3 Bills Crucial to Communities of Color Move Forward

Bills Dealing With Cap-and-Trade, Ballot Initiatives and Insurance Near Passage

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell) SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Three bills considered critical to the future of California’s growing communities of color are expected to receive final floor votes in the state legislature shortly. Proponents are optimistic about passage, but are urging supporters to keep up the momentum by calling and writing their legislators and the governor. “Taken together, these three bills represent tremendous potential progress for California’s communities of color,” said Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar. “Despite all the talk of gridlock in Sacramento, this session could lead to historic steps forward for our communities.” Continue reading “3 Bills Crucial to Communities of Color Move Forward”

6 Million Voters Without a Voice

Every election, the ballot initiative process becomes more vital to California’s democracy. This fall will be no different. But as of now, millions of California voters have no say on which propositions make the ballot.

California speaks more than 200 languages, while our petitions speak only one! Over 6 million voting-age Californians who do not read or speak English well — including nearly half of our naturalized citizens — are left out of the process of qualifying measures for the ballot because those petitions aren’t translated. It’s time for change!

Click here for petition in Spanish
Click here for petition in Chinese

Senate Bill 1233 by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would make our initiative petitions available in the languages covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Hindi, Khmer, and Thai.

A New Year to Seize New Opportunities!

Richard Cordray to Keynote at our 2014 Economic Summit!

Register Today for the 2014 Economic Summit!April 4th is less than 3 months away! We are excited to announce that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and PG&E Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony F. Earley Jr. will be our keynote speakers.

This year, we’re hosting a panel on the New Economy, awarding important leaders and organizations in the movement for racial and economic equity, and much more. Click here for a detailed schedule.

Early registration is now open and available until February 4th! Stay tuned for more exciting news, including additional speakers. We look forward to seeing you there!


It’s Your Last Chance to Apply to the Greenlining Academy!​

Apply Today!

Applications are still open to two of our 2014-15 Academy programs: our year-long Policy Fellowship and our 18-month Health Equity Fellowship. The February deadlines are quickly approaching, so apply today!

Click here for more information about our fellowship programs.

In other Academy news, are you a UC Berkeley student looking for summer housing or housing for the next academic year? Casa Joaquin is a multi-ethnic residential community that supports leadership development and academic success while providing a nurturing living environment for UC Berkeley students.

Learn more about Casa Joaquin, and apply for housing today!


Get Well Soon CPUC Commissioner Ferron, Welcome Commissioner Peterman!

A lot of changes are happening at the California Public Utiltiies Commission, as we say get well to a great leader, and welcome a new one.Mark FerronIt is with a heavy heart that we say get well and see you soon to CPUC Commissioner Mark Ferron who is stepping down to battle prostate cancer. Commissioner Ferron was appointed by Governor Brown three years ago and quickly earned the respect and admiration of everyone who engages the CPUC, including Greenlining. We wish Commissioner Ferron a speedy recovery, and laud the courage and leadership that he exhibited right down to his final day at the Commission.Carla PetermanWe also want to take the time to welcome CPUC CommissionerCarla Peterman! Greenlining was proud to testify before the California State Senate in support of Commissioner Peterman. Commissioner Peterman is the first African American woman ever appointed in the CPUC’s 102-year history. Her extensive energy experience, including emerging clean technologies, and her inclusive perspective on what it will take to green up California, make her a promising leader on these critical issues.

New Publication: Pathways Out of Poverty – Boys & Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector

Pathways Out of Poverty: Boys and Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector

This month, we celebrated MLK Day with the launch of our latest report, “Pathways Out of Poverty: Boys and Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector.”

California and the nation face a growing crisis of unemployment and underemployment among boys and men of color, but the rapid growth of the health services sector – with an urgent need for more health care workers – presents an unprecedented opportunity to address this problem. This report analyzes obstacles to health sector employment and how we can capitalize on opportunities provided by health care reform to address this crisis and provide more culturally competent care.

Download the report and learn how we can turn a crisis into an opportunity.


The State of the Union Was a Missed Opportunity for Obama

President Obama State of the UnionOn Tuesday, January 28th, President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union outlining his priorities and vision for the year ahead. While he advocated for many of the right things in his speech, we felt it came a bit short in tackling core issues our nation is facing, especially the racial wealth gap.

Executive Director Orson Aguilar penned an op-ed for The Progressive (which has appeared in newspapers across the U.S) that states exactly why President Obama missed an opportunity with his State of the Union. In short, we need need a president bold enough to call for a more inclusive economy in which people of color are not disproportionately confined to the basement or kitchen. We need our President to dream big and have bold initiatives. 


The Latest from the Greenlining Blog

Advocacy Update: Help Communities Get Healthy in 2013

Staying Healthy in 2013

In 2012, our Health Equity team ramped up advocacy efforts for communities of color and ethnic small businesses in all arenas of the health policy debate. As we enter 2013, implementation of the Affordable Care Act will move rapidly in order to be up and running by January 1, 2014. With many provisions going into effect very soon, we need to hear from you on how you want to access and purchase affordable health care services.

Your feedback is valued and appreciated! Please contact Carla Saporta at carlas@greenlining.org or 510-926-4008.

A Champion for Consumers of Color and Ethnic Small Businesses

Our Health Policy Director, Carla Saporta, has been given the opportunity to be a champion for ethnic small businesses and other consumers of color in her role on Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Advisory Committee. With a seat at the table, Carla will be able to ensure your voices are heard!

Continue reading “Advocacy Update: Help Communities Get Healthy in 2013”

Advocates Challenge NBA: Take Real Action on Diversity

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022415-846-7758 (cell)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – In a letter sent today to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, The Greenlining Institute challenges the league to take meaningful action on diversity, including actions designed to bring investment and opportunity to the communities from which the NBA draws both its players and its fans. FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver estimates that 54 percent of NBA fans are people of color.

“Taking action against a racist team owner was the right thing to do, but it’s just the first step,” said Greenlining Institute Executive Director Orson Aguilar. “It’s pretty clear that the NBA has a glass ceiling, that African Americans can be players and even coaches, but top management positions and owners are virtually all white. Even worse, there’s no sign that the league or its teams contract at any meaningful level with minority-owned businesses for the huge amount of goods and services they buy.” The league reportedly has a program to encourage diverse vendors, but has not released any data on the program.

“NBA teams surely buy hundreds of millions of dollars in goods and services,” Aguilar said. “Does any of that money go to the communities that their players and fans come from? That has more real impact on people’s lives than the statements of one ignorant team owner.”

In its letter to Silver, Greenlining calls on the league to:

  • Conduct a detailed diversity survey, including not only all levels of staff and management, but also data on the ownership of suppliers, broken down by race, ethnicity and gender.
  • Create a Diversity Council reporting directly to the Commissioner whose first task should be to review all of the diversity survey results and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Release all of the diversity data, recommendations and progress reports in an annual report to the public.

Those interested in following the discussion online can use the hashtag #AreWeOne on Facebook and Twitter.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org

Advocates, Officials Blast Bank Regulators’ Proposed Diversity Standards

Sen. Bob Menendez, SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar Join Greenlining Institute in Criticism

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

WASHINGTON – Final joint standards just released by six federal agencies for assessing the diversity practices of the financial institutions they regulate represent a complete failure to seriously address diversity in the banking industry, policy experts at The Greenlining Institute said today, joined by Sen. Bob Menendez and SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar. The standards have changed little since a draft released nearly two years ago, despite over 200 written comments from consumer advocates, racial justice organizations and members of Congress (including architects of section 342 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law) urging that the standards be made more specific and concrete.

The standards were issued by the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWIs) in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Securities and Exchange Commission, National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as required by section 342. The law created Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion in 20 financial regulatory agencies and tasked them with “assessing the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated” by the agencies.

“These standards lack vision,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Sasha Werblin. “Congress gave the OMWIs a chance to help this critical sector of our economy truly reflect America, but what came out today sends the message that either the OMWIs or their bosses don’t care. Imagine you’re back in school and your teacher tells you that you can decide whether or not to take a final exam, write it yourself, grade it yourself, and any bad results won’t appear on your transcript. That’s what they’ve done. It’s just staggering.”

“The standards issued today unfortunately fall short of what is necessary to achieve real progress,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Banking Committee and lead Senate sponsor of the Wall Street Reform Act provision that created the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion.  “As I noted in my recent Corporate Diversity Survey, it’s no secret that the financial industry has a long way to go to improve the diversity of its leadership, workforce, and supplier base.  The Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion were created to help address the lack of diversity within our financial sector, and we need much more than voluntary self-assessments to bring about much-needed transparency and meaningful change.  The time has long passed for substantive and far-reaching standards to expand management, employment, and business opportunities for women and racial or ethnic minorities at all levels of the financial sector.  The OMWIs must begin to live up to their potential and use their authority to push for greater diversity across the board.”

“In the end, the Agencies have chosen to do what is convenient for the companies, rather than the right thing for the long-term benefit of our country,” said Securities and Exchange Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar, who noted the industry’s long history of severe underrepresentation of minorities and women. For example, white men constitute only 31 percent of the U.S. workforce but occupy 64 percent of executive and senior level positions in the financial industry. Many believe that lack of attention to communities of color contributed to regulatory neglect of problems that led to the financial crash of 2008.

The standards allow financial institutions to do a self-assessment of diversity practices, but do not require any reporting to the public or to the OMWIs. Neither do they set any standards for reporting that would allow for meaningful comparisons between companies.

Werblin noted that effective models for promoting diversity among regulated businesses, without coercion or quotas, already exist. In California, for example, both the Public Utilities Commission and Department of Insurance have programs under which regulated firms report the degree to which they contract with firms owned by women, minorities or disabled veterans. These programs, based on transparency and including clear reporting standards, have produced marked increases in contracting with diverse businesses.

“Congress directed the OMWIs to assess the diversity policies and practices of the entities they regulate, and these standards don’t fulfill the congressional mandate,” Werblin said. “Letting the companies decide whether to report, what to report and how to report it is like having no reporting at all. We’re shocked and disappointed that they’ve disregarded so much constructive input.”

Affected Communities Concerned About AT&T’s Next Move on T-Mobile Deal

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell);

Stall Tactic With Regulators Would Be Damaging to All, Greenlining Institute Says

BERKELEY, CALIFORNA — Communities facing harm from AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile watched with concern over the Thanksgiving weekend as the company publicly sparred with the Federal Communications Commission over the implications of AT&T’s Thanksgiving morning withdrawal of its merger application, including whether the FCC can proceed with its administrative law case.

Continue reading “Affected Communities Concerned About AT&T’s Next Move on T-Mobile Deal”

Affordable Health Insurance Urgently Needs Your Voice

Health insurance premiums for families rose 131%, while the general rate of inflation increased just 28% during the same period, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Dear Greenlining Health & Business Leaders,

AB 52 (Feuer) passed the Assembly Thursday in a 45 to 28 vote! While this is a huge victory we still have a tough battle ahead as the bill now moves to the Senate!
Continue reading “Affordable Health Insurance Urgently Needs Your Voice”

Alejo Introduces Bill to Encourage Clean Energy Contracts with Minority Firms

Would Boost Small Businesses with Supplier Diversity Program Similar to Longstanding CPUC Effort

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) introduced legislation today designed to boost California small businesses and bring jobs and opportunities to underserved communities. The measure, Assembly Bill 865, would set up a program to encourage recipients of California Energy Commission grants or loans to boost procurement from business enterprises owned by women, minorities, disabled veterans, and LGBT individuals.

Modeled on successful programs already covering the state’s utilities, telecommunications companies and insurers, the bill would require recipients of Energy Commission funding – which supports projects such as energy conservation and clean power – to report annually on their minority-, women-, LGBT- and disabled veteran-owned business procurement efforts. It would also require funding recipients to develop a verifiable plan for boosting such procurement.

“Entrepreneurship is key to the American dream, and diverse businesses deserve a fair shot at contracts with major corporations,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Vien Truong. “This bill encourages transparency and levels the playing field for businesses rooted in communities of color who otherwise might not get their foot in the door. The Energy Commission invests much of California’s funds on clean energy and energy efficiency. This is the logical next step in the effort to make sure California’s climate change policies bring real benefits to underserved communities.”

“AB 865 will work to create relationships between the energy industry and minority groups, women, LGBT and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises,” stated Assemblymember Alejo.  “This will allow minority owned businesses to have increased opportunities for job growth and a fair chance to obtain contracts with major corporations.  To ensure accountability, the bill also requires the establishment of a Diversity Task Force.  This task force will review and make recommendations about diversity in the energy industry and promote those actively engaging in diversity issues.”

Truong noted that AB 865 builds upon the successes of the California Public Utilities Commission’s supplier diversity program, which has produced a steady increase in contracting by utility and telecommunications companies with businesses owned by women, minorities and disabled veterans, generating billions of dollars in contracts with diverse firms. To learn more about how California’s clean energy policies benefit underserved communities, visit UpLiftCA.org (English) and es.UpLiftCA.org (Spanish).

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

greenlining.org

Alert: Testify at Public Hearing in Oakland

The Greenlining Institute asks that you join us in Oakland on Monday, June 7th to testify on behalf of small businesses, families, and communities at an official CPUC Public Hearing to ask the question: Why is PG&E raising its rates by 30% during an economic crisis, while spending $44 million of ratepayer dollars to pass Proposition 16?

What: Public Hearing on PG&E’s unnecessary $4 Billion (30%) Rate Hikes

Where: Elihu Harris State Building in Downtown Oakland (1st Floor Auditorium)

When: Monday, June 7th, at 2 pm and 7 pm

Why: To protest unnecessary rate hikes and Proposition 16

Who: You and your community!

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Continue reading “Alert: Testify at Public Hearing in Oakland”