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July 25, 2013

By KENNETH MILLER

Assistant Managing Editor

 

Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced two key appointments of African Americans to the influential Board of Public Works and the powerful Los Angeles Metro­politan Transportation Authority.

Garcetti selected former As­semblymember Mike Davis as a commissioner to the Board of Public Works and “Jackie” Dupont-Walker to the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.

“I want to make sure we’re careful and strategic with our transportation dollars. That’s the only way we’re going to make a real difference in the traffic congestion that costs us billions of dollars in lost productivity and billions of hours in time away from our lives,” Mayor Garcetti said. “I will work to make smart investments in bus and rail to improve the ride for transit-users, speed commutes for drivers, and create new jobs along transit lines and around stations.”

“Jackie” Dupont-Walker is the founding president of Ward Economic Development Corp­oration, a faith-based community development organization, and is chair of the USC Master Plan Advisory Committee where she represents the residents of the West Adams district. She is involved in numerous other civic organizations and serves as the AME Church International Social Action Officer and as the Social Action chair of Delta Sigma Theta – Century City.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with Mayor Garcetti to create an L.A. transportation system that will help bring our city's diverse neighborhoods closer together in every way,” Dupont-Walker said. “A world-class system should be accessible to every L.A. neighborhood, and new transportation hubs and corridors are opportunities to spark much-needed job creation and neighborhood revitalization by spurring local eco­nomies.”

Davis represented the 48th Assembly District from 2006 to 2012 and served as vice chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and chair of the Select Committee on Rail Transportation. Prior to assuming office, he served as a senior deputy supervisor for Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and as district director for Congress­woman Maxine Waters during her tenure in both the California State Assembly and US Congress.

“It’s an honor to be trusted by Mayor Eric Garcetti to serve as a member of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works,” Davis said. “My responsibility is to help make the infrastructure of our great city better. I am committed to helping bring efficient and effective services to improve the quality of life for our constituents.”

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson commended both of the appointments by the mayor.

“As a member of the MTA Board, Jackie Dupont-Walker will be in a key position to provide the oversight we need during the planning and construction of the Crenshaw Line. Her leadership will be crucial to the success of this project,” said Wesson.

“Mike Davis is uniquely qualified to serve the city as a member of the Board of Public Works.  The economic downturn has devastated city services.  Mike Davis has the experience and will provide the leadership we need to restore these needed services.”

Brotherhood Crusade Presi­dent Charisse Bremond-Weaver was equally pleased with the mayor’s most recent appointments.

“In just a short time, Mayor Garcetti has demonstrated his commitment to the African American community, and these two appointments of Mike Davis and Jackie Dupont-Walker are a reflection of that commitment,” she said.

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July 25, 2013

By George E. Curry

NNPA Editor-in-Chief

 

National Conference of Black Mayors Executive Director Vanessa R. Williams usually looks forward to the week immediately following the organization’s annual convention because that’s when she takes a week off to rest and get reinvigorated, usually with relatives in her hometown of Las Vegas.

But when she landed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas this year after the Atlanta convention, she learned that the newly-elected president Kevin Johnson of Sacramento had been trying to reach her while she was en route.

At 12:42 a.m. on June 5, he wrote to Williams, using his customary lower case letters: “tried to call you. sorry we haven’t had a chance to talk, but I am very concerned by the things i am hearing and learning and we have to act fast.”

Williams replied, “Unfortun­ately as you are aware, I was on travel yesterday and unable to speak with you during the time period that you provided. I will return to Atlanta Monday afternoon. I will contact the mentioned representative upon my return to schedule a time that we may meet.”

Johnson wrote on that same day, “while I understand that a week off after the conference may have been past practice, given the gravity of the situation, we need to make an exception this year.”

At issue was a request that Williams immediately turn more than 30 documents, some dating back more than a decade before Williams’ arrival, including utility bills, all internal memos, expense reports, all receipts, an office directory and “Information protected by Attorney-Client Privilege” to the law firm Johnson had solicited to assist him.

Several key mayors told Williams the request was too broad and advised her not to immediately comply.

Attorneys representing Kevin Johnson, Treasurer Patrick Green of Normandy, Mo., and the special committee went to court seeking a temporary restraining order, and a permanent restraining order against Bowser and Williams in order to get copies of the requested records.

On July 15, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher S. Brasher ruled in favor of Johnson and Green, ordering Bowser and Williams to turn over the requested financial documents within five days and pay Johnson’s and Green’s attorney fees. Judge Brasher limited the scope of records to Jan. 1, 2009 to the present.

The judge made it clear that his ruling had nothing to do with the ongoing dispute over who is president of the organization. However, Johnson’s attorneys returned to court the following day to seek another injunction to prevent Bowser, Williams and General Counsel Sue Winchester from challenging the validity of Johnson’s election or the creation of the board’s special task force. The judge indicated that ruling might not come until next month, at the earliest.

Traditionally, the presidency of NCBM was viewed as largely a ceremonial post, with the executive director responsible for the primary management chores. However, Johnson indicated he planned to be more actively involved, sending an email to Williams directing her to refrain from speaking to board members, forbidding any contact with the news media, prohibiting Williams from traveling without advance approval from him and not allowing her to execute any contract that exceeded $1,000.

Although Johnson’s petition accused Executive Director Vanessa Williams of “gross mismanagement,” in documents submitted to the court, more than a dozen board members signed affidavits with glowing reports about the performance of Williams, saying: 1) She had retired approximately $1.2 million of inherited debt; 2) That she “has performed all of her required duties in an exceptional manner;” 3) That she did not cause the NCBM to lose any tax exemptions under federal law; and that 4) Williams “has enhanced the reputation of NCBM by making significant accomplishments while having limited resources.”

On June 20 – just three weeks after Johnson was elected president of the NCBM – 16 members of the board sent a joint letter to Johnson expressing their displeasure with him and the law firm he had recruited.

“As members of the board we are very concerned about the recent activities of the Special Task Force and Ballard Spahr. We object to the recent tactics used by the law firm and do not approve of the way it is now handling the NCBM leadership and staff. Demands and actions are being taken that we as a board have not approved. The board of directors did not approve Ballard Spahr filing papers in the Superior Court of Fulton County,” said the mayors, who represented more than a majority of the 19 board members who were in good standing at the time (board membership has fluctuated because five mayors had left office and three slots designated for big-city mayors had not been filled).

“If such filings have been made we ask that they be removed immediately; we did not approve of an investigation of NCBM staff; we did not approve any attempts to micro manage and/or limit the duties of NCBM staff, nor did we approve of the removal of NCBM property nor were we made aware of or approve at any time the authority of the board of directors being given to a committee or third party. As a board we would not nor have we given to Ballard Spahr the authority to discipline and or terminate the contracts of NCBM staff. These measures are extreme and we certainly do not approve.” They added, “Both the report and the minutes that were provided to the members of the board are not consistent with the discussion that was held regarding NCBM receiving assistance from Ballard Spahr during the membership meeting…”

The 16 mayors authorized Executive Director Vanessa Williams to call a board meeting, which was held July 12.

In a last-minute effort to derail the meeting, Johnson sent an email to the board claiming that no board meeting had been called for July 12.

Using only lower case letters, as he customarily does in written communications, Johnson wrote: “i’ve been contacted by a number of board members asking for clarification about the status of the board meeting. it has come to my attention that some members of the ncbm board have circulated an email calling for a board meeting to take place tomorrow, july 12.

“as president of the ncbm and a member of the board, i wanted to inform you that a special board meeting has not been called. pursuant to section 3.7 of the bylaws, a special meeting may only be called by the president or the treasurer and upon request in writing of five or more directors.  neither i nor the treasurer have called for this meeting.”

However, 16 board members, including Mayor Robert Bowser, called the special board meeting. They view Bowser, not Johnson, as president of NCBM until the next election is held. Both Kevin Johnson and Robert Bowser are claiming the title of president – until the judge steps in.

The relevant section of 3.7 of the bylaws state, “Special meetings of the Board of Directors may be held at any time and at any place called by the President or by the Treasurer through the Executive Director and upon request in writing of five (5) or more directors…”

A judge will determine whether Johnson or Bowser is the actual president, with the power to call a special board meeting. The court will probably also decide, based on the bylaws, whether five members of the board can separately call a special meeting.

In a 4-hour meeting on July 12, the reconstituted board, chaired by Bowser, formally accepted the findings of Sue Winchester, its general counsel, who said the May 30 election was invalid because at least four bylaws covering the election were violated, including the lack of secret ballots and allowing members who had paid their dues in time to vote.

In addition to deciding that Kevin Johnson was not the lawfully elected president, board members rejected the draft minutes of the May 31 special meeting. They also overturned a series of actions taken by Johnson, including:

Dissolving the special task force;

Removing Ballard Spahr as attorneys for the NCBM board and the special task force;

Restoring all of the powers that Johnson tried to strip from Executive Director Vanessa Williams;

Selecting Atlanta attorneys Robert L. Arrington and Richard W. Summers as general counsel for the NCBM;

Directing the lawyers to begin processing payments to creditors and

Authorizing the executive director to solicit bids to conduct an outside audit.

Because of the growing number of international mayors, the board had earlier voted to change the name of the organization from National Conference of Black Mayors to the Conference of Black Mayors. The board voted on July 12 to begin using the new name and new federal tax ID assigned to the newly-named the Conference of Black Mayors.

But Johnson and his supporters are challenging whether the re-constituted board has the right to do anything.

 

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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 25, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

Millennium Corporation, a service disabled veteran owned small business and certified 8(a) Professional Services company, announced recently, that Linda Gooden joined their Board of Advisors effective July 11.

Gooden is the retired executive vice president of the Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) business sector as well as an officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. She provided strategic leadership for IS&GS while supervising over 30,000 experienced professionals providing integrated information technology solutions, systems and services to support worldwide missions for civil, defense, intelligence and other government customers.

Mr. Kevin Jennings, president & CEO of Millennium Corporation, stated, “We are extremely pleased and fortunate to have a leader of Linda’s capacity join our Board of Advisors. Linda’s strategic vision, leadership, and technical acumen will provide significant value to Millennium’s executive team. Her leadership experiences and extraordinary technology and business expertise will add significant contribution as we shape the future of Millennium.”

Members of the Millennium Corp­oration Board of Advisors include:

• Mr. Dean G. Popps – former acting assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Tech­nology (ALT) and the Army Acquisition Executive (AAE)

• Major General David R. Gust, USA (Ret.) – former deputy chief of staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, U.S. Army Material Command

• Brigadier General Thomas Cole, USA (Ret.) – former program executive officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors (IEW&S)

Visit Millennium Corporation online at www.millgroupinc.com.

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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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