You Say What ?

“PEOPLE ALWAYS CALL IT LUCK WHEN YOU’VE ACTED MORE SENSIBLY THAN THEY HAVE.”OH MY

The Drama Queen

“Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there’s enough time.” INEVITABLES

The Drama Queen

 

“Egotism” : the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidityEGO CLOSE TO IGNORANCE

                                The Drama Queen

 

“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.” WHS RIGHT

                The Drama Queen

 “Nihilism is best done by professionals.” –Iggy PopNIHILISM

 

“I believe that every human being has a finite number of heart beats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.” HEARTBEATS

The Drama Queen

 

“Criminal” : a person with predatory instincts and insufficient capital to form a corporation. ►The Drama Queensneaky

 

 

 

“The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as mr know it allnecessary to seem to know something as to know it.”   

The Drama Queen

 

“Health food makes me sick!”  The Drama Queenwheats poison

 

 

 

 jb…signing off 07.02.2015 — 11:56 a.m.

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in 2 small steps.”    —David lloyd George (1863 -1945)

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David Lloyd George as Chancellor

In 1908 he was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer. This gave him an opportunity to extend the welfare state – adding Unemployment Benefits and sickness benefits. … These benefits became colloquially known as a ‘Lloyd George’. In his budget speech of 29 April 1909, Lloyd George passionately spoke of his hope to reduce poverty.

This, Mr. Emmot, is a War Budget. It is for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness. I cannot help hoping and believing that before this generation has passed away, we shall have advanced a great step towards that good time, when poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests.

USELESS INFORMATION–Vol. # 1

parental warning 

Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, invented the first alarm clock in 1787. It only rang at 4 A.M. because that’s what time he got up.alarm clock

William Morgan, a student of basketball inventor James Naismith, invented a sport of his own: volleyball.volley Ball

 

 

 

The shallow Champagne glass originated from a mold taken from the bust of Marie Antoinettecheers

The Ice Cream cone was invented in the summer of 1904 by Charles Menches. It made its debut one year later at the St. Louis World Fair.worlds fair
Approximately 60% of the water used by households during the summer is used for watering flowers and lawns.watering

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was “Moon.” Buzz was the second man to step onto the Moon in 1969.buzz on moon

 

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The term “mayday” used for signaling for help (after SOS) comes from the French “M’aidez” which is pronounced “MAYDAY” and means, “Help Me.”may day

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The word “maverick” came into use after Samuel Maverick, a Texan, refused to brand his cattle. Eventually any unbranded calf became known as a Maverickcattle...no brand

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There was no punctuation until the 15th century.eats shots and leaves

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For 47 days in 1961, the painting “Matisse’s Le Bateau (The Boat)” was hanging upside down in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Apparently none of the over 116,000 visitors seem to have noticed.

300px-La_Bateau

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Lead poisoning has been blamed for contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire. Women became infertile by drinking wine from vessels whose lead had dissolved in the wine, and the Roman upper classes died out within a couple centuries. The Romans used lead as a sweetening agent and as a cure for diarrhea. It added up to massive self-inflicted poisoning. wine barrels

Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicineketchup

  • American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class.olive salad

 

 

 

  • Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Chan look alike contestcharlie chaplin look alikes
  • The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.library theief

 

 

  • You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.TV watching
  • Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.mercury and venus stats
  • Apples are more efficient than caffeine in waking you up in the morningapples
  • 47.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot.math

 

 

  • Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.churchhill
  • Elephants are the only land mammals that can’t jump.elephant
  • Your foot is nearly the same length as your forearm as measured from the inside of the elbow to the wristfoot size
  • Spiral staircases in medieval castles turn right as they ascend. This was so that (right-handed) knights defending the castle could more easily combat invading foes who were climbing the stairs.stair way

 

The day after October 4, 1582 was October 15, 1582.

    • 1582 calendar
    • The ammunition belts in WWII aircraft were 27 feet long, reminiscent of the expression “the whole nine yards”.
    • ammo belts
    • The term “dodger” (from the Brooklyn Dodgers, now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers) was a shortened form of “trolley dodgers,” which described Brooklynites for their ability to avoid being hit by trolley cars.trolley dodgers

     

 

 

  • continentsThe continents names all end with the same letter with which they start.

 

 

In ancient Greece, women counted their age from the date on which they were married, not from the date of their birth date a tradition many women appear to follow today.ancient greece

 

Before they hit it big in show business, Carol Burnett sold handbags in a shoe store, Ellen DeGeneres sold vacuum cleaners, David Hyde Pierce sold clothing, Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs, and Jerry Van Dyke sold Bibles. One of the icons of stand-up comedy, Rodney Dangerfield, sold aluminum siding to put food on the table.work situation

jb signing off….06.29.2015 —12:47 p.m.

back to work

 

 

 

An African Evening Entertainment

 

AfrNiteCvr - CopyAn African Night’s Entertainment

as told By Rahila


In the northeastern part of Nigeria, surrounded by mountains, there is a small village called Hong.

The tribes living there are the Kilba’s.AfrNite1 - Copy (2)

It is the best time of the year when all the crops have been harvested and brought home from the farm. The main crops of this village are maize, guinea corn, and groundnuts. The men, women, and children usually peel the groundnuts by hand.AfrNite2 - Copy (2)

After supper, the men roll their mats or their sheepskins under their arms and carry lantern lamps making sure that the lamps have enough kerosene. They also have a sack with a small portion of groundnuts, which are supposed to be peeled for that night. Some men go to the marketplace, while others stay in small groups nearby if their houses are too far from the marketplace. They sit to discuss the issues of the day and to peel their groundnuts.AfrNite3 - Copy - Copy

The women and children stay in groups outside the houses. Each woman brings with her a small portion of groundnuts which she and her children will peel for the night.AfrNite4 - Copy - Copy

Children always ask the grown-ups to tell them folk tales while they are peeling. AfrNite5 - Copy - Copy

 

 

 

 

One evening, Dada Rabi who was one of the oldest in the group, decided to tell them a story. Wetting her groundnuts so that the shell will become softer and easier to peel, she settled herself comfortably, with her bony back leaning against a wall.elder Dada

The other women and children sat down and prepared themselves to listen. Dada Rabi seeing how interested everyone was, smiled and cleared her voice and then she started….

“There once was a man who had two wives and three children. AfrNite8 - Copy - CopyThe first and eldest of the wives was Zainab. She had one son, Aminu, who was the eldest of the three children, and one daughter Amina. The second and younger wife, Hauwa, had one daughter and she was called Lumbi.AfrNite7 - Copy - Copy

Zainab, the first wife became ill with an illness from which she was never to recover. After some days of struggling against the illness. Zainab died. Her two children, Aminu and Amina, were entrusted to the care of Hauwa, the younger wife.AfrNite9 - Copy - Copy

Huawa unfortunately,  proved herself a selfish and unfair woman, since she favored only her own daughter, Lumbi. The stepchildren, Amina and Aminu were kept busy with chores. Each morning, Huawa, the stepmother, sent Amina to fetch water from the stream and to the woods to collect wood for fire. Aminu the stepson was expected to go and cut hay for the animals.AfrNite10 - Copy - Copy

One day after Lumbi, the favored child had eaten, Aminu and Amina as usual, were only then allowed to eat. Their portion was only what remained as Lumbi’s leftovers. Upon finishing her food, Amina approached the water pot to drink, but before the cup’s rim reached her mouth, her stepmother snatched the cup from her hand.

‘How dare you touch the cup that my daughter drinks from with your dirty hands? Go to the stream and drink from there!’AfrNite11 - Copy - Copy

‘But I am very thirsty,’ cried Amina.

‘I don’t care, you might be dying, but you cannot drink from this water pot!’ screamed Huawa.

AfrNite12 - Copy - CopyAmina saw the mounting anger in her stepmother’s eyes and resigned herself to going to the stream for a drink of water.

At the stream, Amina was about to drink some water when the orange tree in a voice so weak that Amina could barely hear cried, ‘Please save me. Haven’t had a drink all day, and as you can see it is a very hot day today.’AfrNite13 - Copy - CopyAmina, instead of taking the cup to her mouth for a drink, decided to give the orange tree a drink first. In return, the tree said, ‘May God bless you with my sweetness and deny you my sourness.’

AfrNite16 - Copy - CopyAgain, as Amina bent to get water, the guava tree, the mango tree, the banana tree, and the paw paw trees all begged for a drink. Amina gave each of the trees a drink before she finally took a drink for herself. In return, each of the trees blessed her with their sweetness.

When Amina arrived home, her stepmother asked if she had satisfied her thirst. As soon as Amina opened her mouth to say, ‘Yes I did’, a piece of gold fell from her mouth as a blessing from the fruit trees.AfrNite17 - Copy - Copy

Amazed, and in shock, the stepmother asked Amina what had happened at the stream. Amina narrated the whole story about the fruit trees to her stepmother.

Huawa wanted her daughter, Lumbi to receive the same blessing. The next day, after Lumbi had finished eating dinner and handed her leftovers to Amina and Aminu, Lumbi headed to the water pot to drink. Her mother told her that she could not drink from the pot that day, and further that she should go to the stream for a drink of water.AfrNite18 - Copy (2)

Lumbi stared at her mother in shock, wondering why for the first time her mother wanted her to drink at the stream instead of from the usual water pot. ‘Mother’, protested Lumbi. ‘You have never sent me to the stream before!’

AfrNite19 - Copy - Copy‘Just go!’ screamed her mother. Lumbi reluctantly went to the stream to drink some water. When she got to the stream, the orange tree cried out for Lumbi to give him a drink of water. ‘I haven’t had a drink all day and it is very hot’.

Lumbi looked at the orange tree. ‘I beg your pardon. I met you here and you want me to give you a drink of water, you must be out of your mind.’

All of the other fruit trees also pleaded with Lumbi for a drink of water. She denied them all and in return, each cursed her with their bitterness and denied her their sweetness.

When Lumbi returned home, her mother asked if she had the drink, and as Lumbi opened her mouth to reply, worms fell from her mouth.AfrNite20 - Copy - Copy Huawa was shocked and she started to cry.

Meanwhile, Aminu, the son and Amina’s brother had befriended the prince of that village and had already told the prince about his sister, who whenever she spoke pieces of gold fell from her mouth. The prince became determined to marry no other than Amina, his friend’s sister. The prince told his father, the chief, and a date was set for the wedding ceremonies.AfrNite21 - Copy - Copy

As the wedding day was approaching, so were Huawa’s plans to destroy her stepdaughter  and prevent her from marrying the prince. Huawa went to a very powerful medicine man and told him that she wanted to get rid of Amina and substitute her own daughter for Amina during the wedding. The medicine man gave Huawa a charm and told her to plait the charm into Amina’s hair on the day of the wedding.AfrNite22 - Copy (2)

On the day of the wedding, Huawa announced that she would plait Amina’s hair. While doing so, she also weaved the charm given by the medicine man into Amina’s hair. AfrNite23 - Copy - CopyWhen Huawa finished braiding Amina’s hair, Amina turned into a bird and flew into the forest.

 

 

Huawa then took her own daughter , Lumbi to the prince’s room and warned the daughter not to speak to anyone except the prince himself.AfrNite24 - Copy (2)

 

 

AfrNite25 - Copy - CopyAfter the wedding ceremony, when all the guests had gone, the prince went to his room to meet his bride for the first time. He spoke to her but as soon as she opened her mouth to reply, worms fell out.

The prince started to screamAfrNite26 - Copy - Copy and the whole village began to gather, staring and crowding to see what was happening.

They were told that Aminu had lied and tried to deceive the prince about his sister, from whose mouth worms and not gold fell.AfrNite27 - Copy - Copy

The chief immediately sent his armed guards to bring Aminu before him. When Aminu was brought before the chief, he was not given a chance to explain himself because the chief had no time to listen to commoners, especially those that dare lie to a chief. The chief asked his men to take Aminu into the deepest forest, where there is no other living creature and to leave him there for seven days. After seven days, the whole village would go there to witness his execution.AfrNite28 - Copy (2)

AfrNite29 - Copy - CopyAminu was given an axe and led to a large portion of land on which he was to cut down the trees and clear the land for his own public execution seven days hence. Aminu was left alone in that forest. Fortunately, Amina, his own sister who had turned into a bird was there, singing to him as he chopped down the trees. AfrNite30 - Copy (2)Aminu continued to chop and clear the land and the bird never stopped singing.

On the seventh day, the day of the execution, the chief and his advisors and all of the villagers gathered to witness the execution of Aminu. AfrNite31 - Copy (2)He had but one more tree to chop down. The bird landed on that tree and as Aminu swung his axe, the bird began to sing.the bird

The chief, his advisors and the townspeople could not believe their ears. The bird sang beautifully and furthermore, they did not believe a bird could live so far in the thick forest and survive alone for so long. AfrNite32 - Copy (2)The chief’s special medicine man held his palm open and began to chant. The bird flew and landed on his open palm. The medicine man was amazed to see that the bird’s head had corn rows and when he loosed the braids, a charm dropped from the feathers and there was Amina–back to normal.AfrNite33 - Copy

The chief demanded to know her story and when she opened her mouth to tell what had happened, pieces of gold began to fall from her mouth.gold

Aminu immediately recognized his sister, dropped his axe and ran to hug her. They stood there hugging each other and crying.AfrNite34

The chief asked both to narrate their story for the village. After the story was told, the chief asked what type of justice they wanted to see against their stepmother. Both Amina and Aminu decided to forgive their stepmother.

The chief however stated that this evil deed must never go unpunished. Since the whole village had gathered there to witness Aminu’s execution, Huawa and her daughter Lumbi were among the villagers and both were dragged from among the crowd and executed instead of Aminu.

AfrNite35A new date was set for the wedding between the prince and Amina. Her brother Aminu became one of the chief’s trusted advisors.”

Dada Rabi came to the end of her story. AfrNite36Everyone was silent, and she turned around to see who was still awake. Except for the very young children who had already fallen asleep and were using their mothers’ laps as pillows, all the others were still awake. Dada Rabi smiled. No one moved or said anything for a few minutes. The children were trying to digest the lesson that had been taught that night.AfrNite37 - Copy

Dada Rabi attempted to stand up but was having some difficulty. Two women assisted her to her feet and another woman handed Dada Rabi her walking stick. Everyone took turns to say, “Say da safe Dada Rabi”, which means ‘Til morning, Dada Rabi.’ in reply she says, “Alla ya bamu alheri”, which means “May God show us His blessings.” Showing blessings means to allow us to live for the next day.

One of the women reminded the others that it was late. Some of the women began gathering the peanut shells with their hands to clean the veranda. They dared not use a broom at this time of night because it would disturb the spirits.

AfrNite39Everyone started getting ready  to retire for the evening. AfrNite40The men were also coming back from the marketplace carrying their peeled groundnuts in their sacks along with their mats or sheepskins and their lamps. The lamps now were almost empty.

The men are always the last in so that they can lock the gates to their houses as this is the responsibility of the men.AfrNite41


 

 

jb: signing off…06.13.2015 @ 1:37 p.m.

Graduation Advice from a Navy Seal

Navy SEAL Commander Tells Students To Make Their Beds Every Morning In Incredible Commencement Speech

navy-seal-admiral-bill-mcraven-university-texas-austin-commencement-hook-em

University of Texas  (UT) alum Admiral William H. McRaven gives students the “hook ’em horns” at the university’s commencement last year.

I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.coronado

Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.

It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.task master

But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.the Plan

So, here are the Ten Lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

top 10

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.Swinderby_besdpace_1

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors,heavy

tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.success

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.little things

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.tomorow

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

crew

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

boat ride

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.precision

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.together

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.lil people

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers. flippers


 

Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.

Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.uniform inspection

But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle— it just wasn’t good enough.

The instructors would find “something” wrong.nitpicker

 

 

For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.

The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.covered in beach sand

 

There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.unappreciated

 

Those students didn’t make it through training. its tough

Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.inspection_1

Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.

It’s just the way life is sometimes.

If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.

Every event had standards—times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”circus_2

A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.

No one wanted a circus.

A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.

But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.

But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Overtime those students—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.new circus

The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.

Life is filled with circuses.

You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.

But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.

Army soldiers in basic training are run through an obstacle course as Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta visits troops at Ft. Benning, Ga., Friday, May 4, 2012. (DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett)(Released)
Army soldiers in basic training are run through an obstacle course as Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta visits troops at Ft. Benning, Ga., Friday, May 4, 2012. (DoD Photo by Glenn Fawcett)

But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.

You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.

The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.

Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.no bungie jumping

It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.

Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.

 

shark

The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One—is the night swim.

Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.

They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.jaws

But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.

And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.

There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.

So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.

The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.woman_swimming_in_dark_pool_shutterstock__medium_4x3

During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.

But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight—it blocks the surrounding street lamps—it blocks all ambient light.

To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship.

This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.

Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.

If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.military6_hell week

 

As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

live everyday

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.

The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.  out of tune

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.

One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.

We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.

And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.

So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.sing dammit

 

 

 

Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.

All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. brass bell

Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.

Just ring the bell.brass bell2

If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

 

 

 

You are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world—for the better.

It will not be easy.future next exit

But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next Century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

Thank you very much. Hook ’em horns.

navy-seal-admiral-bill-mcraven-university-texas-austin-commencement-hook-emUS Navy admiral and UT, Austin, alumnus William H. McRaven who is a former commander of the US Special Operations Command that organized the Osama bin Laden raid. McRaven has now taken over as Chancellor of the University of Texas System.

http://www.businessinsider.com/mcraven-best-commencement-speech-university-texas-2015-4

jb….signing off 06.01.2015   1:12 p.m.


 

Reflecting on Memorial Day

best buddy

I woke up this morning with so much racing through my head. The one note that kept returning was a half remembered quote: “any act of telling a story is an act of compassion”. Those who know me suffer through some rambling stories from time to time.

On Memorial Day, this national day of remembering, I’m wondering how many stories will never be told. Maybe I should rejoice in the stories that have been remembered and re-told.


I like this one:

Maybe

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. 

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

It’s not “about” war, but yet it is all about war.father_2

There’s a power in stories. They exhibit Universals—fear, heroic action, betrayal, friendship, brotherhood, envy, hatred, love, pride, anger, self-centeredness—all the things that make us people.real eyes

A soldier’s story is likely to die with the soldier. Many don’t return.as far as the eye can see

Their buddies who do, often feel guilty and are reluctant to share a story about a friend who did’nt make it back.

for uSome of the most memorable stories recount not what went well, but most often the times we almost made a mess of things. The combination of tragedy plus time turns those close-calls into humor. We survived. but just barely and can now with the distance of time, can laugh about it.humor and memory and time

Marine Sergeant Dan Daly entered World War I as one of the United States’ most famous soldiers, having already won the Medal of Honor on two separate occasions for his service during the Boxer Rebellion and the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Daniel-DalyThe 44-year-old continued to write his name into the history books during June 1918’s Battle of Belleau Wood, a month-long offensive that was one of the first major World War I battles fought by U.S. troops. On June 5, Daly bravely extinguished a fire on the verge of igniting a cache of explosive ammunition. Two days later, as his Marines were being shredded by enemy machine gun fire, Daly urged them to leave their cover and counterattack by supposedly screaming the famous words, “Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?!”

We remember them all today. And there have been thousands.download

Memorial Day is a national holiday. A time
to remember those who have died serving our country.

• It’s observed on the last Monday in May.
• In the past, Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day”
because people would decorate the graves of soldiers.
• Red poppies were often sold on Memorial Day to raise money for veterans
and their families.

remembrance day

Today there are scores of stories to help us remember.heroes

We need more than just one day. To listen and remember all the great stories. Here’s one more.

Henry-JohnsonHenry Johnson was the most famous member of the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an all-black National Guard unit that was among the first American forces to arrive in Europe during World War I. Johnson and his fellow African American soldiers spent their early days in the war performing unskilled manual labor before being sent to reinforce the depleted ranks of the French army.

On May 14, 1918, Johnson and another “Hellfighter” named Needham Roberts were serving sentry duty in the Argonne Forest. Just after 2 a.m. the duo was attacked by a detachment of some 20 German troops. Both men had soon been wounded—Roberts so severely that he was unable to stand or shoot—but Johnson held fast and fought back with hand grenades and his rifle. Despite being shot several times, he returned fire until his weapon jammed, and then used it as a club and fought hand to hand until it broke into pieces. When Johnson saw that the Germans were trying to take Roberts prisoner, he drew his one remaining weapon—a bolo knife—and slashed and stabbed several men until the raiding party finally fell back. When the dust cleared, Johnson had inflicted at least a dozen casualties on the Germans and suffered 21 wounds from gunfire and bayonets. Both he and Roberts were later given the Croix de Guerre—one of France’s highest military honors—but Johnson’s heroic stand went unrewarded in the United States until 1996, when he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. He later received the Distinguished Service Cross in 2003.

My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.

Henry Rollins

desert storm

jb signing off…05.24.2015 5:53 p.m.

 

Can Introducing a “Local Currency” into DTLA Make a Difference?

boulder 1 front

boulder 1 back

Introducing a remarkable complementary currency…

Skid Row “$cript”

During the Great Depression in Europe, a small Bavarian village adapted just such an idea with positive results:

  • Of its population of 4,500, a third–(1,500) were without a job. Two-hundred families were penniless.
  • The mayor had a long list of projects he wanted to accomplish, but there was hardly any money with which to carry them out…(1) repaving the roads; (2) street lighting; (3) extending water distribution across the whole town; and (4) planting trees along the streets.
  • Rather than spending the 40,000 Austrian Schillings in the town’s coffers to start these projects off, he deposited that money into an account at a local bank as a “guarantee” to back the issue of a type of complementary currency known as ‘stamp scrip’.chiemgauer
  • The “stamp” referred to a requirement that a stamp needed to be placed on a Note each month to indicate that the Note was in fact “in circulation” and therefore was valid and could be freely accepted as payment for goods, services, produce, other products.
  • In that village, Wörgl–the stamp amounted to 1% of the Note’s value. The money raised was used to run a soup kitchen that fed 220 families.
  • Because nobody wanted to pay what was effectively a “hoarding fee”, everyone receiving the Notes would spend them as fast as possible.
  • The original 40,000 schilling deposit allowed anyone to exchange scrip for 98 per cent of its value in Schillings. This offer was rarely taken up though.
  • Of all the business in town, only the railway station and the post office refused to accept the local money.bavarian stamptrain station
  • When people ran out of spending ideas, they would pay their taxes early using scrip, resulting in a huge increase in town revenues. Over the 13-month period the project ran, the council not only carried out all the intended works projects, but also built new houses, using skillsa reservoir, a ski jump, and a bridge.
  • The people also used scrip to replant forests, in anticipation of the future cash-flow they would receive from the trees.bavarian garden
  • The key to its success was the fast circulation of scrip within the local economy, 14 times higher than the Schilling. This in turn increased trade, creating extra employment. At the time of the project, Wörgl was the only Austrian town to achieve full employment.la circLocal Currencies Today
  • Local currencies are still alive in central Europe today, with something like sixty-five regional currencies competing with the Euro, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

There are some examples of local currency, alive and well in the U.S. as well.  Ithaca HOURS and BerkShares are great examples.

  • boulder 1 front

  • John Robb thinks local currencies are a useful tool for building resilient communities, but notes that they remain “a lifestyle choice” at present. BerkSharesRobb believes that the Worgl experience in the 1930’s indicates that script can work if:
  • Community members are allowed to use the $cript to pay all or part of their tax liabilities to local governments. This instantly establishes a market for the currency.
  • Also, if $cript can be used to pay City/County local government employees a portion of their wages in $cript.
  • The means of avoiding deflating or devaluing the value of the $cripT by perhaps one percent per month to promote immediate use rather than hoarding
  • Connecting script to local production rather than just emphasizing retail use. Locally produced food (farmer’s markets) for example. Also encouraging its use and freedom to be spent for locally produced products and for manual labor/services.
  • Further, work with local banks to establish checking accounts for scrip and to enable conversions to hard currencies (at a slight discount).
  • Its worth noting that local currencies did exist prior to the (literal) Renaissance before they were replaced with centralised currencies.
  • Centralized currency — invented during the Renaissance, really — favors the kinds of business practices and centralization of power that actually works against good, honest, local commerce. In short, it favors Wal-Mart over, say, Community Supported Agriculture.
  • There are other kinds of money – and they were in existence until they were outlawed by kings and queens looking to centralize authority. Money that is lent into existence by a central bank will tend towards scarcity and competition. Money that is earned into existence by people in a specific place has very different properties, and works on a model of abundance.
  • Like the ancient Greek philosopher Aristoteles, Gesell recognised money’s contradictory dual role as a medium of exchange for facilitating economic activity on the one hand and as an instrument of power capable of dominating the market on the other hand.ancient Greek philosopher

From… Local Currencies Aren’t Small Change

Joel Stonington Utne.com

Most people don’t think much about money beyond the fact that it seems to leave their wallet quickly.empty pockets

Soooo…..people …are re-inventing money!make it happen

The reinvention is taking place in the field of complementary or local currencies that work at local and regional scales to build sustainable communities.Oklahoma is IN

Local economy activist Margrit Kennedy : “Money can be made to serve rather than to rule, to be used — rather than profit-oriented — and to create abundance, stability, and sustainability…… “money is one of the most ingenious inventions of mankind”. It has the potential to be the most destructive or most creative.creation of money

Money should empower people to care for each other and the earth.helping

From Ithaca Hours to the Time Dollar to the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS), dozens of local currency systems are already being used throughout the world alongside a national currency.sample

Paul Glover started Ithaca Hours — denominated in hours of labor — in 1991, distributing the notes to local businesses willing to accept them for goods and services.ithaca 2

Perhaps in DTLA: local stores –our Farmers’ Markets and all the people we regularly interchange with will see the value our skills and our Time can contribute? Let’s explore how to encourage growing our local economy by creating a program to accept Local Hours for produce, and for other hand-produced items…even for time spent helping other people with a variety of tasks.give and get

Glover said, ‘When I started Ithaca Hours I thought it would be illegal but it wasn’t. It’s too bad, the supposed illegality was part of the fun.’ahnold wants local money

The Ithaca Hours program continues to grow today. It now includes a local credit union that provides an optional Hours account and a health insurance program — Ithaca Health Fund — that relies on a simple $100 yearly payment. The Hours maintain a strong value independent of federal dollars because they are backed by future productivity in the community.

Over 50 communities throughout North America have adopted local currency programs using the Hours framework.

Who’s ready to start here?ideas

 

jb–signing off…10:04 a.m.

Blowing the Whistle on Bobby Shriver


bobby the jerk

By Robert L. Rosebrock

LOS ANGELES –  Robert A. “Bob” McDonald, the 8th Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), announced soon after his Senate confirmation

“I want everybody to be a whistleblower.  I don’t think you need to fit the legal definition of a whistle blower but I want everybody every day to feel responsibility for improving the way we serve veterans. We should look at everything we do from the lens of the veteran. And if something is not going right, we should change it.”

mcdonald swears

Well Mr. Secretary, the Old Veterans Guard is holding you to your word because we’re blowing the whistle on your good friend Bobby Shriver who you appointed as your liaison with the Los Angeles VA.McDonald and Shriver

At the January 28th press conference, you and your friend announced the secret settlement agreement that vacated a Federal Judgment for nine non-Veteran entities that illegally occupy vast amounts of VA land and facilities while tens of thousands of war-injured and homeless Veterans remain homeless and hungry.gr-wla-land use

Mr. Secretary, this is a major wake-up call that “something is not going right” in your dealings here in Los Angeles and we challenge you to make major changes, starting with the replacement of your crony Bobby Shriver.

 

b Shriver_1

Veterans have grown weary of hearing non-Veteran Shriver’s counterfeit mantra that he’s been “fighting for vets over the past ten years.” 

If that was true, then why is Los Angeles still our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans?      observedIt’s because Mr. Shriver talks big and does little.

Over the past ten years Bobby Shriver has not produced any new shelter whatsoever at the Los Angeles VA — not one new bed — nor produced one blanket for one homeless Veteran to even sleep outside the Los Angeles VA.

bobby familyAnd in spite of his family’s enormous wealth and political connections, Bobby Shriver has spent ten years talking about something that anyone else with that kind of affluence and influence would’ve made major changes and tremendous progress in just a few months.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to be deceived by Bobby Shriver’s expectations simply because he’s “a Kennedy” and based upon a generation that preceded him who were major achievers. His uncle Jack Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States; his father Sergent Shriver built the successful world-wide “Peace Corps” and his mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver built the successful world-wide “Special Olympics.”special olympics

As a result, there are big expectations from the wealthy and influential Kennedy kin whose individual legacy is predicated upon honoring their family creed; “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

to whom...However, when it comes to Bobby Shriver, nothing could be further from the truth because no one has ever been given so much and done so little for so many who need so much help — our disabled and homeless Veterans.feed me

If Bobby Shriver had inherited the Kennedy legacy from the aforementioned standard bearers, he would’ve brought an end to Veteran homelessness more than a decade ago and not just in Los Angeles — but nationwide — and he’d have done it without his usual self-puffery and fanfare.the kennedy_s

Since becoming a Santa Monica council member in 2004, Bobby Shriver has claimed that his mission is to provide homeless Veterans with beds and supportive care in three vacant buildings at the Los Angeles VA.

The three buildings — 205, 208 and 209 — are rat-infested, dilapidated and dysfunctional.

wicked bobby

On June 16, 2011, the ‘Huffington Post’ featured an article titled “Homelessness In Los Angeles Drops — But Rises 24 Percent Among Veterans.”

The article confirmed the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority report that “Homelessness among veterans [in Los Angeles] has shot up 24 percent since 2009.”appreciate help

And while critics have pointed to several decaying buildings on the West L.A. campus as potential sites for expanded housing, the VA disputed that suggestion:

Dave Bayard, the VA’s regional director of public relations declared:  “These are not places where someone could live, they’re not safe seismically, they’re not safe environmentally. We’re not talking about an   abandoned   apartment building or something like that. We’re talking about a building that’s maybe 60 years old,    infested with vermin, may have asbestos.”

So why is Bobby Shriver hell-bent on housing war-injured and impoverished homeless Veterans in these grossly unsafe prison-like fortresses that have such a morbid history, including the experimentation of lobotomies, shock-treatment and other inhumane abuses on Veterans who suffered from severe mental injuries?at the VA

Could it be… these three disgraced buildings are protected as “historic” and essentially come under the control of the Department of Interior (DOI).  In other words, the VA does not control their use or modification without first getting approval from the Secretary DOI, which can take years.

Bobby Shriver is on record declaring his support of the National Historic Preservation Act that protects more than 40 buildings on the Los Angeles VA grounds, which subsequently falls under the aesthetic and protective control of the DOI, and underscores his duplicitous actions.

There’s nothing in the Congressional Act of 1887 and legal Deed of 1888 that allows for this kind of protection so why does Bobby Shriver support the Department of Interior over the Department of Veterans Affairs?VA beauty

There are other major issues that accentuate how Bobby Shriver is more of a problem than a solution for protecting this sacred land as a permanent National Home for disabled homeless Veterans, including his notion of opening a Starbuck’s coffee shop here, which would be in violation of the Feinstein-Waxman Act that prohibits any commercial leases on VA property.bobby shriver_4

In spite of Bobby Shriver’s worthless whims, how does someone of Secretary McDonald’s entrusted stature exercise such serious misjudgment by presuming his friend inherited the successful Kennedy lore and could be relied upon to succeed in solving the urgent homeless Veteran problem in LA before the end of the year, when he hasn’t produced anything for homeless Veterans in more than a decade?

sad bobCorrespondingly, why is Secretary McDonald falsely rewarding Bobby Shriver when he’s nothing more than an aristocratic charlatan whose failed endeavors come at the expense of thousands of war-injured and impoverished Veterans who remain homeless and hungry?

Even more incredulous, Bobby Shriver continues to thump his chest about accomplishing absolutely nothing over the past ten years.nice to meet me

Compare these major time-line accomplishments during the past century:

  • At the turn of the 20th Century, the United States built the great Panama Canal in a decade (1904-1914).building canal_2
  • During the Great Depression, the massive Hoover Dam was built and dedicated in less than five years (1931-36).hoover dedication
  • On September 11, 1941, the Department of Defense broke ground on the Pentagon, one of the largest office buildings in the world, and completed construction in 17 months on January 15, 1943.pentagon
  • On May 25, 1961, more than a half-century ago, President John F. Kennedy delivered a visionary message to Congress on urgent national needs, thereby challenging: “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”jfk to the moon

Eight years and two months later on July 20, 1969, three  American Astronauts landed Apollo 11 on the Moon,  five months before the decade ended and less than six years after the tragic assassination of President Kennedy. moon landing

The Moon is more than 250,000 miles from Earth, yet 46 years ago we landed three men on it and returned them safely to American soil.

Today, in the face-paced 21st Century and after more than ten years of whining and complaining about being unable to warehouse homeless Veterans in three abandoned rat-infested buildings at the Los Angeles VA, President Kennedy’s nephew has yet to put one homeless Veteran onto the largest VA campus in the nation, and he lives less than two miles away and is backed-up with enormous family wealth and powerful political connections.Kennedy_family_tree

Michelangelo (1475 –1564), forewarned more than five centuries ago: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”michelanelo

A decade ago, Bobby Shriver set his aim on three vacant, rat-infested buildings — about as low as anyone could aim — to house only a few homeless Veterans in our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans, and he has failed to even achieve that low of a mark.   empty

The foregoing notwithstanding, what brought Secretary McDonald to Los Angeles in January to negotiate a sham settlement of the ACLU lawsuit is he believed that if his friend Bobby Shriver was suing the VA, then he thought something wasn’t quite right.

And the Secretary was absolutely correct in that assumption because something wasn’t quite right since Bobby Shriver wasn’t really suing the VA.  And to confirm this fact, you will not find the name Bobby / Robert Shriver anywhere in the entire ACLU lawsuit that was filed on June 8, 2011, or when it was Amended on August 12, 2011.

Nowhere is Bobby Shriver’s name mentioned in the 109-page ACLU lawsuit because he did not have proper standing since he’s not a Veteran, a plaintiff, a bona fide official or legitimately involved in any way including as an attorney, which is his purported profession. In fact, he’s not even on the extensive directory of attorneys listed on the Court’s electronic mail notice to receive e-mails regarding the case.

In sum, Bobby Shriver’s role in the ACLU lawsuit was nonexistent — still is — except for the false credit that he has taken and his longtime friend Bob McDonald has given him.

But let’s take Bobby Shriver at his word since he publicly proclaims, “I organized that lawsuit.”

When reviewing the flawed and failed effort of the lawsuit, it makes sense that Bobby Shriver actually organized it since all of the original five claims filed were dismissed by Federal Judge S. James Otero.JudgeOtero

The sixth claim was amended to the original lawsuit and was victorious, as Judge Otero entered a Federal Judgment against nine VA real estate deals with non-Veteran entities that were adjudicated as: “unauthorized by law and therefore void.” 

And consistent with the five failed claims, in the sixth filed claim Bobby Shriver failed to request that the Court demand the VA build permanent housing.

In sum, Bobby Shriver boasts of organizing the June 8, 2011 ACLU lawsuit with five failed claims, and instead of enforcing the victorious sixth claim, albeit also flawed, he gave aid and comfort to the VA’s co-defendant in the lawsuit, his friend Secretary Bob McDonald, and convinced the ACLU legal team and plaintiffs to vacate both the Federal Judgment and the lawsuit in their entirety, as though they never existed.

This is corruption and cronyism personified and a return to business as usual at the Los Angeles VA since we’re back where we started before Bobby Shriver “organized that lawsuit” four years ago.

 

cronies

Why should anyone not be surprised that the lawsuit under Bobby Shriver’s supervision is a colossal failure and a waste of time and money at the expense of tens of thousands of disabled homeless Veterans who were depending upon humanitarian relief instead of continued neglect and inhumane treatment?

vet in LA

It’s consistent with all of Bobby Shriver’s other failures over the past decade of “fighting for vets.”

Nevertheless, as disastrous as this ACLU lawsuit turned out to be under his supervision, Bobby Shriver was officially linked to another ACLU lawsuit involving the homeless.

On July 14, 2009, the ACLU sued the city of Santa Monica while Bobby Shriver was a city council member and mayor for violating the Constitutional Rights of chronically homeless people when the police harassed and arrested them for sitting or sleeping in public places, and compelling them to “move on” to other cities.s.m rejects me

Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU in Southern California proclaimed: “It’s not only illegal but callous and inhumane for any city to have its police officers cite, arrest and harass mentally ill or physically disabled homeless persons, even as it fails to provide them with sufficient shelter space. But it’s particularly shocking and hypocritical in Santa Monica, which touts itself on its website as a ‘forward-thinking, caring community.’ “

Mr. Rosenbaum further declared, “Santa Monica was criminalizing the chronically homeless by making homelessness and mental illness crimes, and then driving homeless persons to other communities.”  He went on to say that “Santa Monica stands out for the hostility of its police toward chronically disabled homeless people. Santa Monica is functionally operating a deportation program against its mentally disabled homeless, acting to eliminate the homeless, not homelessness.”

Jennie Pasquarella, a staff attorney for the ACLU declared: “If you strip away the rhetoric of city officials, it’s clear that Santa Monica is doing less for the chronically homeless than it was 10 years ago.”

In sum, it wasn’t until after Bobby Shriver became a city official that Santa Monica began doing less instead of more for the homeless.SM council

Think about it:  While Bobby Shriver was condemning the Los Angeles VA of not providing housing for homeless Veterans in three vacant rat-infested buildings, the City of Santa Monica — while he was a council member and mayor — was being sued by the ACLU for abusing and mistreating the homeless and “operating a deportation program against its mentally disabled homeless, acting to eliminate the homeless, not homelessness.”

bobby sad

During the same period in 2009 that the ACLU was suing the City of Santa Monica, I contacted them regarding issues we were experiencing during our Sunday Rallies outside the VA and our mission to “Save Our Veterans Land” and to “Bring Our Homeless Veterans HOME.”OldVeteransGuard

The VA police issued six false arrest citations when I hung the American Flag in compliance with the U.S. Flag Code, that sends the Internationally-recognized message of distress that “life and property are in extreme danger.”usflagupsidedown

ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg represented me and all six trumped-up VA police citations were dismissed.

On March 16, 2010, Mr. Eliasberg filed a lawsuit against VA executive director Donna Beiter and her chief of police Ronald Mathis for violating my Constitutional Right to Free Speech.

On June 7, 2011, a Federal Judgment was entered against Defendants Beiter and Mathis.VA cops

One day later, on June 8, 2011, Mark Rosenbaum filed the second ACLUC lawsuit against the VA which essentially reaffirmed why we hung the American Flag in distress, i.e., the lives of our disabled and homeless Veterans are in extreme danger and so is their property at the VA.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On August 29, 2013, a Federal Judgment was entered against the VA for engaging in nine real estate deals that are “unauthorized by law and therefore void.”

Shamefully, on January 28 2015, VA Secretary McDonald and Bobby Shriver announced a back-room settlement deal that deceivingly vacated the Federal Judgment and thereby allowed nine illegal occupants to remain on VA property while thousands of disabled homeless Veterans remain on skid row and in back-alley squalor.

Not surprisingly, four years prior to the filing of the 2011 ACLU lawsuit, Bobby Shriver recommended the VA maintain these very land-use agreements that were proven to be illegal via the Federal Judgment, and then orchestrated a deceptive settlement agreement vacating the Court Order.

Subsequently, because of his distrusted and disingenuous actions, the lives of our disabled and homeless Veteran and their property remain in extreme danger.b4andafter

Subsequently, because of his distrusted and disingenuous actions, the lives of our disabled and homeless Veteran and their property remain in extreme danger.

Also during the summer of 2009 while the ACLU was suing the City of Santa Monica for the mistreatment of the homeless and VA police were issuing false arrest citations for hanging the American Flag in distress, the Los Angeles VA was flying four American Flags at half-staff that were badly torn and tattered, in full violation of the U.S. Flag Code.

The Flags were flying at half-staff “honoring” the passing of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, a Veteran, and Bobby Shriver’s uncle.

“VA’s Disgraceful Flag Salute to Senator Kennedy”

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2009/08/28/va-s-disgraceful-flag-salute-to-senator-kennedy/torn flag

I sent Bobby a notice extending sympathy to him and his family and requested that he contact the local VA to replace the disgraceful display of Flags that were dishonoring his uncle’s passing.  He never responded nor did he take any action against the VA.  Through my continued efforts of writing and filing complaints with then-VA Secretary Shinseki’s office in Washington D.C., the four disgraced American Flags were eventually replaced.

How can the entrusted nephew of a U.S. Senator that had just passed away allow the local VA to fly four torn and tattered American Flags at half-staff signaling the passing of his uncle, and do absolutely nothing about it?

teddy

How does an elected public servant with the City of Santa Monica that has such a shameful inhumane record of mistreating and abusing the homeless, become entrusted to represent the Secretary of the VA to end Veteran homelessness in our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans?

VA Secretary McDonald is on record proclaiming: “No organization can succeed without values to match its mission. Our mission, as the Department of Veterans Affairs, is to care for those “who shall have borne the battle” and for their families and survivors. Our core values focus our minds on our mission of caring and thereby guide our actions toward service to others.

These values — Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence — define our culture and strengthen our dedication to those we serve. They provide a baseline for the standards of behavior expected of all VA employees. They remind us and others that “I CARE.”icare

More than ten years after he claims to have begun his mission to provide housing for homeless Veterans, Bobby Shriver still has not provided shelter for one Veteran to sleep in a bed and receive supportive care at the VA.

bobby the jerk

 

If Secretary McDonald truly cares, he would not have appointed Bobby Shriver to represent him because the Los Angeles VA needs leadership that truly cares for our disabled homeless Veterans, not smug deceivers.

The night before January 28th’s bogus press conference, Bobby Shriver tweeted: “Important news for homelessness in Los Angeles coming tomorrow. Great new Veteran Administration leadership! And community engagement.”

His tweet turned out to be twaddle as this was not “good news” for disabled homeless Veterans and their land, but “important news” about himself and his wealthy community friends that would continue to occupy VA land at the expense of war-injured and impoverished Veterans.bobby news conf

So why did Secretary McDonald select the most unqualified person for the most responsible job?

wrong guy for job

For unconvincing reasons, the ACLU agreed to vacate the 2009 City of Santa Monica lawsuit just as they did with the 2011 VA lawsuit.

And for unexplained reasons, Mr. Rosenbaum, who had been the legal director of the high-profile Southern California ACLU for more than 40 years, left and joined the essentially unknown Public Counsel non-profit organization.mark rosenbaum_ACLU

After ten years as a city councilman for the city of Santa Monica, Bobby Shriver did not run for re-election, but instead, threw his hat into the political ring for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.election

In spite of spending a chunk of the family fortune on his political campaign, Bobby Shriver failed to convince enough constituents in his District to vote for him and he was soundly defeated.
i won sheila says

Following is a letter to the “Metropolitan News Enterprise” from Gleam Davis, a former Santa Monica city council member who served with Mr. Shriver, expressing her reasons for not supporting him for L.A. County Supervisor. She’s a Harvard law graduate and works for AT&T.

met-logo

       

          A LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWSPAPER

IN MY OPINION (Column)

           Bobby Shriver Was Failure as a Santa Monica City Council Member

           By GLEAM DAVIS

(The writer is an attorney for AT&T. Her undergraduate degree is from USC and her law degree is from Harvard. She writes about the race for Los Angeles County supervisor for the Third District as a member of  the Santa Monica City Council.)

 Bobby Shriver and his supporters are touting his experience on the Santa Monica City Council as a reason to vote for him for county supervisor. For more than three years [2009-2012], I served on the City Council with Bobby Shriver and I am supporting Sheila Kuehl. Let me tell you why:

 Bobby decided to run for city council because he was angry that the city’s enforcement of its hedge ordinance would require him to trim the hedge around his home. Before the hedge issue came up, he never had shown  any interest in local politics or local issues.

 Bobby was sufficiently upset about the hedge issue that he decided to run for City Council. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money on his campaign. No one in our small city had ever seen that kind of  personal wealth spent on a city council race.

 Bobby ran on a platform of collaboration and respect for residents. Once Bobby was elected, it became clear that this was just campaign rhetoric.

 After he was elected, Bobby was difficult to reach. When he was willing to speak with residents, he often seemed impatient and distracted. On the dais, he was rude to his colleagues, city employees and members of  the public. He frequently interrupted members of the public and other councilmembers when they were     speaking. Bobby didn’t work well with others so he did not get very much done.

 Soon after he was elected, Bobby’s lack of interest in local politics resurfaced. Except for a very few issues, Bobby seemed unprepared for meetings and unconcerned about the matters on the council’s agenda.

The City Council only meets twice a month, but Shriver completely missed 46 meetings—one out of every five   meetings. He was late, some times as much as two hours late, to 102 meetings. In fact, Shriver was present and on-time for only 39 percent of the council’s meetings. And he often left meetings early before the public comment portion of the meeting.

I want a county supervisor who listens to the public, treats everyone with respect, and can collaborate with her colleagues. I want a county supervisor who shows up on time and is ready to work. I want a county supervisor who stays as late as necessary to make sure all voices are heard. That’s why I am supporting Sheila Kuehl.

The “Los Angeles Times” Editorial Board likewise could not support Bobby Shriver, declaring:  “Of the two candidates for the Board of Supervisors’ 3rd District seat, the one who best embodies the qualities needed for the new era is Sheila Kuehl.”

For the record, Ms. Kuehl had not held public office for nearly a decade and is 73 years old, yet the Times supported her instead of Bobby Shriver (age 60) because she “embodies the qualities needed for the new era.” 

 These are very powerful indictments against the out-of-touch Mr. Shriver who has failed at  “fighting for vets over the past ten years”.   

Imagine our Veterans fighting for our country the same way Bobby Shriver has fought for them.

 America’s disabled homeless Veterans deserve the very best in leadership and care, and VA Secretary McDonald’s choice of Bobby Shriver to be his representative in Los Angeles is a monumental mistake and must be vacated, posthaste.

The whistle has been blown and the Secretary is now being challenged to take immediate action and move forward with a unified winning team, or lag behind with a self-serving crony.

LINK:  “State of Emergency” Homeless Veterans Humanitarian Relief Project:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/downloads/humanitarian.relief.project.pdf

bob rosebrock

God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution!

Robert Rosebrock

U.S. Army, 1965-67, Schofield Barracks, Hqs., U.S Army, Hawaii. Director, The Veterans Revolution,Captain, the Old Veterans Guard, and Director, We the Veterans

SKID ROW WILL LET YOU KNOW

too much more

You got to watch yourself on Skid Row.

Because Skid Row will let you know.

You’ll be down in the dumps before you know.

LETTING YOU KNOW

Before you know how to stay a flow.

Stay strong in spirit, body and mind.

spiritKeep the mind clean with positive thoughts. 

It starts with the spirit, the indwelling being.

thinking

The indwelling spirit will guide you on your

journey through the physical material world.

If you listen !!!

led by spirits

After the spirit comes the body.

It is the temple for the spirit.

Modest cloths to cover the body.

boys

A place you can call home.

Home is your space as you travel throughout

the physical material world.  mini home

 If you want these things.

Then want them for others.

Real love is wanting for others what you

want for yourself.

Help yourself by helping others.

Give and you will receive.

gift

That is why Skid Row will let you know that

this is just a temporary condition.i was here

A twist in time.

Make you strong in spirit and mind.

strong spirit

Skid Row don’t you know?

A depression is right at the door.

Let them know Skid Row.

now

What are you trying to do.

ishmael

Adjust to this madness.

Or are you just marking time.

Waiting on the madness to adjust.adjusting to madness

 Skid Row will let you know.

A spotlight turned on history.

The legend of uncontrolled greed.i want more

At the expense of those in need.

U.S.A.

Skid Row will let you know.

 dont drink

Religion on the run.

Robbers without guns.

 greedyman

Skid Row will let you know.

 ignore me

Get up off the ground.

The next generation is still around.

They need you.

Ask them for plans that are sound.

Get up off the ground and help the next

generation save a falling nation.

 he is watching you

 Things are hard and money is tight.

I don’t even know where I am going to

sleep tonight. hope is gone

Well there is one thing for sure.

There is a message on Skid Row.

And the message is Skid Row will let you know.

 hope for work

 From the play, Surviving the Nickel

            by Melvin Ishmael Johnson

 

 

VA’s Double “State of Emergency”

I Care Logo

By Robert L. Rosebrock

LOS ANGELES –  America’s capital for homeless Veterans is not only in a state-of-emergency to house and care for thousands upon thousands of war-injured and impoverished Veterans, but it’s also in a state-of-emergency for trusting and caring VA leadership to end this crisis — NOW — not months and  months, or quite possibly, years from now.

 

Man in Wheelchair

Stop the inhumane treatment of disabled homeless Veterans in Los Angeles

A small child could tell you that the homeless Veteran problem in Los Angeles is beyond “state of emergency” status.  In comparison, downtown Skid Row makes the most poverty-ravaged communities of Third World countries seem safe and beautiful.  What’s going on in Los Angeles is disgraceful beyond comparison or comprehension.

Moreover, lethargic don’t-care VA bureaucrats and listless politicians continue to deny there’s a crisis here as they slumber along year-after-year parroting their feeble promise of “we will end Veteran homelessness by the end of the year” while Veteran homeless continues to escalate.

Man Sitting at VA Fence

To underscore the Los Angeles VA’s main priorities, this Sunday, 26,000 able-bodied runners participating in the LA Marathon will charge through the main thoroughfare of the VA while 20,000 disabled and destitute Veterans remain homeless and hungry, some living right outside the locked front gates to the VA.

Runners

On November 3, 2009 at the “VA National Summit: Ending Homelessness Among Veterans” in Washington, D.C.,   then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki unveiled a five-year plan to end veteran homelessness nationwide.  In conjunction, President Obama repeatedly asserted that his Administration would do everything in its power to end Veteran homelessness within the five-year goal.

Well, it’s March 2015, five years and three months later and the homeless Veteran population continues to grow and Los Angeles is still our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans.  Even worse, the Los Angeles VA is the most misused and abused facility in the nation, in addition to being the most corrupt.

Fallen-Stars-600x405

On July 21, 2010, the Los Angeles Times ran an Editorial titled “Helping Homeless Vets” and criticized the VA for its indifferent attitude toward solving the problem. In it’s opening paragraph the Times condemned VA Secretary Eric Shinseki by proclaiming “what’s missing is a sense of urgency.”

On September 28, 2012 the New York Times ran an Editorial titled, “Veterans in Los Angeles, Still in the Cold,” and questioned:  “When is the Veterans Affairs Department going to meet its responsibility to house chronically homeless veterans in Los Angeles on the large tract of government-owned land that should have been put to this use long ago? ”

On October 8, 2012, the New York Times featured another Editorial about the VA’s neglect in caring for homeless Veterans in Los Angeles, this one titled:  “Homeless Veterans: Whose Responsibility?”

The Editorial proclaimed: “Veterans and their advocates in southern California, the epicenter of veterans’ homelessness, are angry that President Obama and the Veterans Affairs Department have not built a single bed for homeless disabled veterans on the 400 acres the government owns in West Los Angeles, property that was deeded to the federal government for that very purpose in 1888.”

The VA’s land abuse and homeless Veteran problem is such a major issue in Los Angeles that even the New York Times attacked it twice within little more than one week.

On June 4, 2014,  at the ritzy Hyatt Regency Hotel in LA’s fashionable Century City, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a speech about Veteran homelessness and declared it to be “a moral outrage.”

michelle3

Her outrage would’ve been more convincing if she’d given her speech at the Los Angeles VA and questioned why there’s so much misused land and vacant rat-infested buildings at the largest VA in our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans.

Nevertheless, last year Secretary Shinseki resigned in disgrace and the VA failed to deliver on its promise to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2014, but the First Lady appointed Mayor Eric Garcetti to end Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles by the end of 2015.

Ho-hum, another promise and another year added onto the five-year failed promise. This new promise is also a hoax as we can expect more of the same failure because Mayor Garcetti has never mentioned the Los Angeles VA property as a solution to house and care for disabled homeless Veterans.

That’s because the City of Los Angeles has a squatter’s lease (no signed agreement and no rent payment) and illegally occupies 12 acres of multi-million dollar VA property for a public dog park, public baseball diamonds, public soccer fields and a public parking lot — all to accommodate the neighboring Brentwood residents.

OldVeteransGuard

On November 4, 2014, the Los Angeles Times featured another Editorial titled, “The VA’s Urgent Problem,” and boldly decried: “The VA has an urgent problem that it has yet to treat urgently.”

In another paragraph of the same Editorial, the Times repeated: “The VA still has an urgent problem — homeless veterans — that it has yet to treat urgently.”

On January 1, 2015, the LA Times Editorial published its “wish list” for 2105 that included ending Veteran homelessness “by the end of the year.”

Three days later on January 3, 2015, Rafer Johnson, America’s legendary Olympic decathlon champion and civil rights icon who marched with Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy and Cesar Chavez, delivered a message of responsibility and urgency when he spoke before the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC), representing 96 communities.

Rafer Johnson

Rafer steadfastly proclaimed: “Los Angeles is in a state of emergency for homeless Veterans and when there is an emergency, it is imperative to respond immediately. Why aren’t we using the nearly 400 acres of land at the West LA Veterans property to immediately provide temporary and or permanent housing for our homeless veterans?”

His profound message prompted the following Motion that was presented and unanimously passed at the LANCC meeting:

  •  Los Angeles has the largest Homeless Veteran population in the Nation.           Paradoxically, Los Angeles also has the largest VA Veterans Home property in the Nation.
  •  Mayor Garcetti has pledged to end Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles by the end of 2015 without ever mentioning the utilization of nearly 400 acres of land at the West LA VA property as a solution.
  •  The challenge to end Veteran homelessness in less than 12 months must require immediate provisional, temporary and permanent supportive housing and healthcare and that will only happen at the Los Angeles VA property where there’s plenty of space and an existing VA Hospital.
  •  The Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC) recognizes Los Angeles to be in a “state of emergency” for homeless Veterans and hereby requests that the Los Angeles City Council direct the City of Los Angeles with all of its resources and the Veterans Administration to unify and open a large-scale Crisis Humanitarian Relief Project on this land to immediately house and care for thousands upon thousands of disabled homeless Veterans

In just four sentences, humanitarian Rafer Johnson and 96 communities representing the citizenry of Los Angeles summarized and put forth the solution toward ending Veteran homelessness, while the VA bureaucrats and politicians refuse to acknowledge the same problem as urgent, a crisis, or an emergency.

an army of one

Three weeks later on January 28, 2015, Robert A. McDonald, the newly appointed Secretary of the VA arrived in Los Angeles and called an impromptu press conference to announce the settlement of the landmark lawsuit against the VA.

Vigilant Veteran advocates were expecting him to declare a “state of emergency” and proclaim that the VA would evict the nine illegal occupants and implement immediate crisis housing on the Los Angeles VA grounds.

To the contrary, the Secretary finagled a secret compromise with imprudent officials and attorneys who were entrusted to represent the best interests of the plaintiffs; disabled and homeless Veterans.salute_1

These representatives irresponsibly and irreverently considered it “a good deal” when they agreed to vacate the Federal Judgment and give aid and comfort to the VA co-defendants and nine illegal occupants to continue controlling federal VA property instead of demanding their eviction and building emergency and permanent housing on these sacred grounds.

Yes, it was a state-of-emergency settlement and a good deal for the nine illegal occupants — wealthy and powerful special interest groups — as Veterans were cheated from reclaiming their land that was already stolen through the nine illegal real estate deals.

 

DTLA stand down 3

And there wasn’t any mention of a state-of-emergency and crisis housing at the VA for thousands upon thousands of war-injured and impoverished homeless Veterans.

The reprehensible settlement only hints at ending Veteran homelessness by the end of the year, after the wealthy and powerful dictate a “new master plan” that will essentially vacate the original master plan, i.e., the Deed of 1888.

Thus, the biggest land-fraud scam in American history was trumped by the biggest settlement-fraud scam in American history that was then trumped by the Secretary of the VA’s notorious photo-op trip to Skid Row that shamefully backfired on him when he was looking for a homeless Veteran and then lied about his own military service.

10338257_822674384423325_3516453124115276344_n

What happened in just a couple of days magnifies what has been going on every day over past decades at the largest VA in the nation … lying, cheating and stealing …. compounded by a growing population of homeless Veterans.

vet not homeless vet

The fact that the Secretary of the VA was at the “belly of the beast” — Skid Row — looking for a homeless Veteran photo-opportunity also magnifies the double-edged sword of our state of emergency crisis here in Los Angeles with tens of thousands of homeless Veterans, and a federal bureaucracy that doesn’t care or know how to solve the problem.

On March 4th, I hosted a radio show at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles, titled “State of Emergency for Homeless Veterans”  and my studio guests were Terrence Gomes and Ted Hayes. …. (Videotaped) http://media.blubrry.com/entrepreneur/p/skidrow-podcasts.s3.amazonaws.com/entrepreneur_131029.mp4

Terrence is a Military Veteran and Chairman of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (LANCC), representing 96 neighborhood councils that unanimously passed the Motion declaring Los Angeles to be in a “state of emergency.”

He spoke eloquently and passionately about LANCC’s role in stressing the necessity and urgency of taking action now by establishing a large-scale crisis housing facility on VA property.

Ted is a legendary activist for the homeless and major supporter for ending Veteran homelessness in Los Angeles.

Ted Hayes

He also spoke eloquently and passionately about LA’s state of emergency and elaborated on the necessity to build pre-fabricated geodesic domes for immediate housing on VA property like the successful project he built in downtown Los Angeles years ago before his land rent was increased nearly 700%.  See www.DomeVillage.us

Dome Village_LA

 We discussed the need for new thinking toward ending Veteran homelessness by calling upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately build crisis housing and dining facilities on the VA property and to call upon the National Guard to provide operational assistance, instead of the usual “non-profit” organizations that are unprepared to meet this enormous challenge and in no hurry to end it.

After all, many non-profit organizations profit from the Veteran homelessness situation so why would they ever look at this as being in a state-of-emergency or have any goal to end the problem?

The foregoing notwithstanding, it’s important to point out that the LANCC Motion was presented at the February 10th VA Congressional Investigative Hearing regarding the Los Angeles VA’s gross mismanagement and failure to provide immediate housing and care for homeless Veterans.    sadly...

 

During the Congressional Hearing, U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., questioned VA representative Skye McDougal on the VA’s position regarding the state-of-emergency Motion and Ms. McDougal hem-hawed and dodged the question, stating they’d look into it for the master plan six months away.

Incredulously, a Member of Congress questions a VA representative about a state-of-emergency Motion to end Veteran homelessness that is representative of 96 neighborhood councils, but Ms. McDougal saw no sense of urgency other than D.C. bureaucrats might evaluate it months away.

Think about all this:  The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, two of the largest news publications in the USA, featured Editorials questioning the VA’s lack of urgency to solve the decades-old problem in our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans, and further questioned why the VA property in Los Angeles is not being used as a solution.

A unified coalition of 96 neighborhoods within in our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans unanimously passed a Motion declaring a state-of-emergency and directed the City of Los Angeles to partner with the VA to establish crisis housing on VA property.

A member of our United States Congress then questioned a VA bureaucrat about the misuse of VA property in our nation’s capital for Veterans and wanted to know if the VA agreed with the state-of-emergency Motion and crisis housing.

All of these powerful forces clearly understand that Los Angeles is in a state-of-emergency for homeless Veterans, but the powerful and entrusted force that is responsible to end it — the VA — just doesn’t care.

no hope

 

Albert Einstein rightfully noted that you cannot solve your problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.

In sum, until President Obama admits that the VA is in a state of emergency for new and trusted leadership, Los Angeles will continue to be in a state of emergency for homeless Veterans.

DTLA

State of Emergency Plan http://www.veteranstoday.com/downloads/State_of_Emergency.pdf

God Bless America and the Veterans Revolution!

 

–signing off: 14Mar2015/1:09 p.m.

 

 

 

IS IT STILL IMPORTANT TO VOTE?

Hand-drawn Skid Row Map
Hand-drawn Skid Row Map

Is it still important to vote?

Los Angeles and Skid Row in particular just had an election.

I didn’t vote. I don’t live in DTLA. I do work there (5th & Spring) and I’ve just recently (02.21.2015) created an on-line presence @ www.skidrowstudios.com an online Internet radio & media site.

So Down Town matters to me. Ending homelessness matters. I’m proud of all the cool things, the creative people and trendy events that define DTLA now. It’s just…how do we in fact go about ending the tragedy of homeless people, military veterans, women, families, mentally troubled people who’ve hit rock bottom?

Even before the Iraqi/Afghan war era’s, there were military veterans living w/o shelter all over LA. Now after a dozen years of PTSD-haunted soldiers, men & women, young and younger flocking to the relatively temperate-climated streets of Los Angeles, there doesn’t seem to be a clear victory in sight.

Oh there is a quite-dense Plan.

LA’S PLAN TO END HOMELESS

As far as I can tell, it took at least two years to get the planning team together. It also appears that there were two competing Plans. The conclusions differed in approach. One clearly recommended that The Plan include publicly delegated persons/agencies that should be held responsible for the tasks to be undertaken “to end homelessness”.  Another Plan vociferously omitted any such accountability. One Plan included the need for benchmarks—target “due dates” to keep things moving and to gauge progress. The Other Plan, even when confronted with this omission from their Plan, again publically and loudly refused to acknowledge the usefulness of that recommendation.

With a couple of decades as a nonprofit administrator and special events coordinator who has evolved from harnessing good ideas, as all non-profits have, to a more effective leader able to help turn ideas into plans and then into events, I know now that without “buy-in”, assignment of responsibility and due dates, nothing gets done.  Beyond the buy-in and public acknowledgment of responsibility, LA’s ending homelessness Plan also lacks consequences for tasks left undone.

 

Looking at one ten-year plan to end homelessness dated sometime in 2004,  I count at least 25 broad goals. Sub-sections or “ideas” under those broad goals total about 250 distinct things that should/could be done to eliminate homeless. Some are logical. Some are lofty goals. The length of the “to do” list however makes the task seem impossible before one step is done to move toward plan implementation. The rather stream-of-consciousness approach also makes the Plan seem more like a break-out session at a conference creating ideas rather than an operational plan designed to solve a real issue.

So where does that leave a man or a woman facing homelessness in LA? On the  street. Un-sheltered.

 

So, would one vote in the recent 14th District City Council race that included Skid Row have made a difference?  The winner re-claimed his seat with just a few past 11,000 votes. That’s in a District of some two hundred fifty thousand residents (254,600) last public count. Allowing for @ 25% children or unable to vote, that still leaves adult voters at @ 190,000 (190,950).

The actual Number of voters counted: 11,081. Possible eligible voters 190,950. Percentage who decided the election: 6% (5.803%). So would one vote make a difference. Damn Skippy. We think it’s the money. The most $ controls. Of course. The most $ can control the message. Can put up signs. Can pay precinct workers. It makes a huge difference. But come election day, it’s who goes to the polls that directs the final count. Too idealistic? Maybe. Worth taking a look at next time? You tell me.

BRIDGE  I arrived in Atlanta GA to attend Spelman College in fall 1966. Earlier that year, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), of which Julian Bond was a member and early founding member, issued an anti-war statement which advocated draft-dodging. Bond’s signature appeared on the document as an endorsement of his stand against the Viet Nam War.  The Voting Rights Act had just been fought hard for and won passage the year before. The GA legislature was outraged in general. This anti-war statement that Bond refused to distance himself from was fodder for their hatred and animosity. Black votes had put eleven Black leaders into the Legislature. This was an easy way to get rid of at least one of those Black leaders. The vote: 184 to 12. Bond was un-seated.

When I got to Spelman, I was immediately drawn to the SNCC operations. I became part of the Communications Team that Julian headed. My role; simply find/cutout & paste up every newspaper article about The Struggle. There were many newspapers then plus dozens of left-wing magazines. No social media, no Internet. But lots of articles. I was busy and knew everything that was going on in the South. I read, clipped & archived the news stories.

I eventually was recruited to work on voter registration door-to-door efforts. I was young. I started college @ sixteen plus I had been protected from the real wrath of “being Black in the USA”. I’d been born as far north as geographically possible –Minnesota for God’s sake. Then had lived on Air Force bases that banned any overt racial discrimination. I’d travelled and lived abroad as the daughter of a career officer and never knew the vicious personal nature of Southern whites. So the reactions I got going from house to house in Atlanta from older Black people who had lived with that hatred all their lives was something I couldn’t quite get a handle on. It seemed so logical. We can all vote now. Here’s the form to register; sign please and we’ll move forward.

The distance between Atlanta and Selma, Alabama is only two hundred miles—a three hour drive.

selma_al

Enlightenment did not exist based on state boundary lines. Georgia introduced Lester Maddox to America. Popular amusement park, Six Flags over Georgia sat atop the mountain that had been the primary Klu Klux Klan site for lynchings and cross-burnings since 1915.

StoneMountain

Stone Mountain is carved with images of three heroes of the South: Stonewall Jackson; Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. When I lived in Atlanta, I refused to even consider going to Six Flags.  I hadn’t lived through those events or lost a family member or friend but the threat of violence was easily felt. My conversations on the front porches and doorway’s of those1960’s Black ATL residents informed me without words of the history. It took time for me to understand the reasons why no one was happy to see me and my voter registration forms.

So today what’s the best excuse for not voting?

  1. “My one vote is not going to make a ripple of a difference”
  2. “It’s all rigged anyway”
  3. “What’s the use? Nothing’s gonna change”
  4. “I’m too busy. I have to work. I work P/T & don’t get to take the time off w/o loosing pay or worse yet—losing my job”
  5. “Pick one—they’re all the same”

So for me, knowing all of this …I have to admit…there have been elections when I myself simply did not show up. I do know however that every time I actually go to the polling place and vote and then get that little stick-on decal that says: “I Voted”, I do feel proud. Happy. Hopeful. For many of the last elections, I’ve voted by mail. It’s painless. Any bad weather, unforeseen emergencies don’t interfere. It’s done come Election Day. I’ve stopped voting by mail however. Somewhere I read they only count those if the election is close.

Can we change things by voting. I don’t know. I do know that we get what we deserve and have no grounds to complain when we don’t.

Help end homelessness. Make noise. There were promises made. Promises un-kept. Lots of work still to do.

Skid Row Studios gives each of us a chance to use our voice to make a difference.

be the voice not the echo

JB…Signing off..03/08/2015 11:15 a.m.