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HAPPY 2022: HOPES AND WOES
It’s a new year with lots of residue from the 2020-2021 pandemic era. A new year always augurs hope and the best of all human potential and possibilities. New Year’s always arrives in winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Already, there is extreme cold weather in most states. Perhaps, BUILD BACK BETTER, will see the light of day with congressional nods in both chambers. Perhaps, a voting rights bill will get consensus. It is the one hope for a sustainable democracy. Perhaps, the runaway variant will force more people to get vaccinated. Perhaps, Democrats coming up with counter offensives to forever ban Democratic victories in Republican dominated states. Perhaps, people will get the message about climate change and planetary survival. New Yorkers are in a good place with its new energetic mayor Eric Adams.

Eri Adams

Omicron, the latest coronavirus variant is a monster and scarily contagious. Its impact on society is mutating. It affects the economy and the national health in ways large and small. Schools, airlines, first responders are all vulnerable to Omicron. It is a perilous evil when it inhabits anti vaxxers. The coronavirus is incomprehensible. We must re-examine old protocols, social distancing and masks plus the full vaccine, the booster and the annual flu jabs. Extreme cold weather with heavy snow blanketing a large swath of the country now signals that winter 2022 is not going to be easy.

NEW YORK, NY
Looking at the NYC/NYS Black political power elite, it is more the exception than the rule in America. The list is long and the titles are impressive like NYS Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, NYS Senate Leader Andrea Cousins-Stewart, NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Downstate elites include NYC Mayor Eric Adams, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg; NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams; and Boro Prexies, Donovan Richards, Queens; Vanessa Gibson, Bronx. List would be incomplete without a reference to Attorney Damian Williams, who heads the U.S. Southern District of NY, a storied office which has never had a Black at the helm in its 232-year history.

Damian Williams

Eric Adams was sworn in as the 110th Mayor of NYC at Times Square on January 1. A sea change in NYC officialdom is imminent. Mayor Adams, got off to a challenging first day, riding to work on the NY train, witnessing an act of violence from the elevated platform, visiting a NYPD officer who was shot in the head while sleeping between a second shift.

While writing an open critical letter to Hizzoner for WGO on January 4, he calls a press conference to announce his SMALL BUSINESS FORWARD executive order to reform existing business regulations to ease the burden of needless fines and penalties for local businesses. It is a godsend! Order pertains to fines issued by NYC Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Sanitation, and the Fire Department. Hizzoner has astute managers. Yes, already the sea is undergoing a welcome change!

There are vacancies at other mega NYC agencies worthy of executive search attention like the NYC Finance Commissioner, the HPD Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner, and the Chair of NYCHA, the NYC Housing Authority. Other Deputy Mayors are still to be named such as Public Safety. NYS Governor Kathy Hochul named a Public Safety Commissioner on January 4.

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BUSINESS OPS
The New York Urban League’s Small Business Solutions Center is the recipient of a $250,000 grant from Valor Equity Partners to serve the critical needs of NYC Black entrepreneurs who have been negatively impacted by the protracted effects of COVID19. Grant is targeted to 25 Black-owned businesses and will provide support in Marketing, Finance, Technology, Human Resources and Business Management. NYUL will partner with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation and the Harlem Community Development Corporation in this endeavor. Visit nyul.org/post/small-business-solutions.

Harlem Business Alliance alert. The CITIZENSNYC is offering grants up to $10,000 to fill gaps in funding by prioritizing businesses-owned by people of color, immigrants, and women during the COVID recovery period. This is a business continuity fund. Proposals that focus on physical and human infrastructure will be prioritized (tech system upgrades, location alterations, hiring support, marketing, training). Grants are available for barbershops, restaurants, food carts, ecommerce and other small businesses. Do you qualify? Visit citizensnyc.org.

CULTURE TALK
HAITI HISTORY: On January 1, 2022 the people of Haiti celebrated their 218th declaration of independence from France CONCURRENT WITH their emancipation from slavery, the aftermath of the Haitian revolution which began in 1791. Revolution was the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the New World.

THEATER: The Bond Arts Center presents a revival of the Laurence Holder play, SUGAR RAY, about middleweight and welterweight division boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson, starring Reginald Wilson at the Gene Frankel Theatre from January 6 to 23. Theater is located at 24 Bond Street, in the East Village, Manhattan. Call 917.844.7567. SUGAR RAY opened to rave reviews at a Harlem supper club in 2016, at same venue where Sugar Ray had his businesses in the 50s/60s.

Max Julien

NEWSMAKERS
RIP: Max Julien, 88 died in Los Angeles, California, on his birthday January 1. Producer, actor, screenwriter, Julien was a film industry denizen. He starred in 1973 Black film classic THE MACK. He produced and costarred in THOMASINE & BUSHROD. He wrote the screenplay for CLEOPATRA JONES about a Black woman with a dual life, as a model as a special government agent in the war on drugs, domestically and internationally.

Ernesta Procope

RIP: Entrepreneur Ernesta Procope, 98, died on November 30, at her home in Queens, NY. Procope founded E.G. Bowman insurance agency in 1953. After the 60s riots and protests, insurers were reluctant to provide coverage in minority neighborhoods. Procope got Governor Rockefeller to cancel redlining so that her clients could avoid insurance cancellations. The outcome was the NY Fair Plan, which was duplicated in 26 states. E.G. Bowman has morphed into the largest Black owned insurance brokerage in the nation. She earned her First Lady of Wall Street bona fides as the first Black woman to relocate her business to Wall Street, the Boulevard of American finance. Ernesta Foster was born in 1923, the only daughter of parents from Barbados. Ernesta was married to E.G Bowman, then to John Procope, former NY Amsterdam Publisher.

A Harlem-based management consultant, Victoria can be reached at victoria.horsford@gmail.com

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