1 www.cnyvision.

com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
syracuse ny vol. 4 no. 9 may 30 -june 5 2013
Contreras: I was disappointed that we
had so many schools in sanction statuS
2 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
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CALENDAR
june
{COVER P 6 - 8
• Contreras: “I was Disappointed that we
had so many Schools in Sanction Status”
{local P 3 - 4
• Violent ‘Knock-Out’ Game a National
Phenomenon
• SUNY Pays Ex- Professor $600K
• Miner Campaign Responds to
Hogan-Denno-Levine Ticket
• Murdered Sister-in-laws Money
Used to Buy Prison Goods for NY
Man
{state P 5
• NY Man Admits to Death Threats on
Facebook Against Politicians
• Cuomo Makes Big Push to Strengthen
Abortion in NY
• Cuomo to Attend Meeting on his ‘Tax-
Free’ New York Plan
• Hearing on 11-Mile Electric Line in NY
{national P 8
• National NAACP Applauds Historic
Expansion of Voting Rights
{OPINIONS/EDITORIAL P 8-11
• Syracuse Success Story: Sikuru Tijani
of Tisko Taxes

By Kof Quaye
• Man Allegedly Murdered 6 Month Old
Baby Over Video Game

By Dr. Boyce Watkins
In This Issue:
1 www.cnyvision.com| may 30 - june 5| 2013
syracuse ny vol. 4 no. 9 may 30 -june 5 2013
Contreras: I was disappointed that we
hadso many schools insanctionstatuS
June
1, 8, 15, 22 and 29
Sankofa Piecemakers Quiltng Group
Time: 10:00 am
Beauchamp Branch Library is the
home of Sankofa Piecemakers
where they meet every Saturday in
a friendly supportve atmosphere to
learn new quiltng techniques and to
practce traditonal ones.
.
3
GED Classes
Time: 9:30am – Noon
Locaton: Beauchamp Branch Library
Free study sessions designed to
help those who are interested in
obtaining their GED. Must Sign-Up.
Contact Pat Booker ( 435-6376).
Monday-Thursday
4, 11, 18 and 25
Job Resource Assistance Drop-in
Time: 1:00-3:00 pm
Locaton: 447 South Salina St.
Receive help with online job
searching, resumes, creatng
profles and more. No appointment
necessary.
Space is limited and available on a
frst come, frst seated basis.
Call 315.435.1900 with any questons
11
Downtown Farmer’s Market
Locaton: Clinton Square
Open-air market with fresh, seasonal
vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, cheese,
baked goods, fowers, plants,
handcrafed items for sale. Visit
www.down
townsyracuse.com for more
informaton or call 422-8284
15
Movie - Lincoln
Time: 1:30 pm
Locaton: The Galleries of Syracuse
This biographical saga reveals the
conficts within Lincoln’s cabinet
regarding the war and aboliton
starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United
States President Abraham Lincoln
and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.
2012; Rated PG-13, FREE.
15
Happy Father’s Day Craf
Time: 10:30 am
Locaton: 1620 W. Genesee St.
Make a gif for someone you love!
Ages 5 and up.
17
TASTE OF SYRACUSE
Time: 11:00amSat, June 8, 11pm
Locaton: Clinton Square
Bring your friends and your appettes
to the AmeriCU Credit Union Taste of
Syracuse, presented by Tops, returns
to downtown, featuring live music,
fabulous food, and of course $1
samples. For more informaton, visit
www.tasteofsyracuse.com.. Sat, June
8, 11pm
26
Hoopnotca!
Time: 2:00 pm
Locaton: 1620 W. Genesee St.
Hoop dancing is a fun, playful, and
expressive way to get ft. Join us for
this introducton to hooping taught
by Certfed Hoopnotca Instructor,
Dena Berata of Mandala Moon Yoga.
Dena will supply the hoops for use
during the class. Casual, comfortable
dress is recommended. Ages 13 and
up.
27
Summer Reading Kickof:
“The Twin Magicians”
Time: 11:00 am
Locaton: Bets Branch Library
Register for Summer Reading
and sit back and enjoy the magic
entertainment of Paul and David
Jackman, “The Twin Magicians.”
Let your voice be heard
Tell us what you think at:
EDITOR@
cnyvision.com
3 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
LOCAL
Violent ‘knockout game’ a national phenomenon
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Knockout-- the
game a group of teenagers in Syracuse
allegedly played that resulted in the
violent, random death of a 51-year-
old man-- has been a natonal
phenomenon for at least a decade.
Reports of the game have surfaced in
states, such as Massachusets, New
Jersey and Illinois. In Missouri, a special
police squad and prosecutor were
assigned to batle the problem. The
game there has been characterized in
news reports as “almost contagious,”
with endings that mirror the incident
in Syracuse on May 23.
That night, a group of teenagers
atemptng to knock Michael Daniels
out with a single punch wound up
beatng and stomping him to death,
according to police. A 15-year-old
and a 13-year-old have been arrested
and charged with frst-degree
manslaughter, and Syracuse Police
Chief Frank Fowler said more arrests
may come.
The 15-year-old will be prosecuted in
criminal court. The 13-year-old will be
dealt with during closed proceedings
in Onondaga County Family Court. The
Associated Press is withholding the
names of the accused because they
are juveniles.
Fowler said his department was
currently investgatng at least four
other instances of people being
atacked in a similar manner.
While this appears to be the frst
“knockout game” killing in Syracuse,
other reports of the “knockout game”
phenomenon detail much of the same:
The perpetrators are usually teens,
the atacks are random, and the goal
is to knock a victm unconscious with a
single punch.
If one player doesn’t succeed in
knocking out the victm, others join in
to fnish the job.
An editorial in the St. Louis paper in
2011 likened the game to behavior
described in “A Clockwork Orange.”
In 1992, police in Cambridge, Mass.,
said three drunken teenagers decided
to play “knockout” and randomly
targeted an MIT student, according to
news reports. Afer the student was
knocked to the ground, a 16-year-old
stabbed the victm to death as he tried
to get up.
The defendant in that case, Shon
McHugh, was sentenced as a juvenile
to 20 years in prison.
In another recent case involving the
“knockout game,” 20-year-old Elex
Murphy was sentenced to 55 years in
prison for the killing of a 72-year-old
man in St. Louis.
At a May 3 sentencing, Murphy’s
lawyer asked a judge to consider that
the “knockout game” had been played
for years by countless teens before the
deadly instance involving Murphy’s
victm, according to an artcle in the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch.
Another artcle from the St. Louis
paper noted that at least half a dozen
people in the city had been randomly
targeted and injured by players of the
game. There, the mayor happened
upon a victm of the “knockout game”
and called for juveniles to be tried
as adults. A special police squad was
assigned to investgate the crimes and
a prosecutor was designated to handle
the cases. The St. Louis police chief
was quoted calling the crimes a “trend
of sub-human behavior.”
In Syracuse, Mayor Stephanie Miner
echoed the sentment. At the news
conference Thursday, she said
recent violence in the city had been
generated by a “lack of humanity as
we understand it.”
SUNY Pays Ex-Professor $600K
A federal jury has awarded $600,000
in back pay to a former college
professor in Central New York afer
ruling university ofcials retaliated
against him for complaining about
discriminaton.
The U.S. District Court jury in Syracuse
sided with Jason Zhou (ZOH) in the
dispute with the State University of
New York Insttute of Technology in
Marcy, where he worked as a fnance
professor from 2005 untl he was
denied reappointment in late 2006.
Zhou claimed in a suit against the
state that he had been discriminated
against while working at the school
because he’s a natve of China and lost
his job because of objectons about
the treatment.
The verdict was Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the state atorney
general said Tuesday she couldn’t
comment on a possible appeal.
4 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
LOCAL
Check us out online!
www.cnyvision.com
Murdered Sister In Law’s Money Used to Buy Prison Goods for NY Man
A central New York woman has
admited using $2,500 stolen from
her sister before she was killed last
year to buy snacks and other prison
commissary items for her husband,
who’s doing 25-years-to-life for the
slaying.
The the thef was revealed Thursday,
when 51-year-old Elizabeth Frank
pleaded guilty to criminal possession
of stolen property and was ordered
to pay the money back to her sister’s
estate.
Prosecutors said 50-year-old Larry
Frank forced his sister-in-law, Patricia
Gryczka, to write a $2,500 check
before strangling her in her suburban
Syracuse home in November. Frank
pleaded guilty to second-degree
murder in April.
A judge said there’s no evidence
Elizabeth Frank was involved in the
killing. Her criminal case will be
dropped if she stays out of trouble for
three years.
ALBANY, N.Y. - (AP) -- Gov. Andrew
Cuomo will begin his big move to
strengthen aborton rights in New
York state by trying to portray any
opponents to it as opposing the Roe
v. Wade court decision that made
aborton legal.
A rally is scheduled Tuesday in Albany
to coincide with the Democrat’s
fnal efort to pass his proposal amid
mountng oppositon.
Cuomo says he simply wants to put
federal protectons under the Roe v.
Wade decision into state law in case
the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the
landmark decision that made aborton
legal.
But opponents say it’s unnecessary
and would expand aborton.
The aborton provision is part of
Cuomo’s 10-point agenda for women’s
rights, but the only one with signifcant
oppositon. It threatens the entre
agenda, which Cuomo says he won’t
accept without the aborton piece.
Cuomo makes big push to strengthen abortion in NY
STATE
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Gov. Andrew
Cuomo is getng together with college
presidents and economic development
ofcials from across New York to
discuss his plan to ofer tax-free zones
for high-tech businesses that move
onto or next to college campuses.
Cuomo is atending a meetng at
noon Monday with college ofcials
and members of regional economic
development councils at the College
of Nanoscale Science and Engineering,
part of the University at Albany.
The governor unveiled his tax-free
New York initatve last month. He
says the plan would create jobs in
a long-stagnant upstate economy
by connectng academic research
campuses with businesses that would
receive tax exemptons.
Cuomo’s proposal has been critcized
by the Civil Service Employees
Associaton as ``another special
giveaway to business.’’
Cuomo to attend meeting on his ‘tax-free’ New York plan
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Utlity regulators
are taking public comment on plans
for en electricity transmission line in
eastern New York.
The state Public Service Commission
says it will accept comment by mail
and email and during a hearing on New
York State Electric and Gas Corp.’s plan
for the Columbia County Transmission
Project.
The utlity wants to build an 11-mile
stretch of 115 kilovolt transmission
line in the towns of Chatham, Ghent,
and Stockport.
The June 14 hearing at the West Ghent
Fire Company Staton in Ghent will
begin at 4 p.m. with a descripton of
the project.
Hearing on 11-mile electric line in eastern NY
SYRACUSE, NY – In response to an
announcement by Pat Hogan that he
has assembled an alternatve slate of
candidates for September’s Primary
Electon, along with Councilor Lance
Denno and City Court candidate Louis
Levine, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie
Miner’s campaign manager, Kyle
Madden, issued the following
statement:
“On May 4th, Democratc commitee
members overwhelmingly endorsed
a diverse and experienced slate of
candidates for the fall electons.
The commitee rejected Councilor
Denno and Mr. Levine and Councilor
Hogan chose not to partcipate in the
endorsement process. Today’s news
that the trio will seek to primary the
endorsed candidates is a slap in the
face to city Democrats.”
“As these alternatve candidates
begin collectng petton signatures
and engaging with city Democrats, an
outstanding queston that all three
have failed to answer is whether or not
they will be the Republican candidates
this fall. Mr. Hogan has not ruled
out this possibility. There is a major
diference between Democrats and
Republicans and silence on this mater
is not at all transparent and certainly
is not the leadership that Syracuse
residents expect and deserve.”
“Petton signatures are due on July
11th and nominated candidates have
untl July 15th to accept or decline
their party’s endorsement and then
untl July 19th to fll that vacancy. As
Republicans begin passing pettons
with placeholder candidates, city
Democrats deserve to know if
this alternatve feld of candidates
will deceive them, pull a bait-and-
switch at the last minute and run as
Republicans.”
Mayor Miner
Miner Campaign Responds to Hogan-Denno-Levine Ticket
5 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
PUZZLES
Across
1. Junk mail
4. Outmoded, with been
7. Something you could be drafed into
10. Boot part
11. Protecton
13. Muhammad ___
14. Dity
15. About to explode
16. The “I” of T.G.I.F.
17. Cheerleader’s gear
19. As a whole
21. ___ vapeur (steamed)
22. CSI stuf
23. Bowling equipment
27. Robin Hood weapon
31. Fig Newton alternatve
32. Quill point
34. Palm tree
35. Powerful person out East
37. Starts up the computer
39. SW Missouri river
41. Grasped
42. Separate seed
45. Ugly treatment (2 words)
49. “That’s a laugh!”
50. Marketng dept. concern
52. Fraternity leters
53. Temper
54. Alpha opposite
55. Troublemaker
56. Calypso alternatve
57. Apple or pecan?
58. Play (with)
Down
1. At the summit of
2. Dumb cluck
3. Feel as if
4. Writer, ____ Hesse
5. Turkish ttle of honor
6. Placed
7. Cry out
8. Highest male voice
9. Computer processor, for short
11. Garlic mayonnaise
12. Plant with showy yellow fowers
18. Natve American baby
20. Bird of the night (2 words)
23. Truck weight
24. Pitcher performance measurement
25. Kan. neighbor
26. Elton John, for one
28. Brazilian town
29. Select
30. Equaled
33. Surround
36. Male singing voice
38. Exceedingly light wood
40. Winner
42. “___ Is It,” Michael Jackson flm
43. “Listen!”
44. Flightless bird
46. Apartment
47. Big guy wrestling
48. Detect
51. Orchid arrangements
STATE
NY man admits to death threats
on Facebook against politicians
A man who was turned in to police by
his landlady admited in court Tuesday
that he made death threats on
Facebook against top-ter politcians in
New York and Washington, predictng
a “dirt nap” for them and writng, “I
cannot wait to start killing the scum.”
Lawrence Mulqueen, 50, pleaded
guilty to federal charges in exchange
for an agreement from prosecutors
to recommend a sentence of 12 to 18
months.
Authorites said Mulqueen, using
a pseudonym, ranted online that
he wanted to kill Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, House Minority
Leader Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Andrew
Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer,
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey and members of
the Congressional Black Caucus.
Mulqueen was arrested in February
when his landlady complained he was
harassing her. Police said she tpped
them about the Facebook page, which
was under a pseudonym and has been
taken down.
The federal complaint atributed
“dirt nap” and “scum” statements to
Mulqueen as well as several racist and
obscene statements.
“The frst wave to protect against is
the inner city scum, do all you can to
waste these lowlifes but be mindful of
your ammo,” Mulqueen was quoted as
postng. “Use blades when you can to
conserve bullets.”
He also allegedly said he wanted all of
President Barack Obama’s followers
dead, calling them “traitor scum.”
“Death to them all,” he said, according
to a police report.
Police found two rifes and other
weapons in his Nanuet apartment. But
Mulqueen indicated in court Tuesday
that he didn’t intend to follow through
on his threats, telling the judge, “I
never meant any harm to anybody.”
“I posted threats that I shouldn’t
have made,” he admited. He said
he was angry because the politcians
were proposing “legislaton I found
to be unconsttutonal.” He did not
elaborate.
Police said the weapons were illegal
because Mulqueen had drunken-
driving convictons.
The federal indictment did not name
Mulqueen’s targets, but police listed
the politcians’ names when Mulqueen
was arrested last month.
It was disclosed in court Tuesday that
a “politcal actvist” who was not an
ofceholder was also on Mulqueen’s
list. Neither defense atorney Jason
Ser nor prosecutor Ilan Graf would
identfy that person.
Judge Kenneth Karas said that in
the plea agreement, the defense
and prosecuton agreed that federal
guidelines call for a sentence of 12
to 18 months. The judge warned
Mulqueen, however, that he could
sentence him to as much as 15 years,
the maximum he would have faced if
convicted at trial.
Sentencing was set for Oct. 16.
Mulqueen is being held without bail.
Mulqueen stll faces a charge in state
court concerning the illegal weapons.
His lawyer said Tuesday that a deal
may be in the works there as well.
Mulqueen was also charged a month
ago with food stamp fraud. He pleaded
not guilty.
LET US KNOW WHAT
YOU THINK!
Leave us a comment!
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6 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
COVER STORY
When Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras’
recently stated that community expectatons for
the city’s poorly-performing schools were too
low, she said she never expected to cause a huge
uproar among parents. In fact, Contreras said she
was just surprised more people weren’t speaking
out about the fact that two-thirds of schools in
the district had been designated as some of the
lowest-performing in the state.
“I don’t actually think the statements were that
strong,” she said. “I said I was disappointed that
we had so many schools in sancton status, and 19
in the botom fve percent of the state. They are
the lowest-performing schools in the state. But no
one had come out and said, ‘It’s not ok to have 19
schools in the botom fve percent of the state.’
And I said, it even took the NAACP and the Spanish
Acton League 18 months into my tenure to come
out, and those schools are primarily Latno and
African-American schools on the west side of the
city. That’s disappointng, because I want people
to come out and say, ‘How can we sit down and
help, so that these schools can be supported?
How do we get more business partners? How do
we get more funding? A fair funding formula in
New York state so that Syracuse has the funding
it needs to have teachers and reading specialists.”
According to Contreras, the Syracuse City School
District has cut nearly 1,000 jobs in the last fve
years, and it would lessen the impact on students
if city residents worked together in an efort to
support them.
“I would like for us to come to the table and come
up with solutons, but more than that, I would like
for us to fght together on behalf of the children,”
she said. “I’m really grateful that Citzen Acton is
working with our teacher’s union, working with
us, and going to Albany and fghtng with us on
behalf of the children. And I’ve been asking that
they start working with parent groups to help
them understand the funding formula as well, so
that they will join with us in this fght.”
In additon, although her statements initally
had been perceived as being directed solely at
parents, Contreras said she was speaking about
the entre community, including individuals who
may not have children in the district.
“It’s interestng that I don’t think the editorial ever
uses the word ‘parent,’ and I never used the word
‘parent,’” she said. “I spoke about community, and
I believe there are about 140,000 people in this
community. And I wasn’t really even focusing on
the parent in my comments. Certainly the parents
are members of this community, but when I
challenge the community, it is about everyone in
this city. Even if you do not have children, what
happens to the schools impacts you. It impacts
how much your home is worth. It impacts
your quality of life. It impacts whether or not
businesses will come to the area. It is important
that everybody gets involved in the public schools
in some way or the other. That doesn’t mean
everybody volunteers, but it might mean that you
help us in our advocacy eforts.”
One way Contreras said people can help is by
partcipatng in SCSD focus groups, or by joining
their schools’ parent-teacher organizatons,
a group which frequently has low levels of
partcipaton.
“We’ve really worked hard over the past two years
to involve parents through focus groups,” she said.
“That includes even the teacher evaluaton and
the principal evaluaton process. We asked, ‘How
do you think teachers should be evaluated? How
do you think principals should be evaluated?’ And
we included that, their input, in the process. But I
believe that parents, when they receive an email
that says, ‘Here’s a focus group discussion,’ that’s
not really an intmidatng process. You sit in a
group with other parents. Usually, administrators
and educators are not there. There’s a trained
facilitator there just to hear what you have to say.
You give your feedback on what you think, and we
include that feedback in our acton plans. You can
also become involved by serving on your school
leadership teams, or atending parent-teacher
organizaton meetngs.”
“It’s really sad that many of our schools do not
have functonal PTO’s, or have PTO’s where the
same parents are doing the work month afer
month, year afer year. And, certainly we have
some PTO’s that are highly functoning, with lots
of parent involvement. But we stll have far too
many where it’s a few parents trying to hold the
organizaton together.”
Additonal organizatons parents can become
involved with include Citzen Acton of New
York, Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse, the
Spanish Acton League of Onondaga County Inc.
and the NAACP Educaton Commitee. In additon,
Contreras said she holds a monthly cabinet
meetng for parents where they can openly
discuss their opinions about issues afectng SCSD.
“I have a superintendent’s cabinet meetng once a
month with parents,” she stated. “We also have a
special educaton-parents’ cabinet that meets bi-
monthly. So, there are many ways for parents to
get involved. But parents have to make sure they
are reading the e-mails and the newsleters; and
if they have questons about that, they certainly
can just call the principal’s ofce, or the school
ofce, or the superintendent’s ofce. I’d be glad
to give them more informaton about how to
become involved.”
Additonally, Contreras said the issues surrounding
urban districts contnue to be complex, so it’s
important to make sure those students are
adequately prepared for the future.
“Educaton in an urban area is very complicated
because many of the problems are intricately ted
to poverty, and many students come to school
vastly behind their middle class peers,” she
stated. “So, we ofen are not only trying to meet
students’ academic needs but social, emotonal
needs, fnancial needs, mental health and basic
physical health needs. We have clinics in our
schools. Most of our schools even have mental
health clinics now, so it’s very complicated. And
we have limited funds to do all that our students
need to be prepared.”
“So, I think that when people look at how much
we do with so litle; I think that it’s a success story
and not a failure story. But certainly we have to
do beter because we want 100 percent of our
students to graduate, and to go on and be able
to go to work or go to college and to live a middle
class life. We want them to be able to take care
of their families and take care of themselves,
Contreras: I was disappointed that we
had so many schools in sanction statuS
“I would like for
us to come to the
table and come up
with solutions, but
more than that, I
would like for us
to fight together
on behalf of the
children”
-- SHARON CONTRERAS
7 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
COVER STORY
that’s the vision of the school district. But far too
many students are not meetng that goal and that’s,
you know, where we haven’t been successful...and
where many urban school districts have not been
successful.”
Thus, in order to reach its objectves, SCSD has
recently been awarded $31.5 million in New York
state compettve grants to turn around seven of
its struggling schools, otherwise known as the
Innovaton Zone, and will use the money to extend
the school day for students as well as provide
professional development for teachers, Contreras
said.
In additon, she said she expects to see a request for
proposal from the state soon for the expansion of
pre-Kindergarten classrooms, and would like to focus
on early literacy in an efort to increase graduaton
rates.
“They have to be reading on grade level by third
grade,” she stated. “If we can make sure they’re
reading on grade level by third grade, and that
we keep them on track during their middle school
experience through ninth grade, they will graduate.
But we see that far too many are not reading by
the end of third grade. They’re of track in middle
school, and they’ve essentally dropped out, even
if not technically, by the end of ninth grade. That
presents a huge problem for us with graduaton
rates. So we’re putng a lot of emphasis on early
literacy. There’s been a huge community push for
pre-Kindergarten, and we’ve been able to expand
some pre-Kindergarten classrooms. We currently
have about 1,400 students partcipatng, but we want
universal pre-Kindergarten for all four year olds and,
quite frankly, I want universal pre-Kindergarten for
all three year olds. I think the younger the beter. So,
it is imperatve that we are serving our students well,
that we have small class sizes in grades K through
three, that we have teaching assistants, and that we
have small group instructon. It is also imperatve
that we have reading instructon, reading specialists
and math specialists to support these students.”
Contreras said the Say Yes to Educaton program and
tutors from Syracuse University are also important
resources for students, and that these programs,
coupled with state funding for the seven iZone
schools, will allow the district to see substantal
improvement in schools over the next three years.
“I think that the iZone, now with the extended day,
that is going to be very powerful to extend the school
day for one hour for 100 percent of the students in
those schools,” she stated. “Also, knowing that we’re
providing professional development for teachers,
and marrying that with the extended day, we expect
to see growth in our students.”
Additonally, though it had been rumored she
planned to turn several public schools into charter
schools, Contreras said that’s not the case.
“I’m curious as to why anyone would say I was trying
to change the district into charter schools,” she
stated. “I haven’t put forth a single charter school
proposal, and I just had the opportunity to turn
seven schools into charters; and I did not. So, I’m just
wondering where something like that would ever
come from. It’s like an urban legend. Nevertheless,
I just want to be clear, charter schools are public
schools. And it is an opton for some parents. I will
not demonize charter schools in any way. If parents
choose charter schools, that’s wonderful. They are
public schools, and they serve many students well.
But I didn’t need to turn our seven schools in the
Innovaton Zone into charter schools because I
have a great working relatonship with our union
president, and Kevin Ohearn and the Syracuse
Teachers Associaton. And we sat down and came
up with a way to give those schools fexibility and
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE...
8 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
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resources, and the state supported us and said we
had a good plan, and gave us $31.5 million dollars.
So, it’s unfortunate that people just make up these
rumors, and these stories, because they’re damaging
to the district.”
Ultmately, Contreras said her goal is to bring the
community together, and afer a recent school
board meetng where parents voiced their concerns
regarding data that apparently showed a higher rate
of suspensions for black and Hispanic students, she
said she and the board took swif acton.
“I have not looked at the reasons at all, I’ve only
looked at the numbers of out-of-school suspensions
and the percentages,” she said. “But the board did
pass a contract the same night. Most people had
lef by that tme. Afer they spoke, they lef, so they
missed an important piece. The board passed a
contract and brought in UCLA’s Civil Rights Project
to come in and examine the data to conduct an
evaluaton. It’s actually a contract with Dan Losen,
who is a principle evaluator with UCLA’s Civil Rights
Project, and he said this was groundbreaking. We
were the frst district to actually ask for their help.
Usually, they just go out and look at this data and the
districts aren’t asking for this. He said we were the
frst district to actually reach out to them.”
The process could take a few months, stated
Contreras, but, in the longrun, she said she’s
confdent the district will have enough informaton
to address the issue accordingly.
“I know that they’ve done a lot of work in looking
at out-of-school suspensions, partcularly of African-
American male students,” she said. “And I know they
also have done a lot of work on the interventons
you can use, and strategies to prevent the out of
school suspensions. They’ve also done work on
interventons to help you to start decreasing out of
school suspensions, while at the same tme keeping
your school safe. So, I felt like they would do a good
job of evaluatng the data, and helping us really
understand what the data means.”
“You know, everyone keeps saying the students are
being disproportonately suspended. Well, we’re not
sure about that yet, and when people ask me that I
say, ‘I don’t know if it’s disproportonate because we
have not had an evaluator look at it.’ Certainly it looks
very high, but I’m not sure if it’s disproportonate.
So they will help us with this, and then we can, as a
community, come together and talk about how we
are going to resolve the problems.”
Yet, although she initated this strategy, Contreras
said most others in the district had been mandated
by the state, including the directve that, only 50
percent of current staf may remain at iZone schools,
and they must now teach a standard Common Core
curriculum. As a result, she said the impending
teacher transfers and change in programs could
create additonal pressure for schools.
“I mean that’s a lot on a person,” Contreras stated.
“And, they’re also trying to teach a totally new
curriculum with the Common Core state standards.
Even though we’re highly supportve of the Common
Core standards, it’s just all at one tme. I think,
over tme, teachers will see they’re not going to
be fred with the new teacher evaluaton system;
and it really is designed to help them develop and
grow as professionals. And that their students will
learn more as a result of the Common Core, but it’s
just a difcult tme for us all, for all of this to come
together at once. And our job as leaders, not just
me, but the building leaders, and other leaders and
union leaders, is to try to help people work through
this. Our job is to try to help them focus, and to help
the students to contnue to focus in the midst of all
of this.”
In the end, Contreras said the soluton to solving the
district’s problems will be dependent on whether
people are willing to work together, in collaboraton
with the district.
“I just wish we could, you know, throw out our magic
wands and fx everything, but it doesn’t work like
that,” she stated. “It’s going to take all of us coming
together. But I tell you, I say it all the tme; I am
living my passion, and I am incredibly optmistc that
the school district will improve, because there are
enough people who want it to improve. We may not
always know exactly what to do, but when we come
together, I think we will fnd the soluton. And, for
that, I am grateful.”
COVER STORY
SHARON CONTRERAS...FROm PRVIOuS PaGe
NATIONAL
National NAACP Applauds Historic Expansion of Voting Rights
(TriceEdneyWire.com) - “This is a great step for
Virginia and we look forward to working with the
Commonwealth …on expanding the vote,”
stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, natonal president
and CEO of the NAACP. “Anyone who has made
a mistake, done their tme and paid their debt to
society should be able to join their neighbors at the
votng booth.”
The head of the naton’s oldest and largest civil
rights organizaton issued the statement in response
to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s historic and
unprecedented plan to streamline the voter rights
restoraton process for people with nonviolent
felony convictons. In a news conference at Cedar
Street Baptst Church of God in Richmond’s mostly
black Church Hill community, the governor said
nonviolent felons who fnish serving their sentences
and maintain, afer that, a clean record will regain
their right to vote and other civil rights on an
individual basis without having to apply.
The governor also is eliminatng a two-year
waitng period for former felons convicted of
nonviolent crimes to have their civil rights restored.
Previously, they also had to apply. Cases will now be
automatcally considered without an applicaton.
“It really is a personal thing,” Gov. McDonnell said. “I
believe in an America of second chances.”
The governor was joined on stage at the news
conference by civil rights advocates and legislators
from both partes, including members of the Virginia
Legislatve Black Caucus, who have pressed for years
to reform the state’s strict process for restoring ex-
felons’ rights.
In Virginia, only the governor can restore these
rights. Gov. McDonnell already has streamlined the
process and has restored the rights of more than
4,800 former felons — more than any previous
administraton. But the Sentencing Project says
about 350,000 Virginians who have completed
their sentences remained disenfranchised in
2010. Thousands of those residents could become
registered voters in tme for the November electon
as a result of Gov. McDonnell’s new policy. Violent
felons will stll have to wait fve years and apply to
regain their rights to vote, hold public ofce, serve
on a jury or become a notary public.
The announcement came a day afer Republican
Atorney General Ken Cuccinelli released a report
by an advisory commitee he appointed in March
to study restoraton of rights. The panel concluded
that the process could be improved by designatng
an executve branch agency to do all the legwork,
working with religious and community groups to
solicit and process applicatons for the governor’s
consideraton.
The atorney general said he liked the idea of
outside help but preferred to keep the program in
the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s ofce. The
Cuccinelli task force said the Virginia Consttuton
does not allow the governor to issue an executve
order restoring all felons’ rights, and Gov.
McDonnell’s new policy stops short of that by
contnuing to handle each case individually.
“I wanted to use the maximum authority I had,” Gov.
McDonnell told reporters. “An executve order is
probably beyond the scope of my authority.”
He said the new process will eliminate subjectvity.
“Your civil rights in this country should not be
dependent on the whims of one person,” he said.
The change was welcome news for Darrell Gooden
of Richmond, who was convicted of marijuana and
cocaine possession in 2002. He said he applied to
regain his rights in 2008, when Democrat Tim Kaine
was governor, but was turned down because of a
9 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
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speeding tcket. He hasn’t reapplied,
and now he won’t have to.
“I want my children to see that the
American dream is not just a dream,”
the 40-year-old father of three said.
Atempts to amend the consttuton
to allow the blanket automatc
restoraton of nonviolent felons’ rights
have failed repeatedly, most recently
in the 2013 General Assembly.
The consttutonal amendment,
historically championed by Democrats,
was backed by the Republican governor
and atorney general this year but was
rejected by the heavily GOP House of
Delegates. The ACLU of Virginia praised
Gov. McDonnell for further expeditng
the rights restoraton process.
“The governor will be giving voice to
thousands of Virginians who have
been denied partcipaton in electons
due to an antquated and regressive
votng law in the commonwealth,”
ACLU of Virginia board president Jayne
Barnard said in a news release.
Virginia New Majority, an advocacy
group, said it would follow up Gov.
McDonnell’s policy change — which
is efectve July 15 — with a voter
registraton drive.
“We’re going to celebrate today, but
we have to get right back to work
tomorrow,” said Jon Liss, the group’s
executve director. “We’re making
plans to ensure that people with
nonviolent felony convictons will be
registered in tme for the November
electons.”
Atorney General Cuccinelli, the
Republican candidate for governor,
lauded Gov. McDonnell “for pushing
his own reforms even further.”
“We needed to simplify the process
for those who want to regain their
civil rights so they can return to full
partcipaton in society,” he said.
Democratc gubernatorial candidate
Terry McAulife called the change “an
important step forward on an issue of
justce for Virginians who have paid
their debt to society.”
Gov. McDonnell said he expects the
next governor to keep his new policy.
The Associated Press contributed to
this story.
National NAACP Applauds...FROm PReVIOuS PaGe
10 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
OPINION/EDITORIAL
The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of MRMG or CNY Vision
Four years ago,
Sikiru Tijani was
en route to New
York City on the
southbound bus
from Canada
when it made a
scheduled stop
in Syracuse.
On impulse, he
stepped out of
the bus; he had
decided to check
out the city, for what, he had no idea.
That decision turned out to be
of immense signifcance to what
happened later. It marked the
beginning of a new life in a new city.
He liked what he saw about the city of
Syracuse.
It appeared to project the image of a
quintessental American city that was
transitoning from an era of industrial
boom to the age of the computer
dominated world of informaton
technology.
He made what may be described as a
life changing decision and relocated to
Syracuse and start a taxi business.
It was a combinaton of instnct and
insight that led him to focus on the taxi
business in Syracuse.
He saw the potental of making
an impact in a city that had the
right mix of what makes a business
succeed; a strong industrial base,
a thriving fnancial infrastructure,
great educatonal insttutons, and a
populaton that refected the global
immigraton trend.
“I knew it was the right tme for
someone like me to establish a
business here. This city just struck me
as the place to be and to start a new
business. I just knew it would work
out,” said Tijani.
He was right. Today, Tisko Taxi is a major
player in the taxi and transportaton
business in Syracuse. The cars and
vans bearing the Tisko Taxis insignia
of big white leters and numbers
can be spoted all over metropolitan
Syracuse.
Tisko Taxis has emerged to become
the favorite of Syracuse University
students who seem to be fascinated
by a name they can easily recall
and pronounce. So did the general
populaton. It didn’t take long for Tisko
Taxis to develop a city wide reputaton
for prompt service, courteous drivers
and reasonable rates.
He had accomplished his mission to
set up a business that would be known
for providing professional service.
“The students loved it. My record
speaks for itself,” he said.
His record has no parallel, at least not
in the African immigrant community
in terms of the role he has played as
an individual entrepreneur in creatng
a business that has become an
important part of the transportaton
and taxi industry in Central New York.
And most importantly, the relatvely
short tme it took to create and sustain
a thriving business in the midst of
ferce competton from rivals who
have been in the business for decades.
How did he do it? By applying his
knowledge of business principles he
studied in college, his experience in
managing a shipping company and
insight into the global economy, he
said.
He realized right from the beginning
that small businesses face big
challenges, partcularly if you’re the
founder, CEO, and (some days, it
seems) just about everything else. He
had operated a successful shipping
business in New York City and knew
about the interminable hours, the
fnancial frustratons, the learning
that comes only from doing and the
uncertainty. He also knew that most
new small businesses don’t survive
more than a few years.
But he saw an opportunity and had the
desire, drive, and the right mix of hard-
nosed realism and hope-against-hope
optmism to turn that opportunity into
a story of success. According to Tijani,
his goal was to set up a successful
business and to make it possible for
others who aspire to go into the taxi
business to accomplish their objectve
by creatng jobs for African immigrants
and others who want to get into the
business.
It has not been smooth sailing all the
way, he said. A couple of tmes, he
had to deal with what he describes as
“negatve stuf” from compettors as
well as other African taxi operators he
considered as colleagues.
Once had to chase down one of his
drivers and call the cops to arrest a
driver who refused to surrender the
keys to a taxi afer a disagreement.
“I just want to work with and help
other people do what I have been
able to do. At the same tme, I have
to protect my business. It’s nothing
personal,” he said.
According to Tijani, the high
demand for taxi service from the
student populaton of the Syracuse
metropolitan area makes up a
signifcant porton of the taxi business.
“The students are one of our main
support bases; without the students,
it won’t be easy,” he said.
He also gives credit to the licensing
department of the Syracuse Police
Department for having in place a
system that works efectvely in terms
of issuing permits, mediatng disputes
and generally making sure that taxi
service in the city is up to par in all
aspects.
He cites Sgt. Long in partcular for
doing a wonderful job that helped him
immensely as he built his business.
“He was doing his job, of course, but
he did a very good job with me and my
taxi business,” he said.
Having atained his goal in the taxi
business, Tijani has now set his sights
on making a foray into other areas in
Central New York. He is mulling the
idea of reviving his shipping business.
Can he do it again?
“Why not?” he said. “Syracuse is a
great city. If you know what you’re
doing and have what it takes, you can
do anything you want in this city. I
have done it before and look forward
to the challenge of doing it again.”
--------------------------
Kof Quaye has been a Syracuse resident
for more than 30 years. He is a writer,
author and publisher. Over the years, he
has been involved with the publication
of several African American focused
newspapers in Syracuse.
Syracuse Success Story: Sikuru Tijani of Tisko Taxis
KOFI QUAYE
www.cnyvision.com Facebook: search cnyvision
11 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
OPINION/EDITORIAL
The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of MRMG or CNY Vision
Let your voice
be heard
Tell us what you think at:
EDITOR@
cnyvision.com
Road to nowhere
The killing in Chicago is sad
enough, and it’s even sadder
when people are killing babies.
But that’s what it’s come to in
quite a few urban areas across
America. The death of a
small child in Chicago, Jonylah
Watkins, has rocked the city,
and Koman Willis has been
charged with the murder. He’ll
be headed to prison for killing
the litle girl, who was shot fve
tmes as her father changed
her diaper.
The girl’s father, Jonathan Watkins, was the real
target. The 33-year old alleged killer shot the girl’s
father over a stolen video game system. Chicago
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says that
Watkins stole a video game console from Willis’
apartment and sold it to someone else. The person
who bought it saw that Willis was the real owner.
Since the person knew that Willis was a known felon
and dangerous menace, he returned the console to
him and gave the name of the person who sold it
to him. That’s when Willis went to shoot Watkins
in order to retaliate. On March 11, Willis allegedly
opened fre on the man and his daughter as he
changed her diaper in the front seat. The father
survived, but the baby did not.
This case says a few things to me. My frst and most
obvious thoughts are with the litle girl, who had
her life ended afer being caught up in a cycle of
violence that leaves parts of Chicago in the midst of a
perpetual storm cloud. Guns are everywhere (which
are not made by black people and deliberately
provided), but what is missing from this community
are educatonal and economic opportunites. Given
that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is closing schools
in black neighborhoods while simultaneously
planning to invest over $100 million dollars into a
new stadium on the city’s more afuent north side,
it’s clear where the government’s priorites lie.
My second thought goes to the perpetrator. I
presume that Koman Willis wasn’t always a menace
or a killer. He actually began life like the rest of
us: A sweet, innocent, loving baby with a world
of potental in front of him. Then, like a hoard of
maggots eatng their way through a fresh piece of
fruit, the world turned him into a cold-hearted
monster with gallons of poison in his soul. It may
have started in the home, with improper guidance
from a non-structured household. It probably
expanded to the school system, where his brain was
lef to rot and remain undeveloped by a city that
chooses to spend it’s money on fancy stadiums for
white college students. It then expanded to the
world around him, where jobs are missing, but guns
and prisons are provided instead.
Then, the same way you mix the ingredients to bake
a cake, a “thug” is born. You put a gun in his hand,
remove the hope from his heart, maybe throw in
a pound of liquor and chronic, and sprinkle it with
homicidal messages from nearly every corporate-
funded rapper on the radio, and you have a dead
baby 33-years later. There is a formula to all of his,
and most mass murderers are MADE IN AMERICA.
I spoke this week to Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, one of
the greatest black men of our tme, about his new
book, “Changing School Culture for Black Males.”
One of the things this conversaton reminded me of
is a quote from Frederick Douglas which states that
“It’s easier to build strong boys than to repair broken
men.” It’s clear that this litle girl died due to the
actons of two broken men, and similar to this child,
many of us fnd our lives destroyed by the broken
men of our society.
We must be clear though, that the War on Drugs and
mass incarceraton are a large part of the reason that
so many men are broken. Young men today didn’t
have men in the home to teach them to become
men, so rather than protectng our children, we are
now killing them. So, what is perceived as some sort
of cultural inadequacy on the part of black males is
actually the result of a systematc efort to destroy
black men. An even sadder truth is that some of us
are complicit in this efort.
It’s tme for a new paradigm of thought in black
America. We have to understand how these systems
work, how they impact us all and how we can work
together to annihilate them. When it comes to
protectng young children, all enttes which proft
from the destructon of our communites must be
confronted. Politcians who aren’t actvely working
to help alleviate these problems should not be
supported, record labels that push toxic messages
must be confronted, gun makers who conveniently
“lose track” of their guns should be shut down, and
prisons that make money from slave labor must be
put on our most wanted list. To get a diferent result,
we must use a diferent set of tactcs. And when it
comes to protectng our children, we must be willing
to GO TO WAR.
We must no longer accept this nonsense.
------------------------
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series,
“The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.”
Man Allegedly Murdered 6-Month Old Baby Over a Video Game
FROM THE BoYce BLOG…
DR. BOYCE wATKINS
12 www.cnyvision.com | may 30 - june 5| 2013
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