Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Clinton Crime

A million years ago, I was a congressional staffer and the 1994 Crime Bill was my baby. Since I wasn’t a high-profile staffer like the cats on House of Cards, I generally did the less sexy issues involving national parks, crops and naming post offices. But I was knee deep in that crime bill drama.

That legislation was driven by years of high crime rates and drug addiction.  In 1986, Maryland basketball star Len Bias died shortly after signing with the Boston Celtics and House Speaker Tipp O’Neill demanded that legislation addressing crack be ready after the August recess.  I was in college then but word is that a staffer from legislative counsel sat at his dining room table and just made stuff up—no hearings, no research.  That is the reason we had that crazy difference in sentencing for crack crimes and powder cocaine crimes.

Anyway, our Crime Bill was well researched and well fought over.  While Black Lives Matter is tripping on Bill Clinton, they need to see how many members of the Congressional Black Caucus crafted and voted for the Crime Bill.  And for the record, I appreciate the spirit of activism of the Black Lives Matter movement but I generally don’t care for people jumping up inside anyone’s event…there is a time and place.

The 1994 Crime Bill was a balance of prisons, prevention and policing.  I want to say that the community policing provisions could be used by local police today.  At times, I feel that the local police seem like overseers in my community—the average citizen isn’t the enemy and the average citizen hates crime more than anyone.  Some police have been hardened by the constant battle with the worst 10% of the community but that is no reason to treat the community a certain way.

With community policing, the officers develop personal relationships with folks on their beats.  They get out of the cars and pull off those mirrored Cool Hand Luke sunglasses to connect with citizens…Mrs. Jones didn’t turn on her porch light at dark, check on her.  I will always have a glass of Crystal Light Peach Mango Tea for any officer literally walking a beat.

Officers, deep inside, don’t want to see youth in jail but they must do their jobs and as Beretta said, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”  It’s the community’s job to offer options and opportunities to young people so they don’t go down that wrong path.

Finally, I can’t remember if the assault weapons ban was in the final Crime Law but I told my boss that people should have a certain amount of fire power to defend their families and to hunt.  However, military style weapons for home defense in  subdivisions is too much; good news is you got the bad guy…bad news is you blasted Mrs. Jones’ porch light across the street.

On the other hand, Worth County, Georgia, is half the size of Rhode Island and if the bad guys are at your rural house on one end of the county, your family could be cold by the time the deputies arrive.  In that case, you need to let that clip sing.  Biggie Smalls said, “Call the coroner..there’s gonna be a lot of slow singing and flower bringing if my burglar alarm starts ringing.”

So, Hillary Clinton isn’t responsible for everything President Bill Clinton and the Dems did back in the day.


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Law/Freedom: Love Freedom; Cost of Prisons; Understanding basic law; Family Law

What is more important to an American than freedom?  Freedom is the cornerstone of our great nation.  Groups came to the new world seeking freedom they weren’t experiencing in Europe.  Of course, we now mention the irony of Native Americans’ freedom vanishing and Africans arriving against their will in the hulls of ships.  Those slaves toiled for years before America was America—long before 1776.

If you are the descendant of slaves and sharecroppers (sharecropper weren’t really free until the 1970s), why would you give up your freedom to the criminal justice system like it is nothing?  The parlor question becomes “would you rather be a slave in 1815 or an inmate in 2015?”  Good question.  The following question is “are current inmates justifying slavery in some way?”

The sad fact is that some people fail to instill a functioning value system, moral compass or simple risk/reward mechanism in their children. “Put it on the scale…put it on the scale.”  A young person commits a crime that at best will only produce $100 but once arrested, that person’s freedom is gone for years.  They could have made that piece of money in a day and they likely sought money to spend on silly items in the first place.  In my day, we said “you seek big money to buy things to impress people who don’t care about you.”

Billy Badass: When you grow up as Billy Badass, no one tells you what to do and when to do it—not parents, teachers, pastors or the police.  Ole Billy has zero regard for community or sense of right and wrong—he pumps the nastiest music at the highest volume from his car and does it while passing old women and kids.

Since going to school daily is too restrictive, he drops out to seek money the fast way—the ski mask way.  When he lands in that penal system, he enjoys less freedom than an eight year old.  The guy who thought working for minimum wage was square now makes a few dollars per day and he would love the freedom of working on a prison work detail on the highway.  The sunlight, wind and rain become golden.   The best people to talk with the youth about freedom are people who gave up theirs.

Closet living: The size of an average jail cell seems unimaginably small to most people.  The Good Lawd knows this writer loves being outside and freaks out in windowless buildings.  “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”  We haven’t mentioned being locked in a room with a person who might be violent in the worst way.

Cost of Prisons: It’s really tough to simply say “lock’em up” and offenders should face consequences for their actions.  However, corrections cost in many states is one of the biggest budget items.  Cost includes security and administration, health care, rehabilitation, food and clothing.  In California, the cost is near $129 per day.  http://www.ehow.com/about_5409377_average-cost-house-inmates-prison.html

In Georgia, the direct cost was $21,000 per year per inmate in 2011.  http://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-georgia-fact-sheet.pdf

The shocker occurred when the Georgia Director of Juvenile Justice announced that juvenile offenders cost the peach state 90K per year.  Say what? http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2013-12-25/georgia-juvenile-justice-changes-take-effect

Oh, hell no. That’s it.  This madness must end because we could almost send three kids to the University of Georgia with that money. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and we would be better off building youth who didn’t want to surrender their freedom.

Other freedoms: You can give up other types of freedom also.  People with a slave mentality see nothing wrong with reporting to other adults.  Of course, we must respect the laws that the government made because God made the government Romans 13:1.  But, public assistance often involves reporting personal business to governmental workers.

I wrote a blog post about lessons Justice Clarence Thomas learned from his grandfather on this subject.  Grandfather could not stand the idea of a social worker asking if he fed his family or having the state inquire about who slept there at night.  We must mention the loss of freedom to alcohol, drug and food addiction.  Yes, food can have a deadly grip on a person.  In another section of this project we will discuss financial freedom from student loan to child support to good old fashion debt.

Basic Law 101: Every American should understand local, state and federal laws.  At an early age, my daddy told us that ignorance was not an excuse under the law.  A teenager innocently gives a friend a ride home from the basketball courts but the friend has drugs in his pocket then drops the drugs on the floor as the cops gets the dog out.  Everyone in the car might be facing hard time.  Civil, criminal, torts, property and family law should be covered in high school or students should be given a useful DVD.

Dealing with the police is the most fundamental part of the justice system and people can learn a lot from TV shows like Cops, Law and Order and programs on Court TV and ID Channel.  We need a program to breakdown the law for young people in a two-hour session so they will know the fundamentals.

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The construction of us in the past and our youth in the future is a combination process.  It involves nature (DNA material) and nurture (environment) with considerable influence from family, church, school and the community.  We pray that everyone has a functioning value system and/or moral compass.  There…we have it….how modern southerners should be built.

I was built back in the day during the end of Jim Crow.  Not being killed by a mob, the police or a mob that included the police was the simple goal.  Oh, our parents were built as tough as nails; I swear my father was made from iron and leather.  We are noticeably softer than they were unapologetically.  They didn’t want their kids to be “fetching water, tin tub bathing, step off the sidewalk for White folks” tough.  We were air conditioned, water in the door Negroes.

The heart-break of my life was not being a member of a Black fraternity.  But, it turns out that I was never built to take the abuse of hell week….hell naw.  Don’t get it twisted, military training like Ranger School in Columbus, SEAL School in San Diego or basic training of Marines on Parris Island is a good character building.  While that training is tough, it is doable.  Some of the pledge process for Black frats is worst is than CIA alleged “enhanced interrogation.”  Oh, I would have been on Fox News in I attemped to join certain groups back when.  My father loved his membership but he was going from a sharecroppers’ life into the middle class.  That fraternity was a big part of his polishing and development.  While I would have enjoyed the brotherly bond and community service, they would have “made” me.

This discussion is needed on a public policy/politics blog because how kids are built directly relates to what they take on in life.  In my community, kids often have a struggle mentality—struggling, it’s what we do.  Parents actually built their kids to be strong for the struggle rather than smart to avoid the struggle.  A sista in college told me that her mother raised her ready to fight well with a man about cheating.  I asked why she wasn’t raised to detect and avoid the cheating type.

Yea, I am unapologetically soft and conduct myself accordingly.  I have a “hood” theory about jail.  Lawd knows I can’t do real time behind bars.  My unfounded theory is that some kids must have grown up in small space and therefore can live in an iron closet without problems.  I love the sun, the light, the night time sky and freedom.  What are you doing that is worth jeopardizing your outside freedom?  Would you give up freedom for a few dollars?  These fools have turned the word jail into an accomplishment word.  “Man, I know how to jail.”

Another hood theory involves people being outside.  It’s funny what some people can’t see.  In some communities, people always seem to be on the porch or outside because there is limited room and privacy inside.  Again, I wasn’t built to be in small spaces and my future house might only be 1100 square feet but you can best believe that it is one big room with only the bathroom separate—windows everywhere.

So, if you aren’t built for the struggle, it’s fine.  But, you need to be very careful what situations and drama enter into your life.  My friends who grew up rough are surprisingly the ones with smooth lives today.  They wanted the rest of their lives and their kids’ lives to be worry free.

Some of those who didn’t grow up in the struggle are struggling now because they are too soft or weak.  The conservative movement doesn’t know that this point is the key to their inroads in my community.  Government assistance might have inadvertently created a segment of the population whose main interest is seeking the infamous “check.”

I don’t like struggling and wasn’t built to have the government or anyone else tell me to care for my family.  One last point: what is up with grown folks who are too cool to work an entry level job but aren’t too cool to ask someone to feed their kids.  That’s some bull.

While I am ranting, let’s talk about DNA from the first paragraph.  Young people should be careful regarding the people with whom they have children.  All of the love and nurturing in the world can’t counterbalance a bad seed.  Some of these girls can’t pick husband material men because they have never been around healthy marriages.  They are built to fail from the beginning like their brothers who don’t know how to be law-abiding, job-holding men.  Uncle Teddy wants to give some loving advice: go to the family reunion on both side of a person’s family and study how they carry themselves long before you consider MARRYING this person and later having children.

Old Uncle Teddy was raised to move the Black family forward and we simply can’t afford to have you holding us back or turning us around.  A friend says “we are one generation from poverty.”  Get it—that’s a cute way of saying we recently came from poverty and we can easily return if we are careful.

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Abusing drugs might be at the root of most of southern communities’ problems.  However, we should consider drug abuse in its totality.  Yes, alcohol is a drug and many people drink in their (our) youth to mask the pain and disappointment of not having the life they wanted.  Everyone can’t be Miss. America, driving for NASCAR or score a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl.  You plan and life laughs—get over it.

I think that college kids and young adults smoke weed rather than drink alcohol because in many cases it is easier to get. First Lady Nancy Reagan said just say no to drugs and she was so right. In the 80s, crack dam near destroyed urban America.

As quiet as it is kept, prescription drug abuse or doctor shopping is tearing up another side of town and it is time to talk about it.  Secretary Colin Powell’s and Senator John McCain’s wives both had legal drug addiction problems.  If you have a car accident and are in pain, these drugs will help in the short term.  But, using them after the pain is gone is a mess.  The body has a habit forming need or a chemical dependency.  I don’t know all of the names of the drugs but it’s the stuff of mid-class women—the real desperate housewives.  These drugs are currency in certain circles.  Have you seen that show called Intervention?

Doctor shopping occurs when a person uses several doctors and the emergency room to get more and more of the stuff.  One pill “as directed” isn’t the norm.  People are taking several at one time or mixing them with alcohol for a dangerous cocktail.   An article in my local newspaper features comments on the subject from an emergency room doctor who attended undergrad with me.  The article says emergency room doctor shoppers are more likely to be White.  I don’t want to see anyone hooked on anything.


Local officials should work with state and federal governments to determine and address this problem because it is costly to the healthcare and criminal justice systems.  How much crime is drug related?  It actually cost more money to put someone in prison for a year than the average person earns in a year.

Here is the kicker: the SSI disability program treats drug abuse as a disability.  Huh?  Is that the classic definition of a vicious circle because the money from “the check” often funds more abuse.  What they really need is some sweet Jesus.

Getting to the root of the abuse problem will require giving people something positive to do.  While most local elected officials will say that utilities and fire trucks are their duties, they must work to attract more jobs, support the local education system and tell state and federal officials that funding positive activities and treatment programs is spending a dime now rather than spending a dollar later on jails.

Lastly, marijuana seems to have pain management benefits but we should pump the brakes on legalization; the experts on this matter should speak first.  We must remember that there was no real organized crime in America before prohibition.  The trafficking of illegal weed is a big problem but legalization might create a subculture of mellow zombies.

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5:10 a.m. is before the dawn of a new southern day or as we use to say “ ‘fore day in the morning.”  It’s also the dawn of a new day politically and the beginning of a new season.   Change is obligatory.

The local elections this year and the wider elections next year are good times to lay the foundation of what we need in your southern communities.  We need leaders who speak openly and honestly about bringing us together and improving our conditions.  Co-founder of this blog Helen Blocker Adams is such a leader and Augusta, Georgia, should make her their next mayor.

Helen and I have spent countless hours discussing the importance of bridging community divides and that is the reason I chose a southern bridge for the cover art of this blog.  The rock band the Police had a reggae song called “One World Is Enough For All Of Us” that includes the line “we can’t sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”  In Augusta, the medical college recently continued it’s land acquisition but fairly created new housing for displace citizens.

We need similar changes in my town and the changes could apply to a thousand American communities.  We are a proud agricultural community; we grown produce.  Only a few percentage of Americans work directly in ag but those hard working people feed everyone else.  While I generally have no stomach for Donald Trump, he is correct in stating that America doesn’t make things anymore and making things will be the return of jobs.

The new mission for my community should surprisingly be based on towns like Mayberry from television.  See, some people like to raise families and grow old in peaceful, friendly places where everyone knows and cares for everyone else.  My town is sandwiched between two larger cities and to me, we are a bedroom community for those who don’t mind a short drive for some peace.

We need leaders who are concerned with every little corner of the community because problems and trouble know no boundaries.  In our local elections, every candidate is personally cool with me and I would be lying if I said that basic municipal services weren’t fine.  They are.

However, there comes a time when talented leadership should step up to the next challenge…when your services and skills are better required on a different level of government.  For example, New Jersey has two bright rising stars and I personally like their new style of leadership.  Newark Major Cory Booker is running for the U.S. Senate and this guy earned his stripes.  He is a Sanford/Yale guy whose parents were two of the first Blacks at IBM but he lived in the projects as mayor to better understand the lives of his citizens.  The guy doesn’t talk in generalizations; he gets down to details of what is wrong—straight no chaser.  He speaks directly to the people about what they should do to improve their communities.


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is clearly running for president and if Hillary isn’t the next POTUS, it should be him.  The big guy tells it like it is and doesn’t might stepping on a few toes if needed.

In southwest Georgia, the Chamber of Commerce types have done an admirable job of marketing our communities with emphasis being on the good qualities.  However, it’s time to address (deal with) the rest of the community.  Where are the leaders who can comfortably and firmly bring out the best from the rest?  Countless sons and daughters of the rural South dream about retiring to these piney forests but two main concerns are the racial climate and the growing actions of the thug element.

We need to grow our youth with the care we have traditionally used to produce our crops.  We must prepare the soil, plant the seed organically and monitor until ripeness.  But, we must also root out weeds and remove pests.

Issues that local candidates should be addressing included:

1. Police: It’s wonderful when the local police achieve that delicate balance between firmness and compassion.  During the Clinton Presidency, the Congress passed a Crime Bill that promoted Community Policing.  The best officers (we have some good ones) know their patrol areas and greet people.  They use knowledge of and relationships with citizens to serve and protect.  Unfortunately, some officers develop a hard spirit from constantly dealing with thugs; they should remember that the vast majority of the people appreciate and support them.  Cops should smile and walk more.

2. Economic Development: We know that real E.D. begins in the homes, the schools and the churches.  Hey, the Chamber can’t attract industry to a town if those industrial leaders read rough stats about the educational abilities of the workforce.  An unofficial duty of elected officials is encouraging citizens to be fully focused on achievement—get in their faces like Booker and Big Chris up Jersey way.

3. Downtown Revitalization: Madison, Tifton, Moultrie, Americus, Thomasville. Even Hahira.  These Georgia towns have cool downtown areas.  The granola-eating, bicycle-riding, wine-sipping types love to live in and visit towns with preserved character.  I still don’t get antiquing because it reminds me of rough days for us but hey, if it brings dollars to town, roadshow your blank off.  I do love old buildings with character and retrofitting them with lofts brings life back to downtown.  Paris, Napa Valley and Barcelona have a café culture and so can south Georgia but rather than sitting outside on the sidewalk sipping Riesling we might preferred sweet tea or a cool one from a Mason jar–Duck Dynasty style.  This would be a nice way to watch the Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets or Falcons give a game away…again.

4. Crime: We need leaders who will work with state and federal officials to address the growing cost of criminal activity.  Of course, it starts with education, faith and better parenting.  The next crop of leaders needs to be familiar with regular folks—dare I say that they should have street cred.  You must know the streets to fix the streets.

5. Housing: Homeowership anchors a taxpaying family to a community.  Whatever happened to starter homes?  Let’s be honest, item number four (crime) has people moving out of town.  The thug element frightens people…me included.  But, hell no.  The houses in my community were built my farmworkers who moved to town.  These people work so hard (making money for someone else) to purchase their slice of the American dream.  Today, most of those men have gone to glory and their widows live in fear from half-raised boys…raised more by hip hop videos than family and church.   You can’t be a new community leader if approaching those young men isn’t in your nature. At some point, we need to secure federal funding to relocate some ag operations from the town’s center to the outskirts and replace that area with mixed-use housing.  I want to hear “let’s walk to church” again.

6. Resourcefulness: we have a fine crop of local candidates.  If they play their cards right, those who don’t win can’t run for the Georgia General Assembly next year with the support of the person who beat them.  Our statehouses need new blood because the political parties seem out of touch.  They put party over people.  I take my hat off to Governor Christie for working with President Obama when New Jersey got hit my a super storm.  That’s what leaders do to be resourceful.

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I have had it up to here with half-raised folks and don’t want to hear about rights and bla bla bla. Yes, in our free society, people have a right to have kids when they want and with whom they want. But, someone must say that developing a baby into a productive, responsible person is one of the hardest things in life. Young people who terrorize senior citzens are actually domestic terrorists to me.

In my Sunday morning newspaper, columnist Carlton Fletcher of the Albany Herald details a story about a group of young punks being disrespectful to an older couple. We must have a new type politician/policy maker that design public policy in a way that encourages people having kids when they are really ready.

The passage of time is the ultimate neutralizer in life



Carlton Fletcher

Time waits for no one, and we’re running out of time.

— Friends of Distinction

My blood started boiling as I surveyed the scene, and I found myself amazed anew at the human race’s capacity for cruelty.

A pack of young men, four strong, walked away from where an older couple stood looking warily after them. The four were laughing uncontrolably, pointing at the couple and falling all over each other in their mirth.

The old couple looked wounded, but not in any physical way. It was more a look of embarrassed resignation, of stunned disbelief. I noticed tears on the woman’s cheeks.

Trying to size up the situation, I asked the couple if they were OK. The man waved off my concern.

“No big deal,” he said. “Just some young hoodlums showing off and letting off steam.”

The woman, though, said nothing. She silently walked away, the tears flowing freely. I watched her slip quietly into their nearby vehicle and asked the man again if they were really all right.

He stood looking at me for a moment before saying anything.

“You know how it is with young kids,” he said with a long sigh. “They’re out roaming around with all that energy and nothing to do, and they have to let it out somewhere. I figure we’ve all done that at some time in our lives.

“But that doesn’t stop their words from hurting.”

The man stopped talking abruptly, as if he’d said too much. I actually looked around to see if the kids were coming back, then let the silence linger for a moment before asking if he wanted to talk about the incident.

“Oh, it’s just kids being stupid kids,” he said. “They made some cracks about us being old and used some language that got my dander up. I said something to them — told them to have some respect — and that got them going.

“They ran at us like they meant to hurt us, then stopped and said some real mean things.”

The man stopped again, and this time a look of hurt enveloped his face. It’s a look that touched my heart.

“They called my wife things like ‘pig’ and ‘sow’ and screamed how ugly she was,” the man said quietly. “They called her some nasty things that I wouldn’t repeat. I wanted to go after them, but I was scared they’d hurt my wife.”

Tears welled in the man’s eyes.

“That woman is the sweetest, kindest woman God ever created,” he said. “She’s been through more than her share over the years, put up with just about every kind of hardship you can think of. She just doesn’t deserve to be treated so mean.”

I offered my condolences and asked the man if he wanted me to contact law enforcement.

“Nah,” he said, “ain’t no need for that. We’re just gonna head on home now. I’ll have to see if I can’t find a way to make my wife feel better.”

I offer what I know are insufficient words to try and bolster the man’s feelings, but he waves me off.

“Son,” he said, “I’m not really concerned about those young punks. It makes me mad that they hurt my wife’s feelings, but she’ll get over it in time. I probably would have fought all four of them in my younger days, but those days are long gone.

“That’s one thing about life: It marches on. I was like those boys in a lot of ways when I was their age, but look at me now. And my wife may not win any beauty contests, these days, but, son, back in her day she turned every man’s eye. Heck, she’s still that beautiful young woman to me.”

He smiled at the memory.

“I figure time will catch up with those boys like it does all of us,” he said. “I won’t be around to see them get theirs, but I can rest easy knowing that, sooner or later, it will happen.

“Time gets us all.”

As the man shuffled off to join his wife in their car, I watched him with mixed feelings of respect and sadness. I was thankful that I’d happened upon him — in spite of the circumstances — but I couldn’t help but think about that look of bewildered hurt on his wife’s face.

As the couple drove away, I found myself dwelling on the man’s parting words: Time gets us all.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

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School choice and family planning are two topics I would love to hear discussed in my community because they are at the foundation of our futures.  However, I want that discussion to take place around a discussion table sixty or seventy years ago. 

A.G. Sadler Sr., third seated from left

A photo of my father and his fraternity brothers meeting at the local Black college hangs in my mother’s den.  The organization wore Black and Gold and he was old enough to actually know founders personally but it could have been a meeting of any Black fraternity or sorority of that time because they were all committed to moving the race forward.  You can see the steely determination in their eyes: we as a people would have the opportunity to learn, earn and prosper in this great nation and the sky would be the limit once those doors of opportunity opened. 

If we had a time machine or a portal to the past (like a smart phone app), we could tell these gentlemen that we were from 2012 and that a Black man was in the White House…a Black man without a mop.  Since most of the men in that picture were college professors or public school educators, I want to know their opinions on school choice.

Today, we recognize that public school K-12 education needs a top to bottom overhaul.  I personally think that the teachers enter the profession ready to teach and that the facilities are generally acceptable in my area.  For a myriad of reasons, some of the kids just aren’t ready, willing and able to learn.  I think the foundation of education is discipline or obedience learned at home and church. 

Those guys in that photo didn’t question their parents in their generation and neither did we in my generation.  Today, I hear kids ask their parents “What?” and “Why?” with a tone that would have never happened in my day.  One of the men in that photo was likely the dentist that my father would have taken me to see after he knocked my teeth out for saying “What.”

We should discuss parents having a tax credit or voucher to put their children in the best quality educational situation.  When schools in the South were integrated, White private schools popped up in every county.  But, I can remember the dedication of the educators from the all-Black schools.  A period of “separate but equal” would have been fine with many Blacks because they wanted fairly funded schools more than forcing us to attend school with people who thought of us wrongly. 

When we debated school choice as congressional staffers in the 1990s, I would always argue that private schools would cherry-pick the best students and those remaining in the public schools would be students from families that couldn’t afford to get out.  If the best 20% opted for private schools, the worst 20% should have a voucher to attend a special school after getting kick out of regular school. 

Public policy can’t solve the education problem because the ultimate problem is that some people are having children before they are prepared to raise and nurture them.  To me, people shouldn’t get married until they are around 24 years old and they should then wait 24 months before having kids (a waiting period to ensure that the marriage is viable.)  Before 24 years of age, people could be finishing their education and training, moving up in the workplace and having fun socially.  Children should come into the mix when folks are ready to be parents like those Alphas in that old photo.  Instead, we have kids having kids and early grade teachers are half educators and half parents. 

Current conservatives trip me out with talk of abortion and welfare.  The guys around that table never envisioned people having the government deeply involved in their lives. They were concerned more with anti-lynch and opportunity.  The conservative men in that photo would have a lot to say about the long-term effect of LBJ’s policy that would come in a decade or two. 

A recent study indicates free birth control dramatically reduces abortion and teen pregnancy.  Since the far Right conservatives are rightfully concerned with governmental spending, they should know that abortions and public assistance goes down if fewer pregnancies occur in the first place.  The guys in that picture could discuss the wrongness of abortion and premarital sex as well as the wrongness of hungry children and struggling families.  Reasonable people know that you can’t always push your faith’s beliefs into the public policy of a diverse nation. 


The achievement-oriented Blacks of my fathers’ generation would be disappointed to learn that music is crime and sin-based and hip hop shapes the mindset of our youth more than parents and church.  If those guys in that picture were transported into current times, they would figure out a way to get the best education for their families.  Unfortunately, those pioneers in education would be compelled to seek schools for their families that kept their kids away from certain elements without regard to race.  Oh, I would teach government and tennis at an all-male school that brought academic heat all day every day–a place where gentlemen were built.

Teaching the guys in that photo was easy because they were enthusiastic about learning; it was learn or be an unofficial slave during Jim Crow.  If they had a window on today at that table, they would be flabbergasted with the way our youth are carrying themselves and disappointed with the squandering of opportunities.

I enjoyed hearing this speech by Kappa founder Edward G. Irvin.


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We spend too much money putting people in prison.  Of course, criminals must be punished but it would be better if the crimes never happened in the first place.  I am 47 years old and I have never made 47K per year but the national average cost of an inmate is $47,000 and as much as $60,000 in New York. 

The statistics from a CBS Sunday Morning news story are alarming: 1 in 3 Black men between the ages of 18 and 34 are in the system (jail, prison, probate or parole); 50% of released inmates return in three years. 

The old “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality sounds great for political candidates and officeholders but we are spending $63 Billion per year on incarceration.  Guys who ended behind bars, many for non-violent drug related offenses, often discover that education and faith are wonderful; I wish they learned that in junior high school or earlier.

I don’t have the answers: however, I have always felt that prison seems like the bondage of slavery but slaves didn’t have a choice, could still live with mates and could go outside (the good Lord knows that I would go crazy if I couldn’t go outside when I wanted.)  The possible answers include mentor programs for youth, men being real fathers and reducing drug usage.  With constant cries for reducing governmental spending, addressing the prison situation is a must.

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George Zimmerman meant well but we must be careful in our zeal to protect our communities.  Trayvon Martin was a better young man than most but sorting good kids from the bad ones has become difficult because most of them –Black, White and Brown- seems to admire the thug/hard element. 

I didn’t add “Yellow” to the list above because (as I stereotype) Asians youth in America still respect their elders and attempt to be obedient.  Oh, it is a matter of time before certain parts of American culture ruin them also. 

We have two or three generations of young people who don’t give a flip about how they carry themselves.  They will say or do anything in front of anyone and dare you to look at them sideways.  Zimmerman, with the warmth of his firearm, wanted to be that heroic figure in the neighborhood who stood for what was right; he wanted to be the man not afraid to stop the crime drama.  But, he stepped mistakenly to a decent guy. 

On some level, I feel like the guy on the block who senior citizens seek regarding community matters but I am much smarter than Zimmerman.  You must establish a vibe with the young folks and I have found that the holiday season is the best time.  During Christmas and the Fourth of July, my 40 something classmates come home to visit their parents and, of course, yell (like we do) at a brother from down the street.  It usually surprises the current young people to know that their uncles were once young and that some oldheads gave us words of wisdom—now it’s our turn. 

The seed gets planted when my old friends put their massive hands on their nephews’ shoulders and say, “listen to my homeboy and help him keep the block straight for moms.”  That nephew and his crew are the ones with the booming car music at 3 a.m.  We always want to diplomatically address these matters rather than seeing another person heading to expensive penal system.

We have so much unemployment in rural Georgia but a factory closing doesn’t mean you don’t have a job to do.  Most of my friends have worked continuously since high school.  I have seen guys laboring to keep their kids in Polo and Tommy gear but the kids grow up with a feeling of entitlement.  A year out of work might just be the year when dude saves his son from the streets or the year when moms’ house get the renovations it needed. 

On the job front, we are starting to see reports on employers who will only hire whose currently working.  Really?  In my community, we must do everything we can to weather these rough times.  The good news is that Black folks have perseverance encode on our DNA.  If we get rid of Polo, Tommy and other aspects of conspicuous consumption, we could live with less money.  Secondly, we must stop trying to keep up with the Jones because the Joneses are in debt up to their eyeballs. 

There is nothing wrong with a guy being a stay at home dad for a minute; I have been a stay at home son for more than a minute and yes the salary drama is stressing me out.  We are now the old guys who voluntarily read the Bible and I like Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the grey head.”  I find Psalm 71:18 to be equally cool “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and they power to every one that is to come.”  While unemployed, you still have work that needs to be done.

Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Well, my daddy had a strong commitment to our community and my neighborhood was created in the 1970s by men who were overworked and underpaid on someone else’s farms.  If those dead men paid for these houses with years of hard labor, we can’t let a few half-raised youth destroy the area to the degree that widows are in constant fear.  And the crazy thing is that homies who come home from prison are the main ones telling the youth that the wild path isn’t the right one.

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What is the real cost of crime in America? 

The departments of the federal government directly and indirectly crossover each other.  Problems for the Justice Department often start with the Department of Education’s poor performance.  As we know, there isn’t necessarily a government answer to every problem.  As hard as it might sound, Americans who are fed-up with violent crime often think that some of the criminals never should have been born in the first place. 

Not to start an abortion debate, we should good farther back.  How can we address the huge cost of the criminal justice system by encouraging (if not forcing) people to be more deliberate about when and with whom they have kids?  Of course, young people later realize that they should have wait to a better position and situation in life before starting a family—the difference between 18 and 26 years old would be wonderful.  It hurts to think about young boys who might be heading for the jail because no one properly prepared them for life.  We spend more funds keeping guys in the State Pen than keeping them in Penn State; what a waste of human and financial resources.

LaDonna from HBO's Treme

If you do a crime, you should do the time but most of that drama and the effects on victims could have been avoided.  The HBO series Treme hit me hard recently with the violent and senseless attacks on the character bar owner LaDonna and later street music Harley Watt.  This young thug shot Harley during a street robbery for calling him “son” and the gang assault on LaDonna was painful to watch.  While that is a T.V. show, crime happens every hour of every day and I am pissed.

The U.S. Justice Department, in my opinion, should invest more in reaching those heading down the wrong path.  Some presidential candidate or the current president should be tough enough to say that we need to discourage people from having children until they are fully prepared to raise a law-abiding citizen.  It cost more to put a thug in prison for a year than many people make in salary in a year.  I shouldn’t get started on the young parents who leave the responsibility of parenthood to their parents.  The economy is rough and grandparents should be planning for retirement rather than spending on grandkids while the baby-makers slide.

Albany Herald columnist Carlton Fletcher wrote a strong one about this subject this week.


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In Georgia, we spend too much money on criminal justice after spending cash for 12 years to education whose who would become criminals.  New Governor and former congressman Nathan Deal was alarmed by the crime-related items in the state budget.  To me, it’s like that old Fram oil filter commercial: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later” the mechanic says.

Well, we should pay teachers who today unfortunately do more than the teachers of old.  U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Spike Lee are pushing for more Black men to consider teaching.  Currently, one percent of teachers are Black men and over the next 20 years many teachers will be retiring.  In this down economy, teaching could be a cool option for those with the right temperament and the paid is not bad.

Education officials should look into a program Silver Springs, Maryland, had in the 90s called college style teaching.  The D.C. Area had many retired federal workers and military veterans who would like to work part-time because they were basically fine financially.  The school system found recruiting difficult because those who wanted to simply teach didn’t wanted the headache of hall, bus, homeroom and activities duties.  While the majority of the teachers were “full teachers with full pay,” the college style teachers, who received less money, arrived on campus 30 minutes before their first class, taught two classes, had a planning period, taught two more class and left campus—similar to college professors.

Options for other duties like coaching and clubs came with more money in a cafeteria plan like current coaches’ stipends or supplements.  We could be talking about former Wall Street executives, well-travelled war veterans, and high-paid factory worker who want a change for the last phase of their working years.  If the schedules are right, these teachers might split time between teaching and consulting in their former fields.  The real winners would be the children who would get teachers who know exactly what the workforce needs.  I love the idea of lower grades kids having more positive men in the schools as role models.

Yes, our communities were better when parents and the church primarily raised kids.  Today, music videos, the internet, 150 T.V. channels and the streets are framing young minds.  If we don’t do something innovative soon, we will continue spending more money sending youth to Georgia State Penitentiary than Georgia State University.  The rough kids disrupt the education experience for those to want to learn.  I will tell you what: get this program before my 50th birthday and I will teaching four American government/civic classes and coach tennis for 30K and be glad to have it.      

The added benefit of having clean-cut men in the schools is the character options for boys, and the experience of being around real men for girls whose fathers were elsewhere.  Oh yeah, some of those life-long daddy issues and quickness to argue with men stem from rarely being around a certain type man.  As Chuck D said in the rap rhyme back in the day, “with a man in the house…the bullsh__ stops.” I shouldn’t go there but let me rhyme, “with men in the schools…knowledge becomes more cool.”

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The headline in last Thursday’s Augusta Chronicle ‘Juvenile Crime up 23% in Richmond in the last year’ was troubling.  So much so that I teamed up with a friend who manages three Waffle House restaurants and three local organizations that work directly with at-risk and disenfranchised boys to do something about it. A press conference was held Wednesday and once again the local media were there. Our CBS and NBC affiliate, our daily newspaper and the black owned weekly newspaper were there and gave us much coverage and much love. In about 24 hours, we’ve got over 60 men who have signed up to serve as mentors for our young boys. Our goal is 250 men, by August 7th, who commit to at least one hour per week with a young man. It seems we’re well on our way. We’ve even attracted people who want to help ‘recruit’ men to get involved. I’m blown away by the response we’ve received in such a short time…

The following article was featured in today’s Augusta Chronicle. http://www.augustachronicle.com

Effort seeks mentors for young males
By Stephanie TooneStaff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

Helen Blocker-Adams met with media and community partners Wednesday about filling the void of father figures in the lives of Richmond County’s young males. // <![CDATA[//

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Radio host Helen Blocker-Adams (right) and Waffle House District Manager Escubar Moore (left) want men to volunteer to be mentors for young males to help combat the rise in juvenile crime in Augusta.

Mrs. Blocker-Adams, a talk show host on WNRR-AM 1230, said she was disturbed after reading in The Augusta Chronicle that juvenile crime has increased 23 percent in the past three months, compared to the same time last year. That should be a wake-up call to Augusta, she said.

“Juvenile crime is just off the Richter scale,” she told a crowd in front of the Waffle House on Gordon Highway on Wednesday. “We have to find some surrogate fathers for these young males because a lot them don’t have one.”

She and Escubar Moore, the district manager of three Augusta Waffle House restaurants, will sponsor the Back to School Men’s Drive for Kids, a campaign to recruit positive male role models for Augusta’s male youth.

By July 27, Mrs. Blocker-Adams and Mr. Moore hope to sign up 250 men to volunteer with local mentoring agencies: Dads in Action, An Ounce of Prevention and Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry.

Mr. Moore said men can sign up at Waffle House locations on Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge Road and Wrightsboro Road. The men are asked to give one hour a week with one of the three mentoring agencies. About 75 men had signed up to volunteer as of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Moore said.

“I hope we blow that number away and have even more,” he said. “That 250 hours per week can make a whole lot of difference in our community.”

Devon Harris, the executive director of the Full Circle Refuge Juvenile Justice Ministry, has worked with troubled youth for several years. He said the statistics are not surprising. A positive male in the lives of some of the young men in his program could make a difference in their lives and have an impact on the community, Mr. Harris said.

“We want to think it’s somebody else’s problem or the government’s problem, but we have to plant the seed,” he said. “These young men are looking for guidance. They want someone to invest in their lives.”

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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Mindless Crime

The sun came up in the east in Sylvester, Georgia, today.  It rose over an old pecan grove and the tranquility of the morning was broken by news that two area 80 year old women were beaten and robbed in separate incidents by males who look like me and the two seniors.


I can hear the accuses already, “I was just trying to provide for my family because the man is holding me down.”  Sylvester, which has a Black police chief, is in a state with a Black Attorney General.  The state is in a country with a Black Attorney General who was appointed by a Black President.  I guess I should add that a Black Georgian sits on the highest court in the land.


If the man is trying to hold criminals of any hue down, let’s hope criminals stand up—cuffed and ready for transport.


While working as a congressional staffer in D.C., my boss wanted me to give up my Million Man March VIP pass so he could give it to his dear colleague then Rep. Harold Ford, Sr. who had several sons and one was being groomed to replace him in congress.  Those “grassroot” Black congresspeople are often a snooty bunch of elitist who function like royalty and expect the masses to kiss their rings.  Okay, I sound like sour grapes because I never quite fit into their snobbish circles and Rep. Ford, Jr. because a sound young congressman.


At the MMM, Mrs. Rosa Parks was speaking and I asked the guy next to me what would happen if Mrs. Parks acknowledged with love and forgiveness the attendance of the knucklehead who broke into her house and roughed her up.   Dude and I agreed that he would have two million feet in his behind—from my Rockports to Ice Cube’s Converse All-Stars. 


So the righteous among us would quote Romans 12:19: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it s written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord.


But since we were right there, let us get this one for you, saith “Folks done with mindless crime.” 

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The Florida Gators won the national college football championship—again.  Go Gainesville Gators, Go.  That Tim Tebow is one outstanding young man; his parents did a fine job raising him but some of that is genetics – which they provided also. Congrats to Myron Rolle from the FSU Football Team on his Rhodes Scholarship; putting Cecil’s ill-gotten gains to good use.  Rhodes wanted a secret society to promote British rule around the world; Rolle is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  Tebow and Rolle might be the next Obama-types. 

Also, don’t sleep on Georgian Maya Moore who plays basketeball with Uconn and graduated from Atlanta’s Collins Hills High School with a 4.0 GPA. 

Tebow, a service-minded Christian athlete, was homeschooled by smart people; which leads to the fact that not everybody who homeschools will product a brainy Heisman Trophy winner.  So, if you are not smart enough to homeschool your kids past a certain grade level, you might not be smart enough to know it.  Some kids need to be at school and/or church for socialization purposes.  Yes, many school systems have uncontrollable little monsters who are exposed to heaven-knows-what at home and the teachers can’t stop them from “sharing” in the halls and cafeterias.
I think Georgia now has an innovative program for children to learn via the internet.  Can you image a cul-de-sac with six or seven homes where all the parents are bright and they create their own little school in a pool house or garage.  Parents who telecommute can swing by for a few classes and the banker can come home to teach economics during her lunch hour.  And mom can bake ginger bread cookies and vacuum in heels while wearing pearls.  
I am sure what the answers are with education options but some dramatic changes are needed because Little Johnny who does not learn might eventually be Jo-Dog, master of the cellblock for 15 to 20 years.  Georgia spends 1.2 Billion dollars on the state’s prison system—which does not include caring for the families of some inmates.  The education system is like that old oil filter ad, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.”
It all comes down to parenting and home training and President Obama will likely say what many reasonable people are thinking, “Some folks need children like a fish needs a bicycle.”

When Soon-to-be Speaker Newt Gingrich considering provisions for his agenda, he publicly discussed giving 21 year olds $5000 if he graduated from high school, had no out of wedlock kids and no criminal activity.  Those who say you can’t legislate morality never met Newt.  Hey, that plan is cheaper than lock’em up.

UPDATE: The list grows; Stephen Curry with Davidson College is another good kid. Like Grant Hill was back in the day.

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