Friday, April 19, 2013


(San Diego) Today’s announcement by the Boy Scouts that they will no longer deny membership to gay youth is a positive step forward in eliminating discrimination from the organization; however, the continued ban on adult lesbian and gay volunteers perpetuates irrational and biased stereotypes and denies young people the adult role models they need to grow into successful adults.  I call on the Boy Scouts to reject discrimination in all its forms.

Media reports indicate that the Scouts’ policy change is based upon the results of a survey it recently sent to its supporters, asking for opinions on the discriminatory membership ban.  While it is encouraging that those currently involved in Scouting recognize the unfairness of denying the Scouting experience to some boys, I encourage them to recognize that many adults, gay and straight, refuse to involve their families in the Boy Scouts while it treats some families as second class.  The Boy Scouts should seek adult volunteers who exemplify integrity and commitment to youth, regardless of their sexual orientation.  A youth organization should not teach any boy that his parents are unwelcome or inferior.

Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins is a member of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus.  As a San Diego City Councilmember, she led the fight to end the Boy Scouts’ free use of Balboa Park for their headquarters because of their discriminatory policies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bill to Rebuild Communities and Decrease Recidivism in California Passes State Assembly Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA- Today, the Assembly Public Safety Committee passed Assembly Member Shirley Weber’s (D-San Diego) Assembly Bill No. 1238 unanimously with a 7 to 0 vote on April 16, 2013.

This bill continues a proven reentry program for youthful offenders ages 18-24. The California Youthful Offender Reentry Program (Cal-YOR) is an evidence-based program that has effectively brought the recidivism rate down to 1.5 percent for enrolled youth offenders.

Specifically, AB 1238 puts the Cal-YOR program into statute, recognizing it as an effective program for improving communities and reducing recidivism.  Nine community-based organization, including Homeboy Industries, received grants under Cal-YOR in 2010.  The one-time funding supported 411 at-risk-youth and resulted in a 1.5 percent recidivism rate for these offenders, as reported by the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal-EMA) this month, which is a record low.

“Cal-YOR funded programs, like California YouthBuild and Homeboy Industries, have changed the lives of hundreds of young offenders throughout California,” said Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber. “These programs have turned offenders into leaders and have given these kids a chance to rebuild their lives.

Reentry programs, such as  the California YouthBuild and Homeboy Industries programs, have built a reputation as an invaluable and effective resource for young offenders returning to communities.  While enrolled in the program, these offenders are required to participate in job training, obtain their high school diplomas through classroom instruction, assist in construction projects to build and refurbishing affordable housing and improve energy efficiency in homes.

“AB 1238 provides the necessary services, including educational and employment opportunities for a meaningful second chance,” said Assembly Member Weber.  “It is unrealistic to simply release a young offender from incarceration and expect that he or she will have the personal tools needed to turn his or her life around.”

AB 1238 has passed its first hurdle and will now move to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Bill Providing Voting Rights Information and Registration to Eligible Current and Former Offenders Passes Assembly Public Safety Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA- Assembly Member Shirley N. Weber’s (D-San Diego) AB 149 passed the Assembly Committee on Public Safety with a 5-2 vote on April 16, 2012.
AB 149 would ensure that persons involved in the criminal justice system are given accurate information about their voting rights and are afforded the opportunity to participate in the civic life of their communities.

“Anyone who believes that voting is one of the bedrock principles of our democracy should support AB 149,” said Assembly Member Weber. “Right now, whether it’s intentional or not, we are depriving an entire segment of eligible voters, largely people of color, from their voting rights simply by not providing them with the correct voting information.”

The bill would require the Department of Corrections to provide every parolee with a voter registration form and information about their voting rights upon the completion of their parole supervision. It would also require county probation departments to provide every eligible person under their supervision with a voter registration form and information on their voting rights. County sheriffs would also be required to provide this same information to eligible inmates of a county jail.
California ranks near the bottom (45th) among states in voter registration levels. Among the millions of unregistered voters in California are people who mistakenly believe they are ineligible to vote due to a criminal charge or conviction.

Participation in voting and other civic matters can help former offenders successfully re-enter society and has been linked to help reduced recidivism. The California State Constitution and state law provides that once a person has completed parole, his or her voting rights are automatically reinstated.

But those involved in our criminal justice system are not apprised of their voting rights nor is accurate voter information readily accessible to them.

Instead, rumors and misinformation abound, and even from courts, public defenders and elections officials often give out incorrect information about eligibility. For example, a study by the Sentencing Project, a Washington research and advocacy group, found that 37 percent of public officials surveyed in 10 states either misstated a central provision of the voter eligibility law or were unsure about what the law said.

Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, the lack of accurate voter registration information has a particularly disparate impact on communities of color in California.

“We know that countless reports such as Uggen & Manza’s study of voting rights and recidivism, as well as Brennan Center for Justice and Democracy’s Voting Rights Restoration study, have echoed the sentiment that there is a strong correlation between voting and reduced recidivism so it only makes sense to ensure accurate information is provided,” said Assembly Member Weber.

By offering voter registration to the thousands of eligible voters who pass through our criminal justice system, the state will be taking an important step toward increasing its dismal voter registration rate.

The public welfare and safety of our communities will also be enhanced by the civic participation of all eligible voters, which includes those who are attempting to successfully re-enter their communities.

The bill will be heard next by the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee on April 23, 2013.

Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on Need for Filibuster Reform in Wake of U.S. Senate's Failure to Take Action Against Gun Violence

At no point has the need to end the Senate’s absurd 60-vote requirement been made clearer than yesterday. A measure to require more gun buyers to go through background checks garnered 54 votes - more than a majority - but failed to clear the 60 vote threshold that has become a baseline to move any business forward in the Senate.

Incredulous Americans today woke up to the news that even in the wake of the tragedies in Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Newtown, Connecticut, the Senate can’t pass sensible gun legislation to make these mass shootings less common or more difficult to carry out.
The Senate is broken. Its procedures are arcane and indefensible.

It is time to end the 60-vote requirement. The victims of tragedies past, and the victims of tragedies that are more likely to come without action, demand no less.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox Endorses Lorena Gonzalez 

Cox Endorsement is 'A Vote for Honest Compromise' and the Latest South Bay Mayor to Support Pro-Jobs Democrat Gonzalez

CHULA VISTA – (Wednesday, April 17, 2013) – Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox has endorsed pro-jobs Democrat Lorena Gonzalez in the May 21 special election for the 80th Assembly District.
Cox, a Republican, is in her second term as mayor of the second largest city in San Diego County. Lorena and Mayor Cox worked for several years to bring business, unions, government and the community together to approve the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan, which is slated to break ground next year and create 2,200 permanent jobs and 7,000 construction jobs.

"Mayor Cox's endorsement is another vote of confidence for honest compromise," Lorena said. "After working with different stakeholders in the Chula Vista Bayfront, we were able to come together to create new opportunities for the South Bay. I am very honored that she respects the hard work that had to be done in that process by endorsing my campaign."

Cheryl Cox is the most recent South Bay mayor -- past and present -- to endorse Lorena: San Diego Mayor Bob Filner; National City Mayor Ron Morrison; former Chula Vista Mayors Greg Cox, Stephen Padilla and Tim Nader; and Former National City Mayor Nick Inzunza have all endorsed Lorena as well.

She has also been endorsed by Congressman Juan Vargas, State Senator Ben Hueso and several other Democrats, Independents and Republicans. A full endorsement list can be found at

Gonzalez is a candidate to replace State Senator Ben Hueso in the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the City of San Diego neighborhoods of San Ysidro, City Heights, Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Otay Mesa, Paradise Hills and Golden Hill. The special election for the 80th Assembly District is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21.
Learn more about Lorena’s campaign at  or by e-mail

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Statement by San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez On Immigration Bill

SAN DIEGO - Today’s announcement of a roadmap to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring Americans is a testament to the unstoppable momentum in our country around creating a just and compassionate immigration process.

San Diego’s labor movement is committed to mobilizing our community to ensure that we will have a roadmap to citizenship in 2013.

As may be expected in a first response to an issue as complex as immigration, there are details in the bill that could cause unintended, but serious, harm to immigrant workers and the broader labor market. We still have much work to do to fix these aspects and mobilize our community to ensure we have the best, most comprehensive and inclusive bill possible.

Our work does not stop now, not when our families and communities continue to be torn apart. Workers who stand up for themselves in the workplace are being deported by employers while DREAMers watch as their parents are seized out of their arms. We call for an immediate moratorium on deportations of people who will soon be eligible for a roadmap to citizenship.

All people want to create opportunities for ourselves and our families. Working people in San Diego and around the country believe in hard work, in the dignity of all work, and in respect for one another. What unites us as Americans is our belief in shared values and in the country we call home, not where we were born.

We will not stop until our sisters and brothers, neighbors and co-workers, and fellow community members can live and work with dignity and without fear.

Together with our allies in the immigrant rights movement, faith groups and community partners, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and the more than 200,000 working families it represents are committed to fighting for justice for all working people. The time for citizenship is now.


San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council

The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO includes 135 affiliated labor groups in the region with a membership of more than 200,000 working families. Founded in 1891, the Labor Council advocates for more jobs, better jobs and better lives for all of San Diego’s workers – union and non-union.

Weber’s Bill to Protect Providers of In-Home Supportive Services Passes the Assembly Health Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA- Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber’s (D-San Diego) AB 784, which would establish a 13-member advisory committee to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act on health care benefits for In-Home Supportive Services, providers passed the Assembly Public Safety  Committee on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 with a 13-4 vote.

California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program pays for services to help qualified individuals remain safely at home. Currently it is unclear how the Affordable Care Act will affect the IHSS provider-employer relationship for purposes of providing health care benefits to IHSS providers.

“An advisory committee dedicated to determining the appropriate employer for purposes of providing health benefits will ensure that there is a clear delineation as to who is responsible for providing health benefits to providers of in-home support services,” said Assemblymember Weber.

AB 784 is sponsored by the United Domestic Workers and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. AB 784 will next be heard in the Assembly Human Services Committee on April 30, 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

California Democratic Party Endorses Lorena Gonzalez

State Party Endorsement Caps Support From Major Democratic Leaders and Organizations in South Bay Assembly Race

SACRAMENTO – (Monday, April 15, 2013) – The California Democratic Party has endorsed pro-jobs Democrat Lorena Gonzalez in the May 21 special election for the 80th Assembly District.
The endorsement was announced at the 2013 California Democratic Party State Convention held in Sacramento this weekend. The announcement followed a unanimous vote by party delegates in the 80th District last week to endorse Lorena, a lifelong Democrat who has garnered support from every Democratic club in the region as well as nearly every major Democratic elected official in the 80th Assembly District.

"California needs more women in the state legislature, and who better than Lorena Gonzalez -- a woman who has dedicated her life to advocating for more jobs, better jobs and a stronger middle class," California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said.

Lorena has been previously endorsed by several Democratic Party clubs in the district, including the Chula Vista Democratic Club, San Diego County Young Democrats, the Chicano Democratic Association, the South Bay Democratic Club and the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club.

She has also been endorsed by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Congressman Juan Vargas, State Senator Ben Hueso and several other Democratic elected officials. A full endorsement list can be found at

Gonzalez is a candidate to replace State Senator Ben Hueso in the 80th Assembly District, which includes Chula Vista, National City and the City of San Diego neighborhoods of San Ysidro, City Heights, Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights, Otay Mesa, Paradise Hills and Golden Hill. The special election for the 80th Assembly District is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21.

Learn more about Lorena’s campaign at  or by e-mail