Six More California Counties Urge Masks Indoors

Six more California counties are urging residents to wear masks in indoor public settings amid concerning upticks in coronavirus cases and continued circulation of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The latest recommendations from Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Ventura raise to 17 the number of counties now asking even fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings as a precaution while inside places like grocery stores, movie theaters and retail outlets.

So far, only one — Los Angeles County — has gone a step further and mandated that masks be worn in such settings. The city of Pasadena, which has its own independent health department, said it would do likewise later this week. …

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

Democratic Mayors Defunded Their Police, While Spending Millions On Their Own Police Protection

In 25 major U.S. cities across the country, officials have already cut – or have proposed cutting — funds from police budgets.

However, in as many as 20 of those same cities, mayors and other city officials enjoy the personal protection of a dedicated police security detail. In many cities, this security costs taxpayers millions of dollars per year.

We found that the defunding of police – coupled with taxpayer dollars spent on police security details protecting public officials– only occurred in cities run by Democratic mayors.

In mid-May, our auditors at filed Freedom of Information Act requests with these 25 cities, asking which city officials have police details, how many officers are assigned, and how much money it costs. …

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California Treasurer Fiona Ma Sued For Sexual Harassment By Former Employee

A former senior employee in the California State Treasurer’s Office has sued Treasurer Fiona Ma for sexual harassment and wrongful termination, alleging that she was fired earlier this year after resisting unwanted sexual advances from Ma.

Judith Blackwell, who worked under Ma for about 16 months as executive director of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, filed the lawsuit last week in Sacramento County Superior Court.

“Plaintiff felt the work environment to be hostile as she felt her employment was contingent on her accepting Defendant Ma’s sexual advances,” Blackwell’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, wrote in the complaint. “As a result of Plaintiff denying Defendant Ma’s advances, she was terminated from her employment.” …

Click here to read the full article from the SF Chronicle.

L.A. Reports 10,000 Virus Cases In A Week

Los Angeles County is now recording more than 10,000 coronavirus cases a week — a pace not seen since March — an alarming sign of the dangers the Delta variant poses to people who have not been vaccinated and heightening pressure on health officials to reverse the trend.

A Los Angeles Times data analysis found L.A. County was recording 101 weekly coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, up from 12 for the seven-day period that ended June 15. That means the county has surpassed the threshold to have “high” community transmission of the disease, the worst tier as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A region must hit 100 or more weekly cases per 100,000 residents to enter the worst tier.

It’s still far fewer than during the deadly winter surge, when L.A. County was recording more than 1,000 weekly cases for every 100,000 residents, but it underscores growing concerns that unvaccinated people are at heightened risk. …

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

Caitlyn Jenner’s Campaign Can’t Get A Foothold

When Caitlyn Jenner launched her bid for governor in late April, the Olympic gold-medal-winning decathlete and reality television star’s website had just two options: “Shop” and “Donate.”

The gubernatorial candidate wouldn’t stake out her first policy position until a week later, when a camera-wielding paparazzo in the parking lot of an upscale Malibu strip mall asked Jenner for her opinion on legislation in various states that would ban transgender girls from playing girls’ sports in school.

The most prominent transgender candidate in American political history paused to shepherd her dog Baxter into her Cadillac Escalade, turned back to the camera and said she opposed “biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school.” Jenner’s position put her in diametric opposition to LGBTQ advocacy groups around the country, who have been battling a record number of anti-trans bills pushed by conservatives in more than 30 states. …

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

The Hourly Pay You Need To Afford Rent on a S.F. Apartment

When Buddy Hall led his last tour to Muir Woods in March 2020, he didn’t know how hard the pandemic was about to hit San Francisco’s tourism industry. Sixteen months later, Hall, 62, is staring down overdue credit cards and $11,000 in back rent on the two-bedroom apartment his family of four has called home since 1993.

Aside from a few language translation gigs, work remains scarce. He applied for the state’s rent relief program in April, but hasn’t heard back.

“How do I get out of this?” Hall said. “I had enough trouble making enough income for San Francisco before COVID.”

A new report shows that Hall’s story reflects a widening gap between Bay Area renters. The new analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that it takes a household income of $68.33 an hour — more than four times the local $16.32 minimum wage — to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco area. …

Click here to read the full article from the SF Chronicle.

California Lawmakers Will Vote On Guaranteed Income Grants

Removed from her mother’s custody at age 17, Naihla De Jesus bounced between living with an aunt, a godmother and a boyfriend until landing in a transitional housing program for former foster kids.

She became ineligible for that program when she turned 24 last year, which normally would have ended her government assistance as a foster child. Instead, the taxpayers of Santa Clara County have been paying her $1,000 per month with no restrictions on how she can spend it, part of a unique “guaranteed income” program targeting former foster care children.

Now, the California Legislature is scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would help pay for guaranteed income programs like this across the state. It would be the first state-funded program of its kind in the country, a major step for supporters whose goal is to take guaranteed income nationally. …

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

50 Percent of Those Released From S.F. Jail Before Trial Were Accused of a New Crime While Free

Roughly half of people charged with crimes and released from jail before their trials in San Francisco in recent years failed to show up for court, and a similar share were accused of committing a new crime while free, a new study found.

More than 1 in 6 defendants allegedly committed a new violent offense, according to the findings from May 2016 to December 2019 published by the California Policy Lab, based at UC Berkeley and UCLA.

The factors behind the statistics are complex, experts and advocates said, and present challenges for the city’s effort to reduce the number of low-risk people in jail before they’re convicted of a crime and get them the support they may need to better their lives.

The data doesn’t include many of the lowest risk defendants who get a citation reminding them to show up at court and are released immediately. Numbers could also be driven in part by homelessness and addiction that can fuel crimes and hinder people from showing up for court. One in three people in San Francisco jails were unhoused and nearly 3 out of 4 had a history of substance use in recent counts. …

Click here to read the full article from the SF Chronicle.

Lawsuits Challenge California’s Corporate Board Diversity Quotas

California faces a federal court challenge to state laws that require public companies to diversify their boards, including a first-in-the-nation mandate requiring companies to include minorities.

The “quota regime” imposed by laws that call for gender and racial balance violate the U.S. Constitution and hurt others seeking corporate director positions, the Austin, Texas-based Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment said in a complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles. A separate group had earlier filed two suits against the laws in state court.

The Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment is led by Edward Blum, the longtime conservative activist and affirmative-action foe. Blum spearheaded an unsuccessful legal fight by Students for Fair Admissions Inc. to stop Harvard University from using race as a factor in admissions.

An appeal is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also was involved in a successful challenge to limits imposed by the Voting Rights Act, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shelby County, Ala., in 2013. …

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

Gavin Newsom Loses Court Fight To Be Listed As A Democrat On Recall Ballot

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will not have his party affiliation next to his name when voters receive their recall ballots in a few weeks, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled on Monday.

Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles said in his ruling that the secretary of state’s office does not have a responsibility to repair a mistake made by Newsom’s attorneys.

Arguelles further wrote that a 2019 state law regarding elections does not compel candidates to identify party affiliation.

“It is clear from both the text and the legislative history that SB 151 does not consider information about an elected officer’s party affiliation so vital voters that it must be included on the ballot,” Arguelles wrote. …

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee.