Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed

Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed

Photo: Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin (Photo courtesy of X Page of the  California Transportation Agency)

Gov. Newsom Announces New Council; $182 Million Investment to Create More Jobs Faster

Gov. Gavin Newsom is committed to creating more jobs, faster, and increasing pathways to higher paying careers for Californians from all backgrounds, according to his office.

To achieve these goals, on March 8, Newsom announced the formation of a new state-level committee focused on increasing jobs called the California Jobs First Council. He also awarded $182 million in grants to 13 organizations around the state involved in developing viable economic development projects that will stimulate employment and attract significant government and private sector investments.

Gov. Newsom has appointed Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to Governor Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development to co-chair the council. She will work alongside co-chair Stewart Knox, California Secretary of Labor & Workforce Development.

“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to align strategic investments that further economic growth and job creation in every region of California,” said Myers.

Other members of the council are the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research; Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency; Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency; Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency; Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs; and the President of the Public Utilities Commission.

“California has created more opportunities, more jobs, and more businesses than any other state, but we need to ensure that we’re all moving forward together,” Newsom said in a statement. “Through this new council and these investments, we’re aligning all of our economic resources to create more jobs, faster for Californians in every community.”

Sen. Steve Bradford: New Ebony Alert System Is Working

The Ebony Alert, a statewide system that has been implemented to notify the public -- and signal the launch of police investigation – when Black children and young Black women go missing in California is working, says Sen. Steve Bradford.

Bradford authored Senate Bill (SB) 627, the bill that created the Ebony Alert. Gov. Newsom signed it into law on Oct. 8, 2023.

“One Ebony Alert was issued on Jan. 4, and then later they found the young lady who was missing from (the city) of Long Beach,” Bradford told California Black Media (CBM).

Bradford added that a 19-year-old Black Los Angeles woman was found on Feb. 20 after the alert system was used.

The Ebony Alert is activated if a law enforcement agency decides that it would help in the investigation of a missing Black youth or a young Black woman between the ages of 12 and 25 years.

On behalf of the Los Angeles County Police Department, an Ebony Alert was turned on Feb. 16, to locate a missing 14-year-old who was last seen on Jan.5. The 5-foot-4 woman was last seen West 102nd Street and Figueroa Street in Los Angeles and still has not been located at the time of this report.

On March 5, an alert was released regarding a 22-year-old Black woman from San Mateo County. She was last seen Feb. 16 in East Palo Alto, according to a post on X by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The East Palo Alto Police Department is the investigating agency that requested the alert.

“This new emergency alert, focused on missing Black youth and young women, marks a significant step in dedicating resources towards a previously underserved community,” CHP posted on its Facebook page on Jan. 8.

In 2023, Los Angeles had the most missing persons reports at 10,039, according to California Department of Justice data, followed by San Diego (3,993), San Bernardino (2,833), Sacramento (2,788) Nevada (2,490), and Riverside (2,357) counties. Alameda (1,834), San Francisco (1,743), and Santa Clara (1,515) counties were reported to have the highest number of missing persons among the 58 jurisdictions in the state.

Bradford said he is pleased that law enforcement agencies are using the Ebony Alert early on and will continue to implement it going forward.

“It lets us know that law enforcement has educated themselves and made themselves aware that this tool is available,” Bradford told CBM. “All folks want them to do is utilize it. There’s not really a learning curve. It’s simple: there’s a missing child or Black woman missing. Send out the alert.”


Calif. Sec. of Transport Toks Omishakin Cuts Ribbon to Launch New Central Valley to NorCal Train Service

On March 6, California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin joined other state leaders to launch a new tech-forward train service -- the San Joaquin’s line -- that runs between Bakersfield and Oakland, with a route branching off to Sacramento.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Stockton at a regional maintenance facility for trains.

Developed in partnership with Amtrak, the train service is the first of seven lines that will make five daily round trips from the Central Valley to the Bay Area. The other six trains will be launched by the end of the year, according to CalTrans.

“These trains are a giant leap forward in passenger experience. In addition, they have been built in California, providing economic prosperity to our region, said Omikshakin.

“They show our commitment to combating climate change and improving the multimodal transportation network for all Californians,” he continued.

The trains were built by Siemens, a German company, at the manufacturer’s Sacramento plant.

“These trains were designed with Californians in mind,” said Michael Cahill, Siemen’s president for rolling stock in North America. “They set a new standard for passenger travel with end-to-end accessibility.”

Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said the train line is the backbone of California’s regional transportation network.

“We are committed to providing our riders with the highest quality service, equipment, and amenities. These new Venture Rail Cars move us forward into the next era of rider experience, comfort, and reliability,” Tavares said.

California Assembly Recognizes Two African American Leaders for their Commitment and Contributions

During the Assembly floor session on March 6, lawmakers honored two African Americans who have contributed to the economic development, health and overall wellbeing of communities across California.

Assemblymember Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach) recognized Orange County Black Chamber of Commerce President and Executive Director Robert Bobby McDonald for his leadership and contribution to economic development in California as the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

She asked her colleagues to join her in receiving McDonald.

“Bobby is a community and business leader, a devoted veteran’s advocate and a highly respected businessman,” said Dixon. “He is an outstanding public servant with numerous accomplishments during his time at the chamber.

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) welcomed Dr. Robert Ross, outgoing President of the California Endowment (TCE). to the Assembly Floor and recognized him for his service as he retires this year.

TCE is a non-profit foundation committed to promoting health and expanding access to health care for underserved Californians.

“We honor Dr. Ross today to thank him for his dedication as he steps down from this role after 23 years,” said Carrillo.

“His work is reflective of his outstanding record of personal and civic leadership. Appointed in September of 2000, he has led the Endowment’s advocacy and funding and efforts towards strengthening diversity in the healthcare space.”

Assemblymembers Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), Rick Chavez Zbur (D-West Hollywood), Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) also recognized Ross for his transformative leadership, foresight, courage and many contributions to diverse communities.

“California is indebted to you for your work and the love with which you went about your work,” said Jackson.

A.G. Bonta Backs Bill Creating Permanent Fund for DNA Testing, Collection

California Attorney General Rob Bonta is committed to providing permanent funding to the Bureau of Forensics DNA testing program that he says helps local law enforcement solves crimes, identify perpetrators and brings closure to Californians who are victims of crime across the state.

According to Bonta, since 2001, the Bureau of Forensic Services has identified over 2000 people through the missing persons DNA Program.

Last week, at a Department of Justice Press conference Bonta announced that he is backing Assembly Bill (AB) 3042, legislation authored by Stephanie Nguyen (D-Elk Grove).

If passed, AB 3042 would remove the sunset date from Proposition 69, the “DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act.”

Proposition 69, approved by voters in 2004, currently temporarily directs funding from criminal fines to support essential crime-solving DNA programs both at DOJ and local law enforcement agencies. However, that provision, which provides funding for the program, is terminated after 20 years.

“I am very proud of the important work that is done in our Missing Persons DNA Program and our Bureau of Forensic Services,” said Bonta.

“While this milestone is not a celebration, it is important to take a moment to acknowledge what our team has accomplished in the process of bringing closure to the families that have been impacted by tragedy. Nothing can bring a loved one back, but we hope this helps them find peace.”

Bonta said AB 3024 would ensure that Proposition 69 remains in place to support our efforts to solve crime through forensic services.”

Assemblymember Stephanie Nguyen, said, “I would never feel safe knowing someone who has harmed me or my loved ones are still out there. I am proud to author AB 3042 in collaboration with Attorney General Bonta to continue key funding to better support public safety in our communities as well as exonerating the innocent.”