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A Push for Alameda County to Fund Re-entry Programs

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Alameda County and other California counties have begun receiving millions of dollars a year to partially offset the state decision to save money by shifting many inmates from state prisons to local jails.

 

 

 

 

 

The Urban Strategies Council and a number of other organizations, including the Ella Baker Center through its Jobs Not Jails campaign, are challenging how funds are divvied up saying not enough public safety funds in Alameda County go to support individuals reentering society from prison.

 

The Jobs Not Jails campaign is asking that half of the $34 million a year, or $17 million, go to re-entry services.

 

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson

In a letter to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Ella Baker Center cited statistics that show that a shift in how these funds are invested could reduce recidivism and produce savings for the county.

 

Over half of the county’s budget – in excess of 60 percent – currently goes to the sheriff and probation departments.

 

The letter also cites statistics that show a decline in the total number of felony arrests in Oakland by nearly 28 percent since 2011 when Assembly Bill 109 was passed to reduce the number of inmates in state prisons.

 

Junious Williams, CEO of The Urban Strategies Council.

Junious Williams, CEO of The Urban Strategies Council.

Prop. 47 was passed last year reducing penalties for some nonviolent crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor and has resulted in further decline in the jail population.

 

Local organizers say now is the best time for the Board of Supervisors to start shifting how they are spending the money.

 

“The way we’ve operated our system hasn’t worked,” said Junious Williams, CEO of The Urban Strategies Council, pointing to a lingering high recidivism rate in Alameda County.

 

“There’s too much investment on incarceration, parole, and probation, and it’s not very effective,” he said.

 

“There is an imbalance in our investments and that is not very constructive for our society,” Williams added, noting that funds are directed toward enforcement and incarceration rather than re-entry programs and supportive services.

 

Nearly 27 percent of the county’s 2013-14 public safety budget went towards re-entry programs.

 

“What would it mean to invest in more programs and services to help people on probation and that are coming out of prison to be successful?” Asked Williams.

 

Investing half or more of funds to job training, housing, and wraparound services for the reentry community would not only reduce the number of people with stifled opportunity after their release from prison, but also contribute to safe and strong communities, say organizers.

 

The Ella Baker letter says: “Jail beds cost nearly $50,000 a year while providing an ‘On the Job Training’ (OJT) employment opportunity costs $4,000 and can provide paid job experience that can lead to a long-term position.”

 

Supervisor Keith Carson is supporting a proposal to begin directing the funds – $17 million – to community-based organizations that work with the reentry population beginning July 1, 2015.

 

“I think it’s very important that we have community funds,” said Supervisor Carson, “and that 50 percent are spent on re-entry programs that are community-based, that are diversified and that work.”

 

The county recently formed a Community Advisory Board, made up of community members from all five districts who work with the formerly incarcerated. This board will guide the process of how community-based groups are chosen to receive funds for their work to support re-entry individuals.

 

“There are very few community-based groups providing mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, workforce development,” and other services, Carson said.

 

“This is really about independent programs that are community-based, since there hasn’t been monies going into that direction, to provide those services for the purposes of serving everybody, including the re-entry population,” he said.

 

He continued, “Now, locally we have an open democratic process to try to figure out how to have the best impact for the re-entry population.”

 

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will vote on the budget March 24.

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Bay Area

Ready to Travel? Get the REAL ID!  

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

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DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.
DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.

By Carrie Stanton, Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles

The holidays are here and families are excited to get together and celebrate for the first time in over a year. Amid the pandemic, we’ve missed far too many Sunday and holiday dinners that have been a tradition for many families for generations.

For our community, family dinner is about creating memories. For those families who will be traveling this holiday season, I encourage you to consider adding a REAL ID upgrade to your checklist when making your travel plans.

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

While getting a REAL ID isn’t required, it does make it easier to continue using your driver’s license to board a local flight or visit loved ones on military bases. To help make this change, the California DMV is offering free upgrades to people who renewed their license or ID card between March 2020 and July 2021 from now until Dec. 31, 2021.

Protecting the health, safety and security of our communities is what’s important and the REAL ID provides an extra layer of protection when traveling. Applying is easy and can be started safely online at CaliforniaREALID.org. Complete your application, upload the required forms, and plan your DMV office visit to finish. Don’t forget your documents and confirmation code– they will be needed for your visit.

Whether you are applying for a first-time California driver’s license or identification card or are up for renewal, a REAL ID may be the best option, especially if you plan to travel soon. Get back to creating those memories with your family. With shorter wait periods and an easy application process, now is the perfect time to start your REAL ID application so you’re ready to go when the time is right.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, many things in our lives are changing. In our community, many have started businesses, changed their lifestyles for the better and found new passions in life. Whatever is helping you get through these rough times is also playing a part in figuring out our new normal. Make the REAL ID part of that new normal.

Carrie Stanton is Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Bay Area

San Francisco Declares Water Shortage Emergency in Response to Statewide Drought

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

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With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.
With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

Voluntary action calls for 10% reduction in water usage system-wide

From S.F. Mayor’s Office

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) last week  declared a water shortage emergency and approved measures aimed at further conserving and reducing water usage across the SFPUC’s service territory in response to exceptionally dry weather conditions that have affected the entire state over the past two years.

As a result of the emergency measure, which the SFPUC unanimously approved, San Francisco has declared a 10% reduction in water usage across its regional system.

The 10% reduction will be compared to water use from July 2019 to June 2020 and will be applied to all of the SFPUC’s 2.7 million customers, which include customers in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. The call for voluntary water reduction will go into effect immediately.

“With California still experiencing devastating drought and the uncertainty around this rainy season, we need to make tough decisions that will ensure that our water source continues to be reliable and dependable for the future,” said Breed.

“Year after year, San Franciscans step up to conserve our most precious resource, resulting in one of the lowest water usage rates in California, and during this critical time, I know that our City will once again meet the call to reduce water use,” she said. “I applaud the SFPUC Commission for declaring a water shortage emergency and urging our customers to be mindful of their water usage.

“We are in a drought with far-reaching consequences, and it has become clear we all need to do even more to address it,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “San Franciscans have been doing their part and have some of the lowest water usage in the state. This emergency water shortage declaration will help all of our customers pull together and move in the same direction. We know we can rely on each other. I’m confident that everyone will do their part so we can all get through this.”

With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

The messages will be conveyed in multiple languages and will include tips and resources on actions that customers can take to reduce their water usage to help achieve the 10% reduction system-wide, such as fixing leaky toilets, installing low-flow fixtures, reducing outdoor irrigation, and receiving water usage audits from SFPUC professionals.

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

However, with the state continuing to experience extremely dry weather overall, the SFPUC is expanding on those efforts by declaring a water shortage emergency, which will help the agency access water reserves and resources available only during emergencies.

The SFPUC has about 360,000 acre-feet of reserve water in its water bank. An acre-foot is enough water for about two California households annually on average.

However, the State Water Board’s curtailment orders, emergency regulations issued in August 2021 that restrict diversions from the Tuolumne River watershed, effectively prevent the SFPUC from accessing that water bank.

Due to the Water Board’s curtailment orders, the SFPUC and its retail and wholesale customers are less prepared to address drought conditions moving forward.

“We need everyone to take action to preserve and stretch our limited water supplies,” SFPUC Commission President Anson Moran said. “San Franciscans and our wholesale customers have been doing a good job when it comes to being efficient with their water use. We can all do better. We look forward to working with all of our customers to further reduce water use.”

Declaring a water shortage emergency carries with it the requirement that the SFPUC institute a temporary drought surcharge for retail water and wastewater customers of up to 5% on part of their bill.

The SFPUC Commission voted to introduce the surcharge on April 1, 2022. The effect on the average residential customer’s bill is estimated to be a little over $6 per month if they made no reductions to their water use. The temporary drought surcharge will automatically end when the SFPUC Commission rescinds the water shortage emergency declaration.

Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a Drought Emergency for 50 of the 58 counties in California and called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%. The state’s ongoing drought has increased the significance of water reuse, recycling, and conservation programs, measures SFPUC has long championed.

More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater.

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Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

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According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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