Gun Control Legislation Has Me Asking Georgia Senators, “What’d I Miss”?

nolawnobreakEvery 9 out of 10 Americans believe that anyone on a government terror Watch List should not be permitted to buy an AR-15 assault weapon. It is time for Georgia Senators Isakson and Perdue to listen to the people. It is time for them to listen to Republicans and Democrats who want background checks and want to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.  Many polls show gun owners agree with increased national gun control measures.Who are Senator Isakson and Senator Perdue representing? And why?

If Senator Lindsay Graham gets it and has stepped forward to support Senator Susan Collins’ legislation it is time for Georgia’s Senators to wake up to the reality they are not operating consistent with the beliefs of most of their constituents. As Daveed Diggs’s Lafayette sings in the hit Broadway play, Hamilton, “What’d I miss”. Well, it seems Senator Isakson and Perdue “have  missed” that Georgians and Americans  believe their safety requires federal law with tighter gun control and expanded background checks.

It is time to suspend partisan politics, Senators.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/06/22/democrats-stage-protest-on-house-floor-to-force-gun-control-votes

#NoBillNoBreak

Happy Father’s Day

Once a year we celebrate our fathers whose role in our lives make such an impression. Today we celebrate all the good that comes from healthy, happy relationships with our fathers and father surrogates. Research shows everyone in the family does better when fathers do well.

In speeches, Clarke/FranklinI’ve talked about the challenges my father faced struggling with alcoholism and how in spite of this debilitating disease and its manifestations in his life and scars it left in mine, he graduated from college at an early age. Somehow he was able to “hold it together” in law school too. When he made the pledge in Alcoholics Anonymous 20 years after his graduation he was able to reclaim a prominent position in Philadelphia’s legal community. Lesson learned: Education matters.

My paternal grandfather had many fewer opportunities but made our lives better through his entrepreneurial efforts as a small businessman. Though poorly educated and barely educated in tough economic times or emergencies, and there were more than a few, Pop was able to support my grandmother, mother and me. He was a father when mine was missing. Lesson learned: Hard work matters. Then there was my uncle, Walter, who stepped in every summer from the first day of the break until the weekend before school started back. He, too, had few educational opportunities in a small Virginia farming community, but he was able to build a small, lucrative upholstery business in Washington, DC. He loved to take my cousins on weekend trips to his family farm in the Shenandoah Mountains. It was there that I learned to feed the hogs and chickens, plant the garden and kneel in prayer before every meal. Lesson learned: Take care of the land and it will take care of you.

Pop and Uncle Veney filled the empty fatherly role when my dad was unable. They are among the men who have loved me, nurtured me and supported me. I did better because of them. Lesson learned: Family matters and extended family matters too.

Today is a good day to celebrate them and their unselfish love for family and community.

This is dedicated to the men who give to those they love and to those who need it. Special recognition to Cabral Franklin and James T. Isom.

 

Mr. Trump, racism was not “misconstrued”

curiel2

Donald Trump and Judge Curiel

Despite a late attempt to pivot from his attack, Donald J. Trump’s most recent explosive remarks regarding the objectivity of Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who is overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University highlights once again what matters to him. No matter who you are—you just might not meet Trump’s standard for professional, fair, decision-making. Your professional record doesn’t matter; your experience, education nor credentials matter. What matters to Donald Trump is your ethnicity, race, gender, religion and mostly if you agree with him despite the facts.

He insults and demeans those who challenge him. He’s a classic bully whose primary concern is a presidential victory. His tactics focus on winning the presidency as if he’s closing the next great real estate deal of the century.

Can a woman judge make a fair legally sound judicial decision in a case against a man or defend him in a legal case?

Can a Christian judge make a fair legally sound decision in a case brought by a Jewish defendant?

Can an African American make a fair legally sound decision in a case brought by a white defendant?

The presumed and likely Republican Georgia winner in November, according to recent polls, will be Donald Trump. His denunciation of an American judge of Mexican heritage or one who is Muslim is ludicrous, racist, and outrageous.  Pick your word. It is likely that Donald Trump has insulted you. Sometimes it is not a group but an ideology that warrants his wrath. There seems to be no place for Donald Trump to hide his ignorance, his racism, and his sexism. He chooses to take any political route to create new division among increasingly diverse Americans, in an effort to twist and omit the facts to win attention.

Unfortunately, Trump’s racist rants are reminiscent of a time when being racist was an effective political strategy for winning. Or maybe Georgians voting for Donald Trump in November’s presidential election aren’t concerned about his tactics.  No one should fee safe or free from his attacks…at least not for very long.

Every political race and every vote counts!

voteTomorrow is election day in Georgia. No, it isn’t a Super Tuesday presidential primary or the election to determine who will lead the country but it is an election that can and will determine who makes decisions that impact our everyday lives. There are Public Service Commission candidates who, if elected, will cast their votes for how much we pay for electricity. There are candidates for solicitor general and judges who will decide which cases to prosecute or investigate. There are county commission members who decide everything from property taxes to how public health services are provided. There are state representative candidates who either fight under the Gold Dome for expanded human rights and healthcare coverage for all Georgians or who will hide under a rock when major public policy issues are debated. There are candidates who are known for their integrity, hard work, intelligence and compassion and those who are known for their greed, self-aggrandizement and lust for power and the limelight.

The decisions that every elected political figure makes can….and should matter to each of us.

Some polls and political pundits say African American and women Georgians hold the numbers in registered voters and the power to decide most elections in Georgia. Others say we are too divided on the issues and squander our power in search of one political savior. Every political race counts and so does every vote. Tomorrow, in every county the election results will write Georgia’s history.

We stand in the shade of a tree planted by others

DFranklin2DFranklin2 1Born and educated in Atlanta, David Franklin loved Atlanta and all the possibilities it offered for all Atlantans never expecting African American economic opportunities would come without controversy and lots of public debate. Rarely did he speak in public settings but he had lots to say in hundreds of conversations and to political allies.
This is one of the few letters found in his desk when he died a few years ago. The letter to Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jack Tarver along with a Hosea Williams campaign poster, a Maynard for Mayor button and a copy of a 1974 New York Times article about Atlanta politics along with family photographs were worthy of saving as prized possessions.
Forty-one years ago David and a small group of black and white leaders joined Mayor Maynard Jackson in pushing open the doors of economic opportunity in public and private business sectors. Such courage was demonstrated by few but many have benefitted. The biggest beneficiary is the city itself whose economy has grown by leaps and bounds over four decades.
This week was David’s 73rd birthday and it reminded me of a familiar phrase. We stand in the shade of trees planted by others. Thoughtful, grateful people know so and are thankful for the opportunities afforded them by the actions of others. Only fools think otherwise or worse, believe that they stand alone as champions for their or the city’s success.

A super highlight of a super-man in New York Times voter feature

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At Antonio’s 2010 Lincoln University graduation in Jefferson City, Missouri is Lincoln University SGA President Antonio Lewis and Dr. Carolyn Mahoney, Lincoln University President.

NYTimesThis is a super story about a super young man in the New York Times, Of the People feature. It highlights Antonio Lewis, one of the Mayor’s Youth Program (MYP) students during my term as mayor. He  graduated from Atlanta Public Schools and earned a scholarship to Middle Georgia, which he lost after the first semester. While he was on winter break, he visited me as mayor and asked for my help in attending a local community college. Instead, I called our local Lincoln University-Missouri alumni contact who arranged for a partial scholarship that was matched with MYP funds. Four years later Lewis graduated with honors as Lincoln University student body president. The following year he joined the Obama field team and the rest is history. This happened hundreds of times during the six years of the program at the City. His success is the result of a village of people like, Deborah Lum and the staff at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, who supported him. I am happy that we caught him before he fell through the cracks like far too many of our young people, unfortunately, have done.

HBO’s Confirmation Is a Painful Flashback

Beverly Isom

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Poet/philosopher)

ahillThis Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST on HBO, “Confirmation”, the story of the 1991 public hearings on the Senate vote for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with witness Anita Hill will debut on cable television. As a raging progressive and lukewarm loyal Democrat, I admit to watching the hearings hoping that in this real-life saga, the woman would win. And in some small way, I hoped all women would win. But for three days during those crisp Washington, DC October days, I saw an America where men judged women about an issue they had little knowledge of and even less patience for understanding. Four votes could have made the difference in who is sitting on the high court now but maybe “passion and party” blinded their eyes. However, the final floor vote was not strictly along party lines: 41 Republicans and 11 Democrats (Dixon (D-IL), Exon (D-NE), DeConcini (D-AZ), Robb (D-VA), Hollings (D-SC), Fowler (D-GA), Nunn (D-GA), Breaux (D-LA), Johnston (D-LA), Boren (D-OK), and Shelby (D-AL) now (R-AL)) voted to confirm Justice Thomas while 46 Democrats and 2 Republicans (Jeffords (R-VT) and Packwood (R-OR)) voted to reject the nomination.

Television has afforded us the ability to have a piercing and lasting image of how we remember history. Even though Vice President Joe Biden, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Clarence Thomas and authored the Violence Against Women Act, I can’t forget the memory of him presiding and looking down at Hill during those hearings. Though the hearings were conducted to confirm Thomas they were really much more about sexual harassment in the workplace. Hill had the courage to withstand the public aggressive intimidation by a dozen men who were not her peers. Biden among them. He did very little to change the “optics” on what we saw on television. He did not stop the vicious and searing attacks from Senators Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, and the late Arlen Spector. Anita Hill’s public humiliation was felt by many women who knew her story firsthand from assembly lines to corporate board rooms. There is no question that while Thomas won the confirmation, nameless women in the workplace have benefited from Hill’s heroic stand.
The Anita Hill story has been written about and a documentary was also done, but this weekend Kerry Washington transforms into Anita Hill to tell the story once again. “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us!”

Demographics haven’t shifted elections in Georgia, yet!

Vinson Institute-UGAAs more and more people become engaged in the presidential campaigns either as voters, caucus members or active campaigners, news articles and columns are speculating about which supporters are best positioned or angling for appointments and VIP statuses the new administration.

There is talk all over Atlanta about who will get the nod for which positions in which administration. Ambassadorships and Cabinet appointments are among the most mentioned. Hopes are high in political circles that at least a few Georgians will follow their predecessors – United Nations  Ambassador Andrew Young, White House staff person Rita Samuels, Director of Presidential Personnel Veronica Biggins, Ambassador Gordon Giffen or Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are among the host of other Atlantans who have served among a President’s most respected and trusted advisors. Even as those considerations are being entertained, most voters and most polls expect Georgia to remain a red state in November. The growth of Georgia’s population over the last decades and the demographics – young, black, brown and international have changed the “color” and “culture”  of the state’s residents,  but we have yet to see a change from “conservative and right leaning” political philosophy in statewide or Congressional elections.

Last year Cabral reminded me about having thousands of qualified registered yet seemingly uninterested voters move to the state or the city doesn’t automatically change election outcomes. Even massive voter registration drives like Georgia House Minority Leader and State Representative for the 89th House District Stacey Abrams’ New Georgia Project in 2012 haven’t moved the needle much. The population of Georgia might be browner and more left leaning but so far election results haven’t shifted.

Before anyone starts packing for Washington, DC maybe we should ask them to focus on a few of the issues that face at least a million Georgians. Those who live on limited or fixed incomes have the greatest needs but all Georgians suffer when we “play politics” while Georgians face social and political obstacles to improve their everyday lives. From the LIMITED accessible, affordable, clean public transportation, affordable housing, healthcare and mental healthcare options, affordable post-secondary and higher education, funding for medical research, support for technology incubators, business retention and expansion incentives,  business opportunities for small, minority and female businesses to HIGH rates of incarceration and recidivism, high school, community college and college dropout rates, family and child poverty and persistent and growing high levels of homelessness in both cities and the suburbs, Georgia officials and civic leaders, all of us, have a lot of work to do at home before moving up the ladder to national leadership.

I count myself as responsible to do some of the hard work too. Whether Georgia is red, blue or purple in the November elections, we should choose the road less traveled and double down on getting Georgia on the right track for those who are most in need.

The Wizard of Fear

bwbtrumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump made his rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows amidst criticism that he has incited the recent violence at his campaign events. His public remarks on the campaign trail against Muslims, immigrants and others have fueled physical attacks and angry protests. In the spirit of throwing a rock and hiding his hands, his response on “Meet the Press” was, “I don’t accept responsibility…….They’re not angry about something I’m saying. I’m just the messenger”.

The impassioned anti-Trump protestors that appear to be diverse and varied are increasing as the campaign travels. There are ample photos and video footage from protests that led up to the cancellation of the Chicago campaign event due to security concerns. The violence has grown from a simmering dislike to full on hate. From protestors being ordered out of Trump events to being punched in the face to yelling obscenities and even to journalists being roughed up and thrown out of his events. This weekend, in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, there were injuries and arrests and in Kentucky, Trump reportedly promised to defend his supporters if they fought with protestors and in Chicago, he relegated his detractors to “thugs”. It is rumored that Trump may pay the legal fees for the supporter who punched the protester at his recent rally. If so, then his responsibility will be decisive and clear—he will be putting his money where his mouth is.

And in another unbelievable act of messenger amnesia, Trump warned Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that if his campaign people keep coming to his events, he would send his supporters to Sanders’ events. Whether it is threatening or bullying, Trump’s bravado has instigated flagrant and irresponsible discourse. Trump’s shameless reliance on fear and intolerance to fuel his campaign is likely the result of frustration and resentment from the crowds who support him. People who have seen their lives dramatically impacted by economic and social changes they were unprepared for. People looking for hope in small towns and big cities—desperate for a new and better future. Unfortunately, the billionaire candidate has chosen to pillage their hope with the tactics of fear. He has found acceptance as the messenger of hate but as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear”. The only question now is when will it be too much for the majority of GOP voters because it is already too late for the rest of us to believe he is more than the Wizard of Fear.

 

VOTING MATTERS: Shame on any Georgian who doesn’t register to vote OR vote!

voteFrom time to time we will write a case that exemplifies why who gets elected might matter to the thousands of our neighbors and friends who haven’t registered to vote. Voting matters because whoever gets elected can impact your life in ways you would never expect.

Take the case of a friend who supports himself doing special projects while going to school. He has a chronic disease which is managed by his doctor’s close attention to every detail about his wellbeing and a collection of prescription drugs which keep him well.  With the reelection of Georgia Governor Nathan  Deal it wasn’t clear he was at risk of losing affordable access to his prescription drugs, but that is what happened. His monthly deductible jumped from $26 to $1395. What working person can afford this change? Only the rich!

Here’s the full story…..

In 2014, the state of Georgia decided to move all persons who have Plan D Medicare coverage and were participating in the no cost Ryan White Care Drug Assistance Program Part B, from this program and require them to utilize their Plan D coverage for their HIV drugs. Many of these individuals are on disability or individuals who returned to work and were able to maintain their Medicare coverage. For those working, they are the working poor. By making this policy decision effective 2015, Governor Deal’s goal was to shift the burden to the Federal government, claiming that this opened up slots for people in need of the Part B plan of Ryan White. In effect, this social policy decision placed an undue burden on the working poor, who already have a 20% co-pay under Medicare, by making these individuals subject to the infamous Plan D Medicare “doughnut hole.” Individuals, using Plan D to pay for their HIV drugs, if they don’t qualify for Medicare Extra Help, or non-profit grant assistance, are left with staggering out-of-pocket deductibles. The way this works, once you have spent $2,840 in Medicare for drugs, you then “fall” into a co-payment hole you have to spend your way out to the tune of $4,550, then your co-payments fall back down. This recently happened to my friend who did not qualify for any assistance. His HIV medications, which normally costs him $26.06 per month in co-payments, rose to $1,395 per month overnight. Those who are working and struggle, get buried in medical debt – this is but one example of who gets left behind when the cost effective measures to our health care social policy and make the working poor subject to outrageous co-payments. Governor Deal led the state to make it harder for my friend to get the medications  he needs and to add insult to injury the state didn’t notify him. He found out when he went to the doctor 30 days after the effective date of the policy shift.

A governor who cares about the well being of all Georgians could do something about this. Georgia has elected and reelected a governor who doesn’t care and who leaves hard working people to fend for themselves. Shame on Governor Nathan Deal and shame on every qualified Georgian who doesn’t register to vote or any registered voter who doesn’t vote.  If this story reminds you of someone in your family or your circle of friends, get registered and vote in November.