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By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ | California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

A day after Darrick Hamilton testified before the California task force to study and develop redress proposals for African Americans, the panel decided it would not enter into a contractual deal with the famous economist. .

Seven members of the nine-member panel voted to move forward without Hamilton. Two appointees, Loyola-Marymount psychology professor Dr. Cheryl Grills and UCLA law professor Lisa Holder abstained.

Group chairman Kamilah Moore said Hamilton had informed the working group that it should reduce the responsibilities of its role, ranging from advising on calculations and methodology, to a “renewed or narrower scope of work” .

“I feel the work is inseparable,” Moore said before the vote.

Hamilton was to bring an economic perspective to the group’s work, help quantify past economic injustices African Americans have faced in the state and elsewhere, and determine what or how much compensation should be for black people living in California.

California Governor Gavin Newsom enacted the landmark state reparations bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, in 2020. Former Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) drafted the bill before being appointed and sworn in as the first African-American Secretary of State in January 2021.

AB 3121, titled “The Task Force to Study and Develop Redress Proposals for African Americans,” established a nine-member commission to investigate the history of slavery in the United States, the extent of California’s involvement in slavery, segregation and the denial of black citizens their constitutional rights.

In October, the task force approved the appointment of Hamilton, professor of economics and urban policy at the New School in New York.

According to section F of section 2, 8301.1, of the legislation, Hamilton would have been responsible for affixing “what form of compensation should be granted, by what instruments and who should be eligible for such compensation”.

The contract would have paid Hamilton $ 90,000 for the scope and duration of his work, Moore said. But the reduced allocation requested by the economist reduces his compensation to $ 45,000.

“Fast-forward to Dec. 7), Dr. Hamilton basically communicated to the task force that if he is still able to deliver Section F, he will no longer be able to deliver Section E,” Moore said. . “That would be doing the real math of what any compensation should be. He meant that there were not enough resources present in the given contract, he felt that he did not have enough time, and he also pointed out the clarity issues on how to deal with this part. Bill.

Hamilton told the task force that there was a misunderstanding about the work he could provide.

“I don’t think we had complete clarity when the (Department of Justice) made their presentation in October or September,” Hamilton said. “With F, I have great clarity given the time constraints as well as the potential budgets that are available.”

Michael Newman, the senior assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Enforcement section of the California Department of Justice, said the Department of Justice was still in negotiations with Hamilton ahead of the fifth task force meeting and that no contract had been signed.

“To my knowledge, he did not perform any work reimbursable under the contract. The contract was not signed, ”Newman said. “Other than sort of defining the project, doing the initial assessment, or preparing his testimony, he didn’t do anything about the project. I think he’s built up some probably refundable time in his initial prep, but we’ll have to talk about that.

Hamilton, a leading national authority on race and public policy, has been involved in the development of progressive policy proposals, such as the Baby Bonds, which are trust accounts for low-income children funded by the taxpayers.

Hamilton is also a supporter of the Federal Job Guarantee, a policy that would require the government to provide employment to anyone who needs it. These initiatives have garnered national media attention and have served as inspiration for legislative proposals across the country at federal, state and local levels.

In his defense, Grills said that Hamilton’s knowledge, intellect and skills are by no means “limited”. Hamilton is more than capable of getting the job done, she explained, and said he wanted to make sure Sections E and F are completed thoroughly.

“I think he’s trying to warn us about what it really takes to do a careful set of calculations aligned with how we define some of the factors and understand the costs,” Grills said. “He is cautious about what to do and doing it in a way that minimizes the negative feedback we will get about anything we do.”

With five meetings on the agenda, Moore said the task force would consider the services of William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. He is also Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University.

Darity’s research focuses on racial, class, and ethnic inequalities and the economics of stratification; education and the racial achievement gap; North-South theories of trade and development; and economics of repairs.

Darity and Kirsten Mullen, co-authors of the book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century,” testified before the task force at the first meeting in June.

Task Force member Don Tamaki said Darity absolutely had “stature” in terms of notoriety and came up with a number in his and Mullen’s book “ranging from $ 9 trillion to $ 14 trillion. dollars ”in terms of repairs.

As Grills did, Tamaki also warned that it doesn’t matter who does the work for 8301.1 Sections E and F. The report will have a backlash, he said.

“The report is going to be criticized, looked at and really taken apart,” Tamaki said. “So he really has to be a top-notch expert in this area.


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Patrick F. Williams