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California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed

Joe W. Bowers Jr. and Edward Henderson | California Black Media

Four Black Leaders Join Diverse Group of Appointees on Gov. Newsom’s New Racial Equity Commission

On July 27, Gov. Newsom announced the appointment of an Executive Director and seven appointees to serve on the state’s first Racial Equity Commission, which is supported by an initial state investment of $3.8 million over the next fiscal year and $3.1 million each year following, through 2030.

Created by a 2022 executive order the commission will recommend actions the state can take to “advance racial equity and address structural racism,” according to the governor’s office.

The four Black appointees are:

Larissa Estes of Walnut Creek has been appointed Executive Director of the Racial Equity Commission. Dr. Estes has been Director of ALL IN Alameda County since 2019.

Commission member Yolanda R. Richardson of Roseville is Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Health Plan. Before that, Richardson was Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency.

Commission member Traco Matthews of Bakersfield is Chief Health Equity Officer at Kern Health Systems.

Commission member Simboa Wright of Fontana is Vice President of SEIU Local 721 labor union.

“I’m proud to appoint these diverse leaders to advise our ongoing work to ensure that all our communities have a fair shot at achieving the California dream,” said Newsom.

Other appointees are Virginia Hedrick of Carmichael; Gabriel Maldonado of Los Angeles; Julie Onodera of Sacramento; and Manuel Pastor of Pasadena.

Blacks and Latinos Account for Nearly 80% of Arrests in Los Angeles

Blacks and Latinos make up about 56% of Los Angeles’ population, but they account for about 80% of all arrests in California’s largest city, according to an analysis of about 300,000 arrests between 2019 and 2022 conducted by L.A. Controller Keith Meija’s office.

According to the report released last week, for almost every year of the study, Council District 14 led all other districts for the total number of arrests. In 2021, it came in second to Council District 8 by a difference of only three arrests.

Lawmakers Spar Over $5 Billion Bond to Fight Fentanyl

California Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads over approaches to combat the state’s growing fentanyl crisis. New bi-partisan proposed legislation aims to bridge the ideological and tactical gap between the two parties.

Assembly Public Safety Committee Chair Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Public Safety Committee Vice Chair Juan Alanis (R-Modesto) co-authored Assembly Bill AB1510, which would allocate $2 billion for Substance Use Disorder treatment and $400 million for harm reduction programs. Another $200 million would go to preventing overdoses. The bond would also provide $2 billion to expand programs that teach young people about recreational drug use risks.

Jones-Sawyer has called the bond act a comprehensive approach instead of a “bill by bill” approach to combating the crisis.

However, some Republicans believe that the proposal would take too long to be implemented and immediate action is necessary.

“We’re asked to watch the long game,” Assemblymember Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach) Dixon told the Sacramento Bee. “So. I’m interested in seeing the benefits and accountability of a long game. But right now, we have a fentanyl crisis here today.”

Once AB 1510 passes in the Legislature and is signed by Gov. Newsom it will go before voters as a ballot measure during the March 2024 primary and November 2024 elections.

Under Pressure to Resign, Alameda County’s First Black Woman D.A. Fires Back at NAACP

Concerned by a sharp rise in crimes, the Oakland branch of the NAACP is blaming Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price for “failed leadership.”

Price, the first Black female District Attorney in the history of Alameda County, is the target of a recall effort staged by groups that say the city is in the grip of a “public safety crisis,” according to Oakland NAACP branch president Cynthia Adams and Acts Full Gospel Church’s Bishop Bob Jackson stated.

“Oakland residents are sick and tired of our intolerable public safety crisis that overwhelmingly impacts minority communities. Murders, shootings, violent armed robberies, home invasions, car break-ins, sideshows, and highway shootouts have become a pervasive fixture of life in Oakland,” Adams and Jackson stated in a letter to city residents urging them to demand improved public safety in their communities.

“African Americans are disproportionately hit the hardest by crime in East Oakland and other parts of the city. But residents from all parts of the city report that they do not feel safe. Everyone is in danger,” the letter continued.

Price’s office released a statement pushing back on claims made by Adam and Jackson in the letter.

“We are disappointed that a great African American pastor and a great African American organization would take a false narrative on such an important matter. We would expect more from Bishop Bob Jackson and the Oakland Chapter of the NAACP,” said a spokesperson from the District Attorney’s office.

Calif. Dept of Finance Releases June “Finance Bulletin Report”

Last week, the California Department of Finance released its July edition of the Finance Bulletin Report. The bulletin recaps economic changes during the previous month.

California’s unemployment rate rose to 4.6 % in June. The labor force increased by 13,600 while civilian household employment rose by 7,900, and the number of unemployed workers increased by 5,700.

California added 11,600 nonfarm payroll jobs, driven by gains in private education and health services (7,000), leisure and hospitality (6,800) and construction (6,000). The largest job loss was in trade, transportation, and utilities (-7,600).

California’s personal income increased by 0.7% (SAAR) in the first quarter of 2023. Gains were driven by increases in wages and salaries and property income, offsetting declines in transfer payments.

“While June is historically an important month for personal income and corporation tax, cash results from these two revenue sources — with the exception of withholding — are not reliable due to this year’s delayed tax deadlines,” stated the report.

Attorney Gen. Robert Bonta Announces Support for Federal Bill Benefitting Black WWII Veterans and Their Families

California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a bipartisan coalition of 24 state attorneys general in submitting a letter to Congress in support of H.R. 1255, the “Sgt. Isaac Woodard, Jr. and Sgt. Joseph H. Maddox GI Bill Restoration Act of 2023.’

The bill was named after two Black World War II veterans who were denied benefits under the GI Bill.

Authored by Congressmembers Seth Moulton (D-MA-6) and James Clyburn (D-SC-6), the legislation would extend eligibility for certain housing and educational benefits to Black World War II veterans and their families.

“Exactly 75 years ago, President Harry S. Truman mandated the desegregation of our Armed Forces. Today, we cannot lose sight of a harsh reality: Black World War II veterans and their families were systematically denied the GI benefits they had rightfully earned,” said Bonta. “H.R. 1255 would fix that terrible injustice.”

If passed, H.R. 1255 would also extend access to the VA Loan Guaranty Program to surviving spouses and certain direct descendants of Black World War II veterans and to the Post-911 GI Bill educational assistance benefits to surviving spouses and certain direct descendants of Black World War II veterans.

Additionally, it would establish a panel of experts to make recommendations on addressing inequitable access to benefits for female and minority members of the Armed Forces.

Measure Expanding Local Gov’t Power to Enact Rent Control Makes It on November Ballot

On July 26, California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber announced that initiative 1942 became eligible for the November 5, 2024, general election ballot. The initiative would expand local government’s authority to enact rent control on residential property.

Current state law (the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995) generally prevents cities and counties from limiting the initial rental rate that landlords may charge to new tenants in all types of housing. It also prevents cities from limiting rent increases for existing tenants in, residential properties that were first occupied after February 1, 1995, single-family homes and condominiums.

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