Saturday, February 17, 2007

Praying Solomon's Prayer in the Workplace

Judge London Steverson’s work for the Social Security Administration involves him in the lives of a wide variety of individuals as he makes decisions on whether they will receive disability benefits, or other benefits under the Social Security Act. “My satisfaction comes from helping deserving people get what is due them,” he said, “and in preventing liars and cheats from defrauding the government.”
Steverson and his wife are members of the Hollydale Community Seventh Day Adventist Church in South Gate. He hears as many as eight cases on an average day, reviewing each case file—which can weigh up to 20 pounds—three to six months in advance of the hearings, and averages about 40 finished decisions per month.
Federal Administrative Law Judges are also known as Circuit Riders. Some hearings are conducted at remote locations away from his central office. On one trip, while waiting outside before the first hearing, he noticed a young woman get out of an old VW bus in the parking lot with two men. “She was swinging a pair of crutches as she walked, having a good time with her friends. She passed me on her way into the building. I was not sure she had even noticed me. When she came into the hearing room and saw me behind the bench in my black robe, her expression changed markedly. She was leaning on the crutches as if she were an amputee. She knew that I knew that she did not need the crutches. I thought she was going to faint.” he said. Needless to say, she did not win her case.
These types of constructive declarations against interests not always so fortuitously timed. “In another case, I had decided a case in favor of a woman claiming disability because of bi-lateral carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic and constant pain in the hands, wrists, and upper extremities. Sometime later, I was shopping in Ralph’s Supermarket and I saw her shopping with someone that I presumed to be her mother. She was not wearing the wrist braces that she ha worn to the hearing. She was reaching and lifting items from the shelves with no difficulty at all. She appeared to exhibit no apparent discomfort whatsoever. I abandoned my shopping cart and just stared at her. When she realized that I was looking at her, she must have recognized me. I am not sure if it was the incredulous look on my face or her sense of profound guilt, but she burst into tears and ran crying from the store. I had no way of going back and trying to correct an obvious fraud upon the court. The case decision stood. I only hope that I had written into my decision that the case should be scheduled for Continuing Disability Review in 18 months or 5 years.”
Steverson is in his 17th year as a Federal Administrative Law Judge. His role represents the third layer of appeal and the first at the federal level for individuals denied benefits by the State Disability Determination Service for the State of California.
As the judge weighs the evidence of each case, whether it is a Claim following a Workman’s Compensation Case or a Disabled Widow’s Application or a mental or physical disability claim, he is to dispassionately review the facts and rule according to the Social Security Act and regulations.
All of his cases are Bench Trials. The claimant is represented by an attorney but there is no jury present. The decision in every case is his and his alone. In some of these cases his decision might determine whether a person will be able to buy food or afford housing. When asked how he can be sure he has made the right decision, he said “I pray Solomon’s prayer for wisdom and discernment. Because I believe God answers my daily prayer, I act in confidence that my prayer has been heard, and decide each case to the best of my ability according to the light that God has given me, in faith that God supplies wisdom for each decision.
“If my decision is appealed and reversed or remanded, I still believe that I have done my best with the Lord’s help. I believe this is possible because my decision is not always the final decision; there are two levels of appeal between me and the U.S. Supreme Court. Many cases make it to the U. S. District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but few make it to the Supreme Court.”
Steverson’s stress-management library in his office includes many translations of the Bible and inspirational books. If a walk around the block does not help, he reads and prays. “I compartmentalize to manage stress,” he added. “I have disciplined myself to leave my work at my office.”
By Betty Cooney, Pacific Union Recorder.

Judge London Steverson
London Eugene Livingston Steverson
 (born March 13, 1947) was one of the first two African Americans to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968. Later, as chief of the newly formed Minority Recruiting Section of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), he was charged with desegregating the Coast Guard Academy by recruiting minority candidates. He retired from the Coast Guard in 1988 and in 1990 was appointed to the bench as a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration.

Early Life and Education
Steverson was born and raised in Millington, Tennessee, the oldest of three children of Jerome and Ruby Steverson. At the age of 5 he was enrolled in the E. A. Harrold elementary school in a segregated school system. He later attended the all black Woodstock High School in Memphis, Tennessee, graduating valedictorian.
A Presidential Executive Order issued by President Truman had desegregated the armed forces in 1948,[1] but the service academies were lagging in officer recruiting. President Kennedy specifically challenged the United States Coast Guard Academy to tender appointments to Black high school students. London Steverson was one of the Black student to be offered such an appointment, and when he accepted the opportunity to be part of the class of 1968, he became the second African American to enter the previously all-white military academy. On June 4, 1968 Steverson graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a BS degree in Engineering and a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1974, while still a member of the Coast Guard, Steverson entered The National Law Center of The George Washington University and graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor of Laws Degree.

USCG Assignments.
Steverson's first duty assignment out of the Academy was in Antarctic research logistical support. In July 1968 he reported aboard the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Glacier [2] (WAGB-4), an icebreaker operating under the control of the U.S. Navy, and served as a deck watch officer and head of the Marine Science Department. He traveled to Antarctica during two patrols from July 1968 to August 1969, supporting the research operations of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Research Project in and around McMurdo Station. During the 1969 patrol the CGC Glacier responded to an international distress call from the Argentine icebreaker General SanMartin, which they freed.
He received another military assignment from 1970 to 1972 in Juneau, Alaska as a Search and Rescue Officer. Before being certified as an Operations Duty Officer, it was necessary to become thoroughly familiar with the geography and topography of the Alaskan remote sites. Along with his office mate, Ltjg Herbert Claiborne "Bertie" Pell, the son of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, Steverson was sent on a familiarization tour of Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force bases. The bases visited were Base Kodiak, Base Adak Island, and Attu Island, in the Aleutian Islands.[3]
Steverson was the Duty Officer on September 4, 1971 when an emergency call was received that an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727 airline passenger plane was overdue at Juneau airport. This was a Saturday and the weather was foggy with drizzling rain. Visibility was less than one-quarter mile. The 727 was en route to Seattle, Washington from Anchorage, Alaska with a scheduled stop in Juneau. There were 109 people on board and there were no survivors. Steverson received the initial alert message and began the coordination of the search and rescue effort. In a matter of hours the wreckage from the plane, with no survivors, was located on the side of a mountain about five miles from the airport. For several weeks the body parts were collected and reassembled in a staging area in the National Guard Armory only a few blocks from the Search and Rescue Center where Steverson first received the distress broadcast.[4]. Later a full investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause of the accident was equipment failure.[5]
Another noteworthy item is Steverson's involvement as an Operations Officer during the seizure of two Russian fishing vessels, the Kolevan and the Lamut for violating an international agreement prohibiting foreign vessels from fishing in United States territorial waters. The initial attempts at seizing the Russian vessels almost precipitated an international incident when the Russian vessels refused to proceed to a U. S. port, and instead sailed toward the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russian MIG fighter planes were scrambled, as well as American fighter planes from Elmendorf Air Force Base before the Russian vessels changed course and steamed back

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Blogger ichbinalj said...

Solomon was the third and last king of united Israel. He was the second son of King David and Bathsheba. When he was born the Lord loved him, so he was also called JEDIDIAH, meaning beloved of the Lord. The Lord appeared to him in a dream at Gibeon and told him to ask of him anything he desired. Solomon chose above all else understanding and wisdom. His prayer was, inter alia, "Lord give me an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad."

5:11 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Solomon was a wise and learned man; it is said that his wisdom was greater than that of the wise men of the East and of Egypt. He is credited with 3,000 proverbs and 1,500 songs. He wrote the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and several of the Psalms. He built the Great Temple in Jerusalem atop Mount Moriah. He had 1,400 Chariots, 12,000 horsemen, and 4,000 stalls for horses.
Women were his weakness. His harem comprised 700 wives and 300 concubines. He received many gifts from visitors, th emost famous of which was the Queen of Sheba (ancient Abbasynia, present day Ethiopia). His son by the Queen of Sheba became the first king of Abbasynnia. His last living decendent in an unbroken chain of kings was Emperor Haile Salasie, the Conquering Lion of Judah, the Rah Tafari.
In his old age Solomon's wisdom convinced him that all the pleasures that the earth can give are empty and unsatisfying. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
His conclusion is that it is wisdom to enjoy with gratitude the good gifts of God, and to do right; for all of our thoughts, words and deeds will be brought into judgement.

5:26 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

1st Kings 3:7-9.
Solonon's Prayer:
"And now oh Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father; and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people whom thou hast chosen, a great people, who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude.
Give, therefore, thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this thy people?"

5:36 PM  

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