Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Redundancy of the Government and Lessons from the Hood

Coinciding with National Child Abuse Awareness Month, Governor Bredesen announced the state will fund a new program aimed to help reduce infant mortality in two Nashville neighborhoods.

The two year program, "Mothers United for Healthy Babies", will target the Napier and Sudekum housing and Edgehill communities. These areas have significant higher infant mortality rates than the rest of the Davidson County. A similar program was unveiled in Memphis a week earlier. In Memphis, a baby under the age of one dies every 48 hours.

“The Governor’s Office of Children’s Care Coordination is committed to developing and supporting programs with a record of success in increasing survival rates among Tennessee’s youngest population,” said Governor Bredesen in a recent press release. “I’m pleased the state is funding this program to empower mothers in Davidson County with the education and support they need to increase their babies’ chances of reaching their first birthdays and beyond.”

I applaud the Governor for his efforts to address a problem that is plaguing a segment of the community. But addressing and studying the problem is what government programs do. Rarely will a government program solve a social issue because the solutions are often not as complicated as the bureaucracy that is set up to solve the problem.

Ironically, April is National Pest Control Month. Ask any pest management professional and we will tell you, where there are roaches and rodents running amuck, there will be illness, disease and filth out of control. Crime is not that far behind. With two press conferences and much media converge to announce the program; has anyone from the Governor's office taken a stroll through public housing and visited homes where the roaches greet you at the door? Has anyone gone into a unit and taken a whiff of the pungent odor from the rodents' urine in the air that is breathed daily by young mothers and infants?

When I first started in this business, I visited a few Section-8 units prior to responding to an invitation to bid. I was greener than the botanical pesticides I use and everything I did was an educational experience at that point. I was escorted by an employee of the housing complex who eyed me suspiciously and wondered why I was taking the time to inspect "the projects". I looked at him with wide-eyed innocence and asked, "Don't everyone do a walk through?" He erupted in laughter and asked, “Lady, are you serious? These units are going for a dollar an apartment!” I thought I heard him wrong and asked him again and he repeated, “one dollar!” louder and with more laughter.

A scientist put a dollar worth of insecticide in a vial for me and it was a squirt or two. That was my introduction to the redundancy of government programs. Metro pays $4 dollars for an apartment. The average home owner pays $40-65 for monthly maintenance services and they are not fighting infestations.

Roaches can spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, 6 kinds of parasitic worms and 7 other human pathogens. Roaches pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through sewage and then carry them into food or onto cooking surfaces. Germs, that roaches eat from decaying matter or sewage, are protected while inside them and can remain infective for weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents or sunlight and air. The habits and high reproductive rate of cockroaches can lead to large populations which can spread disease, contaminate and eat our food, as well as cause allergies and trigger asthma attacks.

Rodents are worst. Mice and rats are known to spread strains of Hantavirus that sometimes kill people. Rodents are known to harbor and spread as many as 200 human diseases. The house mouse have recently been shown to give off an allergen (called Mouse Urinary Protein or MUP) in the hundreds of tiny micro-droplets of urine they deposit every night as they scurry through their territory or nesting areas.

“Mothers United will emphasize how mothers help mothers to keep babies healthy.” I sure hope they are telling the young mothers to tell each other about the diseases that can be spread by roaches and rodents.

A few years ago, I took a young mother who lived in public housing under my wings. She was trying to put herself through college. On one of Nashville’s coldest days, she called me to say she was without lights. I arrived at her apartment and helped get the kids to my truck. Out the corner of my eye, what I thought was a rug tossed on the floor moved slightly. Upon seeing the rug move again, I tiptoed to inspect what I was seeing. The "rug" was not a rug, IT was several rats. I bit my tongue so hard to keep from screaming that I tasted blood. When a pest control professional wants to run, you got a serious problem. The rats were huddled together keeping warm because she had no heat. No lights, no heat. I was not surprised to learn later that her children were suffering from upper respiratory illnesses. I told her she needed to get out of the place for safety as well as health reasons. She had seen the rats do that before and said they were not the "big ones". I kill rats and had not seen that until that moment! I continued to push the issue and told her that her kids were not going to get well in that environment. I informed her sternly that rats are known to bite. She pointed out to me the bright side of the situation; with the heat being off, rats were not trying to come upstairs. I damn near drove off the highway trying to comprehend her logic!

Here's another one; same public housing, different mother, similar tale. I got a call from a mom who was barely eighteen and her six month old would not stop crying. I could hear the anxiety in her voice and I surely heard the baby cries through the phone. I knew something was wrong and asked if she had a pediatrician. Her preferred method of medical care was the emergency room. I called the only pediatrician's office I had in my cell phone, and worked out something for the young mom. The doctor’s office saw the baby right away and granted the mom some leniency with the payment. The doctor on call examined the fretful child with loving care. After a few minutes, he extracted a roach from the baby's ear canal. Pus was oozing from the child's ear like yellow lava and hearing her pitiful cries was heartbreaking. I helped the mom move that week. That was the first time I had seen a roach pulled from a baby's ear. I am now an old pro at checking crying babies’ ears for roaches.

I share these experiences not for humor but for education. Most individuals do not know how the lack of pest control affect our health and environment. When I share information with government buyers, who can make changes to help eliminate the problems, I am met with grunts and moans. I am always told that it is a problem that no one can solve. Whenever I address the relationship between pest control, sanitation, and illness in low income housing, I am met with blank stares. The correlation between the three is well documented and has been studied quite extensively worldwide.

Only in government housing will folks be allowed to live like this. The government sets up a system that perpetuates poverty, sickness and death and then sets up a program to study the program that it set up. Overlooking simple solutions is why most government programs become bad policies within a few years. Often, I remind government officials, from DC to Nashville, that the plague was spread by mice and flea bites. Everything old can be new again. Whoever thought we would be talking about the swine flu this week? I was a young girl during the Ford’s Administration but I remember my grandfather talking about the swine flu.

At one time, older women taught the younger ones. I can remember my grandmother giving me her sage advice about the goodness of Clorox. I was taught that a gallon of Clorox was part of your weekly grocery shopping. It was added to my dish water to clean my kitchen and my bathroom had to have the smell of Clorox or Pine Sol in it or it was not considered clean. Cleaning a kitchen with bleach is as old as time itself. Where do we find roaches mainly, in the kitchen? I have been in the pest control business for quite some time and nothing cleans up after roaches like Clorox. Will part of the education to young mothers in the Governor’s program include practical tips about sanitation and how important it is to maintain a clean home, especially around small babies and preemies? You cannot legislate common sense but some things in life must be taught in order for you to learn them.

I hope the folks that are trying to save our young children take a closer look at the pest management program that is set up in public housing. Eliminating the roaches and rodents should be a priority to helping create healthy environments for mothers, infants, and children. This is not a solicitation for my services by any means; I am in the business of making a profit so most government programs will not fit on my balance sheet. But I am very passionate about young children living in healthy environments, so I am praying for the success of the program. Now if anyone from the Governor’s group would like an escort to check out the units first hand, I will meet you there. By the way, wear a good pair of shoes; you will be learning a dance called, “STOMP!”

Governor Bredesen Press Release:


Photo credit: Divine Caroline

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Parties about Taxes vs. Jobs with Coke and a Smile

I attended several tea parties yesterday. An informed consumer makes a better a tax payer in my book. Paying taxes is not a Democrat or Republican issue to me. It is an issue that everyone in this country should be paying attention too, especially during this time of economic chaos. As I listened to the crowds yelling about the President, I think the message of why they were gathering in the first place was lost in the screaming.

One of the top grievances of the organizers was the hundreds of billions of dollars in recent taxpayer subsidies to automakers, banks and Wall Street investment giants. This was a grass root movement that started in Tennessee. Many concerned citizens, black and white, red and yellow, were disgusted by executive bonuses and lack of accountability to the taxpayers who are now "investors" in these global companies. Being investors in companies that many Americans do not consider are good investments, tea parties should have been a time for not only educating the stockholders but elected officials.

When Fox News signed on to the project, the messages became more Palinish vibe in its delivery and context. Fox's nightly commentators started puffing air into the grass root movement and it suddenly became a national event.

At one of the rallies I attended yesterday, more time was spent screaming about President than talking about the whoring lawmakers in bed with the companies they are bailing out. Using taxpayers' money to give to wealthy executives, while asking working folks to pay more should have been the focus. Explanations on where taxpayers' money is going and in layman terms would have been a huge benefit.

When I looked at the energy spent on tea parties, I think of how many Americans lost their jobs in the last year. Millions of jobs have literally disappeared over night. We are not dealing with the fact that many of the companies that have given pink slips to the masses are guilty of having factories overseas and received TARP funding. And bailout funding. And tax breaks. That is the bigger story for me.

Protesting the lack of jobs and demanding that any corporations receiving government welfare payments make every effort to keep Americans in jobs and to bringing back jobs from overseas would have been more unifying and inclusive. The color of money makes everyone see green. The folks at Gallup are reporting that a larger percentage of Americans are willing to pay more taxes in the short run to get our country back on track for the long haul. No one polled me, but I am willing to pay more as well. The nightly commentators, who were blowing hot air into this movement, are receiving millions as talk show hosts, getting huge speaking fees, and selling us fear while their rating are increasing. Those increased rating will help them renegotiate their contracts in 2010 and sell more books in 2011. They are no different than the elected officials who are protecting companies that are receiving bailout funding. Both are talking out the side of their necks and exploiting taxpayers for their financial gain.

Overall, the tea party movement was hi-jacked by talk show personalities and became gatherings that allowed many to vent their pent up frustrations over the election, the President, the party in charged at the moment, why life sucks, and other melodramas. In the end, we are going to pay more taxes that will be used to help fund the corporations that will get bailouts to buy expensive planes to fly their executives to deposit their paychecks in offshore tax havens.

In the meantime, I am going to buy a Coke for a friend who has been laid off and has no insurance to care for his ailing wife with cancer. He can use a smile.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Time with Mike

It should be an interesting day watching the coverage of Tea Parties around the country. I have been assigned to cover several rallies scheduled in Nashville. I have my tea bags ready to boil and I will be checking in with Michael Patrick Leahy from Top Conservative. Michael is the founder of the organization that is making noise about taxes. I have been following Mike's blog and his show based in California at

Follow me on twitter at If I am not back by this evening, call my mother.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Breaking News: Nancy Grace Interrupts her Obsession with Caylee Anthony and reported a Black Woman Missing

In today's world, many individuals can deliver the news. News anchors, reporters, journalists, bloggers and talent disguised as cable hosts and then there is Nancy Grace. Nancy Grace is in a genre by herself. She is the only person on television that covers missing kids with some facts and any rumor that can be found on the streets. I am convinced that CNN's Nancy Grace is obsessed with Caylee Anthony and needs psychiatric counseling immediately. With little objectivity and even less professionalism, Nancy conducts interviews equivalent to face offs. Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor, makes me wonder if she believes she can bypass the courts and send anyone straight to jail via her TV show.

Nancy Grace has a special way of making you hate to watch her and hate to miss the next show. Since July, her acid tongue has been fixated on the Anthony family complete with swirling pictures and videos on the TV screen. As a self professed news junkie, I can watch any show on any network with an open mind. But I can only watch Nancy Grace in short intervals. Nancy has become as creepy as a pedophile showing the pictures of Caylee throughout her show. Speaking of perverts, she closes the show to Michael Jackson’s song “Gone Too Soon”. The irony of that is too long to discuss in this posting. I often find myself begging my TV screen to show a child of color missing as if it would answer back.

One child of color was profiled in the last six months. One. Six year old Adji Desir from Florida was profiled briefly. Nancy spent four minutes in her initial reporting of his disappearance from his front yard. He has not been seen since. She gave him some attention a few more times but his coverage pales in comparison to the swirling pictures of Caylee with the show ending with the baby saying "Pa-pa, pa-pa ". And where did she get the video of the baby being given a bath, anyway? How CNN can exploit a tragedy like this and then question why they are losing viewers to Fox News is pure amazement? As deranged as Sean Hannity sounds about a pending communist state, bowing to a king, and foreign appeasement to ever increasing ratings, he does not have a deceased child on the TV screen night after night.

After Caylee Anthony's body was founded in December, Nancy Grace dedicated two weekend specials to Caylee. In tears, she described Caylee's first two years of life with the infamous partying mother known as "Tot Mom". Nancy's emotional voice is heard while we watched Caylee go from a baby to a toddler. Picture after family picture of Caylee was shown with commentary as if it was her child. I had to switch the channel because it was getting too bizarre. Since that time, Nancy has not masked her hatred of Casey Anthony and her family. But with a flip of the switch and quicker than someone needing extra strength Zoloft, Nancy was in an uproar at the media when George considered suicide to escape the pain of losing his grandchild.

The concern shown for the distraught grandfather, who she aided in pushing him over the edge by many folks assessment, proved to me she is one buckle away from a straight jacket. But Nancy was back to herself within a few days spitting venom at lawyers who showed caution not to assume this case is a slam dunk. When the body of Caylee was finally laid to rest, the family sent a message to the media not to come. I am sure the only names on the list were Nancy Grace and her whipping post producer, Natisha Lance. The funeral was replayed over and over for a week and Nancy did not miss a beat in showing the Tot Mom prison rants with her family.

With new photos of Tot Mom partying, a court appearance "in a new purple sweater", and Casey's parents freshly taped civil case deposition that should have been on paid-per-view; Nancy has been given more ammunition to poison the jury pool. I would be surprised if this case is tried in Orlando. And there is a possibility that Tot Mom maybe partying again in a year or two if the leaking of information continues.

Last week, Nancy did the unthinkable; she interrupted her diatribe about Tot Mom to profile a Black mother missing. And to add more intrigue to her sudden awareness of others, she bought Girl Scout cookies on national TV. Nancy Grace profiled a missing mother of color and told us that she encourages young girls by supporting the Girl Scouts. There is a God! After shaking myself from shock, I went to the Internet to research the story. Unfortunately, her website does not offer any details about mother who was profiled. How the Girl Scout cookies fit in the story leaves me puzzled but, nevertheless, a person of color was profiled. Nancy broke her routine of baby exploitation and gave a family of color loved one air time.

This subject is personal, I must confess. I know how important it is to show the face of a missing child, teen, (fill in the blank) on television. You engage the audience to take a closer look and hope that someone may have seen the face somewhere. There are hundreds of children and young women who are reported missing every day. But why focus on one family for nearly a year? Why not give families, without the saga, drama, and derogation, a 30 second camera shot? It is amazing how the memory can be jogged in an instant. I am not trying to take any one's Caylee fix from them but mentioning another name, profiling Blacks, Hispanics, and others would not take any steam from the hate-fest-freak-show coverage of the Tot Mom yelling at her parents.

It makes me sick to know harm was brought to the child, any child for that matter. I hate that another child, named Haleigh, is starting to get Nancy's attention mainly because of the dysfunction that is being uncovered within her family dynamics. Nancy is not helping the family find the child but picking them apart publicly. Reporting who the parents are sleeping with diverts attention from the real issue, Haleigh is missing.

There will be a special place in hell for CNN and Headline News (HLN). Not only do they put Nancy Grace on seven nights a week, they have given her a preshow with Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell. And to add even more creepiness to the mix, Jane has a preshow with Mike Galanos of Prime News. Mike discusses what Jane will discuss that Nancy will discuss about Tot Mom. Four hours daily discussing one child not including the wee hour repeat shows. When is too much enough? CNN should not have any ratings at this point.

The Tot Mom case goes to trial in October. Between now and the trial, I hope Nancy will put her hateful energy into helping families of all colors find their love ones and locking up criminals who harm kids. John Walsh of America's Most Wanted has his critics but he uses his show to actually get criminals off the street and behind bars. Hundreds of cold cases have been solved and thousands of wackos have been put behind bars. His show only airs ONE night a week.

Nancy can continue to discuss what waiting-for-trial-killers eat in prison and continue to interview former and future lovers of the Tot Mom, but as least use her voice to help find the missing or give the grieving solace and closure. After watching her in short bursts this week, I realize I am just not into watching Nancy Grace exploit children. I rather buy the National Enquirer; at least I know the headlines are sensational upfront.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mrs. O's Style criticized by Paranoid Designers

The fashion world is in a quite tizzy over Michelle Obama's decision to not wear well known designers duds. Bearing claws and fangs, designers are ripping her selections worn last week to shreds with their commentary. "How dare the First Lady of the United States wear American designers’ clothes and American brands made right here in the United States," they are crying loudly. Who does she think she is buying brands that regular folks can pronounce and giving younger designers credibility that would have taken decades to achieve? These questions were being asked online, on talk shows and cable news by designers. Mrs. O has lost her mind , according to the fashion industry experts, because she wears sensible, stylish, chic and affordable clothes that everyday American women have fallen in love with in spite of the media’s criticism.

Designers' show rooms clothing racks are bare and showing signs of an economy in despair. The recession has not only hit Wall Street and Main Street, but 57th Street as well. The fashion district is hurting and designers are taking their frustrations out on Mrs. O and the political pundits are reporting their pain with glee.

But to the pundits surprise and dismay, Mrs. O has become an enduring figure in last the few months. Doing good deeds from planting vegetable gardens to reading to inner city kids, Mrs. O does it all while looking stylish at the same time. Mrs. O has admiring fans crashing J Crew's website daily and giving the world a taste of Nashville by wearing rhinestones before noon. And her shameless display of her fit arms have many pundits joining the NRA in protest. I keep asking why has her fashion style created so much discord among designers and political pundits. When political pundits take up the case for fashion designers and turn their critical lens on Mrs. O's apparel nightly, you know it is a slow news day.

The "poor me" attitude from designers who have made a living by devaluing American garments and creating a vacuum of sweat shops overseas to sell clothes that are not worth the thread that they are sown with, mirrors the elitists attitude that is prevalent on Wall Street. As the country has become sick of over compensated executives, folks are now showing distaste for designers who can not design on a budget and throwing hissy fits. As for Michelle Obama, she has not wasted her time answering her critics. Instead, she steps out day and night with not a hair out of place.

No matter what your politics, Republican or Democrat, Michelle Obama has shown the world that she is a strong, independent woman. Unlike women who have come into to fame quickly, she has not lost her head and gone Diva crazy yet. Her hair stylist for years is by her side and she is still wearing her belts and boots from the campaign trail as if she bought them yesterday. By her own account, she orders online and makes her choices herself when it comes to the clothes she buys.

I think back to Jennifer Hudson who was thrown into that hideous outfit with pockets for the Oscars because the designer and the editor at Vogue wanted her to wear it. What was best for Jennifer and her body type was not the focus, but how much camera time they got for being her stylists seemed to be the priority. When she landed on the worst dress list that year, the same crazy-spray-tanned designers got even more camera time discussing how bad she looked.

Of sound mind and confidence, Mrs. O has proven to us she will not be looking like a train wreck because of a designer with personality disorder. If her outfit is a disaster, she will take credit for it. Mrs. O knows what she likes and knows what compliments her body type. She spends her money and the clothes are not on loan for the ego of a designer or a publication. Change has come to the fashion world if not to Wall Street or Main Street.

Many of the whining designers are the same ones who have perpetuated stereotypes on the runways and in fashion magazines. During my days on the catwalk, I was often told only ONE black model is needed per show. You had to bone thin to be the one or kill off the other models trying out. Funny how the tables have turned since Michelle Obama has become First Lady. Designers who barely paid attention to diversity among the models strutting in their clothes are now begging a black woman to please wear their designs. God definitely has a sense of humor.

Thanks to Mrs. O, black models are in demand more than ever. Even broads over forty, like me, are getting work thanks to Mrs. O's influence. Since that sums up any stimulus I am going to get from her hubby's administration, I will count my blessings.

Speaking of designers, I would like to promote one of Nashville's youngest couture designers, Charles Brown of Charles Lord. Mr. Brown is gifted and talented. He has designed a line for Mrs. O that will be shown this fall. American made clothes from a young person raised and educated in Middle Tennessee. Keep your head up Charles, your time is coming. For those who would like to take look at his line, visit his website at

In the meantime, Charles, I need a head turner to wear for Divas Nashvegas. Please call me.

Green Dress by Charles Lord

prior post about Mrs. O:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Interstate Batteries Chairman, Norm Miller will Speak in Nashville

Norm Miller, Chairman of Interstate Batteries and the driving force behind the Interstate Batteries NASCAR Winston Cup Racing Team, will be the keynote speaker at a special event for Middle Tennessee business leaders on May 15. The event will be hosted by CEO Fellowship, a weekly fellowship group that encourages business leaders to run their companies on biblical principles.

Miller will share his inspiring story of rising through the ranks of the company to become CEO and Chairman. He will also share experiences with motivating his employees to not only work within the constraints of his company's mission statement, but to live it as well. Miller will give his testimony and how he uses his faith in the marketplace. Miller credits his faith to helping him lead Interstate Batteries to become the billion dollar privately held company that it is today.

Norm Miller's leadership is not only recognized at Interstate Batteries. Miller serves as a board member of Dallas Theological Seminary and Dallas Seminary Foundation and is involved in many philanthropic endeavors. Norm Miller has also authored "Beyond the Norm", a book that explains Miller's method to integrating his life, work and faith.

Breakfast will be provided by Famous Dave’s. Musical guest will be Alex Harvey. Attendees will receive a copy of Norm’s book, "Beyond the Norm" and a CD from Alex Harvey.

Norm Miller, Chairman of Interstate Batteries
"Going Beyond the Norm"
May 15, 2009, 6:45-8:15am

Brentwood Baptist Church (Wilson Hall)
7777 Concord Rd
Brentwood, Tennessee 37027

$50 Tickets
($38 tax deductible)
Seating is Limited.

For more information contact the CEO Fellowship office at 615-620-6150, or online @
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