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Value the Place You Call Home

Thursday, February 05, 2015

If you were given a gift that could change your fortune, create opportunity, and improve your quality of life, would you toss it in the trash?


If this question sounds silly, then I would have to ask why a handful of residents continue to do this with their words week after week.  I am talking about a small group of haters who, for whatever reason—feel obligated to denigrate all the progress the city is experiencing now and about to experience.  Inglewood has been given a precious gift of a second chance.  It is being rebirthed as a future destination city and reclaiming its crown as the City of Champions.


After more than 20 years in the publishing business and interacting with hundreds of people in this city year after year, I get asked why certain individuals (aka “haters) insist on jumping on the negative bandwagon about Inglewood.  They do this day in and day out, regardless of how positive the world sees Inglewood or how well it is doing.


It is not uncommon to hear one or two people at a council meeting claim elected leaders are doing something shady, and lining their pockets with money, even without the slightest proof of these allegations.  But, even without proof, they persist.  They blame current leadership for things that happened 25 or 30 years ago –long before the new council had any authority in Inglewood at all.


Where is all of this criticism and negativity coming from?


From where I stand, it only makes sense to support the neighborhood where you live.  Regardless of the location, climate, economic status or who’s in the neighborhood, if you live here, you would want to see your community thrive, wouldn’t you?  Yet, I often find myself scratching my head, trying to understand the mindset of Inglewood haters. 


Go to any council meeting, and you are likely to hear phrases like, “I am a long time Inglewood resident” or “I have lived in Inglewood for 30 years/40 years/50 years.” 


The length of time spent here tells me that there is something that is holding them here.  Why else would you spend decades in a city that’s so terrible.  If there had not been any progress made, if conditions had gone from bad to worse, if you feel defeated by those in power, and feel you have no voice and there’s no way out, why are you sticking around.  I’m not suggesting anyone move—just asking why.


There are some who feel that they must criticize, struggle or fight against every point that comes up during a meeting or discussion about the city.  Some feel it is their civic duty to find something wrong instead of praise what is right. 


Of course, there is nothing anybody can do to make someone feel differently if their mind is set at finding fault.  No one can make anyone else happy, if they are determined to be unhappy.  When it’s time to take action to improve Inglewood or partake in positive events in the city, these individuals cannot be found.


While I don’t know what it will take to make the haters stop hating, I do know life is short.  Anybody who values time will want to make the best use of it.  When you’re always bad-mouthing your city, yet never taking action to improve it, you are not only wasting the time of your fellow citizens, you are wasting your own.


The Lost Generation?

Thursday, February 05, 2015


I recently discovered a young brother who claims to have the formula for success. His name is Jullien Gordon, graduate of both UCLA and Stanford with a Master’s Degree in Education, who currently speaks at colleges and universities around the country.  He talks to students who are still undecided in their majors, and are looking to find employment after graduation.


Jullien believes that the problem is that students often take the back seat in the vehicles of their own lives and allow society or parents to drive them where they want them to go. The problem with this is that it creates a workforce of uncommitted, unfocused, and ultimately unmotivated worker. Thus, young people of today have been labeled the “Lost Generation.”


Jullien makes another brilliant observation. And that is, students focusing on a revitalized 4.0 system. That 4-point system focuses on intellectual, personal, social, and financial capital. This system works, Jullien says, when students have the right combination of all 4 of these points.  Then financial opportunities present themselves.


He uses himself as an example. “Who knows that you know, what you know? The reason I’m able to get paid to speak all over the nation is because the right people at companies, colleges, and high schools know that I know a lot about helping this generation reach its full potential.”


Gordon says, this same system can be used when deciding which college to go to as well.


“I chose Stanford for its capital, and because I wanted to be more valuable once I graduated. At the end of the day, college is an expensive piece of paper that comes with a lot of debt and struggles no matter if it’s framed on your wall or in your closet. Is it important? Yes, but what’s more important is that you master yourself.”


I found his lectures refreshing, and relevant, in that he understands the young people of today. We aren’t attracted to tradition. What attracts us is freedom. His Ted Talks have landed him more lecturing and coaching work in the last couple years and he now calls himself, the “Innerviewer.”  More and more young people are becoming financially independent and doing what they love to do. Lost generation? I would say we are the “Found Generation.”






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. 












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