Connect with us

California Politics

Out Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announces run for the U.S. House

The primary election will be held June 7, 2022 and the two top finishers will advance to the general election Nov. 8, 2022

Published

on

Robert Garcia with then U.S. Senator Kamala Harris & former Equality California head Rick Zbur in 2019 (Photo Credit: Equality California)

LONG BEACH – In a tweet early Friday morning, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced that he would be running for the congressional seat currently held by Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA47), who announced yesterday he was retiring from Congress.

Garcia celebrated his 44th birthday on December 2 and is an openly gay Latino originally from Peru. First elected to the city council in April 2009 to much fanfare as the council’s youngest, first Latino male, and first gay person of color. He became Long Beach’s first gay mayor in 2014 with 52.1% of the vote.

If he is elected to fill the seat in the U.S. House, Garcia would be the first openly LGBTQ+ immigrant and the second openly LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress — and the first LGBTQ+ Latino elected to Congress from California. Currently, Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chair and U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, (D-RI), is the only out LGBTQ former mayor ever elected to the U.S. Congress.  U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, (D-NY), is the only out LGBTQ Latinx person ever elected to the body.

The mayor won the immediate endorsement of Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization;

“Mayor Garcia has shown throughout his nearly 13 years in elected office that he has the skill, tenacity and compassion to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people and the diverse communities to which we belong,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “From creating one of the country’s most comprehensive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to establishing transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage in the City of Long Beach, he has been there for our LGBTQ+ community and for all Californians. We need a leader like him in Congress, and we’re prepared to do everything in our power to ensure he is elected in 2022.” 

As he enters the race, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission is still finalizing district lines, the Commission’s nearly final congressional lines would make the district majority Latino and include Long Beach, Signal Hill, Lakewood, Bellflower, Downey, Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood and Huntington Park.

The Washington D.C.-based LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, also endorsed Mayor Garcia as he announced his run;

 “Big city mayors make excellent members of Congress because of the scope of their knowledge and experience and their focus on practical governing over excuses and scapegoating,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. “Mayor Garcia went to Long Beach to get things done – and he has – including making the city a national role model for its response to the pandemic and vaccine distribution strategy. His competence is only matched by the heart he brings to governing – using his experiences as an LGBTQ immigrant who lost parents to COVID to inform his policymaking and governing. Mayor Garcia is the type of leader Washington, DC desperately needs and voters are ready to send him there.”

Garcia has deep ties to the Democratic Party’s leadership. In the 2020 campaign race he was a prominent surrogate for Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, later becoming a strong supporter of President Joe Biden. During the course of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic the mayor has acted in concert with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s measures including masking mandates and the push to get Californians vaccinated.

The affects of the pandemic painfully impacted Garcia directly when in summer of 2020, he lost his mother, Gaby O’Donnell, and stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, to COVID. His mother was a medical assistant who immigrated from Peru when the mayor was five years old.

In an interview with journalist Karen Ocamb during the height of the pandemic, Garica when asked if any measures being taken to address the vulnerable and sizable LGBTQ population in Long Beach, responded saying;

“I had some communication with our center as well as some LGBTQ leaders in the community about this,” Garcia said. “I think everyone is working together, making sure that people have the resources they need. I also talked to the leaders of our hospitals. They’re aware that Long Beach has a higher HIV-positive rate than other parts of the state, in large part because of our LGBTQ population and that’s similar in other places in the state that have larger populations. That’s something that we take very seriously.

“We’re trying to get folks resources and my advice to someone who is LGBTQ is the same as it would be to anyone — which is: if you can please stay home and if you need help call a doctor, call your doctor, get ahold of our health department and we’ll try to help,” Garcia added.

As the Redistricting Commission finishes its work, one potential political primary rival, California State Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) endorsed the mayor and dropped out of contention even as other Latina state lawmakers had publicly pushed her to run for the seat.

Despite the mayor’s ties to the current Democratic Party leadership, the mayor was once a Republican. In another interview with Ocamb, Garcia noted;

“My whole family registered as Republicans when we became citizens. We did so because we loved Ronald Reagan. At the time he had signed the amnesty bill. So, we didn’t know much about politics, but we loved the president because he’d signed this bill, giving us an opportunity to become U.S. citizens.

“Today, it’s ironic that it was a Republican president that signed the most comprehensive path to citizenship that we’ve had this last generation. And a president who’s idolized by the Republican Party also did more for immigrants than any other president recently. I think the Republican Party needs to take a page out of the Ronald Reagan playbook and work with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration program that will create citizenship for the millions of folks that are here,” he said.

The mayor’s previous political affiliation with the GOP brought a pointed response from Monterey County Supervisor, former State Assemblymember, and the former mayor of the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County, Luis Alejo.

In response to Garcia’s tweet announcing his candidacy Friday, in a reply Alejo tweeted an article from the Orange County Register dated May 29, 2014 profiling the race for Long Beach mayor which read in part:

Garcia was a member of the Republican Party during a period that is still regularly attacked by Democrats. He joined the GOP shortly after voters approved Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot measure championed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. The law created a screening system to deny certain services, including health care and education, to illegal immigrants and was eventually declared unconstitutional by a federal court,” The Register reported.

The Register also noted;

A November 2000 article in The Daily Bruin, the student newspaper at UCLA, reported that Garcia, then a Cal State Long Beach student, was the California youth coalition coordinator for the Bush campaign, a position he received after walking into Republican offices and writing to the campaign’s national headquarters. On Wednesday, when questioned about the information in the article, Garcia backtracked later Wednesday and said he was offered a two-month volunteer position with the Bush campaign but he didn’t do much for them.

He stayed in the party as it championed other causes that he said he now opposes. There were the repeated anti-same-sex marriage efforts, the repeated anti-abortion efforts, and repeated voter identification efforts. He also founded the Long Beach Young Republicans and worked on Republican Frank Colonna’s campaign for mayor.”

Despite that early political track record, a source tells the Blade Friday that Garcia is an absolute champion of progress politics, committed especially to issues that are related to the LGBTQ+ community. “There will be detractors always but I think that Robert has shown that he is committed- plus he was young he evolved and will well represent the interests of both his major constituencies, [LGBTQ+ and Latino communities]” the source said.

The primary election will be held June 7, 2022 and the two top finishers will advance to the general election Nov. 8, 2022. 

Garcia, who won re-elected as mayor in 2018 with nearly 80 percent of the vote, holds a doctorate degree in education from California State University Long Beach, a M.A. from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree also from CSU-Long Beach. He lives in Long Beach with his husband, Matthew Mendez Garcia, who teaches political science at CSU-Long Beach.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

California Politics

Governor Newsom & Legislative Leaders to expedite gun reform legislation

“California will not stand by as kids across the country are gunned down- Guns are now the leading cause of death for kids in America”

Published

on

Governor Newsom and legislative leaders discuss actions to curb gun violence (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Following a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas that left at least 19 children and two adults dead Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced California will expedite commonsense gun safety laws that will protect people from gun violence. 

“California will not stand by as kids across the country are gunned down,” Governor Newsom said. “Guns are now the leading cause of death for kids in America. While the U.S. Senate stands idly by and activist federal judges strike down commonsense gun laws across our nation, California will act with the urgency this crisis demands. The Second Amendment is not a suicide pact. We will not let one more day go by without taking action to save lives.”

“We have gotten to a point where we can’t live our lives without the very real fear that every time we say goodbye to our children, spouses, and friends, it could be the last,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego).

“These dreadful, devastating tragedies have to stop. Every politician, judge, or Supreme Court Justice who has opted to put more guns on our streets needs to resign today and hang their heads in deep shame. We have to do everything in our power to get guns out of our classrooms and grocery stores and away from people who should never have them. That includes our work this week to move expeditiously on more than a dozen bills that make our communities safer, and I’ll be continuing to work alongside Speaker Rendon and Governor Newsom to ensure that these bills move swiftly through the legislative process so that they can start to make positive change in our communities.”

“In the face of repeated tragedies in our state and elsewhere, California remains committed to doing everything we can to stem the violence,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. “As a society, we must do better.”

“There have been more mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022 than days in the year,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

“In California, we refuse to accept the current norm. We will continue to call on our federal leaders and neighboring states to do more, because our nation’s current standard for preventing gun violence is unacceptable. Our children should not suffer this burden. Active shooter drills, metal detectors, and schools that look like prisons are not the answer — we need commonsense gun safety laws. We are sick and tired of seeing young and promising lives cut short due to gun violence. We at the California Department of Justice and leaders throughout California know that addressing gun violence is critical to public safety. As your Attorney General, I vow to do much more than send thoughts and prayers — I will use the full force of the law and my office to end gun violence.”

An initial package of bills the Governor has committed to signing include: 

  • AB 2571 (Bauer-Kahan) – Restricts advertising of firearms to minors
  • AB 1621 (Gipson) – Restricts ghost guns and the parts and kits used to build them 
  • SB 1327 (Hertzberg) – Creates private right of action to limit spread of illegal assault weapons and ghost guns
  • AB 1594 (Ting) – Allows governments and victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers and sellers of firearms

Governor Newsom and legislative leaders said they will continue working together to expedite additional bills pending before the legislature aimed at curbing gun violence and increasing safety in California communities.

“I heard the news about Uvalde, just as I was getting ready to pick up my kids from school. I can see how this can happen at any school, anywhere in the country,” said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago who represents a portion of downtown Los Angeles.

“This comes on top of shootings in Buffalo, Laguna Hills, and at Grand Central Market one block from my District Office. We need stricter gun laws and we need them right now! That’s why I’m proud to join Governor Newsom and legislative leaders in the call for gun safety laws. I am also co-authoring AB 1594 (Asm. Ting) which helps gun violence survivors pursue legal action against gun manufacturers and AB 1621 (Asm. Gipson) which will help us get ghost guns off our streets for good,” Santiago added.

Continue Reading

California Politics

Trans Inclusive Health Care Act passes California State Senate

This first-in-the-nation legislation will help create a more inclusive and culturally competent healthcare system for TGI people

Published

on

Sen. Scott Wiener (Far right) & members of the California Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus (Photo credit/Wiener)

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 923, the TGI Inclusive Care Act passed the Senate by a vote of 28-6. It now heads to the Assembly for policy committee hearings.

This first-in-the-nation legislation will help create a more inclusive and culturally competent healthcare system for TGI (transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex) people in California by requiring:

●     That physician Continuing Medical Education (CME) include evidence-based cultural competent studies to help physicians provide inclusive care for TGI people

●     That the Health and Human Services Agency issue enforceable quality standards for treating TGI patients

●     That health insurance companies provide TGI cultural competency training for their employees

●      That health insurance companies, in their network directories, include a list of providers who offer gender-affirming services, so that TGI people know where to go for specialized care

●     That the relevant oversight agencies track and monitor complaints relating to TGI-inclusive care and publicly post findings in their annual reports or website

SB 923 comes at a time when LGBTQ people — and particularly transgender children — are under attack across the country by right-wing state leaders. Many of those attacks seek to criminalize gender-affirming care.

In February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order making it illegal for parents to allow their trans kids to receive gender-affirming care. These parents could have their children taken away and be sent to prison simply for allowing their children to be who they are and receive this necessary care.

Abbott called gender-affirming care “child abuse.”

Alabama just enacted a law imposing ten-year state prison sentences on parents and physicians who allow or provide gender-affirming care to their children.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, banning discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation from public school classrooms.

“As more and more red states ban gender-affirming care and try to erase LGBTQ people, California must step up to ensure strong access to health care,” said Wiener. “That includes ensuring that trans people are treated with respect and dignity by health care providers. While many health care professionals provide excellent care to trans people, more work remains. Improved training, clear standards, and improved network directories will result in better care for TGI people.”

While LGBTQ kids are under attack in Texas, Alabama, Florida, and other states, SB 923 shows a different path forward — one in which quality gender-affirming care is provided for anyone who needs it, with providers going above and beyond to treat TGI patients with the respect and care they deserve.

Healthcare discrimination and a lack of access to culturally competent care is a major problem that many TGI people regularly face. The National Center for Transgender Equality reports that one-third of all transgender individuals who saw a healthcare professional in 2014 had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, with even higher rates for people of color and people with disabilities. These negative experiences include being refused treatment, verbally harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to receive appropriate care.[1]

This is especially problematic given that TGI people, compared with the general population, suffer from more chronic health conditions. TGI people experience higher rates of health problems related to HIV/AIDS, substance use, mental illness, and sexual and physical violence, as well as a higher prevalence and earlier onset of disabilities that can also lead to longterm health issues. Sadly, 23% of transgender individuals reported that fear of discrimination caused them to postpone or not receive necessary medical care.[2]

Moreover, while all health plans are required to cover gender-affirming care, it can be difficult for TGI patients to actually find providers who routinely offer this care. This is a major impediment to TGI people accessing the care they need.

Every person deserves to receive quality, compassionate health care from understanding, informed, and respectful providers – providers who don’t make assumptions about their gender or sexuality, and who honor their bodily autonomy. TGI people already face so many obstacles outside of the healthcare system, including higher rates of violence, workplace discrimination, ostracization from families and religious communities, and housing discrimination. Going to the doctor should not mean facing additional discrimination or unecessary hardship.

TGI people should have access to positive healthcare experiences. This includes seeing providers who are able to give them the care they need in a non-judgmental and supportive environment, and being able to search for providers who provide gender-affirming services (gender-affirming services include but are not limited to: chest reconstruction, mastectomy, facial feminization surgery, hysterectomy, voice masculinization or feminization, hormone therapy related to gender dysphoria or intersex conditions, gender-affirming gynecological care, or voice therapy related to gender dysphoria or intersex conditions). Gender-affirming care is critically important health care, and anyone who needs it should be able to find and access it.

The TGI-Inclusive Care Act will help create a healthcare system that meets the needs of TGI people, and provide a more positive patient experience.

SB 923 is sponsored by the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network,  Equality California, National Health Law Program Trans Community Project, TransFamily Support Services, and Western Center on Law & Poverty. It is co-authored by Assemblymembers Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), Evan Low (D-San Jose), Alex Lee (D-Fremont), and Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens).

Continue Reading

California Politics

Senator Wiener’s No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passes Senate

Senate Bill SB 834 strips state tax-exempt status from organizations that engage in or incite insurrection

Published

on

Screenshot/California Legislative TV

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 834, the No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 Monday. It will now head to the Assembly for policy committee hearings. 

SB 834 is a first-in-the-nation bill that will revoke the California tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations that participate in or incite efforts to overthrow the United States government or any state government. Nonprofit organizations have used the “Big Lie” – the fraudulent notion that the 2020 election was stolen – to fundraise for and funnel money to extremist and anti-democratic initiatives like the January 6 insurrection.

Tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right, and organizations that engage in or incite insurrection or conspiracy to commit insurrection – both of which are illegal – should not be given this special status to help them fundraise. Moreover, non-California nonprofits should not be able to register to raise money in California if they are engaging in or inciting insurrection. 

“On January 6, 2021, the peaceful transfer of power in our democracy was threatened,” said Wiener. “And for the first time since the Civil War, people died as a result. We cannot and will not let organizations that aid and abet insurrection – that break the law by trying to overthrow the U.S. government – operate with tax-exempt status. The people of California should not be subsidizing insurrection.” 

The January 6, 2021 insurrection took place, when pro-Trump extremists – in response to the false narrative that the Democrats “stole” the 2020 election and incited by then-President Donald Trump – breached the United States Capitol. Five people were killed as a result of this insurrection, and hundreds were injured.

Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi were specific targets of this violent attack on the nation’s democracy. Many nonprofits that supported the insurrection and continue to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election in hopes of overturning the results still operate with tax-exempt status, both at the federal and state level. 

SB 834 clarifies the Franchise Tax Board’s authority to revoke the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit organization if the California Attorney General determines that the nonprofit has actively engaged in, or incited: treason, misprision of treason, insurrection, seditious conspiracy, advocating overthrow of the government or the government of any State, or advocating mutiny by members of the military or naval forces of the United States (1.)

Under SB 834, if the Attorney General finds that a nonprofit organization has incited, or actively engaged in actions that are directed to or likely to imminently violate one or more of these crimes, they will notify the FTB, which then will have the ability to revoke the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. 

For out-of-state nonprofits that engage in or incite insurrection, they will be prohibited from registering to raise money in California. 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the purpose of charitable organizations claiming tax-exempt status “may not be illegal or contrary to public policy.” Trying to overturn elections and violently attacking our legislators fits the bill. SB 834 will ensure that these organizations no longer claim this financial advantage. 

Tax-exempt nonprofits are not required to pay corporate income taxes and may be exempt from other taxes as well. Additionally, donations to many nonprofits are deductible from income taxes, and private foundations and donor-advised funds can only donate to tax-exempt nonprofits. Private foundations and donor-advised funds represent a major funding source for many nonprofits. 

Authoritarian and anti-democratic organizations have increasingly used the “Big Lie” to fundraise, and this narrative has driven millions of dollars in tax-exempt donations. And many new organizations have cropped up in the past year, hoping to ride the coattails of the insurrection and cash in.

These include California nonprofits and nonprofits registered in other states that fundraise in California. These organizations, which are fundamentally undermining our democracy and cheering for the destruction of free and fair elections in America, should not be allowed to operate with advantages like tax-exempt status. 

For example, the leader of the “Oath Keepers,” a national militia movement, was charged with seditious conspiracy. While the Oath Keepers does not have California tax-exempt status, it has an “educational foundation” with federal exempt status and tax-exempt branches in several states. In the words of one expert, “It can only be presumed that [funds contributed to the Oath Keepers], which [donors were] able to deduct from their federal taxes, went to transporting and lodging members of the group slated to participate in the ensuing riots.” (2.) These organizations should not be allowed, under any circumstances, to use tax write-offs to help fund illegal activities. 

There is precedent for making this distinction in California’s tax code. Under federal and California law, for instance, if a nonprofit organization supports terrorism, its tax-exempt status is suspended. The nonprofit organizations that support insurrection should receive the same treatment. 

Citations:

1. USC §§ 2381-2385, 2387

2. “Dollars against Democracy: Domestic Terrorist Financing in the Aftermath of Insurrection,” Virtual Hearing before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy of the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Feb 25, 2021. 

Senators Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), Dave Min (D-Irvine), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Tom Umberg (D-Orange County), and Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) are co-authors of this bill. Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) are also co-authors of SB 836. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) is principal co-author.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular