California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed

California Black Media Political Playback: News You Might Have Missed

Congresswomen Barbra Lee (January 8, 2019) photo by Robert Maryland, California Black Media

Black Women’s Group Holds Gov. Newsom’s Feet to the Fire on Senate Appointment

On Sunday, the California Black Women’s Collective (CBWC), a coalition of women from different professional backgrounds, issued a statement responding to remarks Gov. Gavin Newsom made to NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”

When asked what he would do if Feinstein were to step down due to her failing health, the Governor said he would appoint a short-term caretaker to replace her.

“Interim appointment,” Newsom told Todd. “I don't want to get involved in the primary. It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don't want to tip the balance of that.”

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) is running for U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein against two other Democratic contenders: U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA-30) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA-47).

In 2021, when Newsom appointed Sen. Alex Padilla to replace former Sen. Kamala Harris, he promised to appoint a Black woman to the U.S. Senate.

Kellie Todd Griffin, founding convener of CBWC, said she expected Newsom to keep his promise.

“I fully expected that he will keep his word. We ran a respectful campaign, “Keep the Seat,” that highlighted the need for a Black woman to be appointed as well as provided two highly qualified options with Hon. Karen Bass and Hon. Barbara Lee. He appointed Senator Padilla instead,” said Griffin.

“His commitment after that act was clear and a promise to appoint a Black woman if there was another opportunity to appoint to the US Senate arises. The notion of a caretaker is not what was promised nor is it expected to be acceptable,” Griffin continued. “Appointing a caretaker has not happened since the 1930s in California history.”

Lee, who is the only Black woman in the race, said in a statement, “Black women deserve more than a participation trophy. We need a seat at the table. I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks.”

Last week, Lee also made headlines when she led members of the California Congressional Delegation in writing a letter to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) urging a swift investigation into the allegations of violations of federal labor law by the Laguna Cliffs Marriott in Dana Point and related entities.

On Labor Day, the members urged NLRB to investigate the hotel’s use of automated management practices -- together with the company Instawork -- to punish workers who participate in strikes or honor picket lines, as well as look into incidents of violence and property destruction against striking workers.

Both sets of issues are subject to pending unfair labor practice charges.

“The conduct alleged above is profoundly troubling and raises serious concerns about the ability of workers at this property to exercise their core labor rights,” said Lee in the letter. “We ask that the NLRB investigate these issues thoroughly and prosecute the companies involved for all violations of the National Labor Relations Act.”

This is the second time Lee has written a letter concerning the Laguna Cliffs Marriott. In July, a letter was sent “regarding reports of racial exclusion and problematic employment practices.”

The most recent letter was signed by Lee and Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37), Mike Levin (D-CA-49), Lou Correa (D-CA-46), Ted Lieu (D-CA-36), and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34).

Then, on Sept. 4, President Biden announced that he intends to nominate Lee to serve as a United States Representative at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, scheduled to take place in New York City from Sept. 18 to Sept. 26.

California to Roll Back Grant Program That Helps Low- and Middle-Income Residents Build ADUsADU Tiny Home ( Shutterstock)

The California Housing Finance Agency’s Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Grant Program may receive only $25 million in new funding instead of the $50 million investment lawmakers initially proposed after negotiations with Gov. Newsom.

The state had previously allocated $100 million to increase the housing inventory and address the homelessness crisis, but these funds were depleted months ago.

Since its inception, the program has provided up to $40,000 towards pre-development and non-recurring closing costs associated with the construction of the ADUs, an innovative, affordable, and effective living option for low-to-middle-income residents. The predevelopment costs the grants cover include site prep, architectural designs, permits, soil tests, impact, fees property survey and energy reports.

One of the hurdles for ADU construction has been the reluctance of California lenders and major banks to offer ADU loans. Although CALHFA provides a $40,000 grant to qualified homeowners, the overall cost of an ADU can range from $300,000 to more than $400,000.

Funding for the program is in flux because of a disagreement between CalHFA and lawmakers over how to use it.

Lawmakers and Newsom signed a budget bill that would restore the $50 million funding in July only to see another budget bill in August take the money back. Now an amendment will put half of the money back to restart the program this month.

Crackdown: Gov. Newsom Adds Muscle to Fentanyl Fight by Increasing National Guard Presence at Border by 50%

Building on California’s $1 billion investment to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Sept. 7, that he is increasing the deployment of California National Guard (CalGuard) service members by approximately 50% (from 40 to 60 soldiers) at the four U.S. ports of entry along the state’s U.S.-Mexico border.

This expansion enables CalGuard to further support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) narcotic search operations, including through the operation of a vehicle X-ray system used for detecting the transportation and concealment of narcotics. This increased deployment builds on Newsom’s prior expansion of CalGuard-supported operations that contributed to a 594% increase in seized fentanyl in the state last year.

“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in his announcement. “California is cracking down -- and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”

Last year, CalGuard’s efforts helped law enforcement seize 28,765 lbs. of fentanyl, an amount with an estimated street value of more than $230 million.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, a majority of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is smuggled through ports of entry by U.S. citizens, not by migrants seeking asylum.

Over 150 Americans die every day from overdoses and poisonings related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

State Arrests 11 After Sting Operation Exposes Illegal Contracting in Sutter County

Last week, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) announced that it conducted a successful undercover operation to crack down on unlicensed contractors. This two-day operation took place in Yuba City in August and resulted in the identification of multiple individuals engaged in illegal contracting practices.

Even though, Gov. Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2019 last year – legislation designed to increase the participation of small businesses owned by Blacks and other ethnic minorities in government contracting – those companies continue to fall behind their White counterparts

Suspected unlicensed contractors were invited to submit bids for different construction projects at a specified location. As a result of this undercover operation, 11 individuals were served notices to appear in criminal court and may now face legal repercussions, including hefty fines and possible imprisonment.

"Contracting without a valid contractor’s license is classified as a misdemeanor in California, carrying significant penalties that include fines up to $15,000 and potential incarceration,” stated CSLB Registrar David Fogt. “CSLB is committed to enforcing license requirements to ensure consumers are protected from unlicensed individuals who have not met experience requirements and do not have workers’ compensation insurance for employees." All individuals implicated submitted bids surpassing the legal threshold of $500 for contracting without a license, with amounts ranging from $1,000 for painting to $13,500 for concrete work.

The suspects could also face additional charges for unlawful advertising. Licensed contractors are required to include their license number on all business-related materials (such as advertisements, vehicles, business cards). The civil penalty for not complying with this requirement could lead to a $1,000 fine for first-time offenders.