Frustration Amid the State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Patricia Reber walked out of the vaccine clinic at L.A.’s Lincoln Park pumping her arms overhead like a champion. A friend told the 80-year-old she had waited four hours for a shot at Dodger Stadium, but Reber was in and out within 30 minutes.

“This was wonderful,” Reber said from beneath a Kobe Bryant face mask. “I think they’ve done the best they can with the lack of federal help.”

But in the chaotic rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the triumphs were matched by heartbreaking disappointments and confusion as older residents struggled with appointment websites that crashed because of huge demand while workers waited for official information that never came.

Aria Shafiee, 53, was almost in tears because her attempt to enter the vaccination site at Crenshaw Christian Center in South L.A. had been flatly denied. Shafiee knew she was younger than the 65-year minimum for vaccination under California’s rules but hoped she could get an exception due to her health. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Restaurants, wineries sue Newsom over dining ban

A group of more than 50 wineries and restaurants across Napa and Sonoma counties are suing to overturn a state ban on in-person dining, saying their constitutional rights are being trampled as they slip into financial ruin.

It’s the latest litigation brought over the restrictions that have blanketed much of the state since early December, when coronavirus cases began soaring.

The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening filed the suit Tuesday against Gov. Gavin Newsom. It arrives just over a month after capacity in intensive care units dipped below 15% in the San Francisco Bay Area, triggering a regional order that shut down outdoor dining — and drinking — among other restrictions. Tomás Aragón, director of the California Public Health Department, is also named in the lawsuit. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California braces for a surge in evictions

California courts are bracing for eviction cases to double over the next year as pandemic-related financial woes deepen for thousands of renters across the state.

Landlords are expected to file 240,000 new eviction cases — twice what occurs in a typical year, according to estimates by state court officials. The projection takes into account the looming expiration of state eviction protections, which end in late January.

While Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes to extend the renter safeguards, he’s also asked the Legislature to increase the judicial system’s funding so that courts can prepare for an eventual surge in evictions.

“If cases in fact do not double, and we certainly hope they won’t, these funds will be returned,” Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar said. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Federalist Society under fire after John Eastman speaks before Capitol riot

A progressive group is urging corporations to stop contributing to the Federalist Society after one of the conservative legal organization’s leaders was featured at last week’s rally that preceded the deadly riot on Capitol Hill.

Demand Justice told CNBC that it wants corporations to stop giving to the Federalist Society after member John Eastman, a lawyer and former law professor at Chapman University, spoke at the rally.

Several of the companies that have given to the Federalist Society as recently as 2019 have said they would either not contribute to Republicans who challenged the results of the presidential election, or would reevaluate or pause donations from their corporate political action committees. These companies and groups include Facebook, Google, T-Mobile, Verizon and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Federalist Society’s 2019 annual report shows that the five companies combined to give up to $400,000 to the group. The group finished that fiscal year with over $25 million in revenue. That report is the most recent available on the Federalist Society’s website. It is not clear whether these companies donated money to the Federalist Society recently. The next disclosure of donors could come later this year. …

Click here to read the full article from CNBC

Biden to offer legal status to 11 million immigrants

When the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill in 2013, farmworkers Francisca Aguilar and her husband, Ruben Cohetzaltitla, got excited at the prospect of attaining citizenship. But their hope faded as the legislation never materialized.

“What could we do?” said Aguilar, 37.

Now the couple are awaiting answers from the new president.

Hours ahead of President Biden’s inauguration, incoming White House officials released more details of his ambitious legislative proposals on immigration reform, including a pathway to U.S. citizenship for an estimated 11 million people and a series of executive actions, among them an immediate stop to construction of fencing along the southern border.

The incoming administration described its package as a common-sense approach to modernizing and restoring humanity to the immigration system after four years of President Trump’s systematic crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Vaccine Short Even As Seniors Become Eligible

Severe limits in the supply of COVID-19 vaccine will restrict how many older residents of Los Angeles County get vaccinated in the coming days and weeks, public health officials said Tuesday.

Officials said residents ages 65 or older could begin scheduling appointments on Tuesday to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but slots were limited to about 50,000 this week, largely due to a shortage of doses.

The decision to open the vaccine eligibility list to seniors was made to accelerate access to a population that has been disproportionately affected by the virus. But it will take time to vaccinate all 1.3 million residents in the age group, officials said.

“We do not have enough of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone,” said L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis. “That includes all those 65 and older, but we will get there. Patience.”

During a town hall Tuesday evening, public health officials further explained the limitations affecting the vaccine supply chain.

The officials do not anticipate a significant jump in the amount of COVID-19 vaccine the county receives in its weekly allotment in the near future, said Dr. Seira Kurian, director of the L.A. County Health Department’s Division of Medical Affairs. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Newsom’s virus updates go from clear to muddled

In his last news briefing of 2020, one of more than 100 held since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in March, Gov. Gavin Newsom looked seriously into the camera and assured Californians that public schools could reopen as soon as February.

The pressure to return to in-classroom learning had been intensifying for months, and Newsom’s “California Safe School for All” plan was an attempt to temper growing discontent.

It didn’t work. Superintendents in seven of California’s largest school districts said Newsom failed to address the needs of big-city schoolchildren and called his policy “confused.” The state’s largest teachers union said it left “many unanswered questions.” The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, which evaluates proposals for state lawmakers, said his proposal was “likely unfeasible.”

Once a reassuring elixir to millions of Californians facing the harrowing unknowns of a contagious, deadly virus, Newsom’s briefings — streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and covered extensively by California news outlets — appear to have lost the impact they commanded in the spring. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Golden State Ideas Inspire Biden

After four years of being relentlessly targeted by a Republican president who worked overtime to bait, punish and marginalize California and everything it represents, the state is suddenly center stage again in Washington’s policy arena.

California is emerging as the de facto policy think tank of the Biden-Harris administration and of a Congress soon to be under Democratic control. That’s rekindling past cliches about the state — incubator of innovation, premier laboratory of democracy, land of big ideas — even as it struggles with surging coronavirus infections, a safety net frayed by the pandemic’s toll, crushing housing costs and wildfires, all fueling an exodus of residents.

There is no place the incoming administration is leaning on more heavily for inspiration in setting a progressive policy agenda. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Trump Retreats as Pence Fills Void

Frustrated by the loss of his Twitter account and forced to accept that he soon must leave office, President Trump has effectively stopped doing his job, delegating daily responsibilities to Vice President Mike Pence while hunkering down with a shrinking group of acquiescent aides and contemplating additional presidential pardons.

Trump had considered leaving the White House before his final day in office Wednesday, even as early as this weekend, but he has opted to depart on the morning of President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, according to two people familiar with discussions who cautioned that, with Trump, plans are always subject to change.

Intrigued by the idea of upstaging Biden, the president has requested a major send-off. It would begin with a throng of cheering, flag-waving staffers and supporters to see him off on the White House’s South Lawn, according to a person familiar with the planning, and continue to a more formal ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, featuring a red carpet, military band, color guard and 21-gun salute. He would make his final Air Force One flight to Florida, to take up residence at Mar-a-Lago, his West Palm Beach, Fla., estate. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

NRA Files for Bankruptcy

The National Rifle Association on Friday filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a restructuring plan aimed at moving the influential gun rights group to Texas.

The filing comes six months after New York state’s attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the NRA for allegedly misappropriating funds.

The advocacy group said that it would restructure as a Texas nonprofit to exit from what it described as “a corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York,” where it is currently registered

The NRA, which said it was not financially broke, filed for protection under Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas. …

Click here to read the full article from CNBC