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Contra Costa County Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis

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Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Screen Shot of Virtual Meeting

During a virtual meeting on Nov. 10, 2020, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors declared racism a health crisis and unanimously approved establishing an office of “racial equity and social justice.”

Board Chair Candace Anderson acknowledged that COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black and Latinx people and that these disparities existed prior to the pandemic.

Supervisor John Gioia said “[a] perfect example occurred to me. Many years ago, the health department found a higher rate of breast cancer among . . . {Black} women in various age groups. As a result of that, the health department initiated a program to address that and found it was really about earlier screenings.”

Gioia and Supervisor Federal Glover have raised $250,000 from community groups to help budget the “racial equity and social justice” office.

Glover said: “[t]he killings we have seen take place over the years – and the death of George Floyd – have brought to the attention of a nation the racism and inequities that take place within our – – – justice system.”

Glover added: “[i]t’s important we take a strong look at what’s taken place with our employment here at the county level, and to maybe be a light and to show people we are the leaders, that we are making a difference in society as a whole because it’s very reflective of our demographics here in Contra Costa.”

No date has been given when the office will launch with three staff members. The resolution states its mission is to “eliminate inequity, harm, discrimination and bias. The office will cultivate an “ecosystem rooted in belonging, mutuality, equity and justice.”

The resolution also states: [t]he need to change is urgent . . . . And the opportunity for change is now.”

The city of Oakland established a Dept. of Race and Equity in 2016. San Francisco established the Office of Racial Equity in 2019 and on November 4, the city of Martinez established the Anti-Racism and Discrimination and Pro-Inclusion and Diversity Task Force.

 

Resolution:

In the matter of: Resolution No. 2020/306
Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis.
WHEREAS, it is the mission of Contra Costa County to provide public services which improve the quality
of life of our residents and the economic viability of our businesses; and
WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is internalized or
interpersonal and systemic racism that is institutional or structural; racism is a system of structuring
opportunity and assigning value based on the color of one’s skin that privileges white people; and
WHEREAS, throughout our nation’s history, racism has had lasting negative effects on groups including
Black/African-Americans, Latinx, indigenous, and people of color; and
WHEREAS, racism also intersects with other forms of prejudice and oppression to increase adverse
outcomes including discrimination based on immigration status, gender and sexual orientation, and mental
and physical abilities; and
WHEREAS, antiblack racism dehumanizes and marginalizes Black/African-American people and also
affects other communities of color by privileging those with lighter skin; and
WHEREAS, these lasting negative consequences such as economic instability and poverty, barriers to
educational attainment, and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system have a radical effect on the
lives of Black/African-Americans and other people of color living within Contra Costa County leading to
avoidable adverse health outcomes and unnecessary loss of life; and
WHEREAS, Black/African-Americans and other communities of color are disproportionally impacted by
health disparities and social and environmental conditions including increased exposure to lead, poor air
quality, lack of safe places to walk, bike, run, live, and play, and inadequate access to health services and
information; and
WHEREAS, disproportionately higher rates of chronic disease, shorter life expectancy, maternal and infant
mortality, and health inequities for Black/African Americans and other racial groups are widely recognized
and documented, yet continue to persist throughout Contra Costa County; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial and social inequities by disproportionately
impacting the Latinx community in particular as well as other communities of color; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services cares for and improves the health of all people in Contra Costa
County, and yet as a system has perpetuated racism and anti-black racism; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa County has made efforts to address health and social inequities that exist,
through the work of various programs and initiatives, but it is not enough; and
WHEREAS, the continued and unnecessary loss of Black lives including Miles Hall, George Floyd,
Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, calls upon the County to be visible in our outrage,
and, more importantly, in our resolve to work for change; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa County recognizes that racism is a public health crisis that affects all members of
our community and deserves action from all levels of government and civil society;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County asserts
that racism is an urgent public health emergency affecting our entire community; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that Contra Costa County encourages other City, Local, State, and National entities to
recognize racism as a public health crisis; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services commits to working to end racism and healing the harms that this organization has perpetuated;
and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services supports community efforts to
amplify and address issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color in
our county; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services commits to combating
both explicit and implicit bias, with an emphasis on evaluating personnel practices including recruitment,
hiring, retention and promotion to ensure diversity amongst all levels of staff; and BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services supports the adoption of the County’s Racial Equity
Action Plan and other efforts to address equity in internal policies, procedures and programs; and BE IT
FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health Services will hire a Chief Equity Officer to align and
build on health equity efforts in our department and across the County; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,
that Contra Costa Health Services will develop a Health Equity Plan for Contra Costa Health Services
along with a measurement dashboard; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will participate as a host organization in the community planning process to establish a County
Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will support the development of a strategy for immigrant inclusion in partnership with the
Department of Employment and Human Services as part of the community planning process to establish an
Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Contra Costa Health
Services will launch Living Contra Costa, a strategic vision, with an emphasis on equity; and BE IT
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors does hereby support the
efforts to achieve health equity and a welcoming and just Contra Costa County.

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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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Can You Name the Chief Justice of California’s Supreme Court? Get to Know Tani Cantil-Sakauye Before She Steps Down

If a judge’s job is to stay above it all and concentrate on the work at hand, then the fact that the chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, is not exactly a household name testifies to her ability to have done her job exceedingly well — impartially. With hardly an objection. Without making the news.

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Chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. (Photo: California Courts Newsroom)
Chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye. (Photo: California Courts Newsroom)

By Emil Guillermo

For the last 12 years, the chief justice of California’s State Supreme Court has been Tani Cantil-Sakauye, a history-making Filipino American, the first person of color and the second female ever to hold the position.

Of course, you can say her name, but just in case, here’s a pronouncer: Con-TEEL-Saw-ka-OO-yay.)

If a judge’s job is to stay above it all and concentrate on the work at hand, then the fact that Cantil-Sakauye is not exactly a household name testifies to her ability to have done her job exceedingly well — impartially. With hardly an objection. Without making the news.

That’s why I was shocked to hear Cantil-Sakauye’s announced her retirement on July 27 at age 62.

Cantil-Sakauye described the reaction from colleagues about news of her departure as “moans and groans and exclamations of concern and dismay and congratulations.”

But just marvel at what she’s left us. A state judicial environment where consensus is enabled in the pursuit of fairness under the rule of law.

Instead of a fragmented court constantly drawn into issues of rancor and division, California’s high court has been collegial and focused on its job. It’s a court that in Cantil-Sakauye’s words is now “solid and sustainable.” And perhaps that is the reason she has set a retirement date of January 1.

Appointed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Cantil-Sakauye took her oath in 2011.

She’s guided the court system as its top administrator through budget cuts to budget surpluses, through COVID-19 shutdowns to ideological stagnation.

Once seen as a stodgy conservative bunch, with Cantil-Sakauye at the helm the high court has evolved into an institution shaped by Governor Newsom and his predecessor Jerry Brown, both Democrats.

People forget that Cantil-Sakauye was a Republican who worked her way up in her hometown of Sacramento, from a county prosecutor to cabinet positions under Republican Gov. George Deukmejian. She was a state appellate judge before her appointment to the state’s high court.

She garnered national attention in 2017 when she criticized federal agents for arresting immigrants in California’s state courthouses. Cantil-Sakauye saw it as eroding trust in the state courts and called it “stalking.”

Later in December 2018, she left the Republican Party after watching the Senate hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh and registered as an independent.

It’s hard to imagine Cantil-Sakauye is done in January when she’ll be just 63.

Biden and Feinstein think that 63 is the infancy of a career in elected politics.

But politics would be a natural thing for Cantil-Sakauye, whose inspiring origin story has voter appeal.

Consider how her Filipino-Portuguese father, Clarence Cantil, worked the pineapple plantations before coming to California. Her mother, Mary Gorre, a Filipina, was a migrant worker who followed the crops. Cantil-Sakauye grew up humbly and has said publicly that she remembers her mother’s savings guiding her principles about hard work being rewarded and providing the opportunities in the American Dream.

More dominant were phrases like, “There for the grace of God go you,” and “You listen to everyone because everyone has something to say,” the latter she admits has helped her in her work to this day. And perhaps that explains her conservative, but empathic nature.

After two years at junior college, Cantil-Sakauye went to UC Davis for her B.A. She also got her law degree from Davis, all while working as a waitress and blackjack dealer in Lake Tahoe.

At age 35, and already moving up the conservative ranks, she was Ms. Cantil-Gorre until she married Mark Sakauye, a retired Sacramento police lieutenant.

Her hyphenated name merges some major Asian American histories. The Hawaii plantations, the California fields, and her husband’s story, the son of farmworkers who became farmers and then were incarcerated in concentration camps. Cantil-Sakauye said the stories of her in-law’s struggles made her more of an immigrant rights advocate.

Could that be a hint of the future?

For now, we have four more months to notice and appreciate Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye as she winds down the historic nature of her tenure.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See his work at www.amok.com

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Bay Area

Jamie Scardina Appointed Marin County Sheriff

Scardina was elected as Sheriff in the June primary election, running unopposed, and was to be sworn in when Doyle’s term ended Jan. 2, 2023. However, Doyle retired June 30 after more than 52 years of public safety service to Marin, and Scardina became acting Sheriff. The board’s action July 19 covers the time until Jan. 2.

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As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget.
As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget.

Courtesy of Marin County

Acting Marin County Sheriff Jamie Scardina had the “acting” taken off his title July 19 when the Marin County Board of Supervisors appointed him to the position, becoming the 22nd sheriff in county history. Scardina, a Marin native and 23-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, replaces the retired Robert Doyle. Scardina took the oath of office, administered by Doyle, at a public swearing-in ceremony on July 28.

Scardina was elected as Sheriff in the June primary election, running unopposed, and was to be sworn in when Doyle’s term ended Jan. 2, 2023. However, Doyle retired June 30 after more than 52 years of public safety service to Marin, and Scardina became acting Sheriff. The board’s action July 19 covers the time until Jan. 2.

Scardina grew up in Corte Madera and attended Marin Catholic High School and College of Marin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology from the University of Montana. After starting his law enforcement career as a Tiburon police officer, Scardina joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2000 and gradually was assigned more responsibilities as he was promoted from deputy to sergeant to lieutenant to captain. Scardina replaced the retired Mike Ridgway as Undersheriff in 2018.

Scardina is only Marin’s third Sheriff since 1983. He thanked Doyle for giving him a “tremendous amount of autonomy” during the past four years as he served as Undersheriff. He pledged to listen to concerns and make decisions together with resident involvement.

“This is not an appointment I take lightly or for granted,” Scardina said at the July 19 Supervisors meeting. “I know it comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. … This is something I’m looking forward to, working with staff and working with the community. I know there are a lot of people in the community who want to talk, and we’re looking forward to having those conversations.”

As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget. His annual salary will be $251,825.60 and benefits will be consistent with those received by other department heads.

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