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Senator Toni Atkins to Become First Woman to Lead California Senate

Senator Toni Atkins

Senator Toni Atkins

By Manny Otiko, California Black Media

This month, State Senator Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) will become the first woman to lead the California Senate. She will replace former Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) who is running against Dianne Feinstein for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Before being elected to the State Senate, Atkins worked as director of clinic services at Womancare Health Center and served as a city council member and mayor of San Diego.

She was later elected to the State Assembly eventually serving as the first female speaker. Atkins was elected President pro Tempore by the Senate Democratic Caucus in January and will officially take office on March 21.

Atkins was elected President pro Tempore by the Senate Democratic Caucus in January and will officially take office on March 21.

“Leading this great State Senate and our united and always productive Caucus at this crucial moment in history is an extraordinary opportunity and a great responsibility – and I believe every senator has a vital role in building a brighter future for the Californians we represent,” said Atkins.

Atkins, who represents the 39th District in the San Diego area, grew up in Virginia, the daughter of two blue-collar parents. She cites this as one of the reasons why she has supports affect policies such as universal healthcare coverage. Atkins also supported the state’s first Earned Income Tax Credit.

As Speaker of the House, she also helped prevent the University of California from implementing a 27 percent fee increase. She has also authored SB 2, which provides permanent budget funding to address affordable housing, which is a major issue for many Californians.

“Homelessness has become a humanitarian crisis in many areas of California, and my home city of San Diego has been hit hard. There’s far too much suffering on our streets,” said Atkins. “SB 2 will help by providing desperately needed funding for permanent housing with supportive services to stabilize people who are living with significant medical or mental-health issues.”

As leader of the State Senate, Atkins will have her hands full dealing with the #Metoo movement, which has raised national awareness about sexual harassment. Democratic Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) has already resigned due to the scandal, and Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) is currently under investigation for sexual harassment.

“Our first priority is to create a safe working environment for our employees, and accepting Tony Mendoza’s resignation is consistent with that goal. Going forward, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that our zero-tolerance policies on sexual harassment are backed up with strong enforcement in order to guarantee that all employees are protected,” said Atkins.

Majestic Hearts Non-Profit Launches New Beginnings

Domestic2CARSON, CA- Newly established non-profit, Majestic Hearts, announces its existence. On Saturday, February 24, at Cal State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Majestic Hearts is an organization for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, whose mission is to convert victims into survivors. The purpose of the event was to raise funds for its shelter and counseling programs.

The launch event introduced Majestic Hearts to close friends, family and the public. The celebration opened with live performances from Saxophonist Keschia Potter, who’s performed alongside celebrities like Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Lady Gaga, to name a few. She and her band set the tone for the event playing music from Potter’s newly released album “Rebirth of the Soul.”

Hosted by comedienne Chelley Chelle of LesTalk Radio, the event took on a humorous turn as Chelley Chelle lightened the seriousness of the topic with her comedy performance. Poetess/artist Estee “E dot” Marie delivered two spoken word pieces, “Love Is” and “Beautifully Made.” Both poems spoke to the subjects of domestic violence, sexual assault, self-worth, royalty and love.

Several raffles took place with prizes from Sephora, The Byrds Nest, B.A.L.L. (Build A Lasting Legacy), Her Trendy Décor, ANS Photography and more. There was also a Silent Auction that featured an autographed photo of LA Lakers Center, Brook Lopez.

After the last raffle, Majestic Hearts’ Chief Financial Officer, Ricsyhelle Davis, took the stage to introduce the Chief Executive Officer, Kanishia L. Jackson. Upon stepping on stage, Jackson read Majestic Hearts’ mission statement and announced its first two programs: shelter and counseling, prior to telling her story of survivorship.

The 33-year-old CSUDH Alumna was a staff writer for the school’s newspaper during her senior year. During her stint as a staff writer, she wrote an article about her experience with her abuser in Greensboro, NC. The CEO states, “In the moment of me being abused, I didn’t realize that was my purpose. I had to go through [the abuse] to get…where I am, today.” 

At the close of the event, the CEO thanked all the donors, supporters and attendees; the fundraising event brought-in close to $900. These funds will go toward this year’s grand goal of $50K.

To learn more about Majestic Hearts and to register for this event, visit www.majestic-hearts.org.

For the First-Time Ever, an African-American is California’s Highway Patrol’s Top Cop

By Madlen Grgodjaian, California Black Media

Day’s before the close of Black History month, a bit of black history was made atop the ranks of the California Highway Patrol.

Governor Jerry Brown swore in Warren Stanley, a CHP officer of over three decades, as the California law enforcement agency’s commissioner during a Feb. 26 ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Stanley is the first African-American ever to lead the CHP. The man of law said he is very humbled to be appointed to his new post by Brown.

“I’m going to do everything I can everyday to make the state of California a little bit safer and a great place to live,” Stanley said.

The new CHP commissioner has held every rank in the department including field training officer, lieutenant of the Border Division Investigative Services Unit, commander of the CHP Academy, and deputy commissioner.

Employed by the CHP since 1982, Stanley now leads the largest state law enforcement agency in the nation composed of over 11,000 employees. Stanley will earn nearly $260,000 a year in his new role.

Raised in Central Valley’s Merced County Dos Palos, the commissioner always knew he wanted to be in law enforcement. Stanley graduated from the CHP academy when he was 20 and worked his way up the ranks.

The Sacramento resident graduated from the FBI’s National Executive Institute, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Los Angeles.

Stanley was appointed to the rank of Assistant Commissioner, Staff in 2010 and two years later earned the rank of Assistant Commissioner, Field – making him one of few to hold both positions within the CHP.

Brown made Stanley acting CHP Commissioner in 2017, taking the reins from former Commissioner Joe Farrow.

On Feb. 9 Brown announced Stanley’s appointment as Commissioner of the CHP. Acting Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Annis said Stanley would excel in his position.

“CHP Commissioner Stanley has served the public for more than 35 years with the California Highway Patrol, excelling at every role from patrol officer to deputy commissioner where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the CHP,” Annis said.

“Warren has led the CHP’s response in the face of some of the worst natural disasters in this state’s history. We know that under his leadership the department will continue to uphold its mission.”

The 56-year-old is a proud public servant who is determined to create trust among the public and CHP by breaking race and ethnic lines. Stanley and his team are actively involved in a variety of communities, including the African American community.

“Our CHP officers in L.A. County a few years ago created a community engagement team,” said Stanley. “That team works directly with educational leaders, spiritual leaders, political leaders, and other community leaders in the African American community, so we can get better ties and be better engaged. Find out what their needs are and what services they’re looking for. I’ve been meeting with several leaders down there in Southern California.”

In 2015, Assembly Bill 953 was enacted which prohibits a peace officer from engaging in racial profiling and requires training to prescribe patterns, practices, and protocols that prevent racial profiling. Existing law requires the Legislative Analyst’s Office to conduct a study of the data that is voluntarily collected by jurisdictions that have instituted a program of data collection with regard to racial profiling.

AB 953 requires the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board produce a report each year on past and current statuses of racial and identity profiling with policy recommendations for eliminating it. Stanley is a RIPA board member and will be implementing this process into the CHP in July.

“I can use the feedback from that data and bring it back to my executive staff and to my personnel and say, ‘Here is what the data is showing us that is going on in these communities, here are the stops they are making and here is how they’re handling them,’” Stanley said. “It’ll give us a lot of feedback we can use for training and to enhance our operations, and to enhance our trust with the communities that we serve.”