From left are Pluria Marshall publisher, Los Angeles Wave; Jay King, president of California Black Chamber and KDEE radio station; Christen Irving, representative of Black Voice News; Joe Stephenshaw, director, Department of Finance; Talese Morrow, publisher, Inland Valley News; and Larry Lee, publisher of Sacramento Observer. (Robert Maryland/CBM)

California Black Media Hosts Dinner Honoring Joe Stephenshaw

Last week, California Black Media hosted a reception honoring Department of Finance (DOF) Director Joe Stephenshaw.

A number of state lawmakers, public officials, Black news publishers, journalists and others attended the event co-hosted by the California Black Freedom fund and held at the Prelude Kitchen & Bar in downtown Sacramento.

“For us, this is one of those moments we deeply treasure when the leaders of the Black Press in California get to officially welcome, celebrate and interact with a top thought leader and decisionmaker in state government in an environment that is intimate and welcoming – no spotlights, no cameras, no fanfare,” said Regina Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media.

We exchanged ideas and talked freely about our challenges as we got an firsthand view into how our government is deploying our tax dollars in ways that directly impact the lives of the communities we serve,” Wilson added. “We look forward to working more closely with Joe and the Newsom administration on priorities that advance equity for Black Californians.

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Joe Stephenshaw and Tara Lynn Gray, director of the Small Business Advocate (Robert Maryland/CBM)

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Stephenshaw to the DOF role. In January, he made his first annual budget presentation as the state’s chief fiscal officer alongside the governor.

Project Homekey is a state government initiative that aims to quickly provide shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness. To date, it has successfully provided shelter for nearly 12,800 formerly unhoused individuals across the state.

Gov. Newsom Announces $736 M in Funding for Local Communities

Keeping his promise to fast track solutions addressing California’s stubborn homelessness crisis, last week Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $736 million in grants to be channeled directly to local communities for building or acquiring shelter for unhoused people.

“At a time when more housing is desperately needed, Homekey is proving that we can build faster, and at a fraction of conventional construction costs,” Newsom said.

“My Administration has made available an unprecedented $3.4 billion to date for Homekey to use at the local level to address housing and homelessness. I look forward to seeing more communities use this latest round of funding to boost housing around the state,” the Governor added.

Rep. Lee Releases Statement on Trump Indictment  

After a New York grand jury reportedly indicted former President Donald J. Trump on more than 30 counts of business fraud last week, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) said she hopes the action was the “beginning of our justice system holding him and all involved in these crimes accountable.”

“This is the first time a former President has been indicted in American history, and this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Trump’s alleged crimes—before, during, and after his one term as President,” said Lee who is an outspoken progressive known for her Left-leaning political stances and candidate in the competitive race to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the November General Election.

“No one is above the law,” emphasized Lee, the highest ranking African American woman in the United States House of Representatives.

Gov. Newsom Calls U.S. House Speaker McCarthy “Coward”

In a tweet last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom called U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) a coward.

Newsom made the comment in a caption when he shared a video of the highest-ranking Republican member of Congress refusing to respond to a reporter’s questions about the mass shooting at a Nashville private school that claimed the lives of three adults and three 9-year-old students.

Report: Black Students Among Students with Highest Absenteeism Rates

The Public Policy Institute of California is reporting that absenteeism is on the rise among all students in California, and Black children are among the top sub-groups of kids who miss school the most.

Absenteeism rose substantially for nearly all student groups. However, we do see variation across demographic dimensions. Among racial/ethnic groups, Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander students experienced the highest rates of chronic absenteeism, exceeding 40% in 2021–22,” the report reads.

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California Legislature on Spring Recess

 Look out for listings of your state lawmakers’ local townhall meetings in your city or a nearby town. On March 31, the California Legislature adjourned for its Spring Recess. Members are expected to return to Sacramento on or before April 10 when the Legislature reconvenes.