Covering

Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.



Thursday, January 23, 2014

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER URGES CONGRESS TO PASS BIPARTISAN 'SMARTER SENTENCING ACT' TO REFORM MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES



FLOTUS on a SUBWAY Healthier Eating Platform

First Lady Michelle Obama joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and SUBWAY® along with SUBWAY® Famous Fans Michael Phelps, Nastia Lukin, and Justin Tuck at a local Washington, DC, SUBWAY® Restaurant, to announce a three-year commitment by the chain in support of her Let’s Moveinitiative to promote healthier choices to kids, including launching its largest targeted marketing effort to date.  In addition to strengthening its already nutritious menu offerings to kids, SUBWAY® will launch a new series of campaigns for kids aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and will set new standards for marketing products to families.

As part of its commitment, the SUBWAY® restaurant chain will:
  • only offer items on its kids menus that meet strong nutritional guidelines informed by federal standards for the national school lunch program, including offering apples as a side and low-fat or non-fat milk or water as a default beverage.
  • deliver $41 million in media value in the next three years to market healthier options to children and families, with a specific focus on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. This is the brand’s largest kid-focused marketing campaign to date, and includes general marketing, in-store merchandising, television, social and digital media and public relations.
  • focus all kid-focused in-store merchandising and marketing on only the healthier options available in its restaurants.  This includes training materials which will be updated to teach Sandwich Artists to encourage kids to choose apples. 
Said First Lady Obama, "I'm excited about these initiatives not just as a First Lady, but also as a mom."

 “Subway's kids' menu makes life easier for parents, because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice.”

Learn more about their partnership at AHealthierAmerica.org, and at Let'sMove.gov.

Friday, January 17, 2014

President Obama Announces his Intent to Appoint New Commission on Educationa​l Excellence for African Americans

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint fifteen individuals to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.  This Commission is charged with strengthening the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans to ensure that all African Americans receive an education that prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives.  This mission is part of the Administration’s broader mandate to restore the country to its role as the global leader in education.  These members will advise the President and the Secretary of Education on ways to advance federal programs that improve educational opportunities for African Americans, increase participation of the African American community in federal agency programs, and engage stakeholders in a national dialogue on the mission.
 
President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans:
 
President Obama said, “These fine public servants bring both a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles.  Our nation will be well-served by these men and women, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.” 
 
The following individuals have been named to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans:
 
Angela Glover Blackwell, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Angela Glover Blackwell is the Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink, an institute she founded in 1999.  Prior to her current role, Ms. Blackwell was the Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1995 to 1998.  From 1987 to 1994, Ms. Blackwell was the President of Urban Strategies Council, a community building, support, and advocacy organization she founded in 1987.  Prior to that, Ms. Blackwell was a Partner at Public Advocates from 1977 to 1987.  She has been a Member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships since 2011.  Ms. Blackwell received a B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. 
 
Barbara T. Bowman, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Barbara T. Bowman is the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Development at the Erikson Institute, a position she has held since 2002.  Ms. Bowman has taught and held a number of administrative positions at the Erikson Institute since 1966, serving as its President from 1994 to 2002.  From 2004 to 2012, Ms. Bowman served as Chief Officer of Early Childhood Education for Chicago Public Schools.  In 2009, she served as a consultant to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.  She is past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has served on numerous boards, including the High Scope Educational Foundation, the Institute for Psychoanalysis, Business People in the Public Interest, the Great Books Foundation, the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  She is the recipient of the Voices for Illinois’ Children Start Early Award, Chicago Association for the Education of Young Children Outstanding Service to Children Award, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, and the National Black Child Development Institute Leadership Award.  Ms. Bowman received a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a M.A. in Education from the University of Chicago.
 
Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd most recently served as an engineer and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, positions she began in 2004.  In this role, Dr. Boyd was responsible for the coordination and development of Historically Black Colleges and Universities initiatives and managed the Applied Physics Laboratory ATLAS Internship Program.  In December 2013, Dr. Boyd was selected as the next President of Alabama State University.  Dr. Boyd served as Assistant for Development Programs from 1998 to 2004 at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and was a Submarine Navigation Systems Analyst from 1980 to 1998.  Dr. Boyd also served as a member and Chair of the Johns Hopkins University Diversity Leadership Council.  She is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.  Dr. Boyd received a B.S. from Alabama State University, an M.S. from Yale University, and both a M.Div. and D.Min. from Howard University.
 
Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. Walter G. Bumphus is currently the President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, a position he has held since 2011.  Previously, Dr. Bumphus served as Chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin and as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program from 2007 to 2011.  From 2001 to 2007, Dr. Bumphus served as President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.  He was also the Chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College from 2000 to 2001.  Dr. Bumphus received a B.A. and M.A. from Murray State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.
 
Dr. James P. Comer, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. James P. Comer is the Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center, a position he has held since 1975.  Dr. Comer first joined the Yale faculty and founded the Comer School Development Program in 1968, a program designed to improve scholastic performance of children from lower-income and minority backgrounds in particular.  In 2006, Dr. Comer served as Chair of the Roundtable on Child and Adolescent Development Research and Teacher Education.  He served as a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Commission on the Whole Child in 2006.  He has received many awards for his work, including the Heinz Award for the Human Condition, the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Education, the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, and 48 honorary degrees.  He also served in the military, completing his service in 1968 with the rank of Surgeon (Lt. Colonel) in the U.S. Public Health Service.  Dr. Comer received a B.A. from Indiana University, an M.D. from Howard University, and an M.P.H. from the University of Michigan.
 
Al Dotson, Jr., Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Al Dotson, Jr. has been a partner of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod since 1998.  He previously was a partner at Eckert Seamans from 1995 to 1998, an associate at Jenner & Block from 1990 to 1993, and an associate at Fine Jacobson Schwartz Block & England from 1987 to 1990.  He is Chairman Emeritus and a member of the Executive Committee of 100 Black Men of America, Inc., a men’s civic organization founded to mentor, educate, and empower African American youth.  Mr. Dotson previously served 100 Black Men of America, Inc. as Chairman from 2004 to 2012 and Vice Chairman from 1996 to 2004.  Mr. Dotson received an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law.
 
Dr. Akosua Barthwell Evans, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. Akosua Barthwell Evans is currently the Chief Executive Officer of The Barthwell Group, a strategic management consulting firm that she founded in 2005.  Previously, Dr. Evans was a Managing Director of Endowments and Foundations at JPMorgan’s Fleming Asset Management from 2003 to 2005.  Prior to that, she was a Managing Director from 2002 to 2003 and Vice President from 2000 to 2002 at JPMorgan Private Bank.  Dr. Evans previously worked as an attorney at Kilpatrick Stockton LLP, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and at Sullivan & Cromwell.  She was the Director of Minority Economic Development for New Detroit, Inc. from 1979 to 1980 and worked as a Political Affairs Officer at the U.N. Secretariat Centre Against Apartheid from 1978 to 1979.  She serves on the Detroit Historical Society Board of Trustees and the Student Veterans of America Board of Advisors.  Dr. Evans is the founder and past chairperson of The Friends of Education at The Museum of Modern Art.  In 2011, she received the Entrepreneur Leadership Award at the STEM Women of Color Conference.  Dr. Evans received a B.A. from Barnard College, a Ph.D. and M.Phil. from Columbia University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
 
Jim Freeman, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Jim Freeman is an independent consultant supporting grassroots advocacy campaigns that focus on education, juvenile justice, and youth employment.  Mr. Freeman is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, a position he has held since 2009.  Previously, Mr. Freeman was at the Advancement Project, serving as Senior Attorney from 2010 to 2012, Project Director from 2008 to 2012, Staff Attorney from 2006 to 2010, and Skadden Fellow from 2004 to 2006.  Mr. Freeman was a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable James R. Browning on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2003 to 2004.  Mr. Freeman received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
 
Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks is currently the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Justice Coalition, a position she has held since 2009.  Previously, Ms. Lettman-Hicks served as Executive Vice President of People for the American Way from 2001 to 2009.  Ms. Lettman-Hicks serves on the Steering Committee for the National LGBTQ Domestic Violence Capacity Building Learning Center and the National Business Inclusion Consortium for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  Formerly, she served on the Project Advisory Committee for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s LGBT Safe Schools Initiative and the Executive Committee of the National Black Leadership Forum.  Ms. Lettman-Hicks is a life member of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  
 
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Dr. Michael L. Lomax is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Negro College Fund, a position he has held since 2004.  Previously, Dr. Lomax served as President and Professor of English and African World Studies at Dillard University from 1997 to 2004.  From 1994 to 1997, Dr. Lomax was the President of The National Faculty in Atlanta.  From 1992 to 1994, he was the Vice President and Managing Director for the Wilson Financial Group.  From 1989 to 1992, Dr. Lomax was the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Amistad Corporation and he served as Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners from 1981 to 1993.  Dr. Lomax received a B.A. from Morehouse College, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in American and Afro-American Literature from Emory University.
 
Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Dr. Bryant T. Marks is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at Morehouse College and serves as the Director of the Morehouse Research Institute and Director of the Morehouse Male Initiative, which serves as a national resource regarding research and best practices related to the affirmative personal and academic development of African American males.  He is also a Faculty Associate of the Education and Well Being Program at the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan.  Previously, Dr. Marks served as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychology and African American Studies at the University of Illinois from 2000 to 2004.  Dr. Marks also serves on the Morehouse College Board of Trustees as well as the national advisory boards of the United Negro College Fund, The College Board, The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and several review panels for the National Science Foundation.  Dr. Marks received a B.A. from Morehouse College, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.
 
Dr. Robert K. Ross, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. Robert K. Ross is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer for The California Endowment, a position he has held since 2000.  Previously, Dr. Ross served as Director of the Health and Human Services Agency for the County of San Diego from 1993 to 2000.  From 1990 to 1993, Dr. Ross served as Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Philadelphia.  He served as a member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and on the boards of the National Marrow Donor Program, the San Diego United Way, and the Jackie Robinson YMCA.  He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  He has served on the President’s Summit for America’s Future and as chairman of the national Boost for Kids Initiative.  He received the
Outstanding Community Service Award from the Volunteers of America, the Leadership Award from theHospital Council of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the National Association of Health Services Executives’ Health Administrator of the Year Citation.  Dr. Ross received a B.A, an M.P.A., and an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
 
Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Judge Doris A. Smith-Ribner served as a State Appeals Court Judge in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court from 1988 until her retirement in 2009.  Judge Smith-Ribner served as a member of the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission from 2006 to 2009 and currently serves on the Commission’s Criminal Justice and Equal Opportunity and Diversity Committees.  Judge Smith-Ribner was appointed to the Pennsylvania Judicial Auditing Agency in 1991 and served as Chairperson from 1999 to 2004.  In 1984, she was nominated by the Governor of Pennsylvania to serve on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, where she was assigned to the Juvenile Division.  Judge Smith-Ribner was nominated by Pennsylvania Governors in 1974 and 1980 to serve as Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.  She is recipient of the "Thaddeus Stevens Award" by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.  Judge Smith-Ribner received a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
 
Dr. Ronald A. Williams, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
Dr. Ronald A. Williams was Vice President of The College Board from 2007 until his recent retirement in 2013.  He was President of Prince George’s Community College from 1999 to 2007.  Prior to that, Dr. Williams worked at the Community College of Philadelphia as Acting President from 1997 to 1999 and as Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1994 to 1998.  He was Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Services at the Minnesota Community College System from 1991 to 1994, Interim President of Lakewood Community College from 1993 to 1994, and Assistant Executive Director of Community-Technical Colleges of Connecticut from 1987 to 1991.  Dr. Williams received a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. from Lehigh University.
 
TyKiah R. Wright, Appointee for Member, President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans
TyKiah R. Wright is currently the President of WrightChoice, Inc., a workforce development organization she founded in 2002 focusing on professional development, job readiness, experiential learning, internship placement, disability inclusion, and diversity training.  Previously, Ms. Wright served as the Statewide Coordinator for the Ohio High School High Tech program from 2003 to 2006, which promoted science, math, and technology opportunities for high school students with disabilities.  Ms. Wright was an Independent Living Advocate for the MOBILE Center for Independent Living from 2002 to 2004.  She currently serves as a Commissioner for the City of Columbus Community Relations Commission and on the Alumni Board of Directors for Wright State University.  Ms. Wright received a B.S. and an M.A. from Wright State University.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are African Americans Being Properly Represented (In The Grand Scheme of Things)?

From politics, to healthcare, to education -  the survey says...

I write this post on a day when at least three items hit me dead in the face. I wasn't looking for them. Each of them, blatantly, presented themselves to me - in plain sight.

While I realize that this is a political blog, I  have to wonder if there is some sort of politicking going on behind the scenes that continue to try to discredit, or exclude African Americans from being represented positively in this journey we call life.

On this day, three such examples fell straight on my lap.  (Four if you count last week).  So, guess what?   With something so obvious, I had to write about it and wonder if it's just me, or are these things really happening?


From housing and education, to music and culture: 
African Americans in 2014.  Has much changed?


I finished up earlier today on a conference call with Arizona officials who 'celebrated' the enrollment of individuals signing up for affordable health care through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

Reporters were told that "the demand for health care in Arizona is strong with 1.8 million people alone signing up for either health care or Medicaid."  Of that number 1.3 are 35 year old or less.

We were told that an all out effort is underway to continue to promote the Affordable Care Act.  February 15th will be National Youth Enrollment Day (youth are needed in order to keep the program's health costs down) with campaigns being planned at various community colleges.

Said Arizona State Representative Ruben Gallego "It will be a top priority to make sure that every American will be able to sign up for that coverage."

Then there was Sue Voelker, a resident of Arizona who found a health care plan that met her needs. Sue is white.  She shared with reporters that she's had a cushy job for many years working as an IT professional before being diagnosed with a connective tissue disease called Marfan. Her health care was no longer covered by her employer.  Through the ACA she was able to find health care that met her preexisting condition status.  She has a Gold plan with a $500 deductible, and a $50 copay for Urgent Medical Center treatment, should she need it.

Good for her.

When the question was asked about how many African Americans in Arizona had signed up, a reporter was told, "We don't have the answer to that question."

Disheartening, to say the least.

When there was the push by the White House to extend unemployment insurance benefits  the main character in this story line was, again, a white woman who made the claim for why Congress should extend emergency UI benefits for Americans. 

Katherine Hackett is her name.  Hackett is from Moodus, Connecticut. Per the White House she wrote to the president as someone who will be affected by the failure of Congress to extend unemployment insurance. Katherine’s benefit covers her mortgage payment and health care, leaving little to cover the rest of her expenses. Katherine continues to search for work, and in the meantime has been forced to cut back on necessities like food and home heating. Katherine’s two sons serve in the U.S. Military. 

Were there no African Americans who could give their story, make the case - in prime time - for why unemployment benefits should be extended? 

We all know that African American unemployment is the highest of any American group.  Shouldn't at least one African Americans make the case for why UI should be extended?

Exclusion everywhere?


Later in the day I see this on the Internet.


It's an ad at a local Giant in the Shaw neighborhood welcoming Howard University students back to school at the start of Spring semester.   While Howard is a predominately African American university (with a diverse population that includes Caucasians, Asians, and Latinos), the ad shows a white woman, excluding the predominantly African American student body. 

Needless to say, some thought the ad should represent the majority demographic of the school.  And who could fault them?  (Some did). 
Jamie Miller, a spokesperson for  Giant offered this explanation.  "Unfortunately an incorrect stock photo was used in the ad and we apologize for this oversight. We wish all Howard University students a successful semester."
 
That incident got me to wondering, so I searched other school's web sites to see what their 'welcome back' photos looked like. 

I came across the below picture on a predominately white university website with two African American students depicted in an ad for the school's upcoming Homecoming week celebration this month. 
Go figure. 




Perhaps Wells Fargo bank could learn a thing, or two, from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Wells Fargo applauds their diversity in the below brochure. To their credit, they actually have African Americans working in their branches (depending on what area you're in), but the brochure doesn't display this fact. 


Wells Fargo boasts their diversity by excluding African Americans in brochure.
The brochure includes Latinos, gays, and Asians when talking about the financial institution's diversity, but does not list African Americans.

Why aren't African Americans being represented in the brochure to reflect that there are actually African Americans working at Wells Fargo? 

Why doesn't the current administration include the stories from African Americans when speaking about education, healthcare, and unemployment?

Will not folk pay attention if the face isn't that of the majority? 

Are gay people more deserving?  No. Are white people more deserving?  No.  Are Latino and Hispanic people more deserving? No.

This continued practice has me bewildered and at a loss for closing words, only to say that we cannot keep claiming to be the place for opportunity for all, while not recognizing an entire population of people in that fight for opportunity - for all.