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Brown unveils conservative new budget proposal

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By James Carter
California Black Media

Despite $2.4 billion in unexpectedly higher revenues, California Governor Jerry Brown stressed spending restraint Tuesday when he detailed his revised state budget proposal.

According to Brown, the two-year tax revenue gains are offset by increased spending, specifically higher Medi-Cal costs and state worker retirement liabilities.

"We must follow a policy of restraint," Brown said. "Arguing with reality is a very chancy endeavor. The reality is the numbers that I've laid before you: Revenues are up a couple of billion but expenditures meet the revenues almost precisely. And that's the problem."

Last week a report from the Legislative Analyst's Office stated California is facing $340 billion in long-term costs that are not being adequately addressed. The largest percentage of those costs relate to a nearly $74 billion shortfall in the teacher pension fund. Because the contributions are mandated by state law they do not automatically adjust to ensure proper funding. If contributions are not increased, most estimates expect the fund to run out of money in approximately 30 years.

"People are concerned about young people getting what they need," Brown said. "To get what they need, they need teachers. Teachers get what they need by having pensions. The pension has to be paid for. There will only be pensions in 30 years if we start laying aside money."

Ongoing and uncertain healthcare costs are another major component of California's fiscal state.

Brown said that as people were being recruited to sign up for the federal Affordable Care Act, many people who previously were not participants in the health care system discovered they were eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's low-income healthcare program.

"30-percent of the people in California are now getting health coverage under our Medi-Cal program," Brown said. "That is a huge social commitment on the part of the taxpayers of California. I'm proud we did it but we have to take into account that it is growing. Since January the costs of this Medi-Cal enrollment has gone up $1 million. What are the unknown increases the next year and the year after that? That is why we have to be very careful with how we look at spending claims."

Brown's long-view approach to tackling California's economic troubles are winning some support from the other side of the aisle. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea, is guardedly optimistic about the steps and directions Brown has taken with the budget.

"I think the governor outlined a fairly fiscally conservative budget, so he is trying to acknowledge and pay down debt," Huff said. "It's hard to call this an austere budget given that it's $12 billion more than last years' budget. But given the demand for so many programs up here I would have to say that the governor's drawn a pretty strong line of fiscal restraint."

The question is whether that strong fiscal line will be able to hold up under the intense pressure from outside groups and other legislators who want to see funding restored to programs and services cut during the recession and expenditures for new programs.

One such new program is Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's, D-Sacramento, proposal to expand transitional kindergarten statewide. The program, introduced as part of the Steinberg's Kindergarten Readiness Act, provides classes and a modified curriculum to four-year-olds who miss the cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment because their birthdays fall later in the year.

Advocates of the transitional kindergarten program site statistics and studies showing the improved academic outcomes among children who attend pre-school versus those who don't. While they may agree on the academic benefits, for opponents the clear consideration is cost. If fully funded Steinberg's program could cost an estimated $1.46 billion.

When asked about the transitional kindergarten proposal Tuesday, Brown, who previously warned lawmakers about using budget surpluses on new spending, showed no signs of support.

"A lot of people have various views on the education system," Brown said. "In California we have K through 12 and two years of community college. Some people say if we just get a sixteenth year everything will be hunky dory for the next 50 years. If that's true then some reallocation has to be made within that 15-year Prop 98 program."

Brown's fiscal conservatism combined with legislators looking to satisfy constituent groups seeking a larger slice of the economic pie could make for interesting debates leading to the June 15 budget deadline.

"The truth is there are many good ideas in health care in schooling in environment, in prison reform, in court expansion, but we only have so much money. we do live within the revenues given," Brown said. "This budget is my best cut at how to spend the money. This is taking a big bite out of our long-term obligations. The Legislature will now go over it and we'll have a good conversation about what we do."

Local Leaders Move into Position of Presidency in NAACP Branch

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(SACRAMENTO) – The NAACP welcomes Minnie Hadley-Hempstead and Steven T. Webb to the Presidency of the Los Angeles and Sacramento branches.

Minnie Hadley-Hempstead is the new president of the Los Angeles NAACP. As a resident of Los Angeles for over 50 years Minnie Hadley-Hempstead has made a lifelong commitment to youth and education. Mrs. Hadley-Hempstead is a graduate of California State University Dominguez Hills with a Masters of Science in Public Administration. She also earned Teaching Credentials from the California State University Los Angeles. As the Chapter Chair for the United Teachers of Los Angeles she was often the spokesperson for educational issues. In addition to her role with the NAACP, Minnie also finds time to participate in the Laubach Literacy Action International and is an active member of her local church. Minnie has many achievements, but her family is the center of her world. Helping others is one of their most fulfilling life experiences. Ms. Hadley-Hempstead succeeds Leon Jenkins who resigned on May 1, 2014.

Stephen T. Webb is the new president of the Sacramento NAACP. Mr. Webb is a member of the ALC (Agent Leadership Council) at Keller Williams Realty and is also the Past-President of the Sacramento Realtist Association 2008-2009 and Board of Directors from 2004-2011. In 2005 Mr. Webb became the Housing Chair for the NAACP and as of January, 2013 1st Vice-President. Stephen has been a Master Realtor three times with the (SAR) Sacramento Association of Realtors, and on the Board of Directors from 2008-2010. Mr. Webb succeeds Tyrone Netters who resigned on May 8, 2014.

-PRESS RELEASE-

Riverside NAACP Rejects Request to Cancel its Award to District Attorney Zellerbach

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By Lee Ragin
VOICE Editor

The Riverside Branch of the NAACP announced Wednesday that its executive committee has denied a recent request to rescind its award to Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach.

The request, submitted by an undisclosed outside party, disputed the merit of an award to honor Zellerbach who is currently running for re-election. Zellerbach was recently criticized for his alleged role in a political campaign incident when a campaign sign belonging to his opponent was taken down. The informal request via text message and email was submitted to branch President Waudieur “Woodie” Rucker-Hughes of the Riverside NAACP earlier this month.

Members of the executive committee chose to reject the dispute since the award did not breach any ethical code by the Riverside NAACP, which does not consider political elections in its award decisions. Zellerbach, who is being awarded in the “Law/Justice” category for his community involvement, is among many previous elected officials who have received an award from the NAACP in the local organization’s 72-year history of charter in Riverside.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Riverside NAACP explained, “We, the executive committee of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP, under the outstanding leadership of Waudieur (“Woodie”) Rucker-Hughes do not endorse any candidate for any political office. We do not respond or address any matters related to political campaigns. We, as the executive committee of the Riverside Branch of the NAACP, have deliberated and concluded that there will be no change made to our Freedom Fund Award recipients.”

The annual Freedom Fund Celebration will be held May 14 at the Riverside Convention Center.

Loma Linda University Health Study: Black Vegetarians at Lower Risk for Heart Disease

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LOMA LINDA, CA – April 9, 2014 – Among more than 26,000 black Seventh-day Adventists, those who are vegetarians are at lower risk for heart disease, compared with their meat-eating counterparts, according to results of a new Loma Linda University Health study.

The study, available online now in the journal Public Health Nutrition, compared the cardiovascular risk factors between black vegetarians and non-vegetarians who are part of the ongoing Loma Linda University Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2).

AHS-2, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a long-running study of members throughout North America of the Seventh-day Adventist Church focusing on nutrition, lifestyle, and health outcomes. The Seventh-day Adventists are a unique study subject because they have a wide variety of dietary habits, but in general have a very low percentage of alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking, non-dietary factors that may otherwise impact the study.

The new results show a hierarchy of protection received by black participants in the study based on their eating habits: Vegans (those who completely abstain from meat and meat products) and lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who consume eggs and dairy) were the least at risk for cardiovascular disease; followed by semi-vegetarians (those who infrequently eat meat); pesco-vegetarians (those who eat fish); and lastly, non-vegetarians.

The study results show that compared with their non-vegetarian counterparts, black vegetarian Adventists were at less risk for hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, total cholesterol, and high blood-LDL cholesterol. The study was a cross-sectional analysis of the data, and does not conclusively establish cause. In the future, the study involving black subjects also plans to look directly at heart disease experience rather than risk factors for heart disease.

Patti Herring, PhD, MA, RN, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and one of the study’s co-investigators, said “some findings for black Adventists are promising and we are anxious to compare black Adventist health with the general population of blacks. In so doing, we suspect that black Adventists’ health will prove better in many regards, than those in the general population, particularly for the vegetarians.”

“There’s a growing body of evidence that vegetarian diets lower the risk for cardiovascular diseases and other diseases,” she said, noting that AHS-2 is one of the few that has such a large number of black participants, which is important since they generally have some of the worst health outcomes among minority populations.

The abstract of the study is available by going to this link: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9205599&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S1368980014000263

-PRESS RELEASE-

Nominations Being Accepted for the Inaugural Diamond Award, Promoting Justice in Orange County

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Costa Mesa – Vanguard University’s acclaimed Global Center for Women and Justice is now taking nominations for its first-ever Diamond Award. The award will honor individuals or organizations whose activities and commitment promote justice and dignity for women and children in Orange County.

The inaugural Diamond Award will be presented by The Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University, a faith-based organization that exists to advance the global status of women through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope. Individuals and organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) are invited to submit entries for individuals, businesses or groups for their efforts to advance justice for women and children through research, education, advocacy, collaboration and hope.

Nominations are encouraged in 3 categories: outstanding corporation or business, outstanding individual, and outstanding youth or youth group.

“Justice issues around human trafficking, violence against women, and child exploitation are complex and require innovative approaches to make a lasting difference in the lives of the most vulnerable,” explains Sandra Morgan, RN, PhD (c), director of the Global Center for Women and Justice. Morgan says, “We chose a diamond for this award because it is the perfect image to represent the many-faceted efforts required to make a difference!”

The selection process will take place in June and July, as a judge’s panel comprised of business and community leaders, philanthropists, law enforcement, and Vanguard University faculty will evaluate the top nominees. The Global Center for Women and Justice will announce the Diamond Award winner at the annual More Priceless Than Diamonds luncheon at the Balboa Bay Club on September 13, 2014.

Submissions may be received by mail or online at: http://gcwj.vanguard.edu/diamondaward

To learn more about the Diamond Award and The Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University, visit http://gcwj.vanguard.edu

-PRESS RELEASE-

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