Bill De Blasio For Mayor

Bill de Blasio, a steady and consistent progressive force in politics, has demonstrated that progressive politics can succeed. In managing one of the largest and most complex government body in the country, Mayor de Blasio has stabilized the City, reduced crime and arrests, increased racial harmony with an increasing budget surplus.

In today’s world of The Trump effect on governance and policies, the de Blasio progressive model is not only a refreshing release and it is a hope for sane government, unity among people, absences of white supremacy and an expanding criminalization of black and brown people.

After the Bloomberg mayoralty, there was healthy skepticism as to the ability of a progressive mayor to manage the city. There were predictions of doom and gloom. Well Mayor de Blasio has laid those suspicions to rest.

The mayor aggressively pursued one signature program PRE-K For All, universal pre-K in public schools – he delivered big on that campaign promise in spite of considerable obstacles in Albany. The education system and the future of our children are better by this program.

The question of “Stop and Frisk” was the issue for black and brown youth of the city. The Mayor took it on in spite of the dire consequences that were predicted. Now “Stop and Frisk” is down over 90 percent over the past three years, while the crime rate continues to drop; now New York is on track to have less than 300 murders in 2017. This kind of achievement in contrast to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions lock them up policy, is a remarkable achievement.

Both Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg were touted as pro-business mayors, and there were all kinds of predictions that Mayor de Blasio’s agenda would force business out of the City. Companies are staying in the city, more are coming in, and the city’s economy is in high gear, creating steady and admirable surplus.

On the vexing problem of affordable housing, the mayor has been very clear on his priority to address the problem. He has committed to build or preserve over 200,000 apartments of affordable housing for a ten year period; he is on the path to achieving that. This, at a time when Dr. Ben Carson, Trump Administration Secretary of HUD is taking to the chopping block, funds for affordable housing.

While not perfect, Racial Harmony in New York city is so much better than under predecessors Mayor Giuliani and Bloomberg. The progressive concern for people to work together and live together in harmony is one of the hallmarks of a society development. New York City is showing us the way, under the leadership of Mayor de Blasio. Contrast this to the open racist policy and white supremacist talk on the national scene by President Trump, and we see some hope by the New York example.

The hostility to Unions has subsided, most municipal unions have contracts. He has taken on the issue of deaths from traffic accidents by reducing the speed limits. The mayor is not perfect, and there is more to be done in the area of homelessness, the transit problem, and his own problem of pay for play in political donations. When compared to his four contenders, the mayor rides head and shoulders above them.

What this mayor represents, most importantly, is the hope for Progressive Politics and Policies, not only in New York City, but nationally. There has to be some counterweight to what is currently happening in the White House, i.e. progressive policies can work. We welcome the mayor’s initiative in organizing a national urban agenda Please do not take the mayoral victory for granted; your votes will send a message around the country that progressive politics and policy work. Vote like your life depends on it because it does.

Bill de Blasio for Mayor

HURRICANE DISASTER --- THE NEED FOR A COMPREHENSIVE REGIONAL PLAN

The Caribbean has had a long record of devastating hurricanes. It is predictable they are coming every year. Now with the risk of extreme weather conditions, propelled by climate change, there must now be consideration for a significant response and a comprehensive coordinating agency. For several years at the CARIB NEWS Annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference (CMBC), discussion around disaster preparedness has been directed to the creation of a Regional Disaster Fund, funded and available when these tragic circumstances occurred.

The idea of a regional Disaster Center positioned in strategic areas of the region was a part of the discussion. These Centers would be strongly built and stocked with required emergency equipment, supplies and apparatus ready to respond to the crisis.

Rep. Bernie Thompson of Missouri, then Chair of the Homeland Security Committee was receptive to the idea. He recognized that the security of the US Homeland started well beyond the borders of the US, and the security of the US starts with the security of its neighbors. Devastation of the Caribbean Region through hurricanes and climate changes was one that should be of great interest to the US.

The Caribbean has had a web of agencies and organizations addressing the situation of disaster preparedness. CDERA – the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency funded primarily from external sources without a firm or predictable budget, studied early warning systems. The agency tried to coordinate responses among other governmental agencies. The questions about CDERA Staffing and lack of background in disaster planning was also an issue. CDERA morphed into CDEMA – Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, still depending on charitable funding, and effectiveness in responding to disasters in the region was also in question. Additionally, there were other agencies: CDM – Comprehensive Disaster Management, EAF- Emergency Assistance Fund, NDONational Disaster Organization, CCDRMF – Canada Caribbean Risk Management Fund, AHA – Center for Humanitarian Assistance, RSS – Regional Security Systems; members can get military assistance and logistics planning.

The list goes on to include international organizations volunteer agencies like the Red Cross.

Many Americans view the Caribbean as the tourist destination and place of sea, sun and sand – exotic destinations to escape to; beachside weddings, romantic holidays, exciting ports of call for cruise ships, and for many, an escape from the dark winter days. The Caribbean countries have themselves marketed the region in this light successfully.

The Caribbean islands are also very vulnerable small islands whose existence depends on the variation of the climate, and its ability to survive these national disasters. The smiling faces of the Caribbean people are the same faces of fear and despair on the loss of lives, limbs, and property. Hurricanes and the disaster they bring to the Caribbean cannot be addressed by the patchwork of agencies now trying to help. Resources have to be dedicated to the survival of the Region.

The issue of a Regional Disaster Fund with commitment from the US and other countries is critical for the region as are the Disaster Centers in readiness to reduce the death of people of the Caribbean. CARICOM and Regional Financial Agencies should be contributors, the Airlines making profit in the region, the Tourism Organizations which spend millions on glossy advertising should also contribute generously to the Disaster Fund.

There are millions of Caribbean-Americans with deep roots and potential influence residing in these United States. There is no issue more critical to the existence of the Region than the protection of these vulnerable islands. The ravage by IRMA is a clear indication of what the region will continue to face. The Caribbean Diaspora, this resourceful and impactful community, must come alive on the cause of the protection and recovery of their island homes.

The US must be pushed to action, with the realization that good neighbors that are protected and safe is good homeland security for the US; the US can be a generous country once the cause is real. With the use of technology, enhanced communication abilities and reliable data, much can be done in a coordinated plan to ensure the survival of the region.

CELEBRATING PATRICIA DOROTHY CHIN- “MISS PAT”-THE MATRIACH OF CARIBBEAN MUSIC

Few in the global music business have had the influence of Pat Chin on the musical phenomenon that reggae and dancehall have become today.

Her success story, whose initial chapters were written in a small music store in Kingston, Jamaica, selling 45’s to music lovers. Over 55 years later, this venture has developed in New York City as a multi-national company; VP Records stands as a symbol for reggae music, for the culture of the Caribbean, and now the largest distributor of reggae music in the United States.

The Pat Chin story and success is a story of passion for the music, love for the people in the business and the community, and a commitment to honesty and fairness in all aspects of her life. Pat Chin’s energy and interest extends to strong philanthropic causes – support for national programs such as the NAACP, Educational Programs at York College, several Jamaican and Caribbean charities in the US, many charities in Jamaica. Small of stature, but not short on influence or impact, her presence is felt in the business, in the communities and in her family. VP Records success has much to do with a successful business model as with a family venture that Pat Chin nurtured as a way of life. Her children, grandchildren and in-laws are testimony to the reach, sensitivity and wisdom of Pat Chin.

VP Records has endured through many challenges, but constancy has been Pat Chin’s unwavering belief in the business of promoting the best, a strong community spirit, a real zest for life, an endearing person, a mother of consequence and just a lovely human being.

It is very important to celebrate and give thanks to those among us who we love and cherish, and have contributed significantly. As Ms. Pat celebrates another year of her earth day., we see her as am angel disguised as a friend.

May she have all the joy her heart can hold!

Data, ZOSO and Community Development

By BSIL Wilson

Last week’s article, “Placing ZOSO in Some Historical Perspective” used official data put out by governmental sources to justify why Mount Salem, St. Mary, was selected as the first criminogenic community to establish the Zone of Special Operations, a new intervention program created by the Holness administration to turn back the tidal wave of violent crime in certain sections of Jamaica.

The erroneous initial figures specified that in Mount Salem and its environs in 2014, there were 46 murders, in 2015, there were 70 murders and in 2016, there were 85 recorded murders. According to the fictitious data, thus far in 2017, there were 54 murders. In using the official incorrect data from 2014 to 2017, there occurred a clear escalation of homicides in the Mount Salem community. That pattern of escalation would have singled out Mount Salem for the draconian intervention the new Zone of Special Operation was enacted into law to break up that escalating trend. What we have learned after the Security Forces were deployed is that the level of violence in Mount Salem from 2014 to the present is not as overwhelming as in other sections of the island. Actually in 2014, there were 4 murders and 11 shootings. In 2016, there were 9 murders and 10 shootings and, thus far, in the year in question, 2017, there have occurred 7 murders and 8 shootings.

The macro-data on crime statistics that are kept by the Ministry of National Security tend to be accurate and it is broken down by Parish and specific types of crime such as murder, robbery, rape, burglary, assault, etc. Obviously in the case of Mount Salem in disaggregating the data, there were gross miscalculations at a critical time. The inability of the Prime Minister’s Office to have initiated the first intervention based on erroneous data does not give credibility to this new war against crime. It raises questions as to what extent has the ZOSO strategy been carefully thought through. We have gotten a glimpse of how things have unfolded in Mount Salem since the intervention. An array of government services has been brought in to deal with issues of unemployment, training, identification cards, education, health, etc. The ZOSO, based on the legislation, is to be in effect for 60 days after which the special powers are no longer in effect. What occurs after 60 days?

There is no question that the country must find a way to stop the hemorrhaging and a case can be made for drastic measures to be undertaken. But what I fear is the apocalyptic notion that after 60 days and community fairs, there will occur some transformation and the community will be able to return or stumble into a new state of wholesomeness. Life is just not that simple.

What ZOSO strategy is telling us is that there is a plethora of socially disorganized communities sprawled all over Jamaica that function on the periphery and are not fully integrated into the larger society. In many respects, residents in many of these communities are alienated from government and for these residents, the extant government lacks legitimacy. And thus a counter-culture of survival and violence supersede the conventional norms. Nonetheless in these communities, there are educational institutions set up and supported by the government. People participate in the political process and some are employed in the hotel industry and other enterprises of the legitimate economy. But there is a sprawling underground economy that includes scamming, drug runnings and other forms of skullduggery. What the Prime Minister is attempting to do is bring those communities into the legitimate fold.

What Prime Minister Holness has undertaken is commendable but to tackle one Mount Salem at a time when there is a multitude of Mount Salems, one questions the efficacy of a strategy that is so piecemeal. Thus far in Mount Salem, there has been no great discovery of illegal guns. Four have been retrieved and a number of suspects detained. It raises the question as to what should be the relationship between law enforcement and folks who are specialists in community development. The country is weak in both spheres and in the latter, even though people can be trained, community leaders must spring from the grassroots.

In the Overseas Jamaica Observer, the Attorney General and Member of Parliament for that area, Marlene Malahoo Forte, indicated that it would be the policy of government to return the students who had dropped out of high school to the educational system and those who were older to be given training by Heart. As the Attorney General has pointed out that those who drop out of schools are fodder for gangs.

ZOSO makes sense in particular circumstances but will only produce the desired effect if it is seen as a national strategy with the necessary resources to implement holistic coordinated programs to convince residents in the periphery that there is a “New Deal” and that government is committed not only to reducing crime but taking on a long term commitment to improve the living conditions of the forgotten. This raises ideological and organizational questions. The latter is less controversial than the former. Pundits writing in the newspaper are critical of the excessive centralization that has taken place in the Holness administration. Leadership at the top is pivotal but in the kind of reorganization that needs to be undertaken, communities must be built from the bottom up, not from the top down. The people living in these communities are quite knowledgeable about what is taking place in their respective communities.

The Social Development Commission is the governmental agency, if given the resources, could carry out these national initiatives but the apocalyptic approach will not work. It will require cadres who have a clear understanding as to how to build community and establish an institutional matrix to foster and sustain civic engagement.

Organized communities if they are integrated into the larger bodypolitic and receiving essential services and seeing changes in their everyday lives, will shed the albatross of crimeprone communities. Political and civic leaders have an important role to articulate the making of a new society, one that is not overly dependent on the coercive apparatus of the state. This kind of reconstruction requires vision and a profound understanding of what is to be done.

We Must Have A New Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival

By Bishop William J. Barber, II (President, Repairers of the Breach)

Channeling the incisive analysis of our best historians, TaNehisi Coates cut through the talking points of political pundits last week to name Donald Trump America’s “First White president.” Writing for The Atlantic, the National Book Award recipient made clear how there could be no Donald Trump without President Obama. The chaos from which the whole world now suffers is a direct result of the backlash against racial progress in America. To see this is to know that Trump is not our problem. He is only a symptom. During this time of intensifying political, economic, and moral crisis, with the lives of the most vulnerable and the spirits of all under vicious attack, people in growing numbers around the country are fighting back for their lives, communities and deepest values. As we respond to invitations from communities across America, we hear a resounding call for a Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival in America today.

Fifty years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others called for a “revolution of values” in America, inviting people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”— militarism, racism, and economic injustice—to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation to ever exist. He joined with people across the country like Myles Horton of the Highlander Center, Loretta Two Crow of National Welfare Rights, Cesar Chavez of United Farm Workers, Al McSurely of the Appalachian Volunteers, Phillip Bernstein of the Council of Jewish Federation and Welfare, Tillie Walker of the United Indian Scholarship Fund, and John Lewis of the Southern Regional Council. Theirs was a coalition as diverse as America.

We draw on the history, vision and unfinished work of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign as we embrace the task of reigniting that campaign to unite the poor, disenfranchised, and marginalized across difference to take action together. In the aftermath of 2016’s rejection election, we are building a Movement from the states up, to unleash what Dr. King called “a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.” This Campaign has emerged from more than a decade of work by grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations and movements fighting to end systemic racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction & related injustices and to build a just, sustainable and participatory society. We would need to do this work even if Trump had not been elected. But the blatant extremism of this administration only serves to amplify the need. The twin forces of White supremacy and unchecked corporate greed continue to gain more power and influence, both in statehouses across this nation and at the highest levels of our federal government. Today, one in every two Americans are poor or low-income, while millions of children and adults continue to live without access to healthcare, housing, clean water, or good jobs.

At the same time, the issues of poverty and racism have been forced to the margins of our moral narrative and claims that a limited focus on personal morality should overshadow and supplant a commitment to public morality rooted in a critique of greed, racism, and injustice.

Our campaign aims to build a broad and deep national moral movement—rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings—to unite our country from the bottom up.

For years, we have seen a kind of attention violence towards issues of systemic racism, poverty, and militarism. There was a time when our nation was fighting a war against poverty; now, it seems, we are waging a war on the poor. Our social fabric is stretched thin by widening income inequality, while politicians criminalize the poor, fan the flames of racism and xenophobia to divide the poor, and steal from the poor to give tax breaks to our richest neighbors and budget increases to a bloated military. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will strategically connect and grow different struggles and lift up and deepen the leadership of those most affected to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society. The Campaign will push forward concrete demands, build unity across lines of division, and draw on art, music, and religious traditions to challenge the dominant narrative that blames poor people for poverty. This will necessarily be a multi-year undertaking. This fall and winter we are touring the country to publicly launch the campaign with partners who have been working across race and class lines in their own communities. Next spring, we plan to begin engaging in highly publicized civil disobedience and direct action over a six-week period in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia. Our goal is to force a serious, national examination of the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, militarism and environmental devastation during a key election year, while strengthening and connecting informed and committed grassroots leadership in every state. We are building power to continue this fight long after June 2018. A precise diagnosis is key, but naming the problem is never enough. We need a Movement rooted in the moral forces that have demonstrated a capacity to change America. At such a time as this, we need a Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival to help us become the nation we’ve not yet been.

Bishop William J. Barber, II, is President of Repairers of the Breach, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and author of The Third Reconstruction. Follow Bishop Barber on Twitter @ RevDrBarber. Follow Repairers of the Breach on Twitter @BRepairers.

SEO KEYWORDS: Bishop William J. Barber II, NNPA exclusive, Poor People’s Campaign, Repairers of the Breach, op-ed, commentary, Moral Revival in America, Myles Horton of the Highlander Center, Cesar Chavez of United Farm Workers, Al McSurely of the Appalachian Volunteers, John Lewis of the Southern Regional Council Bishop William J. Barber II pens an exclusive op-ed about the need for a New Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Revival.