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CA Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento) Calls Out Environmental Orgs’ Racism



Assemblymember Jim Cooper1 (D-Sacramento) at the Capitol - June 10, 2020
Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento) at the Capitol - June 10, 2020

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento) at the Capitol – June 10, 2020 / Photo by Antonio R. Harvey

*Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento) inked a two-page open letter to leaders of environmental organizations, calling out racism and the lack of diversity in their organizations.

Cooper, who represents the 9th District and is Chair of the Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, released the letter through his Twitter account, stating that “It’s time we have a discussion about environmental racism.”

The Sierra Club California (SCC), the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Environment California “have long had all White or (mostly) leadership teams,” Cooper wrote.

“These organizations from their leaders to their funders, are nearly all White, and attempt to trade on race issues by branding their efforts as: ‘environmental justice’ — for which they do not apologize,” Cooper wrote in the letter dated Aug. 3.

Cooper backed his allegations, adding, “these organizations consistently push legislation that is designed to ‘protect or improve’ the environment,’ but fall way below addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities,” he wrote.

In the letter, Cooper included information provided by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), an independent nonprofit research institution based in San Francisco.

PPIC reported that California residential electric power rates are 55.8% higher than the average of other states. The report also says that California drivers are dishing out more at the pump to pay for the second-highest gasoline prices in the nation at 98 cents per gallon (47% higher than the average of the 49 other states).

“These higher costs impact disadvantaged communities, especially those who live in areas like the Central Valley, and force them to pay more for energy costs than coastal community households do,” Cooper stated.

“These disadvantaged communities throughout the state are mostly comprised of Black and Brown people.”

Cooper penned the letter after the Sierra Club California recently announced its commitment to invest $5 million of its budget into initiatives to diversify its staff and environmental and racial justice efforts.

Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club California, released a statement on July 22. In it, he apologized for his organization’s “substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy.”

The Sierra Club California is the legislative and regulatory advocacy arm for Sierra Club chapters in California. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organizations.

The Sierra Club California has chapters in every state and a national membership that exceeds 1 million. California is unique among states in that it has 13 chapters of the organization, representing more than 400,000 members and supporters.

“It’s time to take down some of our own monuments, starting with some truth-telling about the Sierra Club’s early history,” Brune stated. “That will be followed by posts on how we’ve had to evolve on issues of immigration and population control, environmental justice, and Indigenous sovereignty.”

Cooper commended the 128-year-old organization for the public apology and putting up funds to address internal and external racial issues. But the Assemblyman still pointed out the Sierra Club’s timing.

Recent and continuing racial strife in the country, including the death of George Floyd on May 25, played heavily into the environmental organization’s decision, Cooper said.

“I have to ask why it took the murder of an unarmed Black man, nationwide civil unrest, and protest?” Cooper stated.

In his July 22 letter, Brune also admitted that SCC was an exclusive organization that catered to certain members and “screened out any applicants of color” from 1892 to the 1960s.

One of SCC’s founding members is environmentalist and naturalist John Muir, the “Father of the National Parks.” Muir Woods National Monument near Mill Valley, Calif., is named in honor of the Scottish American.

“The Whiteness and privilege of our early membership fed into a very dangerous idea — one that’s still circulating today,” Brune wrote. “It’s the idea that exploring, enjoying, and protecting the outdoors can be separated from human affairs. Such willful ignorance is what allows some people to shut their eyes to the reality that the wild places we love are also the ancestral homelands of Native peoples.”

Before joining the Assembly in 2014, Cooper served as a Captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years and spent 15 years as Elk Grove’s founding mayor and councilmember.

Elk Grove, located 15 miles south of downtown Sacramento, is the second-most populous city in Sacramento County with more than 172,000 residents.

In response to Cooper’s Aug. 3 letter, “Environmental Racism and Lack of Diversity,” and Brune’s July 22’s press release, “Pulling Down Monuments,” the assemblyman engaged in some back-and-forth dialogue with Mary Nichols.

Nichols is the Chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CARB is charged with protecting the public from the harmful effects of air pollution and developing programs and actions to fight climate change.

On Nichols’ Twitter account, which has since been removed, she posted a disturbing message in regard to the death of George Floyd, who died when a Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer pinned his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Nichols posted on June 1, “‘I can’t breathe’ speaks to police violence, but it also applies to the struggle for clean air. Environmental racism is just one form of racism. It’s all toxic. Government needs to clean it up in word and deed.”

Cooper responded by tweeting, “How dare you use a dying man’s plea for help as a way to discuss your agenda. Have you no shame?”

Nichols later issued an apology via Twitter, stating “I apologize for speaking at the wrong time about the wrong topic. Racism comes in many forms and I believe we must fight every instance of it in our society.”

source: California Black Media

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Robert Johnson Still Supports Trump After Debate: ‘I Will Take the Devil I Know’ (Watch)



Robert Johnson (screenshot)

Robert Johnson on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (Sept. 30, 2020)

*Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson told CNBC on Wednesday he’s viewing the election between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden through the lens of being a businessman.

“Where I come out as a businessman, I will take the devil I know over the devil I don’t know anytime of the week,” Johnson said on “Squawk Box.”

When pressed to say if he is definitively supporting President Trump, Johnson said that as a longtime corporate executive he knows how the president will react to important issues of the day such as coronavirus, but can’t put his finger on how Biden would run the country.

“I know what President Trump has done and what he’s said he will do. I don’t know what Vice President Biden has said he will do other than masks, listen to the scientists,” the 74-year-old Johnson said. He suggested the coronavirus response should weigh the tradeoffs of “pandemic safety” versus “economy growth.”

Johnson called Tuesday night’s first presidential debates a waste of 90 minutes, and repeatedly suggested he didn’t learn enough in the debate about Biden, the two-term vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Asked specifically about Trump not explicitly condemning White supremacist groups during the debate, Johnson dodged the question and pivoted toward the coronavirus pandemic, saying he’s not sure either Biden or Trump could have taken different steps to significantly reduce the death total.

Johnson has been a big Democratic donor over the years but has also spoken positively about Trump’s economic policy. In 2016, he said he declined a position in Trump’s Cabinet, saying it was not due to politics but because he could not deal with government red tape.

Watch Johnson’s interview on “Squawk Box” below:

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Meet Ohio’s Democratic Black Female Lawmaker Who Endorses Trump (Video)



Bernadine Kennedy Kent

Ohio Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent

*As the 2020 presidential nominees arrived in Cleveland for their first debate Tuesday night, Democratic State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent and her husband James Whitaker came out to greet one of them as he came off the plane. And it wasn’t Biden.

According to a pool report, the two-term lawmaker went aboard Air Force One to greet President Trump before the debate. The lifelong Democrat had turned off members of her own party long before throwing her support behind the president’s reelection. She was kicked out of the House Democratic caucus in June 2018 after she sent a letter on Ohio Legislative Black Caucus letterhead without permission. She hasn’t been to the Statehouse since May 2019, telling the Columbus Dispatch in July she has continued to serve constituents from home.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said Kent’s Trump endorsement does not reflect the strong support among Ohio Democrats for Joe Biden.

“She basically hasn’t been involved with the party or her Statehouse job for a long time,” Pepper said. “This is the first I’ve heard of her in a while. Obviously she checked out of her public position a long time ago.”

Kennedy Kent, who is not running for re-election this year, said “muddied mistreatment and unlawful action” against her by the House Democrats drove her away from the party. She said her decision to endorse Trump for reelection is due to ow unemployment rates among Black Americans and his administration’s increased support for historically black colleges and universities.

“We all recognize that gainful employment and economic development is the best deterrent against violence and social unrest, so I want to thank President Trump for his commitment to ensuring the success of the Black community in every way,” Kennedy Kent said in a news release.

Below are several videos of Rep. Kennedy Kent in action:

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Here’s What’s In Part 2 of the CBC’s New ‘Jobs and Justice Act’ to Benefit Black Families (Video)




Rep. Karen Bass (CA)

*Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), recently unveiled the second edition of the Jobs and Justice Act, aimed at increasing the upward mobility of Black families in America. The bill was first introduced in 2018 by then-CBC Chair Cedric Richmond (D-La.).

The Jobs and Justice Act of 2020 includes over 200 bills addressing a wide range of issues, from community and economic development, and educational opportunities, to health disparities, environmental justice and comprehensive criminal justice reform.

“When we developed the Jobs and Justice Act of 2020, we knew that Black America was going to need policies that not only solved the imminent issues but addressed the long-term impact of COVID-19 on our community, said CBD Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37). “I am proud to present the second edition of the Jobs and Justice Act, which is a direct response to critical issue areas including the short term and long-term impact of COVID-19. Since 1971, the CBC has been a voice in Congress for the African-American community and in a year where the stakes are extremely high for Black Americans, we encourage lawmakers to support the provisions in this bill.”

Below, watch CBC members announce the bill below, followed by a list of key provisions in the legislation.

Some of the provisions of the bill include:

• Robust funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic through targeted contact tracing, testing, and treatment, along with research and data.
• Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
• $7.5 billion for investments in transportation infrastructure through the successful “TIGER” program, which provides grants to local governments to fund innovative highway, bridge, and transit projects.
• $7.5 billion to help specifically upgrade water infrastructure and ensure clean drinking water for families.
• Encourages government contractors on infrastructure projects to actively recruit, hire, and provide on-the-job training to African-Americans ages 18 to 39 through existing jobs, apprenticeships, and “earn while you learn” programs.
• Provides the Minority Business Development Agency, the only federal agency dedicated to supporting Black businesses, with statutory authorization. This means more access to capital, contracts and markets.
• Expands the grants for HBCUs to help with acquiring the technological resources needed to continue offering competitive academic programs in the STEM field.
• Establishes “baby bonds” to give every American child a seed savings account of $1,000 at birth to aid with long term savings goals.
• Incentivizes food service providers such as grocers, retailers, and nonprofits to help eradicate food deserts, which disproportionately impacts communities of color.

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