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What’s Going On – 4/15

APRIL IN AMERICA
April 12 was the day that made New York the nation’s breaking-news capital, with a mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway station and with the indictment and subsequent resignation of the NYS Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin. The news cycle began when stories broke about the 8:30 am smoke bombed, mass shooting on a Brooklyn train where hundreds of passengers were in harm’s way, including 10 who were shot and 19 others injured. By 5 pm, the NYPD along with Federal backup, identified African American Frank James, as the gunman, a person of interest, and displayed his image widely in all media. James has not been apprehended.

Brian Benjamin

The other breaking story related to NYS Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin who has been arrested and indicted on five charges by the FBI and the US Attorney General’s Office for bribery as an NYS Senator who directed state monies to a Harlem real estate investor Gerald Migdol in exchange for thousands of dollars in fraudulent campaign donations and support for his 2021 NYC Comptroller campaign. Brian Benjamin pleaded not guilty to all charges. Later in the day, NY Governor Hochul announced Brian Benjamin’s resignation. A Brown University and Harvard B School alum, Brian was a NYS Senator from Harlem before being named Lieutenant Governor last August when Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul became the accidental governor. She is running for a full term as governor now without a running mate. This story is rife with unintended consequences for the June Primary. Benjamin’s name will be on the Primary ballot.

April 8 was a great day in America, at least according to White House optics. President Joe Biden entered the White House south lawn flanked by two powerful African American women, Vice President Kamala Harris and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. The occasion was to introduce Judge Jackson to America the day after the US Senate confirmed her nomination to the US Supreme Court. The nation needs more days like that!

Kathy Hochul

NEW YORK: NYS passed a historic $220 billion budget without the customary three men in room protocols. Where is all of that money going? Some reforms to the 2019 no bail law, rent arrears for struggling tenants, child welfare, casino licenses, cocktails to-go, a $1 billion for Buffalo Bills stadium in Governor Kathy Hochul’s native Buffalo, health care, and pork, pork, pork. The Tuesday bombshell about LG Brian Benjamin eclipses all budget chatter.

HARLEM: Enough already. There was a third fire at Lenox Terrace recently along its once flourishing commercial corridor, at Lenox Avenue between 133rd and 135th Streets. Unlike the previous two fires, the NYFD said that the third fire was deliberate. Why so many fires now? The Olinick family, owner of the Lenox Terrace failed to get re-zoning approval for its proposed $800 million expansion in 2019….and then mysterious fires began.

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COVID UPDATES
NYC Mayor Eric Adams tested COVID positive on the 100th day of his ascension to City Hall. How is he doing? It’s too early to assign performance grades. He is peerless with regard to the energy level and intensity he brings to the workplace. The NYC Mayoralty is the second hardest job in America. Did he and Governor Hochul relax COVID protocols prematurely? Yes! In NY there are 1800 new cases of Covid positivity daily. There is a COVID surge but hospitalization rates remain low.

Philadelphia is the first American city to reinstate the indoor masks mandate about a month after it was lifted.

According to Northwell.edu/LenoxTop 50. Manhattan-based Lenox Hill is NYC’S only hospital in the nation’s top 50, offering the best care in Manhattan and among the top 1% in the nation.

BUSINESS BUZZ
The April 10 issue of the NY Times Magazine devoted to billionaires includes a story EMPIRE STATE OF MIND about Black billionaires by Blair McClendon. It focuses on the “profound psychic contortions of the Black entertaining billionaires” like HIPHOP moguls Jay-Z and Kanye West who join the club by way of fame and branding. Of the top ten African American billionaires, only two, Robert Smith and David Steward are information technology executives. Others include Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Rihanna and Michael Jordan.

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Deborah Wright

The Board Room: CITI bank board of directors include Deborah Wright, former Carver Federal Savings Bank CEO and current Rockefeller Foundation executive, and Dr. Peter Blair Henry, Dean Emeritus, NYU Stern School of Business
The Black News Channel, a cable TV platform, founded by former Republican Congress member JC Watts, shut down and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida last month, two years after its much-ballyhooed launch. It amassed more than $50 million in debt. The BNC was incubating since 2007 when Barack Obama ran for the US Presidency.

ARTS/CULTURE
READERS WATCH: People are talking about the NY Post opinion piece, “Should Black Women Consider Marrying White Men” by Ralph Richard Banks, a Stanford Law Faculty member. The trigger for the piece is Vice President Kamala Harris and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, both of whom are married to white men, a lawyer, and doctor respectively.

Political cognoscenti should read the February 7 issue of the City & State NY online magazine piece, “The Shift in Black Power from Harlem to Brooklyn” by Clem Richardson which is spot on, well analyzed, good food for thought.


The February 27 New York Times Magazine cover story, “Inside The Complicated Rise of an Unusual Power Couple” by Danny Hakim and Jo Becker is an analysis of the marriage of Black Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and his white wife, Ginni, who will go crazy when Ketanji Brown Jackson arrives at the US Supreme Court this year. Wonder what the details were of the Faustian deal Judge Thomas made in 1991 with President George Bush who nominated him to the US Supreme Court. The story is required reading for future WGO references to Ginni, her political clout among Republicans, the Far Right, the role she played during the January 6 insurrection, and her hubby’s inability to recuse himself from SCOTUS cases related to causes that she espouses.

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

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