Jose M. Yrizarry, Columnist

EMPOWERING OUR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS 

ABOUT JOSE M. YRIZARRY: Influenced by studies in Sociology/Deviant Behavior at John Jay College, Jose dedicated himself as a history/English teacher and crisis counselor working with “At Risk Youth.” He went on to developing and implementing dropout prevention, community outreach, and alternatives to incarceration programs for Outward Bound, Planned Parenthood, The National Congress for Neighborhood Woman, and El Puente After School Center. He is a published author and an established performing poet, and former editor/writer for The New Tomorrow, a  monthly newspaper published on the lower east side of Manhattan/NYC. He recently joined the Buffalo Latino Village family, establishing a monthly column: “Community Outreach and Empowerment.” His writing can also be found at Urban Predators.
Visit his YouTube page to appreciate his unique and amazing poetic work.
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Joey M. Yrizarry

Jose M. Yrizarry

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THE HOUSING TREE

November 2021

“If you don’t use it – You lose it!” There are dangerous implications and consequences when the different objectives and end results between urban development and urban restoration are confused. DEVELOPERS are like termites eating away at the wooden foundations of community (you) to make room for something new (them). RESTORATION ADVOCATES are like exterminators or surgeons trying to cut out the cancer to save or restore the rest of the body. There is also a need to understand what’s meant by CIVIL AND CIVIC duties and responsibilities. Government is in the process of downsizing much of its responsibilities, obligations, expenses off through the process of privatization where “FOR PROFIT” is the goal:  Health Care, Law Enforcement, Prison system, and “watch out” even your friendly neighborhood post man/woman is under attack and on their way out. Remember that next time you turn to UPS and Amazon – Use it or lose it! Playing into urban development, public officials have been passing off abandoned/foreclosing property (potential public property) through periodic auctions rigged to out-price the common person/s in need. Furthermore, good public housing complexes are being turned into condos and co-ops. WOW! Buy your apartment (and still pay rent as a maintenance fee) or keep absent profiteering slumlords charging big rent with little maintenance oversight yet compensated with tax funded public voucher compensation. Then again, you can always double up families into single dwellings, find yourself a shelter, or prepare for a life of homelessness. All the while there are vacant lots and buildings waiting to be developed for profit or restored / renovated to offset the affordable housing crisis.
Ask yourselves “Why can’t groups of homeless people willing to work for their housing take a seemingly abandoned piece of property and “Build a Home for themselves?” If income is a requirement “Why can’t the unemployed volunteer work to help bail out present shortcomings in city programs needing able bodies? There were/still are programs to do just that; homesteading and squatter rights, back to work for your benefits programs and repair and deduct laws to handle slumlords.
Can it be done? It was done  during 70’s & 80’s. LOOK IT UP AND GET INSPIRED! YOU CAN DO IT TOO. Start holding meetings in local churches to research, document, organize, and petition plans for willing homeless and struggling residents to manifest their destiny.
After all, didn’t Jesus say things like preach “The Kingdom of God is upon you and heal the sick (feed, cloth, shelter my people) NOW!” Yes, it’s a process, there are criteria’s to be met – SO GET EDUCATED and LEARN TO PLAY THE GAME “THAT AIN’T A GAME!” IT’S TIME TO SHAKE THE TREE to determine what good and bad apples fall out because the outcome is either your blessing or curse – USE IT OR LOOSE IT!
Continue to read all my columns, by visiting: https://2bspoken.blogspot.com/ 

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STIRRING THE POT

October 2021

Consider the statement “If God is with us, who can stand against us” or better “if we’re within citizen rights to manifest our community’s future, what’s holding us back?”
Biblically speaking, God told Joshua “Go! Take the land! Every place you step on I give you as inheritance. I will be with you!” So, let’s look at the matter at hand remembering the thought “If you don’t use it – You Lose It”. All around the community there are abandoned buildings and neglected vacant lots. Chances are they are already being designated as part of some future Urban Development Plan that has little to do with an Urban Restoration Plan for residents to benefit from. The path of least resistance would be to test converting a vacant lot into a community garden. What good is that?
Well for sure it would prevent it from becoming another local dump site. It would bring residents together, especially Latinos (and others) with good old farming skills, to plant fruits and vegetables for decor and periodic harvest. It can become a replica, a scenic reminder of our “Campesino/Jibaro Roots.” It can become an outdoor site to hold small periodic cultural presentation/exhibits that can grow into something worth bringing indoors (like an abandoned building). Mind you, there has always been community board funds for such neighborhood beautification projects (e.g., for fencing and building supplies).
Now let’s say that down the road those behind closed doors developers want the lot back. Fine! Let them suggest an alternate site to move to. At best, moved enough times, the local area can be beautified one lot at a time. Imagine that idea being mass produced by different resident groups in different areas throughout the community. Imagine involving summer camp youth and senior citizen centers. WOW! Talk about community restoration IN ACTION!
Forget about opposition! Consider what support can come from local agencies trying to prevent dump sites, politicians seeking voter support, or homeowners seeking to improve their property value. Consider the empowering shot in the arm such a venture would bring to residents feeling helplessly defeated. Consider, after a few mini victories, those very residents getting inspired to say “Hey! What else can we come together and accomplish?”
Can you see the possible potential enough to at least start calling us with interest in such ideas and/or alternative suggestions you may have? You’re not alone!
The Buffalo Latino Village is here for you. We seek not only to inform but to inspire and advocate community pride, unity and most of all, ACTION. So, let’s see what responses you provide for me to consider adding to next month’s article. Come on! This column is about empowering each other. Maybe, if you Speak and I Write, we can come together and make things happen. TEST ME! TEST YOURSELF! And let’s Stir the Pot.
Next – Shaking the Tree.

 

Continue to read all my columns, by visiting: https://2bspoken.blogspot.com/

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COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT IS AN ACTION PLAN

September 2021

This column has expressed community empowerment from a dark perspective, the maladies and shortcomings within politics, housing, law enforcement, the pandemic and more. Though important for stirring up a need for change, it’s dangerous to leave it at that. By itself, this lens  can one harbor anger, hate, blame, division, and desires for justified retribution. Worse! It keeps hidden feelings of helpless hopelessness and despair alive. It does little for the love, hope, pride, and potential individual residents hold inside, in wait, to be revived and sprang into action. But how?
 
First, some thoughtful words to consider: confidence comes with the increased use of available people skills, knowledge, and belief that they can make a difference; being inclusive promotes equal opportunity and good relations between groups to challenge present contradictions; organizing brings people and groups to common issues and concerns in an open, democratic, and accountable way; cooperative attitudes build positive relationships among groups and promote partnering links with local and national bodies; influential people encourage and equip residents to partake in decisions affecting local services and activities. Sounds good but not enough! Community empowerment is a product able to put different values within community restoration and/or development into action. But consider what time and resources community planning boards tend to approve. Are current resident needs and concerns reflected? Look around and try turning a vacant lot into a community garden, homestead abandoned buildings for homeless residents or space for cultural art exhibits and performances, make your own repairs and try deducting it from the rent to see what’s really happening and remember the saying “if you don’t use it – you lose it!” Much of what seems neglected and underutilized is already part of visions years in the making behind closed doors with investors expecting, and defending, profitable returns; regardless of rights and laws NOT GONE but WAITING to be RESURRECTED and DEPLOYED! So, wonder to dream rather than surrendering! Many assumptions make both the concept and application of community empowerment’ problematic, confusing, potentially meaningless and unnecessarily complicated. But remember the saying “KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!” If unity is the missing key, then by any means available (e.g., street block parties, games and tournaments like stickball, skelly, crack-top, double Dutch and more … let’s begin a new “Poor Peoples Campaign” full of fun and opportunities for people to simply come together and talk; the exchange of information and thoughts provide ammunition to gather, opinions to consider, and common grounds build and act upon. Come on! Get creative! Let the sounds of congas from rooftops fill the air. Let the sound of shaking dominoes fill the streets outside our local grocery stores. Let the corners become stages for hip hop rappers and spoken word performers to spread the message: With growing block-by-block associations, we the people can stand together to take over and resolve so much presently left undone. So, for the next few articles let’s explore what underestimated and/or underutilized opportunities can be RESURRECTED and DEPLOYED. To share your thoughts and GET IT ON, feel free to click the comment link below.          
Note: Read more of Yrizarry’s work; go to 26-spoken.blogspot.com, where you can interactively dialog comments with the columnist.

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CRIME, PUNISHMENT, AND JUST-U.S.

(Part 2 of 2)

August 2021

“Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law (Sophocles).”
Yet, like children building sand-towers with constancy and then destroying them with laughter … some delight in laying down laws and even more in breaking them. Such conditions have come to thwart the individual moral compass; crossing all races, cultures, ages, and economic classes living in urban, suburban and rural places, Crime Has No Limits! Whether it be white collar (for entrepreneurial economic gain and fame) or blue collar (often from facing long term inescapable economic deprivation), whether physically violent or property related, crime has become good business for merchants, insurance companies and other institutions.
“But it is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind, that you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and yourself” while chasing CAD (the automated Capitalist American Dream) when finger pointing public officials while negating personal accountability to both community needs, and efforts made by local supportive services. Were our communities like the 1630 Massachusetts Bay Company, requiring a public loyalty pledge from its members? (Oath of a Free Man *). Were our community members like the Young Lords, the Black Panthers, the Guardian Angels, and the picketing Catholic Marxist Priests of the 60’s able to break from racial, economic, and political divides to put local issues in local hands regardless of police and local official intent and reaction. Things simply got done! In addition to protests, abandoned buildings were taken and renovated, official offices were stormed and held hostage, food and medical supplies were distributed, educational after school initiatives were made available and crime was given a NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) NOTICE as community self-affirmation steadily flourished.  
While organizing to minimize potential clashes, arrests and rioting, such actions eventually got a wide range of official address. Even the local police temporarily initiated CPOP (officers walking the beat) and PAL (police athletic league) projects in N.Y.C. to facilitate community rapport on a first name basis. Unfortunately, Reagan’s poorly planned and executed “War on Drugs” project of the 1980’s changed priorities and a dramatic growth in crime ensued. Fellow citizens, history affirms resident anger without hate yields actions with positive results. Oppressors can muffle the drum and loosen the strings of the lyre to distort your community cry for help, but who shall command God’s skylark not to sing the truth? To make ends meet, especially among the young middle and lower economic strata, crime has become fundamental to the individual “get the most for the least effort” notion of the American dream. And unfortunately, until community cries out NIMBY, racial economic disparity in punishment for alleged crimes will continue for Just-U.S. to continually accept. So, cry NIMBY for all and not JUST-U.S.
Note: Read more of Joe Yrizarry’s work, go to 2bspoken.blogspot.com, where you can interactively dialog comments with the columnist. 
(*) The “Oath of a Freeman” was a loyalty pledge required of all new members of the Massachusetts Bay Company in the 1630s. A supposed original printing of the document surfaced in 1985 and was touted as the oldest surviving print in the United States, but it was later revealed to be the work of forger Mark Hofmann.

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CRIME, PUNISHMENT, AND JUST-U.S.

(Part 1 of 2)

July  2021

 How ironic!
While preparing to celebrate Independence Day, America owns the world’s highest prison rate (2.12 million incarcerated with 21% of them unsentenced), has “permanently” striped 5 million citizens of their voting rights.
This  created private/for profit prison opportunities, offers select companies’ contracts for inmate daily essentials (e.g. toothpaste, underwear, cloths, shoes, cheap labor), and even manipulates both the census count and its fund allocations (N.Y.C. inmates are counted residents of the particular town the prison is in).
But, with a 500% crime increase over 40 years, incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety. “The broad effects which can be obtained by punishment in man are the increase of fear, the sharpening of the sense for cunning, and the mastery of achieving the unmet desire (Nietzsche); therefore, punishment can tame/break a man, but does not make him better (hearted).” So “Laws and institutions are like clocks that must be occasionally cleaned, rewound, and reset to fit true time (Beecher)” and the nature of a crime.
Emerson hints “crime and punishment grow out of one stem. Punishment is the fruit that, unsuspected, ripens with the flower that conceals the pleasure, or urgency, of the crime.” Gibran adds “the murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder nor the robbed not blameless in being robbed. 
The righteous are not innocent of the deeds of the wicked and the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon … to then speak of he who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger and an intruder upon your world.” Right? Wrong! “The weak and the wicked cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.”
And though “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, bad people will find a way around the laws (Plato).” Point! “Man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all (Aristotle).” But “any punishment that does not correct but merely rouses rebellion in whoever has to endure it is a greater wrong making those who impose it more guilty in the eyes of humanity than the victim on whom the punishment is inflicted.”
So, let us put it all into perspective and move on to a conclusion in next month’s issue.

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HOUSING TERMITES

June 2021

The apple does not fall far from the tree, just as  Feudalism had kings, nobles, vassals, and lords, capitalism has corporations, elected officials, regulators, and land developers. Their common goal: Distribution and management of land and resources among low/middle income tenants (peasants and indentured servants). But do not feel helplessly sad and afraid! Get relentlessly willing and able! Call transient residents’ “cockroaches” that come to enjoy a season of the night life and go, each time leaving apartments subject to further rent hikes. Call land developers’ lethal “termites” that come, see opportunity, plot long-term visions, and without the early intervention of qualified exterminators, proceed to execute a methodic plan to settle and expand with permanently devastating consequences on community demographics and existing infrastructure. But a bug is a bug! Flip the switch and watch the light of truth send the night feasting players scrambling for cover.
Warning!  “Less all be willing to admit self has become no more than expendable staple to exploit for personal hedonistic gain; life sustaining essentials (as land water and air) cannot be allowed to be a commodity in the for-profit economic market of capitalism”. Since the First Housing Act of 1934, combating unjust declines in urban low-income housing, foreclosures, and homelessness has been ongoing. Pressured by the NAACP and other community organizations at the time, the 1965 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiative was enhanced by the 1968 Fair Housing Act effort to manage not eliminate the ongoing national housing crisis. Even subcontracting local non-profit housing organizations like ACORN (1987) has fallen short of the mark. Point! Without sound relocation plans urban development is not urban restoration but a process of disinvestment, displacement, and replacement of whole communities gentrified to near genocide like the Native American: The road to hell is layered with good intentions and outward appearances. Is “Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free – the wretched refuse of your teeming shores – send these – the homeless tempest – tossed to me – I lift my lamp besides the golden door” a national creed or curse? With entering Condos and Co-ops ousting low-income units, housing is a bombshell no one wants to consistently address on the stage of daily crisis. Many initially well intended programs have secured realty profiteering opportunities while eliminating or penalizing much resident fight back strategies. Squatter rights and homesteading programs converting vacant lots into gardens and abandoned buildings into restored apartments were reduced to auctions favoring realtors with deep pockets. Repair (landlord violations) and deduct (expenses from rent) laws are near outlawed. Tenant advocates were marginalized by “lawyers only” in housing court.  But as far back as 1839 organized mass anti-rent movements continue to periodically spring up to squash evictions and solicit rent reductions. Having already delivered realtors major defeats in 1907, 1930-40, 1960-1970, New York residents have set this May-June to deliver the termites yet another blow.
Newsflash! Today’s housing shortage for low/middle income families is both shameful and criminally negligent. The housing deficit is 2.5 million. Allocating near 50% family income toward rent make 2-bedroom apartments impossible. Section 8 and housing vouchers help landlords maintain rising rent. (nlihc.org) shows how much you need to afford a modest apartment in your state. So, seize the present moment to look and decide! Stand together or continue to perish on your own.

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RECKLESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE

May  2021

Local epidemics and global pandemics are not new. Causing mass hysteria and death, viral threats test human resilience. However, sometimes the body needs a boost. Initially, it was easy to blame viral spread on government shortcomings; yet together with science, they have successfully endeavored to deliver multiple vaccines on schedule to assure that the pandemic containment and eradication process is well underway. However, hindered by citizen complacency and reckless irresponsibility, not only are breaks in basic protocols (hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing) causing the fatality rate to periodically spike, but recent complications with Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine has triggered, a growing number of people to feel a right to independently refuse vaccination. 
Beware the cause and effects of herd mentality. Globally, leaders of government and science have nearly mandated vaccination and are issuing verification cards required for commercial travel (rumor-counterfeit cards are sold on the black market).
History of documented experiences prove the U.S. has successfully faced, combated, and defeated multiple “Periodic Pandemics.” In 1633 migrating Europeans infected and killed many settlers and Native Americans with Smallpox (1770 vaccination eliminated outbreaks from the United States in 1972). Yellow Fever from the Caribbean invaded and killed 10% of Philadelphia residents in 1973. Still causing annual worldwide deaths (95,000), the 1832, Cholera killed 10% of residents in New York and other urban cities.  Strep throat/Scarlet fever has been attacking children since 1858, and still around today. In 1906, Typhoid Mary took 25,000 lives before vaccine availability in 1911. Polio wreaked worldwide havoc from 1916 to 1955 while Diphtheria added 206,000 casualties to the hysteria in 1921. HIV/AIDS wreaked havoc during the 80’s. It took 10 years to get the 1981 Measles under control. The Whooping Cough of 2010 still strikes every couple of years; but threats from the ever-mutating Flu (1918 Spanish flu, 1957 bird attack, 2009 swine flu), might best reflect what to expect from this pandemic — Annual Vaccination!  Stronger COVID-19 strands have already mutated from England, Africa, and Brazil.
Point: Viruses are a constant adversary, threatening to devastate human existence if ignored. Regardless of inevitable casualties, directives from agencies like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) best assure government initiatives against viral invasion succeed. But how long and damaging a viral explosion impact a community, depends on a commitment to trust and on complicity.
Current trends and statistics make responses to the pandemic especially important to families within congested lower income communities. Yet while complacency is already compromising the first line of defense, some are willing to wager that natural immune system is enough to keep themselves safe without considering how many, without symptoms, may be carriers able to hinder pandemic eradication efforts.
Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Making “individual” decisions without the facts and resources necessary to combat a “communal” crisis is reckless and irresponsible. Pandemics are won wherever government and citizens work together. To that end consider Mass. Bay Company’s 1634 “Oath of a Freeman”, a required loyalty pledge vowing obedience and promise not to conspire against its governance or membership. So face it and move on with clear understanding: Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and focus on keeping self and others vigil: Wear your mask, wash frequently with soap and water, maintain social distance, and get vaccinated! Remember — you are your brothers/sisters keeper.

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THE WELFARE STATE

April  2021

Stop! Thousands of years ago, Jesus said “you will always have the poor.” Not much has changed but, accepting the stigmatic label of being part of broken homes full of lazy, addicted dependents often prone to crime and the exploitation of welfare opportunities is a grave error: You are not A repetitive, self-inflicted commodity to pacify with preordained meager rewards and punishments. That is what waits for many living below the poverty level! But it is your choice; to use or abuse resources and opportunities.
You are an intricate part of a “catch all” safety net protecting a necessary political economic monster seemingly out of control and driven by fear, resentment, and greed. But Jesus went further to urge the well off to “extend the poor a helping hand.” Perhaps, weathering out possible “anarchistic” effects from the great depression, Franklyn D Roosevelt’s 1936 “New Deal” sought to keep citizens above, not below the poverty level. Institutionalizing his economic relief package hurled the nation into Welfare Status. 19 consecutive Presidents have fought to better stay the course of intent with sweeping changes: Regan/mutual accountability, Johnson/The great society, Clinton/mandatory work, Obama/Health care. But, of 36 countries listed as Welfare States, recent global performance polls list America as 22 with France being number one.
But has the goal to protect and keep the national citizenship above the poverty level with temporary financial, education, housing and employment opportunities been met? Granted, where key institutions show signs of stumbling; financial aid keeps educational institutions alive, rent and food subsidies keep landlords, local merchants, and residents afloat as the “Hypocritical Oath” of the legal and medical machinery continues alive and well with steady pounds of fresh meat. Tax Dollars Unleashed! Yet with all the billions of dollars cited as a burden, only 8 % of the national budget is spent to keep the poor sucking Big Brothers Breast: Note! Only a Mothers breast gives free milk.
So, what happened to the other 92% of the budget? There is little argument against, or long-lasting mention of, how the welfare State also bails out negligent corporations (e.g., Wall Street, Banks, Real Estate, Car manufactures).  Although President J.F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech specifically addressed the growing racial tensions of his time, he implicated and warned how individual and institutionalized social economic inequalities are culprits behind growing national disarray: “Legislation cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” His brother Robert Kenney added “We dissent from the sight of most mankind living in poverty, stricken by disease, threatened by hunger, and doomed to an early death after a life of unremitting labor.” No! You are not a burden but the fall out of a broken system in need of overhaul and occasional scapegoats.
Against such forces igniting fear of unmet future wants, present acts of greed warn “No man, family, or neighborhood can stand alone”. Within the blinding sand and muck of the welfare state, there are still pearls to harvest through strong local community boards and non-profit organizations striving to initiate responses to neighborhood needs. Help and utilize them. Striving to serve as necessary vanguards, they need the support of residents organizing block associations to present and defend their cause: Better Representation through Stronger Residential Unity! So, for you still seeking to rise and succeed remember, Jesus said “All things are possible for those who believe.”

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COMMON SENSE

March  2021
When neighbors accept that “It takes a village to fully raise a child” STUFF HAPPENS!
I grew up on such a block, a village within a village. I got punished because of neighbors ratting me out whenever caught doing or saying something out of line. Neighbors shared resources as simple as cups of sugar or milk.
I did not like or understood it at the time, but remember: the name of the neighborhood cop that walked the beat and would take us to our parents instead of jail for trivial stuff, the mailman that delivered the mail with a smile, sprinkler caps put on fire hydrants for kids to cool off in the summer, and trees getting planted to beautify the blocks. That is what united block associations can do to hold community boards accountable to use available resources (city, state, and federal projects and funds) for the betterment of the whole community. Sure, there will always be a few bad apples in the barrel; a drunk, a junkie, and/or a thief here and there, but the barrel was still full of good ones to savor and get things done. That is the way we, the little people, can still be.
We are all feeling neglected and left behind, but the world is too small for saying “mind your own business” or “everybody looks out for self.”
onsider February and March as preparation to celebrate Easter, a day for resurrecting new attitudes and direction. Year after year we celebrate the birth, fall, and rise of Jesus on the scene without considering a practical, deeper meaning. He cried “I am the truth, the way, and the light”. Confronting political, economic, and religious corruption he cried “what you have seen me do you can do also”. As God’s creations, we are all called to be ambassadors for the cause: Love, Justice and Equality for all. We still face those same issues. Do not government officials need transparency (the truth) new direction (the way) and wisdom (the light)? Can’t our neighborhoods be a tightly bonded village committed to raising our children, the next generation destined to be our future leaders in government, business, church and so on? That is our job!
As vanguards, government and institutions are appointees meant to support and assure our efforts to achieve a healthy society. They were not meant to pigeonhole communities to pursue individual fame, power, and economic royalties. While there may be little we can directly do on their level, communities are still the backbone for a healthy society. We are a melting pot of different colors, races, religions, and economic standings meant to be promoted and protected.
Is that so difficult? Do not continue to be deceived into feeling hopelessly helpless. In his 1776 publication “Common Sense”, Thomas Pain sought a true democratic republic and sparked a united peoples revolution by urging the common, not the affluent, persons of the existing colonies (communities) to dispose (get rid of) tyrants (the powers that be) and demand independence (from political rhetoric and institutionalized inequalities). They pursued and manifested a new destiny with an evolving vision to continue fighting for.
Do not be blinded by the smoke of current bipartisan battles for power while forgetting our daily needs. This is a perfect time for local communities to flex the muscles of people power. A more peaceful and harmonious future relies heavily on the next generation needing local role models to follow.
It is not rocket science. It is Common Sense!

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TURNING THE PAGE

February 2021 Issue
Valentine’s Day! Make it an everyday event and collectively “Love Thy Neighbor as thy self.” Along with getting a new president, give your community a new Manifest Destiny.  
Originally coined by journalist John O’Sullivan in 1845 to mean “expansion of colonial borders”, the term eventually came to mean “everything on this side of the hemisphere would be Anglo, protestant, and English speaking.” The ending days of the Trump era revealed that, to many, such mind set is not only alive and well, but expanding.
Together with the 1823 Monroe Doctrine warning war with anyone attempting to encroach on, or interfere with the national agenda, look at your community. Is not the process of disinvestment and reinvestment displacing low and middle-income families and small businesses? If you do not harmoniously unite and protect your borders, the process of community gentrification will eventually feel like genocide. And make no mistake, it is a growing process in the making. Face it! If you do not collectively stand and fight for what little you have here and now, where will you go? If you do not love your neighbor, who will love you?
There will be big regrets in having bought into the “Me, Me” mindset that says; “As long as it’s not happening to me, it’s none of my business.” So, as another one bites the dust, let Mrs. Jones get evicted, let Mr. Chen lose his business, let Pedro get fired, let Abdul get falsely arrested, let our children – the next generation – suffer the consequences. How many “Let’s” will it take to realize that if it is happening to anyone, it will eventually get to you?
Yes! While what is happening on the global and national level is an important indicator of what is coming our way, now is not the time for feelings of hopeless helplessness. There is plenty that needs and can be done within the limits of our own community borders. And it is not so hard. With a simple informative community publication, healthy block associations can rise to make strong community boards able to identify and address common issues that may often require help from elected officials. Allow yourself to imagine how, under a simple but solid game plan, elected officials would be more inclined to listen and be sensitized into action. For example, instead of protests that can often be weathered or lead to violence, why not have an egg moment; where injustice arises, let the collective fling eggs or water balloons at the culprits. While many will call it dangerous, how harmlessly funny, exciting, and empowering it can be. It might be one of many creative ways to steer focus away from anger and hate. It might change the wording from civil “disobedience” to civil “resistance.”
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! While marshals sought to serve an unfair eviction, or the police go ballistic during an arrest, or local officials turn a deaf ear, some neighbors hold a sit-in while others throw eggs and the rest go viral with their cell phones. Imagine, media would have a field day picnic…
Point! America is burning and in need of drastic measures. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let us be the fire extinguishers — one resident, one community — at a time.

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NEW YEAR, NEW DEAL?

January 2021

Happy New Year! It’s done! The ballots have been tallied, verified, and announced. On January 20th Biden enters as the new landlord and Trump exits as the delinquent tenant. But things seem far from over. Trump is not thinking of willfully vacating. So, forget the drama and simply unleash the marshals with a court ordered eviction for negligence.  Like any of us, should not he be subject to arrest for trespassing? More so, shouldn’t his refusal to relinquish power be considered an act of mutiny, a crime punishable by death?
But let us wake up and face it; dominating the national discourse like no one before “Trump has been allowed to reshape the global office and shattered its century-old norms and traditions”. Fearing what is supposedly waiting, he even seeks pardoning himself from any pending prosecutions. Funny how they call it an “assault on the institutions of democracy” without mention of “the people these institutions are intended to protect and provide for”.
So, what have we learned and what can we do from here on out? Should focus be on what is happening in the political arena? They will continue justifying what they want. Although change of command implies a change in direction and investment – do not expect a magic fix to the current social economic hardships. Rather focus on how their actions will affect community needs and resources down the road.
There are too many details regarding what is happening and still to come. Clearly, things will never be the same. But, while we live within a politically charged matrix with many moving nuts and bolts, we do not have to re-invent the wheel. We just must get back to the basics and tighten the spokes. And that is what we have elected local assembly and counsel men/women for. They are the eyes, ears, and mouth to not only present and champion our needs, but to keep us informed as well. What we need are communities full of block associations to strengthen local community boards to enforce accountability.
Real community change starts and ends with individual families making choices that can change the “me” to a “we” able to forge common causes, like the corona vaccine and the national relief plan, to fight for. Can it be that simple? It can be!
Creating and supporting an “interactive” community newspaper like this one (Buffalo Latino Village) can go a long way. Not only would it establish a platform to exchange information, opinions, and ideas, but foster the communication and compromise necessary to maintain a focus to collectively address immediate common local concerns (e.g., loosing local small businesses not only furthers the unemployment crisis but continues to make the threat of hunger and eviction a daily reality). More so, involving residents in the operational needs of such a newspaper would not only assure circulation of pressing matters but would promote a well-needed sense of ownership, control, and personal empowerment as well.
So, come on people! Trump has been just a wakeup call. Forget the debate as to whether current circumstances are coincidental or part of a well-planned design. It is time to manifest a new destiny – one family, one community, one paper at a time.

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ELECTION OR DIVINE

December 2020
The American President! The promise of equal protection and opportunity for all! Really? Then how is it that regardless of all the negativity surrounding Trump the Chump, our president, our commander in chief and alleged role model, acquired near half the nation’s vote for a second term. Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuitsBehold! our new, “Wanna Be” Teflon John Gatti.
This election was too close to call it “a people’s victory.” The thought that trump almost won again is scary. No doubt, aside from the present pandemic, Biden is in for an uphill battle regarding the state of a nation dramatically divided by economic disparity and racial tension. Face it, this election is proof that the population is split right down the middle and on the verge of near all out confrontation. Once again, the historic racial divide has reared its ugly head, keeping  its presence alive and well. With the existing tensions, the American melting pot is ready to boil over from civil unrest into an all-out civil war. Is that not why the powers that be got its militia ready to face potential rioting were Trump to win. Make no mistake, we are in dangerous waters. Biden and the population are sitting on a powder keg ready to explode. For shame people!
Without breaking the existing commitment to party lines – Biden will face the very same dilemma that happened to Obama – getting stone walled by party bids for power and control. Without breaking the convenient public state of herd mentality (when people are led to go just because everyone else is going), YOU the public are conditioned to go after issues again and again with or without understanding as much of the details as possible. How else can a candidate with a history of criminal tendencies, inappropriate use of power, and clear promotion of racial tension, be given a platform for the presidency in the first place?
So, was it the election or divine intervention that has temporarily delayed the castration of the American population? For now, the forces of good have temporarily taken the upper hand. But much has been revealed regarding the present condition and direction of the nation. Make no mistake, the forces of good and evil are battling to tilt the scales of righteous equality and justice.  By holding on to his seat, Trump thinks of himself as the Teflon president able to have his own escape plan from prosecution. Don’t let him or anyone else ever get away with white collar crime.
It’s not over! Hold him accountable.

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IMPEARCHMENT

November 2020
There is a breach in the system. Somebody on the ladder (counsel men -assembly men – senate and congressman – mayor and commissioners) is not getting community issues done. Would you pay for faulty products when you shop? Do you pay for services left unfinished? Ok! Then let’s fix the dilemma! In addition to senate and congressional votes, let the peoples’ needs be known. Are civic officials truly representing the people, or are their hidden agendas out the community reach?
One thing is for sure; the tension of racist law enforcement tactics have shown what people power can quickly accomplish. People got fired! People were brought on charges, with some even facing jail time. Was that an isolated incident or a blueprint to apply to other matters? Imagine grassroot community organizations rotating daily protest in front of an officials office delivering ultimatums: PUT UP OR GET OUT!
Sounds good! Well impeachment should not stop at the presidential level. It should be applied to any civic official not doing their job; assuring community needs are heard and their tax dollars are properly being allocated. Of course, we have to consider how a community agenda fits within the bigger picture. But does the bigger picture have to be a hungry lion devouring community needs as if they were just bones to chew and spit out? No! Those community bones have meat! And that meat has a voice!
What if this publication went as far as to issuing out a community survey to find out where people stand on these last few issues (empowering grassroot community organization, withholding taxes, impeachment) Would you answer the call? This is not a debate about the old saying “what’s the point, they don’t care and will do what they want.” This is not about THEM! It’s about US; make no mistake, we are in a state of emergency.
Consider and share this for discussion. 8 billion is the global population danger zone; the Earth simply can’t keep up with the human need for survival. How can we prevent this? Could the current pandemic be an answer with every nation sharing/contributing to getting rid of 1 billion + people. Do the math! At present the current population is 7.8 billion.
The current covid-19 deaths rate stands at 692,000 +. The current global population growth rate is 42,000 +. How long will it take to eliminate 1 billion people? Well perhaps that’s how long it will take for officials to release the cure/vaccine. Need I mention the specific types of populations targeted for genocide? With adults, not children, being the sacrificial lambs, the elderly are on the top of the list of expendables. So called minorities, especially those socially dependent and addicted have to be on the list of liabilities. Shall we discuss  this???

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EMPOWERING COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

October 2020
Did you wonder how your taxes are spent only to feel helpless. Ever wonder how much of your tax dollars pay for sustaining the lifestyle of civil servants in the Senate, Congress, etc? You won’t believe how much. If officials were listening to the cry of their constituents, “enough of President Trump”  (a strong opinion shared among many everyday people), how is it that the Senate, (representing the peoples’ voice), can refuse to impeach the president? Obviously, either somebody is not listening, or somebody is not screaming loud enough. If they are not listening to that cry, can you expect such officials to listen to community cries for local services? It’s time help empower good-old grassroot community based organizations (CBOs) to lead the way, to enable them to take actions beyond simple protests, and begin dethroning procedures against negligent officials — Officials entrusted with the obligation to insure that community or local needs and concerns are in good hands.
Such actions require time and money, often not available to grassroot organizations.  But if fighting for a legal community grievance is governed by affordability, then let the government foot the bill! If a difference arises between community and some civic service/servant requiring court preceding’s, let the whole community withhold state and federal taxes; open an account, place the taxes in it, and let “grassroot community organizations” finance what needs to be done. If ousting a negligent civil official becomes necessary, then letting them hide behind a community’s inability to afford the time and money is more than unfair. It’s another form of dictatorship — Capitalism! Face it, if you don’t want your taxes spent on things like the military or paying exorbitant expenses on civil servants, if you prefer seeing it spent on something locally being overlooked,  why not pay your taxes to a local community trust fund for CBOs to address those needs? You are still paying taxes! As a matter of fact, I doubt such actions must be carried out. I believe that the threat of a resolved people taking such action would suffice. Consider the following: There are already 7 states (Alaska, Florida. Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming) running their infrastructure without income tax. It took some thoughtful dialog among minds far more in depth than mine or yours. Surely, there are places on the internet to get all the relevant information on the “how to.”  Believe me, what little I was able to get was not only fought for by tooth and nail, but had little to offer as well. It took a lot of digging to come with things like …“Tax withholding refers to the portion of an employee’s gross wages that is retained by an employer for remittance to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)” and “Two main types of taxes are typically withheld—regular income taxes and Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes”…
I also found something interesting: “Exempt income is any income that isn’t subject to federal tax. The types and thresholds for exempt income can be changed through the political process.” So, let us press the political process. However, we are not supposed to fully understand and carry out the involved mechanics for solving issues. That is what officials are paid for,  to restore/maintain and/or repair/replace whatever! You pick it! And push for action!

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 THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

September 2020
In more ways than one, its hot! The desire to stay indoors nice and cool (for some) is strong. Global pandemic threats to take one’s life, and change the course of human history, makes staying home easy.
But what of the natural need for human interaction? What of the potential increase of varied forms of addictions:  drugs, alcohol, and gambling to ease boredom and near forced isolation/incarceration. What of the potential for suicides due to isolation and financial hardships?  It happened during the great depression. If there is still a belief in a higher power – let God help us all!
Government leadership is in a strangle hold due to partisan ideologies having little to do with public concerns. With media’s bombarding daily issues impeding on the sense of security, can we count on voters casting informed ballots during coming elections? Make no mistake “America is burning!
 It’s time for “we the people” to turn to and empower grassroots community organizations (CBO’s) to take actions beyond simple protests and begin threatening to dethrone negligent officials entrusted to assure THE PEOPLES overall social needs are met. Trust is earned, not given!
Am I promoting anarchy? Certainly not! We need leadership. We need people of great integrity, resolve and humility to occupy public office. Delivering needed community services is their job! Would you accept poor service when you shop or pay for a service left incomplete. Public officers aren’t supposed to be in “private clubs” for the “good old boys” to enjoy power and exchange favors. They are there to exercise their power to assure community well-being.
The pressing question is HOW? How to hold these “officials” accountable? We need stronger CBOs to assure community issues are presented and heard. Leadership today feels seemingly insulated from the threat of immediate impeachment Thus, people feel stuck with wrong selections. People have the right to submit impeachment proceedings against any official when necessary.
Media should report on-going public updates until the presented issues are resolved. That would put heat on civil servants to deliver and avoid bad publicity. Is this the answer? it’s a good start! Empower CBO’s and may God help us all play our rightful roles!
Next edition: withholding state and federal taxes.