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Carter Anti-Blight Bill Advances to Senate Floor

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Penalty fees for failure to maintain vacant homes have brought $1.5 million into the City of Rialto since 2008. John Dutrey, housing code enforcement manager, is happy to say that that source of revenue is half of what it once was.

"The civil penalties have worked in getting banks and realtors to maintain foreclosed properties and get into compliance," said Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter, whose 62nd District includes Rialto. Her bill, AB 2314, will ensure that cities continue to have that tool and others to fight neighborhood blight due to foreclosures. 
 AB 2314 was passed by the State Assembly on May 3 and is headed to the Senate Floor. Carter is one of several legislators who have introduced bills in partnership with Attorney General Kamala Harris. The combined package of bills is called the "Homeowners Bill of Rights."

The measure eliminates the sunset date on existing statutory authority that allows cities to impose penalties up to $1,000 for failure to maintain vacant residential property. The measure also provides new owners of blighted property a 60-day grace period in which enforcement actions are prohibited as long as repairs are being made to the property.

Foreclosed properties are often marked by overgrown yards, heaps of trash and broken windows. The disrepair encourages blight and brings down property values. Vacant properties also become a magnet for squatters, gangs and drug dealers.

 "We need to stabilize these communities," Carter said. "Unblighted properties make for safer, cleaner neighborhoods."

Additional provisions of AB 2314 are a requirement that banks that release liens on foreclosed property inform local code enforcement agencies of the release so that demolition of severely blighted property can proceed. In addition, AB 2314 also allows costs of a receivership over blighted properties to be imposed directly against the owner of blighted property.

Finding Solutions to America’s Growing Gap between the Rich and Everyone Else is Still Critical for African American Workers

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WASHINGTON, DC - Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International Executive Vice President Gerry Hudson issued the following statement in response to the April 2012 jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed a slight decline in the African American unemployment rate:

“Thousands of African American workers are finally experiencing some economic relief with a slight decline in last month’s unemployment rate from 14 percent to 13 percent. But we can and must do better to rebuild an economy that works for everyone—not just the richest 1% and tax dodging corporations who refuse to pay their fair. “The double-digit unemployment rate for African Americans makes it clear: we must push harder to create good jobs and address the jobs crisis that disproportionately impacts workers of color and their families.

“As President Obama continues to his efforts to advance critical policies that focus on the needs of the 99%, members of conservative GOP Republicans should do the same, instead of pushing extreme cuts to programs that will cost American jobs and sacrifice essential services.

“In 2012, it is unacceptable that millions of America’s working families, including African Americans, are still struggling to put gas in their cars and to put food on their tables while bearing the financial burdens of the nation’s slow economic recovery on top of historic income inequality.

“The impacts of the nation’s economic crisis on African American workers are both disproportionate and unacceptable. Finding solutions to America’s income inequality crisis by creating good jobs and make corporations pay their fair share is critical for African Americans.

Da Vinci

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When most people think of Da Vinci, they often think of the famous painting of Mona Lisa, and her mysterious smile. At the end of the evening on Saturday, March 24, over 480 attending the "Evening for da Vinci" at the National Orange Show had an even bigger reason to smile than when they arrived. Due to the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations, more than $280,000 was raised for the da Vinci® Surgical System at St. Bernardine's Surgical Center.  The ultimate goal is to raise over $2,000,000 for this state of the art piece of equipment. It was a festive evening of delicious food, silent and live auction items, & entertainment. Julie Bearie, Committee Chair for the Gala, was assisted by dozens of volunteers, including many who work for the hospital. It was a evening designed to benefit the St. Bernardine Medical Center Foundation. At a gala like this, you expect to rub shoulders and to see certain people - politicians, business owners, physicians and high-level staff in attendance. To me, though, what was most memorable, were the people of every walk of life, that work at, donate to, support financially, and volunteer their time at St.Bernardine Medical Center. The joy and pride of the STAFF that were there, was evident and touching. And telling. I spoke at length to people that work physicians and nurses, to radiology techs. Also though, talking to people in transportation pushing a gurney, to people that are back ups cleaning the surgical equipment. Their faces absolutely glowed with pride about THEIR hospital. In a future article we will spotlight some of what they do... and why. Is St. B's 'perfect?' Of course not, but these employees, at all levels, feel as tho they are 'listened' to. That they matter.

You may question "WHY a $2 million dollar piece of equipment?  St. Bernardine Medical Center is constantly searching for ways to improve care at the hospital, and this year the Medical Center has decided to add a da Vinci Robotic System to its mix of services.  It is not just a 'another machine."  Many consider this a VITAL piece of equipment. The da Vinci Surgical System is designed to overcome liitations of traditional laparoscopy, offering a minimally invasive solution to a broader base of patients. This is accomplished through 3D vision. There was a da Vinci machine at the gala, and people of all ages were 'oohing and aahing' at how adept they were in guiding the machine. One doctor commented:

“Being a laparoscopic surgeon, I understand the advantages of the Da Vinci Robot as it offers the ability for surgeons to operate under much more ideal conditions, making surgery safer, more effective and with better outcomes for the patients we treat. It is a natural continuation of the laparoscopic and minimally invasive surgery that physicians and patients pursue.”
- Dr. Keith A. Schauermann, M.D.

Also, though, one of THE most critical things is to RECRUIT the "best and brightest" medical professionals from the top medical and nursing schools around the country. If you do not have 'cutting edge' equipment, you are severely limited in who you can even get to interview, much less join the staff.

Hundreds of people give to St. Bernardine's to make it a top ranked provider of health care. The two "Diamond Sponsors" were Mr. Ronald R. Rezek & Family, as well as The St. Bernardine Medical Center Medical Staff. Ron Rezek is the President of the Foundation Board.  Special recognition was given to James Ramos, as well as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, for their continual generosity to many departments at St Bernardine's. James said after the event: "St. Bernardine's has given to the community since 2012. They turn no one away. I grew up with limited to no health care. It is imperative that we help St. Bernardine's to continue their legacy of quality personal medical attention. They are carrying on the mission of the Sisters OF Charity of the Incarnate Word. Every person in San Bernardino benefits when we improve the quality of life in this region." A highlight of the evening was the story of one person who was NOT in attendance. Philip M Savage IV, an attorney was skiing with his family. He was there on the big screen, just under two months after having had the da Vinci equipment that may have saved HIS life.   In 1928, San Bernardino was a rapidly expanding community, with little access to quality medical facilities. It was then that Dr. Philip Savage, a well-respected and highly-credentialed local surgeon, approached Father Patrick Dunn, pastor of St. Bernardine Catholic Church, with his dream for a first-class hospital. He had personally experienced the level of care and compassion provided by the Franciscan Sisters who operated the Catholic St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. That level of care - for body, mind and spirit - was Dr. Savage's vision for San Bernardino.

With the support of Father Dunn, Dr. Savage approached Mother Mary Placidus, Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Houston, Texas with a dream: to build a hospital that would care for a community in need. On October 10, 1931, California Governor James J. Rolph laid the cornerstone of the new hospital and convent. It was named to honor Bernardino Albizeschi, an Italian who exhibited exceptional courage and compassion during the plague of 1400 which killed thousands and later earned him the title Saint Bernardine.

It was a spectacular night. For those that work at the Medical Center and Foundation, the 13th Annual "Gathering at Twilight" was a great success, but they are doing much more. Their emergency room is ranked highest in speed of response to patients of critical need with wait times as low as five minutes!  All of this is made possible due to an exceptional staff, and the ability to fund necessary components by virtue of generosity fro the community. YOU can help - with your time, talents and treasures. Two hours a week - or $20 makes a difference. To learn how you can help, call the Foundation at 909.881.4516, or go to the Foundation website  HYPERLINK "http://www.supportstbernardine.org/"http://www.supportstbernardine.org  to learn more about how to support   St.Bernardine Medical Center  and continue their tradition of service and caring.

We welcome Barbara Babcock is our 'newest' reporter for the Black Voice News. With over 30 years experience in Fund Raising and "Out of the Box" Public Relations experience, Barbara is known as "The DOT Connector" both in the IE, and also internationally. .If you would like to contact her with stories or ideas, especially about the non profit sector, you can contact her at "mailto:BarbaraBabcock@gmail.com"BarbaraBabcock@gmail.com.

Green Riverside Website Nominated for Web’s Top Honor

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New York – The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences recently announced that Riverside Public Utilities’ (RPU) informative website GreenRiverside.com was selected as a finalist in their 16th Annual Webby Awards.

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet including websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, as well as mobile sites and apps.

GreenRiverside.com was nominated as one of five finalists in this year’s Government category alongside websites by NASA, the National Parks Service, Challenge.gov and Slavery Footprint.

RPU launched the website in January 2007 to help keep its customer-owners informed of the latest environmental “green” news and promote its many energy and water conservation rebate programs as well as sustainable living practices. The easy to remember site was upgraded in 2011 to provide Riverside residents with a central point of reference to find out more about the city’s and utility’s green efforts and includes various informative maps and publications as well as links to RPU’s award-winning Green Power Report radio show.

While Academy judges like Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, musician David Bowie, and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom will select the Webby winners, the public can help decide who takes home a Webby People’s Voice Award. The public can vote for GreenRiverside.com through April 26 at http://pv.webbyawards.com/#ballot/62 All winners will be announced May 1.

Acts of Kindness Becoming a Trend?

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By Tamara Florence

So many times as people, we forget that we’re occupying the world with others. We get caught up in our families, rush hour traffic and crowded grocery stores which allow us only to see only what’s in front of us. Seldom are we looking to see what’s going on in the lives of others and how we can help those surrounding our communities.

This year the youth of Cathedral of Praise International Ministries, Bishop Craig Johnson, were motivated to go a step further and partake in random acts of kindness including: visiting convalescent homes, helping the elderly with groceries, helping others with homework etc… Out of the Acts of Kindness (AOK), a ministry was formed. Over the last 6 months they were asked to perform over 1600 acts of kindness.

Saturday, April 14, 2012, the Orange Committee hosted their first Orange Extravaganza gala commemorating the youth of AOK. There were over 50 youth represented at the event. All were acknowledged for their efforts with a plaque. Awards were issued for the most hours dedicated to the helping in the community (1st through 4th place) and also for the AOK members that sold the most ads for the event. Also, the AOK members received an honorary certificate from Assembly member Wilmer Amina Carter. Guests included: Cheryl Brown (Field representative for Assembly member Wilmer Amina Carter’s office), Mayor Aquanetta Warren (Fontana) and Danielle Gates (Dance instructor of City Gym).

Hearing the AOK’s motivation will hopefully start a trend that will inspire others to do the same in their communities.

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