As head of Assembly’s new anti-gang committee, Caballero brings fresh approach to Sacramento.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Shortly after her arrival in Sacramento, Assemblywoman Anna Caballero was appointed to chair the newly-formed Select Committee on Youth Violence Prevention. It’s an important post for the freshman lawmaker, and one that the former Salinas mayor and head of Partners for Peace seems uniquely fit to chair.
Caballero says the committee will approach the issue from a unique public health angle—stressing prevention through early-childhood education, parenting classes, after-school programs, and leadership training for kids—rather than simply pursuing violence suppression.
“It’s absolutely novel,” Caballero says. “It’s the first time this has been done in Sacramento, but it’s what I did with Partners for Peace.”
On Friday, May 4, the select committee will hold its first hearing in Los Angeles. At press time, staffers were still finalizing the agenda and confirming speakers.
Meanwhile, one of Caballero’s related bills continues to work its way to the floor of the Assembly. On April 24, Caballero won unanimous support from the Public Safety Committee for AB 1033, which would create a misdemeanor penalty for any person who causes or induces a minor to become a member of a criminal street gang.
At the May 4 hearing, Caballero hopes to learn about best practices from prevention-oriented groups in Southern California. “First off, we’ll be looking at what’s the nature of the problem,” she says. “It’s pretty clear it’s all over the state. Santa Barbara just had a hearing on youth violence—you don’t normally think of Santa Barbara as a place with youth violence.
“In LA, we’ll look at the extent of the problem, statewide, and [ask], what is prevention? Many times they talk about prevention, and many times, they’re really talking about suppression.”
Originally, Caballero planned to hold hearings throughout the year, working with law enforcement organizations, local elected officials, educators, churches and other community groups to develop a “tool kit” of best practices that communities can apply. But then the work year shortened drastically. “It ended up that the speaker really wants a much more expedited approach, and for us to look at this year’s budget,” Caballero says.
On May 14, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his revised spending plan for 2007-08. This marks the start of frenzied negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor. Ideally, they’re finalized by midnight on June 30 in order to produce an on-time budget for the governor to sign.
And of course, Caballero and others would like to see the state’s spending plan include money for things like after-school programs and parenting classes, which she says would help prevent youth violence. Because of this, the committee will hold four hearing between now and June. Dates aren’t set, but they will be held in Los Angeles, Oakland, Salinas and Fresno.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ASSEMBLY SELECT COMMITTEE ON YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION, OR TO VIEW THE HEARING AGENDA FOR FRIDAY, MAY 4, VISIT DEMOCRATS.ASSEMBLY.CA.GOV/MEMBERS/A28/DEFAULT.ASPX.