By William J. Ford
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy announced a plan Wednesday that seeks to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline, but with some help.
Braveboy, who was elected to office last year, said she will depend on resources from the public school system, sheriff’s office and nonprofit organizations to support a youth justice reform plan.
“I feel really strong about this because we cannot institutionalize our young people,” she said at the county administration building in Upper Marlboro. “Once they get in a system, mentally they think of themselves as part of the system. What we want young people to know is the community cares about them.”
Although community interventions and diversion programs aren’t new, Braveboy described the initiative led by the state’s attorney’s office to help at-risk youth as a “family approach.”
Instead of some youths being processed and tried in juvenile court for certain offenses, the person’s records will be reviewed to determine if mental health, social or other services are warranted.
For instance, Key Bridge Foundation in Largo will provide mediation sessions to handle certain conflicts.
The county will host its first Juvenile Justice Summit at Bowie State University in November for youth and adults to identify causes of behavior. In addition, possibly provide recommendations on state legislation toward criminal justice reform.
Community Public Awareness Council (C-PAC) of Kettering will mentor youth.
The group helped Imani Williams, 16, to change from a troubled, verbally abusive teenager to an honor-roll student at Friendly High School. When this upcoming school year starts Sept. 3, the senior will serve on the school’s peer mentoring group to assist incoming freshmen.
“I’ll tell them do the right and don’t do the things I did,” she said standing beside her mother and grandmother. “Ninth-grade year is not the year to play around. Stay out of trouble. Keep your grades up. Study and do your homework. Stay away from the bad crowd.”
Juveniles assessed and charged with serious offenses such as gun possession and assault would still be processed.
Prince George’s schools CEO Monica Goldson said the focus will not only push for a decrease in the suspension rate, but also call on school resource and police officers to become mentors.
“Relationships help to breed trust and accountability,” she said. “It allows us to have our students come to them for assistance and support. The only way we can do that is to make sure we train and retrain our police officers, our investigative counselors and security assistants to make sure they become those kinds of mentors our children need.”
This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement on a data breach which exposed account information of over 100 million Capital One customers.
“This data breach shows that it’s not just big technology companies and credit reporting agencies like Equifax that are vulnerable to hacking and data breaches – big banks are vulnerable targets as well. As this is not the first incident in which Capital One’s customer data was exposed, we need to understand what bank regulators have been doing to ensure that this bank, and other banks, have strong cybersecurity policies and practices. We must also understand what bank regulators are doing to ensure strong oversight of third-party technology providers that banks work with.
“As we learn more about this incident, I plan to work with my colleagues and take action in the Financial Services Committee on legislation to improve oversight of the cybersecurity of financial institutions.
“This massive data breach also underscores how important it is that the consumer credit reporting bills that the Financial Services Committee recently passed become law so that any consumer affected by a data breach is not further harmed. Among other things, the bills the Committee passed ensure that consumers can get a free copy of their credit score, provide better tools for victims of fraud, and make it easier for consumers to get errors on their reports corrected.”
H.R. 3642, the “Improving Credit Reporting for All Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Alma Adams (D-NC)
Rep. Adams’ bill addresses burdens consumers experience when removing errors from their consumer reports, including by providing a new right to appeal the results of initial reviews about the accuracy or completeness of disputed items on the report. The bill empowers consumers by clarifying injunctive relief is available to ensure reporting errors are actually fixed when a consumer is harmed.
H.R. 3618, the “Free Credit Scores for Consumers Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
Rep. Beatty’s bill directs the nationwide CRAs to give consumers free copies of their credit scores that are used by creditors in making credit decisions, as determined by the Consumer Bureau, or if not practicable, educational credit scores whenever consumers obtain their free annual consumer reports. A consumer can get their free credit score once a year, and they can get a free credit score if they have reason to believe that their file contains inaccurate information due to fraud.
H.R. 3622, the “Restoring Unfairly Impaired Credit and Protecting Consumers Act,” introduced by Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Rep. Tlaib’s bill would, among other things, establish the right to free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services if a consumer is a victim of identity theft, fraud, or a related crime, or harmed by the unauthorized disclosure of the consumer’s financial or personally identifiable information.
H.R. 3614, the “Restricting Use of Credit Checks for Employment Decisions Act,” introduced by Representative Al Lawson (D-FL)
Rep. Lawson’s bill would generally prohibit employers from using credit reports for employment decisions, except when a credit report is required by local, state, or Federal law or for a national security clearance.
H.R. 3621, the “Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act,” introduced by Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
Rep. Pressley’s bill would remove adverse credit file information relating to defaulted or delinquent private education loans for borrowers who demonstrate a history of timely loan repayments for these loans. The bill would require repayment plans be affordable and reasonable, and permits reasonable interruptions in the consecutive repayment periods for those facing unique and extenuating life events, such as service members who are receiving imminent danger or other special pay duty when deployed.
H.R. 3629, the “Clarity in Credit Score Formation Act of 2019,” introduced by Representative Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
Rep. Lynch’s bill would clarify oversight of the development of credit scoring models by directing the Consumer Bureau to set standards for validating the accuracy and predictive value of credit scoring models. The bill would also require the Consumer Bureau to study the impact of having more non-traditional data on consumer reports and the use of alternative data in credit scoring models.
By Bill Fletcher, Jr., NNPA Newswire Contributor
It should not surprise us that a person who would claim that there were “good people” among the fascist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia would now move to classify an anti-fascist network as alleged “terrorists.” But that is precisely what “Agent Orange,” i.e., Donald Trump, has been intimating. Unfortunately, this is not comedic; it is deadly serious.
The network “Antifa” is a loose-knit grouping of anti-fascist activists with a range of ideological views, strategies and tactics. What binds them together, however, is zero tolerance towards fascists, neo-fascists, and other right-wing populists who threaten violence and other forms of intimidation.
Within the Republican Party, and assisted by Fox News, a chorus has arisen over the last year or so suggesting that the Antifa network is itself engaged in terrorism. Thus, when Antifa or any of its allies, defend protesters against intimidation, they, and not the fascists, are condemned by the likes of Trump, Ted Cruz, and various commentators on Fox News.
What makes this outrageous is that Trump’s own Justice Department has noted that the main domestic terrorist threat comes from white supremacists and neofascists, not from Muslim extremists or anyone on the Left. This finding is not new. During the Obama administration the threat from right-wing extremism was documented by the Department of Homeland Security, only to have said findings suppressed when Republican members of Congress suggested that this revelation was only serving the political objectives of Democrats. The facts, however, were never in dispute, as documented by non-governmental organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
This is an old trick being perpetrated by Trump and his allies. It is akin to jailing and murdering Black activists who engaged in armed self-defense when attacked by extrajudicial mobs or by the police and blaming the former for violence. It is akin to the jailing and lynching of union organizers when they have defended their right to free speech and the right of workers to free association, then turning the tables and claiming that the trade unionists were disturbing the peace.
There is so much nonsense thrown at us each day by the Trump administration, whether in the form of overt lies or racist provocations, e.g., smearing the city of Baltimore, that it is easy to become numb. We need to resist that impulse because it blinds us to the objectives of our adversaries. In this case, just as Trump uses the allegation of “racist” against the so-called “Squad” (the four Congresswomen of color Trump loves to hate) after he, himself, is charged with racism, Trump, et.al., use the allegation of terrorism against anti-fascists as a means of blurring the issue.
Let’s be clear. The objective of this administration is increased authoritarianism. It is utilizing racist provocations in order to succeed. It is an administration that is prepared to join hands with right-wing populist movements, including but not limited to neo-fascists, in order to crush dissent. What better a way to do that than to blame the anti-fascists for chaos and intimidation, thereby sowing confusion and making it that much easier to crush his opponents.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the former president of TransAfrica Forum. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and www.billfletcherjr.com. Check out his thriller The Man Who Fell From the Sky.
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.
By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
On the morning of July 27, President Trump launched another racist attack on an African American member of Congress and the people he represents.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”
“As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,” Trump continued, spelling Rep. Cummings’ name incorrectly.
Reports, video and still photography from the Mexican border focused on conditions for those detained by U.S. authorities, verify President that Trump is lying. Conditions on our southern border have been described as unsanitary and inhuman. A visit by Vice President Pence on July 12 showed video confirming earlier reports of bad conditions for those detained.
Trump’s latest attack on a Black lawmaker and his majority Black constituency is nothing new. Rep. Cummings represents Baltimore, which is 60 percent Black and 34 percent white. CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who hails from Baltimore, took notice of Trump’s habit of using the words “infested” or “infestation” when referring to people of color.
“That’s usually reserved for references to rodents and insects, but we’ve seen the president invoke infestation to criticize lawmakers before,’ Blackwell stated on the air on July 27.
“You see a pattern here? Just two weeks ago President Trump attacked four minority congresswomen. ‘Why don’t they go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.’ Reminder, three of them were born here; all of them are American. Infested he says,” the African American CNN anchor added.
Trump also used the word “infestation” in 2017 when he attacked civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis, who represents parts of Atlanta.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily,” Rep. Cummings responded to Trump on Twitter. “Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents,” Cummings said.
Cummings told ABC News on July 21 that Trump’s “go back” remarks aimed at the four congresswomen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Illan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), brought back memories of the racism he faced growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s.
Reaction to Trump’s latest racist tirade was swift.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young wrote that Trump’s statement was, “completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a patriot and a hero.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whose father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., was the 39th Mayor of Baltimore from 1947 to 1959, and brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, was Mayor of Baltimore from 1967 to 1971, defended Rep. Cummings and condemned Trump as racist.
“@RepCummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague. We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership. #ElijahCummingsIsAPatriot,” wrote Speaker Pelosi.
After a torrent of recent racial invective by the current President, commentators on both sides of the political isle are routinely referring to the President’s statements as the most racist they have seen in a lifetime. Few can find a President of the United States whose racist beliefs were so public.
Writing recently in The Atlantic on Trump’s attacks on Rep. Illan Omar, Adam Serwer pointed out, “To attack Omar is to attack a symbol of the demographic change that is eroding white cultural and political hegemony, the defense of which is Trumpism’s only sincere political purpose.”
“This is not about Omar anymore… It is about defending the idea that America should be a country for all its people. If multiracial democracy cannot be defended in America, it will not be defended elsewhere. What Americans do now, in the face of this, will define us forever,” Serwer concluded.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke
By Roger Caldwell, NNPA Newswire Contributor
In 2019, most Blacks and people of color would like to believe that, “There is Not a Racist Bone in My Body” was an accurate statement in America. With the first African American President, Black businesses in every major city, and Black political officials in federal, state, and local municipalities, diversity is a reality. With all these achievements in one of the greatest countries in the world, there is a major divide.
This major divide is based on the color of an individuals’ skin, which makes no sense, until you study economics, politics, and business. Power is based on what you own and control, and if you close your eyes, power may also be based on what you take by force.
Last week, President Trump attacked four freshmen federal Congresswomen by claiming they are un-American, they should go back to their country, and everyone is asking the question, “why?”
This started as a tweet-storm on that weekend, and it has turned into a nasty battle of words, where the majority of the media is calling President Trump a “racist.” This tweet-storm appeared to be racist and personal, very little was discussed by the president about the ladies’ policies.
“In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. The simple fact of the matter is, the four Congresswomen think America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil. They’re entitled to their opinion, they’re Americans. Now I’m entitled to my opinion, & I just think they’re left wing cranks,” says President Trump.
It is obvious, that the first thing the President thinks comes out of his mouth, and it does not matter if it makes any sense. The president is not fit or mentally stable to manage America as Commander-in chief, but over 40% think he is doing a good job.
As this new social media and campaign rally from the President attacked the four Congresswomen escalates to a higher level of insanity, everyone in America is picking a side. The four Congresswomen at the beginning of the week called a press conference to denounce the President and asked for a draft to be drawn up to condemn President Trump’s racist language and tweets. The resolution was passed in the House last week to condemn the President.
The amazing issue about this battle is that over 40% of Americans believe that the President is correct, and at a campaign rally during the week, a packed house with the majority being White Republicans chanted, “Send her back.”
With the media claiming that President Trump initiated and supported the yelling, the President is being forced by the Vice President and some of his consultants to distance himself from the chant. “After smearing Rep. IIhan Omar (D-MN) as anti-Semitic – and letting the crowd at his Greenville, North Carolina rally roar “send her back” for more than 10 seconds – President Trump has falsely claimed he continued his speech immediately after the crowd started yelling,” says Tana Ganervo –reporter at Raw Story.
Send her back is a turning point, “With Trump’s naked hatred and cruelty captured on live television, and along with it, so was the seething anger of the hard-core Trump base. The whole nation saw in dramatic fashion that Trump voters understood his meaning perfectly well and watched them not just agree with it but also amplify it, with as ugly and hate-curdled a chant as one could imagine.”
Racism in 2019 is out in the open, with the election of President Trump leading the way. It is easy to argue what constitutes the act, and whether someone is a racist sometimes. But President Trump does not care what Blacks and people of color think.
He is only concerned with his base, and he feeds them red meat on a daily basis. There is something fundamentally wrong when the president does not care about values and inappropriate statements, because his goal is to only make America White again.
By Erica Wright
More than two months after Mayor Randall Woodfin presented his fiscal 2020 budget and three weeks after the fiscal year began July 1, the Birmingham City Council voted to approve the mayor’s $451 million operating budget.
The council voted 7-1 to approve the operating budget and capital budget with Councilor Steven Hoyt as the dissenting vote. Councilor John Hilliard was absent.
The $451 million operating budget represents the Woodfin administration’s priorities of neighborhood revitalization and fully funding the city’s pension fund for the fiscal year, said the mayor.
Woodfin said the budget has an emphasis on neighborhood revitalization with $15 million allocated for paving streets, demolition, weed abatement, public infrastructure issues “and additional monies to support our land bank to make it more efficient.”
The Birmingham Land Bank Authority returns vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties back to the tax rolls.
The proposed $451 million operating budget represents a $10.5 million increase over the FY2019 budget.
The budget includes money for:
Pension, $5.8 million
Merit Pay, $3 million
Health insurance, $3 million
Longevity Pay, $2 million
Real Time Crime Center, $1.5 million
Birmingham Promise Initiative, $2 million
Council Discretionary Fund, $100,000
Woodfin said he was happy to see money in the budget for the Birmingham Promise Initiative which combines secondary and post-secondary apprenticeships with college scholarships to steer students toward quality jobs. The program came under criticism from some who said the mayor was taking money away from city schools to fund the initiative.
“I know change is hard for people, but what I would like to say directly to every parent who has a child in Birmingham City Schools is the ability to give your child direct dollars from apprenticeships is a big deal, so what we’re supporting is workforce development and education,” he said.
Another area that deserved funding was the Real Time Crime Center, he stated.
“We set aside $1 million for a crime center that we will be able to outfit and build out which will allow us to integrate not only with our human capital but more technology in regards to being able to predict where crime occurs,” he said.
Councilor Hunter Williams said he was pleased the council and the mayor reached an agreement.
“I think there are a lot of good things in this budget, one of which is the real time crime center that Birmingham Police will be using,” he said. “We’re really focusing on core government and I think that this budget exemplifies that.”
Williams said citizens expect to have streets resurfaced; be able to pick up the phone and dial 911 and have a police officer or firefighter arrive timely; expect the city to pick up trash and perform public works. “This budget is very focused and it addresses all of those issues,” he said.
Councilor Steven Hoyt, the lone dissenting vote on both the operating and capital budgets, said the mayor and council needed more time on both spending plans.
“These last six weeks we’ve been dealing with just the operating budget,” he said. “But we have a capital budget that needs just as much attention as the operating budget. If you tell me that we spent just as much time on the operating budget, then I’m fine, but I’m not, because we haven’t.”
Woodfin said the budget was different from previous ones because he engaged councilors on shared priorities and found money to support those.
“I asked each councilor prior to this budget process . . .what are your three top priorities . . . and I’m happy to say that for each councilor, at a minimum, two of their priorities are in this budget. It wasn’t just what the mayor’s office wanted to do, but collectively what the council office wanted to do as well.”
Paving streets and pension were high on the list for a majority of the councilors, he said.
In order to meet the obligation of the city’s pension fund, the budget increases the city’s contribution by $5.8 million. The total contribution by the city for FY2020 will be $24.6 million. Combined with proposed cost-savings by the pension board, the pension will be fully funded for the fiscal year, according to the city.
The FY2020 operating budget will go into effect once it is signed by the mayor.
The public can review the proposed operating budget and amendments for FY2020 at www.birminghamal.gov/budget2020.
The public can also review how the city spends tax dollars at https://data.birminghamal.gov/pages/transparency.
This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.
The Congressional Black Caucus will launch a new taskforce that will focus on the upcoming 2020 Census and the legacy of under counting the African American community. Members of the CBC will meet with stakeholders and leading professionals to discuss the current state of play. The Caucus will also discuss the tools required for effective outreach to hard to count communities across the United States. The taskforce will be led by Congressman Steven Horsford (D-NV). Below, Chairwoman Bass and members of the taskforce released the following statement:
“This time around, we are facing a big question regarding how the census is going to be administered in 2020 under the Trump Administration. With the census becoming digital, can you imagine working families receiving a postcard telling them to go online to fill out their census form? Many Americans might not have access to a computer or broadband services. That is why the Black Caucus is taking the lead to begin the work now. Through this taskforce, and under Congressman Horsford’s leadership, the Black Caucus will meet with African American leaders from around the country to discuss the current state of play and the tools needed for effective outreach to hard to count communities. Our community must be counted,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The Constitution declares that we must count all persons in this country. The Trump administration has taken coordinated action specifically to discourage and frighten people away from participating in the 2020 census, and now we are fighting back. I am taking part in this taskforce for my constituents in Nevada. Undercounting urban communities like mine can result in an unfair distribution of congressional seats and deny communities of color, specifically Black communities, access to representation in Congress. We only get one chance every ten years to get this right. Let’s make it count,” said,” Congressman Horsford, Chair of CBC Census 2020 Taskforce.
“Vital services for each community are directly tied to Census Counts. I must act as a leader to ensure every person is counted on the 2020 Census which is why I am proud to join the CBC’s Census Task Force. We already know that Black communities are undercounted, underscored by the fact that my district, NY-09, has one of the hardest-to-count districts in America. We must empower Black communities to understand the power of filling out the Census, so each community receives access to critically-needed resources in their backyards,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-09).
“I am proud to join my colleagues to ensure that our census is not weaponized to silence communities of color. States like my home state of Texas would lose billions to fund essential programs and fair representation in Congress if this administration wins the fight to silence our communities–that’s why this task force is critically needed,” said Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33).
The legacy of undercounting African Americans in the census dates to the first census count in 1790. During the writing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, delegates debated over the number of seats in the House of Representatives. In 1790, a compromise between the northern and southern states resulted in a decision for enslaved Africans to be counted as three-fifths of a person for Congressional representation and taxation.
African Americans are still undercounted in the census in current times. According to the Decennial Statistics Studies Division of the Department of Commerce, in 1990 the agency estimated “a net undercount of about 4 percent for African Americans.” This number was lowered to “2 percent – around 800,000 people – in the 2000 Census, but the most recent Census in 2010 showed no significant change to the black undercount, despite the net undercount being the lowest it had been in history.”
Every decade the U.S. Constitution requires a census count of every resident in every household, and an accurate count is critical to the foundation of our democracy. Data gathered by the census is used to determine how many congressional seats and electoral college votes each state receives, as well as the drawing of federal, state, and local government legislative boundaries. Furthermore, this data is also used to direct over $800 billion annually in federal dollars to states and local communities that impact health care services, housing, schools, and economic development plans among other priorities.
There is a perennial concern about black households getting undercounted in the census. During the last count in 2010, African Americans were undercounted by over 800,000. Therefore, some African Americans may also live in communities where the political districts do not reflect their policy needs. Moreover, undercounting African Americans in the 2020 census could have real consequences because “African-American children and families are disproportionately affected by poverty and federal programs designed to alleviate the impact of poverty.” Specifically, some of the federal programs impacted by census data include:
- Head Start Program – A federal program that provides early childhood education to kids. African American children account for 29% of kids in this program for low-income families.
- Title I Grants – These grants provide federal resources to schools with high numbers of low-income children intended to help all students fulfill state academic requirements.
- Special Education Grants – Assists schools in meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These grants are used to assist students with disabilities. In 2012-2013, approximately 15% of African American children needed IDEA resources.
- Child Care and Development Fund – This fund helps low-income parents access childcare so that they can go to work or school. African American children represented 41% of children in this program in 2015.
- SNAP – The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s most extensive domestic food assistance program, serving 42.1 million individuals each month. Around 26% of African Americans received SNAP benefits in 2015.
- National School Lunch Program – This program provides free or reduced-price meals to disadvantaged students.
- Section 8 Housing Program – A federal program that subsidizes the rents of low-income individuals to secure affordable housing. African Americans comprised 45% of the recipients in this program in 2010.
- Medicaid – A joint federal-state program that finances the delivery of primary and acute medical services to a diverse low-income population. An estimated 16 million African Americans enrolled in this program in 2012.
- Pell Grants – Data is used from the census to factor Pell grants for college.
- Highway spending – Funding for national infrastructure is apportioned according to census data.
- Small businesses – Data from the census helps small businesses in their competitiveness.
- Large companies – Big businesses rely on census data for hiring and demographic data.
This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Sentinel.