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Save the Postal Service

Thursday, October 23, 2014

As soon as Midterm Elections are over, America will shift its focus to the holidays. Lost in the hustle and bustle of the season, will be some important issues that most won’t think about. 


This is just the way many in the GOP want it, because on January 5, 2015, one of our most important services will be diminished-again.  The U.S. Postal Service is under attack, and this time, there is a threat that 15,000 workers will lose their jobs.


The USPS is slated to further lower service standards,  Overnight mail could become a thing of the past. The sad part is that massive layoffs and closures could be avoided—if only Congress would act.


How did we get here?


It all began when Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.  The Legislature requires the post office to pre-fund future retiree health care costs 75 years in advance over a 10-year period. The cost is a staggering $5.8 billion a year.


No other private or public entity has the same burden put on them.  Congress could seek a moratorium on the closures, which is why it is important to keep the pressure on representatives come Election Day.


Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is leading a charge to stop this from happening.  Speaking about his Republican colleagues, fighting tooth and nail to dismember the postal service, Sanders said, “Deep in their hearts they want to privatize the post office, privatize Medicare and privatize Social Security.”


The jobs slated to be destroyed are (no surprise!) unionized.  Sanders doubts the money required to pre-fund retirement will actually go to retirees.  I am sure there will be a lot of  “administrative” costs to eat up the estimated $50 billion set aside in the U.S. Treasury.


This Act will finish killing off the postal service as we know it.  It will finish the destruction of 2012, which closed several offices around the country and reduced service hours.  It is going to slow down mail delivery by 3-4 days and further weaken decent paying union jobs.


Federal Express and other private carriers will have a field day if the postal service goes, and consumers will be captive victims, with few choices left to send their mail and parcels.  Mailing letters could become prohibitive, especially for low-income individuals.


Knowing where politicians stand on such an important entity as the postal service is worth finding out.  And although it’s not on the ballot, it definitely should be.

City Yard Sale, a Huge Success

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clear skies, music, and the former Wal-Mart parking lot created the perfect ambiance to house an array of local vendors for the City’s annual Yard Sale event this past Saturday.


There was literally something for everybody, TV’s, computers, tiny motorcycles, tons of clothes, art, antiques, collectibles.  You name it, somebody had it, and at a good price as well.


I drifted through the different vendors of family and friends, all of whom had to be residents of the city to participate, and enjoyed the hospitality as they urged me to pick up a vintage DARE T-Shirt. I was tempted to cop it, but I found something twice as special in a painting of the goddess Isis leading Queen Nefertari—a painting that was discovered in the Tomb of Queen Nefertari in Egypt’s Valley of the Queens, also known as QV66 by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904.


As I dropped the painting off in the car, I kept walking around, stumbled across two more paintings, and this time I discovered a painting depicting a pharaoh being protected by the gods Horus and Thoth.


As a person with a fascination for Egyptian Mythology, I was a kid in a candy store.


As the day progressed, music blared and folks danced between all the “treasures” and the area where Centinela Hospital was holding free health screenings and offering vital information to the community through various vendors.


Kids played in huge slides and jumpers nearby, and enjoyed the luxury of getting their faces painted.


Live music blessed the crowd as they snacked on delicious bites from local food vendors like B&R Burgers and Kogi.


Mayor James Butts addressed the community on the importance of recycling and raffled off a pair of concert tickets.


The yard sale is such a great opportunity not only to rid your closet of the things you haven’t worn in more years than you have fingers. It’s an opportunity to connect with folks, learn about the history of the items we bring into our lives, and of course, pick up a couple extra dollars for gas. The dispelling of junk can be a major stress reliever and bring in fresh new ideas, and revitalize a person’s energy. Go in your closet and try it for yourself, just call me if you have anything relative to Ancient Egypt. 




The ‘Politics’ of Ebola

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Midterm Elections are fanning the flames of fear, panic and pandemonium over the Ebola epidemic.  So here are the medical facts, politics aside.


Ebola has claimed the lives of some 4,500 victims, mostly in Western African nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  In the U.S., politicians are calling for flight bans and blaming President Barack Obama for the spread of the disease


According to CNN, as of Oct. 17, 2014, “eight confirmed cases of Ebola have been or are being treated in the United States, and one U.S. citizen died abroad, having never returned to the States.”

Patrick Sawyer, a government official in the Liberian Ministry of Finance and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Minnesota, died July 25 in Nigeria after caring for his Ebola-stricken sister in Liberia.


The more famous case is that of Thomas Eric Duncan, an American who visited Liberia and returned with the virus last month.  He was sent home with antibiotics by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, but finally admitted days later when his symptoms worsened.  He was being treated at the hospital when he died on Oct. 8. 


More than 100 individuals identified to have come in contact with Duncan have been quarantined.   At least 45 were cleared on Oct. 20 after 21 days of observation, according to MSNBC.


By the way, according to the World Health Organization, Ebola is “acquired by contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected human or other animal. This may also occur by direct contact with a recently contaminated item. Spread through the air has not been documented in the natural environment.”  Ebolavirus may be eliminated by heat, avoiding direct contact with infected people and regular hand washing with soap and water


Considering that the numbers of people who have tested negative for Ebola in the US far outweigh those who tested positive, evidence suggests the disease is not as easy to contract as believed.  This is not to say that missteps by both the medical community and the government have not raised the risks. 


Duncan should not have been sent home when he first came to the hospital with a fever and explained he had been in Liberia. Not enough precautions were taken to keep health care workers protected.  One of the infected nurses who called CDC for clearance to board an airplane to Ohio was given the green light.  That should have never happened. 


With Midterm Elections less than 2 weeks away, Republicans are blaming President Obama for not doing enough to slow down the spread of Ebola in the U.S.  Democrats are blaming Republicans for cuts to funding necessary to deal with health emergencies like Ebola. 

The president’s appointment of Ron Klain as Ebola Czar became effective Oct. 22.


Politicians running for re-election must appear that they are doing something to stop Ebola (even if they don’t have a clue).  So they are calling for travel bans from West Africa into the U.S.  Democrats who have distanced themselves from the president because of his low approval ratings are now using Ebola to legitimize the distance.


President Obama has said banning travel to the U.S. from Liberia would only make the situation worse.  But even if he were to order a ban on travel from West Africa, how would that order actually be carried out? There are no direct flights from West Africa to the U.S.  Currently, passengers have to go through airports in Western Europe (Paris is the number one destination) and then transfer to America.


“We can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa," Obama said, explaining it would make it harder to move health workers and supplies into the region, and would motivate people trying to get out the region to evade screening, making it harder to track cases.


The Department of Homeland Security announced that all travelers from Ebola outbreak countries in West Africa will be funneled through one of five U.S. airports with enhanced screening, including JFK International in New York, Washington Dulles, Chicago O'Hare, New Jersey's Newark and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta international airports.




At a press conference at the Forum on Oct. 16, Mayor James T. Butts announced that Inglewood has been officially selected to participate in the Special Olympics World Games Host Town program from July 21 – 24, 2015.


Before the Special Olympics World Games begin on July 25, 2015, more than 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will be welcomed to Southern California through the Host Town program. As many as one hundred communities from San Luis Obispo to San Diego will have the honor of participating as an official Host Town.


“The Host Town program is an exciting way for Southern California locals to open our doors and show the athletes and coaches from around the world our hospitality and our culture,” said Patrick McClenahan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LA2015, the Games’ Organizing Committee.


“This is an important part of the World Games experience and a truly meaningful way for different communities to be part of the Games and create lasting memories for our visiting athletes.”


As a Host Town, Inglewood will have an opportunity to come together and support these champions, as they demonstrate what true commitment and determination is all about.  


“With the help of our community, we will rally together to produce events on the order of the 1984 Olympics, when the basketball contests were held at the Forum,” said Mayor Butts.  “The City of Inglewood will extend the ultimate in hospitality – the use of the ‘Fabulous’ Forum as our venue. The Forum has served as host to the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the astronaut crew, the Dalai Lama and most recently, the MTV Music Video Awards.  We look forward to adding the Special Olympics and its competitors to this prestigious list.”


The Host Town program has been an important element of Special Olympics World Games since 1995, and the experience has left a lasting impression on the local communities in Ireland, Japan, China, Greece, South Korea and the United States, all of which have previously organized Host Town programs as part of the Special Olympics World Games.


LA2015 is actively identifying potential Host Town candidates to be considered for the program. Communities are evaluated on the availability of lodging accommodations, sports practice facilities and recreation/entertainment offerings for the athletes, among other criteria. Host Towns are also responsible for planning activities for the athletes to introduce them to the community and help spread the word about the Games.


Inglewood joins the growing list of officially proclaimed Host Towns, which includes Long Beach, Thousand Oaks, Calabasas, Studio City, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Arcadia, Burbank, Santa Clarita, Palmdale, La Mirada, Glendale, Palm Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Irvine, Downey, Whittier, Simi Valley, Fountain Valley, Pasadena, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Solvang and Oxnard. More Host Town selections will be announced in the coming weeks.


To learn more about the Special Olympics visit their web page at  

Remarks about safety in Inglewood made to a radio station has created embarrassment and prompted an apology from state-appointed trustee of the Inglewood Unified School District, Dr. Don Brann.  Remarks form his radio interview with KPCC painted Inglewood as unsafe, and justification behind a 6-figure annual security detail. 


He told the station last month, “I don’t want to get hurt here. I don’t know enough about present-day Inglewood to know how good the chances are for that so I’m just erring on the side of safety.”


Voted as the “Superintendent of the Year” by Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology last January, Brann came out of retirement to run the financially devastated district, taken over by the state in 2012.


In a letter to the City, dated Oct. 9, Brann said: “My recent comments were insensitive to the Inglewood community which I’m privileged to serve, and I offer my deepest apologies to Mayor Butts, council members and to the entire Inglewood community.”


Brann added that he was “extremely grateful for the warm welcome the entire Inglewood community has given me, and I hope they will forgive my unfortunate choice of words.”


Brann authorized $135,000 in approved district funds to pay for an armed California Highway Patrol officer as his driver and security guard.  The CHP contract, which was put in place in April 2013 when predecessor LaTanya Kirk-Cater was interim state trustee, was extended to April 2015, according to sources.


Christopher Graeber, a field representative with the California Professional Employees, Local Union No. 2345, who has been critical of Brann in the past, noted that while the district has approved an increase in funds for Brann’s security to $335,000 a year, “the district had no campus supervisors for the first two weeks of school.”


Brann said it has been a sacrifice for his family to have him come out of retirement to help turn around Inglewood schools, but progress is being made.  An El Segundo resident, Brann is credited with turning around the Wiseburn School District in Hawthorne before he retired in 2008.


The trustee recently signed a three-year contract with the district.  He is only one of four state school trustees with a CHP detail.  He said there have been no threats since he came to Inglewood in July 2013.


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