As you know, things are still difficult at the state level as we work to finalize a budget that gets us beyond our chronic deficit, the 2/3rds requirement of the legislature for any new revenue, and a historically severe recession.
Governor Brown had hoped that all sides would come together to do what is best for the state, its people and its future. Since the beginning of the year, the Governor and Democratic legislators have worked to develop a balanced budget that eliminates our current deficit and sets the state on a path for economic recovery. This required making deep cuts to many of our most needed programs and maintaining current revenues, set to expire July 1, so that we wouldn’t have to cut any deeper into core programs such as education, health and human services and transportation. Unfortunately, Governor Brown is still trying to get Republicans to let the people decide whether they want to keep the revenue sources we need to prevent deeper cuts to the foundations of our economy and quality of life.
As someone committed to being a responsible steward for California, I continue to work every day to ensure that we are creating a brighter path for our future. I believe that we cannot continue to cut away at the foundations of our economy and communities without doing irreversible damage to the opportunities for future Californians.
While the legislature grapples with these large issues, I would like to share some of the good things happening here in the 9th Senate District.
Senator Loni Hancock
FEATURED IN MAY NEWSLETTER
ED ROBERTS CAMPUS
On April 9th, I joined Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, community leaders and the public to celebrate the grand opening of the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC). This environmentally sustainable transit-oriented center, located at the Ashby BART Station in Berkeley, incorporates offices of non-profit organizations, community meeting rooms, a child development center, fitness center, vocational training facilities, exhibition space and a café. It is the first transit-oriented development in the nation that was created specifically to serve individuals with disabilities.
ERC was created and named in honor of Ed Roberts, disability rights activist and "father" of the Independent Living Movement, whose tireless work led to greater independence and equality for millions of disabled people throughout the world.
ERC will serve as a one-stop shop for disability services and advocacy. It will be home to many organizations (several of which Ed Roberts helped found) that play a pivotal role in promoting independence for people with disabilities, including the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, the World Institute on Disability, the Center for Accessible Technology, and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. If you would like to learn more about ERC, please visit: www.edrobertscampus.org
GANG INTERVENTION PROJECT TOUR
One of my goals as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Budget and the Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Corrections and Public Safety is to examine and evaluate programs that reduce prison overcrowding and make communities safer. In March, I had the opportunity to visit several programs in Los Angeles addressing gang problems in Southern California. Joining me was Mark Gladstone of the Senate Office of Research.
Our first stop was to Homeboy Industries, a network that provides options for job training, tattoo removal and therapy for formerly incarcerated men and women and gang members who want something different in their lives. Founded by Father Gregory Boyle, the network also provides an opportunity for participants to work in a bakery and café run by Homeboy Industries.
Other highlights of the tour included meeting with Guillermo Cespedes, director of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s prevention and intervention program, and Council Member Tony Cardena. We also visited Community Build, a program started by Mayor Villaraigosa. There, we talked with community gang intervention workers. Our final stop was an informal discussion with 12 young men at Camp Gonzales, a boys’ detention camp in the Los Angeles area.
Overall, all involved in these programs highlighted the importance of local re-entry services that can have a positive impact on both individuals and the entire community.
A special thank you to former Assemblymember Tom Hayden for coordinating my visit.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA WATER TRAIL: INCREASING PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE BAY
In 2005, my bill AB 1296 was signed into law creating the San Francisco Bay Water Trail. Last month, the California Coastal Conservancy provided a two-year, $1 million grant to the Association of Bay Area Governments to establish a planned network of launching and landing sites around the San Francisco Bay for small, non-motorized boats.
The funding will be used to develop and improve water trail sites and provide information about safe boating practices and wildlife protection. With the approval of the environmental review, the project can start the process of officially designating existing sites.
Another step towards greater access to the San Francisco Bay is the new East Bay Regional Park District’s (EBRPD) Tidewater Boating Center. This unique shoreline complex, designed by Siegel & Strain Architects of Emeryville, consists of a boathouse, storage facility and an administrative building -- home to the Park District’s Recreation Department. Through collaboration between the EBRPD and the City of Oakland, the Boating Center dock opened in January and has already become a popular launch area for kayakers.
Under a multi-year lease agreement, the Oakland Strokes, a non-profit junior rowing organization for middle and high school students, will operate the main boathouse and indoor training area, and will introduce neighborhood youth to competitive rowing. Recreation programs will include biking, nature study, kayaking and canoeing, taking advantage of the estuary and Bay Trail connection.
The majority of this $4 million facility was being funded through a state grant, with additional funding from Measure CC, the EBRPD’s parcel tax passed by voters in 2004.
Congratulations everyone involved in making this wonderful center a reality. It is exciting to know that we are moving forward to ensure that more people can enjoy the beautiful San Francisco Bay from the water as well as the shore.
CFT LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR AND HUMANE SOCIETY AWARDS
I was honored to receive this year’s California Federation of Teachers Legislator of the Year award at a recent ceremony in Los Angeles. It is especially meaningful for me to receive this award from an organization that I respect for its commitment to achieving excellence in education and equity in our schools.
In addition, I was privileged to receive the 2010 Humane State Legislator of the Year Award from the U.S. Humane Society. I have carried legislation seeking humane treatment for animals by banning the use of tethers and crates for slaughtering animals. In addition, after investigative reporters uncovered the gruesome sport called "field coursing," (a sport in which dogs are judged on how well they stalk and kill wild rabbits and foxes) I introduced legislation to prohibit the practice. This year, I serve as Co-Chair of the Animal Protection Caucus in the California Legislature.
BERKELEY MEADOWS DEDICATION
Last month, I attended the dedication of the Berkeley Meadows at Eastshore State Park. The event, hosted by the East Bay Regional Park District, celebrated the final phase of the Berkeley Meadow Restoration Project. The finished meadow has seasonal wetlands, along with coastal prairie and scrub areas -- creating a diverse and thriving habitat for plants and animals. Walking paths and interpretive signs have been built for public access.
The meadow is the culmination of over the 20 years of hard work and effort by many individuals and organizations to create a biologically beautiful area for generations to enjoy. Congratulations!
FORTY YEARS OF SERVICE
This April marked my fortieth year in public service. I recently had the privilege to gather in celebration with many of the colleagues, constituents, supporters and friends that have been part of this great journey.
What motivated me to first enter public service as a member of the Berkeley City Council forty years ago are the same ideals I hold today. Through all my years of service – first in local government, later as an appointee of the Carter and Clinton administrations and more recently in the state legislature - I have been a strong advocate for open government, environmental protection, improving education, economic development, civil rights and social justice.
Though we have experienced great progress over the years, there is still so much work to be done. And, as we all know, many of the challenges we currently face in our state and country threaten to undo much of that progress. As a representative of one of the most forward-looking and creative places on earth, I will continue to fight for justice, equality, a healthy planet and opportunity for all. Working together, I still believe that we can and will one day achieve all of these things.