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California Policy and P  olitics Thursday Morning  

Gov. Newsom expects Giants, A’s fans will be in stands for Opening Day -- Major league ballparks in California could open up to a limited number of fans by the time Opening Day rolls around in the first weeks of April, Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated in a press conference Wednesday in Long Beach. Shayna Rubin in the San Jose Mercury$ Jeremy B. White Politico Hunter Lee in the San Jose Mercury$ Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

Reopen    

California to speed county reopening as COVID vaccinations increase -- As more Californians get vaccinated, the state will make it easier for counties to reopen, Newsom administration officials announced Wednesday evening. Sophia Bollag in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/4/21

Once-cautious Bay Area counties moving swiftly to reopen -- With coronavirus case numbers plummeting, vaccinations rising and several Bay Area counties reopening their economy, it feels like the end is in sight for the pandemic. But public health experts warned Wednesday that a false sense of optimism could have deadly consequences, particularly as highly infectious coronavirus variants continue to take hold in the state. Aidin Vaziri in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Santa Clara County’s red-tier reopening: ‘Are you ready to come inside?’ -- Under the new rules, restaurants, museums and movie theaters are now allowed to resume indoor operations at 25% capacity while retail stores can expand to 50%. Gyms and fitness centers can reopen but are limited to 10%. Linda Zavoral in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/4/21

Vaccine  

California to give 40% of vaccine doses to vulnerable areas -- California will begin setting aside 40% of all vaccine doses for the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in an effort to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly. Kathleen Ronayne Associated Press Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Victoria Colliver Politico Nicole Nixon, Kris Hooks Capital Public Radio -- 3/4/21

Reports of underdosing at Coliseum vaccine site are false, state officials say -- State officials are pushing back against a TV report that said thousands of people vaccinated at the Oakland Coliseum this week received doses smaller than they should be. Michael Williams, Meghan Bobrowsky, Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Long before police officers were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, some were getting shots -- Hundreds of police officers in San Diego County rolled up their sleeves to get COVID-19 vaccines before they were officially eligible under loosely coordinated efforts that matched unused shots with those who wanted protection against the coronavirus. Karen Kucher, David Hernandez in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/4/21

Bay Area restaurant workers are getting vaccinated ahead of indoor dining. But safety concerns remain -- As indoor dining begins opening up around the Bay Area, restaurant workers are just starting to get vaccinated. Generally, they are exhaling — and sometimes crying — with relief. Janelle Bitker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Worried about getting your second vaccine dose late? Don’t be, say San Diego researchers -- There are plenty of other vaccines that require multiple shots. The exact timing of those shots isn’t key, and waiting longer can actually help. Jonathan Wosen in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/4/21

Catholic leaders raised 'moral concerns' over COVID vaccines. Here's how S.F.'s archbishop weighed in -- Two of the country’s most powerful Catholic leaders said Tuesday that the use of fetal stem cells in the manufacturing process of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine raises “moral concerns,” a position that is at odds with the Vatican and California’s Catholic conference, which support all vaccines. Nora Mishanec in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Los Angeles County finds fewer cases among health care workers as more get vaccinated -- Reports of new virus cases among health care workers in the county have fallen by 94 percent since late November, just before vaccination began. Eileen Sullivan in the New York Times$ -- 3/4/21

School  

Teacher vaccination a main driver in reopening schools -- Lawmakers are expected Thursday to approve a $6.6 billion bill aimed at enticing more public schools to reopen this spring, but it doesn’t appear to be driving districts around the state to bring kids back earlier than they had already planned. John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/4/21

Nurse shortage could make reopening school campuses more difficult -- School nurses could play a key role in helping school campuses reopen and keeping students and staff safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, but many California schools don’t have one. In districts that have nurses, most divide their time between multiple schools. Diana Lambert EdSource -- 3/4/21 .

S.F. teachers should have their first vaccine shot within a week -- The finger-pointing in the reopening of San Francisco schools continued Wednesday, as district officials blamed the city for not supporting a return to classrooms and labor leaders blamed the district for not organizing on-site vaccinations, even as priority vaccines rolled out for thousands of teachers and school staff. Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Another school district finalizes plans to reopen. Twin Rivers sets April 6 return date -- Elementary students will return to campus in a hybrid model, starting April 6. Middle and high school students will return the same day if Sacramento County enters the red tier before then, which is expected. Sawsan Morrar in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/4/21

Group affiliated with teachers union accuses Times of bias in L.A. Unified reopening coverage -- A coalition of teachers, parents and community activists on Wednesday accused The Times of giving disproportionate coverage to those who want to quickly reopen Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, and short shrift to those in minority communities who urge a more deliberate approach during the coronavirus pandemic. James Rainey in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

School Sports  

California’s prep sports coronavirus testing plan: What you need to know -- As high school competition in football and water polo draws closer, most Bay Area athletes will not be subject to the required weekly testing outlined in California’s new guidelines for outdoor sports. For the thousands of student-athletes and coaches in other parts of California, the state this week provided new details on the logistics of the testing regimen. Evan Webeck in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 3/4/21

Beutner says LAUSD outdoor athletic practices, competitions can begin -- Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner likely made thousands of high school students happy Wednesday afternoon with an announcement that many didn’t expect to happen this school year. Tarek Fattal in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/4/21

Policy & Politics 

Skelton: The Newsom recall effort has a big problem: Orange County -- If a Republican cause can’t win big in Orange County, it’s probably doomed statewide in Democrat-dominated California. It’s just a matter of math: Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in voter registration statewide. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

San Francisco is high up the list of cities donating money to Newsom's recall -- The financial engine of the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has been less populist and largely driven by mega-donors writing six-figure checks. But where do these mega-donors live? Dustin Gardiner in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

As Newsom Pushes To Extend Emergency Spending Authority During Pandemic, Lobbyist Influence Remains Opaque -- At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, lobbyist Mark Weideman reached out to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff with an offer. Weideman’s client, manufacturer BYD, wanted to donate 50,000 masks and thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer. The state accepted. Scott Rodd Capital Public Radio -- 3/4/21

New stimulus plan would leave out 2.4 million Californians -- Millions of higher-income Californians would get lower federal economic stimulus payments, or none at all, under a new Senate plan unveiled Wednesday, an economic research firm’s analysis found. David Lightman in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/4/21

Free Money Success  

Study: Employment rose among those in free money experiment -- After getting $500 per month for two years without rules on how to spend it, 125 people in California paid off debt, got full-time jobs and reported lower rates of anxiety and depression, according to a study released Wednesday. Adam Beam Associated Press Laura S. Diaz in the Stockton Record-- 3/4/21

Workplace  

California GOP employee claims racial discrimination in suit -- The California Republican Party has been sued by an employee alleging racial discrimination by a colleague and retaliation for reporting it. Lawyers for Botisha McKnight, who is Black, filed her lawsuit against the party and two former employees this week in Sacramento County Superior Court. Kathleen Ronayne Associated Press Kim Bojórquez in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/4/21

Street      

TV reporter robbed of camera equipment on S.F.'s Twin Peaks -- A reporter interviewing residents about car break-ins on Twin Peaks in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight Wednesday, said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. Lauren Hernández in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

East Bay freelance reporter sues Richmond after being shot with rubber bullet -- An East Bay freelance journalist who was shot by police with a rubber bullet while covering a protest over the George Floyd killing has sued the city of Richmond, saying she was wearing her press badge and posed no threat when an unidentified officer opened fire. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Manhattan Beach police officer charged with sexting a juvenile -- John Cheatham, 33, was charged with two counts of contacting a minor for sex and one count of annoying or molesting a child, according to a statement issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. James Queally, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

LAPD officer dies after being struck by vehicle on duty -- Officer Jose Anzora succumbed to injuries suffered Feb. 26, when he was struck while on duty in Newton Division, an area south of downtown Los Angeles. Anzora worked in the division for most of his 10-year career with the LAPD, according to the email. Matthew Ormseth, Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

Rent    

New data shows San Francisco apartment rents on the rise, just as the city reopens -- While year-over-year rents dropped 26% in San Francisco, rental prices increased 1.2% in February from January, producing a median one-bedroom rent of $2,010. Kellie Hwang in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Homeless  

L.A. is entitled to federal aid to put homeless people in hotels. It hasn’t asked for any yet -- The city of Los Angeles has not received millions of dollars in federal aid it may be owed to house homeless people in hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic because, nearly a year into the crisis, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration hasn’t asked for the money yet. Benjamin Oreskes, Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

Disney Stores  

Disney Store to shut 60 locations and focus on online sales -- There are 300 Disney Stores worldwide, and the planned move will shut 20% of them this year. The decision comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more consumers to avoid in-person shopping and instead turn to online sales. Hugo Martín in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

Environment   

California Condors Get an Assist From an Unlikely Source: A Wind Power Company -- Federal wildlife authorities in California are working with a wind energy company to breed the endangered birds in captivity to replace any that may be killed by turbine blades. Conservationists are skeptical. Sarah Bahr in the New York Times$ -- 3/4/21

2 new measures aim to take diesel trucks off Southern California roads -- Two sweeping air pollution regulations aimed at removing smog-causing diesel trucks from Southern California roadways and warehouses are being released for public review within the next 30 days. Steve Scauzillo in the Riverside Press Enterprise$ -- 3/4/21

Petaluma bans all new gas stations in push to curb emissions -- Petaluma has become what officials said is the first city in the country to permanently ban the construction of new gas stations, a move intended to signal a faster transition to zero-emission vehicles ahead of California’s sweeping efforts to curtail climate change. Vanessa Arredondo in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/4/21

Also . . .   

L.A. County sheriff obtains search warrant in Tiger Woods crash, seeking SUV data -- Seeking answers to why Tiger Woods crashed on a dangerous stretch of a Palos Verdes Peninsula highway, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s traffic investigator has obtained a search warrant for the pre-crash data from the Genesis GV80 SUV’s onboard computer systems. Richard Winton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

A bear strolls Eagle Rock, miles from home -- A bear ambled through yards in Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock neighborhood Tuesday night on a stroll wildlife experts said was unusually far from the wilderness where bears reside. Lila Seidman in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/4/21

Beltway    

House passes sweeping voting rights bill over GOP opposition -- House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation. Brian Slodysko Associated Press -- 3/4/21

 

Wednesday Updates   

L.A., O.C. could significantly reopen economies in weeks. Here’s what needs to happen -- Both heavily populated counties are now on the cusp of potentially moving into the red tier, a more permissive category of the state’s reopening road map that would allow wider indoor business operations — including at restaurants and gyms — as well as the resumption of in-person classes for students in grades 7 through 12. Luke Money, Rong-Gong Lin II in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/3/21

Newsom calls Texas 'absolutely reckless' for lifting Covid rules -- While Newsom did not specifically name Texas or its Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, it was clear Newsom’s rebuke was aimed at Abbott’s decision to lift a mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at full capacity. Earlier in the day, Newsom reacted to Abbott’s move by tweeting, “Absolutely reckless.” Jeremy B. White Politico Kellie Hwang, Susie Neilson in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/3/21

Areas hardest hit by COVID-19 in LA County are least likely to be vaccinated -- In the push to inoculate as many people as possible with a limited supply of coronavirus vaccine, public health officials in Los Angeles County have noticed a disturbing trend they say is indicative of the coronavirus pandemic overall and the health care system in general. David Rosenfeld in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/3/21

Majority white areas got more PPP business loan money than Latino areas, UCLA study says -- Majority white areas of California received more money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses than majority Latino areas did, according to a study by UCLA researchers. Alejandra Reyes-Velarde in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/3/21

School  

Why there’s ‘a real feeling of hope’ Sacramento city schools could reopen next month -- District officials and the Sacramento City Teachers Association union have proposed the same reopening dates, beginning April 8, in a rare point of consensus between the sides as they work to return students back to campus for the first time in more than a year. Vincent Moleski and Sawsan Morrar in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

These two El Dorado County school districts are returning to a full schedule this month -- That means that by mid-March all 15 school districts will be open in El Dorado County. The only school that remains closed is South Tahoe High School, according to El Dorado County Office of Education communications director Dina Gentry. Sawsan Morrar in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

All San Diego outdoor high school sports cleared to start -- The numbers are finally working in San Diego’s favor with the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 falling to a modified 10.8, well below the 14.0 needed to resume all youth outdoor sports, including full football practice. John Maffei in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 3/3/21

Policy & Politics 

Newsom recall bankrolled by wealthy mega-donors, national Republicans - and retirees -- Of the nearly $4 million that recall organizers say they have raised, more than half has come from two dozen contributors — wealthy individuals, deep-pocketed companies and Republican groups. Large contributions poured in over the last three months as the recall effort became a statewide and national Republican cause célèbre, boosted by regular segments on Fox News and other conservative outlets. Dustin Gardiner in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 3/3/21

Xavier Becerra’s cabinet nomination clears first hurdle in a tied vote. What happens next? -- The tie means Becerra’s nomination can still go forward, but it will require the added step of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, calling for a vote in the full Senate to discharge the nomination from committee. Kate Irby in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

California to pay for quarantine of refugees seeking asylum at Mexico border -- California plans to spend $28 million to aid asylum seekers entering the country through the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry to await their court dates. Kim Bojórquez in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

Who should pay for pension mistakes? California Legislature could make a change -- A proposal aimed at ending surprise pension reductions for California retirees is back, accompanied by old questions over who should be responsible for mistakes that lead to benefit recalculations. Wes Venteicher in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

Barabak: After Nancy Pelosi, who? San Francisco plays a guessing game -- In the past half-century, just three people have held the seat representing this lovely, boisterous city in Congress. Two of them — Phil Burton and Nancy Pelosi — account for all but a handful of those 57 years. Mark Z. Barabak in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/3/21

Special election: Sydney Kamlager headed for victory in 30th State Senate seat -- Sydney Kamlager appeared be headed for a lopsided win in a crowded special election to represent the 30th Senate District, winning 67.67% of votes from ballots counted in semifinal returns late Tuesday night, March 2. If the results held, she would assume the state Senate seat vacated by Supervisor Holly Mitchell who is now on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Bradley Bermont in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 3/3/21

Border Crash   

Cause of crash that killed 13 still a mystery, as is why 25 people were packed into SUV -- A day after an SUV carrying 25 people crashed into a big rig truck, leaving 13 dead and the rest injured, investigators are beginning to piece together what brought the vehicles to the highway intersection Tuesday morning. Faith E. Pinho, Andrew J. Campa, Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 3/3/21

AP Exclusive: SUV in crash came through hole in border fence -- Gregory Bovino, the agency’s El Centro sector chief, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that surveillance video showed a Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Suburban drive through the opening early Tuesday. It’s believed they were part of a migrant smuggling operation. Elliot Spagat Associated Press -- 3/3/21

EDD Fraud  

Feds indict inmate, Fresno man in latest California unemployment fraud prosecution -- Federal prosecutors have indicted a California prison inmate in yet another case involving the state’s massive unemployment insurance fraud scandal. Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert announced the indictment of Jason Vertz, 51, of Fresno and Alana Powers, 45, an inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

Cable Cars  

Mayor Breed says SF's most beloved tourist attraction will return this year -- After Breed's announcement, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Association released a statement saying it will phase in the F Market and Wharves Line in May. The F runs along Market and the Embarcadero with historic street cars. Amy Graff in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 3/3/21

Street   

‘Just a beginning’: Black Lives Matter sign to be installed in Sacramento’s Oak Park -- A wooden structure spelling the words “Black Lives Matter,” the movement and global rallying cry for racial justice, will be installed at McClatchy Park, located in one of Sacramento’s historically Black neighborhoods. Unanimously approved by the City Council during its Tuesday meeting, the sign is covered in hundreds of names memorializing unarmed Black people killed by law enforcement. Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21

California’s ‘I-5 Strangler’ Roger Kibbe was strangled to death, coroner says -- On Tuesday, the Amador County Sheriff’s Office released the results of an autopsy on Roger Reece Kibbe, an 81-year-old convicted murderer from Citrus Heights who was serving consecutive life sentences for raping and strangling seven women across Northern California in the 1970s and ’80s. Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 3/3/21