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  • Louisiana Disaster Survivors: What Are You Waiting For?

    If you are one of the many Louisiana residents who were affected by the severe storms and flooding that occurred March 8 through April 8 and haven’t registered for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, why wait? Do it now!

    You have until June 13 to take the first step toward getting federal assistance. Don’t miss out! Once you register with FEMA, you may be eligible for a federal grant to help you with your recovery. You may also qualify for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

    If you haven’t registered yet and are a homeowner or renter with disaster-related damage in the designated parishes, do it now before it’s too late.

    Did you not register because:

    You simply didn’t know that FEMA offers help to homeowners and renters whose homes were damaged?
    Once you register with FEMA you will learn about the help that may be available to you.
    You kept putting off registering because you were too busy and didn’t remember to register until the evening, and thought everything would be closed?
    Registering is a very important first step to getting help. The FEMA helpline is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week.
    You are confused about the process of registering with FEMA?
    FEMA is there to help you. Make the phone call. Ask questions and you will get answers.
    You thought talking with your parish officials or the American Red Cross would automatically make you eligible for FEMA aid?
    The only way for you to be eligible for federal help is for you, the homeowner or renter, to register with FEMA. Nobody else can do it for you.
    You called 2-1-1 and thought that would automatically make you eligible for FEMA aid?
    2-1-1 is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need, including how to apply for disaster assistance. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But calling them does not register you with FEMA. The only way you can register is to call the FEMA helpline.
    You thought the damage to your property would not be eligible for federal help?
    Let FEMA make the decision. A FEMA housing inspector will examine your property damage to determine if it qualifies you for federal assistance.
    You thought that since you already cleaned up and made repairs you couldn’t apply for assistance?
    You can register with FEMA even after you make repairs. You must be able to show that the damage was caused by the severe storms and flooding that occurred March 8 through April 8. Don’t forget to keep all repair receipts.
    You thought others needed the federal aid more than you?
    No one is denied aid because of someone else’s need. If you are eligible for assistance, FEMA will provide funds to help you recover.
    You thought you’d have to repay a FEMA grant?
    FEMA assistance is a grant, not a loan. It does not have to be repaid. It is not subject to income tax.
    You thought that getting disaster assistance from FEMA would affect your government benefits, such as Social Security, Medicaid or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)?
    You will not pay additional income taxes or see any reduction in your Social Security checks or any other federal benefits.
    You didn’t think you could register because you don’t speak English very well?
    FEMA has people who speak many languages. Translators are available and can help you in the registration process. Cuando llame al 800 621-3362 marque el 1 y escuche las instrucciones en español. Favor llamar antes del lunes 13 de junio.
    You didn’t think you were eligible for FEMA help because you are not a U.S. citizen?
    If you are in the United States legally or are the parent of a U.S. citizen in your household, you need have no worries about applying for federal disaster assistance.
    None of these reasons will prevent you from getting help from FEMA. Here’s what to do to get the correct information. Just be sure to do it before Monday, June 13:

    Call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.
    Cuando llame al 800-621-3362 marque el 1 y escuche las instrucciones en español. Favor llamar antes del lunes 13 de junio.
    If you use 711/VRS call 800-621-3362.
    Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or www.fema.gov/disaster/4263.
    Visit FEMA.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or call 800-621-3362 to find a disaster recovery center near you.
    If you have questions about how you may qualify for a low-interest disaster SBA loan:

    Call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visit SBA’s website at SBA.gov/disaster. If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing you can call 800-877-8339.

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  • Southern University Business College hosts third annual conference June 16 – 18

    The Southern University EDA University Center is hosting its third annual conference. This year’s conference is centered on the theme of “The Role of Universities as Anchors in Advancing Sustainable Innovation in Economic Development” and will be held June 16th – 18th on the campus of Southern University in Baton Rouge. The EDA University Center for Economic Development at SUBR was established with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help accelerate regional business expansion. It is housed in the College of Business and the mission of the Center is to link businesses with the resources, market information, and financing that will enable them to effectively introduce new products, win new contracts, improve efficiency, and grow successfully. For more information and registration visit http://www.subruniversitycenter.org/

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  • District 5 meeting on economic development, tax abatement at 6:00 P.M. tonight

    District 5′s Quarterly Meeting will be held tonight at Glen Oaks High School at 6:00 P.M. This month’s meeting will focus specifically on Economic Development, Tax Abatement and the Mow to Own Ordinance. A representative from United Health Care will also be present to provide information in regards to the company’s open enrollment program available to the citizens. Any questions about the meeting please contact (225)389-4831.

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  • Community meeting to give update on healthcare in North Baton Rouge Efforts

    The NBRNow Blue Ribbon Commission steps forward to bring healthcare providers to north Baton Rouge in an effort to make this part of the city-parish healthier. With the help of federal, state, local governments, along with private and corporate support and encouragement, we continue our passionate pursuit of medical providers. Delivering quality healthcare close to home is the single most important contribution we can make. A short presentation and overview on healthcare service recruitment will be presented on Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
    at The Offices at Champion Medical Center on 7855 Howell Boulevard | Baton Rouge, LA 70807

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  • ,

    Brittney Mills Act failed

    The Brittney Mills Act, sponsored by Rep. Edward Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, failed to pass out of the House Commerce Committee. After a motion to pass the bill
    failed with a tie vote of 6-6, James asked to voluntarily defer the bill. 

    HB 1040 would require that all phones made, sold, or leased in Louisiana be capable of being unlocked for law enforcement in the case of murder investigations. If the phone cannot be unlocked, the seller or leaser faces a $2,500 fine per phone. There are exceptions to this rule in the case where a phone user may have downloaded a third party encryption app. 

    “It’s not just about justice, it’s about comfort and security for the family,” James told the committee. 

    The bill is called the “Louisiana Brittney Mills Act,” in honor of the woman who inspired the legislation. Mills was killed last April at age 29, but the case remains open and the killer unidentified. 

    Mills was shot after opening the door to her
    apartment. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and while a medical team was able to deliver the baby, he died a few days  later. 

    Investigators believe Mills’ cellphone may be the key to catching the killer. However, detectives cannot get inside because the phone is passcode protected. Mills’ family said she changed her passcode just days before she was shot. 

    Investigators asked Apple to unlock the device, but that request was denied.

    James said he hopes to bring the bill back to the committee again some time before the end of session. 

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  • SU releases statement on death of two student-athletes near LSU

    “It is with deep sadness that the University confirms that two Southern University Baton Rouge female student-athletes were killed early Sunday, April 10, 2016. According to law enforcement, freshman track and field athlete Annette January of Gary, Indiana, and sophomore student athletic trainer Lashuntae Benton of Lake Charles, were killed by gunfire outside of an apartment complex in Baton Rouge near LSU, early this morning. An investigation is ongoing. The University asks for prayers and support for the families at this difficult time.”

    -Ray L. Belton, SU System president
     

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  • ,,,

    Time to get SMART, set goals addressing diabetes

    Diabetes takes a disproportional interest in the minority community and one Baton Rouge area mental health professional thinks it’s time for the community to return that interest with deliberate game plans aimed at limiting the devastation caused by this chronic-disease killer.

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin, Capital City Health Center director of behavior health, has both professional and personal viewpoints regarding the challenges of diabetes. His parents and grandparents were insulin-dependent and he is recovering from a diabetes-related limb amputation. Even when the challenges seem great, Martin invokes the daily prescription of NFL coach Chip Kelly: Win the day.
    Instead of simply resolving to turn the tide on diabetes, Martin encourages another tactic: Goal setting.

    “We people living with diabetes may have the fear that we will be gun-ho in January with everyone else making New Year’s resolutions,” Martin said. “But then, are we going to burn ourselves out?”
    “We start fast and we fizz quickly, but it goes back to Chip Kelly and that motto ‘Win the day.’ We are just going to take it one day at a time. It goes back to this attitude that this is something that we have to do daily. When we think about renewing the mind, we should be reminded that our prayers ask ‘give us this day, our DAILY bread.’”

    Martin encourages the ‘attitude of daily’ as a tool in diabetes management. “We must remember that we are consistently inconsistent,” he said. “The goal is to be consistently consistent. To do that, we must take it one day at a time and try to max out that day.”

    10 black_hands_testingThis deadly opponent packs a daunting record against Blacks who are greatly disproportionately affected by diabetes. More than 13 percent of all Blacks above the age of 20 are living with diabetes. In addition, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
    Diabetes is one disease that can spawn serious complications or makes a person susceptible to related conditions. Blacks are significantly more likely to suffer from the diabetes complications of blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

    No matter how great the challenge, Martin said setting goals helps properly address the fear. “A goal is just a tool to put you to work,” he said. “It puts me in charge!”

    Good health is important, but it will not just happen. SMART Goals provide a road map to success because those goals are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

    If you want to accomplish a task, you set a plan, you set deadlines and you take action. Most people are familiar with SMART goals in the workplace, but they also apply to health. For example, let’s say you wanted to an A1C of 7.5, but your level is now 11. It would be unrealistic to say you wanted reduce your A1C to 11 in next month. It would be more realistic to set up a SMART goal:
    • Specific – I will decrease my average fasting blood sugar by 2 points each week. 10 SMART-goals
    • Measureable – I will keep track of blood sugar levels three times daily so I can track my
    progress towards my goal.
    • Attainable – Is the goal attainable for me? Your diabetes care team should be consulted about ways to reduce your A1C and risk of complications.
    • Realistic – Is the goal realistic for me? Lowering one’s blood sugar is a great goal, but drastic drops can increase changes of hyperglycemia.
    • Timely – I will make an appointment with my care team every three months in 2016 to evaluate my A1C with hopes to start 2017 near 7.5.

    Other goals that will impact blood sugar control include getting regular and sufficient exercise, gaining or losing weight, following a diabetes nutrition plan, and being more compliant to medication schedules.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications in minority communities. Good diabetes management, however, can help reduce risks, but many people are not aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.
    Martin warns that even those with the best goal-related intentions can face the obstacles of anxiety and depression. Anxiety can feed the overwhelming fear of failing to control one’s diabetes. “It is the fear that I’m not going to reach my goal so I stop before I even get started,” he said.

    It is important to know the warning signs of depression and plan ahead to combat it. “Exercise does help with depression,” Martin said. “Take a walk. If you are bound to the inside, use can goods to do arm curls. You will feel better if you make efforts to get more exercise.”
    “We often get so depressed that we isolate ourselves and we don’t have the social connections that we need. If you are aware of the possible pitfalls of depression, you are able to make a plan and incorporate that into your ‘I’m going to win the day.’”

    The counselor puts himself in the classroom in which he is teaching. In this calendar year, he will attempt to achieve tighter blood sugar control and with the aid of physical therapy, learn to walk using a prosthetic limb. There will be 365 days in his year, but his mantra will remain “win the day.”

    By Frances Y. Spencer
    Special to The Drum

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  • SUNO chancellor announces resignation

    Southern University New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo, Ph.D, has announced his resignation effective June 30, 2016, after serving 10 years in the position.

    “I am truly grateful to America, the Southern University System and SUNO for giving me an opportunity to lead this University for the past 10 years,” Ukpolo said. “I came to America from Nigeria 44 years ago as a young man with $200 in my pocket and worked my way up from a dishwasher to become the head of a University. Now it is time for me to start my gradual transition back to Nigeria.”

    After he steps down,  Ukpolo plans to return to the classroom to teach at SUNO before eventually returning to Nigeria as the patriarch of his family. “It is my hope that I still have some productive years to give back to my homeland,” he said.

    “My parents, particularly my mother, had not supported my idea to come to America because they feared losing me, but I assured them that I would be back in five years,” Ukpolo said. “Now, 44 years later, I am finally able to keep that promise.”

    He was appointed chancellor on Jan. 6, 2006. He led SUNO during a critical time in the University’s history, rebuilding the campus that was submerged in flood waters after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During his tenure, the University built its first-ever housing complex, an Information Technology Center, a new College of Business & Public Administration Building, and a Small Business Incubator on the newly developed Lake Campus.

    Ukpolo also oversaw the renovations of the University Center, the Leonard S. Washington Memorial Library and the first floor of the Bashful Administration Building. In addition, four new buildings are slated to be constructed: the Education Building, the Natural Sciences Building, the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Building, and the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work. The University broke ground on the new Social Work building in November 2015.

    SUNO experienced impressive student population growth under Dr. Ukpolo’s leadership. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, he launched an aggressive marketing and reorganization campaign, which included the introduction of four innovative online programs to attract displaced students. Despite projections that only 1,200 to 1,500 of the 3,600 students enrolled before the storm would return, more than 2,100 students came back to continue their education on the new Lake Campus in trailers supplied the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With enrollment climbing faster than any other four-year institution in Louisiana, SUNO not only moved back to its original location, known as the Park Campus, in the winter of 2008, but is also experienced unprecedented growth.

    Looking toward future generations, Dr. Ukpolo established an innovative dual enrollment program to allow qualified high school students to earn college credits at the University. He also continues to support the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Achievement, created to reverse the trend of fewer African American males graduating from college, while increasing the number of male-certified classroom teachers in urban settings.

    Programs such as these demonstrate Dr. Ukpolo’s care, commitment and concern for SUNO’s students, many who, like him, are the first in their families to attend college.

    “As I leave my post as Chancellor, I wish the University and the Southern System well. I still will be here to serve SUNO and the system — just in a different capacity — as I make my gradual transition back to Nigeria.”

    Ukpolo, formerly the Southern University System’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, previously served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State University in Los Angeles. He also served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Academic Research for the Tennessee Board of Regents. He started his career as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Austin Peay State University, where he also held an administrative post as Executive Assistant to the President.

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    Growing Louisiana’s small family farms

    Register complimentary before March 4

    Small farmers from throughout the state will gather at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center March 17-19 to attend the 6th annual Louisiana Small Farmers Conference. The three-day conference, themed “Ownership and Growth of Louisiana’s Small Family Farms,” is designed to educate, provide expanded awareness of educational opportunities, USDA programs and services and other resources to help small farmers stay in business.

    This event is the ideal venue for new and beginning farmers, small and urban farmers, agricultural business owners, community leaders, backyard gardeners and community based organizations. The conference begins at 8am daily and will include a risk management and networking session and a panel discussion with USDA agencies. At 6:30pm, the conference will host the Louisiana Living Legends Banquet in the Southern University Cotillion Ballroom. The banquet honors individuals who have made significant contributions to Southern University in the areas of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences. The conference ends with the first session of the 2016 class of the Louisiana Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    Conference sessions will cover:
    Soil Health: Key to Successful Farming
    Keeping the Farm in the Family
    Financing Your Farm
    Managing the Farm as a Business
    Opportunities for Market Gardeners
    BMPs for a Beef Cattle Operation
    Mitigating Agricultural Risk on Your Farm

    Registration for the conference, which is complimentary for anyone who submits their registration form by March 4, is $25 for small farmers and $50 for agricultural professionals. On-site registration will be available but early registration is recommended. To register, contact Dawn Mellion-Patin,Ph.D. at (225) 771-2242 or via e-mail at dawn_mellion@suagcenter.com.

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  • SU quiz bowl team sweeps at national qualifier

    Southern University Baton Rouge’s National Quiz Bowl Team, Saturday, February 6, 2016, successfully competed in the National Qualifying Tournament for the 2016 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

    image

    National Competition, hosted by Prairie View A&M University.

    National Qualifying tournaments were held at seven HBCUs across the country, featuring approximately 20 teams per region. The winning teams out of these tournaments will ultimately constitute the “Great 48″ that will compete for the national championship.

    Honda rules state that the team that places first in any room will advance to the national championship games.

    Southern University’s national team reigned victorious over all four teams in Room #1. Southern University competed against Southern University New Orleans, Grambling State University, Paul Quinn College, and Mississippi Valley State University. This first place victory led to an automatic seed for the National HCASC game that will be held in Torrance, California, April 2-6, 2016.

    Southern University’s team members are Myeisha Webb, captain, (education), Kelvin Wells (political science), Kemon Jones (biology/pre-med), and Terrance Curry (biology). Alternate team members in attendance included Joyner Deamer (civil engineering) and Eric Thompson (mechanical engineering). The team coach is Deadra James Mackie, assistant professor/academic advisor, Delores Margaret Richard Richard Honors College, and assisting her is Calvin Adolph, graduate student, College of Education, Arts and Humanities.

    There were a total of 10 teams at the National Qualifying Tournament and all were trained to answer questions that relate to numerous topics. These topics included current events, African-American History, sports figures, authors, poetry, wars, music, ballet, mathematics, physics, chemistry, political science, biology, etc.

    “The Southern University Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Quiz Bowl Team plans to ‘bring the drama’ to its opponents in California. The solid preparation of our team continues. As per the law of human performance, ‘team members consistently and seriously study for many hours per week in order to outshine the competition’,” said Mackie.

    “The overall objective is to win the HCASC National Competition and to bring $50,000 dollars in scholarship monies to Southern University and A&M College in 2016,” said Mackie. 

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  • Museum hosts lunchtime lecture on the History of School Desegregation, Feb 4

    Join the West Baton Rouge Museum for a talk on the history of school desegregation on Thursday, Feb. 4 at noon presented by Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester. This lecture will include reference to the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown Vs. The Board of Education, a victory for the Civil Rights Movement that overturned Plessy Vs. Ferguson deeming “separate but equal” unconstitutional thus paving the way for integration.

    Alfreda Tillman Bester is the principal Attorney with Tillman Bester & Associates, LLC, a law firm located in Baton Rouge. She serves as host of “Perspective,” a weekly community interest talk show, which airs every Tuesday, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on WTQT 106.1 FM in Baton Rouge. Bester served as Louisiana Secretary of Labor from 1991-1992 and Undersecretary of Labor from 1989-1991. She is the publisher, editor and founder of Perspective News Magazine, LLC and serves as general counsel to the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP.

    This program is free and open to the public. Participants are welcome to bring a bag lunch. 

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  • SU team advances in national competition, finishes in top 10

    A team of Southern University Baton Rouge  students representing the College of Business traveled to Bloomington to participate in the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition , Jan. 15-16, at Indiana University.

    Competing against top-level, diverse talent from colleges and universities across the country, the SU team placed first in their division that qualified them to advance to the final round. Out of 34 teams, SU students finished seventh overall.

    The SU team included:

    Rashad Pierre, team captain

    Hometown:  New Orleans

    Major:  Management

     

    Marquanski Arvie

    Hometown:  Opelousas

    Major:  Management

     

    Jasmine Williams

    Hometown:  Dallas, Texas

    Major:  Marketing

     

    Jasmine Woods

    Hometown:  Shreveport

    Major:  Finance

     

    “I was ecstatic when they announced the finalists and we had our place in final round. We were proud to represent our University on a national level and we believe that no one will take Southern University for granted next time we go to Kelley. It was an awesome experience that I wish everyone would take advantage of. I am proud to say that I attend SU,” said Pierre.

     

    The NDCC is an annual two-day event celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that is open to undergraduate students from across the United States. The challenge includes a business case competition, networking opportunities, and additional workshops. Participants have opportunities to engage with corporate sponsors and recruiters, network with other talented students from across the country, and participate in a case competition offering $20,000 in cash prizes.

     

    Student teams were provided with all meals and hotel lodging throughout the event. Students also were provided a travel stipend to cover round-trip travel to the competition.

     

    “I would like to congratulate our case competition team for their performance in the National Diversity Case Competition. We hope that all our students will learn from the experience of this team in that it takes dedication and sacrifice in time spent in research and understanding the basics of all business disciplines to excel in business competition at the highest levels,” said Donald R. Andrews, dean, SU Baton Rouge College of Business.

     

    Toni Jackson, development coordinator, SUBR College of Business, was advisor, and accompanied the SU students.

     

    #   #   #

     

    Photo cutline:

     

    Four SU College of Business students participated as a team in the Kelley School of Business National Diversity Case Competition (NDCC) January 15-16, 2016, at the Indiana University. The SU team placed first in their division that qualified them to advance to the final round. Out of 34 teams, SU students finished seventh overall. Pictured (left – right): Marquanski Arvie, Jasmine Williams, Jasmine Woods, and team captain Rashad Pierre.

     

     

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  • Nominations open for Women of Excellence Awards

    Call for Nominations and Applications
    Deadline: Friday, February 19, 2016

    The women legislators through the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus Foundation are now accepting nominations for the 2016 Women of Excellence Awards and applications for the Educational Advancement Opportunity (EAO) Scholarships. The criteria and forms for the awards and scholarships are available online at llwc.louisiana.gov, then click on the Nomination and Scholarship Forms’ link. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 19, 2016.

    The categories for the 2016 awards are: College Woman of Excellence (ages 18 to 25) High School Woman of Excellence (for graduating seniors) Louisiana Hero of Excellence, and Non-Profit of Excellence

    Since 2010, the women legislators through the LLWC Foundation have awarded $32,500 in scholarships to deserving young women in Louisiana. The recipients of the College and High School Woman of Excellence Awards will each receive a scholarship for $1,000. Recipients of the EAO Scholarship will each receive $500. Multiple EAO Scholarships will be awarded. Scholarships are to be used to help defray the costs of tuition, room and board, and books.

    The awards will be given at the 9th Annual Women of Excellence Awards & Scholarships Ceremony and Reception on May 24 at the Baton Rouge Hilton Capitol Center Hotel.‎

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    What did Che’dra Joseph say?

    “Can everybody give Che’ a big round applause”? said President Barack Obama, to a crowd of more than 700 citizens who gathered at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, Thursday, Jan. 14, for a town hall meeting.

    Che’Dra Joseph, the daughter of Jessica Bornholdt and granddaughter of Mary E. Joseph, welcomed the crowd to McKinley
    and introduced the president.

    “We could not be more proud of her. I was backstage; I asked her, ‘Are you nervous?’ She said, ‘No, I got this. I’m fine.’ That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her,” said President Obama.

    So, what did this Student of the Year with a remarkable 4.6 grade point average tell the world as she introduced the President?

    Che'Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Che’Dra and President Obama. Photo by Yusef Davis

    Good morning, McKinley alumni, students, faculty, town hall participants, esteemed guests, and viewers at home. I am Che’dra Joseph, McKinley High School’s 2015-2016 Student of the Year and a finalist for East Baton Rouge Parish Student of the Year. Neither my experiences nor my environment have always been conducive towards forming a foundation for my ambitions. My upbringing has given me the insight that hardships do not limit
    opportunities. A journey towards self-actualization is not as easy for all of us, as it is for some. It is challenging for marginalized Americans to succeed. However, remaining focused
    on ambitions and education allows opportunities for moments of surrealism, similar to this one. I am here, in spite of, not because of, my circumstances. I have defied statistics, and I will not falter in my aspirations to dismantle the glass ceilings
    imposed on women, people of color, and minority groups. McKinley has been a significant factor in my personal development due to its ever-present, but often unacknowledged historical value. In 1907, McKinley became the first institution in Louisiana to offer
    Black students academic advancement. Furthermore, its first graduating class of 1916 was all female. McKinley was a win
    for Black excellence, and a win for women. Today, McKinley is home to educational opportunities that allow for a progressive,
    inclusive environment that stimulates informative and insightful dialogue among people who exhibit diversity in everything from skin color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. I am honored for the opportunity to introduce myself and the President. As a representative of McKinley High School,
    Baton Rouge, and Louisiana, I offer the President our gratitude for giving America a nontraditional model of success that proves
    adversity does not restrict opportunity and for choosing McKinley High School to make history. Ladies and gentleman, McKinley High
    School proudly welcomes, The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

    The gym erupted with applause.

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  • ,,

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s the leadership, Stupid!

    D

    ear Editor:

    I read an article in which the individual who the superintendent has responsible for overall district academic performance described the performance this past year as “impressive.” By whose standards? Of course, this would be the evasive response if one’s own job performance is tied to the fact that 19 of our schools declined under his or her leadership. These same individuals are quick to deem teachers and school leaders as being ineffective or emerging when they perform this way. This double standard is probably why talented individuals who know better are leaving our schools in herds.

    It has been well over five years. What do we have to show for it regarding academic performance that is considered impressive from general contractors and businesses points of view or the points of view of families looking to relocate?

    Let’s stop kidding ourselves. We all know that our Parish President and Hammond Mayor would not have to travel and try to recruit businesses to come to our parish and largest city if our district performance would speak for us.

    True leaders do not constantly shift the blame on items like poverty and parents. Nor, do they rely on the belief that money fixes all of our problems. Talented leaders are innovative and dynamic enough to figure a way to move forward in spite of.

    As for poverty, we all understand that poverty plays a role in all things including education. It becomes insulting when some assume citizens do not understand this. We also understand logic and potential. Logic reminds us of the simple fact that there are other districts that are not declining, but inclining (some pretty drastically) even though the poverty rates are high. This proves that our district can also move forward and at a much faster pace. To further bring this point home, logic also tells us that if a school like our beloved Independence Middle, which serves as a microcosm of a district in much worse shape demographically as ours (95% free/ reduced), can make significant gains in spite of, then we must consider that our district can and should be moving at such a pace.

    The issue is leadership. We have often said that we need fresh-minded, innovative, and proven educators to lead our district in making the gains we can all be proud of. I’m old and I get this.

    In addition, somewhere down the road, the current leaders of our school leaders must be held accountable. The individuals responsible for academics must be held accountable and the Superintendent must be held accountable for the leaders he chooses to lead principals. The NAACP does not support individuals simply because they are black. We support individuals who are effective in providing all kids, especially minority children, the quality education they deserve.
    Our record regarding the individuals we have supported to lead our schools proves such.

    My questions for our Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer are:
    1. Is it impressive that we seldom (if any within the last 5 years) have black kids in the 27+ club for ACT?
    2. Do either of you even know how many or what percentage of black seniors scored 27 or above this past year? 18?
    3. Is it impressive that only 13% of black kids are proficient?
    4. Is it impressive that almost every single high school’s end of course test performance declined? Were these exams “tougher”?
    5. Is it impressive that both East Baton Rouge Parish and Orleans (including recovery district) perform better than Tangi?
    6. Is it impressive that there are other districts with similar poverty rates that are inclining in overall performance?

    Again, I am appalled that such a description as “impressive” was made when considering where we are even with the talented teachers and leaders we still have in this parish. I become upset just thinking about the many black doctors and lawyers that could have been but are now in prison or poverty due to this way of thinking. Our kids deserve better. We definitely do not blame our teachers and school leaders. We blame the decisions and lack of vision and direction of their leaders.

    Again, the board has some difficult decisions to make, and we hope that they place children first and not politics.
    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

    Read more »
  • ,

    Walmart welcomes non-profit’s grant applications from $25K to $200K

    Calling Louisiana Nonprofits! Walmart Foundation to fund local programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating and career opportunities

    Walmart Foundation has opened the application period for its State Giving Program funding cycle welcoming Louisiana nonprofits with programs focusing on hunger relief, healthy eating or career opportunities to apply for funding. This year, the State Giving Program will provide grants ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 and local organizations from across Louisiana are encouraged to apply.

    “The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program is another way we extend our mission to help people live better,” said Bob Mulack, market manager of Walmart. “In addition to the thousands of community service hours our associates perform and the in-kind donations that are spread throughout the communities we serve, these State Giving grants allow us to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their mission and continue on their path of service.”

    To be considered for support, prospective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Eligible applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria. Grant requests must be submitted online by Friday, Jan. 29 at http://corporate.walmart.com/_foundation_/apply-for-grants/state-giving-program.

    In 2014, the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program awarded grants to Louisiana organizations totaling more than $26 million. Launched in 2008, associate-led State Advisory Councils work with the Walmart Foundation to help identify needs within their state, review grant requests and make funding recommendations to the Foundation.

    Read more »
  • ,,,

    Hundreds gather inside McKinley High School gym for town talk with President Obama

    More than 700 people, including elected officials, participated in a Town Hall with President Barack Obama, Thursday, Jan. 14. Hundreds more lined the streets or waited at the airport for a glimpse of the outgoing president. But what did he tell the citizens?

    “I heard loudly and clearly today talk of taking ownership of development by committing to learning how to control and master the process of personal and community development,” said attorney Donovan Hudson.

    Here’s the transcript from the meeting:

         THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Louisiana!  (Applause.)  Hello, Baton Rouge!  Geaux Tigers!  (Applause.)  For those of you who are not aware, that’s “geaux” with an “x.”  I got it.

         Can everybody give Che a big round of applause?  (Applause.)  We could not be more proud of her.  I was backstage — I asked her, “Are you nervous?”  She said, no, I got this — (laughter) — I’m fine.  That is a serious leader of the future. And we are so proud of her.  And I want to thank everybody at McKinley for hosting us today.

    image

    President Obama hugs Che'dra Joseph, McKinley High Student of the Year


         There are a couple of people I want to make sure we acknowledge.  Your Mayor, Kip Holden, is in the house.  (Applause.)  There he is.  We got Congressman Cedric Richmond here — (applause) — who’s got a really cute little boy.  (Laughter.)  And New Orleans Mayor and great friend of mine, Mitch Landrieu is in the house — (applause) — whose son is not so little, but looks pretty cool.  I want to congratulate your new governor who’s going to do outstanding work — (applause) — John Bel Edwards is in the house, and his lovely family.  We are so grateful to have them here.

         Since LSU has pretty good sports teams, historically, I thought I might mention you got an okay basketball player named Ben Simmons in the house.  (Applause.)  His dad played in Australia with my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  So they can hoop.  But I think they would both acknowledge that Ben is better.  (Laughter.)  And it’s wonderful to have him here.

         Now, it is my intention not to give a long speech, because this is sort of a town hall.  I want to spend a little time having a conversation with all of you.  (Applause.)  But I do want to make mention of what your incoming governor is already doing.  He’s already delivering for the people of Louisiana.  This week, he took the bold and wise step to expand Medicaid — (applause) — to cover hundreds of thousands of hardworking Louisianans, providing them with the financial security of health care.  It was the right thing to do.  And, by the way, it will actually help the state’s finances.  And it shows you why elections matter.

    And, right now, we’re hoping to encourage more states to do the right thing.  One of the ways we’re doing that is proposing additional funding to support new states that choose, as John did, to expand Medicaid.  So, I’m just proud of him, and I’m confident that he’s going to do great work. He’s going to do great work.  (Applause.)  And everybody here needs to get behind him because it’s not going to be easy.  He’s coming in a little like I came in, sort of got to clean up some stuff.  (Applause.) 

         Now, I love Louisiana.  (Applause.)  I love Baton Rouge, but this is the first time I’ve been here as President.  I’ve been trying to pack all my fun trips into my last year.  And although I missed the Tigers beating Ole Miss last night, maybe I’ll come back for football season.
    image

    Some of you know I gave my final State of the Union address this week.  (Applause.)  I focused on the fact that we’re going through a time of extraordinary change.  And that’s unsettling.  It can seem sometimes, especially during political season, where everybody is running around saying, oh, everything is terrible and let’s find somebody to blame, that our politics won’t meet the moment.  But what I want folks to know — that’s right, if you have a chair, go ahead and sit down.  If you don’t have a chair, don’t sit down.  (Laughter.)  I don’t want you falling down.  Whoever the first one was who did that, you’re a leader.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

    THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

    But what I want people to know is, is that we’ve been through big changes before.  And America always comes out stronger and better, as long as we make decisions together that are designed to seize the future instead of run away from it.  And we’re uniquely positioned to do that.  We’ve got the strongest economy in the world.  We’ve gone through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and we have bounced back with 14 million new jobs, cut the unemployment rate in half.  We’re the most powerful country on Earth, capable of meeting any threat.  Our commitment to science, and education, and entrepreneurship, and our diversity make us a perfect match for what’s needed in this new century.

    But our progress is not inevitable.  So we’ve got to answer some big questions. 

    Number one:  How do we make sure that we create an economy where everybody is benefitting, everybody feels secure, everybody has a shot at success, not just some?  That’s question number one. 

    Question number two:  How do we make sure we’ve got an innovation economy and we embrace science and reason and facts, instead of running away from it?

    Number three:  How do we make sure that we keep America safe, not through trying to talk tough, but by being smart?

    Number four:  How do we make sure our politics works, not in a way where everybody agrees — because in a big country like ours, people aren’t going to agree on everything — but so that it is civil and so that it is constructive, and so that we can work together to find solutions to the problems that are not just going to face us, but our kids and our grandkids?

    Now, I tried to give you a sense of how I think we need to answer those questions going forward, but I promised I wasn’t going to talk long because I want to have a chance to hear from you.  I just want to make this point.  We’re pretty close to New Orleans, and I had a chance to go back and travel with Mitch as we were commemorating the anniversary of Katrina.  And if you have any doubt about America’s capacity to overcome anything, you just visit some of those neighborhoods, and you talk to some of those families, and you see the businesses that are thriving and the homes that have been built, and the parishes that have pulled together. 

    And it’s just a reminder of the fact that when we work together, we cannot be stopped.  We cannot be stopped.  We work best as a team.  And it is my ardent hope that, during the course of this year, as long as I have this extraordinary privilege to be your President, that I’m going to be able to encourage more and more of you to get involved and feel that optimism and confidence about where America is headed. 

    So with that, let’s start this conversation.  (Applause.)  And let me say this.  We’ve got mics in the audience.  And we’re going to go boy, girl, boy, girl, so it’s fair.  (Laughter.)  Or girl, boy, girl, boy.  That’s fine.  (Laughter.) 

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Girl, girl, girl!

    THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  She said girl, girl, girl.  Now, that’s not fair.  (Laughter.)  Come on. 

    So what I’m going to do is, people just raise their hands, I will call on you.  A couple things — wait until the mic gets there.  Number two, introduce yourself so we know who you are. Number three, if you keep your question or comment relatively short, then my response, I can’t guarantee I’ll keep it short, but I’ll keep it shorter.  And that way we have a chance to hear from more people.  All right?

    Okay, so let’s see who’s going to go first.  Where’s my mic?  Here we go.  All right, let’s see.  This is a good-looking crowd, too.  (Applause.)

    I don’t know who to call on. That young lady right there in the brown jacket.  Right there.  Yes, you. 

    Okay, hold on.  Wait for the mic.  You didn’t follow instructions.  You’re already — (laughter) — careful.  Careful.  She didn’t go to McKinley, is that what happened?

    Q    No, I didn’t.  (Laughter.) 

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right, go ahead, go ahead.

    Q    My name is Rachel.  I’m from Texas.  And my question — I don’t have one — I just wanted to tell you thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh.  Okay, well, that’s sweet.  (Laughter.)  All right, well, she just — she didn’t really have a question, so I’m going to go back to — I’m going to go to this young lady right here in the black and white jacket.  Right there.  Hold on a second.  The mic is coming to you.  It’s just that we’re so packed in, it may take — you can go ahead and pass her the mic.  She looks like she’ll give it back.

    Q    Hi, Mr. President.  My name is Jasmine Elliott (ph), and I am a 10th grade cheerleader here at McKinley High School.  (Applause.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Yay, all right!  Go Panthers!

    Q    And I love you — me and my family love you so much.  And I want to thank you.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s sweet.

    Q    And as a future broadcast journalist, I would like to ask you two questions.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    My first question is:  What are your plans to do when you leave office?  And can you please give my grandmother a hug? (Laughter.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  See, now first of all, I know your grandma put you up to that.  (Laughter.)  So I will give your grandma a hug because you did such a nice job asking the question.  (Applause.)

    In terms of my plans, look, I’ve got so much work to do this next year that — Michelle and I, we haven’t had a chance to really step back and think about it.  But as I said at the State of Union, when I get out, I’m still holding the most important job in a democracy, and that is the office of citizen.  So I will continue to work on the things that Michelle and I care so deeply about.  We want to encourage young people to get involved.  We want to improve education.  We want to make sure that our criminal justice system works the way it should.  We want to make sure that we are promoting science education and learning.  We want to work internationally to help other countries develop. 

    So we’re going to have a busy agenda, but I’m not overthinking that right now because I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to do between now and next year.  All right?  But thank you for the question.

    All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This man, because he’s got such a sharp bowtie.  Right here.  Yes, all right.  Go ahead.

    Q    Good morning.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.

         Q    This is a pleasure, sir.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

    Q    My name is Tremayne Sterling (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Through your entire two terms as President, what would be your biggest regret and why? 

    THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a great question.  Although had you been watching my State of Union on Tuesday — (laughter) — he might have known that I actually already answered that question.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.  I’m sure there was a good ballgame on that night.  (Laughter.) 

    No, what I told the country — except for you — (laughter) — was that my biggest regret was the fact that politics has become more rancorous during my presidency and more polarized than it was when I came in.  And keeping mind, when I ran, my belief was that there were no red states and blue states.  There wasn’t a black or white or Latino America.  There was a United States of America.  And that continues to be my belief. 

    Now, I have, as President, obviously done soul searching about what are things I could do differently to help bridge some of those divides.  I think part of it had to with when I came in we had a real emergency, and we had to act quickly.  And people in Washington sometimes weren’t always as focused on getting the job done as they were how is this going to position us for future elections. 

    But as I said at the State of Union, I have no doubt that there are things I could have done better.  But what I also say is that this is not something a President can do by him or herself.  When it comes to how we work together, the main impetus for better politics is going to be the American people.  They have to demand it.

    And so if we have voters who are not getting involved, then the people who tend to determine the agenda are the special interests, or money, or power, or the loudest voices, or the most polarizing voices, because a lot of folks — some of the best people, they’re just sitting at home.  And they’re getting cynical about politics, and they don’t get involved.  And then the people who do get involved end up being the folks who aren’t willing to work together.

    It’s important for voters to insist that their elected officials are strong on principle, but also are willing to compromise with people who don’t agree with them.  And if you punish an elected official for even talking to the other side, then it’s going to produce the kind of politics that we have seen in Washington too often.

    So this is an area where I regret.  I’m going to keep on working at it, try to see what more we can do to reach across the aisle to get things done.  I said on Tuesday that I think at the end of last year, maybe we surprised the cynics by getting a budget done.  And we extended tax cuts for working families that were due to expire.  And we were able to continue funding for transportation.  I know that your mayor was talking about how the interstate here narrows, and we may need to do something about it to relieve some traffic.  (Applause.) 

    And those things are not things that should be subject to a lot of Republican and Democratic argument.  Maybe that’s something that we can carry over into this year.

    One area, for example, that there’s been genuine bipartisan interest and support is the idea that we’ve got to reform our criminal justice system.  (Applause.)  That we have to be tough on violent crime, but also be smart when we think about how can we prevent young people from getting into the criminal justice system in the first place.  (Applause.)  How can we provide alternatives for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  How can we make sure that the sentencing is proportional.  How do we make sure that we’re training folks while they’re incarcerated to get a skill that would allow them to be gainfully employed.  How do we make sure that when they’re released that there is a transition process for them.  How do we lift up all the outstanding employers who are willing to give people second chances.  So there’s a whole slew of work that we could be doing there. 

    And to their credit, we’ve seen some very conservative Republicans and some very liberal Democrats sitting down at the table and trying to work it out.  And that’s an example of where we see some promise.

         Another area is — and I mentioned this at the State of the Union.  Some of you have heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  Now, this is a program historically that is supported by Democrats and Republicans.  And it’s a pretty simple idea.  If you work, you shouldn’t be in poverty.  And so we should provide tax breaks to low-income working families so that they don’t say I might as well just be on welfare because I’ll get more benefits than if I’m working.

         Well, the Earned Income Tax Credit creates an incentive to say if you work hard, you’re working full time, but it’s, say, a minimum-wage job, we’re going to give you a chance, if you’ve got kids, to raise that income level, get a tax break.

        The problem is that it does not apply to individuals without children.  And that means a lot of men in that category don’t benefit and young people don’t benefit.  And one of the things we’ve been talking about is if we expand that to reach workers who don’t have children but are also working hard and are in poverty, that could be helpful.

         And these are areas where Cedric — he’s been a leader on criminal justice reform.  He’s working on this, as well.  I know that Mitch has been doing great work when it comes to the criminal justice system in New Orleans.  These are the kinds of areas where just common sense can prevail if we’ve all got a spirit of trying to solve problems instead of just winning elections.

        Okay?  All right.  (Applause.)

         Okay, it’s a young lady’s turn.  You know what, I’m going to call on that little young lady right there.  Yes.  She’s in her daddy’s lap.  And my daughter — my oldest daughter is about to go to college next year.  (Applause.)  And I can’t really talk about it a lot because I start to cry.  (Laughter.)

         Q    My name is Noelle Remeny (ph).  And I’m in the fourth grade, and I’m 10 years old.  And do you think there’s going to be a cure for cancer?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there you go.  Are you interested in math and science?

         Q    A little bit.

         THE PRESIDENT:  A little bit?  (Laughter.)  I tell you what, it’s going to be young people like you that are going to help cure cancer.  So you better study up on your math and study up on your science.

         But I do think that we are seeing medical breakthroughs right now that we have not seen in my lifetime.  Part of the reason is because — some of you heard of the Human Genome Project.  What happens is that we’re now able to look at not just how cells work, but we’re actually able to track how individual DNA and genetics operates.  And when you do that, it turns out that a cancer cell that I have may be different than a cancer cell that John or somebody else has, and may require different cures.  And certain treatments might work better than other treatments.  And because we’re able to get into the really nitty-gritty of how our bodies work in ways that we haven’t before, we’re starting to see more effective treatments.

         But we have to make a big investment.  And my Vice President, Joe Biden, who I love, suffered the kind of tragedy last year that is unbelievable.  And he managed it with grace.  His son Beau Biden was one of the finest men I knew.  And so I thought it was entirely appropriate for Joe Biden, who has seen this and gone through it, to lead this effort like a moon launch.  We’re going to double down on medical research.  We’re going to look at the best — we’re going to gather the best researchers, the best scientists, and we are going to go after this thing.

         It probably won’t be cured in my lifetime.  But I think ti will be cured in yours.  And that’s why we got to get started now.  (Applause.)

         All right?  Okay, it’s a gentleman’s turn.  This gentleman back here.  Right there.  Yes, sir.  You.  (Laughter.)  Hold on. The mic is coming.  The mic is coming.

         Q    Mr. President, first of all, I’m Greg Gavins (ph).  I’m the proud father of one of your special, great Secret Service.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    I have a question for you.  Since you can’t run again for another term, is there any way that we as a group can talk the First Lady into running?

         THE PRESIDENT:  No.  (Laughter and applause.)  No, no, no.  No, no.

         Q    I know that’s right.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Let me tell you, there are three things that are certain in life.  (Laughter.) Death, taxes, and Michelle is not running for President.  (Laughter.)  That I can tell you.

         But you know what, the First Lady, though, the work she’s done around reducing childhood obesity, the work that she and Jill Biden have done on military families and making sure they get support, I could not be prouder of her.  And I am certain that she’s going to be really active as a First Lady.

         Not only is she going to be a very young ex-First Lady, but unlike me, she looks young.  (Laughter.)  I was looking at a wedding picture — actually, we found the old video from our wedding.  We’ve been married 23 years now.  (Applause.)  And so my mother-in-law had been going through some storage stuff and found our wedding video.  And I popped it in — and I look like a teenager — and realized, boy, I sure have aged.  (Laughter.)

    AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

    THE PRESIDENT:  I know that, though.  (Laughter.)

         But Michelle looked — she looked identical.  Looked identical.

         Q    We’re proud of her.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m proud of her, too, because most importantly she’s been an unbelievable mom, which is why my daughters turned out so well.  (Applause.)

         All right, it is a young woman’s turn.  This young lady right here.  Go ahead.  Yes, you. Yes, you’ve been raising your hand.  (Laughter.)  Okay.  But hold on.  The mic is coming.  Go ahead.

         Q    Hi, my name is Imani Maxberry (ph).  I’m a coastal environmental science major at LSU.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Outstanding.

         Q    One, I want to say thank you for rejecting Keystone pipeline.  (Applause.)  And two, I want to ask:  While you’ve been in office, what environmental impact — what environmental issue do you think has impacted you the most and should be more brought to the public?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  That’s a great question, and I’m proud that you’re doing that work.  That’s important.  (Applause.)

         First of all, it’s important for us to understand how much environmental progress we’ve made in my lifetime.  And the reason is, sometimes when we talk about the environment, it sounds like something far away.  But we don’t realize — we don’t remember what we’ve accomplished already.

         In the 1970s, in California, there would be regular days where people did not go outside.  When Ronald Reagan was governor in California, there were regularly days where the smog was so bad, it was like it is in Beijing now. People just wouldn’t go outside.  And if you had asthma or some respiratory disease, you might die.

         I remember as recently as 1979, when I first started college — I started college in Los Angeles — when I went running, the first week I was there, after about five minutes I’d start feeling a burning in my chest.  And it was just me sucking in soot and smog.  And now you go there and that smog isn’t there.  And the reason is because we instituted things like catalytic converters and unleaded gasoline.  And we changed the technologies to reduce smog.

         It used to be that places like the Cuyahoga River around Cleveland caught fire it was so polluted.  Caught fire.  No, this is no joke.  And now you go there and people are able to use it.  Same thing with the Chicago River.  Now people are kayaking and fishing.

         So the point is, is that we actually can make progress when we make an effort because of our technology and our innovation.  And every time we’ve taken a step to try to clean up our air or our water or our environment, there are all kinds of people who say this is going to kill jobs, we can’t afford it, can’t do it, it’s going to cost too much.  And then, after we do it, we look back and say, you know, that didn’t cost as much as we thought, it happened quicker than we did.  Our businesses figured out how to do it and to make money doing it at the same time.  That’s what I mean when I say an innovation economy.  We’ve got to be confident about our ability to solve any problem if we put our minds to it.

         Now, the answer to your question right now is, what I am very much concerned about is climate change.  And there are folks who are still denying that this is a problem or that we can do anything about it.  Look, if 99 doctors told you that you have diabetes and you need to change your eating habits and get some exercise and lose some weight, you may decide not to do it because you’re stubborn.  But don’t say they’re wrong because the science in unsure.  This is happening.  And, by the way, if you live in Louisiana, you should especially be concerned about this because you are right next to some water that has a tendency to heat up, and that then creates hurricanes.  And as oceans rise, that means that the amount of land that is getting gobbled up continuously in this state is shrinking — the land mass — and it’s going to have an impact.

         Now, we can build things and we can fortify things, and we can do things smarter, and we can control how development happens, and we can restore wetlands.  All those things make a difference.  But ultimately, we got to do something about making sure that ocean levels don’t rise four, five, six, eight feet, because if they do, this state is going to have some big problems — bigger problems.

         So what we’ve done is, we’ve gotten together with 200 other nations, American leadership, to say all of us have to start bringing down the carbon pollution that we send in the atmosphere.  And here in the United States, there are two main ways we can do that.  Number one is our power plants; we’ve got to start using cleaner energy.  Number two, we’ve got to start promoting solar and wind, which create jobs.  And we’re a leader in this technology as long as we start investing in it.

         And that transition from old, dirty fuels to clean fuels, that’s going to be tough.  A lot of people make money in the coal industry, for example.  A lot of people have worked there, historically.  But now you have actually have more people working in solar than you do in coal.  Those communities that are reliant on coal, we should help them get a jump on making money in wind power and solar power.  Those are hardworking, good people.  Let’s not have them stuck in old jobs that are going to be slowly declining.  Let’s get them in the new jobs that are going to be going up.

         And then, in our transportation sector, we need to continue to build on the things we’ve done since I’ve been President — doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars, promoting electric cars.  All this stuff adds up.  And the goods new is businesses can succeed and we can make money doing it at the same time.  But don’t think that this is not a problem for all of us.  This is the main message I have.  That young lady was asking about curing cancer — well, we might cure cancer, but if temperatures have gone up two, three degrees around the planet, four degrees, and oceans are rising, we’re going to have more problems than medical science can cure.  We got to make that investment now.  And we can do it.

         All right.  Good question.  This gentleman right here.  Hold on, I got a mic right there.  How you doing?

         Q    I can hold it.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

         Q    I’m a big kid.  (Laughter.)  Well, maybe I’m not a big kid.  My name is Alan Turum (ph) from Youngstown, Ohio.  You’ve been here many times in helping with the steel mills get back on track.  That’s all good.  And in your defense, my business is doing good, making money, growing for the last 10 years.  And I got a lot of friends that have businesses, and they’re doing real well, too.  For a lot of people that are complaining, there’s a lot of people doing well.  So I think if you hustle, you can make good.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.

         Q    But my question to you is, you’re on your last year — is there any one big thing that you’d like to see happen before you leave the office?

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Well, first of all, what’s your business?

         Q    I got a couple of businesses.  I manufacture Halloween props, and I own a haunted house and hay ride in Lordstown, Ohio, which you’ve been there many times, to the car plant.

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been, yeah.

         Q    It’s called Fear Forest.  Maybe if you make it back into Youngstown in October, you can come check it out.  But I make Halloween props and I like to scare people.

         THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So that’s kind of interesting.  That’s fun.  You sell a lot of Obama masks?  (Laughter.)

         Q    Hey, Obama is not scary.  So –

         THE PRESIDENT:  There you go, all right.  (Applause.)  I don’t think so.

         The things that I talked about in the State of the Union are all things that I think are possible.  Some of them I can get done on my own.  So I’ll give you a couple of examples.

         We need to revamp how our information systems, our IT systems in government work.  This is one of the areas where we’re — the biggest gap between government and the private sector is — if you just want to order a pizza, you’ve got your smartphone and you just — and the pizza shows up.  You want to buy an airline ticket, you punch in a couple things and suddenly if you go to the airport it’s all printing out.  And the systems in government are really old.

         Now, that causes two problems.  Number one is, they’re less safe and secure than they should be because they’re old.  They’re outdated systems.  So it’s easier for folks to try to hack into them, break into them, and we’re constantly putting patches up.

         The second thing is, it just means that things are slower for customers.  And I want to make sure government is in the 21st century — and we’re systematically going agency through agency.  If you want to get a small business loan from the SBA, I want you to be able to go to one website, in English, be able to figure out what you need to do, apply online, get that money, start that business, put people to work.  (Applause.)  And right now, we’re continually trying to streamline that process.

         And we’ve made some good progress.  But that’s an example of something that we can do administratively.  The same is true, by the way, for the VA.  You’ll remember — we are so proud of our veterans and our young men and women who served.  (Applause.)  And we got some folks here looking sharp in uniform that we are grateful for their service.  (Applause.)  And we have put more resources and provided more support to — and increased budgets for the VA than any administration in history.  We have cut backlogs.  We included folks who had been affected by Agent Orange.  We have boosted the resources available for folks suffering from PTSD.  We are ending veterans’ homelessness.  We’ve made some huge investments, made really good progress.

         But you’ll remember that story that came out last year, or a year and a half ago, in Phoenix, where folks were waiting so long to try to get an appointment that — and many of these were elderly, aging folks, and they were dying before they got an appointment.  And it was unacceptable.

         When we did an investigation of what had happened — and what was worse was some of the administrators there were hiding what was going on, and manipulating sort of records in ways that meant they had to be fired.  But when you looked at what was going on, a lot of it had to do with the fact that they had a system where a veteran would call in trying to get an appointment, somebody was writing it down on paper, then they were tapping it into some 30-year-old computer system that would then print out something that then would get walked over to someplace, that then they’d have to — it was a mess.

         And so we’ve had to make big investments in trying to clean up that whole process.  So that’s what we can do without Congress.

         Some things I think we can do with Congress I’ve already mentioned.  I think we can get criminal justice reform passed.  I think that we can potentially do some work on what I just identified, the Earned Income Tax Credit, that would help millions of people around the country who are working hard get out of poverty.  And on the issue of medicine, I think that we’re seeing some bipartisan work to try to bring together all the resources we have around these new medical breakthroughs that could potentially — not just affect things like cancer, but also Alzheimer and Parkinson’s, and a lot of diseases that people suffer from.  It’s a good story, and it’s not as politically controversial as some other issues.

         Now, there are some things I’d love to do, like raising the minimum wage for everybody.  (Applause.)  I’d love to get immigration reform passed.  But I’m realistic that Congress probably will not act on some of those more controversial issues.  That’s where people are going to have to make a decision in this election.  That’s what elections are about.  You’ve got to decide which direction America needs to go in.

         Okay.  Let’s see.  These folks have been neglected, so I’ve got to pay them a little attention here.  It’s a young lady’s turn.  Well, you’ve got a beautiful dress on.  Let’s just call on you.  There you go.  (Applause.)

         Q    Mr. President, I’m Judge Trudy M. White, and I’m the district court judge here in the 19th judicial district court.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Good to see you, Judge.

         Q    I am also the reentry court judge for our parish.  And I did notice when you spoke at the State of the Union, you made your address, that the first issue that you did address was criminal justice reform.  I’d like to know, as reentry court judge, what incentives could you offer our governor — our new governor and governors across the United States that would provide opportunities for felons who are returning as they exit the criminal justice system?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Judge, you probably know more than I do. (Laughter.)

         Q    Can my people get with your people to get those incentives down here?  (Laughter and applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely.  I’ll have my people call your people.  (Laughter.)  But I will tell you what I know I’ve seen with my own eyes.

         I was in Camden with a fellow federal district court judge who had taken — who had worked with the U.S. attorney there to supplement some of the reentry programs that were already there with some grants.  And this judge, she’s a wonderful woman, just like you.  And she had this terrific lead probation officer.  And together, what they had done is just made sure that anybody who got released, the day they were out, they were getting a call from the probation officer.  And the probation officer was saying, all right, what do you need?  Do you need clothes?  What are you doing in terms of a place to stay?   How are you going to think about getting your résumé together?  Do you have an alarm clock?  Just basic stuff.  How are you going to get around?

         Because so often, what happens is these young people are getting released and they’re just dropped off in the neighborhood where they were.  Oftentimes, part of the reason they got down a wrong path in the first place is the — mom and dad might not have been there, or they might have moved by now and so they’re literally all alone.

         And so this young man who was there, who had gone through this process, he had been arrested when he was 17, and had a record that accumulated, then arrested at 27; spent 10 years in federal prison.  Was released at 37.  And he really decided, I want to change my life.  He had a spiritual awakening.  And he started just pounding the pavement, and got a job at a fast food place.  And he was describing what it was like — he had been doing this about three months and he still didn’t have enough money for rent, and the halfway house that he was staying at, it was about to kick him out because they only have a certain number of slots, and you don’t stay there long enough.

         And he was saying how his old friends, the drug dealers and the gang bangers who he had used to run with, they would come up every once in a while, and he’d be sitting there in his uniform flipping burgers and serving food, and they’d be talking to him — hey, man, any time you’re ready.  Those are the only clothes you got?  Those are the same shoes we saw you in 10 years ago; this is the new style.  And that temptation for him was powerful.

         Now, this is where a well-designed reentry program comes in, because what happened was, the judge, the probation officer, they worked with him, signed him up.  The judge, unfortunately, because the program didn’t have a lot of money, had to basically do a collection, dig into her own pocket.  But they got the fees to have him go study at a community college to be an emergency medical technician.  And he ended up graduating from this class, working for a private health firm, and then by the time he was sitting next to me three or four years later — or maybe five years later, he’s now working for the county as an EMT, fully trained, saving lives.  (Applause.)

         But the point is that it required intensive intervention and support and help.  But what a smart investment that was.  Because if we spent whatever it cost during those one, two, three years of transition to help that person get their life straight, we might have just saved ourselves another 10 years or 15 years or 20 years of incarcerating him on taxpayer expense.  (Applause.)

         So it made me realize that if we really want to be smart on crime — you’ve got, let’s say, a maximum minimum sentence — mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for some drug-related drug — if we reduce the amount of time that they’re incarcerated, took all those savings and we took just some of that for one, two years of reentry programs that are highly supervised, then we’re going to get better results — safer streets, better citizens — because he’s now paying taxes as an EMT instead of taking taxes as a ward of the state.  Less violence.  More hope.  He’s got an opportunity now to be a father, as opposed to an absent presence in a child’s life.  That’s how we rebuild communities.  And that’s why this is such a promising area.

    And as I said I want to make sure to acknowledge, this is an area where there’s been some really powerful bipartisan, interesting coalitions.  I think the evangelical community, because they have a lot of strong prison ministries, they care about this, they believe in redemption and second chances.  And so they’ve gotten involved.  And you’ve got libertarians who just don’t like the idea of the state spending that much money on prisons.  They’ve gotten involved.  And so there’s a lot of good work.  And as I said, Cedric has been a leader in this process, so we’ve got to see if we can make this happen, all right?  But my people will get with your people.  (Applause.)

    That redhead right there.  It’s good having hair like that.  You stand out in a crowd.

    Q    My name is Martin Brown (ph).  I’m from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  And my question is about education.  Education is one of the most important things in achieving equal opportunity.  And in the past decades, we’ve seen desegregation orders lifted and we’ve seen a re-segregation in the South.  Furthermore, there’s huge disparities in resources for different students in different school districts and parishes.  And I was wondering what can the federal government do, what have you done, and what do you think should happen in the future to resolve these issues that we have been fighting for decades.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Are you a teacher, by the way?

    Q    I’m not — I’m a student.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Where are you going to school?

    Q    LSU.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic.  What are you studying?

    Q    Math and economics.

    THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Well, maybe you’ll solve this problem.  (Laughter.)  Well, thanks for the question.  It’s a great question.

    I talked about this at the town hall — or in the State of the Union.  This economy will become more and more knowledge-based during the course of our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes, our grandchildren’s lifetimes.  There’s no denying it.  That is not going to change. And so when people talk about how the economy is changing and how come we can’t have it the way it was back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it used to be that if you were willing to work hard, you could drop out of high school, walk into the factory, say “I’m ready to work,” and if you showed yourself to be a hard worker, you could actually build a middle-class life on the factory floor.  And that’s great.

    But if you go into a factory today, it’s full of computers and robots.  And if you don’t know math and you don’t know science, you can’t get that job on the factory floor.  And, by the way, because of automation and technology, when I go to a car plant — and we sold more cars — U.S. automakers sold more cars last year than any time in history.  (Applause.)  It has come all the way back.  It has rehired hundreds of thousands of folks.  We created 900,000 manufacturing jobs.  But you go into a plant, and it’s just quiet and clean, and probably — if you used to have a thousand people in that plant, now you’ve got a hundred, just because it’s so automated.

    And the point is, you are not going to be able to build a middle-class life in this society unless you have some education and skills that you can continually enhance and retool throughout your career.  So, young people, I’m going to be honest — I’m not going to call him out — but if you’re Ben Simmons, maybe you’ll do fine not hitting the books — although he’s a very fine student, I’m sure.  But my point is, unless you are one in a million, you better be working hard.  You better be studying.  (Applause.)  And it’s not going to stop.

    Now, the point you made is exactly right.  How do we make sure everybody gets that opportunity?  Because we know what the ingredients are.  We know that early childhood education makes a huge difference, the kind of start that young people get.  (Applause.)  We know that poor kids oftentimes are not starting off in school with the same vocabulary because they haven’t heard as many words, which means we’ve got to train parents, not just teachers, to help get kids rolling.  We know that schools that have great teachers and high standards, and are creative and have the best technologies that are used the right way make a difference.  That high expectations make a difference.  So, we know all these things.
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    But the way that education is America has been organized is local school districts, local control, and local property funding as the primary way of supporting schools.  And that has led to big disparities in every state in the country.  So the federal government can’t get at that.  What the federal government has done and can do is, through programs like Title I funding, we provide additional money to school districts that have a high proportion of low-income kids to try to give them more resources.  The federal government — what I’ve done during my administration is worked with states and local school districts to give them incentives to adopt best practices to help develop and train teachers to more effectively teach kids to make sure that we’ve got high expectations and high standards.

    I just signed, last year, a reform of No Child Left Behind that had led to a lot of over-testing and stress among teachers, but had not necessarily improved learning.  But ultimately, it’s going to be up to states and local school districts to make a decision about how much do we care about equities in funding within states.  That’s not something the federal government can force states to do.

         There was a case way back in the ‘70s that was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court making the argument that it was unconstitutional to have this property tax-based system of funding education.  And the Supreme Court said it’s not unconstitutional; it’s up to states to make a decision on what they want to do.  Some state supreme courts have said it’s unconstitutional to fund education that way.

    But if you don’t have states making those decisions, the federal government can’t force them to.  We can help.  We can give incentives.  But federal funding for education accounts only about for 7 percent of total education funding.  The main thing we can do is hold up best practices, show people this is what works, this is what doesn’t, and then the people of those communities have to determine this is what we want to do to make a real serious change.

         Now, one last point I’m going to make on education — making sure folks like Che can afford college is critical.  (Applause.)  And if I had my wish about what I could get Congress to do — I mentioned a whole bunch of issues — one of them also would be the proposal I put forward:  two years of community college at no cost for responsible students.  (Applause.)

    Tennessee has already adopted this.  Tennessee has already adopted this proposal.  The city of Chicago is working to adopt it.  So you’ve got Democrats and Republicans who have seen the wisdom of this.  If young people can go to a community college for two years at no cost, that means they can get a lot of credits out of the way.  They can then transfer to a four-year institution.  But they’ve cut their costs in half.  And this is an affordable proposal.  We propose paying for it essentially by closing some corporate tax loopholes and some tax breaks for hedge funds.  And it’s enough money to actually make sure that every young person has at least that baseline.  And that’s part of the reason why America became an economic superpower — because earlier than anybody else, we said we’re going to give everybody universal high school education.  Now, the next step is everybody in addition to high school education should be able to get that two years of post-secondary education, as well.  (Applause.)

    All right?  How much time do I have?  I got to check with my people.  One or two more questions.  Okay, this young lady right there.  You can stop jumping.  (Laughter.)  Yes, I just called — but do you actually have a question, or were you just jumping?  (Laughter.)  All right, where is the mic?  Right here.  Right here.  Yes, you.  I don’t know why you’re surprised.  (Laughter.)  You raised your hand.

    Q    Thank you so much for taking my question.  First off, my name is Angenay Turner (ph).  I’m a law student at Tulane, in New Orleans, in the Big Easy.

    THE PRESIDENT:  There you go.

    Q    I’m here with my little sister and one of my other friends from Tulane who also went to Columbia for undergrad.

    THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

    Q    First off, I just want to say that we’re very inspired by you and the First Lady.

         THE PRESIDENT:  That’s nice.

         Q    And you are our biggest inspirations.  And we want to be just like you guys, so can you help us?  Give us some tips.  (Laughter.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the question?  (Laughter.)

         Q    The question is, can you help us be more like you and the First Lady and give us some tips to be –

         THE PRESIDENT:  Some tips?

         Q    Yes.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, I will say this — Michelle and I, we’ve been through an extraordinary journey.  When we think about where we’ve come from, Michelle grew up on the South Side of Chicago.  Her mom was a secretary.  Her dad worked at the water filtration plant.  Neither of them ever went to college.  They lived on the second floor of her mom’s sister’s house, a little bungalow.  She was — we were talking the other day, she was watching HGTV.  She likes watching HGTV.  And for those of you who don’t know, Home and Garden TV.  (Laughter.)

         And I guess there was this show about this so-called movement or trend towards tiny houses.  So people get these little, tiny — some of them they put on — hitch on the back of their car, some of them they’re already there.  She said, I didn’t know this was a movement because we lived in a tiny house. (Laughter.)  We just thought that’s how you live.  We didn’t know this was a — we were cutting edge.  (Laughter.)

         And so Michelle, her brother, her dad, her mom — her dad, by the way, had Multiple Sclerosis, so he’s going to work every day — he had to wake up an hour early to get to work because it took a long time for him to just button his shirt and get in the car, and then get out of the car, and then get to his job.

         And in that second floor, with — and I know, because Michelle and I, right after we got married, we stayed in that same place before we were able to save up enough to buy our place.  These two folks were able to raise these incredible young people, Michelle and her brother, who both ended up going to college and both had these extraordinary careers.
       
         Now, I say all that because Michelle would be the first to say — and I certainly would be the first to say — the only reason this happened was because there were people who invested in us.  (Applause.)  So there were park programs in Chicago, public park programs where she could be part of dance classes, and her brother could be in Little League.  And there were accelerated programs at her public elementary school where she had teachers who really took extra time.  And then there was a magnet school that she was able to attend, and that was able to get her prepared for college.  And then she got student loans and support in order to be able to go to college and go to law school.  Although she tells the story about how her dad, he couldn’t really contribute much, but he insisted on writing something, a check, to help support that college education for her and her brother because he knew what it was worth.

         And so when you ask sort of the main tip I have — look, we benefitted because somebody invested in us.  (Applause.)  The most important tip I would have is make sure not only are you working hard to deserve that investment, but that you’re also investing in the next generation coming up behind you.  (Applause.)  If you do that, then you’re going to do great things.  Your sister will do great things.


         And the one other thing I tell young people all the time — don’t worry so much about what you want to be, worry about what you want to do.  (Applause.)  Worry about the kind of person you want to be and what you want to accomplish.  And the reason I say that is because a lot of times people ask me, oh, I’m interested in politics, how can I get — I say, well, let me tell you, the people who are most successful in politics and business and whatever, they don’t start off saying, I want to be President or governor; they start off by saying, I want to give people an education, or I want to make sure that folks have jobs, or I believe in justice under the law.  And they pursue a goal.  They’re trying to get something done.

         A byproduct of that is that they may find themselves in positions of authority or power or influence.  But even if you never get elected to something, if you’re interested in the environment, you don’t have to be the head of the EPA to make a difference.  You might organize in a local community to clean up a site and plant gardens and make sure that the water is clean.  (Applause.)  And you can look back and then say, wow, what an amazing life I’ve had and look at all the difference that I’ve made.
    image


         And I’ll tell you, the same is true in business.  The most successful business people — if you talk to somebody like a Bill Gates, they don’t start off saying “I want to be the second-richest man in the world.”  They start off saying, “I really want to figure out this computer thing.”  “I want to make this thing work better.”  “I’m excited or interested in how we can solve this problem.”  And then, because they’re so passionate about it and they’ve worked so hard at it, it turns out they make something really good, and everybody else says, I want to be part of that.  That, I think, is a good tip as well.

         All right.  I’ve only got time for one more question.  It’s a young man’s turn and he’s right in front, and he looks very sharp.  He’s got his tie on and everything.

         Q    How you doing, Mr. President?

         THE PRESIDENT:  How you doing?  What’s your name?

         Q    My name is Anthony King (ph).  I am an 18-year-old mass communications major and I go to the Southern University and A&M College.  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    Mr. President, first I wanted to say thanks for being an inspiration, because I aspire to be what you are in the next 30 years, and I know I will be there.

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.

         Q    But one of my main questions for you, sir, Mr. President — I’m going to an HBCU institute — Southern University. Most times, when I go recruit off of high schools, most of the time a lot of them say, oh, I don’t want to go to an HBCU college; I feel like if I go to an HBCU, I won’t get as many opportunities as a student at university as LSU or Tulane.  So what is your take of — or advice to students like me, thousands of students like me who go to HBCUs, and us finishing the course in order to be great leaders in this society?  (Applause.)

         THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  See, you got some folks voting for you already.

         Well, first of all, the role of the historically black colleges and universities in producing our leadership and expanding opportunity — training doctors and teachers and lawyers and ministers who change the landscape of America — I hope most people know that story, and if not, you better learn it.  Because it has been powerful and continues to be a powerful tradition.

         And I will tell you that if you have done well at an HBCU and graduated, and you go to an employer and are making the kind of presentation you make or a Morehouse man makes or a Spelman young lady makes, you will do just fine.  I don’t think it’s true that actually people don’t take — or discount that tradition.  And you will be credentialed.  You’ll succeed.

         I do think that there’s a range of challenges that HBCUs face.  Some are doing great; some are having more difficulty.  And some of that’s good.  Look — or some of it is the result of good things.  We don’t live in a society where African Americans are restricted in what colleges they can go to.  And I want them to be able to go to an LSU or a Tulane as well as a Southern, as well as a Morehouse, as well as a Howard or a Spelman.  So more opportunities open up — that’s good.

    We have been very supportive of HBCUs over the last several years.  And to their credit, the previous administration had supported them, as well.  There are some HBCUs that are having trouble with graduation rates.  And that is a source of concern.  And what we’ve said to those HBCUs is we want to work with you, but we don’t want a situation in which young people are taking out loans, getting in debt, thinking that they’re going to get a great education and then halfway through they’re dropping out.

         Now, some of it is those HBCUs may be taking chances on some kids that other schools might not.  And that’s a positive thing, and that has to be taken into account.  But we also have to make sure that colleges — any college, HBCU or non-HBCU — take seriously the need to graduate that student and not load them up with debt.

         Everybody needs a college education or a secondary — an education beyond high school.  If it’s a community college, if it’s a technical school, if it’s a training program, you’re going to need more training as your career goes on.

         But I don’t want you taking out a Pell grant or a bunch of — not a Pell grant — like a federal loan or a private loan, and you walk out with $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 worth of debt, and you didn’t get your degree.  So we are working very hard with every school, all colleges and universities, not just to reduce costs, but also to increase graduation rates, give students a better sense as they come in — here’s what it’s going to take for you to finish; here’s why you got to not lollygag and not take enough credits and think going to college is about partying, because it’s actually about getting your degree.  (Applause.) And we want students and parents to be better informed about that process ahead of time.

         All right, listen, you guys have been wonderful.  (Applause.) Michelle, Sasha, Malia, Bo, Sunny, they all send their love.  But I want — before we go, I want to remind you of what I said.  Our system of government only works when you are involved not just by voting, but by being informed and staying involved throughout the process.  Your governor, your mayor, your congressman — they all want to do right by you.  But there are going to be challenges.  There are going to be folks who want to stop progress.  There are going to be people who like the status quo.  There’s always going to be in this democracy countervailing pressures.  And if you want to see change, you’ve got to help make it happen.

         When I ran for office in 2007, 2008, I did not say, “Yes, I can.”  I said –

         AUDIENCE:  Yes, we can!

         THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can, people.  God bless you.  Love you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, New Orleans.  God bless America.  (Applause)

    Video of the town hall is available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLA5OX3MQc4

    ONLINE: See photos at the Jozef Syndicate.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Missing Lafayette teens located

    Missing Lafayette High School students Shaylon Mitchell, 16, and 16-year-old Nasya Pradier were located Friday, Jan. 8., Shaylon’s mother Shanette Mitchell confirmed.

    The pair were missing since 7 a.m. Wednesday when they went to school but never checked in, she said.

    The teens’ disappearance garnered statewide attention on social media, with Facebook videos from their families pleading for their return garnering tens of thousands of views.

    Details surrounding their disappearance are not known at this time.

    By The Drum Staff

    Read more »
  • ,,,,

    Poet plans to sail into Black history

    ASTORIA, OREGON — The port of Astoria on the Columbia River is the home of Black History in the making as Niccolea Miouo Nance prepares to set sail with The Emuna Endeavor. The Oregon-born, Arizona-raised poet and artist has put her creative work on hold to learn seamanship and navigation at Clatsop Community College in preparation for the June 2016 departure date.

    Sometimes we as individuals going about our daily lives fall accidentally into something much larger than ourselves. This is one of those stories.

    In July of 2012, Niccolea’s  (pronounced “nick-cole-yah”) best friend Dovid, who was planning on sailing around the world, knew she wanted to travel so he invited her to join him. Since then she has been researching others who have done the journey and discovered that there are no Black American women on record who have sailed around the world.

    Nance was born in a land locked small town in the southern part of Oregon just north of the California border. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona and was a desert dweller pretty much all of her life. As such she didn’t have a rich nautical background so she enrolled in maritime studies at the community college.

    Niccolea said, “My whole life has been a lesson in diversity and tolerance (or lack thereof). I am a Black-white biracial so since birth I have been an example of the unification of different people from different backgrounds. Being raised by my Caucasian stepfather and white mother gave me a perspective on race relations that is totally different from my friends who were raised in totally Black families, neighborhoods, etc. I have seen racism first hand, but I have also seen great tolerance and love firsthand. I choose to focus on the good in life and people. I want to continue to be someone who adds to the positivity in this world.”

    Even with the lessons she learned in her life, she said she is filled with cultural stereotypes of pretty much every place in the world and would like to shed that. “I believe that travel will help me to be a better person overall by experiencing things outside my norm. This trip will be a means to becoming a more culturally aware and more life-educated person.” With modern technology it also gives her a chance to show others what she is learning so we can all learn together via her blog and the trip site and YouTube channel.

    “This is more than just a trip for me… It is the beginning step to a goal of creating a bridge between like-minded people with this project as a catalyst. It’s more than a vacation, this is more than just a grand adventure and a test of my physical and mental strength and stamina… it is a chance to learn about the world and the people in it and hopefully create a chain of positivity on a global scale.”

    According to the website, the Emuna Endeavor is the journey of two friends who’s cause is to take you along vicariously on a world wide sailing trip making stops to create community and hopefully unity along the way.

    Then Nance found out that she will inadvertently be a part of history. So far only one Black woman of any nationality has sailed around the world. There was a single sentence in a Wikipedia article about circumnavigation records (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_circumnavigations) that mentioned a woman named Maria Victor; 2007-2013; first woman of African descent (Barbados) to perform a circumnavigation (with stops, past Cape of good Hope, through Panama Canal). There is one other Black woman named Katia who plans to sail around the world who is from Cape Verde and left from Brazil recently (within the past year). As of this writing, she is approximately half the way around. Katia is sailing with her boyfriend Josh (who is from the Netherlands) on SV Hope (http://www.joshandhope.org/). Even with these two ladies, Niccolea will still be the first American of African descent to take on the task.

    ONLINE:  http://emunaendeavor.org/
    Contact: info@emunaendeavor.org/

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  • Funds available for help with energy payment

    The East Baton Rouge/Office of Social Services has funds available to assist eligible low income households with their energy payments.

    All applications are taken on a first come, first served basis according to the names on the waiting list. To be placed on the waiting list for assistance, please call on Friday mornings, 8am – noon, at local Office of Social Services location based in the community centers around the parish. An eligible household is one who have not received a previous benefit within the past six months and whose total income is at or below the levels listed:

    Household Size                    Maximum Gross
                                                         Income

    1                                                                      $1,859
    2                                                                      $2,432
    3                                                                      $3,004
    4                                                                      $3,576
    5                                                                      $4,148
    6                                                                      $4,720
    Applicants must provide, at a minimum, the following documentation at the time the application is taken: copies of each household member’s social security card; proof of income of all household members; a copy of an energy bill (must be within the last six months); a photo I.D. of the applicant; and another document which was mailed to the applicant at the service address indicated on the energy bill. If it is determined additional documentation is required the applicant will be notified at the time of application. Income eligible applicants who have received a disconnect notice and who have not received assistance for a disconnect notice in the prior 12 months may also apply.

    Read more »
  • Governor-elect John Bel Edwards selects diverse team

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards announced several key cabinet and committee appointments for his administration.  He announced that current Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne will serve as Commissioner of Administration and Kimberly Robinson will serve as Secretary of the Department of Revenue. Other appointments include:

    Adjutant General, Louisiana National Guard – Major General Glenn Curtis
    Superintendent, Louisiana State Police – Colonel Michael Edmonson
    Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs – Joey Strickland
    Secretary, Department of Transportation and Development – Shawn Wilson
    Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development – Don Pierson
    Secretary, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries – Charlie Melancon
    Commissioner, Office of Motor Vehicle – Karen St. Germain
    Commissioner, Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control – Juana Marine-Lombard
    Executive Counsel – Matthew Block
    Special Counsel – Erin Monroe Wesley
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications, Legal, Special Projects – Julie Baxter Payer
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Intergovernmental Affairs – Toye Taylor
    Deputy Chief of Staff, Programming and Planning – Johnny G. Anderson

    Public Safety Committee
    Joseph “T-Boy” Ardoin, Central South Carpenters Regional Council, Local 1098
    Bruce Bennett, 21st Judicial District Court, Division B
    Fabian Blanche, Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Chief of Police
    Jay Blossman, Attorney, Former Public Service Commissioner
    Major Reginald Brown, Constable, Baton Rouge
    Sheriff Mike Cazes, West Baton Rouge
    Charles Cravins, Chief Administrative Office, St. Landry Parish DA
    Flozell Daniels, President and CEO, Foundation for Louisiana
    Berkley Durbin, Executive Director, Medicine Louisiana
    Anne Marie Easley, Education Director, Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office
    Mike Haley, Chief Deputy, Washington Parish
    Gerald Hebert, Grace & Hebert Architects
    Sheriff Victor Jones, Natchitoches
    Bob Levy, Former DA for 3rd Judicial District; Board of Regents Member
    Ron Macaluso, Attorney, Macaluso Law Firm
    Chad Major, President, Professional Fire Fighters Association of Louisiana
    Sheriff Tony Mancuso, Calcasieu
    Hillar Moore District Attorney, East Baton Rouge
    Bob Morrison, Chief Judge, 21st Judicial District Court Division B
    Scott Perrilloux, DA, 21st Judicial District Court
    Ann Porter, President, Northshore Democratic Women’s Club
    Chris Roy Jr., Former State Representative, 25th District
    Karen St. Germain, State Representative District 60
    Chris Stewart, Baton Rouge City Police
    Judge James Stewart, Appellate Judge, 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
    Kevin Stuart, President, Teddlie Stuart Media Partners
    Paul Zuli, Business Manager, IBEW Local 130

    Transportation Committee
    Justin Augustine, Vice President, Transdevelopment
    Johnny Bradberry, COO, TOPCOR Companies LLC
    Ernie Broussard, Hunt Guillot & Associates
    Mike Bruce, Senior Principal, Stantec
    Dan Casey, Director, State Government Affairs, Dealertrack Technologies
    Randy Denmon, President, Denmon Engineering
    David Duplechain, State Legislative Director, SMART
    Perry Franklin, President, Franklin and Associates
    Cedric Grant, Executive Director, Sewerage and Water Board,
    Sundiata Haley, General Counsel, N.O. Regional Transit Authority
    Theron Jackson, Pastor, Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church
    David Madden, Manager, Madden Contracting
    Ken Naquin, CEO, Louisiana Association of General Contractors
    Brent Petit, International Staff Representative, United Steelworkers
    Erich Ponti, Executive Director, Louisiana Asphalt Association
    Roy Quezaire, Deputy Director, South Louisiana Port Authority
    Darrel Saizan, Principal, Darrel J. Saizan & Associates Inc.
    John Spain, Executive Vice President, Baton Rouge Area Foundation
    Harold Taylor, Council Member, St. Landry Parish Council
    Anne Trappey, CEO, Forte & Tablada
    Michael W. Victorian, Senior Client Executive, CMA Technology Solutions Inc.
    Jerry Walley, Sales-Marketing Manager, Ergon Companies
    Erin Monroe Wesley, Executive VP and COO, Baton Rouge Area Chamber
    James “Jay” Winford, President, Prairie Contractors
    Jimmie Woods, CEO, Metro Service Group

    Children and Family Services Committee
    Annetta Garner, Leadership Academy Coordinator, Volunteers for Youth Justice
    Artelia Bennett-Banks, Program Specialist-Social Services, Department of Children and Family Services
    Bambi Polotzola, COO, Immaculate Heart of Mary, PSC
    Betty Cooper, Instructor, University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Cathy Johnson, President, Jefferson Federation of Teachers
    Charmaine Caccioppi, COO, United Way of South East La.
    Clifton Starks, President, Central Trades & Labor Council of Shreveport AFL-CIO
    Darrin Goss, President and CEO, Capital Area United Way
    DeLisa Washington, Board Member, Louisiana Association of Educators
    Jacqui Vines, Former Senior Vice President, Cox Communications Southeast Region
    Judge Guy Bradberry, Judge, 14th Judicial District Court
    Judge John Campbell, Retired Judge, Minden City Court
    Julio Galan, President, Family and Youth Counseling Agency
    Katherine Spaht, Professor of Law, Emeritus, LSU Law Center
    LaMonica Jones, President, Monroe City Association of Educators
    Mallery Callahan, Reverend, LA Home & Foreign Mission Baptist State Convention
    Pam Hutchinson, Community Activist
    Samuel Tolbert, President, National Baptist Convention of America
    Sandie Lollie, Vice President, Louisiana Federation of Teachers
    Sharon Braggs, Itinerant Hearing Specialist, Caddo Parish Schools
    Sherry Guarisco, Executive Director, Louisiana Partnership of Children and Families
    Wanda Washington, Child Welfare Supervisor, Department of Children and Family Services

    Economic Development Committee
    Co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President, AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO, Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, Owner, Clayton Ventures
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director, LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joe Delpit, President, Joe Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, CEO, Urban League of Greater N.O.
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President, Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO, Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President, New Orleans AFL-CIO
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber​
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO , Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner, CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director, Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director, New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO, Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO, Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor, Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President, Health Systems 2000
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chair, Terrebonne Parish Council

    Higher Education Committee
    Chaired Kim Hunter Reed, Ph.D.
    Sheryl R. Abshire,Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
    Jane Arnette, Executive Director, SCI
    Preston Castille, National President, Southern University Alumni Federation; Partner,Taylor Porter
    Mike Clary, Business Manager, Finance Secretary, I.B.E.W. Lisa Cooper, Assistant Professor, LSU Shreveport
    Lola Dunahoe, CEO, The Mary R. Gallaspy Trust & Northwestern State University Foundation
    Tom Enmon, President, Jani-King Gulf Coast
    Barry Erwin, President & CEO, Council for a Better Louisiana
    Carolyn Hargrave, Professor, Provost Emeritus, & Vice President for Academic Affairs and Technology Transfer, Retired, LSU System
    Valerie Holliday, Associate Professor, Baton Rouge Community College
    Paul Howard, Business Manager, Local 241
    Edward R. Jones, Mayor, City of Grambling
    Renee Lapeyrolerie, Client Services Leader, CDM Smith
    Calvin Mackie, Managing Partner, Channel ZerO Group, LLC
    Ron Maestri, retired athletic director, University of N.O.
    James Maurin, Founder & Past Chairman, Stirling Properties
    Huey L. Perry, Ph.D., retired professor, Southern University
    Sean Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising Company
    Dr. Phillip Rozeman, Recent Chair, Blueprint Louisiana
    Joe Savoie, Ph.D., former Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education; President, University of Louisiana Lafayette
    Joshua Stockley, Associate Professor, University of Louisiana Monroe
    Roland Toups, Chairman & CEO, Turner Industries

    Fiscal Matters Committee
    Co-chairs Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Sharon Robinson, former Inspector General and Assistant Legislative Auditor
    April Jordan, Staff Auditor, City of Shreveport
    Bob Keaton, Retired, Former Assistant to the President for Budget, LSU
    Bryant Hammett, Owner, Bryant Hammett & Associates, LLC
    Cade Cole, Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, Local Tax Judge
    Christopher Odinet, Professor, Southern University Law Center
    Chuck Carpenter, Compliance Examiner, Office of Financial Institutions
    Darren Olagues, President, Cleco Power
    Desiree Honore Thomas, Undersecretary, Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism
    Edwin Murray, Senator
    Gregory A. Ruppert, Director, Bureau of Revenue and Taxation, Jefferson Parish
    J.H. “Jay” Campbell, Jr., Executive Chairman, Associated Grocers, Inc.
    James Richardson, Ph.D., Harris J. and Marie P. Chustz Endowed Professor, LSU
    Jan Moller, Director, Louisiana Budget Project
    Jason Decuir, Director, Ryan, LLC
    Jeff Koonce, Vice President and General Counsel, Bernhard Capital Partners
    Jerry Luke LeBlanc, Vice President for Administration and Finance, UL Lafayette
    Kimberly Robinson, Partner, Jones Walker, LLP
    Laura Veazey, Government Relations Consultant, Focus Strategies, LLC
    Lauren Tarver, Law Student
    Lawrence Chehardy, Former Assessor for Jefferson Parish
    Lydia Jackson, Vice President, CRA Business Development Officer, Capital One
    Michael Deshotels, Retired Educator
    Paul Segura, Owner, Segura Development
    Regina Hamilton, Associate General Counsel, Chicago Bridge & Iron Company
    Sean M. Bruno, Sean M. Bruno Certified Public Accountants
    Shane Riddle, Louisiana Association of Educators
    Stephanie Chavis Guillory, Louisiana Federation of Teachers
    Ted Jones, Attorney
    Terrance Ginn, Associate Commissioner for Finance, Louisiana Board of Regents
    Vanessa LaFleur, Director of Policy and Legislative Services, Louisiana Department of Revenue
    Wayne Brown, CEO, Brown Builders

    Read more »
  • COMMUNITY EVENT: TheDietSpotlight.com Weight Loss Workshop, Dec. 12

    Organizers with the  DietSpotlight.com Weight Loss Workshop, Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11:30am, said the event will empower participants to find the right weight-loss or fitness solution. The workshop will be led by an established certified Baton Rouge-based dietician who will offer customized guidance on healthy diet habits based on each workshop participants lifestyle and will consider any special dietary requirements (e.g. gluten-free). The focus of the dietician’s advice will be to help participants adopt healthy ways of eating, from meal planning to grocery shopping to cooking, which are conducive to long-term, healthy weight management. Slow and steady is the key to healthy weight loss and they will offer guidance that supports a healthy diet lifestyle. Also attending the workshop will be certified personal fitness trainer that works with clients of all ages and body types to achieve their fitness goals. Participants of the workshop will be encouraged to interact one-on-one with the dietician and personal trainer to describe their current lifestyles and receive customized guidance on how to incorporate healthy, sustainable exercise activities. Again, the goal here to is to make slow, gradual changes that lead to long-term health and can last a lifetime. This free workshop is a public service outreach of DietSpotlight.com to promote the long-term vision of the site which is public education in the area of healthy diet and weight loss.

    Location: Tracy Center
    1800 S. Acadian Thruway
    Baton Rouge, LA 70898

    ONLINE: http://www.dietspotlight.com/workshop/

    http://www.dietspotlight.com/

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  • ,,

    Edwards names economic development committee, includes Black leaders, business owners

    Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at our Gov.-Elect John Bel Edwards announced a third committee for his
    transition, this one dealing with Economic Development.  

    The Economic Development Committee will be tasked with generating ideas on ways to strengthen our economy, attract new businesses to the state and grow our existing businesses. The Committee will focus their efforts on investing in education to train the next generation of workers, expanding research and development activities at institutions of higher learning, and workforce development to accommodate the new industries.

    The committee will be co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Other members are:
    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council
    institutions of higher learning,
    and workforce development to accommodate the new industries coming into our state.

    “Louisiana is open for business, but we cannot simply rely on costly tax
    incentives to spread this message,” Edwards said. “Louisiana has always
    had a strong workforce and we need to ensure this workforce is attractive to
    diverse industries, while also responsibly incentivizing business and industry
    to invest in our state. This committee is critical to our long-term economic
    stability, and I’m confident they’ll help me develop a plan that is mutually
    beneficial to the citizens of Louisiana and industry.” The committee will be
    co-chaired by Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, and Michael
    Hecht, CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.

    Additional Economic Development Committee members are: 

    Calvin Braxton, President and CEO of Braxton Land Company
    Terrell Clayton, CEO of CENLA Advantage Partnership
    Charles D’Agostino, Executive Director of LSU Innovation Park & Louisiana Business and Technology Center
    Joseph Delpit, President of Joseph Delpit Enterprises
    Erika McConduit Diggs, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans
    Jason Engles, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of Central South Carpenters Regional Council
    Fran Gladden, Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs at Cox Communication
    Rodney Greenup, President of Gulf South Engineering and Testing
    Roy Griggs, President and CEO of Griggs Enterprises
    Robert “Tiger” Hammond, President of New Orleans AFL-CIO and LA State Building
    Trades
    Randal Hithe, Owner of Hithe Enterprises
    Sibal Holt, President of Holt Construction
    Jeff Jenkins, Partner with Bernhard Capital Partners
    John Jones, Señor Vice President of Public Policy and Governmental Relations with CenturyLink
    Adam Knapp, CEO of Baton Rouge Area Chamber?
    Curtis Mezzic, Business Manager of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60
    Scott Martinez, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership
    Phillip May, CEO of Energy Louisiana
    Charlie Melancon, Owner of CMA, LLC
    Don Pierson, Senior Director of Business Development for Louisiana Economic Development
    Bonita Robertson, Site Director of New Orleans Works
    Gale Potts Roque, Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry
    Robert “Bobby” Savoie, CEO of Geocent
    Lloyd N. “Sonny” Shields, Attorney, Shields Mott, LLP
    Glen Smith, CEO of Magnolia Companies
    Collis Temple, CEO Harmony Center, Inc.
    Chris Tyson, Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
    Ginger Vidrine, Attorney
    Lisa Walker, CEO and President of Health Systems 2000
    Sevetri M. Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, LLC
    Arlanda Williams, Vice-Chairwoman of the Terrebonne Parish Council

    Read more »
  • Governor-elect to address SU December graduates, Dec. 11

    Only weeks before he officially takes office as the fifty-sixth Governor of the State of Louisiana, Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards will address the Fall 2015 graduating class of Southern University Baton Rouge, Friday, Dec.11,  in the University’s F.G. Clark Activity Center, at 10:30 a.m.

    image

    Governor-elect John Bel Edwards

    Edwards, who was elected to Louisiana’s top office in November 2015 and who will take office Jan. 11, 2016, will deliver the commencement address to nearly 500 Southern University December graduates.

    “Southern University is honored to bring Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards and his long-held support of higher education in Louisiana to our campus as we honor our fall graduates,” said SU System President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton. “We look forward to his message for forthcoming SU alumni and to his leadership for our great state.”

    The Amite native serves as the state representative for District 72 in Louisiana’s North Shore. In the House of Representatives, he is on the Civil Law and Procedure, Education, and Judiciary committees as well as the Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. He is a 1988 Dean’s List graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. After eight years of active duty with the US Army as an Airborne Ranger, culminating with command of a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he went on to graduate Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center.

    Edwards graduated as valedictorian of his Amite High School class. As one of eight children from a family long dedicated to public service, Edwards carries on the family tradition. With a father who was the elected sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish – the Edwards have four generations of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs in their family lineage with John Bel’s brother Daniel currently serving as sheriff.

    West Palm Beach, Florida native, Imani Martina Williams, will lead the 2015 fall graduating class as chief student marshal. She has a 3.806 GPA, the highest of 498 students who will also receive their diplomas at commencement.

    image

    Imani Williams

    Williams went to Park Vista Community High School in Lake Worth, Fla. and graduated in the top 25 percent of her class in 2012.

    Read more »
  • PICO invites public to #NotOneDime economic boycott through Dec. 3

    DRUMCALL from PICO.

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.

    This week we wait for the release of the 2014 video depicting the shooting death of Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer.

    This week we watch the ongoing tragedy in Minnesota related to the killing of Jamar Clark and the shooting of unarmed protesters by white supremacists.

    And this week as we continue our efforts to righteously resist systems of oppression using our bodies, our ballots and our bucks, we are excited to partner with our friends at Urban Cusp, Hands Up United, and other organizations around the county, calling for a nationwide #NotOneDime economic boycott from November 22 – December 3, 2015.

    The words of the prophet recorded in Isaiah 58, included here, serve as a sacred guide for us as we enter this season of disciplined economic resistance.

    We are inviting you and your loved ones to disengage in non-essential spending, and to redirect your spending to black and minority-owned business. Let’s begin to starve the beasts of corporate interest and economic systems which profit off the bodies of our loved ones.

    Rev. Michael McBride
    Director of Urban Strategies and the Live Free Campaign
    PICO National Network

    Read more »
  • Book on Old South Baton Rouge seeks integration-era photos

    Raymond A. Jetson, Pastor of Star Hill Church, and Lori Latrice Martin, associate professor of sociology and African and African American Studies, are working on a new book with Arcadian Publishers about historic Old South Baton Rouge. The book will cover the period immediately following Reconstruction through the early 1970s when residents of the historic neighborhood integrated elementary and high schools, as well, the state’s flagship university.

    The authors hope to replicate the success of a recently published book by professors at Southern University about Scotlandville. The purpose of the book is to memorialize the life and legacy of African Americans with personal, family, professional, business, religious, and political ties to Old South Baton Rouge and Louisiana’s first high school for African Americans, McKinley High School. Upon completion of the book, 100% of the proceeds will benefit the McKinley High School Alumni Center.

    The authors invite contributions of original photographs, documents, postcards, etc., from the community. Family and school photos, government documents, business receipts, church anniversary journals, pictures of social club members and events, are just some of the contributions the authors hope to include in the book.

    “We want this book to be for, by, and about the people of Old South Baton Rouge. The community nurtured many people who went on to leave their footprints in politics, sports, education, civil rights, theology, music, and the arts, to name a few. It is our duty to preserve this history for current and future generations. Old South Baton Rouge history is African American history; it is American history,” said, Pastor Jetson.

    Anyone interested in being part of this historic project is invited to send materials to: Star Hill Church, 1400 N. Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 70806, Attention: Old South Baton Rouge. The authors will also accept contributions during a series of events leading up to the dedication of the Baton Rouge Bench by the Toni Morrison Society’s Bench by the Road Project on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at McKinley High School Alumni Center. The Toni Morrison Society will recognize the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott, which served as a model for the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

    The public can also drop-off contributions for the book, Old South Baton Rouge, at Carver Library, 720 Terrace Avenue, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 9:30 am on the following dates:

    November 21, 2015
    December 19, 2015
    January 23, 2016

    For more information contact: Dr. Lori Latrice Martin at (225) 578-1785 or lorim@lsu.edu.

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  • Funeral services scheduled for Dr. Robert Anderson

    Memorial services for Baton Rouge dentist Robert Anderson will be held at Berean Seventh Day Adventist Church, 4555 Fairfields Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, November 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM. Family Visitation immediately following the Service. The family has provided this obituary by Freya Rivers.

    Obituary for Robert Clifton Anderson, Sr., D.D.S.

    (December 3, 1953 – November 4, 2015)

    Robert C. Anderson Sr., DDS, was born in New Orleans at Flint Goodrich Hospital on December 3, 1953.  He came into the world kicking and screaming and having his way while developing strong steadfast convictions that would not be deterred. For over 8 years cancer assaulted him daily.  He fought with every ounce of his being while continuing to be a husband, father, provider, grandfather, servant and dentist to his community, and brother in Christ to his church family.  The Lord gave him peace and put his body to rest on November 4, 2015.

    Dr. Anderson graduated from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in 1980 following in his father’s footsteps, Civil Rights Leader the late Dr. Dupuy H. Anderson, Sr.  They collectively gave mote than 70 years of Dental and Civic services to the Eden Park Community.  Robert continued his father’s legacy of service to the underprivileged and the mission to spread the word of God..  Robert began a beautification project that spread for blocks surrounding the office at 3615 North Street well before the downtown development district was even an idea.

    Robert and Denise were married on September 17, 1977.  Their children are Robert Jr., Sara and Aaron.  Robert Jr., the eldest, became a certified dental assistant and joined the office team following in his father’s footsteps.  Sara received her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center with honors, and the baby boy, Aaron, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Southern University Nursing School.Although, Robert could not prevent the children from ever encountering some of the misfortunes and mishaps of life, he was always there to support them and give them the academic and spiritual foundations to succeed.  His grandchildren Caleb and Christian Clarke and Aadon Anderson who called him Papa are being grounded in their Papa’s footsteps.  Robert was so very proud of his children and their achievements which allow them to be independent and free to determine their own futures.

    Robert lived his love of Christ with his every breath.  He shared his love of Christ at his office with anyone who would stay long enough to listen.  He generously provided free books to encourage interested listeners to embrace God.  He enjoyed sharing with his patients Bible Readings for the Home.  His favorite book was the Bible and The Great Controversy.   He believed in taking care of his body through an active healthy lifestyle and encouraged and inspired others to do the same.  He witnessed to everyone.   In Our Father’s footsteps, Robert walked as a true Christian.

    Robert is survived by his loving and devoted wife Denise of 38 years; his children Robert, Jr.; Sara, her husband Dedric Clarke, children Caleb and Christian;  Aaron, his wife Jessica Harris Anderson, child Aadon; his mother Inez Anderson; sister, Freya Anderson Rivers, husband Griffin, children Monica Rivers, Shariba Rivers, husband Sundiata Mason and children Ausar and Assata; Sanford Hawkins-Rivers, Angela, children Asha, Kasi and Nyah Hawkins-Harrison; and LaMailede Moore; and brother Dupuy Anderson Jr., wife Michele and “Bear;” and niece Angela Anderson Thomas, her mother Donna Anderson, husband Bryan and child Mya Belle Thomas.  Robert is preceded in death by his father Civil Rights Leader Dr. Dupuy H. Anderson, Sr. and his brother Ralph Waldo Anderson.

    –submitted by

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  • ,

    Scenes from police brutality teach-in

    Groups of community activists from Baton Rouge, New Iberia, and Lafayette gathered at the Unitiarian Church Oct 13 to discuss for a two-day teach-in workshop on police brutality and the Victor White III case. The Justice for Victor White Committee worked directly with the family of Victor White III for a National Week of Action, […]

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  • ,,,,

    High school students travel to protest Mississippi flag

    Twenty Louisiana Students Traveled to Mississippi to Rally & March over State Flag

    Students from Kentwood High Magnet School and St. Helena College and Career Academy,traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, on October 11 to participate in the One Flag for All Mississippians March and Rally.

    The 20 students were engaged during their civics classes on the importance of letting their voices be heard, and the many ways they can get involved to do so. This sparked their interest in participating in the history making event.

    The march and rally–which attracted more than 200 participants–were organized by local leaders and was led by South Carolina State Representative Jenny Horne, rapper and former Southern University SGA president David Banner, and civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams to show support of Initiative 55, which calls for the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the State of Mississippi’s flag.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, rapper David Banner, and Mississippi activist Sharron Brown.

    Standing from left on the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol during a rally following the One Flag for All March are, South Carolina State Rep. Jenny Horne, Civil Rights Activist Myrlie Evers-Williams, Former SU SGA President & Rapper David Banner and Sharron Brown.

    The march began at the intersection of J.R. Lynch and Rose Street and ended at the steps on the south side of the Mississippi State Capitol, where the rally lasted from 3:40 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    “We shouldn’t have a flag that represents a bad time in our history,” said Sharron Brown, who proposed Initiative 55 to the Mississippi legislature which would force a constitutional amendment to change the flag. Brown has started collecting signatures for the initiative, and she said she is hoping to see it on the state’s ballot in 2018.

    The students traveled from Baton Rouge with Southern University Ag Center’s assistant area agent Nicolette Gordon, youth coordinator Toni Melton, and St. Helena College & Career Academy’s civics teacher Idella Smith.

    Submitted by the Southern University Ag Center

    Read more »
  • Democrats announce candidate endorsements

    The East Baton Rouge Democratic Parish

    Executive Committee (EBR DPEC) finalized its endorsements of local and statewide candidates following the Candidate Endorsement Social, last week, where members and the  public heard presentations from each of the Democratic candidate.

    The committee has endorsed:

    Governor
    John Bel Edwards

    Lieutenant Governor
    Melvin L. ‘Kip’ Holden

    Secretary of State
    ‘Chris’ Tyson

    Attorney General
    Geraldine ‘Geri’ Broussard Baloney

    Commissioner of Ag and Forestry
    ‘Charlie’ Greer

    Commissioner of Insurance
    Charlotte C. McDaniel McGehee

    BESE, District 8
    Carolyn Hill

    State Senator, District 15
    Regina Barrow

    State Representative, District 29
    Ronnie Edwards
    Edmond Jordan
    Vereta T. Lee

    State Representative, District 61
    Donna Collins-Lewis
    C. Denise Marcelle

    State Representative, District 63
    Barbara West Carpenter
    Dean ‘Deaneaux’ Vicknair

    State Representative, District 66
    Antoine Pierce

    State Representative, District 68
    Patty Merrick

    State Representative, District 69
    Mark Holden

    State Representative, District 70
    ‘Shamaka’ Schumake

    City Judge, At-Large
    Tarvald Smith

    Election day is October 24.  Early voting is October 10-17.  “We look forward to working closely with our endorsed candidates to have a successful election day,” said Dawn Collins, EBR DPEC chair.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Conservative Koch brothers make inroads into Black America

    It was a scene that a young, militant Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. could not have envisioned 30 years ago. At the national convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baton Rouge, Chavis was participating on panel about reforming the criminal justice system with, among others, Mark V. Holden, the senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, Inc.

    The company is owned primarily by Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers known for their strong libertarian views, their major donations to ultra-conservative causes and opposing President Obama’s major initiatives. In fact, a major profile of the two brothers, the New Yorker observed, “In Washington, [David H.] Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular. With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars.”

    The article stated, “Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies – from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program – that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.” According to the Associated Press, “With a fortune estimated at $41 billion each, Charles and David tie for fourth on Forbes’ list of the richest Americans, and tie for sixth on Forbes’ worldwide billionaires list.”

    In the strangest of bedfellows, representatives of Koch Industry and Chavis, who served a little more than four years of a 34-year sentence for conspiracy and arson in the 1970s as leader of the Wilmington Ten (the charges were thrown out on appeal for prosecutorial misconduct) and now president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), are working together on reforming the criminal justice system. That irony is not lost of Chavis.

    “Thirty years ago, I probably would have been one of the ones questioning my leaders on why it would be necessary to sit with conservatives,” Chavis said. “But over the years, I’ve matured.”

    He has matured to the point where his focus is on results, not rhetoric, Chavis said. “For me to sit on the stage with the general counsel of Koch Industries, I think, was providential and very fitting because this is the one company that appears to be serious about criminal justice reform,” Chavis said. He said criminal justice reform should be broad-based and include everything from racial profiling to disparate sentencing and prosecutorial misconduct.

    Chavis said, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to reform the criminal justice system with rhetoric. A lot of people over the last several years have talked about criminal justice reform, but haven’t put up any money and haven’t done anything that will create a bi-partisan coalition to make it happen.” Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries, said the company has been working on criminal justice reform for the past 12 years. “It would be short-sighted for us as a company to just say, ‘Hey, someone made a mistake in the past – don’t even bother applying,” Holden told the SCLC delegates. “You would miss out on a lot of talent, opportunities, and people who could do great things for our company.” He said, “Charles Koch [the chairman of the board of Koch Industries] has already made it clear that this is his key priority this year. Whether this happens or not, we don’t control that – it’s up to Congress.”

    In a Politico column co-authored by Holden and Charles K. Koch, they wrote: “Reversing overcriminalization and mass incarceration will improve societal well-being in many respects, most notably by decreasing poverty.

    Today, approximately 50 million people (about 14 percent of the population) are at or below the U.S. poverty rate. Fixing our criminal system could reduce the overall poverty rate as much as 30 percent, dramatically improving the quality of life throughout society – especially for the disadvantaged.” They said, “To bring about such a transformation, we must all set aside partisan politics and collaborate on solutions.” For many, however, the Koch name has come to epitomize partisan politics. The Washington Post reported, “The filings show that the network of politically active nonprofit groups backed by the Kochs and fellow donors in the 2012 elections financially outpaced other independent groups on the right and, on its own, matched the long-established national coalition of labor unions that serves as one of the biggest sources of support for Democrats.

    “The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.” Despite their right-wing politics, the Koch brothers have been making inroads into Black America. They donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund, a move that was roundly criticized by some and applauded by others. Georgia-Pacific, a Koch subsidiary, has been a longtime supporter of SCLC, and Benjamin Chavis has signaled his intention to enlist Koch Industries to advertise in Black newspapers.

    Luke Charles Harris, an assistant political science professor at Vassar College, said, “Now more than ever, it has become clear that organizations that take this sort of money are poor substitutes for the groups that sustained Black people throughout the legal revolution to dismantle segregation in the U.S.” Harris added, “One has to look at the ways that the Koch agenda undermines our battles to fight against structural racism, and the contemporary manifestations of white supremacy. Their track record across the board is horrific on these matters. “They are bad news for poor people, for unions, for people locked in the bottom of the economy, and for voters who want to exercise their right to weigh in in an important way on the issues that genuinely affect them.”

    Chavis acknowledges the Koch brothers conservative politics, but sees working together on criminal justice reform as an opportunity to influence them. “I believe as a result of this movement that’s now emerging for criminal justice reform, I think that there’s an opportunity to have a discussion with the Koch brothers about their politics,” Chavis said. “If you want to change America, we have got to have an inclusive discussion, not an exclusive discussion. Am I saying there’s the potential to have a progressive dialog with the Koch brothers? I believe the answer is yes.” But Harris believes Chavis is being naïve. “The Koch brothers already know what progressive Black folk think,” he said. “And they have spent countless millions of dollars establishing and fueling an agenda that essentially reverses the imperatives that Dr. King gave his life for: imperatives like the right to a fare wage, and the right to vote.”

    Patrick Delices, a Pan-African scholar and professor at Hunter College in New York City, said he understands Chavis’ frustration with slow rate of Black economic progress.

    “Historically and currently, the reality is that liberals at the corporate executive level and the political leadership level have failed to advance considerably the economics, politics, and culture of Black folk. Thus, it is in our best interest to engage with other people and groups who can perhaps offer to us a better deal,” he stated. “With that said, it is up to us to have a clear understanding that when we meet, negotiate, and engage in a business/political transaction with other people our interest/empowerment must come first, not the needs of other people.”

    Regardless of what his critics believe, Chavis is convinced that he is taking the correct path to being effective. “To my progressive brothers and sisters, I would say come and join me in getting the brothers and sisters out of prison,”he said. “Let’s get the question of prosecutorial misconduct resolved. Come join me. Let’s not just wait until the next incident of police brutality happens. Come join me, let’s reform the whole system.”

    By George E. Curry
    NNPA Editor-in-Chief

    ONLINE:blackpressusa.com

    Read more »
  • SU Ag Center among recipients of $2 Million Walmart Foundation grant

    OPELOUSAS

    –The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives (SCRI), a satellite campus of the Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center housed in Opelousas, has received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to teach healthy living practices to youth through its Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program.

    Louisiana is among 20 other state 4-H organizations approved for funding by Walmart’s 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program. This year, the foundation donated $2 Million nationally to the program to expand its reach from 15 states to 21, reaching 75,000 at-risk youth and their families with interactive education about nutrition and food security challenges.

    The Ambassadors for Healthy Living Program is a component of the SCRI’s outreach programs; which include the Back-to-School Summit, the Youth Educational Support (YES) after-school program, and the Gardening Program. While these programs address healthy living, Ambassadors for Healthy Living is a more in-depth program. Its goals are to ensure that all youth who participate in the program: 1) have an understanding and acquire knowledge of the phrase, “healthy living;” 2) have a complete understanding of the importance of healthy living; 3) implement strategies to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle; and 4) become ambassadors of healthy living in order to encourage family and friends to develop and maintain a healthy eating and physical lifestyle. The program covers the SCRI’s ten parish area of St. Landry, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, St. Martin, Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Allen and Evangeline Parishes, as well as, East Baton Rouge and Orleans Parish.

    “Health and happiness are interchangeable. When you are your healthiest, you are happier in every sense of the word. It is extremely important for all of us to be healthy, no matter what age! SCRI has already begun reaching out and improving the health of youth and families in the community. With this generous grant, we will be able to reach even more young people so that they can have a healthier lifestyle,” said Youth Specialist/Director of SCRI, Dr. Wanda Burke.

    According to the Child Trends Data Bank, child-aged food insecurity is associated with a greater risk for being overweight. Food insecurity can result in lower diet quality and less variety, both of which can contribute to being overweight and nutritionally deprived. Evaluation results from the 2011-2012 Youth Voice: Youth Choice program years show that participating young people reported a higher understanding of nutrition and physical activity knowledge and an increased active use of that knowledge. Additionally, participants’ attitudes towards nutrition and physical activity became more positive and young people showed an improved ability to make healthy food choices, even in food insecure settings.

    Other states receiving the grant including: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.

    4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA.

    Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Nutrition, Sustainability, Career Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

    Read more »
  • DrumBeats

    Brief news from across Tangipahoa to East Baton Rouge parishes.

    HOUMA
    A Louisiana school board member refuses to resign after she said that streets named after Martin Luther King are racist since the Confederate flag is racist. The NAACP wants Terrebonne Parish School Board member Vicki Bonvillain to step down after she made a series of Facebook posts earlier in July, whining about the backlash toward the Confederate flag in the wake of the killing of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina by a white supremacist Confederate sympathizer in June. Bonvillain posted an image on her Facebook page saying that if the Confederate flag is racist then so is the Democratic Party, BET, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the NAACP, Black History Month, and La Raza. In her opinion, all of these are “racist” symbols that should be destroyed.

    NATIONAL
    In an effort to cut recidivism, the Obama Administration plans to restore federal funding for prison inmates to take college course. This move is considered part of the President’s broader push to “overhaul the criminal justice system according to the Wall Street Journal. The plan would allow thousands of inmates across the United States to access higher education.

    STATE
    The Board of Secondary and Elementary Education has approved a plan to increase access to affordable child care and to raise funding levels for qualified childcare centers and teachers across the state. The plan will increase the amount of money the state will pay per child from $35 to $93 a week for children in the Child Care Assistance Program. It will also allow families to remain eligible for CCAP for at least one year regardless of changes in work or school status of parents. Praised for its increased funding, the plan does not increase the number of children served in CCAP which has dropped over the last six years.

    BATON ROUGE
    Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico rank the worst states for child wellbeing by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. According to the 2015 Kids Count Data Book, more families are struggling to make ends meet and a growing number of kids live in high poverty neighborhoods. Louisiana ranks 48th overall with 28 percent of children in poverty, 34 percent of children whose parents lack secure employment, and 12 percent of teens not in school and not working. In education, 50 percent of children don’t attend preschool, 77 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 79 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math. ONLINE: www.aecf.org

    HAMMOND
    The 2015 Northshore Gubernatorial Forum is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 2 in Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. The four leading candidates in the race have indicated their intent to participate in the forum, which is being underwritten by First Guaranty Bank, Northshore Business Council, Northshore Legislative Alliance, and Southeastern Student Government Association. A collaborative effort of the regional business, economic development and higher education communities, the event is free and open to the public.

     

    Read more »
  • COMMENTARY: Stopping access doesn’t stop payday debt traps

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency created after the 2008 financial crisis, is in the process of creating the first set of federal rules governing the short-term lending industry. Fearing that consumers are getting caught in “debt traps” — borrowing money to pay back previous loans over and over again and never getting out of debt — the agency is pushing for new regulations on small-dollar credit products like payday loans, title loans, and high-cost installment loans.
    image

    About 12 million Americans rely on short-term loans each year. Traditional banks have long ignored these customers, since banks are unable to underwrite such loans profitably.

    But as written, the regulations could wipe out most — if not all — of the entire short-term lending industry, leaving consumers without any market alternatives. That’s why the CFPB should scrap its regulations and instead focus its efforts on either addressing the problematic features of short-term lending products or creating a framework to encourage industry innovation.

    If the CFPB enacts rules that essentially put the short-term lending industry out of business, what are consumers to do?

    Some say they should save more.

    But the Federal Reserve found that 47 percent of Americans couldn’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense with savings or a credit card, but would be forced to sell a possession or borrow.

    Others say they should ask family.

    While some are fortunate enough to have friends or family members to turn to, many don’t. Of those unable to meet a shortfall of $250, many do not have friends or family with money to lend.

    Others suggest they should go to a bank.

    But it’s not profitable for banks to make short-term loans. With fixed costs of operations, underwriting, servicing, compliance and charge offs, banks cannot offer loans of a few hundred dollars.

    The CFPB’s new regulations would dictate exactly how lenders should assess a consumer’s ability to repay a loan. This will disproportionately impact those who lack traditional income documentation, like the elderly, divorcees, minorities, and low-income Americans. These are the people the proposal is supposed to protect.

    A better solution would allow short-term lenders to follow the guidance imposed from the credit card reforms, like reasonable income and expense verification, or a safe harbor for responsible lenders who have proven they can manage risk effectively.

    The ideal framework would protect consumers by ending problematic practices, but keep credit flowing to responsible, hard-working Americans. Reasonable procedures for income and expensive verification, rules ensuring payments cover interest and reduce principal, and eliminating bad actors will go a long way to achieving the consumer protections the CFPB desires.

    The CFPB’s proposal would reduce access to credit, which would increase bankruptcies, lower credit scores, and force borrowers to turn to more expensive options with fewer consumer protections. It would stifle innovation and reduce choice for consumers who desperately need more, not fewer, options.

    The CFPB should adopt a framework that incentivizes innovation and market alternatives instead of prescribing a one-size-fits-all mandate. It should work to expand access to credit in struggling, low-income communities, not restrict it.

    Submitted by Sasha Orloff


    Sasha Orloff is the CEO and co-founder of LendUp, a venture-backed startup that builds credit solutions for consumers who banks and traditional lenders can’t help.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Southeast Regional Biblical Institute (SRBI)

    The Baton Rouge community has another opportunity to study God’s word and prepare ministers and laypersons for the work of ministry. The 2015 Fall Semester class for first term at Southeast Regional Biblical Institute, at 185 Eddie Robinson Sr Dr., will begin on August 17, at 6 pm.

    This diploma program is through Samford Ministry Training Institute, Birmingham, Alabama. The student will earn the Biblical Studies diploma after the completion of 6 classes of concentration in Biblical Studies plus an additional four classes of electives chosen by the student. This Diploma Program of biblical and theological education is being offered to ministers and laypersons. This Extension Institute has been designed for persons who want to improve their biblical and theological knowledge. This Institute will further prepare men and women for ministry. ALL interested persons, with or without college degrees are invited to participate. The courses will be taught by seminary trained instructors and experienced pastors.

    ONLINE: www.srbi-br.org

    For more information, contact: Dr. Mary W. Moss, Director of The Southeast Regional Institute at (225) 772-0307 or email-pastormoss@att.net or Thelma Jones,
    tjones1972@cox.net.

    By Community News Submission

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Woman to Watch: Blair Imani Brown

    Last year, when hundreds of students gathered at LSU by candlelight in response to the Mike Brown indictment decision, it was the organizing work of Blair Imani Brown and Peter Jenkins. The event became the catalyst for the group now known as Baton Rouge Organizing, and Brown, Shamaka Schumake, Majdal Ismail, Zandashé Brown, Aryanna Prasad, and Leonela Guzman became co-founders. Soon after, they organized a Die In on LSU’s campus, an #ICantBreathe A Rally for Eric Garner on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, a rally for Victor White III, a Google Hangout about Freddie Gray, while providing support for events outside of Baton Rouge including a Die In and Solidarity March in Lafayette. They have also organized to push for animal rights and push against homophobia and sexism.

    But those efforts at social justice only seem to reveal the tip of Brown’s passion for equality, giving meaning to the work she has begun around human rights. The budding lawyer said she’s learned how important it is to change policies. “I’m a nerd about the civil rights movement,” she said. “I’m enchanted by it and it’s transferred into an urgency to be part of changing how we think of things through law. The push right now is education because (we) don’t have the ability to initiate public policy.”

    At 21 years old, Brown has stepped up to address the daunting, and often times risky, challenge of fighting for equal rights and fair treatment of all humans. Her demands have lead to her being threatened by email, followed to her apartment, and called a N*gr B. They have also lead to changes at LSU. For one, Brown was able to have the Odell S. Williams African American Museum included on in the Department of History’s internship program.

    “When I found out about the museum was not a part of the program, I was confused and I spoke to professor… What kind of failure of the institution is this?” she said with a laugh. “But I believe it was just miseducation and they sincerely did not know and were not overlooking. It was important that they acknowledged it and willingly corrected it.” Now the university can introduce students to the city’s only public museum dedicated to Black history.

    Through Baton Rouge Organizing, Brown and the other leaders galvanized students to push the LSU police department to change how it identifies suspects on the campus wide alert system. The police would announce that the suspect was a “Black male wearing a hood” and the group used that in a 15-person demonstration on the campus where they wore hoodies and held up signs that stated “He fit the description.” The demonstration included students and the university’s director of diversity. They also sent a letter to the LSU PD requesting that they “respond responsibly”.

    “(We used a) combination of the wide spread social media presence and main stream media and LSU media,” Brown said, “It was something that couldn’t be ignored.” The system now offers more detailed descriptions on campus alerts.

    “Education is the best vehicle for awareness and change,” she said. As her awareness of injustices increased, Brown said she began noticing that the women around the world had similar experiences, “I founded Equality for HER a women’s empowerment organization dedicated to bring awareness to women’s health, education, and rights…and to address the intersections of one’s identities that constitute their being.”

    She has been able to work with women as far away as Latin America, Egypt, and Lagos.

    “I feel that too often we are made to choose one part of identity in order to join a given group. For example there’s often a narrative that I must divorce my heritage as a Black person in order to “focus” on women’s rights or conversely remove my identity as a women in order to work on LGBTQ or minority rights. While this narrative is unfortunately very prominent, I think I have proved it to be false.”

    For that, Blair Brown is a Woman to Watch.
    image

    Blair Imani Brown, 21
    LSU Student
    Founder and President, Equality for HER
    Co-Founder, Baton Rouge Organizing

    Hometown: Pasadena, CA

    Moves made: In January 2014, As I began my efforts with Equality for HER, I simultaneously worked as the assistant organizer of the Louisiana Queer Conference in 2014 with student activist Michael Beyer…I developed an intersectional presentation on dating violence. I was able to do a few presentations at Louisiana State University, develop a web module about Breaking the Cycle on EqualityforHER.com, and provide commentary about Louisiana’s issues with domestic violence for media outlets…After the decision was announced not to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, Peter Jenkins and I used social media to bring the Baton Rouge Community together for a candlelight vigil in less than 24 hours. The Baton Rouge Organizing Facebook group turned into an amazing phenomenon. With Equality for HER, we have just finished our Women’s History Month features where in we feature a variety of multicultural women achievers that have made contributions to our society. However, perhaps the most inspirational endeavor I have been a part of is the work with the family of Victor White III…and getting a petition circulating on Change.org urging the New Iberia coroner to change the cause of death from suicide to homicide. This petition was delivered (to the coroner’s office) on the anniversary of Victor White Iasi’s death. More than a year after his mysterious death we still await justice for Victor White III.

    What to expect from you: This year began with all eyes on Baton Rouge Organizing. We have been able to initiate, sponsor, and promote various protests around many issues. We have held rallies, demonstrations about racial profiling, vigils for “Our Three Winners” Deah, Yusor, and Razan who were victims of Islamophobia. Shortly after the (Victor White III) petition’s delivery, I visited Howard University Law School, and I made the decision to attend there in the fall…Working with Rev. Victor White Sr. and his family has further encouraged me to pursue a legal career, so that much like Attorney Marilyn Mosby, I can be apart of the systematic change required to root out the racism and corruption within the court system…I continue to organize events surrounding social justice issues.

    What music are you dancing to? Anything from Motown Records. I love the empowering message of the protest songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I have also found a renewed appreciation for the rap music of the ‘90s.

    What are you reading? “Death of a King” by Tavis Smiley

    Mentors and Role Models: My mother, Kristina Brown, she has taught me strength and resilience. My father, DeWalt Brown, is someone who I also admire because of his commitment to social justice and belief in humanity. The person who I both identify with and aspire to emulate is Attorney General Kamala Harris. I also look up to Representative John Lewis, Dr. Terrence Roberts, and Melissa Harris Perry.

    Personal Resolution: My personal resolution for 2015 is to find a balance between my efforts in social activism and my academic career. I have resolved to take on less projects while cultivating leadership skills in my peers. I have also become committed to being an advocate of causes that I may not directly identify with. I have recently converted to Islam and getting closer to God has given me a lot more strength and helps me give up my fears and worries to him.

    Company Resolution: With Equality for HER, we will be transitioning the brand under the leadership of Sophia Herzog as we work in collaboration while I am starting my first year of law school.

    Life motto: To create and implement change and to advocate for all marginalized people.

    Where to find you online? www.BlairB.com or on LinkedIn.

    Read more »
  • Community Events: July 19 – 31

    Here are your upcoming community events, meetings, and workshops in and around the Ponchatoula, Hammond, and Baton Rouge area. Complete this form to share your upcoming events: Drum Community Events or email information to news at thedrumnewspaper dot info.

     

    July 18, 24, and August 1

    Play Streets, 10am-2pm, 5820 Evangeline Street. Several streets in the Brookstown neighborhood will be closed to traffic to allow children to play as part of Pennington Biomedical Center’s Play STreets program. This program affords children and families in a local neighborhood increased space to play outside and engage in physical activity.

     

     

     

    July 19 – 25

    18711_1037290276282420_153500926229307357_n
    SPIRIT OF PENTECOST APPREHENDED, 7pm nightly, World Link of Churches and Ministries, 2103 S. Philippe Ave., Gonzales, featuring 10 guest ministers and Apostle Lloyd Benson Sr. Youth Fresh will be held Tuesday, July 21 with Prophet Richard Horace of Houston Texas.

     

     

     

    July 21
    Ponchatoula Mayor’s Court
    , 5:30PM, Ponchatoula City Hall,125 W. Hickory Street. Click HERE to pay fines online. For information regarding Mayor’s Court please call (985) 370-7500.

    July 22
    Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council Meeting, 
    1pm,Thomas Jefferson Room, Claiborne Building, 1201 N. 3rd Street.The Louisiana Department of Education will present the major proposed improvements to the eligibility and funding rates for the Louisiana Child Care Assistance Program. One proposed change is for families to remain eligible for at least one year regardless of life changes. ONLINE: http://bese.louisiana.gov/home

    July 25

    save_our_cities_now_15adg001001Save Our Cities Prayer Initiative, 8am, prayer march from the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to the La. State Capitol Building. According to organizers, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Charles Steele Jr., the Rev. Jessie Jackson of the Rainbow Push Coalition, and the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network will join in the march led by Chief Apostle Lloyd Benson Sr. ONLINE: saveourcitiesnow.org or www.wlcm.org

     

     

     

    July 30

    The July Meeting of The Diabetic Kitchen. 5pm, First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 119 Jefferson St, New Iberia. Guest speaker will be Dr. Shelley Smith of Audibel Hearing Healthcare in New Iberia and Abbeville. Smith’s focus and specialty include adult and pediatric diagnostic testing, adult and pediatric amplification and tinnitus management. Contact: Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., Nateyes@bellsouth.net or The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook.

     

    Invite us out!
    Complete this form to share your upcoming events: Drum Community Events or email information to news at thedrumnewspaper dot info

    Join the show!
    If you would like to be a guest on Let’s Talk About it; The Ed Show on WSTY in Hammond, La. Complete the form with all details or call the show producer, Eddie Ponds, at (985) 351-0813.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Attorney announces candidacy at demolished hospital

    Jordan seeks to represent Dist. 29

    Using the partially demolished LSU Earl K Long Hospital as his backdrop on yesterday (July 15), Brusly attorney Edmond Jordan announced  his candidacy for the Louisiana House District 29.

    “I will fight to balance the disproportionate economic disparity between north and south Baton Rouge….We need to bring businesses to District 29 and help rejuvenate this district,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    “If we do things the way that they’ve always been done, then things will remain the way that they’ve always been… It’s time to change what we’ve been doing. Let’s work together to stop the decline in the quality of life for the citizens of Louisiana,” Jordan told the small gathering of supporters.

    image

    Edmond Jordan

    State Representative Regina Ashford Barrow has termed out of the District 29 seat after having represented the area since 2005.

    For Jordan this is an opportunity for meaningful change.

    He said an individual who knows how to fight for the best interest of people should hold the office of State Representative.

    “The time is now to elect such an individual. I am that individual,” he said.

    Jordan said he will travel throughout the district, which covers a portion of North Baton Rouge through West Baton Rouge, and reach “like-minded citizens searching for strong, responsible and inspirational servant leadership” for the district.

    A life-long resident of Brusly, La., Edmond Jordan is a graduate of Brusly High School, Southern University A&M College and the Southern University Law Center.  Jordan has been an attorney for 17 years, representing the Louisiana Public Service Commission, LDEQ, and the United States Department of Homeland Security.  Additionally, he a co-owner of Cypress Insurance Agency in Baton Rouge, LA. 

    He currently serves as director/trustee on the boards of Essential Federal Credit Union, South Louisiana Charter Foundation and Capitol City Family Health Center.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Message to the Community from BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight

    I cannot in good conscience justify spending scarce taxpayer resources for a swimming pool that only five people walked to and used on a daily basis. I am writing to set the record straight about the imminent removal of the Gus Young swimming pool.

    BREC’s 2004 Imagine Your Parks plan evaluated the entire park system and the BREC Commission approved a separate aquatics plan which recommended modernizing some pools and creating an aquatic system that offered more options in strategic locations, including learn to swim pools, splash pads and centrally located Liberty Lagoon Water Park. The plan, prepared by a national aquatic firm familiar with best practices, also included partnering with other agencies to enable us to use resources more efficiently.

    The closing of pools at Baringer, Webb, Jefferson Highway and Gus Young Neighborhood Parks and the renovation of pools at Howell, City-Brooks and Anna T. Jordan Community Parks are part of that plan. The plan recommended having aquatic features only in community parks which serve a much larger population than neighborhood parks like Gus Young. In 2012, BREC was forced to close the 50-year old pool because it did not meet safety and health requirements and could not be repaired.

    BREC places a high priority on teaching children to swim and continues to expand its partnership with the YMCA. Together we offer swimming lessons at BREC and YMCA pools and have created a free water safety program taught to students and parents during the school year. We are proud to say that in addition to teaching more than 475 kids to swim last year hundreds more have signed up for swimming lessons again this summer.

    BREC transports hundreds of children from our summer camps to our pools and to Liberty Lagoon on a daily basis. Outside camps also use those locations. Using cost savings from the closure of neighborhood pools, and working with the YMCA, we created a “Splash Pass” which offers children the ability to swim at YMCA pools at BREC prices during our public swim times. Liberty Lagoon, in its fifth season, continues to thrive, frequently reaching maximum attendance levels and serving people throughout the parish.

    More than that, BREC places a high priority on serving youth and teens across the parish in order to offer healthy, safe, structured activity and protect them from exposure to violence or juvenile delinquency. Here is a snapshot of programs currently offered:

    • BREC on the Geaux serves 35 locations with 29 in the inner city area servicing approximately 8,000 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC offers 61 Recreation classes and programs for youth in the inner city areas and 28 programs for teens.
    • BREC offers 41 summer camps with 17 in the inner city area. 2015 summer camp enrollment has increased by nearly 1,400 children for recreation camps alone.
    • BREC hosted 16 Community Events in the inner city area since January servicing approximately 4,675 people.
    • BREC’s sports leagues such as baseball, football and basketball have served approximately 10,497 youth and teens since January.
    • BREC’s Outdoor Adventure serves 236 youth and teens with programs.
    • BREC’s Golf Department offered 72 programs targeted to youth and teens through the First Tee and other programs.
    • BREC Belfair Teen Center has served approximately 75 teens through a job training program.

    Later this summer, BREC will present several options to replace the 50-year old pool at Gus Young at a public meeting. Community leaders have asked us to consider building a splash pad which would require a significant amount of private funding and Commission approval since it is counter to our Aquatics plan. BREC simply cannot afford to build splash pads or pools in neighborhood parks. If a sufficient amount of private funding is not located, we have ideas on how to enhance this active park and the many events held there now.

    BREC remains committed to serving the entire parish while making the best use possible of limited taxpayer dollars that fund more than 180 parks. We also remain committed to partnering with the YMCA and schools to teach children to swim, offer quality recreation programs for youth and teens during after school and out of school breaks and creating a healthier and safer community.

    Carolyn McKnight
    BREC Superintendent
    cmcknight@brec.org

    Read more »
  • ,,

    50th Anniversary of the MC Moore desegregation Case featured on The Ed Show

    Blacks in Ponchatoula, La., are still pushing for equality in the Tangipahoa Parish School System after 50 years.
    This segment of The Ed Show: Let’s Talk About It, features the original family of the M.C. Moore Desegregation Case.

    The Ed Show is hosted by The Drum Newspaper publisher Eddie Ponds on WSTY-TV in Hammond. To be a guest, complete the form on the Submit News page of this site or click here.

    Read more about this case at Does the education of Black children matter in Tangipahoa?

    @jozefsyndicate

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Conference to focus on advancing leadership in economic development

    The Southern University College of Business is hosting its Second Annual Advancing Leadership in Economic Development conference on June 11 -13 at the Southern University College of Business’ T.T. Allain Hall.

    The two-day conference will feature local and nationally recognized business leaders who will share effective leadership strategies and successful economic development programs.

    Featured speakers include: James Joseph, former ambassador to South Africa and former public policy professor at Duke University;  Richard McCline, Ph.D., with the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia; and Will Campbell with Capital One.

    Topics include regional economic growth and development opportunities, revitalizing rural and inner-city neighborhoods, leadership models that get results,  and the role of political leaders in economic development.
    It is targeted to small business owners, community development professionals, nonprofit organizations, city and state leaders, and anyone else who is interested in learning more about leadership and business opportunities in our area.

    “This conference encourages attendees to play a greater role in growing their businesses and organizations and to take advantage of the many economic opportunities available in our city and state,” said Donald Andrew, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business and coordinator of the conference. ‘It also gives attendees the tools they need to succeed and it’s a great networking opportunity.”

    Registration is $50.  For more information on speakers and to register, go to subruniversitycenter.org or call (225) 771-5640 or (225) 771- 6248.

     

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  • Caldwell tells ATF to protect popular bullets

    Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has joined a bipartisan group of state Attorneys General to encourage the federal government to permanently shelve a proposal to ban a popular type of ammunition used by shooting sports enthusiasts.

    Caldwell and 22 other Attorneys General said in a letter to the head of the ATF that a ban on the sale of M855 5.56 x 45 mm cartridges would threaten American citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

    “I am alarmed by this attempt to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of Louisianans by prohibiting the sale of ammunition widely used by target shooters.”  Caldwell said, “It is important to make sure that the plan never resurfaces. I and my colleagues across the country will keep monitoring this issue.  The ATF has indicated they will extend the deadline for comments and I encourage everyone to continue to fight the fight against this proposal by continuing your comments to the ATF opposing the ban.”

    The cartridge is used in the Modern Sporting Rifle (AR-15) and is one of the most popular types of ammunition sold. ATF would be abusing its authority by banning the sale of the ammunition, the letter stated.

    Caldwell and other attorneys general said that a ban, if followed to its logical end, could result in a prohibition of the sale of a wide range of other types of rifle ammunition.

    Caldwell and the group emphasized that while the safety of law enforcement agents is foremost in their thoughts, there is no evidence that the ammunition poses a specific threat to officers.

    Joining Caldwell in signing the letter were Attorneys General from: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

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  • After ‘Earth,’ ‘Men in Black 3,’ ‘Seven Pounds’…there’s ‘Focus’

    Film Review

    It’s been a while since Will Smith lived up to his star status in a film worth having his name above the marquee. As Nicky, a con artist’s con artist in Focus, he redeems himself somewhat in a generic but often entertaining game of who’s fooling who. Nicky Spurgeon – part con artist and part thief – was trained by his dad and granddad in the fine art of deception: Focus your victim’s attention in one direction, while you steal him blind out of his line of vision.

    One night in a New York bar, Jess (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street), a novice shyster, picks him up and brings him back to her hotel. Her enraged husband barges into the room demanding money from Nicky, or he’ll kill him. Don’t BS a BSer. Nick knows the two are on the con. He schools them. That would have been the end of a strange night, except Jess wants to learn the ropes from a master and Nicky is smitten with the svelte blonde. Nicky works Jess into his gang of thieves.

    In New Orleans, they pickpocket, swipe jewelry and steal money with a nerve and rhythm that is precision. At a football game, Nicky schemes on a wealthy man named Liyuan (BD Wong) who likes to bet on anything. He pulls an unwitting Jess into his ruse.  Once he’s done, he leaves her. Three years later in Buenos Aries, Nicky shows up for a job involving the racecar world and a coveted algorithm. He’s working for a slick dude named Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro).  He’s shocked one night when he finds a beautiful blonde cozying up to his mark. It’s Jess. The cagey film The Grifters, starring Annette Bening, Anjelica Houston and John Cusack, directed by Stephen Frears, set the bar real high for all con artist movies that followed. This nicely crafted and very slick looking production isn’t as gripping or original as the aforementioned, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun. You won’t be astonished, but you won’t be bored either.

    Writer/directors Glenn Ficara and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love) mix in enough hijinks (thieves working a New Orleans crowd), violence (a car crash, punched faces and gun play) and titillation (Smith goes bare chest, Robbie does not, their modest love sex scene lacks chemistry) to keep your interests piqued.

    The screenplay has a lot of twists and turns, and you can’t quite guess where the story is leading, though you know instinctively that a big con is coming. Jan Kovac’s (Curb Your Enthusiasm) editing is pretty nimble and well accommodates the film’s four acts, which unfold in 104 minutes. There is a happy marriage between Xavier Grobet’s (Mother and Child) glossy cinematography, Beth Mickle’s (Thanks for Sharing) production design and Kelly Curley’s art direction, which tends to favor teal blue. The musical score by Nick Urata (I Love You Phillip Morris) is reminiscent of 1980s hip nightclub music, like the hit song “Ghost Town” by The Specials. Margot Robbie, certainly tall and beautiful in a Victoria Secrets kind of way, has a tough interior. Adrian Martinez (American Hustle) as Farhad, one of Nicky’s cronies, brings humor to the gang. As Jess sits in the back seat and Nicky drives the car, Farhad blurts out, “You hitting that?” Gerald McRaney (TV’s House of Cards) plays the perfect henchman.

    Rodrigo Santoro is fine as the Argentinean playboy, but he was much more electric in 300: Rise of an Empire. Will Smith carries this film on shoulders. His cool demeanor and devil-may-care attitude are appealing. He has tremendous stage presence and he knows how to work the camera. Physically, for a 47 year-old-man, he’s in great shape and aging like Dorian Grey. What Smith’s career needs now, is a blockbuster that can put him back on top of the heap. Focus is a bit too slick, but engaging nonetheless.  It doesn’t give up.  It doesn’t stop. Or, as Nicky puts it, “Never drop the con. Die with the lie.”

    By Dwight Brown
    NNPA Film Critic
    DwightBrownInk.com

    Read more »
  • Group to receive $900,000 for North BR charter school developments

    New Schools for Baton Rouge announced earlier this week that it is investing $900,000 in HOPE Christian Schools from its $30 million Excellence Fund.

    Although no sites have been identified, NSBR officials said HOPE is preparing to launch its first school as early as Fall 2016.HOPE plans to open a total of four schools, serving 1,000 students in grades K-12 by 2022.

    NSBR’s board voted to make the investment after reviewing HOPE’s leadership, transformational school model, growth plan, and plans to engage the local community. HOPE is the first nonpublic school to receive an investment from NSBR’s Excellence Fund.

    Chris Meyer New Schools for Baton Rouge

    Chris Meyer
    New Schools for Baton Rouge

    “We are excited to welcome HOPE Christian Schools to Baton Rouge and provide the families of North Baton Rouge with another excellent school choice,” said Chris Meyer, CEO of NSBR. “HOPE schools have a track record of success. For the past three years, 100% of HOPE’s seniors were accepted into college. They are a great addition to our network of excellent schools as we work to ultimately deliver great schools, both public and nonpublic, to 12,000 students in underperforming schools in North Baton Rouge by 2017.”

    “HOPE is pleased to partner with NSBR to bring the students of North Baton Rouge our school model, which focuses on character and academic performance,” said Andrew Neumann, Ph.D., president and CEO of Educational Enterprises and HOPE Christian Schools, Inc. “Our schools are designed to put students on the path to college from day one through our model which integrates a focus on academic excellence, character development and faith formation.  We do this through providing strong leadership and passionate teachers, creating a positive and nurturing culture for learning, and using data to drive purposeful instruction.”

    Andrew Neumann, Ph.D. Hope Christian Schools

    Andrew Neumann, Ph.D. Hope Christian Schools

    HOPE Christian Schools is a network of five Christian, college-preparatory schools in Milwaukee’s central city that opened in 2002 with one school and nearly 50 students. Today, HOPE serves nearly 1,600 students in kindergarten (K4 and K5) through 12th grade with the 3 C’s - Christ. College. Character® HOPE aims to launch in areas of unmet educational needs with high at-risk populations. In their current network, 90% – 100% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Across their three K-8 schools last year, HOPE averaged over 1.5 years growth on the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress assessment and their high school students outperformed the city, state and national ACT average for African-American students.

    NSBR’s Excellence Fund is a collection of local and national resources to catalyze the transformation of schools in what NSBR calls the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone.. NSBR’s top priority is to support the expansion of proven, high-performing schools by investing exclusively in organizations that have track records of success, a transformational school model, and a commitment to the Baton Rouge community.

     

     

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  • Winter Dance Company presents “Oh Happy Day”: A Black History Tribute Production

    Winter Dance Company will team up with area dancers and singers in celebration of Black History for the  2nd Annual “Oh Happy Day’ production, Sunday, March 1, at McKinley Middle Magnet School,1550 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive.

    Performing again this year will be MOKA Dance Association, Anointed 2 Dance, D-Icon Productions, Pirouette Dance Studio, and many others.This astounding dance presentation made its grand debut last at The Dufroq School with nearly 300 people in attendance. The performances last year brought the audience to their feet as they danced to old negro spirituals including “Wade in the Water,” “Change Gon’ Come,” and “Oh Happy Day, along with a combination of monologues, skits, and other presentations in celebration of heritage and culture.

    Organizers said the production of “Oh Happy Day” was a creative way for the talents involved to pay respect to those who have paved the way, not only Blacks, but for all mankind. Special thanks to Megan Lawrence who will assist again with the program, the layout and concept of the program. “I am so very grateful for the support that the local community gave us for “Oh Happy Day last year” said Winter McCray. “And, we thank the Baton Rouge Community in advance for supporting for this year’s event.”

    Doors will open at 4pm. Production starts at 5pm. Admission is $5.

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  • LSU Summer Scholars Class of 2015 Accepting Applications

    LSU University College’s Summer Scholars program is currently accepting applications for its Class of 2015. Su>mmer Scholars is an eight-week summer program that prepares high-achieving, under-represented minority students to make a successful transition from high school to college. The program is only open to 2015 high school graduates who have applied and are eligible for enrollment at LSU. This summer experience offers students the opportunity to become adjusted to the academic, personal, and social challenges they may encounter as new freshmen at LSU.

     LSU Summer Scholars awards scholarships covering tuition, housing, meal plan and cultural and enrichment activities. The deadline to apply for Summer Scholars is March 20.For more information or to apply for LSU Summer Scholars Class of 2015, visit www.lsu.edu/ssp <http://www.lsu.edu/ssp> .

    “LSU Summer Scholars is an opportunity for incoming minority students to arrive on campus for a summer experience that not only involves enrollment in freshman level classes, but also the opportunity to integrate themselves to the campus community and build a network of fellow students who support each other and grow together in a close bond that lasts beyond their freshman year,” said R. Paul Ivey, executive director of LSU University College.

    Summer Scholars are provided with a structured environment conducive to building the fundamental skills necessary to enhance the likelihood of successful completion of a bachelor’s degree. The program includes enrollment in six credit hours of coursework; study/discussion groups with supplemental instructors and tutors; social and cultural enrichment activities; residence in on-campus housing for the entire summer term; academic, self-improvement, and leadership seminars; and academic advising, course scheduling, and career goal development.

    “Summer Scholars helps students pursue their dream of coming to LSU,” said Riad Elhhanoufi, president of Summer Scholars Class of 2014 and LSU chemical engineering major. “The program has Tiger Exploration talks where various speakers share with us specifics of their industry and resources to help us in our lives at the university. Summer Scholars provides me the opportunity to get one step ahead of the game.”

    Ivey said that former participants in the Summer Scholars Program live by the motto, “Once a Scholar, Always a Scholar,” so the networking opportunities extend far beyond the boundaries of campus.

    “Scholars receive an experience that helps prepare them for their upcoming college careers,” said Natalie Derouen, a 2009 Summer Scholar participant and LSU biology major. “They build friendships that will last a lifetime, and they become part of a family that has been established for more than 20 excellent years.”

    Since 1933, LSU University College has served as the portal of entry for students enrolled at LSU. Academic and personal success is the hallmark of a well-rounded student and University College provides a foundation of support services for students beginning their academic careers at LSU. University College has two enrollment divisions: The Center for Freshman Year and The Center for Advising and Counseling. In addition, a variety of retention-specific programs, targeting particular student populations, play a significant role in accomplishing our mission. These programs include Student Support Services, Ronald E. McNair Research Scholars and Summer Scholars. For more information on LSU University College or Summer Scholars, visit www.uc.lsu.edu <http://www.uc.lsu.edu>  or follow the conversation at www.facebook.com/LSU.UniversityCollege <http://www.facebook.com/LSU.UniversityCollege>

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  • Poet Laureate nominations sought

    NEW ORLEANS –The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), authorized by the Governor and State of Louisiana, is seeking nominations for Louisiana’s next Poet Laureate. The LEH has appointed a selection committee, as required by state legislation. The selection committee is now soliciting nominations of poets either born or domiciled in Louisiana at the time of nomination. The selection committee will submit three fi nalists to the governor, from whom he shall choose a nominee, subject to state senate confirmation. Nominees shall have published works in books, anthologies, literary journals or magazines. The selection committee will seek input from the general public, and the literary community, and shall select nominees who refl ect the diverse cultures and heritage of Louisiana. A poet may not self-nominate.

    Committee members may not be nominated. The selection committee will deliberate in March 2015 and make its recommendations to the governor. A final announcement will be made in May 2015.

    The poet laureate shall serve a two-year term and deliver an annual public reading in the state as designated by the LEH. Poet laureates may not serve two consecutive terms. Letters of nomination should be specific as to the above criteria. The deadline for nominations is Feb.27.

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  • Food for Fines at Local Libraries All December

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Library is hosting a program throughout the month of December as a special holiday gift for our patrons, as well as for those in need. Patrons can donate a non-perishable food item at any of the 14 library branch locations throughout December, and the Library will waive $1 of the total late check-out fine per donated item. All items will benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Food can include canned vegetables, soups and meat; flour; rice; peanut butter; pasta; corn meal; breakfast cereal and bars; or any canned, bagged or boxed non-perishable food item.

    ONLINE:

    www.ebrpl.com.

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  • Scotlandville Assembly seeks action on dangerous rail crossing, food access and emergency prep

    Spend a few minutes at the intersection of Scenic Highway and Scotland Avenue, and you are likely to see car after car stopping at a red light while parked directly over the rail tracks that cross the intersection. When the train comes, you’ll see drivers having to decide whether to run a red light or get hit by a train. And you’ll see drivers approaching the intersection with traffic lights that are green for their direction, while a train barrels toward the intersection in front of them.

    “Right now, this crossing is a recipe for disaster,” said the Rev. Clifton Conrad, pastor of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church. “With all the chemical and refining plants in our area, these trains aren’t just carrying daisies. We’re looking for action from our officials to make our community safer.”

    Winning safety improvements at the intersection is one of the goals of the TBR Scotlandville Assembly on Thursday evening, including better street markings, signal pre-emption so that the train and traffic lights are coordinated and the installation of traffic gates, which the crossing currently does not have.

    In addition to rail safety, TBR leaders will seek commitments from emergency preparedness officials and major industries in the area to work with them to develop a neighborhood-level emergency readiness plan and seek support for strategies to attract grocery stores to Scotlandville.

    The meeting is part of a Together Baton Rouge strategy to focus increasingly on local, neighborhood organizing, in addition to large-scale issues affecting the city-parish and the state.

    The meeting is being organized by TBR member institutions in the Scotlandville neighborhood, including Allen Chapel AME Church, Community Against Drugs and Violence, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, Community Bible Baptist Church, Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Scotlandville CDC and Southern University.

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  • ,

    Political strategist, Donna Brazile, donates papers to LSU

    Though she has made her name and home in Washington D.C. for the past three decades, distinguished LSU alumna, veteran political strategist and commentator, author and Democratic Party official Donna Brazile makes no secret of her pride in being a native of Louisiana and an LSU graduate.

    Now an important piece of Brazile’s personal history has returned to her home state with the recent donation of her papers to the LSU Libraries Special Collections.

    Donna Brazile

    Photographs, correspondence and speeches, as well as other writings, memoranda, reports and analyses, campaign management and research files, and memorabilia comprise the collection.

    Together, the 32 boxes of materials document Brazile’s involvement in Democratic politics and the Democratic National Committee; her interest in and efforts to mobilize Black voters, elect women to office and advocate for voting rights; her public speaking and teaching; her work with the Louisiana Recovery Authority; and her participation in every presidential campaign between 1976 and 2000, including as manager of the Gore-Lieberman bid for the White House.

    Brazile, who was the first Black American to lead a major presidential campaign, said, “LSU was an indispensable part of my education, as a person and as a political operative.”

    “From taking classes with life-changing professors to writing opinion pieces in the Daily Reveille to weekly Friday discussions on campus about the social justice issues of the day, LSU engrained in me a lifelong love of learning and shaped me as a political organizer. Because LSU gave me so much, I am humbled to give LSU Libraries Special Collections my papers and grateful to share my life’s work to encourage and inspire the next generation of political activists to take their seats at the table.”

    A native of Kenner, La., Brazile graduated from LSU in 1981, and the university awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005. In the early years of her career, she was involved in grassroots efforts to establish a holiday celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and she organized the 20th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. She then worked as chief of staff and press secretary to Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressional Delegate for the District of Columbia. She went on to be an advisor to the Clinton-Gore presidential campaigns and, as noted above, to manage Al Gore’s 2000 presidential bid. A significant figure in Democratic politics, Brazile currently serves as vice chair of voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee, and formerly served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and chaired its Voting Rights Institute.

    She is an adjunct professor in the Women’s Studies Program at Georgetown University who has also taught at the University of Maryland and has been a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

    Brazile is also a nationally syndicated columnist, a political commentator for CNN and ABC News and a contributing writer to Ms. Magazine and O, The Oprah Magazine. In 2004 she published Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics (Simon and Schuster), a memoir of her life and her 30 years in politics.

    In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco tapped Brazile to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board. Brazile is also the founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates, a political consulting and grassroots-advocacy firm based in Washington, D.C. “On behalf of the LSU family, we enthusiastically accept Donna’s papers with the utmost gratitude in doing so,” said LSU Executive Vice President and Provost Stuart Bell, “A pioneer for many, future generations will cherish the rich history that abounds in these treasured documents; those that detail her journey and someone with Louisiana beginnings who has achieved such great impact. We are extremely proud of Donna Brazile, her many contributions to society and are humbled that she is sending her papers home to her LSU alma mater.”

    “Donna Brazile’s longtime involvement in presidential politics and policy making, her status as a trailblazer for women and African Americans, her close and ongoing identification with Louisiana and LSU and the profile she has built in the public arena through her writings, television commentary and service to the DNC all combine to make her papers a welcome and important addition to our political collections,” said LSU Libraries Curator of Manuscripts Tara Laver.

    Brazile’s papers are part of the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections in the LSU Libraries Special Collections, located in Hill Memorial Library.

    Follow Brazile on Twitter @donnabrazile

    Read more »
  • ,

    Candidates bow out alderman race

    OPELOUSAS– The race for District D Alderman in the city of Opelousas is down from four candidates to two. Derri Levier and Alfred Dupree Jr. are no longer running for office after their opponent Sherell Roberts filed suits against the two. She said neither candidate lives within the district. According to court documents, Roberts alleged that Levier actually lives in Palmetto, and only changed her voter registration to a home in District D to qualify. In another lawsuit, Roberts claimed that Dupree lived in the Opelousas subdivision of Broadmoor, outside of District D and only recently changed his registration to a District D address. Roberts also filed suit against her final competitor, Rachel Babineaux, who is staying in the race after a judge ruled that she is eligible. Election day is November 4th. Current District D alderman Reggie Tatum is not running for re-election and instead is running for mayor of Opelousas.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Technology firm to bring 200 jobs

    LAFAYETTE– Perficient, a St. Louis-based information technology and management consulting firm, will open a center in Lafayette that hopes to create 245 full-time jobs within six years and spawn 248 indirect jobs, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Perficient President and CEO Jeff Davis announced Sept. 4. The company will open in November and begin hiring. Operations will begin in late 2014 and the company hopes to reach 50 employees by the end of 2015, Davis said. The direct jobs will average $60,000 a year in pay, plus benefits. The company is expected to provide jobs for computer science graduates from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College, which initiated a two-year software application program this semester.

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  • ,

    Housing listening tour comes to Baton Rouge

    Louisiana Housing Alliance (LHA) will host the Annual Listening Tour in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on August 29, 2014. The Listening Tour is a week-long road trip during which LHA visits each of Louisiana’s 9 regions to listen to the concerns and successes of housing providers, advocates, working, families, local officials and policy makers.

    The information obtained enables LHA to set its legislative and advocacy agenda for the following year, and work collectively with local regions to promote housing opportunity and strong communities for all. LHA also uses these conversations to learn about technical assistance and capacity-building needs of housing providers and advocates, so that it can design a series of workshops programs to address the needs identified.

    The Baton Rouge Listening Tour meeting will be held at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, 402 N. Fourth Street, 9:30am–11:30am. To register, visit www.lahousingalliance.org or call 225-381-0041.

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  • EBR home to 500 high-powered rifles, more

    ICYMI: Kiran Chawla WAFB reports several military tools, like high-powered rifles and Humvees, are showing up in cities across the country and many are ending up in police departments, including the Baton Rouge area, without the public’s knowledge.

    Chawla reported, “The New York Times published a study showing the districts where some surplus military-style equipment is going and East Baton Rouge Parish tops the list in Louisiana for assault rifles received. The law enforcement agencies in the parish have received 558 assault rifles through the program.”

    Read the entire story at WAFB.com

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  • LLBC secures $5.4 million for education

    The LOUISIANA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS successfully secured $5.4 million for all Councils on Aging and school districts across the state of Louisiana. The money was placed in the Conference Committee Report of HB 1094, a supplemental appropriation bill, and has been allocated: $42,187.50 to each of the 64 Parish Councils on Aging and $35,065.00 to each of the 79 School Districts for Technology Improvements.

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  • Battle to incorporate City of St. George continues

    WHEN THE BATON ROUGE Metro Council voted 9-3 to approve the annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and two major hospitals into Baton Rouge earlier this month, some people said it was a big blow to the effort to incorporate the proposed City of St. George.

    It is an effort that supporters said would improve education and create an independent school district. Opponents said it would pose an economic threat to the parish and some even have called it white flight.

    By definition, white flight, a term first used in 1967, is the departure of whites from places (urban neighborhoods or schools) increasingly or predominantly populated by minorities.

    Nestled in East Baton Rouge Parish, the proposed city is more than 84 square miles and has a population of more than 107,000 people. If supporters have their way, it will become the fifth largest incorporated city in the state.

    “This started about and continues to be about public education,” said Lionel Rainey III, spokesperson for the incorporation effort.

    Rainey said that six out of 10 schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System are failing. He called the school system one of the worst in the state and coun- try. He cited hundreds of students arrested within a school year.

    “It’s just a failed school system,” said Rainey, who added that the system is being investigated for a major grade changing scandal.

    He stressed that the incorporation effort is not white flight and not about race at all.

    “It’s got nothing to do with skin color. Those who have the ability to leave are leaving – it’s middle class flight,” Rainey said. “The first thing I say is who are we breaking away from? This area is not a part of Baton Rouge. That’s rheto- ric used by someone who doesn’t know what’s hap- pening.”

    Residents Against the Breakaway, or Better Together, created by East Baton Rouge Parish residents against the incorporation, said online that the best way to solve the problem is by working together, not separating.

    lionel_rainey_876894969

    Lionel Rainey III, spokesperson for the incorporation effort.

    This group said in a media release that 7,000 students would be displaced by the incorporation by be- ing forcibly displaced from their schools and that the new school district would create a major school capacity crisis for southeast residents.

    But Rainey said it’s just not true. He said students could go to the schools that will be built in the city of St. George, a school system that will be designed by the person who designed the gifted and talented program for East Baton Rouge Parish schools.

    “I don’t think that tens of thousands of students should suffer so you can have a great magnet school,” he said.

    District 7 Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle has been vocal about her opposition of the incorporation of St. George, citing it would hurt the city of Baton Rouge financially.

    “This is just a bad deal for Baton Rouge,” she said.

    Marcelle, whose mother lives in the St. George area, said the city has invested $300 million of infrastruc- ture out in that area. She added that it would be un- fair to receive and benefit from the improvements and then decide to break away.

    “When my mom moved out there, none of that was there,” she added as she talked about how the city has widened and improved streets in that area to enhance the city as a whole.

    Marcelle said that the fire and police department would suffer greatly along with the city from this incorporation. She also said that it would add more leaders, something that the parish does not need.

    “Duplication of government doesn’t make us stronger,” she continued.

    Marcelle said the council voting in favor of annexing the Mall of Louisiana, Our Lady of the Lake Hos- pital and Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Bluebonnet Campus opens the doors for other businesses to come in as well.

    C Denise Marcelle

    District 7 Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle

    She said she expects LSU to come in automatically because part of their campus would be in St. George and the other in Baton Rouge with the new city’s borders. She also expects businesses such as L’Auberge Casino and Perkins Rowe to want to be annexed into Baton Rouge because of not wanting to go with the unknown. She said that if the city is incor- porated it could levy a tax as a new city to help build schools, city hall and pay the salaries of a mayor and council members.

    “I think they [St. George incorporation organizers] acted prematurely because they didn’t talk to these businesses. You should have them on board beforehand,” she said. “Perhaps they would have had a better outcome.”

    An LSU analysis of the economic impact of the in- corporation, jointly com- missioned by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foun- dation, was published in December. It revealed that the incorporation would lead to significant reductions in public services, particularly police protection.

    The analysis, which was conducted pre Mall of Loui- siana annexation, stated that this effort would take $85 million, or 30 percent, from the East Baton Rouge Parish General Fund, which is mainly supported by sales taxes. Even with the mall out of the equation, there are still major sales tax gen- erators that contribute to this number.

    The study also showed that the incorporation would threaten economic development and job creation ef- forts due to fractured and duplicative regulatory and permitting processes and the interjection of sales tax competition between two cities currently considered one community.

    The study revealed that this effort would jeopardize retirement and post-employment benefit costs, unless the new city shares in legacy costs, which is an obligation of all taxpayers in East Baton Rouge Parish.

    Another issue highlighted is that the new city would cut funding for the EBRPSS even more than the break away district proposed in 2012 and 2013, mainly be- cause the proposed city has a larger geographic area with major destination retailers that produce sales taxes from people all over the parish.

    Supporters of this effort are still working to gather enough signatures to put the incorporation on the ballot for the Nov. election.

    Under the Lawrason Act, a petition must be cir- culated and signed by 25 percent of all registered voters located within the proposed new city before it can be submitted to the Registrar of Voters for cer- tification and ultimately the Governor, who will place the issue to be voted upon by proposed residents.

    Rainey would not release the number of petition signatures obtained but did say that they are well on their way of having the number needed to place this issue up for vote. He said he’s confident the sig- natures would be obtained by the deadline.

    Better Together has launched a signature removal campaign in addition to a petition of its own opposing the St. George incorporation.

    Marcelle, who started an effort years ago to annex several of the surrounding areas, said she looks forward to annexing other incorporated areas of Baton Rouge in the near future.

    “It should be what can we do better to make the city better, not what divisive can we do,” Marcelle said.

    By ANASTASIA SEMIEN

    Contributing Reporter 

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  • Luter, Johnson join Ponchatoula church in celebrating dedication

    PONCHATOULA— For more than eight years, the members of First True Love World Outreach Ministries believed they were building their sanctuary.

    Pastor Carl Coleman said, “It’s been a long, but a steady journey since construction began in June of 2005, and now the church congregation is enjoying the fruits of their hard labor.”

    In 2005, Coleman, began seeking financing for the construction, but was set back when a banker told him they will be charged a $20,000 fee to begin their loan. That when we decided we would build it in phases and pay for it as we went, he said. We built the church without incurring any debt.”

    First, builders poured the slab then started with beams for the building. Over time, a roof and walls were added and then the interior was filled with 2,200 sheets of sheetrock.

    “We brought the congregation on tours of the church five or six times during construction,” Coleman said. “It showed people what we were doing

    and kept them motivated. We had our first service in the new church Easter Sunday.”

    Now finished, the 30,000 square-foot church has a large sanctuary, several Sunday School classrooms, office space, seven bath room and many other features.

    church outside

    On May 28, the church hosted three nights of special services.

    Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist church in New Orleans, was the guest speaker.

    Guest speakers were Pastor Samuel Brown of Mt. Vernon and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church of Hammond, while Bishop Raymond Johnson of Living Faith Center of Baton Rouge.

    While talking about the new church Coleman was proud, with a smile on his face, but humble in his soft-spoken mannerisms and giving all the credit to God. He attributed the growth of the congregation and building of the new church to God and good

    services, which led to the church spreading by word of mouth.

    Co1eman said the church’s capacity, as listed by the State Fire Marshal, is 1,184. The church has an average attendance of between 500 and 600 during Sunday services, but Coleman is planning for future growth.

    The old church was not large enough to hold that many people in one service, so there were two Sunday services.

    “The new church has more than enough room for the current congregation and room to grow,” he said. Sunday service at First Tine Love World Outreach Ministries begins with 8:30am Sunday School.. The church is located at 41239 South Range Road in Ponchatoula.

    By Eddie Ponds

    The Drum Publisher

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  • Future of children’s insurance questioned

    BY NAYITA WILSON

    THE 2015 EXPIRATION OF THe Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has advocates asking Congres- sional leaders to commit to funding the program be- yond the expiration date.

    CHIP, which provides coverage to about eight million U.S. children, is a federal state program that provides coverage for chil- dren who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but whose par- ents cannot afford private coverage.

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 retains CHIP’s eligibility stan- dards through 2019 and funds the program through October 2015. ACA also provides $40 million in federal funds to promote Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.

    More than 400 advocacy groups in support of the program sent a letter to President Barack Obama as well as minority and majority leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives asking them to secure CHIP’s future this year so that states can operate their programs without interruption.

    The challenge, accord- ing to Bruce Lesley, presi- dent of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy group on federal policy and budget issues relating to issues af- fecting children which co- ordinated the letter, is that children currently enrolled in CHIP may find them- selves uninsured if the pro- gram expires and parents can’t afford to go into the private markets.

    Additionally, children who are forced to go into the exchange market brought about by ACA may find themselves in receipt of inferior benefits, he said.

    Here, the Louisiana Children’s Health Insur- ance Program (LaCHIP) provides coverage to children up to the age of 19 who meet citizenship and income criteria that deem them eligible to receive health care, mental health, immunizations and other 5 medical services. Approximately 121,095 children were enrolled in LaCHIP in June of last year according to its 2013 an- nual report.

    One Louisiana orga- nization, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, Inc. (Mary Queen), signed the letter in support of seeing CHIP remain in place.

    Tap Bui, deputy direc- tor for Mary Queen, said, “As a nonprofit organiza- tion providing services to the underserved communi- ties of New Orleans East, we hope that our represen- tatives take into consider- ation the needs of the com- munity and support the CHIP program.”

    The Louisiana Weekly reached out to the entire Louisiana Congressional delegation for comments and their stances on the CHIP reauthorization.

    Congressman Cedric Richmond shared the fol- lowing statement: “The Children’s Health Insur- ance Program is crucial to

    so many low-income fami- lies who may be just above the Medicaid threshold, but cannot afford private insurance. I believe that it is important to continue to invest in our youth whether it is health care, food assis- tance, education, and so many more valuable pro- grams that if not properly funded would not only be morally reprehensible, but end up costing even more money in the future. I will continue to fight for criti- cal programs such as CHIP and many others that in- vest in our youth.”

    U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter as well as U.S. Representa- tives Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Vance McAllister and Bill Cassidy had not responded by print deadline.

    A representative from within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s press office con- firmed that CHIP is set to expire in October 2015, but could not yet provide an answer with regard to what would become of the chil-dren enrolled in the program should CHIP expire in 2015.

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  • ,,

    EBR School Board seeks District 11 resident to replace Lamana

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board announces a vacancy on the school board due to the death of School Board Member Randy Lamana on April 16, 2014.  At a special meeting to be held on Thursday, May 1, 2014, the Board will appoint a qualified resident of School Board District 11, in the Parish of East Baton Rouge to serve until the duly elected member takes office January of 2015.   

    Qualified residents of District 11 interested in serving should submit a letter of intent along

    image

    with a resume and/or short
    biographical sketch.  Each applicant must also submit a Certificate of Residency/Qualifications from the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters.  The Certificates of Residency/Qualifications can be obtained free of charge.  Please submit the requested documentation to the attention of:

    Mr. David Tatman, President
    East Baton Rouge Parish School Board
    1050 South Foster Drive
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

    The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM.   

    QUALIFICATIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

    Persons eligible to serve as members of the School Board shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    1. A Board member shall have attained the age of eighteen (18).
    2. A Board member shall be domiciled in the election district for the preceding year, except after reapportionment.
    3. A Board Member shall have resided in the state for the preceding two (2) years.
    4. A Board Member shall be able to read and write.
    5. A Board Member shall not be serving on certain other boards specified in the Constitution of Louisiana.
    6. A Board Member shall have affirmed to the prescribed oath.

    All applicants must also disclose if a member of their immediate family is an employee of the school system.  “Immediate family” as the term relates to a public servant means his children, the spouses of his children, his brothers and their spouses, his sisters and their spouses, his parents, his spouse, and the parents of his spouse.

    For more information, please visit the school system’s web site at www.ebrpss.k12.la.us or contact us by phone at 225-922-5567. 

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  • Students remember integrating BR High School

    IT BEGAN ON SEPT. 3, 1963, the first day of school in Baton Rouge. The tem- perature was 75 degrees, but the social climate was much hotter. This was the day that 13 Black students desegregated Baton Rouge High School.

    Cabs provided by the American Friends Service Committee drove up Gov- ernment Street, with the Black students four to a car. Police officers, report- ers, spectators and heck- lers lined the breezeway of BRHS and stood either silent or snickering as the

    11 girls and two boys made their way to the entrance. None of the students nei- ther –white nor Black – knew what to expect on the other side.

    “I knew a lot of kids whose parents wanted them to just wait a few days to go back to school,” said Milou Barry, who attended BRHS when the 13 Black students arrived. “There was a plan being discussed that a group of Key Club members and cheerleaders should greet those taxis and escort those terrified Black students up the long walk to the front doors of that huge school. The rest

    of us were supposed to ap- plaud them.”

    But that didn’t hap- pen. The Black students entered the school quietly, seemingly invisible to the white students – until they were heckled or physically attacked.

    The Black students, who had been recom- mended by their teach- ers, came from McKinley High School and South- ern University Laboratory School. Once they passed an entrance exam, the stu- dents began regular meet- ings with the NAACP and church leaders for training in non-violence and survival strategies. The same measures were not taken on the other side.

    “As far as I know there were no workshops or instructions to the white students who were at the school about what we should expect or, more importantly, what was expected of us in order to fa- cilitate the integration of BRHS,” said Robb Forman Dew, one of the white students at BRHS in 1963. “Had the grownups in our lives wanted the experience to go well they could have done a great deal to make it happen. Many of our teachers were truly racist, and cer- tainly didn’t want the experience to go well, I imagine. Of course, some were wonderful people who were horrified by racism. But no one thought to put in place a code of conduct, or even to try to ame- liorate problems before they came up.”

    This was 10 years after the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Educa- tion, declaring “separate but equal” schools unconstitutional. Before that, desegregation of schools had been happening across the nation since 1940 – in small instances, with the admission of one student here and there, mostly at colleges and universities. In 1960, deseg- regation began in Louisiana with New Orleans public schools. Three years later, in the heat of the Civil Rights movement, Baton Rouge began to integrate Lee High, Glen Oaks High, Istrouma High and Ba- ton Rouge High.

    One of the 13 Black students, who is now in her 60s and asked to remain anonymous, recalled a mo- ment when her frustrations over- came her preparation and training one afternoon at lunch. An incident involving her and a white student took a violent turn. After having a

    lunch plate of food dumped on top of her head by the white classmate, she sent multiple plates crashing atop of the tow-headed boy, leav- ing him red with blood.

    “It was senior day and the theme was cowboy day and none of the [Black] classmates wanted to dress up, but I dressed like a cow- girl,” she said. “That boy dumped his food all over my head; mashed potatoes and gravy and greens. That prompted me to find every plate I could find, breaking them over his head. It was something I wouldn’t normally do, because we were coached and very well trained on nonviolence. I don’t know why he did that, but I think that he was frustrated that his sister and I befriended one another in choir. They [BRHS] suspended me for one day, but it was worth it. That day I earned the name Cassius Clay; it’s what everyone wrote in my yearbook.” (Cassius Clay, who later changed his named to Mu- hammad Ali, won the 1960 Olym- pics gold medal for boxing.)

    And, while that incident may have been an extreme response, softer, quieter events agitated situations like that daily. Most white youths refused to partner with Blacks during class projects, leaving a few brave students and teachers to play those roles. And, then there were some students like Mimi Riche who said she regrets not befriending her Black class- mates.

    “Unfortunately for me, I was not classy enough to step across the line and engage with my new class- mates other than to quietly speak in passing,” Riche said. “Today, I would imagine we might be good friends. The past 50 years have brought us a long way, in many ways, not nearly far enough”

    The class of 1964’s story was all over the nation on television, on the radio and in various news- papers and magazines. The largest media response was in 1963 when NBC evening news aired a report by anchor David Brinkley about the desegregation of Baton Rouge high schools. He noted that the capital city had waited nearly 10 years after Brown vs. Board of Education to begin opening their high schools up to all races. And, the Black students who were described as brave, strong and determined were not getting the same positive messages from their classmates, school system administration, or the city at large.

    Here on the home front, the Black students were told daily that they would never graduate. Many of them said they believed it until May 1964, when they were lined up in an LSU auditorium for com- mencement – some graduating to no applause, but
    with scholarships and high honors. The daily nightmare was nearly over, but the memories remained deep wounds that are still healing.

    “That year at BRHS ran the gamut of human emotions: excitement, wonder, anxiety, fear and closeness to my fel- low [Black] travelers and many other feel- ings,” said Charles R. Burchel, one of the 13 Black students. “I’m glad I did it. For me and others not to have done it would have helped to solid- ify racist stereotypes that were so prevalent.”

    With the 50-year reunion ap- proaching in May, some of the white students have befriended Black students throughout the planning for the event that began in 2011. Several former students said the feeling of a two-year friendship versus what could have been a 50- year relationship weighs heavily on what were once the terrified hearts of teenagers.

    Former student Walter Eldredge and other white students said they now regret not forming relationships with the new stu- dents that year, blaming ignorance as the culprit.

    “My overwhelming memory of that year is that I knew the ostra- cism of those kids was wrong, yet I allowed myself to be diverted into my own little teen-world events and I let others establish the status quo, rather than make myself a target by reaching out,” he said.

    BY Leslie Rose

    Assistant Managing Editor 

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  • DOTD highlights April as Highway Safety Awareness Month

    Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E., announced April 2, at  the state’s month-long campaign to promote safe driving practices, especially emphasizing the need to use extreme caution while driving through work zones.

    “Safety while driving is the responsibility of all motorists,” said DOTD Secretary LeBas. “I urge everyone to practice safe driving and remain cautious and focused behind the wheel, especially when driving through work zones.”

    “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake.” In line with this year’s theme, DOTD will join forces with its federal, state and local safety partners to promote highway safety with a number of events and activities, including two Facebook campaigns.

    Since 1989, in work zones, there have been 314 motor-vehicle fatalities in Louisiana, and most recently, in 2012, 12 deaths and 661 injuries. The data gathered is the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

    “Reducing congestion and crashes in work zones is a priority for the Federal Highway Administration here in Louisiana as well as across the country,” stated Wes Bolinger, Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Division.

    Also, through the Destination Zero Deaths initiative, Louisiana has made tremendous progress in improving safety on its roadways by decreasing the number of motor-vehicle fatalities from 993 in 2007 to 722 in 2012. However, the department believes one fatality is too many.

    Nationally recognized, Louisiana proclaimed April 7-11 as Work Zone Awareness Week and a 609-safety cone memorial was  be displayed on the front lawn of the DOTD Headquarters Building in Baton Rouge, to recognize those who lost their lives in work zones nationwide. Similar cone memorials will be erected in other areas around the state.

    “The Louisiana State Police has a long standing partnership with the Department of Transportation and Development, and troopers will continue to work diligently to promote work zone safety in Louisiana. Troopers remain committed to aggressive enforcement and delivering a proactive safety education message. Through these efforts, we hope to increase public awareness and directly improve work zone safety not only for the motoring public, but for the workers as well,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.

    “Safety in work zones won’t happen by itself,” said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “We are all in this together. Everyone is responsible for work zone safety, from engineers and planners to drivers and pedestrians.”

    Also, DOTD has also launched its statewide “Vested Interest in Safety” Facebook campaign to display photos of companies, employees, community members and local leaders wearing orange safety vests. The public is encouraged to participate by submitting “vested” photos to DOTD’s Public Affairs Office, dotdpi@la.gov. Photos will be proudly displayed on the department’s Facebook page.

    Lastly, DOTD will join forces with its Destination Zero Deaths partners, For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email dotdcs@la.gov, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).

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  • New Orleans aims to be most literate city by 2018

    Grammy award winning bandleader and New Orleans native Irvin Mayfield is working with city leaders to make New Orleans the most literate city by 2018.

    Last year New Orleans was ranked the 25th most literate city among 75 U.S. cities according to a study conducted by Central Connecticut State University.

    Actor Wendell Pierce, best known for his work on  “The Wire” and “Treme”, kicked off the program in January by trying to break the Guinness world record for the largest read aloud event where he read “The Bourbon Street Band is Back” to an estimated 500 children.

    Turn the Page is a campaign to make New Orleans the most literate city in America by 2018. The campaign will focus on raising awareness of issues, available resources and programming related to literacy.

    The Turn the Page program will connect 11 library systems including

    The New Orleans Public Library and 10 other regional parish libraries, including Tangipahoa, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. Tammany, St. John the Baptist, Terrebonne, Jefferson, Ascension, Livingston and St. Bernard.

    The campaign will operate by raising awareness of issues, available resources and programming related to early childhood, school success, digital literacy and adult literacy available at the libraries

    Mayfield, co-chairman of   Turn the Page and Chairman of the Board of the New Orleans Public Library Foundation, said As a young musician,it was the public library that allowed him access to his passion, music, through their collection of records and cassettes

    Turn the Page  blitzed the city with 30 literacy-encouraging events in 30 days, such as the “Super Bowl of Reading,” through which people vote for their favorite author to be featured at area libraries, individual computer classes to help people get online, and a pajama story time for kids.

     

    Mayfield said that a future with higher literacy rates could mean a better quality of life for all, as everyone would be able to make informed decisions and lead more productive lives, bettering society for workforce development.

     

    The group plans to schedule more  “30 in 30” events with similar events throughout year .

     

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  • Police seek community help finding missing teens,16, and infant

     

    Tangipahoa  Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards  is asking for your assistance in locating three runaway teens.

    Briannica Foster, 16, and her infant son Jordan Foster, 9 months were last seen on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Briannica Foster ran away from her Tangipahoa home and took Jordon with her. Kiana Robertson, 16, of Independence, and Aquaila Singleton, 16, of Independence, have both been missing since December 2013. Robertson and Singleton are believed to be together in the Baton Rouge area. Singleton is also known as Bird and Aquaila Mosley. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of these teens or the infant is asked to please contact sheriff’s office at (985) 902-2014 .missing teen mom and son

     

     

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  • Remembering the life, legacy of Amiri Baraka

    Prolific poet, playwright, essayist, and critic Amiri Baraka, one of the literary giants of the 20th century was called home.

    As we offer condolences to his wife, children and family, we remember the 79 year-old Baraka not only for his bold, inventive and iconoclastic literary voice, but also as a courageous social justice activist.  His ideas and work had a powerful impact on both the Black Arts and Civil Rights movements beginning in the 1960s.

    Baraka was best known for his eclectic writings on race and class.  He extended many of the themes and ideals of the 1960s Black Power movement into the realm of art, which he saw as a potent weapon of change; and like many good revolutionary artists, he sometimes went out of his way to offend the status quo.  He has been variously described as a beatnik, a Black nationalist and a Marxist.  But he was first and foremost a writer and social commentator of uncommon skill and insight.

    His 1963 masterpiece, “Blues People,” which explored the historical roots and sociological significance of the blues and jazz, has become a classic that is still taught in college classrooms today.  Almost every Black and progressive writer and thinker of the 20th century shared a kinship, friendship or feud with Baraka.  But, undergirding everything he wrote and stood for was his desire to lift up the downtrodden and disenfranchised, especially in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.

    As a testament to his broad influence, more than 3,000 people attended his funeral last Saturday at Newark Symphony Hall.  The actor Danny Glover officiated and noted Baraka’s influence on his career.  Cornel West called Baraka “a literary genius.” Sonia Sanchez read a poem for him written by Maya Angelou. Speaking at the wake the night before, Jesse Jackson honored Baraka as “a creative activist and change agent who never stopped fighting or working for the formula to create social justice.”

    Born Everett LeRoi Jones, the writer changed his name to Amiri Baraka in 1968 to refl ect his embrace of Islam and the philosophy of Malcolm X.  He attended Rutgers, Howard and Co- lumbia, served in the Air Force and began his literary career in the 1950s in the Beat poet scene of New York’s Greenwich Village.  His one-act play, “Dutchman,” won the Obie Award as the best off-Broadway production of 1964.  In 1965, he co-founded the Black Arts Movement in Harlem, infusing the Black Power movement with powerful artistic voices.  His numerous awards and honors include his selection as the Poet Laureate of New Jersey in 2002 and his 1995 induction into the exclusive American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Controversy was a mainstay of Amiri Baraka’s career.  Ishmael Reed, another provocative poet and contemporary of Baraka recently noted, “

    Amiri Baraka was controversial because his was a perspective that was considered out of fashion during this post race ghost dance, the attitude that says that because we have a Black president, racism is no longer an issue, when the acrimonious near psychotic reaction to [Barack Obama’s] election only shows the depth of it.”   Amiri Baraka always challenged us to face such uncom- fortable truths – and we are better because of it.

    Amiri Baraka passed away on Tuesday, January 9th.

     

     

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  • ,

    Public to gather against St. George incorporation, Feb. 4

    image

    Several hundred people are expected to attend the first public assembly of the Better Together Campaign, a citizen-led movement to oppose the St. George incorporation.

    The assembly will take place Feb. 4, 6:30pm, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 12424 Brogdon Lane.

    The event will include the debut of a new public information presentation about the effects the St. George incorporation would have on our economy, taxes, public services and our schools.

    The event will launch a grassroots strategy of action to oppose the breakaway effort.

    “The silent majority on this issue has been silent for too long,” said Kathleen Randall, a resident of the proposed breakaway area and a leader in the effort. “It is time for us do the work we need to do to hold this city-parish together.”

    The Better Together campaign started organizing just a few weeks ago, under the leadership of Residents Against the Breakaway, a newly incorporated non-profit organization.

    Already, the campaign has a Facebook page with 3,000 followers, a website with information about the effects of the breakaway and hundreds of  grassroots leaders who are dedicated to holding our city-parish together. 

    ONLINE: www.bettertogetherbr.org.

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  • Postal Services raised cost of first class stamp

    UNITED STATES POSTAL Service approved a temporary price hike of three cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the cost to 49 cents a letter.

    The increase comes as an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail de- creases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.

    The last increase for stamps was a year ago, when the cost of sending a letter rose by a penny to 46 cents.

    The Postal Service lost $5 billion last year and has been trying to get Congress to let it end Saturday delivery and reduce payments on retiree health benefits.

     
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