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By BVN Staff Report

When Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal two weeks ago press coverage centered on his proposal for more cuts, tax hikes, and numbers showing that California’s budget deficit is nearly $6 billion more than he projected in January.

But as the placard of a protester staging a rally against home foreclosures outside the Capitol in Sacramento read: “The devil is in the details”.

Little did he know, hundreds of millions of dollars meant to provide relief to California’s struggling homeowners is instead being diverted to close the state’s ballooning budget gap.

The money earmarked for foreclosure prevention was part of a national bank settlement valued at $25 billion. California was awarded $400 million from the payout negotiated with five big banks accused of defrauding homeowners. Gov. Brown has proposed using the bulk of the state’s share to plug the budget and pay other state debts.

According to published reports Shaun Donovan, the federal housing secretary, has been privately urging states to use the money for its intended use.

“Unintended uses fail to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the settlement to bring real, concerted relief to homeowners and communities in which they live,” he said.

The governor’s move and resulting national publicity has put California Attorney General Kamala Harris in an awkward position. Ms. Harris worked for well over a year to reach an acceptable settlement with banks that had harmed California homeowners with robo-signing and other mortgage servicing abuses. So far, 27 states are using the settlement only as intended.

“While the state is undeniably facing a difficult budget gap, these funds should be used to help Californians stay in their homes,” Ms. Harris said in a statement. She had promised to distribute half of the funds to housing assistance groups. The other half was designated for investigation of mortgage-related crime.

“California needs every dime it can get to balance its budget. But mortgage settlement funds should be off limits,” The Center for Responsible Lending said in a statement. Using the money for something other than homeowner relief adds insult to injury, several housing and civil rights groups warned.

“African Americans and Latinos were targeted by big banks – seems its big government’s chance to spin for green on the wheel of deceptive practices,” said an angry protester.

No On Prop 29 Doing Business Without Contract

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By Aubry Stone

It’s that time of year again. Our mailboxes are full of flyers asking us to vote for someone or something for one reason or another. I just wonder when the powers that be will figure out the importance of bringing the African American community to the table long before the mailers to support propositions hit the airwaves and land in our mailboxes.

This year it’s Proposition 29 that I can’t in good conscious support. If the California government collects more taxes from selling cigarettes, will any of that money address the racial disparities in treatment for heart disease or increase health insurance for poor people suffering from asthma or bronchitis? As I read the purpose of Proposition 29, none of these issues are discussed, so I am led to believe, this is another Proposition that ignores issues that most affect communities of color and yet we are still courted to support it.

My Black constituents should say no. We should no longer support efforts to increase bureaucracies that do not encourage our input. For that matter, Prop. 29 creates a nine member board that is surely to collect six figure salaries, administrators, high paid consultants and an expensive infrastructure while current state employee salaries are cut by five percent and schools continue to reel into the abyss.

The drafters of Prop. 29 made sure that new revenue steers clear of any education funding, because it was written to circumvent Prop. 98, which requires 40 percent of general funds go towards education. This is a political maneuver to keep money out of schools while the achievement gap continues to grow and teachers and counselors are laid off.

In addition, we cannot support an initiative that allows out-of-state researchers to benefit while California businesses, researchers, and our overall workforce foot the bill for the state’s $15 billion deficit. This idea needs to go back to the drawing board and the drafters should be inclusive of all California communities that will ultimately be affected by a poorly designed policy destined to go up in smoke.

Aubry L. Stone, is currently the President/CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce. He has aggressively led the organization in such public policy issues as: Prop 187, co-authored the 9th circuit injunction against implementation of Prop 209, publicly advocated against Brownfields, the urban environment, insurance redlining the inner city impact of bank acquisitions/mergers and leads the charge of new and emerging markets. He currently sits on Greenlining Institute/Pacific Gas and Electric Company's 21st Century Leadership Partnership Board.

Flex Your (Political) Muscles

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By Cheryl Pearson-McNeil

Special to the NNPA

November is only six short months away, so the 2012 campaign for the White House is moving full-speed ahead. Because we live in the miracle of this fantastically dizzying digital age with news and information at our fingertips and coming at us from infinite sources; and because more than 274 million Americans are connected to the Internet, you probably won’t be surprised that we have converged upon the Internet for any and all tidbits surrounding the presidential candidates since the beginning of the year. Even though Mitt Romney is the presumed Republican nominee, I think it’s fascinating to see which candidates attracted the most visitors to their sites. Don’t you? Aw, come on, aren’t you a little curious?

Nielsen recently profiled the voter-age audience (18+) to see who was checking out which of the (once upon a time not so long ago) five presidential candidates. The sample was extensive, covering 15 different sites during January 2012, including: ABCNEWS Digital Network, CBS News Network, CNN Digital Network, Daily Kos, drudgereport.com, Fox News Digital Network, Google News, Huffington Post, MSNBC Digital Network, NPR, NYTimes.com, Politico, USATODAY.com, Wall Street Journal Digital and Yahoo! News Websites. Any of those among your favorites? • In January, President Obama’s site received more unique American adult visitors than the four Republican candidates’ sites combined. (“Unique” is defined by web analytics as unduplicated or counting only once to a website over a specified time period, as opposed to “new” or “returning.”) • Hispanics comprised 17% of MittRomney.com, 37% more Hispanics than were active online during the entire month of January 2012 (12%).

• RickSantorum.com attracted the lion’s share of women visitors (60%), which was the largest male/female split among the candidates. • Interestingly, 76-year-old Ron Paul, the oldest of the Republican hopefuls, drew the youngest visitors. More than a third of his hits were from members of the 18-34 group. Though it was almost neck-and-neck with Newt Gingrich with male visitors, 56% and 51%, respectively, RonPaul2012.com won by 4.3 percentage points.

• Newt Gingrich’s website guests were the most affluent and educated. Twenty-seven percent reported earnings of more than $100K and half had either a Bachelor’s or Post-Graduate degree. The analysis of why American voters visit which sites is up to the political pundits. Part of the research Nielsen conducted also focused on the News & Information sites that feature political content. Are you surprised to learn that Google News wins the race for the highest concentration of young visitors, those 18-24? Survey results showed that 23% more 18-34 year olds visited Google News in January 2012 than were active online. (It is heartening to me to know that our young people are interested, engaged and involved in our political process. My son is only a few years away from legally casting his first vote. Sigh.) More results: • The next age demographic, Americans 25-49, are most likely to visit Politico and Drudge Report (31%).

• Of all the sites studied, NPR enjoyed the largest growth in visitors (up 21% since October 2011). • 28% of visitors to Wall Street Journal Digital have a household income of $100K or more. • Surfers who land on the Drudge Report page were most likely to have a Bachelor’s degree, which is more than double the percentage of all active college grad Internet users (36% vs. 17%). • College graduates were more likely to visit a specific candidate’s site than visit a News & Information site.

I’m always telling you that knowledge is power, and stressing how you wield power as consumers and how important it is that we pick and choose to use that power wisely. Well, I hope you don’t tire of hearing me stress this point. This election is important – no matter which side of the political aisle you may stand on. Read. Watch. Listen. Learn – so you can make the most informed decision possible. The choice and power are in your hands. Cheryl Pearson-McNeil is senior vice president of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Nielsen. For more information and studies go to www.nielsenwire.com

Concert in the Courtyard to feature Lady and the Tramps

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Apple Valley – There are only two more weeks of Concerts in The Courtyard. Join the Town of Apple Valley at Apple Valley Commons this week to hear Lady and the Tramps play acoustic variety from 5:30 to 7:30 this Thursday.

The Courtyard at Apple Valley Commons is a beautiful outdoor dining area at the northwest corner of Highway 18 and Dale Evans Parkway. Pick up dinner or a snack first at one of the shopping center eateries including Quizno’s, Round Table Pizza, Rainbow Frozen Yogurt, Fresh Wok, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Starbucks, Panda Express or the Target store deli. Bring a chair as seating is limited. This event is made possible through the generosity of Apple Valley Commons and Lewis Retail Centers and is hosted by the Town of Apple Valley. For more information visit www.AppleValley.org or call (760) 240-7000 x 7071.

A Tribute to President Albert Karnig Celebrating 15 Years of Excellence

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By Lea Michelle Cash

This past Saturday, the James & Aerianthi Coussoulis Arena, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) never looked better. Over seven hundred people filled the arena floor, elegantly dressed, to dine on five star cuisine and salute a President and First Lady for the years that they have given to a grateful university and community.

The ending results of President Karnig’s tenure as the 3rd President of CSUSB are significantly amazing—and perhaps more so—down right impressive. Hence, in celebrating President Karnig’s presidency, it is difficult knowing just where to begin. He and his wife are a living testament to the saying, which has been their guiding light: “In the last analysis, the university exists for the students and the region we serve.” President Karnig disdains the hero worship that often accompanies amazing and unbelievable success. Fifteen years ago, he set his sights on the future of CSUSB and developing a strategic plan that San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris and CSUSB magazine writer Koren Wetmore titled him “The Sculptor.”

Wetmore writes, “…that innate ability to assess the reality, dream the potential and achieve the impossible. Under his leadership, CSUSB grew, despite the economic forces that challenged it.” In serving a community, CSUSB’s mission went well beyond providing a top education. The accolades, honors, awards, achievements and successes are seemingly countless bringing a diverse community together raising the hopes and expectations of an entire region to incredible heights—for that he is a hero. Literally, months ago after President Karnig’s retirement announcement, I continued to think, how do you thank an amazing human being who has taken you from crayons to perfume? Someone must have felt as I did. Because continually along with his favorite song, “What A Wonderful World” played as background music, was the legendary tune, “To Sir, With Love.” Therefore, for 15 years of stellar excellence, if the Karnigs wanted the sky, a grateful university and community tried to write across the sky in letters, that soar a thousand feet high, “To Sir With Love”. It was a beautiful and extraordinary evening. The standing ovations kept coming as the tributes rolled in from multiple distinguishing speakers on the program, which included Jack Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Stater Bros to Herb Fischer, Retired San Bernardino County Schools Superintendent of Schools. ValLimar Jansen provided a music tribute, and award winning fine artist Berni E. unveiled the Karnigs gift sculpture.

In addition, so did the money. President Karnig’s retirement tribute rose over $400,000 for the President Academic Excellence Scholarship (PAES) Fund. This Scholarship is the first of its kind in the Inland Empire to attract many of the best and brightest students from local high schools, who could attend virtually any school they desire, but chose USUSB.

Currently there are 150 PAES scholars at CSUSB—more than at any other University in the nation.

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