Newswire : Diverse rural farmer and community groups praise bipartisan Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill

Two national organizations representing thousands of rural farmers and communities today commended the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 released by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Friday. The Rural Coalition and National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) applaud the Committee, Chairman Pat Roberts, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for the bipartisan bill. While the bill stops short of fundamental changes to provide a fair price to all producers, it contains important provisions to address the dairy crisis; protects and expands equity for tribal, historically underserved, veteran, and beginning farmers and ranchers; and preserves the integrity of nutrition programs. The bill also makes two critical updates to farm credit programs to benefit family farmers.

At a moment when dairy farmers are receiving prices as low as 30 percent below the cost of production, the Senate farm bill takes an important first step towards improving those prices for by establishing a Class 1 Fluid Milk donation program. The program will provide $5 billion per year to reimburse dairy farmers who make donations to non-profit feeding programs.

Wisconsin dairy farmer and NFFC board president Jim Goodman noted, “The inclusion of a fluid milk donation program in the Senate farm bill will help two groups of people in need: dairy farmers who have been trying to survive on milk prices that are well below cost of production and people who cannot afford to put food on the table. Many people struggling with food insecurity are working, many are children – and some are farmers themselves. The dairy donation program will provide significant relief to all of these populations.”

Two credit provisions in the Senate bill will bring further relief to farmers facing today’s credit crisis. The provisions offer new favorable loan servicing options to help farm families preserve farmland and avoid foreclosure, as well as expanding eligibility for emergency loans following a catastrophe such as a drought or flood.

“NFFC and Rural Coalition have fought for equitable farm credit since our work on the 1987 Agricultural Credit Act, which slowed the 1980s farm crisis,” said Savonala Horne, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Farmers Land Loss Prevention Project, a board member of both organizations. “These critical but common sense changes to the law will keep more family farmers on the land through the challenges rural America is again facing today.”

The bill also strengthens equity for tribal farmers and food systems and invests in programs supporting the nation’s historically underserved, veteran and young farmers and ranchers. It is notable for measures to strengthen and fund programs to assist small farmers and grow local food and farm systems. Among these is the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (OASDVFR), which has struggled for funding since it was first authorized in 1990, and since military veteran farmers and ranchers were added in 2014. The Senate bill links OASDVFR with the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program and strengthens and provides permanent authority to both programs. Under the new bill, the programs would equally share permanent direct funding of $50 million.

“We have been working hard for decades to bring equity to the farm bill in terms of treatment for Black farmers and other farmers of color to build cooperatives and to uplift low-wealth communities. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 addresses continuing inequities and supports the quality hands-on assistance needed to make sure the 2018 farm bill reaches everyone,” said Rural Coalition Chairperson John Zippert, based in rural Alabama.

Rural Coalition and NFFC further commend Senators Roberts and Stabenow for a farm bill package that, unlike its counterpart in the House of Representatives, takes a strong bipartisan stance on ensuring food access for all communities, by retaining funding and authority for the crucial Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It also increases support for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives program and related initiative to strengthen local food systems.

For additional commentary and analysis on the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, visit www.nffc.net and https://www.ruralco.org/.

The Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural is an alliance of farmers, farmworkers, indigenous, migrant, and working people from the United States, Mexico, Canada, and beyond working together toward a new society that values unity, hope, people, and land.

NFFC unites and strengthens the voices and actions of its diverse grassroots member organizations in 30 states to demand viable livelihoods for family farmers, safe and healthy food for everyone, and economically and environmentally sound rural communities.

Next Level Leaders contributes to support E-911 building

Shown L to R: Corey Cockrell Next Level Leaders, Iris Sermon, E911 Executive Director Latanya Cockrell- Fowler and Johnny Isaac E911 Board  Chair

Corey Cockrell and Latanya Cockrell-Fowler, officers of Next Level Leaders, a charity connected to the Rivers Edge Bingo, presented Johnny Isaac, Board Chair and Iris Sermon, Executive Director of E-911 with a check for $3,000 towards furniture for their new building.
The new E-911 building is located on Highway 43 behind the Department of Human Resources Building. The building is a block and concrete structure, a part of which is designed as a storm shelter, to withstand hurricane and tornado winds in excess of 150 miles per hour.
Iris Sermon explained, “We had a CDBG grant from the State of Alabama, through the Greene County Commission to build our new building which will house our countywide emergency dispatch system as well as other critical emergency services. After the state required us to change and strengthen the specifications of the building, we did not have enough money to complete construction, radio equipment and furnishing the new facility.”
Johnny Isaac said, “ We are still expecting the County Commission to pave around our building and create parking spaces as part of their matching contribution to the CBDG grant.
We are also hopeful we can find funds for $200,000 of new radio dispatching equipment we will need to upgrade our E-911 services for Greene County.”
Sermon pointed out that the dispatching equipment for Greene County costs as much or more to serve a widely dispersed rural county area as well as the same system serving thousands of people in a concentrated municipal area. “We are looking for sympathetic supporters who want to see E-911 be successful and effective and will help us with our radio tower, dispatching and other needs at E-911,” said Sermon.
Persons, businesses and organizations interested in contributing toward E-911 should contact Iris Sermon at 205-372-1911.

County Commission approves proposal to curb Beaver population in the county

The Greene County Commission acted on various considerations at its monthly meeting held Monday, June 10, 2019. The commission approved Lee’s Wildlife Services’ proposal to trap and remove Beavers under designated roads where Beaver dams are erected. According to engineer Branch, nine sites have been targeted. Branch explained that this is a situation we have to continuously manage in the county.
According to action taken at the meeting, the Commission will be seeking to fill a part-time labor position for the Solid Waste Department as well as a van driver for the Eutaw Nutrition Site.
The commission also acted on the following:
Approved an ABC license for Atkins’ Bar-B-Q.
Approved the county’s contract renewal with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Approved Mr. J.E. Morrow to serve on the County Board of Equalization.
Approved Ms. Dotha Williams to serve as District 5 representative on E911 Board.
Tabled appointment to E911 Board for District 2.
Approved Engineer Willie Branch’s request to submit HRRP application.
Authorized Engineer Branch to proceed with allocating remaining federal funds for infrastructure.
Approved travel for CFO to County Government Institute June 19-20, 2019 in Prattville; and travel for office manager to ACCA Annual Convention August 20-22, 2019 in Perdido Beach.
Approved the finance report, payment of claims and budget amendments.
The CFO reported the following bank balances as of May 19, 2019: CitizenTrust Bank – $3,410,113.02; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $1,957,146.20; Bank of New York – $955,253.61; and CD. Bond Investments – $932,332.28

School board hires new administrators for Robert Brown Middle School

At its monthly meeting held Monday, June 10, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education approved the superintendent’s recommendations for Principal and Assistant Principal at Robert Brown Middle School. Shwanta Owens, of Hueytown, AL was selected as Principal and Brittany Harris of Demopolis, AL was selected as Assistant Principal. Each will be offered a one year contract commencing July 1, and July 24, 2019 respectively.
Ms. Shwanta Owens’ current position is Director of Early College, University of Alabama at Birmingham. She serves as the liaison between Woodlawn High School, UAB and other Early College Partners. Previously she has worked as a teacher in various public school systems in Alabama in the area of language arts. She holds a Master of Arts Educational Leadership; Alabama Educational Specialists Degree; Master of Arts Secondary Education Language Arts and a Bachelor of Arts Secondary Education Language Arts.
Ms. Brittany D. Harris’ current position is as First Grade Teacher at Southview Elementary School, Tuscaloosa, AL. She has taught previously in elementary schools in Mississippi. She holds an Educational Specialist Degree in Instructional Leadership; Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership; Master of Education in Elementary Education; Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
Other personnel services acted on by the board included the following:

  • Approved the voluntary transfer of Drenda Morton, Librarian, from Robert Brown Middle /school to Librarian at Greene County High School; Fentress Means, part-time Physical Education Teacher at Eutaw Primary to Part-time Physical Education Teacher at Greene County High School.
  • Approved: Eutaw Primary School Re-hiring: Katlin Whittle, Part-time Visual Arts Teacher; Jacqueline Allen, Reading Tutor.
    *Approved Robert Brown Middle School Re-Hiring: Kotoya Quarrels, Math Teacher; Brittany January, Math Teacher; Katlin Whittle, Visual Arts Teacher; Rebecca Coleman, Computer Science; Alisa Ward, Elementary Teacher; Jacqueline Carter, Science Teacher.
  • Approved Greene County High School Re-hire: Elroy Skinner, Math Teacher; Ann Spree, Math Tutor; Twelia Morris, Secretary, Greene County Career Center.
  • Approved Re-Assignments: Garry Rice, Math Specialist, Greene County School System, Grades K-12; Fredrick Square, Lead Teacher, Assistant Principle, Greene County Learning Academy.
  • Approved Extended Contract: Willie Simmons, Principal, Greene County High School.
    Contract Personnel: Cynthia Crawford, Technical Support, Greene County Board.
  • Approved Resignation-Retirement: Timothy Gibbs, JROTC, Greene County High School, effective July 1, 2019; Glen Monroe, Senior Army Instructor, Greene County Career Center, effective July 1, 2019; Diana Bowen, Teacher, Eutaw Primary School, effective August 1, 2019.
  • Approved GCH Summer School Program: Angela Harkness, Teacher.
  • Approved Family Medical Leave/Catastrophic Leave: Regina Harmon, Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
  • Approved Salary Adjustments for: Sarah Hall, Secretary to the Superintendent; Tracy Hunter, Secretary, GCHS.
    Approved Supplemental Contract for: Sharon Washington, Special Projects; Linda Little, Cheerleader Sponsor, GCHS.
    The board approved the summer schedule June 2 through July11, 2019, and the following personnel for the 21st Center Community Learning Centers Summer Enrichment Program – Robert Brown Middle School: Andrea Perry, Director; Drenda Morton, Lead Teacher; Twelia Morris, Teacher Assistant; Vanessa Bryant, Teacher; Raven Bryant, Teacher; Miakka Taylor, Teacher; Alisia Allen, Teacher; Janice Jeames, Teacher; Mary Hobson, Teacher Aide; and Anika Batch, Teacher Aide.
    Eutaw Primary School: Keisha Williams, Lead Teacher; Tamecisha Abrams, Teacher; Pamela Pasteur, Teacher; Genetta Bishop, Teacher; Bernice Smith, Computer Lab Teacher; Shirley Noland, Librarian; Denise Horton, Teacher Aide.
    CNP Personnel for Summer Foods Service Program: Sandy Wilson, Gloria Lyons, Mary Hill, Amanda Askew, Rosie Davis, Tina Cherry.
    Under the Administrative Services, the board approved a 4-day work week for all extended employees beginning June 3 – July 26, 2019; approved CNP PACA purchasing agreement with Jefferson County Purchasing Division; approved 3 SRO contracts between Greene Board, Greene County Commission and Greene County Sheriff. The Resource Officers will be housed at Eutaw Primary, Robert Brown Middle and Greene County High Schools.
    The board approved the job description for Mathematical Specialist for the Greene County School System; approved request for Debate Team to attend Youth Leadership Training Conference in Washington, D.C. June 1-8, 2019; Approved payment of all bills and payroll.
    The Greene County Board of Education authorized the sale of the former Birdine School facility with designated acreage to the Town of Forkland with two contingencies: 1. The State of Alabama returning the Birdine property to the Greene County Board of Education. 2. Following an appraisal, the property is sold at fair market value.
    The board also authorized the superintendent and board president to prepare a deed to the Town of Boligee directing specific use of the former Paramount facility and delineating the parameters of educational competitors.

Newsire: Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel: “Child Hunger Must Be Priority in Africa”

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Photo: Graca Machel

Economic growth in Africa has been impressive, but a sad reality remains: However prosperous, the results have had little impact on child nutrition.
Graca Machel, the widow of former South African President and Freedom Fighter Nelson Mandela, said hunger is the “most acute problem facing Africa’s children.”
“Around 60 million children across the continent suffer from it. Not the mildly uncomfortable hunger that comes from skipping the odd meal, but permanent, relentless malnourishment, stunting and wasting,” said H.E. Machel, a child rights campaigner who chairs the Africa Child Policy Forum’s international board.
[Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation].
As of two years ago, 28 African nations depended on food aid, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – or FAO.
One of the worst hunger crises of the past 25 years was the famine in East Africa in 2011/12, according to the FAO.
In war-torn Somalia, 260,000 people starved to death, including 133,000 children under the age of five.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also a hotbed of chronic hunger due to extreme poverty, the FAO said.
The organization notes the definition of chronic hunger: people suffer from chronic hunger if their daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they would need for a healthy and active life.
The lower limit is an average of 1,800 calories per day.
According to this measure, 226.7 million people are starving in Africa.
The countries most affected by extreme poverty and hunger in Africa are mainly those located south of the Sahara.
One in four people suffers from hunger there – which means that the share of the world’s hungry is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, the FAO said.
In the sub-Saharan region, 40 percent to 50 percent of people live below the poverty line, meaning they have a daily income that is on average below $1.25.
This means that sub-Saharan Africa, along with southern Asia, is one of the poorest regions in the world.
H.E. Machel said it doesn’t have to be this way.
“As African governments decide where to spend their money, they must remember that here is a powerful economic argument for reducing child hunger,” H.E. Machel wrote in an editorial for Financial Times.
“For every dollar invested in reducing stunting, there is a return of about $22 in Chad, $21 in Senegal and $17 in Niger and Uganda,” she said.
The benefits are even higher if the investment is made early in a child’s life, ranging from $85 in Nigeria to $60 in Kenya.
Halving rates of child stunting by 2025 could lead to average annual savings ranging from $3 million in Swaziland to $376 million in Ethiopia, according to FAO.
“Africa’s economic growth over the past two decades has been impressive, but it has had little impact on child hunger,” H.E. Machel said.
“Despite average 2 percent annual Gross Domestic Product growth in Kenya, stunting increased by 2.5 percent. And in Nigeria, 4 percent average annual growth did not lead to any reduction in stunting at all,” she said.
Child hunger is fundamentally a political problem, the offspring of an unholy alliance of political indifference, unaccountable governance and economic mismanagement, H.E. Machel concluded, noting that the continent’s food system is broken.
“Increased food production has not resulted in better diets … supply chains are unfit for serving rapidly expanding urban populations and the rural poor,” H.E. Machel said.
“Agricultural economic growth targets encourage the production of major cereal crops – often for export – instead of more nutritious foods like pulses, fruit and vegetables,” she said.

Newswire : Study finds most of the World failing at Gender Equality

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Graphic of women’s faces

Nearly 40 percent of the world’s girls and women live in countries that are failing on gender equality, according to information compiled by Equal Measures 2030 and its partners.

According to the website for the project, “The 2019 SDG Gender Index measures the state of gender equality aligned to 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 129 countries and 51 issues ranging from health, gender-based violence, climate change, decent work and others. The 2019 SDG Gender Index provides a snapshot of where the world stands, right now, linked to the vision of gender equality set forth by the 2030 Agenda.”

The index reveals that 1.4 billion girls and women are living in countries that get a “very poor” or failing grade on gender equality.
The SDG Gender Index is considered the most comprehensive tool available to measure the state of gender equality when compared to defined SDGs.
The average score across the 129 countries – which represent 95 percent of the world’s girls and women – is 65.7 out of 100, which translates to a “poor” rating based upon the index’s scoring system).
No single country is the world’s best performer – or even among the world’s top ten performers – across all goals or all issues.
In 2015, world leaders from the participating countries committed to achieve gender equality by 2030 for every girl and every woman when they signed on to the ambitious goals and targets of the SDGs.
“With just 11 years to go, our index finds that not a single one of the 129 countries is fully transforming their laws, policies or public budget decisions on the scale needed to reach gender equality by 2030,” Alison Holder, the director of Equal Measures 2030 said in a news release.
“We are failing to deliver on the promises of gender equality for literally billions of girls and women,” Holder said.
Overall, the world is furthest behind on gender equality issues related to public finance and better gender data (SDG 17), climate change (SDG 13), gender equality in industry and innovation (SDG 9) and – worryingly – the standalone ‘gender equality’ goal (SDG 5).
Denmark tops the index, followed closely by Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands.
The countries with the lowest scores in the index – Niger, Yemen, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad – have all faced conflict and fragility in recent years.
Altogether, 2.8 billion girls and women live in countries that get either a “very poor” (59 and below) or “poor” score (60 – 69) on gender equality.
Just 8 percent of the world’s population of girls and women live in countries that received a “good” gender equality score (80 – 89) and no country achieved an “excellent” overall score of 90 or above.
The 129 countries featured in the index cover five regions – Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“It’s clear that even the most gender-equal countries need to improve on issues like climate change, gender budgeting and public services, equal representation in powerful positions, gender pay gaps, and gender-based violence,” Holder said.
The index also shows that countries with far fewer resources are still able to tackle key gender inequalities.
Senegal, for example, has a higher percentage of women in parliament (42 percent) than Denmark (37 percent), despite Denmark’s GDP per capita being 56 times higher than that of Senegal.
Kenya has very high rates of women who use digital banking (75 percent) – higher rates than three quarters of the world’s countries.
Colombia has better coverage of social assistance (81 percent) amongst its poorest people than the United States (65 percent), a higher-income country.
“This report should serve as a wakeup call to the world. We won’t meet the SDGs with 40% of girls and women living in countries that are failing on gender equality,” said Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“But the SDG Gender Index also shows that progress is possible. Many countries with the most limited resources are making huge strides in removing the barriers for girls and women across economies, politics and society – demonstrating that when it comes to gender equality, governments shouldn’t have excuses for inaction,” Gates said.
Officials said it’s also imperative that the global community provides investment and support to fragile and conflict-affected countries – those with the lowest scores in the Index, such as Yemen, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.
“As advocates for gender equality in Africa, we can no longer operate on presumptions and approximations,” said Memory Kachambwa, the executive director of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network – or FEMNET.
“Gaps of inequalities must be marked, counted and recorded so that the trail of implementation is clear and decision makers are held to account. The SDG Gender Index will help to ensure that Africa’s girls and women are counted and accounted for,” Kachambwa said.
While some issues are lagging far behind, dedicated international efforts appear to have made a difference on other issues.
Overall, countries have performed best on issues where coordinated and concerted policy focus and funding has been directed over the past 10-20 years, including on hunger and nutrition (SDG 2), water and sanitation (SDG 6), health (SDG 3) and education (SDG 4).
“With 8,000 decision-makers, advocates, and influencers gathered in Vancouver as part of the Women Deliver Conference, and over 100,000 participating around the world, we have the collective power to drive real progress on these gender equality scores and create real impact for girls and women,” said Katja Iversen, the president and CEO of Women Deliver.

Newswire: Democrats hold hearing on White Supremacy

Newspapers with stories on white supremacy

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

House Democrats on Tuesday, June 4, grilled officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security during a hearing focusing on how the Trump administration is addressing the growing threat of violent white supremacist groups.
The House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing, titled “Confronting White Supremacy: Adequacy of the Federal Response,” reportedly is the latest effort by Democrats to spotlight ways they say the Trump administration has systematically cut back on resources used to address threats from domestic extremists even as the FBI has reported a 30 percent to 40 percent rise in domestic terrorism cases 2. just since October.
The hearing included FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Criminal Investigations Calvin Shivers and DHS assistant secretary Elizabeth Neumann.
Democratic committee members have said they would press those members of Trump’s cabinet on their “budgets and allocations of personnel, data collection practices, and strategic plans” to address threats from white supremacists.

Newswire: Studies indicate reparations must include costs of predatory lending

New University Studies Track High Costs of Discriminatory Housing

By Charlene Crowell

Charts showing impact of housing discrimination

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – In recent years, the spate of homicides linked to questionable uses of deadly weapons and/or force, have prompted many activist organizations to call for racial reparations. From Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida, to Michael Brown’s in Missouri, Eric Garner’s in New York and many other deaths — a chorus of calls for reparations has mounted, even attracting interest among presidential candidates.

While no amount of money could ever compensate for the loss of Black lives to violent deaths, a growing body of research is delving into the underlying causes for high poverty, low academic performance and — lost wealth. Public policy institutes as well as university-based research from the University of California at Berkeley and Duke University are connecting America’s racial wealth gap to remaining discriminatory policies and predatory lending.

This unfortunate combination has plagued Black America over multiple decades. And a large part of that financial exploitation is due to more than 70 years of documented discriminatory housing.

The Road Not Taken: Housing and Criminal Justice 50 Years After the Kerner Commission Report, returns to the findings of the now-famous report commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson. In the summer of 1967, over 150 race-related riots occurred. After reviewing the 1968 report’s recommendations and comparing them to how few were ever enacted, the Haas Institute tracks the consequences of recommendations that were either ignored, diluted, or in a few cases pursued. Published by Berkeley’s Haas Institute for Fair and Inclusive Communities, it weaves connections between education, housing, criminal justice – or the lack thereof.

“Although in some respects racial equality has improved in the intervening years,” states the report, “in other respects today’s Black citizens remain sharply disadvantaged in the criminal justice system, as well as in neighborhood resources, employment, and education, in ways that seem barely distinguishable from those of 1968.”

In 1968, the Kerner Commission report found that in cities where riots occurred, nearly 40% of non-white residents lived in housing that was substandard, sometimes without full plumbing. Further, because Black families were not allowed to live wherever they could afford, financial exploitation occurred whether families were renting or buying a home.

As many banks and insurance companies redlined Black neighborhoods, access to federally-insured mortgages were extremely limited. At the same time, few banks loaned mortgages to Blacks either.This lack of access to credit created a ripe market for investors to sell or rent properties to Black families, usually in need of multiple needed repairs. Even so, the costs of these homes came at highly inflated prices.

In nearly all instances, home sales purchased “on contract” came with high down payments and higher interest rates than those in the general market. The result for many of these families was an eventual inability to make both the repairs and the high monthly cost of the contract. One late or missed payment led to evictions that again further drained dollars from consumers due to a lack of home equity. For the absentee owner, however, the property was free to sell again, as another round of predatory lending. As the exploitive costs continued, the only difference in a subsequent sale would be a home in even worse physical condition.

The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago: New Findings on the Lasting Toll of Predatory Housing Contracts, also published this May, substantiates recent calls for reparations, as it focuses on predatory housing contracts in Illinois’ largest city. Published by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, this report analyzed over 50,000 documents of contract home sales on the Windy City’s South and West Sides and found disturbing costs of discriminatory housing in one of the nation’s largest cities, as well as one of the largest Black population centers in the nation. Among its key findings:

During the 1950s and 1960s, 75-95% of Black families bought homes on contract;

These families paid an average contract price that was 84% more than the homes were worth;

Consumers purchasing these homes paid an additional $587 each month above the home’s fair market value;

Lost Black Chicago wealth, due to this predatory lending ranged between $3.2-$4 billion.

“The curse of contract sales still reverberates through Chicago’s Black neighborhoods (and their urban counterparts nationwide,” states the Duke report, “and helps explain the vast wealth divide between Blacks and Whites.”

Now fast forward to the additional $2.2 trillion of lost wealth associated with the spillover costs from the foreclosure crisis of 2007-2012. During these years, 12.5 million homes went into foreclosure. Black consumers were often targeted for high-cost, unsustainable mortgages even when they qualified for cheaper ones. With mortgage characteristics like prepayment penalties and low teaser interest rates that later ballooned to frequent and eventually unaffordable adjustable interest rates, a second and even worse housing financial exploitation occurred.

A 2013 policy brief by the Center for Responsible Lending, found that consumers of color – mostly Black and Latinx – lost half of that figure, $1.1 trillion in home equity during the foreclosure crisis. These monies include households who managed to keep their homes but lost value due to nearby foreclosures. Households who lost their homes to foreclosures also suffered from plummeting credit scores that made future credit more costly. And families who managed to hold on to their homes lost equity and became upside down on their mortgages – owing more than the property is worth. Both types of experiences were widespread in neighborhoods of color.

In terms of lost household wealth, nationally foreclosures took $23,150. But for families of color, the household loss was nearly double — $40,297.

CRL’s policy brief also states. “We do not include in our estimate the total loss in home equity that has resulted from the crisis (estimated at $7 trillion), the negative impact on local governments (in the form of lost tax revenue and increased costs of managing vacant and abandoned properties) or the non-financial spillover costs, such as increased crime, reduced school performance and neighborhood blight.”

As reparation proposals are discussed and debated, the sum of these financial tolls should rightly be a key part. While the Kerner Commission recommendations remain viable even in 2019, it will take an enormous display of public will for them to be embraced and put into action.

“The Kerner Report was the ‘road not taken’, but the road is still there,” noted john a. powell, the Hass Institute’s Director.

Charlene Crowell is the Communications Deputy Director with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached atcharlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

Greene County BBCF Community Associates launch shoe drive to raise funds for community grants

BBCF Community Associates L to R: Mollie Rowe, John Zippert, Miriam Leftwich and Carol Zippert

Eutaw, Al 2019 – Greene County Community Associates (GCCA) of the Black Belt Community Foundation are conducting a shoe drive fundraiser starting May 20, 2019 thru July 20, 2019 to raise funds to support community local level grants to be distributed in Greene County next year.
GCCA will earn funds based on the total weight of the pairs of gently worn, used and new shoes collected, as Funds2Orgs will issue a check for the collected shoes. Those dollars will come back to benefit Greene County organizations through the foundation’s community grants program. Anyone can help by donating gently worn, used and new shoes to GCCA members or at the Greene County Democrat Office – 206 Prairie Avenue, Eutaw – our primary collection point..
All donated shoes will then be redistributed throughout the Funds2Orgs network of micro-enterprise (small business) partners. Funds2Orgs works with micro-entrepreneurs in helping them create, maintain and grow small businesses in developing countries where economic opportunity and jobs are limited. Proceeds from the sales of the shoes collected in shoe drive fundraisers are used to feed, clothe and house their families. One budding entrepreneur in Haiti even earned enough to send to her son to law school.
“We are excited about our shoe drive,” said Miriam L. Leftwich, GCCA County Coordinator. “We know that most people have extra shoes in their closets they would like to donate to us. By doing so, we raise money for BBCF Community Grants, and we have the chance to help families in developing nations who need economic opportunities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
By donating gently worn, used and new shoes to the Greene County Community Associates, the shoes will be given a second chance and make a difference in people’s lives around the world.
The Greene County Community Associates ask you to encourage others to donate shoes to this worthwhile cause.
Contact any member of Greene County Community Associates: Miriam Leftwich, Rodney Pham, Mollie Rowe, Geraldine Walton, Carol Zippert, John Zippert, Johnni Strode Morning, Andrea Perry. Nancy Cole, Valerie Watkins, Darlene Robinson or Johnny Williams.
The primary collection point at the Greene County Democrat will be open on Mondays from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM; Tuesday- Thursdays from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM; and Fridays from 8:30 to Noon. Special arrangements for shoe drop-offs can be made by calling the Democrat at 205-372-3373.
You may also contact any member of the BBCF Greene County Community Associates, including Miriam L. Leftwich, County Coordinator at 205-496-2070 or by email at Leftwicm@bellsouth.net, for more information on the shoe drive.

ANSC Spring Convention features workshops on voting issues

The Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) Spring Convention featured workshops on a variety of voting issues.
This was in keeping with the convention theme that Every Issue Is A Voting Issue.
In the morning, prior to lunch, there were three workshops. The first was on Education with Dr. Daniel Boyd, State Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and former Lowndes County Superintendent of Education and Dr. Carol P. Zippert, Greene County School Board member and Chair of the Greene County ANSC Chapter.
Dr. Zippert mentioned her concerns with the recently passed Alabama Literacy Act, which requires that third graders not reading on a third grade level, not be promoted to the next grade, but held back until their reading meets the proper standard. Dr. Zippert expressed concerns about whether the state would provide resources for reading tutors, coaches and other support necessary for third graders to meet these goals.
Dr. Boyd commented on his work at the State Department of Education, saying, “Education is based on three pillars – the school, the home and the community – all three are important to the full development of the child. In some cases the schools will have to supplement what the parents can do and motivate the community to do more for the education of our young people.”
The second workshop was on Medicare Expansion and its critical impact on health care for people, hospitals, especially small rural hospitals and the general welfare and economic development of the state. John Zippert, who is the current ANSC President and Chair of the Greene County Health System reflected on the importance of expanding Medicaid to provide insurance coverage for 300,000 working poor Alabamians who currently lack health care insurance coverage.
Presdelane Harris, Organizing Director for Alabama Arise pointed out that despite claims by Governor Ivey and legislative leaders that funds were unavailable for Medicaid expansion, there was a source to fund Medicaid Expansion, prison reform and taking the sales tax off groceries. This would require Alabama, which is one of a small number of states that allows the deduction of Federal taxes paid from State income taxes, to end this deduction, which mostly benefits the richest taxpayers.
Harris said closing this tax loophole would generate over $700 million a year in new revenues for the state of Alabama, which would pay for Medicaid Expansion ($168 million first year, decreasing thereafter), prison reform and allow for taking the state sales tax off groceries.
Martha Morgan reported on the work of ANSC, SOS, Poor Peoples Campaign and other organizations rallying each week at the Legislature to urge the adoption of Medicaid Expansion. Zippert suggested that ANSC chapters and other groups may need to meet with their state legislative delegations to educate them and advocate with them on eliminating this regressive tax deduction to allow for progressive changes.
The third workshop was on voting rights. The presenters included Faya Rose Toure of Selma, Robert Avery of Gadsden and Jessica Barker of Huntsville. They spoke on a variety of concerns to register, educate and prepare voters for the 2020 elections, the Presidential Primary on March 3 and the general election on November 3, 2020. The group is planning a “Freedom Ride to Revive Section 5 of the VRA” from August 3 to 7, 2019 to push for restoration of the Voting Rights Act and ending voter suppression tactics across the nation.
At the luncheon in place of a guest speaker, twenty ANSC members spoke, each for a minute, about the voting issue that most concerned them. These issues included: gerrymandering, police misconduct, climate change, voter apathy, substance abuse, waste water treatment, involvement of young people and many others. This was a very spirited discussion.
After lunch, ANSC members held Congressional District meetings to elect members to the ANSC Board and to discuss local priorities.

School Board finalizes new superintendent’s contract

Dr. Corey Jones, new superintendent Greene County School System finalizes employment contract with School Board Members Kashaya Cockrell; Carrie Dancy; Dr. Jones; Attorney Hank Sanders; Board President Leo Branch and Board Vice President Dr. Carol P. Zippert

The Greene County Board of Education met in a special session, Wednesday, May 29, 2019, to finalize the contract for employment of Dr. Corey Jones, the superintendent-select for Greene County School System. Dr. Jones’ employment is for a three year term commencing July1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2022.
The official document states that this contract “… shall remain in full force and effect unless modified by mutual consent of the school board and the superintendent or unless terminated as provided in the contract under the Termination” heading.
The school board must also notify the superintendent in writing on or before June 30, 2021, (one year prior to his contract ending) whether or not it intends to renew the contract for an additional term commencing July 1, 2022. Likewise, if the superintendent intends not to seek another contract with the school district, he must give the board written notice of his decision no later than one calendar year prior to expiration of this contract.The superintendent serves as Secretary of the Board and as educational leader of the district “…as required by the laws of the State of Alabama and the lawful policies and directives of the board. The superintendent’s duties shall include those duties as set forth in Alabama law, and Greene County Board of Education Policy.”
The contract states that no later than October 1, 2019 the superintendent shall develop and submit to the board in writing proposed school system goals and objectives. “The Strategic Plan should be addressed in the superintendent’s goals and objectives along with the proposed means of measuring such accomplishments.”
Beginning June 1, 2020 and for each year of this contract thereafter, the school board shall evaluate and assess in writing the performance of the superintendent using an instrument selected by the board.
Dr. Jones will receive a salary of $102,000 annually and will be entitled to state pay raises afforded certified personnel in the appropriate tier. Other benefits available to the superintendent include health and related benefits; retirement benefits; life and disability insurance; vacation time; sick leave; professional growth experiences; professional membership in related fields; technology and related support; business expense allowance; and access to an automobile for personal and professional use.