The California Democratic Party African American Caucus (CDPAAC) hosted press conferences at four locations across the state to call on Black Californians to support what that group has deemed as the “pro-Black” propositions on this November’s ballot.
The news conferences were held in metropolitan areas with some of the largest numbers of African American voters in the state — Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and Sacramento — on Oct. 22.
The initiatives the CDPAAC has endorsed are:
Prop. 15 (split roll tax), Prop. 16 (repeal of Prop 209); Prop. 17 (restoring voting rights for ex-prisoners); and Prop. 21 (rent control).
“We will be expressing our support for pro-Black ballot initiatives. We will also be speaking specifically to the benefits the initiatives will have on the Black community,” said Kimberly Ellis who ran for chair of the California Democratic Party in 2019 and is a former recording secretary of the CDPAAC. She was in Oakland speaking with California Black Media by phone.
The CDPAAC’s Black women leaders who led the effort also used the political event to criticize what they describe as attempts by some “bad actors” within the African American community to undermine initiatives that could improve the lives of African Americans.
Kendra Lewis, vice-chair of the CDPAAC, called out the California – Hawaii NAACP, saying that group is one of the detractors whose positions on ballot measures go against African American interests.
“Sadly, we’ve seen the NAACP California-Hawaii chapter lose its moral compass as evidence of its most recent endorsements, including pro-Black initiatives like Prop. 15 and Prop. 21,” Lewis said on steps at the north entrance of the State Capitol.
Lewis accused the California branch of the country’s oldest civil rights organization of accepting payments to take stances on legislation, but she also acknowledged the problem of money influencing politics is much larger than the NAACP.
Although the CDPAAC is supporting four “pro-Black” ballot propositions, it is emphasizing two of them: Prop. 15 and Prop 21.
Prop. 15, the “Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative,” would levy higher real-estate taxes on business and industrial buildings than on residential homes.
The initiative’s intent is to increase funding for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing the tax assessment of commercial and industrial properties.
The state’s fiscal analyst has estimated that, upon full implementation, Prop. 15 would generate between $8 billion and $12.5 billion in revenue per year. Forty percent of the revenue would be allocated to schools while the other 60% would fund local government.
Khiry Moore, an educator, photographer and entrepreneur in Sacramento who owns a couple of rental properties with his wife, says he neither supports Prop. 21 nor Prop. 15.
“The problem we have as a culture or race is that we don’t allow objective thought. We don’t focus on how these propositions would benefit or affect us as Black people,” he said. “You must remember. We – the Black Caucus — supported welfare reform and 1990s crime bills.”
“We get to a point where somebody tells us this issue is important to us and we go hard to defend it without thinking it through. We also don’t hold politicians responsible after elections,” Moore continued.
At the CDPAAC Sacramento event, L. Lacey Barnes, executive vice president of the California Federation of Teachers, said she supports Prop 15.
“For small businesses, I think the (minimum) number is at $3 million. At the most 80 % (of Black businesses won’t meet that threshold),” Barnes said, describing the size of businesses that would be taxed if voters approve Prop. 15 next week.
Black politicians and supporters of Prop.15 are state Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Prop 21, the “Local Rent Control Initiative,” would allow cities to introduce new rent control laws or expand existing ones. Huffman says she and California -Hawaii NAACP are concerned that, if Prop. 21 passes, it would pave the way for higher real estate costs, which would increase unaffordability in the state’s housing market, leading to more evictions. This would severely affect the Black community, she says.
“Prop. 21 encourages landlords to evict tenants and would result in less rental housing supply, higher tenants, and more homelessness,” Huffman said.
But many Black landlords like Moore look at Prop. 21 from a different angle.
He says more rent control will make landlords super-selective about who they rent their apartments to, forcing them to reject applicants who are low income or have lower-than-average credit scores.
Gov. Gavin Newsom opposes Prop. 21.
“In the past year, California has passed a historic version of statewide rent control – the nation’s strongest rent caps and renter protections in the nation – as well as short-term eviction relief,” said Newsom. “But Proposition 21, like Proposition 10 before it, runs the all-too-real risk of discouraging availability of affordable housing in our state.”