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What can be said about Dick Gregory that has not already been said? The 84 year-old civil rights activist, comedian, author and health guru who broke color barriers and died last weekend following a bacterial infection, was so many things rolled into one.  


His incredible and often humorous insight into the world at large often made folks pause and think about their lives and conditions.  As is many times the case when people pass on, Gregory’s words of wisdom will be recalled by his followers in the weeks and years to come.


In the early 60s, he made it big as the first black stand-up comic to sit with the host of a TV talk show.  When asked to appear on Jack Paar, Gregory agreed on one condition—that he be allowed to join Paar in a conversation after his performance.  Until then, black comedians were only allowed to perform and then leave.  No one just stood up and told jokes until Gregory came along.  Even the greats like Sammy Davis, Jr. had to sing and dance below they could speak directly to the audience.


While Gregory was known worldwide for his activism and comedy, I came to know him as a walking encyclopedia on health.  I met him first in Leimert Parrk, where he gave a talk about health and the importance of purifying your blood. Years later, the man who once smoked multiple packs of cigarettes daily crossed my path again—this time as a true believer in Global Cardio Care, a medical facility in  Inglewood with a high success rate of treating people with high blood pressure and heart conditions.


At the facility, patients are strapped to a bed that vibrates and circulates blood to the heart.


Gregory was so impressed, that he came to the center immediately after hearing about it and reported that after one treatment, his pressure dropped to 98 over 60.


It was delightful, getting to know Gregory during our interview and picking up on his various bits of wisdom here and there.  “The lymphatic system is like the garbage man that comes in your neighborhood to take out the trash,” Gregory said. “It moves all the poison out of the bloodstream, but it doesn’t have a pump.  Before we had cars and trains, walking was the thing that turned the pump (heart). Now, we don’t get any fitness, and there’s nowhere for the lymph system to empty the trash.  It’s as if we use the toilet and don’t flush.  When I’m on the machine it’s almost the equivalent of walking five miles.”


Injecting humor into the conversation, Gregory said he never saw such a “newfangled” machine until he met Global Cardio Care owner Sara Salouti.  “The last time I saw a black person strapped like that was on their way to the electric chair for a murder they say they didn’t commit!”


Another funny moment occurred when Gregory talked about how conveniences of the modern world are not always aligned with what’s good for us health wise. In the old days, he said, people woke up and went to bed by the rising and setting of the sun.  Now, electricity allows folks to stay up way beyond the time they should be sleeping.  “People are up folding socks at 10 o’clock at night,” he said.  I laughed out loud because I had a pile of laundry scattered over my bed at that very moment, as I interviewed him over the phone.  I wonder how he knew…


Whether talking about heart disease or racism, Gregory never left his comic roots.  He recalled in a 2003 interview his experience trying to integrate a restaurant in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era:


"We tried to integrate a restaurant, and they said, `We don't serve colored folk here,' and I said, `Well, I don't eat colored folk nowhere. Bring me some pork chops.' And then Ku Klux Klan come in, and the woman say, `We don't have no pork chops,' so I say, `Well, bring me a whole fried chicken.' And then the Klan walked up to me when they put that whole fried chicken in front of me, and they say, `Whatever you do to that chicken, boy, we're going to do to you.' So I opened up its legs and kissed it in the rump and (said) `Be my guest.' "





By Veronica Mackey


It’s been 38 years since a solar eclipse occurred in the U.S. and 99 years since a total solar eclipse has swept across the U.S. from coast to coast. The next partial eclipse will be visible in 2024.


This once-in-a-lifetime event when the moon completely covers the sun brought a divided country together to witness something way bigger than mankind.  Massive traffic jams and sold-out hotel rooms evidenced its significance. 


Briefly, various U.S. cities plunged into darkness, and temperatures dropped as much as 12 degrees, ABC News reported. The sun's corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by glare, appeared as a ring of ethereal white wisps around the moon while it blocked the sun.  The corona is actually 300 times hotter than the sun’s surface, according to—if you can imagine that!


The celestial show travelled across the U.S., with the sun and moon appearing together in various phases from coast to coast.  States along the “path of totality”—where the moon completely blocked the sun for a period of time included Oregon, Wyoming, Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina.  


Folks in Lincoln City, Oregon were the first to witness the total eclipse.  In Madras, the population increased by 1500%, with over 100,000 eclipse watchers there to see the sky go from light to dark to light again.


Unless it was rainy and cloudy, there was a good chance you’d see at least a partial eclipse somewhere in the country. The sun was only partially eclipsed in California, and was covered the most at 10:21am Pacific time.  


About 150 people filed outside the Inglewood Main Library to get protective glasses, and the supply quickly ran out.  Sun and moon gazers were more than willing to share glasses so others could see history in the making.


From where they stood looking at the sky in Inglewood, only the sun was visible to the naked eye.  But once you put on the glasses, you could see the moon covered about a quarter of the sun.  The effect created a smiley face.


In some parts of the country, the planet Venus and stars were also visible.


The total eclipse was a welcome diversion to the hatred, division and senseless violence that has occurred across the country.  Watching the earth go totally black, then light again was humbling to say the least.  It made people awestruck to realize their smallness in relation to the universe.  At the end of the day, human beings were reminded of who and what is really in charge.


The City of Inglewood and the Los Angeles Clippers are getting help from Sacramento that could significantly speed up development of the proposed basketball arena.  Supporters of the development are hoping to get approval to amend state legislation that would reduce the time allowed for environmental review and fast track plans for connecting local transit to the future sports and entertainment hub.


Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. confirmed that he is leading the lobbying efforts to amend time and environmental review restraints in order to move the project along.  “I have been asking that our representatives now provide the residents and children of Inglewood with the same legal tool to spur economic growth that has been provided to AEG (Farmers Field), the Sacramento Kings (NBA arena) and the Golden State Warriors (NBA arena) to expedite construction of those facilities by limiting the time period in which CEQA challenges must be filed and resolved,” he told an L.A. Times reporter. 


Basically, Inglewood and the Clippers organization want a deal similar to one that stadium builders got in Northern California.  Legislation was supported in 2013 which allowed developers to speed up construction of the Sacramento Kings basketball arena.  


The amended draft would require any lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act to be wrapped up within nine months.  CEQA is an environmental watchdog agency that requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment. 


“Too many times CEQA lawsuits are abused to eliminate perceived competition as opposed to ensure environmental protection,” Butts said.  “Every development project in Inglewood has in the past and will in the future continue to undergo a complete, thorough and rigorous CEQA analysis and review.”


The draft proposal, if approved, would limit the court’s ability to halt construction, even if flaws—such as an inadequate study of traffic—were found in the environmental review. 


The proposal would also provide legal relief to a new transit hub that could include a street car or monorail for easier access to the new arena and the nearby under-construction NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers, according to the Times.


State Senator Steve Bradford, who represents Inglewood, has authored the bill, which is expected to be attract strong opposition.  


Not surprisingly, Madison Square Garden, which owns the Forum and is suing the City of Inglewood, is against the legislation. In a statement, MSG called the proposed bill a “blank check” to the Clippers.


Citing job creation as part of the motivation behind the proposed bill, Butts said the legislation will “shorten the wait for quality, prevailing wage construction jobs and full-time employment opportunities that our residents and the Los Angeles County region have waited decades for.”  


In a statement, Chris Meany, the project manager for the arena, confirmed that the Clippers was supporting the proposal in the Legislature.   


Fund to Help Renters is in the Works

Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Veronica Mackey


Tuesday’s council meeting began with a hearing to consider the Permits and Licenses Committee’s denial of a permit request submitted by Ellesa Maxie to house a third dog at 2703 W. 78th Street, Inglewood, CA, 90305. 


Maxie said she has been keeping her sister’s dog until another residence can be found. The animal is an emotional support dog, Maxie said, and lived with her sister until a new landlord  threatened eviction if the dog stayed. Despite medical verification, the landlord wouldn’t budge. The sister lives in Palmdale. Maxie asked for another extension until the end of the year, when her sister’s situation should be resolved.


Councilman Ralph Franklin wanted to clarify why the woman needed more time:


“This has been going on since March of this year and you applied in October of last year.  There is a question of what is temporary.”  He asked Maxie if she was willing to give up one of her other dogs to comply with the ordinance of having no more than 2 dogs per residence.


“What accommodation are you willing to make? What sacrifices are you willing to make?” he asked.


“I think I am sacrificing now.  I am not willing to make my dogs homeless.  I am asking the City of Inglewood for a couple more months,” she said.


Maxie told the council she submitted all the proper paper work, including medical verification that her sister needed a support dog.  Further investigation corroborated her story, and it was discovered that the woman voluntarily notified the City that she would be housing more than 2 dogs.   


Mayor James Butts made a motion to allow the woman to keep her sister’s dog until January 31, 2018.   


“If you brought it, that’s much better,” Franklin said.


A man from the Second District wants council members to step in and enforce traffic on his street.  “There is speeding on Fairview.  Drivers tore up my neighbor’s car and my son’s car,” he said.  He also talked about burglaries in the area and “infected” magnolia trees.  


“We have an arborist coming out and looking at our trees,” Mayor Butts said.  “We have a lot of magnolia trees in the city and (problems) when the trees start to die.  The good thing is we are at this point in our history where we can worry about sap in our magnolia trees.”


A woman whose rent just went up $350 wants support from the City.  “I am seeking help, anything you can do, so it doesn’t happen to others,” she said.  Rising rents is an issue which council members have heard regularly for the past few months.  Not much had been said about the problem until now.


“We are putting together a developer’s tax to develop a fund to provide money for affordable housing.  One way is to provide a stipend to help with capital improvements that they will make, and to freeze rent prices for X number of years.  We don’t know how big that fund will grow.  I have seen the proposal that our executive assistants are putting forth and it will come before the council shortly,” Butts said.


During closing comments, Councilman George Dotson praised the Parks, Recreation and Library Services Department for their first class magazine.  Councilman Alex Padilla thanked the Kaboom! company and local volunteers for their help last Saturday.  The playground building company and crew went to work at Parent Elementary School, and were done the same day by 2pm.


Franklin thanked City Manager Artie Fields for his department’s assistance in providing the Inglewood Library with special glasses to view the eclipse, and for making certificates available for the library’s summer reading program.  


Mayor Butts circled back to address rising rents and home values.  “The housing and trust fund will help people with affordability.  (However) property values been increasing since 2012—even before people knew we were going to have a stadium.”


Regarding the extension given to Maxie earlier in the meeting, he said:  


“It’s clear today that our commission system works.   I will never understand the three extensions to save my life.  It would have been unconscionable to tell this woman she couldn’t keep the dog when her sister has been denied her rights under law.  It shows me that the system works.”


Council members approved:


An amendment of the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget, transferring funds in the amount of $50,000 from the General Fund Reserves to support program activities for the Inglewood Teen Center


A three-year agreement with HDL Coren & Cone for property tax audit and consulting services and tax revenue recovery  


A three-year blanket purchase order (with the option to extend it for another year) for the annual purchase of various maintenance, repair, and operating supplies from Home Depot


Modification to the terms and conditions of employment for employees represented by the Inglewood Police Officers Association 


The purchase of additional automation software licenses from Accela, Inc.  


An agreement with Helen Lessick for public art consulting 


A grant agreement offer with the Federal Aviation Administration in the amount of $20 million for residential sound insulation


The Amended Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Salary Ordinance was introduced.  The revised ordinance includes Inglewood Police Officers Association  negotiated salary increases


The Public Works Department requested a public hearing to consider an ordinance amending the Inglewood Municipal Code to establish Permit Parking District No. 17.  The district includes: 99th Street (between La Brea Avenue and Myrtle Avenue), 98th Street (between La Brea Avenue and Myrtle Avenue), and 97th Street (between La Brea Avenue and Myrtle Avenue). The hearing was set for September 12, 2017.


 The City Manager’s Office got the green light to amend the Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule for 2017-2018 (ROPS17-18), for submittal to the Oversight Board for approval consideration.


The Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Financial Statements and Audits for the City of Inglewood and the Inglewood Housing Authority were presented to the council. 

The meeting closed in memory of former Inglewood Police Chief Ray Johnson, who has passed away.  Chief Johnson served as police chief between 1986 and 1991.  






Hate is Being Fought in a New Way

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Last week, I talked about how video is causing violent racists to be arrested and fired from their jobs after being identified.  Now big business has joined the cause to fight domestic terrorism.


In response to growing efforts to turn back the clock of American history to the 1950s and before, conscientious companies are fighting the war on racism Millennial-style.  Reports surfaced this week of various websites and apps which are banning hate groups from using their service.  


Technology being what it is, users no longer have the luxury of simply re-registering under pseudo names because companies can pinpoint a user’s location.  Yep, they’ve got your name, address and number.


Companies who have joined the bandwagon against the Alt Right, KKK, Neo Nazis, white supremacists and other home grown terrorist groups include Paypal, Airbnb, Google, and GoDaddy.  The latter two dropped domain registration against a hate group.  


The Aug. 11 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which began supposedly as a protest against efforts to remove a Confederate monument, turned deadly when a white supremacist supporter plowed into a crowd of counter-protestors with his car, injuring several people and killing one. Two law enforcement officers also died during the incident.  Discord blocked the chat server of DailyStormer, a Neo-Nazi site that posted a negative article on the victim, 32 year-old Heather Heyes. 


GoFundMe took down campaigns to raise money for legal fees to defend James Fields, the alleged murderer.

With the recent re-surgence of hate groups, encouraged some say by President Trump, businesses are taking matters into their own hands.  Large companies have been flooded with complaints against hate speech online and have decided to cut off the divisive language at the source.


Even dating sites like OK Cupid are rejecting members of hate groups.  The dating service recently tweeted:  “We were alerted that white supremacist Chris Cantwell was on OkCupid. Within 10 minutes we banned him for life,”and followed up with “There is no room for hate in a place where you’re looking for love.”


Offline, the push to block hate mongers from enjoying member privileges is just as strong.  Airbnb, the company that books travel accommodations, stood by this statement issued in 2016: 

“When through our background check processes or from input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform.” 


James Allsup, a white supremacist, was kicked out of his Uber ride after allegedly making racist remarks toward his driver.  The ride sharing company shut down his account and has blocked him from obtaining service in the future.


The Alt Right, much like Donald Trump, is fighting a losing battle—based on the outdated and forever untrue philosophy that white people are superior, and fueled by fear of becoming extinct.  But like it or not, the color of America is changing and it won’t be long before people of color will be dominant.   A sensible person would try and get along.


Efforts by tech companies to shut down hate provides another ray of hope to the majority of Americans who want to live peaceful and productive lives, and want others to do the same.  While having a physical presence is still important in getting our message heard, we have to appreciate technology’s role in putting hate mongers in their place.  Just a few keystrokes sometimes is all that is required.



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