A+ R A-


Governor Signs Negrete McLeod Bill to Improve Immunization Registry

E-mail Print PDF

Legislation Allows Inclusion of Tuberculosis Screening Results

Sacramento, CA (September 7, 2012) – Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Senate Bill 659 by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino). The bill will allow the electronic State Immunization Registry to include the results of Tuberculosis screenings. The Immunization Registry is an important communication tool between schools, healthcare providers, and public health officials. It allows schools to ensure that students have received the required immunizations without the need to see the original hardcopy or “yellow card,” which can often be incomplete or lost.

“By allowing these results to be included in the state registry, parents will have an easier time demonstrating compliance with the requirements of local school districts,” said Senator Negrete McLeod.

SB 659 is the fifth bill by Senator Negrete McLeod to be signed by the Governor this year. Ten more bills by Senator Negrete McLeod remain on the Governor’s desk awaiting a signature or veto.


E-mail Print PDF

Same day voter registration to start in 2016

Chris Levister

With the national spotlight on the confusion and chaos surrounding voter ID laws trained on states like Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Florida (Since 2010, 10 states passed voter ID laws), California has been mostly in the shadows on the heated debate despite its large undocumented immigrant population. But mum’s the word doesn’t mean head in the sand. As voter suppression laws spread across the country, voting rights advocates can take heart: the biggest state in the nation is on the cusp of implementing a major voter protection initiative. Election Day Registration (EDR), which allows citizens to register up to and on Election Day, passed the California State Senate in August by a party-line vote of 23-13. AB 1436 had passed the State Assembly in May 47-26.

The bill would let eligible voters register and vote at a county elections office on Election Day and during the two weeks leading up to it. Those late registrants would complete a conditional registration form and cast a provisional ballot. Their votes would be counted if elections officials determine their registration to be valid during the 30-day canvas period that follows every election. AB 1436 also increases the fine for voter fraud to $50,000, one of the highest penalties in the country.

Under current law, Californians cannot register to vote in the final two weeks before an election, just as many Americans are beginning to tune in. EDR will eliminate that deadline, ensuring that no citizen is disenfranchised because he or she wasn’t registered beforehand. "The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it's too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines," said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. "If we can engage people when they're excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter."

AB 1436 authored, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles would not take effect until Jan. 1 of the year after a database called Vote-Cal, now being developed, becomes operational. Such a database, required by the federal government of every state, would incorporate the voter rolls of all 58 counties in the state and be linked with data from other government agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration. Ten states allow for same-day voter registration, and Feuer says all but one of those states had a higher voter-participation rate than California in the November 2010 elections. By using the database, he said elections officials would be able to "determine instantaneously if a voter is registered elsewhere" and whether a voter has cast a ballot in another county. "Right now, the counties operate in a vacuum," said Alexander, whose nonprofit has not taken a position on AB 1436.

The statewide database would address concerns of some critics that same-day registration could enable some voters to move about the state on Election Day, casting ballots in multiple counties. The Secretary of State's Office, which ended the original contract to develop the database, is now seeking bids from other vendors. The database potentially could be operational in 2015. If the current bill became law, same-day registration in California would be in effect for the 2016 presidential election.

This won’t just benefit slackers. Historically-disenfranchised citizens like minorities and poorer Americans, will particularly benefit from EDR. On average, studies have found that EDR boosts voter turnout by seven percentage points. Common Cause’s Phillip Ung told ThinkProgress he “expects voter turnout to increase by the hundreds of thousands” solely as a result of EDR. Antoinnae Comeaux of the University of California Student Association said that same-day registration would be a boon to college students, who often fail to register in time at their new residences.

"Thousands of college students miss the deadline as they constantly move throughout the year for academic or financial reasons," she said. The current deadline to register to vote is 15 days before an election.

California New Car Sales Paint A Rosy Picture

E-mail Print PDF

Higher gas prices fueling sea-change in buying habits

Black Voice News Staff Report

There’s no time like the present to buy a car, according to the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealer Association. California new car sales are putting a smile on the gloomy Inland Empire economy. New vehicle registrations increased 17.7 percent during the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same time a year earlier, California’s new car market also outperformed registrations in the rest of the country, which only increased about 13 percent, according to the association.

New vehicle registrations are expected to hit almost 1.5 million in the state. Association chairman John McCallan, who operates dealerships in Riverside and San Diego, said the sales results for the quarter “bode well” for the rest of the year. McCallan says if you are in the market for a car, there may not be a better time to go get one. Of course, do lots of homework first: Figure out what make and model are best for you, then read up on how to get through that whole showroom ordeal. But apparently plenty of folks agree that it's a good time to buy a car, because Americans bought 20 percent more of them last month than in August of last year. Rising demand helped push total nationwide car sales to over 14 million last month. "That's basically going back to the good old days," said Phil Reed of Edmunds.com., an online resource for automotive information. He said that about 12 years ago, annual car sales in the United States was 16 million; car sales in 2012 are on track to reach 15 million.

What is causing this boost in car sales? Soaring gas price are fueling what may be a "sea change" in Americans' car-buying habits, according J.D. Powers and Edmunds. The price of a gallon of unleaded regular gas tops $4 in most parts of the country, up 30 cents last month alone. At the same time, new cars sales jumped 18 percent from April 2010.

Many people think car sales are rising despite the higher gas prices, but Reed says, "The reality is that car sales are actually rising because of higher gas prices - because all of these automakers, and the Detroit (Big) Three are a big part of this -- they are putting out more fuel-efficient cars, and those are the big sellers right now. "If you went to the (just-concluded) New York Auto Show, you saw all of these fuel efficient cars -- among them, the Chevy Cruise, which is a General Motors car, is ... definitely selling big ... and General Motors saw its sales, of all the automakers, go up the most, by 27 percent in April."

Other buying factors include incentives such as zero money down and zero-percent financing for up to five, sometimes six years. Such incentives can save several thousands of dollars over the years. Reed said that a buyer of a 2012 Ford Fusion, which costs $22,300, will have a monthly car payment of about $360 for 60 months, if the buyer has zero-percent financing. Without, they would pay $427 with a 6.9 percent interest rate, a difference of $3,000 over five years.

If a buyer wants to take advantage of incentives, he should first apply for independent financing. After applying, the buyer will know what kind of interest rate they'll qualify for. Armed with that information, the negotiation process at the dealership will be easier.

DNC: First Lady Obama Seizes The Moment

E-mail Print PDF

Firing up the faithful, reassuring the skeptics

By Chris Levister

Characterized by what California delegates Linnie Frank Bailey and James Dudley call a sea of diversity, thousands of Democrats gathered at the 2012 Democratic National Convention four years after then Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) became the first African-American in U.S. history to accept the party's nomination.

With the nation’s economy in tatters and the near rapturous adulation waning, the Democratic faithful gathered again, this time in support of national unity and a president who carries the power and the burden of incumbency. “Our mission is to convince Americans to stick with the president they know rather than gamble on someone new,” said Bailey, a challenging task given the backdrop of 8.3 percent unemployment and tepid economic growth.

“The main question we are being asked here is, ‘Are we better off than we were four years ago’,” said Dudley “the answer is absolutely yes.” Four years ago, America was bogged down in two costly and deadly wars, the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month, the stock market had crashed, Wall Street had to be rescued with a $700 billion bailout, the auto industry was on the verge of collapse, and color coded terror alerts reminded us of the lingering threat of Osama Bin Laden.

Under President Obama, we've ended the war in Iraq, created 4.5 million new jobs, doubled the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and generated record profits for the auto industry. And that's to say nothing of health care reform, financial reform, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and hundreds of other major accomplishments from this administration. “The way to get the president re-elected is by spreading the gospel of the truth,” declared the convention’s oldest delegate Elzena Johnson of Terry, Mississippi born in 1914.

“This is what America looks like, inclusive, open, transparent,” Dudley said of the 5,559 delegates and 407 alternates circulating the convention floor. Half of all the delegates are women, 27 percent are black, with a record number of 800 Latino delegates and 644 youth delegates. There were a lot of testimonials like Johnson’s, Dudley’s and Bailey’s, but it was First Lady Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Convention, and she used it masterfully carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth telling.

“President Barack Obama is just like you. He knows the American Dream because he's lived it,” the first lady told an enthusiastic and adoring crowd in an address intended to reassure voters that her husband shares their values hard work, perseverance and optimism.“He believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” Mrs. Obama never mentioned the president's Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who grew up in a world of privilege and wealth.

But the point was clear as she weaved a tapestry of their early years together, when money was tight and times were tough, when they were "so in love, and so in debt." She reminisced about the man who now occupies the Oval Office pulling his favorite coffee table out of the trash and wearing dress shoes that were a size too small. And she told stories about a president who still takes time to eat dinner with his daughters nearly every night, answering their questions about the news and strategizing about middle school friendships.

With a mix of personal anecdotes and policy talk, Mrs. Obama's speech was by far her most political yet. “Today, after so many struggles, triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are it reveals who you are,” she said.

Mrs. Obama followed an electrifying speech by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the first Latino to keynote a Democratic National Convention. His national debut put the Harvard educated Texan on the national map, recalling the way that Barack Obama's keynote did in 2004, when he was still a state legislator.

With a mixture of soft laughter and gentle scorn, Castro described Romney, one of the wealthiest men ever nominated for president, as “a good guy. He just has no idea how good he's had it.” “Their theory's been tested. It failed. Our economy failed under Republican policies. The middle class paid the price,” he said. “Mitt Romney just doesn't get it. But Barack Obama gets it.” Tuesday, Democrats ratified a party platform that echoes Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthy and reflects his shift on gay marriage by supporting it explicitly. In a nod to dissenters on gay marriage, the platform expresses support for “the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”

Convention speakers include, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, John Perez, Speaker of the California Assembly, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Representatives Judy Chu and Karen Bass.

On Wednesday night, former President Bill Clinton will deliver what is widely seen as the most important speech of the 2012 Democratic National Convention outside Mr. Obama's own, when Mr. Clinton will place Mr. Obama's name in nomination.

“He reminds the nation, and particularly independent and swing voters, that things were pretty prosperous in the 1990s because he rejected a lot of the Republican policies that are being advanced now,” said Mike McCurry, who was Mr. Clinton's press secretary for four years. “He instantly evokes the memories of when things were a little better for Americans, and can credential Obama as a guy who will make the tough choices.” President Obama's crucial Thursday night acceptance speech was moved indoors due to dire weather forecasts.

Convention watchers say the switch deprives Democrats of what they had considered a major opportunity to register thousands of new North Carolina voters in a crucial swing state.


E-mail Print PDF

Inland students gain in English, math

By Chris Levister

Student performance on California’s achievement tests in almost every subject at almost every grade level by every ethnicity is on the rise — despite recent cutbacks to education funding, according to 2012 STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) results released by the California Department of Education.

But a substantial achievement gap persists between low-income and higher-income students, and between African American and Latino students and their white and Asian peers. Overall, 57 percent of the 4.7 million students tested proficient or advanced in English and 51 percent scored at least proficient in math — a substantial improvement since 2003, when the tests were first based on state standards and included in a school’s Academic Performance Index (API). In 2003, 35 percent tested proficient or better in both English and math. “In less than a decade, California has gone from having only one student in three score proficient to better than one student in two,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement.

Inland school officials say test results indicate that although the region has far to go in improving results for disadvantaged and minority students, schools have made truly laudable gains with younger students, regardless of ethnic or economic category. Inland students performed better on the California Standards Tests in 2012 for the ninth consecutive year, according to results of the exams, which students took last spring. In Riverside County, an average of 56 percent of second through 11th graders scored proficient or above on the English language arts tests, compared to 57 percent statewide. In San Bernardino County, an average of 52 percent of students scored in proficient or advanced ranges, up 2.5 percent from 2011. In mathematics, the San Bernardino County average was 47 percent, a 1 percent increase from 2011.

County Superintendent Gary Thomas called the new results “impressive” pointing to the 3 percentage point growth in eighth-grade algebra proficiency. Ninth- and 11th-graders also each had 3 percentage points of growth.

“The fact that we had overall growth in all subject areas, including math, science and history-social sciences is obviously very positive.” “Students and teachers at our schools deserve praise for putting in the effort that goes into academic achievement. With both innovative and proven instruction from teachers, plus the support of parents and community members, students through hard work and imagination can exceed expectations. The entire community should be proud and inspired,” said San Bernardino City Unified School District board member Danny Tillman.

Statewide the percentage of students in second grade scoring proficient in mathematics dropped by two points, and overall achievement in the General Mathematics CST and the Summative High School Mathematics test remained the same as last year, with 54 percent scoring proficient or higher in the latter. But in every other subject and grade, there was improvement over 2011 scores. Substantially more African American and Latino students are taking Algebra I and succeeding in the course. But the achievement gap still remains between those students and their white and Asian peers, as does the gap between low-income and higher-income students.

In the most extreme example, 32 percent of economically disadvantaged African American students scored proficient or advanced on the mathematics test in 2012. That was exactly twice as many as in 2003. However, this year, 85 percent of higher-income Asian students scored proficient or advanced — a 53 percentage-point difference between them and their low-income, African American classmates. In 2003, the difference between the two groups was 55 percentage points.

The reasons for the persistent gap are many and complex. Critics argue that at least part of it has been caused by disparities in the allocation of school resources. Just a few years ago some in the state’s poorest school districts couldn't take the courses required to attend a four-year college — no matter how bright or hardworking they were — because their high schools didn't offer the courses. When there was a shortage of qualified math and science teachers, these schools, not the ones in more affluent areas, were assigned teachers who lacked credentials in the necessary subjects. The percentages of students scoring in the top two ranges will be used to determine whether schools and districts are making Adequate Yearly Progress for the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

Page 4 of 159