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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

BAKERSFIELD NEWS OBSERVER

World & Nation

Supreme Court Sides with Comcast in Discrimination Dispute Against Byron Allen By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
 In a decision issued online Monday, March 23, over entrepreneur and media mogul Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks in a discrimination lawsuit against Comcast, the Supreme Court’s justices have unanimously decided to send the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The lower court will now determine whether or not is should reconsider Allen’s claims in his $20 billion suit. In an Op-Ed for BlackPressUSA.com, Maurita Coley, President and CEO of the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council (MMTC) explains, “The lawsuit arose out of Comcast’s decision several years ago not to carry several Allen-owned television channels, such as Pets. TV and Recipe.TV. Comcast has argued its rejection of Allen’s channels was purely a business decision, reflecting what it viewed as the channels’ limited audience appeal. Allen then promptly filed a $20 billion lawsuit against Comcast, alleging that the company’s refusal to contract with Allen’s company was racially motivated, in violation of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. “District Court Judge Terry Hatter – a well-respected African American judge with an apparently strong record on civil rights  – dismissed the case three times, finding that Allen had not established a plausible argument that Comcast would have contracted with his company ‘but for’ Allen’s race. “Allen appealed to the 9th Circuit, which remanded Judge Hatter’s dismissal with a new guideline to the lower court that a plaintiff can state a viable claim under Section 1981 if discriminatory intent plays any role in a defendant’s decision not to contract, regardless of whether race discrimination was a “but for” cause of that decision. Comcast petitioned the Supreme Court to review the 9th

The Supreme Court’s justices have unanimously decided to send the case back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Circuit’s decision, and the Supreme Court agreed.” The Supreme Court filing, Comcast Corp vs. NAAAOM, was the result of an appeal by Comcast of the 9th Circuit’s decision.

Comcast argued that the Section 1981 ban can only be interpreted as requiring “but for” causation. It argued that everyone must have “the same right” as white citizens “to make and enforce contracts.”

Comcast assured the justices that reasons that have nothing to do with race, such as a lack of bandwidth, and its decision to focus on news and sports content, were the basis of their decision not to carry ESN’s channels. Moreover, Comcast noted it had, for many years, carried numerous other African American-owned networks. ESN countered that Comcast’s position would prohibit a plaintiff who alleges that race was a motivating factor for the refusal to contract from conducting factfinding discovery on the claim, no matter how strong the evidence of racism, unless the plaintiff could meet the stringent requirement of plausibly alleging that race was the ‘but-for’ cause of the refusal to contract. That, ESN reasonably insists, is an extremely high and difficult hurdle because “the defendant typically is the only party with access to evidence of the defendant’s motives.” On Monday, Comcast released the following statement, “We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously restored certainty on the standard to bring and prove civil rights claims. The well-established framework that has protected civil rights for decades continues. The nation’s civil rights laws have not changed with this ruling; they remain the same as before the case was filed. “We now hope that on remand, the 9th Circuit will agree that the District Court properly applied the law in dismissing Mr. Allen’s case three separate times for failing to state any claim. “We are proud of our record on diversity and will not rest on this record. We will continue to look for ways to add even more innovative and diverse programming that appeals to our diverse viewership and continue our diversity and inclusion efforts across the company.” NNPA attempted to contact Byron Allen’s attorneys for a statement. However, at the time of this writing, neither Allen nor his attorneys have provided any comments.

Business Acumen and Assuredness

Enable Corporate America to Overcome Insurmountable Odds By Kimberly Hayes Taylor NNPA Newswire Contributor As an automotive C-suite level executive, Bennie Fowler became a business leader to count on when corporations in crisis were hemorrhaging money and losing loyal customers because of questionable quality. During the 2008 economic crisis, Fowler helped lead Ford Motor Company’s turnaround to profitability when the company was losing billions of dollars per year and facing bankruptcy. As chief operating officer, he had proven his abilities while navigating a successful upswing at the $10 billion British Jaguar & Land Rover operation when it faced stalled production, poor product quality, and was projected to lose $250 million. Fowler believes his business acumen and the assuredness he needed to beat insurmountable odds was sparked by his humble beginnings of selling baskets of eggs door-to-door and working as a janitor while growing up in Augusta, Georgia. It was this early introduction to the work world that motivated him to perform at a high level in education followed by the lessons learned in a variety of career assignments. Now, a supply chain improvement specialist who helps Fortune 500 companies boost product quality, productivity and financial performance, Fowler has a clear focus on what it takes to be successful in the C-suite and says it requires more than a winning attitude and determination. Professionals who see themselves among the C-suite ranks must possess a deep set of business skills and discipline. Fowler’s custom C-suite curriculum is a focused and disciplined program that provides direction and wisdom for professionals who aspire to reach the top tier of companies.

His programs are designed to help professionals understand the fundamentals to become a CEO (chief executive officer), usually the top position at a company or corporation—the person who signs off on most important decisions— and other C-suite roles such as CFO (chief financial officer) who guides business strategy, risk management, and financial analysis and opportunities; CIO (chief information officer) who governs information technology infrastructure and manages the company’s information technology; and COO (chief operating officer) is a senior executive tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of a business and typically reports directly to the CEO. During the decades he spent in leadership roles at General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford, Fowler established a reputation for developing and executing processes to improve quality and help the companies turnaround their performance. Fowler says that no matter how great his successes, he never achieved a single goal by himself. Each effort required teamwork. “That’s why understanding leadership and teambuilding is critically important at the top,” he says. One of the keys to building a high performing team is to quickly get an understanding of team members’ personal goals and create a specific plan to achieve them. Team members also need to understand the company’s goals to ensure their focus is in alignment. The best leaders realize that they need people, and that people will be willing to go the extra mile for them when they display a genuine interest in helping them achieve their professional and family goals. “One of the best qualities a leader can have is

credibility,” he says. “Credibility comes from sharing experiences and abilities with the team to make them better. It is also the way you share what you’ve learned.” Fowler is known for being a sensei, the Japanese title for a teacher or master, and he possesses the ability to make complex subjects seem simple. Much like the head coach of a professional football team who repeatedly analyzes an opposing team’s defense, noting strengths and weaknesses, Fowler has meticulously studied the skills and capabilities required to become a C-suite leader. He says every CEO must be able to review external and internal environments and understand the performance gap for all key stakeholders, especially shareholders. Then, the CEO must be able to work with teams to craft a compelling vision, comprehensive strategy, and plan, and set up a reliable process to ensure execution. A CEO also must have a strategy to develop talent to ensure success. The talent development strategy is also a critical success factor for winning, he says. So is building an executive team that owns technical excellence, working together with transparency and ethics. Finally, professionals who want to effectively position themselves for the C-Suite position must gain knowledge, experience, and confidence by experiencing successes amid adverse circumstances such as turning around profit losses, correcting major production problems, and improving product quality. Fowler successfully faced those challenges. The CEO position was more volatile than ever in 2019, when a record number of chief executives left their posts, according to a report from career tracking firm

Missing Black Children Continued from page A1

significant component of getting a missing person home safely. “The media uses certain cases to highlight, and so many other cases don’t get the same amount of attention,” she stated. “The media plays a huge role in making sure that we raise awareness for all missing persons and also be able to raise awareness of the tools that families have available to them that they may not know are available. We have had families sit down at the keyboard to search the database and find their loved one, essentially resolving their own case,” Spamer added. She continued: “It’s an empowering thing to have families to be able to participate in the search using certain tools that we make publicly available. There are so many resources available today that didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago when their loved one may have gone missing. “We would love to see those families come forward today and provide whatever information they still have on their loved one because we are routinely seeing identifications on cases that are 20, 30, or 40 years old. And so as long as there’s a searching family member, it is never too late to file a report, get that case in NAMUS and potentially find a match and bring resolution to that family.”

Bernie Fowler (Courtesy Photo)

Residents Urged to Look Out for One Another Continued from page A1

some panicked residents toward “our Asian brothers and sisters.” “We have to push back against any racism wherever it exists,” she said. “Kindness and patience will be required a lot from us.” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams agreed. “People need to make attempts to connect more deeply and more often,” Adams said, suggesting a buddy system. “People want to still feel like someone out there still cares about them.” Adams said that (then) current coronavirus numbers in the U.S. matched numbers Italy saw two weeks ago. “The next few weeks are going to be critical,” Adams said, adding that he realizes the African American community does not have a lot of trust in the current administration. “I know what it’s like growing up poor, Black and with limited healthcare. I will keep fighting for people of color and I hope I can earn your trust.” Adams has held the surgeon general post since

2017 and stressed that he is not a politician. The former anesthesiologist and Indiana State Health Commissioner began a campaign in September 2018 along with other public health officials to promote seasonal flu vaccinations because the previous year’s flu epidemic resulted in the deaths of an estimated 80,000 Americans. “Testing has not gone the way we would have liked it to have gone so far,” Adams said regarding the coronavirus. He noted that the country is at a turning point now, as over 83 state and local labs are now working on developing and providing tests. “We’re prioritizing testing for healthcare workers and those most vulnerable, those over 65 with medical conditions.” In addition to the CDC guidelines for limiting the impact of the disease, which include social distancing and hand washing, Adams also mentioned that the President had authorized more than $50 billion in funding for states and localities to work against the spread of coronavirus. “I promise you I’m in there fighting for your priorities,”

Adams said. “It’s going to be a tough several weeks ahead. We need to lean into it now and we’ll see the positive effects down the line.” Nicolette Louissant, PhD., is the executive director of Healthcare Ready, an organization established after Hurricane Katrina. It works with the public and private sectors to strengthen healthcare systems before, during, and after disasters. “We have to approach this from a community preparedness standpoint to work together and engage our community,” said Louissaint, who also suggested one-onone support like making “old-school phone calls” and delivering prescription medications to those who need them. “This is a sustained event,” she said. “Over the long haul, we’re going to radically change our lifestyles. Equity issues are at play here. Eighty-five percent of people of color have to rely on more prescription drugs. They have medical needs. Access is incredibly important.”

Challenger, Gray and Christmas. Nearly 1,500 CEOs left their posts between January and November 2019, a 12% increase from the same time period in 2018. That’s also significantly more than the 1,100 executives who left their posts in 2008, the height of the Great Recession. It means an unprecedented opportunity for professionals who want to reach the executive levels of leadership in companies and corporations. Fowler says, given the opportunity, he would take on another corporate turnaround mission. With his consulting firm, Bennie Fowler LLC, he helps companies improve supply chain management. As a turnaround leader, Fowler was able to come in, pick up pieces and make things right when his companies were failing to perform. As a change agent, he was trusted to solve problems when there was no obvious solution. As a stabilizer, he understood what to preserve during troubled times and what to eliminate. He says people who want into C-suite ranks should have the ability to quickly assess the current business situation and demonstrate that they can get results in highstakes environments. African Americans need to be overly prepared with unmatched qualifications. Fowler concluded, “I always thought if there was a job that had to be done, and there were 10 people [competing for the job], why shouldn’t it be me? God has blessed me with the talents that I have, I try to use them for the benefit of myself, my family and everybody around me.” Kimberly Hayes Taylor is a freelance journalist in Detroit.

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