California & Bay Area Funding Pour in to Document Anti-Asian Sentiment, Hate Crime

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

California lawmakers approved $1.4 million in funding Monday that’ll pay for the study and documentation of xenophobia and hate crimes against Asian Americans amid the pandemic.

The state funds were secured by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, through the passing of AB 85, which provides additional resources for California’s ongoing pandemic response.

“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming,” Ting said in a statement Monday. “But, we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer.”

California Legislature Approves $1.4 Million in State Funding To Help Address Surge of Hate and Xenophobia Directed toward Asian Americans

California Legislature Approves .4 Million in State Funding To Help Address Surge of Hate and Xenophobia Directed toward Asian Americans In response to the recent wave of hate incidents targeting Asian Americans, California lawmakers today approved $1.4 million in state funding to bolster the research and reporting work underway that is tracking this concerning trend. The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (APILC) lauds the efforts of Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, who secured the appropriation as part of AB 85, a fiscal measure providing additional resources for California’s ongoing pandemic response.

“The history of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the United States has been punctuated by times of racism and hate including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americas in World War II, the murder of Vincent Chin, hate crimes against Sikhs after 9/11, and most recently, attacks and murder of API seniors incited by racist rhetoric about the COVID pandemic,’ said Dr. Richard Pan, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “I am grateful that California will be funding data collection and research at UCLA to address racism and hate against the API community thanks to the leadership of Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting.”

Asian Americans have been wrongly blamed for the coronavirus and have increasingly been subjected to racist behavior. As cases escalated, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting website nearly a year ago. They have been tracking incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination and child bullying against Asians and Pacific Islanders in California and the United States. In the last month, the Bay Area has particularly seen more and more attacks directed toward seniors – one 84-year-old man died as a result of his injuries.

“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming. But, we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer,” said Ting.

Through 2020, more than 2,800 incidents have been logged. Of that, more than 1,200 occurred in California. It is widely believed the numbers are under-reported, as many victims distrust the government and are reluctant to come forward.

Nonetheless, tracking is still important and the new state funding ensures that continues. Data is critical for law enforcement and our community as they try to put a stop to the violence. The information gathered will help us move past this dark chapter in American history, spurring accountability and action to bring about justice and peace.

AB 85 awaits the Governor’s signature.

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Ting Introduces Second Chances Bill Helping Millions of Californians

Ting Introduces Second Chances Bill Helping Millions of CaliforniansMillions of Californians face barriers to employment, housing and education because of old arrests and convictions, increasing the likelihood of recidivism. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 1308, legislation that would automatically clear criminal records for people already entitled to such treatment under current law. Many don’t go through the existing process because it’s burdensome and expensive.

“California believes in rehabilitation and invests heavily in programs that give incarcerated people a second chance. Yet after they’ve paid their debt to society and are released, they’re trapped in a ‘paper prison.’ They cannot find work, a place to live or go to school,” said Ting. “We can easily help them get back on their feet and lead productive lives by making it easier for them to automatically clear their records.”

AB 1308 builds upon a recent law that Ting championed in 2019, providing automated records relief for certain convictions occurring January 1, 2021 or later once individuals have served their sentences and completed probation; it also applies to arrests that did not result in a conviction. The new proposal, sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice and Prosecutors Alliance, would make the policy retroactive to arrests and convictions starting from 1973, opening doors to a fresh start for millions more people.

More Homeowners Can Be Part of the Solution to CA’s Housing Crisis Under Ting Proposal

Sacramento – California has long known Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) can boost the state’s affordable housing supply, forging legislation in recent years to make them easier and less expensive to build. Commonly known as casitas, backyard cottages, granny flats and in-law units, ADUs enable homeowners to generate rental income or keep family, like aging parents, close by – both desirable benefits, especially during a pandemic.

However, ADU construction loans are often difficult to secure. Under AB 561 introduced today by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the state would create a financing program for homeowners who don’t typically qualify for traditional loans so they, too, can experience the advantages of property additions and be part of the solution to California’s housing crisis.

“The number of ADUs has skyrocketed, as a result of our new laws that have encouraged their growth. But the flurry of activity is mostly happening in wealthier areas,” said Ting. “In the name of equity and fairness, we must extend this opportunity for rental income and increased housing supply across all neighborhoods.”

ADU ExamplesWith changes like lower fees, faster approvals and bans on parking and minimum lot size requirements, ADU permits in California jumped 11-fold from 2017-2019. However, an August 2020 study by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center found much of that production occurred in places where home values or rents are high. AB 561 would help extend the reach of ADUs beyond those areas, paving the way to greater adoption in more parts of the state.

Ting’s proposal is estimated to create an additional 50,000 homes over five years. The advantage of ADUs is the speed with which they can be built, and why more states and cities are embracing them as a meaningful housing solution. Units can be up and running in a few months; in contrast, a new complex or subdivision takes years.

AB 561 is expected to be heard in committee this spring.

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Ting Statement on First Report From the Committee On Revision of the Penal Code

Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) released the following statement regarding the first report issued by the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code, established by the Budget Act of 2019:

I have long advocated for a more fair and just criminal justice system, successfully enacting legislation that created an avenue for resentencing, a diversion program for first-time misdemeanor offenders and a new standard for the elderly parole program. Clearly, we have more work to do, and this new report gives us a road map that keeps California moving toward equity. Changes to our laws and the way we hand out punishment can be made without sacrificing public safety, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in pursuit of the committee’s recommendations.

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Ting Statement On Lowell High School Vote

Ting Statement On Lowell High School Vote

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), a parent of two children attending San Francisco public schools, released the following statement prior to today’s board vote on the future of Lowell High School’s merit-based admissions policy:

Every San Francisco Unified School District student deserves the same academic rigor and foundation that has helped numerous Lowell graduates succeed. But every Lowell student also deserves a safe, inclusive place to learn, which is why I condemn recent and past instances of racism that have occurred at the school and hope students’ demands for change are taken seriously. We can achieve both standards by focusing on equity, ensuring students of all backgrounds have access to and can experience similar educational opportunities. Rather than eliminating Lowell’s merit-based admissions policy, let’s continue to reshape its culture and replicate its academic success across all of SFUSD’s high schools, so every student has the necessary tools to follow their dreams.

EDD Mishandled California Unemployment Claims, Auditor Says

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

In a scathing report, California’s auditor said the state Employment Development Department flubbed handling the deluge of unemployment claims triggered by the pandemic, leaving the door open for massive fraud while forcing many legitimate claimants to struggle for benefits.

The agency now is likely to be swamped trying to fix its mistakes, while many Californians may be forced to repay benefits EDD failed to adequately monitor, the report said.

The 78-page report’s title summed it up: “EDD’s poor planning and ineffective management left it unprepared to assist Californians unemployed by COVID-19 shutdowns.” EDD knew for years that its claim process and call center were plagued by problems and failed to prepare for an economic downturn, the report said.

State lawmakers, who are besieged by constituents desperate to get their benefits, said the auditor validated what they had observed.

“Government is supposed to be there for its people, especially now when they need help the most,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “Based on that metric alone, EDD has failed to deliver, and the state audit confirms that. ... Ongoing delays have had real-life consequences, resulting in people unable to put food on the table or pay their rent.”

CA Lawmakers Grill Bank Of America Over Its Handling Of Massive EDD Bank Card Fraud

Publication: KPIX/CBS 5 San Francisco

Lawmakers are turning up the spotlight on the massive Employment Development Department (EDD) and Bank of America problems relating to unemployment insurance benefits.

For the first time, Bank of America officials addressed the issues publicly in a budget subcommittee hearing.

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“We are dealing with something unprecedented, criminals are sitting on a cache of stolen identities for some time and waiting for an opportunity to jump,” said Bill Fox of Bank of America.

“Wait times to call centers are one minute with the tail being between one and five minutes,” said Faiz Ahmad, Managing Director of Transaction Services, Bank of America.

“What you said does not reflect the experience of constituents that have called my office. I feel like my staff should get reimbursed for time spent doing your job. We’re not paid to do your job,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco.