The Toni Times | October 2020

October 1, 2020

A Note from Toni


Ever since we lost our national treasure, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I have been touched and moved by the tributes that have come her way: the flowers from ordinary citizens that have piled up outside the Supreme Court. The stories from fellow judges and clerks about her diligence and compassion in approaching the law. The people lined up for hours just to pay their respects. Social media has also been filled with posts in her honor—including some of my favorites, the ones pointing out that the best way for us to pay tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg is to vote. One of the reasons it is so important for us to vote is to counter the misinformation and intimidation that we are seeing deployed against people who are simply seeking to exercise this most basic right.

With the election fast approaching, there are several things we can do to make sure our vote is counted. First, of course, is registering. The deadline to register for the November election is October 19. California law does allow voting by provisional ballot for people who register after that deadline, but there’s no time like the present to sign up and get it done. The San Diego County Registrar of Voters website has a lot of valuable information on how to vote safely and securely, including the latest word on County ballot dropoff locations, and how to track your ballot to make sure it has been recorded.

California has also taken steps to protect survivors of domestic violence and stalking who want to register to vote, but need to keep their home addresses hidden. If someone you know is part of California's confidential address program, Safe at Home, or you know someone who should be, please share with them that there are ways to register to vote confidentially. The Safe At Home program has a toll-free hotline (877) 322-5227 for more information about registering and about this important program in general. I think Justice Ginsburg herself would be pleased at this ability of survivors to reclaim and exercise rights that others would have denied them. And that reminds me of maybe my favorite post that I’ve seen about her: When you vote, tell them Ruth sent you!


P.S. Looking for even more ways to honor all that RBG stood for? Volunteer to be a poll worker this year—there are ways to serve safely even during this pandemic, and you can help ensure the rights of others are being upheld at this critical time in our nation’s history. You can sign up here.


2020 Skivvies for Stand Down


Veterans Village of San Diego’s annual Stand Down event is one of the yearly programs I most look forward to, because it offers veterans who are struggling with homelessness a chance to access services, connect with others, get a reprieve from the challenges they face each day, and find a path towards getting out of homelessness.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the donation drive and Stand Down have been truncated and modified so that all involved can stay safe. While we typically collect in-kind donations for a few weeks, this year we are asking all who are able to donate “skivvies" for Stand Down during one day – Friday, October 9 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Drop off information is detailed below. VVSD is seeking donations of new men’s and women’s underwear, and men’s shoes, sweatpants, sweatshirts, jeans, and outerwear. VVSD does not need women’s clothing (aside from underwear) at this time.

Stand Down, which is typically held over the course of a weekend, will also take place during one day – Sunday, November 22. The annual event may be shorter than usual, but homeless veterans and their families will be able to access the same critical services and supplies they rely on each year.

Stand Down is currently seeking volunteers to help pre-sort the donations in the weeks leading up to Nov. 22, and is looking for volunteers to help on the day of the event. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can apply by clicking here.

I hope you’ll join me in this incredible opportunity to help hundreds of veterans and military families who are experiencing homelessness.

VVSD Stand Down Drive-Thru Clothing Drive Details:

What: New men’s and women’s underwear, and men’s shoes, sweatpants, sweatshirts, jeans, and outerwear. (While your generosity is appreciated, no cash donations will be accepted.)

  • Please attach a note to your donation with your name, address, phone number, and “Senator Atkins” written on it.

When: Friday, Oct. 9 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Veterans Village of San Diego, 4141 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92110.

  • Donors can drive into the employee parking lot by the railroad tracks and proceed to the back where volunteers will safely assist you. Please stay in your car during the drop off.


Protecting Renters and Small Landlords


The COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty has created significant challenges for workers and businesses struggling to make their monthly rent and mortgage payments. If you’re experiencing a financial hardship due to the pandemic and are worried that you may lose your home, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief and Housing Act could protect you. To see if this law applies to your situation, visit—a new website with guidance, forms, and helpful resources for homeowners, tenants, and landlords navigating their options during this difficult moment.

The COVID-19 Tenant Relief and Housing Act, which took effect on September 1, provides eviction-relief until February 1, 2021 to renters who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. It is important to understand that renters are still required to pay at least 25 percent of their rent during that time and will ultimately be responsible for paying all unpaid rent. In the meantime, this law alleviates some of the intense pressure working families are under due to circumstances out of their control. This law also protects landlords and homeowners who own four units or less by extending the Homeowners Bill of Rights’ anti-foreclosure protections and provides guidance to banks who are offering forbearance options to homeowners and landlords.

My colleagues and I remain committed to continuing our work to address California’s housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.


The One-Year Anniversary of Free Senior Pet Adoption Day


Last October, I had the honor of serving as Acting Governor while Governor Gavin Newsom and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis were both out of the state. One of the actions I took was in partnership with the Acting First Dog, Joey, who wanted to make sure other pets were as lucky as he is.

I exercised my temporary authority to declare October 12, 2019 “Free Senior Pet Adoption Day” in partnership with the San Diego Humane Society, and we covered the adoption fees for pets who were at least 7 years old. It was a success – four cats and nine dogs found new homes.

One of those lucky pups was Little Rambo. His mom Jessica was more than happy to give us an update on his past year.

Rambo (who was then called “Jerry”) is described as a “spunky” 8-year-old who is enjoying his new life and family. 

“After a few weeks he was fitting in perfectly at our home,” Jessica said. “Rambo enjoys long evening walks, treats and playing with his stuffed toys. He also likes to wear hats or get his Mohawk colored with chalk during his grooming appointments. He is a real lover and we are so happy to have him in our loving home. He is living his best life. Thanks for such a great dog.”

If you decide to honor Adopt-A-Dog Month this October by adding a new member to your family, please consider a more mature pet. Senior pets are often trained, calm, and less demanding. One thing Joey and I both agree on is that there are more benefits to adopting a senior pet than you can count on one paw!


To Our Brave Firefighters, Fire Crews


With over 8,000 fires and more than 3.6 million acres burned, there can be no mistaking that California is experiencing a wildfire season of unprecedented proportions. Since mid-August, over 18,200 California firefighters have been deployed to the front lines to battle the blazes threatening our homes and businesses, and polluting our air. Working under dangerous conditions with little rest or time with loved ones, these brave responders put themselves in harm's way to protect us all. Some, like San Diego's own Charles Morton, have tragically lost their lives. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the San Diego area firefighters, law enforcement and first responders who have worked tirelessly and traveled so far from home to keep Californians safe. Thank you also to the brave Conservation Corps and CDCR fire crews, as well as our state and federal partners, for their hard work to limit the impacts of this historic wildfire season.


Cataloguing Our History


For a long time, achievements made by the LGBTQ community were not recognized or celebrated, let alone included in history books. I am grateful that I have witnessed a shift in that attitude in my lifetime. Now, each October, we take a month to honor the vast contributions our LGBTQ siblings have made to society. This year, I would like to highlight the work San Diego’s own Lambda Archives is doing to record our milestones, document our struggles, and catalogue our progress. Their diligent work will ensure we are not overlooked or forgotten. This LGBTQ History Month, I encourage you to check out their digital collection at


Social Media Corner

Top Tweet
View on Twitter
Top Tweet
Top Instagram
View on Instagram
Top Instagram

Top Facebook Post
View on Facebook
Top Facebook Post