California’s homeless crisis grows in numbers and violence

As homelessness surged to crisis levels in California in 2019, so did the violent attacks on people living in tents and on sidewalks and the political and law enforcement efforts to keep homeless encampments off the streets.

Physical assaults and criminalization efforts combined have made 2019 a particularly grim and terrifying year for many Californians struggling to survive without a roof over their head.

“They are trying to shove us underneath the carpet, and it’s just not fair,” said Shanna Couper Orona, 46, who is currently living out of an RV in San Francisco. “San Francisco is supposed to be progressive, a place where you love everyone, take care of everyone … But they’ve turned their backs on us just because we’re unhoused. They are leaving us with nothing.”

Amid expanding crisis, a surge in homeless victims

In a state with the world’s fifth largest economy, an IPO tech boom and some of the richest people on earth, California’s severe affordable housing shortage has become what advocates describe as a moral failing and public health emergency. …

Click here to read the full article from the Guardian

California jails use kinder approach to solitary confinement

An inmate in solitary confinement at a California jail was refusing to leave his cell. The jailers’ usual response: Send an “extraction team” of corrections officers to burst into the cell and drag him out.

But not in Contra Costa County, one of three in the state using a kinder, gentler approach in response to inmate lawsuits, a policy change that experts say could be a national model for reducing the use of isolation cells.

So the inmate was asked: “What if we gave you a couple extra cookies and another sandwich? Would you move?” recalled Don Specter, the nonprofit Prison Law Office director who negotiated the new policies. “He said yes. … They were like, ‘Wow.’”

More than a quarter of U.S. states and numerous smaller jurisdictions are looking for ways to reduce the use of solitary confinement, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, which encourages alternatives to a practice behavioral experts say is dehumanizing and can worsen mental illness. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

New California Laws for 2020

California will ring in 2020 with hundreds of new state laws addressing a range of issues including monthly limits on gun purchases, more protections against high-interest loans, increased pay for low-wage jobs and the end of touring circus shows featuring exotic animals.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed almost 1,200 new laws this year, though not all of them take effect Jan. 1. Taken as a whole, the list embodies the uniquely Californian approach to governing. Most reflect the largely liberal viewpoint of the Legislature and its Democratic majority.

Click here to read more from the L.A. Times about new California laws in these categories:

  • Guns
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • On the Job
  • Housing
  • Criminal Justice
  • Privacy
  • Environment and Wildlife
  • Politics

Federal Official Critical of California’s Homeless Effort

Robert Marbut is brand-new to his job as executive director of the agency that coordinates the federal government’s response to homelessness. But he is already criticizing the work being done to get people off the streets in California.

“If [it] was working, California should have the lowest numbers in the country, and it should be reducing,” he told The Times. “And instead for the last five years, it has gone the other direction. So you can’t tell me it’s working. … To me, it’s that simple.”

For a state that is home to nearly a quarter of the country’s homeless population, these could be ominous words from a man who, as head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has sway over federal policy on homelessness and housing. …

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

Democratic Candidates Debate in Los Angeles

Thursday night in Los Angeles, the top 7 candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination gathered on stage for another debate.

Trump Victory Spokesperson Samantha Zager had this to say about the debate:

“Tonight, 2020 Democrats gathered to discuss their outrageous tax proposals, crippling healthcare agendas, crushing economic plans, and baseless witch hunts that continue to silence the voices of American voters and reverse all that President Trump has delivered to California. Californians will be sure to remember these ridiculous charades when they make their way to the ballot box in 2020.”

President Trump’s letter to Nancy Pelosi

To read the entire letter, please follow THIS LINK.

New California Laws: 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (KGO) — While internet companies have prospered with little oversight in the past decade, 2020 ushers in a new era California with more protections for internet users and the rising number of gig workers. Here is a list of the new state laws that will take effect on January 1, 2020.

SB 3: Minimum wage
Another pay hike is on the way for minimum wage workers. The minimum wage in California goes up by one dollar to $12 an hour for workers at companies with 25 or fewer employees and to $13 an hour for workers at larger companies.

AB 5: Independent workers
While aimed directly at gig workers, this new law may also apply to many more contract or independent worker in California. Under AB-5, workers would be considered employees and not independent contractors if the employer controls the work, directs them in the course of their work or if the worker’s job is part of a company’s core business.

RELATED: Here’s what AB-5 means for gig-workers

SB 188: Hairstyles
California becomes the first state to ban workplace and school discrimination based on a person’s natural hairstyle or hair texture. Protected hairstyles include braids, twists and locks. …

Click here to read the full article from ABC7 News

Troubled California Bullet Train Eyes biggest Contract Ever

The California bullet train authority is moving ahead with an aggressive plan to issue its biggest contract in history, steering into sharp criticism by federal regulators and even the state-appointed peer review panel that it is overreaching.

The agency took a key step last week toward issuing a 30-year-long contract to install track, set up high-voltage electrical lines, create a digital signaling system, build a heavy maintenance train garage and obligate future maintenance of the equipment and track.

It would cover future track from San Jose to Bakersfield, more than half the proposed Los Angeles-to-San Francisco system. It would lock the state into a maintenance contract, as well as equipment, on segments that it currently does not have money to build. …

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

Recent Rains Nearly Eliminate California Drought

Recent rains have saturated California and reduced the portion of the state deemed to be abnormally dry to just 3.6%, according to the Drought Monitor released Thursday.

One week ago, the Drought Monitor showed 85.3% of the state as abnormally dry. Now, 96.4% of the state is drought free.

The data in the report released Thursday are as of Tuesday, so there is a slight lag between when the data are compiled and when they’re released.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced jointly by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. …

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

Drug Overdoses and Deaths Exploding in San Francisco

Admissions to addiction treatment programs in San Francisco have dropped by 20% over the past five years, even as drug use and overdose deaths have exploded, according to public health data published this week.

Combined with recent reports of treatment center vacancies — on some nights, 1 in 4 beds is empty in San Francisco’s residential treatment facilities — the admissions data suggest that certain addiction programs are being underutilized at a time when the city is in a drug use crisis, some public health and elected officials say.

But much of the decrease in admissions may be explained by people seeking other types of addiction services that don’t require residential care. The data alone may not paint a full picture of a public health issue that is complex and currently in flux, addiction experts said. …

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