Midterm Wins for 100+ Women in the House

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While many were expecting more democratic Senate and Gubernatorial wins in yesterday’s midterm elections that did materialize, Sean King expands on some very important victories.

Shaun King: We Had A Lot Of Wins Yesterday

I agree that a woman’s place is in the “House” and Senate!  Congratulate to all the women who stepped up to the plate to run for House seats.  It is quite a sacrifice.  I pray they are successful in representing the needs of their voters over the needs of special interest.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gulch – Who Do You Believe? Who Really Benefits?

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Moderator Karen Greer, Mayor Bottoms, and CIM Advocate Team.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a community forum to hear from residents due to opposition to The Gulch $5 Billion redevelopment plan proposed by California developer CIM.  The Mayor came in, took her seat and left after the Forum.  While she read an opening statement and answered a couple of the audience questions (that were read by the moderator), she was never seen engaging with residents.  No pictures. No handshakes. Nothing.

The plan which the City Council refused to vote on, until they have more time to review the 600 page document recently delivered to their homes, has residents furious.

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Discussing 600 page Gulch Proposal with another opponent at Mayor’s forum.

Most residents were not allowed in the forum because City employees and a group of folks in green t-shirts, supporters  of the CIM proposed Gulch deal, took up most of the seats.  How is that really a forum for residents?  The overflow room was filled with residents upset they could not get in.

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One of many ATL police officers after forum as GA Stand Up Exec. Dir., Deborah Scott, shares her opposing view with reporter.

In opening rules, outlined by moderator Karen Greer, attendees were told we would be removed by police officers, stationed around the room, if we got out of line (paraphrase).  I have attended many controversial forums/town halls, all across the country. Never have I heard those words.  Despite that, there were a few times when folks yelled in disagreement to what was being said.

Why are residents furious?  Well, after so many other “good deals” and promises that include:

– The original Braves Stadium & Turner Field

– Friendship Baptist Church & Mt. Vernon Baptist Church buyouts

– Falcons Stadium, Mercedes Benz (MB) Stadium & their $23 million bridge across Northside Drive

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Karl Barnes (white jacket) ATL native and GA Tech alum among few residents who got into the Mayor’s Gulch Forum.

Each of these deals were also “good deals”  for the community and now we are all on the hook for cost overruns (the original MB bridge cost was $10 million. Several months later, the cost rose to $23 million with $1million in lights.).

Each time, residents are on the hook despite their elected officials assuring them, ‘it is good for Atlanta because it will bring jobs’.  Well, from what most reports and articles reveal, the minimum wage, temporary stadium jobs are what residents can verify.  No one can verify any substantial contractor or management jobs for residents.  However, residents continue to be displaced and given empty promises.

With a severe shortage of affordable housing units in Atlanta, each “good deal” drives out current residents while paving the way for new residents in homes priced out of reach for most.  Being the number one U.S. city for income inequality, there are only two places for most ATL residents to move:

1) further from the city with no or limited access to public transportation

2)  under an I-20 bridge with other homeless people

If a portion of our tax dollars could be used, as many advocates have asked, for:

– programs to repair/update homes of current residents,

– a program to “grandfather” current residents’ from tax increases.

– more affordable housing units than Invest Atlanta and the BeltLine can currently deliver.

That would give thousands of residents access to reasonable and affordable housing units.

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Alvin Kendall, local attorney, gives the project overview as the Mayor Bottoms looks on.

Alvin Kendal, City of Atlanta liaison for the CIM Project gives a complicated presentation without a power point.  More on Kendall and his conflict of interest on this project from the AJC at:  https://www.ajc.com/news/local-govt–politics/watchdogs-question-rec-authority-leader-hiring-for-gulch-legal-work/QOvTwH6RnByIyAzlXvfRfL/

Much of the information he gave failed to give the whole story of the 30 year tax consequences to residents, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and Fulton County Commissioners.  Three entities, ATL City Council, APS and Fulton County have to approve the plan for it to materialize.

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Joe Beasley at podium at last week’s four hour long City Council Work Session attended by only half of the Council.

You see, I also attended last week’s City Council Work Session with “CIM Armani suit-wearing lawyers”, as former Senator Vincent Fort describes them.  Above, Internationist human rights activist, Joe Beasley, speaks against The Gulch Project.

If programs and legislation can be passed to benefit big corporations and stadium owners, why not for residents so they will not be driven out of their homes?  Is that too much to ask for while these corporate folks get to use “our” hard earned tax dollars?  Residents can make a change when they VOTE  in EVERY ELECTION.

Why is it that planners and people, including most of our elected officials, usually go into neighborhoods and tell them “what is best for them” and “how” their communities should look?  Even when Town halls are held, case in point, as with planning for MLKing Jr. Blvd, the neighborhood clearly objected to putting in medians.  This both limited left lane turning for cars and fire trucks.  Hmmm.

As WAOK Radio Host Derrick Boazman shared, ‘this Mayor’s Forum was not genuine and she is not standing up for the best interest of residents who elected her’.  Despite having a hand full of questions, Greer only read about 10-12. Most of them were not answered.  Real audience members were frustrated and began to shout out in frustration causing commotion.  Meanwhile the mayor sat with an unchanged expression.  And, to top it all off, most of us were shocked when the forum seemed to abruptly end.  Most of the time was not used to answer questions, but to give Gulch proposal rhetoric about how good this deal is for Atlanta.  If it is that good, tell the truth, answer all questions, and stop rushing.

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Registering & educating voters at GA State MARTA Station. Back of t-shirt reads, “Register to Vote”.

So how do Atlanta residents and residents across the nation get control of their neighborhoods and protect them from predatory developers?

Glad you asked.  The short answer is to unite to vote out those who do not favor the residents who elected them.  And, to vet and fund candidates. Do not wait to see who runs.

On Tuesday, November 6, residents can take their power back by not just voting.  Everyone also needs to educate themselves on the 20 plus items on Georgia ballots (use Google, discuss with friends), BEFORE Election Day, so you can vote down the entire ballot with confidence while encouraging friends and family to do the same. Print a sample ballot from:  www.mvp.sos.ga.gov

In the meantime, those who are in office may be able to be recalled when they do not represent their voters. In the words of Sean King, contributor to the Tom Joyner Morning Show and Black America Web, “When we organize, we win!.”

 

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Lots of people hanging around after Mayor’s Gulch Forum. Sign reads “Red Light The Gulch”.

So, it is obvious that Atlanta residents did not get their questions answered at the Mayor’s Forum.  So no transparency.

Who do you believe about The Gulch Plan?  The Armani suit-wearing attorneys who represent CIM, a firm with no Blacks on their executive team (according to their website http://www.cim.com)?  Who benefits?  You decide. You can make sure your voice is heard:

1) Organize a protest big or small.

2) Contact Mayor Bottoms at (404) 330-3100 or email from this link:

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government

3) Contact EVERY City Council Member, not just yours. Keep in mind, three are at-large or citywide :  Bond, Dickens, and Westmoreland.  If you do not know the name of your council member, ask when you call (404) 330-6030 or check this link for their individual contact info:

http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov

 

(1. Also see my earlier blog on The Gulch.

2. Please let me know if you see errors. Another sets of eyes is always good!)

 

 

 

What is the Plan in Your Community?

 

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Want to change social and economic injustices?  Then you need a plan of action.

Shaun King’s commentary  for Black America Web this morning emphasizes how a “blind loyalty” gets people nowhere.  However, a plan of action gets you results. In case you missed this less than 10 minute audio, here is the link for you to listen, share, and move to action:

Shaun King Talks Policy Ideas

Harriett Tubman, Booker T. Washington, and President Barack Obama were successful because they all had a plan of action!!  Likewise,  Adolph Hitler, the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party also had a plan of action!  With technological advances AND boots on the ground, you can plan, educate, empower and implement a customized plan of action with best practices, for the Top 5-10 (depending on manpower/volunteers) issues that cause Blacks, Browns, Native Americans, the working poor, functionally disabled, mentally challenged and other citizens who simply want equity. This can be done in each community across the country.

Harriett Tubman, the Pullman Porters, residents of Black Wallstreet (in Tulsa), Muhammad Ali, Dick Gregory, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Shirley Chisholm, Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Maynard Jackson, Colin Kaepernick, Oprah Winfrey, The Freedom Riders, and the Native American Code Talkers (to name a few) did not wait for a leader to emerge.  They knew Superman was not coming.  They all stepped up to do what they could to make a difference. So can you!!  Each of us can use our skills and talents to help a current organization, or start your own.  No cause is too small.  Jesus also had a plan. And, He trained twelve.

You do not have to be a rocket scientist, have a degree, or a title. If you can figure out how to go on vacation and navigate in a city or country that you have never visited, surely you can figure out how to make a difference in your neighborhood, church, or non-profit.  Or, start your own group.

As my dearly departed Godmother, Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow use to say, “If you are not at the table when plans are made, you are on the menu.”

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Above: Rev. Willie Taplin Barrow (Dec. 7, 1924 – March 12, 2015).

It is time to stop talking about how bad things are. It is time to do something about it!! It is time to stop saying, “they ought to” or “the church ought to”.  Who are they?  Who is the the Church?  When is the last time you volunteered or worked on a community service project (in person or online)?

Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.“

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

 

Donate Only What is Needed to Hurricane Harvey Survivors

Did you know that everything donated after a natural disaster or devastating event is not needed?  From people to corporations, after Hurricane Katrina & Rita, after Sandyhook, after Haiti and now after Hurricane Harvey, we must be cognizant of the most effect and efficient ways to give and volunteer.

Believe or not, a lot of the wrong stuff causes more harm than good and may not be used at all.  CBS Sunday Morning did an updated story on this important topic right after Hurricane Harvey so that our good intentions can bring joy instead of wasting resources and causing pain.  Perhaps we simply need to donate cash via online website, through churches and at on-site donations events to well-vetted organizations.  So think before you give. View the full show segment at:

https://www.cbsnews.com/videos/disaster-relief-donations-that-dont-bring-relief-2/

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Also, Tom Joyner set up a unique fund with $20,000 seed money and is taking donations where 100% of proceeds will go to the people.  This fund collects money donations to give $1,000 Walmart gift certificates to people who open their homes to family, friends, co-workers and strangers. In many cases, these Harvey survivors will be staying indefinitely with these angels who opened up their homes.  In one letter to the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS), a family had taken in 21 people who lost their homes.  Can you imagine the increased food and  utility bills?  See the full story an how you can help:

Open Arms In The Midst Of A Storm

BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund

Now you have the information you need to make sure your donation will be used by those who need it for the purpose for which you intended.  Thanks in advance for being a part of the village of people who do not just talk about how bad the disaster is, but gives what you can to make a difference for those in need.

And, people who survive these traumatic events, whether a weather or violent catastrophe, let us refer to those affected by these disasters as “survivors” instead of “victims “.   Thanks!!

Photos from Google Images.

How the Amazon Purchase of Whole Foods Affects You

Whether you shop at a Whole Foods or not, what Amazon is about to do with its’ newly acquired 500 plus stores affects you.  According to Melody Hobson of Ariel Capital Management and the TJMS “Money Monday’s” segment (on Atlanta’s KISS 104.1 FM), these 500 stores are located in America’s riches zip codes.  That combined with its’ five million Amazon Prime customers gives it leverage to change the grocery store business and affect how and where you shop.

Cincinnati based Kroger recently lowered their grocery prices and eliminated their 5%  senior discount on Wednesdays.  In an all out price war with Walmart, Kroger is not satisfied with their 9% market share.  Being the nation’s largest retailer, Walmart has 20% of the grocery market.

Here is the link for Melody’s segment about Amazon.  It will broaden your vision on how Amazon is aggressively increasing their market share and changing how we buy everything.  Now they are focusing on groceries which will affect the entire industry:

Money Mondays: How Amazon Just Made Groceries A ‘Whole’ Lot Cheaper

 

What is Really Going On At Rikers and in Our Courts?

There are too many stories about Black, brown and poor people being arrested unjustly and sent to prisons.  More of these people than the system wants us to know about are not only innocent, but are being held for years without a trial.  Some of the most egregious are being investigated  Sean King in his report tomorrow on The Tom Joyner Morning Show (KISS 104.1FM in Atlanta).

If you miss the report Monday morning, you can find it at BlackAmericaWeb.com

Also, Related is a story CBS Sunday Morning did on the fact that there really is not “equal justice under the law” as is claimed in America.  They reported on a broken system whereby court appointed attorneys rarely, if ever, have a chance to investigate cases or meet their clients before the trial date. Then they encourage their clients to take a plea and serve time despite their innocence and no evidence being presented.  Yale law school Professor Stephen Bright calls it the “Meet ’em and plead ’em” defense.

From Cordele, Georgia to New Orleans, Louisiana and in numerous courts across the U.S. this is the norm.  In one Louisiana city where there is only one attorney who represents all who cannot afford an attorney.  In some towns like Cordele, Georgia, the accused go before the judge in groups of 10 or more. Often the public defender does not even know what each client looks like.  Yet, one by one, each person in the group pleads guilty and accepts the sentence regardless of the sentence length since they cannot afford to pay for an attorney.

Then, many of them lose their job, home and children.  Well, when Shanna Shackelford was accused of arson after a rental home she own caught on fire less than a year after she increased the insurance coverage, her public defender told her to plead guilty and take the 25 year sentence.  Her court appointed attorney did not help her.  So about two years later, and after much frustration, Shackelford was able to get help.  An investigation that took two weeks revealed it was an electrical fire, not arson. Well, she had served two years in jail, lost her home and everything.  Then it took theee years to get her record cleared so she could get a job. See the full story at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/unequal-justice-under-the-law/

This proves the color of justice is green.

Is this acceptable in the “land of the free, home of the brave”…or “with liberty and justice for all”?

 

Pedro Hernandez Freed…Judge Requires 100% of Bail

It is difficult to raise 10% of a $250,000 bail amout to get someone out of jail. Yet earlier this week a judge required 100% of the $250,000 bail.  Once the full amout was raised, he questioned whether those contributing used their own money.  And, the judge refused to release Hernandez.

If it had not been for Sean King’s diligence and the Robert Kennedy Foundation’s funds, no one knows how much longer this teenager would have to remain in jail at Rikers waiting for trial since three years has already passed.

See the Black America Web link  below for a horrific example of two types of justice in America: Justice for the haves and in-Justice for the have nots.

Special Report: Pedro Hernandez Freed

Is America re-living how she treated people of color and the poor in the early and mid twentieth century?

If you have not already “Slavery By Another Name” (Now a movie on PBS TV 30) and the “New Jim Crow. You must fully understand the plan before you can effectively respond and bring about change.

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