SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced the full bill language for Senate Bill 834, the No Tax Exemption for Insurrection Act, a first-in-the-nation bill that will revoke the California tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations that participated in or aided the insurrection of January 6, 2021, or that support current and future efforts to overthrow our democratically-elected 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 promote insurrection and conspiracy to commit insurrection – both of which are illegal – should not be given this special status to help them fundraise.
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 our 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 revokes the California tax-exempt status of a nonprofit organization if the California Attorney General determines that the nonprofit has actively engaged in, or incited the active engagement in: 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.
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 Franchise Tax Board (FTB), who will then revoke the nonprofit’s tax-exempt status.
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.” 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.
Senators Josh Becker (D-Peninsula), Dave Min (D-Irvine) and Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) are co-authoring this legislation. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco) is a principal co-author.
“The January 6 insurrection is a stain on our democracy, and we must ensure nothing like it ever happens again,” said Senator Wiener. “Under no circumstance should we provide tax subsidies to organizations that engage in or incite insurrection. Tax-exempt status is a privilege, not a right. Insurrectionist organizations should never benefit from that privilege.”
Governor Newsom announces new gun safety legislation
In 2021, Calif. was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, seeing a 37% lower gun death rate than national average
SACRAMENTO – In the wake of multiple mass shootings that took the lives of 19 Californians in just 72 hours last week, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) announced new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws.
“Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging,” said Newsom. “America is number 1 in gun ownership and we far surpass every developed nation on Earth in gun deaths – it’s not complicated. In California, we’ve passed common sense gun safety laws and they work: we have a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. We’re doubling down on gun safety and strengthening our public carry law to protect it from radical Republican attacks.”
According to the Center for American Progress, efforts to weaken concealed carry laws across the country have increased violent crimes – with studies showing gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws and violent crimes with a firearm went up 29%.
Newsom signed a package of gun safety laws last year, making it easier for Californians to sue manufacturers of illegal assault weapons and those spreading them, allowing lawsuits against irresponsible gun industry members, strengthening prohibitions on ghost guns, as well as restricting marketing to minors.
“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities. The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. When a gun is placed in the wrong hands, it is deadly,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The Second Amendment is not a regulatory straightjacket — we must protect our communities. The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed, we need brave and immediate action by our leaders – here in California and beyond. We owe our community stronger protections. I urge our state leaders to quickly adopt SB 2. We can’t afford to wait even one minute more.”
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law, aspects of which mirrored California’s public carry laws, and the legislation announced today – Senate Bill 2 by Senator Portantino – would make fixes necessary to update the standards and processes for obtaining a public carry permit in California.
Senate Bill 2 strengthens California’s restrictions regarding public carry laws by:
- Enhancing the existing licensing system – ensuring those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals;
- Protecting children – setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to obtain a CCW license;
- Advancing stronger training requirements – ensuring proper handling, loading, unloading, and storage of firearms; and
- Identifying certain sensitive public places – establishing safe community places where people should expect freedom from gun violence.
“In the wake of the recent tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s critical that California leads on the issue of gun safety and reform. I am proud to be working with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta and activists on SB 2 to strengthen our existing public carry laws and ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence. We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and public carry laws are a key component of this,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.
California launched an 18-month campaign to promote gun violence restraining orders – “red flag laws” – that allow law enforcement, family, coworkers or friends to petition a court to temporarily remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. A study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that California’s red flag law was used to stop 58 threatened mass shootings since 2016.
California’s gun safety laws work. In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.
According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas.
Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts noted: “The Supreme Court’s reckless Bruen decision opened up the floodgates for more guns in more places — but with this bill California once again renewed its commitment to being a national leader in the fight against gun violence. While the gun industry celebrated the ruling that put their profits over our safety, our grassroots army is proud to stand with our Gun Sense Champions in California to pass this critical bill and make our communities safer.”
“Following the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in the Bruen case, it is vital that the Golden State takes meaningful action to protect all Californians from the threat of gun violence. SB2 would do just this by updating and improving the state’s already strong concealed carry license system, and ensure that loaded and concealed weapons are not allowed in certain sensitive places. With SB2, leaders in California are continuing their leadership in prioritizing the public health and safety of all its citizens,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown, adding “Brady applauds Senator Portantino for introducing this important bill, and thanks Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for their continued leadership on this issue, and urges the California legislature to pass it without delay.”
Giffords State Policy Director Ari Freilich stated: “In the face of tragedy, California’s leaders act. They’ve led the nation on gun safety reform and made California a much safer state than most. But today, grieving communities know all too well how much more work there is to do. California achieved an all-time record low gun fatality rate in 2019. But like the rest of the country, we have faced record spikes in gun sales and violence since the start of the pandemic and a flood of new weapons in public spaces as a result of the US Supreme Court’s dangerous Second Amendment ruling last year. Passing SB (2) will strengthen communities’ ability to respond to these threats by requiring stronger vetting and safety training to carry weapons in public and by designating vital community spaces like parks and playgrounds as off-limits to weapons throughout the state. We thank leaders like Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Portantino for their work and commitment to make all Californians safer and freer from violence.”
Assemblymember Ward introduces Transgender Youth Privacy Act
Allowing minors to decide when & how they wish to share their personal information is vital in protecting their mental health and well-being
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 223, also known as the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, was introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) Tuesday and will require any petition for a change of gender or sex identifier filed by a minor to be sealed to protect their privacy.
“Being ‘outed’ is a traumatic event for anyone –– but especially traumatic for someone under the age of 18 years old,” said Ward. “The Transgender Youth Privacy Act gives transgender youth the confidence to navigate their gender identity without fear of retaliation from someone who discovers that information in the public record.”
Transgender youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender peers, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transgender youth are also more likely to experience violence victimization, substance use and depression.
Transgender youth who feel supported report having better physical health and mental health outcomes. However, the act of “outing” or “misgendering” someone can have severe negative consequences for adolescents. Allowing minors to decide when and how they wish to share their personal information with their peers is vital in protecting their mental health and overall well-being.
“This bill will secure the safety and privacy of so many California youth,” said Kathie Moehlig, executive director of TransFamily Support Services. “Transgender and nonbinary youth are navigating a world of hate daily. By sealing the name and gender marker change records, we are bringing the courts in line with the laws around schools not outing students. Often families were not even aware that these records are public until years after when a court order is discovered in a Google search of the youth’s name. Keeping these records public will put many students at high risk for bullying, hatred, and even violence. We applaud Assemblymember Ward for bringing this forward and fighting for the right of trans and nonbinary youth across the state.”
Newsom to Californians: “Be Hyper-Vigilant” Storms inbound still
Stay informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to CalAlerts.org to sign up
SACRAMENTO – As California enters the third week of severe winter storms, Governor Gavin Newsom is urging people to keep their guard up as strong winds and heavy rains continue to threaten communities across the state.
Last night, President Biden approved Governor Newsom’s request for a federal emergency declaration, activating the full weight of the federal government to support California’s storm response and recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making federal disaster assistance available to supplement local and state resources, including funding, equipment and personnel.
Earlier today, Governor Newsom was briefed by state emergency officials on the latest conditions and response efforts, and the Governor continues to actively monitor storm impacts.
Also today, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) brought together more than 400 community-based organizations throughout the state in a first-of-its-kind effort to mobilize resources with a special emphasis on delivering help to vulnerable communities – unsheltered individuals, those with disabilities and older Californians.
As of Monday afternoon, winter storms have claimed the lives of 14 Californians – more lives than wildfires in the past two years combined.
“Our message to Californians is simple: be hyper-vigilant,” said Governor Newsom. “There are still several days of severe winter weather ahead and we need all Californians to be alert and heed the advice of emergency officials. Thanks to the President signing off on our request for emergency declaration, we are mobilizing all available resources at every level of government to protect lives and limit storm damage. Today marks five years since the deadly Montecito mudslides that claimed 23 lives – as Montecito faces evacuations today, it’s a solemn reminder of how quickly conditions can change.”
On Sunday, the Governor announced $202 million in new investments for long-term flood prevention proposed in the upcoming state budget. Also yesterday, Governor Newsom visited two sites along Deer Creek in Sacramento County to highlight the state’s work to repair damage from earlier storms and prepare for incoming severe weather.
The state is working to support the most vulnerable Californians with 11 shelters statewide along with an additional 20 shelters that are prestaged and on standby. Temporary shelter, food and additional resources are available at these sites and all are welcome. No ID is required.
Heavy rainfall is forecasted throughout the state Tuesday and northern California on Wednesday, increasing the potential for flooding given saturated soils from the previous two weeks of precipitation. According to the National Weather Service, rainfall levels are 400-600% above average across California.
Precipitation map showing the atmospheric rivers hitting California since Jan. 6.
Californians are reminded to dial 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 to get help or ask questions. If you have a critical emergency, call 911.
Staying informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to CalAlerts.org to sign up to receive alerts from your county officials.
Download the Caltrans QuickMap app to receive real-time notifications for road closures, emergencies, and other traffic updates. You can download the app here.
You can also view real-time information on anticipated river floodings here.
Watch: State Officials to Provide Update on Winter Storm Response From 1-8-23:
Governor Newsom inaugurated to second term
Newsom’s inaugural address lifted up California’s work to protect & advance fundamental rights & freedoms under attack across the U.S.
SACRAMENTO – On the two-year anniversary of the attack on U.S. Capitol, Governor Gavin Newsom was today inaugurated to a second term as California’s Chief Executive.
The Governor delivered his inaugural address with the historic State Capitol at his back, lifting up California’s work to protect and advance the fundamental rights and freedoms under attack across the country amid rising extremism and oppression, and underscoring the state’s commitment to continue leading the way forward to prosperity and progress for all.
Newsom celebrated the start of his second term choosing the moment to contrast California’s progressive and inclusive values with the “ugliness that overflowed on January 6.”
Tapping into the symbolism of the day when insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building in Washington, Newsom drew on his own Golden State upbringing to define diametrically opposite visions of America in his inaugural address, delivered under cloudy skies near the steps of the California statehouse.
Full text of Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2nd inaugural address
Time has done its usual trick on me.
It says it has been four years since I stood in the shadow of this Capitol and delivered my first inaugural address.
Four years, disaster and plague, they bend the clock in strange ways.
It feels like both a flash, and an eternity.
In the longest hours of my first term, trying to plot a course through pandemic, wildfire, mass shootings, and social unrest … I found myself looking backward, as much as I was looking forward.
I recalled the late-1970s, when I was 10 or 11 years old, a child of divorce and dyslexia, trying to find my bearings.
I was a kid, traveling back and forth across the Golden Gate Bridge, between the two very different lives of my mother and father.
I couldn’t read, and was looking for any way to ditch classes. I’d fake stomach aches and dizziness. I’d bite down on the thermometer in the nurse’s office trying to make the temperature rise past 100.
My mom, busy juggling three jobs, had no patience for a truant.
My father, the judge, guilty because he had left us, was an easier touch.
I remember one time during the middle of school, when he picked me up in his Volkswagen bug, and took me to San Francisco’s Chinatown.
On its face, this was a mission for food.
But I didn’t understand back then, it was also HIS mission, to give me a slice of San Francisco, our place, and the story of California.
We crossed one of the many demarcations in the city, and suddenly we had entered another realm.
Through the gate at the intersection of Bush and Grant, my eyes and nose took it all in.
Pagoda-style storefronts. Red lanterns hanging from above. Giant statues of Buddha in the windows. Roasted duck. Fresh baked cookies.
My father wasn’t content with just showing me the unfamiliar. He wanted me to see past the façade, to the people themselves.
The humble entrepreneurs and immigrant parents, building better lives for their kids. To the journey that had brought them to enrich our city – and our state.
This was the same California that drew my great, great grandparents from County Cork in Ireland to start a new life during the first years of California’s statehood.
William Newsom the first, became a beat cop in San Francisco. And the Newsoms began to plant roots as working-class Irish, in a land where anything was possible.
The journey from policeman to politician took 150 years.
My wife Jennifer, the First Partner, is the second in her family to be born in the Golden State.
My children – Montana, Hunter, Brooklyn, and Dutch – now 5th generation Californians.
And all of you here today. No two California origin stories are the same, but we share aspirations, and ambitions.
These ties bind us, sometimes unknowingly, to our state’s past – and to each other.
I remember hot summer days with my dad, riding a raft down wild stretches of the American River. Those cold waters were the same ones where James Marshall found gold nuggets that would sell the California Dream to the world, and alter the course of American history.
But I’m mindful that there’s another side to that story, not the fairytale.
California’s statehood, after all, was also sealed with a brutal genocide against native people.
Reconciling that complexity has always guided my own understanding of myself, and of the state that I love so deeply.
The shameful chapters of our history do not lessen my love for my home state. They make it more complicated, yes, deeper, richer, and serve as a reminder that we can always become better.
The California that beckoned my forebears 170 years ago had a population of 93,000. Today, we’re nearly 40 million strong, each with our own California story.
I hear the echoes of my own family’s story in those who are still coming to California to pursue their dreams, drawn by the myth and magic of this place.
I hear the echoes in the stories of migrants that cross our southern border seeking something better.
In people who come from every continent on earth to flee political persecution, or from other states to educate themselves in our world-class universities, to start businesses that support their families, or change the world.
Whether your family came here for work, or for safety, California offered freedom to access it, not contingent on you looking a certain way, talking a certain way, thinking a certain way.
And that’s what makes California special – it’s in our genes. We’re a state of dreamers and doers. Bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom.
But like I’ve said, we’ve made mistakes … Lord knows we’ve made our share.
Let’s not forget, the Chinatown I visited as a boy is a remnant of the bigotry of agitator Denis Kearney, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880s.
Tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were interned right here during World War II.
In the post-war era, as California’s suburbs grew, the racist practice of exclusionary zoning took hold, denying Black, Asian, Armenian and Latino residents the right to live on the good side of town and build wealth.
This planted the seeds of the housing and homeless crisis we face today.
Even California indulged homophobic hate at the ballot box, with the Briggs Initiative – the 1970s version of “Don’t Say Gay.”
And of course, the 1990s brought a wave of anti-immigrant xenophobia, manifesting in Proposition 187.
These are dark moments in California’s journey. But in the end, we confronted our errors with humility and conviction, paving the way for rights and freedom to prevail.
Every day, California commits itself to the process of getting it right for the next generation.
In nearly 30 years in politics, I have had the opportunity to see this process firsthand, learning as we go, and etching these learnings on the consciousness of a country that perhaps hasn’t yet caught up.
When we started issuing same-sex marriage licenses in San Francisco in 2004, it felt as if history moved at light-speed, in the right direction, decades of advocacy culminating in that beautiful Winter of Love.
But that victory, to expand rights and freedom to marry, was snatched away by a backlash that resulted in Proposition 8.
Eventually, after many setbacks, and many steps forward, just a few weeks ago, President Biden signed legislation enshrining the freedom to marry.
That has been the story of progress throughout our history.
It is not always easy, and not always linear.
But in the end, the verdict is clear – expanding rights is always the right thing to do.
And yet, there are still forces in America that want to take the nation backward.
We saw that two years ago, on this day, when the unthinkable happened at a place most Americans assumed was invincible.
An insurrectionist mob ransacking a sacred pillar of our democracy, violently clashing with sworn officers upholding the rule of law.
Just like the brave men and women whose heroism we inscribe, here on our own Peace Officers’ Memorial.
Since that terrible day, we’ve wrestled with what those events say about us as a country.
The ugliness that overflowed on January 6th, 2021, was in fact decades in the making. Fomented by people who have a very different vision of America’s future.
Red state politicians, and the media empire behind them, selling regression as progress, oppression as freedom.
And as we know too well, there is nothing original about their demagoguery.
All across the nation, anxiety about social change has awakened long-dormant authoritarian impulses.
Calling into question what America is to become, freer and fairer … or reverting to a darker past.
Instead of finding solutions, these politicians void of any new ideas, pursuing power at any cost, prey upon our fears and paranoias.
“The struggle to be who we ought to be,” as a nation is difficult and demanding.
And that’s why we should be clear-eyed about their aims.
They’re promoting grievance and victimhood, in an attempt to erase so much of the progress you and I have witnessed in our lifetimes.
They make it harder to vote and easier to buy illegal guns.
They silence speech, fire teachers, kidnap migrants, subjugate women, attack the Special Olympics, and even demonize Mickey Mouse.
All camouflaged under a hijacking of the word “freedom.”
But what they really want is more control – intrusive government, command over your most intimate decisions – when to have a family, how you raise your kids, how you love.
While they cry freedom, they dictate the choices people are allowed to make. Fanning the flames of these exhausting culture wars. Banning abortion, banning books, banning free speech in the classroom, and in the boardroom.
They sell fear and panic when it comes to crime and immigration.
But they sell calm and indifference when the threat is greenhouse gases destroying our planet, or big oil raking in windfall profits at your expense.
But California offers reason for hope.
“There is no soil better adapted” to liberty and opportunity – the sense of possibility, than here in our home state.
Now, the fourth largest economy in the world.
The most venture capital and startups in America.
Leading the world in the transition to a low-carbon, green growth future.
An advanced industrial economy in biotherapeutics, genomics. Aerospace and battery storage.
High-speed internet connecting the Central Valley to the Central Coast.
Rebuilding roads from Yreka to San Ysidro.
Providing clean water from Colusa to Coachella.
A new Cal Poly in Humboldt, conveying more scientists, engineers, researchers, Nobel laureates than any other state.
Debt free college for hundreds of thousands of students…
And the largest state volunteer corps in America.
I am mindful, though, that California, like the nation, is two rivers at once, a mix of light and shadows.
So as we go forward, we must continue our quest for an honest accounting of where we’ve fallen short: on affordability, on housing, on homelessness.
In our pursuit of belonging, and equal justice, California must be the enduring proof of concept.
We must reconcile our shortcomings. Bring everyone along in our prosperity.
After all, a healthy democracy must be inclusive.
Government by the people and for the people, requires people willing to fight to protect and advance it.
Just like Californians did last year, when we overwhelmingly voted to enshrine reproductive rights into our State Constitution.
We chose choice.
In our finest hours, California has been freedom’s force multiplier. Protecting liberty from a rising tide of oppression taking root in statehouses.
Weakness, masquerading as strength. Small men in big offices.
More than any people, in any place, California has bridged the historic expanse between freedom for some, and freedom for all.
We open our arms not clench our fists. We turn our gaze upward, not inward.
Freedom is our essence, our brand name – the abiding idea that right here, anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything.
We’ve overcome the destructive impulses of extremism, racism, and nativism.
And shown the rest of America it’s not only achievable – it’s undeniable.
Going forward, California will continue to lead out loud, by advancing a far-reaching freedom agenda.
A full-throated answer to those demagogues of division, determined to regress and oppress.
Freedom for teachers to teach, free of litmus tests about their political party, or the person they love.
Freedom to access health care for all Californians, regardless of their immigration status.
Freedom from Big Pharma’s grip, competing head-on by manufacturing our own life-saving drugs.
Freedom to vote without intimidation, with results decided by the people, not the politicians.
The battle lines are drawn. And yes, once again, it’s time for choosing.
Let’s not forget that policies that started here that were once considered nothing more than romantic possibilities have now become commonplace across the other 49 states.
California “lights out the territory for the rest.”
That’s what we do best. Giving shape to the future – molding the character of the nation.
Just like those rivers that sculpted so many of California’s deepest valleys.
The places of my childhood memories. Those rafting and camping trips with my dad. Falling in love with California. Over and over again.
My father died shortly after I was elected governor in 2018. He never got to see his son assume the office.
Nor did my mother Tessa, who died just before I became Mayor of San Francisco.
Their dreams, their spirit, their love of California, is with me every day.
Just as they were last year, when I found myself with the leaders of California’s most populous tribe, the Yurok. Floating down another great river, the Klamath, in a traditional dugout canoe.
We stopped for dinner on the riverbank and prepared salmon smoked on redwood, over a traditional firepit.
The bark infused flavor into the fish, imparting a taste familiar to the Yurok people stretching back to their earliest ancestors.
Just a few weeks ago, I returned to the Klamath and met with Yurok, Karuk, and Klamath tribal leaders.
This time, to celebrate the removal of four dams … America’s largest dam removal project in history.
Setting the river free once more, restoring natural salmon runs and in so doing, righting a historical wrong.
Because this is what California does. And it’s what I’ve dedicated my life to.
Standing up for ideals, striking out against injustice.
After all, history reminds us that each of us will be judged … and ultimately judge ourselves, to the extent we contribute, as Bobby Kennedy said, to the life of our cities, our state, our nation, and the world we are trying to build.
That brings me back to time.
Time is undefeated, it is relentless.
So in our fleeting moment, we must fight against our worst impulses, and find our better angels.
Because at the end of the day, our lives are just too short, our wisdom too limited, to win fleeting victories at other people’s expense.
We must all triumph together.
Newsom proclaims State of Emergency & mobilizes state
The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rain and snow, strong wind and the potential for additional flooding threats
SACRAMENTO – Working to protect Californians from the incoming winter storms, Governor Gavin Newsom today proclaimed a state of emergency throughout California to support the ongoing response to recent winter storms.
The emergency proclamation supports emergency relief efforts including authorizing the mobilization of the California National Guard to support disaster response, directing Caltrans to request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program to support highway repairs and other support for local response and recovery efforts. The text of today’s proclamation can be found here.
The Governor has also activated the State Operations Center to its highest level, and the state and federal government have stood up the Flood Operations Center, which covers forecasting, reservoir operations coordination, and provides technical support as well as flood fighting materials like sandbags for local agencies.
“California is mobilizing to keep people safe from the impacts of the incoming storm,” said Governor Newsom. “This state of emergency will allow the state to respond quickly as the storm develops and support local officials in their ongoing response.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rain and snow, strong wind and the potential for additional flooding threats. The heaviest of precipitation is expected Wednesday evening into Thursday morning in Northern California, extending into Thursday night in Southern California. Residual flooding impacts could extend into the weekend along with additional storms lingering into next week.
The state has prepositioned fire and rescue equipment and personnel to support local resources across the state. Teams will mobilize quickly in the event of mud flows, avalanches or flash floods.
The California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) has engaged with local and community partners to ensure vulnerable groups —individuals with disabilities, older individuals, and unsheltered individuals—are aware of the incoming storm and have access to services should they need them. Additionally:
- Department of Social Services is prepared to work alongside local partners and the American Red Cross to establish congregate shelters.
- Department of Public Health is prepared to deploy regional staff to support hospitals and health care facilities.
- Department of Health Care Access and Information is prepared to deploy structural engineers to health care facilities to evaluate impacts to infrastructure.
- Emergency Medical Services Authority is prepared to deploy Ambulance Strike Teams.
Driving and Road Closures
Avoid non-essential travel during the peak of the storm on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. If you must drive, download the QuickMap app or visit QuickMap (ca.gov) to learn up-to-the-minute information on road conditions, traffic, closures, chain control, and more.
Take inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs if the power goes out such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
Californians are reminded to dial 2-1-1 or 3-1-1 to get help or ask questions. If you have a critical emergency, call 911.
Staying informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to CalAlerts.org to sign up to receive alerts from your county officials.
If you are under a Flood Warning:
- Find safe shelter right away.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
- Remember, just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Stay off bridges over fast-moving water.
Know Your Medical Needs
Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Know how long your medications can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
Portable back-up generators produce the poison gas carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an odorless, colorless gas that kills without warning. It claims the lives of hundreds of people every year and makes thousands more ill. Follow these steps to keep your family safe.
When using Portable Generators:
- Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open.
- Only use generators outside, more than 20 feet away from your home, doors, and windows.
- Install battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home.
- Check CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.
Have enough nonperishable food and water for every member of your household for three days. Open freezers and refrigerators only when necessary. Your refrigerator can keep food cold for four hours. A full freezer will maintain temperature for two days. Use coolers with ice if necessary. Monitor temperatures with a thermometer. Throw out food if temperatures reach 40 degrees or higher.
Racial & identity profiling of Black teens 6X greater says new report
The predominant police contact is with young Black & Hispanic males, who experience stark differences from White peers in how they’re treated
SACRAMENTO – The California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board released its 2023 Annual Report Tuesday, covering a wide range of issues related to racial and identity profiling in policing and recommendations on how to eliminate this unlawful practice.
Over the past four years, the data collected under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (“RIPA”) has provided empirical evidence showing disparities in policing throughout California the report found.
The data reviewed by the board for the calendar year 2021 revealed that statewide, 58 California law enforcement agencies searched teenagers whom officers perceived to be Black at nearly six times the rate of teens believed to be white during vehicle and pedestrian stops.
The 58 agencies — which include the 23 largest departments in the state — collectively made more than 3.1 million vehicle and pedestrian stops in 2021. By April, all of California’s more than 500 law enforcement agencies must submit their data.
The data includes how officers perceive an individual’s race or gender, even if it’s different than how the person identifies, because the officer’s perception is what drives bias. The board’s work informs agencies, the state’s police office training board and state lawmakers as they change policies and seek to decrease racial disparities and bias in policing.
The Report also explores the negative mental health impacts of adverse law enforcement interactions on individuals and communities and contains a new focus on youth interactions with law enforcement both inside and outside of school. Additionally, the report continues to examine the data and research on pretextual stops and consent searches.
• Agencies reported over 3.1 million stops during the data collection period, with the California Highway Patrol conducting the most stops of any single agency (54.9%).
• Individuals perceived to be Hispanic/Latine(x) (42.4%), White (30.7%), or Black (15.0%) comprised the majority of stopped individuals.
• The majority of stopped individuals were perceived as either (cisgender) male (72.1%) or (cisgender) female (27.5%), together accounting for 99.7 percent of individuals stopped.
• Officers perceived 1.2 percent of the individuals they stopped to have one or more disabilities. Of those perceived to have a disability, the most common disability reported by officers was a mental health condition (75.1%).
The most commonly reported reason for a stop across all racial/ethnic groups was a traffic violation (86.8%), followed by reasonable suspicion that the individual was engaged in criminal activity (10.5%). Relative to other racial/ethnic groups, Black individuals had the highest proportion of their stops reported as reasonable suspicion (16.2%) and the lowest proportion of their stops reported as traffic violations (80.5%).
• To provide context for the racial distribution of stops by the reporting agencies, the Board
compared the stop data to residential population data from the American Community Survey that was weighted to correspond with the jurisdictions of the reporting agencies. Black and Hispanic/Latine(x) individuals represented a higher proportion of stopped individuals than their relative proportion of the weighted California residential population.
The Associated Press noted:
In more than 42% of the 3.1 million stops by those agencies in 2021, the individual was perceived to be Hispanic or Latino, according to the report. More than 30% were perceived to be white and 15% were believed to be Black.
Statewide, however, 2021 Census estimates say Black or African American people made up only 6.5% of California’s population, while white people were about 35%. Hispanic or Latino people made up roughly 40% of the state’s population that year.
“The data show that racial and identity disparities persist year after year,” the report said. “The Board remains committed to analyzing and highlighting these disparities to compel evidence-driven strategies for reforming policing and eliminating racial and identity profiling in California.”
For example: Police handcuffed, searched or detained — either curbside or in a patrol car — individuals whom they believed to be Black youths between 15 and 17 years old during a higher percentage of traffic stops than any other combination of perceived race or ethnicity and age groups.
Law enforcement also searched people who were perceived to be Black at 2.2 times the rate of people thought to be white, the report said. And police were more than twice as likely to use force against people they thought were Black, as compared to people whom officers believed to be white.
“Based on the research, the Board believes that public health officials and policymakers should treat racial and identity profiling and adverse policing as significant public health issues,” according to the report. “It is imperative to recognize that police interactions can negatively affect the mental and physical health of individuals who are Black, Hispanic/Latine(x), Indigenous, and people of color.”
Mental Health impact:
The Board examined recent research showing that police interactions can negatively impact the mental and physical health of individuals who are Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latine(x) and other people of color. Research shows that the types of contact and frequency of involuntary contacts with law enforcement may have a harmful impact on the individual stopped, triggering stress responses, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and other related negative mental health impacts.
This research suggests that racial and identity profiling goes beyond the criminal legal system and policing; it is also a critical public health issue. Urban policing practices over recent decades has experienced a movement toward a proactive or aggressive policing approach, wherein officers employ active engagement tactics with individuals in “high crime areas” to discover “imminent” criminal activity.
The predominant police contact in large cities is with young Black and Hispanic/Latine(x) males, who experience stark differences from their White peers in how they are treated during law enforcement encounters. The threat or act of calling the police on Black and Hispanic/Latine(x) individuals can expose them to risk of a range of serious, negative psychological effects.
Research shows that bias-based calls to law enforcement – also known as bias by proxy – can be weaponized against innocent people of color as a form of racial intimidation that can cause terror in the victim, given the history of police brutality and use of force against Black, Hispanic/Latine(x), Indigenous, and other people of color.
Read the full report: (Link)
New California laws now in effect
Measures included are LGBTQ+ laws offering protections for trans youth and their families, as well as LGBTQ+ and other people living with HIV
LOS ANGELES – As the last session of the California legislature ended Governor Gavin Newsom signed numerous measures that took effect on January first. One of those new laws that was set to that was set to go into effect was placed on a temporary hold by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge last Friday, December 30.
A temporary restraining order came in response to a lawsuit filed Thursday by a restaurant coalition trying to overturn the law, called AB 257, through a referendum on the November 2024 ballot. AB 257 creates a special council that will have the authority to create employment laws for workers at fast food chains with 100 or more locations or franchises nationwide. The council will be able to set wages, working conditions and training for fast food workers.
If the referendum qualifies for the ballot, it would block AB 257 until voters have a say. Also known as the FAST Recovery Act, AB 257 would, among other things, create a worker representative body with the power to raise wages.
The order prevents the law from being implemented until after a Jan.13 hearing, in which the court will decide whether to grant a preliminary injunction.
Other measures included are LGBTQ+ laws offering protections for trans youth and their families, as well as LGBTQ+ and other people living with HIV will also see improved protections around their ability to obtain life or disability insurance.
Workplace improvements with California’s minimum wage that increases by 50 cents to $15.50. Expanded rights for farmworkers, transparency of pay scales, bereavement leave, along with the implementation of a two-year-old state law that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products.
California also becomes the first state to limit the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials. Prosecutors have at times relied on rap lyrics as evidence the artist was documenting a crime they were accused of committing. Researchers found that juries shown similar lyrics have shown bias against Black and Latino rap artists, but not white country music artists.
SB107, authored by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), starting January 1 it will be California policy to reject any out-of-state court judgments removing trans kids from their parents’ custody because they allowed them to receive gender-affirming health care. State health officials will not be allowed to comply with subpoenas seeking health records and any information related to such criminal cases, and public safety officers must make out-of-state criminal arrest warrants for such parents their lowest priority.
AB 218 by gay Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego) creates a process for Californians seeking a change of gender to also request that their marriage license, certificate, and their children’s birth certificates be reissued with their updated gender-affirming information.
SB 283 by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), imposes a prohibition on a life or disability insurance insurer from considering an applicant’s occupation in determining whether to require an HIV test and clarifies that limiting benefits payable for a loss caused or contributed to by HIV is allowed if it was part of the original underwriting risk. It also clarifies that the misdemeanor for willful, negligent, or malicious disclosure of HIV test results to a third party is punishable by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 364 days.
AB 465 by former Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), who was termed out of office this month, requires professional fiduciaries to receive LGBTQ+ cultural competency and sensitivity training during their education and licensing process. Private professional fiduciaries provide critical services to older adults and people with disabilities, from managing their clients’ daily care, housing, and medical needs to ensuring their bills are paid and managing their investments.
SB 731 gives people with some criminal convictions a clean slate. The law expands what type of crimes are eligible to be automatically sealed and, for the first time, allows people with violent felony records to petition to have their records sealed if they completed their sentence and have not had a new felony offense in four years. Almost all crimes qualify except sex-related crimes. Certain provisions of this law will take effect in July.
SB 923, requires California medical professionals who interact with transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex patients to receive cultural competency training. It also calls for health providers to create searchable online directories of their gender-affirming services.
Known as the TGI Inclusive Care Act, it builds on the state’s Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund created in 2020 and allocated $13 million last year. The Office of Health Equity within the state Department of Public Health administers the fund and awards grants to organizations providing trans-inclusive health care.
SB 960 eliminates a requirement that peace officers be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents applying for citizenship. The law simply requires that anyone applying to be a law enforcement officer be legally authorized to work in the United States.
SB 972 makes it easier for mobile street vendors who often sell fresh fruit, tacos or hot dogs, to obtain permits and meet health requirements. The law reduces the cost of permit fees and changes health requirements which often times were similar to brick-and-mortar restaurants or food trucks.
AB 1041 allows employees to take family care or medical leave for an expanded group of individuals. An employee can now take leave for a “designated” person who is either related by blood or whose association with the employee is equivalent to a family relationship.
SB 1087 prohibits anyone from buying a catalytic converter other than from an automobile dismantler, an automotive repair dealer or a person providing documentation they are the lawful owner of the catalytic converter. AB 1740 requires recyclers to obtain a copy of the title of the vehicle from which the catalytic converter was removed.
SB 1162 is a big win for workers. It requires businesses with 15 or more employees to include information about salary ranges for all job postings. Workers will also have the right now to know the pay scale for their current position. Companies with 100 or more employees are required to submit pay data and wage history to the state by May of each year or face penalties.
AB 1200 bans the use of food packaging, such as take-out boxes and food wrappers, made from plant fibers that contain PFAS that were intentionally added or are present at levels above 100 parts per million. PFAS are hazardous chemicals added to food packaging to make them more water or stain resistant.
Assembly Bill 1314 in 2022, the Feather Alert System, which creates a system similar to Amber Alert but for indigenous people who have gone missing “under unexplained or suspicious circumstances.”
AB 1661 requires hair salons, nail salons and other barbering and cosmetology businesses to post signs containing information about slavery and human trafficking. The signs must include phone numbers where to report such crimes.
AB 1700 requires the state attorney general to establish a website for people to report items they suspect are stolen and being sold on the internet. A companion bill (SB 301) that requires online marketplaces to obtain personal and financial information from high volume sellers takes effect in July.
AB 1909 requires cars to change lanes, when feasible, to pass a bicyclist using a traffic lane. It also allows electric bicycles to be used on most bicycle lanes but allows local governments to prohibit them on recreational trails. The OmniBike law would also stop enforcement of local bicycle licensing laws.
AB 2147 makes it illegal for law enforcement to stop and cite a person for jaywalking unless the person crosses the street in an unsafe manner.
AB 2223 protects women from prosecution if they chose to end a pregnancy or undergo an abortion, even if it happens outside the medical system. It also protects someone who helped a women with an abortion from criminal or civil liability.
AB 2294 allows police to keep in custody individuals convicted of theft from a store in the past six months if they are suspected of organized retail theft. Previously, an individual detained for retail theft was given a written notice or citation and released. The law also establishes recidivism programs to prevent repeat offenders.
AB 2466, authored by Out lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). Agencies that place foster children can no longer decline to place a child with a resource family because a parent identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. It also scraps the usage of the phrase “hard-to-place children” in state codes.
California has three new state holidays. AB 1655 adds June 19, known as Juneteenth, as a state holiday. AB 2596 recognizes Lunar New Year as a state holiday and AB 1801 designates April 24 as Genocide Remembrance Day.
Consumer Privacy: Proposition 24, the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) approved in 2020, gave consumers the right to know, delete or opt-out of the sale of their personal information. New provisions take effect in 2023 that allow consumers and employees to ask businesses to disclose the personal information they have collected on them and ask them to delete or correct that information.
Employees may also ask a company not to sell or share their personal information and have the right to know what personal information their employer is selling or sharing about them and with whom.
Consumers and employees can also direct businesses to limit the use of sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, financial account information, geolocation data or genetic data.
Additional reporting from KABC 7 Los Angeles and The Bay Area Reporter
California’s 2022 Climate accomplishments
California took aggressive climate action, all while growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, & leaving no community behind
SACRAMENTO – A year end review of the State of California’s record on climate initiatives was released last week by Governor Gavin Newsom. Highlights included implementing ambitious measures to drastically cut pollution, get more people in ZEVs with more chargers on the road, and protect communities from wildfires and the ongoing record breaking drought.
This was the year for climate action in California, enacting world-leading measures to drastically cut pollution and protect Californians from extreme weather like drought, wildfires, and extreme heat.
- Why it’s important: California is showing the world how to take aggressive, whole-of-government climate action, all while growing the economy, creating millions of jobs, and leaving no community behind.
“California is in the business of getting things done: slashing air pollution, launching the clean energy revolution, holding Big Oil accountable, eliminating the tailpipe, and fighting climate-driven crises like wildfire, drought and extreme heat. We’re taking action now because we know later is too late,” Governor Newsom said.
| THE CALIFORNIA CLIMATE COMMITMENT: This year, California enacted aggressive climate measures with a sweeping package of legislation backed by a multi-billion-dollar record investment. The California Climate Commitment cuts pollution, protects Californians from big polluters, accelerates the state’s transition to clean energy, and expands economic opportunities for all Californians.|
85% CUT IN EMISSIONS, ACHIEVING NET ZERO POLLUTION: California will reach net zero carbon pollution no later than 2045, under a new law signed by Governor Newsom, while also ensuring an 85% cut in greenhouse gas emissions as part of that goal. The state also implemented new measures to help cut air pollution with new carbon capture and removal technologies, as well as enlisting nature to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
100% CLEAN ENERGY GRID, NEW OFFSHORE WIND: The Governor signed legislation to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy – adopting a new target of 90% clean energy by 2035 and 95% by 2040, ensuring the state reaches its 100% target by 2045. California was also home to the first offshore wind lease sale on the West Coast, a milestone on the state’s march to clean energy and its new goal to add 25 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2045.
NO NEW OIL DRILLING NEXT TO SCHOOLS AND DAYCARES: As part of the California Climate Commitment, Governor Newsom signed nation-leading legislation to establish a setback distance of 3,200 feet between any new oil well and homes, schools, or parks. It also ensures comprehensive pollution controls for existing oil wells within 3,200 feet of these facilities.
HOLDING BIG OIL ACCOUNTABLE FOR PRICE HIKES & RECORD PROFITS: Following unprecedented price hikes at the pump that led to record profits for Big Oil, Governor Newsom convened a Special Session of the Legislature to hold Big Oil accountable – announcing a price gouging penalty and other accountability and transparency measures to protect Californians from being ripped off by Big Oil.
CHARGING AHEAD WITH ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLES: Following Governor Newsom’s 2020 executive order to develop new rules, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved one of the world’s first regulations requiring 100 percent of new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035. Nearly 18% of cars sold in the state in 2022 were ZEVs, thanks to billions in new incentives and rebates for consumers. With a record investment in EVs, the state also is doubling its EV infrastructure with funding for 90,000 new EV chargers, bringing California closer to its goal of 250,000 publicly available chargers by 2025. That funding includes billions to expand clean transportation in underserved communities.
NEW ROADMAP TO CARBON NEUTRALITY: California is set to drastically slash pollution and accelerate the transition to clean energy. No economy in the world, much less the 4th largest, has put forth such a comprehensive roadmap to reach carbon neutrality. Under the plan, California will cut air pollution by 71% and emissions by 85%, reduce fossil fuel consumption by 86%, create 4 million new jobs, and save Californians $200 billion in health costs due to pollution.
CONSERVING CALIFORNIA’S NATURAL BEAUTY: Governor Newsom released a strategy on how to achieve the state’s first-in-the-nation goal to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 in order to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature, and tackle climate change. Roughly 190 nations followed California’s lead this month when they signed onto a United Nations agreement to do the same. The Governor also celebrated the groundbreaking of the world’s largest wildlife crossing, supported by state investments, which will provide a vital bridge for mountain lions and other Santa Monica Mountain wildlife to roam safely between two large areas of habitat.
FIGHTING EXTREME HEAT: In September, California and the Western U.S. experienced a record 10-day heatwave that put unprecedented strain on the state’s electrical grid. California kept the lights on, thanks to years of smart investments and preparation – including thousands of megawatts of new clean energy battery storage – and extraordinary action by Californians to conserve energy. The Governor took action this year to prepare for future heat waves, including signing a bill that creates the nation’s first extreme heat advance warning and ranking system to better prepare communities ahead of heat waves. Heat funding included in the California Climate Commitment kickstarts the implementation of California’s Extreme Heat Action Plan launched in April that lays out the state’s broad heat resilience approach.
PREPARING FOR A HOTTER, DRIER CALIFORNIA: Governor Newsom spearheaded a historic investment to protect people from extreme drought, and California unveiled a new strategy to increase water supply and adapt to more extreme weather patterns caused by climate change. With estimates that hotter, drier conditions could reduce California’s water supply by up to 10% by the year 2040, the strategy calls for investing in new sources of water supply, accelerating projects and modernizing how the state manages water through new technology.
MORE FUNDING & WORK AGAINST WILDFIRES THAN EVER BEFORE: CAL FIRE launched more than 552 wildfire resilience projects in less than a year and exceeded its 2025 goal of treating 100,000 acres a year, a full three years ahead of schedule. Never in California’s history has the state had the number of initial attack aircraft available to respond to fires that it does today, in addition to CAL FIRE’s existing fleet of 62 aircraft, 18 exclusive use helicopters, and 6 exclusive use fixed wing aircraft to provide even greater response capabilities.
PARTNERING WITH OTHER COUNTRIES: In just one year, California continued to build international partnerships on climate. California signed Memorandums of Cooperation with Canada, New Zealand and Japan, as well as Memorandums of Understanding with China and the Netherlands, to tackle the climate crisis. The Governor also joined with Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia to recommit the region to climate action.
The stories that marked 2022 for California and Los Angeles
Slow recovery from effects of the coronavirus impact coupled with an uptick in hate crimes & election races dominated headlines
LOS ANGELES – A war in Ukraine, the mid-term elections, a near pandemic of a highly infectious disease impacting men who have sex with men, the 2022 Beijing Games, a WNBA star imprisoned by the Russian government and then a carefully negotiated release, the election of the first Black woman as mayor of Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the United States and third-largest city in North America all marked 2022 as a unique year.
For Angelenos, the slow recovery from effects of the coronavirus impact coupled with an uptick in hate crimes, seemingly out of control gas prices, high inflation and election races dominated headlines.
In the late fall, allegations of corruption in the LA Sheriff’s Department, a significant increase in hate-related incidents coupled with higher crime rates and a crisis in LA City government, after a scandal involving three city council members heard in a leaked audio recording making racist and homophobic remarks, along with a tight mayoral race between a billionaire real estate tycoon and a popular Black woman member of the U.S. House of Representatives were the critical stories the Southland’s attention was focused on.
Monkeypox became the primary focus of the LGBTQ+ community as it spread with lightning speed as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, elected officials, and LGBTQ healthcare providers struggled first to diagnose and treat burdened by a federal and state bureaucracy unprepared to address vaccine supply shortages and implement vaccinations quickly.
Incidents of hate dramatically increased in California in 2022 as acts of anti-Semitism, threats of violence including death threats against LGBTQ-affirming businesses and public libraries for holding charitable drag events, and attacks on elected out LGBTQ lawmakers drew headlines.
Monkeypox vax outages and bureaucracy impedes healthcare providers the Blade published 4 months ago on August 12, 2022. Frustrations mounted as the campaign to vaccinate people against infection of the monkeypox virus is derailed by a critical supply shortage of vaccine doses with added bureaucratic obstacles in getting financial reimbursement to the healthcare providers and clinics dispensing the vaccine.
From the initial reports of the outbreak in May of 2022, the global spread of the disease was astonishingly rapid. By the middle of the summer monkeypox became a worldwide public health crisis, with more than 23,200 confirmed or presumptive positive cases reported across more than 70 countries where it is not considered endemic. Declared a public health crisis by the World Health Organization and then by the Biden administration, in Los Angeles, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to declare an emergency the day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency to combat the outbreak.
Political scandal grips LA City Hall
As the 2022 mid-term election races entered the final stretch in the fall, published accounts of an audio recording with three city council members, one of whom was council president, and a prominent labor leader rocked the political world in Southern California. The Los Angeles Times and Knock LA published articles and audio of racist comments regarding gay LA City Council member Mike Bonin’s Black son and other city and county officials.
In the aftermath, Nury Martinez announced she was resigning as president of the LA city council and then later from her seat. The chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Michel Moore in a tweet referred to the scandal as “a dark day for our City of Angels.”
The scandal continued as one of the other two elected officials, Council member Kevin de León refused to resign his seat after public outcry and protests against his remaining on the council disrupted regular sessions of that elected body.
Bass sworn in as LA mayor
Thousands gathered in downtown L.A. on December 11, 2022 at the Microsoft Theatre to witness the historic inauguration of Mayor-elect Karen Bass. Many danced in the aisles to the upbeat music pouring into the theater through the loudspeakers.
Bass was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black and first woman American ever elected to hold that office.
Bass, 69, no stranger to pioneering women’s and African-American rights, is now Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor and the first woman and second African American to be elected to this position after the legendary Mayor Tom Bradley, in the city’s 241-year history. She won the election against billionaire businessman and developer Rick Caruso in a neck-and-neck race.
“Making history with each of you today is a monumental moment in my life and for Los Angeles,” said the new mayor in her inauguration speech.
The State of Hate
Reported hate crimes in Los Angeles County grew 23% from 641 to 786 in 2021. This is the largest number recorded since 2002. The crimes overwhelmingly included acts of violence, and more than half were spurred by racism. Blacks, Latinos, Jews and LGBTQ individuals were the most-targeted groups. While Black residents only make up 9% of the county’s population, the report showed that they comprise 46% of hate crime victims.
Amid an increase in hate-fueled violence across the country, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to equalize and strengthen penalties for using hate symbols and bolster security for targeted religious and community-based nonprofits.
Newsom also announced his appointments to the Commission on the State of Hate including longtime Trans Latina advocate and Los Angeles community leader Bamby Salcedo who heads the [email protected] Coalition.
For the LGBTQ community in Southern California, in fact across the state, 2022 saw an escalation of anti-LGBTQ+ threats of violence, attacks on the drag community, and against individuals. One openly gay senior at El Toro High School in Orange County has had it with homophobia, especially when it appears at his front door, literally. 18-year-old Landon Jones posted video captured from his family’s ring.com surveillance camera that displayed the homophobic abuse that occurred, which has now gone viral.
Politicians’ were also targets of anti-LGBTQ animus. The most recent example occurring on December 6th, when San Francisco police responded to a bomb threat at Calif. State Senator Scott Wiener’s home. Wiener is an openly gay champion for queer rights, who represents San Francisco’s Senatorial District 11 in Sacramento.
This also marks the second time this year that a bomb threat targeting him resulted with police searching his residence and professional workspaces. Both times the threats were laced with profanities that denigrated his sexuality.
Out actor Leslie Jordan died in a Hollywood car crash after suffering an unspecified medical emergency the LAPD said. The 67-year-old beloved actor and comedian saw a resurgence of fame with his viral and hilarious videos on social media during the lengthy coronavirus pandemic. Jordon was best known for his roles as Lonnie Garr in Hearts Afire (1993–1995), Beverly Leslie in Will & Grace (2001–2006, 2017–2020), and several characters in the American Horror Story franchise (2011–present).
Jordan was also devoted as an advocate for LGBTQ+ equality rights.
Thomas Senzee, a California native whose award-winning career spanned nearly thirty years in media, writing for outlets including The Huffington Post, The Advocate/OUT, The Fight Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Los Angeles Business Journal and other publications, was found deceased on Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Palm Springs. The former Editor-In-Chief of the San Diego LGBT Weekly webzine and frequent contributor to The San Diego Reader, an alternative press newspaper, died at age 54.
She was a staple at hundreds of LGBTQ+ events, often performing around her beloved Chicago, over the years and a staunch defender of LGBTQ+ equality. Often referred to as “The Love Goddess” and “Aphrodite of the Accordion,” comedian Judy Tenuta died at her LA home, also in October, at age 72 from ovarian cancer.
California leads the way in LGBTQ+ legislative efforts nationwide
Providing safeguards to block out-of-state attempts to penalize families that come to Calif. seeking medical treatment for trans children, a first-in-the-nation law will help create a more inclusive and culturally competent healthcare system for TGI (transgender, gender diverse, and intersex) people in California, and laws to allowing cities to adopt the new regulations for multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms plus legislation to Protect Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA were signed into law this past year by California Governor Gavin Newsom.
2022 Midterm Elections
For LGBTQ+ Californians, this election cycle brought a number of significant advances as more openly LGBTQ+ officials were elected or reelected to local, state, and federal offices. In the election cycle, California became the first state in the nation to achieve 10% LGBTQ+ representation in its state legislature.
Rick Chavez Zbur (AD-51) — the former executive director of Equality California was sworn in to represent West Los Angeles County to include the LGBTQ+ enclave of West Hollywood.
Representative Mark Takano who was the only LGBTQ+ Member of Congress, found himself joined by former Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in turn himself becoming the first openly gay immigrant elected to the U.S. House.
LA County DA addressing the needs of the community
Last April, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the creation of the office’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, one of several Advisory Boards that will provide valuable community input into his work building a safer and healthier county for all. The Board will advise the District Attorney’s Office regarding policies, priority issues, and best practices related to LGBTQ+ Angelenos and the criminal justice system.
District Attorney Gascón and his staff have been criticised for the way cases are handled including those cases dealing with members of the trans community.
LGBTQ+ representation and community service
LA City Fire Department’s 1st woman & Out firefighter was sworn in as chief. Kristin Crowley, a 22-year veteran of the LA City Fire Department was sworn in as the city’s 19th fire chief this past March by the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti surrounded by her wife and other family members.
Crowley made history within the LAFD when she became the city’s first female fire marshal in 2016. But, as she was sworn in Friday Crowley garnered the distinction of becoming the first woman and first openly Out firefighter in the history of the 136-year-old department.
Chief Crowley was nominated by Garcetti in January to lead a collective of 3,246 uniformed fire personnel and 353 professional support personnel. Crowley took the firefighters’ exam in 1998 and placed among the top 50 scores out of 16,000 applicants, according to the department.
Governor Newsom inducts 15th California Hall of Fame Class
Among the honorees this year was Out lesbian Megan Rapinoe, an American professional soccer player & actor and singer-songwriter Lynda Carter
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom yesterday joined the California Museum to induct the 15th class of the California Hall of Fame.
Among the honorees this year was Out lesbian Megan Rapinoe, an American professional soccer player, FIFA World Cup winner and member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal winning U.S. Soccer Team.
The inductees of the California Hall of Fame 15th class are:
- Actor and singer-songwriter Lynda Carter
- Chef Roy Choi
- Physicist Steven Chu
- Ice skater Peggy Fleming
- Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild
- Choreographer Alonzo King
- Teacher and former astronaut Barbara Morgan
- Soccer player Megan Rapinoe
- Singer Linda Ronstadt
- Artist Ed Ruscha
- Band Los Tigres del Norte
Watch yesterday’s ceremony here.
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