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California Recycling Bill Highlights Rift Between Mainstream Environmentalism and Environmental Justice Movement

OAKLAND POST — When a group of liberal lawmakers in the state capitol in Sacramento recently proposed legislation that would raise the amount of recycled plastic required in bottled beverages sold in California, many environmental activists lauded the move as a much-needed step in the fight to curb plastic waste.

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By Khalil Abdullah

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – When a group of liberal lawmakers in the state capitol in Sacramento recently proposed legislation that would raise the amount of recycled plastic required in bottled beverages sold in California, many environmental activists lauded the move as a much-needed step in the fight to curb plastic waste.

But as debate over the legislation begins to take shape, critics say that it is becoming increasingly clear that the proposed recycling requirement would, if enacted, have an unintended consequence that hurts one group in particular: low-income Californians, particularly those in African-American communities around the state.

The bill, AB792, would mandate that plastic bottles be made with 25 percent recycled plastic by 2021 before it steadily increasing the recycling requirement to 75 percent by 2030. The bill faces a major test in early July when the Senate Environmental Quality Committee considers whether to send it to the full Senate for a vote.

To supporters, the bill would put in place necessary targets to accelerate a reduction in California’s overall plastic use. But consumer advocates worry that the bill would create new production costs that average Californians would have to pay for.

A major concern is that the bill would unintentionally discourage bottled water consumption at a time when research shows that water is key for better nutrition and a successful diet.

The health implications are especially significant for African-Americans, who have experienced higher rates of diabetes than white Americans partly because of poor diet. The proposed legislation also comes at a time when studies have consistently shown black and Hispanic Americans are more inclined to drink bottled water than other ethnic groups.

In addition, research suggests that minority families without access to clean drinking water are more likely to turn to less healthy sugar-sweetened beverages. With African-Americans and Hispanics making up more than 60 percent of Californians suffering from obesity, some advocates say creating new barriers to healthy drinking options could put these individuals at an even greater risk of developing chronic conditions.

Therefore, experts and advocates are asking state lawmakers to slow down the pace of the bill in order to identify unintended consequences of the recycling legislation, regardless of its lofty goals.

The recycling bill has also had unintended consequences politically. It has exposed a rift between mainstream environmentalists and environmental justice advocates.

Specifically, some in the environmental justice movement complain that many mainstream environmental organizations have focused on high-profile issues like climate change and bottled-water recycling while largely neglecting the day-to-day environmental hazards that communities of color face in many American cities.

These environmental hazards largely stem from a number of factors, including rampant industrial development and unwise land-use policies in many cities. The toxic legacy that these communities confront include incinerators, landfills and contaminated water.

In fact, mainstream environmentalists have drawn heavy criticism for their relative silence during the water-contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, a predominantly African-American city where there is now a pressing need for bottled water.

The differences between the mainstream environmental movement and the environmental justice movement appears to have deep roots: research that has shown people of color and low socioeconomic status have been historically excluded from preeminent environmental groups, many of which are largely white and enjoy the support of wealthy funders.

In 2014, researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies examining the intersection between race and environmentalism in environmental institutions. Their conclusion: An overwhelmingly white “green insiders’ club,” with racial minorities occupying less than 12 percent of the leadership positions in the environmental organizations studied.

Dr. Dorecta E. Taylor, the study’s primary author, is a graduate of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and is presently professor of environmental justice at the University of Michigan, where she also serves as the program director of the Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative. She is also the university’s director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Taylor says White environmentalists are ignoring pressing environmental justice demands due to their failure to move outside of their own insular communities. She said, “One of the things they should be doing is stop being so afraid of people of color, and meet them, interact with them, cultivate them, and start recruiting them.”

Khalil Abdullah, is a Washington, D.C.-area writer and editor. He staffed the Committee on Transportation and Environment for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators before and while serving as executive director. As a national editor for San Francisco-based New America Media, he edited and occasionally wrote on environmental issues.

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post.

Activism

California-Hawaii NAACP Conference Sues Sec. of State Shirley Weber 

The Elections Code provides for a 20-day period to review the ballot materials and file any legal challenges. Because all legal challenges to ballot materials for the November 8, 2022, statewide general election must be completed by August 15, 2022, the lawsuit was filed on August 1.

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Rick Callender, California-Hawaii conference president of the NAACP, and Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State.
Rick Callender, California-Hawaii conference president of the NAACP, and Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

The California – Hawaii State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”) NAACP and Conference President Rick Callender have taken legal action against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber asking that a statement included in the Argument Against Proposition 26 in the ballot pamphlet for the Nov. 8, 2022, statewide general election be removed.

Prop 26 would permit federally recognized Native American tribes to operate dice games, roulette and sports wagering on tribal lands. On-site wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in four specified counties for betters 21 years or older would become legal as well. The proposition also imposes a 10% tax on sports-wagering profits at horse-racing tracks and directs portion of revenues to enforcement and problem-gambling programs.

The lawsuit is challenging a statement from the “No on Prop 26” opposition using a quote from Minnie Hadley-Hempstead, former president of the NAACP’s Los Angeles branch. Hadley-Hempstead’s opposition statement read as follows:

“‘We oppose Prop 26 to protect young people from developing lifelong gambling addictions that often lead to ruined finances, relationships, even homelessness and crime.’ Minnie Hadley-Hempstead, retired teacher and President Emeritus of the Los Angeles NAACP Branch.”

The lawsuit claims the quote gives “the false and misleading impression” that the NAACP opposes Prop 26. The NAACP endorsed Prop 26 in February 2022. In addition, the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP has not endorsed the No on Prop 26 campaign. The NAACP bylaws prohibit local branches from taking positions contrary to the state branch. The lawsuit also raises concern about how the quote was obtained.

“The NAACP is proud to stand with Indian Tribes in strong support of Prop 26 to help further Indian self-reliance,” Callender said in a statement given to California Black Media (CBM). “We are outraged that the card room casinos and their No on 26 campaign would deceptively use the NAACP name in its arguments despite our strong support. We are suing to have these dishonest statements removed from the ballot arguments so it does not mislead voters.”

Callender’s lawsuit further points out that the position ‘President Emeritus’ does not exist within the NAACP and the only branch that can clear use of the trademarked term NAACP in support or opposition of any legislation is the state branch of the organization.

A declaration in support of the lawsuit from Hadley-Hemp. stead describes how she believes she was misled or misunderstood when she was asked to give the statement by Betty Williams, former President of the Sacramento Chapter of the NAACP.

Hadley-Hempstead declared that she was under the impression that Williams still worked for the state branch and believed that her statement against Prop 26 was in solidarity with Callender and the position of the state branch.

In her declaration, Hadley-Hempstead says “If I had known that Ms. Williams wasn’t working on behalf of NAACP, I would have said no right away…… As a long-time NAACP member, I would not agree to lend my name to a public document that took a contrary position to the official NAACP position and would not knowingly violate the NAACP’s bylaws.”

“The card room casino operators responsible for the deceptive No on 26 campaign have a well-documented and deplorable track record of flouting the law,” Callender told CBM. “They’ve been fined millions for violating anti money-laundering laws, misleading regulators, and even illegal gambling. We are suing to prevent their misleading statements from appearing in the voter information guide sent to tens of millions of voters.”

The Elections Code provides for a 20-day period to review the ballot materials and file any legal challenges. Because all legal challenges to ballot materials for the November 8, 2022, statewide general election must be completed by August 15, 2022, the lawsuit was filed on August 1.

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Activism

OPINION: Are We About to See the Permanent Exclusion of Most Black People from Construction Jobs in Oakland?

How is that possible in this city that is believed by the world to be very progressive? Most of the work goes to members of the construction unions that have historically and currently excluded Black people through a complex set of membership requirements.

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The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.
The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.

By Kitty Epstein

For decades Black people in Oakland have obtained 9% or less of the work hours on publicly funded construction projects. So…for jobs that are paid for by all of our tax dollars, Black residents, who make up 23% of Oakland’s population, get only 9% of the relatively well-paid work doing construction.

How is that possible in this city that is believed by the world to be very progressive? Most of the work goes to members of the construction unions that have historically and currently excluded Black people through a complex set of membership requirements.

Nationally, only 7.2% of the carpenters’ union members are Black; 8.3% of the electricians’ union members and so on. The City of Oakland has done two very thorough reports of these racial equity issues. You can find this important information at the end of this story.

But the leadership of the construction trades now insist that that they should obtain an even larger portion of the construction hours and that this practice should be set in stone by something called a Project Labor Agreement. It is now being inaccurately called a “Community Workforce Agreement,” which is nonsense because it doesn’t help the community.

Why would progressive Oakland consider giving exclusive benefits to organizations that practice well-documented racial discrimination? At least one part of the reason is that the construction unions spend enormous amounts of money on Oakland elections. They were instrumental in former City Councilmember Desley Brooks’ defeat in District 6, for example, because they did not consider her sufficiently compliant with their demands.

The City Council established a task force to discuss the racial issues involved in construction and the possibility of a Project Labor Agreement. The task force included some community members, including the publisher of the Oakland Post, and was mandated to address racial discrimination first.

The community members proposed that the entire task force work collectively throughout the process of making proposals and negotiating solutions. The City rejected this proposal and began meeting with the building trades alone, saying that they would return with a proposed Project Labor Agreement, although there has been no demonstrated change in the racial exclusivity practiced by the construction trades.

This is outrageous on three levels:

  1. These are the tax dollars of Black residents, as well as others.
  2. The community’s interests in racial justice have not been resolved in any policy venue.
  3. The community belongs at the table throughout whatever process takes place.

The usual arguments for labor/employer negotiations do not apply. The construction unions are NOT city workers. If they were city employees, they would have both the rights (negotiations) and the responsibilities (non-discriminatory hiring) of the city. Since they are not held responsible to Include Black people in their organizations, they should not have the right to exclusive negotiations about anything

I am hopeful, of course, that the City will reject the continuation and expansion of racial discrimination policies practiced by the leadership of the trades unions and will insist on the drastic changes necessary for Black people to obtain 23% of the work hours they are due by virtue of their proportion of the population and tax dollars contributed.

These two documents below provide information that is both illuminating and horrifying.

Oakland Equity Indicators: https://www.oaklandca.gov/projects/oakland-equity-indicators

Disparity Study – https://www.postnewsgroup.com/disparity-study-examines-patterns-of-discrimination-seeks-remedies-for-city-practices-of-selecting-contractors-in-construction-goods-and-services/

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California Black Media

Seven Initiatives Qualify for California November Ballot

Special interest groups have raised more than $370 million to convince voters to either pass or reject the initiatives. Over 88% of the money raised is for settling whether two sports betting proposals should be legalized.

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The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election.
The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election. Seven is the lowest number of measures to appear on a statewide general election ballot since 2014.

One initiative is Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 (SCA 10). It is asking voters to safeguard a person’s right to reproductive freedom. To qualify for the November ballot, SCA 10 received the required 2/3 supermajority vote in each chamber of the Legislature.

The other six measures initiated by citizen groups are asking voters to decide on sports betting, funding K-12 art and music education, kidney dialysis clinic requirements, income tax to fund zero-emission vehicle projects, and a flavored-tobacco products ban. To be on the ballot, the initiative proponents were required to gather a minimum of 623,212 signatures verified by county elections officials. June 30 was the deadline for the measures to qualify for the November ballot.

Two other measures could have qualified for the ballot but were withdrawn by their sponsors. An initiative to increase the cap on medical malpractice lawsuits was withdrawn when the sponsors reached agreement with the Legislature and Assembly Bill 35 by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes and State Senator Tom Umberg, was passed and signed by Gov. Newsom.

An initiative to reduce plastic waste reduction was withdrawn after it was clear that Senate Bill 54 by State Sen. Ben Allen would pass. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law in June.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 (ACA 3), the California Abolition Act, which would have removed a clause in California’s Constitution that allows the practice of involuntary servitude as a means of punishing crime is not on the ballot because, while it passed the Assembly with the required 2/3 vote, it failed to get enough votes in the Senate.

Special interest groups have raised more than $370 million to convince voters to either pass or reject the initiatives. Over 88% of the money raised is for settling whether two sports betting proposals should be legalized.

The following are details on the fall ballot measures.

Proposition 1California Constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from denying an individual’s reproductive freedom

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn federal protections for women seeking abortions, California lawmakers proposed a California Constitutional amendment to protect the reproductive freedom of women. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Gov. Newsom stated “Abortion is legal in California. It will remain that way. We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care.”

Proposition 26Authorizes new types of gambling

This proposition would allow federally recognized Native American tribes to operate dice games, roulette and sports wagering on tribal lands. On-site wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in four specified counties for betters 21 years or older would become legal. Prop 26 also imposes a 10% tax on sports-wagering profits at horse-racing tracks and directs portion of revenues to enforcement and problem-gambling programs.

Proposition 27Allows online and mobile sports wagering

Currently, sports’ betting online is illegal in California. This proposition would allow Californians 21 and older to place bets online through federally recognized Indian tribes and eligible businesses like Draft Kings and FanDuel. Prop. 27 is estimated to increase state revenues by tens of millions of dollars yearly and potentially direct hundreds of millions of dollars in fee revenue to housing services for homeless Californians.

Proposition 28Provides additional funding for arts and music education in public schools

This proposition sponsored by former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Butner would require the state to set aside $800 million to $1 billion annually beginning in 2023-24 for arts education in school. A greater proportion of the funds would be allocated to schools serving more economically disadvantaged students.

Proposition 29Requires on-site licensed medical professional at kidney dialysis clinics and other state requirements

This measure requires a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant with six months’ relevant experience to be on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics. It authorizes an exemption for staffing shortages if a qualified medical professional is available through telehealth. Prop 29 prohibits clinics from closing or substantially reducing services without state approval and prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on source of payment. This is the third attempt by SEIU United Health Workers West, a union representing over 100,000 health care workers and patients across the state, to pass the measure. Opponents of Prop 29 cite it would cost tens of millions of dollars annually for clinics to implement.

Proposition 30Provides funding for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Individuals with a personal income of over $2 million would receive a tax increase of 1.75% to raise between $3 billion to $4.5 billion a year to fund greenhouse gas initiatives. A majority of the funds would go toward incentives for Californians to buy zero-emission vehicles and build new electric charging or hydrogen fueling stations. Twenty-five percent of the funds would go toward wildfire fighting and prevention initiatives.

Proposition 31Referendum challenging a 2020 law prohibiting retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products

This proposition sponsored by the tobacco industry aims to overturn Senate Bill 793 signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A “yes” vote keeps the law and a “no” vote overturns the law.

California ballot measures require only a simple majority of the votes cast to be approved.

As new initiatives enter circulation, fail, become eligible for, or qualify for an election ballot, the Secretary of State’s office will issue status updates. The updates can be found athttps://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/initiative-and-referendum-status or here.

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