Oakley Summer Fest 5K Registration Now Open – July 1, 2023

Our second annual Oakley Summer Fest Fun Run 5K registration is now OPEN!

Participating in our Oakley Summer Fest Fun Run 5K event is a great way to have fun, get some exercise, and spend the morning with friends and families in our hometown.

Location: Ironhouse Sanitary District (Which can be accessed by going to the street across from Rose Ave and Main Street)

Date: Saturday, July 1, 2023

Check-In Time: 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM

Start Time: 7:00 AM

Finish By: 8:30 AM

Fee: The entry fee is $25 (includes running bib, commemorative medal, & shirt).

This event will take place, rain or shine and no refunds will be issued. All participants receive a running bib, commemorative medal, and fun swag!
Click here to register.
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Funding approved for wetlands, waterfront projects in Delta

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy Board has approved $24 million in funding for two projects that will restore wetlands and improve community access in Contra Costa County. One project, on Webb Tract, will design and construct up to 3,500 acres of managed, flooded wetlands and up to 1,500 acres of rice fields. The second project will revitalize Pittsburg’s downtown waterfront park and boat launch facilities.

The Webb Tract proposal, a two-phase project, planning and implementation, to design and construct up to 3,000 acres of managed, flooded wetlands and up to 1,500 acres of rice fields on Webb Tract. The acreages and precise locations within the Tract will be determined through the planning process. The main objectives of the Project are to stop ongoing organic soil subsidence, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated through increased carbon sequestration opportunities, develop sustainable agriculture opportunities, investigate sustainable water management practices, and study how managed wetlands may augment the Delta pelagic food web in line with goals of Metropolitan’s Climate Action Plan and the Delta Plan. Metropolitan’s Project aims to develop a mosaic of land use opportunities that may include grassland/upland habitat, willow riparian scrub, and other habitat types in addition to managed wetlands and rice. Metropolitan will work with local interested parties, farmers, and a design firm to develop the mosaic of expected land uses that are consistent with the existing topography.

The Project area is an entire island in the central Delta called Webb Tract. Webb Tract is in the northeastern portion of Contra Costa County, north of Bethel Island and southwest of Bouldin Island. Webb Tract is situated entirely within the Primary Zone of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Metropolitan purchased Webb Tract in 2016 along with three other islands (Bouldin, Bacon, and Holland). Historically, Webb Tract was used to farm corn and is now leased for cattle grazing.

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Sunday Reading – 06/04/23

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Where do people go when they leave California and why? – The Big Shrink that started in 2020 hasn’t stopped, and there are myriad draws to other states, from politics to finances

The top-line number was eye-opening: About 725,000 people moved out of California in 2020 to set up new lives in one of the 49 other states or Washington, D.C.

If that were the end of it, the number – derived from the Internal Revenue Service’s Migration Data for 2021 – would’ve represented the biggest single-year exodus in state history.

But it wasn’t the end of it. While experts say the reasons are more nuanced than the gross outflow of a single year, California’s population has been shrinking steadily since 2020. Recent state data shows California’s population today is a little under 39 million, after flirting with 40 million just four years ago.

A lot of other new data shows where people are going (Texas, Idaho and Florida, as well as neighboring Arizona and Nevada). Polling reports show who is leaving (higher-income, well-educated workers recently started to join a migration pattern that traditionally has been dominated by lower-income movers). And yet other data shows at least some of the financial and social challenges causing problems in California (rising home prices, stagnant wages, crime) aren’t so different in states wooing the most ex-Californians.

Bottom line: California’s population didn’t just grow more slowly in 2020 than it had previously, it actually contracted by nearly 359,000. That happened again in 2021, as California shrank by 114,000 people.

Then the pandemic ended but California’s population decline did not.

According to data released this month by the California Dept. of Finance, the shrink carried into last year, with the state losing about 139,000 people. State officials now estimate California’s population is about 38,940,231, the first time it’s been under 39 million since 2015.

All of which raises a question: Blip or trend?

“The state is projecting growth is going to resume,” McGhee said.

In the past year, immigration has started to pick up, and pandemic deaths have abated. But birth rates haven’t yet fully recovered, and a rise in something once unexpected – office workers telecommuting from out of state – has made the growing number of ex-Californians, like Higbee and her family, even more important. Read More > in The Mercury News

Why Did 352 California Companies Flee to Other States in Three Years? – Why are California businesses fleeing the once-Golden State in droves? Several articles this week answer that quite clearly.

“These exits negatively impact the state and particularly the local communities that lose these headquarters. Employees also leave, reducing demand within their former communities and reducing economic vibrancy. Jobs are not the only loss. There is also the loss of corporate income tax revenues, business property taxes, rents to property owners, payments to contractors, and fees to companies in the travel industry such as hotels and rental car companies,” Joseph Vranich and Lee E. Ohanian, reported in a study published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford in 2022.

The state’s population also dropped by more than 500,000 people between April 2020 and July 2022, with the number of residents leaving surpassing those moving in by nearly 700,000, the Globe reported in February.

Economist Art Laffer and Chapman Economics Professor James Doti lay out the numbers at the OC Register, and rightly declare that Gov. “Newsom doesn’t appear to see is the deleterious long-term effects of a highly progressive tax system. Case in point: The ‘one-percenters’ who pay 50% of the tax are voting with their feet by leaving California in droves.”

They explain that the ten states with the lowest income taxes including Florida and Texas, gained a cumulative net inflow from all Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) classes of $391 billion from California during the entire 2018 to 2021 period. Note that 2018 was the final year of Democrat Governor Jerry Brown. Gov. Newsom ran for governor in 2018 and was elected. He took office January of 2019, so the 2019-2021 belongs to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“The 10 states that ranked the highest in income taxes — California, New York and New Jersey are in this group — lost a cumulative net inflow in AGI of $391 billion. The fact that the 10 states with the lowest income taxes gained in AGI the same amount as the loss in AGI for the 10 states with the highest income taxes is not a coincidence.” Read More > at California Globe

California Spent $17 Billion on Homelessness. It’s Not Working. – The number of homeless people in California grew about 50% between 2014 and 2022. The state, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, has about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless, an estimated 115,000 people, according to federal and state data last year. It also has among the highest average rent and median home prices in the U.S.  

California spent a record $17 billion combating homelessness in the past four fiscal years. For the state budget year starting in July, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed another $3.7 billion. 

Voters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which have some of the largest homeless populations in California, were unhappy enough about it to approve taxes costing them billions of dollars to fund anti-homelessness programs and housing in recent years. So far, cost overruns and delays have left little to show for the money.

State and local officials have bickered over responsibility. Mr. Newsom late last year threatened to withhold funding from local governments that he believed weren’t attacking the problem aggressively enough. That included programs to move squatters, willingly or not.

Local leaders said the Newsom administration hasn’t provided enough stable funding for programs to treat and house the homeless. “These systems are made effective when they are tethered to the resources necessary,” said LaTonda Simmons, Oakland’s acting homelessness administrator. “Oakland and many other cities are experiencing the same sort of bottleneck in terms of being able to move people through the system.”

“Our North Star is getting as many people out of encampments as quickly as possible, because nothing healthy, nothing safe happens there,” said Jason Elliott, a deputy chief of staff to the Democratic governor. “Their refusal to take [offers of housing] does not create an inalienable right to…continue to live in unsafe circumstances.”

Talya Husbands-Hankin, an activist who often delivers food and supplies to residents, said authorities are stuck in a cycle of clearing out encampments and scattering people who find another spot to gather.

“Money is being wasted,” she said, “consistently pushing people around.” Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

SPECIAL: We Can End California’s Homeless Crisis in One Year – These Blue States Show Us How – …The facts are unmistakable. The way to end our homeless crisis—is to end our drug crisis.

We can end our homeless crisis in one year with a new approach that takes a modest step in the direction of these other progressive states. Here’s how:

First, prosecutors would have the discretion to charge hard drug possession as a new class of crime called a “treatment mandated felony.” The judge would have the final say on whether the defendant should be charged in this manner. The factors that the prosecutor and judge would consider in the decision would include:

  • The defendant’s prior history
  • The quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession
  • The defendant’s amenability to drug treatment
  • Other offenses coupled with the drug possession such as illegal weapons possession

If the defendant is charged with this new, “treatment mandated felony,” an addiction specialist would be assigned to provide a complete suite of services to the defendant including:

  • Shelter
  • Drug and mental health treatment (outpatient whenever possible)
  • Job training

Decades of research have proven that drug treatment in the criminal justice system works. And there are countless shelter beds available from our billions in housing spending. But many of the beds remain empty because we have no system to incentivize people to get the help they need.

If the defendant successfully completes drug and mental treatment, they would receive full expungement of the drug charge. If the defendant refuses drug treatment, they could receive up to 18 months time served. The defendant can short-circuit this sentence at any time by choosing the treatment path instead. If the defendant is re-arrested for hard drug possession, they would be eligible for a complete do-over of the treatment path for as many times as it takes until they get better.

The goal of this proposal is to treat drugs and mental health as the humanitarian crises that they are–to get people the help they need–not to punish them, and to simultaneously reclaim the safety of our communities. But under the current legal framework, there is no accountability in the law when people refuse to get help. New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, and Illinois understand this. That’s why they created tougher hard drug laws—and it has worked. The result has been exponentially lower homelessness in these states than in California. Read More > at California Globe

California transit systems’ pleas for aid haven’t moved the Capitol – California’s public transit systems say they are facing a “fiscal cliff” as ridership continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels and federal emergency aid expires.

If the state doesn’t cough up billions of dollars to underwrite bus and rail systems – they want $1 billion a year for at least five years – their managers say they will have no choice but to reduce service and/or raise fares, mostly affecting low-income Californians.

On Tuesday, transit system leaders, their unions and supportive legislators staged an “emergency press conference” near the Capitol to raise the issue’s profile, as legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom work on a state budget that must be passed by June 15.

“It’s a do or die moment for transit in California,” state Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, said.

Transit’s pleas haven’t fared well so far. Newsom’s revised budget this month brushed them off with a vague pledge to work on the problem later.

Transit has some support in Assembly and Senate budget blueprints, but looming over the situation is the same cloud that affects every other budget interest group this year – a massive deficit.

Newsom pegs the gap between income and outgo at $32.5 billion – up $9 billion from his initial budget – while the Legislature’s budget analyst, Gabe Petek, says it’s several billion dollars higher and that deficits will plague the state for several years to come.

The deficit is not the only hurdle. While transit leaders say the money is needed to maintain service while ridership rebuilds, there’s no particular reason to believe that it will return to pre-pandemic levels. Read More > at CalMatters

Is It OK to Track Your Spouse’s Location? – Many couples use their phones to track each other. They share locations automatically, giving partners a window into their travels, including every trip to Target or Starbucks.

Married and unmarried couples say they do it mostly for safety. Some do it so they can have dinner ready when their partner gets home from work. Others just find it easier than texting or calling.

Yet other couples think anyone who tracks his or her spouse is crazy. They say that tracking itself can be a safety concern. Not to mention that some marriage counselors say this location dependency is unhealthy—shouldn’t marriage have a little mystery?

When it comes to tracking your partner, nearly everyone has an opinion and many don’t want to budge.

There are many ways to track one another these days. You can attach AirTags to keys and wallets to locate them and their owners for altruistic or nefarious purposes.

You can look at an app to see how fast your children are driving. Teens can find each other on Snapchat’s Snap Map. But the convenience can come at the cost of privacy—and sanity.

Some people really do have something to hide. I spoke to one woman who says she figured out her husband was cheating on her when Life360 revealed him stopping for lengthy periods at locations he didn’t have good reason to be. (She shared screenshots with me.) She confronted him, he confessed and now they are getting divorced, she says. Tracking can also provide a way for one partner to exert control in an abusive relationship.

Traci Ruble, a marriage and family therapist in San Francisco, says not much good can come from tracking your spouse. “A healthy relationship needs healthy differentiation,” she says. 

Besides, she adds, knowing every single thing about your partner, down to when he’s buying milk, is a passion-killer. “Passion is rooted in novelty and distance,” Ruble says. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Castroville vs. Coachella: Battle heats up to grow the perfect California artichoke – Quietly, over the last two decades, the beloved California artichoke has undergone a radical transformation.

It’s not always easy to see from the outside – a studied eye can spot it – but an ambitious program to produce high-yielding, year-round artichokes has altered the flavor, color, texture and even the shape of them.

This revolution has uprooted thousands of acres of heirloom artichokes across Castroville — the “Artichoke Center of the World” — and replaced them with hybrids. Now, it’s pitting technology against tradition and playing out at farm stands and on dinner tables across the country.

The new varieties are cheaper to grow, have a longer shelf life and resist diseases, said Steven Fennimore, a UC Davis plant science professor.

But what about flavor?

“You can argue about taste all day,” he said, “but I won’t get into that.”

But, alas, the original Castroville artichoke revered for its umami nuttiness and big tender heart – the “Green Globe heirloom” – is a vanishing breed, raised now on just a few hundred acres here. Grown from the same root stock imported by Italian immigrants a century ago, this heirloom once dominated tens of thousands of acres in Monterey County.

Now, some of the best of the new varieties are grown not in the coastal mist of a Castroville spring, but during the fall and winter, in – of all places – the desert of Southern California’s Coachella Valley.

Some of the new varieties are quite tasty: Spring is the natural harvest season, but artichoke lovers can enjoy the “Desert Globe” in the winter that is meaty and flavorful. Sometimes in the summer, however, shoppers can be stuck with rock hard, softball-shaped hybrids with tight leaves that couldn’t boil their way to tenderness. Choosing an off-season artichoke can require the same scrutiny and finesse as detecting the perfect avocado. Read More > in The Mercury News

State Farm won’t insure new California customers amid wildfire risks – State Farm says it’s no longer accepting homeowner insurance applications in California due to “historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation” and “rapidly growing catastrophe exposure” to extreme weather events like wildfires.

Why it matters: Multiple studies show climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, increasing the risk of wildfires and also the proportion of storms that reach major hurricane status of Category 3 or above.

  • With more severe and frequent severe weather events and extreme weather swings, the resilience of homeowners and communities is on the line and how lenders, insurance companies and others incorporate escalating risks is a key issue, per Axios’ Andrew Freedman.

Zoom in: State Farm, the top home insurance firm in California, stopped accepting new sales Saturday. The American International Group announced last year it was pulling policies in the state amid wildfire risk concerns.

  • California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara moved to protect homeowners by introducing insurance pricing regulations, including a one-year moratorium preventing homeowner insurance cancellations and non-renewals in some fire-affected counties.

Zoom out: It’s not just California. Some insurers pulled out of Louisiana and Florida last year after forecasters warned of “another active Atlantic hurricane season,” per Bloomberg.

  • Florida is facing an insurance crisis ahead of the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, when property insurance companies in the state to get their reinsurance in place, Axios Miami’s Deirdra Funcheon reports. Some companies have gone insolvent and rates have skyrocketed. Read More > at Axios

Yet another home insurance giant quietly stops writing new policies in California – Allstate has stopped writing new homeowner, condominium and commercial insurance policies in California, the company confirmed to The Chronicle.

The insurer, the fourth largest property and casualty insurance provider in the state in 2021, paused new policies “so we can continue to protect current customers,” spokesperson Brittany Nash wrote in an email to the Chronicle.

The pause began last year but appeared to receive only a passing mention in industry publications. The Chronicle learned of the development this week, after reviewing an Allstate rate increase request to the California Department of Insurance.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Allstate’s pullback on new policies. But State Farm, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in California, made waves in late May by announcing it would stop issuing new homeowner policies in the state due to inflation, wildfires and rising reinsurance costs. 

That Allstate quietly did the same thing last year signals that insurance woes in the state may be more severe than the public is aware of.  Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Just Because You Think You Are Tipping a Service Worker Doesn’t Mean You Are – Two recent California food service cases vividly illustrate some of the challenges facing those who make that industry hum: the workers.

In the first, a judge found that a San Francisco hotel for years illegally kept service-charge money from banquets — roughly $9 million in all — that should have gone to workers. The presiding judge ruled that “a reasonable customer” would have assumed the service charge was a gratuity for the food and drink servers.

In the other case, which is still unfolding in Los Angeles, the city attorney is investigating allegations that the operator of five upscale restaurants pocketed a 5% service fee that was added onto every diner’s bill. That would be a direct violation of a city ordinance requiring all of the money to go to the restaurants’ workers.

The cases aren’t identical, and the L.A. investigation centers on laws that are distinct to the city. But each in its way speaks to a contemporary problem facing food and drink servers and preparers across the state: Their customers often no longer understand who they’re paying.

That is the state of food service — not just in California, but around the country. A years-old slow-roll change in how restaurants pay their workers, with many adding or substituting mandatory fees beyond tips, went into hyperdrive during and after the pandemic as owners tried to stay in business. The fallout is still being felt.

At many establishments, service fees have become the norm. But whether those fees are meant to replace tips is often a question left either unanswered or only partially explained. Some restaurants make clear that a mandatory fee, anywhere from 2.5% to 20%, has been added to offset the cost of providing health care to employees or to ensure adequate wages for all their workers. Others levy a “service charge” without an explanation attached, and leave in place a line for including a gratuity.

It’s often left to the customer to muddle through what to do. Increasingly, workers say, the resulting confusion leads to lower tips in a business that, despite the shift toward add-on fees, still drives significant money to employees through gratuities. Read More > at Capital and Main

No kidding: California overtime law threatens use of grazing goats to prevent wildfires – Hundreds of goats munch on long blades of yellow grass on a hillside next to a sprawling townhouse complex. They were hired to clear vegetation that could fuel wildfires as temperatures rise this summer.

These voracious herbivores are in high demand to devour weeds and shrubs that have proliferated across California after a drought-busting winter of heavy rain and snow.

“It’s a huge fuel source. If it was left untamed, it can grow very high. And then when the summer dries everything out, it’s perfect fuel for a fire,” said Jason Poupolo, parks superintendent for the city of West Sacramento, where goats grazed on a recent afternoon.

Targeted grazing is part of California’s strategy to reduce wildfire risk because goats can eat a wide variety of vegetation and graze in steep, rocky terrain that’s hard to access. Backers say they’re an eco-friendly alternative to chemical herbicides or weed-whacking machines that are make noise and pollution.

But new state labor regulations are making it more expensive to provide goat-grazing services, and herding companies say the rules threaten to put them out of business. The changes could raise the monthly salary of herders from about $3,730 to $14,000, according to the California Farm Bureau.

Companies have historically been allowed to pay goat and sheepherders a monthly minimum salary rather than an hourly minimum wage, because their jobs require them to be on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But legislation signed in 2016 also entitles them to overtime pay. It effectively boosted the herders’ minimum monthly pay from $1,955 in 2019 to $3,730 this year. It’s set to hit $4,381 in 2025, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations.

So far the herding companies, which have sued over the law, have passed along most of the increased labor costs to their customers.

But in January, those labor costs are set to jump sharply again. Goatherders and sheepherders have always followed the same set of labor rules last year. But a state agency has ruled that’s no longer allowed, meaning goatherders would be subject to the same labor laws as other farmworkers.

That would mean goatherders would be entitled to ever higher pay — up to $14,000 a month. Last year a budget trailer bill delayed that pay requirement for one year, but it’s set to take affect on Jan. 1 if nothing is done to change the law. Read More > in the AP

NASA’s SLS rocket is $6 billion over budget and six years behind schedule – NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket designed to take astronauts to the moon is over budget and far behind it’s original schedule, according to a scathing new audit from NASA’s Inspector General. Furthermore, the report foresees “additional cost and schedule increases” that could potentially jeopardize the entire Artemis mission if problems aren’t handled. 

NASA’s spending on the Artemis Moon Program is expected to reach $93 billion by 2025, including $23.8 billion already spent on the SLS system through 2022. That sum represents “$6 billion in cost increases and over six years in schedule delays above NASA’s original projections,” the report states. 

The SLS, which finally launched for the first time in November 2022, uses four RS-25 engines per launch, including 16 salvaged from retired Space Shuttles. Once those run out (all engines on SLS are expendable), NASA will switch to RS-25E engines being built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, which are supposed to be 30 percent cheaper and 11 percent more powerful. It also uses solid rocket boosters provided by Northrop Grumman. 

The older technology isn’t helping with the budget as NASA expected, though. “These increases are caused by interrelated issues such as assumptions that the use of heritage technologies from the Space Shuttle and Constellation Programs were expected to result in significant cost and schedule savings compared to developing new systems for the SLS,” the audit states. “However, the complexity of developing, updating, and integrating new systems along with heritage components proved to be much greater than anticipated.”  Read More > at Engadget

Amidst Dreams of Green Energy, Regulators and Industry Warn of Summer Blackouts – The regulatory body that oversees the nation’s power grid cast a bit of a chill over the coming warm months when, in mid-May, it cautioned that the country might not generate enough electric power to meet demand. Coming after multiple warnings from regulators, grid operators, and industry experts that enthusiasm for retiring old-school “dirty” generating capacity is outstripping the ability of renewable sources to fill the gap, the announcement is a heads-up to Americans that they may want to make back-up plans for a power grid growing increasingly unreliable. It’s also a reminder that green ideology is no substitute for the ability to flip a switch and have the lights come on.

“NERC’s 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment warns that two-thirds of North America is at risk of energy shortfalls this summer during periods of extreme demand,” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a nominally non-governmental organization with statutory regulatory powers, noted May 17. “‘Increased, rapid deployment of wind, solar and batteries have made a positive impact,’ said Mark Olson, NERC’s manager of Reliability Assessments. ‘However, generator retirements continue to increase the risks associated with extreme summer temperatures, which factors into potential supply shortages in the western two-thirds of North America if summer temperatures spike.”

This is not the first time we’re hearing that the power grid isn’t up to meeting demand for electricity. Nor is it the first time we’re told that renewable sources such as wind and solar are coming online more slowly than power-generation capacity based on fossil fuels is being retired. Read More > at Reason

New Wolves, Cougar Cubs Discovered in California – Spring is bringing all sorts of new wildlife to the Golden State. In the past few weeks, both Northern and Southern California have had some exciting animal discoveries, as the state’s gray wolf and mountain lion populations make a comeback.

New Wolves Confirmed in Northern California

On May 24, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that two new groups of gray wolves have been discovered in the counties of Tehama and Lassen. If the wolves are officially designated as “packs,” they would mark the fifth and sixth packs in California since the gray wolf’s eradication a century ago. 

“It brings me great joy to see California’s wolves continue to increase in number, aided by the strong state and federal protections here,” said Amaroq Weiss, senior wolf advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves rewild the landscape and that’s good not just for the wolves but for entire ecosystems.”

Cougar Cubs Discovered in Simi Hills

Scientists have also confirmed the birth of three mountain lion cubs, who were recently found nestled in the hills between the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountains in Ventura County. 

The cubs are all adorable, healthy females. They have been named P-113, P-114 and P-115. Their mother, P-77, is believed to be about 5 to 7 years old and has been tracked by biologists since November 2019.

The cubs’ birth follows the demise of California’s most famous cougar, P-22, last year.  Read More > at California County News

Beyond ‘Quiet Quitting’: Another Workplace Trend Is Making Employers Even Angrier – In the summer of 2022, 24-year-old engineer Zaid Khan inadvertently went viral and set off a new workplace trend with a short TikTok video about how he was “quitting the idea of going above and beyond” at work.

The term “quiet quitting” was thus born and, nearly a year later, raging debates on whether this means setting up professional boundaries after years of being underpaid and underappreciated or simply slacking off at work continues.

According to a wide-scale study conducted by consulting firm Deloitte, 46% of polled Generation Z workers and 37% of millennials said that they worked a second part-time or even full-time job in tandem to their main work. 

As first reported by Fortune Magazine, some of the most popular side hustles include selling online products, delivering food orders or working for a ride-share company and writing marketing materials on the side.

“The cost of living has been [the workers’] top concern for two consecutive years now, and finances are consistently their top stress driver,” Michele Parmelee, who heads global people and purpose at Deloitte, told Fortune. “Interestingly, these concerns are really consistent across both generations, so it’s not just a matter of Gen Zs being young and just getting started in their careers.”

Another study by financial services platform Bankrate.com calculated that 39% of employed Americans adults are currently working a second gig on the side and bringing in an extra $810 a month on average.

They are, largely, keeping the projects quiet rom their main employer. The trend is also common across most Westernized countries. Read More > at TheStreet

U.S. Faces Massive Shortage Of Prescription Drugs – Record drug shortages across the United States are delaying potentially lifesaving treatments for thousands of patients around the country.

Congress and the White House are scrambling to address a shortfall in prescription drugs — everything from painkillers to cancer treatments. 

“Hospitals all across the country, on a regular basis –sometimes weekly — have to review which drugs are in short supply or not available that week.” Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) said in an interview with MSNBC.

The shortage is being most acutely felt in the generic drug market, which accounts for nearly 90% of U.S. prescriptions. The exact number of drugs being affected depends on who you ask — according to a Senate report at the end of last year, the U.S. reached a peak level of 295 active drug shortages, although as of March, the FDA claims there are 130. The American Society of Health reports 301 drug shortages as of the first quarter of 2023.

According to the FDA, the average drug shortage lasts for about 18 months, but some shortages have stretched on for over 15 years.

Some of the medicines that have been in short supply include Adderall, Tylenol, various antibiotics including amoxicillin, saline mixtures used in IVs, and almost two dozen kinds of anti-cancer drugs. Read More > at The Daily Wire

Thousands of ‘ghost students’ are applying to California colleges to steal financial aid. Here’s how – Months after a mysterious check for $1,400 landed in Richard Valicenti’s mailbox last summer, the U.S. Department of Education notified him that the money was a mistake — an overpayment of the $3,000 Pell grant he had used to attend Saddleback College in Orange County.

“I told them I never applied for a Pell,” said Valicenti, a 64-year-old radiation oncologist at UC Davis who had never even heard of Saddleback.

Valicenti’s name is among the stolen identities used in thousands of fraudulent attempts to enroll in community colleges in California and across the country since classes shifted online during the pandemic. The aim is to steal financial aid. 

Fake enrollments also crowd out legitimate students and create hours of work for colleges trying to eliminate “ghost students.” One strong incentive to catch the bad apples is that colleges disbursing grants to fraudsters are on the hook to repay the feds. 

Today, about 20% of California’s community college applications are scams: more than 460,000 of the 2.3 million requests to the state’s online application system since July alone, says the state Chancellor’s Office, which oversees the 116 campuses. Social Security numbers aren’t required to apply. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Lab-Grown Meat Has a Big Problem Very Few People Know About – In spite of advances in making laboratory-cultured meat products taste like the real deal, we’re yet to see a single factory pumping chicken nuggets out of a vat.

That might not be such a bad thing, according to a recent study by researchers from the University of California, Davis (UCD), and the University of California, Holtville.

They warn current production methods of lab-grown meat could end up being way worse for the environment than beef farming, despite being touted as a sustainable alternative.

Their life-cycle assessment of current meat-growing processes – which has yet to be peer-reviewed – found cultured meat production could emit between four to 25 times more carbon dioxide per kilogram than regular beef and all its hidden costs, depending on the techniques used.

“This is an important conclusion given that investment dollars have specifically been allocated to this sector with the thesis that this product will be more environmentally friendly than beef,” UCD food scientist Derrick Risner and colleagues write in their paper.

“My concern would just be scaling this up too quickly and doing something harmful for the environment,” Risner elaborates. Read More > at Science Alert

How much does and Electric Semi really cost? – Information on real-world electric truck prices is notoriously difficult to come by. This is especially true for biggest and baddest of them all: the electric semi. While there have been several high-profile deliveries of electric semi-trucks in the past few years, their purchase price has largely been kept under wraps as the market scales up. The trouble is, the cost calculus for fleet owners hinges on exactly how much more it costs to buy an electric truck than a diesel truck—and how fuel and maintenance savings may make up the difference.

We can glean a few ballpark numbers from press releases. For example, the Port of Oakland recently acquired 10 Peterbilt 579EVs at a cost of $5.1 million. If this represents the true upfront purchase price—not including a maintenance contract, for example—it would translate to $510,000 per semi-truck. Another example: back in 2020, Lion Electric received a $20 million order for 50 8T electric trucks, working out to $400,000 per truck. Meanwhile, Tesla has been advertising a mind-bogglingly low price of $180,000 for their yet-to-be-delivered 500-mile electric semi.

There’s a lot of guesswork involved in determining real-world purchase prices, so rather than relying on public announcements, we made our own estimate from the bottom up. For major e-truck components, such as the battery, fuel cell stack, and electric motor, we used average cost estimates from our recent literature review. For the remaining costs, we used component-by-component cost estimates for diesel, battery electric, and hydrogen fuel cell trucks from an ICCT-commissioned analysis by Ricardo Strategic Consulting. We chose vehicle specs that are representative of models currently advertised in the North American market—a 350 kW electric motor, 70 kg hydrogen tank, and 180 kW fuel cell stack—as well as a 600 kWh battery to represent longer-range battery-electric models like the Freightliner eCascadia and Nikola Tre. We applied an overall 36% markup from direct manufacturing costs for all trucks, plus an additional 10% for zero-emission trucks to cover research and development, retooling, and overhead costs.

The figure below shows how much we estimated a zero-emission truck would cost:

Based on these numbers, we’d expect a 2022 battery electric truck to cost two to three times it’s diesel counterpart before incentives; and make that three to four times for a fuel cell truck. Luckily, there are purchase incentives: California’s HVIP program offers $120,000 vouchers for the purchase of zero-emission tractor trucks and Washington state offers a commercial vehicle tax credit covering up to $100,000 of the incremental cost for new alternative fuel vehicles. With incentives like these, a battery electric truck in 2025 could cost nearly the same price as a diesel truck. A fuel cell truck could cost only 50%–70% more. Read More > at The ICCT

California’s latest environmental regulation may have unintended consequences for truckers – Electrifying trucks at California’s ports could be the secret to the future. Picture it: We would continue to import and export every imaginable good (Jet fuel! Nintendo Switches! Canned peaches!). Truckers working at fleets would move these containers full of stuff from the terminal yards to railroads or highways or warehouses or all of the above, without spewing toxic emissions into local communities. Charging depots and the power grid and truck manufacturers would have scaled up to meet this demand. And, unlike previous regulations, we wouldn’t have accidentally kicked off a scheme in which trucking companies buy clean trucks (discounted with taxpayer funds) only to force their truck drivers to pay off the extra costs. We can have our cake and eat it too. 

Or it could be a huge mess. Folks like Chris Shimoda, the senior vice president of government affairs at the California Trucking Association, are betting on the latter. “We’re talking about a transition that is on the order of when we traded in the horse and buggies for diesel trucks,” Shimoda said. “It’s that consequential. We just do not have the technology figured out.”

Unfortunately for Shimoda, the first steps toward decarbonization are coming. Fast. And they’ll be legally mandated. The California Air Resources Board, also called CARB, has required drayage fleets — the types of trucking companies that operate in ports — to only buy zero-emissions trucks starting Jan. 1, 2024. By 2035, drayage fleets must be entirely zero emission. 

The public and private sectors involved in enacting this regulation say they’re preparing for this first step to transitioning to electric trucks. The state has furnished beaucoup bucks for fleets to buy their own trucks and build their own charging depots. And utility providers say they’re scaling up too. An estimated 1,000 zero-emissions trucks will come online in 2024, eventually scaling up to 35,000 electric trucks to operate in United States’ largest container ports by 2035.

Still, months before this regulation comes into effect, folks on the ground say key infrastructure and concerns haven’t been furnished. California must prove to the nation (and the world) that an electrified trucking fleet can underpin a major port — without hurting a group of workers that already has the cards stacked against them.   Read More > at Freight Waves

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BART is recruiting new members for the BART Accessibility Task Force (BATF)

RELEASE DATE: 06/02/2023

Want to help make BART more accessible for seniors and people with disabilities? The BART Accessibility Task Force (BATF) is recruiting new members!                      

The BART Accessibility Task Force is a public committee comprised of BART riders to advise the BART Board of Directors and staff on disability-related issues and advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and seniors to make the BART system accessible to all.

The BART Accessibility Task Force (BATF) generally meets on the fourth Thursday of each month from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The BATF meetings are open to the public and are located at the East Bay Paratransit Office, 1750 Broadway, 1st floor conference room,  Oakland, CA 94612, which is adjacent to the 19th Street BART station street level elevator. Times and/or locations may vary for the November and December meetings.

BATF member responsibilities include the following:

  1. Provide input on issues and policies; capital projects; compliance with local, state and federal legislation;  and other issues that might be brought to the BATF by the public, staff or the Board.
  2. Develop recommendations which take into consideration the needs of people with different disabilities and seniors.
  3. Participate in the development of proposed new policies and the planning and implementation of new services that affect people with disabilities and seniors who use BART.
  4. Provide a public forum for discussion of all BART related issues concerning people with disabilities and seniors.
  5. Act as a resource group to BART staff who interact with people with disabilities and seniors to answer complaints, develop new programs, solve architectural problems in the system, conduct staff disability training, and address other areas as needed.

To learn more about the BATF, please click here: BART Accessibility Task force (BATF).

To become a member of the BATF, people have to attend three of four consecutive BATF meetings and then apply for membership. So come on by and check it out. Here is the schedule for upcoming meetings, as well as agendas from previous meetings: https://www.bart.gov/about/bod/advisory/accessibility

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Isleton Crawdad Festival – June 17 and 18

The Crawdad Festival is a culturally based outdoor event which takes place on Main Street and along side of the Sacramento River. The event draws upon the culture and cuisine of Louisiana with a French Quarters look and feel and includes authentic sounds of Zydeco, Cajun, Blues, and Louisiana based Rock n’ Roll. Learn more about the Crawdad Festival.

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Oakley Regional Park Master Plan Community Meeting #2 Postponed Date To Be Determined

Community Meeting #2 has been postponed to a date to be determined. Please visit the link below and create an account to be notified of the next meeting date.
Click here to be notified of the next meeting date.
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Rainfall Totals In Oakley for May 2023

Average precipitation in May


Rainfall Totals in May 2023


Accumulated Monthly Totals from July 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023


Average annual precipitation in the 12-month period beginning July 1 that continues through June 30 of the subsequent year.


Percent of average YTD


Weather data – https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/oakley/california/united-states/usca2070

A rainfall year season is defined as the 12-month period beginning July 1 that continues through June 30 of the subsequent year.

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Dutch Slough – Special Trail Opening!

Special Trail Opening at Dutch Slough!

Come walk the trail at the Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration in Oakley, CA.

Where: Starts at the intersection of Big Break Trail and Marsh Creek Trail
When: Saturday June 3rd from 9AM -1PM

The public is invited to access the Dutch Slough restoration project from the Marsh Creek Trail. A one-mile segment of the trail will be open to pedestrians only (sorry, no dogs). To take advantage of this opportunity, meet at the old pedestrian bridge across Marsh Creek at the intersection of the Marsh Creek and Big Break Shoreline (See map). River Partners and CA Dept. of Water Resources staff will be stationed along the trail for questions.

Cyclist will not be permitted to access the site on June 3 but are welcome to park their bikes at the meeting point and join others accessing the site on foot. If you are a cyclist or a member of a cycling club who would like to ride through the Dutch Slough site in the future, please email jcain@riverpartners.org with your contact information

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Oakley Regional Park Master Plan Community Meeting #2 – Wednesday, June 7, 2023


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California Invasive Species Action Week – Saturday, June 3 to Sunday, June 11

Take action against invasive species in the Delta! Invasive species negatively impact our water, health, native plants and animals, agriculture, and economy. Invasive species also impact recreational boating and swimming.

Prevention is the most effective strategy in managing invasive species. However, hundreds of invasive plants and animals have already established in California and are rapidly spreading each year.

Join others across the state to help stop the spread of invasive species. From June 3 through June 11, state and local agencies will be hosting discussions, activities, and volunteer opportunities related to invasive species. Volunteer to take action and protect our Delta!

Find Invasive Species Action Week Events Near You
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Memorial Day

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” – Harry S. Truman

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Sunday Reading – 05/28/23

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

5 charts that explain the California and Bay Area exodus – Bay Area residents, fed up with high housing costs, crime and other quality-of-life concerns, have packed up and left the region in droves since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

During that time, the Bay Area’s population dropped roughly 3% as more people, many liberated by remote work, fled to less expensive parts of the state and country.

That phenomenon contributed to Austin, Texas, last week officially knocking off San Jose as the country’s 10th largest city. Still the Bay Area’s largest city, with a population of around 970,000, San Jose has shed some 50,000 residents since before the pandemic, dropping to 12th place nationally.

While there are signs the exodus is slowing, a falling population is threatening to upend everything from school enrollment to tax revenue to business vitality – raising the prospect of a dreaded economic “doom loop.”

Here are five charts that help explain the exodus out of the Bay Area and California  – who’s moving out, where they’re going and what neighborhoods they’re leaving behind.

1. California’s population is declining 

California’s population fell 1.2% between 2020 to 2022 to just over 39 million people. The exodus was just part of that trend: A decline in births, an increase in deaths and a pause in most international migration to the state were also factors.

2. The Golden State’s loss is the Lone Star state’s gain 

In 2020, more than 100,000 Californians moved to Texas – roughly equivalent to the entire city of San Mateo decamping for the Lone Star state.

Meanwhile, over 63,000 Californians left for Arizona. Nevada, Washington and Florida were also top destinations.

3. People fled to the suburbs

The region’s preeminent cities have experienced the worst of the exodus since the pandemic began, with residents leaving by the thousands.

Downtown areas, in particular, have seen some of the biggest declines, but few portions of major metros have been spared. Nearly every ZIP code in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose saw a net decline in numbers of households since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, hundreds more households – many whose members are no longer tied to offices and seeking out more living space – have poured into bucolic areas like San Ramon, Carmel, and portions of Sonoma County than have left. Read More > in The Mercury News

Oakland endured 100 robberies in a single week this month, police chief says – Residents of Oakland endured 100 robberies during one tumultuous week this month, some of which erupted in gunfire or assaults, the city’s interim Police Chief Darren Allison said Wednesday.

Fifty of the incidents occurred in one weekend, Allison told reporters in Mayor Sheng Thao’s third-floor conference room, where he joined other leaders in struggling to explain the surge of violence and chaos to the public.

“Our city, like many other major cities, is facing very challenging times,” Allison said, urging officials to collaborate to address the crime wave. As of Wednesday, robberies had increased 7% over the same period last year. More and more often, the alleged perpetrators are children as young as 12, according to law enforcement. Officers have also pointed to a rise in targeted robberies, with some perpetrators staking out construction sites or work trucks, seeking expensive power tools.

Police announced two high-profile arrests of suspected robbery crews in recent weeks. One group included nine children who officers say they have connected to more than three dozen robberies and the other featured three adults and two children who authorities say are associated with at least 10 armed robberies. Last week, police began prioritizing investigations and “precision-based” enforcement to quell car-jackings and robberies, Allison said, and since then officers arrested 20 people — six adults and 14 kids — for these crimes. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Inflation rose to 4.4% in April, according to key gauge watched by FedInflation unexpectedly rose to a 4.4% annual rate in April, as measured by the gauge favored by the Federal Reserve.

The rise in inflation in the personal consumption expenditures price index reported Friday morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is an unwelcome sign that price pressures are not yet abating in the face of the Fed’s campaign to slow price gains by hiking interest rates.

Inflation is running much hotter than the central bank’s target and damaging household purchasing power. Friday’s numbers were a surprise for economists and analysts, who predicted inflation would fall for another month. The consensus was that it would tick down to 3.9%.

Core PCE inflation, a measure of inflation that strips out energy and food prices and is generally less volatile, clocked in at a 4.7% year-over-year rate.

Other recent measures of inflation have shown prices are continuing to fall back to Earth from the highs notched last year, which marked the country’s worst inflationary plague in decades.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced inflation fell slightly to 4.9% in the year ending in April in an update to the consumer price index, the lowest such rate since May 2021.

In addition, inflation plunged to a 2.3% annual rate in March, as measured by the producer price index — the lowest level in more than two years.

But the new numbers for the PCE index will likely push the Fed further in the direction of more tightening. Read More > in the Washington Examiner

Budget alarm bells – The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is warning legislators against spending more. 

In its multiyear budget outlook published Tuesday, the office estimates that the 2023-24 budget deficit is more like $34.5 billion than the $31.5 billion projected in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May plan. And to cover that shortfall, the office recommends that the Legislature further cut one-time spending it added in 2021-23 from $11 billion to $4 billion and eliminate it entirely going forward.

Looking further out, the analyst warns that it is “very unlikely” that state revenues will support the spending proposed by Newsom — revenues would need to be $30 billion more than forecast to cover the deficit in 2024-25. And because reserves would cover less than half the projected deficits, the rest would have to come from cuts in one-time spending, plus other spending trims or revenue increases, according to the analysis.  

The Legislature must pass a budget by June 15, and the governor must sign it by June 30. Read More > at CalMatters

Mortgage demand drops again as rates cross back over 7% – The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage crossed over 7% on Tuesday, according to Mortgage News Daily. That is the highest level since early March.

Rates have been rising on a combination of concerns among investors. First, uncertainty over what the Federal Reserve will do with interest rates, given a still strong economy; second, the battle over raising the debt ceiling and the possibility of a U.S. default.

Both of those already had rates climbing last week with mortgage demand pulling back. Total mortgage application volume dropped 4.6% last week, compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

Last week, the weekly average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($726,200 or less) increased to 6.69% for loans with a 20% down payment, according to the MBA. That rate was 5.46% the same week one year ago. read More > at CNBC

U.S. census: Bay Area population grew older, Asians are now the region’s largest racial group – Over the last decade, the Bay Area’s population grew older and more racially diverse — with White residents no longer the region’s largest racial group — while soaring housing costs meant fewer people could afford to own homes.

The demographic and household shifts, highlighted in newly released U.S. census data, could have major implications for the local economy and workforce while underscoring the region’s deepening housing affordability crisis.

The data, comparing census results from 2010 and 2020, comes with a caveat: It doesn’t fully capture the sweeping societal changes brought on by a once-in-a-generation pandemic. That includes a roughly 3% drop in the region’s population since the onset of COVID-19.

Even so, the data sheds new light on how the Bay Area is changing and what challenges it could face in the future. 

The region saw a 38% spike in the number of residents 65 or older, with those over the retirement age comprising 15% of the population in 2020, up from 12% in 2010, according to the data.

During that time, the total population of the six-county Bay Area grew by 9% to almost 6.7 million people. The data includes results from Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties.

Asians became the Bay Area’s largest racial group in the last decade, growing from almost 26% of the region’s population in 2010 to just over 33% in 2020, according to the data. That surpassed White residents who comprised 32.9% of the total population, down from 40% in 2010.

The Bay Area’s Black population, meanwhile, declined from over 6% of the region’s total population to less than 5%. That was likely a consequence of Black residents being displaced from historically African American neighborhoods in cities such as Oakland and East Palo Alto as rents and home prices surged.

The Latino share of the population, which had surged in past decades, stayed roughly the same at 23%. Read More > in The Mercury News

Do You Really Want Uncle Sam Helping File Your Taxes? – The IRS recently announced that it will launch a free-to-use e-filing pilot program next year. But taxpayers should look past the appealing word “free” in that phrase and be more skeptical about what such a program would really cost them. 

Every tax filing season, Americans spending time and money filing their taxes ask why it is even their responsibility. It’s an understandable question, after all: should taxpayers really be required to help the IRS with the process of rifling through their pockets?

But taxpayers are left with this responsibility for a simple reason: it’s a far better alternative than entrusting it to the IRS. While this pilot program is, for now, more akin to an online filing portal than a tax preparation service in the manner of TurboTax, it would still lead to unprecedented intrusions into taxpayers’ private personal and financial information. It would also require taxpayers to assume that the IRS has their best interests at heart when it comes to ensuring that their tax bill is as low as it should be, an extremely optimistic assumption.

Both of these concerns about IRS-generated returns apply to the IRS operating a “free” (that is, taxpayer-funded) e-filing system. As unpleasant as it may be to pay someone for tax preparation services, taxpayers can know that those preparation services have a financial incentive to find every lawfull credit and deduction that a taxpayer is entitled to. The IRS has no such incentive. Read More > at Real Clear Markets

Are you a mosquito magnet? It might be for one unpleasant reason – New research has found that smelly armpits may turn some people into a mosquito magnet.

This is apparently the reason that some people are so plagued by the annoying critters — while others get off scot-free, according to scientists.

The pesky insects are drawn to body odor, also known as BO — and mosquitoes can find us from 350 feet away once they get a whiff, according to SWNS, the British news service.

The new findings are based on the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae, which was let loose in an ice rink-sized outdoor testing arena in Zambia.

Said the study’s lead author, Dr. Diego Giraldo, a neuroscientist, “This is the largest system to assess olfactory preference for any mosquito in the world. And it is a very busy sensory environment for the mosquitoes,” as SWNS reported.

The team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, released 200 hungry mosquitoes each night and used infrared motion cameras to observe how often they landed on evenly spaced pads heated to 35ºC — mimicking human skin, the report said.

Body odor was apparently a more attractive bait than CO2 — a known cue for mosquitoes.

But further tests showed that the swarm of 200 individuals were also choosy. The aromas of six volunteers sleeping in surrounding single-person tents were piped onto the pads over six consecutive nights. Read More > at FOX News

The battle over bullfrogs, as California considers restrictions – Bullfrogs are the elite athletes of the amphibian world, with a thrilling leap that can surpass 21 feet.

But back home in their ponds, they’re nothing but trouble.

On the eve of last weekend’s famed Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee, state wildlife officials met to ponder the management of a disease-carrying invasive frog with powerful legs, a dopey smile and a dangerous appetite.

Even as California spends large sums to help protect populations of threatened native frogs, especially yellow-legged and red-legged species, an estimated 2 million predatory bullfrogs are imported into the state every year.

To tackle the problem, 34 policy proposals are under consideration, some of them aimed directly at the jumping competition itself: Swap the dominant bullfrogs for other species. Monitor the contest to catch any escapees. Restrict the release of contestants. Inglorious execution, post-Jubilee. Perhaps even ban frog contests — and the bullfrog — altogether.

Such actions would no doubt elicit howls of protests from competitors, but other measures and regulations under consideration are likely to be more sweeping — and in some cases, controversial — such as banning live bullfrog imports, forbidding the sale of live bullfrogs, eradicating non-native frogs in local areas, and improving habitat to better accommodate struggling native frogs. Read More > in The Mercury News

Is CA organic waste recycling a failure? – Reuse, reduce… recalibrate? 

According to one watchdog agency, California is “falling short” in its ambitious organic waste recycling efforts and may need to hit the pause button until state agencies and local governments can sort themselves out.

But that rankled the state officials in charge, who considered the very suggestion, well, garbage — prompting a spirited debate at a Tuesday meeting of the Little Hoover Commission.

In an upcoming report, the commission points out what it considers major flaws in the state’s requirement to decrease the amount of organic material sent out to landfills — which includes household food scraps and yard waste — by 50% by 2020 and 75% by 2025. The mandate was created by a 2016 law, Senate Bill 1383, that fully took effect in 2022.

Not only did the state miss its 2020 target, the report finds, but California dumped more organic waste in landfills than it did in 2014 (the baseline year used to calculate targets) and is set to miss its 2025 goals, too. The commission’s top recommendation is for the Legislature to temporarily pause implementation.

CalRecycle says that would be a big mistake.

  • Rachel Wagoner, director of CalRecycle: “Holding and pausing 1383 would be absolutely, absolutely detrimental… We’ve spent nearly half a billion dollars in California to jump start 1383 in organic recycling and a lot of that would be halted.”

Nonprofits, private waste and compost operators and bioenergy companies also spoke out against halting the program, citing the millions of dollars businesses have already invested.

And because landfills are the largest source of methane emissions in California, pulling the program back would mean pausing climate change efforts as well. As one engineer from the California Compost Coalition said, “We really don’t have the time for the bureaucracy to catch up with climate change. We need to go forth.”

In response, the commission emphasized its overall support for organic recycling and reducing methane emissions. But it said a pause would give counties, particularly rural ones, more time to establish the outreach and infrastructure to comply with the law. (Local governments that do not can be fined $10,000 a day, and individual residents can also be penalized). Read More > at CalMatters

New Federal Report: Half of Public School Students Are Now Performing Below Grade Level – A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics provides yet more evidence that American schoolchildren suffered dramatic educational losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report compiled data from various sources on the state of American primary, secondary, and higher education, looking at everything from college graduation rates to child poverty rates.

While dramatic declines in scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test have received national attention, the newly released report sheds light on a different metric showing declines in performance.

According to one survey cited, American public schools reported, on average, that 49 percent of their students were behind grade level in at least one subject during the beginning of the 2022–2023 school year. This is only a tiny improvement compared to the beginning of the 2021–2022 school year, when schools reported an average of 50 percent of their students were behind. Before the pandemic, schools reported that an average of 36 percent of their students were behind. Read More > at Reason

Ford to keep AM radio in cars after pressure from lawmakers – Ford has reversed its decision to build new vehicles without AM radio after pressure from lawmakers.

CEO Jim Farley wrote in posts on Twitter and LinkedIn Tuesday that AM radio will be included on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln Motor vehicles, a decision the executive came to “after speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as part of the emergency alert system.”

Last week, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost. Sponsors of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” have argued that AM radio has historically helped transmit crucial information during emergencies, particularly to rural areas.

The act was prompted by many automakers’ decisions — including Ford, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen and Mazda — to remove AM radio from their new electric cars. The companies said electric engines can interfere with the sound of AM radio stations. Read More > at TechCrunch

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2023’s Most Affordable Cities for Home Buyers – WalletHub Study

With the median home sales price having skyrocketed from $313,000 in Q1 2019 to $436,800 in Q1 2023, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Most Affordable Cities for Home Buyers, as well as expert commentary.

In order to determine the most affordable cities for home buyers, WalletHub compared 300 U.S. cities across ten key metrics. The data set ranges from the costs of homes and their maintenance to tax rates and vacancy rates.

Most Affordable CitiesLeast Affordable Cities
1. Montgomery, AL291. San Francisco, CA
2. Flint, MI292. New York, NY
3. Toledo, OH293. Pasadena, CA
4. Detroit, MI294. Boulder, CO
5. Akron, OH295. Los Angeles, CA
6. Warren, MI296. Burbank, CA
7. Pittsburgh, PA297. Glendale, CA
8. Yuma, AZ298. Santa Monica, CA
9. Springfield, IL299. Berkeley, CA
10. Palm Bay, FL300. Santa Barbara, CA

Best vs. Worst

  • Springfield, Illinois, has the most affordable housing (median house price divided by median annual household income), 1.67, which is 17.5 times cheaper than in Santa Barbara, California, the city with the least affordable housing, with a ratio of 29.24.
  • Honolulu has the lowest median real-estate tax rate, 0.30 percent, which is 12 times lower than in Waterbury, Connecticut, the city with the highest at 3.59 percent.
  • Flint, Michigan, has the highest rent-to-price ratio, 26.64 percent, which is 16 times higher than in Santa Monica, California, the city with the lowest at 1.66 percent.
  • Miami Gardens, Florida, has the highest median home price appreciation, 94.61 percent, which is 59.1 times higher than in Hampton, Virginia, the city with the lowest at 1.60 percent.
  • Miami Beach, Florida, has the highest vacancy rate, 35.24 percent, which is 17.4 times higher than in South Gate, California, the city with the lowest at 2.02 percent.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: 

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Statement on BART finances from Board President and GM

RELEASE DATE: 05/26/2023

From Board of Directors President Janice Li and General Manager Bob Powers:

BART is thankful for the recent action taken by the California State Legislature to restore $2 billion for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. The program is vital in funding transformative capital improvements to modernize public transportation systems such as BART.

The fate of transit operating budgets, however, presents a do-or-die decision point.

Each day BART moves closer to plunging off the fiscal cliff if the State does not provide short-term financial aid to fund transit operations.

One-time federal funds are dwindling even with BART’s stringent cost controls and will be exhausted by early 2025. If transit operations funding is not included in this year’s State budget, BART must begin making severe cuts to service and staffing, as early as this year. The State has the opportunity – and the power – to sustain BART, or let BART and the Bay Area economy fail.

Here’s how failure looks:

  • Trains only once an hour.
  • No trains on weekends.
  • No trains after 9 p.m. on weeknights.
  • Reduced service to San Francisco International and Oakland International airports.
  • Some stations closed.
  • Entire lines potentially shuttered

Those who will pay the biggest price for these severe cuts are those who can afford it the least. Sixty-seven percent of BART riders identify as non-white. Forty-four percent do not have a vehicle. Thirty-one percent have an income of $50,000 or lower. Seven percent are disabled. If the State fails to act, those who rely on BART as a lifeline will be stranded.

Everyone will pay the price if BART fails – even those who don’t use it. Traffic stands to drastically worsen across our already congested roadways and bridges, and regional greenhouse gas emissions will increase, further fueling climate change. Just one trip in a car emits the same amount of C02 as thirty trips taken on BART.

Businesses will struggle to move their goods with thousands more vehicles on already strained roads. BART service cuts to SFO and OAK will make tourism and convention travel unpalatable.

The Bay Area is an economic engine for the entire state, which represents the fourth largest economy in the world. But the regional economy isn’t ironclad. It needs effective public transit – BART, Muni, and other agencies – to thrive.
BART staff, labor partners and Board are focused on increasing ridership by improving the system.

Some highlights:

  • Adding eight to 18 additional police officers to patrol trains each shift in addition to BART’s unarmed safety staff of Ambassadors, Crisis Intervention Specialists and Fare Inspectors on trains.
  • A September schedule change means no rider will wait more than 20 minutes for a scheduled train, including nights and weekends. 
  • More than doubling the Clipper START discount for eligible low-income riders.
  • A project to install 700 new fare gates at all stations by 2026 to deter fare evasion and increase safety. 
  • Thorough cleaning of train car interiors twice as often.
  • Increasing the number of deep-clean teams by 66% to scrub heavily used stations.

These hard-earned gains for riders would be wiped out by severe service cuts. It’s a recipe for a death spiral.

If the State fails to act, not only will BART fail, but Bay Area public transit will fail. Ninety percent of all transfer trips in the Bay Area involve a connection to BART.

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Marsh Creek Road Bridges Replacement Project: Construction Begins May 30, 2023

The Contra Costa County Public Works Department will commence construction of the Marsh Creek Road Bridges Replacement Project on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. This project is expected to continue through March 2025, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Construction activities will take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), subject to favorable weather conditions. The project will focus on Bridges 143 and 145 located on Marsh Creek Road.

Bridge 143, situated approximately 1.5 miles northwest of Deer Valley Road near the Clayton Palms Community, and Bridge 145, positioned around 3.0 miles east of Deer Valley Road near the road transition to Camino Diablo, will be the primary areas of construction. During the construction period, traffic control measures will be implemented to ensure the safety of motorists and minimize disruptions. Specific restrictions will be enforced during commuting hours, and message boards will be strategically placed to provide updates and guidance to drivers.

As part of the project, the existing bridges on Marsh Creek Road will be replaced with new, durable concrete bridges. Additionally, the construction work includes the reconstruction of bridge approach roadways and the installation of drainage facilities. These improvements aim to enhance the safety and functionality of the bridges for the benefit of all road users.

We would like to inform you that the funding for this crucial infrastructure project is being provided through the federal Highway Bridge Program, along with local Gas Tax funds. This collaborative effort ensures the realization of these much-needed improvements for our community.

During the construction period, we kindly request your patience and understanding. Delays are expected within the construction zone, so we encourage drivers to consider alternative routes during working hours to minimize inconvenience. We are committed to completing the project efficiently and with minimal disruption to your daily routines.

For updates and additional information about the Marsh Creek Road Bridges Replacement Project, please visit our website or contact the Contra Costa County Public Works Department.

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work towards improving our transportation infrastructure for the benefit of all residents.

Contra Costa County Public Works Department


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Tri Delta Transit offers a Summer Youth Bus Pass

Want your children to have fun all summer?  Tri Delta Transit can take them where they want to go.  Purchase a Summer Youth Pass for $30 and your child, ages 6-18, can ride unlimited rides on fixed route buses till August 31st. A pass can be purchased at Tri Delta Transit’s office, 801 Wilbur Avenue or on-line at www.511CC.org/youthpass.

Quiere que sus hijos disfruten durante todo el verano? Tri Delta Transit los lleva donde ellos desean ir. Compre el Pase de Verano para jóvenes por $30 y su hijo (a), entre las edades de 6-18, pueden hacer viajes ilimitados en rutas fijas hasta el 31 de Agosto. Puede comprar su pase en la oficina de Tri Delta Transit, 801 Wilbur Avenue. Por internet en: www.511CC.org/youthpass

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The Contra Costa Community College District Announces Selection of LMC President

The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) has selected Dr. Pamela Ralston as the 7th permanent president of Los Medanos College (LMC). The 4CD Governing Board will vote on ratification of her contract at their June 14, 2023, meeting. The announcement was made following a search that began in February 2023.

“Dr. Ralston brings tremendous experience and commitment to improving student success and student equity by working collaboratively with faculty, staff, and administrators,” said Interim Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh. “Through the development and support of strong, innovative programs, and in designing a supportive environment where both students and staff feel respected and appreciated, I am confident we have chosen a leader who is a great fit for 4CD, Los Medanos College, and the East County community.”

Over the course of a two-decade career in public higher education, Dr. Ralston has served as the Interim President at Los Medanos College, President at Santiago Canyon College, and Executive Vice President of Educational Programs at Santa Barbara City College, where she led the academic and student services programs. A passionate advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in education, Dr. Ralston has worked to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, with special attention to the strengths that their cultural backgrounds and ethnic identities bring to their college experiences.

Dr. Ralston earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oregon and Master of Arts and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington in Comparative Literature. 

“I am honored to be selected to lead this wonderful higher education institution,” said Dr. Ralston. “I am eager to help maintain and expand LMC’s legacy of educational excellence, promote community college as a great choice for our students, while building stronger connections and partnerships with our community.”


The Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) is one of the largest multi-college community college districts in California. The 4CD serves a population of 1,200,997 people, and its boundaries encompass all but 48 of the 734-square-mile land area of Contra Costa County. 4CD is home to Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, as well as educational centers in Brentwood and San Ramon. The District headquarters is located in downtown Martinez. For more information visit www.4cd.edu

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Yolo Basin Foundation Bat Talks and Walks

Registration opens June 1

Did you know that colonies of migratory bats live under the Yolo Causeway during the summer? Join the Yolo Basin Foundation for a summertime Bat Talk and Walk event and learn all about these amazing and beneficial mammals. Bat Walk and Talk events begin late-June and run through September. Registration opens June 1.

Register for the Bat Talks and Walks
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2023’s Best Summer Travel Destinations – WalletHub Study

With nearly 85% of Americans planning summer trips in 2023, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2023’s Best Summer Travel Destinations, as well as expert commentary, to supplement its Best Travel Credit Cards and Currency Exchange studies.

To help travelers plan the perfect summer getaway, WalletHub compared 100 metro areas across 41 key indicators of budget- and fun-friendliness. The data set ranges from the cost of the cheapest flight to the number of attractions to the average price of a two-person meal.

Top 20 Summer Travel Destinations
1. Atlanta, GA11. San Antonio, TX
2. Honolulu, HI12. Salt Lake City, UT
3. Washington, DC13. Greenville, SC
4. Wichita, KS14. Austin, TX
5. New York, NY15. Philadelphia, PA
6. Chicago, IL16. Oklahoma City, OK
7. Tampa, FL17. Grand Rapids, MI
8. Orlando, FL18. El Paso, TX
9. Richmond, VA19. Los Angeles, CA
10. Springfield, MO20. Minneapolis, MN

Best vs. Worst

  • The average flight to a popular summer destination costs $413, lasts 4 hours and 13 minutes and has 0.4 connections.
  • The Los Angeles metro area is the most attractive destination on the West Coast and the Washington, D.C. metro area is the most attractive destination on the East Coast.
  • Florida and Texas are home to the most top summer destinations in the U.S., each with at least two metro areas in the top 15. Oppositely, California has among the largest number of the unpopular summer destinations, with at least two metro areas.
  • The Houston metro area has the lowest nightly rate for a three-star hotel room, $28, which is 9.1 times less expensive than in Portland, the metro area with the highest at $254.    

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: 

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Oakley’s Outstanding Youth Award

The City of Oakley Recreation Division is proud to announce the nomination period is open for the Outstanding Youth Award. This award recognizes outstanding elementary, middle, and high school students who have excelled in various areas, including academics, art, community service, and leadership.

We hope to highlight young individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a passion for learning, making them role models for their peers and future generations. Their achievements inspire us all and remind us of the immense potential of our youth.

The award recipients will be recognized at a City Council meeting, where they will receive a certificate of achievement and prize. In addition, their names will be featured on the City of Oakley website and social media channels.

Youth may be nominated by a coach, teacher, mentor or other non-relative adult in their life. To nominate a youth in our community, please click the link, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QNHLFQ6.

The deadline to submit a nomination is May 31st, 2023.

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