21 people on Grand Princess cruise ship off California test positive for coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence said a cruise ship being held off the coast of Californa will be directed to a non-commercial port so all crew and passengers can be tested, during a news conference Friday.

Of the 46 people swab-tested on the Grand Princess so far, 21 tested positive for the virus and one was deemed inconclusive, Pence said. The rest tested negative for the disease. Nineteen of those who tested positive were crew members.

“We’re taking all measures necessary to see to the health of the Americans on the Grand Princess and just as importantly to protect the health of the American public and prevent the spread of the disease,” Pence told reporters at the White House. “We will be testing everyone on the ship. We will be quarantining.” …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News.

California’s largest school bond in history headed for defeat

The largest school facility bond in state history appeared headed for defeat Tuesday, falling short of the simple majority needed despite bipartisan support and little formal opposition.

Proposition 13 — unrelated to the same-numbered 1978 tax measure — would push $15 billion in bonds to California’s schools, public universities and community colleges to upgrade facilities and build new ones.

The measure was losing with 56% of voters opposing it, although there were still a significant number of votes still left to count.

It would be the first time voters rejected an education facilities bond in more than two decades. …

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

The No. 1 Bay Area Neighborhood for Political Donations May Surprise You

Bay Area residents have poured more than $28 million into the top Democratic presidential campaigns, with much of the money coming from the young, politically progressive neighborhoods of San Francisco, a Chronicle survey finds.

A look at the contributions coming from each of the region’s 400-plus ZIP codes from 2017 through 2019 found that places supporting progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren look very different from those backing more moderate candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Pete Buttigieg, a centrist and the first openly gay candidate to make a serious run for president, showed strength in a variety of neighborhoods, while billionaire businessman Tom Steyer found only limited support, despite having roots in the Bay Area. …

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

SF Politician Wants to Fund Financial Rewards for Meth Addicts Who Stop Using Drugs

Facing a growing methamphetamine epidemic with few known treatments, a San Francisco state legislator wants to make public funding available for programs that provide financial incentives to participants to stop using drugs.

Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener introduced SB888, which would expand the substance abuse treatment options that qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor, to include contingency management. These programs use vouchers or small cash prizes to motivate people to stay off drugs.

“We need to employ every possible tool to help people recover from this powerful addiction,” Wiener said in a statement. …

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

Massive changes to California voting spark fears of Iowa-style primary chaos

As he looks ahead to California’s March 3 Democratic primary, Neal Kelley is having sleepless nights.

Kelley is the elections chief for Orange County, part of a wave of California counties rolling out sweeping new balloting procedures affecting millions of voters in the nation’s most populous state.

He has good reason to be worried.

Memories of the chaos that plagued Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 3 have election officials nationwide looking to avoid similar embarrassment. Iowa’s results were delayed for days, in part because of the failure of an unproven vote-counting app.

Some mammoth California counties are unveiling their own new voting technology. They’re also eliminating thousands of polling places in the hopes that voters will make use of expanded mail-in balloting or take advantage of extended early in-person voting. …

Click here to read the full article from NPR.

Trump Reignites California Water Wars

California’s decades-old conflict over distribution of water among farmers, urban users and environmental enhancement bears an uncanny resemblance to the decades of sectarian struggles in the Middle East — minus the bloodshed.

In both arenas, periodic efforts are made to forge enduring peace agreements, but just when they seem to be bearing fruit, they are undermined by some new flareup.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has been trying to finalize what predecessor Jerry Brown began, a series of so-called “voluntary agreements” that would shift water from San Joaquin Valley farmers to bolster flows through the environmentally fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They are “so-called” because agricultural water districts were willing to entertain such deals only because the state Water Resources Control Board was poised to unilaterally impose curbs on farmers’ supplies.

However, the state is not the only major power in water wars. Much of California’s agricultural water is supplied by the federal government, mostly through its Central Valley Project, and when Donald Trump became president, he promised farmers he’d protect their interests.

Last week, Trump went to Bakersfield to personally declare he’s making good on that promise. His Bureau of Reclamation finalized a new operating policy that would provide more water to farmers, whose supplies had already been squeezed by a series of court orders. …

Click here to read the full article from CalMatters.org

Los Angeles County Eliminates Criminal Fees

Los Angeles County will stop billing people millions of dollars a year for the costs of their incarceration in an effort to lighten the financial burden on former inmates.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to eliminate all criminal administrative fees over which the county has discretion after hearing  testimony from dozens of formerly incarcerated residents.

The county is the fourth in California to eliminate the fees. If a bill introduced in the state Senate is approved, the rest of California could soon follow.

“Most of the people who have contact with the criminal justice system are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-wrote the measure. “It’s most definitely not the purpose of the justice system to punish poor people for their poverty.”

Among the fees that Los Angeles will no longer collect are a monthly $155 charge for probation supervision, $769 for a pre-sentence report, $50 for alcohol testing and legal counsel fees that can reach hundreds of dollars, according to a November report from a coalition of criminal justice reform advocacy groups. …

Click here to read the full article from California Public Radio

California bill bars insurers from declining fire coverage

Amid mounting cries of California homeowners being denied wildfire insurance in high-risk areas, lawmakers want to require insurance companies to cover all existing homes, as long as they meet new safety standards.

The measure, coming after years of deadly fires causing insurers to turn down more customers, would also require insurance companies to give homeowners financial incentives for fire safety upgrades. Existing homes that meet a new state standard for “fire-hardening” would not be denied coverage under the law.

The industry has resisted previous action to force companies to insure homeowners in high risk areas. Insurers say that devastating and more frequent blazes have jeopardized their profitability and capability to provide coverage. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox40 News.

New Political News Blog – SoCal Political News

A new political news blog – www.socalpoliticalnews.com – has officially launched. With just over a week of posts already up on the website, the site is already growing quickly.

Some of the key factors that SoCal Political News anticipates for their future success is frequent postings and a very strong group of authors linked to the website. Some of the many authors include:

  • Chris Emami
  • Austin Lumbard
  • Dr. Barry Resnick
  • Bob Loewe
  • Craig Alexander
  • Dr. Jeff Barke
  • Mark Bucher
  • Melissa Salinas
  • Jim Palmer
  • Peggy Huang
  • Matt Holder
  • Tim Shaw
  • Will Swaim

The website is currently focused on Orange County. However, work is underway to add experienced authors from Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. An emphasis is being placed on writing about political news, analysis, public policy and government relations. These posts will be on topics at the national, state and local levels of government.

A major goal is not to add to the massive amount of negativity on the internet. The site instead will write in a manner that is fact-based and focuses on providing great content that can sometimes be thought-provoking.

Unlike some other sites, this blog will not allow any of their authors to post anonymously. Over the coming weeks, they are expected to add to their list of authors.

SF Mayor Breed regrets letting Nuru friendship influence her judgment

As Mayor London Breed braces for the potential fallout from her disclosure last week that she accepted $5,600 in gifts from ex-Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, she admitted to a lapse in judgment that allowed her personal life to bleed into her professional one.

Breed laid out what happened in an online post Friday, but her attempt at transparency still left many questions unanswered.

On Tuesday, Breed remained tight-lipped when pressed for details in an interview about why Nuru, a prominent department head, paid for a mechanic to repair Breed’s broken-down car and for a rental car last year. …

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