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Texas Governor Perry Talks About Appointments, CHIPS, Tuition Costs, and More

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Special to the NNPA from the The Dallas Examiner –

On Oct. 4, at the invitation of The Dallas Examiner, Governor Rick Perry agreed to discuss his position on key issues, such as appointments of African Americans to significant positions in the state, his decision not to close Texas Southern University, CHIPS, Texas textbook issues and tuition costs at state colleges and universities. Due to time restraints, the issues of concern to the African American community that were discussed with the Governor were limited.

The Dallas Examiner (TDE): Governor Perry, you have appointed more African Americans to significant boards and commissions in Texas than probably any other governor. You appointed Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Bill Jones, Board of Regents of Texas A&M System (later elected by the board as Chair), Anthony Sadberry, Commissioner of the Texas Lottery System, and Albert Hawkins, Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commissions. Additionally, you have appointed an African American to almost every college and university board in Texas.

Gov. Rick Perry: Bill Jones was one of the few African Americans at Texas A&M in the late sixties when I went to school there and we have kept up with each other all these years. He is a very successful lawyer now in Austin; however, the person on this list of appointments that for my perspective is the most powerful story of the early 21st century America, certainly the 21st century in Texas, is Wallace Jefferson. I knew Wallace peripherally was a smart, capable scholar of a lawyer. I think he had taken three separate court cases to the United States Supreme Court and won all of them. That is a tremendous part of one's resume that very few people will ever have - I mean lawyers. And, when we had an opening on the Texas Supreme Court, I didn't think about when was the last time an African American served in this position. I do think it is important to have people with different viewpoints serve on boards and agencies, so that we have a mix - a mosaic that represents the different cultures in our state. There had never been an African American on the Texas Supreme Court. Wallace's story is so powerful because he was the first African American to be on the Texas Supreme Court. His appointment as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court was an easy decision for me, in spite of the fact that there had been others on the court who had served longer. I feel it is important to send messages to kids - who you support, who you surround yourself with, who you help.

Wallace Jefferson became the chief justice, partly because Texans needed to see that no matter where you come from, the color of your skin or the sound of your last name, that if you are willing to work hard and play by the rules you can become anything you want in this state. Wallace Jefferson's great grandfather was sold on the steps of the McClendon County Courthouse in the 1850s; he belonged to somebody; he was sold like a horse. And, today that man's great grandson walks up the steps of the highest courthouse in Texas as the chief justice.

TDE: Several years ago, Texas Southern University was in serious financial trouble. Many thought the solution to the problem was to merge the university with the University of Houston. You decided to save the university. You appointed a new Board of Trustees, who in turn hired a new president. The university is apparently solvent at this time. What were the factors you considered when making the decision to save the university?

Gov. Perry: Texas Southern University is one of the nation's largest Historically Black Colleges and Universities. At the time of the financial troubles you mentioned, I felt strongly that the university was important enough to the state and the Houston community that we needed to do whatever it took to correct the problems that existed. When I was a young legislator, Texas Southern University had financial problems. Under my watch, I couldn't let that happen. I had an open mind - what is best - should the school be closed or merged with another school. Ron Wilson, a former legislator and one of my closest confidants, and Gary Bledsoe, state NAACP president, were two people that I trusted and respected. Gary knew the community, and Ron loves me like a brother and would not let me make a mistake that would hurt me. We had to get rid of some of the administrators and appointed a new board, who selected a new president.

I am encouraged by the progress the university has made and I believe strongly that not only is the community well served by this university, but the state and nation as well. From 2000 to 2009, the number of degrees awarded by Texas Southern University has increased 54 percent. That kind of success is exciting for our state, and it is a testimony to the kind of spirit that exists at Texas Southern. I was the speaker at TSU's commencement last year. I believe it was the first time a governor has been the commencement speaker, and I proudly congratulated and shook the hand of all eight hundred plus graduates.

TDE: In 2009 only families making less than twice the federal poverty level - around $44,100 for a family of four - were eligible for the joint federal and state health care program - CHIP. It is my understanding that you were not in favor of the Senate plan that would allow families making up to 300 percent of the poverty level to get into the program by paying a share of the cost. Some families making more than that would have been able to fully buy into the program.

Why were you not in favor of the CHIP expanded health coverage plan?

Gov. Perry: I think what is most important for Texans right now is to focus on encouraging parents to enroll their children who are currently eligible but not enrolled. Texas has an estimated 177,000 children who are currently eligible but not enrolled. Our state spent more than $5.5 million in 2008, with an additional $5.9 million expected to be spent in 2009 and that same amount in 2010 on various efforts to educate parents about both CHIP and Children's Medicaid program and encourage them to enroll their children.

TDE: The cost for a student to attend Texas A&M is approximately $19,000 per year. The average family is not able to pay this for a student to go to college. Tuition deregulation began September 1, 2003 and schools began increasing designated tuition rates in Spring 2004. Since deregulation began, academic charges for a student taking 15 semester hours at a public university have increased by 72 percent. Texas needs an educated workforce to attract business. If the cost of a college education continues to escalate, then the number of students graduating from college in Texas will degrease, thus negatively impacting business coming to the state.

Do you have plans to assist low- to moderate- income families to educate their children?

Gov. Perry: Yes. As a father who has put two children through college, one at Texas A&M, I understand what families go through to offer their children a promising future. I am a strong advocate for what I call the "four-year tuition freeze." This would mean that when a student registers their freshman year of college - the rates they pay will be locked in for the next four years. This allows students and their families more predictability to plan for the cost of education over four years. Further, I am very proud that under my leadership, financial aid in Texas has increased by 911 percent. The cost of a higher education in Texas is just below the national average and we are doing all we can to continue to make it more accessible. With enrollment rates at an all-time high, we are seeing success in this endeavor.

TDE: Texas House Bill 568, commonly referred to as "Top 10% Rule," is a Texas law passed in 1997. The law guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded universities. Texas needs a diverse, highly educated workforce and the African American community believes that the 10 percent rule will ensure that minorities are admitted to not only the flagship universities in Texas, but to all state supported schools.

In the past legislative sessions, there has been a strong effort to eliminate or water down the 10 percent rule. What is your position on the 10 percent rule?

Gov. Perry: The top 10 percent rule was an important piece of legislation for both our minority communities as well as our rural communities. Recently, I signed a piece of legislation that modified the "Top 10 Percent" law by capping the percentage of the entering class of freshmen at the University of Texas to 75 percent in 2011. I believe it is vitally important the universities look at the student as a whole and consider more than just this one single factor in determining enrollment eligibility.

TDE: For much of the past year, the Texas State Board of Education has been considering changes to its social studies curriculum, hearing from community members and debating alterations to the way the state will teach history. Many on the board, which is made up of ten Republicans and five Democrats, seem to have concluded that Texas' classrooms have been infected with a liberal bias. As a result, the board spent numerous hours hearing from members of the community on subjects such as whether labor activist Cesar Chavez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall deserve space in history textbooks alongside founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin.

What is your position on the Texas State Board of Education's efforts to remove African American and Hispanic achievements in Texas from textbooks?

Gov. Perry: There are currently requirements in the Texas curriculum that both Cesar Chavez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall must be taught, and rightfully so. Texas has a rich and diverse historical heritage and I believe that the individuals who have contributed the greatest efforts and accomplishments to our state's culture be recognized for the legacy they have left our state.

Our State Board of Education members are publicly elected by the people of Texas. These are the people Texans have entrusted to determine our state's curriculum, and I believe in the system our state has in place. I believe these members are doing their part to ensure such individuals are recognized in our public schools' curriculum and their story is accurately taught to our school children.

Who's Killing Black Women? Most Murdered with Gun by Men They Know

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By J. Williams-Gibson, Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier –

Beware of strangers, right? That is a frequent warning given to us all, but particularly women and children. However, the majority of African-American females killed by men die at the hands of guys that they know—not strangers.

Black females murdered by men are most often killed with a gun, and almost always by someone they know, according to a recent report by the Violence Policy Center, a national educational organization that works to reduce violence.

“There was a myth out there saying women need to protect themselves against strangers, but that’s not the reality,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center (VPC). “It’s much more of a domestic violence risk.”

The details of the VPC report are alarming: Black women were murdered at a rate more than two and a half times higher than White women.

Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapon used and the number of Black females shot and killed by their husbands or an intimate acquaintance was more than four times as high as the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in incidents in 2008.

Most often, Black females were killed by males in the course of an argument and 10 percent of Black female victims were 18 or younger.

“There are identifiable, preventative measures to be taken to prevent these sorts of homicides,” said Rand.

Some domestic violence experts cite jealousy, anger, and rage as reasons behind the numbers. Police and social workers continue to be baffled by how someone can kill a supposed loved one.

The fact that the women were most often killed with a handgun is troubling to Rand. She questions whether or not law enforcement is cracking down on gun ownership by people with histories of domestic abuse, which is prohibited by law. She takes the position that the presence of guns can escalate domestic violence to homicide.

“More resources need to be directed to preventing these sorts of incidences. Local shelters need to be better funded and local authorities need to be better educated about this risk and removing guns from the home,” said Rand.

The VPC study also ranked each state by its rate of total homicides for females of all races. Nevada ranked first followed by Vermont, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee to round out the top five. The majority of the top 10 states were located in the South— states with a strong gun culture. Indiana was tied at 27 with Wyoming.

While the study focuses on Black women, the truth is, domestic abuse knows no race or socioeconomic status—it can happen to anyone.

“People don’t understand. It’s almost like it’s a taboo subject,” said Julie Marsh, CEO of the Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis.

Marsh is not surprised by the center’s findings and suggests that all people become educated on the signs of domestic abuse. She encourages people, particularly women, to be proactive in protecting their lives. Red flags include hurtful comments, constant calling, and checking on where she is and who she’s with, control over things such as finances or ward robe, punching or slapping, and isolation from family and friends.

No woman deserves to be abused under any circumstances because the abuser always has a choice, Marsh said. Things might be bad, but the domestic abuse educator went on to say that a woman should never tell her abuser she is leaving because breaking away from him is the most dangerous period of the conflict.

“Don’t do that unless you have a full safety plan in place,” said Marsh. “Leave when he’s not there and do not go to a relative’s house, either. Seek out a place like a shelter and get help from a domestic abuse counselor.”

To find safety, she suggests calling 211 from a secure phone. If in immediate danger, just get out of the house and go to a place he would not think you’d go.

If there’s no way to get out of the home, an abused woman should think of safe places to find solace in the home.

To reduce the numbers of abused women and murdered women due to abuse, experts believe people should be more vocal about domestic violence. Rand, the Violence Policy Center administrator, said there should be more focus on gun violence and how it relates to domestic violence, and recommends people share this information with local officials.

“Black women should also make people understand it’s just not acceptable that they’re at such an increased risk,” said Rand. “There should probably be special programs for them and the men in their lives.”

ANC Veteran Sounds Alarm Over Media 'Self-Censorship' in South Africa

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

South Africa’s media organizations recently marked Black Wednesday, when the former apartheid regime outlawed The World and Weekend World newspapers and Pro Veritate (a Christian publication) for publishing ‘inflammatory material that threatened the nation’s security.” Scores of critics and 19 Black consciousness organizations were also detained on Oct. 19, 1977.

Yusuf Abramjee, chair of the National Editors’ Forum said it was important that the media industry in South Africa honor this day, especially now that media freedom is in the spotlight.

In August, the ANC party set off a storm of controversy with a proposed Tribunal and Public Information bill to check the press which, according to President Jacob Zuma, “tends to go overboard sometimes.”

The Tribunal would be government-run as opposed to the independent office of “press ombudsman” where a retired judge currently hears citizen complaints. Decisions are posted on the website: www.presscouncil.org.za. The South African Press Code and other relevant documents are also posted on the site.

Writing against the Tribunal, the Professional Journalists Association urged the ANC to strengthen the office of ombudsman which “has operated reasonably well, with a host of decisions going against the media, who have been ordered to publish apologies and corrections, often on their front pages.”

Instead of a tribunal, some have suggested more self-regulation by the media.

But ANC veteran Kader Asmal, in a speech at the University of Witwatersrand, warned that self-regulation could turn into self-censorship. "The core element of a free press… is its right to determine its own opinions and to record the facts", he said.

Meanwhile, journalists and members of the public marched to Constitution Hill in a silent protest and the Right 2 Know campaign announced a week of protests against the bill, saying it will destroy civil society’s ability to fight corruption.

Baltimore Mayor Accused of Race Bias in Lawsuit

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By Sean Yoes, Special to the NNPA from The AFRO-American Newspapers (Baltimore) –

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is being sued for $5 million by a former employee, Jennifer Coates, who claims she was forced from her job because she refused to fire a White colleague.

Coates, who is Black, served as director of council services for three Baltimore City Council Presidents including Rawlings-Blake. Coates says she was forced to resign from her post in August 2008 because she wouldn’t fire Richard Krummerich, the oldest and only White worker in the council services office at the time. Rawlings-Blake was president of the City Council from January 2007 until she was sworn in as Baltimore mayor February 2010 following the resignation of former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office declined to comment citing the lawsuit is pending litigation and Coates could not be reached for comment. Coates’ attorney Thomas J. Maronick Jr. said “Coates gave up a $90,000 a-year job because she wanted to do the right thing.”

Maronick says his client was pressured “directly and indirectly” by Rawlings-Blake and her then-chief of staff and current deputy chief of staff Kimberly Washington to fire Krummerich, who worked as a legislative policy analyst, and replace him with a younger Black man, Sean DuBurns.

Coates balked at the request because, “the OCS, Office of Council Services, would have no more White employees if Krummerich were fired and Coates did not believe such a move would comply with employment laws,” according to the suit. Coates was fearful the city could be vulnerable to a discrimination suit based on race, as well as age. Coates allegedly informed Rawlings-Blake and Washington that firing Krummerich would circumvent a required five-step performance review process in violation of the Civil Service Act. Maronick said, “She [Coates] was told if you do not fire Mr. Krummerich it could be bad for you.”

Court documents indicate once Krummerich was made aware of Rawlings-Blake’s desire to fire him, he urged some City Council members, including Bernard “Jack” Young, who replaced Rawlings-Blake as president, to intercede on his behalf. That’s when Rawlings-Blake allegedly told Coates, “If it doesn’t stop, it will hurt you.”

“If the tables were turned and Mr. Krummerich was the only African-American member of that office the media would jump all over this,” Maronick said.

According to the suit, Rawlings-Blake wanted Krummerich terminated because she felt he was incompetent and specifically because he was found sleeping on the job.

Coates is seeking $500,000 for wrongful termination and $1.5 million for each of three other counts: defamation, hostile work environment and retaliation. Coates, who lives in a predominately Black neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore, worked for the city since 1992 and served as director of council services since May 2001. Since her resignation she has been relegated to, “part-time seasonal employment with the IRS,” according to Maronick. “No one wants to touch her; she can’t get a job.”

NAACP Report Debunks Tea Party Leadership

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NAACP Leader says Some Members are Hate Group Leaders

By Linn Washington Jr., Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune –

The controversial resolution issued by the NAACP this past summer calling out racism within the ranks of the tea party produced surprising results within that raging political/social movement, according to the head of America’s oldest civil rights organization, Benjamin Jealous.

The national tea party ejected Mark Williams, the chairman of the pivotal Tea Party Express, for making outrageously racist remarks, another important tea party entity issued an anti-racist statement and that movement began showcasing persons of color at its events often adorned with racist and anti-Semitic signage, reactions the NAACP leader sees as “small” but salient steps. However, according to Jealous, the tea party still harbors dangerous racists within it leadership ranks.

Jealous made these observations on Wednesday when his organization released an extensive report on tea party activities across America, which documented the leadership roles of individuals in that movement who also hold leadership posts in virulent white supremacist and pro-Nazi organizations. The “Tea Party Nationalism” report provides over a dozen examples of hate group leaders holding leadership posts in tea party factions.

The report cited people like Roan Garcia-Quintana of South Carolina who recently joined the board of America’s largest white nationalist group the Council of Conservative Citizens, Texas tea party official Karen Pack who is closely aligned with the KKK, Florida tea partier Peter Gemma who is a staunch Anti-Semite, and Larry Pratt of Virginia, the executive director of Gun Owners of America who frequently solicits support from the pro-Nazi Aryan Nation.

“Tea Party Nationalism,” prepared by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, debunks many of the positions advanced by this overwhelmingly white, politically conservative, Republican-leaning movement, like party claims that its sole concentration is lowering budget deficits, taxes and federal government power.

Tea party ranks remain “permeated with concerns about race, and national identity and other so-called social issues,” the report states in its introduction. This party’s “storied opposition to political and social elites turns out to be predicated on an antagonism to federal assistance to those deemed the “undeserving poor.”

Crediting the tea party with resuscitating “the ultra-conservative win of American political life,” the report criticizes the tea party for having had “a devastating impact on thoughtful policy making for the common good, both at the local and state as well as at the federal levels.”

During the teleconference with reporters announcing release of the report, A. Elena Lacayo of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization, said “This report shows how extremist groups try to take advantage of other groups to advance their agendas.” Citing the recent beating death of a Latino man and the ugly anti-immigrant climate sparked by tea party candidates and their media supporters, Lacayo reminded “hateful words have hateful consequences.”

The NAACP’s Jealous carefully noted that neither the report nor the civil rights organization consigns all tea party members to the category of racist. “Most tea party members are sincere and of good will. We do not have a problem with the tea party’s right to exist. We have a problem when a majority of its members stand silent when they see racism,” said Jealous, an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar. “For the past 100 years, the NAACP has challenged the Republican and Democratic parties on the issue of racism and now we challenge the tea party to stand for inclusion and basic civility.”

The “Tea Party Nationalism” report examining instances of extremism and intolerance in that movement’s six most active organizations, produced denunciations from tea party officials, including one who termed it a cheap political shot attempting to “tie crazy people together with a movement that is not about what these people are about.”

Prominent Black tea party member Lloyd Marcus blasted the NAACP and the report on his blog yesterday. “All of the racism is coming from the Obama camp,” claimed Marcus, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of Color (NAACPC), contending he’s never seen or heard overt racism while attending more than 200 tea party events nationwide. “We tea party patriots are opposing Obama’s socialist agenda, not his skin color.”

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