Mar07

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Fall From Grace — End of Jackson Dynasty?

In a recent op-ed for Thegrio.com, writer David Love questioned whether or not—with the recent appearance of former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in a U.S.  District court —to tender a guilty plea for spending $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items, guaranteeing prison time—we were witnessing the end of the Jackson political dynasty.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and false statements.

“The guilty plea today is so tragic because it represents such wasted potential,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. at a news conference.  “Jesse Jackson Jr. had drive, the ability and the talent to be the voice of a new generation, but he squandered that talent.

“For seven years, Mr. Jackson betrayed the very people he inspired by stealing their campaign donations to finance his extravagant lifestyle. His fall from grace will hopefully chasten other leaders who are tempted to sacrifice their ideals and integrity to line their own pockets.”

Jackson’s wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson pleading guilty to knowingly filing false tax returns. Mrs. Jackson, who resigned from her position as Chicago Alderman in January, failed to declare $600,000.

When U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins asked Jackson during the hearing whether he understood what was happening. Jackson replied, "Sir, I've never been more clear in my life."

Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2013 with the former congressman expected to receive anywhere from 46 to 57 months in prison and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000. Sentencing for his wife is set for July 1. The sentence, according to federal guidelines should be in the range of 18 to 24 months in prison with a fine of between $4,000 and $40,000.

As part of the plea agreement, the couple will be required to pay any restitution ordered by the court and forfeit $750,000 in proceeds and property, including a mink cashmere cape; a mink reversible parka; a guitar signed by pop legend Michael Jackson; and various memorabilia associated with historic figures and various celebrities.

3,100 purchases totaling $582,773 racked up on a campaign credit card included $60,857 in restaurants and nightclubs, $17,163 in tobacco shops; $31,700 in sports clubs and lounges, $14,513 in dry cleaning, a cruise, holistic retreat and $5,814 in alcohol.
Jackson was elected to Congress in 1995 as the representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois, serving until November 2012 when he resigned while also being treated for bipolar depression.

Jesse Jackson Sr. sat stoic in the courtroom with his wife and their other children at his side.

The senior Jackson who had not—as of press— spoken publicly released the following statement to Rainbow PUSH Coalition members:

"During this difficult and painful ordeal, our family has felt the impact of your prayers and calls. So many ministers have reached out to us, and we thank you. The hurt in this valley is indescribable.

“Jesse’s ordeal has been compounded by the stresses of his current legal challenges. In a recent statement of contrition, he assumed responsibility and apologized. Our hope is that his sincere apology will be well received. This is a storm, within time storms pass over.”

Son Jonathan is the national spokesman for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and a partner in a Chicago-based beer distributorship, River North Sales and Service, LLC. Daughter Santita is a political commentator who appears regularly on Fox News, while hosting a TV show on the Word Network. Two other children —Yusef DuBois and Jacqueline Lavinia—have steered clear of politics.

As the son of a prominent civil rights leader, Jackson Jr. saw his Dad fight for an equal playing field for blacks and pave the way not only for him but for a generation of blacks. The Jackson name also helped his wife become the 7th Ward alderman.

Yet as one political observer noted, “he succumbed to the same temptations that have tripped up men who had no role models, let alone a famous one.”

The former congressman’s fall also plays into the hands of his family’s detractors  who have long speculated how the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. gets paid about and further tarnishes the Jackson brand.

There’s already talk of a memoir from Jackson in an attempt to redeem the legacy.

Jackson wrote two previous books,—a book of financial advice called "It's About the Money" with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, in 1999. Then in 2001, he released "A More Perfect Union," examing constitutional amendments that dealt with employment, affordable housing, health care and fair taxes.

The biggest irony is that for years Jesse Jackson Sr. lamented the numbers of African Americans who are incarcerated across the country. Now, his son will be one of them.

Mar07

Left At The Altar, A Story of Heartbreak and Triumph

In 2010, it was a week before Christmas—and less than three weeks before her beautifully-planned destination wedding in Jamaica, that Kiva Gates found a note on her bed from her fiancé. Of all the things said in the short note, one line would become engrained in her memory.

“I think it’s more than cold feet,” he wrote, effectively calling off the wedding.

Two years later, Gates—author of recent novel “I Will Give You Rain,” still hasn’t seen or spoken to her former fiancé since before he left the note. She never received closure, or an explanation of where they went wrong.

“It was just so sudden,” says the Kansas City, Missouri native. “There was no indication that this was going to happen. We don’t always look at the little signals or maybe I didn’t notice because we were too busy, engulfed in planning a wedding.

“I believe that was one of the things,” she confesses. “I was too busy planning a wedding.”

With 75 family and friends flying into Jamaica to witness the nuptials, the wedding was supposed to be a big event,— the type of wedding her guests would remember a lifetime.

“You go through the process of planning and then all of a sudden everything comes to a halt,” Gates recalls, “then you have to think about all the people you included into this.

“That was the biggest thing—to try to digest that you actually have to go and tell all of these people, in the best way you can, that this is not going to happen. And because you don’t have the explanation of why, you’re still left holding the bag because you don’t know what happened.”

The fact that her ex-fiancé called things off during the holidays, didn’t make things any easier. She knew, with all the parties and functions that take place during that time of year people would be asking why her fiancé hadn’t attended the events with her.

“I didn’t know if my demeanor would be appropriate,” says Gates, “so I wouldn’t go around people and I tried to stay away from those social gatherings that would create so much conversation that I’d become agitated.

“I knew that I was going to be okay,” she says. “I just didn’t know if I was going to be a nice person along the way.”

While she accepted that her former fiance didn’t want to be with her, she still had to grapple with the emotional backlash of a broken engagement.

Instead of going to Jamaica for her wedding, she turned it into a family vacation.

“It was good that it was Jamaica because I love the beach and water,” says Gates. “It was very soothing for me. With the people who care about me the most around me, it turned out to be one of the best times I’ve had, because although had these mixed emotions, I had my family. So I said, ‘I’m not going to be wimpy and ruin a vacation for them.’

“But at the same time when I would be in my alone time, I thought about what got me to this point. I started re-evaluating how did I get to this point?”

It was a question she had to grapple with as she returned home and dealt with starting the New Year in the opposite place of where she expected to be.

“You continue with your daily routine every single day,” she says of how she made it through her lowest points.

“Getting up, taking care of yourself, being pampered. Take yourself to the movies. Take yourself to the masseuse. Take yourself to the spa. take yourself out to a quiet place even if it’s at the park, then you can reflect on those things that really matter and those things that give you the strength to get up again the next day and the day after, and before you know it you’re not frustrated, you’re not agitated, you’re done crying. You’re over that part.

“You have to get the tears out, but after that part, it’s a matter of taking one step at a time and realizing that you have two choices—you can lay down in the fetal position or  get up and keep moving forward and I chose to keep moving forward.”

She credits her relationship with the Lord with giving her the mindset that allowed her to put things into perspective.

“The wonderful thing about being in the center of who God is this,” she says. “You go through the storm knowing that on the other side God is still going to bring you to a better place, and because I knew that, I could refrain from being resentful, bitter, and vengeful.”

It was during this time that she began writing a novel based on her experiences,—something she’d decided to do while she was in Jamaica.

Reality was only the starting point for the romance thriller which “let’s people know that you don’t have to be a victim, you don’t have to be a person who feels gullible to other because of your vulnerabilities, but you can continue to have faith in God and know that if you keep your focus on Him you can recover from any situation.”

In “I Will Give You Rain,” when forty-year-old workaholic Kelli Sinclair searches for an explanation for why her fiancé abruptly left her, she unknowingly stumbles onto the trail of illicit conspiracies and a murderous plot.

Writing the book was a form of therapy for Gates who admits that writing the scenes that paralleled her real life were hard, “but you have to get it out to be able to go on to the next step.

“There are so many people that get stuck on relationships.  You see all of these movies on the ID Network  and the Crime Channel and all these things that are out here because people don’t want to allow their exes to leave. You have to release those things that cause you more harm than good. So if a person decides that they prefer to go away then you should allow them that opportunity.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t imagine in a fiction book to write your own scenario about what you think may have happened in this character’s situation.

“It’s a way to get it out, instead of holding it all inside and creating problems for your health or anything can come from not getting it out your frustrations.”

With her next book “A Moment Surrendered,” well under way, Gates—who presently works as Director of Training at the family’s barbecue empire, Gates BBQ— sees a long career as a novelist in her future, which she acknowledges may not have happened if her fiancé hadn’t left her.

“When something happens, don’t immediately say ‘Oh, why is it happening to me?’ Say ‘God is doing this for a reason.’ ” Gates advises. “Out of all of this that has happened to me, I have a published a book and I have a second one that’s coming out.

“After I wrote the book I said, “Oh, I needed this person to come into my life so I can reach out to other people and say I’ve been there. These are the things that helped me and possibly they may help you too.’ ”

Mar07

Famed Doctor’s Controversial Remarks Thrust Him Into National Spotlight

Dr. Ben Carson was thrust into the national spotlight last month, after a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, during which he addressed today’s political correctness and the national debt, made the case for a flat tax and criticized Obamacare just feet away from President Barack Obama, who was noticeably uncomfortable.

In the days that followed, the famed director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was both blasted by those who found the comments disrespectful to Obama; and praised for “speaking truth to power” by conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who later hosted an hour-long special featuring the doctor and his proposals. A Wall Street Journal editorial proclaimed "Ben Carson for President," while The Atlantic described him as "the New American Folk Hero."

Carson’s speech, peppered with Biblical references, was embraced as a common sense approach to many of the problems America faces as with the nation’s tax code.

"What we need to do is come up with something simple,” said Carson. “And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he's given us a system. It's called a tithe.

"We don't necessarily have to do 10% but it's the principle… You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you've got to get rid of the loopholes. Some people say, 'Well that's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made $10.' Where does it say you've got to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don't need to hurt him. It's that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here building our infrastructure and creating jobs.

“A country where half of the population pay no income taxes, but are allowed to vote to make the other people pay more taxes, makes absolutely no sense. When everybody has skin in the game, then everyone will be responsible: imagine if when you ate ice cream, somebody else got fat.”

His solution to Obamacare was similarly simplistic as well.

"When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed—pretax—from the time you're born 'til the time you die. If you die, you can pass it on to your family members, and there's nobody talking about death panels. We can make contributions for people who are indigent. Instead of sending all this money to some bureaucracy, let's put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they're going to learn how to be responsible."

The renowned doctor, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008 and whose life story was the subject of a TV movie, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” had broken tradition with his comments at the event where speakers are asked to steer clear of politics has since defended his comments.

“Somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies,” Carson told Fox News commentator Neil Cavuto in one of many appearances on national TV shows and radio programs that have followed.

And the devout Seventh-Day Adventist— who has written four best-selling books including his latest, “America The Beautiful” —is not ruling out a run for president.

While he believes he is too blunt to make a good candidate, he leaves the decision to God.

Says Carson, “That’s not my intention, but I always say, ‘I’ll leave that up to God”.

Mar07

Dorner Case Prompts Further Introspection As Former Cops Comes Forward

In the end, Christopher Dorner got at least some of what he wanted. The LAPD has reopened his case and reexamined some of their policies. In the wake of the investigation recently launched by Chief Charlie Beck into allegations made by the former LAPD officer who sparked one of the biggest and most publicized manhunts in recent years, at least six former LAPD police officers who were fired from the force say they want their cases reviewed.

The police chief, who ordered a review of the LAPD disciplinary system in an effort to remain transparent, has said that the results of the investigation would be made public.

“I am aware of the ghosts of the LAPD’s past and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner’s allegations of racism within the Department,” Beck said in a statement.

In the 11,400-word manifesto he posted on Facebook, Dorner accused the LAPD of unfairly firing him and victimizing minorities.

Beck has admitted “No discipline system is perfect. Not mine, not the court system…they are as good as you can make them to be.”

The goal now is to see whether or not the system was being applied correctly.

Dorner killed four people before committing suicide during a fiery shootout after in his quest for justice. It was shortly after the manifesto was made public that several Facebook pages appeared in support of Dorner, who was fired from the police force after reporting a fellow officer for brutality.

And though no one excused his actions, even former LAPD officers called into local radio and TV stations to say that they’d experienced at least some of the unfair treatment and bias Dorner alleged as well as the code of silence protecting cops who misuse their authority.

So much so that after receiving dozens of similar calls, Fox 11 was prompted to do a special edition exploring Dorner’s allegations.

Even after Christopher Dorner’s death on Feb. 12, there was growing sympathy online for Dorner and his cause. Some even dubbing him “the black Rambo”— for striking out at the police for what they had done to him. The support has for many been disturbing.

"Some people have been putting extraordinarily vile things on websites and e-mailing vile things to the police department in support of this guy," said LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

Old perceptions, say experts, are slow to die. Bringing some to question the progress presumed to have been made since the 92’ Rodney King beating.

“Given the history of the black community with the LAPD, it’s not very hard for blacks to find truth in the allegations Dorner made,” says activist Jasmyne Cannick.

“The challenge for Chief Beck and the department is going to show transparency in a way they’ve never been transparent before. It can’t be the usual community meetings and find a couple of black leaders to say everything is going to be okay standing next to Chief Beck. Black people are going to see through that.”

While Cheryl Dorsey, a sergeant with the LAPD who is black, didn’t agree with Dorner’s actions, she told the Christian Science Monitor that she understood his actions.

"I am surprised it took this long for someone to do what Dorner did," she was quoted as saying. "The department will grind you down and have you believe there is no life after the LAPD, so once they fired him, he felt like he had no other recourse. If Beck doesn't change the way police are treated at their board of rights hearings, it will happen again."

The LAPD’s review of the allegations and its overall disciplinary system is expected to take months according to Beck, who contends,

“As hard as it has been to change the culture of the Los Angeles Police Department, it has been even more difficult to win and maintain the support of the public.  As much as I value our successes in reducing crime, I value even more our gains in public confidence.

“We are a better organization now than ever before; better but not perfect.  Fairness and equality are now the cornerstones of our values and that is reflected by the present diversity of the department.”

Mar07

Thompson Installed As President of Baptist Ministers, Appoints New Slate of Officers

In a ceremony that attracted L.A.’s top city officials, including mayoral candidates City Controller Wendy Greuel, Councilwoman Jan Perry and Councilman Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson, State Senator Curren Price, County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, over 100 pastors and upwards of 600 well wishers, Pastor Xavier L. Thompson was officially installed as president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.

“I am extremely humbled,” said the 38-year old pastor who made history last month when he became the youngest minister to hold the post.

“I ran because I believed I was being led by God. I want to take our conference that I love to the highest level possible to see that our dreams are greater than our memories and to serve a community that is in great need of service—spiritually, culturally and socially.”
The ceremony—held February 18 at Thompson’s Southern Missionary Baptist Church— featured words from past presidents Bishop L. Daniel Williams and Dr. Marvis E. Davis, who officially passed the baton to Thompson. Keynoting the three-hour long ceremony that was renowned pastor, Dr. Jasper Williams of Atlanta.

Highlights of the event included the installation of the following officers: Pastor L.A. Kessee (Vice President At Large); Pastor William Turner (1st Vice President); Pastor Terry Brown (Vice President, Christian Education); Pastor J. Wendell Davis (Vice President, Community & Civic Engagement); Pastor George Hurtt (Vice President, Scheduling); Pastor Reginald Payne (Vice President, Young Pastors & Associate Ministers); Pastor Welton Pleasant (Vice President, Strategic Planning); Pastor Donald Robinson (Vice President, Special Operations); Pastor K.W. Tulloss (Political Action Director); Pastor James Perkins (Chief Financial Officer); Pastor Miquail Broadus (Treasurer); Pastor Marvin Dean (Corresponding Secretary); Pastor Louis Lewis (Financial Secretary); Pastor Eugene Bryant (Recording Secretary); Pastor B.T. Newman, Sr. (Parliamentarian) and Pastor C. Lamar Simmons (Assistant Treasurer).

In what was his first executive order the meeting location for the Baptist Ministers Conference was changed from McCoy Memorial Baptist Church to Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, effective immediately.

C­OGIC Launches Initiative To Help Youth Live Life Beyond The Dream
In an interview with Fox News, Bishop Charles Blake, Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of the six million strong-member, Church of God in Christ, spoke about an urban initiative his church is currently sponsoring to deal with crime prevention, strengthening the family, jobs, financial literacy, and education.

Bishop Charles Blake says the church believes it will lead to more people being able to live their lives beyond the dream.
“Education is tied to success. It's tied to survivability. It is tied to the likelihood of criminal involvement at a later time in life,” Blake said.

For Blake and the Church of God In Church, the nation’s spiritual development goes hand in hand with its advancement and education, viewing education as a national security and humanitarian issue.

“Almost 50% of our young people in the black community are not finishing school, not graduating from high school,” Blake reported. “That means they’re not going to be able to find jobs and that means they’ll be more receptive to the possibility of criminal involvement. It means their children are going to repeat this cycle because they will grow up in poverty also.”

To that end, Blake encouraged parents to get involved.

“The welfare in the future and the destiny of their children is affected by their being willing to push into that situation and to advocate for their own children to make sure that children get the education that they need. A young person that does not graduate from high school we'll make 250,000 dollars less than they would have made in their lifetime.”

Greater Zion Enters Into Negotiations to Purchase Double Rock Church
Pastor Michael J.T. Fisher and Pastor Emeritus W. Jerome Fisher of Compton’s Greater Zion Church Family have entered into negotiations to purchase Double Rock Church in Compton.

“Last year, when we found out it was for sale, my dad said we should look into it. We prayed about it,” said  Fisher.

“We reached out to Double Rock and the response was that it was something they were thinking about from the very beginning. Negotiations are looking pretty good. We’re believing that God will give us favor with this one.

“We want to save the legacy. For us, it’s bigger than purchasing the building. Just as I’ve honored my father, I believe it’s important we remember Joe Holmes and his legacy.”

The senior Fisher and Holmes, Double Rock’s founder, were good friends and were troubled by the turmoil following the 2009 arrest of Double Rock pastor, E. Jerome Sims for diverting upwards of $800,000 from his church into a personal fund.

It’s also a practical move for the growing church. Greater Zion’s current building currently seats 650 and they hold three services every Sunday. Listed at $2.2 million, Double Rock, seats 1,200.

“We need the space. We have outgrown our building severely,” Fisher states.

“I’ve always admired the building. It has a gym, classrooms and space. We could really service the community a lot better. We want to put a lot of programs in motion and could really use that space to make things happen.”

In local church news, Rev. Wayne Chaney, Jr. (Antioch Baptist Church) and Bishop Sheridan McDaniel (Faithful Central Bible Church) are among the speakers taking part in a spirit-filled observance of the 50th Anniversary of New Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
“Over half a century ago, the Lord called our founder, the Rev. Dr. Lonnie Dawson, to plant the seed of faith.  A half-century later, we celebrate God’s favor and the fulfillment of His promise,” said Pastor Sonja Dawson, spiritual leader of the 2,000 member congregation.
A 50th Jubilee Ball will take place on Friday, March 22, at 7 p.m., at the Cerritos Senior Center

Mar06

Putting Feet To Prayer, Pastor Leads Church Out of Debt

"You can pray all you want, but when you get through praying, put some feet to your prayer,” says Rev. Dr. Ephraim Williams of Sacramento’s St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

“God has a plan for all of us, but then we have to work on the plan. If we don’t work on anything, then nothing’s going to just happen. You can’t say, ‘Lord, open a door for me to find a job’ and then you sleep in until 1 o’ clock in the afternoon. You get up in the morning and get dressed and go look. And He’s going to open a door, but you’ve got to go find it.”

A man of action, last summer, Williams and his congregation celebrated the fruits of an aggressive budget and financial plan that allowed St. Paul to pay off a 10-year $3.4 million mortgage three and a half years early. The church accomplished this by making payments above the minimum monthly amount, made possible through special offerings that would specifically go toward paying off the principle of the loan.

According to one financial expert, the church saved $1.6 million in interest payments on it’s two-story, 39,000 sq ft facility.

Open since 2006, The Family Life Center offers a multitude of services and activities, including a gym with a stage, exercise rooms, a daycare facility, a banquet room, conference rooms, computer lab and more to church members and the surrounding community.

This marks the third mortgage the Mississippi-native has led the church to pay off since taking over stewardship of the church over forty years ago, and the second mortgage to be paid off early.

“At this church we have really, really committed people working here. Very committed people,” says Williams. “This church is really blessed with that kind of working-togetherness.”

But it is Williams’ practical financial know-how that has resulted in an atmosphere of financial responsibility for his congregation, which has grown from 133 members including youth and children—when he first came to the church to over 5,000 now.

Classes in financial literacy are regular offerings at the church.

“We brought in people to train our members how to handle money,” Williams explains, “but also I taught periodically, money management, and then we try to get families to be debt free.

“I love people,” says the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards for community involvement. “I don’t like to see people under strain that they don’t have to be under.”

Williams attributes his financial skills to his upbringing. His father struggled through the Great Depression.
“My parent taught me, ‘If you make three dollars save fifty cents,’ ”  he explains. “Everybody can’t do that, I understand but everybody can do something to make things better for them.”

What it comes down to is  discipline, says Williams who calls debt a form of slavery and has a few simple and practical examples of how you can get a handle on your spending:

(1) Be conscious of your shopping habits to avoid impulse buying, for instance, if you usually frequent shopping centers 3-4 times a month, cut that down to once a month.

Says Williams, “If you go somewhere and they have fifty good things on sale, do what I would do. Say, ‘No, no, no.’ Get the one thing you came for and get out of there. Move quick!”

(2) At Christmas, ask your children for a list of three things they’d like to receive, but only buy them one of those items.

“I don’t care what they say,” says the great-grandfather of three. “You’re the one paying for it. At Christmas you don’t have to go into debt. We buy our kids ten toys and then the next day they’re old.”

(3) Take stock and pray for guidance

“Sit down and look at what money you have,” says Williams. “Then look at what you want, and then look at what you can afford. Get the Bible and open it in front of you, you read some verses and then pray.

“Ask God to give you guidance for the things that you need and to give you a mindset for how to manage to take care of it. Then you believe that.”

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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