New Rochelle Council Member Jared "Fifth Vote" Rice believes he has a special role to play in today's civil rights movement.
In an article published in Glorify, the Bethesda Church in New Rochelle’s newsletter, Rice identifies the current battlefront in the civil rights struggle as income inequality, the rolling back of voting rights and mass incarceration of young black men.
Rice has spoken often of his concerns with mass incarceration of black men and constitutional violations by the police, especially as it relates to sentencing discrepancies between powder and crack cocaine.
Rice believes that mass incarceration is the civil rights issues of today, that it has turned running prisons into a profit-making business and is a cause of high taxes.
Rice's mother is Judge Gail Rice of the City Court of New Rochelle.
Currently, Rice is pushing the New Rochelle police to initiate a gun buy-back program in New Rochelle.
During a 2010 debate, Rice described himself as "someone ready to get down and dirty and fight for civil rights".
Rice believes that the mission of the NAACP remains unfilled due to mass incarceration, inadequate housing, lack of jobs for minorities and the poor quality of education and that place to put a stop to these things is in New Rochelle.
Rice identifies two areas of focus in his recent article -- working to address issues of job creation and community-police relations.
Rice describes the "New Ro Works" program as an effort to provide New Rochelle residents with jobs that pay a living wage.
"It launches with a construction-training program that will employ citizens on building projects throughout our city," said Rice.
New Ro Works is derived from New York Youth Works, a program launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and implemented in New Rochelle starting in February of 2012.
Rice has repeatedly referred to the Cuomo program as the NY Youth Works Construction Training Program
Despite Rice's repeated attempts to equate the New York Youth Works program with construction training, the New York State Labor Department describes the program as simply a "readiness training" program after which the candidate receives a National Work
Readiness Credential . The credential is awarded based on a web-based assessment of four skills: Situational judgment, Oral language, Reading with understanding, Using math to solve problems. The program has absolutely nothing to do with construction training.
A sample test math problem provided by the assessment company is as follows:
The capacity of a fuel tank is 600 gallons. When you read the gauge, it reads 302 gallons. Which statement CORRECTLY describes the current fuel level?
A. It is at 25% capacity.
B. It is at 50% capacity.
C. It is at 75% capacity.
D. It is at 90% capacity.
A sample Situational Judgement problem provided by the assessment company is as follows:
Office policy states that food may not be kept in the refrigerator overnight. You have planned a party of the office secretary and need to store food overnight. How should you handle this situation?
A. Ignore office policy this once. It is a special occasion.
B. Explain to your boss the need to store food overnight and ask for permission.
C. Hide the food in the back of the refrigerator and hope that nobody notices.
D. Cancel the party because the food cannot be kept overnight.
In short, the program does not train people for construction jobs and does not assess their construction skills prior to awarding a Certification.
Despite New Rochelle's broad official definition of a minority, the 2012 program graduates were exclusively African-American.
Rice has been visiting employers insisting that they work through him to hire African-Americans, sources say.
Rice treads more carefully in discussing the Stop Snitchin' campaign only going so far as to say that it is one area where citizens could be more cooperative.
Stop Snitchin’ refers to a controversial 2004 campaign launched in Baltimore, Maryland, to persuade criminal informants to stop "snitching", or informing, to law enforcement...
The Stop Snitchin’ campaign first gained national attention in late 2004 in Baltimore, Maryland, when a DVD released by Rodney Bethea titled "Stop Snitching!" began to circulate. However, the slogan "Stop Snitchin’" and many other variations have existed in the United States long before the campaign became popular.
In some footage, a number of men claiming to be drug dealers address the camera, and threaten violence against anyone who reports what they know about their crimes to the authorities. This threat is directed especially towards those who inform on others to get a lighter sentence for their own crimes. NBA star Carmelo Anthony, a former Baltimore resident and now a part of the New York Knicks basketball team, appeared in the video.
Rice has often raised issues on City Council within a racial framework.
Rice received national attention last Spring when he led the fight to remove a "Don't Tread on Me" flag from the New Rochelle Armory.
After the story went national, Rice told City officials he received a voice mail from a person in Tennessee who made derogatory, racist comments.
Rice was observed by Talk of the Sound playing a recording of the call to people at the MLK Center in New Rochelle during a public event.
For weeks, Rice sought to have members of the New Rochelle African-American community stand behind him at a press conference to denounce the United Veterans Memorial & Patriotic Society and link the local veterans desire of raise the Gadsden Flag to the racist caller from Tennessee.
Rice sent a letter to the City of New Rochelle and the New Rochelle Police Department demanding that the City take action to stop such calls.
"It was not clear what he expected the City to do about his getting an abusive phone call from 1,000 miles away," said one City official who asked not to be identified.
The New Rochelle Police Department, in response to a Freedom of Information request by Talk of the Sound, would not identify Rice as the complainant in the case but did confirm that "a city official did make a report concerning harassing communications."
"An investigation was initiated and is in progress," said Captain Kevin Kealy last April. "Therefore, the report cannot be released at this time."
That Freedom of Information request was recently re-submitted and records obtained will be published when available.
New Rochelle's Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy Statement Regarding Construction and Economic Development, adopted by the New Rochelle City Council in 1996, applies to any development project or land disposition agreements "funded" or "supported" by the City government. The policy is also referred to by its original council designation, "Resolution 205".
A year ago, when Talk of the Sound was investigating the City's failure to enforce Resolution 205, Rice told Talk of the Sound that Corporation Council Kathleen Gill told him that the policy did not apply to Heritage Homes, a project Rice has been involved with in conjunction with Steve Horton of the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority (NMMHA).
The following day, Gill told Talk of the Sound that Resolution 205 did apply to Heritage Homes.
Several days later, the City of New Rochelle provided records purporting to demonstrate compliance with Resolution 205. The phony documents were actually records filed by the developer with the State of New York on a completely different program with no reference to Resolution 205.
Rice has repeatedly side-stepped addressing the City's failure to enforce Resolution 205.
According to records filed by the City in 2008, the stated purpose of the Heritage Homes/Hartley Houses Development was to reduce the concentration of African-Americans living in the Hartley Houses.
Rice has been silent on the HUD filing which documents this intention, The City of New Rochelle Analysis to Impediments to Fair Housing Choice which was adopted by the City Council in June 2008.
The NRMHA is also involved in pre-development activities for the redevelopment of the Hartley House complex. The redevelopment is intended to reduce minority concentration by providing a choice in new location to current residents of two of the buildings to be demolished in preparation for construction of new affordable townhouses. Residents are able to use their relocation benefits to obtain housing in other communities or other parts of New Rochelle. The goal of the Hartley House redevelopment is to create a mixed-income development that would attract persons of other racial backgrounds to purchase affordable housing in the complex in an effort to reduce minority concentration
Horton's NHMHA has been designated "high risk" by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD has found numerous problems with the NRMHA financial controls, certifying tenant eligibility for low-rent programs, unsupported expenses, procurement, payroll, double-dipping where two different grant funds were used to pay the salary of one coordinator who fulfilled the responsibilities of both programs and more.
The NRMHA was forced to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars as the result of one audit.
Rice was less silent during the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa, FL where his controversial tweet sparked a firestorm.
It will be interesting to see how Rice squares the "special role" he believes he has to play in today's civil rights movement with his playing a game called negrospotting.
Perhaps he will be seeking the advice of Kwamain Dixon.
For Kwamain Dixon, it's been a long, strange trip from Rodney King Rioter to a three-time loser crack cocaine dealer to Board of Education Employee, Democratic Party official and confidant to a man who may be the next Mayor of New Rochelle.
Kwamain Dixon, 38, is a District Leader from District 3 for the New Rochelle Democratic Party with close connections to District 3 Councilman Jared Rice (D), touted by many as the next Mayor of New Rochelle if current Mayor Noam Bramson succeeds in his bid to oust Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
Dixon has been involved in Rice's "Youth Works" training program initiative.
When not on the campaign trail or working as a community activist, Dixon works as a custodian for the New Rochelle Board of Education. According to the FindTheData.org web site, Dixon was hired by the school district in 2009.
Dixon is also a drug dealer with numerous arrests and convictions over the years.