KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS
Good morning, California. It’s Monday, July 27.
Government buildings targeted
Peaceful protests against racism, police brutality and the intervention of federal agents in Portland, Ore. splintered over the weekend into destruction, vandalism and violence. Protests in Oakland, Los Angeles and Sacramento resulted in numerous arrests and hospitalizations, further inflaming tension between law enforcement and demonstrators.
In Oakland on Saturday night, “agitators” set fire to the Alameda County courthouse and smashed police station windows. In Los Angeles, a federal courthouse was graffitied and some windows broken, with police issuing a citywide tactical alert to draw more officers and resources. In Sacramento, City Hall was spray-painted and windows shattered.
- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Sunday: Vandalism “gives Donald Trump the images he wants and the justification he seeks to send federal troops into American cities. … Oaklanders need to know that when they attend protests after dark they may be providing cover for agitators who are more intent on stoking civil unrest than advancing racial justice.”
The president last week threatened to send federal agents to Oakland to crack down on unrest, a suggestion forcefully rejected by Schaaf and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Trump in early July deployed federal police to Portland, where protests have continued for 59 straight days. The agents’ tactics are currently under investigation by the inspector generals of the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, federal officers are on standby in Seattle and will soon be deployed to Chicago.
- Trump Sunday on Twitter: “The Lamestream Media … is refusing to show what is REALLY going on in Portland, Seattle, and other places. They want the American public to believe that these are just some wonderful protesters, not radical left ANARCHISTS!”
- Sonia Lewis, a Sacramento community activist: “If there is unlawful activities that are going on at protests, it’s in response to murder, it’s in response to state-sanctioned violence.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Sunday night, California had 453,659 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,416 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
Other stories you should know
1. Lawmakers return to Capitol for five-week frenzy
State lawmakers return to the Capitol today after their second coronavirus hiatus — and they have just five weeks to take action on massive pandemic-related issues including extra unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and eviction moratoriums, the Associated Press reports. Newsom, who hinted he would address those issues by extending temporary executive orders, suggested Friday he actually wanted legislators to lock in pandemic protections by passing bills. (He, did, however, unveil a new program to provide hotel rooms for farmworkers who test positive for or are exposed to the virus, CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov reports.)
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat: The prospect of the Assembly passing such expansive bills nine months ago would have “probably been science fiction.”
Lawmakers also plan to ask Newsom to call them back for a special session so they have more time to pass contentious coronavirus-related bills.
2. What’s going on with Newsom’s economic task force?
The star-studded task force Newsom launched more than three months ago to guide California’s economic recovery still hasn’t released a plan, raising questions about what exactly the group is doing, Politico reports. How much its big-name members are influencing key decisions — such as when to open and close the economy — also remains unclear. Some critics say the 80-member roster is too unwieldy to agree on a course of action; others say Newsom’s decision to name billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate Tom Steyer as the panel’s co-chair was politically polarizing.
- State Sen. Melissa Melendez, a Lake Elsinore Republican: “I don’t think it’s appropriate that three months later we still don’t know what they’re working on.”
- Steyer: “We have been advising (Newsom) on the decisions that have anything to do with the economy from day one.”
3. California parents struggle to balance careers, kids’ education
With more than 5.9 million California students hurtling toward another semester of online learning, parents are frantically searching for ways to ensure their kids receive high-quality education while still holding down their jobs, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano and Lauren Hepler report. Interest in homeschooling and “learning pods,” in which tutors teach small groups of children, has skyrocketed — though both options are largely unavailable to low-income and working-class families. This problem is exacerbated by limited state and federal protections for working parents requesting time off to handle school commitments — leading some to consider leaving their job altogether so they can supervise their kids’ education.
- Felecia Przybyla, a Sacramento County mom of three: “We’re hoping to buy a house in the next six months, and I need to have a job. … I don’t think I should have to be put in a position to decide between a job that provides for our family and my kids’ schooling.”
4. Can colleges keep campus employees safe?
California colleges planning on offering some in-person classes amid the pandemic are brainstorming ways to protect campus employees, many of whom are decades older than students and face higher risk of complications if they contract the virus, Bella Ross reports for CalMatters’ College Journalism Network. The ideal solution — testing the entire campus population every two to three days — remains out of reach, experts say. In the meantime, some colleges are contemplating small outdoor classes paired with masks and physical distancing. Faculty and staff remain divided on the best course of action.
- Chuck Akemann, 78, a UC Santa Barbara math professor: “I guess you just can’t spend your whole life, especially when there isn’t much time left in it, to be worried about (coronavirus).”
- Alison Black, a lecturer at UC San Diego: “I want to make sure that I am remote until such time that I’m convinced it’s completely safe.”
California teachers, parents and guardians: We want to hear your plans, questions and concerns about remote learning. Your feedback and comments will shape a virtual event we’re planning. Share your thoughts here.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California’s Department of Housing and Community Development is getting tough with local officials about addressing the state’s chronic housing shortage.
Homeownership heals: We need to address the wealth gap by increasing homeownership for communities of color, who have been left behind for decades, argues John Gamboa of California Community Builders.
Species can be saved: The survival of the California condor is a testament to the Endangered Species Act, which has prevented the extinction of 99% of species under its protection, writes Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity.
Other things worth your time
School districts may soon apply for waivers to reopen elementary schools — but union support required for Los Angeles public schools. // Los Angeles Times
Willie Brown: Distance teaching is creating separate and unequal school systems. // San Francisco Chronicle
California will launch aggressive testing regime for health employees who inspect nursing homes. // Los Angeles Times
Pandemic puts spotlight on Stockton’s guaranteed basic income experiment. // CalMatters/Mercury News
Thousands of Californians weighed in on how they want to see the state change post-pandemic. Here’s what they said. // Los Angeles Times
Judges, district attorneys question California proposal on bias and juries. // Bloomberg
50,000 ducklings saved from certain death after emergency water delivery to Klamath Basin. // San Francisco Chronicle
See you tomorrow.
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