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“It is time that the reign of criminals who are destroying our city … come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement … and less tolerant of all the bulls—t that has destroyed our city.”
“We need to … ensure that those who commit crime are held to account and that no one gets a free pass.”
“The need for a system that can … alert law enforcement to vehicles associated with violent crime, in real time, has never been more apparent.”
“Once we had the issue of a lot of folks coming to Melrose to do crime, we said, ‘We have to hit this with everything we have,’ so we put in some extra funding.”
“I will not wait out this holiday season and let these organized groups continue to believe they can prey on California shoppers and retailers with no repercussions.”
These Tuesday comments did not come from Fox News commentators or even California conservatives. They came from California Democrats — San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks, respectively — signaling a definitive shift in the party’s approach to crime ahead of the 2022 elections.
Case in point were the politicians’ Tuesday announcements:
- Breed proposed increasing overtime funding for the San Francisco police department to crack down on drug dealers — and possibly drug users — in the troubled Tenderloin neighborhood.
- Bonta pledged to pour “more resources” into investigating organized retail theft and improve collaboration with local law enforcement, retailers and social media platforms — where some theft rings are organizing.
- Schaaf asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to deploy license plate readers on state highway on- and off-ramps in Oakland to help catch thieves, send in more California Highway Patrol officers and direct the attention of its retail theft task force to Oakland robberies.
- Koretz and other city councilmembers have tapped into their own district funds to pay for more than $1.5 million in police overtime as the Los Angeles Police Department struggles to fill open positions.
- And Irwin announced plans to introduce legislation that would reauthorize district attorneys to prosecute organized retail theft and similar crimes that often cross county lines.
The tough-on-crime rhetoric comes amid a sea of sobering statistics: Oakland police on Monday announced they’re investigating the 131st homicide of the year — the city’s highest total in a decade. And a Tuesday report from the Public Policy Institute of California found that homicides, aggravated assaults and violent and property crime rates in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco are all up in 2021 compared to last year.
Also cracking down on crime is the state Employment Development Department, which announced Tuesday that it has suspended payments on certain disability insurance claims and is subjecting medical and health providers to increased vetting to halt “a recent move by organized criminal elements to file false disability insurance claims.” The department, which has already confirmed paying at least $20 billion worth of fraudulent claims, said its actions would help prevent “further fraud” but could result in longer wait times for legitimate claimants.
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Other stories you should know
1. Consumers lack critical nursing home info
So serious were the deficiencies at a Fresno nursing home that state inspectors in 2018 slapped it with an “immediate jeopardy” penalty, reserved for patient care poor enough to cause serious injury or death. Then the federal government hit Northpointe Healthcare Centre with a $912,404 fine — the largest levied against any California nursing home in at least a decade. But, thanks to opaque and misleading government websites, even the most diligent consumers researching long-term care options would have had difficulty discovering that the fine existed, according to a jaw-dropping investigation from CalMatters’ Jocelyn Wiener. Case in point: After Jocelyn told federal officials she was preparing to publish this story, the fine suddenly appeared online. But — adding to the confusion and challenges facing consumers — the California Department of Public Health doesn’t publicize federal fines, even though its own inspectors are typically the ones identifying facilities’ violations.
- Tony Chicotel, staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: The omission is “dangerously misleading to the public. This is crucial information. It should be front and center.”
Also under fire for lax oversight: The California Department of Health Care Services, which lawmakers lambasted in a Monday hearing for failing to adequately regulate addiction treatment facilities.
- Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Laguna Beach Democrat: “This industry is learning they can do whatever the hell they want and you’ll write them a fix-it ticket. At some point, the blood of these kids is not just on the hands of these horrible operators, but on your hands as well.”
2. Prisons have lackluster discipline system
From CalMatters justice reporter Byrhonda Lyons: In other oversight news, the state prison system is not doing a good job of handling employee discipline, according to a new report on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from Inspector General Roy Wesley. None of the 109 cases that the Office of the Inspector General reviewed in the first half of 2021 involved “overall superior performance,” Wesley wrote in a letter to Newsom and state lawmakers. (Bold and italics his.)
- Wesley: “We concluded the department’s overall performance in conducting internal investigations and handling employee discipline cases was poor.”
The report also found that the state prison system paid roughly $1.3 million in unnecessary salary and benefits over the past two and a half years due to delays in the disciplinary process. And it detailed how the prison system didn’t adequately handle complaints or disciplinary actions against employees who allegedly encouraged a prisoner to commit suicide, submitted a false police report regarding a gun theft and accepted $8,000 from an inmate’s relatives, among other offenses.
Last week, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation unveiled a proposal — developed in conjunction with the inspector general’s office — that would block prison wardens from rejecting inmate allegations of staff wrongdoing before the complaints are reviewed.
3. Redistricting gets down to the wire
California’s independent redistricting commission is less than two weeks away from its deadline to finalize the state’s new congressional and legislative boundaries for the next decade. And, in a sign of just how grueling — and divisive — the work is, the commission decided to keep revising its proposed congressional maps instead of wrapping them up on Monday night, CalMatters’ Sameea Kamal reports.
- J. Ray Kennedy, a San Bernardino County Democrat and international elections observer presiding over commission sessions this week: “I had hoped that we would be able to land the plane. We were not in the end. We still have some outstanding issues.”
The contentious process has increased public scrutiny of the commission, with some political observers arguing that requiring a panel with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans isn’t representative of a state where the GOP is outnumbered nearly two to one among registered voters.
- Democratic consultant Steven Maviglio: The commission “reduces California’s clout on the shaping of Congress. … States with Republican majorities are doing their best to make sure Republicans control Congress.”
4. Data on the Office of Cradle-to-Career Data
A scooplet from CalMatters higher education reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn: California’s new Office of Cradle-to-Career Data — which will eventually paint a picture of how students succeed at various points between early education and their careers — selected Tuesday its first executive director: Mary Ann Bates, currently a senior fellow for the White House Office of Management and Budget. The gig comes with a salary of $197,000, which wasn’t disclosed during the governing board’s public meeting.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: History may be repeating itself as California’s public school enrollment declines, squeezing the finances of local school systems.
California must fund every part of public health: State leaders should keep their promise and continue to support organizations that play a critical role in public health, write Assemblymember Jim Wood, a Santa Rosa Democrat, and Genoveva Islas of Cultiva la Salud.
Support ballot measure to help medical malpractice victims: A California medical malpractice victim may collect no more than $250,000 for pain and suffering, regardless of how devastating their injuries might be. This gross injustice cannot stand, argues Steve Poizner of the Healthcare Consumer Rights Foundation.
Other things worth your time
Los Angeles school board votes to delay student vaccine mandate as thousands remain non-compliant. // ABC News
San Francisco offices, gyms granted reprieve from state mask mandate as California clarifies rules. // San Francisco Chronicle
“Mask-less shoppers” mobbing Northern California stores in protest of health orders. // Ukiah Daily Journal
School board cuts classroom, administrative spending in bid to avoid state takeover. // San Francisco Chronicle
California education official resigns amid criticism over East Coast residency, hiring process. // Politico
California continues to ease testing requirements for teachers. // EdSource
Mattresses and mold removal: Medi-Cal to offer unconventional treatments to asthma patients. // California Healthline
San Diego NAACP leader ousted by national board. // San Diego Union-Tribune
Santa Clara County civil grand jury alleges sheriff corruption. // Mercury News
Private prison firms make big money in California. // Capitol Weekly
Google’s urban village proposal is one of Bay Area’s largest residential projects in history. // Mercury News
California isn’t cutting greenhouse gas emissions fast enough, report says. // Sacramento Bee
California’s outgoing fire chief on wildfire crisis: Every acre ‘can and will burn.’ // San Francisco Chronicle
Newsom can’t get Californians to cut water use, but his family is doing much better. // Sacramento Bee
Solar shares tumble after California proposes cutting incentives, adding fees. // Orange County Register
New plan calls for closure of Aliso Canyon gas facility by 2023. // Daily News
This Northern California spot near Lake Tahoe just recorded 55 inches of snow in the past 48 hours. // San Francisco Chronicle
After $14 million in damage, how a redwood park is bouncing back from last year’s devastating wildfires. // Mercury News
The wolf that roamed to Southern California. // New Yorker
See you tomorrow.
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