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Durant Establishes Education Program in Prince George’s County

THE AFRO — Golden State Warriors all star and two time NBA champion Kevin Durant defies all logic when it comes to the perception of what role he should play on the basketball court. 

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By Mark F. Gray

Golden State Warriors all star and two time NBA champion Kevin Durant defies all logic when it comes to the perception of what role he should play on the basketball court.  He is the size of a conventional big man who can be as dominant on the inside then plays like a guard when he steps out on the perimeter using his threat as a scorer to set his teammates up to score with passes that lead to assists.

Durant has become one of the unstoppable forces in the history of the game because his versatility is incomparable.  The Suitland, MD native dances to his own beat so there’s no wonder when he heard a conservative talk show pundit tell Black professional athletes – especially basketball players – to “shut up and dribble” it became a call to action.

His understated philanthropy is an extension of his commitment to giving back to the community throughout his career.  Durant learned at an early age from his mother Wanda that it was important to give back in a clandestine way. Few outside the family’s inner circle know how many organizations such as the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce who have benefitted from the silent partnerships that are part of the Durant’s commitment to their community.

The foundation privately funded basketball courts and parks in five cities around the country with little fanfare but Kevin wanted to do more.  He had been looking for new ways for his charity to have a greater impact and wanted to be more than just a sports icon whose impact on society was peripheral.

“I had coaches and teachers that believed I could be something special. That’s where it starts,” Durant told the San Jose Mercury News. “Whether it’s coaches, teachers or guidance counselors. You need someone with more experience who believe in you.”

When he met the people from College Track, he saw this as chance to start a similar program in Maryland. He picked the site of a former political campaign headquarters next to the McDonald’s where his older brother worked when they were teenagers as he worked to pursue his dream.

College Track was founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs, who was founder and CEO of Apple, Inc. accepts applicants from low-income families and — at the time of Durant’s visit — was interested in expanding. But it hadn’t yet considered a facility on the East Coast, so this opportunity became the perfect assist.

The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player followed in the footsteps of his long time rival LeBron James and his Bay Area contemporary Marshawn Lynch by putting money where his mouth is to establish an education-based programs where they grew up.  On a day where his teammates were scheduled to celebrate their second world championship in three years, Durant cut the tape on the College Track at Durant Center and developed the program for students in Prince George’s County.

Durant’s charity partnered with Prince George’s County Public Schools and College Track, to launch in Suitland. The $10 million commitment over 10 years will offer scholarships, tutoring, counseling and study space to a starting class of 69 students, primarily from low-income families who face similar circumstances to his while trying to gain an education that will change the quality of their lives.

Many basketball fans in the area were disappointed when Durant chose to stay on the west coast instead of signing with the Washington Wizards as a free agent in 2015.  However, this project may not have to come to fruition had it not been for business relationships he built in Silicon Valley.

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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Bay Area

Alameda County Educators Call Out Schools Chief Over Unauthorized Stipends

At least half of the staffers who received large COVID-19 stipends also contributed to Supt. Monroe’s re-election campaign. In all, 11 ACOE employees made political contributions to Supt. Monroe’s campaign, and she awarded the stipend to nine of them, the media release said.

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Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown and Alameda County Supt. of Schools L.K. Monroe.
Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown and Alameda County Supt. of Schools L.K. Monroe.

Supt. L.K. Monroe Failed to Inform Trustees of Payments to Managers Totaling $600,000

By Post Staff

Teachers’ unions in Alameda County are criticizing Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. K. Monroe for paying more than half a million dollars in COVID-19 related stipends to employees without informing the Alameda County Board of Education (ACBOE).

The unions, which are backing Monroe’s opponent, Alysse Castro, in the upcoming June election, are saying the payment of these stipends is unethical, lacks accountability and adds doubt to her credibility as a leader.

According to a union media release, the superintendent’s office has resisted publicly accounting for these expenditures, violating Ed Code 1302, which says a county superintendent cannot provide stipends of more than $10,000 without first bringing it to the board for discussion.

At least half of the staffers who received large COVID-19 stipends also contributed to Supt. Monroe’s re-election campaign. In all, 11 ACOE employees made political contributions to Supt. Monroe’s campaign, and she awarded the stipend to nine of them, the media release said.

“This is a blatant disregard to educators, parents, and community members who have been advocating to keep schools in Black and Brown communities open. The Alameda County Office of Education oversees the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) budget, and them handing out stipends to management like nothing shows where their loyalty lies,” said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

“Together, we are united in keeping accountability in Alameda County. Superintendent Monroe’s attitude with all of this is a failure on her end as a leader. The irony in all of this is that the funds have been there all along to support our classrooms and students, and instead the funds are given to employees who have the least contact with our students,” said Castro Valley Teachers Association President Mark Mladinich.

“It’s a true shame this is what our leadership has decided to do with public education. As educators, we are going to do what we have always done – which is fight back to win the school students deserve,” said Dublin Teachers Association President Robbie Kreitz.

“Accountability matters. If it is not educators and parents who are going to do the work in supporting ethics in our classrooms, who will?” said Fremont Unified District Teachers Association President Brannin Dorsey.

“This is taxpayer money that is being used without accountability, and it is extremely unfair to families in Alameda County who expect these funds to go towards where they are meant to go – to support the educators and staff who are actually with the students every single day,” said San Lorenzo Education Association President Karen Rosa.

At press time, the Oakland Post had not received a response to these allegations from Supt. Monroe.

A recent EdSource article reported that Monroe apologized last week after her office spent the COVID relief money on stipends for her staff, mostly for managers who took on extra duties during the pandemic.

Stipends ranged from $200 to over $26,000, depending on the amount of extra work employees did, which included COVID testing, contact tracing, distributing masks and overseeing logistics, the article said.

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Bay Area

Ida Times-Green Running for State Assembly District 12

Ida Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

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California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.
California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.

By Godfrey Lee

Ida Times-Green, a resident of Marin City, is running for California State Assembly District 12 of California in the upcoming June 7 election.

Times-Green promises to fight for affordable housing, single-payer healthcare, living wages and union workers, resilience to wildfires, climate justice policies, reforming law enforcement, public education and student debt relief.

“There are numerous issues facing our state that I believe are critical — single-payer healthcare, affordable housing, homelessness, wildfire resiliency — with the climate crisis being an existential threat and dealing with that must underlie everything we do.

It’s about more than just this district — it’s about the future of California,” Times-Green wrote on her Facebook page.

Times-Green is also concerned with women’s reproductive rights, wildfire resiliency, and post-COVID revitalization. Her position on these issues can be found at Idatimesgreenforassembly.com

Times-Green showed her concern for the community when she and her late husband, Edward Lee “Boone” Green. Boone Green, the founder of the Marin City Boxing Club, founded One Kid at a Time, a nonprofit dedicated to mentor at-risk children and young adults in 2013. The couple believed that with support, these young people could be steered in the right direction despite prior risky behavior. It was a belief that led them to help many young adults find homes and graduate from high school.

Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

Today, Times-Green is in her eighth year as a board trustee with the Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCUSD). She is fulfilling the desegregation mandate handed down by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in August 2019 and creating a multicultural learning environment for all children in the district. She also helps the community every day through her full-time job as a social worker for the County of Marin.

She is an active member of the faith community at the Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ in Marin City. She was previously a member of Village Baptist Church in Petaluma. Times-Green’s heart for her community is large, with a strong desire to serve for many years to come.

Times-Green’s many endorsements include the Health Care for All (HCA), California State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond, Marin County Supervisors Susan Adams (ret.) and Kate Sears (ret.), Marin County Office of Education Deputy Superintendent Terena Mares, San Anselmo Vice Mayor Steve Burdo, Tiburon Councilmember Noah Griffin, Sausalito Marin City School District Superintendent Dr. Itoco Garcia, and SMCSD boardmembers Lisa Bennett and Bonnie Hough, Esq., California Democratic Party Senior Caucus Chair Ruth Carter and 1W Regional Director Pat Johnstone. Ida Times-Green can be reached at idaforassembly@gmail.com or call (415)231-8807.

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Community

GOP Candidate for State Controller Lanhee Chen Known for Bipartisanship

Chen, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is respected among Republicans and Democrats for his work across party lines. President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. And he has served as adviser to several Republican elected officials, including U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

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Lanhee Chen. COF.org photo.

By Bo Tefu, California Black Media

Attorney and Stanford Law School lecturer Lanhee Chen is a Republican running for California State Controller.

Chen, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is respected among Republicans and Democrats for his work across party lines. President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. And he has served as adviser to several Republican elected officials, including U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The Los Angeles Times recently endorsed Chen, stating that his bipartisan experience is an indication that he would be independent in a state government that is majority Democratic.

Chen spoke with California Black Media (CBM) about his plans to promote fiscal accountability, transparency and the state’s economic advancement.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and concision.

CBM: From your perspective, what is the State Controller’s main function?

Lanhee Chen (L.C.) The State Controller is the chief financial watchdog for the state of California. It’s the individual who gives California taxpayers accountability over every single dollar the state spends. The Controller oversees the disbursement of state funds.

The Controller’s office also has an unclaimed property department. The state keeps a catalogue of all the information people need to claim money they forgot they had.

Perhaps the most important thing the controller does is audit. The Controller is responsible for auditing programs ran by the state government. These audits help the Controller figure out where and how the state spends taxpayers’ money.

The main objectives of this role are financial management accounting and fiscal responsibility.

CBM: Why are you running for Controller?

L.C.: I believe that when we think about the challenges California faces right now, some of those challenges are created by a lack of good fiscal management. A lack of a real set of accountability principles around how our money is being spent. My background in policymaking, academics, and business is exactly the kind of experience that is needed for this job. I’ve spent my career solving problems in fiscal and public policy.

All that experience has prepared me to serve in a role which is predominantly about making sure that the state is spending money wisely. The Controller’s independence from other statewide elected officials is the most important. My track record shows that I have a history of working as a bipartisan problem solver.

CBM: Do you feel being a Republican is a disadvantage or an advantage?

L.C.: The obvious disadvantage is the sheer number of Democrats that outnumber the number of Republicans in the state. There are also some ways that the Republican Party hasn’t been a welcoming and inviting place for people of all backgrounds. I have an immigrant background. I grew up in Orange County. My parents came to the U.S. and managed to put together and raise a great family.

One of the major advantages of this job is that I get to be the one asking tough questions who isn’t in the ‘go along to get along club.’ My background and political affiliation will be helpful in terms of making sure we get answers to tough questions.

In terms of working with Democrats, I have a demonstrated record of working with Democrats and I don’t have an issue working with people who want transparency in terms of how we’re spending our money and where it’s going.

CBM: What experience do you bring to this position?

L.C.: Along with my policy background, I’ve served on boards of regional and community healthcare systems. I’ve also been an entrepreneur and investor for small businesses. My experience helps me understand the business and financial aspects of this job. I know how to look at the financials of our state and figure out what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and how do we give people more information.

Seeing I am also an educator, I can help people understand what’s happening in our state budget.

CBM: If you win, what will be your first priority?

L.C.: The first thing we need is transparency into every dollar the state spends. I want to create a fully transparent, searchable, machine-readable database that allows you to figure out exactly our state is spending money. This project will help us set up a government transparency portal that gives us a sense of whether the spending was effective or not.

Second, I want to use the role’s auditing power and dig deeper into how and what we’re spending on. We need clarity on funding that supports the state’s priority issues such as K-12 education, homelessness, and health care.

CBM: A lot of Black and Brown people work for state government. What is your view on unfunded pension liabilities?

L.C.: Ideally, promises made should be promises kept.

I have a big problem with the idea that we play politics and interfere with pension funds. The primary goal of pension funds is to keep people’s retirement earnings safe and ensure that we’re maximizing the return on the investment that we make. Unfortunately, the state isn’t doing that in a lot of cases. CalPERS and CalSTRS both have not been truthful with us for too many years about what their expectations are about how much in unfunded liabilities we have.

CBM: How would you describe your leadership style? And how does that match with the demands of being the State Controller?

L.C.: My leadership style is about establishing goals and having principles. But it’s also critical to understanding that there’s a time to stand on principle and a time to stand alone. That is a delicate balance. Integrity and ethical leadership are pivotal to making sure everybody’s rowing in the right direction.

This role calls for a leader that isn’t afraid of managing conflict. We won’t not always be on the same page. Fiscal responsibility can only be achieved through transparency and accountability. It is my priority to be the type of leader that lets people know that I’m happy to work together, but I won’t back down on my values or compromise my independence.

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