Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Newspaper Endorses Covey in County Commission race.

This is the endorsement made in the 25th District Oakland County Commission race by the South Oakland Eccentric Newspaper, the Democratic primary being Tuesday August 3rd. I certainly am appreciative and humbled by such kind words.
Voters in the 23rd and 25th County Commission districts have an opportunity Aug. 3 to select two Democratic candidates with fresh ideas as current county commissioners in those districts make a bid for higher office in the primary election.

The two we are recommending — Tim Wirkus in the 23rd District and Craig Covey in the 25th District — bring a mix of ideas and skills that can only be healthy. Great minds may think alike, but that just means they think the same things. South Oakland County residents will be well served by both men.
Covey, who currently is mayor in the city of Ferndale, is likely to soon assume a leadership role on the commission. He knows how to network with divergent groups and can be expected to reach across the aisle to Republicans.
Covey also knows the importance of bridging the gap between the state and the county, and between the county and local governments. He recognizes the importance of consolidating operations where possible to save precious dollars in this economy.
Moreover, with a calm exterior, Covey gets out into the Ferndale community regularly and can be expected to represent the entire district, which encompasses Hazel Park as well as Ferndale. He is in tune with the needs of the district in the areas of transportation and support for small businesses.
With a creative bent, Covey also promises to promote Oakland County, which is an important part of bringing new businesses to the area.
Wirkus is the exact opposite of a career politician, having never served as an elected official. But public service clearly is his middle name. Wirkus is an independent thinker who has studied the issues and the operations of the commission.
A little concern about a potentially combative stance is overridden by the knowledge that he has worked with many groups on a variety of issues. He has served on boards ranging from emergency management to youth services in Southfield, where he is a resident.
Wirkus also is a staunch advocate for veterans and the services they need, which is really important as the number of veterans increases rapidly due to the wars the U.S. has been involved in.
That is not his only concern. Like Covey, Wirkus understands the need for mass transit and for linking transit systems. Covey understands the importance that will play in bringing workers to jobs in the county.
Wirkus, if elected, will face in the November general election the lone Republican to file, Richard Parisi. Covey, if elected, will face the lone Republican to file in his district, Charles Ehrenreich.
Their breadth of experience and ideas make Tim Wirkus in the 23rd District and Craig Covey in the 25th District the best choices for voters.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Party and Me - 40 years and counting

By the time I was eleven years old, I was becoming more and more interested in politics, candidates, and campaigns. While most boys my age were playing basketball or other sports, I actually got in trouble in the fifth grade for wearing political buttons to school and arguing with other kids. I was reading Newsweek. I remember Martin Luther King's assassination and not understanding why white and black people did not get along. At some point I asked my Dad which party we belonged to, and was told in quick fasion - "Republican". All of my relatives on both sides of my family were rock-ribbed Republicans. My Aunt Jackie was at one time the Republican party chair in Belmont County Ohio. But my identification with the GOP lasted only a couple of years for me. By the time I was fourteen, I began to question the issues and differences between the two parties and was feeling uneasy with my location on the political map.

It was in 1972. The war in Vietnam was raging, and Richard Nixon was running for re-election. Each summer riots rocked cities across the nation. Bobby Kennedy was dead, and everywhere young people were growing their hair long and rebelling against the establishment. I knew that I favored equal rights for women and blacks. I was awakening to the horror and folly of the war. And I was becoming an ardent environmentalist. I was appalled at the air and water pollution that was engulfing our world. I realized from my own readings and study of the political parties that my beliefs and feelings were with the Democrats. The Republican positions in favor of the war, against integration and women's rights, and being conservative on issues such as abortion were alien to me. I was also beginning to realize that I might be gay.

During the summer of 1972, George McGovern came to speak in my hometown of Canton, Ohio. My older brother, Rod, took me to the rally downtown and I got to hear McGovern speak. I got to shake his hand. And from that time on, I was an ardent and active Democrat. I even became involved in the campaign, and put up a yard sign in my window. Being a McGovern supporter in the upper middle class neighborhood of Avondale in Ohio was a lonely if not courageous thing to be.

McGovern of course lost the election in one of the biggest landslides in American electoral history. Within two years, Nixon resigned in disgrace, and a year after that, the last Americans fled Saigon in helicopters as panicked Vietnamese allies stormed the US embassy. The draft was gone, the war was over, and I moved to Columbus to study political science at Ohio State Universtiy. And in 1980, I became the youngest person ever to be elected from Ohio's 15th Congressional District as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. I was a Kennedy delegate, openly gay, and twenty-three years old.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The HIV / AIDS Battle Continues On....

An Opinion Editorial by CEO and Founder Phill Wilson/Black AIDS Institute
How to Engage Black Men in the HIV/AIDS Fight

First Published: 6/28/2010

This is the third in a series of editorials about the critical role that Black men play in ending the AIDS epidemic in Black America. Part 1 described three reasons that Black men matter in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Next we explored why Black men--particularly heterosexuals, but in recent years HIV-negative gay men as well--have largely been absent from the effort to end the epidemic. Here we examine what needs to change to engage Black men, whether straight, gay, bisexual or questioning.
If we really want Black men en masse to get involved in ending the AIDS epidemic, first we must do a much better job raising awareness of the widespread presence of the disease among Black men regardless of sexual orientation or mode of transmission. Nationwide, Black men make up roughly 35 percent of new HIV infections among gay men, with prevalence rates so high that some young gay Black men believe it inevitable that they will become infected. Black men account for 46 percent of new cases among all men. One in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS during his lifetime, compared with 1 in 104 White men.
Second, we need to stop the blame-and-shame game. Scapegoating Black gay men, perpetuating the down-low myth, and limiting the HIV/AIDS discussion among straight Black men to one involving inmates and/or sexual predators responsible for infecting Black women undermines attempts to protect both Black men and women. Sexual behavior puts Black men at risk, not sexual identity. And no matter how we got here, with HIV-infection rates among Black men and women in some areas of America as high as in places like Haiti, Kenya and Uganda, unprotected sex with any partner whose HIV status we don't know places us at risk--whether that person is male or female. It's time to talk about accountability and responsibility, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
Next, we need to create opportunities for Black men--straight, gay, bisexual and questioning--to speak honestly with one another about issues like homophobia and the tensions between us, but also about the things we have in common: pressing matters such as high rates of unemployment, underemployment, mass incarceration, Black-on-Black violence, other health problems like prostate cancer and hypertension, and plain old Living While Black in America. We are not one another's enemy. Despite our differences in sexual orientation, in the end we are still brothers. And whether or not we see ourselves that way, the rest of the world does.
We also need to address tensions between Black men and women, including challenges that each gender faces, and barriers between us that make it more difficult to address HIV/AIDS. What are productive and responsible ways of conducting relationships when Black women outnumber Black men--and often by significant numbers? How can we protect ourselves from HIV and other STDs if we engage in non-monogamous relationships? And how do we raise our children and create families when, for one reason or another, so many fathers are missing? Many Black women have a difficult time trusting men, based on past experiences where they've been let down. And many Black men are unwilling to expose their vulnerabilities for fear of having their manhood or masculinity challenged.
And let's not neglect the hopelessness, alienation and fatalism felt by many young Black males, whose official unemployment rate is 38 percent among teens and 18 percent among males ages 20 and older (PDF). (Since these figures exclude those who have given up looking for work, we know that the real unemployment rate is much higher.) On any given day, 1 in 8 Black male 20-somethings is incarcerated, and if current trends continue, 1 in 3 Black males born today will be imprisoned during his lifetime. No wonder many young Black men feel estranged from both Black and White society. They experience a world! that sees them only as a problem or a dangerous threat.
Finally, we need to develop community-mobilization strategies to end the epidemic that focus on Black men, particularly young men. And we need to stop waiting for Black men to just show up and, instead, scale up local prevention interventions that target places where they gather, such as barber shops, gyms, basketball courts and hip-hop venues.
Most important, we need to listen to Black men. There is much to be learned about us and there are no better experts than Black men themselves. If anyone would just bother to ask us--and use the information they get in a respectful and responsible fashion--we'd gladly tell them.
With Black men demonized, patronized and/or ignored, it's no wonder there is not a mass Black male response to the AIDS epidemic. If we want to change the trajectory of the disease for Black women, Black children, Black families--for Black America--we need to flip this script, because Black men matter.
Yours in the struggle,