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COMMENTARY: Actively Working For The future

CHARLESTON CHRONICLE — Set a goal, keep your eyes on the prize and work toward it. That’s what you have to do.

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By Barney Blakeney

Set a goal, keep your eyes on the prize and work toward it. That’s what you have to do.

I was sittin’ here trying to figure out what the heck I’m gon write about this week. I had an idea in mind, but things didn’t go my way – one thing didn’t pan out and the other thing got bent in another direction. So here I am at the final hour trying to figure out what I’m gon do. But the goal is to write a column. I kept my eye on the objective and continued to work toward it. Then it happened!  As the song says, “You gotta take what you got to get what you want sometimes, ya’ll. Gimme the bridge now, gimme the bridge now! I feel like bustin’ loose!”

I had on my mind writing about young people and activism. For the past lil while I’ve been thinking us old geezers really need to get a grip. The cycle of life dictates you get older and you die – no one lives forever. That’s the way it is, and perhaps, the way it should be. We talk about how much we love our children, but don’t plan for the future – the place and time in which they will live. We selfishly insure that our lives are comfortable, but don’t work toward their comfort.

Yeah, we give it a lot of lip service, talking about how much we do to make things better for our loved ones. And some of us actually fake the funk doing stuff that looks like we’re pushing the needle forward either knowing full well or deluding ourselves to think that we’re accomplishing something. Rev. Nelson Rivers said something recently that’s stuck with me – we must assess our work to insure we’re producing the desired result.

So I asked myself when it comes to activism, are we engaging our young people in ways that help them create the world they want to live in after we’re gone. I only can see so much. I looked at our civil rights organizations and asked if they are engaging young people so they continue what obviously is a perpetual struggle for equal rights and opportunities. Some do, some don’t. I looked at our businesses, asked the same question and got the same answer – some do and some don’t. Looked at our social organizations and asked that question getting the same answer, some do and some don’t.

So what do we get from that hit and miss strategy of inconsistency? The same thing we already have – inadequate civil rights, businesses and social opportunities.

I guess it’s hard teaching young people to become activists. Maybe that’s why our elders didn’t worry so much about it; they just did the darn thing. “Don’t do as I do. Do as I SAY!” they demanded. I talked to a young sister who thinks my generation didn’t always provide that kind of role model for them. They often didn’t see the kind of leadership in us that we saw in our elders, she said. We got too comfortable with stuff and thought that was the end game, she believes. We sought stuff and forgot about substance.

This week a local civil rights organization led a protest of public education at a Charleston school board meeting – classic direct action move. It’s been effective in the past and can be effective today. But I’m wondering if it will be. Racist oppressors have proven methods of getting around direct action. They either confront it with overwhelming force or wait for the passion to subside then develop alternatives that appease the discontented. In the end they pretty much maintain the status quo.

This publication and the daily newspaper publishers are working on a story about the effort to integrate public eating establishments in the 1960s. The millennials of that time conducted direct action sit-ins at segregated eating establishments, ultimately succeeding in integrating them. The lunch counters of today still are integrated, but most eating establishments still are very much segregated. And sadly, the few Blacks who are allowed to eat at those exclusive places feel so privileged, they ignore the segregation. Again, we place more value on stuff than substance.

My concern about the public education protests is that it may fail to produce the desired results. First of all, you can bet them folks are figuring how to end the disruptive activism of that direct action. If they have to put cops at the front door they’ll do that – it may not be legal, but they’ll do it! Or maybe they’ll go after the ring leaders. That usually shuts Black folks down!

We lost 50 years of civil rights activism because they cut off the heads of our two-headed snake – Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. Whatever they decide, those folks will come to shut down the protest. I’m concerned our leadership may not have a plan beyond knee-jerk reactions. What’s the plan B? And why do Black folks expect white folks to education their children anyway? That’s never happened. In fact, they made a law against educating Black children! In the history of America white folks never have educated Black kids! We always had our own schools.

Demanding a quality education for all children is the right thing to do. White folks need to get a clue because their kids don’t get a quality education either. We’re all paying taxes to give big business tax incentives to locate in our community – businesses which import their workforce from other communities. That ain’t Black or white. That’s business! And the white kids at segregated specialty schools are part of that business as well. They’re being kept just as dumb! They also are not getting the quality education that prepares them for the multicultural world of the future in which they will live.

Where do we go from here? We set a goal of producing the best possible world for our children and grandchildren, keep our eyes on that prize and work toward it. It’s hard, uncomfortable work, but they’re worth it.

This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle

The Charleston Chronicle

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Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas: Tracie Hunter’s Conviction is Unlawful

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” Thomas said. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

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“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.
“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Former Judge Tracie Hunter, who became Hamilton County Ohio’s first black juvenile court judge, is receiving support from Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, who argues that her conviction should be overturned.

Thomas said Hunter didn’t receive a fair trial and that she appears to have been the victim of corruption.

After being convicted of providing confidential documents to her brother in an attempt to help save his job as a corrections officer and exhausting her appeals, Hunter was literally dragged off to jail last month.

“No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” said Thomas. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Prosecutor Joe Deters filed a motion requesting special prosecutors for the case against Hunter.

On that same day, Judge Beth Myers filed an entry with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts appointing special prosecutors, to fully investigate Hunter.

“By filing the motion without due diligence, Judge Myers subsequently appointed Prosecutor Joe Deters’ lawyers and friends who have represented [Deters] in personal litigation,” said Thomas.

One of the attorneys is a partner in the law firm that represented Deters in his divorce, the senator noted, adding, “There are numerous examples that will show just how close these attorneys are to Deters.”

When publicly questioned regarding the appointments, Myers said she “dealt with things as they were presented to me. I will continue to do that,” according to Thomas.

Deters has maintained that he didn’t recommend the appointments and that they were done strictly by the Common Pleas Court. However, Thomas said the appointed lawyers have twice referenced Deters’ role in the appointments.

“Joe Deters requested a special prosecutor because he had a conflict. As such, by law, his only participation is to make the request and provide reasoning,” Thomas said.

“Judge Myers’ role is to decide whether to honor the request and if so, to appoint with the assurance that there are no conflicts,” he said.

“It appears neither Deters nor Myers followed the law to assure Judge Hunter received a fair trial, free of any biases and [Myers] appears to have played a role in unlawfully securing a public contract,” Thomas said.

By appointing Deters’ lawyers, any reasonable person can conclude there are inherent conflicts, Thomas continued.

“First, the mere personal relationship speaks for itself. Second, by honoring his recommendation to hire his personal lawyers, in essence, [Myers] played a role in using her public office to secure a public contract of approximately $700,000 for the personal lawyers of another public official,” Thomas said.

A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said they hadn’t seen the complaint.

Yost’s office declined to comment.

As Thomas submitted his letter, attorneys for Hunter formally asked that she be released.

The judge who carried out her sentence is reportedly waiting for the special prosecutor in the case to respond before deciding.

Hunter, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, has had the support of so many including The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance; the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP; the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the Black United Front; the Southern Christian Leadership Council; the Nation of Islam and others.

“They’ve tried to stop me from telling my truth and all I have is my truth,” she told NNPA Newswire in June.

She said she had mostly refrained from giving interviews because the local media has only used sound bites to try and embarrass her.

“I’ve lost hope in the justice system which is why I became a judge in the first place,” Hunter said. “I’ve not lost faith in God even though they’ve tried to drive me out of this city.”

Stacy M. Brown

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.)

My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.
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“Save Energy, Save Dollars” plan asks City Council to pay for energy upgrades for poor

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Your home isn’t as energy efficient as you think it is. And if the City of Memphis and MLGW seriously want to ease the energy burden on low-income families, they should start with fixing leaky faucets, sealing drafty windows and other optimizations outlined in a bold new plan recently unveiled by Friends of The Earth (FOE).

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At a Friends of The Earth event at the Bickford Senior Center, activists paused to explain the “Memphis Save Energy Save Dollars” proposal. (Photo: Lee Eric Smith)

Proposal estimates $247 million to optimize homes while creating 330 jobs over five years.

By Lee Eric Smith, lesmith@tsdmemphis.com

“If Memphis Light Gas & Water’s utility rates are among the lowest in the country, why is my bill so darn high?”

Whether you’ve asked yourself that question after opening your latest MLGW bill or gone a step further to complain to MLGW and/or city officials, it’s a question that seemingly defies logic. Either somebody is lying or . . .

Your home isn’t as energy efficient as you think it is. And if the City of Memphis and MLGW seriously want to ease the energy burden on low-income families, they should start with fixing leaky faucets, sealing drafty windows and other optimizations outlined in a bold new plan recently unveiled by Friends of The Earth (FOE).

“When you talk about the energy burden, you’re talking about poor people who are making decisions between groceries, medicine and for some, even being able to get to work,” said Herman Morris, a former MLGW executive now championing the effort. “And that’s a burden not because of (the utility rate) necessarily, but because their home is energy inefficient.

“They’ve got cracks and leaks that really result in them (cooling outdoors in the summer and heating outdoors in the winter),” Morris added. “All of the energy they buy goes out the door through those cracks.”

The plan, called “Save Energy, Save Dollars,” calls upon the Memphis City Council to fund a program that would provide energy optimizations and upgrades to up to more than 70,000 lower income homes over five years. The plan estimates that the average participant could save as much as $44 per month – all while enjoying a more comfortable home to boot.

‘Recipes’ for success

The full 36-page plan, available as a downloadable PDF, provides two main “recipes” for achieving those savings.

During the “direct install” phase, trained experts would evaluate and install upgrades like low-flow showerheads, LED lights, duct sealing and insulation for pipes and water heaters. Smart thermostats are also included because they can communicate with MLGW’s smart meters to restrict usage at MLGW’s most expensive times.

Some direct install homes will also be eligible for weatherization – more costly measures like replacing inefficient refrigerators and air conditioners, upgrading insulation and even replacing windows and doors.

All other low-income households would receive a seven percent reduction in their utility bills, according to the plan.

To maximize impact, the plan takes a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach, focusing on areas of Memphis like Frayser, Orange Mound, Whitehaven, Berclair and North Memphis. A countywide campaign would allow low-income households anywhere in the county to participate by appointment. The plan also has incentives for landlords to make the upgrades in their rental properties.

“The kilowatt hour you save is the cheapest and cleanest kilowatt hour on Earth,” said David Freeman, former chair of the Tennessee Valley Authority. “We can help ourselves in this city by just initiating a major efficiency program.”

At what cost?

Adopted as is, the SESD plan would cost $247 million over five years. They even recommend the city use municipal bonds to fund the effort.

But while Friends of the Earth acknowledge the plan isn’t cheap, they also say that if easing financial stress on the poorest Memphians is a priority, there’s no better way to invest the money.

“There’s been enough talk. People know they’re poor. And they know that their homes are leaking. It’s time that somebody did something about it,” Freeman said. “They borrow money to build a power plant, they can borrow money to invest in the homes of poor people. That will create more energy per dollar than what they’re paying TVA.”

Earlier this year, the Memphis City Council declined an MLGW request to raise rates to pay for needed infrastructure repairs – upgrades that could help prevent power outages during storms.

Morris said that those infrastructure upgrades are absolutely needed, but they don’t have to come at the expense of the proposed SESD plan.

“You’ve got to have an infrastructure that’s capable of delivering the energy to the people,” Morris said. “I also believe that you don’t necessarily need to stop at the door. We’re saying that you take that infrastructure argument into the homes where the energy is going to be consumed, and improve that infrastructure, so that you’re getting a more efficient delivery. You can’t really separate the two.

“(Say) you are a poor person whose lights are off because you couldn’t afford to pay for all the energy that you’re using inefficiently,” Morris continued. “If you’re a poor person in that situation and your lights off, you don’t need to fix the infrastructure. Because it doesn’t matter if the infrastructure works if your lights are off because you couldn’t pay the bill.

“All we’re saying is, let’s be smart. Let’s be responsible,” he added. “Let’s just stop wasting by not having an energy-efficient envelope where that energy is consumed.”

Grassroots approach

Friends of the Earth announced the plan at a community event at Bickford Senior Center, just north of the Pinch District. There were two bounce houses, a deejay and food. The idea is to increase public awareness – not just about the SESD plan, but to promote energy efficiency as a way of life among low-income residents.

“Some of the responsibility is on the customer,” Morris said. “That will require some changing of habits, of personal conduct. But changing habits isn’t going to help until you fix the environment.

“At MLGW, we used to call it ‘conscientious consumption’ – being a better consumer,” he added. “But to get to responsible consumption, you’ve got to make it possible for that to take place. And it cannot take place when half of every kilowatt hour you use goes out the window.”

Several dozen people attended the FOE event. Informational flyers were passed out, and guests were polled on questions like, “Which city has the highest energy burden?” The music stopped to allow event coordinator Sydney Kessler to spread information about the plan.

“We’re trying to build a strong coalition of folks that we believe can really advocate for this,” said Sydney Kessler, who organized the June 29 event. “We’re going to be talking about how it impacts those communities to make sure those communities are represented when we’re advocating for this plan.”

After multiple emails and phone calls, The New Tri-State Defenderwas unable to confirm if MLGW officials or the Mayor’s Office had seen the proposal or reviewed it in detail.  But 10 local civic and religious organizations have already signed onto the effort urging MLGW and the City Council to adopt the plan.

And Sijuwola Crawford, the #UPTheVote901 leader who co-organized the recent “People’s Convention,” was among those at the event supporting the effort.

“We’ve heard that people are spending as much as 25 percent of their money on utilities,” Crawford said. “If we can lower that, then I think we’re doing what we can to protect the people who are the most vulnerable.”

If it sounds like Friends of the Earth wants to make this an issue in the upcoming municipal elections and beyond, it’s because they do.

“This is an (awareness) campaign that’s going to take it straight to these people that are running for election in October and ask them: Are you going to just keep talking about helping the poor people? Or are you going to do something about it? And here’s something that can be done by just the vote of the city council, instructing the utility to implement this program.

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OP-ED: Why I’m Visiting the Border

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “I shook hands with a 13 year-old-boy whose mother told him to make eye contact and shake hands firmly. Even in the midst of horrific living conditions and imprisonment, children at the facility are still being taught to treat people with respect, while being treated less than human…”

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The crisis at the border will now create a new generation of people of color that will be reeling from the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration.
The crisis at the border will now create a new generation of people of color that will be reeling from the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration.

By Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

As I ventured to the southern border near Laredo, Texas, I could not help but think about the tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton, which are stark reminders of the dangers that plague our communities under the resurgence of white nationalism, domestic terrorism, intolerance and racial hatred germinating from the White House.

People of color are feeling less safe today and any day when we see the realities of domestic terrorism and racially-motivated acts of violence.

However, we’ve yet to see any tangible measures and policy initiatives from President Trump, only the repeated dehumanization of people who are the opposite image of what this administration believes Americans should look like.

This is why it was imperative that the NAACP traveled to Texas, not only to raise awareness and visibility of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border but to examine the current plight of immigrants that have been demonized and made actual targets of Trump’s hate filled rhetoric.

As I walked through the doors of The Holding Institute – a non-profit community center located in Laredo that is committed to alleviating the cruel and inhumane conditions faced by immigrants – I was told that the facility can service as many as 25-100 people a day. Prior to coming to the facility, all processing documentation is given to people in English, which makes it more likely to be processed inaccurately and not properly vetted.

I heard stories of immigrants from Ghana, Congo, and Angola who traveled to Brazil to assist with the construction for the 2016 Olympics, who were kicked out of their home countries and remain at the border seeking asylum. This was a much-needed reminder that the immigration crisis doesn’t just reside within the Hispanic and Latin American community but touches Black people, and people of color from all over the world.

I met a woman named Maricella who had to leave her teenage daughter in Honduras. She traveled 22 days from her country to the border where she was separated from her 27-year-old son and has not seen him since. She now fears bringing her daughter to the border as most young girls have a high-likelihood of being sold into sex-trafficking.

I was also told a story of a young mother and daughter being held at a nearby detention center, who had not had a warm bath in months and were only allowed one-COLD burrito to eat a day to share between the two of them.

I shook hands with a 13 year-old-boy whose mother told him to make eye contact and shake hands firmly. Even in the midst of horrific living conditions and imprisonment, children at the facility are still being taught to treat people with respect, while being treated less than human.

As a community of people who were ripped away from our homeland 400 years ago, Black America understands the detrimental effects of family separation.

The century that followed our emancipation saw the creation of policies that discriminate against Black people and largely excluded them from wealth building, creating an inherited disadvantage for future generations.

Trump’s handling of the immigration system is racist, petty and inhumane. He is doing all he can to punish immigrants that he believes are undeserving this country and uses this as a rallying cry for his base.

The crisis at the border will now create a new generation of people of color that will be reeling from the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration.

My heart may have been troubled when I left the facility but our work at the border doesn’t stop here. In the face of this cruelty, the NAACP – as always – is refusing to agonize, and instead, will continue to organize. We will demand that the Trump Administration and Congress:

  • Immediately remove the “zero tolerance” and “family separation” policies;
  • Limit the time to detain children to 20 days and requires immigration officials to give detained minors a certain quality of life (including food, drinking water, medical assistance in emergencies, toilets, sinks, temperature control);
  • Demand appropriate adequate funding to correct the cruel and inhumane conditions of detention centers and alleviate the current hearings backlog, shortage of judges and administrators to discharge asylum petitions;
  • Call for a moratorium on deportation raids; and
  • Continue to file lawsuits in defense of DREAMERS and on behalf of thousands of hard-working individuals negatively impacted by xenophobia and racist immigration policies

This country was built on the backs of slaves and immigrants. Now is not the time to turn away from the crisis at hand but work to create realistic, sustainable and effective pathways to citizenship for immigrants in America.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

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COMMENTARY: Do Americans believe the polls?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “In 2016, the poll numbers were wrong and many of the political experts don’t believe President Donald Trump is 13 per cent behind the Democrats in the numbers in 2019. White people love President Trump and when he speaks the place is sold out. The economy is good, and the president can blow his horn.”

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According to the Quinnipiac University polls, Mr. Trump trailed Mr. Biden – the clear frontrunner thus far in the Democratic primaries – by a whopping 13 per cent, while Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and others also hold strong advantages. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
According to the Quinnipiac University polls, Mr. Trump trailed Mr. Biden – the clear frontrunner thus far in the Democratic primaries – by a whopping 13 per cent, while Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and others also hold strong advantages. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Are the Democrats leading or is President Trump?

By Roger Caldwell, NNPA Newswire Contributor

There are more than 20 Democratic candidates running for President of the United States, and if you listen to them talk, they all believe they can win the nomination. Everyone knows that most of these candidates know they can’twin, but they canraise money. No individual or agency can keep up with how they spend the money, and the amount is in the billions.

This may not make much sense, but in the first debate spanned 2 nights with 20 candidates up on the stage.

President Donald Trump and the Republicans are laughing at this spectacle and the polls say the majority of leading Democratic candidates would win the election if it were held today. Quinnipiac University’s polls have been deemed “fake news” by the President.

“The Fake News has never been more dishonest than it is today. Thank goodness we can fight back on Social Media. Their new weapon of choice is Fake Polling. Sometimes referred to as Suppression Polls and they suppress the numbers. Had it in 2016, but this is worse,” says President Trump in a Tweet.

Many Americans say the President is wrong, but the Quinnipiac University poll numbers do appear to be incorrect, because 60% of White people support President Trump and that number could be higher. President Trump is always talking about how much he loves America, and it appears that most White Americans love him right back.

White Americans have been searching and looking for a savior, and President Trump is someone they can believe in. Almost their entire life, White folks have been looking for an individual they can put their trust in, and President Trump is their man. “Make America Great Again” is essentially a code slogan that means “Make America White Again,” and it is working under Trump’s administration. Most Americans are not looking for a minister to be the president, and most are comfortable if he does not tell the truth and breaks some rules.

Many politicians are lawyers and they go to school to learn how to bend, stretch, and change the laws, and there is nothing wrong with lying as long as you don’t get caught. President Trump has changed the rules, because he does not care if he is caught lying. In fact, the President will say one thing one day and say something totally different the next day.

Our president believes the system is set up for White men to rule, and when you are caught with your hand in the cookie jar, most of the time money has a way of fixing problems.

The Mass Media in America has awesome power and it can turn a criminal to a saint, and a saint into a criminal. Americans are lazy, and they wait for the news to give them information and it does not matter if it is right or wrong.

According to the Quinnipiac University polls, Mr. Trump trailed Mr. Biden – the clear frontrunner thus far in the Democratic primaries – by a whopping 13 per cent, while Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and others also hold strong advantages.

Trump says these are made up numbers that don’t exist.

In 2016, the poll numbers were wrong and many of the political experts don’t believe President Donald Trump is 13 per cent behind the Democrats in the numbers in 2019. White people love President Trump and when he speaks the place is sold out. The economy is good, and the president can toot his own horn.

The Democrats are all over the place, and the Republicans are in line and following their leader. It is hard to beat Trump especially since the economy is good. And don’t underestimate the love affair between the President and White America.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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PRESS ROOM: Black Probation Officers Awarded as Heroes and Survivors of the Malibu, Woolsey Fire

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Loads of praise and thanks were heaped upon probation officers stationed at a probation camp in the hills of Malibu, who managed to assist their charges and other staff members at Campus Kilpatrick in the evacuation from the fire.

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“We are indeed proud of our probation officers at Campus Kilpatrick, given the challenges they faced during the tragic effects of the Woolsey Fire. Their resourcefulness and collaborative approach with the help of Fire Captain Mullen and the fire fighters working with him resulted in the safe evacuation of the juveniles in their care and staff working at the facility,” stated Hans Liang, president of Local 685 and Mayor of Monterey Park.
“We are indeed proud of our probation officers at Campus Kilpatrick, given the challenges they faced during the tragic effects of the Woolsey Fire. Their resourcefulness and collaborative approach with the help of Fire Captain Mullen and the fire fighters working with him resulted in the safe evacuation of the juveniles in their care and staff working at the facility,” stated Hans Liang, president of Local 685 and Mayor of Monterey Park.

By Cookie Lommel

On November 8th of last year, the Woolsey fire literally burst into flames, burning thousands of acres of land, destroying more than 1643 structures, killing 3 people and causing the evacuation of thousands. By the following day the fire was burning out of control as it headed for The Los Angeles County Probation facility, Campus Kilpatrick. However, due to the Heroic efforts of the probation Officers on duty, who remained at their post protecting the youth in their charge, and the firefighters that arrived and assisted in the evacuation of the campus, tragedy was averted.

This fire would have a huge impact on the annual Local 685 Awards and Scholarship Banquet, which took place last weekend. Loads of praise and thanks were heaped upon probation officers stationed at a probation camp in the hills of Malibu, who managed to assist their charges and other staff members at Campus Kilpatrick in the evacuation from the fire. The Woolsey Fire indeed presented a haunting source of danger for the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s newly built Campus Kilpatrick. As the fire came closer to the probation Campus, there was a decision made to evacuate to Challenger Youth Center in Lancaster, which is the only probation camp not in a fire area.

Los Angeles County Fire Captain Mullen was present to help guide our dedicated probation officers out of this deadly and rapidly burning fire. “We are indeed proud of our probation officers at Campus Kilpatrick, given the challenges they faced during the tragic effects of the Woolsey Fire. Their resourcefulness and collaborative approach with the help of Fire Captain Mullen and the fire fighters working with him resulted in the safe evacuation of the juveniles in their care and staff working at the facility,” stated Hans Liang, president of Local 685 and Mayor of Monterey Park.

Additional Probation officer honored at this event were Deputy Probation Officer Martha Aquirre, whose work stood out to those at the local high school where she works, to the point that they protested when the community discovered that the probation department wanted to end the School-based officers unit.

“Probation Officer Martha Aguirre has been a tremendous addition to our school staff. She provides resources to our students and parents that the rest of our staff can’t. She monitors and looks out for many of our most at-risk students. The connection that she is able to make with students is one that no one else on our campus can make. Our community is seeking additional ways to support our most needy students, losing school-based Probation Officers and the support they provide would be detrimental to our students, parents and our school as a whole.”

Neal Nakano, School Counselor at West Covina High School. For her dedication to youth she was presented with the Arnold Garcia Award. DPO Thomas Bell began to attend probation meetings where the community attended to discuss how they felt about the probation department DPO Bell realized that the community was not informed of the duties of a his profession so he spoke up and began to explain the responsibilities of a probation officer tasked with supervising youth detained in probation facilities. From that moment, DPO Bell became the probation advocate who educated the community about what is involved in the daily lives of probation officers and he also informed his fellow officers of the importance of attending these meetings to let the community know who we are and what we do.

Sr. DSO Eric Walton was a self -appointed activist on behalf of his co-workers, and his enthusiasm and dedication did not go unnoticed to the point that his co-workers nominated him for an award. DPO Tim Vallez is a 31-year veteran of the probation department an advocate in the best interest of youth through the judicial process and an ardent advocate for LGBT youth in detention. Antonio Espinoza is a twenty-year veteran of the probation department and has worked in so many different units in this department that he can be considered the go-to-man for almost any question about the department, for this we congratulate him on receiving the AFSCME Local 685 award.

Probation is an extension of the court, so a court commissioner such as Commissioner Robert Leventer does indeed stand out. He has been a trailblazer in certain areas and more than anything, he dedicates his life’s work to serve and uplift youth. So, Local 685 awards his outstanding leadership beyond the call of duty. We honored Chaplain Rosalinda Vint for her success with Probation and Foster Care Youth. Her dedication and passion for these young people is commendable.

Local 685 also thanks sponsors Kaiser Permanente; Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; Association of Orange County Sheriffs: Bender Benefits; SEIU Local 721; UDW Local 3930 Homecare Workers; Professional Social Workers AFSCME Local 2712.

Cookie Lommelis an American author, biographer, film producer, and activist. She has written a number of young adult books and also biographies about Russell Simmons, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnnie Cochran.

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Memphis Women’s Political Caucus debuts with election-season focus

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Described as a multi-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting women who seek elected and appointed offices at all levels of government, caucus members are working toward a plan for endorsing candidates in all the upcoming local elections.

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Latrivia Welch is president of the Memphis Women’s Political Chapter. To learn more about the organization visit www.nwpc.org or visit the local Facebook Page of the same name. (Courtesy Photo)
Latrivia Welch is president of the Memphis Women’s Political Chapter. To learn more about the organization visit www.nwpc.org or visit the local Facebook Page of the same name. (Courtesy Photo)

By Latrivia Welch, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

The non-partisan Memphis Women’s Political Caucus is very serious when it comes to mobilizing women in Memphis. Accented by different socioeconomic, religious, cultural and racial backgrounds, new and veteran members recently gathered at Crazy Italians in Cordova for a discussion that would go late into the night.

The singular issue was important and multi-pronged – determining the caucus’ top priorities for the 2019-20 fiscal year: Those at the table were resolute about empowering women and encouraging them to become a part of the political process. Now – more than ever – they say the biggest need is to organize.

The Memphis Women’s Political Caucus (MWPC) is a chapter of the Tennessee Women’s Political Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus. Their goal is to grow the ranks considerably.

Described as a multi-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and supporting women who seek elected and appointed offices at all levels of government, caucus members are working toward a plan for endorsing candidates in all the upcoming local elections.

We have to address the issues germane to this area. Right now, voter’s registration is a hot topic, as it should be.”

Organizations need to know that the MWPC is ready to work with them to train as many volunteers as possible.

We also need to hold workshops and forums. Women from all over this city are ready to make their voices heard, some of them for the very first time. They call every week asking how they can become involved. This is how to ensure their collective voices make the biggest difference.

The work ahead calls for extreme dedication in this election cycle. Some of the members are running for office, while others have run previously. There is also a contingent of new young members, who have never been engaged in politics.

Everyone can be a member of the MWPC. We don’t discriminate. We encourage everyone to come out and learn more, but more than that, we encourage them to please vote.

“For those interested in becoming engaged in the community, this is the perfect organization. We’ve got plenty to do for everyone no matter how much experience you have or don’t have.”

Latrivia Welch is president of the Memphis Women’s Political Chapter. To learn more about the organization visit www.nwpc.org or visit the local Facebook Page of the same name.

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