Thursday, August 27, 2009

How To Run For Elected Office and Win

Corey Jackson and others who have a great deal of experience dealing with elected official have formed Citizens of the Inland Empire to help African-Americans who wish to serve their community through elected or appointed public office. To inform those interested in such offices, it is holding a candidate recruitment and development event on Tuesday, Sept. 15

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) Anyone interested in running for elected office, but especially African-Americans, can learn more about the process at a networking event on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Citizens of the Inland Empire and the Inland Empire African-American Chamber of Commerce will host a Candidate Recruitment and Development Mixer at 6 p.m. at Castaways Restaurant & Banquet Center, 670 Kendall Drive.

“It’s a networking event to say ‘hey we need people to run for office,’ and to show them ways that we can help,” said Corey Jackson, chair of the Citizens of the Inland Empire.

“There are many ways people can serve their community through elected or appointed office,” said Dolores Armstead, vice president of the Inland Empire African-American Chamber of Commerce. “People may not know what that entails, so we want to help guide them through the process.”

Armstead explained that besides the most visible offices, such as the state Legislature and city councils, there are many other offices that make communities run smoothly, such as school boards, water boards and planning commissions. All of them give opportunities for African-Americans to have their voices heard when decisions are made.

At the event, organizers will show participants what offices for which they could run for election, and resources such as campaign strategy, fund raising and volunteers that would be available to them. They will also discuss ethical and legal obligations candidates face.

Since many commissions are held by citizens appointed to the office, rather than elected, the event will also address how to secure such appointments.

To RSVP, send an email to


Barbecue Raises Awareness and Money to Fight Deadly Lung Disease

Michelle Thompson (right) in 2007 with her little sister, Natalee Smith. Michelle died a year later from asthma. Her mother, Jennifer Smith, is holding a barbecue on Sept. 5 in Hesperia, in Michelle's memory, to raise money for the American Lung Association. She is also organizing a team to walk in the American Lung Association's Healthy Air Walk on Oct. 3 at Fontana Park.

(HESPERIA, Calif.) Michelle Thompson, then 16, died a year ago from asthma. Death from childhood asthma is rare, but Michelle’s mom wants to make it even more so.

“My daughter died a horrible death, and it could have been prevented,” said mom Jennifer Smith. “My hope is that no more children will die the way she did.”

One of the ways Jennifer Smith has worked through her grief is by volunteering with the American Lung Association in California’s Inland Empire chapter. As the organization prepares for its Healthy Air Walk, its largest fundraiser of the year, Smith is organizing a team to walk in Michelle’s memory.

The team, which so far consists of Smith and four other High Desert-area volunteers, is hosting a barbecue Saturday, Sept. 5 at Albertson’s grocery store, 16840 Main Street, Hesperia. It lasts from 11 a.m. until food is no longer available.

The team hopes to raise $1,600, a goal Smith chose because of her daughter’s age when she died.
Along with others from the Inland Empire, the team from Hesperia will participate in the Inland Empire Healthy Air Walk on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Fontana Park, 15556 Summit Ave., Fontana. Healthy Air Walks are held throughout California to raise money for programs that reduce air pollution and prevent lung disease, including asthma.

Smith volunteers with the American Lung Association in California’s Inland Empire chapter because it proved to be a valuable source of information about asthma.

“Before Michelle died, I didn’t realize people could die from asthma,” said Smith. “I had a lot of questions, and was seeking a place to find answers. The American Lung Association was that place.”

Now that she knows more about asthma, Smith is working with the American Lung Association in two other areas as well. One of her goals is educating the public about asthma, from families where a member suffers from this chronic disease, to health care providers, school workers and others one might rely on during an asthma attack.

Her other goal is working with the American Lung Association in California to help California’s Legislature create a comprehensive plan for dealing with asthma. The current plan varies from county to county, Smith noted, and two hospitals or schools within a county often take different approaches. The American Lung Association in California’s website calls these approaches “piecemeal at best.”

“Asthma can be deadly,” Smith said. “But it’s a death that is preventable.”

The American Lung Association was established in 1904 and was instrumental in its first 52 years in nearly eradicating tuberculosis. In 1956, it expanded its mission to fight all forms of lung disease. In its last five decades, it has also strived to reduce tobacco use and air pollution, both of which are serious threats to lung health.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zambian Ambassador to Visit Inland Empire

The Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce, President Carl Dameron, will host a special reception in Ambassador Lewanika’s honor on Thursday, September 10, 2009 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Castaway Restaurant in San Bernardino.

Dr. Lewanika will be on ‘Empire Talks Back’ radio show, and Meet with Business, Church, and Government Leaders

SAN BERNARDINO, CA— Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, the Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America, will visit the Inland Empire between September 4 and September 11, 2009 prior to returning to her post in Washington, D.C. This is the Ambassador’s second visit to the Inland area, and she plans a very full agenda while she is here.

The public is invited to have ‘Breakfast With Her Excellency’ on Saturday, September 5, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the T. Hughes Building, located at 1777 Baseline, in San Bernardino, CA 92411. For more information, call (909) 648-4605. To RSVP, send e-mail to

Later that afternoon, also on Saturday, September 5, 2009 Ambassador Lewanika will be the honored guest on the Empire Talks Back radio show, hosted by Westside Story publisher Wallace Allen, at 1 p.m. on KCAA 1050 AM, or on WebTV at

The Ambassador will also be the featured speaker at two churches on Sunday, September 6, 2009. At 9:30 a.m. the congregation of Temple Missionary Baptist Church and Pastor Raymond Turner will welcome her to their morning service, located at 1583 W. Union Street in San Bernardino, CA 92411, (909) 888-2038.

Ambassador Lewanika will then travel to Ecclesia Christian Fellowship to speak at 11:00 a.m., hosted by Pastor Joshua Beckley, at 1314 Date Street in San Bernardino, CA 92404, (909) 881-5551.

On Tuesday, September 8, she will meet with the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches during their regular weekly meeting at 10:30 a.m. She will also make a 3:00 p.m. stop at the San Bernardino City Hall Council Chambers where she will be welcomed by the Mayor and Common Council.

The next day, on Wednesday, September 9, the Ambassador will take a one day trip to Sacramento to meet with Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter, of District 62.

The Inland Empire African American Chamber of Commerce, President Carl Dameron, will host a special reception in Ambassador Lewanika’s honor on Thursday, September 10, 2009 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Castaway Restaurant in San Bernardino.

The reception is open to the public, as well as educators, professionals, business owners, and chamber members, in order to meet and greet the Ambassador and learn how to expand business opportunities between the Inland Empire and the nation of Zambia.

Reservations are required. To be included call Brenda Erickson at (909) 888-0017 or sign up at evite:

Sponsors include the Westside Story Newspaper, the Improve Business and Community Development Association, The Inland Empire African American Concerned Churches, The Castaway Restaurant and Banquet Center, Edison International, The Gas Company and Dameron Communications. The Castaway Restaurant is located at 670 Kendall Drive in San Bernardino, CA 92407, (909) 881-1502.

In addition to serving as a statesperson, Ambassador Lewanika encourages cultural, educational, and commercial exchanges between Zambia and the U.S. and partnerships between African American institutions and those in her country.

A graduate of New York University where she earned her Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Primary Education, she was one of the International Youth Foundation’s founding board members, and serves as the Chairperson of YAPYA: Youth Investment Trust of Zambia, and on the board of the directors of the ImagiNations Group. Her primary commitment is to youth and children, and she has worked with UNICEF in key leadership roles across Africa.

A world traveler and accomplished linguist, Ambassador Lewanika speaks eight languages and has lived in five countries. Prior to serving as the Zambian ambassador to the U.S. Dr. Lewanika was Ambassador and Special Envoy for the Zambian President during his term as Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union); and she served as a member of the Zambian Parliament from 1991 to 2001.

To find out more about the Ambassador’s itinerary during her California visit to the Inland Empire, contact Helen Harris at (909) 763-2101, or e-mail her at

Quick Facts About Zambia
Capital - Lusaka
Government - Republic
Currency - Zambian kwacha (ZMK)
Area total: 752,614 km2
water: 11,890 km2
land: 740,724 km2
Population - 11,668,000 (2005 est.)
Language - English (official), major vernaculars - Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages
Religion - Christian (+75%), Muslim and Hindu (24% or less), indigenous beliefs (1%)
Calling Code +260

Country Background

Zambia, republic in south central Africa, bounded on the north by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) and Tanzania; on the east by Malawi; on the southeast by Mozambique; on the south by Zimbabwe, Botswana, and the Caprivi Strip of Namibia; and on the west by Angola. The area is 752,614 sq km (290,586 sq mi). Zambia’s capital and largest city is Lusaka.

Like in many other African countries, ethnic diversity is a striking feature in Zambia. The relatively small population of just over 11 million people comprises of over 70 different languages, also referred to as tribes. Almost all share the same historical origin of belonging to the Bantu-speaking group. The Bantu-speaking group has over 500 languages spoken in central, eastern, and southern Africa.

Scholars estimate that the number of distinctive native languages spoken in Africa totals at least 2,000 - more languages than are spoken on any other continent. Among these 2,000 languages only about 50 have 500,000 or more speakers. In Zambia the major ones include Bemba, Nyanja, and Tonga. (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc)

Zambian Weather and Climate

Although lying within the Tropic Zone, much of Zambia enjoys a pleasant subtropical climate because of the high altitude. The average temperature in Lusaka during July, the coldest month of the year, is 16°C (61°F); the hottest month, January, has an average temperature of 21°C (70°F). Annual rainfall ranges from 750 mm (30 in) in the south to 1,300 mm (51 in) in the north. Nearly all of the rain falls between November and April.

Major Travel and Tourism Info (Country Travel Guide)

Zambia 101 (Basics) - Major travel and tour destinations

Zambia offers travelers some of the world's best safari opportunities, a glimpse into the “real Africa,” and Victoria Falls, one of the World's Seven Natural Wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Much of Zambia remains poor, with GNP per capita on the order of $400 a year US, and the bulk of Zambia's population lives on subsistence agriculture. The economy continues to revolve around copper, but after decades of issues the industry is now doing better thanks to higher commodity prices and investments made after privatization. Another recent success story has been tourism, with the misfortunes of its neighbor Zimbabwe driving tourists to the northern side of the Victoria Falls and Zambia's safaris.

For more on the history of Zambia go to:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Riverside County Auditor-Controller Seeks Re-Election

Robert Byrd is seeking re-election for a third term as Riverside County Auditor-Controller. He will kick of his campaign 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Riverside Marriott Hotel.

(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) As Auditor-Controller, Robert E. Byrd has paid Riverside County’s bills, audited the books and kept the county in the black for the last eight years.

With economic challenges like foreclosures, double-digit unemployment and lagging retail sales making that increasingly challenging, Byrd doesn’t see 2010 as a time to change course. He’s therefore running for a third term.

He will formally announce his candidacy at a reception 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Riverside Marriott Hotel, 3400 Market St., Riverside.

“My re-election is critical for the citizens of Riverside County,” Byrd said. “I have the experience to understand, integrity to do the right thing and vision needed to help us through this unprecedented fiscal crisis we are in. And I have identified opportunities to enhance the efficiency of this county.”

In 2002, Robert Byrd became the county’s elected Auditor-Controller with more votes cast than in the entire history of the office. In so doing, he was the California’s first African American elected to that office. He was subsequently re-elected to a second four-year term in June of 2006.

Byrd revolutionized the office of the county’s Auditor-Controller by restructuring it to provide optimum customer service while improving the quality and flow of information to the county’s management. He adds, “We refocused Riverside County’s audit function to not only serve its regulatory mandates, but also to facilitate more efficient and effective county operations, thus bringing fresh standards to the county’s processes and county cost savings.”

Byrd has improved service provided by the Auditor-Controller’s Office. Some of the ways he has done this are:

• Assisting parents who receive child support by collecting garnishments through the state’s automated system. This allows more efficient payments to the parents who receive support.

• Providing Property Tax Division reports through the Auditor-Controller’s website,

• Developing a new property tax system through a partnership between the Office of the Auditor-Controller, Office of the Tax-Treasurer, and Office of the Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder.

• Providing county employees immediate access to their W-2s and paycheck stubs via an electronic system

• Publishing County of Riverside Financial Highlights, an easy to read report summarizing the contents of County of Riverside Comprehensive Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2007-08.

The comprehensive report, 180 pages in length, contains detailed financial information, including financial statements, disclosure notes, supplemental schedules and statistical tables. The Highlights document, illustrated with colorful graphs and charts, shows how Riverside County spent money in the 2007-08 fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), including construction projects started that year.

• Establishing an Information Technology Division in the Auditor-Controller’s Office to keep the Office’s technology operating efficiently, so as to better provide information to all who are interested.

Byrd’s goals for the next four years include:

• Developing a method to pay vendors electronically, which will improve efficiency and internal control.

• Making additional improvement to the new property tax system, so the Office of the Auditor-Controller can efficiently track receipt and distribution of property tax revenue.

• Establishing a program that employees of county departments receiving audits will use to communicate electronically to the Office of the Auditor-Controller how they are resolving issues discovered during the audit.

• Establishing a method for county employees to sign up online for direct deposit, or to make changes to their records via online technology.

• Assisting and training Riverside County in better internal control and risk assessment methods.

• Continuing to offer management development programs to county employees.

Byrd sees his professional contributions as going beyond what’s expected of his office. He has been chair of the Riverside County Employee Campaign and Legislative Chair for the State Association of County Auditors. Additionally, Byrd has been a commissioner on the California Uniform Construction Cost Accounting Commission, and members of the Society of Municipal Finance Officers, the Government Finance Officer’s Association and the State Association of County Auditors.

Committed to his community, he’s a member of Riverside Rotary, board member of the Next of Kin Registry, is on the International Relations Council for Riverside and performs as Finance Chairperson for La Sierra Academy’s Board of Trustees.

Robert E. Byrd, CGFM, who is elected by the voters of Riverside County, heads the Office of the Auditor-Controller. The Auditor-Controller’s office is dedicated to providing sound financial accounting, auditing, and reporting in order to serve the citizens of Riverside County.

To RSVP for the reception or for more information, call Brenda Erickson at (909) 888-0017.