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California Small Businesses Struggle While Waiting for Stimulus Aid



M’Dears Bakery & Bistro fills the air in its South Los Angeles neighborhood with smells of fried chicken, French toast, and homemade desserts. “It was very serendipitous,” said 66-year-old restaurant owner Carrie Reese about how she transitioned from a vendor at jazz festivals to opening a dine-in restaurant at 77th and Western Avenue.

“You could see through the window, piles of chicken. And people started saying, ‘can I just buy a plate,’” said Reese.

Eighteen years later, M’dears recently renovated dining room is empty during what would normally be its busy lunchtime rush, and Reese is struggling to come up with the money to pay her staff.

“I was a little bit slow to do the furloughs and the layoffs. I was hoping against hope that I wouldn’t have to do that. I kept people on longer than I should have. Everybody has kids to support. It’s a really big burden for me to have to make those decisions,” said Reese.

Since mid-March, Reese estimates that her business has slowed by 65% – 70%. She’s had to furlough most of her staff. This comes during nationwide efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti closed the city’s restaurants and bars; only takeout, and delivery are allowed. This is happening as authorities issue daily reminders for people to follow the state’s stay-at-home order.

Reese said she’s paying her remaining employees order-by-order and when that’s not enough she pulls money from her retirement savings. At the same time, she notices more customers are paying with credit cards. That means it takes days before sales of smothered pork chops or plates of wings and waffles make them money. “It’s embarrassing. It breaks my heart when people say ‘hey the check didn’t go through,’” said Reese.

M’dears Bakery & Bistro is one of nearly 4 million small businesses in California. About 1.6 million of them are minority-owned. The restaurant industry as a whole has been hit hard by the COVID-19 social distancing policies. By April 9, the National Restaurant Association estimated more than 3 million restaurant employees across the country have lost their jobs; 560,000 here in California.

Reese employs about 40 people at M’dears LA and M’Dears Lakewood near Long Beach. She wants to bring all her employees back when restaurants can return to full operation. But Reese says it is nearly impossible for a business such as hers with “razor thin profit margins” to survive this prolonged slowdown. Reese has decided to focus on meeting payroll while everything else falls behind. She described earning “just enough to get through the day.”

Reese applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to help small business owners stay afloat. But on Thursday April16, The US Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it is “unable to accept new applications” due to a lack of funding. The $349 billion program was nearly out of money.  “Without that money how am I going to pay off debt,” she said.

As of April 13, SBA said it had approved more than 1.3 million PPP loans totaling more than $296 billion. Reese has not heard from her bank JPMorgan Chase about her application.  “ I feel so helpless and disheartened,” said Reese. Chase was one of the banks that received criticism for delays in launching its online PPP application platform.

The President requested another $250 billion to replenish the COVID-19 small business relief funds, but members of Congress have not reached an agreement. This deadlock comes about two weeks after lawmakers passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The $2 trillion stimulus package included $377 trillion to help small businesses survive and to keep people employed. The bulk of the funding was divided into two types of loans. The PPP loan and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Reese applied for both stalled programs.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
This is a forgivable loan of up to $10 million with a 1% interest rate. “The max amount a business can apply for is 2.5x the business’s average monthly payroll costs, not exceeding $10 million. Under specific circumstances, PPP Loans can be forgiven. The amount a business spent on payroll, rent, utilities and other eligible costs within the 8-week period upon receiving the loan is forgiven. The remaining amount turns into a fixed-rate loan with the SBA,” adds Lieberman.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Businesses can receive as much as $2 million in assistance from the federal government. This is a fixed-rate loan with a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and a 2.75% interest rate for private non-profits. “However, applicants are also eligible for a $10,000 forgivable advance on the loan immediately after applying, even if the business does not ultimately receive the loan,” said Rebecca Lieberman, Policy Advisor and Research Manager with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The SBA has also stopped processing new EIDL loans, citing a lack of funding.

 As California small business owners left out of the first wave of loan approvals wait to find out if these federal programs will resume, there is small business aid at the state and city levels.

California COVID-19 Small Business IBank Loan Program

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $50 million in loan guarantees for small businesses that may not be eligible for federal relief. The State is also allowing small businesses to defer payment of sales and use taxes of up to $50,000, for up to 12 months. In a move said to help workers and small businesses, people receiving unemployment benefits are temporarily being paid an extra $600 on top of their weekly amount.

California City level COVID-19 Small Business Aid

Small business owners in San Francisco are being encouraged to apply for the San Francisco Hardship Emergency Loan Program (SF HELP). The loans have a 0 percent interest rate and are administered by Main Street Launch in partnership with the city of San Francisco. Small businesses can make loans of up to $50,000 for terms of up to six years.

Additionally, through the City of Los Angeles Small Business Emergency Microloan Program, businesses and microenterprises in Los Angeles that are responsible for providing low-income jobs can apply for emergency microloans in an amount between $5,000 and $20,000. Reese hopes Congress reaches an agreement to fund the loan programs soon and that more applications in the queue are approved. In the meantime, three days a week she and her scaled-down team cook M’dears signature soul food for about 50 seniors who are shut-in during this pandemic.

The emergency meal delivery program was launched by LA City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Reese says compensation for the heartwarming cause has been slow. In fact, on the Friday leading into the Easter holiday weekend, Reese couldn’t afford to pay some of her staff. “Up to today, we have provided 300 meals and haven’t gotten a penny for it,” she said, “You wanted me to keep them on staff to do this, but you’re not giving me the money to pay them, so I can’t pay them.”

Reese does not have a financial parachute. M’dears Bakery & Bistro is her retirement plan. A plan she sees being threatened every day that potential customers are told to stay inside, “All I see is my retirement flashing before my eyes. I am going to be so far in debt trying to dig my way out of this. I’ll be 75 years old before I can think about retiring. ”

The National Restaurant Association has launched to share the latest COVID-19 relief information.


Bay Area

Rosie the Riveter Trust to Celebrate History, ‘We Can Do It!’ Spirit

Tribute to storyteller and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin marking her 100th birthday



Betty Reid Soskin/Wikimedia Commons

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is celebrating the history of the World War II home front at a September 26 gala, Making History Together. The fundraiser will highlight programs supported by the trust in collaboration with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park: Every Kid Outdoors, Rosie’s Service Corps, and a documentary about the park’s Rosie Ambassadors, currently in production.

“We have a gem of a national park located right here in Richmond, California, where visitors can come learn about the home front and hear stories told in first person. This includes women and men who worked in the Kaiser shipyards, as well as those who spent years in the internment camps during the war,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust. “The history of the home front and societal changes that transpired during World War II are important lessons to preserve and share.”

The gala will also include a special tribute to Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 in September. Soskin helped establish the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, later joining the National Park Service and becoming the oldest ranger in the national park system at 85. 

Soskin’s programs at the park’s visitor center have captivated audiences since the center opened in May 2012. During her presentations, she shares her own experiences as a young woman of color during a time when segregation and discrimination were common, adding dimension to the stories of the home front too often left out of the history books. “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering,” says Soskin in her 2019 film, “No Time to Waste.”

The gala will be held at the historic Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South (next to the park’s visitor center on the Richmond waterfront). The Craneway, which boasts a fabulous view of San Francisco, is the former Ford Assembly Plant where some 49,000 tanks and jeeps were assembled during the home front era. 

While individual tickets to the in-person event sold out on August 1, tickets to view the live-streamed event are still available. The event begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by a tribute to Soskin, highlights of the trust’s programs, a live auction, a Zoom afterparty, and entertainment.

Major event sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kaiser Permanente, The Marguerite Fund, Chevron Richmond Refinery, Accenture, Bank of Labor, California State Pipe Trades Council, Microsoft Corp., The Honorable Barry Goode, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW Local 302, IBEW Local Union 595, and Marathon Petroleum. Event sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official partner of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, founded in 2000 in Richmond, California. The Park chronicles the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome wartime odds with the “We Can Do It!” spirit.

Event proceeds support expansion of educational programs for all ages and preservation of historical resources for the Bay Area and the nation.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the trust’s web site at For sponsorships, contact Executive Director Sarah Pritchard, at 510-507-2276, or by email at

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Bay Area

Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.



U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

New Assemblymember Mia Bonta to Caucus With 3 Legislative Groups

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.



Assemblymember Mia Bonta, (third from left), with (left to right) Senator Steve Bradford, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurman, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, assemblymembers Isaac Bryan Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Kevin McCarty.

Soon after Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) was sworn in last week to represent California’s 18th Assembly District — which covers parts of East Bay — she signed on as a member of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (CLWC), the California Latino Legislative Caucus (CLLC), and the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC).

Bonta is the 11th member of the Black Caucus and the only lawmaker representing a district in the Bay Area. In the Latino Caucus, she is the 30th member, and out of 120 lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature, she is the 39th woman.

“Special congratulations to our newest member @MiaBonta, who was sworn into the Assembly this morning! #AD18 has chosen a fantastically fearless representative, and I look forward to working with you Assemblymember Bonta! #CALeg,” wrote Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D- San Diego).

Mialisa “Mia” Tania Bonta, who is Puerto Rican of African descent, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1993 and a Master of Education (Ed.M.) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1996. Bonta also received a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1999.

Her work experience includes over 20 years working with nonprofits, including serving as CEO of Oakland Promise, a college and career prep program for Alameda County high school students.  She was also president of the Alameda Unified School District Board from 2018 to 2021.

“Congratulations to @MiaBonta on her election to the Assembly, which not only made her the first Afro Latina in the Legislature, but also raised the number of women in the Legislature to an all-time high,” California Lt. Gov., Eleni Kounalakis stated on Twitter.

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

“I am deeply honored to represent the 18th Assembly District. Our district has a long history of bold, progressive, leadership and I plan to continue this work in our diverse district,” Bonta tweeted September 7. “I’m ready to fight for bold solutions to issues like homelessness, housing affordability, climate change, and criminal justice reform for AD-18 and all Californians. I am ready to get to work.”

Bonta steps in to replace her husband, Rob Bonta, who vacated the AD 18th seat in April after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him California Attorney General, replacing Xavier Becerra, who is now United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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