Racially-Focused Proposals Advance

By: 
Bill Pearl

Should California lawmakers put a measure on the November 2020 ballot inviting voters to repeal Prop 209, enacted in 1996 to prohibit using racial, ethnic and gender preferences in public schools, UC/CSU admissions and other state and local government programs, hiring and contracts?

Two-thirds of the Assembly (including all Long Beach area Assemblymembers) recently voted advance repealing Prop 209 and if 2/3 of the state Senate agrees, a majority of California voters will decide in November.

Should the state legislature create a task force (with members of its choice) to study and recommend paying reparations for African-Americans? All incumbent LB-area Assemblymembers voted to do so and the state Senate will decide shortly

Should the Long Beach City Council “defund” (reduce funding for) the Long Beach police department and spend the sums reduced elsewhere? All Long Beach Councilmembers recently voted to advance a “Framework for Reconciliation” directing city staff to return with proposals by which the council could do so in upcoming budget decisions and include a possible ballot measure for matters the council hasn’t yet discussed.

Ballot Measure to Repeal Prop 209

On June 10 the California Assembly voted mainly along party lines (60-14-5) to advance a proposed state constitutional amendment, ACA 5, to the state Senate where a 2/3 vote could place it on the November 2020 ballot. The measure invites a majority of California voters to repeal Prop 209 (approved in 1996 by a roughly 54%-46% margin) that banned government decided racial/gender preferences in public schools, UC/CSU admissions and other government programs, hiring and contracts.

Among those voting to advance Prop 209’s repeal via ACA 5 were Long Beach area Assembly members Patrick O’Donnell (D, LB/SP), Mike Gipson (D, NLB-Carson) and Speaker Anthony Rendon (D, NLB-Paramount.)

ACA 5 has drawn fierce opposition from a number of Asian-American constituencies. Three Democrat Assembly members – Edwin Chau, Kansen Chu and Bill Quirk were recorded as “no vote recorded” along with Republicans Jordan Cunningham and Heath Flora. Republican Tom Lackey voted “yes.”

If ACA 5 clears the state Senate by a 2/3 margin, it will be go on the November 2020 statewide presidential ballot, where a majority of statewide voters will decide whether to enact it or reject it.

Reparations for African Americans

On June 11, the California Assembly on a 61-12-6 vote (with the “yes” votes of Long Beach Assemblymembers Patrick O’Donnell (D, LB-San Pedro), Mike Gipson (D, LB-Carson) and Speaker Anthony Rendon (D, LB-Paramount) voted to advance AB 3121’s proposed reparations panel to the state Senate, where its majority of that body decide in the coming days.

The bill doesn’t speak solely in terms of reparations for slavery. (California wasn’t a slave state.) It empowers the Task Force to also consider what it calls slavery’s ongoing legacy of discriminatory policies and practices that it argues continue to the present day.

AB 3121 would establish a “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.” With 8 members: 2 chosen by the Governor, three by the President Pro Tem of the state Senate and three by the Assembly Speaker [all currently Democrats.] Up to four can be members of the state legislature and each appointing authority can appoint up to two members from the same political party.

At minimum four appointees must “represent major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice” and “shall be drawn from diverse backgrounds to represent the interests of communities of color throughout the state, have experience working to implement racial justice reform, and, to the extent possible, represent geographically diverse areas of the state.”

The bill would require the Task Force to recommend, among other things, “the form of compensation that should be awarded, the instrumentalities through which it should be awarded and who should be eligible for this compensation.” It would also require the Task Force to submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the state legislature.

One Republican Assemblymember (Tyler Diep, R, Huntington Beach/Garden Grove) voted for the bill. Four Republicans were recorded as “no vote recorded” along with two Democrats.

Presumptive Democrat Presidential candidate Joe Biden has voiced support for a “study” of reparations while stopping short of supporting reparations themselves.

Last year, the California Assembly approved and sent to the state Senate Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 21 which would voice the California Legislature’s support for H.R. 40 now pending the U.S. House of Representatives (with Congressman Alan Lowenthal, D, LB-west OC as a co-sponsor) to establish a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans. All Long Beach area Assemblymembers joined as AJR 2’s co-authors. 58 Assembly Democrats voted for it; 4 Republicans voted against it and 17 Republicans chose “no vote recorded.” AJR 21 is now in the state Senate’s Rules Committee.

Reduce Funding for LBPD?

On June 9, the City Council voted without dissent to approve “Framework for Reconciliation” advanced by Councilmembers Rex Richardson (primary author), Jeannine Pearce, Al Austin and Vice Mayor Dee Andrews that includes verbiage paralleling advocacy language by groups that favor “defunding” (reducing funding for LBPD) and shifting spending elsewhere.

In a June 7 webcast, Councilman Richardson acknowledged that his “Framework for Reconciliation” includes a provision intended to defund police spending. “Should we defund the police? Absolutely. Am I advocating to take out the police completely? No” and indicated he supports shifting police budgeted sums to other Council spending items. Councilman Richardson said investing in libraries and public health shows a “thriving healthy city” while putting greater sums into police doesn’t.

As previously reported by the Beachcomber, a former Long Beach City Council under Mayor Foster erased budgeting for roughly 20% of the City’s police level in votes that began during the “Great Recession.” Under Mayor Garcia, LB’s current Council has restored funding for 22 of 208 erased officers following June 2016 Long Beach voter approval of the Measure A sales tax increase.

Bill Pearl publishes lbreport.com, an online news source since 2000.

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Comments

The Long Beach Police Department spends over $12 million per year on settlements and payouts on verdicts related to police misconduct, officer-involved shootings, police use of force and in-custody deaths. On top of this, Long Beach Police Department spends over $5 million per year on settlements and payouts on verdicts related to retaliation lawsuits filed against the police department by its own officers. Combined, LBPD spends nearly $20 million per year defending itself from lawsuits; all paid for by us taxpayers.

While all settlements over $50,000 have to be approved by the city council, the funds are paid out of the general fund and NOT the police department budget. This means the police department feels no pain from their own misconduct and mistakes. LBPD has no incentive to improve their performance because the police department budget is not impacted by any verdict or settlement paid out of the general fund.

To improve LBPD’s focus on preventing lawsuits, future settlements and payouts on verdicts should be paid out of the police department’s budget, NOT the general fund. It's a no-brainer.
Knowing their job may be put in jeopardy if they are sued may cause LBPD to treat the public with greater care and respect.

I agree 100%, why this has not happen yet? One good reason is because of all the money that the LBPD union gave to the Mayor and city council. This ensures that these people help promote the misconduct by the police. It's sad but LBC Mayor and City Council is bought and paid for.

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