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March 21, 2018
Kamala Harris Shops a Book, GOP Aims for César Chávez Birthday, and Sonia Sotomayor Honored by DVF 
The man police believe was behind the series of bombings that rocked Austin, TX for the past 19 days took his own life by blowing himself up as SWAT officers approached his car. But was he working alone? Police are still investigating. Donald Trump yesterday congratulated Vladimir Putin for his victory in the Russian presidential election. According to White House leaks, the congrats were against the advice of aides, who had reportedly written, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” on his notes. The president and WH Chief of Staff John Kelly are now reportedly enraged that someone leaked the news, and the pair has the inner circle singing Shaggy: “it wasn’t me.” Meanwhile, a porn star, a playmate, and a reality TV contestant are all in court battling to tell their story on their own terms about their respective relations and interactions with Donald Trump. As the world turns … To the Hill. Congressional Republicans missed another target to unveil a $1.3 trillion spending bill, as talks continued early Wednesday with just days remaining for House and Senate votes to avert a third government shutdown this year. The new target? By noon today. Current government funding expires at the end of the day Friday. And yesterday during a hearing on Puerto Rico, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) followed Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón’s (R-PR) testimony by exclaiming, in his southern drawl, to the next witness that “it’s refreshing to finally have a witness who doesn’t have an accent.” True story. To the tube. Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a longtime analyst for Fox News, told colleagues he is done with the network he says has become “a propaganda machine” for Trump. In campaign news, a 70-year-old Holocaust denier described as a Nazi by the Illinois Republican Party, won the Republican primary on Tuesday in the state’s Third Congressional District -- a heavily Democratic district that includes part of Chicago and its suburbs. See who else won in the state’s primary below. Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is expected to announce his appointment of state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace retiring Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), who will resign next month. And on this day in 1965, two weeks after Bloody Sunday, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) started his march from Selma to Montgomery to continue the drive for voting rights. The struggle continues. The nation's capital is buried under a snowstorm while people in the Northeast corridor of the country enjoy a snow day. We’re kicking off the second day of spring with this...
  • Jesús “Chuy” García cruises to victory in race to replace Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and is on a path to be first Mexican American to represent Illinois in Congress. Other diverse candidates in IL win. Read more below.
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) shopping around book amid speculation of a presidential run.
  • HUD Secretary Ben Carson tells congressional Committee to ask his wife about the dining set purchase.
  • NBC's Lester Holt changes party affiliation.
  • SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor to be honored by fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg.
  • GOP wants to co-opt César Chávez’s birthday for border control.
  • The Lily adds Mónica Castillo.
  • Dems want to stop funding for family separation at the border.
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) pushes WH on NDAs and wants answers from Secret Service on former Trump aide John McEntee.
  • Nilka Thomas to lead talent and inclusion at Lyft.
  • Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) presses Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on racial bias in school discipline.
  • There’s trouble at NABJ.
  • Michelle Obama's portrait is so popular it had to be moved. Check it out in Blogs.
  • Does Cali sound good amid this snowstorm? The California Bar Foundation is looking for an Executive Director!
Actor and comedian Michael Ian Black, The View's Sunny Hostin, and Dan Rather last week on the Running Late with Scott Rogowsky show.
Puerto Rico Representative Maricarmen Mas Rodríguez on Monday with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR).
Kamala Harris Shopping a Book
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) 
has been shopping a book around to a number of New York publishers, reports The Daily Beast. According to a copy of the proposal obtained by the news website, the Senator’s working title for the project is Speaking Truth: Hard Facts and Hope for America’s Future. The Senator’s Communications Director said, “Senator Harris has been encouraged by many people over the years to write a second book and is actively considering it.” But why this news piques the interest of political analysts is because an autobiography is often considered a precursor to a presidential run. Harris is considered a top contender for the office. According to reports, the book proposal casts Harris as a political underdog who has overcome numerous obstacles and expectations, including how she won a San Francisco district attorney race that people said was impossible to win. She also writes about racial bias and includes a story about a neighbor not being able to play with her at a young age “because her parents didn’t want her playing with Black kids.” And she deals with gender politics in the Senate, including instances in which her male colleagues have interrupted her line of questioning. Whenever the Senator publishes this book, it’s sure to be a bestseller and add fuel to the rumors that a White House run is in her future. More here.
GOP Wants to Co-opt César Chávez’s Birthday for Border Control
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has introduced a resolution which would declare March 31st, César Chávez’s birthday, “National Border Control Day.” In a statement, Gohmert said that “Cesar Chavez was best known for his passionate fight to gain better working environments for thousands of workers laboring in harsh conditions on farms for low wages. ... it was his firm belief that preventing illegal immigration was an essential prerequisite to improving the circumstances of American farmworkers; and in 1979, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., he demanded that the federal government enforce the immigration laws and keep illegal aliens out of the country. Therefore, it only seems appropriate to deem his birthday as, “National Border Control Day.”’ Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) took to Twitter to say that, “Cesar Chavez is a hero to millions. He repeatedly risked his own life to protect the lives of farmworkers. This resolution twists his legacy and it's a disgrace. @replouiegohmert needs to apologize.” See the full resolution here.
Rev. Al Sharpton, daughter Ashley, and activist DeRay Mckesson on Sunday at the Schomberg Center in NYC for a special taping.
Joy Villa on Monday at the Los Angeles Fashion Week showing off her vintage Cuba look.
Barbara Lee Presses Betsy DeVos on Racial Bias in School Discipline
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) had some pressing questions for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during Tuesday’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services hearing. Lee demanded to know why DeVos was reviewing policies meant to crack down on racial bias in school discipline. “For the same infraction, Black and brown students are disciplined and expelled at a much higher rate. That’s what you call racial bias and racism,” Lee said, citing Department of Education data. During two rounds of questioning on the issue, Lee was unsatisfied with DeVos’ answers that all regulations were under review and that she shared the value of all students being treated equally. When DeVos blamed the lack of Senate-confirmed staff on her failure to respond to a June letter from Lee on the matter, Lee responded: “Madam Secretary, you just don’t care much about civil rights of Black and brown children. This is horrible.” More here.
Dems Want to Stop Funding for Family Separation at Border
Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
and Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) led 58 of their fellow members of Congress in a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations in urging them to reject the separation of families at the border and instead restore funding for alternatives to detention, such as the Family Case Management Program. “Attorneys from around the country have communicated that family separation is currently occurring on a regular basis. We believe that the Administration is threatening to institute a blanket policy requiring the separation of all families. This is an inhumane practice that must end now,” wrote the members. “DHS must act with humanity and fiscal responsibility by prioritizing a spectrum of alternatives to detention, beginning by restoring the Family Case Management Program (FCMP).” See the full letter here.
Hoboken, NJ Mayor Ravinder Bhalla last week helping to open a Dunkin' Donuts in the neighborhood.
Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) last week meeting with an exchange student from Kazakhstan studying in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Lawmakers Push for Medicare Reimbursement Parity for Puerto Rico
Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR)
and Congressman José Serrano (D-NY) want Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to correct a “historic disparity” in reimbursements to healthcare providers in Puerto Rico under the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. In a letter, the lawmakers say the disparity in the reimbursement rate -- the island’s rate is 43% lower than the average on the mainland U.S. -- results in an exodus of doctors and a subsequent shortage of these healthcare providers on the island. “The MA program serves as the central pillar of Puerto Rico’s health care system,” the letter reads. “Despite the substantial reliance on the program, Puerto Rico has lost 20 percent of its MA funding in the last six years.” Puerto Rico has close to 580,000 MA beneficiaries, almost double that of any jurisdiction in the 50 states. The U.S. Department of Health is set to soon issue its final decision on MA reimbursements for 2019. More here (in Spanish).
Documents Show FEMA Ignored “Emergency Requests”
Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) want Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to compel the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to produce documents it has been withholding from the Committee for months -- especially in light of new documents showing FEMA’s failure to respond to “emergency requests.” In a letter to Gowdy, Cummings and Plaskett provided new documents showing that FEMA failed to respond to multiple emergency requests from major supermarkets seeking fuel to run generators to help prevent food from spoiling in the days immediately following Hurricane Maria -- including tons of fresh produce, dairy, and other perishable products that were desperately needed. “These new documents show that the government of Puerto Rico communicated these emergency requests directly to FEMA, including repeatedly conveying them in person and in writing,” they wrote. “Documents show that FEMA did not respond to requests for fuel as tons of desperately needed food went bad.  It is unclear whether FEMA had a plan to distribute emergency fuel that it failed to execute, or whether FEMA had no plan at all.” More here.
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) on Monday with her "F" rating pin from the NRA.
Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) meeting with members of the Los Angeles Unified School District to talk about education funding. 
Executive Director (San Francisco)
A state as diverse as California should have a justice system led by advocates of all races and ethnicities. That’s why the California Bar Foundation invests in the next generation of bright, diverse scholars to ensure that they have the opportunity to become tomorrow's legal changemakers. We’re looking for a bold and strategic Executive Director who isn’t afraid to think and act big to solve California’s equity problems. Click here to apply.
Ben Carson Faces House Appropriations Committee
So who’s exactly to blame for that  $31,000 dining set at HUD? According to Secretary Ben Carson: his wife. Carson told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday morning that he was too busy running the department to keep track of plans to purchase a new dining set and that he wasn’t “concerned” about the furniture. “If it was up to me, my office would probably look like a hospital waiting room,” he said to the committee. Carson said that when he was informed that the dining set needed to be replaced because a chair collapsed and someone was stuck by a nail, he asked his wife to help. When they were shown catalogs, Carson says he was unhappy with the options. “The prices were beyond what I wanted to pay. I made it clear that that just didn’t seem right to me,” he said. “I left it with my wife,” he told the committee. The next Carson heard about the matter was that a $31,000 dining set had been ordered and he said he immediately had it canceled. He also addressed inquiries about brochures that include guidelines for homeless shelters on how to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals that were taken off the HUD website last year. He explained that he and the HUD General Counsel were looking over the brochure to ensure the “equal rights for the women in the shelters and shelters where there are men and their equal rights.” Carson said, “We want to look at things that really provide for everybody and doesn’t impede the rights of one for the sake of the other. It’s a complex issue.” Asked how protecting the rights of transgender individuals could impact others’ rights, Carson said that “there are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and somebody who had a very different anatomy.” More here.

Cummings Pushes WH on NDAs and Wants More from Secret Service on John McEntee
Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Ranking Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on the Judiciary, respectively, want answers from the White House about the non-disclosure agreements senior staff reportedly had to sign. In a letter to WH Chief of Staff John Kelly, Cummings and Nadler requested documents relating to the gag orders. “If true, this report raises numerous concerns,” they wrote. “These confidentiality agreements could discourage White House employees from cooperating with the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The agreements could chill employees from disclosing violations of law, waste, fraud, and abuse to Congress. The agreements may also be inconsistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution and in violation of other federal laws, including the Consolidated Appropriations Act.” Cummings also wrote to Secret Service Director Randolph Alles requesting documents and information about John McEntee, Donald Trump’s former personal assistant, who was fired and immediately rushed out of the White House last week because of an unspecified security issue, reportedly, financial fraud. Read more about the NDAs here.
Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) with Jeff Owen, Executive Director of City Year Sacramento.
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) with a t-shirt from her hometown in Hawaii.
Illinois Voters Elect Diverse Slate of Candidates
Barack Obama 
alumna Lauren Underwood, the only woman and person of color on the ticket in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, defeated six rivals and clinched the Democratic nomination by collecting 60% of the vote. She will face incumbent Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL) in November. Jesús “Chuy” García won the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 4th Congressional District on Tuesday. He is expected to win the general election in November and will succeed Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), who announced his retirement in December.  Gutiérrez immediately endorsed García, who was challenged by nonprofit leader Sol Flores and police officer Richard González. García would be the first Mexican American to represent Illinois in Congress. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire philanthropist and venture capitalist, won the Democratic nomination for governor along with his Lt. Gov candidate Juliana Stratton who represents the 5th district in the Illinois state legislature. The pair will face first-term Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in November. And, Harvard-educated former Miss America Erika Harold won the Republican nomination in her race for Illinois Attorney General. See all the election results here.
Nilka Thomas to Lead Talent and Inclusion at Lyft
Lyft has brought on Nilka Thomas to join the company as its new Vice President of Talent and Inclusion. The University of Oregon grad will be tasked with overseeing recruiting, inclusion, diversity, and employee relations. Prior to joining Lyft, Thomas spent more than 10 years at Google -- most recently as the Director of Global Diversity, Integrity & Governance -- as part of their recruitment and business growth teams. Before joining Google, she was in the recruitment arena at Symantec, BigBand Networks, and Winstar Communications. Thomas is now the highest-ranking member of the Lyft team that is focused on inclusion and diversity. Lyft also announced that Sam Arons was joining the company as their new Director of Sustainability. Congrats, Nilka! More here.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor Honored by DVF
Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg will honor Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor with a Lifetime Achievement Award at her annual awards gala. The DVF Awards were created in 2010 by the designer and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to recognize and support women who are using their resources, commitment, and visibility to transform the lives of other women. Other honorees at the April 13th ceremony include ballerina and activist Misty Copeland, who will take home the Inspiration Award; Ariela Suster from El Salvador, the founder of the fashion and accessories brand Sequence, a social enterprise with the mission to disrupt the cycle of violence that limits at-risk youth, will receive the International Award; and Jaha Dukureh from The Gambia, who is CEO and Founder of the NGO “Safe Hands for Girls," which provides support to African women and girls who are survivors of female genital mutilation and child marriages, and addresses their lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences. She will also receive the International Award. More here.
Former Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu last week with Salt Lake City Mayor and congressional candidate Ben McAdams.
Tallahassee Mayor and FL gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum at a forum on Saturday in St. Augustine talking about the importance of the Black female vote.
Lester Holt Changes Party Affiliation
NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, the first African American to solo anchor a broadcast network evening news program, has switched his registration from Republican to “blank,” or no party, a New York State Board of Elections spokesman told Journal-isms on Monday. Holt’s party affiliation was a minor issue during the 2016 presidential campaign when then-candidate Donald Trump falsely stated that Holt, about to moderate Trump’s first presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, was a Democrat. Holt had been a registered Republican since 2003. Don’t look for the 59-year-old to moderate a debate again. Holt said he told a presidential debate commission to lose his number after moderating that debate. It was “incredibly gratifying to be a part of it," Holt said. It was watched by more than 84 million people, the largest audience for any presidential debate to date. Holt, however, still hasn't watched the record-setting event. More here.
The Lily Adds Mónica Castillo
Mónica Castillo has joined The Lily as a contract writer, where she will write quick takes of the news. The NYC-based Boston University grad -- who earned her Master’s at the University of Southern California as its first Film Criticism Fellow -- previously wrote and curated film entries for The New York Times’ Watching. Her work has also appeared in The Village Voice,, Cosmopolitan, Remezcla, NPR, and The Boston Globe. Fun fact: Mónica once hitchhiked to a red carpet event. Congrats, Mónica! More here.
Trouble at NABJ
Sharon Toomer, Executive Director of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), delivered a stinging five-page letter to NABJ board members peppered with accusations of “bad business culture” that she says are rampant enough to warrant recruiting an outsider “to facilitate the necessary organizational turnaround.” Toomer says that based on her firsthand experience and observation, [t]he board is not self-aware enough to recognize its own flaws or its contribution to perpetuating a profoundly troubled culture. She includes NABJ President Sarah Glover, a Social Media Editor for NBC-owned stations, in her accusations of unprofessional behavior in the letter obtained by Journal-isms. “One of my first observations as executive director was the disregard and abuse of national office staff,” Toomer wrote. “In fact, at my first introduction to national office staff, the board president berated staff in my presence for not making sure she was taken care of at her reception in New Orleans (at the 2017 convention.) It was a dehumanizing spectacle, and a show of abuse of power.” She went on to say, “Since I have been in this position, I have witnessed and observed conduct toward staff, members and even fellow board members that are disruptive, destructive and a disservice to the mission, necessity and value of this nonprofit organization. For example, a board and its leadership that [are] prone to undermining tactics and backbiting, which creates an environment where a lack of trust is pervasive, effectively compromising systems and infrastructure integrity throughout all organizational operations.” The board is scheduled to meet this weekend in Detroit, the site of its August 1st-5th convention. Toomer’s letter concluded, “As uncomfortable as this is to write and perhaps, for recipients to read, I wholeheartedly believe this is an opportunity to turn around this organization by doing the essential internal work required to be who and what we say we want to be.” More here.
Thursday, March 22nd, 3P: The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute holds a congressional briefing, “CHLI Tech Talk - How Innovation + Technology Impacts our Daily Lives.” Participants include Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX)Myrna Soto, Corporate Senior Vice President & Global Chief Information Security Officer at Comcast, is the keynote speaker. 902 Hart Senate Office Building. Click here for more information and to RSVP
Thursday, March 22nd, 5:30P: District Democrats House and Senate Chiefs of Staff Meet and Greet. A career development-focused event where junior staffers can talk with some of the Chiefs of Staffs and hear about how they climbed the Hill ladder. National Democratic Club, 30 Ivy Street, S.E. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
Thursday, March 22nd - Sunday, March 25th: The National Hispanic Medical Association 22nd Annual Conference, "Conquistando el Futuro: Clinicians Leading Latino Health Care.” Gaylord National, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD. Click here for more information and to register. Congressional staffers or federal government workers: email for a discount code.
Thursday, March 29th, 8P: Jazz, hip hop, and soul combine in August Greene, the newly formed supergroup featuring emcee Common, pianist and composer Robert Glasper, and percussionist and producer Karriem Riggins. Kennedy Center. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 9A: The National Civil Rights Museum's MLK 50 Symposium. Scholars, historians, and thought leaders from across the country will present on the state of civil and human rights issues including Moving Memphis Forward, Economic Equity & Justice for All, and The Promise of Education. Moderated by former NPR Host Michele Norris. Rose Theatre, University of Memphis, 470 University, Memphis, TN. Free. Click here to register.
Wednesday, April 18th, 6P: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) 2018 Gala and Awards. Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. To purchase tickets, contact Heaven Ocampo, or 213.629.2512 ext. 143. 
Wednesday, April 18th - Saturday, April 21st: The National Action Network hosts its annual conference, this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Sheraton Times Square, NYC. Click here for more information
Thursday, April 19th: The University of North Dakota sponsors a conference on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock protests. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, April 24th - Thursday, April 26th: The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Conference. The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, DC. Click here for more information and to register.
Wednesday, April 25th - Friday, April 27th: The African American Mayor Association 2018 Annual Conference. DoubleTree Hotel, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA. Click here to purchase tickets
Wednesday, June 6th - Saturday, June 9th: The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit. Charlotte, NC. More than 1,000 CEOs, investors, and business experts are expected to attend.Click here for more information and to register
Thursday, June 21st - Sunday, June 24th: The Black Millennial Political Convention, which aims to increase engagement of Black millennials in the political sphere and shed a light on policy issues impacting black communities. This year’s theme is The Advocacy of Policy, Pipeline and Power for the People. Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, VA. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Saturday, July 7th - Tuesday, July 10th: The 2018 UnidosUS annual conference, Marriott Marquis Hotel, DC. Click here for more information and to register.
Tuesday, July 17th - Wednesday, July 18th: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 2018 National Women’s Conference. Phoenix. Click here for more information and to register.
Wednesday, August 1st - Saturday, August 4th: The National Urban League 2018 Annual Conference “Save Our Cities: Powering the Digital Revolution.” Columbus, OH. Click here for more information and to register.
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