California Treasurer Fiona Ma to Face Trial in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

State Treasurer Fiona Ma must stand trial in a lawsuit by a former high-ranking female employee who accuses Ma of sexually harassing her by climbing into bed and exposing herself, then firing her for rejecting the sexual advances, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judith Blackwell has made allegations that, if believed by a jury, would establish that Ma sexually harassed her, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Christopher Krueger said in a ruling denying Ma’s motion to dismiss the case.

He said Blackwell, who is African American, had also presented evidence of racial discrimination, allegations that Ma made racist statements and treated Black employees worse than others. But Krueger said the evidence could not be presented to the jury because the state treasurer’s office had presented adequate, independent grounds for Ma’s firing of Blackwell, based on her job performance. For the same reason, he dismissed Blackwell’s claim that she was wrongfully fired in retaliation for her complaints.

Ma, 57, served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, then in the state Assembly and the state Board of Equalization before being elected treasurer in 2018. She has said she plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2026.

Ma has called Blackwell’s allegations “baseless,” and said she has rejected offers to settle the case and looks forward to “bringing the truth to light in court.”

“As the treasurer has said repeatedly, we look forward to having these meritless allegations being dismissed,” Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Ma, told the Chronicle on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed after Blackwell was fired in 2021, alleged that while she and Ma were sharing rooms at a hotel and a rental property, Ma called her into Ma’s bedroom four times and crawled into bed with her at least once.

“She exposed her bare rear end directly to Plaintiff on multiple occasions,” attorney Waukeen McCoy wrote in the lawsuit. “Ms. Ma’s actions were intentional and not accidental, and it was done to get Plaintiff’s attention. Plaintiff was uncomfortable and was fearful to comment on Ms. Ma’s lewd behavior.”

In her dismissal motion, Ma denied the allegations and said it was Blackwell who had entered Ma’s bedroom. She denied touching Blackwell and said the four incidents “were not sexual” but instead were “random, isolated incidents that do not constitute sexual harassment.”

But Krueger said a jury could reach a different conclusion.

Evidence provided by Ma herself indicates that “she called (Blackwell) into her room while half-dressed on three separate occasions and climbed into bed with her on a fourth,” the judge wrote.

In claiming racial bias, Blackwell alleged that the treasurer’s office had dismissed other Black senior executives without cause. She also alleged, and Ma denied, that the treasurer once said all the Black children in her high school never turned in their homework.

Those allegations, if proved, could show discrimination, Krueger said. But he said the Treasurer’s office had presented “legitimate” reasons for firing Blackwell, including her failure to be communicative with her subordinates, failure to keep minutes at all board meetings, failure to handle issues involving other workers, and failure to prepare necessary documents on time.

Blackwell’s claim of retaliatory firing must also be dismissed, the judge said, because she provided no evidence that she had “objected to any sexual advances from Ma.”

Investigations by the Sacramento Bee found Ma frequently shared hotel rooms with staff during her first two years in office “to save money.” Another investigation by the paper found that Ma, who lives in San Francisco, charged taxpayers more for business trips to Sacramento during that time than any other statewide elected official, including those who lived in Southern California.

Click here to read the full article in the San Francisco Chronicle

California Legislature Approves Plan Allowing the State to Buy Power

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Legislature voted Thursday to give Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration permission to buy massive amounts of electricity, a move aimed at avoiding blackouts by shoring up the state’s power supply while jumpstarting the West Coast’s fledgling offshore wind industry.

Five companies paid roughly $750 million last year to lease areas off the California coast to build wind turbines. Collectively, those projects could generate enough electricity to power 3.5 million homes, helping the state avoid blackouts during extreme heat waves that have routinely strained the electrical grid of the nation’s most populous state.

But so far, the state’s largest utility companies have not been willing to commit to buying power from projects like those because it would cost too much money and take too long to build. In addition to building the wind turbines, the projects will require improvements at the state’s ports and new power lines to transport the energy from the ocean to the land.

“This is a major, generational series of investments that need to happen, and there’s a real risk it won’t if we can’t provide more certainty,” said Alex Jackson, director of American Clean Power Association, which represents the companies trying to build the wind projects.

The bill would let the state buy the power. The money would come from a surcharge imposed on Californians’ electricity bills. State regulators would decide how much this charge would be. Consumers would not pay it until the wind projects are up and running, likely several years from now.

California already has among the highest electricity rates in the country.

“This legislation … means that every single ratepayer in California, no matter where you live, is going to pay for this,” said Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle, who opposes the bill.

Supporters argue the bill will save people money in the long run on their electric bills. California has a law requiring all of its electricity to come from renewable or non-carbon sources by 2045. To do that, supporters say the state will have to invest in offshore wind projects, which typically generate the most power at night when solar energy is not as abundant.

Supporters say it would be more efficient for these offshore wind projects to sell all of their electricity to the state instead of a selling pieces of it to multiple utility companies, helping to control costs and keep rates lower.

“The biggest threat to us meeting our climate goals between now and 2045 are rate impacts to rate payers,” Scott Wetch, a lobbyist representing various construction trade associations, told lawmakers in a recent public hearing. “(This bill) is the only way to bring down those costs on these large, complex, long lead time projects in order to minimize the rate impacts.”

The bill gives the Department of Water Resources the authority to purchase the power — but not forever. Their authority would expire in 2035. Lawmakers would have to vote again to extend it.

California has moved quickly to end its reliance on fossil fuels in recent years. State regulators have OK’d rules banning the sale of most new gas-powered cars by 2035. But the state has struggled maintaining its clean energy values amid that transition.

An extreme heat wave in 2020 overwhelmed the state’s power grid, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes in the dark for a few hours over two days. Similar heat waves in the following summers prompted regulators to ask consumers to use less energy when demand was at its peak in the early evenings.

Newsom and the state Legislature have since spent $3.3 billion to build a “strategic reliability reserve” that included purchasing diesel-powered generators and extending the life of some gas-fired power plants that were scheduled to retire.

“There are things happening right now in energy policy that give me some pause about the efficacy of our strategy,” Democratic state Sen. Henry Stern lamented during a public hearing on the bill last week.

State law requires utility companies to have enough energy to meet demand. If they don’t, the bill would require those companies to pay a penalty. The Newsom administration has said this will prevent utilities from relying too much on the strategic reliability reserve, which uses gas-powered generators that pollute the air.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Federal appeals court opens way to block California law on gun marketing to children

A federal appeals court on Wednesday opened the way to block a California law that bans gun ads aimed at children, saying it went too far in restricting lawful speech.

Sporting and gun rights groups and the publisher of a youth shooting magazine had sought an injunction to temporarily stop the law from taking effect, arguing that it blocked the marketing of legal gun events and recruitment for safe and responsible youth sport-shooting and hunting programs.

A lower court denied that request. But on Wednesday a three-member panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.

That sends the issue back to the lower court for reconsideration.

The measure was signed into law last year. It bars marketing of firearm-related products “in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

In its ruling, the appellate court said the law was likely to violate the First Amendment right to free speech and “does not directly and materially advance California’s substantial interests in reducing gun violence and the unlawful use of firearms by minors.”

“There was no evidence in the record that a minor in California has ever unlawfully bought a gun, let alone because of an ad,” the opinion’s summary said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned the ruling, citing advertising by a gun-maker that sells a version an AR-15 style rifle that is smaller and lighter and advertised as being “geared toward smaller enthusiasts.”

“The court is fighting to protect marketing weapons of war to children,” Newsom said in a statement. “It is pure insanity.”

Newsom said he and Attorney General Rob Bonta are looking at options for challenging the ruling.

The law was one of several gun control measures passed by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature last year after the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense — a major expansion of gun rights.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Tuition Hike of 34% Across Five Years Coming to California State University

The California State University system voted today to raise tuition 6% annually for the next five years, a decision that seemed destined when its leaders revealed in May that Cal State brings in far less revenue than it needs to educate its nearly half a million students.

The system’s board of trustees voted 15 to 5 to approve the hikes, choosing financial stability over the collective outcry of students and the faculty union that denounced the move.

The Cal State “is a dream engine” but approving tuition hikes is a “nightmare scenario,” said Cal State trustee Jose Antonio Vargas, who ultimately voted for the increases.

The first increase will kick in for all tuition-paying students next fall. For in-state undergraduates, that’ll be an uptick of $342, rising to $6,084 per year. After five years, annual undergraduate tuition will be $1,940 higher than it was in the 2023-24 school year.

Currently, tuition and campus fees at most Cal States are below $8,000 — and below the national average of nearly $10,000.

Cal State is in a race to increase its graduation rates — especially among Black, Latino and Native American students — to make good on a promise that all major ethnic groups graduate at similar levels by 2025. That means more faculty, classes, tutors, mental health professionals and other academic expenses. Other expenses include more than $40 million annually to adopt changes to how the system tracks and resolves sexual discrimination cases after a series of high-profile incidents that led to top officials resigning. Two marquee reports published in July faulted Cal State’s handling of sexual misconduct violations. Also looming over the system is the risk of strikes as workers seek raises Cal State says it cannot afford.

Cal State expects to draw $148 million in new revenues in the first year of the tuition jump. Core to the plan is that one-third of those revenues will support student financial aid.

Around 60% of Cal State undergrads don’t pay any tuition because they receive enough state and system financial aid. An additional 18% of students pay partial tuition. Cal State senior staff say that won’t change under the tuition hike. Meanwhile, a new state grant is sending more money to middle-class students.

Those details were scant consolation to the students raging against the increases during yesterday’s meeting of the Cal State board of trustees. Across roughly 2.5 hours of designated time for public comments, an hour longer than trustees planned, students  inveighed against the trustees for proposing the tuition hikes and reprimanded the trustees for slouching and looking at their phones during the students’ remarks. Some decried what they called the inherent racism of raising revenue through tuition hikes at a system that enrolls mostly students of color. A few admonished Cal State for not explaining how the hikes will affect students who pay full tuition. Others bitterly observed that the incoming system chancellor’s compensation will exceed $1 million.

“Students are supposed to be offered affordable higher education but instead we are slowly being stripped away of our education because the CSU fails to see us as students but instead sees us as their salary increases,” said Cassandra Garcia, the student body president at Sonoma State. 

“You watch your students sleep in cars from the comfort of your gated communities,” another student from Cal State Dominguez Hills said.

“We are working numerous jobs just to be able to attend and you want to raise tuition,” said Courtland Briggs, a student from Cal State Channel Islands. “It’s pathetic. Y’all are pathetic.”

Shortly after the public comment session Tuesday, Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester tried to quell the nerves of trustees. “I know you are uncomfortable and I appreciate your discomfort,” she said. But Koester reiterated her comments in July that it’s never a good time to raise tuition and expecting students to ever support hikes is “fantasy.” 

Among the trustees opposing the hikes were two prominent California lawmakers and likely gubernatorial hopefuls who sit on the board of trustees: Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, who has announced she’s running for governor in 2026, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who’s been “seriously considering” jumping into the race.

Kounalakis said the trustees “headed into an action that you do not fully understand the consequences of,” she said today before the vote. Even if 60% of undergraduates don’t pay tuition, 184,000 students do. “I don’t see how we can do this without knowing what a $2,000 a year increase is going to mean for our students. We know anecdotally that a lot of students are going to drop out.” She wanted to postpone the vote until trustees learned more — and let the incoming chancellor who starts next month make the final call.

Trustee Lillian Kimbell pushed back, saying while she doesn’t know how the hike will affect the students paying tuition, she knows “100%” of students will experience a worse academic experience without the added revenue.

Twelve of the 20 trustees also shot down an effort by a student member, Diana Aguilar-Cruz, to limit the tuition hikes to four years rather than five. Doing this would have cost the system $126 million in lost revenue, said Koester. Still, the board is empowered to shorten the length of the hikes in the future.

Tuition hikes were on the table since May, when a task force concluded that Cal State needs at least $1.5 billion annually in new revenue to afford student services and bolster its academic offerings.

“This is a lot like climate change,” said Julia Lopez, a CSU trustee and co-chairperson of the working group, at the May trustees meeting. “If we don’t heed the warning signs right now, we’re going to find ourselves in a world of hurt down the line. So that’s what we’re trying to do, to get ahead of that.

Daniel Fanous, a third-year business major at CSU Bakersfield, pays full tuition, so the hike will affect him. Fanous said he covers the costs by working a full-time job seven days a week, and with support from his parents. 

“I think that, over time, if they keep increasing it, a lot of people are going to see value elsewhere in life than just getting an education formally,” Fanous said. 

Kathryn Flores, a third-year liberal studies major also at CSU Bakersfield, pays for her tuition both out-of-pocket and with student loans.

“I feel scared about it because I pay for my own college tuition,” she said. “My parents don’t pay for it.”

“If we don’t heed the warning signs right now, we’re going to find ourselves in a world of hurt down the line. So that’s what we’re trying to do, to get ahead of that.”JULIA LOPEZ, CSU TRUSTEE AND CO-CHAIRPERSON OF THE WORKING GROUP

The tuition hikes were formally proposed in July and were met with instant opposition from the system’s faculty union, the California Faculty Association, which represents about half of Cal State’s roughly 60,000 workers, as well as a student group affiliated with the union.

“CFA opposes student tuition increases,” said Charles Toombs, the union’s president, at the July trustees meeting. He called on the system to prioritize the state support it already receives and advocate for more state funding. He also reiterated that Cal State should spend more of its money on student instruction and advancement.

The union reiterated its opposition to the hikes this week ahead of the trustees meeting with an email blast that said its members ”unequivocally oppose the 6% multi-year tuition increase.”

The system’s academic senate, which represents professors on academic matters, passed a resolution this month asking the Cal State trustees to delay its tuition-hike vote “until the impact of such a tuition increase on enrollments and diversity has been analyzed and reported upon.”

The resolution also criticized the trustees for formally discussing the tuition hike for the first time in July, when most students and professors aren’t in class.

It’s a point underscored by Dominic Quan Treseler, president of the systemwide Cal State Student Association. “You cannot tell me we wouldn’t have had twice as many protesters outside of those doors If this was not presented three weeks after school started,” he said during remarks to the board Tuesday.

While about 42% of undergraduates borrow to attend Cal State, a new report co-sponsored by the student association finds that almost two-thirds of those students come from families that earn less than $54,000.

Given those figures, Treseler said, the tuition hikes “will continuously suffocate and impede the success of our students and the system.” And because two-thirds of Black students borrow, he added, a tuition increase “will decimate the Black student population across our system.”

He noted that many students who want to avoid borrowing must work more than 20 hours a week to afford college expenses beyond tuition, such as housing, food and transportation. This tuition increase, he said, would require another three to four hours of work per week.

“I feel scared about it because I pay for my own college tuition. My parents don’t pay for it.”KATHRYN FLORES, THIRD-YEAR LIBERAL STUDIES MAJOR AT CSU BAKERSFIELD

Treseler also expressed exasperation that student government advocates spent weeks persuading the trustees to change the tuition hike so that it’s not indefinite — as originally proposed in July — to one across five years. And while he has sympathy for the Cal State leaders’ obligations to respond to salary demands from its workers, he said the system’s top consideration should be “to offer an accessible and affordable road to success for every Californian.”

But it’s salaries that are the main expense for the system. More than 70% of Cal State’s $8 billion core budget is spent on salary and benefits.

The faculty union is in heated negotiations with Cal State over raises to lessen the sting inflation has had on workers’ purchasing power. The union wants 12% raises this year. Cal State said it can do that across three years or a one-year raise of 5%.

Other unions also want raises, but Cal State says it needs to spend $55 million annually for every 1% bump in pay for all employees. Money for those salary demands and the student services Cal State says it needs to have more students graduate are in direct competition this academic year, the system wrote. Teamsters Local 2010, a union that represents skilled workers such as electricians and plumbers, plans to ask its members to approve a strike in the coming weeks, its principal leader, Jason Roboniwitz, told CalMatters.

“And if they don’t start getting fair with us, the new chancellor could start her first month on the job with a 60,000-person strike, the biggest labor dispute in CSU history,” he said.

Outside the trustee meeting space yesterday, unionized workers chanted for better wages, at times with a full drum kit. But the system insists its budgets are already strained by its wage-increase promises. 

“The CSU’s commitment to fair and competitive employee compensation requires budgetary tradeoffs, which could result in nearly all other operating budget priorities receiving only some or none of the new funding in 2023-24,” Cal State leaders wrote in documents ahead of today’s vote.

That sentiment was echoed by Interim Chancellor Koester during an Aug. 25 video address, in which she said current new salary commitments for staff and faculty were greater than the $227 million in new money Cal State got from the state budget this year.

“Her fearmongering threats are not only disrespectful towards the faculty and staff who serve the students in the CSU, but it is also disingenuous to claim that the CSU does not have the budget to properly compensate workers,” a September faculty union press release said.

But even with tuition increases that’ll kick in next year, Cal State’s revenues won’t be enough to handle all its future costs, system leaders argue. Cal State’s proposed budget for 2024-25 seeks $557 million in new revenue. About a quarter comes from new tuition hikes and $240 million from additional state funding Gov. Gavin Newsom promised the system as part of a five-year compact. But Cal State wants $145 million on top of that.

All that translates to just $220.7 million to fund 2024-25 compensation increases for all employees, Cal State says. That’s enough for 4% across-the-board raises for all staff, it says.

Pushed to increase raises beyond what it’s been offering, Cal State “will have fewer employees and we will have fewer seats for students in our classes,” Koester said Tuesday.

In one scenario, if Cal State agrees to 15% raises over three years, and the tuition hike didn’t happen, the system would have a half-billion-dollar budget hole. The new tuition revenue would still mean a deficit of $322 million, said Ryan Storm, a senior budget staffer for the system, today. Again, layoffs would be likely, he added.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Five Transgender Bills Targeting Concerned Parents Awaiting Gov. Newsom’s Signature or Veto

The sexualization of California school kids is escalating to an ugly place

A teacher friend recently shared with me curriculum required by the school district for use in the early elementary classroom on “gender expression.” It is a video called “Expressing Myself. My Way.” The tag line on the video gives a little hint of the content: “Gender expression is how we choose to show the world where on the gender spectrum we identify. We can do that through clothing, makeup, jewelry, tone of voice, taking hormones, and more.”

The video is in cartoon with cute, lovable animal characters who at first glance look alike, but when they sing about their gender differences, the movie is promoting acceptance of abandoning the gender he/she was born with, and assuming a new identity.

The teacher friend and I discussed at length LGBTQ law in California, and the more current teaching of gender, trans and LGBTQ identities in the classroom.

I harkened back to 2011 when SB 48 by then-Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) was passed and Gov. Brown signed it into law. It was very general in language, and required California schools to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in social science instruction.

However, SB 48 also became the overarching catch-all for anything LGBTQ in education – and the left has been making the most of it, while simultaneously diminishing actual education, resulting in California students ranking 50th in literacy in the entire country.

Flash forward to 2023: Now the Legislature has passed five new LGBTQ and trans-specific bills, playing legal catch-up, given how much LGBTQ and trans lesson plans have made it into Kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms:

  1. Assembly Bill 957 by Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) and co-authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), a parent could lose custody for not “affirming” or agreeing to a child’s claims about gender identity, and be charged with child abuse. Perhaps even more disturbing, bizarre, and ironic, in the State of California where the policy of California public schools is to keep “gender” information hidden from parents, how could a divorcing parent even know if they are affirming their child’s “gender identity?”
  2. Assembly Bill 665 by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) would allow children as young as 12 years to consent to mental health treatment or counseling without parental approval or involvement.In California it is already law to allow a minor who is 12 years of age to consent to mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis, or to residential shelter services, “if the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in the outpatient services or residential shelter services, or if the minor is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse.”That law, Senate Bill 543 was authored by then-Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) in 2010, and sponsored by Equality California, the National Association of Social Workers California Chapter, Mental Health America of Northern California, and the Gay Straight Alliance Network. SB 543, ostensibly to help LGBT and homeless youth, was signed into law in 2010 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.Carrillo’s bill will remove the additional requirement that the child must present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to themselves or to others, or be the alleged victim of incest or child abuse – in order to consent to mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis, or to residential shelter services.
  3. AB 5would require LGBTQ+ training for teachers in all of California’s public schools – not just sensitivity training, but training to to be used to target parents who aren’t properly affirming the chosen gender of their child. It is sponsored by The California Federation of Teachers.
  4. SB 407  a bill by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would ensure that unless all potential foster parents are willing to “affirm” LGBTQ gender and sexuality in foster youth, and any gender transitioning, they will be prohibited by the state from being foster parents. Sen. Wiener introduced his bill during the Senate Human Services Committee in April saying, “We want to make sure we aren’t placing these children in homes where there is hostility towards them.” The “hostile” homes the Senator refers to are religious families. Sen. Wiener said foster youth who identify as LGBTQ need protection from physical and psychological abuse coming from non-affirming foster parents.
  5. Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Perris) authored Assembly Bill 1078 ostensibly to make it harder to “ban” school textbooks in California – but the “school textbooks” Jackson refers to are highly sexualized, and in many cases, just plain porn. Assemblyman Jackson says “AB 1078 is a bill that intends to combat the national Christian white supremacist movement which aims to ban books, school curriculum, and even more in our schools.” Assemblyman Jackson is using the tortured “national Christian white supremacist movement” to give cover for grossly inappropriate books:  The Globe reported on “Gender Queer: A Memoir” last year, a book found in school libraries across the country which has cartoon drawings of oral sex, masturbation, and describes how to use sex toys.Lawn Boy: featured on MSNBC’s Ali Velshi  Banned Books Club, Lawn Boy is billed as a “coming-of-age story,” but is filled with graphic sex acts between children. The interview with Lawn Boy author is just bizarre. The author insists he uses “course language” throughout the book, and not “graphic language.”More than 35 school districts in 20 states temporarily removed “Lawn Boy” from library shelves.Since then, many states have passed legislation addressing pornographic, obscene school textbooks and library books.Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You: Amazon describes Trans+ this way: “A groundbreaking all-inclusive, uncensored, must-have guide for teens who are living in this world, who identify as transgender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, or are questioning their gender identity or how they express themselves, and for their cis-allies and advocates.”The book contains 75 QR codes, marked as “resources” which take children to unbelievably graphic obscene sex websites. CRI posted a short video on Instagram showing where the links take children. Warning: video it contains obscenity and pornographic images. England says Trans+ is available in school libraries across the country.

This California sexual education curriculum also includes:

  • Kindergarten books that introduce 5-year-olds to families with members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
  • First grade gender vocabulary lessons on words such as third gender, trans, queergender, non-binary, gender fluid, gender neutral, agender, bigender, and two-spirits.
  • Lessons for 1st graders that provide detailed descriptions of sex with these quotes such as: “The man’s penis goes inside the woman’s vagina,” and “sperm can swim out through the small opening in the man’s penis – and into the woman’s vagina.”
  • Pictures in a book for third graders showing a cartoon drawing of a penis ejaculating sperm while inserted into a vagina.
  • Lessons which teach third graders that sexual reproductive organs don’t always match a person’s gender.
  • Recommendations that fifth graders are taught sexual health lessons that must include examples of same-sex sexual activity. Students should not be separated by sex during these lessons to avoid “misgendering” students.
  • Books that introduce 10-year-olds to anal sex, and the slang for male and female genitals.
school books, teaching children as young as age 5, inappropriate slang for male and female body parts. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)
school books, teaching children as young as age 5, inappropriate slang for male and female body parts. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Assemblyman Jackson and other Democrat lawmakers continue to deceive when discussing textbook “book bans.” If the cartoon movie above about gender preferences is any indication of just how far the gender pushers will go to target very little children, lying about the books they are also pushing is a cakewalk.  Each of the books linked here also have cartoon drawings, clearly targeting kids, while illustrating various sex acts.

Schools have jumped way ahead of the law, which appears to be catching up this legislative session – out of legal need. And that is because parents are on to the very well-coordinated effort to include pornographic material in K-12 public schools.

Click here to read the full article in California Globe

Temecula Board OKs Policy Banning Pride Flags From Schools

Only U.S., California flags allowed unless a banner is used “solely for educational purposes”

The Temecula school board approved a policy to limit which flags can be flown on school property, a rule that some said is a way to ban pride flags, at its Tuesday night, Sept. 12, meeting.

similar policy was adopted by the Chino Valley Unified School District board in June.

The item passed 3-2, with the board’s conservative majority in favor and trustees Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz voting no.

Tuesday’s Temecula Valley Unified School District board meeting drew a crowd similar in size to the one several weeks ago, when the board adopted a policy to inform parents if their child is transgender.

The proposal, which was adopted with some small language changes, contains two alterations to the district’s flag protocols.

The first is an addition to Pledge of Allegiance guidelines, which states that students not reciting the pledge “shall maintain a respectful silence.”

The second reads: “No flag other than the United States of America and State of California may be displayed on school grounds, including classrooms, unless it is a country, state, or United States military flag used solely for educational purposes within the adopted curriculum.”

Other flags would need the superintendent’s approval.

The document does not specify which flags are barred.

“It is not the intent of the Board of Education to deprive any person of his or her right to freedom of expression,” the agenda item states. “The intent of this regulation is to maintain a safe and orderly workplace for teachers, students, administrators, staff, parents/guardians and other members of the community.”

More than 100 people waited outside before the meeting’s open session. Some had American flags on their clothing. A few wore Donald Trump merchandise. Others sported pride flags.

Jennifer San Nicolas, a Temecula resident with two teenagers in Temecula Valley schools, said she’s concerned about board decisions she said remove diversity, equity and inclusion programs and cited December’s critical race theory ban — approved at the first meeting of the board’s conservative Christian bloc elected by voters — as an example.

“It’s just unreal, they way that they are chipping away at the humanity of kids of color, kids on the LGBTQ spectrum, anyone who isn’t their White evangelical, in their church — they other them.”

Murrieta resident Jen Reeves called the flag policy “worrisome.”

“I feel like it removes self-expression, and any sort of ability for teachers to say, ‘Hey, you’re welcome here, and we do support you, and we love you, and we want you here’,” Reeves said.

She said she believes the Temecula school board is following the agenda of other boards that have passed similar policies.

Ryan Waroff, who lives in the school district, said he supports the proposed flag policy.

Any flag can create a sense of division, Waroff said, “and I think that’s a problem we have in this country right now.”

In response to concerns about a ban on pride flags obscuring people’s identities, he said, “if you walk into a place and it takes a flag for you to feel comfortable about yourself, then we have a bigger problem than that.”

Waroff said people should be able to express their identities in any way they feel necessary, and maybe at one point, such flags were a good idea, but they’ve become politicized.

“And it is both sides,” he said. “It is a Trump flag. It is a pride flag. It is a BLM flag.”

“This isn’t anti-LGBTQ, this isn’t anti-trans,” he said. “We live in America, and in America, we’re allowed to be whatever we want, but let’s unite under the one unifying goal, that’s ‘We’re all Americans.’ I would like to see us come back to that.”

Daniel Molina spoke in favor of the policy, saying that “there is no pride flag” without also standing for the American flag.

Josh Schierling asked: “How delicate is your sense of democracy that it’s threatened by a pride flag?”

Schierling said everyone should be allowed to coexist, and that “taking down a pride flag is telling people they’re not wanted. How un-American is that?”

Board members discussed reasons for the policy, and potential pitfalls, including the definition of the word “flag.”

Danny Gonzalez said he thought the administration needed more time to work on the policy, and saw it “being potentially problematic” if not done the right way.

Schwartz said the “good intentions” behind the policy would open the district up to problems. He read aloud concerns of people who wrote to him, including that the policy “is an attempt to censor LGBTQ support” and that, according to the policy, flags for entities like colleges wouldn’t be allowed.

Barclay agreed that “a lot of things aren’t clear.”

She said that, if there’s a certain flag in question, “let’s just say it.”

Barclay said such policies make people nervous.

“They don’t want to break the rules, but they don’t understand the rules,” she said.

Board President Joseph Komrosky said that a school visit during which there were “at least 10 classrooms” that had no American flags showed him that the district needed the regulation. He  said he wants to “instruct the superintendent to add U.S. flags to every single classroom.”

Regarding flags for colleges and school sports teams, board members discussed whether they counted as “educational,” and whether, according to the policy, the superintendent would need to approve each one. Komrosky said that would be the case.

The meeting featured outbursts, applause and other interruptions from audience members. At least one person was removed, and some reacted to comments by holding up red, yellow and green cards, which Komrosky has done at previous meetings to convey warnings to audience members. At different points, both Schwartz and Komrosky asked for spectators’ cooperation.

“This would go a lot easier with no audience in here,” Komrosky said.

Other politically charged topics have been reviewed by the Temecula Valley school board in the past year.

After December’s critical race theory ban, a social studies curriculum was rejected by the board after some members cited its mention of slain gay-rights activist Harvey Milk in supplemental materials. After pushback from Gov. Gavin Newsom and others, the curriculum was approved in July — except for the unit mentioning Milk.

Last month, the board approved the transgender notification policy that some opposed because they felt it puts transgender students at risk by outing them. Such a policy also was previously approved by the Chino Valley school board.

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

California Fast Food and Health Care Workers Poised to Win Major Salary Increases

 Nearly 1 million California workers are poised to win major salary increases after labor unions flexed their collective muscle in the state’s Democratic-led Legislature on Monday following a summer of high-profile strikes in the entertainment and hospitality industries.

Most of the state’s 500,000 fast food workers would be paid at least $20 per hour next year under a new bill aimed at ending a standoff between the industry and labor unions over wages and working conditions. About 455,000 health care workers — not doctors and nurses, but the people who do everything else at hospitals, dialysis clinics and other facilities — will see their salaries rise to at least $25 per hour over the next 10 years in a separate bill.

Both proposals must first pass the state Legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. But the proposals have the blessing of both labor unions and industry groups, clearing the path for passage this week before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

An added bonus for voters: The November 2024 ballot will be a little less crowded. The fast food industry has agreed to withdraw its referendum on a fast food law that Newsom signed last year.

The bills, both introduced Monday, are just some of the impressive run of results for labor unions in the state Legislature this year. Also on Monday, the state Assembly voted to advance a proposal to give striking workers unemployment benefits — a policy change that could eventually benefit Hollywood actors and writers and Los Angeles-area hotel workers who have been on strike for much of this year.

“I think fast food cooks and cashiers have fundamentally changed the politics of wages in this country and have reshaped what working people believe is possible when they join together and take on corporate power and systemic racism,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union.

California’s minimum wage is already among the highest in the country at $15.50 per hour. The fast food bill would increase that minimum wage to $20 per hour for workers at restaurants in California that have at least 60 locations nationwide — with an exception for restaurants that make and sell their own bread, like Panera Bread.

The bill will affect about 500,000 fast food workers in California, according to the Service Employees International Union, which has been working to unionize fast food workers in the state. They include Ingrid Vilorio, who works at a Jack In The Box in the San Francisco Bay Area. She said the raise will help her family, who until recently was sharing a house with two other families to afford rent.

“A lot of us (in the fast-food industry) have to have two jobs to make ends meet. This will give us some breathing space,” said Vilorio, who also works as a nanny.

The $20 hourly wage would be a starting point. The nine-member Fast Food Council, which would include representatives from the restaurant industry and labor, would have the power to increase that minimum wage each year by up to 3.5% or the change in the U.S. consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, whichever is lower.

The wage increase for health care workers is more complicated. Their salaries will rise gradually over the next decade, depending on where they work. Workers for large health care facilities and dialysis clinics will see their pay jump to at least $23 per hour next year, increasing to $25 per hour by 2026. Workers at rural hospitals with lots of Medicaid patients would have their salaries increase to at least $18 per hour next year, with 3.5% increases each year until it reaches $25 per hour in 2033.

Workers at community clinics will see their salaries rise to at least $21 per hour in 2024 before peaking at $25 per hour in 2027. Salaries at all other covered health care facilities will increase to at least $21 per hour next year before reaching $25 per hour by 2028.

“Everyone in the healthcare sector understands that we have a workforce crisis, and that wages are the essential prerequisite for any solution,” said Tia Orr, executive director of the Service Employees International Union-California. “With this increase, more workers will join and stay in the healthcare workforce, and as a result Californians will be safer and better cared for.”

It’s unusual, but not unprecedented, for states to have minimum wages for specific industries. Minnesota lawmakers created a council to set wages for nursing home workers. In 2021, Colorado announced a $15 minimum wage for direct care workers in home and community-based services.

In California, most fast food workers are over 18 and the main providers for their family, according to Enrique Lopezlira, director of the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center’s Low Wage Work Program. Just over 75% of health care workers in California are women, and 76% are workers of color, according to a study published earlier this year by the UC Berkely Labor Center.

Hospitals support the bill in part because it “ensures that wages for health care workers are set by the state, creating greater equity for all of California’s health care workforce,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association.

The fast food industry benefits by stopping two proposals they say would have made it much harder for restaurants to operate in California. Labor unions agreed to withdraw a bill that would have held big fast food corporations like McDonald’s liable for the misdeeds of their independent franchise operators in the state.

And Democrats in the state Legislature agreed to strip funding for the Industrial Welfare Commission, an agency that has the power to set wage and workplace standards for multiple industries.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Gov. Gavin Newsom May Regret Pledges to Black Californians

William Congreve, an English playwright, coined the adage “Married in haste, we may repent at leisure,” in his 1693 comedy “The Old Batchelour,” but it quickly evolved into sage advice for other human behaviors.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom could regret hasty political promises to California’s Black population — to appoint a Black woman to the U.S. Senate if a seat becomes vacant, and provide meaningful reparations for the state’s woeful history of racial discrimination — that he probably cannot honor.

Newsom made the Senate pledge in early 2021 after appointing Alex Padilla to the Senate, replacing Kamala Harris once she became vice president. The appointment drew criticism from Black political leaders and women’s groups because he was replacing a woman with Black and South Asian ethnic heritage with a Latino man.

Weeks later, Newsom was asked by MSNBC host Joy Reid whether he would appoint another Black woman to the Senate should Sen. Dianne Feinstein, suffering from physical and apparently neurological ailments, resign.

“I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind – and the answer is yes,” Newsom replied, obviously trying to dampen the criticism.

As Feinstein’s situation continued to deteriorate, she announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election in 2024. That touched off a contest among three Democratic members of Congress – Katie Porter, Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee with the latter, a Black woman, badly trailing the other two.

Newsom’s pledge to appoint a Black woman became a political trap of his own making. If Feinstein resigned, he would be pressed by Black leaders to appoint Lee, but if he did, he would be interfering with the election, causing no end of political grief.

Over the weekend, while pressed again by Chuck Todd of Meet the Press, Newsom said he would name a Black woman to fill a vacant Senate seat — but only as a caretaker to fill out Feinstein’s term, meaning it would not be Lee.

If Newsom thought he had resolved the matter, he was mistaken because Lee denounced it, saying, “The idea a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election.”

When he signed 2020 legislation to create a commission to recommend reparations for Black Californians, Newsom declared, “Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions” and promised, “we won’t turn away from this moment to make right the discrimination and disadvantages that Black Californians and people of color still face.”

However, as the commission completed its work this year and declared that some very hefty financial payments to descendants of slaves would be justified, Newsom became noncommittal.

While praising the commission’s work as “a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing,” he said, “Dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments.”

Newsom’s cool response is where matters lie. Members of the commission still expect reparations to include some hard cash but with the state experiencing multi-billion-dollar budget deficits that are likely to persist, anything more than token payments are unlikely.

Meanwhile, a new poll by UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies has found scant support among Californians for cash reparations, even as they recognize the lingering impacts of slavery. Such payments are opposed by 59% of the registered voters surveyed, with Republicans and independents overwhelmingly opposed and Democrats evenly divided.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

COVID Hysterics Hype ‘Positive Patients’ …and Cancel High School Football Game

‘Sacramento County’s COVID-19 hospital patient total jumps 48% in a week as uptick continues’

“The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 in Sacramento County jumped nearly 50% in one week, reaching its highest level in five months, as the gradual increase in spread of the virus has yet to wane in California,” The Sacramento Bee breathlessly reported.

Oh holy @#$! We’re all going to die… (eventually).

Wait. How many COVID patients are we talking about in Sacramento County? Am I reading this correctly – 89 total? Sacramento County has 1.5 million total population.

Last year at this time, there were 168 “positive patients” in Sacramento County, and 25 in the ICU, according to the California Department of Public Health. I don’t recall any headlines last year like this one from the Bee today:

Sacramento County’s COVID-19 hospital patient total jumps 48% in a week as uptick continues

“There were 1,722 total hospital patients with COVID-19 in California as of Sept. 2, according to the most recent state data. That’s the same number of patients statewide as one week earlier, according to a weekly update Friday from the California Department of Public Health.”

1,722 total hospital patients with COVID out of 40 million people in California? Even with more people dying from Heart Disease and Cancer, it’s telling that public health officials are trying to increase fear in COVID again. The entire country can’t be locked down for heart disease or cancer, but they succeeded with COVID once already.

The CDC reports:

In 2022, approximately 3,273,705 deaths occurred in the United States. The estimated 2022 age-adjusted death rate decreased by 5.3%, from 879.7 per 100,000 persons in 2021 to 832.8. COVID-19 was reported as the underlying cause or a contributing cause in an estimated 244,986 (7.5%) of those deaths (61.3 deaths per 100,000).

During 2022, the three leading causes of death were heart disease (699,659 deaths), cancer (607,790), and unintentional injury (218,064).

CDC graphic top leading causes of death.

According to the CDC, “COVID-19 was the underlying cause for 5.7% of all deaths in 2022, decreasing from 12.0% (416,893 deaths) in 2021. Heart disease and cancer deaths increased in 2022 compared with 2021 (accounting for 695,547 and 605,213, deaths respectively), while deaths associated with COVID-19 decreased.”

Locally, Esparto High School in Yolo County cancelled a football game Friday night because 6 players tested positive for COVID-19 — and 7 players were out with injuries. I assume the players are required to test for COVID? The school district said the game cancellation was necessary because the players could pass COVID to the other team.

I’m willing to bet the players weren’t sick – they just tested positive.

Here are all of Yolo County’s COVID stats: 3 COVID positive patients and 1 in the ICU – out of 222,000 total population.

Oh – Sacramento County still hasn’t updated its COVID dashboard since February 2023 – they must really be concerned about it:

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Kids Could Become ‘Wards of the State’ Under New Gender Affirmation Rule, Mom Warns: ‘Dangerous’

A California mom concerned about a new state measure requiring judges to consider whether a parent has affirmed their child’s belief that they are transgender during custody battles warned Sunday that the policy could have disastrous implications.

“This is the steady assault on family and children that we’ve been seeing this legislative session and throughout the past couple of years in California,” Nicole Pearson, a mom of three and a member of the newly-formed “Protect Kids California” group, told Fox News.

“If both parents are conservative, and they are not comfortable affirming their child, what does that mean? The way that we read the law is that both will be jeopardizing the child’s health, safety and welfare… does that mean that the state will find that both are endangering or neglecting or even abusing their child and remove custody from both parents? And if no one is available to step up and take custody of the child, that child becomes a ward of the state. 

“People need to be paying attention to what’s happening here in California,” she continued.

The California State Assembly passed AB 957 on Friday, dealing a blow to parental rights advocates like Pearson who warned the policy could jeopardize parental custody rights because they disagree with the child’s decision to identify with a gender that does not correspond with their biological sex.

Jonathan Zachreson, also a “Protect Kids California” activist, told Fox News the measure could be indicative of things to come across the U.S. at some point.

“What happens in California will not stay in California,” he said. “There’s efforts that we’re trying to do to help mitigate some of these efforts through some initiatives and, in particular, to protect children from reproductive harm.”

Zachreson joined “Fox & Friends” last Tuesday where, alongside “Protect Kids California activist Erin Friday, a Democrat, where he discussed these measures, particularly three proposed 2024 ballot initiatives to help “protect kids.” One would prevent minors from receiving gender-affirming care procedures or puberty blockers. Another would require schools to inform parents if their child elects to adopt a different gender identity other than the one corresponding with their biological sex.

The third bars biological males from competing in women’s sports.

Democratic California state Rep. Lori Wilson, who introduced the bill along with state Sen. Scott Wiener, said on the assembly floor, “Parents affirm their children, they have since the dawn of time. Typically it happens when their gender identity matches their biological gender.” She continued, later adding that it is parents’ “duty” to affirm kids’ gender identities.

Pearson called the measure “dangerous” and “unconstitutional” during her sound-off on Sunday, saying the policy might lead parents to ignore other options that could help their children suffering from gender dysphoria.

“There are over 9 million children in the state of California. What AB 957 says is that every single one of them who’s going through a divorce, whose parents are fighting over them, whose entire world is crumbling, their entire identity – not their gender identity – their entire identity is crumbling, that we as parents have to affirm that confusion… gender confusion, especially in this context, is a cry for help,” she said.

Click here to read the full article at Fox 11