Will You Get a Payment? California Readying ‘Tax Refunds’ For 23 Million Residents

Qualifying couples who pay their taxes jointly and have dependents will get $1,050.

In three weeks, California will begin sending Middle Class Tax Refund payments to 23 million qualifying residents.

The state set aside $9.5 billion from its $308 billion annual budget for the inflation-relief payments. Initially proposed as a gas rebate, the state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom settled on a plan to return some of the state’s $98 billion budget surplus to residents struggling with rising prices amid record-high inflation.

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in June when the provision was signed.

Payments will range from $200 for certain high-income earners to $1,050 for married, joint tax filers.

Similar to the pandemic-related Golden State Stimulus payment programs, recipients of the MCTR must be California residents and tax filers in order to qualify. The state will base relief payments on adjusted gross income found in 2021 tax returns.

Also like the GSS distribution, the Franchise Tax Board will be sending the relief money via direct deposits. Instead of sending out paper checks to the nonelectronic filers, the state will mail debit cards.

FTB representatives said Monday that the agency is working on a distribution calendar, but for now, recipients should expect most direct deposits to land between Oct. 7 and Nov. 14.

Households with joint tax filers will get as much as $1,050 if they have eligible dependents and earn less than $150,000 annually in AGI. The benefit falls to $750 for income earners above $150,000 and to $600 for dual-filers who earn $250,001 to $500,000. There is no benefit for joint filers who make more than $500,000 annually or single filers who earn $250,000.

Here’s how it breaks down for single tax filers and those who claim “head of household” on their tax returns:

—Less than $75,000 annually in adjusted gross income will get $700 if they have a dependent. Those with no dependents will get $350.

—$75,001 to $125,000: $500 (with dependent) or $250 without

—$125,001 to $250,000: $400 (with dependent) or $200 without.

MCTR distribution will go something like this, the FTB said Monday:

Direct deposit payments for Californians who received Golden State Stimulus (GSS) I or II will be issued to bank accounts Oct. 7-25, with the remaining direct deposits occurring between Oct. 28 and Nov. 14.

About 90% of the direct deposits will be issued in October.

Debit cards will be mailed between Oct. 25 and Dec. 10 for Californians who received GSS I and II. The remaining debit cards mailed by Jan. 15, 2023.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines

With his signature on Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to get lost when it comes to the next redistricting task in nine years. The governor signed legislation by Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, D-Fresno, to give those duties to a 14-member community redistricting commission. Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure that the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation. The five-member board lobbied against the Arámbula bill, saying it takes the redistricting process “away from the voters” who elect the board “and gives it to appointed special interest groups with no accountability to voters.” “AB 2030 proposed to usurp local control and discretion of the County of Fresno’s elected representatives, while other counties with similar demographics and population would maintain local control and discretion over the redistricting process,” the board wrote. Arámbula, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and other community organizations said the supervisors can’t be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts based on the fact that supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.

Sal Quintero is the sole Latino on the board. Latinos account for 53.4% of county residents, up from about 35% in 1990. There are three Republicans and two Democrats on the board, but Supervisor Brian Pacheco, a Democrat, tends to vote with the three GOP representatives. Registered Democrats are now counted almost eight points higher than Republicans, 39.7% to 32%, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s a change from an even split a decade ago.

The League of Women Voters of Fresno backed Arámbula’s bill. The organization, in a letter of support, said the California Fair Maps Act moved the county closer to “an inclusive and more transparent process.” “However, the lack of an independent redistricting body allowed our county supervisors to disregard public testimony and more than 15 publicly-submitted maps to adopt a virtually unchanged district map,” the league wrote. The board voted 4-1 to adopt a district map that was drawn by county staffers that remained little changed from previous boundaries. A map promoted by the Central California Coalition for Equitable Realignment did not make the final cut despite support from 36 of 46 people who testified before the board. “I’m disappointed,” said former Assemblymember Juan Arámbula after the vote. “I think the time has come to look at requiring counties to set up independent commissions outside of their control to make these decisions because (the supervisors) just have too much self-interest.” Arámbula, the father of the current assemblymember, pushed for independent commissions when he served in the Assembly. Newsom appears to have paid attention this time, a year after vetoing legislation that would have required counties with more than 400,000 residents to turn over redistricting duties to a citizens commission. Newsom also signed a bill by Assemblymember Rudy Salas to create a citizens redistricting commission in Kern County. The Arámbula bill, which sailed through the Assembly 56-20 and the state Senate 29-10, was also opposed by the California State Association of Counties. The bill will establish a 14-member commission with political representation proportional to the county’s voter registration party preference. The Salas bill has identical language. “Fresno County must have an independent citizens redistricting commission that will seriously listen to the voices of people demanding representation that truly reflects their communities and will address their issues,” said Arámbula in introducing the bill. “Our county is changing, and Latinos now make up the majority of the population.”

The legislation, AB 2430, was strongly backed by the Dolores Huerta Foundation, whose community outreach led to an increase in resident involvement during the redistricting process. The foundation also backed community organizations that came up with new district boundaries designed to improve the chances of Latino candidates. In the June primary, José Ramírez and Daniel Parra lost the only contested race, losing to incumbent Buddy Mendes. The community-favored map would have created three Latino-majority districts, and would have kept the Mendes district west of Highway 41 and moved the portion east of the highway into a new district with farming and communities that are different from those that remain in the old district. Fresno County joins the counties of Los Ángeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Bárbara in having a citizens redistricting commission. Kern County got added this year also after Newsom signed the Salas legislation. Latinos represent the majority of residents in Fresno (53.6%), Tulare (65.5%), Kings (56.8%), Kern (54.9%), Madera (59.6%), and Merced (61.8%) counties, yet each have just one Latino/Latina on the board of supervisors. In Kern County, the board of supervisors also opposed the Salas bill, saying “a new and fundamentally partisan redistricting process is being unfairly and unnecessarily forced on the residents of Kern County, over the objection of their duly elected local representatives.” If the board is removed from the redistricting process, the county said, “it makes no sense at all that the board would still be responsible for footing the bill.” After Kern County came up with new supervisorial districts in 2011, it lost a lawsuit to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) over those maps in 2018. MALDEF said the 2011 maps denied Latinos the right to elect their own candidates in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

A Tax Revolt in San Francisco?

Citizen tax revolts have been waged throughout American history. Indeed, the genesis of the United States was a dispute with Great Britain over taxes. The issue came to a head when colonists in Massachusetts dressed as Native Americans and dumped English tea into Boston Harbor. Literally, the original Tea Party.

But American independence didn’t stop citizens from protesting high taxes. Shays’ Rebellion in 1786 was an armed uprising in Massachusetts in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government’s increased efforts to collect taxes both on individuals and their trades. Many historians believe that the difficulty in suppressing the revolt under the Articles of Confederation provided significant motivation to form a more powerful central government.

While the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788 did in fact provide stronger federal authority, it didn’t prevent tax revolts. The Whiskey Rebellion, a fierce revolt against the new tax on distilled spirits imposed shortly after the formation of the federal government, was an early test of George Washington’s presidency.

Fast forward to more modern times. California’s own Proposition 13, passed in a landslide election in 1978, initiated the modern tax revolt. And, in an echo of 1776, a new Tea Party movement began in 2009 with a call for lower taxes, a reduction of the national debt, and less government spending. The movement launched the political careers of several members of Congress, many of whom are still serving.

Today’s media likes to portray those of us associated with taxpayer advocacy as ultra-conservative. But in a surprising development, there is a nascent “tax revolt” in the Castro District of San Francisco — whose population, by any objective standard, is the polar opposite of “conservative.”

According to an article by Jessica Flores in the San Francisco Chronicle, business owners in the Castro have repeatedly complained to city officials about the damage that homeless people have inflicted in the neighborhood, only to have the city fail to address the problem.

In response to the indifference of city officials, the Castro Merchants Association sent a letter to city officials urging them to take action on behalf of the beleaguered neighborhood. The letter described the usual problems associated with California’s horrific homeless problem: Vandalized storefronts, open drug use, business owners and customers, not to mention the “psychotic episodes.”

Now merchants say the situation has gotten so bad that they’re threatening to possibly stop paying city taxes and fees. “If the city can’t provide the basic services for them to become a successful business, then what are we paying for?” a leader of the association told The Chronicle. “You can’t have a vibrant, successful business corridor when you have people passed out high on drugs, littering your sidewalk. These people need to get help.”

This threat to withhold taxes and fees may not be on the same level as the violent Whiskey Rebellion or the political sea change of Prop. 13. But it does reflect a problem more pronounced in California than almost anywhere else in America: Not getting the services we pay for.  Is it really so surprising that all citizens simply want services commensurate with the taxes they pay? In fact, complaints about California’s high tax burden often take a back seat to the fact that we pay a lot and get so little.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register

COVID-19 School Closures Undermined Learning

Whether California’s schools should remain open or be closed was a hot issue when the COVID-19 pandemic was raging in 2020 and 2021.

Although medical authorities quickly concluded that children had a much smaller risk of being infected or experiencing severe effects if infected, California schools were mostly closed, in large measure because teachers and their powerful unions insisted on it.

With schools closed, local administrators scrambled to provide on-line classes, what became known as “zoom school,” but they were poor substitutes for the real thing — especially for English-learner students and those from poor families.

Those children — roughly 60% of the state’s nearly 6 million public school students — were already trailing their more privileged contemporaries academically when the pandemic hit. The closures made it worse, for obvious reasons.

They tended to lack internet access and proper equipment for on-line classes. Their parents were often compelled to work outside the home to make ends meet, so kids were often left to fend for themselves. Absenteeism from on-line classes was widespread.

Affluent parents, particularly those who could easily work from home during the pandemic, made certain that their kids attended on-line classes, helped them with their school work, formed informal collaboration groups and/or hired tutors. Thus, the ill effects of closures were mitigated. And, of course, private schools, such as the one Gov. Gavin Newsom’s kids attend, either remained open or minimized closures.

For months, politicians from Newsom downward quarreled over how the schools should function and angry parents formed the core of a movement to recall him from office. Newsom survived the recall, but the educations of millions of kids did not, as new data confirm.

While the state Department of Education has not released 2022 academic test data that would allow comparisons with pre-pandemic results, individual school districts are doing so and the numbers from the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, are stunning.

About 72% of the district’s students are not meeting state standards in math and 58% are behind in English, essentially wiping out five years of progress that it had recorded prior to the pandemic.

“The pandemic deeply impacted the performance of our students,” LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho said. “Particularly kids who were at risk, in a fragile condition, prior to the pandemic, as we expected, were the ones who have lost the most ground.”

While the district released gross data, it did not break down the test results by ethnic or economic subgroups. The Los Angeles Times, however, gleaned the detail from a school board document marked “not for public release.”

Why the secrecy? Apparently it was to mask the particularly disturbing data about Black and Latino kids.

“About 81% of 11th-graders did not meet grade-level standards in math. About 83% of Black students, 78% of Latino students and 77% of economically disadvantaged students did not meet the math standards,” the Times reported.

We won’t know how the state as a whole fared until — and unless — the Department of Education finally releases 2022 complete “Smarter Balance” test results. But there’s no reason to believe that what happened — or, more accurately, what didn’t happen — in Los Angeles isn’t also true of other systems, particularly those with large numbers of at-risk students.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

California Governor Signs Sweeping Climate Legislation

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a sweeping package of bills Friday to expand California’s reliance on clean energy and reduce carbon emissions, moves he said further establish the state as a global climate leader.

The new laws include proposals aimed at reducing exposure to gas and oil pollution in communities of color, expanding clean energy jobs and accelerating the state’s timeline for getting most of its electricity from renewable energy sources. Newsom signed them following a record-breaking heat wave that forced California to rely more heavily on natural gas for its electricity production.

“We could talk about the way the world should be and protest it,” Newsom said while standing underneath an array of solar panels. “Or we can actually make demonstrable progress.”

State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, a Democrat, was an author of one bill aimed at protecting vulnerable communities from pollution coming from oil and gas production sites. It bans the drilling of any new oil and gas wells with 3,200 feet (975 meters) of homes, schools and other neighborhood sites and requires wells in those zones to enact stricter safety measures. Neighborhood oil drilling is prominent around Los Angeles and oil-rich parts of the Central Valley.

“The reason why we do this, first and foremost, is because some of us are parents,” said Gonzalez, who represents the southern part of Los Angeles County.

Another bill Newsom signed requires California to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, meaning it will remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as what it emits.

The state’s accelerated carbon reduction targets are a “big win for California,” Kassie Siegel, of the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, said in a statement.

The oil industry has broadly criticized Newsom’s climate package, saying it will harm an industry that still provides many jobs throughout the state. California is the seventh-largest oil producing state.

Some environmental groups were critical as well, though for different reasons. Food and Water Watch California, a nonprofit aimed at addressing climate and water issues, opposed a bill in the package that creates a permitting system for carbon capture projects. Such efforts rely on technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere to store underground.

Critics of the technology say it’s dangerous, unproven and a means for oil companies to keep emitting.

“Carbon capture is a smokescreen for fossil fuel industry players to protect their bottom lines at the expense of our climate and communities,” Food and Water Watch California Director Chirag G. Bhakta said in a statement.

Newsom, a Democrat, also took the opportunity to swipe at Republican political leaders in Texas. He compared California’s energy production to that of Texas, another major producer, where a winter storm in February 2021 left millions without power.

“And they’re talking to us about keeping our lights on?” Newsom said of Texas.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

DeSantis: Newsom’s Hair Gel is ‘Interfering With his Brain Function’ Over Immigration Stance

The public feud between governors Gavin Newsom, of California, and Florida’s Ron DeSantis continues to make headlines.

This time, the issue stems from their two conflicting stances on immigration. On Thursday, Newsom slammed DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott for migrants being shipped across the country. Newsom announced Thursday that he has requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the migrant children being “used as political props.”

On Friday, DeSantis responded to Newsom’s criticism, saying the California Governor’s “hair gel is interfering with his brain function.”

Newsom issued a response on social media to DeSantis’ comments, saying the Florida Governor is “struggling, distracted and busy playing politics with people’s lives.” Newsom challenged DeSantis on a debate and vowed to bring his hair gel as the Florida Governor is allowed to “bring hairspray.”

The two’s contentious exchange comes just days after Newsom donated $100,000 to DeSantis’ opponent ahead of Florida’s gubernatorial race.

“You want to ask what my ‘why’ is in life? I don’t like bullies,” Newsom said back on August 25. “I didn’t like what DeSantis said about Fauci, that you may disagree with him, but to call someone pejorative terms because they’re short. Who the hell are these guys? What kind of people are they?”

Newsom also compared DeSantis to former President Donald Trump.

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Voters Push to Take Local Redistricting From Politicians

California’s independent redistricting commission has received generally good reviews for its new maps that voters are using to elect legislators and members of Congress in November. 

Voters who say they are disenfranchised want similar panels to draw their local districts — and they’ve gone to the Legislature to make that happen.

Three bills on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk would overrule local officials and require independent redistricting commissions in Fresno, Kern and Riverside counties, respectively. If he signs them, those panels would work on districts for the boards of supervisors in those counties, starting after the next Census in 2030.

“I think people are aware now of how politicians have been using political lines to keep themselves in power. I think people want to see that power in the hands of the people,” said Lori Pesante, civic engagement director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which sponsored Assembly Bill 2030 for the Fresno County citizens commission. 

“Redistricting is very much in the consciousness of the people, so I hope the conditions are ripe now for the governor to sign,” she added.

While Newsom vetoed a bill in 2019 that would have required all 21 counties with populations of 400,000 or more to establish independent commissions to draw county supervisor districts, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed two other bills to create such panels just in Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Under current law, counties are allowed to use advisory or fully independent commissions, but aren’t required to have them. 

The 2022-23 state budget includes $1 million for the Riverside citizens redistricting commission.

“This failure of a majority of the Board of Supervisors to protect the voting rights of our Latino community illustrates why an independent citizens redistricting commission is needed to draw fair maps for Riverside County,” Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, a Corona Democrat, said in a statement. She authored AB 1307 to create the Riverside commission and is vice chairperson of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. 

Advocates in Riverside County aren’t waiting on a new commission to draw fairer districts in the future. They’re suing to overturn districts drawn by the board of supervisors last year, alleging that the maps disenfranchise Latino voters by splitting them among districts. 

“What we saw happen in Riverside County was pure political self-preservation by the county supervisors,” said Michael Gomez Daly, executive director of Inland Empire United, a coalition that seeks to elect diverse candidates in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. “It had nothing to do with fair representation for the communities that they purport to serve.” 

Representative democracy? 

Riverside County is a prime example of the voting population shifts that can occur from decade to decade — and even more quickly. Within just one year during the pandemic, from July 2020 through July 2021, Riverside County gained 36,000 residents — the third highest county population gain in the nation. Even before that, the county saw 10% growth, with a couple of cities nearly doubling in size from 2010 to 2020.

It seems logical: The Inland Empire led the country in job growth after the Great Recession. It’s home to warehouses for retail giants such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. Housing is also more affordable than the rest of Southern California.

Riverside County’s demographics have also shifted, with increases in the Latino population and Asian populations, and decreases in the white population.

That’s why groups including Inland Empire United and the UCLA Voting Rights Project warned supervisors that the maps they were leaning towards would disenfranchise Latino voters. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say their input on a map with two majority-Latino districts instead of just one was ignored. 

“For months, Riverside residents demanded the county to do the right thing and adopt maps that would lead to equitable and fair representation. Instead, the supervisors ignored the community and adopted maps that would ensure they had easier reelections,” Daly said in a statement in June. “The supervisors’ redistricting plan is a classic case of politicians putting their own interests over people.”   

The plaintiffs are calling on the board to rescind the current map, and adopt one that keeps communities of interest together.

Similar complaints are behind the bill for a Fresno County commission.

Critics said that supervisors approved a map that changed little from the 1991 version, despite a growing Latino population.

“Our county is changing, and Latinos now make up the majority of the population,” Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, a Fresno Democrat, said in a statement when he introduced AB 2030. “We can no longer tolerate a process in which elected officials give lip service to following redistricting requirements, ignore public input, and then adopt a map that serves their purposes. This change is long overdue.”

The bill for the Fresno commission, however, is opposed by both the county and the California State Association of Counties.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Newsom Calls for US Inquiry Into DeSantis and Migrant Flight to Martha’s Vineyard

Jenavieve Hatch

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Thursday for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly several immigrant families to Martha’s Vineyard.

“This is nothing more than a stunt, but it’s done with the cruel intention to humiliate and dehumanize children no older than the governor’s children themselves,” Newsom said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee editorial board.

“It’s a disgrace, it’s repugnant, and, I would argue, it’s illegal.”

Newsom sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday, imploring him to investigate any potential criminal or civil violations, particularly any “charges of kidnapping” after alleged “fraudulent inducement.”

Newsom called DeSantis and his fellow GOP governors “functional authoritarians,” and said that the Republican Party “has crossed the rubicon of any decency.”

The decision to fly the families to Martha’s Vineyard – the small, posh island off the coast of Massachusetts – was simply to “transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” Taryn Fenske, DeSantis’ communications director, said on Wednesday. Earlier this year, DeSantis advocated the Republican-led Florida Legislature to set aside $12 million for this exact purpose.

Newsom was joined by the Biden Administration, who also spoke out against DeSantis’ political maneuvering. But when asked if they were going to take legal action, said they will refer to the DOJ.

“There’s a legal way of doing this and for managing migrants. Republican governors interfering in that process and using migrants as political pawns is shameful, is reckless, and just plain wrong,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday.

While DeSantis was sending the families to Massachusetts, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent two buses of immigrant families to Washington, D.C., reportedly to a location close to Vice President Kamala Harris’ D.C. home.

Click here to read the full article at the Mercury News

Election officials are the gatekeepers of our democracy: Natalie Adona and Neal Kelley

Election officials may not top the headlines every day, but without them, our democracy wouldn’t function. These county registrar of voters, city clerks, and volunteer poll workers are also our friends, family members, and neighbors. They not only embody our country’s commitment to government by and for the people, they are specially trained and equipped to ensure that every voter is heard.

As election officials, we know just how much work goes into ensuring that our elections are free, fair, and secure. We’ve also seen firsthand the challenges facing our public servants in recent years: the immense political pressure, intimidation, and disinformation that has fueled a disturbing uptick in violent threats. It’s a reality we must face and work together to address.

That’s why, with the midterm elections quickly approaching, now is the time for our leaders to act and provide the necessary resources and funding to protect our elections officials and keep elections safe in 2022 and beyond.

The continued spread of disinformation following the 2020 election has emboldened election deniers to act out against the very people safeguarding our democratic process. Fearing for their safety, and that of their families, an increasing number of election officials are leaving their jobs. In Gillespie County, Texas, which voted overwhelmingly for former President Trump in 2020, an entire elections office recently resigned, with officials citing threats and stalking as the primary driver for the mass departure.

During the past year alone, the Department of Justice has examined more than 1,000 threats made against election officials, finding that 11 percent were serious enough to merit a federal criminal investigation. The FBI, in recent testimony before the Senate, also said that the volume of incidents is so high that it does not have adequate systems in place to process them.

We’ve seen and experienced the kind of intimidation that has forced many of our peers to fear for their safety. And one thing is clear: our nation cannot wait for this inflammatory rhetoric to cross an even more dangerous line. We need to act quickly to protect the civil servants who keep our elections running.

A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced legislation aimed at updating the Electoral Count Act to make the election certification process less prone to the kind of manipulation or subversion that we saw after the 2020 election. This legislation is important, and we hope Congress passes it swiftly. That group also introduced a companion piece of legislation that would target anyone who threatens or intimidates election workers, voters, poll watchers, or candidates. The bill would increase the maximum penalty for such actions from one year in prison to two.

This is an important start, and we applaud the senators involved for paying attention to this issue, but we must do more to stop this harmful trend of harassment and intimidation so that we can truly protect the people running our elections.

That includes new funding streams, through the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, or the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), that election officials can utilize specifically for threat monitoring, safety training, privacy services, and home security.

Earlier this year, the EAC expanded the use of federal election security funds for physical security and social media monitoring at the state and local level. This is a step forward, but more federal resources are needed to combat ongoing threats and harassment against our election officials.

Collaboration among federal, state, and local officials can also help prepare specific plans of action. Looking at Orange County, by creating a task force with members from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement, we have become better able to assess and address threats against poll workers and others. This kind of enhanced information sharing and coordination should be implemented across the country.

In several counties across the nation, calls to law enforcement regarding instances of intimidation are often met with questions such as, “Is this even a crime?” It’s vital that election officials and law enforcement work together proactively before elections, which should include training to increase their awareness of threats so they can become more effective in addressing them.

Additionally, we need more support systems in place for election officials to protect their physical and mental health. Harassment takes a toll. Counseling and emotional support should be offered to help workers on the front lines. Likewise, physical security should be offered to protect those at work and at home when their safety may be jeopardized.

Thankfully, we are beginning to see signs of progress around the country. Already, several states have either introduced or passed legislation aimed at protecting election workers. In Maine, a new law classifies threats against election workers as a crime and offers de-escalation training to civil servants. In California, a bill has been introduced to keep election officials’ home addresses private. In Washington state, it is now a felony to threaten election officials online.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Democrat Running For State Controller Studied Socialism in Venezuela on a Trip in 2006

‘The last thing we need as California’s fiscal watchdog is someone who extolled the virtues of socialism’

Malia Cohen, a Democrat running for California State Controller, the state’s fiscal watchdog, traveled to Venezuela in 2006 to learn about Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution, Fox News reported Tuesday. Cohen, who currently is a member of the California State Board of Equalization, made a 10-day trip to Venezuela for $1,250.

Fox continues:

Cohen’s trip to the country was documented in a CNN story about the group’s tour, with Cohen claiming that “revolutionary thought” is “generational” as it showed an image of her gazing at a mural featuring a quote from Venezuelan leader Simon Bolivar that roughly translates to: “The health of a Republic depends on the morality acquired by education of citizens in childhood.…”

“The revolutionary thought and mindset is generational,” Cohen told the outlet at the time. “What we see in the United States, and you really don’t see grandparents and parents and even young as active politically.”

“We always knew Malia Cohen was extreme, but we had no idea she was this extreme,” Lanhee Chen, the lead candidate for State Controller told the Globe.

“The last thing we need as California’s fiscal watchdog is someone who extolled the virtues of socialism,” Chen said. “The many Californians who fled socialist countries deserve to know why Malia took this trip and whether she still believes in ‘the revolutionary thought and mindset’ of Hugo Chavez’s brutal regime.”

Venezuela was once among the richest countries in the world, and maintained a robust constitutional democracy until Hugo Chavez’s brutal dictatorship dismantled all democratic institutions and destroyed the economy, forcing the Venezuelan people into extreme poverty.

“The Controller is California’s independent fiscal watchdog,” Chen explains on his website. “The person who makes sure that taxpayer money—OUR money—is spent as we’re told it will be. But that’s not happening now. In fact, the Controller can’t even tell us where she sent over $300 billion in payments in 2018 alone.”

Chen, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, earned four degrees from Harvard University, including a law degree and doctorate in political science. Chen has served in senior roles in both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. Describing why he is running for State Controller, Chen says no one is watching out for the California taxpayer.

“We need new leadership that isn’t afraid to take on as much as $30 billion of fraud in our state unemployment insurance system,” Chen says. “Russian mobsters and convicted murderers like Scott Peterson shouldn’t be getting government payments, while single moms in need go without.”

The Controller manages the state’s checkbook – it is a very important and serious role in State Government.

The Controller is responsible for:

  • accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources
  • independently audits government agencies that spend state funds
  • administers the payroll system for state government employees and California State University employees
  • serves on 70 boards and commissions with authority ranging from state public land management to crime victim compensation
  • is a member of numerous financing authorities, and fiscal and financial oversight entities including the Franchise Tax Board and Board of Equalization
  • also serves on the boards of the nation’s two largest public pension funds

Cohen was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and led efforts to divest the city’s pension fund from fossil fuels. She currently is a member of the Board of Equalization where she “works to provide tax relief for Californians reeling from the pandemic, while holding corporations accountable for paying their fair share,” Cohen’s campaign website says. She was born and raised in San Francisco, earned a BA from Fisk University, and a Master’s in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe