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Pacific News Service Announces Closure of Organization

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The board of directors and staff of Pacific News Service (PNS), the parent organization of the nonprofit New America Media (NAM), has announced that the two entities will cease operations by Nov. 30.

“For 45 years, Pacific News Service has pioneered new ways to diversify American journalism and communications,” said Board Chair Lawrence Wilkinson, chairman of Heminge & Condell, a strategic advisory and investment firm, and co-founder of Global Business Network (GBN).

“Long before terms like civic engagement, youth media, collaborative reporting, and inclusive journalism were in vogue, PNS and NAM were inventing how to implement them,” said fellow board member James Bettinger, longtime director (now emeritus) of the John S. Knight Stanford Journalism Fellowship program.

Funded by foundation grants and contracts, the news and communications agency launched many successful projects that pushed journalism’s boundaries.

“We’ve always aspired to do more than our resources allowed,” said New America Media Executive Director Sandy Close. “We grew too fast, and were reluctant to cut off programs after their funding expired. We reached a point where we were not sustainable, as currently constituted.”

Of all PNS’ initiatives, none was more ambitious in scope and impact than New America Media. Founded 20 years ago at a Chinese lunch in San Francisco for some 24 ethnic media reporters, it was inspired by PNS’ search for more effective ways to report on an increasingly diverse America.

“How could a mainstream news service like ours do its job when there was no longer a mainstream?” Close said. “We decided to seek out partnerships with ethnic media outlets that would allow us to share content about and between the Bay Area’s growing racial and language groups.”

The founding lunch opened the door to a parallel universe of journalists and media makers hungry to transcend their cultural silos and expand their coverage. Ethnic media leaders realized that, after years of being ignored by the mainstream media, they could gain visibility and respect by coming together.

“If you add our combined circulations, we’re larger than the mainstream dailies,” Alex Esclamada, then the publisher of Philippine News, exclaimed.

New California Media was born by acclamation at that luncheon. What had begun as a modest impulse to diversify PNS’ local news lens turned PNS over the next decade into New America Media.

Ethnic media became our direction-givers, said Close, inspiring NAM to go beyond journalism to become a quasi-trade association and develop a social marketing arm. NAM organized awards and expos to bring the sector greater visibility, held press briefings with experts and elected officials, coordinated fellowship programs and professional training workshops, facilitated a news exchange, and developed public awareness campaigns that have brought over $10 million to the sector.

“NAM’s ethnic media directory is like a map of America’s new topography,” says Bettinger.
He added, “Its gatherings brought reporters from Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, African and Afro-Caribbean communities together – often for the first time – educating policy makers even as they expanded the sector’s own knowledge base.”

To capture their perspectives and document ethnic media’s reach, NAM commissioned some of the country’s first multilingual polls by the late Spanish language pollster Sergio Bendixen.

An early poll of the sector’s reach wound up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, a wakeup call to mainstream journalism. Ethnic media was actually a distinctive genre serving one out of five American adults.

NAM’s work put ethnic media on the radar in a way nothing else had, recalled founding NAM member Monica Lozano, publisher of the Spanish-language La Opinion and CEO of its parent company, ImpreMedia LLC.

“NAM has had such an enormous impact that will live long beyond the organization. It built communal ties that will continue to change the narrative, elevate voices, bring communities together and demonstrate to the larger society that we are stronger than any divisive measures others try to impose.”

The most exciting part of NAM’s work, Close notes, is seeing the media collaborate across languages and cultures to tackle issues that affected their communities.

“Black media in Arizona stood alongside Arab-American, Latino, Asian-American, and NativeAmerican media in denouncing the state law (SB 1070) that would allow police to pull people over and ask for their papers. That’s only one of many examples.”

Close says NAM would not have existed without the foundation laid by Pacific News Service, and the many reporters who started their careers there.

Launched in 1970 by noted China scholar Franz Schurmann (who was also Close’s long-time partner) and freelance journalists like Orville Schell, PNS’s mission was to challenge official government narratives about the U.S. role in Indochina.

Activism

Tiny Homes Offer Hope for Holidays and Beyond

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes. 

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As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.
As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

By Dr. Maritony A. Yamot and Rev. Ken Lackey

The holidays are the season when we stop and begin to think, “How can I give back this year and what are some different ways to help out?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help out during the holidays that don’t cost a thing. The Tiny Homes Project — with Rev. Ken Lackey of the Center for the Perfect Marriage Church at 6101 International Blvd. — needs to increase its capacity and we wanted to remind our community that everybody matters to God.

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

We want to launch an intensive month-long generosity campaign to help the increasing homeless issues in our neighborhoods by adding to the number of tiny homes that we have already built at various private locations in Oakland.

We invite you to join us as we partner with some of Oakland’s fabulous nonprofit organizations to meet critical needs in our communities.

Whether through donation or action, there are plenty of opportunities to give.

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes.

We are also looking for vehicle donations of trailers or any truck for hauling material and picking up volunteers and homeless people that are helping to build Tiny Homes. We build our homes with primarily donated and surplus materials, allowing us to cut costs and provide a pleasant home for under $40,000.

Each and every person who wants to help out and eradicate the homeless problem in the City of Oakland can donate funds for us to build a Tiny Home. If donors want to give money to the ministry, we will build a tiny home and name it after them. Know that your donations will be able to take a whole family off the street during this cold season.

In addition, we are open to getting a sponsor or sponsors for an entire Tiny Homes Community Park and we have a separate location that will be designated for homeless veterans, the elderly, single mothers or single fathers, and any individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, places not meant for habitation, or sleeping on our streets.

Please spread the word and contact us about any way you can help our Tiny Homes Community Project with Rev. Ken Lackey.

There are three ways to contact us

  1. By Phone/toll-free number: 1-833-233-8900 ext. 1
  2. By Email: TinyHomesC@gmail.com
  3. By Appointment/Donation Drop off location at the All About Grits Restaurant at 6101 International Blvd., Oakland, CA

Or you can attend our next two major events:

  1. Tiny Homes Fundraising Event on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Place to be announced.
  2. Tiny Homes Community Building Workshop with the help of our community and local partners in the Bay Area. Date and place to be announced.

Contact us for more details of these two events or any ways you can help in this season.

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Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

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As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

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California Black Media

Golden State Could have $25 Billion Deficit in 2023-24 Fiscal Year

California taxes wealthy people more than other states, so most of the revenue decline is because the rich aren’t making as much money as they used to. The report details that California could see deficits between $8 billion to $17 billion in the following years.

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The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.
The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.

By McKenzie Jackson, California Black Media

California’s government may have a faceoff with a $25 billion budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year as tax revenues decline, according to a report issued by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

During a Nov.16 video press briefing, Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek said that if the predicted downturn happens, it will be the Golden State’s weakest revenue performance since the 2008 to 2009 Great Recession.

“It is not insignificant, but it is also manageable,” Petek said. “We don’t think of this as a budget crisis. We just think of it as a notable budget problem that the Legislature will have to confront when it begins that process in January.”

The LAO, the state Legislature’s fiscal and policy advisor, details the budget shortfall and suggests ways to avoid it in the 20-page “The 2023-24 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook.”

The document is released yearly around this time to help guide California lawmakers as they begin to put together budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year.

Petek said the threat of a national recession and actions by the Federal Reserve played a hand in the report’s outlook, but the predicted numbers are not based on a recession occurring.

“Economic conditions are really weighing on the revenue estimates that are a major influencer of our fiscal output,” Petek said. “With elevated inflation that causes the Fed to have to take action to cool down the economy in its effort to bring down inflation. The longer and the higher inflation remains, the more aggressive the Fed has to be. And the more aggressive the Fed has to be, it really increases the risk that the economy will fall into a recession. So, that being said, our revenue estimates do not assume a recession.”

California taxes wealthy people more than other states, so most of the revenue decline is because the rich aren’t making as much money as they used to. The report details that California could see deficits between $8 billion to $17 billion in the following years.

Less spending on large, one-time allocations is one way the state can offset the revenue losses it is expected to experience.

In response to the LAO budget prediction, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said the state has budget resiliency — $37.2 billion in reserves.

“We can and will protect the progress of the recent year’s budgets,” Rendon said. “In particular, the Assembly will protect California’s historic school funding gains, as districts must continue to invest in retaining and recruiting staff to help kids advance and recover from the pandemic.”

State Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said that in the past, the dreary budget forecast would have meant program cuts and middle-class tax increases.

“That does not have to be the case this year,” Atkins said. “Thanks to our responsible approach, we are confident that we can protect our progress and craft a state budget without ongoing cuts to schools and other core programs or taxing middle class families. The bottom line is simple: we are prepared to hold onto the gains we’ve made and continue where we left off once our economy and revenues rebound.”

Petek recommended that legislators not look to the reserves to solve the budget paucity when they begin formulating the state spending plan in early 2023.

“It would be prudent to try and identify other solutions in the early part of the budget period, and then if and when we have a lot more information about the economic situation — if revenues have deteriorated for example or if there were a recession, we are certainly not saying don’t use the reserves,” he said. “We are saying, keep them on hold and you have them to turn to in that situation if the picture has gone south in May. You have the reserves that we can tap into to really help supplement the other solutions identified earlier in the process.”

Republican Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) said the report is a wakeup call.

“California’s economy is weakening, and now with persistent inflation, the revenue that is coming into the State of California is coming in way below projection,” Fong said. “As someone who has been on the budget committee for a number of years, we have been warning about this. The ruling party in Sacramento continues to spend and grow government programs without any accountability and the budget is completely unsustainable. We have to refocus on fiscal responsibility.”

LAO’s budget forecast comes on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic-controlled Legislature estimated $97 billion surplus that led to the expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility to all immigrants in 2024, a boost in the earned income tax credit, and free preschool for 4-year-olds.

A relief package, priced at $17 billion, to help families, seniors and low-income Californians and small businesses was also approved in June by lawmakers.

The surplus is gone once a budget is passed, according to the LAO, so the fiscal outlook provided to legislators assumes that current state laws and policies will remain in place.

“We make adjustments for caseloads and things that influence the budget expenditures, but if you keep the same policies what would your budget picture look like?” Petek said. “That is what we are trying to tee up for them as they await the governor’s proposal.”

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