Making a Difference
On Sunday, the world lost a tremendous leader for women’s rights, civil rights, the arts, and many other social causes. Peg Yorkin co-founded the Fund for the Feminist Majority in 1987 and served as its Chair until her passing. The organization has been a leader on essential issues such as legalizing medical abortion (Mifepristone), fighting for women’s lives in Afghanistan, organizing to defend family planning clinics nationwide, and electing more women to political office. In 1991, Yorkin donated $10 million to the Feminist Majority Foundation—at that time believed to be the largest contribution to a women’s rights organization. She didn’t simply write checks, she worked in the office daily until the COVID pandemic. As Ms. Magazine said, “Rest in power, Peg Yorkin. You have made a difference for millions of women and girls.”
Welcome Mr. Speaker
Assemblymember Robert Rivas (AD 29) takes the Speaker’s gavel from outgoing Speaker Anthony Rendon today. Rivas was elected in 2018 and represents part of the Central Coast. According to his campaign website, he grew up in “farmworker housing” and is now one of the most powerful people in California. Calpeek has previously discussed his somewhat bumpy ride to the Speakership. Other leadership changes are also expected. Politico has a round-up of who might become a new committee chair. Calpeek welcomes the new Speaker and wishes him well.
Races Gettin’ Hot in the Valley
Earlier this month, Calpeek talked about the race to replace Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA 31), who has told people that she is supporting State Senator Bob Archuleta to run for her seat in 2024, although she has not made an official statement about her re-election plans. Archeuleta has opened a federal campaign committee to raise funds. State Senator Susan Rubio has also stated verbally that she is running in the 31st District. Now, we have a candidate who has made a public announcement: Member of the Citrus Community College Board of Trustees and former Mayor of Monrovia, Mary Ann Lutz. According to Lutz’s campaign website, she worked for Napolitano as her Government Liaison and Policy Advisor. Sounds like an interesting race is taking shape in the San Gabriel Valley.
A 30% Raise Is Not Insulting
Asking for a 30% raise and being offered 6% might be insulting. It is certainly disappointing. Those of us standing around the water cooler would be happy to get paid anything. SEIU Local 1000 representing approximately 100,000 state workers had asked for the 30% raise over 3 years. Negotiators for the state offered 6% over 3 years, which the union called “insulting”. The existing contract technically expires today, but until a new agreement is reached, the existing contract stays in effect minus some health care stipends. According to the Sacramento Bee, both sides will continue talking. That said, Calpeek would not be surprised to see state workers with picket signs in their hands soon.
Budget Winners and Losers
As the clock ticked closer to the July 1 deadline, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday evening that he had reached a budget deal with legislative leaders. Unlike last year’s budget cycle where legislators couldn’t find enough ways to spend the windfall of cash that was coming in, this year they had to deal with a $31 billion projected shortfall. However, the Governor and legislature claim that they were able to create a $310 billion spending plan that protects programs and doesn’t require tapping reserves. And, as with every budget cycle, there are winners and there are losers. According to CalMatters, winners included Covered California patients who could see their health insurance costs go down, first-time homebuyers who will continue to have access to state-backed home loans, and low-income families who rely on subsidies to pay for child care would not have to pay more than 1% of their income toward such care. Those who did not fare too well include climate change advocates who saw budgets slashed by $5 billion, cities that were hoping the state would up its funding to cover programs focused on dealing with homelessness, and advocates who hoped to create an unemployment insurance program for undocumented workers. Although the budget did include $1 billion for homeless programs, it’s just one-third of what was sought. While the budget included an 8.22% cost-of-living adjustment for public schools, it also cut arts and music grants by $200 million. For more details on the budget plan, check out the reporting by CalMatters’ Sameea Kamal and Alexei Koseff.
Feldstein Soto Seeks to Weaken Public Records Law
The Los Angeles Times has reported that LA City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto recently traveled to Sacramento to meet with legislators about introducing a bill that would, according to activists, weaken the state’s public records law. While Feldstein Soto describes her proposal as a minor tweak to the California Public Records Act, others see it as a threat to gutting the law that activists have been using to hold the government and law enforcement accountable. The proposal doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in Sacramento. However, it does appear that Feldstein Soto is doubling down after a Los Angeles judge struck down her office’s attempt to sue a journalist and coalition who had obtained photos of LAPD officers through the public records request process and then shared that information online.
Unicorn Sighting in Sacramento
It seems today’s headlines are filled with a variety of charges, accusations and criminal cases featuring politicians gone bad. However, as shared by CalMatters, Assemblymember James Ramos (District 45, San Bernardino) seems to be a political unicorn. Not only is he the first and only Native American in the Legislature, but he also gets paid less than rank-and-file Assemblymembers – by his own choice. Ramos has declined every pay raise since being elected to the Assembly in 2018. According to CalMatters, Ramos stated “I declined the legislative salary increases because I felt it didn’t feel right as others in my district were and are going through hardships like wildfires, droughts, budget deficits and the pandemic. It is a way to further serve my district and state as we get through the trials of recent years.” If you see Ramos in the Capitol, you can post on your social media account that you may have just had a #UnicornSighting.
Padilla In Lead to Fill Vacant LA City Council Seat
The special election to fill the Los Angeles City Council District 6 seat, left vacant by the resignation of Councilwoman Nury Martinez due to recordings exposing racist comments by Martinez and others, was held on Tuesday and it appears the incoming councilmember will be Imelda Padilla. The runoff, which appears to have resulted in a 10% voter turnout, was between Padilla and Marisa Alcaraz. Alcaraz is a senior ranking staffer for Councilmember Curren Price, who was recently charged by the L.A. County District Attorney’s office with embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest. Padilla will fill the remainder of Martinez’s term and will be up for re-election in 2024.