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Ex-CHP officer receives $2.2 million after agency settles anti-Gay case

Brome sued CHP alleging that the pattern of discrimination and anti-gay harassment violates California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act

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Jay Brome (Screenshot via SacBee video clip)

BENICIA, Ca. – A twenty year veteran California Highway Patrol officer who sued the agency after he was forced to leave in January 2015 on medical stress leave after years of constant anti-gay harassment, settled out of court with the CHP for $2.2 million.

Jay Brome, agreed to the settlement after a lengthy, contentious legal fight that went through three courts and was set for trial when the agency agreed to settle, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.

Brome, who now runs the Pocket Monkey Vintage clothing store in Benicia, told the Bee that the settlement of his long-running case was “a huge relief.”

“I feel that I won justice,” Brome said. “And justice is not the outcome, it’s the process.

“They deposed me on four different days and I was able to articulate everything that happened to me.”

His attorney, San Francisco-based Gay Grunfeld told the Bee, “I am so happy for Jay Brome. He is one of the most resilient, hard-working, dedicated people I’ve ever had the opportunity to represent.

“He never gave up on this case. He sat through all these depositions where people said negative things about him. They couldn’t do anything about his performance, which was superb, so some of the lieutenants and sergeants we deposed would try to say he was too reserved or other personal attacks.”

The CHP declined comment on the settlement.

As an out gay man, Brome experienced constant harassment and mistreatment from fellow officers and superiors throughout his career, including verbal insults, refusals to provide back-up, and denials of career opportunities.

Brome sued CHP in state court and alleged that this pattern of discrimination and harassment violates California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination based an employee’s sexual orientation. The Solano County Superior Court dismissed the case, and Brome appealed.

On August 13, 2019, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, joined by five other groups dedicated to ensuring the equal treatment of LGBTQ people, filed an amicus brief in support of Brome.

The amicus brief details the history of homophobia in law enforcement and ongoing effect homophobia has on law-enforcement agencies throughout California and across the country. Because of the very serious harms caused by homophobia in law enforcement–to the officers and LGBTQ community–the brief also discussed the important role that courts play in addressing those harms.

On January 23, 2020, the California Court of Appeals heard oral argument on the appeal. On January 28, 2020, the California Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and reinstated Jay Brome’s complaint. On January 28, 2020, the California Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the complaint and remanded the case for trial.

According to the Bee, the case was headed for trial with Grunfeld, Ells and attorneys Priyah Kaul and Benjamin Bien-Kahn when the CHP agreed to settle in July and paid Brome the $2.2 million last week.

During discovery proceedings in the lawsuit, Brome’s legal team found that the CHP’s promotion process did not take into account whether officers had faced discrimination complaints, Grunfeld’s law firm said in a statement.

The Bee also noted that Grunfeld said she still is waiting for the CHP to turn over emails sought through public records act requests, but added that the agency indicated it had found 83,000 hits for emails containing phrases like “gay pride,” “homophobia,” “Demi Moore” and others.

“The Public Records Act requests for emails containing the words ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’ are still pending,” the law firm’s statement said.

Grunfeld told the Bee she considers it “shocking” that the CHP still does not have an ombudsman or support group aimed to helping officers in the LGBTQ community, saying that “illustrates the lack of accountability in the organization.”

And she said she hopes the amount of the settlement will lead to reforms in the agency.

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California

California & New Zealand partner to advance global climate leadership

Governor Gavin Newsom & New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern establish new international climate partnership

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Governor Gavin Newsom and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Office of the Governor)

SAN FRANCISCO – Expanding California’s global climate leadership, Governor Gavin Newsom today established a new international climate partnership with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

California and New Zealand signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, (MOC) to tackle the climate crisis, reduce pollution, and bolster the clean economy, while emphasizing community resilience and partnership with indigenous leaders.

In the New Zealand Garden at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, California and New Zealand outlined common objectives to achieve carbon-neutrality by mid-century, as well as their shared world-leading policies for zero-emission transportation, climate innovation, clean power generation, nature-based solutions, and zero waste initiatives.

The MOC furthers these common objectives through sharing information and best practices. A copy of the MOC signed today can be found here.

“Later is too late to address climate change, and California is taking aggressive steps to bolster the clean economy while reducing pollution in our communities – but we can’t do it alone,” said Governor Newsom. “This partnership with New Zealand, another global climate leader, will strengthen ties between our two governments to deploy critical solutions that are essential to addressing this existential crisis.”

“No country is immune from the impacts of climate changes, so it’s just common sense to collaborate with likeminded partners to meet our mutual goals,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “We both aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. This agreement means we’ll work together to share expertise and experience and collaborate on projects that help meet each other’s targets.”

Governor Newsom and Prime Minister Ardern establish new climate partnership
(Office of the Governor)

California’s world-leading climate policies have led the state to exceed its 2020 climate target four years ahead of schedule, and created partnerships across the U.S. and around the world. Governor Newsom has committed $47.1 billion to tackle pollution, build climate-resilient water supplies, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, ensure grid reliability and accelerate clean energy solutions, and protect communities from extreme heat.
 
California’s ZEV market is leading the nation in every category and the state is ending the sale of new gas cars by 2035, reducing demand for oil and spurring partnerships across the nation and around the world. Responding to the Governor’s nature-based solutions executive order, which identified California’s lands as a critical yet underutilized sector in the fight against climate change, California last month released the Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature strategy and Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy.
 
Earlier this year, California signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Japan to advance cooperation on climate and clean energy priorities, and strengthen trade relations. Governor Newsom also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China to accelerate ongoing initiatives to protect the environment, reduce carbon and air pollution, and promote clean technology development.
 
Last year, Governor Newsom and 24 governors from the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance committed to collectively achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. Governor Newsom and other Under2 Coalition partners announced the transition to become a net zero coalition, raising ambition for member states and regions. California also joined the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance, which brings together national and subnational governments committed to advancing a just transition away from oil and gas production.

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California

California’s rent relief programs distribute over $5 billion

Governor Newsom has proposed an additional $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance in the California Blueprint May Revision

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that California’s state and local rent relief programs have hit a major milestone with over $5 billion having been distributed to help more than 1.2 million Californians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic stay stably housed.

The Governor’s California Blueprint May Revision proposes an additional $2.7 billion in emergency rental assistance for eligible applicants who applied through March 31, creating a total $8.1 billion investment.

“With the largest rent relief program of any state in the nation, we’ve ensured more than one million Californians remain housed, and we’re advancing funding to help more families get back on their feet through this historic effort,” said Newsom. “As California’s recovery progresses, the state is committed to continuing our work to ensure the hardest-hit communities have the support and resources they need to thrive.”

Throughout the pandemic, California has had the most robust eviction protections, for the longest period of time, in the country. Statewide eviction protections remain in place through June 30, 2022, for eligible applicants who applied through March 31, with additional local protections in place throughout the state.

The state program has helped those hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 85 percent of households that have received rental assistance at or below 50 percent of Area Median Income.

“Keeping people stably housed has been a critical component of California’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez. “In partnership with our federal and local partners, we have responded quickly and compassionately to address housing insecurity as a health emergency and stabilize over a million vulnerable Californians.”

As of this week, the state program has provided rental assistance to more than 309,000 households, with an average payment of more than $11,000. With an average of 2.33 individuals per household assisted, the state program has kept more than 720,000 adults, children and seniors in their homes. And with the hard work of local jurisdictions that are running their own rent relief programs, an additional 233,000 households have been served, assisting a total of more than 500,000 residents.

In all, the number of people kept stably housed exceeds 1.2 million.  

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, California has answered the call of the U.S. Treasury to work with urgency to get rental assistance dollars into the hands of families in need so they could remain housed during the emergency,” said Gustavo Velasquez, the Director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. “To reach more than one million residents in just over a year is incredible. It is critical that applicants act as quickly as possible to reply to any requested action or response so they can receive the funding they requested.”

The milestone comes as the state program announced that case managers have reviewed all applications submitted by March 31, 2022, and continue working with applicants, both landlords and renters, as the state program reviews the remaining applications and distributes relief funds to eligible Californians in need. All eligible applicants who submitted complete applications by March 31, 2022 will receive assistance, covering a total of up to 18 months for the period beginning April 1, 2020 and ending March 31, 2022.

State program dollars have been distributed throughout California, with residents of the City of Los Angeles receiving the largest share of California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program funds totaling over $1 billion to nearly 86,000 households. The counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Contra Costa, and the city and county of San Francisco round out the top five jurisdictions with tenants assisted to date.

Martha, an Orange County resident, was assisted by the state program and Local Partner Network organization, Helpline Youth Counseling. The pandemic brought hardship to her life, and she struggled with health issues. “I have not been able to work and was behind on rent for several months,” she said. “I am so happy programs like these exist. Completing this application has given me hope that I thought I lost since COVID-19.”

Adam, a resident of Los Angeles County, had the following to say about the state’s rental assistance program: “This program has been extremely helpful during these tough times. I’ve had personal difficulties throughout and am blessed to have received this assistance. It has helped keep me from being placed in a homeless shelter.” 

Individual support for applicants needing assistance with outstanding tasks, appeals, or other help with their application is still available. Applicants are encouraged to call 833-687-0967 to schedule an appointment in their preferred language. 

In addition, legal aid resources are available to support tenants navigating available protections. Low-or no-cost legal help is available through www.lawhelpca.org and/or the Tenant Resources page on HousingIsKey.com.

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Newsom urges more aggressive response to ongoing drought

Governor warned if there’s not significant reduction in water use this summer, the state could be forced to enact mandatory restrictions

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Governor Newsom convenes summit of state's largest urban water suppliers (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom convened leaders from the state’s largest urban water suppliers on Monday, which cover two thirds of Californians, and water associations imploring them to take more aggressive actions to combat drought and better engage their customers to ensure all Californians are doing their part to save water. 

After the last drought, local water agencies pushed for greater flexibility on water conservation and drought response based on regional needs and water supplies, arguing that tailored local approaches would be more effective than statewide mandates. Governor Newsom has embraced this localized approach, but voiced concerns today given recent conservation levels around the state, and called on  water agencies to step up efforts to reduce water use amid extreme drought conditions. 

Governor Newsom warned that if this localized approach to conservation does not result in a significant reduction in water use statewide this summer, the state could be forced to enact mandatory restrictions.

The Governor will reconvene these same agencies in the next two months to provide an update on their progress.

“Every water agency across the state needs to take more aggressive actions to communicate about the drought emergency and implement conservation measures,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Californians made significant changes since the last drought but we have seen an uptick in water use, especially as we enter the summer months. We all have to be more thoughtful about how to make every drop count.” 

Governor Newsom convenes summit of state’s largest urban water suppliers (Office of the Governor)

The Governor also called upon local water agencies to submit water use data more frequently and increase transparency in order to more accurately measure whether California is meeting water conservation goals. In addition, the Governor called on local water agencies to increase education and outreach efforts to Californians on the urgency of the crisis.

In July 2021, Governor Newsom called on Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15%. At the end of March 2022 after the state failed to meet its 15% goal, the Governor issued an Executive Order calling on local water agencies to escalate their response to the ongoing drought. Tomorrow, at the Governor’s direction, the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on a statewide ban on watering of non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors as well as regulations requiring local agencies to implement water use restrictions amid the possibility that water supplies may be up to 20% lower due to extreme weather. Currently, local water agencies have implemented restrictions on about half of California’s population. If the Board’s regulations are approved, every urban area of California will be covered by a local plan to reduce water use.

Banning watering of decorative lawns would save between 156,000 acre-feet and 260,000 acre-feet per year, the equivalent of water used by 780,000 households in a year.

The climate crisis has resulted in the western United States experiencing one of the most extensive and intense droughts on record. January through March were the driest first three months in the state’s recorded history, the state’s largest reservoirs are currently at half of their historical averages, and the state’s snowpack is just 14 percent of average. 

The Governor’s California Blueprint proposed this year would invest an additional $2 billion for drought response, which includes $100 million in addition to a previous investment of $16 million this fiscal year for a statewide education and communications effort on drought. These investments build on the previous $5.2 billion three-year investment in the state’s drought response and water resilience through the California Comeback Plan (2021).

Governor Newsom convenes summit of state’s largest urban water suppliers (Office of the Governor)

California’s master water plan, the Water Resilience Portfolio, is a comprehensive vision to build water resilience containing more than 142 separate detailed actions to be taken by state agencies to ensure that California’s water systems can cope with rising temperatures, shrinking snowpacks, rising sea levels and more intense and frequent periods of drought. In March 2021, the Administration released the 2012-2016 Drought Report, which contains lessons learned by state agencies during the last drought. 

The state is calling on Californians to take immediate action to avoid a crisis, including:

  • Limiting outdoor watering – cutting back by even just one day a week can save you up to 20% more water. 
  • Taking shorter showers. Going to a 5 minute shower to save up to 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient shower head.
  • Taking showers instead of baths – a bath uses up to 2.5 times the amount of water as a shower.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas to save 6 gallons of water every minute.
  • Washing full loads of clothes to save 15-45 gallons of water per load.

More water saving tips can be found at www.saveourwater.com. For the latest on drought, please visit drought.ca.gov.  

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