John Burnett Interview

Earlier last year in 2021, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Author, Businessman and Political Commentator John Burnett and talk with him about his views on Trump and Derek Chauvin. 

Richard: I just want to start off by asking, what do you identify yourself as politically? Like, are you a liberal or a conservative or independent?

John Burnett: Conservative.

Richard: Okay. And what what made you. Have you always been conservative or were you liberal at one time?

John Burnett: I’ve always been conservative. I was registered as a Democrat up to 1924. So when I look at my parents, they were all they were Democrats. However, they held conservative values. So I think the switch party switch was very easy for me politically. However, I like to engage in conversation that doesn’t involve Crips and Bloods mentality and really talk about real issues, because unlike primaries in general elections, Republicans will vote for Democrats and some Democrats and vote for Republicans. So it’s really comes down to the person platform. And, you know, some people might vote on issues. I think I like to take a business approach. If I agree with someone 80%, I think that’s pretty good because I doubt if anyone agrees with anyone else 100% of the time. That would that that would mean that the person is either a slave or hypnotized if they believe with someone 100% of the time.

Richard: Fair enough. So how long have you been a political commentator?

John Burnett: Well. I say 2014 because I ran for office in 2013. I left my because I have a sense of career, financial services and energy markets as well. And in 2013, I ran for New York City comptroller. Because I felt that that was unlike city council or commissioner of some sort or, let’s say, a mayor. Controller involves investing pension funds. And right now, when I look at the pension fund tally of all five pension funds in New York City, they total about $250 Billion. So they run all the board, oversee all the boards who actually make decisions on how that money is safeguarded and invested, then control audits. All New York City agencies issue reports and apply enforcement where applicable as well as issue. Retire and refinance New York City bonds, as well as getting involved in the budgetary process. So I felt that that was right up my alley and I was well qualified. I ran there were five people running. I came in second place. I beat three people. I just didn’t beat the person in front of me. And after that, that was November of 2013 and 2014. In January, I wrote my first opinion editorial that was published in Roll Call in DC. It was regarding the energy markets. And I think a lot of people saw that. And then that led to me having the ability to write other op eds and from running. You get in contact and you have contact with a lot of people in media, namely reporters. So reaching out to certain reporters, hey, you have a contact at the Hill, Do you have a contact at the Daily News and so forth? Right? I’d like to get an opinion published. Oh, sure. They make introductions and next thing you know, as of today, I’ve written just shy of 150 opinion editorials on business policy. Policy, I mean, business, the economy, policy and politics. And then in 2014, that same year, I already did media as a I hate to use this word, but but when you run, you’re a politician, right? So I had done a lot of media during my run in 2013. So in 2014, some of those same reporters started calling me, asking me for my opinion on certain policies and the business environment. Lo and behold, I started being called by major stations, podcasts, radio programs for my opinion. And then, lo and behold, after 2014, 2015 came kicking off the 2016 election cycle. So being a black Republican in New York City. Everyone wanted me to chime in on not just Trump, but all of the Republican candidates, as well as commentary on Hillary Clinton and so forth. And then that just ramped up the opportunities to do opinion editorials as well as mainstream media, as well, as well as podcasts like yourself and others, as well as international media.

Richard: Okay. So we all know that from 2016 to 2020, Trump was the president of the United States. So what was your opinion on his time as commander in chief?

John Burnett: Well, you know, the thing is, I encourage everyone to look at and evaluate Trump separate from his tweets and some of his comments and look at what a person actually had done. Right. Looking back on the record, whether you talk about economic policy. Yes, sure. It wasn’t pretty at times, but sometimes strategy is not pretty. Right. But as long as it actually leads you toward the outcomes that you want in terms of more investment in America, which actually took place, the unemployment rate, which was which was already dropping, then it steadily dropped. And as you get closer to, let’s say that 3% benchmark is even harder to bring down the unemployment rate than if it was at like eight or 9%. So as soon as you start getting in that 5% range or even between five and 6% is even harder to bring it down lower. Right. So but he was able to accomplish that. And then when you look at. You know, things for the black community that are not, let’s say, superficial, like painting Black Lives Matter in the street or or renaming street signs or museums or taking down statues, but real economic and financial policies. I think what he did was indisputable, namely giving historical funds more than any other past president, more funds to HBCUs at a record number for graduate, for undergraduate and graduate programs. But he didn’t stop there. Sign a piece of legislation to permanently fund HBCUs so that way HBCUs will never be a political football in a budgetary process on an annualized basis. And then. As you know, debt is is bondage. It’s a stranglehold. Right. So when you look at certain HBCUs in the South that were hit very hard over a certain period of time regarding the hurricanes and storms. I think the loans totaled approximately 300 and reconstruction loans totaled about $330 million over a period of time. All of that was written off. They don’t even have to pay that back. So imagine giving historic funding. Then at the same time, someone wipes away $330 million in loans that you don’t have to pay back. So that’s huge. Not just principle. I mean, not just interest on that, but the entire principle. Right. And then again, the unemployment rate in general and then as well as for the black community came down significantly, there was a sharp rise, a historic rise in the number of black owned business formation. And then loans from going from SBA, Small Business Administration to black owned businesses. So so that’s just a couple of a few policies that worked tremendously well because oftentimes, whether it be the federal level, state or local. That it’s seldom a financial empowerment package to start. Establishing some level of footing for for the black community to continue to build on. And hopefully a lot of that is not lost. I think the HBCU stuff will. I think that will stay intact. But I think the opportunity zones need to be leveraged more. That was passed under Trump in terms of attracting those investments. I think a perfect opportunity is if if the I should say if I think I think Congress will we’ll get a bill passed, infrastructure bill passed. But what I would like to see from that infrastructure bill is, of course, the broadband to give access to everyone in rural areas as well as the urban areas, but also making sure that we don’t have a Flint, Michigan, incident again. Right. That disproportionately impacts the black community. So I think those opportunity zones could be linked to the infrastructure bill to make sure waterlines, sewage lines and other infrastructure in addition to broadband could be established. So that way we can we can, from an environmental perspective, safeguard the black community and other communities nationwide as well as really close and rid ourselves of that digital divide. As broadband access is sparse and the need for it is steadily rising in order to be connected to the world.

Richard: Okay, So just a few hours ago, I found out that Derek Chauvin received 22 and one half years in prison and he’s no longer allowed to have a firearm. What do you think about that? Did you think justice was served?

John Burnett: You know, I just came off another show. There was some some lawyers talking about this in depth. I don’t really know how the sentencing goes with respect to all of the different charges. I think it started out at 12 and a half years or somewhere around 12 years. And then the judge added another decade, I believe. Based upon the the the. The crime in and of itself. But but even still, with 22 and a half years, given his current age, I believe he’s he’s if. If the full time is served. Right. Because I don’t know if there was probation in there. We got the we have to read the fine print. Right. But. Even with the 22 and one half years, he would still be let out if the full sentence was served when he’s about 67 ish. Right. Some people live to be 75, 80. Some people some people believe that, you know, he should never be let out, especially the family. But even people outside the family. So I don’t know where where that will all go. I think he’ll lose on appeal. I thought 25 to 30 at a minimum. But again, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know how these things are matched up in terms of second degree murder, third degree murder, and I think second degree manslaughter. But a verdict was served and the sentence came down to 22 and a half years. And I think. 22 and a half years is a long time. Is it sufficient enough time? I think the public opinion probably would say no. But we’ll see. We’ll see where it goes from here. And we still have, what, two or three other officers to try. So this is going to be interesting to see how things the total totality turn up.

Richard: So do you think he should have gotten life in prison?

John Burnett: You know. Separated again, I’m not a lawyer. When you hear your superiors saying that we never trained people to do that, when you’re superior, the person you report to comes out as a key witness against you, That’s pretty damning. Right. And it leads one to say like, whoa, wow. Is 22 and one half years long enough? Are there mitigating circumstances? That’s pretty tough when you watch a video of a person being choked out. So. We never know if he wins on an appeal, which I don’t think he will. I think. And again, I don’t know how that works because I’m not a lawyer. If if he has to be tried again, I wouldn’t be surprised if. If he faces even worse challenge. So we’ll see. We’ll have to see where it is. But there’s a lot of people in diverse communities that believe that 22 and a half years is probably not enough. But we’ll see where that goes. And let’s be honest. It’s not like he’s going to get a prison cell. Separate and apart from probably some of the same people he put in prison. So those 22 and a half years might seem like 30 to 40 years. So we’ll see how it turns out. But.

Richard:Well, actually, I heard I heard on from The Washington Post that he, his lawyer confirmed he was in solitary.

John Burnett: For the entire 22 and a half years. I’m not sure.

Richard: I mean, for, for the time, like during the trial show.John Burnett: Yeah. Trial’s over. It was. The trial’s over. And your sentence, you have to rough it with everyone else. For 22 and a half years. That’s what. And remember, he had, what, 18 or 19, what do you call it? So while complaints of various various complaints over the years during his tenure. Those are a lot of complaints. Those are the people that actually complained it might be other people that experience, experience injustice and mistreatment that did it while. Right. It might have family members in there and some of those same individuals might be still behind bars for some period of time. So, again, I’m not trying to make make the 22 and a half years seem longer than what it is, but those will not be an easy 22 and a half years to serve in the general population of being a cop and being the type of cop doing what he did to George Floyd.

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