Sunday, December 15, 2013

Home of the Braves

1832 Circle 75 Parkway 

Atlanta, GA 30339?

By Eric Stradford and Stephanie A. Walker Stradford

AMWS, December 16, 2014, Atlanta --- The Atlanta Braves baseball team wants to build its new stadium in Cobb County, GA. A private commitment to a public-private partnership of about $372,000,000 would have partially funded the $672 M project.   But public outcry over transparency in government may call for a re-evaluation of the deal.

Community leaders here and throughout the region want Cobb County elected commissioners to show them their money. And question their right to grant land they may not legally own. In any case, the cost of the $672 M project may have just doubled. And the lesson for political leaders here and elsewhere is that business as usual will be a practice of the past.

The address, 1832 tells a story about economic security in America.  On December 3, 1832, Cobb County was created by the Georgia General Assembly from the huge Cherokee "county" territory — land northwest of the Chattahoochee River which the state confiscated from the Cherokee Nation and redistributed to settlers via lottery, following the passage of the federal Indian Removal Act. According to Goggle-able sources, the Atlanta Braves may need to check with descendants of true brave inhabitants of “Turtle Island.”

Southern Christian Leadership, an established intervention for inclusive economic outcomes is being “ministered” through the SCLC local chapter. H. Ben Williams, the Cobb County chapter president follows SCLC protocols for citizen engagement by assessing local concerns with historically unmet needs. In the enduring spirit of SCLC Founder, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Williams has “been to the mountain top” for face-2-face consultation on where America has been and where we go from here.
SCLC’s National President the Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian is one of three SCLC members to have earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Vivian, along with Congressman John Lewis and the Reverend Joseph P. Lowry, are banking on their national recognition as evidence of their struggle against socioeconomic inequality. Dr. Vivian wants wealthy investors and others who have historically decided for less fortunate others to be accountable. “Who are they taking with them?” asked Vivian. “Our concern is that whatever happens is fair, honest, and it works for the benefit of both communities.”

Williams’ local demonstration of Southern Christian Leadership establishes “Information to Operation” as a forward thrust for his local chapter to model win-win community service. Acknowledging a need for inclusion and transparency, Williams is reinvesting SCLC values to achieve transparency in government. “Our history of activism is today demonstrated through evidence-based action on behalf of all,” he said. “As a measurable outcome, all boats must rise.”

The Cobb Citizens for Governmental Transparency (CGT), a group of organizations representing a diverse cross section of Cobb residents dropped in on the Cobb County Board of Commissioners seeking answers. The range and diversity of questions being presented to elected commissioners are as diverse as the group presenting the questions. One pending request to Cobb County Commissioners and Atlanta Braves planners was not mentioned in the citizens’ letter, nor could be found in the County Commissioner’s office. AMWS asked, “What is the physical address of the construction site?”

A full copy of the coalition’s letter and SCLC’s programmatic thrust is available at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DHHS increasing efforts to engage partners and stakeholders

November 27, 2013

From: Partners and Stakeholders

To: Carlis Williams, Regional Administrator, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Region IV Atlanta

Subject: From Affordable Healthcare to Healing Our Nation

As part of a continuing effort to promote economic security on Our Street, USA, we have extended our November 27 deadline to December 7 to include ACF Partners and Stakeholders.  Many of our friends in the “beloved community” support efforts by the Obama Administration to address historic disparities in healthcare policy.  Still, too many have chosen to oppose the Law of the Land (PL 111-148).  Any effort to minimize divisive political rhetoric and mobilize neighbors toward inclusivity demonstrates our choice for COMMUNITY over CHAOS.  We hope our ACF partners and stakeholders will be empowered by our regional administrator’s outreach, and act on this opportunity for healing America.

To: Partners and Stakeholders

From: Carlis Williams, Regional Administrator
Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Region IV Atlanta

Subject: Affordable Care Act

As a part of our effort to keep our ACF stakeholders in Region IV cognizant of important information concerning the Affordable Care Act, this is the first in a series of correspondence that you will receive from us on a regular basis. We encourage you to share this information with those that you employ and/or serve as you find appropriate.


There are 4 ways consumers can apply for and enroll in the Marketplace coverage: 
· Online at
· Over the phone by calling the 24/7 customer service center (1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325)
· Working with a trained person in your local community (Find Local Help)
· Submit a paper application through the call center or downloading a copy at  

Because of the Affordable Care Act, people who have insurance have more choices and stronger coverage than ever before, and for those that do not have insurance, or families and small businesses who buy their coverage but aren’t happy with it, a new day has arrived.

Purchasing health insurance through the marketplace will provide families and small businesses a better deal, and a new way to find health coverage that fits their needs and their budgets. Open enrollment in the Marketplace began October 1, with coverage starting as soon as Jan 1, 2014.  In addition to the various websites above, families and small business can visit to find more information. The health care law will provide better options, better value, better health and a stronger Medicare program by:

Better Options

The Health Insurance Marketplace

As of October 1, 2013, the Health Insurance Marketplace makes it easy for people to compare qualified health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for lower costs for private insurance or health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in health coverage. 

New coverage options for young adults

Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 3 million young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide.

Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions

Today, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law. And beginning in 2014, health insurers will no longer be able to charge more or deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.  The health care law also established a temporary health insurance program for individuals who were denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition

Better Value

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule
Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, or provide you a refund.

Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases
In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.

Better Health

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults. In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing. For policies renewing on or after August 1, 2012, women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Approximately 47 million women, will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.

Increasing support for community health centers
The health care law increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. Health Center grantees have received numerous Federal dollars under the health care law to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects. 

A Stronger Medicare Program

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
Seniors with Medicare saved millions of dollars on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on drugs since the law’s enactment.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2012 alone, an estimated 34.1 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing. 

Protecting Medicare’s solvency
The health care law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years.  From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy.  And the health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last four years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $14.9 billion from fraudsters.  For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $7.90.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Community Asset or Persona non grata?

By Eric Stradford and Stephanie Walker Stradford

In the past, community coalitions have evolved from the loudest or most consistent among the diverse voices. Today, any caring adult or enterprising youth can lead by finding and following the right pathway. The 21st Century affords access to evidence-based and innovative strategies that connect local efforts to national supports.

Attitudes about “persona non grata” can be an early sign that a particular plan of action is not working. Referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized or unwelcome. Such a person is, for all intents and purposes, culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively nonexistent.

Practitioners nationwide, particularly those engaged in community asset building, are discovering evidence to support common sense approaches passed down over generations. In theory, the proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” promotes one achievable objective for engaging youth and caring adults in sustainable partnerships.

In reality, the “whole village” has been loosely defined. The village can be enhanced with transitioning veterans, mentally and or emotionally challenged relatives, ex-offenders, and unemployed neighbors who might be considered “persona non grata.” Establishing value in “the least among us” will ultimately impact desired outcomes.

Pathways for Youth is one approach to connect local needs with national assets. The federal plan considers all youth, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable youth, and particularly those who are disconnected from school, work, or family. The consequences are serious for both individuals and society as a whole, as young people who are disconnected cost the nation billions of dollars every year in lost earnings, welfare and medical costs, and unmet personal potential. The draft Pathways for Youth plan is distinct from agency plans. It has a specific focus on federal collaboration related to youth programs.

Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity, promotes sustainable partnerships among caring adults. Program officers regularly monitor federal plans aimed at supporting youth. Since 1996, organizers have qualified youth beneficiaries through THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS.

YouthUSA’s circular capacity building program promotes financial literacy and asset building to address historically unmet needs. A free online application offers any American, age 7-24, a chance to become a “community asset” where he or she lives, learns, works or worships. Each successful application establishes personal goals, raises a whole village, and builds a future with Money-n-the-Bank.

At-risk youth are more likely to graduate from high school or receive a Certificate of General Educational Development (GED) if some basic threats are countered with local supports. To acquire an education, they will need transportation to classes. If they are transitioning out of a homeless shelter, juvenile detention or jail, they will need connections to supportive adults and resources to secure a permanent home and employment. To get a job, they will need references; and, to keep a job, they may need to address mental health or substance abuse concerns.

Federal coordination is critical to protecting vulnerable youth. First, government has to work with community for the benefit of young people. Where and how federal investment is made must consider the needs of partnering adults as well as supported youth. And, youth must be engaged in determining how, when and where they will invest in their own future. Money-n-the-Bank is one approach that addresses economic security needs for the “whole village.”

Common Vision For Youth

Goal 1: Collaboration and Coordination - Promote coordinated strategies (youth, community, agencies) to improve youth outcomes.

Goal 2: Evidence-based and Innovative Strategies -
Promote the use of evidence-based and innovative strategies at federal, state, local, and tribal levels.  

Goal 3: Youth Engagement and Partnerships - Promote youth engagement and partnerships to strengthen programs and benefit youth.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Revising U.S. Marine Corps History

Exploring Kairos moments on America’s Chronos timeline

By Eric Stradford and Stephanie Walker Stradford


AMWS November 1, 2013, Atlanta – For nearly 20 years, we have traveled to Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Birthday. Our friend Colonel Herb Harmon has invited us to “share” John A. LeJeune’s historically enduring message in the presence of a small but faithful gathering. This year, the colonel’s call served as a reminder that November 1 begins an annual season of remembrance about what it means to be Semper Fidelis.

For us, it’s an opportunity to tell a story about time. On November 1, 1921, 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps Lieutenant General John A. LeJeune issued MARINE CORPS ORDER No. 47 (Series 1921). This particular literary work reflects a moment in chronos time between two World Wars. A prologue and epilogue were later added, emphasizing the relevance of the original writing to the institution as it exists today.

Each year, modern-day Marines are afforded an opportunity to embrace deeds and acts of the past while building on a vision of their future. The epilogue is that piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, usually used to bring closure to the work. It presents a perspective from within the story; when the author steps in and speaks indirectly to the reader.

In appreciation of its literary value to Corps and Country, some writers are penning possibilities for officially revising the Marine Corps Narrative. 

The inspiring message of our 13th commandant has left its mark in the hearts and minds of all Marines. By deed and act from to Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima, from Inchon to the Korean Armistice, in interventions from Lebanon to the Dominican Republic, and from the opening battles of Vietnam to the Mayaguez rescue…

On this day, we remember halls of Montezuma, shores of Tripoli and dates that "live in infamy." December 7, 9-11, and for the “Semper Fidelis” among us, October 23, 1983.

We cannot dedicate -- consecrate – or hallow – earth enriched by espirit de corps. At a place we know as Beirut, Lebanon, U.S. Marines epitomized qualities which are their legacy. 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers, their purple hearts forever consecrating God’s Valley of Baca.* They came in peace.

Marines have since crossed shores of Kuwait, deserts of Iraq and climbed mountains of Afghanistan -- on a legacy of honorable service in every climb and place. The record of American Marines achieved in combat, and the faith, borne in peace, will continue. The commandant and our many friends have added best wishes and a grateful, “Well Done” on this 238th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
From Psalm 84:6 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.