Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Episcopal Church and social justice or why I believe Bishop Sisk is wrong when it comes to OWS and Trinity Church

I was saddened and frankly surprised to read Bishop Sisk's letter yesterday on Facebook. The letter disappeared and reappeared shortly thereafter, along with the accompanying comments. It would appear that Bishop Sisk is bowing to public opinion and caving in and is no longer allowing OWS supporters to utilize their facilities at Trinity Church for toileting, sleeping, hanging out, strategizing and other activities.

One of the reasons I left my former faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is that I felt called and even compelled to do more work along the lines of social and economic justice such as I had done whilst engaged with MESJ or Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. I thought I had found that fit in the Episcopal Church of my birth. Now I am beginning to wonder.

Yes, this might be an isolated incident of one Bishop's lack of foresightedness, but it could also be a scary pattern of caving to the masses.

While Bishop Sisk is certainly a good and honorable man, the Episcopal Church has a calling from God to take particular care of the downtrodden and disenfranchised, in much the same way that the Savior did during his sojourn on the earth. When the moneychangers turned the Temple into a den of thieves and were doing business in the Savior's house, he used righteous indignation to overturn the tables with the merchandise and reprimanded the money changers for debasing his Father's house. We could all learn a valuable lesson from that exchange.

As a Church, I believe we have failed OWS protestors by cutting them off and not allowing them to have a place to crash as it were. They do not have money for expensive hotel rooms and some of the protestors come from as far away as Delaware, many of them are students and low-income workers. They need a soft place to land and continue this important work - while they may be the one percent, they have created a movement unlike any other we have seen in recent years.

Shame on the Episcopal Church of New York - Bishop Sisk, please revisit your decision.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another senseless shooting at Virginia Tech

It seemed like deja vu, surreal.....yet another shooting at Virginia Tech took place yesterday.

While details are still unfolding at this time, we do know that a police officer was gunned down and the first victim of the shooter's wrath and there was another man shot whose identity is yet unknown. What saddens me is that this police officer is a U.S. Army veteran - this makes the shooting even more poignant - he leaves behind a wife and 5 children and stepchildren.

The entire campus was on lockdown for several hours during the shooting. It seems that administrators have learned well from the incident that claimed some 33 lives in 2007. Ironically, the head of campus police, the emergency management director and several school administrators were out of state, attending hearings on the 2007 shootings according to news reports at

I have long been an advocate for gun control, particularly on college campuses where kids are under so much stress, living away from home for the first time, exams, trying to fit in, etc, etc, etc.

In this case, we are not yet sure whether this shooter was a student - we do know that it was yet another white male. Ironically enough, my oldest son wrote a paper on the Columbine shootings years ago in high school. His point was simple: If black men were going on shooting sprees at the rate of whites, there would be federal investigations into why this behavior is occurring.....and not the leisurely pace at which these investigations are taking place. It has been some 4 years since the original massacre at Virginia Tech and the Department of Education is still holding hearings.

Enough already - close college campuses, no guns allowed, period.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our love-hate affair with that great albatross about the neck of the American people

This struggling great American institution has been on life support for years and maybe it is time to finally pull the plug. They have downsized, increased the price of a postage stamp more times in recent years than I care to recall and now, to add insult to injury, they are going to forfeit first class next day mail guarantee.

What is the point of being a post office if you can't guarantee mail delivery? This agency has been coddled and spoiled by the U.S. government since I came to this country some 21 years ago. They blackmail us, raise postage stamp prices and continue to deliver substandard service.

Were I the CEO of such an organization, the board would have fired me long ago for my ineptitude, but not so with the postmaster general - he continues to rake in a tidy salary, bonus and excellent retirement and health insurance benefits.

They have spent untold sums of monies in marketing and advertising as if there were some competition for delivering the mail - last time I checked, they were the only game in town.

There needs to be some serious house cleaning at this organization, starting with the postmaster general - salaries need to be slashed and folks need to be accountable!

One more pay hike and I will NEVER use the U.S. postal service again! Enough already.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The rise and fall of Herman Cain

It was simply too good to be true.

A second African American President of the United States in a row and a Republican at that!

Herman Cain, head of Godfather's Pizza chain and millionaire and self made ueber business man tested the waters and got his feet burned.

It was not enough that a slew of women came forth accusing him of all manner of sexual impropriety in recent weeks, but the final blow came with the forthcoming of a woman who claimed to have had an illicit affair for 13 years.

Yesterday, Herman Cain after much consideration and prayer stepped down and "suspended" his candidacy for President of this great nation.

As a woman of color, I would have been thrilled to see yet another black President in the White House, and yet, something about Mr. Cain appeared unsettling from the beginning. His statements about poor people and how they are responsible for their misfortune did not sit well with me. He alluded to the fact that African Americans are lazy and would rather steal a BMW than work for it......(not a direct quote, but you get my point).

Mr. Cain now has to explain to his wife of some 48 years who was conspicuously absent during the entire campaign season, who these women are, why they were essentially bought out and what he plans to do, if anything to right these aggregious wrongs to her and their marriage.

I have said it before and I reiterate. I do not expect anything more from my elected officials than I expect of myself - that is, they are not perfect individuals, rather striving to represent those whom they are called to serve. I do not expect them to stray from their marriage vows, but as we saw in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, a blow job and indescretion does not a marriage necessarily break.

I am going to be candid now. I am not sad in the least that Cain is out of the race and wonder where those voters will now pledge their respective allegiances.....I have spoken with two intelligent individuals who happen to be Republicans who felt that Cain had what it took to be President - that was clearly not the case.

Good riddance to bad rubbish and remember folks......if you have skeletons in the closet, they always come out to get you in the end, particularly if you choose to run for public office.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Holiday Tree in Rhode Island - much ado about nothing or political correctness run amuck

It seems that Governor Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island finally gets what other elected officials don't.

It is NOT appropriate to have a Christmas tree on state or federal property.

When this great nation was founded, and in particular, that state of Rhode Island, our forefathers went to great lengths to ensure that there was freedom of religion and separation of Church vs. State.

I am proud that Governor Chaffee has the guts to have a holiday tree and yet understands that he has the right to have a Christmas tree in his personal home.

Some years ago, whilst working as a political appointee for the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, I approached the Chief of Staff with a concern that we should not have a Christmas tree on city property if we were not also going to have a Menorrah, a Kwanzaa candle holder or any other non-secular memorabilia/decorations. He insisted that Christmas is a secular holiday and brings the city revenue and therefore the Christmas tree should stay in the Mayor's office - so sad too bad for the many Jews and Africans who lived in the areaa.

Not satisfied with his answer, I took the case further - I addressed the City Attorney with a query over why there was Christmas music being played in the Mayor's Office and asked that we not have any at all. My concern was not that we would offend anyone, rather that we were being insensitive and not religiously neutral. I recognized fully that we were at the time living in a theocracy - the state that is Utah is notorious for its overlap of Church and State, but thought that in a small way I could make a difference. I was obviously wrong and was shot down not once, but twice.

Now that I look back, I might have prevailed on the champion of the ACLU himself, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson and asked him what his opinion was - he likely would have sided with those above me, but he just might have come down on the side of that which is good and right.

I will never but it will make for an interesting chapter in the book.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where everybody knows your name, part II

Previously this year, I wrote about how much I love going to my local Chase branch in Hartsdale, New York. Everyone is so very helpful and friendly. From Thelma, the greeter and CSR to Laura, the part time student who is on track to be a personal banker to my favorite and the person with whom I deal the most - UCONN graduate, Yousef. We originally connected over the UCONN win in March madness and the relationship stuck.

Whenever I have a problem with my account, be that trying to figure out how to make my direct deposit work, or making a deposit with my smart phone, Yousef, the branch manager and VP is available.

More recently, I have been using a cane on a regular basis - I am disabled and really don't like to be reminded of that fact - while I have more than one disability, I choose to focus more on my abilities and less on the disabilities. A trip to my orthopedic surgeon recommended that I not only use a cane, but that I attend physical therapy two to three times a week - and on whose dime?????? I am strapped as it it, but I digress.

It seems a cable company that shall remain nameless, suffice it to say that they are one of the largest here in the NYC area - has been trying for some 4 weeks to get my high speed Internet installed at my home. For reasons unbeknownst to me, that has not happened. I called no less than ten times and was finally so frustrated I gave up and told them to cancel the service and reimburse my money (which they had already conveniently taken out of my account). After waiting for a week and growing more frustrated by the day, I called Chase and they immediately reimbursed the monies. Simple enough.

I was so happy with Chase this week, indeed, anytime I deal with them, I am amazed at their level of professionalism, no matter the amount of monies I have in my bank account......I decided to write to the direct report of my VP - I was surprised not only to receive a response in a day - I can only begin to imagine how busy this man is! But he told me that he had considered my request for a button on the door that one can push if one is disabled such as myself.

I then received a personal call from none other than Yousef to indicate that the work has already begun and though it is an extensive project, they are not delaying my request.

And THAT, dear folks is why Chase is not going to charge to use debit cards - they get it on a very real level that real people use their bank and that folks are struggling - why kick a person when they are already down?

Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name.....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Racism in America - alive and well

"I hate Indians! They are cheap" the woman stated quite unabashedly. The outburst was uncalled for, inappropriate and certainly unprofessional. The woman then proceeded to dare me to write about that in my blog. I was shocked, literally and could feel my blood boiling.

If she could be this open about one group of minorities, what on earth did she think of me and furthermore, what would she say about me behind my back?

I could not, no, would not let this racism pass by. I commented that she had just made quite the sweeping statement. She then proudly sneered - yes, I am a racist! Racism and bigotry is insidious and hurts all of us. The biggest irony of the story is that this woman is married to an African American, albeit separated. She has a beautiful African American/caucasian daughter who is already showing signs of questioning her heritage and wondering why she is different than the other children in her predominantly caucasian neighborhood. The woman of whom I speak hails from the former Soviet Union and came to this country sans papers and worked under the table for quite some time until she became "legal".

How quickly they forget. There but for the grace of God go all of us. I am reminded of those great leaders who have preceded us, Dr. King, Gandhi, Mohammed, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu, all of whom preached inclusion - not hatred and bigotry.

Yes, we might have a bi-racial President who self identifies as black - that is his choice, but the venom that has been spewed in his direction, no matter the cause, has been uncalled for and has created a chasm in this country the likes of which we have not seen since Dr. King was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights movement - they tried then to quash the rebellion, telling blacks that they were inferior and did not deserve equal treatment as whites, but the people would not be moved. They marched to Washington D.C. and ultimately their united voices were heard.

Yes, I am sad as I write this, but I am also hopeful that my four amazing sons will be amongst those who will turn this tide of racism and bigotry - they are biracial, two of them have children, one of whom was the sperm donor for a lesbian couple and of whom I could not be more proud.

We certainly have a long way to go and I implore all of you who read this to call out bigots and racists wherever they hide, covertly and overtly - they clearly do not share the American Dream and shame on them for not doing so!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gays and lesbians and transgendered individuals - brave souls paving the way

I had occasion early in the week to sit with a couple at coffee hour at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church - my church where I worship most Sundays. I had met this remarkable couple previously, but last week there was a glow about them - it seems that this couple who has been together some 21 years is FINALLY getting married! What a blessing to them and their families. They are both retired professionals and I would estimate that they are in their mid 50's to early 60's, but don't be fooled - they want marriage and they want it now! We made the announcement during coffee hour and there was a generous and genuine round of applause to salute the newly engaged couple.

Later in the week, I had drinks with Scott and his partner Mark - they shared with me that while they have been partnered for years, they actually got married on the first day that was legal for them in the great state of New York. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. All those hours on the phones at the SEIU building in Times Square, all those hang-up calls, all those "I support you, but I won't call my Senator" calls were worth it. Meeting Chelsea Clinton was of course, the icing on the cake, but knowing Scott, a former Senator from New York, formerly Republican, now a Democrat (at least, I think he still is) and brilliant litigating attorney and Mark, an amazing realtor and film genius are finally legally wed to one another makes me happy indeed.

And now to round out the story. Brooke and Gary were married last month in a beautiful wedding ceremony in a church in Utah - who'd have thought that a gay man would marry a transgendered woman in Utah? I have never met Brooke, but have spoken with her over the phone - she is an amazing woman, great mum wonderful cook and boy can she decorate a mean floral bouquet. Gary is a former Iraqi war vet and ours is a sweet and mutually respectful friendship.

Brown v. Board, Loving v Virginia, Prop 8, Don't ask, Don't tell.......we are making it slowly but surely.

OWS gains momentum

On Friday, I was assigned to attend yet another Health Fair on Wall Street - the second in as many weeks. I was surprised to see that the NYPD had set up cordons around a PUBLIC street and was asking for badges (employee ID's) and/or ID's. I was most surprised - shocked even, that at 9.30 on a Friday morning on an innocuous day in October, the NYPD would take such a tack.

Many of the employees of Wall Street seemed pleased at not having to deal with the annoying, pesky flies in their mega bucks ointment, with their pressed blouses and heels, and starched shirts and designer suits. They showed their ID's and waltzed through as though they had not a care in the world.

I was not quite sure how to approach my particular situation, knowing full well that I had no employee badge, but every credible right to be there.

I approached a camerawoman from New York - she is not affiliated with the rag, rather she claims to be from a reputable news show. I have googled the website she gave me, but all I can come up with is the tabloid esque paper. She was not able to get onto Wall Street at that time, per se, rather was relegated to filming from the other side of the barricades. I found that to be quite remarkable given that she had press credentials.

I summoned my courage and recalled all of those difficult times and altercations I had in the Salt Lake City Mayor's office. I walked stridently up to the police officer and indicated that while I did not work on Wall Street, nor did I have, as such, an employee ID badge, I had business there. He gruffly told me to walk along and talk with his colleagues who were keeping guard further down the street.

I explained my story further and was granted access. Were I not on the clock, I would have gone down to the park and tried to interview folks on Friday but that was not the case. As fate would have it, my colleague who speaks some English but not great English, was waving to me from the "checkpoint charlie" area, trying to get my attention - the powers that be realized I was walking with a cane and allowed him to approach me with the rolling case of glass samples.

On my way home, I purposely walked past the park and past Chase One Plaza because I wanted to see again what was taking place during this amazing time in our lives.

It has been said that Chase is paying for the over $2 million in overtime that NYC has paid out to cops thus far and I have to say I have no reason to disbelieve this. I can tell you that the P.D. is getting weary - they are constantly yelling - "move along" "don't block the sidewalk" "not everyone wants to be here" - maybe so, but there are plenty of people who do and they are sporting peace signs and thinking of John Lennon and Bob Marley.

In tribute to these two great men whom we lost much too young, I stopped off at an artist's booth and spent my last $35 on NY city mini photographs made to look like Bob Marley and John Lennon respectively.

One love.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An afternoon at the Wall Street protests

I spent last Saturday afternoon in the Wall Street area. I had been assigned by my colleagues from to go among the masses and get some good interviews. I initially declined as the assignment appeared to be quite daunting.

As fate would have it, I already work in the Financial District and am therefore familiar with its buildings and environs. Earlier in the week, I had already experienced the massive influx of the NYPD, complete officers on horses, ready to quell rioting and/or protesting should it arise, bolstered by the extra 2 million dollars that Mayor Bloomberg had managed to squeeze from his budget. I was prepared for anything and hoped for the best.

Serendipitously, just as I alighted the subway stairs, I came across a realtor, his wife, an attorney and their daughter a high school student. We discussed the subprime mortgage crisis, greed and the general demise of the country - he is actually the first person interviewed.

What amazed me more than anything, besides the orderly fashion in which the protestors behaved, was the huge cross-section of the American public that came out to lend their support. I interviewed everyone from a ten year old, to grandparents, a school teacher and numerous college students.

There were too many amazingly well-written signs to count, though I tried to read them out on the air - one in particular reads: Take part in direct democracy. The wealthiest 1% has taken control of our economy and government. You are the 99% that is ready to take it back."

Talk about a powerful statement - even the 10 year old boy whom I interviewed near the beginning of the show was able to articulate the 99% and the 1% and how that works and why, in his opinion, it is not fair.

What an afternoon it was. Stay tuned for further live broadcasts and podcasts on this huge financial crisis. This evening (Monday), mayor Bloomberg has decided to recant his position and allow the demonstrators peace and quiet where they can protest infinitely.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mormonism is NOT a cult!

It would appear that a man calling himself both a minister and supporter of Rick Perry has recently called upon fellow christians - read evangelists and ultra right wing conservative christians - to boycott Mitt Romney and elect one of their own, rather than someone who is Mormon and belongs to a cult.

Not so. For over 23 years, I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormon Church. During that time I found members to be kind, loving, service minded both in and out of their church community and almost without exception......they devoted numerous hours of service to their faith and ultimately their religious beliefs.

We are living in the year 2011 and I am wondering whence this religious zeal cometh - certainly not from anything I have seen in all my years reading the bible. This election cycle has been hijacked by ultra right winged so-called Christian zealots. It is unfortunate, given that Jesus was one of the first progressives in the Bible.

Indeed, were he here on the earth today, I would venture to say that he would be preaching in much the same way he did while on his earlier mission - that is, spending time with the poor, meek and downtrodden - he certainly would not be spending time with zealots, hypocrites and the like (read zealots) and he would spread forth his compassion to encompass everyone, even publicans and gasp - prostitutes and adulterers.

My heart is heavy and quite saddened for the many LDS/Mormon faithful whom I have been privileged to encounter in these 2+ this not America - the greatest country in the world, founded on religious freedom? I guess not.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walll Street dichotomies

As you may recall, I work as a marketing consultant in the downtown area of the Financial District. As such, on occasion, I am called upon to attend health fairs at various businesses in the Wall Street area.

This week, I happened to be in the Trump Tower around its wealth, opulence and grandeur. I was not impressed and was, in fact disturbed to see the aforementioned over the top grandeur, particularly in this day and age. I am not for one moment suggesting that The Donald, aka would be President, redocorate any of his ueber buildings, but I am writing this piece to address what I can only call dichotomies of the time in which we live.

For the past 20 days I have been riveted to the main street and alternative media's coverage of the protests on Wall Street. Last week at another health fair, an associate noted that while she is 100% behind the protestors, she cannot afford to get arrested. While I did not concur outwardly, I groaned inwardly at what is happening so very close to the freedom towers and the former Ground Zero where so many lives were lost some ten years ago.

We are in a fight for America and the middle class is losing this war. This nightmare that began with greedy Wall Street bankers and financiers has now snowballed into some 700 protestors being arrested in one weekend on one hand and according to one left-leaning publication, bankers and financiers sipping champagne while they watch the "minions" below, wondering what they are so upset about.

I tried to have a conversation with a financial/management consultant on the situation this week. His assesment is simple: he does not know what the protesting is about nor does he know what the demands of the protestors are.

I would assert that it matters not one whit what the demands are of the protestors, only that we know the source of their discontent. They have been fleeced dry and they are mad as hell and not willing to take it any more.

They want billionaires and Wall Streeters to pay their share and STOP forcing the American public to be held hostage to their whims, bonuses, stock options and golden parachutes.

I shall be reporting on Saturday from Wall Street live streaming on Political Context at Blog Talk Radio and hope to have you listening.

The times are changing and I for one welcome the change

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Too little, too late for the President

President Obama has just appointed Professor Alan Krueger of Princeton University to provide much-needed, albeit too late, aid to Timothy Geithner as they grapple with a stymied economy and a lackluster jobs market. While I am no Columbia MBA graduate, it is clear that if people do not have jobs, they cannot pay their bills, nor pay their mortgages - a jobs bill was promised by both Democrats and Republicans but in their need to have a major pissing contest, these so-called elected leaders have come up with nothing.

As of this writing, the President's approval ratings are positively abysmal, in the 40% range - low 40's, that is. While it is laudable that Professor Krueger has joined the Obama team, that is an action that is years overdue. This recession did not occur overnight - Krueger or someone else of his stature and economic prowess should have been appointed when this nightmare began two years or so ago.

President Obama began his presidency promising change - he has tried to deliver but has caved far too often when what he needed was to use his executive powers as Executive in Chief and veto any legislation he did not like and instruct then Senate Majority Leader Pelosi to keep the balance in the Senate and get Republicans and Democrats to come up with a comprehensive jobs proposal - one that both sides could live with and failing that, he should have admonished his economics team to do just that - come up with a plan and insist that congress fall in lockstep.

That brings me to the ne'er do well Mr. Geithner. From reading his bio and credentials, Mr. Geithner should have brought a lot to the proverbial table of the Obama economics team - he has, however shown little leadership; instead appearing like a deer in the headlights when confronted on difficult economic subjects - he has clearly no clue what he is doing, nor what needs to be done.

The time for Americans to be patient is past and the President has unfortunately squandered far too much political will and capital on playing Mr. Nice Guy - it has backfired and horribly.

What is needed now is strong leadership and a fiscally responsible President - one who is not scared of making tough decisions, no matter how unpopular - it is nice to be liked, but politics is not for the fainthearted.

President Obama has made history and for that, I am grateful - his time has clearly passed. It is still, after all is said and done - the economy, stupid!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Moratorium on PM David Cameron

I have been enjoying my vacation in London. I have been staying with my sisters who live in South Norwood and Croydon respectively. You may recall that the location of the huge furniture shop fire was Croydon. I have yet to witness first hand any destruction but have been riveted to the reporting on TV and in newspapers regarding same.

PM David Cameron is desperately playing catch up, trying to assure his blue-blooded, private school cronies that all is well and that the police have this matter in hand. He has a new super cop from America who will consult with the PM on sensitive gang issues and help him strategize, along with the police department, as to how to get a handle on the crime that is sweeping across pockets of London and other larger English cities.

Cameron is in a coalition government and did not win the last election by a sweeping majority. He needs to hit this situation out of the proverbial ball park in order to re-install faith in his constituents and the country. If he does not regain the trust of the public, he will likely not be re-elected. After speaking with several people since being here for two weeks, I realize that most of all, they wish to be heard by their politicians and overwhelmingly, they feel that they are not being heard and that politicians are out of touch with what people need in London, in particular.

News reports seem to back this up as they have been interviewing individuals of all ethnicities, religious backgrounds and ages.

PM Cameron should tread very carefully at this time......his days might just be numbered.

Why Warren Buffett is right

Warren Buffett has recently called for millionaires and the ueber wealthy to pay more than their fair share of taxes. The entire country has been asked to share the sacrifice, take lesser paying jobs, move back home with family and are otherwise doubling up in their living arrangements. They are working part time jobs sans health insurance, working more than one job to make ends meet and not foreclose on their mortgages. They are sharing the sacrifice.

It has been suggested that the wealthy not pay their share as they have earned their money the old-fashioned way in many instances. In today's CNN online edition, Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University suggests that the circa $73 billion generated by taxing the wealthy at 10% would merely be a drop in the bucket and would do little to alleviate the financial issues presently facing the country. Miron believes that demonizing everyone who hits it big would be wrong.

Clearly there are policy issues to be addressed here - not least of all, the tax code needs to be rewritten to ensure that the wealthy, ueber wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share.

The Obama administration has erred greatly by not including the likes of Warren Buffett on the super committee to address budget negotiations - indeed, the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner would do well to heed the advice of Buffett and others of his vision - they clearly know what works and what doesn't in business.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place - PM Cameron can't win with the London police

Prime Minister Cameron has called upon the American crime and specifically, gang expert, "supercop" Bill Bratton to be a consultant and advisor to aid the British police force in reducing crime and addressing the gang problem that plagues London and Britain presently.

While it is admirable that the PM is thinking out of the proverbial box, one cannot help but wonder how that will play to the thousands of police officers presently serving the country. Granted, their reaction time to the looting and subsequent lawlessness following the unfortunate shooting of Mark Duggan, an alleged known criminal, was poor to be sure, but in this instance, a coalition effort between community leaders, faith leaders, activists and the British Home Office would be a better plan.

During my interfaith and community outreach work in the United States, specifically, serving as an aide to the Salt Lake City mayor during the Olympics and thereafter, we were particularly concerned with any gang and other criminal activity that might affect the games. Rick Dinse, former Los Angeles police chief was the police chief of Salt Lake City at the time and made every attempt to ensure smooth games. You may recall that the games went off without incident.

Policing in America is vastly different than in the UK - not only because the police do not carry guns, but because community oriented policing is not something that is espoused, certainly not here in the London area according to my sources. There is an expression in the US - driving while black - that means a successful black person driving a high end vehicle is likely to be stopped by the police either in their community or traveling around elsewhere. Were community oriented policing in place here in London, police would not spend their time profiling successful black business people, rather they would know who those people are, as a result of spending time on their feet, patrolling the community.

I would certainly encourage PM Cameron to rethink bringing in an outsider to tell his police officers how and where and what to police - this is disrespectful and highly unprofessional and downright political. Shame on him!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sneakers and flat screen tvs - the real reasons behind the looting in England

I have been heartsick in recent days as I watched the live events unfold on US television showing scenes of burning buildings, cars, people of all ages and ethnicities in anarchy.

It so happened that I was scheduled to come to London on a much-needed vacation and to reconnect with family after a 9 year hiatus due to financial constraints. It had been suggested by some that I postpone the trip or perhaps not come at all. Ironically, the IOC is in London, safely esconced in high priced hotels, I am sure as they finalise plans for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

When the deal was made to bring the games to London, according to my sources, promises were made that jobs would be made available to the disenfranchised and longterm unemployed youth - read - blacks and other minorities - unfortunately, this has not happened - rather the jobs have gone to newer immigrants predominantly of the caucasian persuasion. Coupled with the austere cuts in social programs, benefits in unemployment, etc, London's youth was sitting on a veritable powder keg which was lurking in the shadows, waiting for any minor event to set it aflame.

That opportunity presented itself in the unfortunate police altercation with Mark Duggan, a 29 year old black man who was armed with a blank weapon that had been altered to carry five loaded bullets. Preliminary reports indicate that he did not shoot at the police.

I am reminded of the violence that followed the brutal police beating of Rodney King in California years ago. In Duggan's case, there was unfortunately no-one present to record what transpired leading up to his being shot and ultimately killed.

As I began my journey to London, my neighbor on the plane asked me whether I thought I would be safe and what my take was on the situation. I responded that when a people has no hope, no jobs and no future, it takes little to set them off. My neighbor indicated that he felt this was merely an excuse for louts to be louts. I then reminded my neighbor that we on that flight were all priveleged with jobs and going on holidays or returning from same.

These youth are not rioting because they want a flat screen tv or the newest sneakers per se, though England is following fast on the heels of America and becoming very materialistic. They riot because they have lost hope and have no dignity - they live in fear of authority for whom they have no respect, they are mistreated often by police officers and are routinely stopped while walking on the street minding their own business in a way that the ACLU and Reverend Al Sharpton would find offensive in America.

There has been a breakdown in the family unit - these children and youth came from fractured homes in many cases, growing up in housing projects where violence and drug dealing is a way of life.

We need community leaders to rally around and Prime Minister Cameron needs to heed their words of caution and wisdom - they work in the trenches and know of the malcontent that plagues their lives - they know what changes need to be made to create opportunities for these disenfranchised youth. It is not enough to punish the offendors - rather, they should be made to rebuild that which they have destroyed, rebuilding buildings for no pay, cleaning up the rubbish they have left strewn in the streets, learning job skills and finally, giving them opportunities when they are finished serving out their sentences. This is a call for faith and community based organisations to address the needs of this struggling underclass who have no jobs, no hope and certainly no future.

There are clearly no simple solutions for this quagmire of a situation - suffice it to say - this has been a wake up call for Britain. With the Olympic games less than a year away, they should thank their lucky stars that the IOC is too far ahead in their planning to pull the games and seek alternative venues to showcase athletes at their finest.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Exorbitant political races

The news is reporting that President Obama was in NYC this week at fundraisers ranging from a gig at Sister Act on Broadway - $100 to a $1200 a plate dinner to a $35,000 a plate dinner. What gives? The President made the last Presidential election the most expensive ever and with the likes of Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney, we stand to see those figures repeated, if not surpassed.

There are many fine senators, mayors and governors who would make outstanding presidents of the USA but for their humble bank accounts. I should state that most senators are independently wealthy and continue to make vats of monies with their insider and back door deals once they make it to the senate I should say.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are both billionaires and while they are both Republicans and devout Mormons, my money is on Huntsman because his father, the billionaire Jon Huntsman sr. insisted that his children not receive their respective inheritances until they reached the age of 40 - old enough to have graduated college (in most cases, that is - my regular readers know that I am in my 40's and completing my Bachelor's degree) - and have established themselves professionally and personally and politically.

I would like to see races in the USA run like they are run in Britain - both parties get equal time on television - neither party pays for the air time - and the season is relatively short - about a month in 2010.

Were I ruler of the free world, I could get a lot done. It is time for campaign finance reform - in fact, it is long overdue.

Victory for gays in New York

A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to seek out a GLBT activist in NYC - I wanted to do something - anything - to help forward the case for gay marriage.

I was sent to a call center operated by the SEIU - a union outfit - in order to call registered Democrats to ask them to reach out to their senators and encourage them to vote on the gay marriage initiative currently before them.

As is typical for NYers, I received many gruff, short and mostly offended responses - that was a private matter and I had no business asking them whether they supported gay marriage. Every now and again - say every ten phone calls, I found someone who was not only willing to support the initiative, but would also call their senator asking them to vote yes.

On one such evening during my few weeks on the phones, the room went quiet and we were asked to get off the phones and wrap up our calls quickly. I was amazed to look up and see Ms. Chelsea Clinton appear wearing an equality tee shirt. She spoke eloquently and intelligently - just as her parents - on the issue of gay marriage. Indeed, her father, Bill had spoken out in favor of gay marriage that very day. Chelsea spoke of her own marriage last year and spoke movingly about how she could not comprehend being married to her best friend.

They said it couldn't be done and I am not aware of all the deals made with religious organizations, protecting them from having to perform - gasp - same sex marriages - in the late hours of Friday evening, the news came to my mobile phone via text sent by the HRC. I did not get the news until Saturday - as fate would have it, I had stayed in the city until late on Friday having drinks with a couple of friends. Had I known that the vote was going to come at eleven p.m., I would have left the Financial District and taken the subway to the Village where a massive celebration was underway.

NY is now the 6th state in the union to offer gay marriage. Some with whom I have spoken have shared that while they oppose gay marriage, they believe that gays should have rights in the form of civil unions.

That is like saying slaves could jump the broom while remaining property of their masters - since when are we a nation of second class citizens? This is America where we are guaranteed "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is it not?

Brown v Board, Jim Crow, Loving v Virginia - are you recognizing a trend here? Some 51% of adults polled nationally according to CNN, are in support of gay marriage.

Change is coming - this is a civil rights issue - gays are not all asking to be married in churches - they simply want the same rights that you and I have as straight people.

I welcome the change!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The case for Jon Huntsman

I had the privilege to live in the great state of Utah for 7 1/2 years. During some of that time, I was fortunate to live in the parochial district and neighborhood of Jon Huntsman, two term governor of Utah.

Jon Huntsman is a compassionate conservative, fiscally prudent, supporter of civil unions which he championed while governor. He is also fully cognizant of the fact that Utah is essentially a theocracy, given that some 70% of residents are members of the Mormon faith. Jon Huntsman teamed up with an unlikely ally - Rocky Anderson - the former mayor of Salt Lake in order to overhaul the archaic and restrictive liquor laws which were in sore need of a revisit since their inception. Jon Huntsman realized that the constrictive laws were costing business revenue and tourist revenue to the state as many would not come and visit given that in order to get an alcoholic beverage (hard liquor), one had to become a "member" of a private club with a fee ranging from $5 to as high as $25 for a year. One could get a friend or club member to sponsor them, but that was easier said than done. That this staunch Republican and Governor could collaborate with a staunch ACLU Democrat and mayor in order to right such an aggregious wrong is testament to the governor's ability to cross party lines for the good of his state and its people.

Jon Huntsman supported civil unions - again, not an easy thing to do, given his staunch and devout Mormon faith. Salt Lake City has a surprisingly large gay community thankfully. Gay pride, the Pride Center, Equality Utah are all part of what makes the community so wonderfully vibrant. Jon gets that while he might differ with gay marriage based on his religion, he should not and does not usurp his beliefs on others. Whilst living in Utah I campaigned against a ballot initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman - Amendment 3 - unfortunately the amendment passed - this in a state where polygamy - that is, marriage between one man and several women - was what the state was founded on and is practiced to this day in some enclaves.

Jon Huntsman's economic development vision made Utah number one in the nation for economy and job creation - mostly through private corporations and small business - tax incentives are how he accomplished this - his vision is remarkable and broad.

I love that he has spent time living in another country - China of all places - our ally and foe economically and militarily speaking - he knows that there is a significant trade deficit between the two countries and the disparity between what China takes in versus what they ship out is growing exponentially.

He might have come late to the party but in this former political appointee's opinion, he is the best candidate the GOP has put forth thus far - yes, even better than flip-flopper Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moving day again

I always dread these days.

My dear son, Kyle, now 23 is ready to spend his 24th birthday and 3rd birthday incarcerated in a state prison in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I had been instant messaging with another son enquiring of Kyle's whereabouts as I had not received a letter from him in well over a month - not a regular occurrence - Kyle has apparently become adept at circumventing the prison system and barters for stamps when he runs out of envelopes to send letters home.

During this instant message communique, I learned that Kyle had indeed been transferred to his third prison facility in as many years.

Given that I am prone to anxiety in such situations, I called the facility the next day in order to set my mind at ease. I wondered why a simple email or postcard informing family members of transfers was not sent from such facilities? It would do much to alleviate the stress, worry and anxiety for family members when loved ones are summarily transferred, often sans much notice to the prisoner - have prisoners really forsaken all rights? Can they not be afforded the decency of a phone call or postcard to inform family members of transfers?

Kyle is fine - he called me to let me know as much last week. He is adjusting to life living close to Minnesota - their news, different rules for a prison facility - it is a step in the right direction - he is more than 1/2 way through his sentence and this is a lesser security facility, albeit built on a swamp with lots of "creatures" wildlife, bugs and the like, he indicated.

I shall worry for my son until he comes home where I can see his beautiful face, his big brown eyes full of wisdom and expression

Yes, I am fully cognizant of the fact that he erred in judgement - greatly so - so much so that he is now a convicted felon serving a harsh sentence in a state facility but I love him nonetheless. He is a fine young man who is wasting his years languishing when he should be working or in college.

He will be fine and I am learning to not worry as much as I used to - moving day will continue to be a difficult time for me, mostly because Kyle has inherited my anxiety and does not transition well.

And so it goes.

Where is that prison reform that Obama spoke of?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

North vs South

I have just spent a few days in South Carolina. What an interesting step back in time.

I was struck initially by the friendliness of the people here. Sir, ma'am and how are y'all doing? are common phrases.

At the restaurant this morning for breakfast, I could not help but think of segregated lunch counters as I watched blacks and whites sitting together, talking, sharing stories, arguing over gas prices, kids, food prices and the like. Dr. King would surely not recognize this South all these years after his "dream" (deferred still for so many of our people).

I ached to see so many people of color bussing tables, cleaning my hotel room and in school for low level healthcare jobs (medical assistant, etc). In a day where our President represents the very best of a white mother and black father, a graduate from an Ivy league college and a powerful, equally well-educated wife, it is unconscionable that blacks are not reaching for their highest aspiration here in the South.

Granted, in my home state of New York, all is not well - clearly evidenced by recent studies indicating that NYC is the 3rd most segregated city in the country - Miami, incidentally is THE most segregated city - interesting dichotomy I must add.

I spoke quite candidly with my cab driver on the long drive from the airport who spoke achingly of his desire to live in a truly integrated place, where race does not matter and one is treated equally, no matter the color of ones skin - does such a place exist?

A recent survey indicates that an overwhelming majority of Republicans living in Mississippi (46%) reject interracial marriage - this is a clear contradiction to census data that shows that more interracial marriages are occurring there than in almost any other state in the nation.

I wonder whether the South will indeed rise again, given the racial tensions overt and covert bubbling below the surface - time will tell.

I do know that I am proud to be a Northerner and living in Westchester is a boon to me at this point in my life. When I am finished with my sojourn there, I will likely return to Kentucky to be closer to my children and grandchildren in Michigan - this will require a sacrifice as I am not easily given to racism and frankly have neither time nor use for it, but as I did while living in Utah, will suck it up and make the best of the situation.

After Kentucky who knows.....

Thoughts for today from my hotel room where my maids are from Columbia South America and South Carolina.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chase bank - where everyone knows your name - who knew????

I have been attending my local Chase bank since they merged with WAMU some years ago. Laura and Barbara are the two tellers who generally provide me with the most assistance. Laura, in particular is bright, articulate, intelligent and is definitely going places. She recently shared with me that she is attending Fordham University, taking just a few classes at a time and I asked her whether she had considered becoming a personal banker - she is definitely on track! I put a good word in with her supervisor. I frequent the bank with my various questions, deposits, favors, etc, etc, etc. Seems that my favorite personal banker, Jose has moved on to bigger and better things - good for him! In his place is a charming young man from India - a Sikh, complete with dark brown eyes and a turban and an intense passion for cricket. He helped me on my visit today. The VP of the bank is Youssef - talk about a tall drink of water. He is from Pakistan and came to the U.S. when he was 7. He speaks flawless English with a hint of a Pakistani accent. He lives in Connecticut and is tasked with community outreach - my favorite - I hope he will be able to help me with my latest project - and technology in the branches. He is hot, hot, hot, graduated with a Bachelor's from UCONN so was most pleased with the outcome of the NCAA finals this week - he doesn't know it yet, but he is going to meet Manisha at a dinner party next month - sure hope he is not taken. When I left the bank, I ran into Midge Gravely from the Church in the Highlands - a church where I worked for a season when I first moved to the area. Midge lost her sweetheart of over 50 years to a massive heart attack in the middle of the night - she now has early onset Alzheimers and is struggling with her health in general and is also very frail. She lives around the corner from me - I am glad that she has a lovely Irish girl, Anne Marie to take care of her. I shall make an effort to outreach to Midge while I still live in the Co-Op for the next few months. Midge has a bad back and uses a cane - I asked Laura to come over to the comfortable chairs and help her and she immediately complied. I had thought of switching banks earlier this month, particularly when Chase stopped using Debit card rewards. Some things just can't be bought.......

Monday, April 4, 2011

My beloved Wildcats and UCONN - Basketball is life!

This is my favorite time of year - Spring and March Madness! I am proud to be the blessed mother of four outstanding young men: Ryan, Kyle, Tye and Bryce. They are all taller than me, blessed with their father's good looks, physical abilities and my intellect - a very good combination if I may say so myself. I have been rather preoccupied this year, finding a new place to live, working on school and personal stuff, etc, etc, etc - in other words life. It was not until about two weeks ago when my Mum mentioned that the Wildcats had made it through in the tournament - It did not register that she was speaking of my beloved UK Wildcats, rather I assumed she spoke of the AZ Wildcats. Why the interest in basketball and the UK? For 5 amazing years, we lived in KY - home of two types of people - those who bleed red for the Louisville Cardinals and those who bleed blue for the Kentucky Wildcats. I honestly believe I began watching UK games because Rick Pitino was the coach and he was and still is incredibly hot and sexy. I was a young mother with three rambunctious boys who adored sports - they played softball - yuck! Flag football - quel horreur - a tad too much for this genteel Brit who wanted nothing to do with a sport where her sons might - gasp - be injured and spent games with her eyes mostly shut so she wouldn't see collisions and fingers in her ears so she wouldn't hear the sound of crunching shoulder pads making contact. Either way, I recall us sitting in their big bedroom when their dad was at school at work as he was wont to be in those days post his 15 years of service in the US Army. His days were long and he worked hard to provide for his young family and balance his time between the demands of school, work and family time. We spent hours watching the games, screaming for the Wildcats until our throats were hoarse. At that time, we were devout LDS/Mormons and my former husband was one of the finest church basketball coaches I have ever seen - okay, so he was my husband and I was in love with him, but he was still damn good! I remember him going to bat for Erik Bernhard, a young kid with earrings - the referee did not want him to play with earrings (they had seriously high standards back then) and Dan, bless his heart, negotiated with the coach to have Erik put band-aids over his ears so that he could play. When we moved to Michigan, it was hoped that Dan would attend Tom Cooley law school - he had been a paralegal in the army and it seemed like a natural seque. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Dan continued to be active in the LDS Church, as did I and we spent our Saturdays going to tournaments, cheering on people we didn't know, by and large and supporting our husband and father - happier times. I recall the year that WMU made it to the sweet sixteen when my children were attending Moorsbridge Elementary where I frequently volunteered as a parent. I came to school to sign them out early and all the children were so jealous that my three boys were getting out of school to watch the game at home, while they were relegated to watching it at school on TV's erected on stands in hallways and break areas by accomodating staffers. Dan and Ken Vargha went to a UK finals game once - they were great friends, though Ken was a graduate of a school in CA, he knew how much Dan loved the Wildcats - Ken worked as some big shot in a company that afforded him such things as tickets to Final Four basketball games - Dan and I attended church in the same congregation and lived closeby, but our home was modest and theirs was shall we say opulent in comparison. When Dan and I divorced some years ago, I was awarded custody of the 4 boys and we moved to Utah with the exception of Bryce. I did not have daycare lined up for him and so Dan encouraged me to leave him behind in his care, promising that when he finished his management training at Meijer, he would follow us to "Zion". Ultimately I lost custody of Bryce 11 years ago and have seen him only sporadically since then. He lived with me along with his father and brother in Utah for a few weeks and for the first time in years I was happy and felt like a mother to Bryce. I coached Kyle's Jr. Jazz b-ball team and even tried to emulate Rick Pitino, wearing business attire as I yelled encouragement from the sidelines and argued with the coaches - talk about a rush! I recall one time, the guys were doing layups during half time and Kyle (who was over 6' at the time) did an amazing slam dunk - do you know that they actually penalized us for that? Seems there is some stupid rule about dunking in Jr. Jazz - sheesh! Who comes up with this stuff? We went to see the Jazz play in nosebleed seats and Ry got to sit in VIP seats courtest of Thomas Karrenberg of Anderson and Karrenberg Attorneys at Law for his birthday. In fact, I had stupidly thought Ry would invite me to go to the game - I was after all the basketball queen - he had the nerve to ask some girl. I never did find out where Tom Karrenberg sat that night, but I do know that he came to Ry during halftime and introduced himself. I found out quite by accident last year (long story) that Bryce who is 13 and 6' was playing on his school basketball team - his principal shared this with me, assuming that I was in regular communication with Bryce and/or his dad. Can I say that losing Bryce has been the single most painful thing in my life? I am crying as I write this - I feel as though I have been robbed of all these years - 11 Christmases, Thanksgivings, summers, spring breaks, birthdays, etc, etc, etc. All this because I did not want to rock the boat with his father. Truth is, I have always been afraid of my former husband - no more - while he is very good at being passive aggressive and is certainly verbally abusive and condescending when he wants to be, I am in a place where I can move forward and take appropriate steps to mitigate the parenting time disparity. I missed the Wildcats game on Saturday - I had a migraine - I have been crying for a week over missing my boys - when Bryce did not call for my birthday, I thought I would die - clearly I did not - I wanted to see the final last night - another migraine. I went into my room and called my three closest guy friends - and told them how much I loved them and how thankful I was to them for being such great parents even as their former wives had tried everything in their power to keep them from their fathers. I will be at Bryce's games next year - I am quitting my job and will not take classes during the time his season is on. I have the most amazing boys - We are Daleys, we are different, we will dare to do what's right! Go Wildcats - next year, maybe.