Summer Sizzle at the Capitol

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Chiang to Governor: “Not so fast” California’s highest-ranking API elected official, State Controller John Chiang, may have surprised the Governor when Chiang publicly challenged his intention to reduce all state employees’ earnings to minimum-wage level until the budget crisis is resolved. Chiang took immediate action to protect state employees’ earnings by declaring his intention to ignore the Governor’s executive order. As the state’s chief fiscal officer, Chiang — not the Governor — has the ultimate authority to issue state paychecks.

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Hon. Betty Yee on education: Anyone interested in what’s happening to education in California should get a copy of the July 18 issue of the The Sacramento Bee. Betty Yee’s commentary on California’s public education system in crisis, citing a projected 24 percent high-school drop-out rate, was brilliant. Yee, a member of the State Board of Equalization, was considered one of the most highly regarded policy consultants during her days at the state capitol.

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Governor’s judicial appointments: Two new API judicial appointments recently made by the Governor included Stuart Hing, appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court, and L. Jackson Lucky IV, a Korean American appointed to the Riverside County Superior Court. However, the governor’s record of API judicial appointments continues to disappoint the community.

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C.C. Yin, founder and president of the API Public Affairs Association, and the group’s judicial advisory committee (including Dale Minami, Edwin Prather, and Angela Oh), should be acknowledged for their efforts to recruit potential API judicial candidates. Consultant Jeanette Dong continues to work closely with the Governor’s appointment staff, assisting with outreach efforts as well as reminding them of the need to appoint more API candidates.

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Assemblyman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), who led the charge for more diversity in judicial appointments, vows to continue this effort by using the legislative channel to demand more transparency and accountability of the judicial appointment process.

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Governor fares better with administration appointments: The Governor recently appointed Teresa (Teri) Takai as the State Chief Information Officer, a cabinet appointment. This is the first time in California’s history there are two APIs serving in cabinet positions, Takai and A.G. Kawamura, Secretary of Agriculture. The Governor also appointed the highly respected civil rights attorney Phyllis Cheng to head up his Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing.

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Catherine “Ofa” Mann of Elk Grove became the first Pacific Islander to be appointed to the California Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs Commission. Ofa, a member of Sacramento’s Council of Asian Pacific Islanders Together for Advocacy and Leadership and Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association, has been an activist and community leader representing the Pacific Islander communities for decades. She is currently the founding president of the non-profit To’utupu’oe’Otu Felenite Association of Sacramento.

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Top API talent joins Obama campaign: Elizabeth (Betsy) Kim has been tapped to assist Charmaine Manansala as the Deputy Director in charge of Obama’s API campaign efforts. Kim is on loan from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), where she represents the highest-ranking API management staff in charge of issues-based outreach efforts to the committee’s core constituencies. She was also a former appointee of the Clinton administration.

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API Democrats launch first major fundraiser for Obama: A July 29 luncheon reception at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington was the largest gathering of APIs to meet with presidential candidate Barack Obama to date. Members of Obama’s API finance committee and the DNC API Caucus coordinated the event. National co-chairs of his finance committee include Vinod Khosla, Sohaib Abbasi, Romita Shetty, Nasser Ahmad, Mahinder Tak, Bel Leong-Hong, Scott Oki, Terrence Yang and Stanley Toy.

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It’s a welcome phenomenon to see a broader range of API community groups come together to fundraise under one umbrella. This unity can only strengthen the voice of API as a whole.

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Advice to the Obama and McCain campaigns: Immigration is not considered a top priority issue on the campaign trail these days. However, according to a New America Media report, immigration is still a critical “wedge” issue for the Latino and Asian American communities. The backlog of visas for immigrants who are awaiting the legal process to gain entry into this country and reunite with their families is estimated to be a staggering four million.

How the presidential candidates handle this issue can impact key states with large Latino populations, such as Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida. API voters can make a difference in key states including Hawai‘i, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and New York.

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Capitol Academy contact information correction …

For applicants inquiring about the API Legislative Caucus Institute Capitol Academy 2009 program, the correct address is:

P.O. Box 189488
Sacramento CA 95818
and the e-mail address is
capi.institute@yahoo.com.

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