Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, April 5. CalMatters politics reporter Ben Christopher here, filling in for Emily Hoeven. Emily will be back next week.

Rife with indecision and inconsistencies

As California nursing homes slowly recover from the COVID-19 siege that killed thousands, the role of state regulators in protecting the frail and elderly has come sharply into focus. 

A CalMatters investigation found that California’s licensing process for nursing homes is opaque and rife with indecision and inconsistencies, resulting in confusing information for the public about who is accountable for residents. For years, the California Department of Public Health, which oversees nursing homes, has sent mixed messages to the state’s largest nursing home owner, Shlomo Rechnitz of Los Angeles, whose web of companies operates some 82 facilities up and down the state – many of which have been cited for serious violations. Reporter Jocelyn Wiener found that the department has allowed Rechnitz and his interwoven companies to run 18 homes for five years without formal license approval – while the state also rejected and approved other of his companies’ applications.  

Elder care advocates say the department’s erratic decision-making raises safety concerns for this vulnerable nursing home population.

  •  “This is an outrageous situation,” said Charlene Harrington, a professor emeritus at UC San Francisco who studies skilled nursing facilities. “I can’t believe the state has allowed this to happen. It’s gone on for so long.”

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 3,582,463 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 58,534 deaths (+<0.1% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.

California has administered 19,894,885 vaccine doses and 7,349,899 people are fully vaccinated.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.


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1. Clash of the tech titans

Google headquarters in Mountain View. Photo via Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In a ruling with massive implications for Silicon Valley, the California economy and the future of tech innovation, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Google in its 11-year legal dispute with Oracle. 

What was the case about?

First, the English version: Oracle built some tools for computer programmers. Google built a similar set of tools and gave them identical names, so that they would be familiar to experienced coders. Oracle sued for $9.6 billion.

Now, for the tech-savvy readers: Google lifted declaring code from Oracle’s Java SE application programming interface when the Mountain View search giant built its Android smartphone operating system. 

That’s a huge deal for techdom. Hence the many articles alluding to a “sigh of relief”  from programmers worldwide.

For its part, Oracle, no start-up itself, used their courtroom defeat as an opportunity to blast Google’s market power.

2. Transfer requests by transgender inmates incoming

Image via iStock

A new law making it easier for transgender and gender non-conforming inmates in California to choose whether to be housed in male or female prisons went into effect on January 1. Now the transfer requests are coming in. As the Los Angeles Times reports, thus begins “a hugely sensitive operation playing out in one of the largest prison systems in the country.”

Transgender women in men’s prisons are at heightened risk of assault, and the inmates say the transfers are needed for their own safety. 

But not all of the guards and inmates at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla have welcomed the prison’s 21 new transfers. 

  • Michelle Calvin, a new Chowchilla inmate: “There’s going to be adversity everywhere and I understand that.”

The transfer law was written by San Francisco Democrat Sen. Scott Wiener. Yesterday, another Wiener proposal, which would ban cosmetic surgery to change the appearance of a child’s genitalia until they reach six years old, was pulled before a contentious vote. 

The proposal was backed by intersex rights groups, who argue that children born with ambiguous genitalia should be able to decide if they want medical intervention. This is the third time Wiener’s proposal has died before the Senate Business and Profession Committee.

  • Wiener, in a statement: “We do have concerns about whether this LGBTQ+ civil rights bill can ever pass through the committee in a form that protects all intersex people.” 

3. Tracking campus cash

Isabel Lopez, a third year student at Chico State studying agriculture science and education, has yet to receive her $800 student stimulus payment even though it appears on her financial aid documents. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

What’s the difference between a student at California State University, Los Angeles and one at Cal State Long Beach?

An extra $1,000.

That’s according to reporting by CalMatters’ higher-ed reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, who dug into how much federal emergency aid California’s colleges and universities are distributing to their neediest students — and when. 

The relief bill that Congress passed just before the New Year earmarked billions of dollars for emergency grants to students who need the assistance. But while some campuses received the federal cash in February, others are only now getting it. 

The grants vary in size, too: At UC Riverside the checks range from $600 to $1,600. At Sacramento State, they max out at $850.

These differences can make a huge difference for students who are only barely scraping by.

Isabel Lopez at California State University, Chico, who is due to receive her $800 grant this week: “I could have had that cushion two months ago.”


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Upcoming event

The Future of Campus Policing: In the wake of national protests against racism and police brutality, join CalMatters and KQED for a ranging discussion with students and administrators about how we rethink the role of police on campuses. April 21 | Register


CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A new poll finds that a majority of California voters oppose recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom, but six months is an eternity in politics.

Domestic workers are workers too: Work that takes place inside the home deserves to be valued the same as any other job and ought to have the same protections, argues actor and comedian Lily Tomlin.

How to house people and achieve California’s climate goals: California faces both a climate and a housing crisis. The solution to both is to break down local barriers that favor building out rather than building up, argue state Sen. Anna Caballero, a Salinas Democrat, and Michael DeLapa, executive director of LandWatch Monterey County.


Other things worth your time

Is California due for a fourth wave of COVID-19? // Los Angeles Times

Fact check: Would ending single-family zoning make housing more affordable? // CapRadio

VP Harris comes home, talks up infrastructure plan // Los Angeles Times

…Then she sat down for an interview with Joe Garofoli: they talked the recall, immigration and weed // San Francisco Chronicle

Long Beach eyes convention center as temporary migrant shelter // Press-Telegram

Former Rep. Katie Hill to Rep. Matt Gaetz: If allegations are true, “resign immediately” // Vanity Fair

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says California’s social media giants should be regulated like utilities // Forbes 

A county’s politics predicts its vaccination rate better than its income // San Francisco Chronicle

Riverside County opens vaccines to everyone 16+ today — at some sites // Desert Sun

Asian woman fatally stabbed while walking dog in Riverside, but police aren’t calling it a hate crime // CNN

Pro-George Gascón’s PAC comes to the rescue of San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin // SFist 


See you tomorrow.

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Ben Christopher

Ben covers California politics and elections. Prior to that, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and budget. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, he has written...