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Recall Election Heats Up: Gov. Newsom Trades Fire with Larry Elder

Elder blames Newsom for California’s homelessness crisis and the unaffordable housing market. According to him, Newsom is responsible for unreasonable COVID-19 restrictions and heavy-handed environmental regulations.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (then Lieutenant Governor) riding in the Golden State Warriors Parade in Oakland, California 6/12/18

Larry Elder

Until recently, Gov. Newsom’s strategy for responding to the litany of attacks he has received from Larry Elder, the Republican frontrunner in the upcoming Sept. 14 recall election,,  has been to not respond directly to them.

Newsom’s responses have focused on his accomplishments, indirectly alluding to Elder’s attacks, and especially warning voters that if Republicans succeed in the recall, Trumpism would be in charge of the state.

But a little over a week ago, as Newsom spoke before phone bankers at a restaurant in San Jose, he brought up a number of Elder’s positions that clash with the views of a majority of Californians.

Elder, a former lawyer and Los Angeles-based conservative talk radio host, is opposed to a minimum wage. He is skeptical about climate change. He supports school choice and offshore drilling. He is against school mask mandates and would eliminate vaccination validation and mandatory testing for those who are not vaccinated.

“He actually wrote an op-ed saying women are not as smart as men on issues of civic affairs, on issues of economics, on issues of politics,” Newson said.

Last week, Newsom’s campaign released an ad that features a picture of Elder with Trump.

Elder has pushed back on the association with Trump. “The idea that they’re trying to characterize my campaign as some sort of extension of you-know-who is unfair to me,” Elder told ABC’s Eyewitness News. “I am an insurgent candidacy – 1.7 million Californians signed the recall petition. A quarter of them were Independents and Democrats who voted for the man just two years earlier.”

Regarding Trump and the legitimacy of 2020 presidential election, Larry Elder flipflopped after he told the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board on Aug. 2 that he did not believe that Joe Biden stole the election.

Later, on his talk radio show “The Morning Answer,” after receiving backlash in conservative circles for disagreeing with Trump, Elder changed his tune. He claimed the Sacramento Bee sound bite had been edited.

“So, do I believe that there were all sorts of shenanigans in the election? Absolutely. But Joe Biden is sitting there in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and Donald Trump is in Florida. So, let’s just move on and try to figure out what we can do to win in 2024,” Elder said.

Elder blames Newsom for California’s homelessness crisis and the unaffordable housing market. According to him, Newsom is responsible for unreasonable COVID-19 restrictions and heavy-handed environmental regulations.

Recently Elder went toe-to-toe with progressive radio host Tavis Smiley, who broadcasts from KBLA Talk 1580 in Los Angeles. Smiley challenged Elder on his opposition to reparations for African Americans for the atrocities of slavery and the financial losses Blacks suffered due to Jim Crow laws and systemic racism.

“Systemic racism is not the problem,” Elder said. Instead, he blamed “the welfare state, which, he says, is the reason “the Black family unit” has been torn apart.

While Elder conceded that statistics on fatherless Black family units could have been largely due to the after-effects of chattel slavery and Jim Crow laws in the past, he does not think those factors are relevant to the discussion today.

Elder has long held the position that the racial wealth disparity is mostly concentrated at the top of America’s wealth pyramid and is therefore not indicative of systemic racial bias.

Lately, Elder’s campaign has been on the defensive. He is being investigated by the California Fair Practices Commission (FPPC) about his candidate disclosure form. His Republican opponents have joined Newsom and the media asking him to explain his past controversial statements, and he has responded to questions about what he said about Blacks, women, climate change, and other topics – not explicitly defending or denying them.

Among the most damaging are revelations made by his ex-fiancée Alexandra Datig, a former high class call girl who worked for Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. Datig accused Elder of verbal and emotional abuse, including intimidation with a .45 revolver gun.

Elder has denied Datig’s allegations, calling them “a distraction.”

In the face of growing scrutiny, Elder insists that his opinions and convictions about issues facing Black people in America are all his own and not the regurgitated talking points of a controversial president (Trump).

“A lot of people bring up systemic racism since I’ve been campaigning, and I find it really bizarre. America has never been less racist than now,” Elder said in a conversation with Eyewitness News.

Community

Many in Black Communities are Choosing Vaccination 

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists. 

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Vaccination/Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

The trail of illness and death left amid the spread of COVID-19 in Black and African American communities should come as no surprise.

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists.

COVID-19 vaccinations offer us an opportunity to better balance the scale.

Unfortunately, even with widely available testing, highly effective vaccines, and extraordinary efforts by health departments to educate and encourage people of color to get vaccinated, many Black Californians remain skeptical.

We can only hope that the FDA’s full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine on August 23 for those 16 and up convinces more to get the vaccine.  It’s worth noting that emergency-use authorization also remains in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, as well as Pfizer’s for 12- to 15-year-olds – and that all of these vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

Eddie Fairchild and Steph Sanders were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine but came to understand why vaccination benefits our entire community.

Fairchild, a Sacramento insurance agent, said he knew of research that found Black and white people are often treated differently for the same health conditions leading to poorer health outcomes.

“I was hesitant,” he said. “I was going to wait and see how it panned out with everyone else.

But when a Black friend in the health care field told him he’d opted to get vaccinated, Fairchild asked him why.

“He said, ‘Risk-reward, and the risk is death.’ At that point I didn’t have to ask him what the reward was.”

With a finance degree and a belief that numbers don’t lie, Fairchild looked at the data. He learned that until 2020 the average number of Americans who died each year was about 2.6 million, but in 2020 that figure was 3.4 million. There was only one possible explanation for the death rate surge, he said.

“COVID is absolutely real,” he said, adding that three of his cousins died from the virus. “Taking all that into consideration, I decided that it’s risky to engage in the world and not be vaccinated. It made sense for me to get it.”

Racial gaps in vaccination have thankfully narrowed in recent weeks. But as of September 1, while Black people account for 6% of the state’s population, they account for 6.6% of COVID-19 deaths, which is 11% higher than the statewide rate, according to state department of public health data. Only about 55% of Black people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Reasons for the discrepancies run the gamut, from conspiracy theories like Black people are getting a less effective vaccine than whites or that the vaccine will eventually be deadly, to challenges in health care access. 

Mostly, it’s based on a lack of trust in medical and scientific institutions, which have a long history of racism and mistreating Black people.

So even when it comes to good things like vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be good for the community, it always comes back to trust.

Sanders, a Vallejo school principal, was hesitant because of the Tuskegee syphilis studies in which Black men who had the disease were intentionally not treated with penicillin. And he was dubious that an effective vaccine could be developed so quickly. 

In fact, the science and technology enabling development of the COVID-19 vaccines was in development for a more than decade before the virus emerged in 2020. The FDA authorized three vaccines for emergency use after they underwent a rigorous process and were proven through trials to be safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.

He decided to get vaccinated when his school board decided last spring to bring students back into classrooms.

Today, he’s a fervent vaccine advocate. He holds “lunch and learn” forums for educators, encouraging vaccination.

“I’m a leader and people are relying on my knowledge,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t make this about you, but about the people you love and care about. It’s about protecting them.’”

There is still a long way to go before Blacks achieve true health equity, but vaccination against a virus that is taking a terrible toll on our communities is a critical step in the right direction.

 

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Bay Area

Castlemont High Coach Launches “Books Before Balls” Project

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

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Tamikia McCoy/Photo Courtesy of Tanya Dennis

 

Michael Franklin

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

For two years, she played with the Running Rebels, an Oakland all-star basketball team.  After earning many degrees, McCoy returned to her beloved Castlemont as Coach in 2019, and quickly realized a responsibility to her students beyond winning games and created Books Before Balls.

Another Castlemont alumni of that same year was not as fortunate as McCoy.  Like McCoy, Michael Franklin was a basketball beast.  He was awarded first team All-City for the Oakland Athletic League 1993-1994 and was Northern California’s All American that same year. 

Franklin continues to hold the record for scoring 43 points in one quarter in a game against McClymonds. Tragically, he was killed Dec. 14, 2016, at a gas station at 98th and Edes in Oakland.

Coach McCoy’s concerns about violence inspired her to create the Books Before Balls Project to address academic and social gaps that are working against student success. 

“For violence and bullying to cease, the underlying reasons have to be addressed,” said McCoy, “Food scarcity may seem unrelated to violence, but it’s a signal that economic opportunities are lacking, which leads to trauma and desperation.”  

McCoy is also concerned that Castlemont’s library was closed and is spearheading a campaign to reopen and revitalize the library.  

She has joined with Oakland Frontline Healers and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkids movement to address issues of food scarcity, lack of economic opportunity, lack of resources and lack of support for students entering college.  

Together, they are creating a model that is duplicatable and hopefully will be adopted at other OUSD schools. Oakland Frontline Healers are a collaborative of 30 nonprofits and doctors offering services, food, and resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  

Players and families will be tested weekly by Umoja Health before games, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for those that wish to take it.

With a grant from the Department of Violence Prevention, Building Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkidsmovement, are honoring Michael Franklin’s life by hosting a series of “Mike’s Knights” Basketball Tournaments at Castlemont High School beginning the last Friday in November.  

Participants will be paid stipends to participate in the league or cheer squad and will be tutored and mentored during the tournaments, which will include family forums to discuss ending violence in East Oakland.

Books Before Balls invites the community to donate to the organization to support the Lady Knights’ basketball team, the success program that funds first year college students, or join their initiative to reopen the library. 

 For more information contact:  Ladyknights2019@yahoo.com For youth interested in joining the eight-week tournament contact Adamika Village at adamikaadamika@gmail.com 

Together with school leaders and administrators, and with the support of Oakland Frontline Healers, Books Before Balls is staging a “Student’s Against Bullying” event Friday, Sept. 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

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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Community

California Eviction Protections Remain in Effect Through Sept. 30

CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program still accepting applications

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Row of Houses, Photo Courtesy of California Black Media

AB 832, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 28, extended California’s critical eviction protections through September 30, 2021, giving California the strongest eviction protections in the country. The bill also provided $5.2 billion to help struggling California renters remain housed by covering rent and utilities that date back to April 2020. 

Officials are strongly encouraging both tenants and landlords with unpaid rent to apply as soon as possible to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program following California’s of eviction protections. Under AB 832, the program now covers up to 100% of unpaid or future rent and may also help low-income renters pay some or all their unpaid utility bills, including gas, electric, water and internet services.   

Landlords and income-eligible renters who have been impacted by COVID-19, and have unpaid rent or utilities, or need help with future rent can apply to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program at HousingIsKey.com. 

The application process has been streamlined with many improvements that include increasing language access, a shorter application, and less paperwork to upload.  Applicants who have already applied for relief, including those who have already been paid for past due rent or utilities, do not need to reapply to obtain additional assistance for future support.

A notification will go out to tenants and their landlords 60 days after initial payments are received with an invitation to update their current application with additional requests for financial assistance.

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until funds are exhausted, although applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applicant information is private and won’t be shared between landlord and tenant, and applicants will not be asked about immigration status, or asked to provide proof of citizenship. 

Applicants who need assistance in another language or local assistance filling out an application or uploading paperwork can schedule an appointment with a local community organization in their area by calling 833-687-0967, or by visiting the “Get Help” tab at HousingIsKey.com.

For more information and to apply for the program, visit HousingIsKey.com or call the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Call Center at 833-430-2122 (toll free) daily between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

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