Welcome to my 2011 holiday newsletter. As we reflect on this past year, I believe that we are (finally!) starting to move in the right direction to restore effective government in California, whether realigning and reforming our public safety system or making sure that online retailers like Amazon pay their fair share of taxes. However it is still clear - in order to provide a first-class education for our children and to support the social programs that people need to survive, we must find additional revenues.
This fall, public displeasure with economic injustice and inequity took center stage with the rise of the Occupy Movement, which is a national outcry against the strangling influence of money and corporate dominance on our economy and political system. I am grateful to the Movement for rallying Americans from all walks of life to highlight these injustices. I hope the Occupy Movement and its offshoots will stay focused on these ideas and demand solutions for rebuilding a strong and stable middle class.
As the year draws to a close, I encourage you to be proactive about giving back to the community. These have been challenging economic times for many families in California, and there are many opportunities to give your time, share your talents or make a contribution to local food banks, faith organizations, shelters and senior centers.
Wishing us all peace and happiness in the New Year!
Senator Loni Hancock
ED ROBERTS - HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
This year, in recognition of his lasting contributions to our state's history and to humanity, I nominated Ed Roberts to the California Hall of Fame. I am delighted that Ed was one of the 10 individuals selected by Governor Brown to be inducted for 2011 at a special ceremony that took place on December 8th in Sacramento. Ed joins other honorees, including Carlos Santana, Amy Tan, Buzz Aldrin, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Father Gregory Boyle.
Established in 2006, The California Museum's California Hall of Fame honors people who embody California's innovative spirit and have made their mark on our state's history. In addition to receiving the Spirit of California medal at the formal induction ceremonies, inductees are featured in an exhibit at the Museum, which inspires visitors with the extraordinary stories of trailblazers, leaders and legends who have called California home.
If you would like to learn more about the California Hall of Fame and the exhibit, please visit: www.californiamuseum.org
CACJ LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR
Earlier this month, I was honored to be selected by the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice as their Legislator of the Year in recognition of my legislation (SB 490) which would replace the death penalty in California with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
As chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee, which oversees funding of the prison system, I have found that capital punishment has been an expensive failure. While California's death row is the largest and most costly in the United States, is not helping to protect our people; it is helping to bankrupt us.
But for me, eliminating the death penalty at this time is not simply a cost issue. Growing awareness of wrongly convicted and executed individuals across the country has led 17 states, including Illinois and, most recently, Oregon, to substitute life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the death penalty. It is time for California to join them and use the savings to put more police officers on the street, more teachers in the classroom and provide more job training -- the things that would truly make for safer communities.
Thank you to all of the dedicated attorneys with California Attorneys for the Criminal Justice for this honor.
25 YEARS OF EDUCATIONAL THEATER
Recently, I joined the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs (ETP). Since its inception in 1986, ETP has grown to six live theater programs serving students of all grade levels, and providing free health education in Northern California.
These lively performances - combined with workshops, family events, educator materials and partnerships with community agencies - are designed to inspire young people and families to make healthy choices and sustain positive changes over time. The performances feature professional performers and educators using contemporary music, humor and dance with age-appropriate information on topics ranging from non-violent conflict resolution and respect for others to healthy eating, active living, and preventing HIV.
RICHMOND SCHOLARSHIP CELEBRATION
For over two decades, the Coronado Neighborhood Council annually gives scholarships and recognizes the academic achievements of young people in Richmond and "roasts" two individuals active in the Richmond community at their annual event.
This year, I, along with my good friend, Charles Ramsey, were the "roastees." A good time was had by everyone, and I want to say a special thanks to former Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson, former Assemblywoman Dion Aroner and Union Local 59 Business Manager Aram Hodess for being such a willing group to roast me! The evening celebrated a great cause and I applaud the Coronado Neighborhood Council for their constant support and encouragement of our youth.
BAY BRIDGE - 75 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE
The month of November marked the 75th Anniversary of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. A ceremony was held at Treasure Island to reflect on its historical significance. Through earthquakes, marches, or daily commutes, the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge continues to impact our lives as part of the Bay Area.
This celebration also highlighted the bright future of the Bay Bridge - the new eastern span will be completed in 2013, which was funded by legislation I authored, AB 144.
ENERGY UPGRADE CALIFORNIA
Energy Upgrade California is a statewide energy efficiency program that is available in all 58 counties in the state. Using Energy Upgrade California's website, property owners can enter their zip code or county name to learn about available upgrade programs, rebates, financing options and participating contractors.
In these difficult economic times, we can all use extra help finding ways to lower our utility bills and conserve resources. If you would like to learn more about how you can take advantage of this program, please visit Energy Upgrade's website: www.energyupgradeca.org