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Kamala Harris, Cali's Next Top Cop?

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By Chris Levister –

She’s brilliant, she’s ambitious, she’s tough and she’s unlike anything you’ll see on Law & Order. They call Kamala Harris the ‘female Barack Obama’ and lately a lot of people from Oprah Winfrey to President Barack Obama are singing the praises of the woman who wants to be California’s next attorney general.

With a 90 percent conviction rate super star prosecutor Kamala Harris made history in 2003 when she was elected California’s first African-American female district attorney.

“Law enforcement has such a direct impact on the most vulnerable members of our society and I wanted to be at the table when the decisions are made that affect them,” says Harris.

Kamala Harris is mixed race, thus her current position gives her three firsts — she is the first female District Attorney to be elected in San Francisco; the first African American elected as District Attorney in California; and the first Indian American elected to the position in the United States.

If she has her way in 2010, she would be breaking even more glass ceilings.

She would be the state’s first female Attorney General and the first, in decades, who started out in the trenches as a courtroom prosecutor. She was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in November 2007.

Harris was born in Oakland, California, her parents both professors were active in the Civil Rights Movement and instilled in Kamala a strong commitment to justice and public service.

That commitment led Kamala to Howard University, one America’s oldest Black universities and then to Hastings College of the Law. She was raised with her sister Maya in Berkeley by their mother Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer specialist.

DA Harris believes it is her duty to nurture the next generation of young women who dream of following in her footsteps.

“My mother who was a very strong influence in my life always said ‘Kamala you may be the first to do many things but make sure you’re not the last’.”

Harris is a strong advocate of identifying and implementing strategies for reducing gang violence and victimization. Two weeks ago, the Democrat, a long time friend of President Obama and a very early supporter of his presidential campaign got a boost in her bid for California’s top cop.

Harris was picked for a star role at the National Conference on Gang Violence Prevention and Crime Control, where she discussed her “Back on Track” low level drug offender re-entry initiative and anti truancy work.

She was part of a select group of mayors, district attorneys including San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris and San Bernardino County District Attorney A. Michael Ramos, academics, criminal justice experts and violence prevention experts – including U.S.  Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama Administration drug czar Gil Kerikowske.

“Many cities in California are facing vicious and growing gang activity, and across the nation communities are being held hostage by gang-related violence. I’m honored to be a part of the national strategy to combat this serious issue,” she said.

“She lights up a room the way then little-known Barack Obama did when he gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.”

That’s Jose Medina, delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and co-founder of Obama Riverside, the formidable grassroots organization that helped propel Mr. Obama to the White House. Kamala, Medina says is among a new crop of young, Democratic professionals – ‘bright, fair, and tough as nails’. Though Harris has generated controversy and made a few formidable enemies in law enforcement circles, she has remained firm in her opposition to the death penalty and is unafraid to stand down the likes of those involved in sexual exploitation of children, corrupt cops and parents whose children are truants.

“I’m especially proud of creating a child assault unit dedicated to prosecuting those kinds of cases because I can see the impact it has on children, families and society in general,” said Harris.

Harris also has boundless ambition, as a candidate for state Attorney General in 2010, she hopes to bring her “smart on crime” approach—which has resulted in a marked increase in homicide clearance rates in San Francisco to one of California’s most important and visible offices.

“I’ve spent my entire professional life in the trenches as a courtroom prosecutor. And I can tell you from the frontlines, we need tough new ideas for strengthening our criminal justice system in California. As Attorney General, I will fight for all Californians – from distressed homeowners to families whose neighborhoods are under siege. With the cooperation of state, federal and local officials we can fight street gangs, go after subprime lenders and others responsible for the financial crisis.

We can fundamentally reform our prison system,” said Harris.

She would replace Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the former Oakland mayor and California governor, who is expected to run for governor in 2010.

“It takes a lot of guts to stand up for what you think is right in the political world, especially when faced with high-level pressure,” said Medina.

Spring 2010, Medina and Obama Riverside co- founder Linnie Frank Bailey hope to bring the Harris excitement to Riverside believing people need to be reminded that there are many more shining stars like Barack Obama out there.

State Schools Chief O’Connell Urges Vigilance About H1N1 Outbreak When Students Return To School

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State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today urged everyone to remember safety procedures when students return to school this fall to prevent and mitigate the spread of H1N1 and other influenza viruses.

“The excitement about returning to school and seeing old friends could cause us to let our guard down about preventing the spread of the flu virus,” said O’Connell. “I urge parents, students, and school officials to remain vigilant and review the updated safety protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education.”

O’Connell is offering local education agencies a sample letter they may send home to parents and guardians about the updated guidelines issued earlier in August. The guidelines include the following key recommendations: Students and staff with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever reducing medicines.

Students and staff who appear to have flu-like illness should be sent to a room separate from others until they can be sent home.

If possible, the ill person should wear a surgical mask to prevent coughing or sneezing on others. A school nurse or other staff person caring for the student should use appropriate personal protective equipment.

Students and staff should wash hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and always cover noses and mouths with a tissue, shirt sleeve, or elbow when coughing or sneezing. If soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be available for student and staff use.

School staff should routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often with the cleaners they typically use. Cleansers with bleach and other non-detergent-based cleaners are not necessary.

People experiencing severe flu symptoms, especially those who are at high risk for complications if they become ill with an influenza-like illness should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible.

People at high risk include those who are pregnant, have asthma or diabetes, have compromised immune systems, or have neuromuscular diseases.

Although there are not many schools where all or most students are at high risk, a community might decide to dismiss a school to better protect these students.

School officials should work closely and directly with their local and state public health officials when deciding whether or not to selectively dismiss a school or schools with large populations of high risk students.

To assist schools in preventing the spread of viruses, the California Department of Education offers further guidance, pandemic flu planning checklists, and resources on flu prevention in multiple languages at http://www.cde.ca.gov/159979.

Schools, parents, and any member of the public may also download a free “Keep Our Schools Healthy” information toolkit that contains posters on how to prevent the spread of any germs and viruses at http://www.cde.ca.gov/148645. The sample letter to parents and guardians is at http://www.cde.ca.gov/159850 . The U.S. Department of Education offers schools a communications toolkit athttp://www.flu.gov/plan/schoo l/toolkit.html. For more detailed school guidance, please visithttp:// www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/gu idance/exclusion.htm.

Southern California Edison Program Offers Free Appliances, Services

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Outreach Targets San Bernardino Customers

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Aug. 24, 2009 – More Southern California Edison (SCE) customers than ever may be eligible for free appliances and energy efficiency services from the utility’s Energy Management Assistance (EMA) program. To make sure customers know about the program, SCE will be hosting information sessions at “Cool Centers” in San Bernardino and other parts of its service territory.

The first sessions will be held at the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino, located at 696 S. Tippecanoe Ave., San Bernardino, August 25, 26 and 27 from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. The location houses a Cool Center, which is a place where low-income residents and people with medical conditions that make them sensitive to extreme temperatures can go to cool off. SCE offers many Cool Centers throughout its territory during the hot months.

The EMA program provides free energy-efficient appliances, pool pumps, weatherization services, lighting, air conditioners and other efficiency measures for income-qualified renters and homeowners. Energy efficiency is essential to keeping electricity bills low and for helping grid reliability, especially during the hot summer days when air conditioners are running.

“We know it’s especially difficult for those who have had a drop in income. Buying a new refrigerator or appliance may be last on their list of priorities,” said Linda Yamauchi, SCE’s Consumer Affairs manager. “We want people to know that we’re here for them and that we have programs and services that can help.”

The San Bernardino outreach effort will include mailings from SCE with instructions to visit the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino. There, program assessors will share information about the EMA program, potential bill savings, eligibility and enrollment.

The program is available year-round to all SCE customers. They can learn more about it and enroll by calling (800) 736-4777 or by visiting HYPERLINK "http://www.sce.com/ema" www.sce.com/ema. More information on Cool Centers is at HYPERLINK "http://www.sce.com/coolcenters" www.sce.com/coolcenters.

Five Reasons To Fill Out Your Census Questionnaire

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1. Helps Build Prosperity in Your Community.

Does your neighborhood have traffic jams, elderly folks who live alone or overcrowded schools? Census data can help define strategies to make necessary public improvements in your community.

2. Help in a Time of Need

Many emergency services linked to 911 are structured based on maps developed with the data from the previous census.

Census information helps health providers predict how a disease is spread through communities between members of the population.

When natural tragedies like tornados and earthquakes occur, the census indicates to the rescue teams how many people may need aid.

3. Puts Government to Work for You

It’s a great way to let our leaders know who we are and what we need. The numbers are used to help determine the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal and state funds. The money will help to finance educational and school lunch programs, medical centers, emergency services, transportation and other needs in our community.

4. Reduces Risk for Businesses

Since census numbers help reduce the financial risk and allow the identification of potential markets, businesses can produce the products that you want and need.

5. It Will Help You and Your Family

The individual data stay confidential for 72 years, but you can request a certificate of past censuses to use it as verification of your age, residence, or kinship. This information can help you apply for a pension, establish citizenship or to obtain an inheritance.

In 2082 your great-grandchildren will be able to use census information to learn about the history of your family.

Today your children can use the information to assist them with homework assignments.

Thanks to the fact that we have had a census every 10 years since 1790, we know how far we have come, and how much we have changed as a nation.

Be counted in the 2010 Census.

The future is in our hands!

Housing Opportunities Collaborative Expands to the Inland Empire

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Local housing advocacy organizations together with community groups, employers and area financial institutions working across the Inland Empire have partnered to establish the Housing Opportunities Collaborative of the Inland Empire (HOC-IE). Members of the HOC-IE have come together to bring focused attention to the prolonged foreclosure crisis affecting the Inland Empire. In addition to preserving homeownership, the HOC-IE will provide education and assistance to first-time homebuyers with interactive workshops to educate individuals and families on how to attain and preserve homeownership.

The HOC-IE will hold a press conference on Wednesday, August 26 at 10:00 a.m. at the Inland Empire Economic Partnership located at 1201 Research Park Drive in Riverside, announcing its mission to the Inland Empire regional community.

“We’re pleased to come together as a collective group to assist struggling homeowners and to help stabilize our community,” said Rose Mayes, chairperson of HOC-IE and also executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County.

“Our goal is to positively impact the Inland Empire and it’s struggling economy by providing education and hope to distressed homeowners to find the best solutions and to deter predators who are targeting consumers desperate to save their home,” said Mayes.
“The collaborative is designed to increase the capacity of our region’s HUD-approved counseling and homebuyer training agencies and bring better public awareness of these available services,” Mayes added.

The day-to-day activities of the HOC-IE will be managed by Thomas Coates, who has been selected as the program manager. Coates will be responsible for executing the organization’s mission of working together sharing best practices and resources to deliver comprehensive support to individuals and families in their quest for sustainable homeownership.

“The faces change, but many of the stories of foreclosure hardship are the same,” added Jed Davis treasurer and also executive director of Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services.

“We’re aware of instances on a daily basis where distressed homeowners have been taken advantage of by paying upfront fees to companies promising success for loan modifications and other workouts only to learn later that no work was performed and much damage has been done,” said Davis.

“We are pleased to host the HOC-IE’s kick off event”, said Larry Sharp, board chairman of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, and Chairman/CEO of Arrowhead Credit Union.

“We all recognize the urgent need to increase counseling and homebuyer training capacity as we continue to experience residential foreclosures, and also home buying opportunities across our region.”

The HOC-IE is comprised of a number of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, which do not charge consumers a fee for housing counseling, which also includes foreclosure prevention counseling as well as first-time homebuyer education.

In addition to Mayes, the organization’s directors and officers include, Helen Moore (secretary) and also executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of the Inland Empire; Jed Davis (treasurer) and also executive director of Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services; Melinda Opperman (director) and also vice president of community outreach for Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management; and Al Argüello, (director) and also market manager of the California suburban/community/rural markets and Inland Empire market president for Bank of America.

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BVN National News Wire