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DR. BENJAMIN CHAVIS: Howard University made right call in honoring P. Diddy See page 4

Edward Welburn Jr. is highestranking Black in auto industry

Taste of culinary arts for Flagler students


East Central Florida’s Black Voice


MAY 1 - MAY 7, 2014

YEAR 39 NO. 18

Sign up for Section 8 in New Smyrna without waiting in long line BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS DAYTONA TIMES

From June 8-15, the Section 8 online pre-application for the New Smyrna Beach Housing Authority will be available for those interested in applying. There will be no pre-applications accepted before or after these dates. Section 8 is a government program that dates back to the Housing Act of 1937 available to low-income tenants. The most popular program is the voucher choice program, which will pay either a portion of the tenant’s rent or all of the tenant’s rent depending on the individual tenant’s financial situation.

Similar to lottery


SunRail was to pick up its first official passenger at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday from the DeBary station.

SunRail service starts this week The commuter rail system, which travels from DeBary to Orlando, will be free until May 16. BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS DAYTONA TIMES

The long-awaited SunRail commuter rail system was scheduled to begin regular service on Thursday, May 1. Commuters will have the opportunity to ride for free for the first two weeks until May 16. The free service is designed to allow passengers to experience the comfort and ease of commuting on SunRail, and become familiar with SunRail schedules. The grand opening celebration held Wednesday to debut SunRail has been deemed a success. “Everything went great today. Everything went as planned and we were even ahead of schedule,” said Please see SUNRAIL, Page 3

Section 8 accepts applications for just a short time every few years. Brian Clark, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of New Smyrna Beach (NSBHA) says that the weeklong pre-application period will last for one week. Pre-applications are only accepted online at the Housing Authority’s website, “We like to recommend that people who are handicapped, disabled or Internetchallenged organize with local libraries to get them to help,” Clark said, who manages the operations of the Housing Authority under U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directives. “The wait list will be open for the week and during that time, 24 hours a day, folks can fill out a pre-application.” The application process will be open the morning of June 8 and close at midnight on June 15. Clark added that filling out multiple applications would not give an applicant or a family a better chance at being selected by the system. “We take those (the applications) and remove the personal information and give them a numerical reference and then out of that reference we have a third company randomize and select the recipients,” Clark continued. For instance, if 8,000 families apply for the program and 6,000 families meet the eligibility requirements, the entire 6,000 will be put through the third party system that will randomly choose who will receive a voucher. The number of available vouchers has not been finalized.

Different approach

Spectators wait for one of the many ceremonies held Wednesday at each station.

“What we’ve seen is that in the past is that folks tend to think they are first-come, first-serve,” Clark added. “The Section 8 vouchers are so sought after; we’ve seen people lining up weeks and weeks in adPlease see SECTION 8, Page 2

B-CU, INROADS partner for corporate development program FROM STAFF REPORTS

Calvin Stafford, 19, always knew he wanted to be an accountant but had no idea how he would get a job in the corporate arena. “I plan to get my CPA, and all of that is great. But I really had no plan on how to get an internship in a Fortune 500 company,” the Atlanta native said. A new partnership between Bethune-Cookman University and INROADS, a national organization that prepares college students for corporate careers, will aid Stafford and others to get their foot in the door. The Bethune-Cookman University Corporate Development (BCUCD)/INROADS program will build requisite skills and qualifications of sophomores, ju-


niors and seniors so that they are competitive and successful as they enter the workforce.

22 selected Since February, 40 of B-CU’s best and brightest students began the interview process for consideration to be a part of the inaugural cohort of the BCUCD/ INROADS initiative. To date, 22 students have been selected to represent Bethune-Cookman in this partnership. INROADS was founded in 1970 by the late Frank C. Carr. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, Carr quit his executivelevel corporate day job and committed to taking swift and decisive action to increase ethnically


President Edison Jackson (center) stands with 22 students who have been selected to to be a part of the inaugural cohort of the BCUCD/ INROADS initiative. diverse employees in corporate management in the U.S., and to help change the way these candidates gained entry into the business world.

International organization Carr launched INROADS in his hometown of Chicago with just 25 college student Interns and

17 sponsoring corporations. Today, INROADS is an international organization with over 35 offices serving nearly 2,000 interns at Please see INROADS, Page 2




MAY 1 – MAY 7, 2014

Daddy’s home, but what comes next? Conference focuses on Black dads and their struggle to reconnect after incarceration

“We try to wrap services around the dad and the mom in order for them to get their kids back and learn that they have to parent a different way.”


CHICAGO – Black men locked up in Illinois prisons make up more than half the population and 63 percent of them are fathers with minor children. Wesley Cooke was one of them. He was just a teenager when he became a father to a baby girl. And when she was only 5 months old, he found himself incarcerated for what he described as “young reckless” behavior. “That was probably the hardest thing I had to deal with in my life – leaving somebody who absolutely didn’t do anything to me,” Cooke said. “I caused so much damage to my child. That ate at me for 16 years.”

Khalid B. Scott

Familiar story But his transformation came from an unlikely place – inside prison walls. Those who were enemies on streets were friends on the inside. He said a select group of men guided him and things turned around. Education, and his daughter now 24 and in college became his motivation. Cooke now owns a cell phone business and has a newborn son. “What it did do, along with other things, is that it taught me fatherhood not just for me, but being a father for other kids,” he said, noting there is only one way to reach youngsters so they won’t fall prey to the streets. “We got to be fathers and mothers to everybody’s kids,” he said. His story is not unfamiliar to agencies that provide services for the formerly incarcerated. Social service providers want to find ways to leverage fatherhood to help ex-offenders stay off the streets, be involved in their children’s lives and do better socially, said Lori Crowder, executive director of the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO).

Relationship matters Social service providers, she said, have a “profound opportunity to impact individuals and entire communities” when they “recognize the role of father as a positive pro-social motivator for men with children.” “What we’re saying is relationship matters,” said Crowder. Her organization works collaboratively with other Chicago-based organizations on violence prevention and intervention.


Anthony Boatman Sr. (seated) was among several ex-offenders honored and awarded for their high involvement in community service. Pictured with Boatman are his family members, Shauniece Doss, Ariel Hatcher, Anthony Doss, Rodniqua Mack, Re’yelle Daniels, Branden Wilson and Anija Doss. Fatherhood may not eliminate the social factors that lead to contact with the criminal justice system but it plays an important part in building a community, she pointed out. Her group hosted, “Relationship Matters: Black Dads, the Streets and the Justice System,” an April conference held at the University of Illinois in Chicago to discuss the perils Black fathers face once they exit prison. Topics ranged from social factors that create the streets to prison pipeline for Black fathers, drug laws’ collusion in that process and the importance of having familial connection in and out of prison as key to violence prevention.

Traced back to slavery Social expectations of Black fathers have not changed, said Dr. William Oliver, an associate professor at Indiana University’s Criminal Justice Department. For the most part, Black fathers are expected to love, provide, protect and guide their children even with ever changing social norms such as womenheaded households and more female breadwinners, he said. Those expectations, however, have been under attack by systemic forces going as far back as slavery and has hindered the achievement of responsible Black fatherhood, said Oliver.

Since slavery, Black fathers were disenfranchised from their families, denied basic human rights under oppressive Jim Crow laws and criminalized by the “War on Drugs.” Even their ability to earn a living to support their families was compromised by the de-industrialization, suburbanization and globalization of jobs that were moved out of urban areas, he added. “All of that has impacted the ability of men to secure employment that would allow them to achieve these fatherhood expectations that we have,” said Oliver.

Culture shift But a glimmer of hope during the Civil Rights era showed if Black men “were vested with their civil rights, they could be men,” he added. However, a culture shift occurred that forced Black fathers to turn to the streets in search of a livelihood, Oliver noted. That shift increased Black fathers’ chances to engage in illegal activities and contact with the criminal justice system. Black men who are vested in the streets lose chances for employment, education, connections to families but open the streets to prison pipeline, he continued. “It’s hard to do fatherhood at any high level when one is invested in the streets.”

Impact on family Black children are sev-

Votran makes schedule changes to accommodate SunRail

“We are excited about starting this new feeder service, said Votran General Manager Steve Sherrer. “At the same time, we are expecting that there will be some learning and adjustments during the first months of operation.”

Votran has made several route and time changes to provide feeder service to the DeBary SunRail station. Four buses will transport riders to and from the SunRail station from 4:15 to 9 a.m. and 3:15 to 8:30 p.m. weekdays. SunRail 30 and 32 will operate using existing Votran bus stops. SunRail 31 and 33 are express routes with limited stops. SunRail 30 will serve DeLand, Orange City and DeBary via U.S. Highway 17-92 from the DeLand Intermodal Transportation Facility to the DeBary SunRail station. This route will stop at established Votran bus stops. SunRail 31 will serve DeLand, Orange City and DeBary via U.S. Highway 1792, from Northgate Shopping Plaza with limited stops. SunRail 32 will serve Deltona, Orange City and DeBary via U.S. Highway 17-92 and Saxon, Providence and Howland boulevards. This route will stop at established Votran bus stops. SunRail 33 will serve Deltona, Orange City and DeBary via U.S. Highway 17-92 and Saxon, Providence and Howland boulevards from Dupont Lakes Shopping Center with limited stops.

Other changes • The last day of service for the Route 200/West Volusia Express was April 30. Riders are encouraged to use SunRail for their commutes. The Saxon Boulevard Park and Ride lot will be served by SunRail routes 32 and 33; however, the bus will no longer travel into the parking lot. Service will be provided on Saxon Boulevard. • Route 60 will provide a 5:15 a.m. outbound trip from International Speedway Boulevard at Midway Avenue with a stop at 5:20 a.m. on International Speedway Boulevard at Tomoka Farms Road. The bus will arrive in DeLand at 5:40 a.m. at the International Speedway Boulevard stop at Northgate at 5:40 a.m., then continue to the northbound Route 24. The Northgate transfer point will be moved to the east side of Amelia Avenue just south of Old Daytona Road in early May. Riders will be notified onboard of the exact date. Votran riders can visit and click the “subscribe” button to receive timely notices about future changes. The website also provides up-to-date alerts and real-time bus information.

en times more likely than White children to have a parent in prison, he told conference attendees. Prison affects family formations that become more challenging once a father returns from prison, including laws making it harder for them to transition back into society, added Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., of the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Some laws prevent exoffenders – even those with nonviolent offenses – from voting, volunteering at their child’s school, obtaining health care, employment or housing, Johnson said. If a formerly incarcerated father cannot find positive activities, he often returns to the streets. “Even those individuals with the best of intentions to try to pick up where they left off or to start moving in a new direction are often hampered by … incarceration,” he added. Johnson urged re-entry programs to not only help returning ex-offenders find work or housing but to also help them re-establish family ties. Part of that process includes advocating for more sensible prison sentencing, especially for nonviolent low-level offenses.

pungement should be an option. Finding a balance where laws are less punitive for nonviolent offenders can help maintain family bonds while incarcerated and upon release, Johnson added. Black fathers returning from prison face a myriad of hurdles, but the desire to have relationships with their children is strong, said Khalid B. Scott, of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities. TASC provides recovery services for those with substance abuse and mental health issues especially those who have contact with the prison system. TASC also cosponsored the conference. Scott, a clinical supervisor, works in the recovery coach program and has seen these challenges firsthand. His program ensures that birth dads receive drug treatment in order to get custody of their children from child protective services. The program provides parenting and domestic violence programs and helps find stable housing. “We try to wrap services around the dad and the mom in order for them to get their kids back and learn that they have to parent a different way,” Scott said.

Myriad of hurdles

Lack good support system

He noted mandatory minimum sentences need to be repealed, more inprison drug treatment programs are needed and ex-

SIGN UP from Page 1

vance, we’ve seen rioting, just all types of horrible application processes. The way we do it eliminates that. It doesn’t matter if you fill out on the first day or the last day.” One such riot occurred in January 2013 in Detroit. Reports say the amount of people who showed up looking for assistance at the Wayne County Family Health Services Center heavily outweighed the number of vouchers to be distributed.

INROADS from Page 1

more than 200 companies. B-CU President Edison O. Jackson and Vincent Sams, manager of INROADS Florida region, lauded the partnership as an opportunity to help diversify corporate America.

But he noted that the men in the program do better than the women. Scott said men are more focused According to reports, only 1,000 vouchers were available for distribution. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people were in attendance. When it came time for the vouchers to be distributed, police said there was a mad rush for the door, with people fighting to be the first inside the building. Officers tried to control the crowd, but couldn’t. In the end, the program had to be rescheduled with a different approach for dispersing the assistance.

Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.

because they don’t want to be part of the system anymore. They believe part of being a man is taking care of their business, he said. They take the position of “I got to do what I got to do, get what I need to get done, to get my kids and be out of here,” Scott said. Men, he added, don’t like professionals telling them what to do with their lives. Most men returning from prison want to “transform” their lives but just lack a good support system to achieve it, said Dr. Joseph Strickland, of UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work. He described that support system as a good social network that includes ties to people who have stable and healthy lifestyles.

Awards for ex-offenders He noted public policy discourages ex-felons from having contact with other ex-felons even if they transformed their lives. “But it is important that people maintain ties to people that are incarcerated. It’s essential for them to know what’s going on in mainstream society,” said Scott. At the program’s conclusion, 21 ex-offenders were presented with awards for their community involvement and were recognized as examples of rebuilding and reconnecting their lives after incarceration.

Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the NSBHA based on the

total annual gross income, criminal background, family size, and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. During the application process, the NSBHA will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. The NSBHA will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility. To learn more about the Section 8 program and how to apply, go to

“This is a great day for Bethune-Cookman and we are grateful to God for the blessing. We want employers to seek our graduates because they are so well prepared to meet 21st-century challenges,” Jackson said. “INROADS is one of many new initiatives that will propel the university and its students to new heights.”

According to Sams, this is the first INROADS partnership with a historically Black college or university. “This partnership will set the stage in showcasing the talent of our HBCUs,” Sams said. “We have the unique opportunity to show our 250 corporate partners the talents of students at schools like Bethune-Cookman.”

Who is eligible

3 7

MAY 1 – MAY 7, 2014 COMMUNITY DECEMBER 14 - 20, 2006


Flagler students participate in Culinary Arts Competition Students participating in the local and national ACT-SO competition rival within the categories of the Sciences, Humanities, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Entrepreneurship. The Flagler County NAACP, in conjunction with the 2014 Culinary Arts partner Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, successfully hosted the first Culinary Arts Competition on April 19. Five Flagler students participated from Matanzas High School and Flagler Palm Coast High School. Culinary mentors Lorie Savoca of Flagler Palm Coast High School and Lisa Kittrell of Matanzas High School attended and were excited about the relationship developing with Le Cordon Bleu. The competition winner was Travis Jordan, a senior at Flagler Palm Coast High School. Second place went to Nassannah Hall, a junior at Flagler Palm Coast High School, and third place to Daphnee Francois of Flagler Palm Coast High School. Culinary Arts is offered to high school students having formal culinary training, and attending an institution affording Culinary Arts as a curriculum.   We are pleased to announce ACT-SO Flagler County as a 2014 participant in the Culinary Arts Competition and the only branch to represent Florida in the national competition. Over $100,000 in cash and scholarships are up for grabs at this year’s National ACTSO Competition in Las Vegas.   The branch is asking donations to send the kids to the na-


tional competition in Las Vegas. Please mail a contribution to the Flagler County NAACP, 1 Florida Park Drive, Suite 305, Palm Coast, FL 32137.  For further details, contact the NAACP at 386-446-7822.

AACS open house The African American Cultural Society (AACS) has invited the adult community to an Open House, on May 3, 3 - 6 p.m., at the organization’s 13-year-old cultural center, built from the ground up by the members.   Visitors will enjoy free refreshments, including music by the renowned Rob’s JazzExpress while gaining knowledge on the organization’s growth since inception in 1991, and the activities that serve the community.   For further information, visit african-american-cultural-society-inc-5343706927 or call 386447-7030. The African American Cultural Society is located at 4422 North U.S. 1, just past Whiteview Parkway, in Palm Coast.

Mothers Day Gospel Extravaganza Evangelist Mary King is back with a showcase of vocals featuring “Dr. T” of Dunnellon and Minister Joseph Tolbert of Jackson-

Bethune-Cookman grad releases book on Miami corruption SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Author Thomas Barr has spent over a decade working in government. Now he taps that experience in the first of a planned series of fiction books that portray Miami’s political, business and entertainment cultures. The book is entitled “Overlords Karma: Miami’s Urban Chronicles Volume I” and is a biopic of the life of former Miami Overtown Commissioner Art Teele. Thomas said he drew from his years of experience as a Miami resident when writing this book, which is his debut novel. “Many African-American politicians such as DeThomas troit’s former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, 43, and of reBar cent Charlotte North Carolina Mayor Patrick Cannon, 47, fall prey to the lure of money and power,” the author said. “One must always remember where they came from and not fall prey to disillusionment.” Thomas based his main character on the suicide of Teele, the former Overtown Miami commissioner and wants to tell his story to others who aspire to that profession. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Ebookit. Follow Thomas on twitter at ThomasBarrJr., and urban-chronicles.


Above are Kwana Green-Thompson, ACT-SO culinary coordinator; Linda Sharpe Haywood, Flagler NAACP branch president; chef Peter Vossenberg, Le Cordon Bleu; Stephanie Ecklin, NAACP ACT-SO director; student Nassanah Hall, second place; student Travis Jordan, first place; student Daphnee Francois, third place; chef Elizabeth Kublalsingh, Le Cordon Bleu; chef Enrique Diaz, Le Cordon Bleu; and Barbara Solomon, NAACP ACT-SO co-chair. ville. They will be among gospel artists on May 9, 10 at Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Parkway N.E., Palm Coast. The doors will open at 5 p.m. The Mothers Day Gospel Extravaganza will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person. However, tickets must be purchased in advance. For details, or to purchase tickets, call Evangelist King at 386-445-9717, or email

White Elephant Sale The Gwendolyn Howard White

Elephant Sale, a Women’s Day event at First Church, will be a shopping adventure on May 10, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is in memory of Howard, who started the commodity exchange with other fundraisers, for unprecedented financial support to the church. Clothing, bric-a-brac, home decor, and other merchandise will be for sale along with purchasing refreshments.  In addition, space can be rented at $15 to sell merchandise.   First Church  - the Rev. Gil-

lard S. Glover, Pastor - is located at 91 Old Kings Road North, Palm Coast. The church can be reached at 386-446-5759. ••• As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.

Celebrations Birthday wishes to: David Eurie, May 1; Joy Ragoonan, May 2; Carl Davis, May 3; Gloria Benjamin, Shirley Day, May 4, and Patricia Brown, May 6.

Halifax Urban Ministries collecting food

For more information, call Dawn Harridge, Volusia County Public Protection, at 386-2541568.

Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM) is accepting nonperishable food through May 30 at any Bank of America, Check On Hold or Volusia County library. HUM will distribute over 500 tons of food in the Feed a Family homeless prevention program. For more information, visit  

Flagler-Palm Coast students raising money for homeless

Public Safety Coordinating Council to meet May 14

The Volusia County Public Safety Coordinating Council will meet at 3 p.m. May 14, in courtroom 6 of the Volusia County Courthouse Annex, 125 E. Orange Ave., Daytona Beach. Public officials, community groups and members of judicial, law enforcement and correctional services comprise the committee, which works to assess the population of contracted or county-owned detention or correctional facilities. The committee makes recommendations to ensure facility capacities are not exceeded.

The Future Business Leaders of America at Flagler-Palm Coast High School is raising money and supplies to provide necessities to the students in the community who are homeless. For further information, contact Katelyn Hatley at 386-262-2700.

Mt. Zion AME to host Mothers Day Luncheon Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Lay Organization will present its ninth annual Mothers Day Luncheon at noon on May 3 at 449 S. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd. The theme is “The Footsteps of Men.’’ Men will be speaking on the virtues of woman. For more information, call 386-299-0110 or 386-252-2412.

SUNRAIL from Page 1

Jessica Keane, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation.

Bell-ringing ceremonies Ahead of the May 1 opening to the public, people were invited to their local stations along the 32-mile stretch of track for bellringing ceremonies at one of 12 stops. The track runs from DeBary in Volusia County to Sand Lake Road in Orlando, making 10 stops along the way for a total of 12 stations for the first phase of the line. The other stations are in Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Altamonte Springs, Maitland and Winter Park and five stops total in Orlando. Eventually, SunRail will extend north to DeLand and south to Poinciana. “I was in the (Florida) Legislature when we passed the bill for SunRail in the transit system,” said At-Large Representative of the Volusia County Council Joyce Cusack, who served in the Florida House of Representatives for four terms. “And now to be in the County Council when the SunRail becomes a reality and have the opportunity to be on that train today. It was a wonderful experience and to say that government works.”

‘Tap on, tap off’ “We are excited for the trains to start,” Keane added. “We will be on board with the passengers tomorrow.” During the free trial period, SunRail ambassadors will be available at each station and on board trains to answer any questions that SunRail riders might have. The ambassadors will also be available on May 19, and for several weeks thereafter, to assist customers with pass purchases at ticket vending machines located on each platform. They also will remind riders to “tap on” at ticket validators before boarding SunRail and to “tap off” at their final destination. The SunRail ambassadors will be easy to spot in black polos with bright SunRail logo, and black pants. For more information and routes on SunRail, log on to

Above: Mayor Bob Garcia of Debary and At-Large Volusia County Council member Joyce Cusack were two of many state and local officials to take a ride on the $1 billion commuter rail Wednesday. Left: The brand new SunRail features free unlimited wi-fi, comfortable seating, power outlets, tidy bathrooms, bike racks and luggage storage. PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ/ HARDNOTTS PHOTOGRAPHY



MAY 1 – MAY 7, 2014

Racist NBA owner fouled out New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to spend several days “investigating” the clearly racist remarks of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. There’s no need to waste a scintilla of another second on this foul-mouth bigot. Escort him to the closest exit and say good bye – for good. Record fines or a long suspension won’t do in this case if – and that’s a big if – the NBA is serious about addressing raw racism in a sport dominated by AfricanAmericans. Sterling, 81, has fouled out with his own words and the decision to permanently throw him out of the game doesn’t require a huddle around the scorer’s table to review his odious behavior. Unless you’ve been under a rock or just landed from mars, you should know by now that Sterling, who has a long and acrimonious history with people of color, exposed his true feelings about African-Americans in a conversation with his mistress, Vanessa Stiviano, who is almost 50 years his junior. The conversation was apparently taped surreptitiously in Sterling’s home by Stiviano, who describes herself as part Mexican and part Black. A 9-mintute segment of the conversation was posted Saturday to celebrity website TMZ. A15-minute excerpt was later posted by Deadspin.

Excerpts from the conversation There was this exchange in one segment: V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised. DS: Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to my games. Don’t bring Black people, and don’t come. V: Do you know that you have a


whole team that’s Black, that plays for you? DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have — Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

At one point, Sterling said: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people. Do you have to?…” “You can sleep with [Black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games…” “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with Black people.” “Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.” Finally, there was the following exchange: DS: You think I’m a racist, and wouldn’t— V: I don’t think you’re a racist. DS: Yes you do. Yes you do. V: I think you, you— DS: Evil heart. DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the Blacks are just treated like dogs.

V: So do you have to treat them like that too? DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and Black Jews, do you understand? V: And are the Black Jews less than the white Jews? DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent. V: And is that right? DS: It isn’t a question — we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture. V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference? DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown]. V: But you can change yourself. DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl. Sterling, 81, has a long history of antagonizing Blacks.

Not his first time In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a suit accusing him of discriminating against Blacks, Latinos and families with children at an apartment building he owned in Los Angeles. Donald Sterling is the Paula Deen of professional basketball. Accordingly, the NBA should stick a fork in him and tell him he’s done.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. Write your own response at

Howard University made right call in honoring P. Diddy Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have had a long tradition of pursuing and encouraging excellence. Howard University in Washington, D.C. is considered by many to be the flagship of HBCUs. It one of the leading institutions of higher education in United States with a global brand of high achievement and historic contributions to the empowerment of Black America and to all who strive for human progress. I am a proud graduate of Howard University and a strong proponent of the evolution of hiphop culture and entrepreneurship. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that Interim President Wayne A. I. Frederick selected Sean John “P. Diddy” Combs to deliver the 2014 commencement keynote address. This is another example of President Frederick, a well-respected faculty member and an accomplished scholar, providing Howard University with effective leadership during a period that the university is searching for a new president. As soon as President Frederick made the announcement that Sean Combs would be the commencement speaker, there was an immediate outcry by those who felt that Combs, who dropped out of Howard before graduating, was an inappropriate choice. I beg to differ. A true education is not strictly defined by whether one


graduates from college. Would anyone dare call Mya Angelou, who didn’t graduate from college, uneducated? Should she be banned from delivering commencement addresses? If we going to go by that standard, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, both Harvard dropouts, wouldn’t be welcome on college campuses as commencement speakers. Even if that weren’t the case, Howard University has had a long and distinguished tradition of pushing the envelope when it comes to determining both what is ultimately good for the university and what is good for Black America without apology. And selecting P. Diddy is nothing to apologize for.

We are honored President Frederick emphasized, “We are honored to have Mr. Combs serve as our speaker. He sat in classrooms where our students sit, walked ‘The Yard,’ and like many students, his entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at Howard. We know he will inspire

our class to work hard and to always strive for excellence.” Some doubters say Howard University is taking a big “risk” by inviting Sean P. Diddy back to the campus to speak at the graduation ceremonies and presenting him with an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities. Yet, we know that some risks – if this is actually one – are worth taking. Sean John Combs is the chairman, CEO and founder of Combs Enterprises, one of the world’s premiere groups of companies and global brands. Recently, Time magazine and CNN recognized Combs as “One of the most influential Businessmen in the world.” P. Diddy Combs is known and admired my millions of people as a master brand-builder, pop culture icon, trend-setting entrepreneur, and a champion of youth education. Over the past 30 years, I have seen first-hand how Combs continues to be a respected leader in hip-hop culture who always gives back to communities in need. Thank you, Howard University for your courage and your wisdom in honoring Sean John Combs. Excuse me, Dr. Sean John Combs.

Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is president of Education Online Services Corporation and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Write your own response at

Snitches get stitches The saying that has been inculcated in the minds and lives of Blacks across this nation, “Snitches Get Stitches” came to mind as I watched a YouTube video with Yvette Carnell and Paschal Robert discussing Al Sharpton’s role as a New York mob snitch. Ever since the latest, albeit, not really new revelations about Sharpton emerged, I wondered how we would receive it and what, if anything, we would do. Since Sharpton is a highly visible, iconoclastic, activist and spokesperson for so many Black folks, why not use his snitching to our advantage? Murder and violent crime are running rampant in the so-called ‘hood; families are being torn apart by gun violence and left to grieve the loss of their loved ones. Our streets run red with the blood of our children as we cower in our homes, witnessing acts of murder but too scared to call Crime Stoppers, anonymously, and identify the perpetrator – and get some cash


money to boot. The gang mantra, “Snitches Get Stitches,” works to our degradation and social deterioration. With Sharpton’s example, we could change our mantra to “Snitches Get Riches.” He has given us the model for doing the right thing when it comes to snitching; and he told on mob bosses, not neighborhood street thugs and small time hustlers. Al played in the big leagues of the snitching game, got rich and has been propelled into the stratosphere of political elitism and media visibility. I can see them now, billboards, TV ads, bumper stickers, t-shirts, all featuring Al’s picture, with the saying, “Snitches Get Riches!” Below would be a direct quote from

him: “I did what anybody would do…other than a thug…I cooperated…I did what was right.” Chicago could use that line of thinking (45 shootings and 10 dead during Easter weekend), as well as Cincinnati, Ohio, where a Black person is shot and/or killed nearly every night. I think Al’s words could help start a snitching frenzy in the ‘hood. A lot of Black folks follow Sharpton; Why wouldn’t they follow him by snitching on murderers? Now that he has stood up in public and said it’s the right to do, his followers just might consider doing likewise. You know how we like to “get paid!”

Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. Write your own response at



Rancher Cliven Bundy and ‘The Negro’ As is typical of blowhards, Cliven Bundy, the conservative movement’s most recently defrocked hero/criminal, opened his mouth once too often. In doing so, the Nevada rancher revealed who he really is behind all the Stars-and-Stripes flag-waving and man-of-the-West rhetoric. The man who has grazed his cattle on federal land for more than two decades but has refused to pay the minimal grazing fees the government charges all ranchers (Bundy now owes about $1 million) is an arch-racist as well as a chiseler. On April 19, Bundy, speaking to a small group of his supporters – and, fortunately for the rest of us, a New York Times reporter and photographer – went offmessage to hold forth on a number of topics, including race.

Spoke from experience? According to the Times, Bundy said: “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” as he recalled driving past a Las Vegas public housing project, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids – and there is always at least a half dozen people sitting on the porch – they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.” Bundy didn’t stop there: “And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” Did Cliven Bundy form those views just from driving past – once? twice? – a federally subsidized housing project where Black Americans live? Or did they come from the stew of racist notions that still have wide circulation in the political ideology – conservatism – Bundy claims to be an adherent.

Not just Bundy Some of his well-known en-


ablers among the conservative echo chamber of politicians, talk-show jockeys and pundits quickly distanced themselves from Bundy as soon as the Times story appeared. Others, doubling-down, claimed his racist views were irrelevant to what they asserted were his proper resistance to federal government overreach. For one thing, consider that Bundy brought up the topic himself – and not only made it clear he thinks Blacks were better off when the vast majority were enslaved but would be better off now if reduced to something approximating slavery. Bundy’s views aren’t at all unique among American conservatives. Especially since President Obama took office, conservatives, high and low, have shown an obsession with twisting the truth about Negro slavery. I’ve no doubt that the ignorance on display in the conservative movement’s obsession with American slavery is largely a deliberate gambit to obscure how evil – and widely accepted among Whites – slavery and its successor, legalized racism, was. But I also think that, as with Cliven Bundy, some of it stems from the deep-rooted fear of what “freedom” for Black Americans means for those Whites who need the crutch of White supremacy to feel good about themselves. If Blacks were “free,” you could get Black Americans contributing a full measure of their talent to American society. Why, you might get a Paul Robeson, or an Althea Gibson, or a Leontyne Price, or even a president of the United States. And then, what would America be?

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. Write your own response at

Opinions expressed on this editorial page are those of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of the newspaper or the publisher.

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MAY 1 – MAY 2014 DECEMBER 14 -7,20, 2006

5 7


GM’s top designer has always been career-driven Edward Welburn Jr. is highestranking Black in auto industry BY GEORGE E. CURRY NNPA NEWS SERVICE

AUSTIN, Texas – Though no one knew it at the time, the decision by Edward T. Welburn Jr.’s parents to take him to a local auto show in Philadelphia around the time he was learning his multiplication tables would shape the rest of his life. “I’ve been drawing cars since I was 2 ½ ,” he told a small group of journalists over breakfast. “At age 8, my parents took me to the Philadelphia Auto Show and I walked in and there was this concept car and I pointed at it and said, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a car designer for that company.’” At 63 years old, Welburn has had plenty of time to grow up. And not only is he the top designer for General Motors, the company that designed the Cadillac Cyclone, the car that he fell in love with at the ripe age of 8, he is the company’s vice president for global design, responsible for the entire GM brand.

Dream career Welburn is the sixth person to head GM’s design team in the company’s 106-year history and the first appointed to supervise all 10 design studios around the world instead of just North America. He is the highest-ranking African-American in the automobile industry. At the time, he was first dreaming of designing cars, a period when his playmates were aspiring to become cops or fire fighters, no one told young Welburn that there were no African-Americans working as designers for GM or any other car manufacturer at that time. Even if they

had, it is doubtful that they would have persuaded him to alter his plans. “My parents knew there were no Blacks designing cars, that it would be a challenge to get into the field and I was on a mission,” Welburn recalled, chuckling. “They thought, ‘Well, maybe he should be a mechanic or something. No, he wants to be a car designer.’ So they did everything to help me realize that dream,” Welburn recalled several hours before speaking at the 50th anniversary summit of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, where GM served as the lead sponsor.

Wrote GM as kid His father, Edward, Sr., who owned his own auto mechanic shop, encouraged his son to work on his car designs; his mother, Evelyn, made sure young Ed never strayed academically. “As a kid, I was a slow reader,” Welburn remembered. “I didn’t like reading at all. My mother sent me to all kinds of special programs every weekend. Then, she discovered how I loved reading car magazines. I was age 10 when I got subscriptions to Hot Rod, Motor Trends, all of these. I would read these magazines cover-to-cover.” When he was 11 years old, Welburn wrote a letter to General Motors asking for advice on how to become a car designer. To his surprise, he got a detailed reply, including a recommendation to get a college education.

Howard to GM Welburn did that at Howard University, graduating in 1972 from its College of Fine Arts, where he studied sculpture and product design. While enrolled as a student at Howard, he interned at General Motors. He started his career at

GM in 1972 as an associate designer in the Advanced Design Studios. The next year, he joined the Buick Exterior Studio, working on the Buick Riviera and Park Avenue. In 1975, he joined the Oldsmobile Exterior. In 1989, he was promoted to chief designer of the Oldsmobile Studio. In 1996, Welburn accepted a two-year assignment with Saturn, working mostly out of its Russelsheim, Germany studio. He became director of GM’s Advanced Design studio in Warren, Mich. After several key assignments, he was named vice president of GM Design North America in 2003 and two years later was selected to fill the newly-created position of vice president for Global Design. Welburn has repeatedly demonstrated that he knows how to connect with GM’s customers, having had a hand in the design of such best-sellers as the Cadillac Escalade, Hummer H2, Chevrolet Avalanche and the SSR, a retro hotrod pickup.

Giving back Even with a heavy workload that requires him to be in the office from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to communicate with designers living in different time zones, Welburn devotes personal time and money to encourage other African-Americans to pursue design careers. He serves on the board of Detroit’s College of Creative Studies and serves as GM’s liaison to Howard University, his alma mater. He also interacts with other top design schools, always letting them know in his understated manner that they need to do more to improve diversity in the industry. And he is not unaware that he is the ultimate diversity story. “It’s interesting because it’s something I don’t celebrate because to celebrate it means there are so ma-

General Motors Global Vice President Design Ed Welburn stands by the 2014 Corvette Stingray at the Amelia Island Concours on March 8, 2013. ny years it didn’t occur,” he said in an interview with Ward’s Auto World. “…But I know it is very important. It can’t be ignored. I know it isn’t ignored, and I know there are a lot of people in the African-American community that really, really consider this something very significant, so I don’t take it lightly. If it has an effect on young people, then I think that’s great.” It’s great that the basement of his design studio headquarters in Warrensville, Mich. has become a favorite hangout for Detroit-area high school students who dream of following in Welburn’s footsteps. GM designers volunteer time at the center, hoping to encourage a new generation of artists. “There’s one kid who’s really good,” said Welburn. “His church has set up a system where each week, somebody from the church goes and get him. They make sure he gets there.”

Bank of America suspends dividend increase CHARLOTTE OBSERVER/MCT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America Corp. is suspending a long-awaited dividend increase af-

ter miscalculating its capital ratios, another setback for a bank still saddled with mortgage-related legal woes. The Charlotte bank had planned to raise its quar-

terly dividend to 5 cents per share in the second quarter, up from the penny per share it had been since the financial crisis. But Bank of America said Monday it had incorrect-

ly accounted for notes inherited in its 2009 Merrill Lynch acquisition for years and will have to resubmit capital plans to the Federal Reserve.

Getting to the top of his craft, means that Welburn has to be on the road a lot, traveling to 10 design studios in the United States and six other countries: Germany, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India.

Kudos from Obama In 2008, the Chevrolet Malibu was named North American Car of the Year. In 2010, the Chevrolet Camaro was picked the 2010 World Car Design of the Year and in 2011, the Chevrolet Volt, a revolutionary electric car, was selected North American Car of the Year. The significance of Welburn’s contributions to the turnaround at GM was underscored last year at the Washington Auto Show when he and President Obama sat alone in a 2012 Chevrolet Malibu. The most powerful leader in the world was sitting next to the highest-ranking African-American in the automobile industry.

Less for shareholders As part of the annual stress testing process, the Fed in March had approved Bank of America’s plan to raise its dividend and to buy back $4 billion in common stock. Now the bank says the revised plans it will resubmit to the Fed will return less capital to shareholders. The bank said it will hire an outside party to review its calculations before providing the regulator with its new data. The Fed said the bank will have 30 days to turn in its revised plan, unless it receives an extension. The bank must address its mistakes and review its capital reporting process “to help ensure there are no further errors,” the regulator said. Monday’s announcement marks the latest misstep by the bank during the annual stress testing process implemented by the Fed after the financial crisis. In 2011, CEO Brian Moynihan told investors he expected the Fed would approve a modest dividend increase only to have regulators reject the proposal.

Significant setback The Charlotte bank also continues to face legal challenges. Bank of America lost money in the first quarter after settling for $9.5 billion with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and it’s reportedly negotiating a massive settlement with federal and state authorities over mortgage bonds. Bank analyst Nancy

“He just let me know how proud he was with the work that I do, and I was just like ‘Wow,’” Welburn told reporters. “At the very last vehicle, he did ask me, he just remarked that the design of GM cars have gotten so much better in the past few years.” And the president would know. His official limousine, sometimes dubbed Cadillac One or Limo One, was built on the Cadillac DTS model. Though Welburn’s dream of becoming a car designer never extended to meeting the first Black president of the United States, he is as exuberant about his career choice now as he was when his parents took him to that memorable auto show in Philadelphia. “I have so much fun doing what I do – I really do,” he said. “It’s not easy and there are significant challenges every day. But it’s soooo much fun.” Bush said the miscalculation of capital ratios is a significant setback for the bank and Moynihan, who succeeded Ken Lewis in January 2010. The dividend news comes less than two weeks before Bank of America executives face shareholders at the bank’s annual meeting May 7 in Charlotte. Jonathan Finger, a partner in Houston-based Finger Interests, said the expected dividend increase had been seen as a “step in the right direction” for the bank. Finger, whose company owns 900,000 shares of the bank, said he’s spoken over the years to Bank of America shareholders in the Charlotte area who have been “severely impacted” by the fall the dividend has taken since the financial crisis. As recently as 2008, the dividend was 64 cents. Some retirees relied heavily on the dividend, Finger said. When it fell, “it affected their lifestyle,” he said. Monday’s announcement comes four days after the bank moved chief risk officer Terry Laughlin to a new strategy position and replaced him with Geoffrey Greener, who was the bank’s enterprise capital management executive. Bank of America said the executive shift was unrelated to the miscalculated ratios.



MAY 1 – MAY 7, 2014

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MAY 114 – MAY 7, 2014 DECEMBER - 20, 2006

Keflezighi left the spectator grandstand to join a TV broadcast seeking his analysis of the marathon. Before he made it there, the blasts sounded. As he headed home — angry and confused — Keflezighi told his brother his plans for the 2014 race. “He said, ‘I’m going to come back, and I’m going to win it for this country,’” Hawi Keflezighi recalled on April 25. “He had that extra motivation to where he wanted it more than anybody. He didn’t necessarily want it for himself — because he’s been in the race previously — but he had the motivation to win it for the country, for the victims and for everyone.”

Native of Eritrea


American Meb Keflezighi wins the 118th Boston Marathon, a year after deadly bombings, near the Marathon finish line in Boston on Monday, April 21.

Keflezighi shares emotional Boston Marathon win African-born runner is first American male to win since 1983 BY SAM MCDOWELL KANSAS CITY STAR/MCT


Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, visits the headquarter of Garmin on April 25 in Olathe, Kan., which is one of his corporate sponsors.

MEAC announces top track and field athletes NORFOLK, Va. – Bethune-Cookman’s Tremayne Banks and teammate Tristie Johnson were chosen as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Men’s and Women’s Track Athletes Bethune-Cookman’s Ed’Ricus Williams and Hampton’s Teiara Denmark were named the MEAC Men’s and Women’s Field Athletes of the Week, the conference announced on Wednesday. Banks, a junior from Fort Lauderdale, finished third in the 110m hurdles at the University of North Florida (UNF) Invitational and the South Florida Multi-Cultural Games. Banks set a new personal best with a time of 13.77, and finished first in the 400m hurdles at the UNF Invitational. Johnson, a sophomore from Jacksonville, set a personal best in the 100m, with a time of 11.39, and a season-best 23.18 in the 200m at the UNF Invitational and the South Florida Multi-Cultural Games. At the UNF Invitational, Johnson finished first in the 100m and 200m, second in the 4x400m, and third in the 4x100m. At the South Florida Multi-Cultural Games, she finished first in the 4x100m and second in the 100m. Williams, a freshman from Warrenton, Ga., won the high jump at the UNF Invitational with a jump of 7-00 ft. (2.14m), moving to 37th nationally and marking a personal best. Denmark, a senior from Virginia Beach, Va., finished eighth in the long jump, with a flight of 19-5.5 (5.93m), at the Penn Relays.

OLATHE, Kan. — Sidelined by an injury, Meb Keflezighi left his spectator’s seat near the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line only a few minutes before two explosions killed three people. But he was still close enough to hear the blasts, the sounds drawing his mind back to a childhood that more closely resembled a war zone than a marathon route. It was that moment, he said, that sparked his victory in the 2014 race earlier this month, when he became the first American since 1983 to win the Boston Marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds. Keflezighi spoke on April 25 of his will to win one year after feeling so close to the bombings

in Boston. For himself. For the city. And for his country. “In those 365 days, every day has been a reminder (of the bombings), when you meet people who have lost their legs or people who knew somebody, or you see ‘Boston Strong’ signs,” Keflezighi said during a visit Friday to Garmin International headquarters in Olathe, one of his sponsors. “It keeps you alive.”

Leg injury in 2013 Keflezighi ran with the names of the three bombing victims on the corners of his bib, along with the name of a police officer who was killed allegedly by the suspects three days later. A symbol of his motivation. He intended to race in last year’s marathon, but he suffered a leg injury during his training that prevented him from running. So instead, he joined his brother, Hawi, at the finish line, where they took pictures of the competitors.

Meb Keflezighi, 38, was born in Eritrea, a small African country that was at war with Ethiopia during his 10 years there. He says he witnessed gunfire, land mines and bombs. His family escaped the conflict and migrated to Italy, where they stayed for a year and a half before immigrating to San Diego. Keflezighi spoke with pride when asked about his American citizenship, which he earned 16 years ago. “When I came here, it was huge for me,” said Keflezighi, who graduated from UCLA. “. . . Most of my memories are from here. I’m more American than I am Eritrean, so that’s why I made that decision.” Keflezighi began distance running shortly after he arrived in the United States. It was a natural fit.

Dream come true He blossomed into an AllAmerican at UCLA and then won a 2004 Olympic silver medal in the Games in Athens. Five years later, he won the 2009 New York City Marathon, becoming the first American to win that race since 1982. But on the tail end of his career, Keflezighi still felt something was missing. Until April 21. “Meb wanted this for his career — that’s what was missing,” said Hawi Keflezighi, who also serves as his brother’s manager. “He’s always wanted to win Boston for his career, but this time it wasn’t about that. It was about something beyond that. The United States needed him.” In the ensuing four days after his victory, Meb Keflezighi said strangers have stopped him in the street, congratulating and thanking him for his victory. He had appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.’’ “It’s a dream to win the Boston Marathon — the most prestigious marathon in the world,” Keflezighi said. “To be able to do it after what happened last year and have the victims’ (names) on my bib number, wow. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time for how meaningful it is. . . . It was just a wonderful opportunity.”

OWN orders more of Deion Sanders’ reality show FROM WIRE REPORTS

Oprah Winfrey’s network has ordered more episodes of “Deion’s Family Playbook,” the cable channel has announced. The reality show follows Deion Sanders and his girlfriend, Hollywood producer Tracey Edmonds, as they juggle being public figures with each having their own kids, their individual careers, and splitting time between Texas and California. “Deion’s Family Playbook,” from Edmonds Entertainment, Prime Time Media Ventures and Rogue Atlas Productions, has averaged 716,000 total viewers, making it the highestrated first season of a series among all reality shows in OWN history, the network stated.

Saturday night success Sanders’ show and Kym Whitley’s v ‘Raisy Whitley’’ have helped propel OWN’s Saturday night average for women 25-54 up +75 percent in first quarter 2014 versus one year ago. In addition, OWN had three of the top five origi-

Deion Sanders, girlfriend Tracey Edmonds and their families are the subject of the reality show “Deion’s Family Playbook’’ on OWN. nal cable series for AfricanAmerican women 25-54 (“Raising Whitley,” “Deion’s Family Playbook” and “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s,” which is currently airing in new episodes). “Deion’s Family Playbook” follows the man they call Primetime, the on-

ly pro athlete to ever play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series. Sanders is a single father raising five kids of his own, while also helping to raise five other children who live with him, including the twins whom his mother cares for, his niece and nephew and

a student in need whom he recently took into his home. Additionally, Sanders is co-founder and football coach of Prime Prep Academy, a charter school that aims to make a lasting impact on the lives of children in underserved areas.



MAY 1 – MAY 7, 2014

The high cost of generic medicine Some drugs that were cheap to get just a few years ago have skyrocketed

Stento, a senior manager at Avalere Health, a consultancy. Marv Shepherd, professor of pharmacy at the University of Texas-Austin, agreed. “The Obama program has increased demand somewhat, but I don’t think that’s the main reason,” Shepherd said. What’s more important, he said, is the number of competitors making a drug.


Pharmacist Larry Cowan can flip through his records and spot the generic drugs that have taken big price jumps in the past year or so. There’s digoxin, a heart medicine that he used to buy for pennies a pill. “Now the price is close to 10 times that,” said Cowan, owner of Glenview Professional Pharmacy in Richland Hills, Texas. There’s doxycycline, a decades-old antibiotic that went on the Food and Drug Administration’s shortage list in 2012 and became the poster child for generic price spikes. Cowan said a tablet of doxycycline went from about 6 cents in late 2012 to $3.65 in late 2013, a 6,100 percent increase. Another drug, captopril, a high blood pressure medication, went from 2 cents to 79 cents each in the same period, he said.

Dramatic increase While the FDA in the past month removed doxycyline from its shortage list, it still costs U.S. pharmacies an average of $3 a tablet, according to a weekly survey conducted for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The same survey puts the average cost of digoxin at $1.08 for a 0.125 mg pill, a common dosage. “For many years, generics went down and down,” said Joe Harmison, owner of DFW Prescriptions in

Merging of competitors


Prices have spiked for some generic medications because of industry mergers resulting in fewer manufacturers. Grand Prairie, Texas. “Within the last six to 12 months, they’ve been going up, some really drastically,” said Harmison, who said he has operated his pharmacy for 30 years. Factors behind the unusual price spikes, experts say, include a wave of industry mergers and decisions by some manufacturers to stop making certain drugs.

Some decline Not every generic drug that Americans take has gotten more expensive. Most have not. On average, the price of generics — medicines that are not protected by a pat-

ent and can be produced by FDA-licensed manufacturers — declined 15.9 percent last year, according to Express Scripts, a big prescription-management firm. Prices on brandname drugs rose 13.9 percent. Both are years-long trends. In all, U.S. spending on medicines rose 3.2 percent in 2013, Express Scripps said. Another analysis of the CMS data, by Pembroke Consulting, found that from November 2012 to November 2013, two-thirds of the 16,000 different generic drugs and dosages saw a price decline while a third rose in price. Six per-

cent more than doubled, and a dozen increased by 20 times or more. All 12 of the biggest gainers were various forms or dosages of just four drugs, led by doxycycline. The others were: albuterol, used in asthma inhalers; clomipramine, a 1960s-era antidepressant; and captopril. “Drug shortages appear to be the primary culprit,” Pembroke President Adam Fein wrote at the time.

Obamacare not blamed David Whitrap, director of corporate communications at Express Scripts,

said the price increases “for a handful of generic medications” were due largely to “natural market factors, including shortages of active ingredients and a reduction in the number of manufacturers.” “The market tends to correct itself when instances like this occur,” Whitrap said. Like Fein, most analysts don’t think the Affordable Care Act has played much of a role in the higher costs of some generic drugs. “There tends to be a strong relationship between shortages and pricing. I haven’t heard that ACA has exacerbated shortages,” said Jenna

Those numbers have fallen for two main reasons, Shepherd said. One is because manufacturers have abandoned some markets when they’re not profitable enough. The other is because two former competitors merged. “At one point 12 companies made doxycycline” for sale in the United States, Shepherd said. “The managed-care companies are only going to buy the cheapest one, since there’s no difference in the active drug. So some firms end up getting out of the business, and when they do, the number of suppliers decreases.” In 2012, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, by most counts the world’s biggest generic drugmaker, told the FDA it intended to stop selling doxycycline in the U.S., a notice required by the agency. It dropped the drug, in use since the 1960s, in 2013. Even if a sudden price jump makes the drug more attractive to manufacturers, it’s not as easy as simply firing up a production line “and popping out more M&Ms,” Shepherd said. Makers “have to get FDA approval to market a drug,” and that can take six months or more, he said.

Daytona Times - May 01, 2014  

Daytona Times - East Central Florida’s Black Voice

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