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Firing up the faithful, reassuring the skeptics

By Chris Levister

Characterized by what California delegates Linnie Frank Bailey and James Dudley call a sea of diversity, thousands of Democrats gathered at the 2012 Democratic National Convention four years after then Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) became the first African-American in U.S. history to accept the party's nomination.

With the nation’s economy in tatters and the near-rapturous adulation waning, the Democratic faithful gathered again, this time in support of national unity and a president who carries the power and the burden of incumbency.

“Our mission is to convince Americans to stick with the president they know rather than gamble on someone new,” said Bailey, a challenging task given the backdrop of 8.3 percent unemployment and tepid economic growth. “The main question we are being asked here is, ‘Are we better off than we were four years ago’,” said Dudley – “the answer is absolutely yes.”

Four years ago, America was bogged down in two costly and deadly wars, the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month, the stock market had crashed, Wall Street had to be rescued with a $700 billion bailout, the auto industry was on the verge of collapse, and color-coded terror alerts reminded us of the lingering threat of Osama Bin Laden.

Under President Obama, we've ended the war in Iraq, created 4.5 million new jobs, doubled the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and generated record profits for the auto industry. And that's to say nothing of health care reform, financial reform, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and hundreds of other major accomplishments from this administration. “The way to get the president re-elected is by spreading the gospel of the truth,” declared the convention’s oldest delegate Elzena Johnson of Terry, Mississippi – born in 1914.

“This is what America looks like, inclusive, open, transparent,” Dudley said of the 5,559 delegates and 407 alternates circulating the convention floor. Half of all the delegates are women, 27 percent are black, with a record number of 800 Latino delegates and 644 youth delegates. There were a lot of testimonials like Johnson’s, Dudley’s and Bailey’s, but it was First Lady Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Convention, and she used it masterfully — carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.

“President Barack Obama is just like you. He knows the American Dream because he's lived it,” the first lady told an enthusiastic and adoring crowd in an address intended to reassure voters that her husband shares their values – hard work, perseverance and optimism. “He believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Mrs. Obama never mentioned the president's Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who grew up in a world of privilege and wealth.

But the point was clear as she weaved a tapestry of their early years together, when money was tight and times were tough, when they were "so in love, and so in debt." She reminisced about the man who now occupies the Oval Office pulling his favorite coffee table out of the trash and wearing dress shoes that were a size too small. And she told stories about a president who still takes time to eat dinner with his daughters nearly every night, answering their questions about the news and strategizing about middle-school friendships. With a mix of personal anecdotes and policy talk, Mrs. Obama's speech was by far her most political yet.

“Today, after so many struggles, triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are – it reveals who you are,” she said. Mrs. Obama followed an electrifying speech by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the first Latino to keynote a Democratic National Convention. His national debut put the Harvard-educated Texan on the national map, recalling the way that Barack Obama's keynote did in 2004, when he was still a state legislator.

With a mixture of soft laughter and gentle scorn, Castro described Romney, one of the wealthiest men ever nominated for president, as “a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it.” “Their theory's been tested. It failed. Our economy failed under Republican policies. The middle class paid the price,” he said. “Mitt Romney just doesn't get it. But Barack Obama gets it.” Tuesday, Democrats ratified a party platform that echoes Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthy and reflects his shift on gay marriage by supporting it explicitly.

In a nod to dissenters on gay marriage, the platform expresses support for “the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.” Convention speakers include, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, John Perez, Speaker of the California Assembly, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Representatives Judy Chu and Karen Bass.

On Wednesday night, former President Bill Clinton will deliver what is widely seen as the most important speech of the 2012 Democratic National Convention outside Mr. Obama's own, when Mr. Clinton will place Mr. Obama's name in nomination.

“He reminds the nation, and particularly independent and swing voters, that things were pretty prosperous in the 1990s because he rejected a lot of the Republican policies that are being advanced now,” said Mike McCurry, who was Mr. Clinton's press secretary for four years. “He instantly evokes the memories of when things were a little better for Americans, and can credential Obama as a guy who will make the tough choices.” President Obama's crucial Thursday night acceptance speech was moved indoors due to dire weather forecasts.

Convention watchers say the switch deprives Democrats of what they had considered a major opportunity to register thousands of new North Carolina voters in a crucial swing state.

USC Stays on Script in Season Opener

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USC 49 Hawaii 10

Trojans’ offense flexes its muscle early with 49 points in the season opener

By Gary Montgomery

BVN Staff

Los Angeles – The 2012 USC Trojan football season is without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated seasons in the last five years for USC football fans. Not since the days of Marcus Allen and Charles White has there been so much to be excited about.

USC returns with one of the most talented offensive units in the country led by a four-year starter at quarterback who came in 6th in the Heisman balloting last season. Just having a four-year starter at the helm is exciting in itself but when you add two 1000-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee that nobody in the conference could cover last season you have something really special.

Barkley and Lee wasted no time in giving the 93,607 Trojan fans what they came to see. On the first play from scrimmage Barkley flipped a short pass to Lee who slipped a defender and raced 75-yards for USC’s first touchdown. Saturday’s season opener also included a tribute to the late Junior Seau who took his own life in May. Junior’s parents and his children gathered on the Coliseum grass during a timeout for a tearful ceremony.

Also, adding to the excitement, USC former offensive coordinator, Norm Chow made his head coaching debut with Hawaii. Chow was the Trojans Offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2005 where he helped Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart each win Heisman trophies. Ironically, when Chow left USC for Nashville and a chance to coach rookie quarterback Vince Young his replacement was none other than Lane Kiffin. Chows return was definitely not as amicable as he would have liked. The Warriors remained winless against the Trojans and advanced their head to head record to 0-8 lifetime against USC. USC’s overall offensive performance was not far off last year’s pace but not flawless. Certainly nothing like the season ending barrage they unleashed against UCLA. “I would give us a grade of ‘C’,” said wide receiver Robert Woods when asked about his team’s performance. “We did some good things tonight but overall it was not our best performance and we will play much better,” continued Woods.

Woods tough critique of his team’s performance was based on several obvious rough spots during the game. Normally sure handed Marqise Lee had a couple of drops on easy attempts. “It’s frustrating; you practice these things over and over every day. When you do that you expect to make those plays in the game and when you don’t it’s frustrating,” said Lee. Barkley threw for 372-yards, Marqise Lee had 10 catches for 197-yards but Woods was held to only 42-yards receiving. Although he caught two touchdowns, the Hawaii defense was able to take away one of USC’s big guns.

The other concern for USC should be the running game. The trio of Silas Redd, D.J. Morgan and Curtis McNeal only produced 98 total rushing yards. The Trojans will likely need a more balanced attack at some point in the season. The defense’s performance was solid but will need a better opponent to determine its level of improvement.

G. Montgomery can be reached at HYPERLINK "mailto:sports@blackvoicenews.com"sports@blackvoicenews.com

SB Bankruptcy Plan Would Slash 100 Jobs, Cut Services Heated discussion highlights dysfunctional history

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By Black Voice News Staff Report

The fight over a dramatic austerity plan for bankrupt San Bernardino continues. It escalated at Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council when city officials weighed a plan that would slash jobs, close libraries, and contract out some key services to private companies.

The plan would shave $22.4 million off the city’s $45.8 million general fund budget deficit. “We have no choice. We don’t have sufficient funds, Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller told the council. “We have to make the deep cuts.”

The proposed plan would eliminate more than 100 jobs, including 41 non-sworn positions in the Police Department and other department including managers, clerical staff and janitors. Twenty positions were slated to be cut from the Fire Department, triggering demotions but no layoffs. Several council members took issue with the proposal calling it “ill conceived”. “I think we should vote on a plan that relies on experts. Not members of this City Council.” Rikke Van Johnson said referring to an alternate plan proposed by Councilman Chas Kelly. Councilwoman Wendy McCammack refused to support a plan to outsource key city services including trash – a long running point of contention between Mayor Pat Morris and some members of the council. The discussion erupted into finger pointing and outbursts from the audience when Morris refused to call for a vote on the plan until all department heads weighed in. There were loud boos directed at City Attorney James F. Penman, who openly accused Morris of packing City Hall with his supporters.

Unable to agree on a proposal to guide the city through bankruptcy, the council adjourned and decided to reconvene Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 3 p.m. A proposal by councilman Chas Kelley, on the table late Tuesday night, failed by a vote of 4-3.

Girl Scouts Meet to Discuss Diversity, Inclusio

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By Jordan Brown

The San Gorgonio Girl Scouts took the time to meet with troop leaders, former scouts, and scout parents about diversity and inclusion of scouts of color. One hundred people, mostly women, gathered this last weekend for a Diversity Summit with San Gorgonio Girl Scouts Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Harnisch Breunig.

The Summit is a continuation of an over half-century conversation about how girls and women of color fit in scouting. The first scouts were admitted in the early 1940’s in the southeastern United States. Racial inclusion was not national scouting policy until many years later. In the Inland Empire, there were various board members of the Boys and Girls Scouts who encouraged the development of scouting efforts on the Westside of San Bernardino, the area’s Black mecca. Cheryl and Hardy Brown, co-owners of Brown Publishing Company that publishes the Black Voice News, were among those who started troops and encouraged scouting in the area.

Ms. Brown addressed last weekend’s gathering with the story of how her eldest daughter, Lynn, first joined her father at Boy Scout events because none were available for girls in her neighborhood. It was not until Ms. Brown helped form Troop 252 at Rio Vista Elementary School that girls and their families had opportunity to engage the leadership development and programming of this lauded organization. Additionally, she shared how she was impressed enough with scouting to remain a troop leader for over a decade and being honored as a “Green Angel” for dedicated service to the organization. She was also a missionary ambassador to Cuernavaca in Morelos, Mexico on behalf of the City of San Bernardino and the Girl Scouts.

The Cuernavaca visit was an opening for other Mexican cities to become sister cities of San Bernardino and help foster understanding and respect across cultures. Ms. Brown constantly made the point that the Girl Scouts were in unique position to promote tolerance and affirmation irrespective of background.

The meeting was a positive step in reminding all involved with the Girl Scouts to honorably try to serve God and country, help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

RUSD Leads Healthy Changes to School Lunches

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By Ashley Jones

Under First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids (HHFK) Act of 2010, Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) has implemented major improvements to their nutritional programs in hopes of promoting better nutrition and reducing childhood obesity. RUSD currently serves 43,000 students and has 47 school sites.

Childhood obesity in California is a growing epidemic with 17 percent (approximately 12.5 million) of children ages 2-19 suffering from this disease. In response, RUSD will now offer both fruits and vegetables every day; increased offerings of whole grain foods; fat-free or low-fat milk; limited calories based on your child’s age; and decreased saturated fats, trans fats, sugars and sodium in school meals.

Prior to recent regulations, RUSD began to transform their nutrition services in 2002 with the implementation of salad bars. The first salad bar appeared seven years ago at Jefferson Elementary School in Riverside. The salad bar concept was introduced and led by Rodney Taylor, RUSD’s current Director of Nutritional Services. Mr. Taylor has served in school nutrition for 16 years and joined RUSD in 2002. Upon his arrival, RUSD had a debt of $3.1 million in the food service fund. Through the salad bar revenue, he not only resolved the budget, but also profited greatly.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that serving nutritional meals in schools are too expensive,” said Taylor. “Here I am, 16 years into this, and I still have people telling me that this model cannot work. I stand before crowds and say, why are you telling me you cannot do what I have been doing for 16 years? Why do you not tell them the truth? Tell them you do not want to work that hard. This is hard work, and it is for those that are committed to children,” said Taylor.

For a while, Taylor faced great opposition with the salad bar concept. Principals and employees did not want them. Taylor was fortunate to find Jefferson Elementary, the right school to adopt the concept. In its first day, 675 students ate from the salad bar. After that, about 300 salad bar meals were sold a day. The success of the salad bars grew and soon enough, 29 of the 31 elementary schools adopted the concept. Today, all of the elementary schools have the salad bar. In the last 7 years, Taylor said kids’ eating habits and their attitudes toward food have evolved. Children are now consuming more fruits and vegetables.

In 2010, RUSD introduced Fresh Express to its high schools and middle schools. Fresh Express includes a variety of specialty salads and sandwiches such as the Wally (Waldrof salad), mandarin salad, fruit parfait, and the fajita chicken on ciabatta. The Fresh Express menu was established by the Executive Chef and Catering Supervisor, Ryan Douglas.

Chef Douglas was a former Culinary Operations Manager at UC Riverside. “We have to be way more creative on how we present our food to the students. The creativity aspect bumps up against the wall by what we can give [the students] because our menu has to meet federal guidelines,” said Douglas. Chef Douglas is also working with the Riverside County Department of Social Services to produce a video program that aims to help low income families prepare healthy meals and enroll in CalFresh, the federal food stamp program. Reportedly, millions of dollars in food stamp benefits go unclaimed in Riverside County annually. The videos, produced by RUSD high school students, will be shown in lobbies of WIC offices (both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), county offices, senior centers, community centers, and health clinics.

RUSD will continue to transform its nutritional services by furthering the reduction of processed foods, expanding the use locally grown fruits and veggies and continuing to establish the district’s wellness policy. More information about RUSD’s Nutrition Services can be found by visiting HYPERLINK "http://www.rusdlink.org"www.rusdlink.org or by calling the Nutrition Services Department at 951-352-6740.

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