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First openly gay Black state Supreme Court justice confirmed

He will become the first openly gay Black man on the California Supreme Court

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Newly confirmed Associate Justice California State Supreme Court Martin Jenkins (Photograph courtesy of the office of the Governor of California)

SAN FRANCISCO – Former U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins, a widely respected veteran of the state and federal benches was confirmed Tuesday to California’s State Supreme Court. He will become the first openly gay man on the California Supreme Court, and only the fifth Black man ever to serve on the state’s highest court. It has been 29 years since an African American man has served on the California Supreme Court.

Jenkins, 67, a San Francisco native served for thirty years on California and then federal courts before leaving the U.S. District Court for Northern California to serve as Governor Gavin Newsom’s judicial appointments secretary. Newsom nominated Jenkins, a registered Democrat, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Justice Ming W. Chin, who retired at the end of this past August after 24 years on the high court.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra and senior Presiding Justice of the state Court of Appeal, the honorable J. Anthony Kline, approved Jenkins’ confirmation by a 3-0 vote after a hearing on the nomination.

“Living his truth about being African American and gay,” Jenkins “knows what it means … to struggle and to be an outsider,” William McGuiness, a retired state appeals court justice in San Francisco and former colleague of Jenkins, said at the commission’s one-hour hearing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and outgoing Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) — Chair and Vice Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus applauded Governor Newsom’s appointment of the first LGBTQ justice to sit on the California Supreme Court.

In an emailed statement to the Blade the lawmakers wrote:

“We commend Governor Newsom for once again making history by appointing the first ever LGBTQ Justice to the California Supreme Court. The LGBTQ community is dramatically under-represented in the judiciary, and particularly so at the appellate level. This appointment is a major step toward a judiciary that represents the entire community. Justice Jenkins is superbly qualified to serve on the Court.

His distinguished legal career, particularly as a Justice on the California Court of Appeal and a United States District Judge, will serve him and all of us well. Moreover, as a Black gay man, Justice Jenkins brings an important perspective to the Court during a period of time when our society is moving through a long-overdue reckoning on race. We applaud Governor Newsom for this strong pick.”

His confirmation gives Democratic appointees a 5-2 majority on the state’s high court, the Chronicle noted adding; But the current court generally reaches agreement across ideological lines, and nearly 90% of its rulings this year have been unanimous.

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Los Angeles

LA City Council votes to suspend Ridley-Thomas over corruption charges

The 11-to-3 vote to suspend vote came two days after Ridley-Thomas announced that he would “step back” from his duties

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Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas speaking at a press conference (Blade file screenshot photo)

LOS ANGELES – The city council voted Wednesday to suspend Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, 66, who was was indicted a week ago by a federal grand jury on 20 federal counts of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud.

The 11-to-3 vote to suspend vote came two days after Ridley-Thomas announced that he would “step back” from participation in City Council meetings and committees. Ridley-Thomas, who has denied any wrongdoing, has said he will not resign and will fight the federal charges against him, KTLA and the Los Angeles Times reported.

The federal grand jury’s indictment alleged that Ridley-Thomas took bribes from a former dean at the University of Southern California, (USC) when he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

In a letter sent to fellow councilmembers Monday, he indicated that he would step back from his duties but he declined to resign from his seat. He said that he planned to fight the “outrageous allegations” and would resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that in exchange for the payoffs, Ridley-Thomas allegedly supported awarding county contracts worth millions of dollars to USC. 

In the indictment Ridley-Thomas is charged with conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, then dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, the Times reported.

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California

Newsom expands drought emergency urges Californians to conserve water

California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s. August 2021 was driest & hottest August on record since reporting began

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (Blade file photo credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Following the second driest year on record and with near record low storage in California’s largest reservoirs, Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation extending the drought emergency statewide and further urging Californians to step up their water conservation efforts as the western U.S. faces a potential third dry year.

Bolstering conservation efforts, the proclamation enables the State Water Resources Control Board to ban wasteful water practices, including the use of potable water for washing sidewalks and driveways. The Governor issued an executive order in July calling on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15 percent compared to 2020 to protect water reserves and complement local conservation mandates. The Governor’s action today comes as the Board reports that in August, California reduced urban water use by 5 percent compared to 2020.

“As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” said Governor Newsom. “With historic investments and urgent action, the state is moving to protect our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the immediate impacts of the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience to help the state meet the challenge of climate change impacts making droughts more common and more severe.”

The proclamation notes that the State Water Resources Control Board may adopt emergency regulations to prohibit wasting water, such as hosing down sidewalks or driveways, allowing drinking water to flood gutters or streets, or washing a car without a shut-off nozzle.

The proclamation adds the eight counties not previously included in the drought state of emergency: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco and Ventura. In addition, the proclamation requires local water suppliers to implement water shortage contingency plans that are responsive to local conditions and prepare for the possibility of a third dry year.

Expanding the Save Our Water initiative, a critical resource during the last drought, California has launched robust water conservation public education campaigns in partnership with stakeholders, including public water agencies. Statewide per capita residential water use declined 21 percent between 2013 and 2016 and as of 2020, the urban sector is using approximately 16 percent less on average statewide than in 2013. The Administration will continue to monitor the evolving drought conditions and evaluate all tools available to respond in real-time. 

California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures. August 2021 was the driest and hottest August on record since reporting began and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record. Today’s proclamation authorizes the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance and funding under the California Disaster Assistance Act to support the emergency response and delivery of drinking water and water for public health and safety.

The Governor’s California Comeback Plan invests $5.2 billion over three years to support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience, including $815 million for emergency drought relief projects to secure and expand water supplies, drought contingency planning and multi-benefit land repurposing projects; support for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities; Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation to improve water supply security and quality; and projects to support wildlife and habitat restoration efforts, among other nature-based solutions.

A copy of today’s proclamation can be found here.

More information on the state’s response to the drought and informational resources available to the public are available at https://drought.ca.gov/

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Los Angeles

LA City Councilman Ridley-Thomas will ‘step back’ from duties, not resign

He will fight the “outrageous allegations” and plans to resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time”

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City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas (Screenshot via KABC 7 News Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas in a letter sent to fellow councilmembers Monday said that he would step back from his duties but he declined to resign from his seat.

In the letter he said that he will fight the “outrageous allegations” and plans to resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I fully appreciate the importance of the council being able to conduct its business with minimal distractions,” Ridley-Thomas said in the letter, adding that he was stepping back with that in mind.

Ridley-Thomas, 66, was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury with 20 federal counts of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud alleging he took bribes from a former dean at the University of Southern California, (USC) when he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in exchange for the payoffs, Ridley-Thomas allegedly supported awarding county contracts worth millions of dollars to USC. 

In the indictment Ridley-Thomas is charged with conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, then dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, the Times reported.

Both Ridley-Thomas and Flynn deny the charges.

Mark Ridley-Thomas will ‘step back’ from LA City Council meetings, won’t resign- KABC 7 News Los Angeles:

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