June 2009 Unemployment rate increases slightly, more jobs lost, Black unemployment 14.7%

There was little change in unemployment for the month of June, which went up to 9.5% from 9.4% in May. But 467,000 more jobs were lost during this period, up from 322,000 in May. In all, there are now 14.7 million unemployed Americans, an increase of 7.2 million since the start of the recession (Dec. 2007).

The unemployment rate for African-Americans was 14.7% last month compared to 12.2% for Hispanics and 8.7% for whites. The African-American unemployment rate is down for the second straight month after reaching 15% in April. Unemployment for Black men is at 16.4%, down from a high of 17.2% in April.

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June

2009 7.6 8.1 8.5 8.9 9.4 9.5

This does not include 2.2 million people who were marginally attached to the labor force last month. And of that number 793,000 are considered “discouraged workers”, because they are not currently looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available. The other 1.4 million had not searched for work in the previous 4 weeks.

Could Black men be the first to start steering out of the recession?

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

James Guess: The Legal Lowdown on Credit Cards 2009


Credit cards do not put people in debt, financial decisions that people make is what put them in debt! On May 22, 2009, President Obama signed The Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights Act into law, which could potentially help people become debt free quicker.

This new legislation will dramatically help the roughly 50% of American consumers who have charged nearly $1 trillion, and carry an average balance of $8,000. Twenty percent of those who carry a balance are paying more than 20% interest on that balance.

Most of the new legislation will not become effective until early 2010, but it will finally use some common-sense methods regarding interest rates. For example, it prohibits lenders from increasing interest rates on existing balances (stuff you already charged) unless you are more than 60 days late on your bill.

And if you actually fall behind on paying your credit card bill and the rate is increased, the lender must restore the lower rate if you have paid your bill on time after six months. Also, borrowers are required to have periodic payment history reviews by their lenders and have their rates decreased if indicated by the review. This may be hard to actually enforce since it goes against the lender’s interest (no pun intended).

Furthermore, the law will require borrowers to receive at least 45 days notice before their interest rates are increased on new purchases, regardless if the customer is late or delinquent. This will help borrowers make better decisions and give them more time to create a plan before they are penalized with a higher interest rate.

Also, the notorious “pay to pay” concept will be disallowed. How are you going to charge me for paying my bill? No more will customers be charged for paying their credit card by mail, phone, or electronic transfer, except for live person or expedited services.

One of the most effective pieces of this law is the part that requires lenders to tell borrowers how long it will take, and how much interest would have been paid if only the minimum monthly payments are made.

Let’s face it! We live in a payment plan world, where most consumers do not care how much they pay for things, all they want to know is whether or not they can afford the monthly payments. Hopefully, borrowers will realize it is not worth paying for something twice and being in debt twice as long by making minimum monthly payments.

The Credit Card Holder’s Bill of Rights also has additional protections for students and gift cards as well. And no more over the limit fees, unless you decide you want to be allowed to go over the limit. Why would you? For more information and the complete bill of rights law visit www.govtrack.us and search for bill H.R. 627. 

Create Wealth, Enjoy Life!

James “Bird” Guess
President & Founder
$chool of Money & Wealth LLC


Gemna Holmes: If Tavis Smiley was White, Wells Fargo and “Ghetto Loans” would be Front Page News

I thought Gemna Holmes from Gemna Speaks had an interesting take in a recent post regarding Tavis Smiley. I thought I’d repost some of it here:

  • This is the third in a series of posts about Tavis Smiley and Wells Fargo, sponsor of the State of the Black Union (SOTBU). Everyone is in uproar about Wells Fargo employees calling loans to black mortgage holders “ghetto loans” and the disdain they showed for the customers they made the most profit from. But the media, especially black media, has been very silent about the role Tavis Smiley played in helping stack this ill fated deck of cards that has plagued the black community in several major cities.
  • When Mr. Smiley first partnered with Wells Fargo in 2005, he was a TEACHER of economic empowerment and assembled seminars around the country as the keynote speaker for wealth building. Press releases filled every major news outlet inbox and black newspapers were infected with faxes stating Mr. Smiley’s desire to teach the principles of home ownership as the key for breaking the cycle of poverty in the African American community. All this knowledge was given at no charge to trusting black folks. This was the golden ticket to obtaining the elusive piece of the pie via Mr. Smiley’s recommendations.
  • Mr. Smiley stated he was “thrilled” to help black folks achieve their dreams but now that many of them have found themselves in a nightmare, where is he? Has he spoken out against the “ghetto loans” statement by Wells Fargo employees? Has he demanded accountability that he touts must be part of helping President Obama be the best President he can be?
  • Has he applied that same scrutiny to Wells Fargo now that their sins of omission and commission have been exposed by their employees? Mr. Smiley’s messages are often woven with biblical terms to give his messages of empowerment a spiritual halo; so I will take a page from his book, has he washed himself in hyssop to amend for his leadership initiatives with Wells Fargo that has caused financial harm to people of color?
  • We should not be shy about asking these questions of Mr. Smiley. But why is black media afraid to question one of their favorite sons about the role he played promoting Wells Fargo to the African American community? Could it be they are part of the problem as well? I am keenly aware of the balance between the news and advocacy and recruiting advertisers and sponsors but we should not be ostriches when it comes to a story of this magnitude. For those who used Mr. Smiley’s conferences/events as promos to keep themselves in the mainstream media eye as “leaders” of the African-American community, they are eerily quiet on this subject. Many are giving the vibe that this is not their problem.
  • What’s that sound I hear from the media? Being a pest control operator, I know it all too well…crickets.

Read the entire post by clicking here.

Previous posts at Gemna Speaks about Tavis Smiley and Wells Fargo:
Tavis Smiley Holds Barack Accountable, but Who Holds Tavis Accountable?

African-American unemployment rate up to 14.9%

The U.S. jobs report out this morning shows that the national unemployment rate jumped from 8.9% in April to 9.4% in May. For African-Americans the news is even worse, with a 14.9% jobless rate for Black Americans.

Please take a moment to comb through the numbers plainly laid out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ironically the U.S. unemployment rate has just now approached the rate for African-Americans BEFORE the economic downturn. Last May, The Black unemployment rate was 9.7%

For Black males over the age of 20, the news was better from April to May, but still shocking. In April, unemployment for black men was 17.2%, but dropped to 16.8% in May. Those numbers are up from 9.2% last May. White men by contrast had an unemployment rate of 4.9% a year ago.

Black men continue to be impacted by this economy at a disproportionate rate. And remember, these are men who are seeking work. The stereotype of black men who don’t want to work (shiftless and lazy as one of my colleagues calls them) does not apply here.

This has a negative impact all the way down the family line. Whether it’s the father who is struggling to retain respect in his home, or one who is stuck with the label of “deadbeat dad” black families are hurting. It further shows that a “one size fits all” approach will not work, as other factors are at work here.

This is all exacerbated by the lack of businesses in the black community. Rather than sitting around patting each other on the back all the time, Black America is going to have to wake up to the fact that we continue to lag behind in every major indicator. These jobless numbers are an “in your face” reminder of that fact.


Organization Distributes 3 Million More Meals, Sees Increase in First-Time Clients
at Member Food Pantries & Feeding Programs

First Summer Fundraising Campaign Launched to Help Meet Needs During Recession

DALLAS (May 14, 2009) Hunger is not a new issue, but it now has a new story. As the unemployment rate continues to climb, thousands of North Texans who never dreamed they would need help from a food bank are now having a hard time putting food on the table for the first time, in the wake of layoffs, lost savings and other financial hardships during the recession. The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is launching its first-ever summer awareness and fundraising campaign to help bolster public support and meet the growing community need.

North Texas Food Bank Stories of Hunger

Overall, the NTFB has distributed 3 million more meals this year compared to last year. Additionally, in the last six months member food pantries and other agencies to which the NTFB supplies food have seen a significant 35 percent jump in the number of new clients reaching out for help for the first time – – a possible indicator of how the economic downturn is impacting the middle income and working poor.

Starting this month, the organization is launching an aggressive campaign to help raise awareness and much-needed funds. A first-of-its-kind summer fundraising focus for the NTFB, the campaign features billboard, radio and online PSAs with the touching new stories of today’s hunger, such as:

Twins at 24. Single mom at 27. Hungry Today…Promoted at 29. Laid off at 34. Hungry Today…
Empty Nest at 57. Empty Pantry at 84. Hungry Today.

The PSAs also point out the hard-hitting and often surprising facts of the North Texas hungry. For example, 40 percent of households served by the NTFB have at least one employed adult.

“These new stories of hunger may be outside the stereotype, but they are all too real. We are urging the community to help out now more than ever, as the recession hits home for our neighbors – – the workers who once had steady jobs and find themselves suddenly out of work, or the single mothers who are scrambling to earn enough to put food on the table for their children,” explains NTFB President and CEO Jan Pruitt. “Whether a one-time donation or starting a virtual food drive through our Web site, everyone can help make a difference. Even just $1 feeds four hungry North Texans.”

Pruitt applauds both individual donations and corporate support for helping the NTFB to purchase and supply more food to the growing number of children, families and seniors who need food assistance, but points out that the usual lull in summer giving could impact services going forward.

Hunger does not take a summer vacation,” explains Pruitt, “While we typically receive 47 percent of annual donations during the winter holiday season, the recession has made the need for year-round giving all the more urgent. We hope the summer campaign will bring the issue of hunger and our important mission to the forefront for the community.”

The summer campaign, developed by Dallas-based branding and creative agency RSW Creative, is part of NTFB’s new three-year Close the Gap initiative to unite the community in narrowing the food gap. Campaign billboards will run in high-profile locations such as the North Dallas Tollway at LBJ Freeway and Trinity Mills. PSAs will also run online and on local radio stations. Supporters can learn more about the campaign, make tax-deductible donations or find out about volunteer opportunities by visiting ntfb.org.

About North Texas Food Bank
The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) is a nonprofit hunger relief organization that distributes donated, purchased and prepared foods through a network of feeding programs in 13 North Texas counties. The NTFB supports the nutritional needs of children, families and seniors through education, advocacy and strategic partnerships. Close the Gap is the NTFB’s 3-year initiative to unite the community to narrow the food gap by providing access to 50 million meals annually.

Founded in 1982, the NTFB is a certified member of Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network). Last year 26 million meals were distributed. Each month agency pantries distribute food to more than 50,000 families and on-site meal programs serve 435,000 meals/snacks. Every dollar donated to the NTFB provides four meals for the hungry. Out of every dollar donated, 97 cents goes directly to hunger relief programs. To learn more about NTFB, visit ntfb.org.

R.I.P. Dallas makes is presence known, gathers 600 young professionals to support “Vote No” Campaign

It’s amazing what a group of friends can do with an email a Twitter account, and a few facebook messages.

Early this week I got an email from a friend that I trust. It read as follows:


I would like to invite you as my special guest for theDallas Young Professionals for the Convention Center Hotel Luncheon, next Thursday April 16th from 12-115pm at Eddie Deans Ranch (Downtown Dallas off Lamar Blvd).

The benefits of attending this luncheon will be powerful networking with the top young business and political leaders in Dallas and information and planning session for supporting the Dallas Convention Center Hotel.

This will be the first event of its kind where we are expecting over 300 young corporate professionals/entrepreneurs to attend. If you are serious about building your network and growing your business or climbing the corporate ladder, then you must be there. If you received this email it is because I truly believe that you are a young professional leader who will continue to excel.

I’m not sure how many more invites I’ll get to events for “young professionals,” but I’ll ride that train until it runs out.

Anyway, I thought since Dallas South was one of the first entities in Dallas to offer an opinion on the Convention Center Hotel , and since people link the site to the project, it seemed like a good idea to at least show my face. Wasn’t sure how they’d pull off 300 people since I was just hearing about it…but I try not to judge.

A couple of days later I received another email from someone that I didn’t know, and a phone call on yesterday from someone else asking if I was planning to attend. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’d say it seems like they were covering their bases. It felt like momentum to me.

So when exited off I-35 and headed toward Eddie Dean’s Ranch, I halfway expected the bumper to bumper traffic turning into the parking lot. And when I got inside the room; it was jumping.  A lot of folks in attendance were shaking their heads at the beginning, and now that I know more of the story, I can see why.

As it was told, about a week ago 4 or 5 friends got together and asked themselves how could they impact the Prop 1 and Prop 2 elections. They decided to hold a meeting to get out the facts about the proposals and what they think it would mean to Dallas.

So supposedly they emailed their friends and asked their friends to email their friends, started as website called R.I.P.Dallas, and there we all were at Eddie Deans. 600 people showed up for the gathering. Even the organizers were visibly shocked.

Now let’s be clear, the 4 or 5 friends aren’t just anybody. The guys I met and that I was introduced to were the sons of some heavy hitting Dallas businessmen. But they have a (somewhat) diverse circle of friends that produced more African-Americans than I had expected to see.

There was a question and answer session with Dallas City Council member Ron Natinsky, a few people from the audience to speak, a slide presentation and some words from the mayor. All and all a really good meeting. Check the RIP Dallas site. We’ll be ramping up convention hotel talk next week.

A couple of hours after the meeting ended, I received an email from “Grim” the fictional leader of the group. Here’s what Grim had to say:

Will we soon be saying R.I.P. Dallas? If the two propositions on the May 9 ballot pass, very likely.

That’s why we are asking YOU to get on board the movement to Vote NO! on Propositions 1 and 2 on May 9 and to forward this message to 20 of your friends.

More than 600 souls have already joined our campaign but we need many more. Here’s how you can get involved:

1. Campaign headquarters is Loft 111 at South Side on Lamar. Drop by when you can to help with strategy, pick up signs and get on camera to speak your mind about billionaires and unions pushing their agenda on our Dallas.

2. We will be conducting an urban sign blitz Friday April 17 at 4:00 pm. E-mail me if you are willing to assist – we’ll convene at campaign headquarters (see above).

3. We are going to storm City Hall next Wednesday, April 22. E-mail me at grim@ripdallas.com to participate.

4. Forward this e-mail to 20 people you know and encourage them to join the campaign.

5. Go to the website where you can read blog posts by Grim (feel free to comment), view photos and videos of our upcoming stunts all over Dallas and read about projects in jeopardy if Propositions 1 and 2 prevail. If you are at work you may want to check your volume:


Gotta run. Lots to do. This election is going to be the death of me yet…


This is how movements are created in the 21st Century. What started as an idea a week ago has become a coalition in short order. I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys (and ladies that are now working with them) have up their sleeve for city hall next week. It looks like it could be a doozie.

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Workshop for economic recovery opportunities for women, minorities and veterans

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will co-host a workshop with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) on April 20, 2009. The workshop, titled “The EBJ Highway to Recovery” is designed to expand business opportunities for women and minorities.

TxDOT will provide overview of economic recovery projects and the process for bidding on them, followed by TxDOT and NTTA holding one-on-one sessions with workshop participants.

The “EBJ Highway to Recovery” workshop will follow the “Roadmap to Recovery” workshop.

Date: Monday, April 20, 2009

Time: 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Location: The Music Hall at Fair Park
909 1st Ave.
Dallas, TX 75210

To RSVP for the workshop, please register online at:

Shawn P. discussing Convention Center Hotel at 5 and or 6 on WFAA 8

I just finished shooting (Wednesday) an interview with Brad Watson from WFAA 8 a few minutes ago. Brad wanted my thoughts regarding the “Vote No” (For the hotel) campaign and a press conference that was held by a group of  Southern Dallas pastors who are against the hotel.

The interview is scheduled to run at either 5pm, 6pm, or both on Channel 8.

Congresswoman Johnson to hold Economic Recovery Workshop in Dallas, Shawn Williams to moderate panel discussion

On Monday April 20th, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson will hold an economic recovery workshop, titled The Roadmap to Recovery. The workshop is designed to bring together representatives of financial organizations and federal and state agencies, who will share information on ways for North Texans to access economic recovery funding.

Three panels featuring agency representatives will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Yours truly (Shawn P. Williams – Publisher/Editor Dallas South) will serve as moderator for one of the panels as will Mike Davis of Dallas Progress.

Agencies that have confirmed that they will be represented include:

· Internal Revenue Service

· Taxpayer Advocate Service

· Texas Department of Transportation

· U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

· U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

· U.S. Department of Labor

· U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

· U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

· U.S. General Services Administration

· U.S. Small Business Administration

· U.S. Social Security Administration

Financial organizations that are sending representatives include Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas and the Dallas Small Business Development Center. John Podvin, an attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP, will speak about the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and newly-created Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP).

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert will also give remarks at the workshop.

To RSVP for the workshop, please call Congresswoman Johnson’s office in Dallas at (214) 922-8885 or e-mail recovery.ebjohnson@mail.house.gov. To submit a question to the panelists, e-mail recovery.ebjohnson@mail.house.gov, specifying which agency or financial organization the question is directed to.

What: “The Roadmap to Recovery” workshop

Date: Monday, April 20, 2009

Time: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Location: The Music Hall at Fair Park

909 1st Ave.

Dallas, TX 75210

Mayor Tom Leppert Letter to Dallas Voters regarding Proposition 1 – Dallas Convention Center Hotel

The following is a letter from Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert that is being sent out to Dallas municipal voters this week. Tomorrow I will post a Question and Answer document that will accompany Mayor Leppert’s letter.

April 3, 2009

Dear Friend,

As you have probably seen, there are a lot of rumors, mistruths and, most unfortunately, personal attacks being circulated, all around the convention center hotel. These radical changes to our City Charter won’t affect the California agency that made the attack ads -but they will impact you and me.

That’s why I wanted to write you and personally address these attacks, and give you myperspective on the hotel referendum.

This election is not about politics, personal attacks or your right to vote. It’s also not about your city services being threatened since the hotel would be funded using low-interest bonds that would be repaid by revenues from hotel guests.

The May 9 referendum is about our city’s financial future. It’s about jobs, new opportunities and the economic growth that we so desperately need right now. And it’s about competing for valuable new tax revenues, and lifting the ever-growing tax burden from the shoulders of our homeowners.

Here’s why I think building the hotel now, under the current plan, is the right decision for our taxpayers:

Let us compete for tourism. Nowadays, a city must have an attached convention center hotel to compete nationally and draw the largest U.S. conventions – those attracting 20,000 to 50,000 visitors. Until the Council’s recent approval, Dallas was the only city of the top 22 U.S. convention markets without a convention center hotel announced, under construction or completed. It’s simple. Convention tourism brings our city $2.6 billion in annual economic impact – if we are going to compete to keep these critical dollars, we must have the attached hotel.

Protect our $1 billion investment. The Dallas Convention Center is a $1 billion investment for the city that yields us billions in economic impact every year, but keeping this asset healthy and viable for the long term means adding the attached hotel. If we don’t add the hotel, our convention center will become obsolete, and not only will we lose the billions in economic impact, but our taxpayers will be left to carry the debt and maintenance on the convention center at an estimated cost of $14 million per year.

Keep property taxes low. Over the past few years, the percentage of our total budget that falls on Dallas homeowners is creeping up – in fact, in our current budget, property taxes account for nearly 45% of our City’s total revenues. The best hope for easing this burden is to grow sales tax receipts. One of our best opportunities to do that is through convention business – but we can only do that if we have a convention center hotel.

Our Convention & Visitors Bureau already has booked 13 city-wide conventions in the new hotel – but for us to realize the millions in revenue these conventions will bring, we must build the hotel now.

As a businessman and a mayor who cares deeply about our city and our future, I can tell you that the current hotel plan is the result of thousands of hours of study, hundreds of hours of public meetings, and it is a smart, fiscally-responsible investment that allows us to use tax revenue bonds to capitalize on a very favorable bond rate and pay the lowest amount of interest on a project that will yield a great return for our city.

The opponents of the hotel would like you to believe that this is a bad deal for taxpayers, or that the citizens of Dallas have not had a voice – but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the biggest risk for taxpayers is if we don’t build the hotel, because they will be left to carry our growing tax burden.

But at the end of the day, you must decide who has our city’s best interest at heart: your mayor and the overwhelming majority of our Dallas City Council, every major Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of business & community leaders – or a slick California ad agency who’s using a paid actor to deliver their message.

I ask you to look past the manipulation and mistruths, and to have faith in our city’s can-do reputation for fiscally-responsible, successful public-private partnerships that increase our tax base, boost sales tax receipts and create jobs.

Please join me in voting “No” against Proposition One. It’s the right decision for our taxpayers, and it’s the right decision for our future.


Tom Leppert

Mayor of Dallas