The Courageous Rosa Parks

Rosa Park and Rev. Martin Luther King

Rosa Park and Rev. Martin Luther King

Most historians date the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the United States to December 1, 1955.  That was the day when an unknown seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.

This brave woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested and fined for violating a city ordinance, but her lonely act of defiance began a movement that ended legal segregation in America, and made her an inspiration to freedom-loving people everywhere.

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona McCauley, a teacher. At the age of two she moved to her grandparents’ farm in Pine Level, Alabama with her mother and younger brother, Sylvester.

At the age of 11 she enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school founded by liberal-minded women from the northern United States.

The school’s philosophy of self-worth was consistent with Leona McCauley’s advice to “take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were.”

Opportunities were few indeed. “Back then,” Mrs. Parks recalled in an interview, “we didn’t have any civil rights. It was just a matter of survival, of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl hearing the Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down.”

In the same interview, she cited her lifelong acquaintance with fear as the reason for her relative fearlessness in deciding to appeal her conviction during the bus boycott. “I didn’t have any special fear,” she said. “It was more of a relief to know that I wasn’t alone.”

After attending Alabama State Teachers College, the young Rosa settled in Montgomery, with her husband, Raymond Parks. The couple joined the local chapter of the NAACP and worked quietly for many years to improve the lot of African-Americans in the segregated south.

“I worked on numerous cases with the NAACP,” Mrs. Parks recalled, “but we did not get the publicity. There were cases of flogging, peonage, murder, and rape. We didn’t seem to have too many successes. It was more a matter of trying to challenge the powers that be, and to let it be known that we did not wish to continue being second-class citizens.”

The bus incident led to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, led by the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The association called for a boycott of the city-owned bus company. The boycott lasted 382 days and brought Mrs. Parks, Dr. King, and their cause to the attention of the world.  A Supreme Court Decision struck down the Montgomery ordinance under which Mrs. Parks had been fined, and outlawed racial segregation on public transportation.

In 1957, Mrs. Parks and her husband moved to Detroit, Michigan where Mrs. Parks served on the staff of U.S. Representative John Conyers.  The Southern Christian Leadership Council established an annual Rosa Parks Freedom Award in her honor.

After the death of her husband in 1977, Mrs. Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. The Institute sponsors an annual summer program for teenagers called Pathways to Freedom. The young people tour the country in buses, under adult supervision, learning the history of their country and of the civil rights movement.

President Clinton presented Rosa Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. She received a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Mrs. Parks spent her last years living quietly in Detroit, where she died in 2005 at the age of 92.

After her death, her casket was placed in the rotunda of the United States Capitol for two days, so the nation could pay its respects to the woman whose courage had changed the lives of so many. She is the only woman and second African American in American history to lie in state at the Capitol, an honor usually reserved for Presidents of the United States.

How the Anglos Stole Thanksgiving

The Real First Thanksgiving in St. Augustine

The Real First Thanksgiving in St. Augustine

Thanksgiving is a deeply meaningful annual ritual for Americans. It is singled out as the day to recall a gathering nearly 400 years ago when two clashing cultures – the Pilgrims and Native Americans – came together in feast and prayer.  That’s the history every American kindergartener making a construction-paper turkey is taught; that’s the history of cultural cooperation, acceptance and gratitude we celebrate each November.

Today, two distinct cultures – Anglo-Protestant and Hispanic – are on the brink of profound and irrevocable change in America with immigration becoming an increasingly thorny political issue.

There is President Obama’s promise of comprehensive immigration reform in the first 100 days of his administration, “a priority I will pursue from my very first day,” which has not come to pass.  Instead, “He could go down as the worst president in history toward immigrants,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of the liberal activist group Presente.org.  In fact, he has deported nearly 3 million Latinos, including 50,000 parents of American citizens.

His draconian actions have left tens of thousands of frightened children, whose moms and dads suddenly vanished, living in foster care or as wards of the state.

What we are witnessing is a clash of cultures in America that is as excessive as it is pointless.  The late Samuel Huntington, a renowned Harvard Political scientist, illustrates it in an essay entitled the “The Hispanic Challenge” (Foreign Policy, March-April 2004), where he fans the flames in the first paragraph:

America was created by 17th- and 18th-century settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British, and Protestant. Their values, institutions, and culture provided the foundation for and shaped the development of the United States in the following centuries.  The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.

Huntington concludes his essay by discounting Latino author Lionel Sosa, author of The Americano Dream, who wrote that the Americano dream “exists, it is realistic, and it is there for all of us to share.”  Huntington declares, “There is no Americano dream.  There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English.”

Who are the Americanos?  We are the 54 million American citizens of all skin colors, nationalities and religions who descend from a rich Spanish culture – a culture that Anglophile academics like Huntington have erased from our history books.

I observed this firsthand while serving on Florida’s State Board of Education, overseeing the approval of statewide textbooks.  American history books ignore the epic northward advance by Spanish pioneers into the southern tier of the United States, and fail to discuss the far-reaching contributions of Latinos from our country’s inception to its present day.

For example:

  • 42 years before the English colony at Jamestown, explorer Pedro Menendez founded Saint Augustine as our first North American city in 1565, granting Florida the longest recorded history of any state. The Spanish flag flew over Saint Augustine for nearly 250 years.
  • When the Continental Army was nearly bankrupt, they sent a representative to seek funds in Cuba, and the money they needed was collected from the public treasury and from private Hispanic citizens to finance the Battle of Yorktown, the decisive battle of the Revolutionary War.
  • The patriotism of Hispanics cannot be questioned.  Hispanic soldiers have served in the U.S. Armed Forces dating back from the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan with 44 Medal of Honor recipients. About half a million Hispanics fought the Axis powers during World War II.  Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez was the first person to die in the Iraq War, and more than 25 percent of the 58,195 names on the Vietnam War Memorial are Hispanics.
  • Spanish – not English – was the first European language spoken in North America. There are more than 2,000 U.S. cities with Spanish names, as well as the states of California, Arizona, Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Montana and Florida.
  • The U.S. is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.  A large number of Hispanics are bilingual, which is a plus since our exports to Latin America are nearly three times larger than our exports to China.  Spanish language skills and cultural affinity give our country a competitive advantage in doing business with a rapidly growing $6.4 trillion market of 579 million people in 21 countries plus Puerto Rico.

Oh, and about that first Thanksgiving? Here are a couple of other things our children’s history books fail to mention:

  • In St. Augustine on September 8, 1565 — 56 years before Plymouth, the Spanish and the native Tamaqua celebrated the first feast of Thanksgiving.
  • Near El Paso on April 20, 1598 — 23 years before Plymouth, five hundred colonists led by Juan de Oñate celebrated the end of a grueling expedition across Mexico’s Chihuahua Desert.  Their Thanksgiving celebration with Native Americans is recognized in resolutions by the Texas legislature.

Perhaps if the four million children in U.S. kindergartens this year – 25 percent of whom are Latinos – were taught the truth, not only about the rich history of Americanos in helping make this country so great, but also about Thanksgiving, this most American of holidays, then maybe we would have a healthier attitude on immigration reform and Americanos in general.

The truth. Surely that’s something for which we can all be thankful.

How Warren Buffett Plans to Profit from the U.S. Oil Boom

Oil and GasThe United States produced more crude oil than it imported in October for the first time in almost 20 years, the federal Energy Information Administration announced last week.

The U.S. also produced more oil in September than it has in any one-month period over the last 24 years, partially as a result of the rise of hydraulic fracturing, and the country is importing less than it has in 17 years.

It’s no surprise then that Warren Buffett just reported his third quarter portfolio update and he, or one of his recently hired fund managers Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, reported holding a single new stock in the third quarter:  Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The size of the Exxon holding suggests that it was a Buffett purchase.

There are collectively 43 stocks in Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio, which is valued at $92.04 billion. Exxon joins a group of other oil and gas stocks in Buffett’s portfolio: National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NOV), Phillips 66 (PSX), Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) and ConocoPhillips (COP).  In total, energy stocks comprise 7.9% of its total.

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)

Berkshire reported owning Exxon Mobil in the third quarter in an amended filing, but actually first bought the stock in the second quarter, without filing, and hid the fact until now. In the second quarter he bought 31,244,110 shares. In the third, it added 8,845,261. The average share prices for the two quarters were both $90.

The Exxon Mobil stake has a 3.7% portfolio weight and represents 0.91% of the $407 billion market cap company’s shares outstanding.

The most noteworthy change Warren Buffett made to Berkshire’s portfolio is the addition of a sizable new position – 40.1 million shares valued at $3.4 billion — in energy super major ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM).  In fact, Buffett constituted roughly three-quarters of the position in the second quarter and obtained confidential treatment from the SEC in his previous filing as he continued to build the position.

In many ways, ExxonMobil is an obvious choice for Berkshire’s portfolio; here are three reasons Buffett selected it:

It’s just plain cheap

At 11.8 times estimated earnings per share for the next 12 months, ExxonMobil shares trade at a 23% discount to the S&P 500′s forward earnings multiple; meanwhile, it pays a 2.7% dividend yield against just 2% for the index. Furthermore, the valuation was lower when Buffett was building his position — the stock’s average forward earnings multiple was 11.3 in the second quarter and just 10.8 in the third quarter — the sort of multiples that ought to generate some interest when they are associated with one of the best managed, most profitable companies in the world.

ExxonMobil is the second-largest company in the world by market value

The reported value of Berkshire’s stock holdings per today’s filing is a staggering $92 billion. In addition, Berkshire generates a flood of cash on a permanent basis that Buffett must attempt to allocate profitably. (Berkshire’s operating cash flow for the first nine months of 2013 was $20.7 billion.)

As such, when it comes to publicly traded stocks, Buffett can’t waste his time on minnows; he needs to focus exclusively on hooking the largest groupers in the corporate ocean. With a market value of $407 billion, ExxonMobil — the world’s second most valuable company — is just such a catch. ExxonMobil’s size and liquidity enabled Buffett to make it his largest new position since he put more than $10 billion to work in another mega cap issue, IBM, in 2011.

ExxonMobil has longevity

Warren Buffett will only invest in businesses that have genuine staying power; for a long-term investor with a multigenerational time horizon, permanence is a very attractive quality.

Buffett’s confident that ExxonMobil shares that characteristic. We know this because in his 2011 shareholder letter, he argued against buying gold by comparing the far-in-the-future value of all the world’s existing gold stock in the world and a hypothetical portfolio of productive assets with the same current value made up of “all U.S. cropland…, plus 16 ExxonMobils.” In the conclusion of his argument, he writes:

A century from now… ExxonMobil will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions…

A century is a long time, but there is every reason to believe ExxonMobil will be churning out gobs of cash — and returning it to shareholders — for the next several decades. That’s not a bad start for a buy-and-hold investor, particularly when it is bought at the right price.

One of My Favorite Books

Think-and-Grow-RichNovember 8th was the anniversary of the death of  Napoleon Hill who has inspired more people to become successful than any other person in history, including me.

His classic book Think and Grow Rich is considered the greatest self-improvement book of all time, with more than 70 million copies sold worldwide.  It’s helped millions of people to become successful, and you too can benefit from its lessons by listening to the free audio version or by reading it here.

Lionel Sosa was chosen by the Napoleon Hill Foundation to write Think and Grow Rich:  A Latino Choice.   Lionel chose 13 Latino stories to illustrate the 13 principles that Napoleon Hill synthesized from twenty years of interviews and study of the success philosophy of the richest men at the turn of the 20th century:  Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, King Gillette, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, William Wrigley Jr., F.W. Woolworth, and many others.

Lionel chose me to illustrate the first principle, which is to “Develop a Definite Major Purpose”.  Hill’s research showed that “there is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”  Success towards achieving your goals in life begins with knowing where you are going.  Hill knew that “without a definite major purpose, you are as helpless as a ship without a compass.”

As the first person to illustrate and write about the “law of attraction” which was copied and made famous recently by the book and movie The Secret, Napoleon Hill stated that:

Any dominating idea, plan, or purpose held in your conscious mind through repeated effort and emotionalized by a burning desire for its realization is taken over by the subconscious and acted upon through whatever natural and logical means may be available.  

 The Life of Napoleon Hill

Oliver Napoleon Hill was born in Wise County, Va., on Oct. 26, 1883. For young Napoleon, the wealthy industrialists he came to admire in later years were far removed from this primitive land where poverty, illiteracy and superstition reigned.

Nap, as he was called, was 10 when his mother passed away, leaving his father to care for him and his brother. James Hill was ill-equipped as a single parent and had difficulty in taming his son’s increasingly wild nature.  Napoleon was enamored with the outlaw Jesse James, carried a six-shooter on his hip and went about the county terrorizing its citizens.

But James Hill soon remarried, and his new wife Martha quickly established herself as a force in the two-room log cabin.  Napoleon, still pained from the loss of his mother, found a guiding light.  Martha saw the boy’s potential and encouraged him.  She told him he wasn’t a bad boy, and that he just needed to direct his energy toward accomplishing something worthwhile.  She suggested he use his overactive imagination to become a writer.

When he welcomed the idea, the well-educated Martha spent the next year tutoring him. She promised to buy him a typewriter if he gave up his six-shooter. “If you become as good with a typewriter as you are with that gun,” she said, “you may become rich and famous and known throughout the world.” Napoleon agreed to the deal.

At fifteen, he landed a position as a freelance reporter for a group of rural newspapers, followed a few years later by a job with Bob Taylor’s Magazine, a popular periodical that offered advice on achieving power and wealth.

How Andrew Carnegie Inspired Him

His first major interview was with the then richest man in America—73-year-old Pittsburgh steel magnate Andrew Carnegie—and that interview changed his life.  Hill intently listened as Carnegie recounted his extraordinary accomplishments and proffered his theories on personal achievement in the book The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as Told to Napoleon Hill.

“It’s a shame that each new generation must find the way to success by trial and error when the principles are really clear-cut,” Carnegie told him.  What the world needed, Carnegie suggested, was a philosophy of achievement, a compilation of success principles from the country’s greatest businessmen and leaders to show the commonality of their stories, and serve as inspiration and enlightenment to those wanting more in life.

He issued a challenge to Hill:  Commit the next 20 years, without compensation, to documenting and recording such a philosophy of success, and he would introduce him to the wealthiest and most successful men of the time. Hill jumped at the opportunity.

And so, for the next two decades, between numerous business ventures and starting a family, Hill went about fulfilling the pledge.  He met with Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, King Gillette and other contemporary giants. Carnegie believed that “definiteness of purpose” was the starting point for all success—that “the man who knows exactly what he wants… has no difficulty in believing in his own ability to succeed.”  The concept became the foundation for Hill’s later writing and professional focus.

Think and Grow Rich

After numerous rejections, Connecticut publisher Andrew Pelton agreed to print the book.

Hill’s eight-volume Law of Success debuted on March 26, 1928, offering the collective wisdom of the greatest achievers of the previous fifty years.  His work became a sensation.

The sheer size of Law of Success is daunting, running to 800 to 1000 pages depending on the edition.  Originally designed and produced in a 16 part series, each volume or chapter was substantial yet accessible.

In March 1937, he significantly reduced the book to about 200 pages, and changed the named to Think and Grow Rich – the first three print runs, increasing each time in numbers, came in rapid succession and all sold out, and it continues to sell today.

Here is an original two hour video of Napoleon Hill produced in 1937 going over the concepts of the book.

 

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally

Automaker Ford was losing billions of dollars when Alan Mulally took the wheel in 2006.

Here, in an interview conducted by New York based Rik Kirkland, senior managing editor of McKinsey Publishing, Mulally reflects on his leadership style and his efforts to turn around the organization.

When Alan Mulally was named president and CEO of Ford, in 2006, the famous American automaker was on the brink of bankruptcy. The company was preparing to post the biggest annual loss in its 103-year history—$12.7 billion.

Seven years later, Mulally is widely seen as the man behind one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in history. Ford has posted an annual profit every year since 2009, its stock price has rebounded, and a new corporate culture has transformed the way the organization works. In an interview with McKinsey’s Rik Kirkland, Mulally reflects on his approach to leading a large global organization, the process by which Ford seeks to understand the global business context, the importance of managing your energy (and not just your time), and why he thinks “One Ford” is more than just a catchphrase.

McKinsey: How would you describe your leadership style?

Alan Mulally: At the most fundamental level, it is an honor to serve—at whatever type or size of organization you are privileged to lead, whether it is a for-profit or nonprofit. It is an honor to serve. Starting from that foundation, it is important to have a compelling vision and a comprehensive plan. Positiveleadership—conveying the idea that there is always a way forward—is so important, because that is what you are here for—to figure out how to move the organization forward. Critical to doing that is reinforcing the idea that everyone is included. Everyone is part of the team and everyone’s contribution is respected, so everyone should participate. When people feel accountable and included, it is more fun. It is just more rewarding to do things in a supportive environment.

Say, for example, an employee decides to stop production on a vehicle for some reason. In the past at Ford, someone would have jumped all over them: “What are you doing? How did this happen?” It is actually much more productive to say, “What can we do to help you out?” Because if you have consistency of purpose across your entire organization and you have nurtured an environment in which people want to help each other succeed, the problem will be fixed quickly. So it is important to create a safe environment for people to have an honest dialogue, especially when things go wrong.

A big part of leadership is being authentic to who you are, thinking about what you really believe in and behaving accordingly. At Ford, we have a card with our business plan on one side and the behaviors we expect listed on the other. It is the result of 43 years of doing this.

McKinsey: There have been major changes in the external environment during your long career. How have those affected the way you lead?

Alan Mulally: People often say that the world is becoming more volatile and more complex, that there are exponentially more “moving parts.” The world has always been a complicated and volatile place—it is just that we now have the tools to recognize it, to try to make sense of it, and to respond to it. That can make the process of understanding the broader environment in which we operate feel more complicated. Understanding what is happening in the world has always been a critical part of doing business at Ford. It should be a critical part of doing business anywhere.

McKinsey: How do you make sure Ford understands the larger context?

Alan Mulally: Every week we have a Business Plan Review meeting, or BPR. Our entire global leadership team, every business leader, every functional leader, attends either remotely or in person. We talk about the worldwide business environment at that moment—things like the economy, the energy and technology sectors, global labor, government relations, demographic trends, what our competitors are doing, what is going on with our customers. Of course, we are all out there all the time as part of our jobs, going around the world. The BPR process is the foundation. It provides a fantastic window on the world—the whole team knows everything that is going on.

Then we take it a step further and discuss how those trends are likely to evolve. Looking ahead is critical. We talk about more than what our customers value right now. We talk about the forces in the world that are going to shape what they will value in the future.

Take energy, for example. While we believe petroleum is going to be around for a long time, it is going to cost more and take more time to bring to the market. So we are going to pay more for energy. Beyond that, we believe there is a social consciousness that is developing where people really want to consider alternative energy sources that are more sustainable and good for the planet. So, for every market in the world, we are pushing harder to develop vehicles that range from gasoline versions to diesel, natural gas, hybrid-electric and all-electric ones. We also see a future for hydrogen. That technology roadmap is informed by our clear point of view about where the world is going.

McKinsey: Tell me more about how this process translates into everyday decisions.

Alan Mulally: As part of the BPR, we look closely at our plan in the context of the risks and opportunities presented by the current and future business environment. The BPR meeting is a kind of status check. It is both a strategic plan and a relentless implementation plan. So we look at every element of the income statement and the balance sheet. As new information emerges, we incorporate it right into the plan.

So, for example, discretionary income in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing, and many economies are reaching the takeoff stage for our industry, as new car buyers enter the market. We have used extensive data and research to determine the factors that will influence their purchasing decisions, and we have a specific plan in place to capture those consumers by providing a complete family of best-in-class vehicles. We regularly go over that data to see if anything has changed. If the facts underpinning the plan have changed, our plan has to change as well. The data tell us how we are doing, and in that sense, the data set you free, which is pretty cool.

McKinsey: And how does the leadership style you described translate into your day-to-day work?

Alan Mulally: The first thing a leader does is facilitate connections between the organization and the outside world. You can only grow value and profits by 10 to 12 percent a year, which is what great companies do, if you satisfy customers better than the competition. Second, leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable for deciding, “What business are we in? What is the deep consumer need we are uniquely positioned to satisfy?” And finally, leaders are responsible for trying to articulate and model a set of behaviors.

One of the biggest parts of the leader’s job is reinforcing the processes we are using to meet our goals. Again, that is where the BPR comes in. It is more than a way of asking, “How are we doing?” It is asking, “How are we doing against the plan? What are the areas that need special attention? And then all through the year, what is our plan to improve our performance in the following year?”

McKinsey: You’re widely credited with reshaping the culture at Ford. What’s different now?

Alan Mulally: At the heart of our culture is the One Ford plan, which is essentially our vision for the organization and its mission. And at the heart of the One Ford plan is the phrase “One Team.” Those are more than just words. We really expect our colleagues to model certain behaviors. People here really are committed to the enterprise and to each other. They are working for more than themselves. We are a global company, so we really have to stay focused on the work. There are so many people around the world involved in our daily operations that it has to be about more than a single person—it truly has to be about the business. Some prefer to work in a different way. Ultimately, they will either adopt the Ford culture, or they will leave.

McKinsey: Running large companies is demanding, and you’ve been at this game a long time. How do you maintain your mental and physical stamina?

Alan Mulally: Everybody always talks about how you need to manage your time. You need to manage your energy as well. You first have to ask, “What gives me energy?” There can be lots of sources: your family, exercise, your spiritual well-being. Try to combine those, along with your work demands, into one integrated calendar so that everything is built into your lifestyle. You can get beyond having to tell yourself, “OK, I’m going to have my family life next year in August, on vacation.” Instead, jot down what is really important to you, see if you have allocated time for it, and adjust the calendar if necessary. In our house, we had a family meeting every week—the family BPR—where we reviewed what we needed to do and the support required to get us through the week. It is another kind of process step, and a really important one.

McKinsey: One last question: Henry Ford had a vision. But the world, and the transportation industry, is dramatically different now. Has the Ford vision changed?

Alan Mulally: Henry Ford understood that the desire to move—to have freedom of mobility—is enduring and universal. As economies grow, and even as human beings grow, the first thing they want to do is move. It is a powerful vision—opening up the world’s highways so that everyone can have freedom of mobility, and can access the opportunities for growth that those experiences can offer.

The vision will remain constant, while our role in realizing that vision might evolve. There are tremendous opportunities for safe and efficient transportation in the future— in rapid and public transportation, for example. So we might be part of connecting different modes of transportation—bicycles and waterways and cars and buses and subways—all as part of the vision of enabling movement and bringing people together. Ford can use technology and innovation to deliver products and services that enable that experience at the most fundamental level. That is what we do.

About the authors

Alan Mulally is president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. This interview was conducted by Rik Kirkland, senior managing editor of McKinsey Publishing, who is based in McKinsey’s New York office.

by Elaine ChavagnonThis article appeared on Nov. 4, 2013 in Family Wealth Report, and it was written by London based reporter Elaine Chavagnon, based on an interview she did with me last week.

Tiger 21, the peer-to-peer network for high net worth investors, is in expansion mode in Florida after unveiling a second group in Miami in September and currently preparing for the launch of a third in Palm Beach next month.

But besides tapping the expertise of wealthy individuals and families locally, the New York-headquartered organization is looking to deepen its footprint in the Sunshine State by drawing on the strong ties it has with Latin America, Charles Garcia, chair of the Florida group, told Family Wealth Report. 

One of the main factors linking Florida – which has for a while been regarded as a wealth management “hotspot” - to Latin America is the fact that 23 per cent of the state’s 19.3 million inhabitants are of Hispanic or Latino origin, compared to a US average of 16.9 per cent (source: 2012 US Census data). The US also exports 2.6 times as much to Latin America as it does to China, with the continent being Florida’s largest trading partner.

At the same time, some 15,000 Latin Americans are ultra-high net worth individuals representing at least $2.3 trillion in wealth, according to recent estimates. Indeed, last week Garcia met with Guillermo Romo, a Tiger 21 member in San Diego, CA, who is recommending Latin American individuals to Garcia he thinks would be good members.

“Romo confirmed that a lot of Mexican UHNW families are choosing Miami over Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, San Diego, CA, and Los Angeles, CA,” Garcia said.

And, in what Garcia views as an early sign that the economy in Florida is getting stronger – fueled in part by LatAm investors - the real estate market has improved considerably in recent time.

He said: “While in 2008/9 there were 68,000 empty apartments, all of that inventory has now gone and people are progressively building again. Some of that is because there are a lot of very wealthy Latin Americans – from countries like Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela – that have invested heavily into real estate in Miami.”

LatAm focus

Having recently added several new Miami members from Latin America, Garcia said he has now decided to open the doors to LatAm families. Tiger’s Miami group includes seven Hispanics, representing about 33 per cent of these individuals (these are not Latin Americans, but US citizens of Hispanic descent or “Hispanic Americans.”)

“If you talk to the large wealth managers in South Florida, some of them are 100 per cent managing wealth from LatAm families. Others are managing money from South Florida families mostly, while others have more of a national practice,” Garcia said.

“I’m starting to invite people from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru; I have someone from Venezuela and the Caribbean. It gives us a better outlook as to what is going on in those countries,” he said. (Likewise, part of the reason Latin Americans want to join Tiger is because they want insights as to what’s going on in the US.)

However, the type of peer-to-peer experience offered by Tiger is “very unusual” for Latin Americans, Garcia said, as they’re culturally not as open about their finances as other members are perhaps used to.

“People often joke that everyone has three books: the book you show the government, the book you show your wife, and the book with the real numbers. Disclosing information to other Tiger members – even though it’s confidential – is very tough.”

Garcia added that he’s thinking of creating a Miami-based group comprised primarily of Latin Americans, or at least half Latin Americans and half US members. (The idea would be to have around six meetings in Miami, and then have about six in LatAm.)

“I’m also trying to recruit women, as there are some very prominent LatAm business women I’ve already spoken to whom I think would make excellent members,” he said.

About Tiger

By way of background, Tiger 21 is an acronym for The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century and its members collectively manage over $20 billion in total assets.

The organization has 225 members overall, 85 of which are based in New York; 40 in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal), and then there are around 100 across Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, Miami, FL, Washington, DC, and Dallas, TX.

Members are typically entrepreneurs, chief executives, inventors and other senior executives with backgrounds in financial services, real estate, industrial and consumer goods, legal services, entertainment and medicine.

The groups meet monthly to share investment ideas and experiences on a range of wealth-related issues (Garcia said 50 per cent of the meetings are focused on investments and the other half are focused on business, personal or family issues). Members also have access to investment opportunities including private equity, real estate and hedge funds.

“I think it’s interesting that when people accumulate a lot of wealth, they have a certain feeling of isolation,” Garcia said.

“When you have sold a business, for example, you might have a lot of money, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a good investor. The same skills that made you a good business person actually can be counter-productive in terms of managing your wealth.”

Growth

Garcia believes that, in order for Tiger to grow, the organization needs to recruit strong chairs that know enough about the financial markets, how to facilitate meetings and, above all, how to recruit.

Even though most of Tiger’s growth comes from member referrals, a lot of time goes into bringing new members on board, with the ultimate decision resting in the hands of the group in question.

“There is interest in opening groups in Atlanta, GA, and Chicago, IL, but you need to find the right person first,” Garcia said.

“One of the things I’ve been doing is interfacing with money managers and talking to them about Tiger – I met one earlier this week and they have already made three referrals to me. They have to understand that Tiger doesn’t compete with them; an average Tiger member already has three wealth advisors.”

Garcia said he aims to take the number South Florida members from 21 to between 40 and 50 by the end of next year.

# # #

TIGER 21 members focus not only on improving their investment acumen, but also on leveraging the power of their wealth and networks for philanthropy, business opportunities, estate planning, and raising socially responsible children.  TIGER 21’s success is built upon the willingness of members to share their best thinking, experience, curiosity, and vast networks with their fellow group members, as well as the entire TIGER 21 community.  If you are interested in being part of the TIGER 21 South Florida chapter please call Charles Garcia at 561-703-2631 or by email to Charles.Garcia@tiger21.com; if you live in another part of the country call Harley Frank, Director of Membership at (212) 584-0222 or Harley.Frank@tiger21.com.

5 Catalysts Can Create Jobs and Substantially Boost GDP

U.S. EconomyToday, labor-force participation is at a 34-year low, and the United States has two million fewer jobs than it did when the recession began. Weak investment, demographic shifts, and a slowdown in productivity growth are dampening the economy’s trajectory.

But the United States does not have to resign itself to sluggish growth.  Game changers: Five opportunities for US growth and renewal, a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), identifies specific catalysts that can add hundreds of billions of dollars to annual GDP and create millions of new jobs by 2020.

Game changers zeroes in on five mutually reinforcing opportunities:

  • Shale-gas and -oil production. Powered by advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the production of domestic shale gas and oil has grown more than 50 percent annually since 2007. The shale boom could add as much as $690 billion a year to GDP and create up to 1.7 million jobs across the economy by 2020. The impact will extend to energy-intensive manufacturing industries and beyond. The United States now has the potential to reduce net energy imports to zero—but only if it can successfully address the associated environmental risks.
  • US trade competitiveness in knowledge-intensive goods. The United States is one of the few advanced economies running a trade deficit in knowledge-intensive industries. But changing factor costs, a rebound in demand, and currency shifts are creating an opening to increase US production and exports of knowledge-intensive goods, such as automobiles, commercial airliners, medical devices, and petrochemicals. By implementing five strategies to boost competitiveness in these sectors, we believe the United States could reduce the trade deficit in knowledge-intensive industries to its 2000 level or close it—which would add up to $590 billion in annual GDP by 2020 and create up to 1.8 million new jobs.
  • Big-data analytics as a productivity tool. Sectors across the economy can harness the deluge of data generated by transactions, medical and legal records, videos, and social technologies—not to mention the sensors, cameras, bar codes, and transmitters embedded in the world around us. Advances in computing and analytics can transform this sea of data into insights that create operational efficiencies. By 2020, the wider adoption of big-data analytics could increase annual GDP in retailing and manufacturing by up to $325 billion and save as much as $285 billion in the cost of health care and government services.
  • Increased investment in infrastructure, with a new emphasis on productivity. The backlog of maintenance and upgrades for US roads, highways, bridges, and transit and water systems is reaching critical levels. The United States must increase its annual infrastructure investment by one percentage point of GDP to erase this competitive disadvantage. By 2020, that could create up to 1.8 million jobs and boost annual GDP by up to $320 billion. The impact could grow to $600 billion annually by 2030 if the selection, delivery, and operation of infrastructure investments improve.
  • A more effective US system of talent development. The nation’s long-standing advantage in education and skills has been eroding, but today real improvements are within reach. At the postsecondary level, expanding industry-specific training and increasing the number of graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math could build a more competitive workforce. At the K–12 level, enhancing classroom instruction, turning around underperforming high schools, and introducing digital learning tools can boost student achievement. These initiatives could raise GDP by as much as $265 billion by 2020—and achieve a dramatic “liftoff” effect by 2030, adding as much as $1.7 trillion to annual GDP.

These opportunities can have immediate demand-stimulus effects that would get the economy moving again in the short term and also have longer-term effects that would build US competitiveness and productivity well beyond 2020. Taking action now could mark a turning point for the US economy and drive growth and prosperity for decades to come.

 

New York Headquarters

YPO (Young President Organization) and Vistage are global peer-to-peer groups that help chief executives become better leaders, solve their business challenges, and get better results. Both groups were started in the 1950s and combined have nearly 40,000 members in hundreds of countries.

I’ve been a long time member of both organizations, and always made better business decisions when I shared sensitive information with this group of trusted advisers who gave me invaluable feedback.

What I like about peer-to-peer groups is that it reinforces the fact that you can’t do it alone.

We often try to, imagining that we can see and know the things we need to know without the discerning eye of an outside point of view. I think it’s easy to get off track. Most of us know what our purpose is or what we would like our legacy to be, but we are constantly pressured from external sources to deviate from it. Or we are seduced by extrinsic rewards like money, power, and recognition that cause us to detour from being our authentic selves.

It’s much easier to just keep on doing what we are doing, and say to ourselves that — obviously — we are doing what we are doing because it makes us happy.

And that’s what drew me to “The Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century”, better known as TIGER 21 – the premier peer-to-peer network for ultra-high-net-worth investors. TIGER 21’s over 220 members collectively manage more than $20 billion in investable assets.

TIGER 21 members, who have risen to exceptional heights within corporations or are entrepreneurs and have built and sold successful businesses, join TIGER 21 because they recognize these same business skills rarely translate into successfully managing one’s personal assets.

Founded in 1999, TIGER 21 has groups in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Washington D.C., Dallas, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. It plans to launch a group in Palm Beach on December 5, 2013, and in Chicago and Atlanta by March 2014.

Members, who are carefully vetted with background and other checks, must have at least $10 million in investable net worth, and the average member has a $75 million net worth.

The members focus not only on improving their investment acumen, but also on leveraging the power of their wealth and networks for philanthropy, business opportunities, estate planning, and raising socially responsible children.

TIGER 21’s success is built upon the willingness of members to share their best thinking, experience, curiosity, and vast networks with their fellow group members, as well as the entire TIGER 21 community.

The core of the TIGER 21 experience is what occurs in group meetings, which are completely confidential and chaired by highly successful business leaders who facilitate the meetings. TIGER 21 meetings provide a unique forum for candid discussions and peer-to-peer learning among individuals facing the challenges and opportunities of managing their wealth and their daily lives. Members sharpen their investment acumen through critique and coaching, as well as exploring common issues of wealth preservation, estate planning and family dynamics.

The range of expertise and investment styles shared in a confidential and intimate environment of trust and transparency, offers members unique insights and immeasurable value not found anywhere else.

Members’ ages vary significantly. From young professionals in their early thirties to active and retired business owners in their eighties, the diversity of age ranges contributes significantly to the TIGER 21 learning environment.

Members also enjoy a very exclusive concierge service to help them with their travel, lodging, and entertainment, as well as purchases of cars, jewelry, art, insurance and other products and services.

When individuals join TIGER 21, they are encouraged to attend meetings in other cities to expand their relationships, as well as to attend the annual three day conference with their families where they can meet the other TIGER 21 members and a host of top rated resources oriented towards investments and the issues and opportunities facing ultra-high net worth families.

In this short video a longtime TIGER 21 member who rose to become Chairman of Fleet Securities, Inc. after Fleet Bank acquired Quick and Reilly Group, and that has relied on his group members to make key decision in his life.

And then there is the retired Vice Chairman of CIBC World Markets, who is also been a longtime TIGER 21 member and who describes why this peer-to-peer experience is such an important part of his life.

What’s clear is that aside from sharpening their investment acumen, they also meet as peers to discuss the important questions of their lives and to support each other during difficult times. They encourage each other to make the necessary course corrections to avoid the avoidable problems we all can get ourselves into.

Save us from ourselves so to speak.

Was Christopher Columbus Secretly Jewish?

Christopher Columbus

Today we celebrate the life of Christopher Columbus in the United States.

Everybody knows the story of Columbus, right? He was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail in 1492 to enrich the Spanish monarchs with gold and spices from the orient. Not quite.

For too long, scholars have ignored Columbus’ grand passion: the quest to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims.

During Columbus’ lifetime, Jews became the target of fanatical religious persecution. On March 31, 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain. The edict especially targeted the 800,000 Jews who had never converted, and gave them four months to pack up and get out.

The Jews who were forced to renounce Judaism and embrace Catholicism were known as “Conversos,” or converts. There were also those who feigned conversion, practicing Catholicism outwardly while covertly practicing Judaism, the so-called “Marranos,” or swine.

Tens of thousands of Marranos were tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. They were pressured to offer names of friends and family members, who were ultimately paraded in front of crowds, tied to stakes and burned alive. Their land and personal possessions were then divvied up by the church and crown.

Recently, a number of Spanish scholars, such as Jose Erugo, Celso Garcia de la Riega, Otero Sanchez and Nicholas Dias Perez, have concluded that Columbus was a Marrano, whose survival depended upon the suppression of all evidence of his Jewish background in face of the brutal, systematic ethnic cleansing.

Columbus, who was known in Spain as Cristóbal Colón and didn’t speak Italian, signed his last will and testament on May 19, 1506, and made five curious — and revealing — provisions.

Two of his wishes — tithe one-tenth of his income to the poor and provide an anonymous dowry for poor girls — are part of Jewish customs. He also decreed to give money to a Jew who lived at the entrance of the Lisbon Jewish Quarter.

On those documents, Columbus used a triangular signature of dots and letters that resembled inscriptions found on gravestones of Jewish cemeteries in Spain. He ordered his heirs to use the signature in perpetuity.

According to British historian Cecil Roth’s “The History of the Marranos,” the anagram was a cryptic substitute for the Kaddish, a prayer recited in the synagogue by mourners after the death of a close relative. Thus, Columbus’ subterfuge allowed his sons to say Kaddish for their crypto-Jewish father when he died. Finally, Columbus left money to support the crusade he hoped his successors would take up to liberate the Holy Land.

Estelle Irizarry, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, has analyzed the language and syntax of hundreds of handwritten letters, diaries and documents of Columbus and concluded that the explorer’s primary written and spoken language was Castilian Spanish. Irizarry explains that 15th-century Castilian Spanish was the “Yiddish” of Spanish Jewry, known as “Ladino.” At the top left-hand corner of all but one of the 13 letters written by Columbus to his son Diego contained the handwritten Hebrew letters bet-hei, meaning b’ezrat Hashem (with God’s help). Observant Jews have for centuries customarily added this blessing to their letters. No letters to outsiders bear this mark, and the one letter to Diego in which this was omitted was one meant for King Ferdinand.

In Simon Weisenthal’s book, “Sails of Hope,” he argues that Columbus’ voyage was motivated by a desire to find a safe haven for the Jews in light of their expulsion from Spain. Likewise, Carol Delaney, a cultural anthropologist at Stanford University, concludes that Columbus was a deeply religious man whose purpose was to sail to Asia to obtain gold in order to finance a crusade to take back Jerusalem and rebuild the Jews’ holy Temple.

In Columbus’ day, Jews widely believed that Jerusalem had to be liberated and the Temple rebuilt for the Messiah to come.

Scholars point to the date on which Columbus set sail as further evidence of his true motives. He was originally going to sail on August 2, 1492, a day that happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples of Jerusalem. Columbus postponed this original sail date by one day to avoid embarking on the holiday, which would have been considered by Jews to be an unlucky day to set sail. (Coincidentally or significantly, the day he set forth was the very day that Jews were, by law, given the choice of converting, leaving Spain, or being killed.)

Columbus’ voyage was not, as is commonly believed, funded by the deep pockets of Queen Isabella, but rather by two Jewish Conversos and another prominent Jew. Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez advanced an interest free loan of 17,000 ducats from their own pockets to help pay for the voyage, as did Don Isaac Abrabanel, rabbi and Jewish statesman.

Indeed, the first two letters Columbus sent back from his journey were not to Ferdinand and Isabella, but to Santangel and Sanchez, thanking them for their support and telling them what he had found.

The evidence seem to bear out a far more complicated picture of the man for whom our nation now celebrates a national holiday and has named its capital.

As we witness bloodshed the world over in the name of religious freedom, it is valuable to take another look at the man who sailed the seas in search of such freedoms — landing in a place that would eventually come to hold such an ideal at its very core.

Desecrating the Memoryof César Chávez

LatinoRebels.com

My article first appeared in LatinoRebels.com.

 

 

 

Silva bigger

In 1971, César Chávez moved his home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers union from Delano to La Paz, a property encompassing 187 acres in the Tehachapi Mountains of eastern Kern County, California.   Kern is the fifth-largest county in California with nearly fifty percent of its population of Mexican-American descent.   When he died in 1993, as was his wish, César Chávez was laid to rest in La Paz.

On October 2012, President Barack Obama traveled to Kern County to establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument  to honor a leader determined to bring the concerns of Latinos to the forefront of the national political debate.   Through his grassroots efforts to fight injustice in all its forms, Chávez became a national icon, inspiring national political power through his slogan “Sí, se puede” — Spanish for “Yes, you can”.

President Obama Announces Cesar Chavez National Monument

President Obama Announces Cesar Chavez National Monument

What would César Chávez say if he knew that in the city of Bakersfield, less than thirty minutes from La Paz, Latinos are being systematically terrorized by Kern County police?

His first question would undoubtedly be “Why are the police doing this?”

“Because we can,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood mocks him in the cartoon above, smirking as he holds illegally confiscated cell phones bearing evidence of his thugs beating an innocent Latino to death.

The second question Cesar Chavez would ask is “Why do Americans know the names Trayvon Martin and Rodney King, yet are oblivious to the names of Jose Lucero and David Silva?”

Next week begins the murder trial in the death of Trayvon Martin, whose name and photograph in a hoodie are easily recognized by Americans.  The public’s familiarity with Trayvon came into the national consciousness when a number of high-profile African American citizens — including Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and President Barack Obama called for a full investigation.

Rodney King’s beating by officers of the L.A.P.D. is another such incident that gained national prominence due to the media’s release of a citizen’s videotaped footage of the incident.  There was a national outcry for a criminal conviction, and even former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley said at the time “The men who beat Rodney King do not deserve to wear the uniform of the L.A.P.D.”

Rodney King Almost Beaten to Death by L.A.P.D.

Rodney King Almost Beaten to Death by L.A.P.D.

That brings us to the stories of Jose Lucero and David Silva, two 33-yearold men living in Bakersfield, California, about thirty minutes from La Paz.   As you will soon discover, Jose and David’s deaths resulted from the failure of leadership by Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood who is a disgrace to all the good men and women who wear the law enforcement uniform.

Kern County Sheriff deputies Ryan Greer, Jonathan Juden, Daniel Willis, and Angelos Gonzalez went to Jose Lucero’s home on December 18, 2010, in response to repeated 911 calls from Jose claiming that a female friend was being assaulted in Lancaster.

Jose, a recovering drug addict who struggled with mental health issues, was living at the home of his elderly parents, Florencio and Lilia Lucero.  Prior to that day, reports indicated he was on the road to recovery, but on that day he had relapsed.  Witnesses testified that Jose appeared to be mentally unstable, either as the result of drug use or a prior head injury.  The deputies decided to take Jose Lucero into custody for abuse of the 911 system.

Their arrest strategy was to pepper spray him, beat him with batons, and electrocute him with their Taser guns.  The decedent’s elderly parents were horrified as they witnessed the entire incident.

Pepper spray causes intense pain, involuntary closing of the eyes, considerable tearing, as well as temporary paralysis of the larynx which causes subjects to lose their breath.

The Taser X26 used by the Kern County deputies deliver a 50,000 volt charge.  It uses compressed nitrogen to propel a pair of “probes”—aluminum darts tipped with stainless steel barbs connected to the X26 by insulated wires—toward a person at a rate of over 160 feet per second.

Taser Barb Need to Be Removed in a Hospital with a Scalpel

Taser Barb Need to Be Removed in a Hospital with a Scalpel

The manufacturer maintains that the full 50,000 volts do not enter the victim’s body; rather, it claims the X26 only delivers a peak voltage of 1,200 volts into the body, and an average current of 2.1 milliamps for 5 seconds.  As a comparison, the electric chair administers 2,450 volts at about 5 amps for 20 seconds.

When the deputies became violent, Jose hid behind his father for protection, but the police ordered Florencio Lucero to step away, making Jose an easy target for two of the deputies to shoot Jose with their Taser guns.

Taser Gun

Taser Gun

The impact is as powerful as it is swift.  The electrical impulse from a Taser instantly overrides the victim’s central nervous system, paralyzing the muscles and rendering the target limp and helpless.  In addition, removal of the barbed probes requires hospitalization so that a doctor can remove the probes with a scalpel.

Medical experts report that just one five second Taser jolt can set off irregular heart rhythms, leading to cardiac arrest.  Individuals with mental problems, heart conditions, or abusing certain drugs have a higher risk of death.  Once the steel barbs are lodged on the body, the officer can deliver continued electricity by pulling the device’s trigger again.

Click on the picture below to see a video of a dozen police officers in training being shot — just once — with a Taser gun during a training session.  Note that the barbs did not enter their skin but pierced a vest on their back.

Police Being Shot with Taser During Training

Police Being Shot with Taser During Training

This training video shows the painful result of just one Taser blow, even when the victim is held in the protective grasp of two colleagues.  For safety reasons, most police department policies recommend no more than four jolts with a Taser.

According to data collected by Amnesty International, at least 500 people in the United States have died since 2001 after being shocked with Tasers.  In November 2007, the UN Committee Against Torture released a statement saying “use of Taser X26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constitutes a form of torture, and… in certain cases, it could also cause death.”

Jose Lucero, who was unarmed and could easily have been taken down by four police officers, was electrocuted with the Taser 29 times, within a six minute period.  And no, that is not a typographical error:  29 times.  At 5 seconds per Taser, that is a total electrocution time of 2 minutes and 25 seconds! What kind of sick person would do that to another human being?

And if you think it couldn’t possibly get worse, the police pummeled Jose mercilessly  with their batons  33 times which, coincidentally, is the number of times Rodney King was clubbed by the police.

The typical police baton is simply a steel pipe, the use of which can have lethal consequences.  Like brass knuckles, it can crack your head open, break your bones, and cause permanent injury to your bodily organs.  In the case of Rodney King, the bones holding his eye in its socket were broken, and he suffered eleven broken bones at the base of his skull.

Typical Police Batons are Just Like Steel Pipes

Typical Police Batons are Just Like Steel Pipes

These four thugs masquerading as law enforcement officers certainly have nothing on the most heinous torturers of our times. Not surprisingly, their actions are aided and abetted by Sheriff Youngblood’s assurances that this “arrest” was handled in accordance with department policy.

Instead of excising this malignant tumor from the police force by filing criminal charges against all four deputies, he allows the cancer of police brutality to metastasize it the culture of the sheriff’s office by doing nothing.

Jose’s parents awaited the impartial results from the coroner’s office on the autopsy and cause of death. The Coroner’s Office is not limited to the examination of the deceased, but it also includes interviews with family members and other witnesses to assist with the determination.

Imagine the surprise of Jose’s parents when the coroner reported their son’s official cause of death was cardiac arrest following police restraint in association with methamphetamine intoxication.

But now get this.  Who do you think is the Kern County Coroner?

Humor me.  Just take one guess?

That’s right, Sheriff – Coroner – Public Administrator Donny Youngblood.  All three positions were consolidated in 1995 by the Board of Supervisors.  Coroner Youngblood was elected in November 2006 to wear these three hats, after retiring in 2002 after thirty year as a Commander in the Kern County Sheriff’s department.

Coroner Youngblood decides the cause of death of the innocent victims who die while in the police custody of Sheriff Youngblood. Nice.  It’s like Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde coming to life in Kern County.

Donny Youngblood

And for a judge and jury, this was just too ridiculous a lie to swallow.

In November 2012, after three and a half weeks of trial and five hours of deliberation, a unanimous jury found that the County of Kern, the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Ryan Greer, Deputy Daniel Willis, Deputy Angelo Gonzalez and Deputy Jonathan Juden were liable to Florencio and Lilia Lucero for the wrongful death of their son.  For witnessing this brutality in their home, the court found negligent infliction of emotional distress resulting in an award of $4.5 million in total damages.

And what happened to the four deputies involved in this brutality?  Nothing.  According to Sheriff/Coroner Youngblood they did nothing wrong, so all the deputies stayed on the force.

And that’s how on the night of May 7, 2013, Deputy Ryan Greer met David Sal Silva, the 33-year-old father of four beautiful young girls between the ages of two and ten.  One day Deputy Greer should explain to Makayla, Catelyn, Chelsea, and Eli why he and his gang of savages beat their father to death for simply passing out on the sidewalk after a very tough day.

David Silva with the mother of his four daughters

David Silva with the mother of his four daughters

Ruben Ceballos awoke around midnight to sharp cracks and piercing screams.  The 19-year-old rushed to the kitchen door and saw Kern County sheriff’s deputies beating David Silva in the head as he lay still on the ground.

“I saw two sheriff’s deputies on top of this guy, just beating him,” Ceballos said. “He was screaming in pain … asking for help. He was incapable of fighting back — he was outnumbered, on the ground.  They just beat him up.”

And then there’s 34-year-old Salina Quair who was just leaving the Kern Medical Center, and saw David die.  It turns out that David had sought help a little earlier from the substance abuse center at the Kern Medical Center.   Unfortunately, a security guard saw that he was intoxicated and asked him to leave.  David barely made it across the street before passing out.

Ironically, Salina called the police on the police.

Not only did Salina witness the savage execution and call 911, she also videotaped it with her phone and testified that the deputies were beating David to death with their batons when he was already unconscious.

“There’s a man laying on the floor and your police officers beat the shit out of him and killed him,” said Salina. “I have it all on video camera.”

She continued shouting into the phone:

“I am sitting here on the corner of Flower and Palm right now and you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight Sheriffs. The guy was laying on the floor and eight Sheriff’s ran up and started beating him up with sticks. The man is dead laying right here, right now.”

Another witness, Jason Land, said he was so traumatized after seeing the murder, he didn’t know what to do. Jason said the police acted like “animals” when they brutally beat David to death right in front of him.  He went to a local news station to tell his account.  A few hours later, police arrested him and charged him with being on PCP, which was a lie, and according to Jason the deputies tried to intimidate him to change his story about what he witnessed.

According to other witnesses, the first deputy to arrive found David passed out on the ground and gave him a knuckle rub on the chest and ordered him to wake him up.  He got up on his knees, but being intoxicated he then fell on his face.  How could anyone possibly interpret his inability to get up as “resisting arrest”?

So who did this deputy call for back-up to help him with this passed out unresponsive man resisting arrest?  The back-up was a K-9 German Shepherd police dog released from his car in the attack mode that ferociously sunk his sharp teeth into David’s flesh, who was only wearing a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.  The autopsy revealed deep bites on his legs, arms, hands and torso.  Even for days after the attack you could see David’s blood all over the ground.

German Shaphard Police Dog

German Shaphard Police Dog

 

In Seconds a Police Dog Can Rip Your Skin Off

In Seconds a Police Dog Can Rip Your Skin Off

This unprovoked attack by a vicious animal must have suddenly awoken David from his drunken stupor because he began to fight for his life by trying to choke the dog before it killed him.  And that’s when the eight other “law enforcement” officers arrived to savagely kick him and beat him over the face, head, and neck with their bone crushing steel batons.

The police department identified  the seven deputies involved in David’s death as Sgt. Douglas Sword, Deputy Ryan Greer, Deputy Tanner Miller, Deputy Jeffrey Kelly, Deputy Luis Almanza, Deputy Brian Brock, and Deputy David Stephens. Two California Highway Patrol officers also responded, but haven’t been identified.  All officers are still working.

Silva’s uncle described what he saw after seeing his nephew’s body at the coroner’s office. “Bruised up face, chin, ear, busted lip, broken nose, black eye, all marks all over his face,” he explained.

It is completely absurd that these animals have not been arrested, strictly on the testimony of the many eye witnesses to this completely unprovoked execution of an intoxicated man passed out on the sidewalk.

The cover up began immediately after the crime.

At 2 a.m. deputies began knocking on witnesses’ doors, detaining them for hours and demanding they turn over the footage on their cellphones.  Is anyone really surprised that the most incriminating videos are missing from the mobile phones when they were finally returned?

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood held a triumphant press conference on May 23rd during which — contradicting the eye-witnesses — he said that only three deputies delivered blows to David Silva and none to the head or neck.

Sheriff Youngblood declared everything about Silva’s “arrest” was handled in accordance with department policy.  Coroner Youngblood declared David Silva’s death as “accidental,” with the official cause of death listed as “cardiac hypertension.”

These absurd conclusions are no more believable then those made when Jose Lucero was tortured to death.

Silva father said "As far as I am concerned Youngblood is an accomplice to murder."

Silva father said “As far as I am concerned Youngblood is an accomplice to murder.”

The day after Youngblood held that press conference, Silva’s father Sal went on Los Angeles radio to express his outrage: “Although they murdered my son, they say, well, he died of natural causes.  Really? Don’t believe your eyes, don’t believe your ears, don’t believe the witnesses, don’t believe anything, but believe what the sheriff, our good sheriff, has to say.  As far as I am concerned [the sheriff] is an accomplice to murder.”

Fortunately, in the case of David Silva there are numerous impartial and credible eye witnesses who even, without the help of their sabotaged videotaped footage, can recount in their own words what they saw and heard that night.

It’s sad that this evil lurks in the shadows of the César Chávez National Monument, and we all desecrate the memory of his life by doing nothing.

César Chávez will be honored in a week-long series of events between June 3 and June 8, 2013, in Riverside, California culminating in the unveiling of a memorial and statue in his likeness this Saturday.  It will join existing statues there of other civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi.

César E. Chávez Memorial, created by sculptor Ignacio Gomez

If his life is to stand for something, it should stand as a beacon for our country’s citizens to take action against injustice, and especially against the evil residing in Kern County , which affects everyone, not only Latinos.

To honor the memory of César Chávez you can watch this two-minute video (click on the picture below) taken in May 1972 on the 19th day his 24-day hunger strike at Santa Rita Center in Arizona.  He is joined by Coretta Scott King to link the solidarity and commitment of the civil rights movement to the cause of Latino farmworkers to organize an effort to recall then-Gov. Jack Williams and protest an Arizona law limiting the rights of farmworkers.

Cesar Chavez and Coretta Scott King

Cesar Chavez and Coretta Scott King

You see Coretta, Cesar, and other African American leaders and Latinos are joined together singing hand in hand, committed to social change through peaceful non-violence.  “Non-violence is not inaction.  It is not discussion.  It is not for the timid or weak… Non-violence is hard work.  It is the willingness to sacrifice.  It is the patience to win,” César Chávez reminds us.  You also see the movement’s slogan, “Sí, se puede” — “Yes, you can,” on the walls, the same slogan President Barack Obama adopted as the motto for his presidential campaign.

And to honor the last moments of Jose Lucero and David Silva’s valiant fight for their lives against overwhelming odds with a posthumous eulogy, I dedicate to them “If We Must Die” by Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay.   It was written about the 1919 Harlem race riots and served as a call to action to all African American men that it was time for them to stand up for their rights.

If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

This article was originally published on LatinoRebels.com.

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