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LA Superior Court: Law requiring diverse company boards unconstitutional

Critics have argued that the law is discriminatory and a violation of the equal protection clause in the California Constitution

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Superior Court of LA CountY Stanley Mosk Courthouse (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles County ruled last Friday that the 2020 law which requires California-based or headquartered corporations to have a minimum of one director from an underrepresented community, is unconstitutional.

Judge Terry Green granted summary judgment to Judicial Watch, a Washington D.C. based conservative legal nonprofit founded by attorney Larry Klayman, and has been led by Tom Fitton since 2003.

Judicial Watch had sued the state on behalf of three residents, alleging that the state’s expenditure of taxpayer funds to enforce the law was unconstitutional. 

“This historic California court decision declared unconstitutional one of the most blatant and significant attacks in the modern era on constitutional prohibitions against discrimination,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “In its ruling today, the court upheld the core American value of equal protection under the law. Judicial Watch’s taxpayer clients are heroes for standing up for civil rights against the Left’s pernicious efforts to undo anti-discrimination protections.”

The law known as Assembly Bill No. 979, mandates corporations to have at least one board member who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as LGBTQ+.

The bill would require, no later than the close of the 2022 calendar year, that a corporation with more than 4 but fewer than 9 directors to have a minimum of 2 directors from underrepresented communities, and such a corporation with 9 or more directors to have a minimum of 3 directors from underrepresented communities.

Andres Picon, a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle noted that before the law passed, more than one-third of California boardrooms were all white, according to the Latino Corporate Directors Association.

Proponents of the bill, AB979, hoped that it would push companies to hire more diverse directors, increasing equity in hiring and making it more likely for companies to consider the needs and wants of underrepresented communities in their decision making.

But critics have argued that the law is discriminatory and a violation of the equal protection clause in the California Constitution. Some opponents argued that forcing diversity quotas would not necessarily lead to changes in how boards run their businesses.

“Corporate boards should not just be made up of white, straight men. AB 979 is a critical law that promotes diversity and inclusion, and ensures people from marginalized communities have a seat at the table. This is a terrible ruling and I hope it will be overturned in higher court,” Out State Senator Scott Wiener, (D-SF) told the Blade.

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California

CHP increases efforts to combat organized retail theft for holidays

California Highway Patrol to saturate shopping centers throughout the state working with local law enforcement to make arrests

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Photo Credit: California Highway Patrol public affairs

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom has increased efforts statewide to tackle organized retail theft ahead of the holiday shopping season. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) is increasing their presence at shopping centers throughout the state and working with local law enforcement agencies to make arrests and heighten visibility. 

“Californians deserve to feel safe especially as they head to stores this holiday season,” said Newsom. “We’ve doubled down on our efforts to combat crime with millions of dollars to deter, arrest and successfully prosecute criminals involved in organized retail theft. This year, shopping centers across California will see saturated patrols as CHP regional teams work with local law enforcement agencies to help make arrests and recover stolen merchandise.”

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 331 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) to extend and expand the CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF).

The CHP’s ORCTF regional teams collaborate with local law enforcement agencies and retailers to proactively address organized retail theft. Since the inception of the task force, the CHP has been involved in 1,296 investigations, the arrest of 645 suspects, and the recovery of 271,697 items of stolen retail merchandise valued at nearly $26 million.

“The CHP is dedicated to ensuring everyone is safe during this holiday shopping season,” said Commissioner Amanda Ray. “Through the joint efforts of our Organized Retail Crime Task Force and public safety partners, we are working hard to combat organized retail crime and deter organized theft rings.”

CHP Organized Retail Crime Task Force investigators intercepted a shipment of stolen Lululemon products shipped from various places throughout the country, including Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The 1,861 items were worth approximately $200,000. The merchandise was returned to Lululemon in June of 2022.
(Photo Credit: California Highway Patrol)

Actions taken by Governor Gavin Newsom that prioritized combating organized retail theft:

  • Signed AB 331, extending the ORCTF sunset provision and investing $6 million annually in 2022-23 through 2024-25 and ongoing resources to provide a total of $15 million annually to expand and make permanent this task force.
  • Investing $255 million in grants for local law enforcement over the next three years to combat retail theft.
  • Providing $30 million over the next three years to support District Attorneys, effectively prosecuting theft-related crimes.
  • Funding the creation of a new unit, in the Attorney General’s office, with specialized investigators and prosecutors focused specifically on organized theft rings.

In addition to law enforcement investigating retail theft, legislation signed this year by Governor Newsom will make it harder for individuals to sell stolen merchandise online.

SB 301 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), requires high-volume third-party sellers of merchandise to provide additional information to protect consumers, to include requiring online marketplaces to comply with specified recordkeeping and security procedures. And AB 1700 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), requires the Attorney General’s Office to establish on its website a place for the public to report suspected stolen goods found on online marketplaces. 

Both bills take effect on January 1, 2023. 

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California

Newsom pauses funding on homeless initiatives, asks ‘do better’

Project Roomkey has sheltered more than 60,000 people since the pandemic began, & Homekey has funded 12,500 units since late 2020

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Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this summer assisting in a homeless encampment event in LA (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that he will convene local leaders in mid-November to review the state’s collective approach to homelessness and identify new strategies to better address the growing homelessness crisis.

Until this convening, the state will hold on providing the remaining third round of Homelessness Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants.

“Californians demand accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” said the Governor. “As a state, we are failing to meet the urgency of this moment. Collectively, these plans set a goal to reduce street homelessness 2% statewide by 2024. At this pace, it would take decades to significantly curb homelessness in California – this approach is simply unacceptable. Everyone has to do better – cities, counties, and the state included. We are all in this together.” 

The Governor is calling all local jurisdictions together for a meeting in mid-November to coordinate on an approach that will deliver more substantial results as opposed to current plans which result in just a 2% decrease of homelessness over four years statewide.

While some plans show local leaders taking aggressive action to combat homelessness, others are less ambitious – some plans even reflect double-digit increases in homelessness over four years.

The Governor’s calling all local jurisdictions together for the mid-November meeting is hoped to coordinate on an approach that will deliver more substantial results. This meeting will be an opportunity to learn from one another about what works, as well as to identify barriers that inhibit the progress we all want to make and strategies to remove them.

The third round of HHAP grants provides a share of $1 billion to every county, Continuum of Care, and the 13 largest cities in the state, on the condition that each local government has a plan approved by the state that reduces the number of unsheltered homeless individuals and increases permanent housing.

The state has so far provided over $1.5 billion of flexible emergency aid to address homelessness through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program and the first two rounds of HHAP funding.

Now, for the first time, recipients of the third round of HHAP funding have new requirements and must create a Homelessness Action Plan that addresses, in detail, local actions to prevent and reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness at the community level.

The plans must include a landscape analysis that assesses the current number of people experiencing homelessness in a given community and identify all existing programs, and all sources of funding aimed at tackling this crisis. Additionally, the plans must include outcome-driven results and strategies for achieving these goals using clear metrics to track success. 

The HHAP program is part of a $15.3 billion, multi-year state effort to turn the tide on homelessness – an all-of-the-above approach that includes cutting red tape and funding the largest expansion of homeless housing in California history.

The Governor’s office pin a released statement pointed out that the governor has taken unprecedented steps to address homelessness and housing statewide, providing local governments more money than ever before to address this crisis.

Groundbreaking programs like Homekey and Project Roomkey have become national models for getting people off the streets, faster than ever before and at a fraction of the usual cost.

In partnership with cities and counties throughout the state, Project Roomkey has sheltered more than 60,000 people since the pandemic began, and Homekey has funded 12,500 units since its inception in late 2020. 

Additionally, since September 1, 2021, Caltrans has cleared over 1,600 homeless encampments statewide, cleaning up 2,227 tons of trash, enough to fill more than 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The state budget Governor Newsom signed earlier this year includes $700 million for encampment resolution grants with $350 million earmarked for assisting those living on state right-of-way property.

Also, through Clean California, the Governor has invested $1.1 billion to revitalize streets and public spaces through litter abatement and local beautification projects – generating an estimated 10,000 jobs, including for people exiting homelessness, at-risk youth, veterans, formerly incarcerated people, local artists and students.

From KTLA:

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California

Newsom & California Museum announce 15th Calif. Hall of Fame

The California Hall of Fame celebrates Californians whose achievements have made history and changed the state, the nation and the world

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Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom (Screenshot/YouTube)

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom joined the California Museum in announcing the 15th class of inductees into the California Hall of Fame. The new inductees join 138 inspirational Californians previously inducted for embodying the state’s innovative spirit.

The California Hall of Fame celebrates Californians whose achievements have made history and changed the state, the nation and the world. Launched in 2006, the program serves as the California Museum’s annual gala and the premise of on-site and online exhibitions inspiring visitors to make a mark on history.

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

Out Soccer player Megan Rapinoe

Singer Linda Ronstadt

Artist Ed Ruscha

Band Los Tigres del Norte

“These phenomenal individuals are proof that the California dream is alive and well,” said Governor Newsom. “Jennifer and I are excited to induct the 15th class of leaders, dreamers, and innovators into the California Hall of Fame and celebrate these Californians who broke down barriers and reimagined what was possible.”

“The Governor and I are honored to welcome this new group of changemakers and trailblazers into the California Hall of Fame,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom. “With its cultural richness, innovative spirit, and leadership mindset, California is California because of phenomenal individuals like this year’s inductees. They have been – and will continue to be – immensely inspiring to us all.”

The California Hall of Fame launched in 2006 to honor trailblazing Californians who embody the state’s spirit of innovation and have made history. Inductees are selected annually by the Governor and First Partner for achievements in Arts, Business and Labor, Entertainment, Food and Wine, Literature, Music, Public Service, Science and Sports. This year marks the return of an in-person ceremony following the induction of a virtual class during the pandemic.

“We’re thrilled to join the Governor and First Partner in celebrating these remarkable Californians,” said California Museum Board of Trustees Chair Anne-Marie Petrie. “Their achievements will inspire thousands of Museum visitors in the year ahead to pursue their own dreams.”

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California

More oil companies made massive profits as Californians paid more

“Big oil is making record profits by ripping off Californians with refiners Phillips 66 & Marathon profits up to 1243% higher than last year”

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Screenshot/YouTube

Editor’s note: The following is a statement provided by Governor Newsom’s office:

SACRAMENTO – As gas price hikes hit Californians at the pump, oil companies and their refinery operations made record profits in only three months from July to September: 

Phillips 66 and Marathon operate refineries in the state that have raised costs on Californians despite the cost of crude declining, blaming such increases on refinery maintenance and other issues.

This follows Valero’s $2.82 billion in profits that were 500% higher than the year before, PBF Energy’s $1.06 billion that was 1700% higher than the year before, Shell’s $9.45 billion haul that sent $4 billion to shareholders for stock buybacksExxon’s highest-ever $19.7 billion in profits, and Chevron’s $11.2 billion in profits.

“Big oil is making record profits by ripping off Californians. They said high prices were because of war, state taxes and maintenance, but now we know that was all a facade – these high prices went straight to their bottom line,” said Governor Newsom. “A price gouging penalty will put these windfall profits back in the pockets of Californians.”

Following these record-breaking Q3 profits, big oil executives seem to be acknowledging the need to put money into the pockets of consumers. While Shell directly acknowledged it, Exxon did so in their own special, out-of-touch way:

  • Shell CEO: “I think we should be prepared and accept that our industry will be looked at for raising taxes in order to fund the transfers to those who need it most.”
  • Exxon CEO: “There has been discussion in the US about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people. That’s exactly what we’re doing in the form of our quarterly dividend.”

This comes on the heels of a report showing that refiners like PBF Energy are making more profits off of Californians than in any other state – $0.78 per gallon compared to the national average of $0.50, a 56% differential. According to Consumer Watchdog, “PBF reported making 78 cents per gallon refining crude oil into gasoline in California in the third quarter – the greatest raw profits anywhere in the nation or world. By contrast, PBF’s profits per gallon were 48 cents on the Gulf Coast, 49 cents per gallon on the East Coast, 55 cents per gallon in the Midwest – an average of 50 cents across the rest of America.”

Big oil was making these record profits at a time when Californians were seeing gas price hikes at the pump, despite the fact that the cost of crude oil was down:

Governor Newsom has taken action to lower prices at the pump, ordering the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanding accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California, leading to record relief at the pump for consumers. Since California’s record-high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $5.54 most recently – a decrease of 88 cents.

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California

Exxon & Chevron record profits: Gas price gouging hit Californians

Exxon made $19.7 billion from July to September, more profit than ever before in its history, while Chevron reported profits at $11.2 billion

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Screenshot/YouTube (Yahoo Finance)

Editor’s note: The following is a statement provided by Governor Newsom’s office:

SACRAMENTO – From July to September alone, Exxon and Chevron reported Q3 profits of $30.9 billion, all while Californians were paying higher gas prices despite the cost of crude oil being down. For Exxon, the $19.7 billion is the highest quarterly profits in its history, while Chevron’s $11.2 billion were its second-highest in history.

This follows Valero’s $2.82 billion in profits that were 500% higher than the year before, PBF Energy’s $1.06 billion that was 1700% higher than the year before, and Shell’s $9.45 billion haul that sent $4 billion to shareholders for stock buybacks.

“As Californians were getting ripped off at the pump, big oil companies like Exxon were making record profits – literally the most ever in a single quarter. Oil companies said high prices were because of war, state taxes, and maintenance, but now we know that was all a facade – these high prices went straight to their bottom line. It could not be more clear that a price gouging penalty is needed to hold big oil accountable and put those profits in the pockets of Californians,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Following these record-breaking Q3 profits, big oil executives seem to be acknowledging the need to put money into the pockets of consumers. While Shell directly acknowledged it, Exxon did it in their own special, out-of-touch way:

  • Shell CEO: “I think we should be prepared and accept that our industry will be looked at for raising taxes in order to fund the transfers to those who need it most.”
  • Exxon CEO: “There has been discussion in the US about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people. That’s exactly what we’re doing in the form of our quarterly dividend.”

This comes on the heels of a report showing that refiners like PBF energy are making more profits off of Californians than any other state – $0.78 per gallon compared to the national average of $0.50, a 56% differential: 

“PBF reported making 78 cents per gallon refining crude oil into gasoline in California in the third quarter – the greatest raw profits anywhere in the nation or world. By contrast, PBF’s profits per gallon were 48 cents on the Gulf Coast, 49 cents per gallon on the East Coast, 55 cents per gallon in the Midwest – an average of 50 cents across the rest of America.”

Big oil was making these record profits at a time when Californians were seeing gas price hikes at the pump, despite the fact that the cost of crude oil was down:


Governor Newsom has taken action to lower prices at the pump, ordering the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanding accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California, leading to record relief at the pump for consumers. Since California’s record high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $5.62 most recently – a decrease of 80 cents.

Exxon, Chevron are ‘cash bulls’ on earnings, analyst says:

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California

Californians charged more per gallon than any other state

Record profits came as Californians saw price hikes at the pump despite the cost of crude oil going down and no change in state taxes or fees

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Screenshot/YouTube Sky News UK

Editor’s note: The following is a statement provided by Governor Newsom’s office:

SACRAMENTO – Today’s Q3 reports by PBF Energy and Shell show once again that oil companies are overcharging Californians while making record profits. 

“Big oil is ripping people off at the pump, and they’re making more in profits off of Californians than in any other state – that’s why we need a price gouging penalty to hold them accountable and get these profits into your pockets,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

According to PBF Energy’s Q3 financial report, the refining company’s profit jumped from $59.1 million at this time last year to $1.06 billion – an increase of nearly 1700%. And, Shell increased profits from $4.1 billion last year to $9.45 billion, with $4 billion going toward stock buybacks that benefit Wall Street shareholders.

According to a report from Consumer Watchdog, PBF Energy makes 56% more in profits off of Californians compared to the rest of the nation

“PBF reported making 78 cents per gallon refining crude oil into gasoline in California in the third quarter – the greatest raw profits anywhere in the nation or world. By contrast, PBF’s profits per gallon were 48 cents on the Gulf Coast, 49 cents per gallon on the East Coast, 55 cents per gallon in the Midwest – an average of 50 cents across the rest of America.

Earlier this week, Valero also posted record profits, up more than 500% to $2.82 billion compared to the year prior at $463 million. 

These record profits came as Californians saw price hikes at the pump despite the cost of crude oil going down and no change in state taxes or fees. Instead, the cost of gasoline skyrocketed purely because refineries wanted to put more in their own pockets:

 

Governor Newsom has taken action to lower prices at the pump, ordering the switch to winter-blend gasoline and demanding accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California, leading to record relief at the pump for consumers.

Since California’s record high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $5.64 most recently – a decrease of 78 cents.

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