliding.”

The final tragedy Hutchinson said was King's surprising and untimely death. “He was only 47. He had attained a partial rehabilitation in terms of his bad guy image. He was a recognized author. His name was eternally synonymous with a pantheon of transformative figures at the center of the many monumental events in the nation's history. This indeed was the tragedy, triumph and final tragedy of Rodney King.”

Remembering the Life of Daniel Coates

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By BVN Staff

Funeral services were held for longtime Rialto resident who was also a Veteran, Daniel Coates. Coates passed away after bravely battling a long illness, he was 82-years-old. The church was full of people who knew and loved him. Daniel Randall Coates, Jr. was born to Daniel Coates, Sr. and Clara Leslie (Williamson) Coates on May 9, 1930 in Jones, Maryland. He was raised in Annapolis, Maryland which may have influenced his 27-1/2 year career in the military. He attended local public schools and when he finished high school he went to college. He left college early to join the U.S. Air Force. His first duty station was March Air Force Base. His first marriage ended and to this union was born a son Terrance. Then he met and married the love of his life, Eva Faye________ they had two sons, Daniel, III and Derek Carl. The family traveled extensively together as he was stationed in Japan, Germany, Washington State, Randell, Ill, and Thailand. He was also stationed at the Pentagon. And on December 30, 1975 he was transferred to Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. By the time he retired he had been in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and has several medals to his credit. He rose to the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Mr. Coates was a graduate of Cal State San Bernardino with a BA and a Masters Degree in Sociology. With the further education in hand he began his next career working for the County of San Bernardino as a supervisor for Adult Protection Services until his second retirement.

He was well prepared because of his self-discipline and great passion for life. He required his children to be respectful to adults, to be a man of their word, he taught them how to be gentlemen and to know the difference between right and wrong.

To him education was the key to and he demanded academic excellence, of his successful sons. Loved by all who knew him he was a member of the NAACP, Rialto Black History Committee, and was the Past President of the Lion’s Club.

Mr. Coates was an avid reader, a military historian and loved fishing. As a Christian he practiced his faith as a member of the United Methodist Church of Rialto. Left to cherish his memory is wife, Eva Faye, sons Daniel III (Trudi), Derek Carl (Ramona) sister Ruth Allen, grandchildren, Kellen C, Daniel IV, Jzenae and Aalyah and a host of other relatives and friends.

CPUC Updates Financing Rules For Utilities

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SAN FRANCISCO - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today updated its competitive bidding financing rules to move them inline with current market conditions and CPUC policies. The CPUC first established a Competitive Bidding Rule for utility financing transactions in 1946, finding, at the time, that the public interest is best served when more than one investment banker is offered an opportunity to underwrite securities.

The updates made today include:

• Utilities are allowed to choose whether to issue debt via competitive or negotiated bid, as long as the basis for the method is chosen to achieve the lowest cost of capital;

• Utilities with $25 million or more of operating revenues are required to make every effort to encourage, assist, and recruit Women-, Minority-, and Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises in being appointed as lead underwriter, book runner, or co-manager of debt offerings; and,

• Elimination of the notification and form of communication requirement for the solicitation of bids unless required by specific law or CPUC requirement.

“As a professor of law and securities regulation, I recognize that utilities clearly need access to capital to finance critical infrastructure, facilities upgrades, and other capital projects,” said CPUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, the lead for the proceeding. “Today’s decision modernizes financing rules to improve the current outdated competitive bidding rules. We have created more efficient and reasonable rules, while providing greater opportunities for diverse financial services firms in financing investor-owned utility transactions. This inclusion will introduce a broader class of investors that moves utility financing towards a more accurate reflection of California’s growing diverse ratepayer base.”

Said Commissioner Mark J. Ferron, “In place of competitive bidding, which is no longer the market standard, our new rules reflect current financial market best practices and conditions, which also help to advance our diversity goals. However, rules and restrictions set by the CPUC are no substitute for prudent risk management practices and an internal culture that emphasizes sound financial decision-making.”

The proposal voted on is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/167965.pdf For more information o

Win, Lose or Draw, Health Care Reform Pushes Forward States, insurers stand firm on benefits

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By Chris Levister

In the hands of the nine Supreme Court justices, the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ‘Obamacare’, is arguably one of the most anticipated legal verdicts in recent U.S. memory. A decision by the Court is expected any day now. The decision will be controversial no matter what direction the Court goes, as the public is fairly evenly split on the law.

In the meantime across the nation the health care landscape is changing at breakneck speed. Many states, healthcare providers and some major insurers aren’t waiting. Three of the biggest U.S. health insurers announced this week that they plan to keep some of the popular benefits and consumer protections required by the federal health overhaul legislation even if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the law. UnitedHealth Group, Aetna Inc. and Humana all said they will continue to allow young people to stay on their parents’ pans until the age of 26, provide preventative benefits such as immunizations without any out-of-pocket expense and offer a third-party appeals process for coverage denials

When the law was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama, two years ago, California quickly got the ball rolling.

It was the first state to set up the reform bill's core feature, a health benefits exchange - a marketplace for consumers and small businesses to pick and choose among various insurance plans - that is scheduled to open in 2014. The exchange has already received $40 million in federal seed money and is expecting additional funds this summer.

"California passed a law to have an exchange, and the commitment will be there no matter what,” said David Panush, director of government relations for the California Health Benefit Exchange. “Rather than trying to crystal-ball what the court may or may not do, we’ve got our foot on the pedal and we’re going full speed ahead.”

The state has already begun to overhaul its Medi-Cal program in anticipation of the influx of new patients and officials are relying more heavily on managed care plans to reduce costs and provide comprehensive care.

Exchange officials have recently started designing strategies to make it easier for individuals to sign up, such as presenting information in multiple languages, designing a user-friendly webpage and training employees to offer help with online enrollment. The insurance exchanges, a creation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, are designed to be a place where consumers who don’t get coverage through work can purchase it at an affordable price in a way that allows them to easily compare the costs and benefits of competing plans. For health insurers, it promises access to millions of potential new customers, many of whom will get subsidies to help them afford coverage.

It will also serve as a portal to connect individuals with Medi-Cal with individual and small group coverage based on their income level. Individuals who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medi-Cal. People earning between 133% and 400% of poverty will be eligible for private coverage subsidized on a sliding scale. The exchanges can offer large group coverage in 2017.

If you’re applying for unemployment online there could be links to the Exchange. If you’re changing your address at the DMV a clerk may offer you information on how to enroll. “To the degree that we take advantage of all the points of contact, you bring people into the system. Outreach and enrollment is vital,” said Panush. GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT

As the healthcare reform controversy plays out in real time, there is a nagging worry that those Americans with the greatest health risk will be left behind. The benefits of health care reform are unrecognized and unappreciated by most women, says national health care activist Byllye Avery.

“Even people who are enjoying some of the benefits don’t seem to be aware of it,” Avery, told an audience at Grand Valley State University in Michigan Tuesday. Avery, the founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative said later in an online post, insurers must provide cancer screenings, wellness visits and maternity care at no cost to the patient. Patients also pay no fee for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, smoking cessation counseling and breastfeeding education. “We get screening for domestic violence,” she said. “One in four African American and Latino women is abused, so it’s very important for physicians to ask questions about domestic violence.” Also, insurers may not deny patients coverage because of pre-existing conditions. “With the coming insurance exchanges, people as individuals will actually be able to pay for health care,” Avery added.

She cited the example of her daughter, who paid $600 a month to buy health insurance in Chicago while working a part-time job. After her job ended, she returned home to Massachusetts where Republican presidential candidate (then governor) Mitt Romney helped establish an ‘Affordable Care-like’ health insurance exchange, and was able to buy similar coverage for $113 a month. Even as she touted the benefits of health care reform, Avery said she is “very, very worried” about the decision expected this month by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering challenges to the new law.

However, if the justices overturn the Affordable Care Act, she said she hopes it will provoke a backlash from supporters. “People have said we’re going to start demanding universal health care,” she said. “Sometimes, something has to happen to make people angry enough to take to the streets to say access to health care is a human right.”

UCR BLACK GRADUATION BRIDGES PAST WITH PRESENT

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Grads urged to 'think big, act boldly’

By Chris Levister

His midnight robe billowing out behind him, his mahogany face awash with pride Ashimadi Ladzekpo strode across the ceremonial stage bridging past and present with a ringing call to action.

“Together we are strong,” he said, his baritone voice booming like an evangelist’s. “Together we cannot be defeated, - Tyehimba,” he chanted , a Nigerian word that means “We are a Nation”....the jubilant crowd of some 1,800 family, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni rose to its feet roared, whistled, stumped and danced in surreal astonishment. UC Riverside’s annual Black Graduation is a kaleidoscope of bold colors, sounds and dreams as shining as the sun. It is a celebration of tradition and achievement - but perhaps more so this year. Amid lamentations about the dearth of blacks in higher education, UC Riverside graduated its largest class of African American men and women to date.

A record breaking 130 students took part in the 10th annual ceremony, which was first held in 1999 before going on hiatus until 2003. In addition to celebrating the students’ academic achievements, the event also commemorated African Student Programs’ 40th anniversary. “You have preserved in the face of many challenges and you have kept your focus to meet the goal you have set for yourself,” Chancellor Timothy P. While told the graduates. “The world that awaits you is far from perfect, but you have the skills and grace to overcome the hurdles you will encounter in the years ahead,” he said.

“Black Graduation is a celebration, an opportunity for students to personalize this milestone in their academic career,” said Ken Simons, director of African Student Programs at UCR, which sponsors the event. “It is a way that they can share their accomplishment with all the members who make up ‘their village’ in an intimate setting.”

UCR alumnus and keynote speaker Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) urged the graduates to think of life's "big picture" and to seek out opportunities that will challenge them to make a positive difference in the world.

Her address, exhorted the graduates to reflect on the people in their lives who have guided and supported them and to focus on the guidance received from those mentors. “Pay attention to that wisdom,” she said. “It helps make you who you are, and those words will be the words you remember and will guide you through your life's journey.” The daughter of two public service employees, Mitchell noted, her own words to live by were provided by her father, who told her to remember the big picture, and from her mother, who always encouraged her to seize the day.

“Who are the people and what are the words that have shaped you?” she asked UCR Black graduates. “How will you make the most of those words as you move forward into the next chapter of your life? Seek, embrace and follow your own words to live by and there is, indeed, no limit to what you will be able to accomplish.”

Mitchell, who represents the 47th Assembly District in Los Angeles, was elected in November 2010. She chairs the assembly’s Budget Sub-Committee on Health & Human Services, and is a member of the Committees on Accountability & Administrative Review, Appropriations, Budget, Health, and Public Safety. Attendees may have thought they were seeing double when Aizsa and Alyssa Anderson walked across the stage to receive their certificates of achievement, the grads happen to be identical twins. The sisters say the racially and ethnically themed ceremony is a way for minority students to celebrate their cultural connections as well as their ability to overcome the special challenges they face at predominantly white universities. “This is a milestone passed,” said Aizsa. “Students invite friends of all ethnicities. More schools need to do this, don’t shy away from finding wonderful ways to acknowledge students of color. There is still a challenge of being black at a predominantly white institution, and struggling to feel connected. We have significantly contributed to bettering our community, and we have to celebrate that.”

“I think it’s a great tradition,” said Alyssa. “It’s important for all members of our campus and community to see history through the lens of Black people and learn about the many contributions they have made throughout history.” The two sisters plan to attend graduate school in San Diego this fall.

“Black Graduation is not an ‘alternative’ ceremony in that students who participate are encouraged to experience the pageantry of commencement by participating in the regular ceremonies as well,” Simons said.

“One advantage for graduates and their families is that with our large venue and smaller number of graduates, there is no limit to the number of guests each student can invite. We understand that teachers, coaches, mentors, preachers, faculty, staff, alumni, relatives and community members all have played a vital role in the success of these young scholars and we are happy to be able to provide a place for them to celebrate together.” A pair of UCR student groups, The God’s Revelation Gospel Choir and the Nigerian Student Association Dance group, performed. The program also featured the presentation of three annual awards.

The James Wesley Vines Medical Society Award was presented to Political Science/International Affairs major Nella Juma as the outstanding graduating senior active in mentorship and improving educational opportunities for African-American students seeking careers in the medical and health science fields.

The Nathan Alex Irvin Award, was presented to Political Science major Kevin A. Fashola by African Student Programs. The award recognizes a graduating senior who possesses outstanding character, scholastic achievement, and leadership qualities with an emphasis on uplifting Black communities, both on- and off-campus. The Zeanissia Moore Award, presented to an African/African-American woman who has overcome many challenges during her undergraduate career was presented to Angela Williams.

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BVN National News Wire