Witness For Justice #845 - 21st Century Race Matters

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California (19)

Make-A-Wish To Grant Future CSUSB Student’s Wish For Fianacial Assistance

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — When you were a teenager, what would you have wished for if given the opportunity? A vacation? A new car?

For 17-year-old Jennifer (Jenny) Escorza, a high school senior from Fontana diagnosed with myeloid sarcoma, the decision was inspired by her family. She wanted to set a good example for her younger siblings by getting a college education, the first in her family to do so.

So when Make-A-Wish® Orange County and the Inland Empire asked Escorza for her wish, she replied, “I wish to have financial assistance for college.”

Despite her ongoing health struggles and numerous hospital stays, Escorza took the time and energy to apply for college and was accepted to Cal State San Bernardino, which she will begin in fall.

Escorza’s wish for financial assistance will come true on Saturday, June 10, when Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire will present her with her gift during the CSUSB Latino Graduate Recognition Ceremony. The event will begin at 10 a.m. at the university’s CSUSB’s Coussoulis Arena.

“What is great about Jennifer is that her wish was very intentional,” said Amanda Sotomayor, marketing coordinator of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire. “This is something that will help her in the long run and will lift some of the financial burdens that come with going to college.”

Because Escorza was diagnosed with myeloid sarcoma, a rare disease that can pose as an isolated extramedullary leukemic tumor, she has chosen to major in chemistry and pursue a medical career in oncology — the study and treatment of tumors. Escorza has had her mind set on studying oncology since her last hospital stay in May 2016.

Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire grants the wishes of children and teens with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their lives with hope, strength and joy.

For those interested in donating money and/or volunteering, visit the Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire website at

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit the university’s news website at


Black Teen Finds Photo of Herself Being Lynched Shared in Group Chat

A 15-year-old California high school student discovered a shocking picture of herself with a noose drawn around her neck posted in a chemistry chat room for Los Angeles’ Palisades Charter High School.

“Oh, my God, it’s me being lynched,” Aina Adewunmi told CBSLA. “Looking at an image of yourself like that hurts.”

Aina is new to Palisades, having just transferred to the charter school in January. She said she’d mostly felt welcomed and accepted by students there, but three boys in particular started to use racial slurs.

“They added me to their group chat and then started using the n-word,” Aina said, according to the New York Daily News. “I said they can’t use the word, and that’s when I thought I set the boundary.”

But the picture surfaced, and Aina said she realized that the boys had continued their highly inappropriate and racist behavior. The picture that was used was taken days before without her knowledge.

“I got up and told the principal immediately and nipped it in the bud,” she said.

“When I saw my child depicted like that it was hurtful,” her mother, Tracy Adewunmi, added.

The boys involved in the picture’s being posted were suspended for the last few days of the school year and did apologize, but Aina’s mother is not satisfied with the steps taken.

“The first step is remove the boys from the school, they cannot be allowed to come back,” Tracy Adewunmi told CBSLA. “The second step is to educate the population to let the people know that this behavior is not acceptable.”

The police are investigating the incident, and the family has hired an attorney. Aina also told the Daily News that her request not to be in class with the boys again has been granted.

And, despite all she’s gone through, she remains strong and determined to enjoy her school life.

“I think Pali is a good school,” Aina told CBSLA. “I’m happy I moved and I won’t be leaving, but this is something that needs to be stopped because it has happened in the past. I knew if I didn’t come out with this story, it would happen over and over again.”


Moving Forward for Children in California and Nationally

Alameda County in California straddles the San Francisco Bay area and stretches from Silicon Valley north to Oakland and Berkeley. A major branch of the San Andreas Fault lies beneath the most densely populated part of the county. That’s where Betty lives. She was hard at work full time in the health care field, with her own catering and massage therapy business on the side, raising four children as a single mother when a series of health crises created an earthquake that shattered her life. After three surgeries on her spine she could not work, struggled, and slid into homelessness with her two youngest children. Living in shelters and transitional housing, it took three years before they could find affordable housing through a federal housing assistance program.

Fortunately the federal safety net has been there to catch Betty and her now 8-year-old and 13-year-old children. Medicaid and SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, have also been lifelines in their lives. Last year, Betty was finally able to go back to work part-time and received a nearly $4,000.00 refund from the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) combined, with the help of free tax assistance from United Way Bay Area. To her, it was a huge support after hard times. For the first time in three years she says, “We did stuff that was normal, and I was able to put money in the bank, buy a phone and pay off my bills.” She felt again the dignity and self-respect she’d felt when working full time and supporting her family without government assistance.

She’s ready to go back full time to her career in the health care field just as another giant earthquake is looming that could be catastrophic, not only for Betty and her children, but also for the millions of children in America in families struggling to stay afloat. The draconian Trump budget is an all-out war against poor children and their families. First it attacks both Betty and her children’s health care by slashing $1.4 trillion out of Medicaid just to give Betty’s rich neighbors, the millionaires and billionaires in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, huge tax breaks they don’t need or deserve. Betty could lose her monthly health visits that control her chronic condition and with it her ability to work. Her children, already buffeted by bad times, might lose their health care and dental care too. They could lose the roof over their heads with cuts in federal housing assistance programs at a time when the median home value in Alameda County is $773,000. And if the President’s proposal to slash SNAP is enacted, these cascading assaults mean the family could once again face hunger and homelessness without health care.

States like California, where more than one in eight of our nation’s poor children and nearly one in six poor children of color reside, have the opportunity and responsibility to reweave some of the holes that already exist in our federal safety net in the face of these looming immoral budget assaults on their most vulnerable children. Some already have been at work and are continuing their efforts. In 2015, we applauded California leaders when they created a new state Earned Income Tax Credit that builds on the federal EITC to provide an income boost to some low-income working families. That gave Betty’s children hope for a better future.

California policy leaders are now crafting a state budget that has a chance to expand the state EITC so more working poor families like Betty’s can benefit and to offer new help for parents and their young children benefitting from CalWORKs, the state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. And final decisions are close at hand. The state Assembly has adopted a proposal to expand the state EITC to reach working families earning up to $22,000 per year, including self-employed workers who are currently excluded from the credit. Research shows the EITC has long-lasting benefits for children, families, and communities. It is one of the most effective programs to lift families out of poverty. Children receiving the EITC have higher test scores and are more likely to graduate high school and attend college. The benefits of the EITC extend to the next generation by increasing earnings when children reach adulthood. The Assembly also approved a new voluntary early home visiting program to improve outcomes for some of California’s most vulnerable children and families — pregnant women and parents of children age two and under in CalWORKs. Quality home visiting programs too have documented benefits for both children and parents.

California leaders have had strong rhetoric about their commitment to protect vulnerable children and families in light of federal threats. There is now a test for California’s Governor and legislative leaders. Expanding the California EITC and creating a new early home visiting program to support vulnerable families would help the state make progress towards ending child poverty.

We’ll hopefully be able to report back on gains for children and families in California and want to hear of important gains in other states too. But we must not lose sight of the fact that states alone cannot make up for what must also be a federal commitment to let no child in our country be denied health care, go hungry, be left without a safe place to live or have their special needs unmet. There must be continued pressure at the federal level to prevent the shredding of core safety net programs that for millions of children can mean life or death or hope or despair.

We must be vigilant and make sure our political leaders on all sides of the political aisle hear us loud and clear as major policy and budget decisions are made at the state and national levels which will have a huge impact on millions of our children who are America’s future. Although President Trump’s Budget would not pass the test of any great faith or standard of fairness and may be dead on arrival, we must resist. Many of its proposals will likely resurface in the House of Representatives and so we must stay vigilant and ensure they are resoundingly rejected.


California grandmother caught after stabbing that killed 1-year-old girl

A Southern California grandmother accused of a stabbing attack that killed a 1-year-old girl and wounded two other relatives is now in custody after a search that stretched on for hours, police announced Tuesday.

Nicole Darrington-Clark, 43, was the suspect in Monday's attack that left her 1-year-old granddaughter dead and critically injured her daughter and 5-year-old granddaughter in Colton, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, police said.

After the attack, Darrington-Clark bolted from the apartment she shared with the victims, according to investigators. Neighbors who responded to the mother's screaming pleas found the grisly scene and wounded children in the apartment.

Neighbor, Tim Hill told Fox 11 the children's mother was "bloodied and hysterical" after the attack. "Her mother is coming down toward my apartment with a knife still in her hand… bloody knife… blood on her shirt."

Police said they caught the grandmother in San Bernardino Tuesday morning.

In 2005, she pleaded guilty to stabbing her 14-year-old son and throwing her 10-year-old daughter out of a moving minivan. Neither child was seriously injured.

But a judge found Darrington-Clark not guilty by reason of insanity and sent her to a mental hospital.

A longtime friend of Darrington-Clark told the Riverside Press-Enterprise she was released a few years ago.

"I Facetimed with her a few days ago, and I was worried about her," the friend, Cindy O'Neal, said. "I never thought she would do anything like this. I hope they do find her so she can't hurt anyone else or herself."

It wasn't immediately clear when or why she was released from the mental hospital and whether the daughter in the 2005 attack is the same one critically injured Monday. Police did not immediately reply to a message seeking answers to those questions.

Investigators did not know the motive for the latest attack, Colton police Cpl. Ray Mendez said Monday.

Police decided they couldn't wait for paramedics and took the girl to the hospital, Hill said.

Darrington-Clark should be considered armed and dangerous and may be driving a black Hyundai Sonata, police said.

"I'm sad," Williams said. "I feel like my soul left my body because this is disgusting."


CTA Legislation Prohibiting Discriminatory Admissions Practices in California's Charter Schools Closer to Becoming Law

BURLINGAME – With the bulk of the opposition now moving to a support position on AB 1360 by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, California is one step closer to significant changes to state law that will improve equity and student access at charter schools.

“This bill is a big first step in bringing accountability and transparency standards to charter schools,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “We appreciate the support of our coalition partners and the work of Assembly Member Rob Bonta to ensure that all students will have equal access to all schools by prohibiting charter schools from engaging in unconstitutional discriminatory admissions practices or exploitive suspension and expulsion policies. It's time to end the practice of cherry-picking students that goes on at way too many corporate charter schools.”

Under amendments reached with Assembly Member Bonta today and agreed to by the California Charter Schools Association, charter schools will not be allowed to set any admissions preferences that would limit the enrollment of students with disabilities, English learners, low-income children or students of color. Any admissions preference would have to adhere to the California constitution and federal law, and must be approved by the charter school at a public hearing. Charter schools would be prohibited from requiring parental volunteer hours as criteria for admission. And all students will have due process when facing disciplinary action such as suspension or expulsion.

“As educators, we encourage and welcome parental involvement in our public schools, but eliminating mandated volunteer hours will make it easier for working families,” said Heins. “By establishing uniform guidelines for student suspension and expulsions in charter schools, students and parents will have the right to know why a child has been 'disenrolled' and can even ask for a hearing.”

An ACLU report, “Unequal Access,” found widespread discriminatory admission practices at California’s charter schools deny access to students with disabilities, English learners, or students who have lower grades and test scores. The NAACP recently called for a ban on privately managed charters.

CTA encourages lawmakers to support AB 1360 as amended. Recent stories of self-dealing have resulted in waste, fraud and abuse happening in many charter schools when public education should be about Kids Not Profits. That's why we continue to support AB 1478 and SB 808 to ensure charter schools are held to the same standards as neighborhood public schools and to ensure charter school petitions are approved by local school boards.


New Analysis Shows Covered California’s Risk Mix Improving and Remaining Stable and Strong

California’s risk score improved from 2016 to 2017, indicating a healthier mix of consumers who have enrolled in coverage.

· Analysis shows what health insurance exchanges like Covered California can do when they work on behalf of consumers.

· Covered California has shared data with health plans in advance of rate negotiations for the past three years, helping plans “price right” — but unprecedented federal policy uncertainty makes 2018 premiums potentially more variable than ever.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new analysis shows that Covered California continues to attract a healthy mix of enrollees, and the overall health of its enrollees improved from 2016 to 2017. This data is key to Covered California’s stability and will be used to help shape and inform rate negotiations with its 11 qualified health plans for 2018.

“We continue to attract a healthy mix of enrollees, and this is further evidence that the individual market in California is stable and strong,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “A healthy pool of consumers means lower premiums, resulting in lower costs to those who do not receive financial help and receive less federal spending.”

The study, titled “Amid ACA Uncertainty, Covered California’s Risk Profile Remains Stable,” was posted earlier this week on Health Affairs, a prominent website devoted to health policy and issues affecting health and health care. Covered California released an expanded description of the results of the analysis, “Covered California Continues to Attract Sufficient Enrollment and a Good Risk Mix Necessary for Marketplace Sustainability.”

According to the data, California’s risk score dropped from 1.11 in 2016 to 1.09 in 2017, indicating that the current population is healthier, with respect to chronic conditions, than it was a year ago.

In addition, new enrollees in 2017 have an approximately 16 percent lower mean risk score than renewing enrollees, which is an improvement of 4 percent between 2016 and 2017. This suggests that Covered California is successfully attracting healthy enrollees to stabilize the risk pool.

The analysis continues California’s trend of having a healthy pool of consumers. While it used a different methodology, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined California had the lowest “average plan liability risk score” in the individual market in both 2014 and 2015. In 2016, California continued to have one of the lowest risk scores in the nation.

Lee pointed to four key reasons why California has been successful in attracting a healthy mix of consumers:

·The expansion of coverage linked to providing financial help through federal tax credits is bringing a healthy mix of consumers into the individual market and keeping them there.

· Covered California continues to invest significantly in marketing and outreach, recognizing that there is high turnover in the individual market.

· Unlike many other states, California converted all health coverage in the individual market into “compliant” plans and created one common risk pool as of 2014.

·Health plans through Covered California offer patient-centered benefit designs, which allow consumers to access a wide variety of care that is not subject to a deductible, meaning consumers get more value from their coverage.

“Doing early analysis of California’s risk mix is important because we can share this information with health insurance carriers during rate negotiations to get the best value for California’s consumers,” Lee said. “While we are doing what we can to provide health plans with the certainty they need to set their premiums as low as possible, there is still significant uncertainty among health plans because of the lack of clarity around whether there will be direct federal funding of cost-sharing reduction payments and continued enforcement of the individual mandate.”

Last month Covered California released an analysis that showed health plan premiums could rise up to 49 percent, and up to 340,000 Californians would drop from coverage, if cost-sharing reduction reimbursements were no longer directly made to carriers, and the individual shared responsibility payment were not enforced.

Health insurance carriers have begun the process of negotiation in California to develop rates for 2018.

“Health insurance carriers need certainty, and without confidence that the federal support for cost-sharing reduction payments will be made for 2018 as they have for the past four years, they will need to raise their rates and it will actually cost the federal government billions of dollars more,” Lee said. “There is still time to remove this specter of uncertainty and take the concrete steps necessary to keep the marketplaces stable, protect consumers and preserve coverage for millions of people.”


Bill Assistance Program Helps Customers in Need

Through SCE's Energy Savings Assistance Program, income-qualified customers may be eligible for a free replacement energy-efficient refrigerator.

You, or someone you know, may qualify for a free replacement energy-efficient refrigerator, lighting, cooling system or various energy conservation services that can help save money on your Southern California Edison electricity bill.

Through the Energy Savings Assistance Program, income-qualified customers may be eligible for free appliances and no-cost installation. Customers may qualify based on current participation in an eligible public assistance program or their household income.

Last year, more than 74,000 SCE households participated in the Energy Savings Assistance Program, saving more than 27 million kilowatt-hours and reducing demand by 4,443 kilowatts.

With nearly one-third of our customers eligible, we want to ensure that as many qualified households participate and take advantage of these no-cost programs to help lower their energy bills.”

Mark Wallenrod

SCE director of Program Operations

“SCE offers rate discount, energy-efficiency and other assistance programs to income-qualified customers across our service area needing support to meet their energy needs,” said Mark Wallenrod, SCE director of Program Operations. “With nearly one-third of our customers eligible, we want to ensure that as many qualified households participate and take advantage of these no-cost programs to help lower their energy bills.”

Based on the customer’s area of residence, free energy-saving products and services provided by the Energy Savings Assistance Program may include:


Central or room air conditioner

Evaporative cooler

Pool pump

Energy-efficient lighting

Smart power strip

Weatherization services

Customers can learn more about energy savings assistance and other income-qualified programs at or call 1-800-736-4777.


California’s Educators Denounce U.S. House OK of Bill Threatening Vital Health Benefits for Nation’s Students and Families

BURLINGAME – Eric C. Heins, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association, issued this statement today about the narrow approval by the U.S. House of Representatives of the American Health Care Act that would gut vital parts of the Affordable Care Act:

“California’s educators feel today as many Americans do now that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives just rushed to narrowly and blindly pass a dangerously flawed bill that will threaten the health care of millions of students and families. We stand with groups such as the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society and AARP in opposing this ‘Trumpcare’ scheme that would also allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and is projected to increase insurance premiums for thousands of middle-class families. We urge the U.S. Senate to reject this morally bankrupt bill that eliminates health care for more than 24 million people, while giving massive tax cuts to the rich. It also puts essential health benefits such as maternity and newborn care, dental and vision care for kids, and mental health care at risk.”


Wine and Food Tasting Event Returns to Botanic Gardens

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — The Friends of the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens will host the 19th Annual Primavera in the Gardens wine and food tasting fundraising event from 2 to 5 p.m. May 21 at the University of California, Riverside Botanic Gardens.

Guests will be able to stroll through the scenic garden paths, enjoy appetizers, drink locally brewed beer and wine and listen to live music. Proceeds from the event are used to maintain and improve the gardens, fund educational programs and tours that host thousands of school children each year, and support student employees.

Appetizers will be provided by restaurants and caterers, including: Pepitos Mexican Restaurant, Mario’s Place, Cafe Sevilla, Edible Arrangements, GraPow, The Salted Pig, Marisa’s Italian Deli, Habanero Mexican Grill, ProAbition – Whiskey Lounge & Kitchen, Gandhi Indian Cuisine, the Marriott, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Anchos, Riverside Food Co-op, and UC Riverside Citrus Grove Catering. Coffee will be from Augie’s Coffee House.

Wine and beer will be offered by regional vineyards and wineries including Falkner Winery, Galleano Winery, Hart Family Winery, Maurice Car’rie Winery, Via One Hope Winery, Roadrunner Ridge Winery, Lorimar Vineyards & Winery, Canyon Crest Winery, Mystic Hills Vineyard, Inland Empire Brewing Company, Euryale Brewing Company, Wicks Brewing Co., Heroes Restaurant & Brewery, and Packinghouse Brewing Company.In addition, there will be a silent auction and live entertainment by Tom Perring, Caleb Sotelo, and Marti and the Smooth Katz.

Nearly 500 people attended the event in 2016 and a full house is expected this year. Tickets to the fundraiser are $75 per person if purchased in advance and $85 at the gate. Tickets can also be purchased by credit card at

For more information, call 951-784-6962, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit

Parking for the event is $5. A trolley, which will shuttle guests to and from the garden entrance, will be available and free to use.

The Botanic Gardens cover nearly 40 acres and feature more than 3,000 plant species from around the world. Every year, some 50,000 visitors, including school children, enjoy the beautiful vistas and scenic pathways.

To view press release visit:


What it Means to Be Undocumented in California

We call her Juana – she can't risk using her real name. She came to the United States in 2006, fleeing the terrifying violence in El Salvador that left many of her family members dead. Here in America she lives with a different kind of fear – not of murderous gangs, but of being discovered. Juana is one of 2.6 million undocumented immigrants living in California, and being deported would mean leaving her husband and two young children behind.

As part of a new series about how California is dealing with the Trump administration's hardline approach to immigration, Capital & Main reporter Aura Bogado spent time with Juana, watching her "calculate and recalculate even the smallest decisions in her life" in an effort to remain undetected. Co-published by The American Prospect.

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