By Tanu Henry and Maxim Elramsisy | California Black Media
(CBM) – Your roundup of stories you might have missed last week.
Groundbreaking Latina Politician Gloria Molina (May 31, 1948 – May 14, 2023) Passes
Gloria Molina, the first Latina to serve become a member of the California Assembly and on the first to serve on the L.A. City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has died of terminal cancer. She was 74.
“It is with heavy hearts our family announces Gloria’s passing this evening,” said Molina’s daughter Valentina Martinez in a statement. “She passed away at her home in Mt. Washington, surrounded by family.
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass paid tribute to Molina.
“Gloria Molina was a force for unapologetic good and transformational change in Los Angeles,” wrote Bass in a statement. “As an organizer, a City Councilwoman, a County Supervisor and State Assemblywoman, Supervisor Molina advocated for those who did not have a voice in government through her pioneering environmental justice work, her role as a fiscal watchdog, and her advocacy for public health.
Bass said Molina “shaped Los Angeles in a lasting way while paving the way for future generations of leaders.”
“As the first woman mayor of Los Angeles, I know I stand on Supervisor Molina’s shoulders,” Bass acknowledged.
Governor Appoints 16-Member Advisory Council to Aid San Quentin Overhaul
California’s oldest and largest prison, San Quentin State Prison, is being transformed into an education and rehabilitation center as the state rethinks its criminal justice system.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the formation of an advisory council “tasked with assisting the administration in delivering on the Governor’s announcement to transform San Quentin State prison by 2025 into a one-of a kind rehabilitation center focused on improving public safety through rehabilitation and education via a scalable “California Model” that can be utilized across the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR),” according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
“In order to transform San Quentin into the nation’s most innovative rehabilitation facility focused on building a brighter and safer future, we need a deep and diverse bench of expertise. That’s exactly what the members of this Advisory Council deliver,” Newsom said.
The Council includes criminal justice reform advocates, victims’ rights groups, correctional officers, educators, legal scholars, and medical experts. Several formerly incarcerated individuals are on the council, which is chaired by Dr. Brie Williams, San Quentin Warden Ronald Broomfield, and Amity Foundation President and CEO Doug Bond.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg was named the Governors Lead Advisor, making him the lead liaison between the council and the Governor’s Office.
The other members are:
Scott Budnick, founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition; Neil Flood, state vice president for the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn.; Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice; Katie James, chief of the Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services; Terah Lawyer-Harper, executive director of Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs; Kenyatta Leal, executive director of the Next Chapter Project; Jody Lewen, president of Mount Tamalpais College; Sam Lewis, executive director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition; Billie Mizell, founder of Acting with Compassion and Truth; Jonathan Moscone, executive director of the California Arts Council; Mimi Silbert, president of Delancey Street; James Michael Myatt, retired US Marine Corps Major General; Alison Pachynski, chief medical executive at San Quentin State Prison; Chris Redlitz, executive director of The Last Mile; Michael Romano, director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford University; Jesse Vasquez, executive director of the Pollen Initiative.
Conservationist Group Wants More Blacks to Enjoy Great Outdoors
The 40 Acre Conservation League is working to acquire and conserve natural working lands towards greater human connection to nature for underrepresented groups.
Last week, the group held a meeting and reception in Sacramento and presented an award to Ernest Bufford, who owns a ranch located on 900-plus acres of land near Walker’s Basin in Kern County, according to ABC News 23.
Last year, the state awarded the non-profit a $3 million grant to ensure Black and other underrepresented communities have access to the great outdoors without fear. The group’s founder Jade Stevens said she and other like-minded conservationists want to remove the social and historical barriers that prevent some African Americans from enjoying outdoor activities like, fishing, hiking, bird watching etc.
Gov. Newsom Honors Peace Officers
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke at the California Peace Officers Memorial ceremony held on the grounds of the California State Capitol.
Officers from around the state showed up at the solemn ceremony to pay tribute to their colleagues who died in the line of duty.
“It requires a certain kind of character, a certain kind of bravery to be a peace officer,” Newsom said at the ceremony. “There is no California without courageous Californians determined to serve and protect.”
Attorney General Rob Bonta to Investigate Antioch’s Sheriff’s Department
Last week, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice is investigating the Antioch Sheriff’s Department. The probe was prompted by allegations of “discriminatory misconduct” and racist and homophobic text messages involving about 44 officers, nearly half of the department.
“It is our job to protect and serve all of our communities,” said Bonta. “Police departments are on the front lines of that fight every day as they work to safeguard the people of our state.”
“Where there are allegations of potentially pervasive bias or discrimination, it can undermine the trust that is critical for public safety
and our justice system,” Bonta added. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we establish a culture of accountability, professionalism, and zero tolerance for hateful or racist behavior, on or off duty.”
California Commission on Aging Wants More Representation
Last week, the California Commission on Aging met in Los Angeles.
The group advocates for aging adults and advises Gov. Newsom and the Legislature on issues facing aging Californians. During the meeting, they discussed legislation it is sponsoring, including Assembly Bill (AB) 820, a bill that would “increase the representation of older adults on seven state boards, commissions, and advisory committees.”
AB 820 has been referred from the California Assembly to the State Senate, where it is being reviewed by the Committee on Rules.
PPIC Report: California Is Getting Even More Democratic
In a report titled, “The Dynamics of Party Registration in California,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) is reporting that the number of Democrats continue to increase in the Golden State.
According to the report, “between the 2012 and 2020 presidential elections, the registered population grew about 20% — roughly twice as fast as the voting-eligible population” in California.
Of that number, 4.2 million new Democrats registered, 3.5 million signed up as some other party or No Party Preference and 1.8 million new registrants were Republican.
Endorsements – Rep. Barbara Lee and Reggie Jones Sawyer
Last week, the California Assembly Progressive Caucus announced that it is backing Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) in his run for L.A. City Council.
“The California Legislative Progressive Caucus is thrilled to announce our support for our Co- Founder Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s campaign for Los Angeles City Council,” the group wrote in a statement. “Throughout his career, from his time as a labor organizer to his tenure in the State Assembly, Reggie has been an unrelenting, pioneering champion on the most critical issues facing California.”
Stacy Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, voting rights advocate and renowned Democratic Party figure, endorsed U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) in her campaign to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein who is not seeking reelection.
“Barbara Lee is the leader California and the nation need right now in the U.S. Senate,” said Abrams said. “I am proud to endorse her for the U.S. Senate.”