Nipsey Hussle: Murals around the Crenshaw district


On March 31, 2019 Ermias Ashgedom who was affectionately known as “Nipsey Hussle” was murdered outside of his Marathon clothing store.  Hussle was well-known in the Crenshaw community and promoted a self-help message.  He was a musician and well known in the rap genre.  It was his love for community and his entreprenurial talents that many echoed as they described his love and appreciation for developing the area.

Murals have been doting the landscape since “Nip’s” death.  We are creating a photo-essay to showcase those we are able to locate.

 

Mortgage Payoff Tip:  What does SB2 have to do with you?


Paying off your mortgage loan is a big achievement.  Make sure you, your escrow officer, your attorney or whoever is handling the final payoff pays attention to the fees you are charged.  Most lenders or servicing company’s which handle your payments are straightforward.  Unfortunately, some stray from full transparency and collect fees which are in excess of what is actually owed.  Keep in mind final fees vary from state to state.

 

SB2

In California, Senate Bill 2 took effect January 1, 2018.  Called the Building Homes and Jobs Act anyone paying off their mortgage were assessed a $75 fee.  While the fee may appear excessive, it was approved so that amount “Is what it is!!”

 

Paying off a mortgage normally consist of your lender receiving the final payment, preparing a “Reconveyance Deed” and filing it with the County Recorder where your property is located.  Using Los Angeles county as an example the lender will charge a statement fee ranging from $25-$40, which includes preparing the Reconveyance document.  They send the document to the Recorder who charges anywhere from $15-$25.  The key is any fees charged must be for work actually completed.  By the time you add SB2 your total fees to payoff your loan should NOT exceed $100.

 

It’s the SB2 fee that is raising concerns as some lenders have been known to manipulate communicating to borrowers the exact amount due.  Some will add on a blanket amount over and above the State mandated $75.  For some homeowners the amount could range from $150-$250 and more.  Most homeowners do not know about SB2 and are forced to take “their lenders word” in getting an explanation of the charge.  Lenders on the other hand have been known to use a very dubious answer such as, “Oh! it’s a State mandated fee.”  The facts are simple, you can only be charged for actual work and for SB2 the fee is clear at $75.

“Most homeowner’s never question the fees their lender charges because as long as they are within reason, they just pay them.  They don’t realize many of those fees are posted and you can only be charged on what the actual fee is.”  anonymous Los Angeles County Registrar staff

Pay attention to your payoff statement and make sure you receive a FULL explanation on any fee you are not sure about.

 

Review:  Michael Eric Dyson Lecture – “United States of Amnesia”


[Dominquez Hills, CA ]   On May 8, 2019 close to 200 came out to hear prophetic words delivered by lecturer and sociologist Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  Urban Issues Forum through their Mervyn Dymally Institute hosted the event as part of their distinguished lecture series.  The event was held at California State University Dominguez Hills.


The video (AUDIO ONLY) clip has been divided into 2 clips.

CLIP 1 (I hour 38 min.)

 

Clip 2 (13 min)


Dyson is a gifted orator who weaves through the experiences of African-American culture.   He is unapologetic in his retort and covered the spectrum from politics to Hip-Hop, through the founding of the United States as well as the presidency of Barack Obama and the disgraceful performance of Donald Trump as president.

“President Obama hosted a meeting at the White House were ten African-American leaders had assembled.  Tom Joyner voiced concern that I was writing a book on the president and belted out his displeasure fearful the book would be too critical.  The book had not even been released so I remarked……are you Nostradamus?”  Michael Eric Dyson

The lecture titled, “American States of Amnesia” was two hours and those in attendance were not disappointed as Dyson offered a wide range of analysis.  He spoke about the genius of Nipsey Hussle and the cross-country plane ride they shared, which allowed him to appreciate his gift.  He ventured into territory that many avoid due; to its complexity; such as explaining Thomas Jefferson’s contradiction and his subsequent love-interest; Sally Hemmings.  He shared his experiences and friendship with Michelle and Barack Obama, knowing them since 1998.  Like many African-Americans he shared the pride of seeing them become America’s first family.  As proud as he was, he had to admit frustration regarding various policy issues.  In doing so, he emphasized with the predicament Obama was in as while his achievement was historic, he was shackled with an environment that crippled many of the projects he truly wanted to initiate.

I was somewhat disappointed when I read Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming” by the way she mentioned her relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  It was sad.  I applaud her for being able to sell 10 million books but to through Rev. Wright under the bus?  Michael Eric Dyson.

Dyson was his usual spirited self and left the audience with thoughts to ponder.  His critique of Donald Trump was scathing.  Here is a sampling:

  • In speaking about our founding fathers, specifically Thomas Jefferson in comparing intelligence with Donald Trump Dyson stated, “He (Trump) is proud to be unmolested by enlightenment!”
  • “He (Trump) is allergic to intelligence!”
  • “He (Trump) sees a book and runs…….event his own!”
  • “He (Trump) refuses to read the briefings his advisor’s give him!”
  • “He (Trump) is mad that the dude who had the job before him was just smoother with it!”

“All of us are proud of Michele and Barack but I’ll be honest with you, we thought Michele would help Barack be blacker…..instead it appears Barack has made her whiter by the way she interacts with the black community.”  Michael Eric Dyson

“Donald Trump can never get over Obama’s genius.  As sad as it is he is nothing more than an ignorant Neanderthal” Michael Eric Dyson

More on Obama

Some folk (those who opposed him) were just mad that a brother had that type of intelligence and was in control and Obama “wasn’t apologizing for it.”

“He walked out of Air-Force One like Fifty Cents was playing in the background!”

“I wish I could have been Obama’s anger-translator…..just for a day!  I wish Obama would have come out of the White House with a skullcap, flashing a gold-grill and some Magic Johnson socks on his way to pick up his paper.”  


Dr. Anthony Samaad is managing director of Urban Issues Forum.  They operate the Mervyn M. Dymally African-American Political & Economic Institute at California State University Dominquez Hills.

What is Donald Trump and his Acolyte’s Afraid of?


Above caption:  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Discusses Mueller Report On Senate Floor
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 07: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY) walks to the Senate floor to speak about the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 U.S. election where he stated "case closed", on Capitol Hill on May 7, 2019 in Washington, DC (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“Democrats are unwilling to accept the investigation’s conclusion that there was no evidence of an illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Instead, they are continuing to go through “the five stages of grief,” including denial with regard to Mueller’s findings and anger toward Barr for how he’s handled the release of Mueller’s report.” Sen. Mitch McConnell-R-KY


Ever since the Special Counsel’s Report (redacted) was released it continues to come under intense pressure based on several of the conclusions and Attorney General William Barr’s representation.  Barr’s summary was challenged by those who felt some of the language communicated was deceptive.  It became under more scrutiny once it was discovered staff of the Special Counsel voiced public protest which was further supported by subsequent letters to Barr from the report’s author; Robert Mueller.

 

Donald Trump and his administration have been insistent in their lack of cooperation aimed at clarifying questions which have arose now that some of the report is in the public domain.

UNITED STATES – APRIL 24: Volumes of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is photographed in the Capitol on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Russia interference not aided by anyone from the Trump campaign

Indeed, Robert Mueller was the Special Counsel who authored the report and concluded there was Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  However, to the question of the Trump campaign being involved in those efforts, it was determined there was none.  To grasp why there continues to be questions over the report, one only has to carefully read the mandate of the Special Counsel and the scope of its charge.  While Russian interference was the core reason of the investigation it also included ancillary issues that might rise to individual criminality.  Thus, several key members of the campaign were indicted and convicted, and some are currently serving time in prison, awaiting to serve or have served time for their behavior.

a sampling of those associated with Trump and his campaign who have been indicted.
a sampling of those associated with Trump and his campaign who have been indicted.

In addition to those who have been charged a critical finding has been the behavior of the President of the United States; Donald J. Trump.  Volume II of the report lays out specific instances of obstruction orchestrated by Trump.  Fortunately for him, the Office of Legal Counsel has a policy that a currently-serving president cannot be charged with an offense.  That does not mean such conduct was exonerated, it simply means under current guidelines charges cannot be made.

 

Mueller

Robert Mueller is a seasoned professional with a distinguished track record.  Once AG Barr got his hands on the report and communicated his interpretation, those such as Donald Trump applauded Mueller’s professionalism.  Perhaps he was premature in his applause?

 

For those who take the time to read the report they will see that Mueller made clear of Trump’s behavior as well as his inability to bring any charges.  Instead, what some are dismissing is the report clearly signals any remedy to hold Trump accountable for his behavior must come from a political process.  That process is called impeachment and administered by Congress.  The House of Representatives brings the impeachment charge and the Senate holds the trial to determine an outcome. Further, the process is pretty straightforward as you need a majority of the House of Representative to pass impeachment charges, and you need two-thirds of the Senate to convict.  Therein lays the political theater as while impeachment charges very well could pass at the House as the Democrats hold the majority, it is unlikely the Senate will convict based on the Republicans maintaining control.  That of course is as of today, as the political process is fluid and public sentiment could force a different outcome.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Let’s move on from the Mueller Report

Response from Mitch McConnell (R-KY) via tweet

Response from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) via tweet


In the meantime, you wonder why Donald Trump and is Acolyte’s are eager to shut down any further discussion of the Mueller report?  Why does anyone want to hear from Don McGahn who is mentioned in the report and was attorney for the office of the president?  Why does anyone want to hear from Robert Mueller, when his report speaks for itself? Who in their right mind has the gall to question anything in the report?

 

Supporters listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

One with the most basic understanding of our political system would ask some elementary questions which led us to where we are today (here is a sampling):

  • When the Russia issue was first reported, why didn’t Donald Trump and those in his campaign simply acknowledge they had Russia contact?  Why did they vehemently deny such facts existed?
  • Why did Donald Trump claim to agree with cooperating in releasing his tax returns, only to reverse course and adamantly refuse such request?Based on Donald Trump’s businesses and questionable behavior regarding the way they operate, the tax returns are just one primary document which highlights your assets and holdings.  In a presidential campaign, release is important because it documents any relationships which may cloud the objectivity that the office of the president must maintain.
  • Although not against the law……why was Donald Trump adamant in employing close family members as part of his administration?
  • Why does Donald Trump use his properties to host various public events or to engage international leaders?
  • Why has there been so much turnover in his administration when he publicly communicated “he could and would hire ONLY the best?”

 

As a communication strategy to close the investigation some have mentioned the democrats or those who might not support Donald Trump only want to reletigate the 2016 campaign.  Others claim Trump is doing a great job, why threaten him with further harassment?  They appear to dismiss the core issue in confusing performance with behavior.  Many, particularly pundits and acolytes of Donald Trump have accepted that as long as Donald Trump signs into law those things they wish or appoint those they support; his behavior, regardless if it is criminal or not becoming of the office of the presidency, is irrelevant.

 

So, while it might be pleasing to some to close the discussion of the Mueller case, it is clear new questions have occurred and until they are fully resolved the public will continue to want answers.

Obama Boulevard now open


[Baldwin Village, CA]  Baldwin Village is a small community in South Los Angeles (south of the Santa Monica Freeway).  It is known by many Angelenos as the “Jungle,” which was the name given as it was made up of intricate apartment complexes featuring tropical landscapes.  Like many parts of Los Angeles the area has changed, some good some not so good.  It is currently a working-class community that is surrounded in all directions by some of the area’s most iconic neighborhoods such as:  Baldwin Hills, Leimert-Park, Baldwin Vista, View Park and West Adams.

Feb. 2007 to May 2019

A little over twelve years ago, then Senator Barack Obama made a pit-stop to the community pleading for support and cash to support and fuel what turned into a historic campaign.

President’s row

Today thousands of Angelenos got a chance to pull out their Obama gear and once again show their support for the 44th president of the United States. The occasion was Rodeo Road (Ro-D-Oh), which has the same spelling as Rodeo Drive which is in Beverly Hills, was transformed and is now President Barack Obama Boulevard.  The street stretches from just east of Arlington Avenue and goes west where it ends in Culver City. The significance of the street is because it is now part of Los Angeles’ president’s row.

Many Angelenos, even natives do not know about this factoid.  Quite simply, president’s row starts from Washington (George Washington) Blvd. which is immediately north of the Santa Monica freeway so now the next four intersections going south are part of the row.  Washington Blvd., Adams Blvd. (John Adams), Jefferson Blvd. (Thomas Jefferson) and now Obama Blvd.  You can find this iconic part of the city by going south on any of the following thoroughfares; Arlington, Crenshaw and La Brea.


13 min. event highlight clip


23,000+ in attendance

The naming ceremony was one of those occasions where you just knew something special was going to happen.  The city of Los Angeles estimated the enthusiastic crowd to be around 23,000.  The bottom-line strategy of city officials was to recognize the community’s pride in Barack Obama with hope that it stimulates the community and triggers much-needed rebuilding.

To read more of why this celebration is important read HERE.

A huge thank you to the more than 23,000 people who came out and made our dedication such a special event today.


Here are some photos from the event.


Convenience Fees/Surcharges for using Debit-Credit Card


Whether you are a consumer (like me) or a business owner cost is always a key consideration.

Lately, I have noticed companies adding convenience fees, surcharges for using debit/credit care, health fees to pay for employee health benefits and/or a living wage issue.  No doubt, operating cost are a critical component in pricing a product.  Some merely add the cost to the product, some separate it as a specific cost, some list the cost on your bill but leave it as an option for you to decide, then some absorb it so that customers don’t feel alienated and decide to take their business elsewhere!!!

“my accountant said I need to pass those cost on to my customers,” store owner

“we need to use the fee income to help pay for employee health benefits,” store owner

The practice is not new but as our society relies on technology via credit card, debit card, smartphone app, etc. it is interesting to note the slippery slope businesses must navigate as if not handled properly they run the risk of losing hard-fought customers.

What are your thoughts and/or your experiences?


Fed Reserve:  Will Powell’s be replaced for ignoring Trump?


Above Photo - Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Holds News Conference After Federal Open Market Committee Meeting
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference on May 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. Powell said the Fed will not raise interest rates this quarter and no rate hikes are likely anytime soon. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

JUST IN



Since assuming the presidency, a lingering quagmire for Donald Trump is understanding running the government is much different than running a closed private business.  The latest example is trying to dictate the actions of  Fed Reserve Board chair Jerome Powell.  Today the Fed rebuffed Trump’s constant badgering to lower the discount rate so that he could claim a political victory by deciding to keep them as-is, until the next meeting.

 

“we reviewed economic and financial developments in the United States and around the world and decided to leave our policy interest rate unchanged” Jerome Powell, Chair of Federal Reserve

 

The Federal Reserve is an august group of professionals charged with managing monetary policy through their Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).  Their actions are non-partisan and usually free of any political influence.  That is, until Donald Trump came along.  The Fed rate is based on the economic environment.  As  a measure to thwart inflation the rate may increase based on positive economic metrics.

 

Some want it both ways

From a political standpoint Trump is enthusiastic to tout positive economic news.   Unfortunately, those like him dismiss the elementary notion of when and how the Fed rate moves.  For months, Trump has suggested to Powell to keep a lid on increasing the rate.  Not only is that type of communication unwise, it is unethical given the Fed’s core responsibility.  From a practical standpoint the Fed rate only declines based on a sliding economy.  If that were to happen it would contradict Trump’s proposition that all and any news from his administration is positive.

Recently two of Trump’s acolytes; Stephen Moore and Herman Cain had been suggested to join the Fed.  Their selection was fueled by their contempt of Powell’s fiscal leadership of the Board.  Just last week following protesting the criticism he received as being a nominee, Cain’s was abruptly dropped from consideration.  Likewise, Moore’s background has come under fire and it appears unlikely he can further survive the nomination process.  Interestingly, several weeks ago to Trump’s delight he applauded Moore for criticizing Powell’s leadership by penning a controversial opt-ed supporting a decrease in the Fed rate.

 

The next Fed monetary meeting is slated for June 18th & 19th.

Read Powell’s remarks HERE

Review:  Amazing Grace the Movie


[Los Angeles, CA]   Aretha Franklin recorded her Amazing Grace album January 13th & 14th 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church located on 87th & Broadway in South Los Angeles.  It was a live recording and featured many greats, including Rev. James Cleveland.

First screened Feb. 2019

The album was produced but the live footage was shelved for decades until the estate of “The Queen of Soul” approved it to be shown.  In February of this year, the Pan-African Film Festival featured the screening as part of it’s opening night festivities.  The screening took place at the Director’s Guild in Hollywood.

 

Starting April 5th, the general public has been given an opportunity to see the screening as it debuted in over 1,000 theaters.  I was one of those viewers.

 

The film is just as iconic as the album as “The Queen” at age 29 dazzled those in attendance by her gospel renditions.  The 87-minute film is more raw footage of the two-day concert and features many camera angles which were present to document the occasion.

 

While the documentary is, what it is; it falls short on taking advantage of the storytelling which are featured in similar formats.  You are left wondered why the producers could not have woven in more anecdotal reactions from those who participated in the filming as well as more commentary which was surely would be available before and following 1972?

 

The documentary is worth seeing.  The church is still on 87th & Broadway so it will be interesting to see the reaction of those who take a stroll down memory lane.


My “Hoodie Score” on a scale of 1-10 (ten being the highest) is an 8, due to the rare footage.

Review:  Soul of a Nation Exhibit


Lorraine Motel. Site of where Dr. King was assassinated. April 4, 1968. photo courtesy of Fred Thomas, III collection

Today many across the nation and throughout the world pay respect to Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was this day, fifty-one years ago when he was slain by an assassin’s bullet.  The result was a public outcry not seen before, as over 100 cities erupted in riots and demonstrations.

1963-1983

Several weeks ago, the Broad museum opened Soul of a Nation chronicling twenty years; 1963-1983.  It is a powerful exhibit showcasing African-American artist who used their talent to communicate the movement and the struggle during that era.  Interestingly, several of the artist used Dr. King’s death in 1968 as a backdrop for their artistic talent.


The exhibit is a “special presentation” so the cost is $18 per person, however The Broad is offering free admission to Soul of a Nation every Thursday from 5-8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.) during the exhibition’s run.  A tip is to arrive early and stand in the “free general admission line” AND GET INSIDE THE MUSEUM.  Once you are inside, you are good because at 5 p.m., the exhibit opens for general admission viewing.  The exhibit runs through September and then moves to San Francisco at the De Young museum, which opens in October 2019.


From Negroes to African-Americans

I had a chance to visit the exhibit.  Some of the artwork brought back vivid memories.  There was an abundance of material I had never seen but it reflected the interpretive period.  Sometimes we live in historic times and do not realize it as it seems like life as usual.  The Harlem Renaissance was a benchmark period for African-American music and art.  Years followed and the civil rights era brought back similar expressions as artist appeared in droves to interpret that era.  It was a new time, a new level of consciousness as Negroes morphed into African-Americans and created a new dynamic.  The exhibit does a great job of showcasing that period featuring very good diversity among the art work presented.


Listed below is a small sample of some photos from the exhibit

 


 

The Broad Museum - 221 S. Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012