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By Angel Johnson, Contributing Writer


Amazon is celebrating Black History Month with help from Alexa. The voice-controlled personal assistant, used to perform such home tasks as dimming lights, is apparently able to give lessons on black history as well.


All users need to say is  “Alexa, tell me black history facts.” The device has approximately one hundred facts about black history. Users can ask questions about various people and time frames dating back to the 1800’s. 


Sebastian Blissett is the engineer who developed Alexa’s new skill.  He said people in his department were passionate about combining black history and technology.


Some of the facts are narrated by Amazon employees.  Other voices include African Americans who have made history in the U.S., like Clayton Petrie and Roger Craig. Petrie is one of the first African American Marines to fight in World War II. He served as a Montford Point Marine on a segregated base. 


His unit was deployed to Okinawa, Japan as a decoy for forces who took over the south end of the island. After the war, he was sent to China to supervise the evacuation of Japanese troops. When he returned to the U.S., he was honorably discharged and is still recognized for his work today.  


Roger Craig was a running back in the 1980’s, who played for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. During his time in the NFL, Craig was a part of three Super Bowl championship teams.   He was named the NFL “Offensive Player Of The Year” in 1988. Craig also participated in many marathons. In 2014, he helped found the San Jose Rock ‘N Marathon.


Amazon customers can download the Alexa app. They will also be able to use the feature well after February is over. 





California Asks Trump for $100 Billion

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Although the Trump Administration has gotten off to a rocky start with the State of California, officials here have set forth an ambitious list of infrastructure projects for federal funding.


State legislators want to rebuild its crumbling roads and bridges and improve transit and water storage, and it will take plenty of money from Washington to make it happen—about $100 billion.  Funds are being sought for 51 projects, according to Nancy McFadden, the governor’s executive secretary. 


“In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work — many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment,” McFadden wrote. “Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability.” 


The list of priority projects includes roads, levees, bridges, ports, train and public transit systems, water storage and recycling projects, and energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services. 


Immigration advocates in the state have been feuding with Trump over his travel ban of Muslims and promises of mass deportation among other things.  Last week, violence erupted at UC Berkeley among protestors who disapprove of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos being allowed to speak on campus.  They say he is affiliated with the alt-right, White Supremacist movement, and is not welcome there.  Trump threatened to take away federal funding from the school in a tweet.


Regardless, the state is asking for $100 billion to help defray the $136-billion backlog of necessary repairs on state highways and local roads.  Law makers are working on legislation to bring in adding funding sources.  


State leaders are encouraged by the president’s pledge to put $1 trillion dollars into infrastructure projects.  Brown said “amen” to Trump’s inauguration promise to “build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.”


A few priority projects to directly benefit Southern Californians include:


•Widening and replacing interchanges of the 710 Freeway serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach 


•Strengthening the Otay Mesa Mexican border security with a new port of entry for efficient crossings


•Constructing 16 miles of express lanes along major commute corridors on the 405 Freeway in Orange County


•Upgrading and replacing the Los Angeles Metro rail fleet


•Building an early-warning earthquake system 


State Transportation Agency Secy. Brian Kelly said he plans to meet soon with new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to discuss the wish list. 


Will Trump punish California for its stance against his administration and reduce federal funding?


Kelly described the state’s relationship with federal officials as “very functional and good.”  He added, “We are going to work hard towards making that continue.” 




Day Meetings Re-Explained

Thursday, February 09, 2017

By Veronica Mackey


Tuesday’s council meeting began with a commendation to members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee. Chaired by Henry Brown, the group organizes Inglewood’s annual MLK Day program.


Mayor James Butts said this year’s King celebration was the best he has ever attended.  “You guys are the tip of the spear for leading this forward.  I’m so proud of you, Mr. Brown, and for everyone on the committee,” he said.


A woman who lives near the Forum complained about traffic congestion and parking problems.  She asked Mayor Butts if flyers could be created to notify residents when the Forum has events.  “I don’t know until I come home at night and see my street closed off, or visitors tell me they can’t park,” she said. 


“Ma’am, a better idea is to go to the website and you can look at every event,” Butts said.  Councilman George Dotson asked the woman to see him after the meeting and he would arrange to get a list to her.


A man from District 1 wants a sit-down with Inglewood officials to talk about the medical benefits of marijuana.  “It’s a big deal, it’s all in the news,” he said.   “I do interviews with people who really need it.   I need the City’s help to be able to restructure some of the cannabis laws.”


Willie Agee announced a special Black History Month program will be held Feb. 10 at 2pm at the Willie Agee Playhouse in Edward Vincent Park.  “I wish everyone would come out and visit.  We are a diverse city, everyone is invited,” he said.


A couple of residents brought up an old argument that the council meetings should be held at night. “The world is not going to stop spinning on its axis if we have day meetings.  The City of Inglewood skyrocketed when we went to day meetings.   I’ve only heard 3 people complain. So I think we’ll stick with the majority,” Butts said.


A new resident was surprised by how quick the meeting was.  “I would like the meeting to go a little longer.  I put money in the meter for 2 hours,” she said.   


“The reason we have these (day) meetings is because we do not want to pay employees overtime,” Councilman Dotson said.   He also thanked Fire Chief Henry Rodriguez from Fire Station 171 for having a graduation for the L.A. Fire Explorers, who represent youth from Inglewood high schools.  Dotson will also have a document shredding event on Feb. 25 from 9am to noon. The District 1 Town Hall Meeting will take place March 4 at the First Church of God Center of Hope, 9550 Crenshaw Blvd., from 10am until noon.


Councilman Alex Padilla also commented on the Fire Explorers.  “Our youth learned about leadership and how to interview for jobs.  The Rotarians actually gave each graduate a suit so they could have something nice to wear on interviews,” he said.  Padilla acknowledged Fire Chief Rodriguez and Rosemary Vivero, a community service representative for the department.  


Council members awarded a contract to Carolino and Son Engineering for maintenance and repair of the Vincent Park Swimming Pool Tank.  


The Inglewood Police Department was given re-approval to use $307,239 in Asset Forfeiture funds for the purchase of an armored rescue vehicle from Lenco Armored Vehicles. 


SA Associates, Inc. was awarded a professional services contract to design the Sewer Main Replacement Project, Phase I.      



Black History of the NFL

Thursday, February 09, 2017

When the Patriot’s Tom Brady won the Super Bowl last weekend, he made history as the quarterback with the most wins.  He now has 5 rings and—with two more seasons to play—he could end up with 7.


This being Black History Month, it got me thinking about the history African Americans have made in pro football.  I am happy that the Rams have not only returned to L.A. and will play in Inglewood, but also that the team was the first to put black players on their roster after World War II.  


The history of African American football players actually dates back to1920, when Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall became the first to play for the American Professional Football Association (now the NFL).  Pollard also became the first black coach in 1921. There were nine black players in the APFA between 1920 and 1926, including, black activist, and internationally acclaimed artist Paul Robeson.


The NFL instituted a ban on black players in 1932. By 1933, there were no more black players in the NFL.  It remained that way until the Rams moved to Los Angeles and signed halfback Kenny Washington and wide receiver Woody Strode for the 1946 season.  They became the first black players on a major league football team after World War II.


Signing players of color, however, was not the Rams’ decision alone.  In fact, the African American press played a part in integrating the team.  The black print media made the Los Angeles Coliseum commission aware that the Coliseum was supported with public funds. The commission had to abide by an 1896 Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, by not leasing the stadium to a segregated team. 


James Harris, another Rams star whose career began with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, was the first black player to start a season as quarterback in the history of pro football. He was also the second black player in the modern era to start in any game as quarterback for a professional football team.   He paved the way for other black quarterbacks to follow, including Doug Williams, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.


Today African Americans are prominent on the playing field, but there is still a lack of representation in coaching and general management.  If it had not been for the efforts of Dan Rooney, Pittsburg Steelers chairman, the number of black coaches and managers would be even lower.  Rooney advocated for the league to interview at least one minority candidate every time there is a coaching or general manager opening.  It became known as the Rooney Rule.


The rule helped make history on Feb. 4, 2007 when 2 black head coaches—Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears—went head-to-head in the Super Bowl. 


Before the rule went into effect, the NFL had only 6 minority coaches in more than 80 years. As of January 17, 2017, there were 7 African-American NFL coaches, including Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers. 


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last year at the first NFL Women's Summit that the Rooney Rule will expand to women for all executive positions.



On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board extended its existing water conservation regulations, which prohibit wasteful practices such as watering lawns right after rain and set a conservation mandate only for water suppliers that do not have enough water reserves to withstand three more dry years.


“These regulations have helped Californians rise to the occasion and show what they can do with conservation, while providing flexibility based on differing local water supply conditions across the state,” said Chair Felicia Marcus. 


“We are beyond happy that water conditions continue to improve this year, but the rainy season isn’t over yet and some areas of the state continue to suffer significant drought impacts. As glorious as the first half of the season has been, we know that weather can change quickly, and vary depending on where you are, so it is most prudent to wait a bit longer until close of the rainy season to take stock of the statewide situation and decide what to do next.”


While many parts of the state have benefited from this year’s rain and snow, other areas continue to experience the effects of drought, including Central Valley communities that still depend on water tanks and bottled water. Groundwater, the source of at least a third of California’s water supplies, remains significantly depleted in many areas. California has undergone more than five years of extreme drought with significant impacts to communities, agriculture, and fish and wildlife.


Wednesday’s decision maintains existing conservation rules, which transitioned away from specific state-mandated conservation standards last May for urban water suppliers that could demonstrate they have enough water reserves to withstand an additional three dry years.  The majority of suppliers passed this “stress test” and have not been subject to state conservation mandates. Under the extended regulation, urban water suppliers that didn’t take or didn’t pass the “stress test” and have been subject to state-set standards are given an opportunity to update their analysis.  


Today’s extension also keeps in place monthly reporting of water use by urban water agencies, and reasonable prohibitions against wasteful practices such as watering lawns within 48 hours of a rainstorm, hosing off sidewalks and driveways, or overwatering landscaping to the point where water runs into the streets. Prohibitions also remain against homeowners associations taking action against homeowners trying to conserve during a declared drought, and those prohibitions are extended to cities and municipalities. The rules had been set to expire Feb. 28.


While water supplies have improved in many areas, the state’s five-year drought has underscored the need for permanent improvements in California’s long-term efficient water use and drought preparedness, as called for in Governor Brown’s May 2016 Executive Order, which set in motion new programs to make water conservation a way of life in California.


As a result of that order, the State Water Board and other State agencies released a draft plan that shifts from statewide mandatory water restrictions toward a set of long-term water-use efficiency standards that reflect California’s diverse climate, landscape, and demographic conditions. The plan also calls for permanently prohibiting wasteful practices, regular reporting by water suppliers, tightening up leaky systems, and strengthening plans for water shortages. These actions will help to ensure all communities have sufficient water supplies and are conserving water regardless of the conditions of any one year.


To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.


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