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California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed

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

Cal State Names Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes Its First Woman President

On Sept. 13, the Board of Trustees of California State University (CSU) announced that it has appointed Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes to assume the role of president at California State University (CSU) Los Angeles.

When she assumes office on Jan. 8, 2024, Eanes will become the first woman to be president of a CSU school.

She will be succeeding Interim President Leroy M. Morishita, who has served in the position since the retirement of President Emeritus William A. Covino at the end of July 2023

“I am honored to join this outstanding university and its vibrant and diverse campus community,” said Eanes, who is currently President of York College, City University of New York – a position she has held since 2020.

“I look forward to engaging and collaborating with Cal State LA’s talented students, staff and faculty to continue the institution’s journey to new heights in student success, research, scholarship and creative activity, and community engagement,” she continued.

“A champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, Dr. Eanes is the ideal person to lead Cal State LA and continue to drive its powerful engine of social mobility,” said CSU Trustee Jack B. Clarke, Jr., chair of the Cal State LA Presidential Search Committee.

Eanes completed her undergraduate studies at Dillard University, obtained a master’s degree in social work from Boston University and earned her doctorate in social work from Clark Atlanta University.

California Slaps the Five Largest Oil Companies Sith Lawsuit

On Saturday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the state is suing five of the world’s largest oil companies and their subsidiaries — including Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and BP — for “more than 50 years of deception, cover-up, and damage that have cost California taxpayers billions of dollars in health and environmental impacts.”

Newsom will be speaking at Climate Week events in New York City this week.

“California taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for billions of dollars in damages — wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke clogging our air, deadly heat waves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells,” said Newsom, referencing the civil lawsuit filed in Superior Court in San Francisco.

Bonta said the companies have known but not admitted that burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change.

“Enough is enough,” said Bonta. “With our lawsuit, California becomes the largest geographic area and the largest economy to take these giant oil companies to court. From extreme heat to drought and water shortages, the climate crisis they have caused is undeniable. It is time they pay to abate the harm they have caused. We will meet the moment and fight tirelessly on behalf of all Californians, in particular those who live in environmental justice communities.”

In a rebuttal, the American Petroleum Institute issued a statement arguing that Congress, not courts, should be responsible for establishing climate policy.

“This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources,” the statement read.

California Lawmakers Pass Bill That Will Allow Churches to Build Affordable Housing

A bill that could allow churches to build affordable housing on their parking lots and surplus lands passed the California Legislature on Sept. 11. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs Senate Bill (SB) 4 thousands of unused urban lots could potentially be used for housing development.

“SB 4 will open up 170,000 acres of land for affordable housing. It’s a game-changer,” Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco) posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The bill successfully passed the Senate floor with 32 votes in favor and two against. In the Assembly, it received overwhelming support with just a single vote against it.

The bill applies to churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith organizations. The organizations utilizing their land for construction would be able to bypass local zoning restrictions or discretionary approval processes.

Opposition to the bill has come from some local governments and environmental justice organizations. The city of Beverly Hills argued that localities are better equipped to address the needs of their residents. Environmental justice organizations have advocated for more protections that would prohibit construction within specified distances of freeways, industrial areas and oil and gas facilities.

The bill was amended in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee to improve environmental protections near oil wells.

Former L.A. Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas Files a Notice of Appeal Challenging His Convictions

Former L.A. Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas has filed a notice of appeal challenging his convictions for voting in support of county contracts that would favor USC while accepting benefits for his son from the university.

The notice sets the stage for appellate arguments in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that could possibly go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to serve a prison term of three years and six months beginning Nov. 13. Marilyn Flynn, a former head of the USC School of Social Work, pleaded guilty to a bribery charge in the case, has been sentenced to 18 months of home confinement and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine.

In a statement, Alyssa Bell, a member of Ridley-Thomas’ appellate team said the lawyers who handled the former councilman’s 12-day trial in Los Angeles “laid the groundwork for what we believe to be an exceptionally strong appeal. We are already examining and analyzing several potential grounds that could result in reversal of Dr. Ridley-Thomas’ convictions.”

Those grounds included a claim that the government failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the jury’s guilty verdicts.

California to Make Makes Historic Investment in Fight Against Organized Retail Crime

On Sept. 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state is making a $267,118,293 investment to combat organized retail crime.

This sum represents the largest-ever single investment ever made by the state to aid law enforcement in fighting crime. As part of a competitive grant process, the funding, if approved, would be allocated for 55 local law enforcement agencies across California.

The initiative, part of the Governor’s Real Public Safety Plan, is slated to be dispersed on Oct. 1, 2023, to police departments, sheriffs’ departments, and district attorney offices in every region of the state to prevent and investigate cases of organized retail theft and arrest and prosecute more suspects.

“Enough with these brazen smash-and-grabs. With an unprecedented $267 million investment, Californians will soon see more takedowns, more police, more arrests, and more felony prosecutions. When shameless criminals walk out of stores with stolen goods, they’ll walk straight into jail cells,” Newsom said in a statement.

The funding would be used to create fully staffed retail theft investigative units, increase arrests, install advanced surveillance technology, train loss prevention officers, create new task forces, increase cooperation with businesses and the community, target criminals in blitz operations, as well as crack down on vehicle and catalytic converter theft.

The next day, following the announcement of the grants, the Governor’s office held a news briefing featuring four law enforcement leaders whose offices will benefit from the program: California Highway Patrol Commissioner Sean Duryee; San Francisco D.A. Brooke Jenkins; San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott; and Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Holly Francisco.

“I want to thank Governor Newsom for making this issue a priority, for allocating resources from our state to ensure we are able to set a new tone in the state of California: that this conduct is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Jenkins.

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