Democrats Remain Mostly Silent About Senator Min’s DUI Despite More Evidence Of Guilt

Photos of Min at a Sacramento bar only hours before his arrest fuel calls for resignation, dropping out of Congressional campaign

Prominent California Democrats continued to not weigh in on the DUI of Senator Dave Min (D-Orange County) on Thursday, despite more details coming out proving his guilt in the matter.

While the released California Highway Patrol report, his arrest, booking for a misdemeanor DUI charge, and his subsequent release on Wednesday were all previously known to the public, new details released on Thursday filled in some of the mysteries of the incident. Twitter posts, including some by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-North Hollywood), showed Min at Sacramento bars with fellow Assembly Members, as well as lobbyists and realtors. In addition, he was tagged in posts and was mentioned to be indulging in the celebrations only hours before his arrest.

In addition, it is also now known that the Silver Toyota Camry he was pulled over in was a state car, perhaps worsening the situation he is currently in now.

While many lawmakers, political groups, and others weighed in on his DUI this week, with some even calling for him to resign or pull out of the 37th District Congressional race, Democrat lawmakers have remained largely silent on the situation.

Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) did give a brief statement saying, “Like Senator Min, we’re disappointed in his actions, but pleased that he’s taken responsibility and apologized.” However, as of Thursday evening, that has been the most any were willing to say.

Republicans have led the charge on questioning the DUI, calling on Democrats to comment on the DUI or ask some who have backed him in the Congressional race, such as state Attorney General Rob Bonta and Congressional Members Judy Chu, Mark Takano, and Andy Kim, if they are still backing him. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has been particularly adamant in getting responses on where lawmakers are siding with him.

“Katie Porter, Orange County Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can’t hide from questions about Dave Min’s drunk driving arrest for long. Come out, come out wherever you are, and tell the public if you think Dave Min is fit to serve in Congress.” said NRCC Spokesperson Ben Petersen on Thursday.

Political experts noted to the Globe on Thursday that many are currently in a “wait and see” mode, wanting to find out more about the incident before judging the DUI.

“A lot of Democrats want to hear more directly from him first,” explained Anne Otis, a Los Angeles Public Relations expert who specializes in political scandals. “They want to hear from him. If there is bodycam or dashcam footage, they want to see that. Some are even waiting to see how it plays out in court. In any case, the GOP can have a field day of this down the line. Judge gives Min a light sentence or even kinda waives it off, it can be a gold mine about how he cheated the system. He gets the book thrown at him, they can say that his DUI was that bad.”

“The real question is what the party will do. Everyone makes mistakes, and even Republicans said it was good that he took responsibility for his actions. But this was a DUI, something he had called out others on in the past about. He’s already running in a Congressional District that is essentially a tossup with a Republican candidate who nearly beat [Congresswoman Katie] Porter [D-CA] last year. He’s losing a lot of moderates with this, as well as some Democrats. And that’s not even mentioning voters who feel strongly about public safety or who have been victims of DUIs in the past. He’ll need a really good PR campaign to get out of this one, and his campaign is probably still trying to come up with something.

“In any case, Min is now even more at risk in the district, and we’re still 10 months away from the Primary.”

Click here to read the full article in California Globe

California Lawmakers OK Emergency Loans to Failing Hospitals

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Alarmed by the closure of a rural hospital earlier this year, California lawmakers on Thursday voted to loan $150 million to struggling medical centers in the hope of preventing a cascade of similar failures across the state.

The only hospital in Madera County closed in December, leaving the community of nearly 160,000 people with no medical center within a 30-minute drive. The closure was a startling reminder of the plight of many community hospitals in mostly rural areas of the country that have struggled to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, hospitals in El Centro, Montebello, Hawkins and Visalia have all teetered on the brink of collapse, with one declaring bankruptcy and another being taken over by a state university to prevent its closure. A report last month paid for by the California Hospital Association warned that 20% of the state’s more than 400 hospitals were at risk of closing.

California lawmakers typically don’t approve new spending until June following months of debate and negotiations with the governor’s office. But the crisis is so severe that legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to go ahead and spend this money now, pledging to do more later in the year when the budget is finished.

“I don’t think people are appreciating what’s going on out there. I am very worried,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, an industry trade group.

The pandemic upended hospitals across the country. While many were inundated with COVID-19 cases, patients for other things — like elective surgeries — dried up. Since then, rising inflation and labor costs have made it difficult for hospitals to recover.

In California, the problem has been compounded by an increase in the number of people who get their health care costs paid for by the government. The state’s Medicaid rolls increased dramatically during the pandemic, a combination of emergency rules to make the program more accessible and a decision by Democrats to make all low-income adults eligible for the program regardless of their immigration status.

While more people are on Medicaid, how much Medicaid pays hospitals has stayed the same. On average, for every dollar a hospital spends to care for someone, Medicaid gives it 74 cents back, Coyle said.

That’s a problem for hospitals like Kaweah Medical Center in Visalia, where most of its patients are on either Medicaid or Medicare. Nestled in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, the hospital serves a mostly agricultural community made up of low-income farmworkers.

Before the pandemic, the hospital would turn a modest profit of 3% or so each year, according to CEO Gary Herbst. But since 2020, Herbst said the hospital has lost $138 million. It has about $218 million in debt that a credit ratings agency recently downgraded to “junk” status.

The hospital is supposed to have at least 90 days of operating cash on hand at any time. Before the pandemic, the lowest it ever got was 110 days. At the end of March, it dropped to just 62 days. Herbst said the hospital has lost $39 million through the first nine months of the fiscal year, or more than it lost in all of last year combined.

Herbst said he hopes the hospital will break even next year because of various cost-cutting measures, including laying off about 200 people and cutting back on services. That includes cutting the number of elective procedures for Medicaid patients by 35% because, he said, on “every one of those procedures we lose money.”

“If you were an outpatient surgeon who did 10 elective (Medicaid) surgeries a month, you can only do six now. And you have to put your other patients on a waiting list,” Herbst said.

The state will give out the $150 million in the form of interest-free loans to nonprofit or public hospitals that meet certain conditions. The state will prioritize loans for medical centers in rural areas and those that have a disproportionate number of patients on Medicaid, the joint state and federal government health insurance program for the poor and the disabled.

The $150 million likely won’t be enough to fix the problem. Herbst, CEO of Kaweah Health Medical Center in Visalia, said his hospital needs $50 million — one-third of the money available — to give it “some breathing room.”

During legislative hearings this week, lawmakers pledged their intent to offer more money in June when the state budget is finished.

“This is just a beginning. It’s antiseptic ointment on the cut. We haven’t even started with the Band-Aid,” said state Sen. Anna Caballero, a Democrat whose district includes the Madera Community Hospital that closed.

But it’s unclear how much more the state could pay. The California Hospital Association has asked for a one-time payment of $1.5 billion. But California has a projected $22.5 billion budget deficit, limiting the state’s ability to approve new spending.

One idea is to bring back a tax on managed care organizations, private companies that administer the state’s Medicaid program. The tax triggers more Medicaid payments from the federal government. The last time it was in place, it saved the state $1.5 billion. The tax expired in 2020, but Newsom and some lawmakers want to bring it back.

The Newsom administration says it plans to use some of that new tax money to increase payments to hospitals for Medicaid patients. But those increases wouldn’t happen until next year at the earliest.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Title 42 Countdown: 700,000 Migrants in Mexico Waiting to Rush U.S. Border

As many as 700,000 migrants, a foreign population larger than Boston, Massachusetts, are currently in Mexico waiting to rush the United States-Mexico border when President Joe Biden ends the public health authority known as Title 42 on May 11.

In 2020, in the midst of the Chinese coronavirus crisis, former President Donald Trump invoked the public health authority known as Title 42 at the border, ensuring that federal immigration officials have been able to quickly return millions of illegal aliens to Mexico over the last three years.

On May 11, though, Biden will end Title 42 and expand its Catch and Release network to quickly move border crossers and illegal aliens into the U.S. interior — including deploying 1,500 U.S. troops to the border to free up federal immigration officials to process arrivals at a faster pace.

During a Yuma County Board of Supervisors meeting this week, supervisor Jonathan Lines revealed that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have warned them that as many as 700,000 migrants are waiting in Mexico to rush the border when Title 42 ends.

“Border Patrol shared with us their intelligence that there are approximately 700,000, as of three weeks ago, in the shelters in Mexico waiting to come into the United States,” Lines said. “They also shared with us that at the Darian Gap which is at the Panama Canal, they’ve seen a 500 percent surge in people crossing over that gap on their way up to the United States.”

Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) office confirmed to Breitbart News that they too have been told by officials of the looming 700,000 migrants waiting in Mexico.

Such a “mass migration event,” as Lines said DHS officials called it, would see a foreign population arriving at the border that exceeds the resident population of cities like Boston and Nashville, Tennessee.

“Right now, all of the people that are coming across the border, 40 percent of them are expelled under Title 42 in Yuma, Arizona,” Lines said. “So 40 percent of the people coming across are immediately expelled and they’re flown back to their countries of origin. That goes away on May 11; they are no longer processed out.”

Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot noted that his law enforcement officers have their hands tied, unable to apprehend and detain border crossers and illegal aliens, as federal law would have them charged with kidnapping.

“[If we could arrest], I would fill the jail in a day with the amount of individuals that we encounter trespassing,” Wilmot said.

“International labor organizations and the cartels are facilitating this trade,” Lines noted. “They’re making a significant amount of money — 27 million were forced into labor over the last two years [and] 6.3 million [forced] into sexual exploitation.”

Americans in U.S. border towns like Yuma are especially hard hit by illegal immigration.

In February, Dr. Robert Trenschel of the Yuma Regional Medical Center detailed how in just one year, local taxpayers were left with $26 million in unpaid medical bills from border crossers and illegal aliens who showed up to the hospital needed care. That amount is set to increase, Trenschel said, when Title 42 ends.

Click here to read the full article at BreitbartCA

State Senator Dave Min Arrested For Drunk Driving In Sacramento County

Min was released from Sacramento County Jail on Wednesday morning

Senator Dave Min (D-Orange County), a state Senator since 2020 and one of three main candidates currently vying for Congresswoman Katie Porter’s (D-CA) Congressional seat next year, was arrested Tuesday night in Sacramento County for drunk driving.

While details of the incident are yet to be known, including the circumstances of the incident, what his blood alcohol level was, and if he will contest the charge or not, it is known that on Tuesday night he was pulled over by police on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Min was arrested, charged with a misdemeanor for driving under the influence, and sent to Sacramento County Jail. On Wednesday morning he was released, with further action, including a court appearance, likely to occur in the near future.

While his Congressional campaign has yet to comment on the incident, Min himself wrote of the incident on social media on Wednesday, apologizing for his crime, taking full responsibility for what he did.

“Last night I was cited for a misdemeanor for driving under the influence,” Min said on social media on Wednesday. “My decision to drive last night was irresponsible. I accept full responsibility and there is no excuse for my actions. To my family, constituents and supporters, I am so deeply sorry. I know I need to do better. I will not let this personal failure distract from our work in California and in Washington.”

Dave Min DUI social media post (Photo: Dave Min Official Facebook Page)

Min first entered the world of politics in the early 2000’s. Following a stint as a staff attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Min became the Senate Banking Committee Counsel for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in Washington, and later, the Counsel and senior policy advisor to the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. However, he returned to California in the late 2000’s to become an assistant law professor at UC Irvine.

Min’s DUI and the 2024 47th District Congressional race

In 2018, Min reentered politics and ran for the then 45th House District due to disagreements over former President Trump’s immigration policies. However, this proved to be short-lived. Following Min causing a huge stir at the Democratic state convention over who the party should nominate for the race and barely getting their endorsement over Katie Porter, he lost the Primary that June to eventual winner Porter and Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters, becoming one of the few Democrats to get the support of the party yet still lose in the primary during the 2018 blue wave election.

In 2020, after beating Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley in the primary, Min narrowly defeated then Senator John Moorlach for the 37th District Senate seat by just over 12,000 votes, 51% to 49%. In his two years in the Senate, Min has had mixed success with legislation in the Senate. While he has had some success on more social and environmental bills, such as getting a bill that will make all autonomous cars in California be electric by 2030 get passed in 2021, many of his higher-profile bills have failed, such as his numerous attempts to stop off-shore oil and gas drilling being blocked by the combination of Republicans, unions, and numerous Californian companies.

In January, following Congresswoman Porter’s decision to run for Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat early, Min became the third major candidate to enter the 2024 Orange County 47th District congressional race. Currently he is facing off against 2022 near-winner Scott Baugh (R) following former Congressman Harley Rouda (D) pulling out of the race last month. However, due to the DUI, that could change.

“He is a major liability now,” explained Malik Griffin, a Los Angeles polling analyst, to the Globe on Wednesday. “While people in office have gotten DUIs in the past, like former Senator Ben Hueso in 2014, this isn’t exactly an entirely forgivable offense. There is a silver lining in that he was transparent and took responsibility for it immediately, you got to give him that, but the fact that he did it is bad. And we don’t even know the circumstances yet. If other people were involved or something, it could be a lot worse.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Undocumented Students Qualify for Financial Aid in California. Why Aren’t More of Them Using It?

When Deysi Mojica received her acceptance to UC Riverside, she was excited. Not only had she overcome her high school’s lack of resources to help undocumented students like herself apply to college, but the university was offering a financial aid package that would make her college dream possible.

“Even though I am undocumented,” said Mojica, now a first-year student, “the amount of money that they gave me was basically covering all my expenses.” 

But an unexpected $13,000 charge from the university just before she was due to start classes quickly changed her excitement into confusion, leaving her wondering where the money she was awarded had gone. It was only after repeated calls to the financial aid office, Mojica said, that a helpful student assistant who was also undocumented gave her the information that saved her from dropping out: Her aid package was held up because a signature was missing from one of her application forms.

Like Mojica, many undocumented students lack accurate information about applying for financial aid or find the process intimidating. California has since 2011 allowed undocumented students to receive financial aid from the state and its public universities if they meet certain eligibility requirements. But students, advocates, and even the California Student Aid Commission itself say the aid application developed under a state law known as the California Dream Act is unnecessarily complex, not enough college staff are trained to advise students about it, and campus departments don’t collaborate well when processing applications. As a result, they say, many undocumented students are missing out on aid for which they qualify.

Only 14% of undocumented students in California receive any form of financial aid to pursue higher education, according to a recent California Student Aid Commission report. Of the nearly 45,000 undocumented students who applied for financial aid for this past academic year, fewer than 30% ultimately enrolled in school and received aid.

“What we know is we’ve got a lot of students that are willing and going through the process, but they’re not getting the financial aid support,” said Marlene Garcia, executive director of the student aid commission. “I think that’s a starting point to analyze that there is a problem here.”

One of the problems Garcia cited: Verifying eligibility for the aid can be cumbersome and fear-inducing to undocumented students concerned about the risks of sharing their personal information.

California exempts undocumented students from paying nonresident tuition if they spent three years at, and received a degree, diploma or certificate from a California high school or community college. When those students want to apply for financial aid, they must also submit a document — also known as an AB540 affidavit —  to the campus they plan to attend verifying they qualify for the exemption and promising to legalize their immigration status as soon as possible.  

The student aid commission then randomly selects 20% of students for verification that the information they reported in their applications is accurate. 

But individual campuses do the actual verifying, and there is no statewide standard. 

California State University Chico and American River College, for example, accept a simple statement from students that they are eligible and only require extra documents if there is conflicting information in their applications, according to the student aid commission. But other campuses require much more information, such as W-2 forms, IRS tax transcripts, and/or household size information.

That’s when some students fall through the cracks, said Sergio Belloso, a counselor at Santa Monica College’s Dream Resource Center, which provides legal, mental health and financial aid counseling services for the college’s undocumented students. 

“Sometimes students just stop that process, because they’re like, ‘I don’t want to give them my information,’ ” Belloso said.

The affidavit and financial aid application also must be sent to different departments on campus, often causing delays and confusion for students.

“What we know is that we’ve got a lot of students that are willing and going through the process, but they’re not getting the financial aid support.”MARLENE GARCIA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA STUDENT AID COMMISSION

At Santa Monica College, the Dream Resource Center serves on average 200 undocumented students per semester, Belloso said. Although tuition at California community colleges is just $46 per credit hour, or free on some campuses, many students, regardless of immigration status, use financial aid to cover additional expenses such as textbooks, transportation, and living costs. 

Belloso said he and other center staff spend a large portion of their time and resources on helping students get financial aid, including those who don’t qualify for aid and in-state tuition.  If other campus staff members were better trained to understand financial aid for undocumented students, the center would have more time to explore other aspects of its mission, such as providing legal help, he said.  

Cristina Sanchez, who provides drop-in counseling to undocumented students at Solano College, said she started her job right after graduating from college with little more than an Excel spreadsheet with student contact information. As the sole, part-time staff member tasked with supporting about 200 undocumented students, Sanchez is also concerned the students she serves may not be getting the financial aid information they need. 

“I was not given any training or anything like that, it was kind of like, ‘Here you go,’” Sanchez said. “So it’s been a lot of teaching myself or going out of my way to learn more, because I’m not undocumented.” 

Sanchez said a lot of times she is sending students to other counselors and financial aid officers, creating a game of hot potato and potential communication breakdowns between campus departments. 

Strengthening campus centers for undocumented students could help such students persist and navigate financial aid difficulties, students and counselors said. Even though the staff at UC Riverside’s Undocumented Student Programs couldn’t fix Mojica’s financial aid problem, she said, they welcomed her to campus, apologized for the difficulties she was having and even helped her find a work-study job doing social media for an undocumented student organization. Mojica said the support helped her feel like she belonged on campus.

“They were super welcoming. They spoke to my mom, started telling me about our (food) pantry and about the groceries. Although I didn’t ask, they were already giving me so much information,” said Mojica. “It had a big impact on me.”

The center, which supports more than 600 students, one of the largest undocumented student populations among UC campuses, plans to hire a dedicated counselor to assist undocumented students with their financial aid applications. 

Meanwhile, the student aid commission is working to tackle some of the issues in the Dream Act application process. It has recommended reducing the percentage of applications requiring verification and allowing Dream Act applicants to receive text message updates on the status of their aid. 

The commission is also sponsoring Assembly Bill 1540, introduced by Los Angeles Democratic Assemblymember Mike Fong, which would allow undocumented students to fill out a single application for both their financial aid and residency. It’s currently under consideration in the appropriations committee. 

“We think that it should be intuitive. Students shouldn’t have to go through a maze to figure out how to get financial aid,” said Garcia. “The financial aid system should meet students where they’re at more effectively.”

Although both Sanchez and Belloso are excited to see a more streamlined application for students, Belloso feels there is still more that can be done to help undocumented students pursue higher education. He hopes campuses and the aid commission will collect and share campus-level data on how many undocumented students are applying for and receiving aid, so counselors like him can better support them. More financial aid training for other campus staff would also help, he said.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Nordstrom, Saks Off Fifth Announce They Are Leaving San Francisco

The three locations are the latest retail chain stores to leave the city

High-end department stores Nordstrom and Saks Off Fifth became the latest retail stores to vacate San Francisco on Tuesday, with the 3 large locations representing over 500,000 square feet of retail space expected to be completely vacated by the early fall.

For several years, large chains and small businesses alike have been leaving San Francisco, either closing permanently or relocating operations outside the city. In the case of small businesses, some have left the area entirely, moving out of state or to other areas in the state. For the last few years, for example, Walgreens has closed more and more stores in the city due to the massive amount of crime within its stores. Higher-end stores have also cited break-ins and crime as major reasons for leaving. And just within the last two months, all Amazon Go storesAnthropologie, several high-end Union square stores, and the flagship Whole Foods store have all announced that their doors will be closing, along with multiple non-chain stores throughout the city.

While crime has been cited as the main reason for many going, high rent costs, a lack of customers coming in due to the concurrent office exodus from the city, the homeless crisis keeping many away from parts of the city, and the overall decline of retail have all played a factor in the high number of businesses leaving. On Tuesday, all of those factors caused both Nordstrom and Saks Off Fifth to leave as well.

Nordstrom will be closing both of their San Francisco locations, one in Westfield Mall and the other, a Nordstrom Rack, in the downtown area. Both will wait until their leases are up, with the downtown Nordstrom rack closing on July 1st and the mall location on August 31st. While the closures could be looked into as part of the overall decline of retail, the company proved this to be false by announcing 5 new locations to be opened up across the state, including 4 ringing the Bay Area.

They also specifically noted the worsening conditions for the stores in the city, stating in an e-mail that “the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully.”

The Westfield mall also released a statement about the closure, noting in a statement that “the planned closure underscores the deteriorating situation in Downtown San Francisco. A growing number of retailers and businesses are leaving the area due to the unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees, coupled with the fact that these significant issues are preventing an economic recovery of the area. We have expressed serious concerns to city leaders for many years and urged the city to find solutions to the key issues and lack of enforcement against rampant criminal activity.”

Saks, meanwhile, announced that their Saks Off 5th location on Market Street is due to close this fall after more than 8 years in the city. The Saks off 5th, located right by the Nordstrom Rack location, will be the only location closing in the area, with other Saks Off 5th locations in Petaluma, Milpitas, and Livermore remaining open, and the Saks 5th Avenue location in San Francisco also remaining open for now.

“We are committed to offering support and assistance to our team impacted by the closing. Eligible associates will receive appropriate employment separation packages and transfer opportunities will be explored where feasible.”

Nordstrom, Saks Off Fifth to leave city by the Fall

City officials were disappointed by  the decision of the retailers, noting that they were increasing police presence at the locations where the stores are leaving and that other public safety measures had been enacted in recent years. However, the multitude of problems proved to be too much for the companies in the end.

“The City worked with Westfield to approve an office allocation and plan to reduce Nordstrom’s square footage and bring in additional office uses to the property,” said the Mayor’s office. “This plan made it through the Planning Commission but no further steps were taken on this plan,” said the spokesperson. “Westfield then began speaking about other options for redevelopment. The City has been eager to get a concrete plan from them that we could explore, however, they never brought us anything for review.”

However, security and safety experts have pointed out that not enough is still being done, with more businesses likely to leave soon as more leases come up for renewal.

“More big name stores left. This isn’t really a surprise anymore,” explained Bay Area security consultant and former policeman Frank Ma to the Globe on Tuesday. “The city just keeps refusing to do what is needed to be done. Get more officers, increase the number of prosecutions, and give economic incentives for these businesses to stay. Right now they are just not getting any.”

“It’s getting to the point where I am giving security consults to the same locations now. One place I did last week I had also swept through just before COVID in 2020 and then again in 2018. Another place I did at the exact same time in 2022 and 2021. All for new businesses coming in. That’s the turnaround in some places now. And those are the lucky ones, as many retail spaces are empty.”

Office space vacancy alone is around 30% across the city.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Bill Advances, Requiring Big Tech to Pay for News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Big Tech companies such as Google and Meta might soon have to pay media outlets for posting and using their news content under a proposed California measure attempting to save local journalism.

The bill, which cleared an important Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday with bipartisan support, would require Google and Meta to share with California media companies their advertising revenue stemming from the news and other reported content. The amount would be determined through an arbitration process.

Supporters of the bill said it would provide a “lifeline” to local news organizations that have seen their advertising revenues nosedive in the digital era. Opponents, including trade groups and some journalism groups, said the legislation would be an unprecedented mandate that violates the First Amendment.

The bill would mandate that at least 70% of their revenue go to local news organizations to help pay for reporters’ salaries. Big Tech companies would also be prohibited from retaliating against a news outlet for demanding a fee by excluding their content on the platforms.

“As news consumption has moved online, community news outlets have been downsized and closing at an alarming rate,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland, who authored the bill, said during the Tuesday hearing.

The Democrat said that California has lost more than 100 news organizations in the past decade.

“The dominant type platforms, both search engines and social networks, have such unrivaled market power that newsrooms are coerced to share the content they produce, which tech companies sell advertising against for almost no compensation in return,” she said, noting her bill is being backed by major journalism unions such as the News Media Alliance and Media Guild of the West, which represents The Los Angeles Times and other newsrooms.

But critics of the bill said the legislation is unconstitutional for requiring online platforms to post content from all news organizations. It would also reward clickbait content and limit the ability for Google and Meta to fight misinformation on their platforms as it could be seen as retaliation, said a representative from Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

Chris Krewson, executive director of LION Publishers, a national news group representing more than 450 independent newsrooms, said the bill is “fundamentally flawed” and wasn’t written with small newsrooms in mind.

The bill would mostly benefit newspaper chains and hedge funds that have gutted local newsrooms in the last few decades, he said. His group represents more than 50 local newsrooms in California, 80% of which are operations with five or fewer journalists. Most of those news outlets wouldn’t meet the requirements to benefit, he said.

“I applaud the lawmaker for getting bipartisan support on this,” Krewson said in an interview Tuesday. “But this is backward.”

Over the last two years, LION Publishers has received at least $1 million in funding from Meta but Krewson said he’s not speaking on the tech company’s behalf.

Similar efforts to bolster local news companies have been attempted across the United States, Australia and Canada, among others, with various levels of success. Australia adopted a law in 2021 that resulted in $140 million in payments to news companies from Google and Facebook last year.

U.S. lawmakers are also pushing for similar initiatives, reintroducing a bill in March that failed in the last congressional session and would have allowed news companies to jointly negotiate an advertising rate with tech giants such as Google.

Meta declined to comment on the California bill but pointed to a statement it made to the U.S. Congress in 2022 and another it made to the Canadian government this year when it threatened to pull all news content from its platform if the company would have to pay for news. Google didn’t respond to an email seeking comment on the California bill.

Despite clearing another hurdle Tuesday, questions remain about how the bill would be implemented. Some lawmakers noted that Meta’s Facebook and Google do not operate the same way. Google scrapes news websites and provides users with summaries of reported content, while Facebook shows content such as photos, videos and articles to users based on their activities on the platform.

Democratic Assemblymember Matt Haney of San Francisco said he’s also concerned with how the state would ensure the money goes to local journalists.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

California Reparations Task Force to Recommend ‘Down Payments’ for Slavery, Racism 

The California Reparations Task Force published documents Monday indicating it plans to recommend the state apologize for racism and slavery and consider “down payments” of varying amounts to eligible African American residents. 

The documents, numbering more than 500 pages, do not contain an overall price tag for reparations, but they do include ways the state could calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850, when the state was established, through today due to certain government practices. 

The loss calculations would vary depending on type of racial harm and how long a person has lived in California. The loss estimates range from $2,300 per person per year of residence for the over-policing of Black communities, to $77,000 total per person for Black-owned business losses and devaluations over the years. 

The state-appointed task force faces a July 1 deadline to make reparations recommendations to the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom. Task force leaders have said they expect the Legislature to come up with actual reparations amounts.

The task force also is recommending a variety of policy changes to counteract discrimination. 

“It is critical that we compensate, but not just compensate. We also need to evaluate policy that continues to hold us back,” said Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego city council member who is on the task force. She spoke at a “listening session” in San Diego Saturday. 

Who would get reparations?

The task force documents discuss two kinds of reparations: those arising from particular instances of discrimination or harm that require an individual to file a claim, and those that involve distributing money or benefits to all eligible Black Californians for racial harm the entire community experienced. 

A recent example of an individual claim was Bruce’s Beach, a beachfront property and resort that the city of Manhattan Beach seized from a Black family nearly 100 years ago. Recently, partly because of the task force, government leaders returned the land deed to descendants of the Bruce family, who re-sold it to Los Angeles County for $20 million.

It is one of the few times a Black family was restored property taken by a local government.

“It is critical that we compensate, but not just compensate. We also need to evaluate policy that continues to hold us back.” MONICA MONTGOMERY STEPPE, REPARATIONS TASK FORCE AND SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL MEMBER

Eligibility for reparations continues to be a controversy. The task force in March 2022 voted to limit potential compensation to descendants of free and enslaved Black people who were in the United States in the 19th century. The group narrowly rejected a proposal to include all Black people, including recent immigrants, regardless of lineage.

Everyone in the eligible class should be compensated, the task force report says, even if they can’t prove they suffered a specific harm. 

“The State of California created laws and policies discriminating against and subjugating free and enslaved African Americans and their descendants,” the report says. “In doing so, these discriminatory policies made no distinctions between these individuals; the compensatory remedy must do the same.” 

The final report, much like the task force’s previous interim report, lays out the history of systemic racism and ongoing injustices in California.

Costs of racial damage

The latest batch of documents also urges that eligible people be compensated in cash, sooner rather than later. The records instruct the Legislature to begin with “down payments” rather than waiting for full loss calculations. 

The final report suggests dollar figures for certain categories of racial damage: 

  • For mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black communities, it estimates a loss per person of $115,260, or $2,352 for each year they lived in California from 1971 to 2020, corresponding to the national War on Drugs.
  • For housing discrimination, it offers two methods of loss calculation. One method based on gaps between Black and white “housing wealth” would peg losses at $145,847 per person. The other method, based on governments’ “redlining” history, including discriminatory lending and zoning, would calculate Black residents’ losses at $148,099 per person — or $3,366 for each year they lived in California from 1933 to 1977.
  • For injustices and discrimination in health, it estimates $13,619 per person for each year lived in California, or $966,921 total for someone living about 71 years — the average life expectancy of Black residents in California in 2021. 

The reparations program would be overseen by a new state agency that would determine eligibility and distribute funds, the report says. The agency also would be responsible for helping individuals document and provide evidence for specific injustices. 

Eligible Black residents should not expect cash payments anytime soon. The state Legislature and Newsom will decide whether any reparations are paid, and it’s unclear what they will do with the task force recommendations. 

“This is the time where we really need the voice of the public,” said Khansa T. Jones-Muhammad, also known as Friday Jones, a member of Los Angeles’ reparations advisory commission. “This is the time to get your churches together. This is the time to get your school boards together.” 

Jones made the comments during the listening session in San Diego.

Non-cash reparations

Some task force members have been dismayed at the amount of attention paid to the  dollar figures under discussion. The final report provides dozens of policy recommendations aimed at preventing further discrimination and harm against Black residents. 

“The biggest fight is implementation of all these recommendations, “ Montgomery Steppe said. “After the task force issues its final report, those recommendations need strong support in California’s Legislature and the government. It will take all hands on deck to ensure we push for a policy change from our state legislature.” 

The task force is scheduled to meet again at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lisser Hall at Northeastern University, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., in Oakland. The meeting will be live streamed

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

When California Laws Go Too Far, the Courts Intervene

Early explorers believed California to be an island, and while its physical attachment to the rest of North America eventually became evident, it nevertheless has sought to forge an island-like cultural and political identity – a “nation-state” in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s description.

There are, however, limits. Legally, California is still just one of 50 states and thus is subject to federal law, including the U.S. Constitution.

California politicians sometimes ignore that basic fact of civic life in their zeal to lead the parade. But when they cross the legal line, as defined in federal law, they get their comeuppance.

For instance, the federal appeals court that oversees California recently overturned an ordinance passed by city leaders in Berkeley, one of the state’s more adventuresome jurisdictions, to ban natural gas service in newly constructed buildings.

The 2020 ordinance, cheered by environmentalists as a gesture to reduce greenhouse gases, was challenged by the California Restaurant Association for violating federal authority to set energy efficiency standards.

A federal trial judge upheld the ordinance but the 9th District Court of Appeals declared that federal law did, indeed, preempt the issue so Berkeley could not strike it out on its own.

California’s governors and legislators are also prone to enacting new laws that run afoul of the U.S. Constitution, federal law or, in some cases, the state’s own constitution.

Chris Micheli, a lobbyist who is also a student of legislative procedure and teaches at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law,  has assembled a lengthy list of legislative decrees that later fared poorly in the courts.

They include such recent laws as those mandating female and members of “unrepresented communities” on corporate boards and prohibiting doctors from making politically incorrect statements about COVID-19.

One entire class of California laws, those imposing sometimes unique restrictions on private gun ownership, has fallen prey to constitutional challenges in recent months, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s expansive interpretations of the constitutional right to bear arms.

While gun organizations have been challenging California’s array of gun control laws for years, the Supreme Court’s landmark Bruen decision last year, invalidating New York’s almost total ban on the carrying of personal weapons, opened the door. One by one, California’s laws are being invalidated.

Just last month, for instance, a federal judge in Southern California overturned the state’s law prohibiting the sale of handguns that don’t meet stringent – and technically unworkable – safety requirements, declaring that it runs afoul of the Bruen decision.

Even before the Bruen decision, a San Diego federal judge, Roger Benitez, had tossed out California’s ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds, the state’s ban on assault rifles, and a law requiring background checks for ammunition purchases.

Another law that fell recently was one dreamed up by Newsom and the Legislature as a symbolic stunt – authorizing lawsuits against some gun manufacturers with conditions that made defense almost impossible. It was patterned after a Texas law making it easier to sue those who performed abortions, and Attorney General Rob Bonta didn’t even try to defend it when the inevitable lawsuit challenged it.

Undeterred by the serial invalidation of California gun laws, Newsom and legislators are working on another measure that, they say, would fit within the constraints of the Bruen decision. Senate Bill 2 would create new standards for the issuance of concealed weapons permits and list a number of new places where carrying weapons would be prohibited, even by those having permits.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Former MTS Employee Allegedly Assaulted by Nathan Fletcher Speaks Out

The former Metropolitan Transit System employee who accused Supervisor Nathan Fletcher of sexual assault has spoken out for the first time since her allegations were made public in a lawsuit filing late last month.

Grecia Figueroa, who worked as a public relations specialist for the transportation agency until earlier this year, expressed frustration for how she has been treated since coming forward with her allegations in a blog post published on Saturday.

“It’s no wonder people feel they’ll be judged when speaking up about sexual harassment, if seeking vindication of one’s own rights leads them to be called a liar, a mistress, a gold digger, and far worse names,” Figueroa wrote.

She did not directly address Fletcher or the lawsuit in the post.Timeline: Unfolding of the Nathan Fletcher scandal

In her statement, she instead lamented about how the hostility directed to her exemplifies the kinds of responses that often keep people quiet about sexual harassment.

Formal action is infrequently taken after individuals experience harassment: according to estimates from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, roughly three out of four people do not report harassing conduct to superiors.

“It’s no wonder women feel threatened to come forward,” Figueroa said of these statistics. “Because even other women will label the situation a ‘salacious scandal’ before a single piece of evidence has hit the courtroom.”

“Choosing to come forward is not an easy feat, and it should be respected,” she continued.

The full statement from Figueroa can be found here.

Figueroa’s lawsuit was first made public on Mar. 29, several days after Fletcher had announced that he would be suspending his State Senate campaign to enter in-patient treatment for alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress.

The nearly 30-page complaint detailed at least two alleged instances of sexual assault by the Supervisor in his role as chairman of the MTS Board of Directors. MTS was also named as a defendant in the case.

Less than one day after the complaint was made public, FOX 5 learned of similar claims from a 27-year-old woman, who said that Fletcher harassed her in 2015 while she was an intern at his non-profit for veterans.

Fletcher’s representatives have denied the allegations of sexual misconduct from both the women.San Diego councilmember seeks Fletcher’s District Four seat

Fletcher did, however, admit to engaging in encounters with Figueroa in a statement released on Mar. 29 that announced her lawsuit filing, arguing that the interactions were consensual.

Click here to read the full article in FoxNews5