Ford’s CEO resists calls to stop making vehicles for police

Ford Motor Co.’s top executive has pushed back against some employees calling for the top seller of vehicles to U.S. police departments to exit the business.

Chief Executive Jim Hackett sent a more than 600-word letter to senior staff in response to messages he’s received both from within and outside Ford’s ranks to reconsider producing police vehicles.

Hackett, 65, said that while he and Executive Chairman Bill Ford support the Black Lives Matter movement and believe police should operate with more transparency and accountability, first responders “play an extraordinarily important role in the vitality and safety of our society.”

“Our world wouldn’t function without the bravery and dedication of the good police officers who protect and serve,” Hackett wrote. “But safety of community must be inclusive of all members and today, it is not.” …

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

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of L.A. Catholic Schools

The Supreme Court on Wednesday barred teachers who work at church-run schools from filing discrimination lawsuits against their employers, ruling that the Constitution’s protection for religious liberty exempts church schools from state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, shielded two Catholic elementary schools in Los Angeles County from discrimination claims by two teachers who complained they were unjustly fired, one due to an illness and the other due to age.

The court found that since such schools are part of a church’s religious mission, the government may not interfere with decisions about hiring, supervision and firing of teachers.

The decision effectively closes the courthouse door to tens of thousands of teachers nationwide in religious and parochial schools who encounter workplace discrimination based on their race, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation that would otherwise be impermissible. …

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

Face Mask Resistance Continues in Orange County

When Basilico’s Pasta e Vino took to social media to proclaim itself a mask-free location amid the COVID-19 pandemic in late May, it prompted responses ranging from overwhelming support to stern admonishments from customers who pledged never to dine at the restaurant again.

On Monday, officials at the Huntington Beach establishment had a message for those who have expressed anger about their policy. They updated the restaurant’s voicemail greeting, joking that they were “having some fun with the haters.”

“As you may know, we have been recently featured in the press and with great appreciation have been receiving an overwhelming show of support by the community and even from across the state and country, so if you’re calling to place an order or express support for our position, please hold or leave a voicemail,” the greeting states. “If you’re calling to place a death threat, please press 2 and leave your name, number and address so our cousin Guido and his crew can pay you a visit.”

It is not clear whether the restaurant is mandating that diners remove their masks before entering. A man who identified himself as the restaurant manager declined to comment to a Times reporter on Tuesday. Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said officials have sent the restaurant a letter requesting that they comply with the state’s mask order. …

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

Companies tied to California officials get US virus loans

Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two of the state’s legislative leaders were among those that received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, records released Monday showed.

A Northern California winery and hospitality company, PlumpJack, founded and partly owned by Newsom, received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Before taking office as governor in 2019, Newsom announced he would step away from his businesses and put his assets in a blind trust managed by a family friend and attorney. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

California’s political campaigns transformed by coronavirus, Black Lives Matter

With a resurgent coronavirus raging across California and anti-racism rallies and protests a near-daily occurrence, there’s a brand-new focus as candidates gear up for the fall campaign.

Rep. Harley Rouda, an Orange County Democrat, sent out a standard fundraising email Tuesday, looking for re-election cash. But the message was anything but traditional.

“These last few months have tested our leaders — and we’ve seen far too many fail,” the email read. “From organizing a PPE (personal protective equipment) drive in Orange County, to marching for Black lives, to simply wearing a mask, Harley has stood out for his leadership in this crisis.”

Nothing about the economy. Nothing about foreign affairs. Nothing about what he has done for his district in his 18 months in Washington, or any of the other campaign standbys. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area Rents Plummeted in June

Bay Area apartment rents continued to drop in June as the coronavirus kept most offices closed and layoffs mounted.

One-bedroom rents fell compared to the prior year in 27 of 31 Bay Area cities tracked by Zumper, a real estate listings website. The biggest drops were concentrated in major Silicon Valley tech hubs, including Cupertino, the home of Apple; Mountain View, where Google is headquartered; and Menlo Park, Facebook’s hometown. Those cities have some of the region’s highest rents. Emeryville was the only East Bay city that saw a double-digit drop.

San Francisco’s one-bedroom rents plunged 11.8%, the highest drop on record and the biggest among major U.S. cities. The city remains the most expensive in the country. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley City Council passes a budget with $9.2 million cuts to police

Leaders in Berkeley passed a budget Wednesday that included a $9.2 million cut to the city’s Police Department, a sign of how swiftly the protests over George Floyd’s death have moved from streets and Twitter feeds into City Hall.

Mayor Jesse Arreguín proposed the cut, just as the Oakland City Council took steps to further slash its own police budget. The Oakland council had passed a budget last week that chopped law enforcement funding by $14.6 million, then council members decided Tuesday to amend the budget on July 21, after activists said the reduction wasn’t sufficient.

In Berkeley, the meeting began Tuesday night and ended early Wednesday morning.

“The overwhelming message is we do need to defund the police,” Arreguín said, calling his budget a first step toward that ideal, and a “down-payment” on the city’s commitment to re-envision law enforcement. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Los Angeles Will Shrink the LAPD

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to cut hiring at the Police Department, pushing the number of sworn officers well below 10,000 and abandoning a budget priority once seen as untouchable by city leaders.

Faced with a grim budget outlook and deluged by demands for reductions in police spending, the council voted 12 to 2 to take the Los Angeles Police Department down to 9,757 officers by next summer — a level of staffing not seen in the city since 2008.

Overall, the council’s decision delivered a $150-million hit to the LAPD budget, much of it coming from funds earmarked for police overtime pay. Councilman Curren Price, who pushed for the cuts, said two-thirds of the savings would ultimately be funneled into services for Black, Latino and disenfranchised communities, such as hiring programs and summer youth jobs. …

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

San Francisco rents are dropping fast as tech companies embrace remote work

New monthly data from apartment rental platform Zumper shows San Francisco rents were down nearly 12% year over year in June, making the city’s decline the largest in the nation, and a record slide for San Francisco.  It’s also the second consecutive month San Francisco rental prices have dropped, says the company, which based these statistics on 9,000 listings in San Francisco. 

According to Zumper, the median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco fell 11.8% year over year, from $3,720 to $3,280, beating May’s 9% drop. The survey also reports a 1% uptick in national rents, with the average median apartment in the U.S. renting for $1,229 in June.

“Zumper has been tracking rent prices across the country for over five years but we have never seen the market fluctuate quite like this,” says Zumper co-founder and CEO Anthemos Georgiades. “For example, rent prices in San Francisco have historically only gone up and typically only incrementally, yet now we are seeing double-digit percent rent reductions. This is unprecedented for this generation of renters.” …

This article was originally published by CNBC.

49% surge in hospitalizations puts San Francisco on high alert

On a day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled additional restrictions for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, the city of San Francisco announced an alarming rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations that is putting new strain on an anxious health care system.

Among other major developments Tuesday, the state recorded 7,820 new cases — its second highest tally in a 24-hour period — and surpassed 6,000 deaths from the coronavirus; New York, New Jersey and Connecticut imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from California; and the nation’s top infectious disease official warned the U.S. could see 100,000 new cases per day if the current upward trajectory does not change.

To date, California has had 231,960 confirmed coronavirus cases. Of those, 25,411 cases, including 578 deaths, have been in the Bay Area. While the state enjoyed early success in “flattening the curve,” recent outbreaks in prisons and nursing homes and an overall relaxing of sheltering restrictions over the last several weeks are now driving a high number of new cases and hospitalizations. The state set the record for the most cases in a day on Monday, with 8,196 cases. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.