Tony Herbert:New Age Contender

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The State of Black New York is in tyranny.  Police brutality is on the rise.  Cold-blooded murder of our men!  Our women beaten!  Body slammed!  Punched in the face! Dragged by the hair!  Our children roughed up and shaken-down – being terrorized by the same people who were put in official positions to protect us!  People who work hard for this society are walking around with no health insurance.  Medicaid has just been cut $1 billion.  Unemployment and underemployment has uprooted families from their homes and their neighbors and forced them into the inhuman City shelter system, stripping them of their human rights.  With the exception of Charles Barron, it appears that our government has turned a blind eye on us in our time of need.  These and so many more life-diminishing issues are being ignored by our government while the rich get richer and the poor drop dead.  How long will we continue to march and carry signs in protest of assaults against us in futility?  How long will we allow our hard earned dollars to be taken away from us and be spent on fool hearty things like devices to kill pigeons in the train stations, while entire families with babies, toddlers, school-aged children and teens are living in the unhealthy, unsafe City shelters, stripped of their human rights and dignity, while the parents continue to work long and hard every day?  How long must we go underrepresented?  How long must I say HOW LONG?  Where are all our people in government who promised to improve our quality of life?  More importantly, where are our women in government as these crimes against us persist?  We have women in government with the resources and ability to help us.  Where are they -- at some luncheon or banquet, somewhere working hard not to get caviar on their “power suits?�  Enough, already!

Brothers and Sisters, the election year is quickly approaching and I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for a whole lot of changes.  Some of these people have been in office for over twenty years, and have produced no significant results to help us.  Twenty years of raking in our tax dollars to finance their homes and fancy cars and lavish vacations, while we work our tails off and fear, wonder and hope.  Enough! 

I took the opportunity to talk to a man who has a plan to make some serious changes on our behalf, given the chance --  A man who knows what it is to suffer the disparities of poverty, as a child of a hard-working single mother --  A man who feels our pain. 

Anthony “Tony� Herbert is on fire in his mission to put a stop to this madness.  Tony says he has a master plan.  He is an advocate for women’s health, positive youth initiatives, small business development, affordable health care, affordable housing, home ownership, job development, employment education and increased funding for cancer research.  Tony is the Founder and CEO of The Professionals Network Organization (TPNO), whose goal is to meet the diverse business needs of entrepreneurs and other professionals and aspiring professionals and entrepreneurs, through a series of programs and events that provide effective networking value, thereby empowering our people to become and maintain an "Ownership Society".  Tony’s no stranger to “the game.�  Apparently, the difference with Tony Herbert is, he’s not playing.

BSN: Tony, why are you running for office? 

Tony Herbert: Brenda, I flashback to 1983.  I was just getting ready to graduate high school. My mom was raising 4 boys by herself.  We were forced into a situation when the community was gentrified.  The building we were living in was purchased. So it was either come up with the money, which was thousands and thousands of dollars, or, “You gotta go!�  My mom swore that we weren’t going to live in the street.  At that point, we had three choices:  either live on the street, live in a shelter or try to find this money.  Couldn’t find the money, we weren’t going into a shelter, so the next best thing my mom came up with was, there was an abandoned building across the street from our house that was owned by the city.  We lived in there for about eight months.  We squatted in an abandoned building for eight months.  Even more awful was that the building had no running water, no lights, no gas, we had to come outside to a hydrant to get water and there was a stench from a broken sewer line throughout that building like crazy.  And I thought about it and I said, “Mom, what can our elected officials do for us?�  My mother said, “Nothing.�  And nobody came to help.  All the letters, all the requests she sent out, nobody came to help.  It was that situation that drove me to want to be in government.

Now that I’ve worked in the Senate, I’ve worked in the City Council, I’ve worked in the Federal Government, and I understand how the bureaucracy works I know what is needed to do the business of the people.  Understanding these things raises the question in my mind, does our community still have to sit back and wait for government to take care of things or have people who are real leaders who will come and make it happen.  That’s what I want to do.  And that’s why I do my networking events.  If you notice by the people who fill the room, it’s all about connecting power brokers, who oftentimes don’t even know they’re power brokers, and take those organizations and have them work together.  And people are building businesses as a result.  I get satisfaction from giving people access to resources to help them grow.

The next thing I want to do is take this Senate seat and put our community in the know.  You’ve got Community Board meetings.  If you don’t go to the Community Board meetings, you won’t know what’s going on.  Some of those who are appointed to the Boards are political hacks and serve the agenda of those that have appointed them, thus leaving a conflict of representation, because most, not all of them have their own personal agendas.  Again I’m not saying all of them, but a large percentage of them have their own agenda.  My problem is, if you don’t know, then you can’t make a difference.  You can’t make a change.  And I’m about making a difference.

BSN:  You told me once that people who don’t know you, think you’re out-of-touch.  Why is that?

Tony Herbert: Some people see me in suits and think I’m out of touch, like I don’t know what it is to suffer poverty.  But believe me – I’ve been there.  .�  I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. Nevertheless, I was taught, “Refine yourself and wear the uniform of the job you want to do The overall issue now is to use take this network that I have created and use those relationships to get corporate America engaged in our community and basically, take back exactly what we’re giving out -- support.  When you go into a shopping center, you buy most of your items by brand.  That’s supporting the corporations.  For instance, Tropicana orange juice; Hellmann’s mayonnaise – all these companies have budgets to do marketing and promotions in our community.  So if we just show them the correct marketing package, they’ll make the investment because they want their name out here in our communities.  Why should it not be a situation where everybody wins?  I’m going to bring them in and say, “Alright, look!  I’ve got 300,000 plus people in my Senate district.  What do you want to do? 

Why should we have to wait for government to say, “Okay, you only get this amount of discretionary money this year.�   I’m not waiting for that.  Why should we?  Why are so many of our people happy to settle for a tiny slice when they can have the whole entire pie!  Some of the elected officials today lead people to believe this is all they can get. 

There’s a disparity with regards to what my opponent does.  She gives a tiny bit of money to the people who don’t support her and lots of money to the people who do.  Meanwhile, the people she’s giving astronomical amounts of money to, are the people that already have money.  It has been documented that 85% of her discretionary moneys are distributed to the much better off portion of the district.

Look, with regards to the Atlantic Yards Arena, which my opponent was against and tried to shut down and was unsuccessful.  She was against the development because some of the better off constituents felt the sun would be blocking the neighborhood due to the height of the buildings.  I don’t give a heck about how high they build a building, because the way I look at it, the sun was gone a long time ago when all these people started losing their jobs.  There are a lot of minority contracts coming through that Atlantic Yards project.  Forest City Ratner can build up to the 50th floor.  That’s fine.  All that means to me is there are 50 floors that a minority contractor from my community can get business from and put people to work.   

Tony, police are on a rampage against the Black and Hispanic community here in New York.  What’s your stance on that?

Tony Herbert:  There should be tougher disciplinary actions against public servants who violate the law – police included.  No police officer has the right to use excessive force on anybody if their lives have not been placed in clear and present danger.  However, what we can’t have is people going around condoning the shooting or fighting with police officers, because if we don’t have any law enforcement in place, this city would be wrecked.  It was wrong that Sean Bell was killed and the other young men were shot and I am really saddened by this tragic loss of yet another Brothe .  For an officer to shoot at some one with 30 something bullets – no.  That is not acceptable and I hope justice prevails.

BSN:  Yes. The Sean Bell murder was tragic.  But let me ask you this -- in general – don’t you feel that the New York City police are targeting African Americans to hurt and harass?

Tony Herbert: As an African American, I’ll be honest with you.  I drive down the street, I get pulled over and I argue with police if I thing they’re wrong.

BSN:  Because you know what to say!

Tony Herbert:  I know what to say.  That’s right.  My position is the Commissioner has to be held to the plank and he has to ensure that these kinds of incidents don’t become habitual.  He has to determine what has gone wrong with regards to the training with these officers, and if it’s not the training, something else has got to be fixed.  They have to figure this out so it doesn’t keep coming back to communities of color and we have to suffer another level of oppression.  But it’s not all police officers.  It’s certain officers who have an “us-against-them� mentality.  And I believe those are the officers who are scared and should be relieved of their duties.

BSN: Scared of WOMEN?  They’re beating down the women now, Tony!

Tony Herbert:  It’s stupidity.  It’s stupidity amongst a few of them.  That’s not right and I don’t agree with that at all. Like I said – disciplinary action must be taken against people who violate the law – police included.  Assault on women – assault on anybody should not be happening and I will not tolerate this as a legislator.

BSN:  I understand you’re part of the Bed Stuy Safety Task Force.  What’s going on with that?

Tony Herbert:  Yes.  The Bed Stuy Safety Task Force is a group of concerned community people and organizations that have come together to deal directly with the issues relating to this gang activity and all the crime going on in the Bed Stuy community.  So we’re coming up with strategies to approach these types of situations. 

BSN:  That’s wonderful!  Tony, you were first a Democrat and then you switched to the Republican Party.  Why?

Tony Herbert: The Democratic Party left me, I did not leave the Democratic Party.  However, I was given an opportunity to run on the Republican line because my Party denied me that right and subsequently stole the election from me.

BSN: What do you mean?

Tony Herbert:  At the outset of the election, they were putting me out there because they wanted someone who could win.  But later on, I realized that it was not just winning they were interested in.  They also wanted somebody they could control.  I wasn’t going to be that person and they started to learn that.  Sadly, James Davis was killed and based on that unfortunate incident, they decided all bets were off with me.  I was like, “What do you mean, ‘All bets are off?’  I thought you guys were legitimately looking for somebody who wanted to do the business of the community.�  But that’s not what they wanted.  They wanted somebody they could control and dictate to – someone to be a part of the whole ‘Boy’s Club.’�   Subsequently, they found that in Tish James – not me.  So, they turned around and cut a deal and got me knocked off the ballot in court.  I had the signatures – but they got me knocked off on the notation of a “fatal flaw.�  The so-called “fatal flaw� was a technicality.  To explain, when my documentation was filed with the Supreme Court, the front page of my paperwork wasn’t date-stamped.  Subsequently, the court refused to hear my case.  But the person who filed my papers turned out to become Treasurer for Tish James.  I discovered that this person was sent to infiltrate my campaign throughout the whole process and totally sold me out, which was by design.  So, that is how they got me off the ballot.  They knew they had to eliminate me.   I’m supposed to be sitting in that City Council seat today, and I know for a fact that our community would have been much better off than it is today.  As a result of this disrespect to my loyalty, I joined the Republican Party.

And I joined them because I had a message I wanted to get out and the message was that we need people who are going to do effective work for the people of the community no matter what party they were in.  We didn’t need another hack inside Albany or inside any other elective office.  The Republicans gave me the opportunity to run on my platform, didn’t ask me to turn into what they believed in, they voted me in unanimously.  As a matter of fact, they wanted me on that line so badly, they got the person who was on the line to move out of the country so I could get the line.  For them willing to do so much, I decided I wanted to stick around and learn more.   History doesn’t tell me or our students why our ancestors left the Republican Party. We were the base of the Republican Party for a very long time.

I realized that they’re very effective in raising money.  I wanted to learn more about that process.  I’ve learned a lot and am very appreciative of the Republican Party for giving me the opportunity.  I have no issue with them, however we see things differently on some idealogy.  I have no disrespect for them, though, because they are human beings just like we are.  Anyway, when I decided to run for office, I knew it was unrealistic to try and win the seat as a Republican in a Democratic borough.  So, it was a no-brainer for me to come back to the Party I was raised in and execute the same platform that I had been preaching, which for the last twenty years, my incumbent has done nothing about.

BSN: What is your opinion of Velmanette Montgomery?

Tony Herbert: I feel she is a nice lady, a bit out of touch, and out of ideas to move our community forward.  Her opinion of me is that I am brash.  It’s not that, I am just sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I am serious about helping people without all the brouhaha.  Montgomery has failed us all.  There are so many young men on the streets robbing people and beating up our senior citizens and just all out wilding, because they can't get a job.  Montgomery has been in office over 20 years.  What has she done that has been tangible enough to move our community forward?  She’s been in office over 20 years and I have never even seen her on my block.  This is 2007.  What worked in 1992 is not going to work now.  When she came into office, DOS was on the computer (laughs). I have a direct communication with the youth in our community and if you are going to tell these kids to stop what they are doing, you’d better have something in place that will be the alternative.  I have created a "SAVE OUR YOUTH INITIATIVE " for our youth that will help fill in some of the voids.

I want my opponent to know that I am coming after that seat.  Our community needs someone who is going to deliver the resources that other communities get. Why shouldn’t ours get the same?  I am going to address and work to dissolve the high rates of bad health issues in our community, I am going to help grow small businesses and create more opportunities for people to own their own businesses and own their own homes. I will fight for our Seniors and secure their safety. I will work vigorously to bridge the divide between our Youth and our community. 

My opponent expressed an interest in running for Borough President.  When she did that, she made it very clear to me as I understood it, that she no longer wants the job of State Senator.  So, if you do not want the job because you know that you have not produced and probably will never be in the position to do so, just get out of the way of real progress and let the community have their day!!!!

BSN: Tony Herbert, thank you very much for sharing with us.  I expect to be hearing a lot more from and about you.

Tony Herbert: My pleasure.  Thank you for your time.

Brenda Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor of The Black Star News and Harlem Business News.

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