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Police Reformers File Ethics Commission Complaint

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Tenacious as ever, Oakland police accountability activists are seeking to regain momentum in their efforts to house all intake of complaints against Oakland Police Department officers outside of the department’s Internal Affairs Division.

After more than five years of determined and patient work and with a reform victory almost within sight, they were dismayed last week when federal Compliance Director Thomas Frazier, who oversees the court mandated police reforms, overruled a 2011 City Council decision to the place eight new complaint intake technicians within the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB) rather than Internal Affairs.

Frazier so far has not explained the reasons for his decision to place all intake workers within OPD, which was approved by federal Judge Thelton Henderson.

Hoping that Henderson will reconsider, those in favor housing intake workers at CPRB have sent letters to the judge requesting a meeting.

< p>< p>“We are asking for an audience with Judge Henderson so we can let him know what we feel is a counterproductive judgment on the part of Frazier, which is not in the interest of advancing compliance in terms of police community relations,” said Rashidah Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO, an Oakland group that has worked for years for police accountability.

Letters were sent to Henderson from Grinage, PUEBLO’s attorney Bob Bloom and City Council Member Desley Brooks.

In a written statement, Commissioner Sokhom Mao, Vice-chairman of the Citizens’ Police Review Board, also expressed his concern over Frazier’s decision.

“Our citizens deserve the basic right to a fair complaint process and not to be intimidated by the power of a badge – nobody is above the law, not even police departments or unions,” he said.

“I would hope Judge Thelton Henderson would recognize the importance of this process … The only way of regaining trust (in) our community is providing the necessary checks and balances (that) are true to our democratic principles.”

Besides asking for a meeting with Judge Henderson, Grinage said PUEBLO has filed a complaint with the city’s Ethics Commission for the years of closed-door meetings between the city administration and the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA).

“Bargaining with the OPOA over decisions that are public policy, not labor issues, is a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act,” the state’s open meeting law, said Grinage.

“In the late1990s, we discovered that the OPOA essentially had a secret veto over elements of an updated CPRB ordinance that we were trying to get passed,” she said. “No matter what we said, they were able to veto anything they didn’t like behind closed doors.”

Taking action, PUEBLO and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission and won.

The commission told the city to stop the closed-door meetings, she said, “But the city turned around and sued the Ethics Commission. And we sued the city.”

“In the end we prevailed in Superior Court,” she said. “The judge said that civilian oversight is a managerial prerogative. It’s up to city leaders to decide on what kind of civilian oversight they want. It’s not bargainable with a labor unit.”

“And yet (City Administrator) Deanna Santana has continued to bargain with OPOA ,who continued to have input in the job description” and to demand that intake workers be housed in Internal Affairs, she said.

If Santana had not continued bargaining with OPOA, the whole issue would have been settled a year ago, before Compliance Director Frazier had been appointed, she said.

PUEBLO has also started work on a ballot initiative for complete civilian oversight of the police department, including changing the City Charter to give disciplinary authority to a police commission rather than to the city administrator.

Criticizing the work of Grinage, PUEBLO, and the CPRB, Barry Donelan, president of the OPOA, backed Compliance Director Frazier’s decision.

The plan to move intake workers to civilian control would have eliminated “any objectivity in the process and ensured that you have an institution with a level of hatred toward the police,” said Donelan in an interview this week with the SF Chronicle.

“The (CPRB) as it is right now is basically a group that has an ax to grind against officers,” he said. “There is no objectivity and tremendous incompetence, and we’re talking about cases that are fully investigated by internal affairs and the (Alameda County) district attorney’s office.”

Yet, far from having a reputation as “police haters,” Grinage and PUEBLO were nominated in 2009 by former OPD Police Chief Wayne Tucker for an award for their efforts to improve police community relations. They received the award from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

“The OPOA has been trying to block this even before it got started,” said Grinage. “The real question remains: Why are they so desperate to stop this intake from moving out of the police department?”

If this reform were approved, all that would change is who takes complaints against police officers and where they are taking them. As always, complaints must be reported to Internal Affairs within 24 hours, and Internal Affairs conducts the investigations, she said.

“They seem to be afraid that that a more user-friendly process may engender more complaints,” she said. “The whole point of oversight is not about punishing anybody. It’s about getting them to behave properly.”

Bay Area

Ida Times-Green Running for State Assembly District 12

Ida Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

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California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.
California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.

By Godfrey Lee

Ida Times-Green, a resident of Marin City, is running for California State Assembly District 12 of California in the upcoming June 7 election.

Times-Green promises to fight for affordable housing, single-payer healthcare, living wages and union workers, resilience to wildfires, climate justice policies, reforming law enforcement, public education and student debt relief.

“There are numerous issues facing our state that I believe are critical — single-payer healthcare, affordable housing, homelessness, wildfire resiliency — with the climate crisis being an existential threat and dealing with that must underlie everything we do.

It’s about more than just this district — it’s about the future of California,” Times-Green wrote on her Facebook page.

Times-Green is also concerned with women’s reproductive rights, wildfire resiliency, and post-COVID revitalization. Her position on these issues can be found at Idatimesgreenforassembly.com

Times-Green showed her concern for the community when she and her late husband, Edward Lee “Boone” Green. Boone Green, the founder of the Marin City Boxing Club, founded One Kid at a Time, a nonprofit dedicated to mentor at-risk children and young adults in 2013. The couple believed that with support, these young people could be steered in the right direction despite prior risky behavior. It was a belief that led them to help many young adults find homes and graduate from high school.

Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

Today, Times-Green is in her eighth year as a board trustee with the Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCUSD). She is fulfilling the desegregation mandate handed down by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in August 2019 and creating a multicultural learning environment for all children in the district. She also helps the community every day through her full-time job as a social worker for the County of Marin.

She is an active member of the faith community at the Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ in Marin City. She was previously a member of Village Baptist Church in Petaluma. Times-Green’s heart for her community is large, with a strong desire to serve for many years to come.

Times-Green’s many endorsements include the Health Care for All (HCA), California State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond, Marin County Supervisors Susan Adams (ret.) and Kate Sears (ret.), Marin County Office of Education Deputy Superintendent Terena Mares, San Anselmo Vice Mayor Steve Burdo, Tiburon Councilmember Noah Griffin, Sausalito Marin City School District Superintendent Dr. Itoco Garcia, and SMCSD boardmembers Lisa Bennett and Bonnie Hough, Esq., California Democratic Party Senior Caucus Chair Ruth Carter and 1W Regional Director Pat Johnstone. Ida Times-Green can be reached at idaforassembly@gmail.com or call (415)231-8807.

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Activism

OPINION: Why Every Californian Should Support the Prescription Drug Pricing Bill

For 30 years CHCs have used those savings to provide free medications to patients experiencing homelessness, free transportation vouchers, free nutrition classes, and hire provider types (like community health workers) who are not billable within Medi-Cal. Today, there are over 1,300 health centers in California that provide care to 7.2 million people — that’s 1 in every 5 Californians and 1 in 3 Medi-Cal patients.

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Dr. Oliver Brooks is chief medical officer and past chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles.
Dr. Oliver Brooks is chief medical officer and past chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles.

By Dr. Oliver Brooks, Special to California Black Media

In 1992, the federal government enacted the 340B Drug Discount Program. It afforded community health centers (CHCs) the ability to provide pharmacy services to their patients, a service that many CHCs did not have the resources to provide otherwise.

The program protects safety-net providers, including CHCs, from escalating drug prices, allowing us to purchase drugs at a discounted rate from manufacturers and pass those discounts directly to the patient. This program is presently under threat.

That is why I support Dr. Richard Pan’s Senate Bill (SB) 939. This bill, currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Health, would prohibit discriminatory actions by drug manufacturers and administrators when providing 340B drugs to health centers and the patients they serve.

It provides important consumer protections that are necessary to protect 340B savings and ensure that the savings remain with health centers and their communities, creating greater access to health care and equity for all.

The 340B Program also allows safety-net providers the ability to accrue savings that must be reinvested directly into patient care and services. Thus, the program enables covered entities to stretch scarce federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.

For 30 years CHCs have used those savings to provide free medications to patients experiencing homelessness, free transportation vouchers, free nutrition classes, and hire provider types (like community health workers) who are not billable within Medi-Cal.

Today, there are over 1,300 health centers in California that provide care to 7.2 million people — that’s 1 in every 5 Californians and 1 in 3 Medi-Cal patients.

Additionally, 68% of CHC patients are from BIPOC communities. CHCs are often the only source of primary and preventative care for California’s most diverse communities, including those experiencing homelessness, immigrants, and agricultural workers.

Anyone who walks into our health centers today can access a variety of services from primary care to dental to behavioral health care and a variety of wraparound services, regardless of whether they have health insurance, or an ability to pay for care. A large part of why we’re able to offer those services is thanks to savings we receive from the 340B program.

In recent years the 340B program has been under assault by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), drug manufacturers, and others within Big Pharma.

Through the expansion of the Affordable Care Act & Medi-Cal, more low-income patients can access healthcare in California, meaning more are also able to access medications, causing the 340B program to expand. Given this fact, manufacturers have put practices in place that limit patient access to 340B priced drugs while PBMs focus on trying to take 340B savings away from CHCs, and out of the local communities that need them, threatening patient access to critical medicines made available through the program.

Health centers were born out of the Civil Rights Movement to ensure that all communities, particularly communities of color, would have access to high-quality care that is provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. This program has allowed covered entities, including CHCs, to contract with local pharmacies so that our patients can access low-cost medications in a convenient manner. The continual acts of greed by pharmaceutical companies and PBMs threatens equity and access that CHCs were designed to create.

Community health centers around the country are sounding the alarm over Rx drugs manufacturers’ attacks on the federal 340B program. Since 2019, 21 states have passed laws addressing PBM discrimination against 340B covered entities.

It’s time for California, the policy trendsetter, to become the next state to protect the 340B program so it can operate as intended.

That is why Dr. Richard Pan’s SB 939 is so important and why I so fervently speak in favor of this legislation.

Dr. Oliver Brooks is chief medical officer and past chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Watts Healthcare Corporation in Los Angeles.

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City Government

DA Diana Becton’s Office Key to Resolution of 1999 Richmond Homicide

“It’s been a long 22 years since this heinous crime was committed, and justice doesn’t always come swiftly,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. The “announcement is a major testament to the determination of our law enforcement partners, forensic scientists, and investigators who continued to work on this case for over 20 years and who never gave up the search for the truth.”

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Last month, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton was joined by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Acting Richmond Police Chief Louie Tirona to announce that the 1999 murder of a 28-year-old woman had been solved through use of California's familial DNA search program.
Last month, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton was joined by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Acting Richmond Police Chief Louie Tirona to announce that the 1999 murder of a 28-year-old woman had been solved through use of California's familial DNA search program.

By Margaret Moore

The Cold Case Homicide Unit established under the leadership of Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton was instrumental in finding justice for the family of Meekiah Wadley, who was murdered in Richmond in 1999.

Last month, Becton was joined by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Acting Richmond Police Chief Louie Tirona to announce that the 1999 murder of a 28-year-old woman had been solved through use of California’s familial DNA search program.

“It’s been a long 22 years since this heinous crime was committed, and justice doesn’t always come swiftly,” said Becton. The “announcement is a major testament to the determination of our law enforcement partners, forensic scientists, and investigators who continued to work on this case for over 20 years and who never gave up the search for the truth.”

Richmond police said Jerry Lee Henderson killed Wadley inside her Richmond home in January 1999 but could not bring him to trial because he died of a suspected drug overdose 11 days after her death.

DNA collected at the crime never yielded a direct hit in DNA criminal databases, the Associated Press reported. But in October 2020, investigators asked the state to conduct a familial search.

That search resulted in a hit, meaning that the DNA from the crime scene matched with a parent, sibling or child whose profile was already in the criminal database, according to the Associated Press. “I hope today brings a measure of peace … and closure for Meekiah’s family,” said Bonta. “Nothing can ever bring back a loved one but we are committed to doing all we can to bring the truth to light in the fight for the truth and justice.”

Tirona expressed his gratitude to the members of Richmond Police Department, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Contra Costa County Crime Lab, and California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensics for solving this decades-old murder.

Becton was appointed to the DA’s Office in 2017 and elected with overwhelming support in 2018. Since taking office, DA Becton has kept her promise to make real and lasting change, transforming the District Attorney’s Office into one that works for everyone in Contra Costa County and delivering justice for victims.

Among her other accomplishments, District Attorney Becton:

  • Established a Cold Case Homicide Unit to pursue justice for the victims and families of unsolved murders
  • Co-leads the FBI Safe Streets Task Force that coordinates the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement on violent crime
  • Eliminated backlog of untested sexual assault kits and established the county’s first Human Trafficking Unit.

Becton, who is running for reelection, has joined the Code for America initiative to dismiss thousands of old marijuana convictions, which disproportionately affect people of color in the community.

She piloted the California County Resentencing Program to address excessive sentencing and partnered with The Vera Institute of Justice (VERA) on data analysis to uncover and address bias in the disposition of criminal cases.

Under her leadership, the DA’s Office was awarded $1 million to establish a juvenile diversion pre-filing program and created the Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force to recommend alternatives to prison.

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