July 18, 2013

LAWT News Service


Nashville, TN – July 14, 2013 -- This morning, Pastors around the country were compelled to shift the atmosphere of anger, disbelief and shock over the Trayvon Martin verdict. Leaders of faith were faced with the bold task of maintaining peace and unity amidst obvious angst.

Great guidance and wisdom came from Bishop Joseph Walker, the recent Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship Presiding Bishop Elect, who also pastors the 28,000 member Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. 

Walker delivered an impassioned statement to help focus the congregation’s obvious dismay regarding last evening's 'not guilty' verdict.

"The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26, ‘Be angry, but do not sin and do not let the sun go down on your wrath.’ No matter what side you are on, we cannot skirt over real anger. There are people who stereotype and make assumptions about African Americans. This cynicism still exists today and is a blatant wake up call. Race is a real issue, and we cannot ignore it, especially in the church. It's more important now than ever to know our history! Learn about Medgar Evers, Emmitt Till and the many others in our historic legacy. It could've been you walking home from the store.”

Walker, who is an advocate for community involvement and effecting positive change, challenged his congregation and an international viewing audience to, “Take the anger you might be feeling and connect it to advocacy. Get involved in the community! Teach your children about civil rights and the Civil Rights Movement.”

“And please, don't let the sun go down on your wrath. Everybody who doesn’t have your skin color is not your enemy, and everyone that does have your skin color is not your friend. This is not the time to look at people in distain. We are all brothers and sisters. Let's rise up as the Kingdom of God - get involved and pray. At the end of the day, whatever side you fall on you cannot always trust the judgment of man, but there is a Judge who will have the last say. My thoughts and prayers are certainly with Trayvon Martin's parents and family."

About Bishop Joseph Walker, III:  Noted as one of the most educated and influential leaders in the ministerial community, Bishop Walker, born in Shreveport, LA, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern University, a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He is the author of eight books, including the current top selling title, Becoming A Couple of Destiny. Bishop Walker also serves as the Bishop of Senior Pastors within the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. Walker is married to the former Dr. Stephaine Hale. She is the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology at Vanderbilt University and they have one beautiful daughter, Jovanni Willow Walker.

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July 18, 2013

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

LAWT Religion Editor


Economic development and community empowerment define the city career of Valerie Lynne Shaw. During her 20+ years of service, she has garnered a distinctive list of accomplishments focused on im­proving the quality of life for the residents of Los Angeles, particularly in South L.A.

As the longest serving woman in the history of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, Shaw was instructed to vacate her position this month.  Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed former Assemblyman Mike Davis as her replacement.

Although her physical presence on the Board will be missed, her legacy will live on through her myriad of groundbreaking achievements as a commissioner.

Among her many successes, Shaw says she’s most pleased about her work as coordinator of the 2008-2013 South Los Angeles Initiatives where she played a lead role in organizing and implementing the economic development strategic plan. 

The Initiative, led by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmembers Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Herb Wesson, Janice Hahn and Joe Buscaino, focused on completing projects to improve housing, retail, industrial, infrastructure, jobs and workforce development, business development and public education.

“Through the South L.A. Initiatives, we brought together the political strata, city departments and the community to collectively operate in the interest of the entire region.  The city invested $650 million in South L.A., more than 6,000 jobs were created as a result of the projects,” said Shaw.

As a commissioner, she was also instrumental in initiating and securing the city’s first Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on a major construction project with local hire and training program components.

“The PLA was applied to the $270 million East Central Interceptor Sewer project, the largest public works project in the history of the Department of Public Works.  The local hire element, based on ZIP Codes, afforded jobs to local people and associated training.  We also worked closely with the unions to ensure South L.A. residents were part of the process,” recalled Shaw.

In the area of community enhancements, Shaw has reached out to thousands of South Angelinos to explain how to access city services to develop their neighborhoods. 

“I’ve spoken with religious leaders, neighborhood councils, and professional associations, all in the interest of trying to help them to learn the power matrix inside City Hall.”

As for her motivation, Shaw declared,  “I’m just passionate about assisting all efforts that lead to the overall improvement of the South L.A. region.  I’ve worked to assist South L.A. nearly all of my entire professional life because I care so much about its people.  My next step will be to continue operating in interest of South L.A.”

Shaw credits her parents with inspiring her to public service.  Her late father, Leslie, was the first African American postmaster in Los Angeles and her retired mother, Ann, was a noted community and social activist from the 1960s through the mid-1990s.

“My parents were always involved in politics and public life. Also, my mentors included Agnes Leatherwood, Martha Brown Hicks, and my grandmother, Sarah White.  They have all passed on but during their time, they really influenced me. They were all strong women who were passionate about their families and the community.”

Embracing those same concerns, Commissioner Shaw co-founded the city’s Community Beautification Grant Program that disbursed 1,429 grants totaling $13 million in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles since the program’s inception in 1998.

In 2005, she extended her campaign to help others by establishing the Public Work’s ‘Hurricane Katrina Assistance Program’ where city employees and labor unions raised over $75,000 to assist seven families who were relatives of Department of Public Works’ employees.

As Shaw moves towards a new chapter in life, she plans to devote more time to assisting the people of South Los Angeles.

“I know that any group can be as powerful as it wants to be,” she noted.  “The more enlightened and organized South L.A. residents become, the more powerful they will become in terms of receiving resources from city government.”

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July 11, 2013


Assistant Managing Editor


The financially challenged 14,000 student, 18 school Ingle­wood School District is now in the hands of veteran educator and retired superintendent Don Brann, who will be charged with saving it.

African American Kent Taylor, who was the administrator in charge of the district resigned in 2012 after the state Department of Education learned of tentative agreements he made with the teachers union without the authority to do so.

Taylor’s resignation came just two months after he was appointed by state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to lead the school system — which had been taken over by the state in September when Gov. Jerry Brown approved legislation granting $55 million in emergency loans to the district.

After the abrupt resignation of Taylor, Torlakson issued the following statement: “This change is in the best interests of taxpayers, students and employees of the Inglewood Unified School District. I’m confident that our work to address the district’s troubled finances will proceed without interruption.”

The resignation came after the Education Department learned of a proposed collective bargaining offer between the district and the Inglewood Teachers Assn.

However, it was deemed that in his position as state administrator, Taylor did not have the authority to enter into a labor contract without prior approval by Torlakson or a designee or before the completion of a financial review and plan to bring the district back to solid fiscal health.

In a letter, the department informed the teachers union that the agreement was voided.

Taylor could not be reached for comment.

Union officials said during the time the agreement and a memorandum of understanding were negotiated in good faith they were under the impression that Taylor had the authority to enter into them.

Union officials had asked Taylor several times if he did in fact have the power to make collective bargaining deals. He assured the union that he did, Somberg said.

When Taylor was appointed, Peter Somberg, president of the Inglewood Teachers Assn., stated, there was no indication from Torlakson or other state officials indicating that Taylor did not have that power.

“There was nothing ever mentioned that he didn’t have authority to negotiate with us,” Somberg said.

The union maintains that an agreement reached by Taylor, is legitimate.

Now, months without a permanent Inglewood School District state administrator, Brann, 67, has been selected by Torlakson to fill the position.  He was appointed to the post June 28 and began working on July 1.

While Brann, who graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business, has an abundance of experience having served as superintendent for three school districts—Wiseburn, Wilsona and San Gabriel Unified, it remains to be seen if he is the right choice to solve the crisis that plagues Inglewood.

Brann is credited with turning around the Wiseburn School District in Hawthorne.  He increased the declining enrollment and was instrumental in securing a bond measure approval to rebuild schools. Subsequently the students test scores improved.

The El Segundo resident may find the minority dominated Inglewood School District to be his most difficult challenge.

The district has depleted its reserves, and almost half of the emergency funds and is operating at a $17.7-million deficit. Budget wounds were opened more by the loss of funding for students who left the district for other schools.

Brann himself was guilty of luring away students from the floundering Inglewood school district, but now is responsible for keeping them.

The agenda meeting scheduled for July 17 for the district has been canceled according to its website, presumably so that Brann may begin focusing on leading the district from the hole.

The district, which was taken over by the state in October 2012 due to the serious financial shortcomings, and loaned $55 million by the state, is again in trouble.  According to reports, at least half the $55 million has already been spent this past school year.

Brann has been instrumental in influencing other communities to work together in a partnership with businesses and other organizations.

In Inglewood, among the multiple concerns is the state board penchant for shrinking the number of Blacks in prominent positions and involving minority business in bidding for projects that empower and sustain the local community.

Because of all of the turmoil and mistakes by the state which preceded Brann, the district students, parents, educators and community leaders are pessimistic, and carefully watching to see what happens.

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July 11, 2013

LAWT News Service


Ninth District City Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr. will hold his Community Swearing-In Ceremony Saturday, July 13 at Los Angeles Trade Technical College(North Tent Area),  400 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015.

 Beginning at 10:00 a.m., local radio personality Josefa Salinas will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Remarks will be provided by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles County Supervisor Chairman Mark Ridley Thomas, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Gary Toebban, and former 9th District City Councilwoman Jan Perry. The Ceremony will also feature special performances by Grupo Folklorico Guish-Bac and Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

 Price was first elected to the California Legislature in 2006 to represent the 51st Assembly District and was re-elected by an overwhelming margin to a second term in 2008. In May 2009, he won a special election, and in November 2010 in the general election he won with 83% of the vote in the 26th Senate District. That district included Culver City and portions of Los Angeles including, Beverlywood, Larch­mont, Hollywood, Little Ethiopia, Koreatown, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Vermont Hills and parts of the 9th Council District.

Various public, private and non-profit agencies will have resource tables at the event to share with the general public. Agencies include: Department of Public Works, Department of Social Services, St. Johns Wellness Center, and the Small Business Development Center.

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