By Tanu Henry | California Black Media
(CBM) – Your weekly news roundup of stories you might have missed.
California Black Elected Officials React to Ridley-Thomas Conviction
Last week after a jury found former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas guilty on corruption charges, California’s Black elected officials issued statements acknowledging Ridley-Thomas’s political leadership, many contributions to his constituents and his track record of unapologetically advocating for policies that advanced racial equity and improved the lives of African Americans in the state.
“I am compelled to share my appreciation for the civic contributions of Mark Ridley-Thomas. Mark Ridley-Thomas has devoted his professional life to serving the people of Los Angeles. He has invested his time and energy to empower and uplift his community and constituents for decades,” said Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus in a statement.
“His relentless commitment to helping improve the lives of others through public service will always be worthy of our admiration and appreciation,” Bradford added.
I believe that this is a sad day for Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who worked with Thomas for more than 40 years. “And I feel that sadness personally,” she added. Bass described Ridley-Thomas as a “a policymaker who made a real impact.”
L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson took to Twitter to express his appreciation for Ridley-Thomas.
“When those in power chose to forget our community, Mark Ridley-Thomas centered and uplifted us,” he wrote.
“I certainly think people are shocked and saddened by what they’ve read. But I’ve also heard people share how much respect they have for the work that Mark Ridley-Thomas has done.”
Gov. Newsom Announces $736 M in Funding for Local Communities
Keeping his promise to fast track solutions addressing California’s stubborn homelessness crisis, last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $736 million in grants to be channeled directly to local communities for building or acquiring shelter for unhoused people.
“At a time when more housing is desperately needed, Homekey is proving that we can build faster, and at a fraction of conventional construction costs,” Newsom said.
“My Administration has made available an unprecedented $3.4 billion to date for Homekey to use at the local level to address housing and homelessness. I look forward to seeing more communities use this latest round of funding to boost housing around the state,” the Governor added.
California Black Media Hosts Dinner Honoring Joe Stephenshaw
Last week, California Black Media hosted a reception honoring Department of Finance (DOF) Director Joe Stephenshaw.
A number of state lawmakers, public officials, Black news publishers, journalists and others attended the event co-hosted by the California Black Freedom fund and held at the Prelude Kitchen & Bar in downtown Sacramento.
“For us, this is one of those moments we deeply treasure when the leaders of the Black Press in California get to officially welcome, celebrate and interact with a top thought leader and decisionmaker in state government in an environment that is intimate and welcoming – no spotlights, no cameras, no fanfare,” said Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media.
We exchanged ideas and talked freely about our challenges as we got an firsthand view into how our government is deploying our tax dollars in ways that directly impact the lives of the communities we serve,” Wilson added. “We look forward to working more closely with Joe and the Newsom administration on priorities that advance equity for Black Californians.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Stephenshaw to the DOF role. In January, he made his first annual budget presentation as the state’s chief fiscal officer alongside the governor.
Project Homekey is a state government initiative that aims to quickly provide shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness. To date, it has successfully provided shelter for nearly 12,800 formerly unhoused individuals across the state.
Rep. Lee Releases Statement on Trump Indictment
After a New York grand jury reportedly indicted former President Donald J. Trump on more than 30 counts of business fraud last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) said she hopes the action was the “beginning of our justice system holding him and all involved in these crimes accountable.”
“This is the first time a former President has been indicted in American history, and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trump’s alleged crimes—before, during, and after his one term as President,” said Lee who is a outspoken progressive known for her Left-leaning political stances and candidate in the competitive race to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the November General Election.
“No one is above the law,” emphasized Lee, the highest ranking African American woman in the United States House of Representatives.
Gov. Newsom Calls U.S. House Speaker McCarthy “Coward”
In a tweet last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) a coward. Newsom made the comment in a caption when he shared a video of the highest-ranking Republican member of Congress refusing to respond to a reporter’s questions about the mass shooting at a Nashville private school that claimed the lives of three adults and three 9-year-old students.
Report: Black Students Among Students With Highest Absenteeism Rates
The Public Policy Institute of California is reporting that absenteeism is on the rise among all students in California, and Black children are among the top sub-groups of kids who miss school the most.
Absenteeism rose substantially for nearly all student groups. However, we do see variation across demographic dimensions. Among racial/ethnic groups, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander students experienced the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, exceeding 40% in 2021–22,” the report reads.
Read the full report here.
The California Legislature Is on Spring Recess
Look out for listings of your state lawmakers’ local townhall meetings in your city or a nearby town. On March 31, the California Legislature adjourned for its Spring Recess. Members are expected to return to Sacramento on or before April 10 when the Legislature reconvenes.