NYC’s mayoral picks reflect diversity in top posts

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the city's new corporation counsel.

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter on Sunday when he was named as the City’s new Corporation Counsel.

By Carmen Glover

When Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is sworn in officially as New York City’s mayor tonight at midnight and again at noon on New Year’s Day, he will do so while having some semblance of a diverse team in place, based on his most recent appointments. African-American former U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn Zachary Carter, 63, has been named as the latest corporation counsel and Latina Carmen Farina has left retirement at age 70 to serve as the schools chancellor, joining another Latina, Gladys Carrion, 62, the new ACS commissioner.  Bill Bratton, 66, has returned for a second go-around as police commissioner and joins first deputy mayor Anthony Shorris, 56, whose appointment was announced by de Blasio a few weeks ago.

Former educator Carmen Farina left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Former educator Carmen Farina, shown flanked by students, left retirement to accept the post of Schools Chancellor.

Although far more posts remain unfilled than filled, the inclusion of individuals from different ethnic groups, who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, is a positive first step to the new mayoral administration. So far, de Blasio seems to be making cautious but sure steps to ensure that his appointments reflect the diversity of the city’s residents. Also, de Blasio’s statements in announcing the appointments have been encouraging.

Anthony Shorris was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio greets Anthony Shorris, who was named the new first deputy mayor a few weeks ago.

While announcing that Carter will be the new corporation counsel de Blasio expressed his commitment to closing an open wound in the city’s psyche by resolving the Central Park Jogger suit. Acknowledging that an “injustice” occurred, causing five innocent African-American and Latino boys to serve long prison sentences for raping a white jogger before DNA evidence cleared them, de Blasio said he would “settle the Central Park case.” For his part, Carter vowed to use the law “to level the playing field” for all groups.

Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State's Office of Children and Families (OCSF) is now the City's new ACS Commissioner.

New York city’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio shares a light moment with, Gladys Carrion, former chief of the State’s Office of Children and Families (OCSF), after announcing that she is  the City’s new ACS Commissioner.

Farina, whose appointment was made yesterday, had a lot to say. She spoke firmly about embracing a “progressive” agenda focused on “teaching not testing.” Farina, who has 40 years of experience in the city school system spanning every level from elementary school teacher to deputy commissioner in the Bloomberg administration, spoke about the need to do things differently.

“We are going to communicate often,” she said, while explaining that her philosophy on teaching versus testing is rooted in the belief that “If we do good teaching that’s the best test prep.” It appeared as if Farina, an immigrant from Spain, was not particularly interested in data-driven results, which could be problematic since data is critical to assessing the performance of students and educators alike. But her passion for education was undeniable, as was Carter’s quiet confidence, born from being a seasoned legal eagle. It remains to be seen if the full menu of de Blasio’s appointments will elicit praise or cause concern but the list so far makes the process seem promising. -OnPointPress.net

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Sports memories of 2013

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and  Finals MVP in consecutive years.

LeBron James continues to prove he is the best basketball player on the planet as he wins the NBA Championship and Finals MVP in consecutive years.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Every year has a unique sports identity and 2013 had a number of trends that immediately come to mind. This year the sports world treated us to fantastic moments like a Super Bowl that was decided in the final minutes and thrilling plays throughout a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the NBA Finals might be viewed as the game of the year as it provided us with scintillating plays all the way to the end.

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3 pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

Ray Allen (r) makes what might be the play of the year in 2013 as he drills a 3-pointer to tie Game 6 in the final seconds of regulation over Tony Parker (c) and Kawhi Leonard (l).

We also witnessed serious tragedy in sports, headlined by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. While there was something memorable about the different sporting events throughout 2013, there were some trends that connected the various sports.

 

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Derek Jeter (l) and Kobe Bryant (r) are hoping to fully recover from their injuries and have a much better 2014.

Superstar injuries: 2013 was a year in which some of the biggest names in sports spent a great deal of time on the injured list. Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Harvey, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kemp, Rajon Rondo, Arian Foster and Russell Westbrook were just several of the many All-Star caliber players  who suffered lengthy injuries this calendar year. Adrian Peterson has altered the perception of the impact of some of these injuries as he returned in record time to win the 2012-13 National Football League (NFL) MVP award after tearing the ACL in his knee at the end of the 2011-12 season. It is becoming apparent that Peterson’s recovery was exceptional and that it seems unreasonable to expect any athlete to return to action and be better than they were before the injury.

 

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Serena Williams raises her title as she continues her dominance at the U.S. Open.

Elite performances by the elite performers: The 2013 calendar year was tremendous for the best players in almost every sport. Peyton Manning set NFL records for quarterback in the 2013-14 season en route to a likely fifth MVP award. Miguel Cabrera proved to be the best offensive player in Major League Baseball (MLB), winning the American League (AL) MVP award for the second consecutive season. Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each won two out of four Grand Slam titles this year on the tennis tour. Tiger Woods reclaimed his position as the number one ranked golfer in the world while winning five tournaments in 2013. Perhaps no performance stands out more than LeBron James capturing his second consecutive National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals MVP award and fourth league MVP award this year as he led the Miami Heat to back-to-back championships.

 

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him,.

Mariano Rivera was classy as he watched the mess that is New York sports crumble around him.

Tough year in New York sports: The Yankees and Mets both faced numerous injuries to key players and failed to make the postseason this year. The Yankees had to watch their rivals the Boston Red Sox win another title. They also have to try to cope with the retirement of legend Mariano Rivera, the loss of their best offensive player Robinson Cano, the unavailability of currently suspended, scandal-plagued player Alex Rodriguez while hoping that Derek Jeter is going to be healthy and productive all season. The Giants and Jets both had mediocre seasons and will be watching the upcoming NFL playoffs from home, missing the chance to play in the Super Bowl which will be played in their hometown. Both football teams will likely make numerous player changes as they look to rebound next year. The Knicks and Nets are off to painfully slow starts to the 2013-14 NBA season. Any talk about NBA championship contention for either team seems extremely far-fetched as both teams have a long way to go just to make the playoffs this year.

 

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

2013 Boston Marathon participants are emotional wrecks as they witness copious innocent people injured on the street.

Sporting world’s negative headlines: The two bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 may be the most unfortunately memorable event that took place in sports. With approximately 264 people injured and 3 spectators killed that day, the tragedy unfolded slowly over the next few days after the marathon as the manhunt, shootout with one alleged perpetrator and eventual capture of the other alleged perpetrators played out on television like harrowing scenes from the FOX Network show 24.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

Many were surprised to witness Aaron Hernandez being arrested in connection with a murder shortly before the start of the NFL season.

2013 was also witness to the arrest for murder and gun charges of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez is currently imprisoned as he awaits trial for the serious charges. The Miami Dolphins sparked greater debates about bullying in athletics as news surfaced about Jonathan Martin walking away from the team after alleging that he was bullied by teammates, specifically Richie Incognito. The NFL is still investigating this matter. Meanwhile, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston was able to perform on the field while being investigated by local Florida prosecutors after he was accused of sexually assaulting a female who also attends Florida State. The prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges against Winston still raised questions about whether some athletes get special treatment from law enforcement as the attorney for the accuser remains adamant that her client was violated. At the same time, Winston consistently asserted that his encounter with the accuser was consensual and that he “did nothing wrong.”

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

The Louisville Cardinals honor injured teammate Kevin Ware as they celebrate winning the National Championship in college basketball.

2013 was quite an eventful and memorable sports year. Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was a gruesome sight but provided the impetus to propel the Louisville Cardinals to the national title. College football’s Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Women’s college basketball’s Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies proved to be the dominant coaches in their sports as they led their teams to another national title.

Ray Lewis' last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

Ray Lewis’ last game in the NFL ended with him holding the Lombardi Trophy as the Baltimore Ravens were victorious.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA) and Miami Heat (NBA) won championships in 2013 and have been in the finals each of the last three years. “Big Papi” David Ortiz led the Boston Red Sox through the post season again to win the World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, Ray Lewis was able to retire on top as the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a narrow victory over the San Francisco 49ers. With the Winter Olympics in Russia and World Cup in Brazil (for which the U.S. team was placed in the Group of Death) on docket, 2014 seems poised to garner even more interest than 2013 did in the sports world.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Revisiting NFL playoff predictions for insight, context, perspective

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By Charles Glover, Jr.

As the final week of the regular season for the National Football League(NFL) approaches this weekend, this writer will revisit predictions made about the playoff teams at the start of the season. Most of the playoff spots are currently unsettled coming into the final weekend, bringing greater excitement and interest in the season finale for NFL teams.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record (12 - 3) in the AFC so far.

Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to the best record in the AFC so far.

In the American Football Conference (AFC), the four divisions have already been decided. The winners of those divisions are:

AFC West – Denver Broncos (12 – 3)

AFC East – New England Patriots (11 – 4)

AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals (10 – 5)

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts (10 – 5).

One of the two Wildcard playoff spots is going to the Kansas City Chiefs (11 – 4), while there are several teams vying for the final playoff opening in the AFC. The Miami Dolphins (8 – 7), Baltimore Ravens (8 – 7), San Diego Chargers (8 – 7), and Pittsburgh Steelers (7 – 8) all have different scenarios in which they can make the playoffs if they win their last game this season.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to the best record in the NFC so far.

In the National Football Conference (NFC) only three teams have clinched a playoff birth and none of the divisions have been decided yet. The current division leaders at this time are:

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks (12 – 3)

NFC South – Carolina Panthers (11 – 4)

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles (9 – 6)

NFC North – Chicago Bears (8 – 7).

Based on conference records, the three teams that have clinched playoff births are the Seahawks, Panthers, and the San Francisco 49ers (11 – 4). The New Orleans Saints (10 -5) or Arizona Cardinals (10 – 5) can clinch the final Wildcard position with a win this weekend. The NFC North division winner will be decided on Sunday afternoon when the Bears face the Green Bay Packers (7 – 7 – 1). The winner of that game makes the playoffs. The same applies to the winner of the NFC East division deciding game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys (8 – 7) on Sunday night.

This writer was very wrong in predicting the Houston Texans (2 – 13) and Washington Redskins (3 – 12) would make the playoffs this season as they have the two most dreadful records in the NFL this season. However, there is still a chance that 10 out of the 12 predicted teams will make the postseason this year. The final playoff spot will be decided in the final game of the NFL regular season.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training specialist. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.

Mandela movie opens nationwide on Christmas Day

Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in an uncanny, electrifying and authentic manner.

Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in an uncanny, electrifying and authentic manner, Naomie Harris co-stars in the film.

By Carmen Glover

The wait is finally over, on Christmas Day, for the nationwide release of the movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” which earned Idris Elba a Golden Globe nomination for best actor. Elba plays the late international icon, Nelson Mandela, and delivers a compelling performance that transcends the screen. Mandela’s death on the evening of the London premiere of the film, shifted the focus even more intently to Mandela himself, causing people across the world to mourn while yearning to learn more about his life, his struggles and his triumphs.

Idris Elba in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Idris Elba in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

Elba envelopes Mandela’s character and infuses the role with a rich, textured, layered veneer of authenticity that intertwines Elba’s personality with Mandela’s to the extent that the two men almost become one at critical points throughout the movie. The timing of the nationwide release couldn’t be more perfect: On Christmas Day when families are spending time together and have the time and desire to bond over a memorable event. “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” is a film that offers that option. It is a great conversation starter and is bound to generate passionate discussions in homes all over the world as people try to grasp the full meaning of Mandela’s strong legacy. Elba has demonstrated that he is the perfect messenger in his striking portrayal of a great man.–OnPointPress.net

The OnPointPress.net family wishes you a Merry Christmas and a season of joy.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the joyous event of Christ’s birth. It is our prayer for you all that as you reflect on that precious gift, you hold your loved ones close and show them love, gratitude, acceptance and support.–OnPointPress.net.

Deadline for healthcare enrollment extended

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

By Carmen Glover

The White House announced yesterday that the deadline for people to enroll in healthcare plans and have coverage in place on January 1, 2014 has been extended by one day. As a result, people who are interested in obtaining healthcare coverage by January 1, have until midnight on Christmas Eve to sign up. The extension was deemed necessary because many people who tried to enroll in healthcare plans on Monday, December 23, the original deadline, were unsuccessful because the traffic to the Healthcare.gov site was so great. With the new extension, people have a little more time to take advantage of the enrollment process in order to have healthcare coverage on January 1, 2014.

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” launched officially on October, 1, 2013, coinciding with the government shutdown in Congress. While millions of people flocked to the HealthCare.gov website to shop for appropriate coverage packages, many were unable to shop for health care plans because of technological problems which plagued the site at the time of its launch and for the entire month of October.

To get more information about signing up for healthcare coverage, a good place to start is the official government website, HealthCare.gov. The site directs shoppers to the marketplace exchanges, including independent, state-run websites. The most attractive feature of the Affordable Care Act is that “It does not allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” President Obama has said repeatedly. One thing is clear: No one who needs healthcare coverage should go without, or incur a fine, without first exploring what is available and how that fits into the family’s budget. So go ahead, take your time and shop around for the coverage that best meets your family’s needs.–OnPointPress.net.

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Today is deadline for January 1 healthcare coverage

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

By Carmen Glover

Despite all the controversy swirling around President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, one deadline has not changed: Today, Monday, December 23, 2013, is the last day for people to sign up for healthcare coverage in order to have their heath insurance policies in place for January 1, 2014.

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” launched officially on October, 1, 2013, coinciding with the government shutdown in Congress. While millions of people flocked to the HealthCare.gov website to shop for appropriate coverage packages, many were unable to shop for health care plans because of technological problems which plagued the site at the time of its launch and for the entire month of October.

“The glitches have been fixed and the buck stops with me,” President Obama said during his final press conference at the White House on Friday, December 20, 2013. “More than 1 million people have already signed up,” he continued, while repeating his oft-stated goal of having 7 million people sign up by the March 31, 2014 deadline. After that deadline is reached, the uninsured will be subjected to a fine if they fail to obtain health coverage. Up to 12,000 call representatives are expected to be available today to process inquiries about healthcare coverage and to assist interested healthcare shoppers, the President said.

The process of signing up for healthcare coverage has been relatively smooth in New York until Friday, when the site crashed for a short while due to the crush of potential customers flocking to the site to enroll before today’s deadline. The main reason why New Yorkers have had an easier time enrolling in healthcare coverage is because the state has its own independent healthcare marketplace, which is not attached to the official government portal. Several other states have their own independent healthcare marketplace as well, which have greatly expedited the enrollment process for eager healthcare shoppers.

To get more information about signing up for healthcare coverage, a good place to start is the official government website, HealthCare.gov. The site directs shoppers to the marketplace exchanges, including independent, state-run websites. The most attractive feature of the Affordable Care Act is that “It does not allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” President Obama has said repeatedly. One thing is clear: No one who needs healthcare coverage should go without, or incur a fine, without first exploring what is available and how that fits into the family’s budget. So go ahead, take your time and shop around for the coverage that best meets your family’s needs.–OnPointPress.net.

Please follow us on Twitter @OnPointPress_.