Newswire :  Rep. Karen Bass of California will lead the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

On November 27 during a long day of selecting who will lead Democrats in the for U.S. House for the next two years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus selected California Congresswoman Karen Bass to be the next Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. For the next two years, the CBC will be 55 members, the largest in history. Bass told NNPA after the vote that she wants to elevate individual members of the Caucus during her tenure. “One of my most significant goals I believe is to try to elevate the unbelievable accomplishments of individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus that I believe have not really received the attention and the acknowledgement that they deserve — that’s my agenda,” Bass told NNPA. The CBC will have more power within the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House with five full chairmanships of top committees and also two members of the CBC, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in leadership positions. Bass will be the 26th chair of the CBC, and the eighth woman to hold the position. Bass, 65, is a popular member of the CBC. She once served as the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly from 2008–2010 and is known for being tough and savvy. “From her days in the California General Assembly where she became the first African-American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body, to her work in Congress to address both domestic and international issues affecting people of African descent, Congresswoman Bass has demonstrated tried and true leadership,” said outgoing CBC Chair Cedric Richmond. “From fighting for criminal justice reform and child welfare to affordable health care and a stronger economy for all, Karen has devoted her life to serving California families and African-American communities across the country. Karen is a proven leader who never backs down and always stands up for the values of inclusion and opportunity for all,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement after Bass was elected. Also elected were: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), 1st Vice Chair; Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), 2nd Vice Chair; Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Secretary; Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA), Whip; and Congressman-elect Steven Horsford (D-NV), Parliamentarian.

Commission commits $126,000 for new equipment; Chairman makes committee assignments

County personnel view demonstration model of excavator equipment approved by Commission.

The Greene County Commission met in a specially called meeting, Monday, November 26, 2018 to handle some business matters that were not dealt with at the re-organizational meeting the prior week. The commissioners approved a request by County Engineer, Willie Branch, to purchase a mini excavator with mulcher attachment at a cost of approximately $126,000. According to Mr. Branch, this will replace the county’s Boom Mower. Branch indicated that he expects the equipment to arrive by the first of the year. Commission Chairperson, Tennyson Smith, issued committee assignments for each commissioner: Commissioner Lester Brown will chair the Education Committee; Commissioner Corey Cockrell will chair the Highway/Solid Waste Committee; Commissioner Roshanda Summerville will chair the Personnel Committee; Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. will chair the Industry and Public Health Committee; and Commissioner Smith will chair the Finance/Public Safety Committee. In other business the Commission acted on the following: * Approved letter of support for Greene County Industrial Authority. * Approved Proclamation for World Aids Day, Dec. 1, 2018 for the Greene County * Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. * Approved replacement of HVAC unit at Activity Center ( Extension offices). * Approved ABC License for Tobacco Permit for Dollar General store in Clinton, AL. * Approved Dec. 31, 2018 as an additional county holiday for this year. * Approved 2019 county holiday schedule. * Approved Ratification of Chairman’s actions regarding resolution for Alabama Workers’ Compensation Self Insurers Fund. * Approved following employee travel request: Licensing Clerk to attend Licensing Conference in Prattville, Jan.16-17, 2019; CFO to attend Annual Governmental & Accounting Forum, Dec. 6-7, 2018 in Hoover, AL; CFO to attend Continuing Education in Bessemer, Dec. 11-12, 2018; H.R. Personnel to attend Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-6, 2018 in Montgomery; Board of Registrars to attend Registrar’s Conference Nov. 16 in Montgomery. The meeting was officially adjourned.

Bingo gaming distributes $367,605 for month of October

 

Shown above: Boligee Councilperson Ernestine Wade; County CFO Paula Bird; Forkland Clerk Kinya Turner; Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd; Greene County Health System CEO Dr. Marcia Pugh; Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison; Mayor of Union James Gaines; Greene County Superintendent Dr. James Carter, Sr., Representing the City of Eutaw Ruth Thomas and Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson

On Friday, November 16, 2018, Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $367,605 for the month of October from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System). The following assessments are for the month of September 2018. Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $60,000 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500. Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.

Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500. River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,275 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,275. Palace (Tommy Summerville Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,960; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.

Newswire :  East Africans score victory for Minneapolis’ Amazon warehouse packing workers

 

Somali women protest Amazon

Nov. 26, 2018 (GIN) – Somali women packers for the giant Amazon distribution center in Minneapolis are fired up and refusing to speed up the production line, becoming the first known group to defy Amazon management and bring them to the bargaining table. “Nobody would assume a Muslim worker with limited language skills in the middle of Minnesota could be a leader in a viable fight against one of the biggest employers in the world and bring them to the table,” said Abdirahman Muse, executive director of Awood, the Somali word for “power.” But when a worker lost her job, unable to meet crushing demands to pack more and faster when she had just finished 18 days of fasting over Ramadan, frustration was shared throughout the plant. “The new managers are like military — they don’t give you respect,” said Amazon worker Safia Ahmed Ibrahim who once worked for the U.S. and U.N. aid groups before fleeing from Somalia to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. “I worked hard and I was employee of the month,” she said with pride. But after returning from breast cancer treatment, a new manager scolded her for working slowly, seeing her only as a worker who, on one particular day, was slow. Hibaq Mohamed said Amazon let her take paid breaks to pray, as required by state law, but her managers made her keep up with the quota. Sixty percent of Amazon’s 3,000 workers in the region are East African, Awood estimates, but only one manager speaks Somali. Amazon disputes that number, saying there are a lot fewer East Africans, and four area managers who speak Somali. Amazon has now agreed to require a general manager and a Somali-speaking manager to agree on any firings related to productivity, to respond to individual complaints within five days and meet with workers quarterly, according to the New York Times. But a group of about 40 workers say this isn’t enough. Their main concern — the pace at which they are expected to work — from 160 items an hour to 230 – wasn’t addressed. They voted to stage a large protest and walkout on Dec. 14, in the middle of the holiday season. “We are not asking them to cater to East African workers,” said Awood director Muse. “We are just asking them to treat workers humanely.” A petition to Amazon to restore Safio Barrow’s job can be found on www.awoodcenter.org

Newswire : Pelosi announces push for staff diversity for new U.S House

By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

With the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history along with a historic number of women entering the U.S. House in 2019, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced plans for a new emphasis on staff diversity in the U.S. House. The effort will call attention to the ongoing diversity problem on Capitol Hill. Very few senior staff positions on the Senate side are held by Blacks or Latinos. On the House side of Capitol Hill most staff top positions are employed by member of the CBC. “We know that the diversity in our ranks is a strength and a reflection of the American people,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues last week. She is expected to run for Speaker and lead Democrats once again when the new Congress convenes in January. A new House Diversity Initiative would create a permanent office in the House with sufficient staff to help recruit and retain diverse employees according to staff. Much of the pressure over the last few years regarding the diversity issue on Capitol Hill has come as a result of study and effort by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies headed by Spencer Overton. The Joint Center applauded Pelosi’s letter to her Democratic House colleagues emphasizing the importance of staff diversity. The letter featured several Joint Center recommendations. “Leader Pelosi deserves credit for laying down an early marker on the need to take action to increase top staff diversity in Congress,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “This is a good start, and we look forward to continuing to work with Leader Pelosi to diversify congressional top staff.” Pelosi’s letter encouraged members of Congress to hire diverse staff. She also announced her hope that the Democratic Caucus would formally adopt the Rooney Rule, which requires interviewing at least one person of color for every top staff position. The top positions, or “senior staff” positions in each congressional office are: chief of staff, legislative director, communications director. “The incoming majority of the U.S. House of Representatives will be the most diverse in our nation’s history,” said Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center. “Leader Pelosi’s letter is a good beginning toward the work ahead to ensure that the senior and mid-level staff of the U.S. House reflect the diversity of America.” The Joint Center published a report in September 2018 that found that although people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 13.7 percent of the top staffers of the U.S. House of Representatives (161 out of 1174 top staffers). Nine new members of the Black Caucus will likely include Lucy McBath (GA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Lauren Underwood (IL14), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Colin Allred (TX-32), Illhan Omar (MN-08) and Jahanna Hayes (CT-02). There will also likely be five new African American full committee Chairmen and Chairwomen when the new Congress convenes in January.

Griggers returns to work after shooting incident

Greg Griggers, District Attorney for the 17th. Judicial District, encompassing Greene, Sumter and Marengo Counties, was shot outside his office in downtown Demopolis on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:45 PM. Former Alabama State Trooper Steven Smith, Jr. who was standing across the street shot at Griggers several times with a shotgun. He was injured in the face when struck with automobile window glass that shattered when the shots were fired. Griggers was taken to the Bryan-Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis but released the next day. Smith was shot by two officers who were with Griggers and had just returned from lunch at Stacey Café, down the street from the office. Steven Smith, Jr. was identified as the same person who in 1996 shot into the Livingston home of 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway. Smith was fired from the Alabama Department of Public Safety later that year. Demopolis Police Chief Tommy Reese who is investigating the shooting said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the ambush. At a short press conference held Friday, after his release from the hospital, Griggers said, “ I am alive and well and doing good. I want to thank the two officers who responded to my shooting and for saving my life. I and my family will never be able to thank them enough.” Griggers said he would return to work on Monday of this week and continue his work as District Attorney.

Eutaw City Council approves ordinance on political signs

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at City Hall. The Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting a strict ordinance on the display of political signs in the City of Eutaw. The Council also agreed to suspend rules to allow for final approval and publication of the ordinance without a second reading and meeting. The ordinance says in part, “Section 1: No political sign shall be erected, constructed, posted or painted on any utility pole, tree, bench, fence, or awning; nor attached to any city, county, state or federal roadway, directional sign or informational sign. No signs shall be erected, constructed, or posted on any portion of the Greene County Courthouse Square Historic District.” The ordinance goes on to limit signage to the period between qualification and election. There is a penalty of $25.00 per sign, ascribed to the candidate whose name is on the sign and whose sign is left up more than seven days after an election. Councilman Latasha Johnson proposed a resolution to declare the building adjacent to the National Guard Armory, which currently houses Christmas decorations, as surplus so it could be leased to the REACH organization for storing surplus furniture. This furniture is currently stored in a portion of the former Carver Middle School facility, which the City is converting to a civic and youth activities center. Johnson’s resolution was voted down in a vote of 3 to 3 with Mayor Steele, Bennie Abrams and Joe Lee Powell voting against use of the facilities for the community furniture business promoted by REACH, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Christ Temple Church in Eutaw. Johnson said, “My proposal for use of the storage building near the Armory would have brought in some rental money and helped keep this service for low income people in the community. The Mayor is against this REACH service business and wants the furniture out of the school.

A spokesperson for REACH told the Democrat that based on meetings with the Mayor that they have decided to move the furniture out of the school into some warehouse space the group has in Sumter County. “We will try to keep making furniture available through some empty houses we have in our community around our church in Eutaw. The Mayor has not been supportive of any solutions to this problem and had the furniture locked up in the school where it cannot help anyone,” he said. Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith announced that the TS Police Support League, Inc., the operating charity of the Palace Bingo was sponsoring a Community Christmas Party on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at the National Guard Armory. In the Public Comments Section of the meeting, several persons raised concerns about the problems and inaccuracies of the city water bills. Another asked about when the city would have an audit report available for public review and inspection. Mayor Steele invited the public to come at any time to the City Hall to examine the financial statements of the City, which would be provided by the City Clerk. Mayor Steele also indicated that the City staff was reading the water meters and trying to fix those that were not working properly. A Working Session of the Eutaw City Council scheduled for the third Tuesday of the month, November 20, 2018 has been cancelled and not rescheduled.

School board re-elects Branch as President and Zippert as Vice President

At its annual re-organizational meeting held, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, the Greene County Board of Education elected the same officers to serve for the next year: Mr. Leo Branch as President and Dr. Carol P. Zippert as Vice President. The election of board officers was conducted by Attorney Hank Sanders who explained that the officers could be selected through the nomination process or by a motion and second. The latter was selected and the motion to re-elect the current officers was made by board member William Morgan, with a second by board member Carol Zippert. The motion passed on a vote of 3 to 1. Only four of the five school board members were present. The board agreed to maintain its same meeting schedule: Third Monday of each month at 4:30 pm. In his report to the board, Superintendent James Carter announced that the State Department of Education will be conducting a Comprehensive Review of the Greene County School System, which will include a review of all programs. This is a federally mandated review that is routinely conducted of all school systems within a three to five year schedule. The team from the state will review policies, visit classrooms, conduct interviews with administrators, teachers, and other school personnel, students and parents. The Comprehensive Review will be conducted November 26-30, 2018. Dr. Carter also reported that the Greene County School System is one of the first in the state to include a coding program for students. This will enable students to create various robotic instruments and components as well as develop systems by the time they are ready to graduate. In other business, the board approved the following personnel items: Resignations of Cardelia Paige as 5th Grade Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School and Cassandra Burton as Math Teacher at Greene County High School. Employment: Ann Spree as Math Tutor at Greene County High; Elroy Skinner as Math Teacher at Greene County High; and Jacqueline Carter as 5th Grade Teacher at Robert Brown Middle School.

The board approved the following Administrative Services recommended by the superintendent: * Request approval to survey and appraise Birdine School property. * Request approval for Makane Morrow to travel to Howard Computer Technology in Mississippi. * Approval of Contract with West Central Official Association of York, Alabama for Girls Basketball Officials during the 2018 -2019 school term. * Approval of Contract with West Central Official Association of York, Alabama for Boys Basketball Officials during the 2018 -2019 school term. * Request approval of field trip for Debate Team to travel to Kennesaw State University to compete in a 2-day event, March 2019. * Request approval of field trip, for Debate Team, to travel to Mississippi State University, to compete in a 2-day event February 2019. * Approval of Bid for fuel from Pruett Oil Company for Department of Transportation. * Approval of 2.5 % raise for LaVonda Blair, CSFO. * Approval to pay cost of T-Mobile connectivity for students in Greene County School District. Payment of all bills, claims, and payroll. The meeting adjourned with no comments from the public.

County Commission re-organizes: Tennyson Smith selected as Chair; Roshanda Summerville selected as Vice Chair

Shown L to R: Greene County Commissioners Lester Brown, Allen Turner, Jr., Roshanda Summerville, Tennyson Smith and Corey Cockrell.

 

At the Greene County Commission’s annual organizational meeting, held Wednesday, Nov.14, 2018, Commissioner Tennyson Smith was selected as Chairperson and newly elected Commissioner Roshanda Summerville was selected as Vice Chairperson. Attorney Hank Sanders, who presided over the process, opened the floor for nominations for Chairperson. Commissioner Corey Cockrell nominated Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and Commissioner Lester Brown nominated Commissioner Tennyson Smith. Smith received three votes and Turner received 2 votes.

For Vice Chair, Commissioner Turner nominated Commissioner Cockrell and Commissioner Brown nominated Commissioner Summerville. Summerville received four votes and Cockrell received one vote. Following each nomination and vote, Attorney Sanders asked for a motion and second on the selection of officers for the record. Brown moved and Summerville seconded that Smith serve as Chairperson. The vote was again three to two for Smith. Brown moved and Cockrell seconded that Summerville to serve as Vice Chairperson. The vote was four to one for Summerville. The commission approved the second Monday of each month at 6:00 pm as its regular meeting schedule. The Chairperson’s appointment of Commissioners to chair various committees was tabled. The body also agreed to maintain the same designation of bank depositories, with Chairperson Smith and Vice Chairperson Summerville serving as signatories for checks. Smith and CFO Paula Bird will remain as signatories for the safety deposit box. The standard Rules of Procedure were approved. In other business the commission received and approved the finance report and payment of claims as presented by CFO Bird. The following bank balances as of October 18, 2018 were noted: Citizen Trust Bank $2,048,536.88; Merchants & Farmers Bank $4,351,360.62; Bank of New York $358,896.59; Bond Investments $921,428.30. The meeting was adjoined and public comments were invited.

Newswire : Kenyan grassroots activist tapped for major humanitarian prize

 

Nov. 19, 2018 (GIN) – Kennedy Odede started SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) as a teenager in 2004 with 20 cents and a soccer ball. Growing up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, he experienced extreme povdedeerty, violence, lack of opportunity, and deep gender inequality. Odede also dreamed of transforming urban slums, from the inside-out. SHOFCO, based in Nairobi, Kenya, provides critical services that disrupt survival mode—giving people the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive. SHOFCO’s programs, which include health care, economic empowerment, and sustainable delivery of clean water through a cutting-edge aerial piping system, are always demand-driven and community led. Through its education programs for girls, SHOFCO empowers the future female leaders who will ultimately transform the structures that keep urban poverty in place. What began as a grassroots movement in Kibera by Kennedy in 2004 has ignited transformation and hope in six Kenyan informal settlements, reaching more than 220,000 people. “The jury’s selection of SHOFCO to receive the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize really speaks to the power of local actors,” said Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn. “SHOFCO is a remarkable example of citizen-led change, created by people living in very challenging conditions. As Africa and the world urbanize and more informal settlements are created, SHOFCO provides an inspiring example of local creativity and solutions.” In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Odede wrote: “Flint (Michgan) and Kibera are reminders that the power of politics is the people. The process of organizing will bring forth the leaders who can truly represent their communities and push for change, whether or not those leaders hold political office. “We should look first to our neighborhoods, towns, schools, churches, mosques and temples to identify the leaders who represent our needs and values. Empower them, and the politicians will follow suit.” SHOFCO will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 22 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize over the last two decades including most recently, The Task Force for Global Health and Landesa. For more information, visit www.shofco.org