Newly in her current role, she developed a plan for a talk show specifically for residents of the Inland Empire. She wanted to have a non-partisan exploration of who governs the area, what they do and what motivates the legislation they support.
“That was my whole goal, just give people the facts so they know,” Leyva said at the KVCR recording studio Aug. 30. “After eight years in the Senate, I am fully convinced that no one has a clue what their elected officials do.”
As she worked out the details, she remembered the Joe Speak! interview.
“We got a $1 million grant from (Rep.) Pete Aguilar for ‘Inland Edition,’” she said. “Time was ticking for using it. I said, ‘I know just the right person.’”
Richardson is a busy attorney, though, Leyva said, so she initially planned for two co-hosts.
Her assessment was accurate. Richardson is representing plaintiffs in civil rights, employment and class action lawsuits, including in some high profile cases. He has a client suing the state of California for discrimination based on the disproportionately low funding Inland Empire superior courts get. He represents former employees alleging sexual harassment at California State University, San Bernardino. And he represents a car dealer in a civil rights suit against the San Bernardino Police Department.
But everything about this project was a good fit for him, he said in his Redlands office Aug. 31.
“One of our components in the racial-and-economic-justice practice is community contact, being in the front lines and informing the community about things that affect their lives,” he said. “I’ve always had a connection with the media. In the last couple years I’ve started to do television – Court TV, Law and Crime.”
Richardson’s work for racial and economic justice is his primary focus.
“I consider my media work an extension of that, so it was really a fit when Connie called me from KVCR and asked me to be the host of Inland Edition,” he said. “Its whole mission is to inform the public about what civic leaders do, locally and statewide. It’s what we’re (at MLG) trying to do anyway.”
On Aug. 30 the show’s guest was California State Treasurer Fiona Ma. She chatted easily with Richardson from a Green Room couch as his make-up was applied.
He explained he was going to focus on what she does as treasurer and how what she does affects the people of California, particularly in the Inland Empire.
“You can ask me anything,” she said.
She was holding a printout highlighting some programs she hoped to alert families about, and specifically said she wanted to promote The California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program on the air.
She consulted the paper and then said that as of Aug. 24, about 288,000 students in San Bernardino County are eligible to receive some of the $137.5 million CalKIDS provides toward education after high school.
She added that every baby born in the state after July 1, 2022, is eligible to receive up to $175. It is not based on need and can be used for any purpose.
This is exactly the kind of information the show is about, Leyva said. It’s informative, interesting and specific to the local area.
“We’re not doing ‘gotcha’ journalism here,” she said. “We’re talking about how our legislation matters to people.”
To serve that mission, Richardson has to do his homework.
“Before an interview I look up their public bios, learn what seem to be the issues their representation deals with,” he said. “When interviewing the county superintendent of schools, I look up what the issues are in our county’s education.
“I’m connecting the dots between their backgrounds and the institutional framework.”
So he knew when he arrived Aug. 30 that Ma, who is of Asian descent, started as an accountant and got into advocacy because she didn’t see a lot of people who looked like her doing the kind of work she was doing.
“Really journalism is a bit of a public version and published version of what we (lawyers) do every day,” he said. “We probe. We ask questions. Even if we take a side, we have to understand the other side, otherwise we’re gonna lose our case.”
Richardson, who in addition to his long career in law has served on the Redlands Planning Commission and has run for local office, is in his comfort zone talking about political jobs.
“Governance is laws,” he said. “They might be at the top of that framework, or have a part in it, but there’s a natural connection. I’m not asking them about litigations, but if a law is passed that affects the resources they provide, there’s a natural intersection.”
The first episode of “Inland Edition” aired Aug. 11 featuring California State Superindendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and is now available to stream on kvcr.org, as all episodes are after they debut on Fridays at 6 and 11 p.m. on Channel 24. Audio of the shows will be used on KVCR radio.
In total, 10 episodes have been filmed and four have aired.
Busy though he is, Richardson feels this project is rewarding.
“When you’re watching PBS, you’re not just watching to be entertained,” he said. “You’re watching to be informed. It’s truly a public service. We want to create an environment that allows young to old to be inspired to be informed.”[/wlm_private]