June 20, 2013
LAWT News Service
Sacramento – The Legislature has voted to increase basic CalWORKs grants by 5%, reversing a trend of annual cuts in aid to California’s neediest families since 2007 which Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), primary advocate for the increase, had argued was pushing too many children into deep poverty with irreversible impacts.
“This is a measured first step in our effort to reduce poverty in California, and it comes at the expense of no other program,” said Assemblywoman Mitchell, whose district includes low-income areas in south Los Angeles. “If you care at all about freeing children from the strangling yoke of poverty, this vote was the opportunity to join the freedom march.”
While supporting Governor Brown’s proposal to spend extra budget dollars on K-12 education in low-performing schools, Mitchell, who chairs the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, argued for targeting state aid to meet other basic needs of children. Four out of five CalWORKs beneficiaries are children, yet the basic benefit equals only 39% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), despite the fact that 50% of FPL is the “deep poverty” threshold associated with life-long adversity. Initially seeking a 12% CalWORKs raise, Mitchell, welcomed the 5% increase approved in AB 85 as part of the final compromise on the 2013-14 budget adopted June 15.
“The maximum benefit for which a CalWORKs family can qualify now is $7,600 for up to two years – less than half of the Federal Poverty Level at $19,000,” the Assemblywoman pointed out. “Children can’t come to school ready to learn when their minimal needs go unmet, and most students in the state’s low-performing schools are poor. Poverty is toxic to our kids.”
AB 85 was one of several recommendations put forth by the Assemblywoman to increase support for families struggling with deep poverty. Dubbed the “Mitchell Plan” by advocates for needy families (see attachment), other elements of the plan, advanced by the Budget Subcommittee, were improved welfare to work and homeless assistance services, childcare subsidies, and an increase in the allowed value of vehicles owned by CalWORKs’ recipients.
AB 85 and the other budget bills now proceed to the Governor for signature.
Sacramento — Water District Directors has been signed by Governor Brown. It is the first bill from freshman Assemblymember and Majority Whip Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) to be signed into law and goes into effect January 1, 2014.
“I appreciate Governor Brown’s support for this good government measure and applaud the overwhelming bi-partisan support for the bill shown by my colleagues in both the Assembly and the Senate,” stated Assemblymember Holden. Holden’s bill to standardize the start date of newly elected municipal directors. “This bill will ensure water districts are able to move swiftly between terms and critical business is not delayed unnecessarily.”
AB 72 is a good government measure designed to limit the lame-duck term for outgoing municipal water district directors and permit water districts to proceed to new business in a timelier manner.
June 13, 2013
By KENNETH MILLER
Assistant Managing Editor
[Spread Love Wherever You Go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier. —MOTHER TERESA]
I’ve never met Mother Teresa or been in the same room with Nelson Mandela, but upon being in the presence of Byron K. Reed, I encountered a person spiritually touched, a man committed to fighting poverty, social injustice and improving the community around him.
Reed, the senior vice president and Wells Fargo Director of Community Relations for the Los Angeles Metro / Orange County Region, believes in providing Black males with an opportunity to change their lives.
After all, he learned from personal experience what could be achieved when tragedy struck and lives were on the line.
The son of a military father and one of seven children, Reed was faced with a circumstance that is all too familiar in African American families throughout America. In 1998, his niece called to tell him that their mother had not been home.
Donna had six children and the demons of drug addiction had robbed her of the capacity to care for them, but the fear of losing the children to foster care brought about an emergency family meeting.
The family assembled and it was decided that Reed was the best candidate to care for the six children, but his small one bedroom Arlington, Texas apartment was too small.
“We decided that we had a problem here. So collectively we decided who would be the best to take on this responsibility. My other sister was a teacher and couldn’t make the commitment, my other brothers (four) were married and had kids of their own, so I was the only one without any kids and had the financial means to do it,” Reed candidly explained during an interview at the Sentinel offices last week.
Subsequently he purchased a massive house that could accommodate the seven of them.
He believes getting his sisters children was a gift from God and that it was “his calling” to provide his nieces and nephews with a life of promise and fulfillment. Reed was willing to sacrifice his own goals of family for them.
“These are my kids even though I am not their biological father, they know that I love them and we talk on the phone every day now,” he said.
Reed’s story was profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2005.
The oldest of the children, Nekesha Thomas (33) penned a letter to Winfrey praising her uncle and thanking him for the wonderful life he afforded her. Moved by their story, Oprah invited Reed and his family to the show for a segment and surprised him with the news that it was his nieces letter that inspired Winfrey.
It turned out to be one of the most emotional episodes of Oprah on network television and after watching it last week, I understand why.
Currently, Thomas is a nurse and married living in Grand Perry, Texas with her two children, Justin Reed (30) is a graduate of Oklahoma University and is currently working in Dallas, Marche Scott (25) is in nursing school in Dallas, Tiller Reed (23) is attending Richland College in Dallas, Lindsey Reed (21) is also attending nursing school and 17-year old Chad Reed is a 3.7 student and football star for Plano West and is being recruited by Oklahoma, SMU and TCU.
Their mother Donna Hayden, 55, is remarried and living a sober life.
Reed does not carry himself like a corporate executive; in fact I had to bashfully inquire if he was Byron K. Reed?
However, Reed is in fact one of the most powerful Black executives at Wells Fargo. He has amassed more than 25 years of banking experience in various areas including Trust Services, Consumer, Small Business, and Commercial Lending, Government Relations, Community Development, Global/Corporate Philanthropy and most recently in Consumer Real Estate.
He also serves on numerous boards, including Operation HOPE-Midwest Regional Board of Directors, LYCEM-Texas, Junior Achievement-Chicago, National Housing Conference Board of Governors, Fannie Mae Housing Impact Committee, LULAC National Housing Commission Advisory Board, Founding President of the 100 Black Men of Greater Dallas, Inc., the 100 Black Men of Chicago, and the Urban Financial Services Coalition Advisory Board.
He is also one of two Blacks on the board of advisors at the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of pubic affairs dedicated to social justice and equality of opportunity, something that Reed doesn’t need a platform for.
His enormous gift for his selfless service for humanity was formed from his Christian religious upbringing.
“My grandmother use to always say that charity begins at home,” added Reed.
Reed has traveled extensively and lived abroad while growing up due to his father’s military service.
He earned his BA in Political Science/Public Administration and a minor in Business Finance from the University of Oklahoma.
While a resident of Dallas, Texas, Reed served on many state of Texas boards and commissions and his last appointments were to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, and to the Texas Affordable Housing Task Force.
Since relocating to Los Angeles, he has been equally active in the community and community activities.
African Americans are not without their share of millionaires, but rarely have any of them come close to giving back to our community the way this native Texan has. While Reed is busy in his civic associations, his real action is demonstrated in the work he has already accomplished in the community since arriving on the scene in Los Angeles a little over a year ago.
Reed was recently appointed to the UCLA School of Public Affairs Advisory Board, and he serves on many other nonprofit organizations, including the Los Angeles Police Foundation, Valley Economic Development Center, Chrysalis, Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services (LANHS), West Los Angeles CDC, Los Angeles Latino Business Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, Urban League of Los Angeles, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Freewill Community
He is responsible for spearheading Wells Fargo’s program to provide investments and loans for community development and low-income housing initiatives throughout the region.
Reed’s mission is to bring prosperity to the communities within his region. He has an extensive background with three decades of banking experience working in the areas of community development, corporate philanthropy, and government relations, trust services and small business and consumer banking.
Because Reed’s mission is to bring prosperity to the community, he has made it his business to connect with the right sources to get the job done when it comes to improving the economic opportunity and quality of life for LA Metro’s low and moderate-income communities.
Reed is also the board chair of FIVE MILLION KIDS Initiative, a non-profit organization that teaches financial literacy.
Reed had to endure the loss of his father to cancer in 2006. His mother and father were married for 50 years and the foundation of marriage is one that he feels is his only failure.
“When I got divorced, I thought I had failed,” he states.
He remembers the last day of his father’s chemotherapy on a Monday, Reed last saw him on a Wednesday and on Sunday his father succumbed.
“I felt like I gave him permission to go home, but my pastor later told me that I didn’t, he was just tired,” he solemnly added. Reed would give any piece of money or any earthly belongings to just spend a moment with his father or grandmother.
“Anything that I do today to help someone is all attributed to them and Christ who guides me. I have always been the same guy and I will continue to be the same guy.”
Reed was asked if he had an empty Hallmark to write a message to his father on Father’s Day, what would it say?
“Thank you for allowing me to be me. Thank you for trusting in me. Thank you for giving me the resources and the knowledge to be all that I can be, and thank you for being a great father,” he concluded.
Those kind words are exactly the words that describe OUR feelings to Bryan K. Reed, a father, a mentor, and a community caretaker and institution builder. THANK YOU!
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) released the following statement in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who was 37 years old when he was killed by a sniper’s bullet on June 12, 1963:
“Today marks 50 years since the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The horror of Mr. Evers’ untimely death made national news, galvanized the nation and pushed the Civil Rights Movement forward.
“After being named the NAACP’s first Field Secretary for Mississippi in 1954, Mr. Evers spearheaded local efforts to enact social change. In the particularly oppressive racial climate of Mississippi, Mr. Evers organized boycotts of businesses that denied services to African-Americans, set up new chapters of the NAACP and led voter registration drives. His murder was a loss to his family, the state of Mississippi and to the entire nation.
“I was pleased to join my dear friend, and his widow Myrlie Evers-Williams, former President Bill Clinton, and many others last Wednesday at a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate his life and legacy. Although his life was cut short, it was clear to all that Mr. Evers did not die in vain. Today, Myrlie works to continue her husband’s legacy through the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute.
“I thank Medgar Evers for his courage, dedication and resolve in the face of virulent racism. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that ‘before the victory of justice is a reality that some may even face physical death.’ To no one is this quote more applicable than to Medgar Evers, whose death compelled this nation forward on its march towards justice and equality for all citizens.”
By Laura Olson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- About 95,000 state employees could be in line for a 4.5 percent pay raise as part of a tentative three-year agreement reached Tuesday between Gov. Jerry Brown and California’s largest public employee union.
In an email to members, Service Employees Union International Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said the pay hike would be received by July 1, 2015, with specific timing dependent on state revenues.
If revenue meets state projections, employees would get a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2014, followed by another 2.5 percent increase on July 1, 2015.
If next year’s revenue targets aren't met, the entire 4.5 percent increase would go into effect in 2015.
State revenues have seen a bump this year, but analysts say it's too soon to tell whether those increases will continue.
Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, described the proposed link between raises and state revenues as “laughable,” because employees would get the pay increases regardless of the state’s finances next year.
“It negates itself,” Jones said. “(The governor) says one thing, but if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to do it anyway.”
The deal also includes a guarantee of no furlough days and protects health care and retirement benefits. State workers have had one furlough day a month during the past year.
The proposed contract also sets up a faster timeline for the state to pay its share of health care costs for a new employee’s dependents.
“I think it's a fair proposal, and I’m hoping that it will be ratified,” the governor told reporters.
Pat McConahay, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Human Resources, said in a statement that the administration “recognizes that through cutbacks and hard work, state employees have played an important role in stabilizing California’s finances over the past five years.”
Pay increases included in the pact would be carefully phased in “based on the state’s economic recovery,” she noted.
The Department of Finance will determine next May whether projected state revenues are sufficient for the raises to go into effect in 2014.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the contract agreement does not affect a tentative deal with top Democratic legislators on a 2013-14 state budget, since raises would not take effect until July 2014.
The union criticized Brown at a Capitol rally last week, saying the governor was refusing to offer any pay raises. Asked by reporters last month about negotiations, Brown said he was aiming low.
Unions were critical in winning voter approval for Brown’s November tax initiative, Proposition 30, and helping him present a budget that he says is balanced.
“State workers have been through a roller coaster in the past five years,” SEIU spokesman Jim Zamora said Tuesday. “We have been on furloughs more than we haven’t.”
State officials were not able to say how much the pay increases would mean in dollar figures for the average employee.
The state is also responsible for billions of dollars in health care obligations and pension liabilities for retired state employees in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
The state should start paying down those obligations before giving state workers a substantial raise, said Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform.
“Most state employees, if you include their retirement packages, would continue to be overcompensated based upon their private sector counterparts,” Pellissier said.
The union said the tentative agreement with Brown also includes increases in business and travel expenses, additional grievance procedures, and a 50-cent hourly increase for seasonal employees starting in July 2014.
State employees who are at the top salary level for their position are scheduled to receive a 3 percent pay increase on July 1 as part of the existing union contract.
The deal requires ratification by union employees, who will begin voting on the proposal the week of June 24. Negotiations are ongoing with the 10 other state employee bargaining units.
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