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Californian voters reject Republican effort to recall Newsom

A Democratic party insider source told the Blade, “Look- this recall turnout means Californians rejected Larry Elder and Trumpism”

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Governor Gavin Newsom speaking to supporters Tuesday evening Sept. 14, 2021 (Screenshot via KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – The early results of the special recall election to remove Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed that a majority of the Golden State’s voters were not inclined to oust him. With 62.17 % precincts reporting at 11:00PM Tuesday, the ‘No’ vote was 65.66% versus the ‘Yes’ vote at 34.34%.

Speaking to Californians in a broadcast in the hours after polls had closed Newsom thanked his supporters but also cautioned that while the victory retains him in office- “Trumpism is still a threat,” the governor said.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic, we said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

The driving force to the recall had been the underlying conditions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and anger over crushing job losses from business closures, shuttered schools and restrictions that kept most children out of classrooms. Rising homicides, a homelessness crisis and an unemployment fraud scandal further angered some voters particularly in Republican circles.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat. We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war,” Newsom said, later adding that the recall has forced Democrats to focus on issues such as homelessness and California’s high cost of living.

UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times released last Friday, showed that 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom compared with 38.5% in favor of ousting the governor.

The rise of the highly contagious delta variant had also led the governor to frame the race as one of “life or death” consequences. Newsom would point out that measures he had taken versus actions by Governor Greg Abbott in Texas and his fellow Republican Governor Ron DeSantis Florida, which experienced worsening surges as Abbott and DeSantis both rejected mask and vaccine mandates.

Newsom warned that if conservative talk show host Larry Elder were to take the governor’s chair, California could become as bad off as Texas and Florida as Elder has expressed his opposition to mandatory mask orders and vaccination mandates for state workers.

Polling from the Public Policy Institute of California showed Newsom’s approval rating remaining above 50% throughout the pandemic. With weeks to go, the institute’s poll showed 60% of Californians approved of Newsom’s handling of the pandemic.

In a phone interview Tuesday evening after the polls had closed and it was apparent Newsom would remain Governor, Assemblymember Evan Low, (D) who represents the 28th California Assembly District and is the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus reflected on the results.

“I think that this shows two things- a resounding victory but also a clear rebuke of the general strategy of the GOP, ” Low said. “This is an affirmation- a yes on vaccines, a yes to addressing climate change, a yes on women’s rights and a yes to inclusiveness for LGBTQ people from the highest officeholder in the state,” he added.

“This shows that voters think the state is headed in the right direction and that they are behind having Newsom as the ‘CEO’ of the 5th largest economy in the world,” Low said.

“There is a mandate- really there’s a wide range of reasons but importantly having a pro-LGBTQ governor is critical, especially when you look at the divisiveness of the GOP and their policies,” Low told the Blade.

Rick Zbur, the outgoing Executive Director of Equality California, said in an emailed statement;

“Tonight, we have defeated the anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant, anti-science and anti-worker Republican Recall. We have affirmed our California values and our support for Gavin Newsom, the most pro-equality governor in California history, and his tireless efforts to build a California for all. LGBTQ+ Californians — 12% of registered voters in the Golden State — and our pro-equality allies played a decisive role in this resounding victory.

“To be clear, California has big challenges ahead of us. We need to beat this pandemic, rebuild our economy, safeguard reprodutive freedom, solve our homelessness crisis, save our planet from climate change and create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. Governor Newsom is up for the task, and so are we. Let’s get back to work.”

A Democratic party insider source told the Blade, “Look- this recall turnout means Californians rejected Larry Elder and Trumpism. This was also a referendum on LGBTQ equality- Gavin is the most pro-LGBTQ politician- hell he ran and continues to run on LGBTQ issues, tonight voters agreed that those matter, that people matter, and that Newsom is their choice to continue to lead the state.”

Although Newsom was handed as victory of sorts, the Los Angeles Times pointed out that the conservative right-wing radio host who emerged as the front runner will very much have a say as the Republican party looks to 2022.

Although the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed, the lightning two-month campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneficiary – Larry Elder.

The outspoken conservative talk show host is now the leader of the California Republican party, and a growing national figure. So what is next for Elder? He now has opportunities but also big challenges to broaden his appeal in a very blue state.”

The White House on Wednesday morning released a statement from President Joe Biden who had traveled to Long Beach to campaign for Newsom on Monday:

Congratulations to Governor Gavin Newsom on defeating the recall vote. This vote is a resounding win for the approach that he and I share to beating the pandemic: strong vaccine requirements, strong steps to reopen schools safely, and strong plans to distribute real medicines—not fake treatments—to help those who get sick. The fact that voters in both traditionally Democratic and traditionally Republican parts of the state rejected the recall shows that Americans are unifying behind taking these steps to get the pandemic behind us.”

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California Politics

Abortion rights: California Constitutional Amendment heads to ballot

The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women

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Capitol building in Sacramento (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In November, California voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution to include the right to an abortion and today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to further protect women coming to California from other states.

“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” said Newsom. “We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution. And we’re not waiting until November to take action, today’s executive order ensures that the state will not hand over patients who come here to receive care and will not extradite doctors who provide care to out-of-state patients here. In California, women will remain protected.”  

The order signed today prevents any information, including medical records and patient data, from being shared by state agencies or departments in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict access. The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women.

SCA 10 was passed by the California State Assembly today and now heads to the November ballot.  

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday, Governor Newsom signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state. In addition, Governor Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.  

The budget agreement announced yesterday includes more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.  

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California Politics

Newsom, Senate & Assembly leaders announce budget agreement

23 million Californians will benefit from direct payments of up to $1,050 & additional funds to help people pay rent & utility bills

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Governor Newsom with some of the state's leadership Friday (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced they had were able to reach an agreement on the framework for the 2022-23 state budget.

In a statement released Sunday evening, the state’s leadership said:

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries.

“The centerpiece of the agreement, a $17 billion inflation relief package, will offer tax refunds to millions of working Californians. Twenty-three million Californians will benefit from direct payments of up to $1,050. The package will also include a suspension of the state sales tax on diesel, and additional funds to help people pay their rent and utility bills.

“In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.

“This budget builds on our unprecedented commitment to transform the resources available in our state, from a $47 billion multi-year infrastructure and transportation package to education and health care, showing the nation what a true pro-life agenda looks like. With these new investments, California will become the first state to achieve universal access to health care coverage.

Newsom and his legislative counterparts also highlighted that in the wake of Friday’s stunning U.S. Supreme Court decision, California is reaffirming its commitment to defending reproductive rights, providing more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. The state will also be investing in key programs that help California families, from funding for homeownership programs and billions of dollars in additional ongoing funding for education, to universal preschool, children’s mental health, and free school meals.

“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” the statement read.

Yesterday the governor and the leadership agreed to the framework to offset the high cost of gas prices and the hit inflation has created on the wallets of taxpayers, particularly those who least able to bear the added cost burden. Under the budget compromise most California taxpayers would get hundreds of dollars in cash to help offset the high price of fuel and other goods.

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California Politics

Delayed repeal of loitering law targeting sex workers sent to Newsom

SB 357 repeals “loitering with intent to engage in prostitution” law, which results in harassment of transwomen & women of color sex workers

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Sex workers under arrest by the LASD (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) sent Senate Bill 357, the Safer Streets for All Act, to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for his action Monday. The Legislature passed SB 357 last year, but Senator Wiener held the bill at the Senate desk, delaying its transmittal to the Governor.

Governor Newsom will have 12 days to sign the bill after it is processed by the Senate. SB 357 repeals a provision of California law criminalizing “loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution.” This criminal provision — arrests for which are based on an officer’s subjective perception of whether a person is “acting like” or “looks like” they intend to engage in sex work — results in the disproportionate criminalization of trans, Black and Brown women, and perpetuates violence toward sex workers.

SB 357 is sponsored by a large coalition made up of former and current sex workers, LGTBQ groups like Equality California and Transgender Gender-variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), and civil rights groups like the ACLU. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST LA) is supporting the legislation.

SB 357 does not decriminalize soliciting or engaging in sex work. Rather, it simply eliminates an loitering offense that leads to harmful treatment of people for simply “appearing” to be a sex worker.

This crime is so subjective and inherently profiling that it allows a police officer to arrest someone purely based on how they are dressed, whether they’re wearing high heels and certain kinds of make-up, how they’re wearing their hair, and the like. This criminal provision is inherently discriminatory and targets people not for any action but simply based on how they look. People who engage in sex work deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Criminalizing sex work does not make sex workers or communities safer. Most criminal penalties for sex workers, loitering laws included, do nothing to stop sex crimes against sex workers and human trafficking. In fact, loitering laws make it harder to identify trafficking victims; trafficking victims are often afraid to come forward in fear of being arrested or incarcerated. 

In February of 2021, a similar piece of legislation to repeal this type of loitering ban became law in New York. SB 357 is part of the movement to end discrimination against and violence toward sex workers, especially the most targeted communities — trans, Black, and Brown people. SB 357 is co-sponsored by Positive Women’s Network – USA, St. James Infirmary, SWOP LA, Trans [email protected] Coalition, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, Equality California and ACLU California Action. 

Under current law, it is a crime to loiter in a public place with the “intent” to commit a sex work-related offense. But this law can be broadly interpreted, and thus allows for discriminatory application against the LGBTQ community and people of color. Law enforcement can use a non-exhaustive list of circumstances to subjectively determine if someone “intends” to engage in sex work, including factors such as speaking with other pedestrians, being in an area where sex work has occurred before, wearing revealing clothing, or moving in a certain way.

Because current law regarding loitering is highly subjective and vague, law enforcement officers disproportionately profile and target Black and Brown transgender women by stopping and arresting people for discriminatory and inappropriate reasons. This is how Black and Brown transgender women get arrested and cited for simply walking on the street. It also gives law enforcement the ability to more easily target and arrest sex workers.

People in the LGBTQ, Black, and Brown communities report high rates of police misconduct throughout the United States and are disproportionately affected by police violence. Transgender people who have done street-based sex work are more than twice as likely to report physical assault by police officers and four times as likely to report sexual assault by police.

A Black person is 3.5 times more likely to be shot by police than a white person. These statistics are a daily reality that transgender, Black and Brown people face and lead to mistrust of law enforcement.

SB 357 will repeal a discriminatory law that makes it a crime to loiter with the intent to engage in sex work, given that it fails to prevent street-based sex work and disproportionately results in the criminalization of transgender people and communities of color.

“This Pride Month, as we see a surge in violence against and harassment of the LGTBQ community, it is more important than ever to get rid of a law that targets our community,” said Wiener. “Current law essentially allows law enforcement to target and arrest people if they are wearing tight clothes or a lot of make-up. Many of those impacted by this law are Black and Brown trans women. Pride isn’t just about rainbow flags and parades. It’s about protecting the most marginalized in our community. I urge Governor Newsom to sign SB 357.”

“SB 357 repeals a Jim Crow law that criminalized Black and trans people in public spaces,” said Fatima Shabazz of the DecrimSexWorkCA Coalition.

“We hope that the Safer Streets for All Act will help people understand how policing does not create public safety, and will immediately deprive police of one tool they use to harass and oppress folks based on race and gender,” said Ashley Madness of SWOP LA and the DecrimSexWorkCA Coalition.

“Ahora nosotros nos sentimos libre de caminar en la calle sin miedo que la policia nos vaya a arrestar,” (Now we can walk free on the streets without fear of the police arresting us,”) said Lisseth Sánchez of St. James Infirmary and the DecrimSexWorkCA

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