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RECENT PODS:

  • Capiitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell (2021-04-11)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto (2020-04-09)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): soon-to-be-retired Metropolitan Water District of Southern California head honcho Jeff Kightlinger  (2021-04-04)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Political consutant Rose Kapolczynski on Newsom's Rising Fortunes and Her Love of the Underdog (2021-04-01)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) (2021-03-26)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) on hate crimes, COVID-19, and post-pandemic priorities (2021-03-26)

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building
  • Associate Position at CleanSweep Campaigns, San Francisco
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law

RECALL WATCH: The final signature reports are due from counties Monday, April 19. As of March 11, 1,188,073 signatures had been validated. Proponents need 1,495,709 to qualify the recall, a total that they are fully expected to meet.

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The Nooner for Monday, April 12, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

¡Buenos dias mis amigos y amigas! It's a crazy week for policy committees, with condensed hearings due to the use of only rooms (and the chambers) that allow for social distancing. There is an upside for lobbyists who often at this time of the year have bills up in multiple concurrent hearings. It also applies to this former lobbyist who now writes daily, well mostly daily over the last month of shoulder pain.

This morning's craziness has been in Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments. "Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Am I on?" No f-bombs yet, unlike several times last year.

PPIC has an interesting free virtual event on Wednesday at 11am on "Vote-by-Mail and Voter Turnout in the Pandemic Election," which will be relevant in elections throughout this year, particularly for the likely recall election.

Many states changed their policies to increase voting by mail and reduce the risk from COVID-19 during the 2020 election. In California, officials took extra steps to facilitate vote-by-mail and accommodate in-person voting. PPIC researcher Eric McGhee will present findings on how these policy shifts affected voter turnout in California and the nation.

You can get more information and register here.

SUNDAY AT THE NOONER: It was great to be back yesterday with the use of my left arm. Hopefully it stays that way and I can avoid the clang-clang of an MRI, both in the machine and the co-pay that follows. While still a bit sore, I have full range-of-motion and know numbness in my hand. Here's what I covered yesterday:

  • 2022 election
  • AD79 (East San Diego)
  • COVID-19
    -data dive
    -vaccines
    -variants
    -tiers for fears
    -home worship gatherings
    -school daze
    -restaurants and movie theaters
  • Wildfires
  • Sonoma County
  • Huntington Beach

POLICING REFORM: Tuesday at 1:30pm, Senate Public Safety will hear SB 2 (Bradford and Atkins), which among other things would largely end qualified immunity for police and require agencies employing peace officers to report the reason for separation of employment to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). With the Derek Chauvin (George Floyd death) trial getting wall-to-wall coverage, the December 5 traffic stop of a uniformed army officer video going viral, and another case in a Minneapolis suburb yesterday leading to major protests, you can bet that the hearing will be hot.

You can watch the hearing here.

While it's almost certain the bill will pass Senate Public Safety, which bill author Senator Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) chairs, law enforcement groups killed many of the provisions last session, and have the ability to kill bills in the middle of the night. For Bradford's SB 731 last session, it happened on the Assembly Floor when it wasn't taken up on the final night of session.

With the number of organizations in support and opposition, the AT&T operators managing phone-in testimony during a largely closed Capitol are going to have a lot of work on their hands. The committee agenda says that bills will be heard in file order, which is numerical by biill number. However, Bradford has the last two bills on the agenda as well, so I would guess that SB 2 will be toward the end of the hearing, but who knows in these strange days in the Capitol.

From the committee analysis:

Support:

Alliance for Boys and Men of Color; American Civil Liberties Union/Northern California/Southern California/San Diego and Imperial Counties; Anti-Police Terror Project; Asian Prisoner Support Committee; Asian Solidarity Collective; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; Black Lives Matter-California; Black Lives Matter Los Angeles; Brotherhood Crusade; California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice; California Coalition of School Safety Professionals; California Department of Insurance; California Immigrant Policy Center; California Families United 4 Justice; California Public Defenders Association (CPDA); Californians for Safety and Justice; Change for Justice; Children's Defense Fund – CA; Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice; Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ); Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance; Consumer Attorneys of California; Drug Policy Alliance; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC); Equal Rights Advocates; Families United 4 Justice; Fresno Barrios Unidos; Friends Committee on Legislation of California; Giffords; Indivisible East Bay; Indivisible South Bay LA; Indivisible Yolo; Initiate Justice; Justice Reinvestment Coaltion of Alameda County; Kern County Participatory Defense; Law Enforcement Accountability Network; League of Women Voters of California; Legal Services for Prisoners With Children; Los Angeles LGBT Center; Los Angeles School Police Association; Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center; Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County; Mid-city Community Advocacy Network; National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter; National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform; Nextgen California; Northridge Indivisible; Orange County Emergency Response Coalition; Organizers in Solidarity; Pacifica Social Justice; People's Budget Orange County; Palos Verdes Police Officers Association; Pillars of The Community San Diego; PolicyLink; Prosecutors Alliance of California; Riverside Sheriffs’ Association; Roots of Change; Salesforce; San Francisco Board of Supervisors; San Francisco Public Defender; San Jose State University Human Rights Institute; Santa Ana Police Officers Association; Santa Monica Coalition for Police Reform; Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Long Beach; Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) San Diego; Showing Up for Racial Justice North County; Smart Justice California; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center; STOP Coalition; Team Justice; The Resistance Northridge Indivisible; Think Dignity; Together We Will/indivisible - Los Gatos; UDW/AFSCME Local 3930; We the People - San Diego; White People 4 Black Lives; Yalla Indivisible; Youth Justice Coalition

Opposition:

Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff's; California Association of Highway Patrolmen; California Coalition of School Safety Professionals; California Fraternal Order of Police; California Police Chiefs Association; California State Sheriffs’ Association; California Statewide Law Enforcement Association; Long Beach Police Officers Association; Los Angeles School Police Association; Palos Verdes Police Officers Association; Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC); Riverside Sheriffs’ Association; Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs Association; San Bernardino County Safety Employees' Benefit Association; Santa Ana Police Officers Association

 "JOB KILLERS": For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes about the annual "job killers" list put out by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Annually, the California Chamber of Commerce chooses a relative handful of the hundreds of bills pending in the Legislature and labels them “job killers” that would impose new regulatory or taxation burdens.

The publication of the chamber’s list of measures it considers most onerous has become an important ritual because it defines the current parameters of a perpetual Capitol conflict, pitting business and employer interests against a quartet of rival groups — unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and personal injury lawyers.

The targeted bills tend to be the highest priorities of the four and the annual jousting is a rough test of the Capitol’s ideological orientation.

...

Most of the measures on this year’s 22-bill list generally fall into two categories — higher personal or corporate taxes and new mandates on employers.

The tax measures are probably dead on arrival because Gov. Gavin Newsom has publicly declared that he would reject any that reach his desk. While the governor endorses expensive expansions of services, including universal pre-kindergarten and single-payer health care, he is opposed — at least at the moment — to new taxes to pay for them.

UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD: As law enforcement continues to track down those who swindled billions in unemployment insurance in California last year, Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies arrested a woman on Friday who allegedly was part of the scheme, reports Vincent Moleski for The Bee.

In a news release, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office said Jamie Williams-Major was taken into custody on suspicion of fraudulently taking more than $250,000 from the employment agency in a scheme involving several others.

Williams-Major, 35, was arrested while at work. Afterward, investigators served a search warrant at her Laramie Lane home which revealed EDD paperwork from fraudulent accounts as well as fraudulent credit card information.

Six other suspects are in custody, according to the District Attorney’s Office, four of whom are in Sacramento County. Of those, two are facing murder charges.

Two other suspects not in Sacramento County custody are being held by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and they will be brought to Sacramento to face fraud charges, along with the other suspects. According to the District Attorney’s Office, several of these suspects have been previously convicted on gang-related offenses.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: In the LAT, Michael Burke and Daniel J. Willis report that California community college enrollment has plummeted during the pandemic and if they don't recover in the next several years, the financial viability of some colleges is threatened.

Systemwide, more than 260,000 fewer students enrolled in fall 2020 compared with fall 2019, a 16.8% drop. Enrollment in California’s community college system, the largest in the nation with about 2 million full- and part-time students, has largely been flat for the past decade.

Colleges that experienced significant drops could be at risk if they “don’t stabilize or build back enrollment” over the next several years, said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office, reiterating a warning that was delivered in a memo to the systemwide Board of Governors last month.

An analysis of fall 2020 enrollment data, the most recent available, by EdSource, a nonprofit education news organization, shows:

  • Of the 105 colleges that showed an enrollment drop, 35 saw a decline of at least 20%, with the highest more than 50%. Only six colleges showed any increase. (Of the 116 colleges in the system, 111 had enrollment data.)
  • The highest percentage decline was at the College of the Siskiyous, in the northernmost part of the state, which lost 56% of its students from 3,095 to 1,353. The next highest drop is Reedley College in the Central Valley, which lost 4,381 students, a 39.5% decrease.
  • Santa Ana College, in Orange County, lost the highest number of students: 11,971, a 34% drop.
  • Others that lost at least a fourth of their students include MiraCosta College in San Diego County, which lost 4,047, nearly 28%.
  • Many colleges in lightly populated, rural communities have been especially hard hit.

NURSING HOMES: On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver dove into the issue of nursing homes in a brutal takedown last night.

COVID-19, invasive species, Huntington Beach, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

COVID-19: California reported an additional 61 deaths yesterday for a total of 60,071 since the pandemic began. As usual, weekend reporting often has a lag.

-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 1.6% (-0.1%), far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30.

-vaccines:

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 22,777,893 (not the number of people vaccinated because of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 28,121,700
  • availability: If you are 16+ awaiting a vaccine for when "open season" begins on Thursday (like me), we may be waiting weeks. One of the biggest providers, Kaiser, is warning that there will be insufficient supply for "a few weeks" because of a delay in Johnson & Johnson deliveries. Catherine Ho reports for the Chron:

    Kaiser Permanente, a major Bay Area vaccinator, will not be able to administer as many coronavirus shots as it had hoped for at least a few weeks because of a projected drop in vaccine supply coming to California, the health care provider said Friday.

    California and many other states said this week they are expecting less supply over the next two weeks, largely because of big decrease in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a manufacturing error that forced 15 million doses to be discarded. California will receive 15% fewer doses next week compared to this week, and 5% fewer the week after that, just as millions of people are slated to become eligible for shots starting Thursday.

    “This significant reduction in our nation’s vaccine supply is happening just as eligibility is expanding to everyone over 16 years of age,” Kaiser spokesman Karl Sonkin said in a statement. “This means that there will be fewer vaccination appointments available than planned, for at least the next few weeks, just as millions more people start signing up for a vaccination.”

    For CalMatters, Emily Hoeven reports:

    On Thursday, California will expand vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older — the same day the vast majority of counties will get the green light to resume indoor concerts, conferences, weddings and other gatherings under certain conditions.

    But the promising news comes amid some not-so-promising numbers: The Golden State’s vaccine supply is set to shrink 15% this week and another 5% the week after, largely due to a manufacturing mixup that ruined 15 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Because some doses are reserved for Californians getting their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the number of available first shots will drop 33% this week and 4% the week after, even as millions more people become eligible, according to the state Department of Public Health.

  • hesitancy: While vaccine hesitancy is dropping, the Register's Teri Sforza reports that it is stubborn in the evangelical community. For The Bee, Hannah Wiley looks at what public health officials are doing to address vaccine hesitancy that could delay reopening plans:

    California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said during an April 6 press call that state officials were working hard to address vaccine skepticism through a $40 million statewide public awareness campaign.

    The California Department of Public Health is also partnering with local advocacy groups and leaders to build trust in marginalized communities that historically have been excluded or mistreated by medical organizations.

    Ghaly said that the campaign addresses “reasonable, important, very thoughtful questions” that Californians have about “what the vaccine does, how it works and what it will do in the long and short run.”

-variants: In the LAT, Rong-Gong Lin II looks at whether the spread of the West Coast variant is keeping a lid on a spring surge in other parts of the country.

The Midwest, New England and the New York areas have faced troubling rises in coronavirus cases, and some have expressed concern that Los Angeles County has previously been only a few weeks behind trends coming out of New York. In the last week, average daily coronavirus cases nationally are up 5% over the previous week and the change in new COVID-19 hospitalizations is up 7%.

But so far, California remains in good shape, relatively speaking. California has one of the lowest average daily coronavirus case rates in the nation over the most recent seven-day period, while Michigan’s case rate — the worst in the nation — is 12 times higher than California’s, placing growing strain on hospitals there.

One factor that might be helping California — for reasons not fully understood — is the presence of the California variant. The California variant here might be helping to keep a lid on the U.K. variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than the conventional strains of the coronavirus and likely results in a greater chance of death.

Meanwhile, from the California Department of Public Health:

  • "UK strain": B.1.1.7 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission, and likely with increased disease severity and risk of death. Appears to have minimal impact on the effectiveness of treatments with antibodies.
  • "South Africa strain" B.1.351 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission. May have moderately decreased response to antibody treatments.
  • "Brazil strain": P.1 variants may have moderately decreased response to some antibody treatments.
  • "West Coast strain"": B.1.427 and B.1.429 are associated with approximately 20% increased transmission. There is significantly reduced efficacy of some antibody treatments.

Here are the variants of concern in California. Remember that this is just from 33,481 samples of the 3.5+ million cases in California.

Known Variants of Concern in California
As of April 7, 2021

Variant  Number of Cases Caused by Variant 
B.1.1.7    980
B.1.351    14
P.1    37
B.1.427   3,999
B.1.429   8,430

You can view a US map by strain prevalence on the CDC site.

-tiers for fears: As a reminder, any county must remain at a tier for three weeks before progressing to a less-restrictive tier, even if the metrics continue to improve. Meanwhile, last week's adjusted case rate for Sacramento County was still at 9 per 100k residents, far from the orange tier which much of the Bay Area and all of Southern California have progressed. Anyway, we'll see new data tomorrow, but don't expect a tier change in SacTown.

Here's where the counties stand.

  • 2 counties in the Purple (widespread) Tier (0.8% of population): Inyo and Merced.
  • 22 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier (18.7% of population): Amador, Calaveras, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Madera, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, and Yuba.
  • 32 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier (80.5% of population): Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Lassen, Marin, Napa, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo.
  • 2 counties in Yellow (minimal) Tier (0.0% of population): Alpine and Sierra.

COVID statewide map

Tier table

-school daze: In the Chron, Jill Tucker looks at schools in the Central Valley city of Manteca, which brought students back for in-person instruction in November well-ahead of Bay Area schools (and Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego).

Since November, thousands of K-12 students in Manteca — a diverse, low-income district — have been back on campus at least two days a week. Students at Sierra are spending full days in biology, algebra, ceramics, social studies, Spanish class or an agricultural biology course, which includes taking care of a half dozen small turkeys housed in a classroom.

“This is what we’re here for,” [district superintendent Steven] Burke said. “It takes all senses to learn. There’s a reason to have schools.” 

Across the Bay Area, many public schools, including those in San Francisco and Oakland, are months behind Manteca, reopening in recent days, with no plans to bring back most middle and high school students before the fall.

Schools across the region have remained shuttered even as politicians, health experts and many families have urged a return to in-person learning. California state law also speaks to it, saying as of June that districts “shall offer in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible.”

Oakland only recently reopened to the youngest students and San Francisco will follow with a similar phase-in of elementary and high-needs students starting Monday. Both districts have struggled to line up enough teachers to reopen.

For CapRadio, Sarah Mizes-Tan writes that, among school districts that are returning with hybrid instruction, Asian Americans are disproportionately opting to continue with distance learning.

At Sacramento City Unified School District, data on return rates of students showed that Asian Americans were the least likely student group to return for classes. Just a third of Asian American students said they’d come back for in-person learning this month. 

These numbers most starkly contrasted with the return rates of white students, where 71% said they’d return for in-person classes. About 50% of Black and Latinx students stated they’d return.  

Mya Baker with The New Teacher Project, a national education nonprofit, says her organization has been hearing statistics like these across the country. 

“We’re actually seeing that Asian students and family are choosing not to return to in-person learning at some of the highest rates across the country and regardless of the school environment,” Baker said. 

She said parents report a number of reasons, namely safety related to contracting COVID-19 and concerns about increased bullying and harassment. 

“We’ve seen one report that said when they surveyed students of Chinese descent, they found that 80% of those students had witnessed COVID-related discrimination either in person or online,” Baker said. “So when you see those numbers so incredibly high, you understand that parents have concerns about both the physical and emotional safety of their students.” 

INVASIVE SPECIES: For CalMatters, Julie Cart looks at the battle against invasive species in California.

California has “unique things that make us susceptible,” given the enormous diversity of its environment, said Martha Volkoff, who manages the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s invasive species program. “We have a lot of risks that states that are more homogenous wouldn’t have.”

Costly to control, these invasives have damaged some California crops and critical flood control and water delivery systems.

California spends $3 million a year attempting to eradicate nutria, a large, homely, orange-toothed rodent that destroys wetlands and bores holes into levees. Another $3 million a year goes to educating boaters about quagga mussels, which hitch rides on hulls and cling to equipment in the state’s vast water transport system.  And, for the last 20 years, authorities have spent more than $34 million to manage Atlantic cordgrass in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

These costs represent only a fraction of the costs “because eradication is rarely successful and control is an unending process,” according to a report that state officials presented to the Legislature in January.

HUNTINGTON BEACH: A team at the Register reports:

A “white lives matter” rally promoted in leaflets touting the Ku Klux Klan was vastly outnumbered on Sunday by Black Lives Matter supporters and others who showed up at the Huntington Beach pier to condemn hate speech.

At the peak, at least 500 people gathered in Downtown Huntington Beach on either side of Pacific Coast Highway, and a series of skirmishes broke out. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., police declared an unlawful assembly at the nearby 5th Street and Walnut Avenue intersection to disperse what law enforcement officials described as an unruly crowd.

The dispersal followed what had started earlier in the day as a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally, but exploded into chaos as apparent white lives protesters arrived, throwing insults – and at times punches.

But while the KKK fliers that appeared earlier in the week drew widespread revulsion and fear of an outbreak of large-scale violence, the event instead mostly resulted in small fights. The Huntington Beach white lives rally was one of dozens in cities around the country that reportedly drew far fewer people than expected.

The LAT reports that there were 12 arrests. although doesn't specify which side they were on.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Senator Henry Stern!

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