On Sunday March 4th, I was invited to join my friends Micheal J. Love and Eddie Williams at a Rising Hope Inc reunion in Katonah, New York. Rising Hope is a New York State prison college level education program organized and serviced through volunteerism. Khalil Cumberbatch, Associate Vice President of Policy at the The Fortune Society, was the guest speaker. Please listen to his speech and read his article to New York City Mayor De Blasio:
I saw Judge Peter Forman today walking across the street back to his chambers and after exchanging pleasantries he invited me upstairs to participate in graduation day for the Dutchess County Court Judicial Diversion Program. The program is comprised of criminal justice agencies, treatment providers and community organizations and members of our community that have been convicted of breaking the law and qualify for this alternative to incarceration. 8 people graduated out of over 60 that are in the program, many moved into the third step which is before graduation. It was short simple and my perspective was once again widened just because I showed up. I’ve heard of the program but witnessing the family and friend testimonies and hearing the graduates rap sheets as well as how long they’ve been sober and how adored they were by their Judicial Diversion Team. It was transformative to say the least! After speaking with some of the Dutchess County residents in the program I would like to see more money allocated to this program in order to pay for more housing to include more residents in the program, as well as potential job opportunities for graduates who complete the program. This will mean hiring more probation officers and people in the judicial and criminal justice departments most likely and in doing so it could provide a real commitment to our community, lending towards the “it takes a village” societal practice. Aside from drug and mental health courts, having elected officials present at functions like today also provide a sense of support that has been lacking in broken and marginalized neighborhoods. Our neighbors living in these neighborhoods and are affected by what happens in their backyards every day. The least we can do is meet them where they are... alas I’m stoked to have been a fly on the wall in such a real moment for real people.
Congratulations to everyone who graduated and moved forward today!
Positive outlets create alternatives to incarceration. Signups for Adult All Gender and Adult Men's indoor basketball leagues:
This morning on my walk to work I happened upon a loaded pistol sitting on top of one of our Main Street trash receptacles. First off I called our Mayor who promptly told me to call our police department who responded quickly. They handled the situation accordingly and I want to thank the officers for their service. Here’s a reminder to anyone watching this video though, especially after yet another horrific shooting tragedy in one of our public schools: SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Keep your head on a swivel and pay attention to your surroundings my people. This is real life. Literally anyone could have found this gun. The trash receptacles were empty on Main Street, Beacon New York, someone found this weapon before I did... and I was the first to notify the police. None of this makes sense to me, senseless deaths, political theatre continuing to divide us, neglect... clearly I’m still processing this event from this morning and the tragic shooting. Most specifically what I’m asking of you, is to really and truly be the change, our humanity depends on it.
#seesomethingsaysomething #wethechange #bethechange (Do the right thing like Ali, not a Spike Lee Joint)
Before leaving Beacon City Council late in the year 2017, I was informed that Cheif Solomon would be leaving our Police Department and that the City of Beacon would not have a permanent Chief of Police. I was unsure how our current City Administration and newly elected City Council would assure residents that the position of Chief will be filled in a transparent manner. Given our diverse and evolving population, having a clear and open public hiring process, would reassure residents that a diverse pool of applicants has been encouraged to apply and then considered. In today’s social climate, it is urgent to have committed community leaders that will contribute to our collective growth and development. A way to foster this ideal is by having responsible and responsive leaders who reflect our population.
That’s how I felt, sure about what I wanted to see, insecure about how this transition would happen and willing to fight to see positive policy effectuated. Then I had a long conversation, at the gym mind you, with our Mayor Randy Casale. He better informed me on the process in which we hire law enforcement (a process that I’ve been a part of in my 2 terms serving on Beacon City Council) more specifically on how we appoint officers to the Captain and Cheif positions. He explained the time line in which our acting Cheif of Police would be placed in, a provisional period after the City Council approves him and until he passes the civil service test with a top 3 score followed by a probational period for when or if he passes the test, where he’ll be under the microscope for another year before becoming the official City of Beacon Police Cheif. Our Mayor also stressed the fact that an open hiring process is needed at times, such as when we went out of the department and hired Cheif Solomon. Mayor Casale felt strongly that Captain Kevin Janjulas, now our acting and provisional Cheif of Police (as of Monday 2/5/18) would continue to serve our residents well and follow the charge that our Cheif Executive Officer (our Mayor) has set.
I had my reservations up until recently, after listening to what our Mayor had to say, our community members, members of our police department and my conscious, I would implore the citizens of Beacon to stand with our City Administration, City Council, and Law Enforcement. This past Tuesday (2/6/18), unbeknownst to the public Cheif Janjulas, Mayor Casale, Yvonne and Lavonne McNair (two members of Beacon’s Commission on Human Rights members) met productively with the New Covenant School parents whom had been victimized this past Summer causing many of our community members to become dismayed. I would suggest that we improve upon our public relations as a municipality. Working on that weakness will foster a stronger relationship between our citizens, law enforcement, and public officials. A better informed and more educated public can only help as the culture is shifting in our magnificent city.
Yesterday Lou Torres (resident athletic trainer, coach, mentor & father) and I spoke on his #podcast HVSD (Hudson Valley Strong Dads) regarding my background, what’s happening in Beacon, and the vital roles fathers play in their kids lives. No I’m not a parent yet I have and continue to positively impact young people’s lives because today’s youth are tomorrow’s future and tomorrow’s not promised which is a belief instilled in me early on from my Father and Mum. You’ll enjoy the full interview (#linkinbio), believe that! #gratitude #tsa #showtheart #beacongym #bve #reachoneteachone #fatherfigure #doitnow #theecandidate
My neighbors, friends, constituents, the increased disorderly conduct and violence our community, our city, our Main Street, our people have been receiving is something that we can’t look past or kick down the road. We have many great opportunities here and deserve to have our safety maintained and if needed, improved. My quick two cents to be more proactive individually: If you’re out about town remember nothing really positive happens outside after 12am, enjoy your night and get home safely. Keep your doors to your cars, homes and businesses locked when necessary. It’s holiday season and you may be receiving or giving lots of gifts, take your time to dispose of your boxes properly so you aren’t viewed as a target for crime.
Our police department and city government are doing their best although any positive participation from us, the members of our collective community will only assist in creating the utopia we al believe Beacon can be.
I'm thankful for my birthright of freedom and grateful to those who have fought to and continue to fight to preserve it. One way I can demonstrate my gratitude is by voting in every possible election and being informed on the issues that matter to me most. Another is being engaged in order to exact the change I desire to see in myself and the society I'm living in.
Exercise your right to elect who legislates your quality of life today by joining our voting ranks!
Voter registration links:
Unhappy with last night’s election results? Tired of low voter turnouts? Want to make people over politics the determining factor in choosing candidates for office?
You have to make the choice to participate more in our government. We have to be more involved in our communities at large. Politics aren’t only about compromise, more importantly the influence of others is about caring and compromise. Understanding from where we come and what we want as individuals. There is a local Beacon democratic committee meeting this Saturday November 11th @ 9:30AM and every Second Saturday located at the BeaHive, 291 Main Street. Our local GOP have monthly meetings also.
Join in on the meetings, listen clearly, take notes and observe. Contribute when you can. The biggest mistake I️ made was resigning from the local democratic committee and removing myself from the table... “If you’re not at the table then you’re on the menu”. If this election proved anything it showed that we can’t run for office, plan, organize, and mobilize by ourselves. The work it takes to build a better Beacon begins today.
“If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing,” the President implored. “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” -President ObamaRead more