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With 92 reported cases of measles, which originated in Disneyland, state lawmakers announced Wednesday new legislation that would do away with exemptions from the mandate to vaccinate children before starting school. 


The action is an attempt to contain what has become a resurgence of the childhood disease which had practically subsided in the U.S. until recently.  Exemptions based on religion or personal objections would be abolished if the new law passes. The legislation applies only to children who attend public or private schools; home-schooled kids are not addressed in the legislation.


The measles outbreak has brought back the old vaccine debate—personal liberty vs. the public good.  Should a parent’s right not to immunize against a potentially deadly disease override the risk of public safety?


“There are not enough people being vaccinated to contain these dangerous diseases," said Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician. "We should not wait for more children to sicken and die before we act."


Reasons for not vaccinating children vary, but one major group opting out is parents of autistic kids.


Flawed research that vaccines for childhood disease lead to autism was first published by British doctor Andrew Wakefield in 1998 in the Lancet, and was retracted in 2010.  The original research was only based on 12 cases, which did not even represent a respectable sample.


The British Medical Journal reported “not one of the 12 cases reported in the 1998 Lancet paper was free of misrepresentation or undisclosed alteration…and that in no single case could the medical records be fully reconciled” with Lancet publication.


Critics suspect that British libel laws may have caused the fraudulent research to prevail for 12 long years—deceiving parents and leaving kids vulnerable to preventable diseases in the process.


A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, signaled that the governor is behind the California bill. "The governor believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered," Westrup said.


The new legislation would also require the notification of parents of the vaccination rates at their children's schools. It is supported by Kris Calvin, chief executive of the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Currently, 13,592 children have personal belief affidavits on file; of those, 2,764 were identified as based on religious beliefs. About 10% of California parents have opted out of mandatory vaccinations.






Selling A Home While Black

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Buying a home in a nice neighborhood—often one with white neighbors—is a sign that a person of color has moved up the socioeconomic scale. Home ownership is the epitome of financial success and a source of wealth for most Americans, but when that wealth is lost, in the form of home equity, it can be difficult to build a lasting financial legacy. 


More blacks move into the middle class through home ownership.  But what happens when the value of home property declines or you’re forced to sell for less?


A study conducted by the Brookings Institution in 2001showed that the value of homes owned by blacks were 18 percent less than the value of homes owned by whites. An appreciation gap has been observed. Homes in neighborhoods that are predominantly black do not appreciate as much as those in neighborhoods that are significantly white. The gap occurs when the blacks in a neighborhood comprise more than 10 percent of its homeowners. The gap increases as the number of Blacks in the neighborhood increases. 


Is race a factor in determining how much—or less—a black homeowner will get for selling their home?  Multiple variables go into determining the asking price, such as prices of comparable homes in the area, size, condition, location, etc.  But what about race?  With all of the discrimination African Americans have to face, is race that much of an issue with regard to home selling? writer Jenn M. Jackson says yes.  In her article, “How Selling a Home While Black Nearly Broke Me,” (Feb. 4, 2015) Jackson connects the dots between getting no or low-ball offers and being black.  Jackson’s Orange County, CA home in a predominately white neighborhood was not attracting its $500,000 asking price—even after making repairs, sprucing it up and making the home identity neutral.


“By the end of summer, we had several low offers and were approaching a deadline to move out of state. We had seen homes identical to ours sell for much higher than our list price. Homes that came on the market after ours sold within days. The only discernible difference was the race of the occupants. More than one real estate agent acknowledged that they couldn’t figure out another reason for the house’s failure to move, and understood our distress,” Jackson wrote.


The article set off a debate between those who say race was not an issue, that she failed to do everything necessary to get the home sold at the price she wanted, and those who say race was definitely a factor.


Trevor Leighey was perplexed:  “So why would the race of the seller even matter? I'm just curious as to why you think this is, because I have a hard time seeing how the race of the seller would make someone, even a racist, turn down an otherwise perfect home.”


“This sort of thing …happens quite a bit. Racism like any other "ism" is inherently irrational so for those of you who try to attach logical thought to a behavior that in and of itself isn't makes no sense so don't even try. I have had friends who encountered the same problem as the seller,”  Vanessa Wyndham wrote.


Anissa Harris Green, a realtor, said race had nothing to do with the Jacksons’ difficulty selling their home.   She told the writer to “Delete this article or change the name ‘I couldn't sell my house because I wasn't ready to sell.’ Stop blaming racism on everything.  That's like saying the "Devil did it.’”


The Jacksons did eventually sell their homes, although it took far longer than expected. 


“Our experiences showed us that while we could change everything about our home, we couldn’t change the color of our skin, nor the stigma attached to it. From the onset, we knew that black-owned homes were deemed less valuable. But we underestimated the impact that would have on our sale in a predominantly white neighborhood.


We have added this to our lessons learned. Now we know better than to underestimate the power of anti-blackness.” Jenn said.








Read His Lips: No Taxpayer Money

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The proposed City of Champions Revitalization Project was still a hot topic at Tuesday’s council meeting—a carryover from last week, when about a dozen residents showed up in tee-shirts to support building a new 80,000-seat stadium.


Despite numerous statements made by developers, Mayor James Butts and council members that no tax dollars will be spent to build the stadium, rumors that Inglewood taxpayers will be on the hook still persist.


Diane Sombrano said the city is giving “subsidies to billionaires” for the project. “They should not be coming to us.” she said. “They have the money.”


A three-year resident said, “The great thing about the initiative is that it doesn’t cost us a penny.  I don’t know any developments (of this magnitude) that were done without taxpayer money.” 


Leroy Fisher came to the podium with a thick stack of papers, which he said was a 180-page document about the stadium.  “People did not have time to read it.  I object to the way you do things,” he told Butts.

Maxine Toler, who supports the project, stressed the “tens of thousands of jobs” it will bring to Inglewood. “This will put Inglewood back on the map, let’s get started,” she said.

Sandie Crisp, who ran against Butts last year, said “The owner of that property said no tax money is coming out of the resident’s pockets.”  She said residents complain about the mayor too much.  “You guys voted him in… If you guys don’t want him in, then don’t vote him in.”


Butts explained the City’s financial agreement with developers. According to Butts, public parks and sidewalks will be paid for with private money.  There is a clause in the agreement for the City to reimburse developers in the form of tax credits.  “No tax credits will be received until the City first receives $25 million from the project in a given year,” he said.


Looking forward, Ray Davis wants to make sure two icons become permanent fixtures inside the new Hollywood Park.  He wants a street named after Martin Luther King, Jr., and previously called for a street to be named Stevie Wonder Boulevard.  “Let’s make history, guys,” Davis said.


The council approved a three-year agreement for actuarial valuation services in regard to post-employment benefits. Public Works got the green light to begin another street improvement project, specifically to rehabilitate streets and alleys. Various residential sound insulation projects were also approved.  


 Councilman Alex Padilla is looking into acquiring a 6-acre property for the City.  It is located across the street from Rogers Park at 634 W. Hyde Park in District 2.  He also reminded residents that the Relay for Life cancer awareness event will return to Inglewood June 6 and 7.  He urged residents to contact their respective councilmen to form district teams. 


Councilman Ralph Franklin took issue with a resident referring to block club and town hall meetings as “Mickey Mouse.”  “Calling a town hall meeting ‘Mickey Mouse’ is offensive,” Franklin said.  “We clearly had standing room only and (residents) were engaged in positive insights,” he said referring to his recent town hall meeting.  He added that people who criticize block club meetings usually don’t attend them.   


Councilman Eloy Morales quelled the remarks with sarcasm, noting the ‘excellent Mickey Mouse’ meeting on the Hollywood Park development, which took place last Saturday.


“There a small number of people who are. . .saying nothing’s happening (in Inglewood) today,” Butts said. “They are never there for any community thing.  Some people are just unhappy.  We just have to get real, there are just some people who are unhappy with their lives and we just have to say it.”


District 1 is hosting another document shredding event Feb. 28th, from 9am-12pm at the Police Community Center on Manchester and 7th Avenue, Councilman George Dotson said. 


City Treasurer Wanda Brown reminded the public that senior residents who file their taxes using W-2 or 1099 forms can get free assistance through her office.  The last date to make an appointment is April 3, 2015.  Call (310) 412-5642.


Brown also had great news for residents over the age of 40, in need to be seen by an eye doctor. The USC Eye Institute is conducting a 3-year study for qualifying Inglewood residents, which includes free eye examinations.  Residents can visit the Inglewood AFEDS Clinic, 110 S. La Brea on the 4th Floor of the Inglewood One Stop Center.  The number is (323) 442-6453.  It is a county-wide study.  If you live outside Inglewood, call (310) 419-5962 to find the nearest study site in your area. 


“It’s a 2-hour interview, they ask about your family history and what you should eat…It’s an excellent opportunity if you have any eye problems,” Brown said. 












Gambler, Politician William Thomas Scott

Thursday, February 05, 2015

WILLIAM THOMAS SCOTT was an entrepreneur and political activist from East Saint Louis and Cairo, Illinois, who in 1904 briefly became the first African American nominated by a national party for president of the United States. He is alleged to have been one of the wealthiest African Americans in Illinois at the peak of his career.


A new book, A Black Gambler’s World of Liquor, Vice, and Presidential Politics: William Thomas Scott of Illinois, 1839–1917, by Bruce L. Mouser, is the first biography of Scott, whose story has been largely forgotten except in the Cairo area. The book is published by the University of Wisconsin Press and has a foreword by Harvard professor, author, and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Scott’s story is set in a time when Black Americans were experiencing enormous change. Born in Ohio in 1839, Scott was a free man before the Civil War. He joined the Union Navy in 1863 and served at Cairo, Illinois, the headquarters of Union Forces in the West during the Civil War. He saw the end of slavery and was already a political player when African Americans obtained the right to vote in 1870.


 “The biography is a fascinating and informative look into the life of a forgotten but important African American leader who charted his own course from the Civil War to the eve of America’s entry into World War I,” says Roger Bridges, historian at Illinois State University.


“William Thomas Scott was a maverick who worked tirelessly to promote and advance the black community (while at the same time lining his own pockets in the sordid world of gambling, prostitution, and tavern-keeping). Scott emerges in Mouser’s biography as a powerful, interesting, and enigmatic leader working on both sides of the law to further his own interests and those of the larger African American community,” Bridges notes.


As Mouser discovered, Scott was a charismatic hustler who built his fortune in Illinois in the Cairo–East Saint Louis area through illegal liquor sales, gambling, and operating houses of ill repute. He also branched into legal businesses including hotels, saloons, and real estate. Eventually he became the publisher and editor of what may have been America’s first African American daily newspaper, the Cairo Gazette, and became active in politics.


“The post-Civil War era in the United States was a time of promise for African Americans, but in the late nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries they lost ground with the rise of Jim Crow laws and scientific racism,” says the book’s author, Bruce Mouser. “William Scott struggled into the twentieth century to retain the progress made by African Americans.”


Scott was an outspoken advocate for equal rights. Like many in his era, he believed in political patronage and frequently led rebellions against political bosses who failed to deliver jobs and reforms in exchange for votes.


“Scott refused to be complicit in backing politicians who took him and the broader base of first-generation black voters for dupes,” notes Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “He saw the political game for what it was: a game of power.”


When nearly all voting Blacks were Republicans—the party of Abraham Lincoln—William Scott broke away to become a Democrat. In his journalism and speeches he encouraged Blacks to look beyond Lincoln’s party and cast their votes in support of their own economic interests and civil rights. Scott became disillusioned with Democrats of the era as well and helped build the National Negro Liberty Party (NNLP) to forward economic, political, and legal rights for his race.


Although arrested numerous times on charges related to bootleg liquor sales, gambling, and prostitution, Scott had remained a popular public speaker, journalist, and political power broker in Illinois. But the hustling that had brought him business success proved his undoing as a national political figure. Although he was the NNLP’s initial presidential nominee in 1904, revelations about his scandalous past forced him to step aside for another candidate.


The author of the biography, Bruce L. Mouser, is a retired professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. He first became aware of Scott’s story while he was writing a different book about another early African American journalist and politician, George Edwin Taylor.


 “I had initially thought that George Edwin Taylor was the first African American nominated to run for president of the United States. Taylor was indeed the first to get on the ballot, but as I found out in my research, William Thomas Scott was actually the first nominee of the National Negro Liberty Party, but he was soon replaced by Taylor,” Mouser says. “Taylor was better educated and more socially acceptable as a candidate. William Scott’s past arrests for vice trades wouldn’t play well in the national political arena.” (Mouser tells Taylor’s story in his 2011 book For Labor, Race, and Liberty: George Edwin Taylor, His Historic Run for the White House, and the Making of Independent Black Politics.)


William Thomas Scott’s life, as depicted in A Black Gambler’s World of Liquor, Vice, and Presidential Politics, reveals the roots of African American disillusionment with the Republican Party and the dynamics of interest-group politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Omar H. Ali, professor of African American Studies at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, says, “Bruce Mouser has carefully retrieved from dusty archives the documentary evidence to write an exceptionally thoughtful and compelling biography of independent black leader William Thomas Scott. Scott’s biography shows how African Americans during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries negotiated Democratic authority and Republican complacency (or the reverse), by either creating new coalitions or breaking out on their own.”


The biography is available through local and online booksellers and libraries, or from the University of Wisconsin Press at 800-621-2736 or this web page. (If not in stock at a local store or library, it can be requested.) It is published in paperback, and an e-book version will be available soon from many e-book vendors and libraries.


--Reprinted with permission by the University of Wisconsin Press.


Inglewood was not unlike that of many other Los Angeles area communities prior to the 1960s.  African Americans pursuing better quality schools and other opportunities began to expand westward from what is now known as South Central L.A.   The city has also had to overcome his racist past.


Inglewood was once a hotbed for Ku Klux Klan activity, made famous by the 1922 arrest and trial of 37 men who raided a suspected bootlegger and his family. One of the men killed in the raid was an Inglewood police officer.  The raid led to the shooting death of one of the culprits, an Inglewood police officer. All defendants were found "not guilty.”  The scandal eventually led to the Klan being outlawed in California.  The KKK had a chapter in Inglewood as late as October 1931.


Recounting the migration of African Americans in Inglewood, late Inglewood historian Gladys Waddingham wrote:


"No blacks had ever lived in Inglewood," but by 1960, "they lived in great numbers along its eastern borders. This came to the great displeasure of the predominantly white residents already residing in Inglewood. In 1960, the census counted only 29 'Negroes' among Inglewood's 63,390 residents. Not a single black child attended the city's schools. Real estate agents refused to show homes to blacks. A rumored curfew kept blacks off the streets at night. Inglewood was a prime target because of its [previous] history of restrictions." "Fair housing and school busing were the main problems of 1964. The schools were not prepared to handle racial incidents, even though any that occurred were very minor. Adults held many heated community meetings, since the Blacks objected to busing as much as did the Whites."   In 1969, an organization called "Morningside Neighbors" changed its name to "Inglewood Neighbors" "in the hope of promoting more integration."


The Anglo population dropped from nearly 21 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 1990. By 1983, Inglewood had elected its first black mayor, Edward Vincent.  That trend has continued until this day, with the election of 3 additional African American mayors—Roosevelt Dorn in 1998, Danny Tabor in 2010 and the current mayor, James Butts, in 2011.


According to the 2010 Census, African Americans comprise 43.9% of Inglewood’s population. The Inglewood City Council is 60% African American and 40% Latino. 


The City’s leadership reflects its diverse neighborhoods.  Famous African Americans from Inglewood include Tyra Banks, Lisa Leslie, Paul Pierce, and Omarion.








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