Gov. Gavin Newsom has kicked off California’s $1.1 billion plan to clean trash and graffiti from California’s highways, roads and other public spacesBy OLGA R. RODRIGUEZJuly 7, 2021, 9:24 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday kicked off California’s $1.1 billion plan to clean trash and graffiti from California’s highways, roads and other public spaces, an effort he said will beautify the state and create up to 11,000 jobs.“This is an unprecedented effort to acknowledge what all of us recognize as we drive around this state: It’s too damn dirty!” Newsom said from the side of a San Francisco Bay Area highway.At-risk youth and people who were formerly homeless or formerly incarcerated will be given priority for the jobs created by the three-year program. In the last week, he said 400 people have already been hired or offered a job, Newsom said.The cleanup comes amid growing frustration with homeless encampments that have sprouted under highway overpasses and near freeway exit and entry ramps throughout California in the last few years. The encampments have grown during the pandemic, and many are crammed with discarded sofas, mattresses, and other trash.An estimated 161,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the nation’s most populous state, more than in any other. Advocates say they can’t house people quickly enough with a shortage of housing units and high rents.The Clean California program funds are not allowed to be used to displace people experiencing homelessness.The Democratic governor, who faces a recall election this year, pointed out Wednesday that he has proposed $12 billion to get more people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into homes of their own.“When our teams are out there on encampments notifying people of our intent to clean up an encampment, we’re doing so with more resources than any time in California history to follow through on our commitment to get people housed, and get people out of these dangerous environments,” he said in Richmond.The governor later traveled to Fresno County and planned to visit Southern California as part of several events to highlight the cleaning plan.California’s transportation agency, Caltrans, is responsible for maintaining many of the roadways but has struggled to keep up. Newsom’s office said Caltrans collected 270,000 cubic yards of trash in 2020 — enough to load 18,000 garbage trucks.John Cox, a Republican candidate for California governor, has been campaigning with an 8-foot (2.4-meter) ball of trash to tout his homelessness plan, which calls for forcing homeless people into mental health or addiction treatment before providing them with housing.The beautification plan will be a partnership with cities and counties, which will receive one-third of the money in grants, the governor said.“Those dollars will be leveraged well beyond a billion-dollar state investment because we’re going to leverage local dollars with a matching program,” he said.Newsom first announced a $1.5 billion Clean California initiative in May, but the Legislature decreased the funding to $1.1 billion in the final budget the governor signed last month.
California has added five more states including Florida to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ communityBy OLGA R. RODRIGUEZJune 28, 2021, 7:57 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleSAN FRANCISCO — California added five more states, including Florida, to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, the state attorney general announced Monday.Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta added Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia to the list that now has 17 states where state employee travel is forbidden except under limited circumstances.“Make no mistake: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented wave of bigotry and discrimination in this country — and the State of California is not going to support it,” Bonta said.Lawmakers in 2016 banned non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The 12 other states on the list are: Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee.The five states newly added to the list have introduced bills in their legislatures this year that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, block access to health care and allow the discrimination of the LGBTQ community, Bonta said.Florida, Montana, Arkansas, and West Virginia passed laws that prevent transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.North Dakota signed into law a bill allowing certain publicly-funded student organizations to restrict LGBTQ students from joining without losing funding.Arkansas passed the first law in the nation to prohibit physicians from providing gender-affirming healthcare to transgender minors — regardless of the wishes of parents or whether a physician deems such care to be medically necessary.These lawmakers “would rather demonize trans youth than focus on solving real issues like tackling gun violence beating back this pandemic and rebuilding our economy,” Bonta said.The state law has exemptions for some trips, such as travel needed to enforce California law and to honor contracts signed before the states were added to the list. Travel to conferences or out-of-state training are examples of trips that can be blocked.It’s unclear what effect California’s travel ban will have. Bonta did not have information about how many state agencies have stopped sending state employees to the states on the list or the financial impact of California’s travel ban on those states.