Editorial: Here's A Crime California Can Take Off The Books

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Jaywalking is one of those criminal offenses that many of us don’t think twice about committing. We need to cross the street, any approaching cars are a safe distance away, so off we trot from one side to the next mid-block.

Simple and straightforward — unless you have black or brown skin, or are for some other reason more likely to be cited for breaking a broadly ignored law. Then you can be singled out by a police officer itching to write a ticket. And citations aren’t cheap: The base fine set by California is a hefty $197.

The selective enforcement of jaywalking is the focus of a recently introduced bill by Assembly Member Phil Ting — legislation that is long overdue.

The measure, AB1238, would delete a provision in current law that “pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk” on blocks with traffic signals. Instead, it would emphasize that “a pedestrian shall not be subject to a fine or criminal penalty for crossing or entering a roadway when no cars are present.”

Federal Regulators Probe Bank of America's Handling of California Jobless Aid

Publication: Politico

Federal regulators are investigating Bank of America's handling of fraudulent activity on debit cards used to manage payments to California unemployment recipients, multiple sources with knowledge of the inquiry confirmed to POLITICO.

The probes by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency come as Bank of America and California’s unemployment agency face intense criticism for their response to widespread unemployment fraud. The state paid out billions of dollars to fraudsters in the past year while it, along with the bank, froze or suspended the accounts of legitimate claimants in response.

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Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said in an interview Tuesday that lawmakers who have asked for more information continue to be stonewalled by Bank of America. He said the bank "didn't tell the truth" when it claimed that it was promptly resolving fraud concerns on legitimate accounts.

Constituents have reported inconsistent responses from Bank of America, Ting said. Some have been able to unfreeze their accounts, he said, but far more have received little communication about their situations.

“For folks who got their accounts frozen, we have a very difficult time getting them unfrozen,” he said.

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San Francisco Legislator Visits Chinatown to Condemn Hate Crimes

Publication: Spectrum TV News - Southern California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's Asian American communities are on edge after an uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country, and state leaders are showing their support through statements of solidarity and a string of new legislation. 

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, is working together with the Chinese community to condemn hate in San Francisco's Chinatown.

"The only way we can really stop it is to work as a community and stand up and say enough is enough. This is unacceptable," he said.

Ting said Chinatown is the heart of the city's Asian American community and a place where elders should be able to feel safe.

"We need to make sure that they can go about their daily lives and not feel like they can't take their morning walks, not feel like they can't shop for groceries, not feel like they can't go about their everyday errands without getting accosted or potentially getting killed," Ting added.

Their Guns Should Be Taken Away, But California Is Falling Behind On Tracking Them Down

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

The list of California gun owners banned from possessing their weapons grew last year to a record size, as the backlog of cases in a state program to seize the firearms surged by 17% during the coronavirus pandemic.

The state Justice Department reported that it was actively trying to remove guns from 9,083 people at the beginning of 2021, an increase of 1,336 over the prior year — though fewer than in 2019, when Gov. Gavin Newsom significantly increased funding for the unique state confiscation program to help clear an enduring backlog.

The failure to get the backlog under control has frustrated both Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento for nearly a decade, and some are now pushing for changes to the program that could shift more of the work to the local level.

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“There’s a lot more efficient ways to do it,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the budget committee. He has pushed to have the state continue to coordinate the database while moving more of the enforcement to local law enforcement agencies.

“Unfortunately, the attorney general’s office wasn’t really willing to partner with local law enforcement,” Ting said.

One North County School Managed to Open and (Mostly) Stay Open

For several months, roughly 700 students have shown up to Bear Valley Middle School in Escondido twice a week for in-person learning. As others figure out how to slowly bring students back, schools like Bear Valley offer insight into how it could work.

Publication: Voice of  San Diego

It is a rare sight, especially for a public middle or high school in San Diego.

For several months, roughly 700 students have shown up to Bear Valley Middle School in Escondido twice a week for in-person learning. Half come Tuesdays and Thursdays and the other half, Wednesdays and Fridays.

School days and classrooms look different this year. School administrators check temperatures and screen students for coronavirus symptoms in the morning. Anyone with even a headache or runny nose is sent home. Students must enter campus at three different points, depending on their grade level.

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The state coronavirus funding package passed earlier this month that contained incentives is providing extra reopening motivation for schools, but even that aid is focused on elementary students. Districts with secondary grades, like middle and high school, only have to offer one grade level in-person instruction to qualify for the funds this year, in addition to identified vulnerable student groups like those experiencing homelessness.

During the bill’s hearings, some state legislators expressed concerns secondary students and their parents were being left behind.

“We needed to set a floor that we thought districts could reasonably achieve. … So, we needed something that was aspirational, but also achievable,” said state Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, chair of the Assembly budget committee and vocal critic of schools that have remained closed. “Of course, my preference would be to, you know, open middle schools up and if there is a safe way, to open up high schools. … I think we struck a balance.”

While others are just getting started and still struggling to figure out how to logistically make school reopenings work, districts like Escondido Union will easily qualify for the incentives and keep welcoming kids to school. ...

State Lawmaker Wants To Repeal California's Jaywalking Law, Cites Disproportionate Enforcement Against People of Color

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

The video shows two Orange County sheriff’s deputies wrestling on the sidewalk with a Black man they tried to stop for allegedly jaywalking across a San Clemente street in September. Minutes later, Kurt Andreas Reinhold, a 42-year-old father of two, was shot and killed.

In a cell phone recording of the confrontation, Reinhold can be heard asking, “Where did I jaywalk?”

Assembly Member Phil Ting of San Francisco wants to repeal the law that preceded these violent encounters.

On Thursday, the Democratic lawmaker unveiled AB1238, or the Freedom to Walk Act, which would decriminalize jaywalking across the state.

“Whether it’s someone’s life or the hundreds of dollars in fines, the cost is too much for a relatively minor infraction,” Ting said in a statement. “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”

Ting Proposes to Eliminate Jaywalking Tickets In California

New Bill Seeks Fairness and Prevents Potentially Escalating Police Stops for Jaywalking

Ting Proposes to Eliminate Jaywalking Tickets In California

Jaywalking is arbitrarily enforced throughout California. When it is cited, tickets are disproportionately given to people of color, and sometimes, these encounters with police turn life-threatening. In an effort to reform this unfair system, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced AB 1238, The Freedom To Walk Act, which would decriminalize jaywalking.

“Whether it’s someone’s life or the hundreds of dollars in fines, the cost is too much for a relatively minor infraction,” said Ting at a San Francisco press conference. “It’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians.”

AB 1238/The Freedom To Walk Act promotes the fair and equitable use of roadways by:

  • Legalizing crossings, when safe, outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic light
  • Stopping the undue financial burden on low-income violators, as fines can total hundreds of dollars, if not more, because of added fees tacked on by the court, county, city and other jurisdictions
  • Preventing police from using jaywalking as a pretext to stop Black and Brown people, especially since under-resourced neighborhoods often lack adequate crossing infrastructure

“Jaywalking laws do more than turn an ordinary and logical behavior into a crime; they also create opportunities for police to racially profile. A stop for harmless jaywalking can turn into a potentially life-threatening police encounter, especially for Black people, who are disproportionately targeted and suffer the most severe consequences of inequitable law enforcement,” said Jared Sanchez of the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike), sponsor of AB 1238.

While there are many examples of California cases in which a jaywalking stop has gone wrong, the most recent case occurred in September when San Clemente Police killed Kurt Reinhold. In the Bay Area, Chinedu Okobi was killed more than two years ago in Millbrae by San Mateo County deputies. And in 2017, Nandi Cain was beaten by Sacramento Police. The victims in each of these cases were African American, and video captured each incident.

The numbers behind police stops for jaywalking are just as telling. From 2018-2020, data compiled by the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) shows Black Californians are severely overrepresented when it comes to being stopped for jaywalking, up to four-and-a-half times more than their White counterparts.

Inflection Point: Bay Area Lawmakers, Community Condemn Anti-Asian Hate

Publication: KTVU / FOX 2 San Francisco Bay Area

A handful of Bay Area elected officials and community leaders gathered Monday in San Francisco's Portsmouth Square to denounce the wave of attacks against Asian Americans. 

"We have an epidemic of anti-Asian hate right now," said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).  

Assemblymembers Ting, David Chiu and state Senator Scott Wiener were joined by Asian community leaders for the news conference calling for an end the violence and urging people to report any incidents. 

"We are coming together, locking arm-in-arm," said Ting. "Saying as a community, not just an AAPI community, but as a California and San Francisco community, we’re saying no to hate."

San Francisco Adds Street Patrols in Asian American Neighborhoods

Publication: KCBS Radio/San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco’s mayor and police chief announced on Wednesday that more street patrols have been dedicated to the city’s Asian American neighborhoods.

The additional patrols come as unprovoked attacks are on the rise in the Bay area and nationwide, including a deadly shooting spree in Atlanta, which has not been ruled out as a hate crime against Asians.

San Francisco’s mayor and police chief announced on Wednesday that more street patrols have been dedicated to the city’s Asian American neighborhoods.

The additional patrols come as unprovoked attacks are on the rise in the Bay area and nationwide, including a deadly shooting spree in Atlanta, which has not been ruled out as a hate crime against Asians.

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State Assemblyman Phil Ting, who helped engineer wording into the State Budget to include $1.4 million to fund Stop AAPI Hate, told KCBS Radio's Jeff Bell and Patti Reising on Wednesday that more than just money is needed.

"These are not isolated incidents," he explained. "This is a systemic issue that we need a systemic solution for."

As far as increased patrols, Ting said properly coding hate crimes is a big step, as is breaking down systemic racism within neighborhoods.

"Police are part of the solution, but it’s really getting our communities together to stand with each other," Ting added. "The police physically can’t be everywhere at any given moment." ...