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Mayor Cantrell Speaks with Data News Weekly

NEW ORLEANS DATA NEWS WEEKLY — Speaking with her is less like an interview and more like speaking to a relative.

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By Edwin Buggage, Editor

On the eve of the Mayor’s Annual Mardi Gras Ball Data News Weekly sat down with New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, where she spoke to Editor, Edwin Buggage and Publisher, Terry Jones regarding a host of issues on this day.

As we entered Mayor Cantrell greeted us like she always does as family members. Speaking with her is less like an interview and more like speaking to a relative or friend at a dinner table. The Mayor is one who is well studied and abreast on the issues. And in her first few months in office she has proven to be the fighter for people from all zip codes. This is one of the things that’s endeared her to the citizens of New Orleans that elected her as she continues her historic reign as the first Woman Mayor of New Orleans.

Fair Share and Infrastructure Improvements

In the forefront of her agenda was her ‘Fair Share Initiative.’ Cantrell said, “We need to get our fair share of revenue from the state and business community to help rebuild the City’s infrastructure problems.” With a sense of urgency in her voice she says, “We’ve kicked that can down the road and it can’t go any further.”

One project she spoke of pressing concern was Sewerage and Water Board, “All of reserves being spent before our administration upwards to 85 million dollars. Right now we are asking for 75 million dollars to repair,, in some cases, 100 year old drains. This is something that as many of our citizens know affects our quality of life and our safety as well.”

She is seeking the help of all stakeholders to come up with creative solutions to solve the infrastructure problem. Recently the mayor reached out to Governor Edwards asking him to create a task force that would look at the issues surrounding re-directing revenues to New Orleans towards infrastructure projects and to re-convene in 30 days with a decision.

Mayor Cantrell is also the Co-Chair on Infrastructure for the National Conference of Mayors with Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. She is taking a holistic view of infrastructure improvements. “We need to look at infrastructure as our top priority. It is one of the lessons we should have learned post Katrina.” Continuing she says, “We must focus on potholes, the green water management plan, and transportation accessibility. This is not only just common sense, it also makes good business sense.”

Equity and Opportunity for All

As the City possibly has more infrastructure projects coming down the pipeline, it is important that more minorities are able to access contracting and employment opportunities.

Mayor Cantrell speaks optimistically about what she believes is possible in this area. Speaking enthusiastically she says, “The City of N.O. already have a mandated 35% DBE minority participation. But in the case of Sewerage and Water Board they do not have a mandated 35 percent it has a greater flexibility. I think this can be a great opportunity to move more minority based firms to become prime contractors.”

In a City that even in the face of some demographic shifts in certain neighborhoods still is a majority Black City. But when it comes to contracting and business opportunities it is often a tale of two cities. Where the pendulum of prosperity often swings one way. Mayor Cantrell believes that expanding access and helping minority business build capacity to become prime contractors could be a win-win for the City. “We have an opportunity to do more and to create more equity in our city. We cannot get tunnel vision and focus on 35% when structuring these projects. I feel we can be more ambitious where we can do both.”

Black and Woman: Mayor Cantrell and Her Place in History

On this day we speak to the Mayor we are nearing the end of Black History Month and nearing the beginning of Women’s History Month. In our nation and in our City, we are at a watershed moment and as Latoya Cantrell is making history as the City’s first woman mayor; in addition to being an African-American holds special significance.

“Making history as our first woman mayor in our city in 300 years awesome responsibility and knowing I might be the first, but will not be the last,” she says with a smile and sense of accomplishment and triumph. Understanding her role in being a trailblazer bringing hope to generations of other women that they can achieve greatness. “I realize the significance of my election and breaking the ceiling, but the most satisfying part is that it is not just about me but it can inspire so many other women.”

Understanding the challenges of how her leadership will be measured being the first is something she understands, but is poised to face the challenge. Something she’s proven more than cut out for since Hurricane Katrina showing she is a leader that can bring people from various constituencies together under one umbrella. “This is a great time not just for me but other women to show we can lead as executives. Also it speaks to our ability to build consensus that will not just uplift women, but our community as a whole.”

This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly.

Activism

Ask County Supervisors Not to Spend Millions in Tax Dollars on Oakland A’s Real Estate Deal

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

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A rendering of the proposed new A’s ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, surrounded by port cranes and warehouses. Image courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) and other groups are asking local residents to attend and speak at next week’s Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to oppose a proposal to spend county residents’ tax dollars to pay for the Oakland A’s massive multi-billion-dollar real estate deal at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. 

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

The Stadium Alliance urges community members to “let (the supervisors) know that Alameda County residents don’t want our tax dollars to pay for a private luxury development. This proposal does not include privately funded community benefits and would harm our region’s economic engine – the port- putting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs at risk.”

 

“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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Crime

What You Need to Know About California’s New Sexual Assault Laws

Watching your tax dollars, elected officials and legislation that affects you.

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Word "Me too" typed on typewriter

Before the October 10 deadline to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed several sexual assault bills into law.

They include Assembly Bill (AB) 453, AB 1171, AB 939 and Senate Bill (SB) 215.

AB 453, authored by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens), makes the act of non-consensually removing a condom, also known as “stealthing,” illegal.

Under this new law, stealthing would be considered a form of sexual battery. However, it does not criminalize it.

“We have stepped up in a major way in California & I hope other state legislatures follow suit,” tweeted Garcia. “But more importantly, I hope people will build on this & continue engaging in discussion around the continuum of consent.”

The governor’s office tweeted about the bill’s passing and what kind of legal actions can be taken given that it is still not technically a criminal act.

“With @AsmGarcia’s #AB453 signed, victims of stealthing will be able to take civil action against their perpetrators. By passing this bill, we are underlining the importance of consent,” read the tweet.

AB 1171, also authored by Garcia, will remove the distinction between rape and “spousal rape” in California law.

Before AB 1171 was signed into law, California was one of only nine states that still included the distinction between rape and spousal rape.

“Rape is Rape, & this bill makes it clear that a marriage license doesn’t change that. No more asking victims if they are married or not. TY to all the advocates who worked on getting this bill to @CAgovernor & pushing to get it signed,” Garcia tweeted.

SB 215, co-authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), will allow survivors of sexual assault to track and receive information regarding their sexual assault evidence kit.

Tracking will take place through a new online portal that allows survivors to access the SAFE-T database.

“As the author of SB 215, I am so proud that we are once again prioritizing and empowering rape survivors by making sure that they able to easily and privately find out where their rape kit is in the process,” Leyva said.

“A rape kit exam is invasive and retraumatizing, so survivors should absolutely be able to track their rape kit every step of the way.  I would like to thank our amazing coalition of sponsors—District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Joyful Heart Foundation and Natasha’s Justice Project—and supporters for testifying, Tweeting, writing and speaking out about the critical need for this legislation.  With today’s signature by Governor Newsom, SB 215 will help to empower survivors, hold rapists accountable and strengthen public safety across California,” she continued.

AB 939 bans a survivor’s clothing from being used as evidence of consent in a sexual assault case.

The bill, also known as the Denim Day Act of 2021, is named for a day recognized during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.  Denim Day focuses on amplifying the message that manner of dress does not equate to consent.

“I want to thank my legislative colleagues for their support on this important measure. AB 939 makes it clear that an outfit never provides consent, ever. To even consider whether a survivor’s manner of dress should be admitted as evidence of consent wrongly scrutinizes the actions of the survivor, instead of placing that scrutiny where it truly belongs — on the actions of the perpetrator,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona).

“Sexual assault is the most underreported and under-prosecuted type of crime. We must ensure that survivors are not subjected to a justice system that re-victimizes and re-traumatizes them and that our justice system protects them when they seek justice,” she added.

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Business

Gov. Newsom Signs Package of Laws Supporting Restaurants, Bars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars.

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Oakland, CA, USA February 21, 2011 Folks enjoy a sunny day with al fresco dining at the historic Last Chance Saloon, made famous by author Jack London, in Oakland, California/ iStock

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars. 

Signed at a restaurant in Oakland, the legislative package includes Assembly Bill (AB) 61, Senate Bill (SB) 314 and SB 389 – bills that, among other provisions, extend COVID-19 special permissions like outdoor dining and to-go licenses for alcoholic beverages. 

Funding for the package will come out of the governor’s California Comeback Plan which allots $10.2 billion in small business support. So far, the state has spent $4 billion on an emergency grant program and $6.2 billion in tax relief for small businesses. 

“These innovative strategies have been a lifeline for hard-hit restaurants during the pandemic and today, we’re keeping the entrepreneurial spirit going so that businesses can continue to create exciting new opportunities and support vibrant neighborhoods across the state,” said Newsom. 

The state support comes at a time when many Black-owned small businesses in California, including restaurants, are struggling to recover after being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) research, 13 % of Black-owned businesses have had to close down due to the pandemic, compared to 8% of White-owned ones. For Latino-owned businesses that number is even higher at 18 %. 

Due to the pandemic, Black businesses have experienced higher revenue loss, more layoffs of employees and less success in getting government funded relief like assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

“We have all seen the fallout from the pandemic and recession and the effect on BIPOC people and BIPOC small businesses owners has been devastating,” said Tara Lynn Gray, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. She was speaking at an IGS event last week titled “Diversity and Entrepreneurship in California: An Undergraduate Research Symposium.”

“These are problems that have to be addressed. Access to capital continues to be a challenge,” Gray continued. “We are seeing bankers like Wells Fargo, Citi and JP Morgan Chase making significant investments in BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) small businesses, communities and individuals. That is a trend I would like to continue to see.”

Gray pointed out there are a number of state programs like the Small Business COVID-19 relief funds that prioritize providing relief funding to underserved businesses in the state. 

Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) respectively, AB 61 and SB 314 establish a one-year regulatory grace period for businesses operating under temporary COVID-19 licenses to get permanent expanded licenses, such as outdoor dining authorization.

The one-year grace period will begin once the pandemic emergency declaration has expired. 

“Outdoor dining has been a critical lifeline that has helped these establishments keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said Gabriel.

 “AB 61 provides important flexibility so that restaurants can safely expand outdoor dining and continue to serve the communities they call home. I applaud Governor Newsom for his thoughtful leadership in protecting both public health and small businesses as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gabriel continued.

Wiener also stressed the importance of pandemic protocols for small businesses in California.

“SB 314 ensures the public can continue to enjoy outdoor dining with alcohol and that our small neighborhood businesses can continue to benefit from this change. The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s important we make changes to modernize our entertainment and hospitality laws to allow them more flexibility and more ways to safely serve customers,” he said.  

SB 389 allows restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars that sell food to continue to sell to-go alcoholic beverages through Dec. 31, 2026.

“This is an important step toward helping our restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), SB 389’s author. 

“It will ensure their recovery, protecting jobs and our economy. I thank Gov. Newsom for supporting this new law,” he continued.

 

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