California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed
Tanu Henry, Lila Brown and Joe W. Bowers Jr. | California Black Media
Vice President Kamala Harris Joins Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Karen Bass to Announce Reopening of I-10 Freeway
On Nov. 19, Vice President Kamala Harris accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor Karen Bass and other state and city officials visited the I-10 freeway construction site in Los Angeles, which was previously the site of a freeway fire.
At a news conference, Harris announced that the highway would be reopened before the morning rush hour on Nov. 20. Around 7:30 p.m. that same evening, the Governor’s office followed up with an announcement that the Department of Transportation had reopened the highway.
“Traffic is now flowing on five lanes in each direction between Alameda Street and the East Los Angeles interchange, ahead of tomorrow morning’s commute and before the Thanksgiving holiday, reducing the disruption to Los Angeles commuters,” the announcement read.
On Nov. 11, a fire that started in a nearby storage yard engulfed the freeway damaging the understructure of the thoroughfare that runs through downtown Los Angeles and ends in Santa Monica. The blaze downed power lines and damaged several vehicles, support columns and highway guardrails.
During her visit, Harris highlighted the federal government’s historic investment of $400 billion in infrastructure funding for the project, thanked hundreds of union workers for fast tracking the repair, and pledged to continue delivering investments for communities across California and throughout America.
“The work that happened here is extraordinary. It was possible with the will and ambition of the workers on the ground, and their commitment as public servants and as union members to get this done and deliver for the people of Los Angeles,” said Harris. “This is the kind of work that is happening around the country — where hardworking men and women, carpenters, laborers and government workers are rebuilding America’s infrastructure.”
Last week, Gov. Newsom announced Caltrans emergency contractors cleared all hazardous materials from the site and that the Biden-Harris Administration had approved California’s request for $3 million in “quick release” funds to offset initial costs.
On Nov 17, Bass announced financial support and resources that are available for businesses impacted by the I-10 closure. Under the mayor’s direction, the Economic Workforce and Development Department (EWDD) launched a grant program for affected businesses. The agency is accepting applications until midnight on Dec. 10.
Hamas-Israel Protests Shut Down Dem Convention in Sacramento
This past weekend the California Democratic Party held its Fall Endorsing Convention in Sacramento.
On the evening of Nov. 18, all planned events were canceled after hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down the conference taking place at the Safe Credit Union Convention Center.
The demonstrators converged on the convention demanding a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war. This demonstration was one of several others held around the convention, which was located two blocks northeast of the State Capitol.
Impassioned demonstrators shouted, “Ceasefire in Gaza,” and staged a sit-in protest in the lobby of the conference center.
The California Black Legislative Caucus cancelled activities planned during the evening, due to the demonstrations.
CADEM Chairperson Rusty Hicks released a statement on Facebook the following day.
“Every Delegate, volunteer, staff person and attendee has the right to be safe and feel safe in the peaceful expression of their own voice and viewpoint. So, this morning, we might come together with a heavy heart, but we also come with a determined resolve to reconnect to one another, to embrace our collective cause of peace and to ensure the work of this Party moves onward and upward.”
Mayor London Breed Hosts APEC Summit in San Francisco
Last week, Mayor London Breed hosted the largest gathering of global leaders in the United States in nearly 80 years. The event was mainly held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
More than 20,000 people attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco last week. This included the CEOs of major corporations and 21 world leaders, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and President Xi Jinpeng of China.
With the theme “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” the conference focused on climate action, job creation, international trade, global conflicts and other topics.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom also attended the event and met with the leaders of Australia, Canada, Singapore the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
“California is America’s gateway to the Asia-Pacific – we’re a state of dreamers and doers, entrepreneurs and innovators. We don’t tolerate our diversity, we celebrate our diversity – that’s our strength: it’s central to who we are as Californians,” said the Governor during his remarks.
“We’re proud to welcome the 21 APEC member economies so we can work to achieve a better, more prosperous future for all — that’s the California Way.”
Breed, who welcomed guests with a party at City Hall, said San Francisco is “larger than life city.”
“What this city has represented in history, whether it is the founding of the United Nations in 1945, or the peace treaty with Japan in 1951, San Francisco continues to be the city that creates those global connections,” said Breed. “It is really oversized in terms of its image around the world, and it is one of the most beautiful and iconic places anywhere.”
Federal Judge Dismisses Huntington Beach Lawsuit Seeking to Exempt City From State Housing Laws
Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney Gen. Rob Bonta are hailing a U.S. District Court decision to dismiss a case brought against the state by the city of Huntington Beach.
Huntington Beach, an oceanside town in Orange County and one of the most expensive – and most conservative – cities in California filed a lawsuit in June attempting to exempt itself from the state’s Regional Needs Housing Allocation (RHNA) requirement.
The RHNA requires Huntington Beach to plan for more than 13,000 new homes, including some designated for low-income residents.
Huntington Beach’s city council voted against that mandate in April, prompting the California Department of Justice to file a motion against the city.
Last week, Federal Judge Fred Slaughter dismissed the lawsuit in a 15-page decision, stating that California did not violate the city’s First Amendment and 14th Amendment protections.
“What we need is housing. Instead, the City of Huntington Beach chose not only to evade responsibility and break the law, but also file a baseless lawsuit in federal court to delay the State’s enforcement action,” said Gov. Newsom. “Thankfully, this path was a dead end.”
Bonta called the lawsuit “meritless.”
“We are pleased that the court agreed,” said Bonta. “With this behind us, we look forward to prosecuting our state case against Huntington Beach. Everyone must do their part to address California’s housing crisis.”
San Diego Black News Publisher and City Official Chida Warren-Darby Enters Race for City Council Seat
Last week, Chida Rebecca Warren-Darby, a San Diego city official and second-generation Black publisher, announced her candidacy to replace City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, who won the Nov. 2 election for the District 4 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Warren-Darby, who currently serves as Director of Appointments, Boards and Commissions in San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office, says her goal is to strengthen communications between City Hall and constituents.
“If we can build better partners, we can get more done,” said Warren-Darby. “This starts with education and inclusion. There are so many people that don’t understand the work we do at City Hall.”
Warren-Darby’s father Dr. John Warren is the publisher of the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint newspaper, the largest and oldest Black-owned publication in the city.
She is also the publisher and former Editor-in-Chief of the online digital publication Black & Magazine.
Using Digital Technology, SoCal Panel Explores “Combating Racism as a Public Health Crisis”
On Nov. 15, the Black Voice News (BVN), a Black-owned-and-led publication in Riverside, hosted a virtual panel discussion titled “Combating Racism as a Public Health Crisis.
The event focused on a project BVN has developed in partnership with Stanford University using the decentralized web. It holds California elected leaders to account by tracking documented declarations they made promising to address systemic racism after the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Our Mapping Black California team partnered with Stanford’s Starling Lab and Esri to utilize decentralized web and blockchain technologies to build an accountability tool to better track the multiple declarations made by government agencies across the state,” said Paulette Brown-Hinds, BVN Publisher and a Fellow at Stanford’s Starling Lab for data integrity.
The Starling lab is an initiative that “prototypes tools and principles to bring historians, legal experts and journalists into the new era of Web3,” according to the research center’s website.
The BVN project collects and archives web pages from government websites and displays them along with tracking tools.
Panelists participating in the conversation were Ann Grimes Director, Journalism Fellowships, Starling Lab; Alex Reed, Mapping Black California Manager at BVN; Breanna Reeves, Reporter, BVN; and Lindsey Walker, Product Manager, Starling Lab. Candice Mays, Mapping Black California Director at BVN, moderated the discussion.
“Our Black Voice News reporting team has been the first to dig into the data and publish a series of reports on the findings. It is our hope that other journalists and media organizations will explore the data in their communities and use it to measure progress and ask important questions that could lead to systemic change,” added Brown-Hinds.
New Alliance Announced to Promote California Reparations Task Force’s Recommendations
The California Black Power Network (CBPN), Equal Justice Society (EJS), and six former members of the California Reparations Task Force — Dr. Cheryl Grills, Lisa Holder, Don Tamaki, Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) — have announced the formation of the Alliance for Reparations, Reconciliation, and Truth.
The Alliance aims to broaden public support for reparations for qualifying Black Californians by increasing the diversity of its allies across different races and sectors. They plan to achieve it by educating the public about reparations and advocating for the recommendations of the California Reparations Task Force’s report.
“The alliance brings advocate groups, academics, legal professionals, and legislators together to take on this historic and challenging endeavor,” Jones-Sawyer said in the Alliance announcement.
The Alliance includes Black-led and non-Black ally organizations such as Black Equity Collective, Catalyst California, AAPIFORCE, PICO California, Nikkei Progressives, and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR).
The report by the California Reparations Task Force connects centuries of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and ongoing discrimination to the disparities currently faced by Black Californians. It recommends over 115 policies to the state legislature to cease the ongoing harm and develop a long-term plan to redress historical injustices.
The Alliance’s nonprofit members, CBPN and ESJ, are deeply involved in the reparations movement. CBPN, a coalition of about 40 organizations, led a community engagement campaign and submitted around 5,000 letters from community members to the task force. Meanwhile, ESJ’s President, Holder, along with Grills and Tamaki, have been organizing philanthropic support for reparations and securing endorsements from over 470 organizations and businesses. They aim to reach 1,000 endorsements by the end of 2023.
Leaders of the Alliance have met with the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). They have proposed a collaboration to jointly organize and promote legislation based on the task force’s recommendations.
“We call upon the Legislature to develop a feasible approach, spanning years, in good economies and bad, to study the 115-plus recommendations and address the harms that have been decades, if not centuries, in the making,” Tamaki commented in the Alliance announcement.
The Alliance may also explore applying the task force report recommendations beyond the state level in California, at the international, federal, regional, and municipal levels.
Learn more about the Alliance at https://alliancefor.org.
Sen. Steve Bradford: Dept of Corrections Wage Increase for Prisoners Who Do Essential Work Is Not Enough
Last week, Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Inglewood), vice-chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) joined his colleague, Sen. Dave Cortese (D-Los Gatos), on an online panel with social justice advocates to denounce the wage increase the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) recently instituted.
In a notice of change of regulations dated Oct. 6, the CDCR announced that it is increasing the minimum wage from eight cents an hour to 16 cents per hour for some 39,000 state prison inmates who perform clerical tasks or work in construction, engineering, manufacturing.
Inmates who are firefighters for the state will see their hourly pay rates increase from an amount between $2.90 and $5.13 per hour to one in the range of $5.80 to $10.24.
Bradford said the amount of money prisoners make doing tasks they are forced to perform is not enough for them to support their families, save for re-entry into society or pay restitution they owe to the victims of their crimes.
“Dignity is in work, but respect is in pay and wages,” said Bradford.
“It is totally unacceptable,” Bradford added. We are not asking for a livable age. We are asking for a respectable wage.”
Jeronimo Aguilar from Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Tatiana Turner from Caravan 4 Justice and Katherine Paseman from One Fair Wage also participated in the panel that was hosted by TaSin Sabir, also from Legal Services for Prisoners With Children.