IN REMEMBRANCE: 3-25-2012

JOHN PAYTON, INFLUENTIAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER

By

Published: March 23, 2012

John Payton, who as president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund guided it to several major victories before the Supreme Court, died on Thursday in Baltimore. He was 65 and lived in Washington.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

John Payton

The cause had not yet been determined, said Lee Daniels, a spokesman for the fund.

Named president in 2008, Mr. Payton was the defense fund’s sixth leader since it became a separate entity from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1940. He had been active in the civil rights movement since his days at Pomona College in the 1960s.

In 2010, he was the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Lewis v. City of Chicago, in which a group of African-Americans seeking to be firefighters contended that they had properly filed a charge of discrimination against the city.

Mr. Payton argued that the cutoff score on a written examination to define the pool of qualified applicants had a disparate impact on minorities — a contention to which the city conceded. But the city had successfully argued in lower courts that the discrimination charge was filed after a statute of limitations had passed. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the lower court ruling.

A year earlier, in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, a municipal district in Austin, Tex., challenged the validity of Section 5, a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The so-called pre-clearance clause requires government entities previously judged to have a history of discrimination to receive permission from the Justice Department before making substantive changes to the voting process in their districts. Mr. Payton assisted in the arguments leading to the Supreme Court’s 8-to-1 decision upholding Section 5.

In a statement on Friday, President Obama called Mr. Payton “a true champion of equality” who had “helped protect civil rights in the classroom and at the ballot box.”

In 2003, while he was in private practice, Mr. Payton was the lead counsel for the University of Michigan in defending the use of race as a factor in admissions for its law school.

A critical point of contention in the case, Grutter v. Bollinger, was whether a diverse student body was of compelling interest to the state. “In order to achieve this broad diversity, we must take race and ethnicity into account,” Mr. Payton argued. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the affirmative-action policy.

In 2010, the National Law Journal named Mr. Payton to its list of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.”

John Adolphus Payton was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 27, 1946, to John and Ida Mae Payton. Mr. Payton enrolled at Pomona College in 1965. At that time, he was one of only a handful of black students in the five colleges in Claremont, Calif. By his senior year, he had successfully lobbied Pomona’s administration to recruit more black students and to start a black studies program. Financial pressures forced him to work and study part time; he graduated in 1973.

A year later he enrolled at Harvard Law School. At that time, Boston was embroiled in its famous school busing controversy. As a law student, he worked on taking affidavits from black students who were injured in the race-related violence. He graduated in 1977.

Mr. Payton went into corporate law and became a partner in the Washington law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.

He took leave from the firm in the early 1990s to serve as the corporation counsel for the District of Columbia, and in 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated him to be assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Mr. Payton withdrew from consideration for the post after many members of the Congressional Black Caucus opposed the nomination. They were angered by his noncommittal answers to questions about whether the Voting Rights Act permits the creation of Congressional districts with a majority of black voters.

A year later, he was a member of a group of international monitors to the presidential election in South Africa.

Mr. Payton is survived by his wife of 20 years, Gay McDougall; two sisters, Janette Oliver and Susan Grissom; and a brother, Glenn Spears.

“Democracy, at its core, requires that all of the people be included in ‘We the people,’ ”  Mr. Payton said in a 2008 speech in Michigan. “For that inclusive democracy to function, it is essential that we see each other as peers.”

SOURCE

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MURRAY LENDER, GAVE ALL AMERICA A TASTE OF BAGELS

By

Published: March 22, 2012

Murray Lender, who with his brothers took over what started as their father’s bakery in a backyard garage and built it into a business that brought the bagel — the “Jewish English muffin,” as he called it — into kitchens across the country, frozen, died on Wednesday in Miami. He was 81.

Doug Lawhead/Mattoon Journal Gazette, via Associated Press

Murray Lender with a 563-pound bagel in 1996.

The cause was complications of a fall several weeks ago at his home in Aventura, Fla., his brother Marvin said.

Murray, Marvin and Sam Lender expanded H. Lender & Sons — founded by their father, Harry — into the nation’s leading distributor of packaged frozen bagels.

Lender’s Bagels, now owned by the Pinnacle Foods Group, had revenue of $40.9 million last year from the sale of 23.4 million six-bagel packages, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research company.

That’s a long way from the several dozen a day that Harry Lender hand-rolled and baked after emigrating from Poland in 1927, setting up shop in his garage in West Haven, Conn., and delivering to local grocers.

Murray Lender was president of the company from 1974 to 1982 and chairman two years later when it was sold to Kraft Foods. Pinnacle bought the company in 2003.

To be sure, it was Harry who started the transformation when he bought a large freezer in the 1950s. By ensuring that his product would not go stale after 24 hours, he was able to start distributing it across a large swath of Connecticut. After he died in 1960, his sons pooled their resources to build a plant in West Haven. At first about 100 workers produced 120,000 dozen bagels a week, packaging them in plastic bags and shipping them to 30 states.

“The 1970s saw an unprecedented interest in all things ethnic, and Lender’s frozen bagel was at the vanguard of the resurgence,” The Jerusalem Post reported in 2009, adding that by the end of the decade Lender’s had “reinvented the bagel as a versatile sandwich bread that could be as easily paired with peanut butter and jelly as it could be with ham and cheese.”

The company eventually had two plants in the New Haven area, one in Buffalo and another in Mattoon, Ill., a prairie town 180 miles south of Chicago. That plant, built by Kraft in 1986, has a 12-foot-wide conveyor belt holding 24 bagels across, a 70-yard-long oven and an 80-foot-tall, 250-foot-long freezer. By then the bagel had become a national food, in variants from the cinnamon raisin to the green St. Patrick’s Day variety.

“The vision,” Mr. Lender told The New York Times in 1996, “was to really get it out of the ethnic marketplace.”

Murray Isaac Lender was born in New Haven on Oct. 29, 1930, one of six children of Harry and Rose Braighter Lender. He was counting bagels in the backyard bakery before he was 11. After graduating from the Junior College of Commerce (now Quinnipiac University) in Hamden, Conn., he served two years in the Army, then went to work full time in the family business.

Besides his brother Marvin, Mr. Lender is survived by his wife, the former Gilda Winnick; a daughter, Haris Lender; two sons, Carl and Jay; and eight grandchildren. His brother Sam died in 2004.

After Kraft bought the company in 1984, Mr. Lender continued to work as its spokesman. “I never walked into anybody’s office without a toaster under one arm and a package of bagels under the other,” he said.

To those who contended that frozen bagels didn’t compare with the fresh ones found at shops opening around the country, he said, “I think our bagel is the best bagel in America, but on the other hand, I’ve never eaten a bad bagel.”

SOURCE

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KING GEORGE TUPOU V, POLITICAL REFORMER OF TONGA

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: March 19, 2012

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — King George Tupou V of Tonga, who gave up most of his powers to bring a more democratic government to his Pacific island nation, died on Sunday in Hong Kong. He was 63.

Glenn Jeffrey/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

King George Tupou V

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His death was announced by the Tongan prime minister, Lord Siale’ataonga Tu’ivakano, in a radio address on Monday. The king had been hospitalized in Hong Kong, but a cause of death was not given.

King Tupou had led the island nation of 106,000 since his father, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, died in 2006.

His father long resisted ceding any powers of Tonga’s absolute monarchy during his four-decade rule. But after his death, rioters, unhappy with the pace of changes, took to the streets and destroyed the center of the capital, Nuku’alofa.

Against that backdrop, the new king delayed his official coronation until 2008 while he put together the framework for sweeping political reforms. Three days before the coronation ceremony, King Tupou announced he was ceding most of his executive powers to a democratically elected parliament.

While Parliament is now responsible for much of the day-to-day running of the country, the king remains the head of state and retains the right to veto laws, decree martial law and dissolve Parliament. The king’s brother, Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka, is the heir to the throne.

King Tupou V did allow himself an elaborate coronation, a five-day affair that included roast pig feasts, tribal rites and British-style pomp and cost $2.5 million, straining the finances of an already impoverished country.

Many will remember him for his throwback fashion choices, including a top hat and a monocle at times. He studied at King’s College in Auckland, New Zealand, and in Britain.

Paula Mau, a spokesman for the Tongan government, said the king was not married and is survived by a daughter.

SOURCE

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