Thomas Reports was created in 2006. Fred Thomas, III is managing editor and brings over 30 years of mortgage experience to the team.. Leveraging his extensive career in the mortgage industry which includes successful stints at the corporate level as well as the independent side focusing on production, operations and compliance. Thomas is a licensed broker (DRE 01097630) with over two-thousand transactions successfully closed.
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The Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is an american jewel. Nearly three years after its long-awaited opening, to gain entry visitors still have to be lucky enough to nab precious advance ticketsthree months prior to their visit. Of course military and several special designations can gain entry without having to obtain advance tickets.
You need a plan
The museum operation is smooth and well organized. What if you’ve planned your journey, invested a tidy sum to get there and discover something has occurred forcing the museum to close? Although that is a rarity, it did happen during our recent visit on Saturday, August 24, 2019. No doubt Saturday has to be one of the biggest days of the week for attendance. Once we arrived from the Metro eagerly to start our museum journey we were met at the line where you assemble for entry. NMAAHC staff Seymour was gracious under fire as he had to calm the nerves of those also in line who were in disbelief the museum would not open.
The museum will be closed for the remainder of the day today due to an internal power outage. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. You may use your passes to visit the museum any day the museum is open. #NMAAHC
Anyway, things happen. I couldn’t help but think about all the people who made personal sacrifices to attend the museum for THAT DAY. There was no tomorrow as they put everything they had in planning for that one special moment. Lucky for us, we had ordered tickets for three days during our trek so with some schedule adjustments we recovered.
Those who were not as fortunate had to scramble to fill in the time during their visit. Of course, the NMAAHC is in prime territory and with the new Circulator bus there are many alternative options to make your journey worthwhile.
What to do?
The question remains what to do should you find yourself in the dubious spot of scheduling a day at NMAAHC and not being able to get in due to technical issues? The most reasonable or practical solution is:
When ordering tickets (online) I would suggest getting a couple of days.
Once you arrive for your big day BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!! as should something arise you will be contacting from the email you reserved that was used to reserve your ticket.
The District of Columbia was created by Charles L'Enfant and it's famous quadrant layout was completed by Benjamin Banneker, noted African-American scientist and city planner
gerund or present participle: trekking
go on a long arduous journey, typically on foot.
We just completed our EastCoast v2019 trek. It is called “EastCoast” because we normally cover the states of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. This year we were gifted with five days and decided to spend it all in D.C. Trekking is not for the weary or those not flexible or those needing lots of pampering. Indeed it is a vacation but not the kind that you might imagine. It is better!!!! Trekking requires you to get off your butt or comfort zone, immerse yourself and explore. Normally trekking requires a commitment to public transportation (the Metro) and some good old-fashioned walking. For our 2019 version we included some Uber/Lfyt and even got snakebit taking a taxi.
If someone had told our crew before they made the journey the trek would require walking 20-25 miles……..Judith and I would have been by ourselves.
In addition to Judith and myself, we were joined by our good friend Del Huff, her friend Willie Cravins, who is now considered family and of course my aunt Maryum, who over the years has elevating her trekking skills and ranks with the best. In 2012 when the long-awaited MLK Memorial was completed and ready for unvieling, Hurricane Irene had other plans. Through that incident I was blessed to meet Renie Hale…….at all places, Ben’s Chili Bowl. Since then he has joined our family and from his perch in Laurel Maryland always fits in to round out those making the journey. He has been an active participant ever since then.
What’s so special about the EastCoast or DC?
Our commitment to HBCU’s
Judith and I first visited DC in 2005 as we were exploring Howard University where our son, Fred IV wanted to attend (He eventually decided on Bethune Cookman University).
DC is a city full of national history. Ever since then we have annual visits centered around the last week of August, which coincided with the historic March on Washington which was August 28th. It is our gesture to pay homage and reflect on a small piece of our heritage.
The Foodie Craze
Each trek has offered a different blessing. Starting in 2010 as the foodie craze became popular, we added a foodie excursion to our agenda. In 2019 we were not disappointed as in five days we covered ALL quadrants that DC had offer.
Managing the NMAAHC
Fortunate enough to attend the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture which happened to be President Obama’s last official event ceremony we have tried to warn folk on how to manager their experience to the museum. YOU CANNOT DO THE FULL MUSEUM IN ONE DAY, that is if you are truly serious about absorbing the history! This year we carefully planned our trek to include three visits to the museum. The plan payed off.
A Rarity at NMAAHC
The National Museum of African-American History & Culture runs smooth like a fine-tuned machine. Call it intuition, luck or just plain blessed but I knew there was a reason we were lucky to have tickets to the museum for three days during our trek?
Saturday’s are the busiest time for the museum. Having arrived early for our 12 pm tickets we noticed a line but that is not out of the ordinary. Shortly thereafter, I met the customer service extraordinaire Seymour who was part of staff and had been dispatched to deal with the folk waiting to get into the museum. Seymour had the responsibility to tell folk, the museum would be CLOSED FOR THE DAY, due to some type of power issue. For us it wasn’t that big of a deal as one down, two to go. Po’ Seymour was mortified in explaining to folk who had made financial and personal sacrifices for THAT DAY that they would not be getting into the museum. Anyway, the issue was resolved and the museum promptly opened up on Sunday. Hats off to Seymour as somebody had to communicate with the crowd and he did a remarkable job.
Photos and Media
Finally, as you can imagine, a trek is not complete without lots of photos and documentation. We split our media into categories for easier consumption. Simply click on the link and you will be directed to the appropriate page.
Above photo: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Writer Coleman Hughes testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee debated the H.R. 40 bill, which proposes a commission be formed to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
The Atlantic’s Vann Newkirk has produced a riveting expose about “The Great Land Robbery.” It is worthy of reading and understanding so that you can weave historic realities into today’s current events.
If you’ve ever been through the Mississippi Delta (Delta) you are right in the passenger seat of Newkirk’s article. The “Delta” stretches from Memphis Tennessee through the western part of Mississippi down to Jackson. The land is legendary for its agriculture yield. Following slavery key parts became transformed into the ownership of African-American farmers. The boon was tremendous but survival did not come without peril. Led by the backlash of emancipation, through the suffocation of Jim Crow and even the Civil Rights era, there was much oppression. The goal of the white power structure was always the same; make it as difficult as possible for African-American farmers to succeed with the bottom-line intent to strip ownership and stunt growth .
The article is compelling and brings you up to date regarding land and ownership in the “Delta” and even provides a perspective on the reparations debate. While the article focuses on farmers in the “Delta” the same principals and examples could be used throughout the United States. Most critically, it will help you understand the notion and primary driver of the wealth gap between Whites and African-Americans.
[Expo Park] Urban Issues Forum is an organization at the vanguard of presenting political information in the Los Angeles area. The leadership primarily focuses on issues affecting the African-American community. Led by Dr. Anthony A. Samad the group is part of the esteemed Mervyn Dymally institute currently headquartered at California State University Dominguez Hills.
This morning at the California African-American Museum the group was host to California Citizen Redistricting Commission. The focus was to discuss the upcoming 2020 census and to appeal to the community to apply to become one of fourteen members that make up the Commission. Ms. Margarita Fernandez delivered a very informative presentation about the Commission and why it is critical for people to think about applying to join the organization. She was joined by M. Andre Parvenu who is part of the first Commission which started in 2010 and since he is from the Leimert Park area stressed the need for those in the community to participate.
Being a part of the Commission requires a ten-year commitment and the work is crucial in creating a panel which is diverse and representative of the State and its many communities. The process is pretty straight-forward but applications must be submitted by August. 9th.
For more on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission
If you saw “When They See Us” that is great news AND if you ALSO saw the actual documentary “The Central Park 5” – Congratulations, you are in the top of the class. If you only have seen one of the titles or haven’t seen any at all……. please do yourself a favor and do your homework – watch them. The 1989 Central Park Five issue has been reignited with Ava DuVernay’s recent production. It is the most talked about subject at work, at home or at play. DuVernay’s piece makes it that much riveting or fuels inspiration for you to get up to speed. Even the person who takes pride in being the local curmudgeon will appreciate the time they invest to join the crowd.
Noted film-maker Ava DuVernay has struck a nerve across the globe with her docu-drama series, “When They See Us.” Fueled by the Netflix platform a record 23 million viewers tuned into the first month, which was June 2019. “When They See Us” is a spin-off from the documentary.
“The Central Park Five” which was created by the erstwhile story teller, Ken Burns and his daughter, Sarah. Their piece showcased in 2012.
Both pieces relive the story of five teenagers from Harlem who happened to be at New York’s Central Park when Trisha Ellen Meili while doing her routine jog was viciously raped and left for dead. The case exploded in the media as the teenagers were rounded up and faced charges of the jogger’s plight. They were comprised of four African-Americans and one Puerto Rican. The victim was a young career professional who was white.
A matter of perspective
Public sentiment was fueled by the racial characteristics of the incident. During that period there was an epidemic in communities across the United States being affected by drugs and other criminal behavior. Those in urban cores such as Harlem was defined as “ground-zero” for the mayhem which became an everyday occurrence.
As difficult as it is for people to candidly talk about race, in reality it is pretty easy as it can only be based on one’s perspective or experience. Such is the case when you read and hear comments about both pieces. Generally, whites or those who adopt a white perspective define the films a certain way and those who are non-white see things from a different lens. More specific whites see police or those in authority of simply doing there job.
DuVernay takes you on a journey to help you grasp the issue from the beginning such as giving you a glimpse of what life looked like for those teenagers who were charged. Her piece was split into four parts with each being a little bit more than one hour. So, after completing the journey you have consumed a piece of history that very few could articulate while insuring accuracy to understand a very complex subject.
In the documentary one of the teenagers, Kevin Richardson tells how he was approached by then college student Sarah Burns who was researching a project for one of her classes. She wanted his permission to share his perspective of the incident.
She persuaded her father, Ken Burns to help bring the story to life via a documentary. Through their team they produced a piece which was woven into two hours. The footage they produced never stopped as with the case of most of their films. Hard facts and the actual subjects zoom right into your zone.
Both pieces showcase the issue of racial injustice. They showcase ego and incompetence. They showcase the personal and financial toil of how families must navigate a person who is incarcerated. They showcase fear in victims who must suffer the wrath and intimidation of those investigating and/or interrogating them. They showcase the rawness or life for those incarcerating and the basic survival skills necessary to stay alive and not lose your mind. They showcase the paltry support system of those who have served their time and must transform themselves back into their community.
Despite their incarceration the five teenagers had morphed into manhood from serving their time. Following serving their time, they accepted their sentence and simply committed to get on with their lives. Call it a fluke, luck or magic the five held onto to their knowledge of serving time for a crime they did not admit. Years had passed but by chance, the person who actually committed the crime came forward and shared his confession with the oldest defendant; Kory Wise and later with prison authorities.
“This tragedy reminds us how much we struggle to come to terms with America’s original sin, which is race,” Ken Burns.
The bottom-line is all had their sentences exonerated. Even with the clear confession and proof the five had nothing to do with the initial crime. The prosecution and various authorities as well as many in the public could not accept, they were totally vindicated. Yes, the victim who performed the rape was finally identified BUT many people simply brought into the notion that prosecution or authorities would never resort to coercing any type of confession or they subscribed to the belief the teenagers lived in projects and had troubled-lives so even though there was no evidence they did the act, surely they most be guilty – if not for the rape, OF SOMETHING!!! Part of their assessment was based on confessions molded on their naïve belief that “who would confess to something they did not do?” but to be more specific they allowed the disparity of race to cloud their lens in proclaiming the five young men as guilty.
Just as Sarah Burns and her dad received extraordinary acclaim for their documentary, the same can be expected for DuVernay and her team as they have presented a compelling piece or work that will be referenced for years way into the future.
DuVernay’s piece is split into four parts so give yourself enough time to absorb and understand the content. No doubt since there is more than four hours of footage, she was able to stretch out more than what is presented in the documentary. That is necessary to help you understand the complexity of the characters and the issues they faced.
The documentary is a must see, as by investing two hours you are able to grasp actual information and filter it through your own lens or understanding. Your assignment is not complete until you have seen the docu-drama and the documentary.
A Special Report on the Robert Mueller Testimony delivered Jul. 24, 2019
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally completed his long-awaited testimony before the House of RepresentativesJudiciary Committee and the SenateIntelligence Committee. It was aired so the public had the opportunity to tune-in or in the case of those who read the 448 report to complement what they had discerned.
In the era of hyper-partisanship those who support the republican party and Donald Trump have claimed victory stressing the testimony did not deliver any negative news. On the other hand, those who support the democratic party have stressed Mueller’s testimony makes it clear the wrongdoing committed by Trump and those associated with his 2016 presidential campaign.
Mueller stated with clarity the investigation uncovered numerous examples of criminal behavior by Donald Trump and some of his associates. He further stated the core reason Trump was spared being charged was due to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel guidance which prevent a sitting president from being indicted.
Donald Trump is known for his bombasity and his vociferous attacks on those he deems as opponents. It has been mentioned more than once by his team that when attacked he will hit back with vigor. Has the presidency descended to what might be compared as a school yard brawl or a place where adults act with restraint and discipline? Perhaps it is that behavior why his approval rating has never exceeded 50% or a majority?
His supporter’s view him as some wordsmith master claiming he is a genius at using media to his advantage. Despite his rhetoric being challenged as outright lying or misleading his philosophy has been repetition or a drum beat to try and convince anyone who listens that what he states must be accurate? He takes pride in mesmerizing crowds that attend his political event. Unfortunately, most understand it is more show than actually factual but as mentioned in the world of Trump many are enamored by his celebrity and enjoy the entertainment provided, as well as countless promises of how their lives will improve. The result is a basic smoke and mirror exercise; make people believe they are part of the team so they dismiss any questionable behavior or actions being employed.
I’m not your savior, I’m your president!
Some with a sense of “street culture” define Donald Trump’s behavior as “gangster.” He surrounds himself with associates who have been defined as questionable. The result is a veil shrouded by what experts have defined as criminal behavior.
Trump has understood bombasity gets your attention. He also has been cleaver in generating support by making sure he delivers the “goods.” Such action seems pretty simple as many admire him for accommodating their public desires. His questionable reputation or criminal behavior becomes a non-issue for those who support him or otherwise known as his acolytes. They quickly dismiss anything negative about him stressing they did not vote for a savior or squeaky-clean person. Instead, they support him based on him delivering on issues they view as important. The problem with that summary is supporters are trading Trump’s lack of integrity for their personal gain. Therein, lays a conflict as those with a “hustler’s personality” understand human nature can be compromised and many will do anything to get what they want…..even if it might be questionable.
No collusion – total exoneration
Mueller kind of laughed when asked about the notion of Trump’s claim that his report resulted in no collusion and 100% exoneration.
Surely Trump is not stupid and understands his statement is totally incorrect but he has embedded it into those who support him and figures now is not the time to come clean? As Mueller stated, “the report speaks for itself, If I could exonerate the president I would have.”
Lack of cooperation and lies
Mueller surprised some by stating not only did Donald Trump fully not cooperate with his investigation, he instructed staff or those who were called by the Special Counsel to do the same.
Donald Trump is known to have very little restraint in dealing with basic questions about him or his administration. When engaging with the media, except FOX or those he considers friendly, his posture is very combative. Following the Mueller testimony he could not sit still so the media was summoned to the lawn area so he could provide his perspective. Yamiche Alcindor who represents PBS and is a noted White House correspondent questioned him about Mueller’s assertion he was not honest during the investigation.
Here is a short-clip of the exchange.
You mean my White House aides lied? You are untruthful! Donald Trump
It’s your turn at-bat
Republicans or those who support Donald Trump are claiming Mueller’s testimony did nothing to negatively impact them.
Imagine this, you’re a baseball player who is better than average. You are known as an All-Star, yet when it is your turn to bat…. everyone comes out of the wood-work to tell you how to hit?
That is perhaps the feeling of democratic leader Nancy Pelosi? Every pundit, every critic, every person on the bench and stands feel it is perfectly acceptable to pontificate on the next move. They have bought into the notion of wanting blood or for the Mueller testimony to reveal the block-buster they have long wanted. In their mind, anything less would signal a defeat. Thus, they marginalize their own position by being overzealous or having unrealistic expectations. They forget or don’t accept there is a process that is not necessarily designed for the insatiable reporting we have come to expect from cable news programs.
The facts are clear. Robert Mueller clearly stated despite uncovering actions of criminal behavior by Donald Trump, the DOJ OLC ruling has served as his shield or protection. Instead as articulated in the report the primary resolution to address Trump’s behavior as long as he is president cannot be adjudicated by our criminal institutions but instead solely rest politically, and that is the responsibility of Congress.
“The Mueller testimony had been billed as some blockbuster. Mueller is Mueller. He is not a game-show host, a reality TV star or the type of communicator whose goal is to entertain. The core criticism I have heard is about his style or how he presented his responses. There has been very little criticism on the more important issue – the substance or the facts!” Joe Madison, Sirius XM The Urban View
It can’t be stressed enough that some who support Donald Trump proudly state, “so what…. he was not found guilty of anything!!!” While that is a true statement what gets lost is when you do something that is criminal, not getting caught or charged does not dismiss the act, or in Trump’s case the acts.
Impeachment speaks to criminal intent and unlike legal statues, thus as mentioned it is Congress or more importantly the House of Representatives that decide and define what is criminal or worthy of being charged.
Based on what Robert Mueller has communicated outlining specific criminal behavior by Donald Trump the solution can only be addressed politically. That is initiate the impeachment process or wait for the 2020 presidential election with hopes he is defeated at the polls.
The 2020 campaign
For many on the democratic side or who oppose Trump, defeating him in 2020 is the most viable remedy. Unfortunately, the democrats resumed control of the House less than one year ago. Otherwise with all of Trump’s behavior as outlined in the Mueller report there would have been oversight hearings and the public might be better informed.
For many the election can’t come quick enough. But as mentioned, it is a process and as of today there are still over twenty candidates vying to be the nominee going up against Trump. That could be yet another reason for all of the angst the democrats are dealing with because from their perspective Trump has been getting away “with murder.” In time that will all change as by this time next year both issues will be crystal clear resulting in a crossing intersection: deal with the impeachment process of have a known candidate who is positioned to defeat Trump next November.
In the meantime, Muller has publicly testified or spoken – finally! Many in the media and those who didn’t fully understand the importance of Mueller finally coming forward are disappointed a big bombshell didn’t go off or the testimony did not result in a Perry Mason moment, or whatever big shocking revelation they were anticipating. At the same time, those who support Donald Trump have echoed relief that “nothing was produced” or the Democrats wasted everybody’s time while costing the public nearly 42 million dollars, Or, in the zeal to protect their leader, claim everybody can now see what they see and accept Donald Trump is the best president we have ever had? By doing so, they dismiss the core reason of why Wednesday, July 24th will go down in history as a monumental day as the person who was charged with investigating Russian interference from our 2016 presidential election finally gave voice to his findings.
Above image courtesy of Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg
[Washington, D.C.] Today First-Time homebuyers received more welcomed news at Nancy Pelosi’s (Speaker of the House/D-CA/12th) House of Representatives passed HR2161. Labeled as the “obstruction party” by leaders of the Trump administration the bill was passed and headed to the Senate where members are hoping majority leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t try and high jack the bill. Lately he has proudly accepted the moniker to be known as ‘the grim-reaper.”
The bill essentially can result in borrowers using FHA mortgages saving $5,375 and is based on an average loan of $211,000. Current FHA borrower must pay three percent which is known as the standard rate for mortgage insurance or the program which allows the agency operate. Unlike conventional mortgages where insurance is normally mandated if the mortgage exceeds 80% of the value of the home, FHA mortgage through their mortgage insurance premium (MIP) is mandated regardless of loan to value.
HR2161 would allow borrowers who successfully complete authorized counseling to have their premiums reduced to 2.75%. If passed and Donald Trump signs it into law you could see millions of buyers enter the marketplace.
Many borrowers use FHA insured mortgages as their entry into home ownership. Contrary to popular belief, especially political leaders who have attempted to vilify the program, historically it helped the United States of America define a middle-class standard.
It is not uncommon that even though on vacation most are tethered to their smartphone. It is nothing wrong with this practice as unlike years ago, a smartphone allows you to do so much more than just talk! Aruba is a very tourist-friendly country, however for those who do not pay attention or manage their visit as once you return back home and get your bill, it can result in a big frown or a big smile. Years ago, a big frown was my reality as I forgot to turn off roaming and the result was a bill nearly $2,000. Back then, it was not uncommon to rent/purchase a device from the local carrier (Digicel) or of course you could use your own.
Fast-forward as technology has improved and pricing has become much more competitive and lower. Most carriers offer a specific “international plan” which ranges from $8– $12 per day. I’ve had T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon and for my weekly stay to Aruba I was paying approximately $70. Not cheap…. but way better than my $2,000 bonehead?
My most recent trip consisted of 8 days. Another reality: Many consumers think Consumer Cellular is designated for seniors due to the reduced cost? That is kind of correct, although not totally 100% correct. A couple of years ago I had Verizon and gladly paid $70. I heard about Consumer Cellular but had doubts, however since I was officially retiring, I was exploring how to reduce my monthly cost. I contacted Verizon and inquired if they offered a “senior” plan or “reduced’ option? I was told no, although they did offer some reductions but no where near the less than $50 per month that Consumer Cellular was offering. So….adios to Verizon!
The bottom-line is I just reviewed my most recent bill which including the roaming charges for my Aruba trip. The cost was $48 which was far less than the $70 I had been paying or even the $60 my wife paid from her AT&T account.
Word to the wise – pay attention to your cost and do not pay more that what you have to. By the way, while I am not endorsing a product or service, Consumer Cellular has exceeded my expectations by offering the same service I had been using, which includes using lots of data at far less than what I had been paying.
Above photo: ‘Ted Williams, Minnie Minoso’ Boston Red So, baseball player Ted Williams and Cleveland Indians player Minnie Minoso, posed in dugout for 1959 All Star Game, Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 1959. (Photo by Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)
[Havana] The 2019 All Star Game (ASG) will feature 15 players that were born outside of the United States. Behind the Dominican Republic, Cuba is number two and will feature three players who will be part of the July 9th festivities.
[Washington, D.C.] Ever since the June 5thannouncement I have received many calls/text and other communication regarding this matter.
Unfortunately, similar to the infamous Mueller report, MOST people simply refuse to read the specs for themselves!!!! It appears they are more comfortable hearing from third-party sources such as media, friends, acquaintances, etc. rather than just taking a couple of minutes to read and comprehend for themselves. The result is lots of misinformation.
Effective June 5, 2019, a regulatory amendment to the CACR removes an authorization for people-to-people educational travel that was conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact (group people-to-people educational travel).
No doubt, the Trump administration continues its assault on guidelines created by the Obama administration to prevent U.S. citizens from going to Cuba. It has been stated this move was implemented in part because the Cuba government supports the Maduro regime of Venezuela? The assumption is any money spent from U.S. travelers would financially benefit the Cuban government. The two largest groups impacted are those who traveled by a cruise ship or who went under the peer-to-peer license. For a smaller minority, travel is permitted as long as it is under the licenses per the June 5th memorandum.