Saturday, July 5, 2008

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon Being Investigated

This is a story that's been gaining steam in the last few weeks, but one that I absolutely missed. Baltimore, MD Mayor, Sheila Dixon is being investigated specifically for approving city contracts while a then council president that benefited her sister's employer. This investigation is so intense that Dixon's home was raided by state prosecutors on June 17th. Dixon, who is in her official first term as mayor has continued to perform her duties as mayor, but this investigation has cast an imposing cloud over her tenure. African American mayors are getting a real bad reputation for corruption. Perhaps residents of theses cities need to take a hard look before giving carte blanche support to our black leaders during election time.

Memphis NAACP Rally To End Mortgage Bias Against Blacks

The Memphis NAACP rallied this week against 17 lenders that have been cited for mortgage bias against African Americans. Memphis had 608 foreclosures in the month of April alone, up 40% from April, 2007. The group was rallying in support of a suit that was filed last year, alleging that blacks were being charged higher interest rates than white people with similar incomes.
This suit may be a challenging one in which to show discrimination, because at every closing the borrower has the opportunity to review all paperwork including the interest rate and terms of the loan. Also, variables such as credit score, debt to income ratio, and loan size are usually used to determine the interest rate for the loan. While the foreclosure problem is hitting blacks hard, lenders were probably treating all applicants the same, and giving bad loans on an equal opportunity basis during the home purchasing and refinancing boom of a few years ago.

Kilpatrick/Beatty Case Getting More Interesting By The Day

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, whose office is prosecuting the Kwame Kilpatrick/Christine Beatty criminal case in Detroit has obtained the text messages of 10 people closely associated with the mayor, including Kilpatrick's sister. Kilpatrick's attorney's are challenging the authenticity of all the text messages including those sent between him and his former chief aide Chistine Beatty. Beatty has already resigned her position, but Kilpatrick is still hanging on to his job as mayor of Detroit. It appears that this will go to trial and should get real interesting.

Obama Supporters Wary of Move to Center

The New York Daily News is reporting that some supporters of presumed Democratic Nominee, Barack Obama are becoming concerned over some of the recent changes in his political opinions in recent weeks, and are withholding future contributions. Obama who ran against Hillary Clinton as an agent of change has reversed his opinions on many issues recently. Most recently he's reversed his stance on how quickly he would pull troops out of Iraq. It appears that Rev. Jeremiah Wright was correct when he stated that Obama was a true politician. He's a good politician, probably one of the best that we've seen in recent memory, but a politician none the less. This isn't an open criticism of Obama, but the way that he limped to the finish line against Clinton, it's a pretty good bet that he wouldn't have beaten her if he had proclaimed the centrist views that we've been hearing recently.

Kanye Taking Anger Management Classes

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Kanye West will be taking Anger Management classes at the insistence of his management team. West, who is the preeminent artist in hip hop, has apparently alienated himself from long time friends and important people in the music business. Potential endorsers are also reportedly wary of West's behavior. Kanye has endured his share of tragedy in the last year. Hopefully he'll be able to channel his anger in a more positive direction in the future, and fulfill his vast potential.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

McCain "Shakes Up" Campaign

Senator John McCain shook up his campaign staff amid very little fanfare by naming Steve Schmidt to take over the day to day strategy of his campaign. Since Senator Obama won the Democratic Nomination, it seems that McCain has been unable to create much "buzz". Obama's charisma seems to have sucked the wind out of McCain. This change in his campaign will probably have very little effect on Obama's run to the presidency.

Essence Music Festival Begins This Weekend

The Essence Music Festival is being held this weekend in New Orleans. Above is a link to information on the festivities from

The Pressure of Being #1

When you're #1, everybody is trying to take you down. Will Smith is dealing with increased scrutiny now that he is the #1 box office draw in Hollywood, and with his new movie, "Hancock" premiering this weak amid mixed reviews.
Will and his wife Jada received criticism this weak regarding the new school that their opening this fall and it's alleged ties to Scientology. The criticism may or may not be valid, but Smith's accomplishments speak far louder than anything we can imagine. The 39 year old Philly born actor has had 11 of his movies gross over $100 million, and "Hancock" is sure to continue the trend.
To determine whether Smith can handle the backlash, you have to consider where he's come from in his life. Smith has been in the public eye since he and his buddy "Jazzy Jeff" came on the music scene in the late 1980s. Will was accepted to prestigious M.I.T. out of high school, but elected to become a rap artist. He's had a successful television show, been nominated for an Oscar and won Grammys during his career. He has even openly talked about the fact that he was a millionaire as a teen and lost it all when the I.R.S. took most of it to pay back taxes.
Will Smith is well aware of where he's come from, and has always made good career choices. Let's let Will be Will and continue to enjoy him as an entertainer.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Civil Rights Pioneer Mentoring T.I.

Rap superstar T.I. is now receiving guidance from Civil Rights pioneer, Andrew Young. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr, was sentenced in March to serve about a year in prison after completing at least 1,000 hours of community service and three years of supervised home detention, stemming from his arrest lat year on felony gun charges. Harris, who admits that he didn't have the best male role models growing up, has been heeding Young's advice as he speaks to youth about the pitfalls of leading a life of crime. Hopefully T.I. will reciprocate and provide guidance for fellow hip hop stars who run afoul of the law. It's not a secret that many black males don't have positive male role models. Perhaps Andrew Young's initiative will encourage other prominent leaders to reach out to the hip hop community.

#1 NBA Pick Rose Cited For Driving Over 100 MPH

Derrick Rose was the #1 pick in the NBA draft last week. It was disclosed yesterday that he was cited for allegedly driving a vehicle owned by his management company, over 100 MPH about 2 months ago. Rose, who has acknowledged the mistake has promised that it will not happen again. We have a 19 year old, future millionaire driving a vehicle that he doesn't own thinking that he can drive as fast as humanly possible. This could be a red flag for Rose's new employer, the Chicago Bulls or just a mistake. Let's hope for Rose's sake that he's learned a lesson. He's very talented, but he's headed back to his hometown to play for the hometown team. A whole lot of pressure for one so young.

Aaron McKie Receiving Protests From Future Neighbors

Former NBA player Aaron McKie was quietly arrested last week in Philadelphia for attempting to buy guns while under a protection-from-abuse order. McKie, who's planning to move into one of the wealthier neighborhoods in the country, Gladwyne, PA is now receiving protests from his would be neighbors as he awaits completion on a new home. Neighbors have been circulating a flyer stating that they don't want another Iverson living in the neighborhood, a reference to NBA star Allen Iverson who used to live in the area. Isn't this still America, where you're innocent until proven guilty? McKie, has admitted to making a mistake and will have his day in court. Neighbors in the Gladwyne neighborhood may want to find another cause to fight, because I'm sure McKie still plans to move into his new home.

New York City Open to Settling Sean Bell Suit

According to the New York Daily News, the City of New York is open to settling the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Bell's fiance, Nicole Paultre-Bell. All parties involved have been asked to appear in court on July 16th.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Homeless At 8 to The University of Pennsylvania at 18

Steven Vaughn-Lewis, was homeless at 8 years old, but his grandmother rescued him and with her prayer and guidance he'll be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Steven was raised in one of the roughest areas of Philadelphia, but reading became his refuge. Great article about Steven overcoming obstacles, and his grandmother providing boundaries and guidance for her grandson. The article also profiles the challenges that Steven will face at Penn, being a black student on a majority white campus. Steven will have the benefit of working with counselors on campus to assist him with the transition to college student.

Options for Cutting Monthly Budget

New York Daily News article focuses on reviewing these items to possibly reduce monthly expenditures: life and car insurance, bank fees and buying cheaper more nutritional foods. The upcoming issue of Consumer reports that up to $500 a month can be saved with a possible review of specific expenditures.

Wall Street Supporting Obama

According to the New York Daily News, Wall Street leaders have contributed in a big way to Barack Obama's campaign, to the tune of over $9 million. This amount is almost twice, the amount that's been contributed to Senator John McCain's campaign. With the economy and stock markets faltering, financial leaders are counting on Obama to enact real change if elected in November.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Fresh School

Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith will be officially opening
New Village Academy, their new school, on September 3rd. The Smith's actually began the school 3 years ago as a forum to home school their 2 young children, Jaden and Willow. The school is receiving criticism for adopting teaching methods developed by Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Controversy aside, Will and Jada have to be applauded for thinking out the box, and trying to impact a our educational system.

From Magic Man to Business Man

13 years ago, Earvin "Magic" Johnson laid the groundwork for his business plan that today has holdings worth an estimated $700 million dollars. Magic's portfolio consists of his 4 movie theatres, 116 Starbucks, 31 Burger Kings, and 13 fitness clubs. Johnson's business plan has always been to revitalize urban areas by placing businesses there and providing minorities with employment opportunities. He's been successful by partnering with other successful people, and he's creating a legacy by preparing his son Andre to oversee certain aspects of the business. Although Magic was a millionaire when he started his business ventures, he made good decisions, and partnered with the right people. This is something that can still be done on a smaller scale by anyone with a vision. Click on above link to read LA Times article.

Detroit Schools Face Financial Crisis

School Superintendent, Connie Calloway faces a major crisis in her first year on the job. She uncovered financial mismanagement in the school system which has resulted in a $400 million budget deficit for the coming year. The school system must approve a new budget today or the system will have to shut down. Adding to her problems is the fact that if school enrollment falls below 100,000 students as expected, the system could see Charter Schools coming into the system in a large number. This is a cautionary tale regarding a school system in crisis. It makes you wonder, where is the money going, and what was Mayor Kilpatrick doing while all of this was happening to his city's school system. Click the above link to read the full story.