Opinion

Now more than ever, an accurate Census count is needed to uplift working families

By Italia Garcia, Interim Executive Director for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ).  The coronavirus pandemic is demonstrating how crucial food and medical resources are to working class communities. Providing children with hot lunches and rendering medical attention is getting families through these difficult times, especially in communities like San Bernardino, where 28 percent of the population is struggling to make ends meet.  Census data collected every ten years influences how much funding summer lunch programs, hospitals, and emergency services receive from the federal government. It is extremely important now more than ever to have every home, every person, and every family is accurately counted in the 2020 Census. So far there are promising signs. Riverside County’s Census self-response rate is at 60 percent and San Bernardino County’s is at 59 percent. While both fall just slightly under the state’s average rate of 62 percent, the current figures indicate that coordinators and stakeholders are making inroads to ensure a complete and accurate count.  Nonetheless, there are still some factors we must continue to consider if we are to make the Census accurately…

Electric trucks will stop diesel death and protect the health of black and brown families

By Karla Briceño, a resident of San Bernardino and a community leader with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. I have lived in San Bernardino for over twenty years. Over the past two decades, I have witnessed a serious decline in air quality. Like most families who moved to the Inland Empire from Los Angeles, we were in search for a better life.  What we didn’t expect was the logistics boom that followed. It felt very much like an overnight increase in air pollution, an increase that my children would surely suffer from for years to come. We live close to the Santa Fe Railyard here in San Bernardino, where thousands of trucks pass through every day. After years of suffering through wheezing and breathing attacks, I began to wonder: will my children and I ever breathe fresh, clean air? Or are we trapped in a diesel death zone? We are being reminded of what we already know: black and brown communities suffer the most from pollution. Studies recently have shown that air pollution has not only made us susceptible to respiratory illnesses…

Uncertainty about the upcoming college academic year and what it means for recent high school graduates

An opinion written by Kenny Hua, Rialto High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian. As many aspects of society have adapted to operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities are faced with difficult decisions concerning what the next school year will look like. Some schools, like the University of California, have proposed a mixture of in-class, remote, and hybrid learning settings. President Tessier-Lavigne of Stanford University stated that the school plans to host half of the undergraduate student body on campus each quarter. Many other schools have yet to announce their plans as developments with the coronavirus are rapidly progressing. Many students have begun considering taking a gap year in fear that starting college on time would mean sacrificing the “full freshman experience.” A poll conducted by the Art & Science Group, a consulting firm for higher education institutions, found that 35% of high school seniors in March were planning on taking a gap year. For Jennifer Jimenez, Rialto High School class of 2019, having most students living on campus is a major contributor to a rich social scene. Jimenez, just finishing her first year…

Latino participation in the Census is crucial for 2020

By Silvia Paz, Alianza Coachella Valley As we face this unprecedented public health crisis together, many community organizations remain steadfast in our resolve to ensure local minorities are counted during the 2020 Census. Emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic shine a spotlight on the importance of accurate census data, which determine funding for schools, hospitals, housing, nutrition and health programs in our communities.  As of right now, the Latino communities of the Coachella Valley are seeing lower rates of census participation than those across the county, state and nation. This is not surprising considering the concerns many minorities have about giving personal information to the government, fears of an immigration crackdown, and the unsuccessful attempt to add a citizenship question to the census form. The truth is that the census is nothing to fear. By law, your information must be kept confidential and cannot be shared with other government agencies. And to be clear: The census will not ask about your or family member’s citizenship status. The ten minutes it takes most people to complete their census form will have a meaningful impact on the Coachella…

The Class of 2020 has really earned it

By R.A. Contreras, a resident of Highland. He can be reached on Twitter @commgrad71 Someone told me once that getting my Master’s degree would be one of the loneliest things I would ever do. I didn’t understand then. “Wait and see,” he said as I was inching towards the apex of my graduate education. After the experience was complete, I realized how much of the so-called ‘down-time’ I had lost. I had no time from visits with friends or family. In addition to work, I had mounds of reading to do and my fingers cramped from those 30-page papers I had to slough through. Coupled with food insecurity and living in my car at times, it really was the hardest –and loneliest—thing I had ever accomplished. That was a mere two years ago but even now I still stare in amazement at that Master’s Degree diploma that is proudly framed on my wall. I really cannot get over the sense of accomplishment after having produced a thesis and probably 50-odd rewrites of my eventual final project. There were long hours of research and constant visits…

COVID-19 – all is not lost; let’s think about using our time wisely

By Dr. G (Dr. Luis Gonzalez), Colton Councilman, community advocate, writer A lot has been said about the COVID-19 situation and the steps that have been taken by local government, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, and the state government, under orders of Governor Gavin Newsom. One challenging aspect that is proving to be somewhat exasperating for residents, and businesses too, is the shelter-at-home Executive Order N-33-20, signed by Governor Newsom on March 19. For 62 days to the date of this publication, every single individual in California has been affected by this order, and in many cases, have now formulated an opinion as to the best way to adapt, or in some cases, protest. For residents, who not only have been compelled to stay at home for time unknown, they are also faced with the challenge of wondering what to do, and balancing their time. This conundrum is especially evident if they also have a spouse at home 24-7, or school aged kids to supervise, mentor, and in many cases, teach. In any case, when it comes to break time, you may…

Riverside County death toll higher than 17 states… and our Supervisors have a plan to make it worse

By Darrell Peeden, Moreno Valley Unified School Board Vice President You can’t operate a business without humans – yet. So, why are the Riverside County Board of Supervisors putting workers’ lives at risk for short-term economic gain they can’t even guarantee will materialize? That’s right. Our Supervisors are taking a page out of Georgia’s playbook and breaking with the most basic of recommendations by medical experts – no facemasks, no social distancing, and sending our kids back to school in the midst of an uncontained, uncontrolled, and highly contagious pandemic. The responsible choice would be a methodical and scientific approach to lifting these guidelines. Instead, our Supervisors are willing to disrespect the sacrifice we have all made the last two months because their donors are getting antsy.   This is typical Riverside County politics. Do what your corporate campaign donors say, regardless of the body count. As of 11PM Friday night, that number stands at 156 of our neighbors lost, 85 more fighting for their lives in intensive care units, and 4079 afflicted by COVID-19. Riverside County has the second highest number of confirmed cases and…

Correcting this faulty belief about COVID-19 will save lives

By Kenneth E. Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University and chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. In times of emergency, misperceptions can prove deadly. That’s certainly the case today, amid widespread belief that COVID-19 mainly threatens older Americans. In reality, those of any age suffering from an underlying health condition are at significant risk of complications from COVID-19. And when these patients fail to take proper precautions, they put their own lives — and the health of millions of people — in jeopardy. By and large, younger Americans have been the slowest to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in this group continue to frequent bars, attend parties, travel, and eat in restaurants, especially outside major cities where most establishments are now closed. This response is partly the result of a misunderstanding. The Centers for Disease Control specifically highlighted the threat COVID-19 posed to older individuals and those with preexisting chronic conditions. Many Americans felt they didn’t fall under this warning. For them, it conjured distant images of 90-year-olds on ventilators. But the health conditions that can complicate COVID-19 aren’t unique…

Uncage Our Children

By Corey A. Jackson is a newly elected Riverside County Board of Education Member and the CEO, SBX Youth & Family Services A nation has lost its soul when they begin to throw away their children. Unfortunately, that is exactly what America has done since the war against drugs in the 1980s. So much so that we no longer think of them as fully human. Think about that. We no longer think about all of our children as being entitled to their humanity. In this rugged individualism that the dominant culture takes pride in, we have come to believe that we have the right to determine who is worthy of humanity and who is not. Leadership in Riverside County now touts its record low child incarceration rate, but that was only due to the growing federal incarceration mandates to depopulate California’s prison system. Not because these are children that must be nurtured and healed. Although California is heading in the right direction, according to the Prison Policy Initiative,  “California has an incarceration rate of 581 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice…

“Last Dance” documentary is amazing

The Last Dance… The long awaited documentary made on Michael Jordan’s led Chicago Bulls as they navigated their way to their 6th championship, despite all the controversy and turmoil around them. Episodes 1 and 2 of the 10-part series aired Sunday night, and it did not disappoint. Personally, I was very excited for this documentary. Being as young as I am, the most I can get out of the 90’s Bulls incredible run are amazing clips of MJ being “the goat.” But now I, and everyone else, can finally get an even more detailed view of what it was like during that Bulls final championship run. And, it seemed pretty ugly. The first episode focuses around MJ, and his problems with the Bulls management, mainly Jerry Krause, the man who built, and collapsed the Bulls dynasty. We quickly learn how toxic the environment around that Bulls team was. Krause did not like Jordan, Jordan did not like Krause. Constant insults and jabs really make you think how that group won 6 championships in a very short span of time. But, it doesn’t stop with MJ.…

Much To Do About Something: Kudos To Charters

By Mildred D, Henry, Ph.D.,Professor Emeritus, CSUSB Much print has been devoted to adverse relationships between school districts and charter schools.  However, good positive partnerships that benefit thousands of children have also been formed.  The San Bernardino City Unified School District announced that “In light of Governor Newson’s order for all California residents to stay at home, … all schools will remain closed until May 1.  We are glad to inform you that SBCUSD will provide grab and go meal service for children Monday through Friday during spring break, which begins March 23rd and ends April 3rd”.  Everyone was excited and a partnership was formed. The California Charter School Association, and representative Fatima Cristerna-Adams, stepped in.  Steve Holguin, representative for Better 4 You Meals, was contacted.  Holguin then called Dwaine Radden, CEO of the PAL Center and PAL Charter Academy (PCA) asking if PCA would be the San Bernardino hub for the distribution of food. Mr. Radden replied that “We have a moral obligation to make sure students and families in the community have food to eat”.   Charter schools to the rescue.    The PAL Charter Academy’s two sites – 1691 N. Sierra Way in San Bernardino, and 2450 Blake Street in Muscoy –…

Removal of water board member Rikke Van Johnson retaliation by SB Mayor Valdivia

Written by former San Bernardino 6th Ward Councilman Rikke Van Johnson The City of San Bernardino is facing a multitude of important decisions to be made in order to move the City forward. Some of which are a new City Manager who must be selected by the end of this year. A Police Chief needs to be chosen outside of the current Police Department. Decisions need to be made to address the budget that is trending towards the negative in two years with the City still emerging from the bankruptcy. Plans need to be put in place regarding how we deal locally with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Yet, Mayor John Valdivia’s focus appears to be centered on retaliation, self-gratification and revenge. His controversial actions continue to cost the City monies that it can ill afford. Just look at the Mayor and City Council Agenda for March 18, 2020 to see a small example of his dastardly deeds. In Closed Session on the agenda you have the case of Gary Saenz and Georgeann Hanna v. City of San Bernardino where the Mayor attempted to reduce their salaries…

COVID-19 further proves that we need housing justice for working families

By Sonya Gray Hunn, housing organizer for the Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) The battle to save families from eviction began long before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel Coronavirus has only compounded the struggle San Bernardino tenants have endured for decades. Eviction moratoriums will provide people temporary relief in the several months to come. However, if we want lasting assistance when it comes to protections for vulnerable renters, we can’t be afraid to push for more.  The struggle for just and equitable housing is very personal to me. I was a young mother living in Pomona in the late 1980’s—struggling to find a safety net for my son and I. I know what it’s like to not know where you’re going to lay your head, how you’re going to take care of your child, how you’re going to feed your child, and meet basic hygienic needs. That is why I am deeply committed as a housing organizer to help my neighbors during this pandemic and in its aftermath.  It’s crucial to look at the challenges that are ahead of us. To…

San Bernardino needs a real leader

By T. Elliott, former Sun Editorial Board member and current Chairman of the San Bernardino City Public Safety Commission For nearing 2 years, The City of San Bernardino has operated without stable leadership at the top of the Police Department. Unfortunately, the former chief was ill and ultimately retired. This City owes a debt of gratitude to Interim Chief Eric McBride who has chosen to remain vigilant and keep our Police Department not only functioning, but steadily improving. Chief McBride has the overwhelming support of the community, the Public Safety Commission, the POA, Neighborhood Associations, business and ecumenical leaders and  residents, just to name a few. Mere casual conversations with the rank and file officers prove they not only respect Chief McBride but comment how the departmental structure has improved several times over, as a result of his steady hand and experience. The San Bernardino Police Officers Association President, Brian Lewis said,“When we have been asked to opine on the selection of a new Chief, we are normally discussing with the City Manager why we might disagree with a decision to hire a certain leader for…

Aboard Flight AA 2270 amidst COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

American Airlines flight 2270 – Tampa, FL to Dallas, TX is the flight I just boarded, before heading to my destination, Ontario International Airport in the next connecting flight. I understand the airlines are taking precautions and deep cleaning the seats, but I also just finished wiping down the space around me; which is not new. My family and I have been wiping down the seats since we began flying, but one thing we did notice is that our wipes are no longer dirty after wiping the space down…which is alarming. Did they not clean airplanes before, after each flight? However, I just spent 3 days in Tampa Bay…yes, during the Covid-19 craze that has rocked the entire globe. A day or two before the trip, I highly considered cancelling, in order to do my part and protect the elderly, those whom may be underinsured or uninsured; but ultimately decided to board the flight on March 14 in San Diego. With numerous precautions in place, such as continuously washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose, utilizing hand wipes and hand sanitizer…the stress was still…

Aboard AA 2270 amidst COVID-19 stay-at-home orders

American Airlines flight 2270 – Tampa, FL to Dallas, TX is the flight I just boarded, before heading to my destination, Ontario International Airport in the next connecting flight. I understand the airlines are taking precautions and deep cleaning the seats, but I also just finished wiping down the space around me; which is not new. My family and I have been wiping down the seats since we began flying, but one thing we did notice is that our wipes are no longer dirty after wiping the space down…which is alarming. Did they not clean airplanes before, after each flight? However, I just spent 3 days in Tampa Bay…yes, during the Covid-19 craze that has rocked the entire globe. A day or two before the trip, I highly considered cancelling, in order to do my part and protect the elderly, those whom may be underinsured or uninsured; but ultimately decided to board the flight on March 14 in San Diego. With numerous precautions in place, such as continuously washing hands, avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose, utilizing hand wipes and hand sanitizer…the stress was still…

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